One has lost count of religious conclaves of Hindu ‘saints’, friendly to RSS, calling for violent cleansing of lawful Indian Muslims. It was not long ago that a senior RSS luminary who also graced the high constitutional office of Governor of Tripura, Tathagata Roy reminded through a tweet that “the Hindu-Muslim problem won’t be solved without a Civil War.” Roy claimed that he was only reminding Hindus of an unfinished task wished by Syama Prasad Mookerji, an icon for RSS cadres ruling India today.[i] In fact, it has been the most favourite theme of RSS since its inception in 1925. India is for ‘Ramzade’ (children of Ram) and out of bound for ‘Babarzade’ (children of Babar) who are also described as ‘Haramazade’ (the illegitimate children).
The RSS and its Hindutva appendages have been demanding revenge for crimes against Hindus in history but have singled out the medieval period only in order to focus on the persecution by ‘Muslim’ rulers. It is really surprising that in a country like India whose civilization is more than five thousand years old, a period of 400-500 years (‘Muslim’ Rule) only is put under the scanner. In order to arrive at truth we need to inquire into about the nature of ‘Muslim’ rule. The most crucial issue is: Why have the common Muslims of today’s India to pay for the sins of the ‘Muslim’ rulers who had friendly and cordial relations (including matrimonial) with the high Caste hierarchy of the Hindu society? We also need to investigate whether ‘Hindu’ history was devoid of religious, social and political persecution.
The Hindutva zealots demanding Muslim-free India must know that all ‘Muslim’ rules survived due to the Hindu high Castes joining the ‘Muslim’ rulers in running their empires. How solid this unity was can be gauged by the fact that after Akbar no Mughal emperor was born of a Muslim mother. Moreover, Hindu high Castes provided brain and muscles to the ‘Muslim’ rulers faithfully. Likewise, Mughal rule established by Babar who was invited by a section of Hindu kings to seize India was the rule of Hindu high Castes also.
Aurobindo Ghose who played prominent role in providing Hindu foundation to the Indian nationalism confessed that Mughal rule continued for over a century due to the fact that Mughal rulers gave Hindus, “positions of power and responsibility, used their brain and arm to preserve” their kingdom.[ii] Renowned historian Tara Chand relying on the primary source material of the medieval period concluded that the from the end of 16th century to the middle of 19th century, “it may reasonably be concluded that in the whole of India, excepting the western Punjab, superior rights in land had come to vest in the hands of Hindus” most of whom happened to be Rajputs.[iii]
Maasir al-Umara a biographical dictionary of the officers in the Mughal Empire beginning from 1556 to 1780 [Akbar to Shah Alam] is regarded as the most authentic record of the high rank officials employed by the Mughal kings. This work was compiled by Shahnawaz Khan and his son Abdul Hai between 1741 and 1780. According to it Mughal rulers in this period employed around 100 (out of 365) high-ranking officials most of them “Rajputs from Rajputana, the midlands, Bundelkhand and Maharashtra”. Brahmins followed Rajputs in manning the Mughal administration so far as the number was concerned.[iv] Interestingly, Kashi Nagri Pracharini Sabha [established in 1893] “committed to the cause of Hindi as official language” published Hindi translation of this book in 1931.
It is nobody’s argument that Aurangzeb did not commit heinous crimes against his Indian subject. It needs to be remembered that his cruelty was not restricted to non-Muslims, his own father, brothers, Shias, those Muslims who did not follow his brand of Islam and Muslim ruling families in the eastern, central and western parts of India faced brutal repression and were annihilated. Aurangzeb executed renowned Sufi saint, Sarmad in the precinct of Jama Masjid of Delhi. It is also true that there were countless cases when Hindus and their religious places were violently targetted during Aurangzeb’s despotic rule. However, there are contemporary records available of his patronizing Hindu and Jain religious places (a living example is the grand Gauri Shankar temple, a stone’s throw away from Lahori Gate of Red Fort, built during Shahjahan’s reign continued functioning during Aurangzeb’s reign).[v] Reducing all his crimes to the repression of Hindus only will tantamount to reducing the gravity of his crimes against humanity.
