This exhibition mounted by FACT – India contains, and is based on Firmans, original edicts in Persian issued by Aurangzeb, preserved at the Bikaner Museum, Rajasthan, India


Aurangzeb, Emperor Shah Jahan’s sixth son, was born on 24th October 1618 at Dohad in Madhya Pradesh, and wrested India’s crown from his father before the end of June 1658, after defeating his brother Prince Dara Shukoh’s armies, first at Dharmat near Ujjain (15th April 1568) and the second, led by Dara himself, at Samugarh on 29th May 1658. The War of Succession to the richest throne in the world was practically over with this victory, and Aurangzeb secured his position by making Murad, his brother and accomplice in his impetuous pursuit for power, his prisoner, by treachery, on 25th June. He had already made his old father Emperor Shah Jahan a prisoner in the Agra Fort (8th June 1658).

Shah Jahan survived his confinement by nearly eight years and the disgraceful manner of his burial (Exhibit No. 5) will ever remain a stigma on this unscrupulous son Aurangzeb’s advent to the throne in his father’s life time was not welcomed by the people of India, because of the treacherous manner it was achieved; but public opinion became all the more hostile towards him when Prince Dara Shukoh, the favourite son of Shah Jahan, the translator of the Upanishads (Exhibit No. 2), and a truly liberal and enlightened Musalman, was taken prisoner on the Indian border, as he was going to Persia. Dara was paraded in a most undignified manner on the streets of Delhi on 29th August 1659. The French Doctor, Bernier, was an eye-witness to the scene and was deeply moved by the popular sympathy for Dara (Exhibit No. 3) which so much alarmed Aurangzeb that he contrived to have a decree from his Clerics announcing death-sentence for his elder brother on the charge of apostasy (Exhibit No. 4).

Throughout the War of Succession, Aurangzeb had maintained that he was not interested in acquiring the throne and that his only object was to ward off the threat to Islam, which was inevitable in case Dara Shukoh came to power. Many, including his brother Murad, were deceived by this posture. After his formal accession in Delhi (5th June 1659) he posed as a defender of Islam who would rule according to the directions of the Shariat, and with the advice of the Clerics or Ulama for whom the doctrines, rules, principles and directives, as laid down and interpreted in the 7th and 8th century Arabia, Persia and Iraq, were inviolable and unchangeable in all conditions, in all countries, and for all times to come.

One of the main objectives of Aurangzeb’s policy was to demolish Hindu temples. When he ordered (13th October 1666) removal of the carved railing, which Prince Dara Shukoh had presented to Keshava Rai temple at Mathura, he had observed ‘In the religion of the Musalmans it is improper even to look at a temple’, and that it was totally unbecoming of a Muslim to act like Dara Shukoh (Exhibit No. 6, Akhbarat, 13th October 1666). This was followed by destruction of the famous Kalka temple in Delhi (Exhibit No. 6, 7, 8, Akhbarat, 3rd and 12th September 1667).

In 1669, shortly after the death of Mirza Raja Jai Singh of Amber, a general order was issued (9th April 1669) for the demolition of temples and established schools of the Hindus throughout the empire and banning public worship (Exhibit Nos. 9 & 10). Soon after this the great temple of Keshava Rai was destroyed (Jan.-Feb. 1670) (Exhibit No. 12) and in its place a lofty mosque was erected. The idols, the author of Maasir-i-Alamgiri informs, were carried to Agra and buried under the steps of the mosque built by Begum Sahiba in order to be continually trodden upon, and the name of Mathura was changed to Islamabad. The painting (Exhibit No. 13) is thus no fancy imagination of the artist but depicts what actually took place.

This was followed by Aurangzeb’s order to demolish the highly venerated temple of Vishwanath at Banaras (Persian text, Exhibit No. 11), Keshava Rai temple (Jan.-Feb. 1670) (Persian Text, exhibit No. 12 and Painting, Exhibit No. 13), and of Somanatha (Exhibit No. 14).To save the idol of Shri Nathji from being desecrated, the Gosain carried it to Rajputana, where Maharana Raj Singh received it formally at Sihad village, assuring the priest that Aurangzeb would have to trample over the bodies of one lakh of his brave Rajputs, before he could even touch the idol (Exhibit No. 15)

Aurangzeb’s zeal for temple destruction became much more intense during war conditions. The opportunity to earn religious merit by demolishing hundreds of temples soon came to him in 1679 when, after the death of Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur in the Kabul Subah, he tried to eliminate the Rathors of Marwar as a political power in Rajputana. But Maharana Raj Singh of Mewar, in line with the great traditions of his House, came out in open support of the Rathors.. This led to war with both Mewar and Marwar during which the temples built on the bank of Rana’s lake were destroyed by his orders (Exhibit No. 23, Akhbarat 23rd December 1679) and also about three hundred other temples in the environs of Udaipur. (Exhibit No. 25, Text), including the famous Jagannath Rai temple built at a great cost in front of the Maharana’s palace which was bravely defended by a handful of Rajputs (Exhibit Nos. 20, 21).

Not only this, when Aurangzeb visited Chittor to have a view of the famous fort, he ordered the demolition of 63 temples there which included some of the finest temples of Kumbha’s time (Exhibit No. 22). From Marwar (in Western Rajasthan) alone were brought several cart-loads of idols which, as per Aurangzeb’s orders, were cast in the yard of the Court and under the steps of Jama Masjid (Exhibit No. 19). Such uncivilized and arrogant conduct of the Mughal Emperor alienated Hindus for ever, though they continued to be tolerant towards his creed.

In June 1681, orders, in a laconic two-liner, were given for the demolition of the highly venerated Jagannath Temple in Orissa (Exhibit No. 24, Akhbarat, 1st June 1681). Shortly afterwards, in September 1682, the famous Bindu-Madhav temple in Banaras was also demolished as per the Emperor’s orders (Exhibit No. 27, Akhbarat, Julus 26, Ramzan 20). On 1st September 1681, while proceeding to the Deccan, where his rebel son Prince Akbar, escorted by Durga Das Rathore, had joined Chhatrapati Shivaji’s son, Shambhaji, thus creating a serious problem for him, Aurangzeb ordered that all the temples on the way should be destroyed. It was a comprehensive order not distinguishing between old and newly built temples (Exhibit No. 26, Akhbarat, Julus 25, Ramzan 18). But in the district of Burhanpur, where there were a large number of temples with their doors closed, he preferred to keep them as such, as the Muslims were too few in number in the district. (Exhibit No. 28, Akhbarat 13th October 1681). In his religious frenzy, even temples of the loyal and friendly Amber state were not spared, such as the famous temple of Jagdish at Goner near Amber (Exhibit Nos. 30, Akhbarat, 28th March and 14th May 1680). In fact, his misguided ardour for temple destruction did not abate almost up to the end of his life, for as late as 1st January 1705 we find him ordering that the temple of Pandharpur be demolished and the butchers of the camp be sent to slaughter cows in the temple precincts (Akhbarat 49-7).

The number of such ruthless acts of Aurangzeb make a long list but here only a few have been mentioned, supported by evidence, mostly contemporary official records of Aurangzeb’s period and by such credible Persian sources as Maasir-i-Alamgiri.

