We, the Hindu activists and sympathisers of the Hindu cause, would love to hate Aurangazeb for almost everything that he had done in his lifetime. This includes the destruction of hundreds of temples, murdering Guru Tegh Bahadur, killing sons of Guru Gobind Singh, imposing Jazya on Hindus, murdering Sambhaji and many more like that. He converted his whole state machinery onto an Islamic conversion engine and was determined to turn India into a Dar-ul-Islam.
However, during the medieval era, there were many such Sultans, Badshahs, Military generals, Sufi leaders etc., who vigorously pursued the same kind of agenda that Aurangzeb was determined to undertake. However, what distinguishes them from Aurangzeb is more about the intensity, scale, time span, geographical spread and amount of conviction and the kind of righteousness with which he was pursuing this agenda.
In our over-enthusiasm to find fault with everything that was done by Aurangzeb, consciously or unconsciously, we are missing a larger picture. Let us not forget that Aurangzeb was not doing anything based on his personal priorities nor on his whims and fancies. The truth is that he was scrupulously following an agenda and program that was set up and demonstrated in the 7th century itself. He was not innovating anything by himself, nor was he pursuing anything for his personal benefits.
While discussing the things that Aurangzeb did, we focus on his acts (like temple demolition etc.), but we generally avoid the ideology with which he was pursuing this agenda. In other words, acts and actors are discussed while ignoring ideology. Even though we paint him as a villain and culprit, he considered himself an agent and an instrument through which Islam is to spread. Therefore, he was ensuring a seat for himself in the Jannat, as per the scheme of things in Islamic doctrines.
Many of our leftist historians would like to dismiss him as a medieval phenomenon, where, according to them, such destruction and killings were the order of the day and were nothing unusual in it. They point out that every king, irrespective of his religion, would wage war, destroy property and kill people in order to maintain his power. According to them, if that was so, there is no reason why we should be indignant towards him. However, even if we accept the point that many other rulers, including a few Hindu rajas, were also destroyed temples, we ignore a simple truth about the motivation, religious doctrine and the theology of iconoclasm propounded by the Islamic belief system which drove Aurangzeb and other Muslim Sultans who desecrated temples. In other words, he was not a product of the medieval era, but he was representing an idea that is inherently inhuman,
However, the unfortunate fact here is that the ideology and the religious doctrine with which he was doing these things were not a doctrine that got died or perished. It is still a living doctrine, inspiring millions of its followers to commit atrocities that are all unthinkable to others. In other words, Aurangzeb and other Sultans were dead long back, but not ideas and criminal ideologies.
Contrary to our wishes, present-day Islamists living in India will not disown the legacy of Aurangzeb. That is not because they love Aurangzeb in person, but because they are fully convinced that what Aurangzeb did was as per the textbook teaching of the Islamic doctrine, and he had never overstepped his brief as the Khalifa of ‘momins’. Any act of disowning Aurangzeb will be like disowning the Islamic doctrines and prophetic deeds. It is more like the de-facto rejection of the core Islamic belief systems. Therefore it is futile to expect Indian Muslims in general and Islamists in particular about disowning Aurangzeb.
Remember, Aurangzeb was loved by Islamists not because he did some great thing to improve the lives of people or made some extraordinary piece of architecture. Essentially he was advancing the interest of Islam, not the welfare of his Muslim subjects. Yet, present-day Islamists are socially conditioned to love and adore him precisely because he was pursuing an Islamic agenda and was heavy on Hindus, their leaders and their institutions like temples.
Whether we like it or not, Aurangzeb always considered himself a pious man, but his piety was always rooted in Islamic dogmas, not to be misunderstood with the piety and good deeds of an ordinary non-Muslim human being. In other words, he defined piety in terms of prophetic deeds and divine words as given in the Islamic texts. His morality did not stem from universal moral values but from Islamic doctrines and divinely inspired prophetic deeds.
It is relatively easy to demolish the Gyanwapi’ mosque’ structure and rebuild a temple there. It is easier to rename roads and remove these devils from history textbooks. But it will be far more difficult to exorcise the ideas and belief sets which motivated people like Aurangzeb to demolish the temple in the first place. To know the truth, we must be discussing more the ideology (of temple destruction) than the acts and actors involved in it. Let us not forget that Aurangzeb was a symptom and not a disease in itself.
Some are of the opinion that the past is past and Hindus have to reconcile with it, however dark it might have been. They argue that we have enough temples to pray, and we must learn to co-exist with Muslims without bothering about the incidents that happened in the past. However, reconciliation and sustainable peace between the communities can happen only if both sides accept and acknowledge the truth and the perpetrators express their sincere regret over the past misdeeds. Without it happening and without disowning the violent verses of their religious texts, conflicts are bound to erupt from time to time, and there can not be any sustainable peace prevailing.
There are no soft and easy options available in front of us. We are forced to fight an everlasting civil war punctuated with the occasional ceasefire. Rebuilding the destroyed temples in Mathura, Varanasi etc., can be a part of our battle, but that can not be a battle in itself. Our focus, therefore, should not be limited to a few temples that we need to ‘capture’ back but to purge the inhuman, medieval and barbarian ideology from the minds and hearts of the people living here in our Nation.