“The Lord Cherisher of the Faith learnt that in the provinces of Tatta, Multan and especially at Benares, the Brahman misbelievers used to teach their false books in their established schools and that admirers and students, both Hindu and Muslim, used to come from great distances to these misguided men in order to acquire this vile learning. His Majesty, eager to establish Islam, issued orders to the governors of all the provinces to demolish the schools and temples of the infidels and with the utmost urgency put down the teaching and the public practice of the religion of these misbelievers.” – Maasir I Alamgiri, by Saqi Mustad Khan, edited by Jadu Nath Sarkar, Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1947, pp. 194-95
Leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and nephew of Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar, courted controversy in an official meeting by forcefully arguing that Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj was Swarajya Rakshak (Protector of Self-rule) and not Dharmaveer (one who sacrificed his life for religion). Historically it is a known fact that Sambhaji Maharaj, after treacherous imprisonment by Aurangzeb, sacrificed his life without compromising both self-rule and religious ethos. Whatever Ajit Pawar thinks cannot change this historical fact. If this was not enough, Jitendra Awhad, another trusted lieutenant of Sharad Pawar, gave a certificate to the Mughal king Aurangzeb, whose tenure is probably the bloodiest period in history’, by saying he was cruel but not a Hindu hater. In Maharashtra politics, this was a strange positioning by the NCP, the party that claims the legacy of Shivaji Maharaj, at least on caste lines. Political controversy apart, the fundamental issue is the inspiration behind Aurangzeb’s cruelty and Sambhaji Maharaj’s sacrifice for the protection of self-rule.
Aurangzeb was a fundamentalist follower of Islam, and the basis of his cruelty was his hatred for all kinds of ‘infidels’, non-believers of Islam. His faith was more important to him than anything else. Unfortunately, his faith was blind and based on hatred for Kafirs. He did not spare even his brother or Shia Muslims for deviating from his version of Islam. Young children of Guru Govind Singh Ji were buried alive in the wall for refusing to change their religion. In the case of Sambhaji Maharaj, as the court records of Aurangzeb says, “the Emperor’s devotion to Islam ordered that Sambhaji Maharaj should be made to wear a wooden cap (a sign of a criminal) and as he enters the camp, there should be drum beating and trumpets pealing so that Muslims might be heartened and infidels (Hindus) will be disheartened”. Sambhaji Maharaj was hacked to death limb by limb as he was considered an infidel.
Aurangzeb gave preference to Muslims in his court, imposed the Ziziya tax on Hindus – besides levying additional charges on trading and pilgrimage and pardoned criminals if they were ready to accept Islam. So the basis of Aurangzeb’s cruelty was his faith, in turn, hatred towards infidels, including Hindus.
On the other hand, Sambhaji Maharaj’s commitment was for the Hindavi Swarajya – not just self-rule but the righteous rule based on protecting the good and punishment for the evil. Despite having the option of compromising and converting, he accepted the torturous death. In the Bharatiya context, this is the Dharma – hence, the title Dharmaveer to the Maratha king.
Despite knowing these facts very well, ‘secular’ historians and politicians always try to whitewash the real inspiration of Islamist rulers like Aurangzeb. Owaisi brothers showing reverence to Aurangzeb and intellectuals or politicians giving certificates of benevolence to him are part of the same process. They will have to deal with many inconvenient issues if they accept these facts. Most Muslims in Bharat are the first and the biggest victims of these fanatic rulers. Their ancestors had to face the forced religious conversion of bigots like Aurangzeb. Such awakened Muslims may continue to practice Islam, but they will not connect themselves with the likes of Babur and Aurangzeb. Their icons will change to the likes of Ashfaqulla and APJ Abdul Kalam. Many of them may try to search for their roots and proudly put common motherland, culture and ancestry before personal faith. Naturally, such awakened Muslims will not act as a ‘minority’ vote bank for the secularists. This selfish political compulsion is the only reason for certifying Aurangzeb and denigrating the sacrifice of Sambhaji Maharaj.