In obedience to the Quranic injunction, he reimposed Jizyah on the Hindus on 2nd April 1679 (Exhibit No. 16), which had been abolished by Emperor Akbar in 1564, causing widespread anger and resentment among the Hindus of the country. A massive peaceful demonstration against this tax in Delhi, was ruthlessly crushed. This hated tax involved heavy economic burden on the vast number of the poor Hindus and caused humiliation to each and every Hindu (Exhibit No. 18). In the same vein, were his discriminatory measures against Hindus in the form of exemption of the Muslims from the taxes (Exhibit No. 31, Akhbarat 16th April 1667) ban on atishbazi and restriction on Diwali (Exhibit No. 32), replacement of Hindu officials by Muslims so that the Emperor’s prayers for the welfare of Muslims and glory of Islam, which were proving ineffective, be answered (Exhibit Nos. 33, 34). He also imposed a ban on ziyarat and gathering of the Hindus at religious shrines, such as of Shitla Mata and folk Gods like Pir Pabu (Exhibit No. 35, Akhbarat 16th September 1667), another ban on their travelling in Palkis, or riding elephants and Arab-Iraqi horses, as Hindus should not carry themselves with the same dignity as the Muslims! (Exhibit No. 36). In the same vein came brazen attempts to convert Hindus by inducement, coercion (Exhibit No. 41) or by offering Qanungoship (Exhibit No. 44, 45, 46) and to honour the converts in the open Court. His personal directions were that a Hindu male be given Rs.4 and a Hindu female Rs.2 on conversion (Exhibit No. 43, Akhbarat 7th April 1685). “Go on giving them”, Aurangzeb had ordered when it was reported to him that the Faujdar of Bithur, Shaikh Abdul Momin, had converted 150 Hindus and had given them naqd (cash) and saropas (dresses of honour) (Exhibit No. 40, Akhbarat, 11th April 1667). Such display of Islamic orthodoxy by the State under Aurangzeb gave strength and purpose to the resistance movements such as of the Marathas, the Jats, the Bundelas and the Sikhs (Exhibit No. 46).

On the 12th May 1666, the dignity with which Shivaji carried himself in the Mughal court and defied the Emperor’s authority, won him spontaneous admiration of the masses. Parkaldas, an official of Amber (Jaipur State) wrote in his letter dated 29th May 1666, to his Diwan. “Now that after coming to the Emperor’s presence Shivaji has shown such audacity and returned harsh and strong replies, the public extols him for his bravery all the more …” (Exhibit No. 37). When Shivaji passed away on April 1680 at the age of 53 only, he had already carved a sufficiently large kingdom, his Swarajya, both along the western coast and some important areas in the east as well.

Aurangzeb could never pardon himself for his Intelligence in letting him escape from his well laid trap and wrote in his Will (Exhibit No. 48) that it made him ‘to labour hard (against the Marathas) to the end of my life (as a result of it)”. He did not realize that it was his own doing: the extremely cruel manner ‘even for those times – in which he put to death Shivaji’ son, Shambhaji (Exhibit No. 38) made the Maratha king a martyr in the eyes of the masses and with that commenced the People’ War in Maharashtra and the Deccan which dug the grave of the Mughal empire.

Till the very end Aurangzeb never understood that the main pillars of the government are the affection and support of the people and not mere compliance of the religious directives originating from a foreign land in the seventh-eighth centuries.

His death after a long and ruinous reign lasting half a century, ended an eventful epoch in the history of India. He left behind a crumbling empire, a corrupt and inefficient administration, a demoralized army, a discredited government facing public bankruptcy and alienated subjects.


Exhibit No. 1: Mughal Empire map based on sheet o A 16 A of Irfan Habib’s “An Atlas of Mughal Empire”, Oxford Univ. Press, Delhi. (1982)


Exhibit No. 2: Prince Dara Shukoh translating the Upanishads.

Prince Dara Shukoh, the eldest son of Emperor Shah Jahan, was like his great ancestor Akbar, a very liberal and enlightened Musalman and a true seeker of truth. Akbar respected all religions – Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Sikhism, etc., and gave their votaries complete religious freedom. He was ever keen to discuss and understand their religious beliefs, practices and philosophy and, in order to make the Musalmans familiar with the culture, and universal values, philosophy and traditions of India, he had the great epics of India – Ramayana and Mahabharat – translated into Persian. He also arranged for the translation of the Atharvaveda.

Continuing the unfinished work of Emperor Akbar, Prince Dara Shukoh too, assisted by the Indian scholars, translated Bhagvad Gita, Prabodha Chandrodaya (a philosophical drama written in 1060 A.D.), and Yoga Vashishtha into Persian. He also translated the Upanishadas, which are the fountain-head of Indian philosophy, with the help of learned Pandits from Banaras, well versed in the Vedas and the Upanishadas. The translation of the Upanishadas by him entitled Sirr-i-Akbar (The Grand Secret) was completed on the 28th June 1657, shortly before the commencement of the War of Succession, which he lost to his crafty and unscrupulous brother, Aurangzeb who ruled India from 1659-1707.

In the painting, Dara is shown translating the Upanishadas, assisted by Indian scholars.


Exhibit No. 3: Scene of Captive Dara being paraded in Delhi. (29th April 1659)

The painting based on Dr. Bernier’s eyewitness account, shows captive Dara Shukoh and his son being carried on an elephant on the streets of Delhi, girt round by troops ready to foil any attempt to rescue the prisoner, and led by Bahadur Shah on an elephant. Behind Prince Dara Shukoh is Nazar Beg, their goaler. Dara is shown throwing his wrapper to a beggar who had cried out, “Dara! When you were master, you always gave me alms, today I know well thou hast naught to give”. Describing the scene Bernier writes, “The crowd assembled was immense; and everywhere I observed the people weeping and lamenting the fate of Dara in the most touching language … men, women and children were wailing as if some mighty calamity had happened to themselves”.

The outburst of popular sympathy for Dara Shukoh and the contemptuous response which Aurangzeb had received from the people for his outrageous treatment of his brother made him procure in all haste a decree from the Clerics in his own pay, and had his elder brother beheaded on the charge of apostasy.

This was a sad end of a genuine seeker of truth, translator of the Upanishadas, author of many works on Sufi philosophy, and one who could have revived and carried the enlightened policies of his great ancestor Akbar to fulfillment.


Exhibit No. 4: Dara Shukoh’s farcical trial and verdict.

Dara’s immense popularity and sympathy for him among the masses was evident when he along with his young son was taken out on the streets of Delhi on the 29th August 1659 in a degrading manner (Exhibit No.3). The outburst of popular sympathy for Dara Shukoh and the contemptuous and sullen response which Aurangzeb had received from the people for his outrageous behaviour with his elder brother filled his dark heart with misgivings if Dara remained alive even as prisoner in the Gwalior fort or elsewhere. It was felt among his inner circle of confidants that Dara must be put to death without delay on the ground of apostasy.

Following a farcical trial in absentia, the Ulama in pay of Aurangzeb decreed death for Dara for his infidelity and deviation from Islamic orthodoxy, and because “the pillars of the Canonical Law and Faith apprehended many kinds of disturbances from his life”. This was in reality a fraud on truth.

Prince Dara Shukoh was killed and his severed head was sent to Aurangzeb to satisfy him that his rival is really dead. By his orders, the headless corpse of his brother was placed on an elephant and paraded through the streets of Delhi a second time and then buried without the customary washing and dressing of the body. The sketch portrays the trial of Dara in absentia and his severed head being brought before Aurangzeb.


Exhibit No. 5: Shah Jahan’s burial Procession.

The painting is based on a contemporary letter sent by the Amber State official Parkaldas to the Diwan of Amber, Kalyandas, dated Phalgun Vadi 30, 1222 V.S. / 23rd February 1666.

It is a night scene in the Red Fort of Agra where Emperor Shah Jahan had been kept in strict confinement by his son Aurangzeb for the past several years. The two wives of the Emperor, Akbarabadi Begum and Fatehpuri Begum, who were with him when his end came, are being stopped at the door by the guards, and are sadly seeing the bier of their husband, Shah Jahan, the Emperor of India, being taken out by four kahars or palquin bearers, as if he was some common prisoner. No son, grandson or nobles are there to give shoulder to the body of the Emperor. In the tabut or bier, the pale face of the Emperor is uncovered. Shah Jahan’s devoted daughter, Jahanara is looking at the sad spectacle from a window of the palace, her entreaties with Khoja Phul (the eunuch) not to take the body for burial in the night without waiting for the daybreak having failed. “I have orders from the Emperor (Aurangzeb) to carry the coffin this very night”, he had replied. The Khoja is walking some steps ahead of the tabut. The body was taken out by the Mori Gate and hurriedly consigned to the grave in the Taj Mahal mausoleum.