No sane person can deny that Somnath Temple in Gujarat was desecrated, looted and razed by Mahmud Ghazi (Mahmud Ghaznavi) in 1026. But a fact remains buried that it was done with the active help and participation of local Hindu chieftains. The most prominent ideologue of RSS, MS Golwalkar while referring to the desecration and destruction of Somnath Temple by Mahmud Ghazi added:
“He crossed the Khyber Pass and set foot in Bharat to plunder the wealth of Somnath. He had to cross the great desert of Rajasthan. There was a time when he had no food, and no water for his army, and even for himself left to his fate, he would have perished…But no, Mahmud Ghazi made the local chieftains to believe that Saurashtra had expansionist designs against them. In their folly and pettiness they believed him. And they joined him. When Mahmud Ghazi launched his assault on the great temple, it was the Hindu, blood of our blood, flesh of our flesh, soul of our soul-who stood in the vanguard of his army. Somnath was desecrated with the active help of the Hindus. These are facts of history.”[vi]
These were not ‘Muslim’ rulers only who were defiling Hindu temples. Swami Vivekananda shared the fact that,
“The temple of Jagannath is an old Buddhistic temple. We took this and others over and re-Hinduised them. We shall have to do many things like that yet”.[vii]
It was not an isolated desecration. Swami Dayanand Saraswati who is regarded as a Prophet of Hindutva while dealing with the contribution of Shankaracharya in his tome, Satyarth Prakash wrote:
“For ten years he toured all over the country, refuted Jainism and advocated the Vedic religion. All the broken images that are now-a-days dug out of the earth were broken in the time of Shankar, whilst those that are found whole here and there under the ground had been buried by the Jainis for fear of their being broken.”[viii]
According to ‘Hindu’ narrative of ancient Indian history the last of Maurya dynasty’s Buddhist king (Ashoka being one), Brihadratha was assassinated by Pushyamitra Shunga, a Brahmin in 184 BCE thus ending the rule of a renowned Buddhist dynasty and establishing the rule of Shunga dynasty. DN Jha an authority on ancient Indian history referred to Divyavadana, a Buddhist Sanskrit work from the early centuries which described how Buddhist and Jain religious places were destroyed by Pushyamitra Shunga, a great persecutor of Buddhists.
“He is said to have marched out with a large army, destroying stupas, burning monasteries and killing monks as far as Sakala, now known as Sialkot, where he announced a prize of one hundred dinars for every head of a Shramana (opposed to Vedas).”
Jha also presented evidence from the grammarian Patanjali, a contemporary of the Shungas, who famously stated in his Mahabhashya that Brahmins and Shramanas were eternal enemies, like the snake and the mongoose.[ix]
In the Hindutva narrative the persecution of Sikh Gurus and their followers by Mughal rulers is used to spread hatred against present day Indian Muslims. The Mughal rulers specially Aurangzeb’s armies committed the most heinous and unspeakable crimes against Sikhs. Was it Muslims versus Sikhs? The contemporary Sikh records reject such an interpretation. According to a Sikh site during the last and the most brutal siege of Anandpur Sahib in 1704, “The Muslims and the Hindu hill rajas completely surrounded the city and cut it off from outside supplies.” While trying to escape the Mughal invaders,
“The younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh, Baba Zorawar Singh age 9 and Baba Fateh Singh age 7, were separated from the group in the confusion. They walked through the rugged jungle with their holy grandmother, Mata Gujri ji (mother of Guru Gobind Singh) until they came to small village where they took shelter. An old servant of the Guru’s household, Gangu, heard they were there and came to Mataji. With sweet words he requested that they go with him to his village. He expressed care and concern, but his heart was dark with betrayal. Cold, wet and alone, Mata Gujri gratefully went with Gangu to his house. For a few gold coins, Gangu betrayed their whereabouts to the Moghul army. At dawn, a loud banging came on the door and the soldiers of the evil governor Wazir Khan came to escort the holy family to Sarhind. As they traveled through the city, people thronged to see them pass offering words of encouragement. They shouted curses at the Brahmin and were shocked at the depravity of the Moghul governor”.[x]
