This is the story of the cruel yet powerful king Aurangzeb.
Very few individuals are as hated as the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. If he had done the acts he did in modern times, he would have been among the likes of Hitler and Stalin.
But even in this story of hate and evil, there are things to learn. Lessons on how this kind of hate is brewed and then spread are also about the modern world. Though the executions might differ, the modern world suffers from religious extremism as well. And by understanding him, we might as well understand the roots of religious terrorism.
As it is with most, the seed of evil was sowed in Aurangzeb as a child. Aurangzeb’s father was Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan had an unsuccessful rebellion against his father Jahangir. As a form of punishment, Jahangir took Aurangzeb and his brother Dara Shikoh hostage at his Lahore fort. He grew up hating his grandfather for this action and his father for his inaction towards freeing them.
Due to this Aurangzeb shifted away from his family and towards the company of people with religious extremism. These were the ministers and other influential people who did not approve of Hindus in Mughal courts. Most of them were jealous as they had lost those positions to Hindu ministers. They poisoned the young mind of Aurangzeb. He grew up hating his own family and their way of governance.
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Aurangzeb’s ascension to the throne was the earliest sign of the evil he was about to bring. His path to the throne was red with the blood of his own brother. Dara Shikoh was with him right from the start. But this did not stop Aurangzeb from conspiring against him. He framed him for converting to Hinduism and charged him with blasphemy. After his death, he captured Dara’s son and his nephew, Sulaiman. Later he poisoned him while imprisoned.
Aurangzeb’s hatred of his family also led him to hate their ideology of pluralism. Continuing on the legacy of Akbar, the Mughals believed in a secular state where every religion could flourish. Things changed once Aurangzeb came to power. He reintroduced the law of Jizya. This law was meant for the taxation of non-muslim folks. They had to pay him the tax to follow non-Islamic religion under his reign. He also commissioned the breaking of multiple Hindu temples. He is a major reason why northern India has fewer ancient temples compared to Southern India. He had also asked his commander to break down the temple of Jagganath in Kalinga, which is one of the four Dhams of the Hindu pilgrimage.
The hate of Aurangzeb gave birth to unity between Hindus and Sikhs. Hindus united under the Marathas. Son of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Sambhaji led the war after the death of his father. When he was captured by the cruel Mughal king, he was tortured for a month for information and then killed. The same fate was met by the Holy Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur Singh. He was beheaded publicly creating an example.
But Karma has a way of biting back. The religious extremist governance of Aurangzeb led to stronger and more united enemy provinces. Although he ruled for a whopping five decades, he was also the last effective ruler of the Mughal empire. After the days of Aurangzeb, the Mughal empire kept declining till it breathed its last breath.
A weak ruler can demolish a kingdom as mighty as the Mughals. Even though Aurangzeb was great as a military tactician his unsecular ideology infested the Mughal dynasty and led it to crumble. This principle stands good even today. Countries lead our modern world with secular and plural governance. And countries with extremism are infested with terrorism and its ill effects.