There might be very few examples indeed of such an unceremonious and hurried burial, marked by stealthiness and tainted by guilt, as that of Shah Jahan, who had been Emperor of India for about thirty years (1528-1658) and who was leaving behind a son, now the Emperor (Aurangzeb), and a number of grand children and relations and countless nobles.


Exhibit No. 6: Keshava Rai Temple. “Even to look at a temple is a sin for a Musalman”, Aurangzeb. Umurat-i-Hazur Kishwar-Kashai Julus (R.Yr.) 9, Rabi II 24 / 13 October 1666.

‘It was reported to the Emperor (Aurangzeb) that in the temple of Keshava Rai at Mathura, there is a stone railing presented by Bishukoh (one without dignity i.e. Prince Dara, Aurangzeb’s elder brother). On hearing of it, the Emperor observed, “In the religion of the Musalmans it is improper even to look at a temple and this Bishukoh has installed this kathra (barrier railing). Such an act is totally unbecoming of a Musalman. This railing should be removed (forthwith)”. His Majesty ordered Abdun Nabi Khan to go and remove the kathra, which is in the middle of the temple. The Khan went and removed it. After doing it he had audience. He informed that the idol of Keshava Rai is in the inner chamber. The railing presented by Dara was in front of the chamber and that, formerly, it was of wood. Inside the kathra used to stand the sevakas of the shrine (pujaris etc.) and outside it stood the people (khalq)’.


Aurangzeb’s solemn observation recorded in his own Court’s bulletin that “In the religion of the Musalmans it is improper even to look at a temple” and therefore, presentation of a stone railing to Keshava Rai temple by Dara was “totally unbecoming of a Musalman” casts serious doubts about a few instances of religious toleration and temple grants attributed to him. Only two years before his long awaited death, he had ordered (1st January 1705) to “demolish the temple of Pandharpur and to take the butchers of the camp there and slaughter cows in the temple … It was done”. Akhbarat, 49-7, cited in J.N. Sarkar, Aurangzeb, Vol.III, 189).

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Exhibit No. 7: Demolition of Kalka’s Temple – I. Siyah Waqa’i- Darbar Regnal Year 10, Rabi I, 23 / 3 September 1667.

“The asylum of Shariat (Shariat Panah) Qazi Abdul Muqaram has sent this arzi to the sublime Court: a man known to him told him that the Hindus gather in large numbers at Kalka’s temple near Barahapule (near Delhi); a large crowd of the Hindus is seen here. Likewise, large crowds are seen at (the mazars) of Khwaja Muinuddin, Shah Madar and Salar Masud Ghazi. This amounts to bid‘at (heresy) and deserves consideration. Whatever orders are required should be issued.

Saiyid Faulad Khan was thereupon ordered (by the Emperor) to send one hundred beldars to demolish the Kalka temple and other temples in its neighbourhood which were in the Faujdari of the Khan himself; these men were to reach there post haste, and finish the work without a halt”.


Kalkaji’s temple which stands today was rebuilt soon after Aurangzeb’s death (1707 A.D.) on the remains of the old temple dedicated to Goddess Kali. The two Akhbarat dated R.Yr. 10, Rabi I, 23 and Rabi II, 3 (Sept.3 and Sept. 12, 1667) provide details regarding the demolition of the temple on Aurangzeb’s orders. Since 1764, the temple has been renovated and altered several times but the main 18th century structure more or less remains the same. The site is very old dating back to Emperor Asoka’s time (3rd century B.C.). There is mention of Kalkaji in the Maratha records of 1738. People flock to the temple in large numbers especially during Navratras.


Exhibit No. 8: Demolition of Kalka Temple II. Siyah Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Mu‘alla Julus 10, Rabi II 3 / 12 September 1667.

“Saiyad Faulad Khan reported that in compliance with the orders, beldars were sent to demolish the Kalka temple which task they have done. During the course of the demolition, a Brahmin drew out a sword, killed a bystander and then turned back and attacked the Saiyad also. The Brahmin was arrested”.


There are only a few recorded instances of armed opposition by outraged Hindus, such as at Goner (near Jaipur), Ujjain, Udaipur and Khandela, but there must have been many more such instances of angry outbursts and resistance against Muslim vandalism which do not find mention in the official papers of Emperor Aurangzeb.

Most of the Hindus took the destruction of these temples philosophically considering these as acts of ignorance and folly for a vain purpose. They regarded that it was beyond the understanding or intelligence of the Musalmans to comprehend the principle behind the idol worship or the fundamental oneness of saguna and nirguna worship. The Hindus believed that the Gods and Goddesses leave for their abode before the hatchet or the hammer of the vile “mlecchas” or “asuras” so much as even touched the idols. The idea has been well described in Kanhadade Prabandha (wr. 1456 A.D.) when giving an account of the destruction of the Somnath temple by Sultan Alauddin’s troops in 1299.


Exhibit No. 9: General Order for the Destruction of Temples. (9th April 1669)

“The Lord Cherisher of the Faith learnt that in the provinces of Thatta, Multan and especially at Benaras, the Brahmin misbelievers used to teach their false books in their established schools, and their admirers and students, both Hindu and Muslim, used to come from great distances to these misguided men in order to acquire their 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 unbelievers”.


This is not the only instance when Aurangzeb prevented the Muslims from acquiring knowledge and wisdom of the Hindu philosophical works and other Sanskrit and Bhasha classics, or sharing spiritual and intellectual experience, and thus stifled the process of fusion, or at least bridging of the gulf between the two creeds with very different approaches, principles, values, levels of intellectual attainments and period of evolution of ideas. A general order of this type to put down the teaching and public practice of religion by the Hindus was used as a ground to demolish some of the most venerable shrines of India during the next few years, but despite the severe and comprehensive nature of the order, it failed to wrest from Banaras its unique prestige and position as the chief centre of learning of the Vedas, Dharmashastras, the Six Systems of Philosophy, Sanksrit language and literature, and Astronomy.


Exhibit No. 10: General Order for the demolition of Hindu Temples.

On the 9th April 1669, Aurangzeb “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 unbelievers (Hindus)” Maasir-i-‘Alamgiri, p.81).

In the sketch, the artist has shown the destruction of the temples of Somanath, Jagannath (Puri), Kashi Vishwanath (Banaras)and Keshava Rai (Mathura), which were all highly venerated shrines, as symbolic of Aurangzeb’s ideal of thorough destruction of Hindu temples. In the centre is a portion of the infamous order of the 9th April issued by him.


Exhibit No. 11: Demolition of the temple of Viswanath (Banaras). August 1669 A.D.

It was reported that, “according to the Emperor’s command, his officers had demolished the temple of Viswanath at Kashi”. (Maasiri-‘ Alamgiri, 88)


Kashi is one of the mort sacred towns in India and reference to the worship of Shiva as Vishveshvara goes back to very early times. Kashi itself enjoys highest sanctity since times immemorial. According to the Puranas, every foot-step taken in Kashi Kshetra has the sanctity of making a pilgrimage to a tirtha. Lord Vishvanatha is regarded as the protector of Kashi and the belief is that one earns great religious merit by having darshana (view) of the deity after having bathed in the Ganges. After destruction of the temple on Aurangzeb’s orders, a mosque (Gyanvapi Masjid) was built which still stands there as a testimony of the great tolerance and spirit of forgiveness of the Hindus even towards those who had for centuries desecrated and destroyed their temples and other places of worship and learning, and also as a lesson that “mutually uncongenial cultures”, when forced by circumstances to intermingle in the same Geographical area, result in such calamities. A portion of the sculpture of the demolished temple, probably built in the late 16th century, still survives to tell the fate of Aurangzeb’s vandalism and barbarity. The present temple of Vishveshvara was built by Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore.

