Book Review - History Of Aurangzib By Jadunath Sarkar | SIKH PHILOSOPHY NETWORK
  • Welcome to all New Sikh Philosophy Network Forums!
    Explore Sikh Sikhi Sikhism...
    Sign up Log in

Book Review - History Of Aurangzib By Jadunath Sarkar

ashdoc

Movie Critic
SPNer
Jul 19, 2011
391
217
46
Book Review by: SPN'er ashdoc (Name?)

This book , written by legendary bengali historian Jadunath Sarkar , was written during british rule , and is arguably the largest and the finest detail account of the life and times of India's most controversial emperor--Aurangzeb . Originally running into four volumes , it has now been abridged , and put together in one volume by Orient Blackswain.

The book dwells in short on his early life--how he had a inborn trait of suspicion . Once , he and his brothers and father are supposed to enter a underground room . He refuses , saying that somebody could murder them there.....

The stellar part of the book is of course the way in which he won the throne , murdering all his brothers in the process , and imprisoning his father , the emperor Shahjahan after a series of epic battles . The book also makes it clear that he had no choice in the process ; his own brother declares about his own ambition for the throne-- ' Ya takht ya tabut !! ' ( either the throne or the grave !! ) , meaning that he himself would kill Aurangzeb and his brothers if he won....or himself get killed. Such is the brutal tradition of Mughal emperors . Aurangzeb's own father Shahjahan has killed his brother before ascending the throne......

This tradition is forever in Aurangzeb's mind , for during his rule , he is forever plagued by suspicion that one of his sons would imprison him in a similar manner and humiliate him as he daily humiliated his father Shahjahan--so Aurangzeb keeps a close watch on his sons , and imprisons them many a times .

Coming back to the battles for the throne , Jadunath Sarkar describes the battles ( like the battle of Dharmat between Aurangzeb's oldest brother Dara Shukoh and him )in detail , showing great mastery of the art of creating the picture of the battlefield in our mind. The tragedy of the hapless prince Dara Shukoh is well brought out , as he is hunted down from pillar to post as he escapes from the battle , and is eventually captured and sentenced to death by learned kazis . His crime--he was too tolerant to hindus......

Having ascended the throne in this manner , Aurangzeb kills even all his bothers' sons , so that they do not form a future threat to his kingship . Most of them are drugged daily to convert them into idiots until they die a slow death .

Having destroyed all threats to his kingship , Aurangzeb lays his lecherous hand on the wives of the defeated--but here destiny thwarts him , for the one he is most angling for , Dara's most beautiful wife slashes her face with a knife to destroy her charms , and make herself unworthy of his bed , thereby showing a shining example of love and loyalty to her husband......

After winning the throne in this fashion , Aurangzeb does not spare his friends , those who helped him win the throne either--for who knows , one day these brave people might become too powerful , threatening the throne.....

--Mir Jumla , the commandant of his artillery , is sent to fight in the malarious jungles of Assam , where as expected , malaria overcomes him .

--Maharajah Jaswant Singh of marwar is sent on a campaign in Afghanistan ,where afghans in Aurangzeb's pay kill him.

--Maharajah Mirza Raje Jai singh , who helps him control the marathas is kiiled by poisoning. His success against the marathas has made him too powerful....

The killing of the last two is especially important , as they are hindu nobles who might form the main impediment to a project that Aurangzeb Alamgir ( thats the title he has given himself )has long been considering , a project that indeed is his dream......the total islamisation of the subcontinent.......

And it is for the realisation of this project that he unleashes the jizya tax on hindus--something that his great grandfather Akbar had banished long ago .
The hindus protest of course , carrying out huge anti-jizya rallies right upto the mughal court , but Aurangzeb orders his troops to attack and kill the protestors--he is unrelenting......

Having done this , Aurangzeb makes peace with Iran , which has held Kandahar in afghanistan , long cherished by the mughals and orders his army ( 170, 000 strong ) to invade south India to complete another project of his--bringing the whole subcontinent under the mughal banner , right form Kashmir to Kanyakumari......

By force and bribes ( actually more by bribes ) he manages to conquer the muslim kingdoms of the deccan as his armies move south , levying tax as far as tiruchirapalli in tamil nadu . Above all , his troops capture alive maratha king Sambhaji , who is blinded by buring hot pincers put in his eyes , his skin is torn from his body while still alive , he is cut limb to limb and then fed to the dogs . Such mind-blowing cruelty !!

Aurangzeb has reached the pinnacle of his ambition , and seemingly achieved his dreams--or has he ?? For he soon discovers that his armies have yet to overawe the hardy inhabitants of the sahyadri ranges , those followers of Shivaji , whose impregnable fortresses elude capture by the mughals and whose armies disappear and appear at will , utterly confounding the slow mughals . Aurangzebs unwieldy army is unfit to fight against well motivated guerillas in mountainous jungle country , and his soldiers are reduced to hapless onlookers as the marathas wreak havoc in mughal territory .

The almighty mughals have met their match , but one man prevents them from retreating--Aurangzeb himself....
For an astonishing two decades and a half , the army is forced to fight an unwinnable fight in the hills of maharashtra as the treasury is depleted , the other provinces of the empire are neglected , and an entire new generation of children reach their youth in camp--they have never seen the big city.....

All his officers and men now want Aurangzeb to die so that the war would end , but his life is unusually prolonged . Aurangzeb laughs derisively at his sons who he knows are waiting for him to die , so that they can fight for the throne in time-honoured mughal fashion , but the old man simply refuses to croak off.......

But Aurangzeb is really sad at the end of his life , as he realises the enormous mistake that he has done , and asks his sons to not fight after his death for the throne , though he knows nobody will heed his call......

As far as the marathas who brought him to this pitiable condition-- they are given their fair share in this book , and the entire life and campaigns of both Shivaji and Sambhaji along with other warriors like Santaji Ghorpade is articulated . Of particular interest will be Shivaji's dramatic confrontation with the emperor at agra and his more dramatic escape .

All the ordinances that Aurangzeb brought out to enforce islam on an unwilling people are described in detail . Personally he led a simple life , stitching caps for a living .Fittingly , when died , he preferred burial in a simple tomb in Khuldabad in Maharashtra--'' the deccan became the grave of his ambitions as well as his body '' !!

Verdict about the book---masterpiece.......
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Shabad Vichaar by SPN'ers

These are saloks of Sant Kabir ji. They appear on Ang 1369. There is no rehao. The translation is by Dr. Sant Singh Khalsa. spnadmin

ਕਬੀਰ ਮਨੁ ਪੰਖੀ ਭਇਓ ਉਡਿ ਉਡਿ ਦਹ ਦਿਸ ਜਾਇ...

SPN on Facebook

...
Top