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Book Review
The other face of Aurangzeb


This booklet brings out the generous side of the maligned emperor

Name of the Book: Hindu Mandir aur Aurangzeb ke Faramin
by Ataur Rahman Qasmi
Maulana Azad Academy Rs 20/32 pp.

This 32-page booklet is an eye-opener for most people brought up on British demonology, followed assiduously in post-colonial Indian historiography. It is in two parts, the first being Maulana Ataur Rahman Qasmi’s foreword to the following scholarly article by late Bishambhar Nath Pandey.

Maulana Qasmi has been working on the faramin (official orders) of Emperor Aurangzeb granting land to Hindu temples all over India. For that he has been moving around the country, collecting copies of documents of land endowments to temples by Aurangzeb.

In his foreword Maulana Qasmi observes that Tipu Sultan and Aurangzeb have consistently been demonised by some British historians and their followers in later years. These two are often described, unfairly, as anti-Hindu bigots.

Maulana Qasmi talks about a British scholar studying the land endowments of Haryana’s Hindu temples. During her research the British scholar obtained copies of 300 land grant documents from priests of temples all over the state. All these endowments were made on personal orders of Aurangzeb.

If this is the extent of grants made by the Mughal emperor in a small state like Haryana, what could be the measure of his beneficence on an all-India scale, Maulana Qasmi wonders.

The booklet has been brought out by the Maulana Azad Academy, New Delhi, as the first of a series for young readers to get acquainted with India’s real history and cultural heritage.

The meatier part of the book is late BN Pandey’’s famous article on the subject in which he identifies and discusses some of Aurangzeb’s faramin which show his generosity to Hindu temples and priests.

There is an interesting episode of the demolition of Golconda’s Jama Masjid under Aurangzeb’s orders. The vassal of Golconda had been collecting revenue from the vassalage for years without depositing it in the Mughal treasury. To squirrel away crores of rupees thus illegally kept, he buried the loot and built a huge mosque over it.

To retrieve the money, Aurangzeb got the mosque demolished. Pandeyji rightly argues that Aurangzeb’s demolitions of places of worship were carried out for political and administrative reasons only.

However, there are far more examples of Aurangzeb’s generosity to Hindu temples and priests than of his ire against them. Pandeyji cites documentary proof to substantiate his claims.

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