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Exhibit No. 12 i

12 B

Exhibit No. 12 ii

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Exhibit No. 12 iii

Exhibit No. 12 i – ii – iii : “During this month of Ramzan (1080 A.H./January-February 1670) ….. the Emperor ….. The reviver of the Faith of the Prophet issued orders for the demolition of the Dehra of Keshava Rai in Mathura. In a short time the destruction of this strong foundation of infidelity was accomplished and on its site a lofty mosque was built. ….. the idols large and small of the temple were brought to Agra and buried under the steps of the mosque of Begum Sahib” (Maasir-i- ‘Alamgiri, 95-96).


Exhibit No. 13: Demolition of Keshava Rai temple at Mathura. (13th January – 11th February 1670)

The great temple of Keshava Rai at Mathura was built by Bir Singh Deo Bundela during Jahangir’s time at a cost of thirty-three lakhs of rupees. The Dehra of Keshava Rai was one of the most magnificent temples ever built in India and enjoyed veneration of the Hindus throughout the land. Prince Dara Shukoh, who was looked upon by the masses as the future Emperor, had presented a carved stone railing to the temple which was installed in front of the deity at some distance; the devotees stood outside this railing to have ‘darshan’ of Keshava Rai. The railing was removed on Auranzeb’s orders in October 1666.

The Dehra of Keshava Rai was demolished in the month of Ramzan, 1080 A.H. (13th January – 11th February 1670) by Aurangzeb’s order. “In a short time, by the great exertion of the officers, the destruction of this strong foundation of infidelity was accomplished and on its site a lofty mosque was built at the expenditure of a large sum”. To the author of Maasir-i-‘Alamigiri, the accomplishment of this “seemingly impossible work was an “instance of the strength of the Emperor’s faith”. Even more disgraceful was transporting the idols to Agra and burying them under the steps of the mosque of the Begum Sahib “in order to be continually trodden upon”.

The painting shows the demolition of the great temple, on Aurngzeb’s orders in progress and subsequent uncivilized conduct towards the idols.


Exhibit No. 14: Demolition of Somnath temple.

About the time the general order for destruction of Hindu temples was issued (9th April 1669), the highly venerated temple of Somanath built on the sea-shore in Kathaiwad was also destroyed. The famous temple was dedicated to Lord Shiva. In the 11th century, the temple was looted and destroyed by Mahmud Ghaznavi. It was rebuilt by King Bhim Deva Solanki of Gujarat and again renovated by Kumarapal in 1143-44 A.D. The temple was again destroyed by Alauddin Khalji’s troops in 1299. In a rare description of the scene of a temple destruction, like of which continued to occur time and again during the long and disastrous rule of the Musalman rulers in India, we have the following account. “The Mlechchha (asura) stone breakers”, writes Padmanabha in his classic work “climbed up the shikhar of the temple and began to rain blows on the stone idols on all three sides by their hammers, the stone pieces falling all around. They loosened every joint of the temple building, and then began to break the different layers (thara) and the sculptured elephants and horses carved on them by incessant blows of their hammers. Then, amidst loud and vulgar clamour, they began to apply force from both the sides to uproot the massive idol by means of wooden beams and iron crowbars” (Kaanhadade Prabandha, Canto I, vss. 94-96).

After the destruction of Somnath temple during Alauddin’s time, it was rebuilt again. When Aurangzeb gave orders for its destruction, the scene must have been little different from the one described by Padmanabha. The artist in his painting has tried to recreate the scene.

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Exhibit No. 15: Maharana Raj Singh formally receiving the Idol of Shrinathji.

Aurangzeb’s temple breaking spree was in full swing after his general order of 9th April 1669. The idols were being broken and temples desecrated in a show of mad religious frenzy and in remorseless pursuit to fulfil the demands of the Shari‘at. These were the circumstances which formed the backdrop of Shri Nathji’s journey from Govardhan near Mathura to a small village in Mewar (Rajasthan), which in course of time became one of the most important centres of the Vallabha Sampradaya.

The idol which adorned the temple at Govardhan near Mathura, before it could be touched by Aurangzeb’s hatchet-men, was taken by Damodar Gosain to Bundi, Kotah, Kishangarh and even Jodhpur, but none of the Rajput States felt strong enough to face the wrath of Aurangzeb. At last when Maharana Raj Singh of Mewar was approached, he assured the worried Gosain (the priest) that Aurangzeb would not be able to even touch the idol of Shri Nathji without first treading over the bodies of one lakh of his brave Rajputs.

Shri Nathji’s idol was then brought to Mewar, the Maharana himself receiving the Lord on the border of his state on 5th December 1671 at Sihad village, which after the deity, came to be called Nathdwara.

The tradition goes that when Gosain and his party reached Sihada village in Mewar, the wheels of Shri Nathji’s chariot got stuck up in the sand, and despite all efforts, the chariot would not move a finger’s length. Happily, this was taken as a sign that the God did not wish to proceed any further and has chosen the place as His abode.

In the above painting, the wheels of Shri Nathji’s chariot are shown having stuck up in sand; the Maharana Raj Singh is receiving the idol of Shri Nathji with utmost reverence; the Gosain is standing nearby; Shri Nathji is in the curtained chariot, only his face being visible.


Exhibit No. 16: Reimposition of Jizyah by Aurangzeb. (2nd April 1679)

‘As all the aims of the religious Emperor were directed to the spreading of the law of Islam and the overthrow of the practices of the infidels, he issued orders to the high diwani officers that from Wednesday, the 2nd April 1679 / 1st Rabi I, in obedience to the Quranic injunction, “till they pay commutation money (Jizyah) with the hand in humility”, and in agreement with the canonical tradition, Jizyah should be collected from the infidels (zimmis) of the capital and the provinces. Many of the honest scholars of the time were appointed to discharge the work (of collecting Jizyah). May god actuate him (Emperor Aurangzeb) to do that which He loves and is pleased with, and make his future life better than the present’.


Ignoring the Qur’anic injunction that war was to be made on all those who do not profess Islam “till they pay Jizyah out of their hand and they are humiliated”, Emperor Akbar had abolished this invidious tax on the Hindus in 1564. Its re-imposition by Aurangzeb in 1679 was an extremely retrogressive step and was greeted by spontaneous protests of the people in general and made Shivaji Maharaj write his famous letter chiding the intolerant and foolish Emperor for making distinction among his subjects on the basis of religion. The step was likely to bring a spurt in conversions to Islam, especially from the poorer classes, and pacification of the Muslims in general, but Ulama in particular.

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Exhibit No. 17: “Burial of Music”. The musicians, wailing and lamenting carry the ‘bier’ of music in Aurangzeb’s presence. “Bury it so deep that no sound or echo of it may rise again”, Aurangzeb, (Muntakhab-al Lubab, p.213)


Exhibit No. 18: Hindus forced to suffer humiliation in paying the Jizyah tax.

On 2nd April 1679, Aurangzeb re-imposed Jizayah upon the Hindus which had been abolished by Emperor Akbar in 1564. The author of Maasir-i-Alamgiri writes: ‘As all the aims of the religious Emperor (Aurangzeb) were directed to the spreading of the law of Islam and the overthrow of the practices of the infidelity, he issued orders ….. that from Wednesday, the 2nd April 1679/1st Rabi I, in obedience to the Qur’anic injunction, “till they pay Jizyah with the hand of humility”, and in agreement with the canonical traditions, Jizyah should be collected from the infidels (zimmis) of the capital and the provinces’.

