A ubiquitous notion in the 21st century India is that medieval Muslim rulers did their best to kill the Indian culture and society due their religious bigotry. Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal emperor is believed to be the most notorious of the rulers of that time. He is accused of destroying thousands of Hindu temples, genocide of Hindus and large scale conversion of Hindus to Muslims.
Historians confirm that Aurangzeb ordered the destruction of select Hindu temples (maybe a dozen over his 49-year reign) but it had nothing to do with ‘despising’ Hindus. He is said to have ordered demolishing of temples to forestall future uprising and in the aftermath of political rebellions. This doesn’t justify his actions but it explains that it didn’t stem from his alleged hatred for Hindus. Moreover Aurangzeb issued orders to protect Hindu temples and communities from harassment and it is a well known fact that the highest number of Hindus was incorporated into his imperial administration than any other Mughal ruler before him.
And when it comes to talking about the treachery, bigotry and tyranny of the Mughal rulers let’s have a look at some other rulers who had the same traits:
Way before Aurangzeb, it was Ajatashatru who had imprisoned his own father Bimbisara for the throne – The same King Bimbisara who had offered Siddhartha (later Gautam Buddha) the throne when his army men saw the prince leading a life of an ascetic in the kingdom.
Later, it is known that Ajatashatru’s son Udayabhadra killed his own father Ajatashatru for the throne.
After the Haryanka dynasty of Magadh came the Shishunaga dynasty. The Shishunaga dynasty was ended by Mahapadma Nanda, the son of the last king of the Shishunaga dynasty – Mahanandin.
According to the available Indian history texts, Mahapadma Nanda was Mahanandin’s son from a Shudra wife. Obviously, he was not the apparent heir to the throne. Next, he killed all his brothers to claim his supremacy on the throne!! This was not just the end of the Shishunaga sons but also the end of the Shishunaga dynasty as Mahapadma Nanda started his own Nanda dynasty!!!
Samrat Bindusara’s third son Ashoka was neither a crown prince nor an apparent heir to the throne. Being a son from a Brahmin mother, he had no chances of sitting on the throne. However, right or wrong, he too killed his brothers to claim the Magadh throne soon after the death of his father Bindusara!
Yes, not just Muslim rulers, even Hindu Kings imprisoned fathers & killed brothers for the throne in Indian history!
And let’s not forget Ashoka. If we were looking for a fanatic who would kill others due to a different belief – the equivalent of the Modern Day Islamic Jehadis – in India’s history, then Ashoka is the closest who comes to that description.
“At that time, an incident occurred which greatly enraged the king. A follower of the Nirgrantha (Mahavira) painted a picture, showing Buddha prostrating himself at the feet of the Nirgrantha. Ashoka ordered all the Ajivikas of Pundravardhana (North Bengal) to be killed. In one day, eighteen thousand Ajivikas lost their lives. A similar kind of incident took place in the town of Pataliputra. A man who painted such a picture was burnt alive with his family. It was announced that whoever would bring the king the head of a Nirgrantha would be rewarded with a dinara (a gold coin). As a result of this, thousands of Nirgranthas lost their lives.”
So again, my point here is ,you see, it was never about religion. Not always. Rulers of those times did what they did. They had many reasons for it and religion was not always one of those.
So, don’t go about calling these rulers as the ancestors of every Muslim and don’t bring religion into everything!