Sir Jadunath Sarkar (1870-1958), a renowned historian, held no brief for Islam or Muslim rulers in India. In fact, he is regarded as a narrator of the Hindu history during the Mughal rule. However, his description of the Maratha invasion of Bengal in 1742, too, makes it clear that this army of ‘Hindu nation’ cared least about honour and property of Hindus of Bengal. According to Sarkar, “the roving Maratha bands committed wanton destruction and unspeakable outrage”.[xi]
Sarkar, in his monumental work on the history of Bengal, reproduced eyewitness accounts of the sufferings of Bengali Hindus at the hands of Marathas. According to one such eyewitness, Gangaram,
“The Marathas snatched away gold and silver, rejecting everything else. Of some people they cut off the hands, of some the nose and ear; some they killed outright. They dragged away the beautiful women and freed them only after raping them”.[xii]
Another eyewitness, Vaneshwar Vidyalankar, the court Pandit of the Maharaja of Bardwan, narrated the horrifying tales of atrocities committed by the Marathas against Hindus in the following words:
“Shahu Raja’s troops are niggard of pity, slayers of pregnant women and infants, of Brahmans and the poor, fierce of spirit, expert in robbing the property of every one and committing every kind of sinful act.”[xiii]
The contemporary records prove that Aurangzeb rule was also the rule of Rajputs and Kshatriyas [members of the two of the four Hindu Castes in order of precedence after Brahmins]. Aurangzeb never faced Shivaji in the battle-field. It was his commander-in-chief, a Rajput ruler of Amer (Rajasthan), Jay Singh II (1688–1743) who was sent to subjugate Shivaji. He was conferred the title of ‘Sawai’ [one and a quarter times superior to his contemporaries] chief by Aurangzeb in 1699 and thus came to be known as Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh. He was also given the title of Mirza Raja [a Persian title for a royal prince] by Aurangzeb. The other titles bestowed on him by other Mughal rulers were ‘Sarmad-i-Rajaha-i-Hind’ [eternal ruler of India], ‘Raj Rajeshvar’ [lord of kings] and ‘Shri Shantanu ji’ [wholesome king]. These titles are displayed by his descendants even today. This Rajput chief also gave his daughter in marriage to the son of Aurangzeb who became Mughal emperor after Aurangzeb.[xiv]
We have first-hand account of Raja Raghunath Bahadur, a Kayasth who functioned as Deewan Ala (prime minister) of both Shahjahan, and Aurangzeb.[xv] According to a biographical work penned by one of his direct descendants,
“Raja Raghunath Bahadur having attained to the most exalted rank of Diwan Ala (prime minister) was not unmindful of the interests of his caste-fellows [Kayasths]. Raja appointed every one of them to posts of honor and emoluments, according to their individual merits; while many of them were granted titles of honor and valuable jagirs for their services. Not a single Kayasth remained unemployed or in needy circumstances.”[xvi]
This account shows that despite the rule of Aurangzeb, a ‘bigoted Muslim’ a Kayasth prime minister of his was able to patronize his Caste fellows; all Hindus. Aurangzeb was so fond of this Hindu prime minister that after latter’s death in a letter directed vizier (minister) Asad Khan to follow ‘sage guidance’ of Raja Raghunath.[xvii]
The linking of Aurangzeb or other ‘Muslim’ rulers’ crimes committed in the pre-modern India to his/her religion is going to create serious consequences even for ‘Hindu’ version of history as narrated by the RSS. Take for example, Ravana, the king of Lanka who according to again ‘Hindu’ narrative committed unspeakable crimes against Sita, her husband Lord Rama and his companions during 14 years long vanvaas or exile. This Ravana was a learned Brahman who also happened to be one of the greatest worshippers of Lord Shiva. The epic Mahabharata is a story of a great war between two families known as Pandavas and Kauravas (both Kashtriyas) not between Hindus and Muslims but in which 1.2 billion people were slaughtered. Draupadi was disrobed by Kashtriyas. If like Aurangzeb and other ‘Muslim’ rulers the crimes of Ravana, Kauravas, Pushyamitra Shunga, Jai Singh II, Marathas, Gangu Brahmin etc. are linked to their religion then country will turn into a butcher land. Moreover, if revenge is to be taken from the present descendants of the past perpetrators then beginning must be made from the beginning of Indian civilization; turn of Indian Muslims will come far later!