The economic burden of Jizyah was felt most by the poor who formed the vast majority of the Hindus; for the middle classes and the rich, it was not so much the economic burden which mattered but the humiliation involved in the prescribed mode of payment, which the Jizyah collector could always insist upon, as of right i.e. by insisting that he would accept it only when paid personally. The Qur’anic injunction that war must be made upon all those who do not profess Islam “till they pay Jizyah out of their hand and they are humiliated”, was interpreted to mean that the Hindus must be made conscious of their inferior position when paying this tax.

In the painting, a number of Hindus, both rich and poor are lining up to pay Jizyah while the arrogant Jizyah collector is picking up the coins from the palm of a Hindu Jizyah payer. Some people have come from the neighbouring areas in their bullock-carts; their bullocks are resting under the shade of the trees.


Exhibit No.19: Aurangzeb orders cart-loads of idols brought from Jodhpur to be cast under the steps of Jama Masjid. (May 1679)

“On Sunday, the 24 Rabi II / 25th May 1679, Khan Jahan Bahadur came from Jodhpur, after demolishing the temples and bringing with himself some cart-loads of idols, and had audience of the Emperor, who highly praised him and ordered that the idols, which were mostly jewelled, golden, silvery, bronze, copper or stone, should be cast in the yard (jilaukhanah) of the Court and under the steps of Jama Masjid to be trodden on. They remained so for some time and at last their very names were lost”.


There was no limit to the uncivilized conduct of the Muslim troops in Marwar during the war which started in 1679 following the resumption of Marwar. Aurangzeb’s handling of the situation after the death of Maharaja Jaswant Singh in the Kabul Subah in 1679, rekindled in his heart the dormant fire of vengeance towards the Maharaja, and his whole plan was to eliminate the Rathors as a major power in Rajputana. The treatment of the idols brought from the temples of Marwar showed the level of degradation to which people can descend under the influence of religious despotism, but for an Emperor whose majority of the subjects respected and worshipped these idols, it was an unpardonable act and reflected poorly on his religious beliefs.


Exhibit No. 20: Demolition of Jagannath Rai (Jagdish Temple), Udaipur and its brave defence. R.Y. 23rd of Aurangzeb’s reign (26th September 1679 – 14th September 1680).

“Ruhullah Khan and Ekkataz Khan went to demolish the great temple in front of the Rana’s palace, which was one of the rarest buildings of the age and the chief cause of the destruction of life and property of the despised worshippers. Twenty machator Rajputs were sitting in the temple vowed to give up their lives; first one of them came out to fight, killed some and was then himself slain, then came out another and so on until every one of the twenty perished, after killing a large number of the imperialists including the trusted slave, Ikhlas. The temple was found empty. The hewers broke the images”.


The great temple of Jagannath Rai (Jagdish) was built by Maharana Jagat Singh at a cost of several lakhs of rupees. The pratishtha ceremony of the temple was held on 13th May 1652 on a grand scale.

It was a Vishnu Panchayatan temple. In the centre was the main temple of Vishnu and in the parikrama, in the four directions, were those of Shiva, Ganapati, Surya and Devi. The Jagannath Prashasti gives details about the temple, including the names of the architect etc.

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Exhibit No. 21: The Defence of Jagannath Rai (Jagadish) Temple, Udaipur. (January 1680)

The sketch portrays a famous incident in the history of Mewar which had come out in open support of the Rathors of Marwar, then fighting for the very survival of their State (Jodhpur) which Aurangzeb had resumed with darkest of intentions. War was on and when the Maharana and his people evacuated Udaipur and withdrew to the mountains and valleys of Mewar.

In front of the Maharana’s palace was the grand temple of Jagannath Rai, which was “one of the rarest buildings of the age”. It was built by Maharana Jagat Singh at a cost of several lakhs of rupees. The pratistha ceremony of the temple was held on the 13th May 1652. It was a Vishnu Panchayatan temple in which, the temples of Siva, Ganapati, Surya and Devi were in the four directions, in the Parikrama, and the main temple of Vishnu in the centre. Ruhillah Khan and Yakka Taz Khan were sent to demolish it. Saqi Musta’ad Khan writes in Maasir-i-‘Alamgiri, “Twenty machator Rajputs were sitting in the temple vowed to give up their lives; first one of them came out to fight, killed some and was then himself slain, then came out another and so on, until every one of the twenty perished, after killing a large number of the imperialists”. After the last brave Rajput had fallen, the Muslim troops entered the temple and the hewers broke the image.


Exhibit No. 22: Destruction of sixty-three temples at Chittor. On Monday, the 22nd February /1st Safar, the Emperor went to see Chittor; by his order sixty-three (63) temples of the place were destroyed.

Among the temples which suffered damage were also those built by Maharana Kumbha, such as Kumbha Swami temple. The temple architecture at Chittor had attained a high level of excellence and it suffered an irreparable loss on the occasion of Aurangzeb’s visit to the fort.


Exhibit No. 23: Orders for the destruction of temples on the bank of Maharana’s lake, Udaipur. Siyah Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Mu’alla Julus 23, Zilqad 29 / 23rd December 1679.

“Yesterday, Yakka Taz Khan and mimar (architect or mason) Hira brought before the Emperor the tarah (plans or designs) of the temples built on the bank of Rana’s lake and submitted that at a distance of about five kos, there was another lake also. It was ordered by the Emperor that Hasan Ali Khan, Ruhullah Khan, Yakka Taz Khan, Ibadullah Khan and Tahavvara Khan should go and destroy the temples”.


Though Maharana Raj Singh of Mewar was at war with the Mughal Government at that time, having come out in open support of the Rathors who were fighting against unjust and high handed resumption of Marwar, there was no justification whatsoever for demolishing nearly three hundred temples in Mewar alone. One may note that even in peaceful times, the temples were the chief target of Muslim vandalism as was the case with such sacred shrines as of Bindu-Madhava and Vishwanath at Banaras, Keshava Rai at Mathura, Jagannath at Puri and Somnath in Gujarat, all of which were demolished by Auranzeb’s orders. Aurangzeb’s religious bigotry, through praised by the Muslim historians, has lived on in national memory as a disturbing fact since it has sanction of his religion, though it has been denounced by all Hindu writers, poets and common men.

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Exhibit No. 24: Orders for the demolition of Jagannath Temple, Orissa. Siyah Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i- Mu‘alla Julus 24, Jamadi I, 23 / 1st June 1681.

“(The Emperor) ordered Asad Khan that in accordance with the (existing) orders, to write to Amir-ul-Umara, the Subedar of Bengal, to demolish the temple (butkhana) of Jagannath in Orissa.”


The sacred Jagannath temple at Puri in Orissa is situated in Shankha Kshetra. Puri is a well known centre of pilgrimage in Eastern India on the sea shore of Bay of Bengal. It is said that there was a Buddhist shrine here in ancient times. After the great revival of Hinduism, it became an important Vaishnavite centre and images of Krishna, Balram and Subhadra were installed in the temple.

It is difficult to say who built this magnificent temple, but we certainly know that it was restored in the 9th century by Yayati Kesari and that it was renovated by King Chand Gangadeva in the 12th century, and a few decades later Anang Bhim Deva of the same dynasty (Ganga Vamsha) restored the shrine compeltely. The structure which stands today is the same, though it suffered damage from time to time at the hands of Musalman invaders, such as by Sultan Firuz Tughlaq in 1360 A.D. The temple was partly demolished but the local people continued to visit the temple for worship soon after the original temple was restored.

The temple records inform that one of the queens of Raja Man Singh of Amber, when he was the Governor of Bengal and Orissa during Akbar’s time, added a mandap in this temple in the16th century. A Maratha sardar of the Bhonsle family restored the Bhog mandap later. The temple was visited by eminent Vaishnava saints – Ramanuja in 1122 and 1137 and Chaitanya in the 15th century.


