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Volume 3, No. 9 - February 2004

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Why did Aurangzeb destroy Hindu temples?
Vinod Kumar 

Many historians today contend that "Aurangzeb did not indiscriminately destroy Hindu temples, as he is commonly believed to have done, and that he directed the destruction of temples only when faced with insurgency. This was almost certainly the case with the Keshava Rai temple in the Mathura region, where the Jats rose in rebellion; and yet even this policy of reprisal may have been modified, as Hindu temples in the Deccan were seldom destroyed. The image of Aurangzeb as an idol-breaker may not withstand scrutiny, since there is evidence to show that, like his predecessors, he continued to confer land grants (jagirs) upon Hindu temples, such as the Someshwar Nath Mahadev temple in Allahabad, Jangum Badi Shiva temple in Banaras, Umanand temple in Gauhati, and numerous others."

In the contemporary history there is no evidence that Hindu temples were demolished because of the rebellion by the Hindus. And secondly if the places of worship were destroyed solely due to rebellion, many Muslims including Aurangzeb's own brothers and sons also rose in rebellion against him, how many mosques did he destroy to seek revenge or put down rebellion?

Why were the orders issued to destroy the temples and schools of the Hindus?

A contemporary historian, Saki Mustai'dd Khan in his Ma'asir-i Alamgiri writes:
(The History of  India as told by its own historians, vol. VII, pp. 183)

"On the 17th Zi-l kada 1079 (18th April 1669), it reached the ear of His majesty, the protector of the faith, that in the provinces of Thatta, Multan and Benaras, but specially in the latter, foolish Brahmins were in the habit of expounding frivolous books in their schools, and the students and learners, Mussulmans as well as Hindus, went there, even from long distances, led by desire to become acquainted with the wicked sciences they taught. (Emphasis added to show cause)

"The "Director of the faith" consequently issued orders to all the governors of provinces to destroy with a willing hand the schools and temples of the infidels; and they were strictly enjoined to put an entire stop to the teaching and practicing of idolatrous forms of worship. On the 15th Rabi-ul Akhir it was reported to his religious Majesty, the leader of the unitarians, that, in obedience to the order, the Government officers had destroyed the temple of Bishnath at Benaras."

There is more about destruction of other temples. But at this time let us review the above.

Firstly, there is no mention of rebellion by the Jats or anyone else. The reason was simple -- the Brahmins were teaching "wicked sciences".

Secondly, if the Jats were in rebellion, how would the order to destroy the temples and schools of the infidels help contain the rebellion if the purpose was purely political? Any such act further inflame not only the Jats who allegedly were in rebellion but also other infidels; even those who were not part of the rebellion.

Thirdly, the Jats were not everywhere and they were not in rebellion all over, the order was a general order, not only to demolish the temples but also the schools, of not only of the Jats but all infidels.

The great shrines that commanded the veneration of the Hindus from all over India were specially the targets of his religious bigotry. Among others, these included the second temple at Somnath, the Vishwanath temple of Benaras, and the Keshava Rai temple of Mathura, the "wonder of the age" on which a Bundela rajah had lavished 33 lakhs of Rupees. The temple at Mathura was of such "a height that its gilded pinnacles could be seen from Agra." (History of Aurangzeb, Vol. 3. Jadunath Sarkar, pp. 175)

It is the common practice of  "eminent historians" to label those historians who portray real picture of Muslim rule in India as "communal" historians. Will the "eminent historians" also call contemporary Muslim historians like the one I have quoted above as "communal historian"?

According to this definition, all Muslim historians and chroniclers from Utbi on including Alberuni and Timurlang himself will be classified as "communal".

Aurangzeb was a "good and pious" Muslim. To give another example of devotion to Islam, let me cite another example which has nothing to do with the infidel Hindus.

I quote from Muntakhabu-l Lubab by Khafi Khan:

1. "In the former reigns one side of the coins had been adorned with the words of the creed and the names of the first four Caliphs; but as the coins pass into many unworthy places, and fall under feet of infidels, it was ordered that this superscription should be changed."

2. "Since the reign of Emperor Akbar the official year of account and the years of the reign had been reckoned from the Ist Farwadi, when the sun enters Aries, to the end of Isfandiyar, and the year and the months were called Ilahi; but resembled the system of the fire worshippers, the Emperor in his zeal for upholding the Muhameddan rule, (emphasis added) directed that the year of the reign should be reckoned by the Arab lunar year and months, and that the revenue accounts also the lunar year should be preferred to the solar. The festival of the solar new year was completely abolished."

Historians claim Aurangzeb was an Indian and should not regarded as a foreign ruler. True, Aurangzeb was born in India and this makes him an Indian. Then, what had Aurangzeb born in India, an Indian, descended from Mongol Turks had to do with Arabic Lunar Calendar other than that it was Islamic?

"Mathematicians, astronomers and men who have studied history, know that **** the recurrence of the four seasons, summer, winter, the rainy season of Hindustan, the autumn and spring harvests, the ripening of the corn and fruit of each season, the tankhwah of jagirs, and the money of the mansabdars, are all dependent upon the solar reckoning, and cannot be regulated by the lunar; still his religious majesty was unwilling that the Nauroz and the year and months of the magi should give their names to the anniversary of his succession."

Contemporary history leaves no doubt that Aurangzeb conducted the affairs of the State in accordance with the dictates of Islam. And for that matter Aurangzeb was not unique in destroying the temples of the infidels and neither was it limited to India. A practice of demolishing or breaking idols started by Prophet Abraham has continued to this day. Its latest manifestation being destruction of Buddha statues at Bamiyan in Afghanistan. (

Some historians might say what they wish but it is not going to change the truth as the fruits and seasons are not going to change their system just because Islam follows the lunar calendar.

Aurangzeb was a pious and good Muslim. He is called a living pir.  Rebellion by the Jats was not the reason for his order to demolish Hindus' temples. The reason was that these were the temples of the infidels.

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