Aurangzeb was the last notable Mughal ruler. Although there was substantial political expansion during his time, he was hated for his religious intolerance and regressive nature. He tried to uproot the very essence of Bharateeya culture which was tolerance towards all religions or Sarvadharmasambhava. He was the most fanatic, misbehaving and suspicious of all the Mughal rulers. He attacked Assam quite a few times with an objective to expand his kingdom but didn’t succeed. He tried to bribe various tribe leaders in the North-West frontiers but that didn’t work out either. He conquered Bijapur and Golkonda but Shivaji, Rajaram and Tarabai continued their enmity with him. In his battles with Shivaji, he not only dug his own grave but also to some extent buried the Mughal Empire in it.
BY killing Afzal Khan, driving away Shaista Khan and coming out of the Agra Fort and subsequently his ascendency to the throne in 1674, Shivaji had completely shaken Aurangzeb. The rise of Shivaji on the Bharateeya horizon was a symbol of nationalism and a proof of our cultural generosity. Shivaji’s main objective was to uproot foreign rule from this land and re-establish Hindu empire. His nationalist activities disturbed Aurangzeb. After Shivaji, Shambhaji, Rajaram and Tarabai proved to be equally destructive for Aurangzeb. Later the Peshwas established ‘Hindu Paadshahi’.
Similarly, the Sikh gurus of Punjab proved to be a big threat to Aurangzeb. Basically this antagonism had started from the time of Babur. Jahangir had tortured the 5th guru of Sikhs, Guru Arjun Dev (1581-1606). Guru Teg Bahadur sacrificed his life in Delhi during the reign of Aurangzeb. Guru Govind Singhji established the Khalsa Panth on March 30th (Baisakhi) 1699. He lost all his four sons in the battles with Mughals. In spite of this Guru Govind Singhji in 1700AD sent a letter of Victory to Aurangzeb in which he had fearlessly mentioned all the evils done by Aurangzeb.
Some scholars, however, have praised Aurangzeb’s staunch religious policies and his fanaticism. He has even been referred to as a ‘Living Master’ (Pir). His motive was to abolish all religions except Islam. He had destroyed several Hindu temples. On the one hand, Babur had demolished the birth place of Sri Ram and constructed a mosque, on the other hand, Aurangzeb demolished the temple in Mathura, which was the birth-place of Lord Krishna, and the Vishwanath temple of Kashi and built Mosques in their places. He decimated several temples in Rajasthan. He even set up a separate department to demolish temples. He imposed per capita tax and travel tax on Hindus. He put a stop on all social traditions and festivals of the Hindus.
With Aurangzeb’s death in 1707 AD in South India, Mughal empire fell apart. Although after Aurangzeb, there were 11 other Mughal rulers and Mughal dynasty did continue till the great war of 1857, none of the subsequent rulers were able to leave an impression because of their worthlessness, indolence and powerlessness. Consequently, there were semi-independent states in various places in the country. However, the Sikhs of Punjab and the Peshwas of Maharasthtra remained as the Mughals’ eternal enemies. During the reign of Balaji Vishwanath, Bajirao and Balaji Bajirao, Marathas dominated the throne of Bharat. The Mughal Emperor of Delhi also complied with the orders of the Marathas. Peshwas established the Hindu title Paadshahi. Although their dominance subsided to a great deal after the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761 AD, the Maratha Confederacy comprising the Peshwas of Pune, Bhonsles of Nagpur, Holkars of Indore, Scindhias of Gwalior and the Gaikwads of Baroda remained powerful. Similarly, after the death of Guru Govind Singh, and later during the period of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Sikhs had absolute power in North – West Bharat. There was a continuous war against the Mughals by the Rajputs of Rajasthan and the Chatarasaal of Bundelkhand.
Dr Satish Chandra Mittal
(The writer is Professor (Retd.), History Department, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra)
(To be concluded)
His Discovery Saved Millions of Lives from ‘Kala-Azar’
Sir Upendranath Brahmachari was a famous Bharateeya scientist and a leading medical practitioner of his time, who worked to find a cure of the deadly disease called ‘Kala-azar’ (Visceral Leishmaniasis), which killed thousands of people in Bengal and Assam.
The traditional treatment by antimony was impracticable because it was long, tedious and painful. In 1920, Brahmachari discovered an organic compound of antimony, which he called ‘Urea Stibamine’. It had no painful effects and determined an effective substitute for the other antimony containing compounds in the treatment of ‘Kala-azar’. It was initially used in Assam in 1923 on a trial basis, and from 1928 at a mass scale. By the year 1933, approximately 325 thousands lives had been saved in Assam alone where several villages were completely depopulated by the devastating disease.
The medicine has also been used successfully in Greece, France and China. The achievement of Dr Brahmachari was a milestone in successful application of science in medical treatments in the years before arrival of antibiotics. When there were few specific drugs, Brahmachari never patented his drugs.
The Title of ‘Rai Bahadur’ was conferred upon him in 1924 and the Knighthood was conferred in 1934. In the category of physiology and medicine, Upendranath was a nominee for the Nobel Prize in 1929. He was honoured with the fellowships of the Royal Society of Medicine, London.
Through the discovery of the medicine for ‘Kala-azar’, Sir Upendranath Brahmachari has saved millions of lives in Bharat and abroad. In his memory and honour, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation has renamed the Loudon Street as Dr U N Brahmachari Street.
( Courtesy: Wah Bharat )