Exhibit No. 25: Large scale destruction of temples in the environs of Udaipur (January 1680).

“On the 7th Muharram / 29th January 1680, Hasan Ali Khan brought to the Emperor twenty camel-loads of tents and other things captured from the Rana’s palace and reported that one hundred and seventy-two (172) other temples in the environs of Udaipur had been destroyed. The Khan received the title of Bahadur ‘Alamgirshahi’.


The destruction of one hundred seventy-two temples in the environs of Udaipur alone shows the magnitude of the loss the Musalman rulers like Aurangzeb caused to the architectural treasures of India, their own much acclaimed contribution in the field being only a small part of what they destroyed, animated by religious frenzy more suitable for the age of barbarism than seventeenth century India.


Exhibit No. 26: All the temples on the way to be destroyed. Siyah Akhbarat-i-Darbar Julus 25, Ramzan 18 / 21st September 1681.

“(The Emperor) ordered Jawahar Chand, Darogha of the beldars, that whichever temples come in the way (of the Emperor) be demolished”.


It is evident that the order makes no distinction between old and recently built temples. It is an all comprehensive order to pull down all the temples which could meet Emperor’s eyes.

The Emperor at this time was on his way to the Deccan after concluding terms of peace with Mewar. Leaving Ajmer on 8th September 1681, he reached Burhanpur on 13th November 1681. Aurangzeb had the regret that the houses and the temples in the Deccan were exceedingly strong, being built solely of stone and iron. For this reason, as he wrote to Ruhullah Khan, “The hatchet men of the Government in course of my marching do not get sufficient strength and power (i.e. time) to destroy and raze the temples of the infidels that met the eye on the way, and therefore ordered that “an orthodox darogha” be appointed “who may afterwards destroy them (temples) at leisure and dig up their foundations”. (Kalimat-i-Aurangzeb, 34 of Rampur MS and f.35a of 1.0.L. MS., in J.N. Sarkar, Aurangzeb, Vol.III, 189).


Exhibit No. 27: Demolition of Bindu-Madhav Temple at Banaras. Siyah Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i- Mu‘alla Julus 26, Ramzan 20 / 13 September 1682.

“Complying with the orders, Rafi-ul-Amin, the Diwan of Banaras has sent the report that the temple of Nand-Madho (Bindu- Madhav) has been demolished, and, after this affair, awaits whatever orders are given regarding constructing a mosque there. The Emperor ordered that a mosque be built there”.


Temple of Bindu-Madhava – “The most important Vishnu temple in Varanasi since the fifth century A.D., finds mention, along with Adi Keshava, in the Matsya Purana, as one of the five most important tirthas in Varanasi. It was demolished during every inconoclastic storm and was every time rebuilt”. The deity was reconsecrated in a grand temple built by Raja Man Singh of Amber in the 16th century. The temple was demolished and a mosque was constructed here as the Akhbar of R.Yr. 26, Ramzan 20 / 13 September 1682, displayed here, records.

The present temple was built by the Raja of Aundh (Satara, Maharashtra) in the 19th century. The temple is highly respected among the South Indians; Bindu-Madhava is respected as Vishnu-Kanchi of South India. A large number of devotees visit the temple, especially in the month of March.


Exhibit No. 28: Problem of converting closed temples into mosques in Burhanpur district. Siyaha Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i- Mu‘alla R.Yr. 25, Shawwal 10 / 13th October 1681.

“Qamruddin Khan reported that in this mulk (in the region of Burhanpur) there are a very large number of temples, but their doors remain closed. One of Your Majesty’s servant was sent with orders to demolish the temples, who reported that in this zila (district), Muslims have not settled (in any appreciable number), so that the temples be given the appearance of mosques in order that the Musalmans may offer namaz there. The Emperor ordered that it would be better to let the temples remain closed rather than demolishing them”.


The above document explains the reason which led Aurangzeb to spare many other closed temples in the Deccan instead of having them demolished. The reason was not that good sense had at last dawned upon him, or that he had suddenly imbibed the catholicity and other liberal qualities of the Hindus, but because converting the temples into mosques was not likely to serve any purpose on account of very sparse population of the Musalmans in the district. Besides, it would have antagonized Marathas and the Hindus in general even further. His son Akbar having revolted (January 1681) had joined (June 1681) the Maratha king, Shambhaji, which made his position extremely difficult and he was out to woo the Marathas by most liberal offer of mansabs.


Exhibit No. 29: Order for demolition of the temple at Goner (Amber). Siyaha Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i- Mu‘alla Julus (R.Yr.) 24, Rabi I, 17 / 28th March 1686.

“Asad Khan was ordered to write to Raja Ram Singh’s gumashta, who is in Amber, that the temple in mauza Goner, near Amber, is to be demolished, and to hand over its possession to Jamal Beg, gurzbardar (mace bearer)”.


There was no provocation for Aurangzeb’s ordering demolition of the Goner temple, since the Jagdish temple at Goner, as per tradition, had been built in Akbar’s time. It is however a known fact that Aurangzeb’s distrust of and dislike for Maharaja Ram Singh of Amber had never abated since the escape of Shivaji from Agra (19th August 1666) in which Kumwar Ram Singh’s hand was suspected.

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Exhibit No. 30: Demolition of the Jagdish temple at Goner (Amber) – II. Siyaha Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i- Mu‘alla Julus (R.Yr.) 24, Jamadi I, 5 / 14th May 1686.

‘Yesterday, Abu Turab submitted to the Emperor during the march that the gumashta of Raja Ram Singh had written to him from Amber that in compliance with the orders, His Majesty’s servants had gone to demolish the temple at Goner. A Rajput, Gaj Singh, by name, had taken position inside the temple. A severe fight took place in which, by the iqbal of His Majesty, he along with three to five men was killed. A few men from this side also lost their lives. The Emperor said “Well done!”’


The temple of Jagdish at Goner lies about 20 Km. from Jaipur and is one of the most important temples in the region. It is believed that the murli (idol) of Lakshmi Narayanji was found by one Devadas during Akbar’s time. Devadas was a poor Brahman farmer from Sivad and it is said that the Lord himself appeared before him and asked him to go to Goner and excavate the idol and install it in a temple. Tradition is that when the Mughal troops attacked the temple during the reign of Aurangzeb, one Sujan Singh Pachyanot with his men resisted and saved the temple. However, as the two Akhbarat exhibited here show, Gaj Singh Rajput and his men though fought till death, they could not save their temple from being harmed and desecrated.

The temple seems to have been built soon after 1710 when Sawai Jai Singh had regained his patrimony of Amber from the Mughal Government.


Exhibit No. 31: Muslims exempted from paying Zakat Siyah. Akhbart-i-Darbar-i- Mu‘alla Julus (R.Yr.) 10, Zilqad 2 / 16th April 1667.

“A darvesh brought to the notice of the Emperor that the Musalmans (of the country) felt dejected on account of (the burden of) Zakat and that they should be exempted from paying it. Jumdat-ul Mulk now sought the Emperor’s orders regarding the matter. The Emperor (Aurangzeb) ordered that the Musalmans were to be exempted from paying it, but it should be charged from the Hindus”.


Here the word Zakat has been used for custom duty charged on all commodities brought for sale. J.N. Sarkar (Aurangzeb, Vol.III, p.181) is right in saying that it must not be confounded with the Zakat or tithes which all Muslims had to pay as per the Quranic injunction and was meant to be spent on the Musalmans alone.


Exhibit No. 32: Restriction on atishbazi. Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i- Mu‘alla Julus 10, Shawwal 24 / April 9th 1667.

“The Emperor ordered Jumdat-ul-Mulk to write to the Mutsaddis of all the subahs (provinces) of the empire that display of fire-works (atishbazi) is being forbidden. Also, Faulad Khan was ordered to arrange for announcement in the city by the beat of a drum that no one is to indulge in atishbazi”.


