The fix between India and the Mughal reign seems to be unending. This time, it’s the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb? If you do not know much about him, fear not, as we are being fed a healthy diet of Aurangzeb these past few days, ever since the fate of the Gyanvapi Mosque of Varanasi became a subject of intense strife and discussion in a country where places of worship are bones of contention. The fact remains that the Mughals were once a matter of pride for the country, not so long ago. But the change in regime in the country also saw a change in the mindset of the people. Once glorified for their architectural beauty and intrinsic art, the Mughal monuments are these days places of great religious interest. Aurangzeb ruled India for almost 49 years, the longest any Mughal emperor did. Aurangzeb was known to be an ardent, strict, and autocratic ruler, eerily much like the country has become now but with an interesting twist. Ironically, our children who once studied Aurangzeb to be pious, and an ascetic in life, are suddenly learning that he was not. Imagine the level of confusion we create in those young minds.
No doubt, he may have held a grudge against temples and may have imposed the ‘jizya tax’ on the Hindus and his wars against the Marathas did not make him a friend of the Hindus. However, interestingly, he had more Hindus in his bureaucracy than any of the other Mughal emperors. Something which is similar to the Ahoms who had Muslims in their ranks too. It was the ‘country’ and an ‘ideology’ they were fighting for – be it the Hindus for Aurangzeb or the Muslims for the Ahoms. Yes, Aurangzeb might have had a thing against the Visvesvara Temple of Kashi. But the question is – does it matter today? For him, the Brahmins were teaching ‘wicked sciences’ to everybody who came under their spell, but the people have always had the right to choose. So, if anyone should be blamed for whatever went on then, it should be the people of that era who probably had less rationalism than us!
Today, ‘they’ and ‘them’ are fighting over Aurangzeb, some against him, and some with him. What everyone must understand is that even if Aurangzeb led his atrocities over Hindus and their temples, it was then – in the past! Today the world reels under real 21st century problems. At a time when the hunger index is shooting off the roof, unemployment and price rise cripples the young creative minds, we must start asking ourselves – if such issues actually matter anymore? Add to that, we humans have demolished the basic fabric of cooperation with our surroundings and nature. We are more divided today than we were then! Do we ever ask, if He who created us, would be bothered about who destroyed Temples or who demolished Masjids? In the race for this supremacy over the other, it seems that we have forgotten that we live on borrowed time from our future generation. And, given the current state of affairs, it seems we are doing more damage than good with that time. The government must concentrate on more real problems in hand for their citizens rather than trying to become archaeologists or historians themselves.