Another crucial fact which is consciously kept under wrap is that despite more than 500 hundreds of ‘Muslim’ rule which according to Hindutva historians was nothing but a project of annihilating Hindus or forcibly converting the latter to Islam, India remained a nation with an absolute Hindu majority. The British rulers held first census in 1871-72. It was the time when even ceremonial ‘Muslim’ rule was over. According to the Census report:
“The population of British India is, in round numbers, divided into 140½ millions [sic] of Hindoos (including Sikhs), or 73½ per cent., 40¾ millions of Mahomedans, or 21½ per cent. And 9¼ millions of others, or barely 5 per cent., including under this title Buddhists and Jains, Christians, Jews, Parsees, Brahmoes…”[xviii]
These figures make it clear that persecution and cleansing of Hindus was not even a secondary project of the ‘Muslim’ rule. If it had been so Hindus would have disappeared from India. At the end of ‘Muslim’ rule Hindus were 73.5% who now according to the 2011 Census have increased to 79.80%. On the contrary Muslims who were 21.5% have been reduced to 14.23%. India seems to be the only country where despite ‘Muslim’ rule of more than half of a millennium the populace did not convert to the religion of the rulers.
It is sad that RSS-BJP rulers of India who are never tired of talking of a powerful Hindu nation; Hindusthan leading the world are forcing the country into a state of civil war. With them around putting one section of Indians against the other there is no need of any foreign enemy to undo a democratic-secular India.
Shamsul Islam is a former teacher of Delhi University
Link for some of S. Islam’s writings in English, Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati and video interviews/debates:
[ii] Cited in Chand, Tara, History of the Freedom Movement in India, vol. 3, Publication Division Government of India, Delhi, 1992, p. 162.
[iii] Chand, Tara, History of the Freedom Movement in India, vol. 1, Publication Division Government of India, Delhi, 1961, p. 124.
[iv] Khan, Shah Nawaz, Abdul Hai, Maasir al-Umara [translated by H Beveridge as Mathir-ul-Umra], volumes 1& 2, Janaki Prakashan, Patna, 1979.
[v] Trushke, Audrey, Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth, Penguin, Gurgaon, 2017, pp. 99-106.
[vi] RSS English organ, Organizer, January 4, 1950.
[vii] The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, vol. 3, 264.
[viii] Sarswati, Dayanand, Satyarth Praksh, chapter xi, p. 347.
[xi] Jadunath Sarkar (ed.), The History of Bengal-Volume II Muslim Period 1200 A.D.–1757 A.D. (Delhi: BR Publishing, 2003), (first edition 1948), 457.
[xii] Ibid., 457.
[xiii] Ibid., 458.
[xv] It has been corroborated by the French traveller Bernier who was in India during 1658-1670.
[xvi] Lal, Maharaja Lala, Short Account of the Life and Family of Rai Jeewan Lal Bahadur Late Honrary Magistrate Delhi, With Extracts from His Diary Relating to the Times of Mutiny 1857, 1902.
[xvii] Trushke, Audrey, 74-75.
[xviii] Memorandum on the Census Of British India of 1871-72: Presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty London, George Edward Eyre and William Spottiswoode, Her Majesty’s Stationary Office 1875, 16.
[It appeared titled ‘Fallacy of the Hindutva project’ in FRONTLINE. Link for access: https://frontline.thehindu.com/cover-story/fallacy-of-the-hindutva-project-aurangzeb-mughals-islamophobia/article38484103.ece]