The Hindus celebrate Diwali to commemorate the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya, after fourteen years of exile and victory over Ravana, by lighting lamps and bursting crackers etc. Some time before imposing the ban on atishbazi (fireworks) Aurangzeb had written (22 November 1665) to the Subahdar of Gujarat that “In the city and parganas of Ahmedabad (or Gujarat) the Hindus, following their superstitious customs, light lamps in the night on Diwali…. It is ordered that in bazars there should be no illumination on Diwali”. (Mirat, 276).


Exhibit No. 33: Musalmans to replace Hindu officials as cure for ineffectiveness of prayers. Siyah Waqai Darbar Julus (R.Yr.) 10, Muharram 18 / 1st July 1667.

‘The Emperor said to Shaikh Nizam that his prayers are not having any effect. What could be the reason for this? The Shaikh said “The reason is that a large number of Hindus are serving as ahlikhidmat (officials and officers) and as musahibs (courtiers) and they are ever (seen) in the Royal presence, and, as a result, the prayers do not have any effect”. The Emperor ordered that it is necessary that the Musalmans be appointed to serve in place of the Hindus’.


The object of the prayers or the nature of the desired result is not mentioned, but it appears that it was the elevation and dominance of Islam, progress of its mission through means, such as jihad, which are very differently regarded by people of other faiths, and the welfare of the Musalmans in particular. The instant impact of the Shaikh’s analysis of the problem and implied advice to Aurangzeb is also indicative of the high degree of influence wielded by this religious class during the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb.


Exhibit No. 34: Hindu Chowkinavis and Amins of the Haft-chowkis to be replaced by the Musalmans. Akhbarat Dargah-i- Mu‘alla Julus (R.Yr.) 9, Jamadi II, 28 / 15th December 1666.

“Orders were issued by the Sublime Court to dismiss the Hindu Chowkinavis and to appoint in their place Musalmans, and, likewise, a way should be found for replacing the Amins of the Haft-chowkis by the Musalmans”.


Such dismissal of Hindu officials (Chowkinavis and Amins of Haft-chowkis) on the ground of religion foreshadowed the other discriminatory measures which Aurangzeb was to take in the coming years, influenced by the Shari‘at and his own religious convictions, alienating the Hindus towards the Mughal government for ever.


Exhibit No. 35: Restriction on the gathering of Hindus at the shrines of Shitla Mata and Pir Pabuji. Muslims too not to gather at these places. Siyah Waqai Darbar Julus (R.Yr.) 10, Rabi II, 17 / 16th September 1667.

“For different reasons, and also out of apprehension, people visit in large numbers (the mazars or shrines) of Shah Madar, Khwaja Muin-ud-din, Salar, Sarur Sultan and Pir Ganun (Pir Pabu?) etc. They go for ziyarat (visit to sacred tombs) and perform tawaf (circumbulation) which are bid‘at. Orders were issued to stop these practices.

Also, the Hindus, and quite often the Musalmans also, flock at (the shrines of) Devi for worship and that of Pir Pabu. The Emperor ordered that this should be stopped. It was also ordered that the Hindus must not crowd at these places, and worship of Shitla should not in any case be performed anywhere near the habitation”.


In orthodox view of Islam, pilgrimages are permitted to three places only – Macca, Madina and Jerusalam, and the practice of visiting tombs of saints and holy men is sternly condemned, such as by the Wahabis, who saw in it violation of the doctrine of the ‘unity’. Earlier, Sultan Firuz Tughluq (1350-88) had put a ban on the visit of women for ziyarat.


Exhibit No. 36: Restrictions on the Hindus: forbidden to travel in Palkis, or ride on elephants and Arab-Iraqi horses.

In March 1695, all the Hindus, with the exception of the Rajputs, were forbidden to travel in palkis, or ride on elephants or thorough-bred horses, or to carry arms. (Muntakhab-ul-Lubab, ii, 395; Maasir-i-Alamgiri, 370 and News Letter, 11 December 1694).

In the sketch, well to do Hindus are being made to alight from palki (sedan chair), elephant and good horse by Mughal officers. The need to issue this derogatory order was the requirement also recorded in Fatwa-i-‘Alamgiri, that Hindus should not be allowed to look like Muslims, that is carry themselves with the same dignity. The folly and futility, or even danger of applying or observing the guiding principles, practices and law prescribed, interpreted, or recommended in the seventh and eighth centuries in Arabia, after a lapse of ten centuries in a country like India, was never realized by the Muslim clerics or their Emperor.


Exhibit No. 37: Shivaji leaving Aurangzeb’s Court in anger.

Shivaji reached Agra on the 12th May 1666 by noon, and had to be rushed to the Court to attend the special darbar on Aurangzeb’s 50th lunar birthday. Shivaji was presented to the Emperor by Asad Khan in the Diwan-i-Khas and was then directed to stand in the line of 5 hazari mansabdars. “The Emperor neither talked nor addressed any word to him”. The work of the court proceeded and Shivaji seemed to have been forgotten.

Shivaji was not expecting this kind of reception. He was very much upset when Kumar Ram Singh (son of Mirza Raja Jai Singh of Amber), in response to his query, informed him that the noble standing in front of him was Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur. He flared up “Jaswant, whose back my soldiers have seen! I to stand behind him? What it all means”?

He was made to feel neglected in other ways also. At this he began to fret and “his eyes became wet with anger”. The Emperor noticed the commotion and told Ram Singh, “Ask Shivaji, what ails him”. When Kumar came, Shivaji burst forth, “You have seen, your father has seen, and your Padishah has seen, what sort of man I am, and you have wilfully made me stand up so long. I cast off your mansab ….”.

After saying this he then and there turned his back to the throne and rudely walked away. Kumar Ram Singh caught hold of his hand, but Shivaji wrenched it away …’

In the painting, the above scene, based on a contemporary letter, has been depicted. Shivaji is shown coming out of the Court in great anger, his back towards Aurangzeb, his sword half drawn, and Kumar Ram Singh of Amber trying in vain to pacify him. Wrote Parkaldas of Amber to the State’s Diwan in his letter of 29th May 1666, “The people had been praising Shivaji’s high spirit and courage before. Now that after coming to the Emperor’s presence he has shown such audacity and returned harsh and strong replies, the public extols him for his bravery all the more …”


Exhibit No. 38: The execution of Raja Shambhaji (son of Shivaji) on Aurungzeb’s orders after capture. (February, 1689)

Succeeding his great father Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in April 1680, his elder son Shambhaji continued the fight against the Mughals most spiritedly for the preservation and also extension of Swarajya.

Unfortunately, a single but grave mistake and over confidence in his own safe and secure position at Sangameshwar, nestling amidst the Western Ghats, led to his chance capture along with Kavikalash and a number of other Marathas who were with him.

On the 15th February 1689, Shambhaji and Kavi Kalash were brought to the Imperial camp dressed as buffons with long fool’s caps and bells placed on their heads, mounted on camels, with drums beating, with thousands of onlookers lining the roads. Aurangzeb was sitting in full darbar, and, at the sight of the prisoners, “descended from the throne and kneeling down on the carpet bowed his head to the ground in double thankfulness to the Giver of this crowning victory”. Shambhaji spurned at the offer of life and loosened his tongue in abuse of the Emperor. That very night his eyes were blinded and next day the tongue of Kavi Kalash was cut out. The Musalman clerics decreed that Shambhaji should be put to death.

After undergoing a fortnight of torture and insult, the captives were put to a cruel and painful death on the 11th March, their limbs being hacked off one by one and their flesh thrown to the dogs. Their severed heads were stuffed with straw and exhibited in all the chief cities of the Deccan to the accompaniment of drum and trumpet (Maasir-i-‘Alamgiri, 320-25; Muntakhab-ul-Lubab, 386-88, Sarkar, Aurangzeb, IV, pp.340-44).

In the painting, the entire sequence of events after Shambhaji’s arrival in the camp, his cruel death and barbaric manner in which his dead body was dealt with have been brought out alive. The courageous manner in which Shambhaji braved death made him a martyr and washed of his earlier mistakes and actions in the eyes of the people.


Exhibit No. 39: Aurangzeb orders the execution of Sarmad, a Jewish Philosopher who accepted Islam but stood for freedom of conscience.

Sarmad was a well known saint who came to Delhi towards the end of Shah Jahan’s reign. Prince Dara Shukoh, the eldest son of Shah Jahan and translator of the Upanishads in Persian, sought his company and gave him much respect due to a saint and philosopher.

Sarmad was disliked by the Mullas for his unorthodox views and free-thinking. He used to say that whosoever had realized the God, annihilates the distance between him and the Supreme Reality, i.e. remains constantly in communion with the Divine. When he said that while the Mullas say that the Prophet ascended to the heaven but Sarmad declares that the heaven came down to the Prophet, he meant that the highest state of bliss is attainable in this very life. He generally remained in the nude state and had acquired knowledge of the highest non-dualism. When summoned to the court and asked to repeat the Kalima, he only went so far as to declare that there is no God, saying that his realization went no further. He saw the non-difference between the individual soul of every one and the Supreme Soul. The Mullas decreed that he must be put to death for apostasy. When the executioner came with his axe to cut off his head, Sarmad welcomed him with the words “I know You, in whatever form You come” and embraced death for the sake of his views and freedom of conscience.

The sketch shows Sarmad in the Emperor’s court, the executioner waiting to perform the hateful task.

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Exhibit No. 40: Large number of conversions by Faujdar, Bithur. Grant of saropas and cash sanctioned by Aurangzeb. Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i- Mu‘alla Julus (R.Yr.) 10, Shawwal 26 / 11th April 1667.

‘Shaikh Abdul Momin, the Faujdar of Bithur, wrote to Jumdatul Mulk that they had converted one hundred fifty Hindus making them Musalman, and had given them saropas and cash (naqd).

The Emperor said “Go on giving them”’.


This is only one of the few recorded evidence of the State subserviently acting for the advancement of Islam during the Medieval period of India’s history (1200-1790 A.D.). The process in its most invidious form was operative throughout Aurangzeb’s reign as it had been for more than three hundred years from 1200-1526 A.D. under the Delhi Sultanate, specially during the time of Sultan Firuz Tughlaq (1350-88 A.D.).


Exhibit No. 41: Coercion in Conversion – Case of the chief of Manoharpur. Siyah Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i- Mu‘alla Julus 24, Jamadi I, 7 / 16th May 1681.

“Darbar Khan was ordered (by Emperor Aurangzeb) to send a parwanah to Ihatmam Khan, Kotwal of Garhvitli (at Ajmer) instructing him that if Devi Chand, the dispossessed Zamindar of Manoharpur, who is in prison, becomes Musalman, so much the better for him. or else he is to be killed.

What happened subsequently in this case is further known from Siyah Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Mu’alla of R.Yr. 24, Jamadi I, 12 / 21st May 1681 (Exhibit No.41), which says ‘….. when it was conveyed to Devi Chand, the dismissed Zamindar of Manoharpur, that either he became a Musalman or he would be put to death in compliance with the Emperor’s orders, he requested that if Zamindari of Manoharpur was restored to him, he would become a Musalman. Upon this, Ihatmam Khan replied, “If you desire to live, you have to become a Musalman; (even then) the Zamindari (of Manoharpur) will not be given to you”. He did not agree to it. He was taken for execution when he agreed to become a Musalman. The Emperor ordered, “Make him a Musalman”.


We do not know the ground on which Devi Chand was dispossessed of his estate of Manoharpur but the case provides a very questionable but convincing case of the use of coercion in conversions.


Exhibit No. 42: Direction for converting Shambhaji’s servants. Siyah Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i- Mu‘alla Julus (R.Yr.) 24, Jamadi II, 10 / 17th June 1681.

“Report was received from Surat that four servants of Shambhaji, the son of maqhur (vanquished) Shiva, had come to Surat for making purchases, whereupon Kartalab Khan, the Mutsaddi of Surat, arrested them.

It was ordered (by the Emperor) that in case they become Musalman, they may be freed; otherwise they should be kept as prisoners in the fort”.


There are many other such instances of an alien religion being forced upon the Hindus. The Court Bulletins (Akhbarat) of Aurangzeb have recorded many more such cases. Thus, see Akhbarat R.Yr. 10, Zilhijja 3, Zilhijja 12; R.Yr. 23, Shaban 22 (each convert given Rs.1000/-); Julus 24, Ramzan 8; Julus 25, Ramzan 23, etc.

In each case we find that the convert is being awarded naqd or khil‘at (as a mark of ‘honour’), usually both, in many cases Qanungoship, and, in case of important persons, they were also formally given Muslim names. When one Hira Bairagi of Khargoda became a Muslim, he was given a saropa, and Rs.5 per day were fixed for him. There are many cases when prisoners made during military operations were given no better choice than either accepting Islam or to suffer imprisonment.


Exhibit No. 43: Rs. 4 to a Hindu male and Rs. 2 to a Hindu female on conversion. Siyah Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i- Mu‘alla Julus (R.Yr.) 28 Jamadi I, 12 / 7th April 1685.

“(The Emperor) ordered Jumadat-ul-Mulk to write to all the Faudjars and Diwans of the kingdom that each Hindu male who becomes a Musalman, is to be given Rupees four and each Hindu woman Rupees two, as fixed by us, from the treasury of the place, by way of inam.

Those who become Musalman out of devotion for Din (Islam), in their case, the award of money in future be stopped.”


The amount offered as an inducement for conversion was substantial and amounted to almost one month’s wages of a worker in case of a Hindu male.

The document forms one of the most unabashed statement and the severest indictment on the methods adopted in spreading Islam in India, and this was being done even more than four hundred after the establishment of Muslim rule in India (c. 1200 A.D.)!

44 - 1

Exhibit No. 44: Aurangzeb restoring the office of qanungoship to Hindu officials who were forced to become Musalman.

Qanungoship on becoming Musalman:

There are a large number of Akhbarat (Aurangzeb’s Court Bulletins) which mention that either Qanungoi was restored on becoming Musalman, or that a person or persons were appointed Qanungos on accepting Islam, or that they agreed to become Musalman, obviously under pressure or as inducement.

A typical entry in the Akhbarat, such as of R.Yr. 10, Zilqada / April 22, 1667, reads “Makrand etc., in all four persons, became Musalman. The Qanungoi of Parganah Khohri was restored to them. Four Khil‘ats were conferred upon them”. Sir Jadunath Sarkar is right in saying that “Qanungoship on becoming a Muslim”, had become a proverb.

As Qanungo had intimate knowledge of the customs and tenures of the land, he could serve as the best agent for protecting the interests of the Musalmans and in extending influence of Islam in the rural areas. The sketch shows four Qanungos being restored their Qanungoi on becoming Musalman.

45 A

Exhibit No. 45 i

45 B

Exhibit No. 45 ii

45 C

Exhibit No. 45 iii

Exhibit No. 45 i – ii – iii: Qanungoship on becoming Musalman.

Of the two Akhbarat, the first dated Zilqada 3, R.Yr. 24 (15th November 1680) says that Murlidhar, Qanungo, Alipur became a Musalman and received a Khil‘at, by way of inam and the second dated 27th Jamadi I (5th June 1681) describes the conversion of Devidas Khatri, Qanungo of Kalanur.

46 A

Exhibit No. 46 i