William Dalrymple has always been a great fan of Muhammad Aurangzeb Alamgir, India’s sixth Mughal emperor (1658-1707). In his two previous books, The Last Mughal and White Mughals, Dalrymple reenacted the British’s fondness for the Mughal period, by directly and indirectly praising the longest reigning emperor after Akbar.

In his forthcoming opus magnum, which will be solely dedicated to Aurangzeb, Dalrymple says he will go further: “Aurangzeb was absolutely fascinating, very self aware, very Shakespearean. By the end of his life, Aurangzeb does becomes a monster of myths, but his final letters are full of regret and awareness about how much he destroyed of what he had inherited”. And he concludes: “What is little spoken is that he was an extremely generous donor of various ashrams and maths. Just the sheer data that can be gathered about his donations to Hindu monasteries is extraordinary”….

Was the emperor such a pious man? Well, just look to what he did to his own family: Aurangzeb, who was neither the eldest, nor the favorite son of his father Shah Jahan, killed his two brothers to ascend the throne, dispatched his father to jail and subsequently murdered him by sending him poisoned massage oil. He later had his own son imprisoned (in his will, he admonished: “never trust your sons”). He was also very cruel to the majority of his subjects, the Hindus, ordering all temples destroyed, such as the Kashi Vishwanath, the rebuilt Somnath temple, the Vishnu temple (replaced with the Alamgir mosque now overlooking Benares), or the Treta-ke-Thakur temple in Ayodhya. He also made sure that deities of Hindu Gods and Goddesses were buried under the steps of the mosques (like the Jama Masjid in Delhi) so that future generations of Muslims would trample upon them.

Sikhism, the youngest religion in the world, owes its initial phenomenal growth to the persecutions of one man: Aurangzeb Alamgir. The Mughal emperor not only had the Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur beheaded, because he objected to his forced conversions, but he also viciously persecuted the followers of Guru Gobind Singh, whom he had never forgiven for having supported his brother Dara.

The sad thing is that today the Sikh world seems to be growing closer to Aurangzeb and drifting away from its Hindu brothers and sisters, forgetting that their order was originally created to defend them. Indeed, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), Amritsar, has not uttered a word against Dalrymple’s forthcoming book.

More serious even, the Central Government always eager to please ‘minorities’ has set up a dangerous precedent by removing from its ‘blacklist’ the names of 142 wanted Sikh terrorists and their associates, some of them now in Pakistan.

Among those: Lakhbir Singh Rode, nephew of dreaded slain terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and chief of International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), Ranjit Singh, alias Neeta, a native of Jammu and Kashmir who heads Khalistan Zindabad Force, Wadhawa Singh, chief of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) and Paramjit Singh Panjwar, chief of Khalistan Commando Force (KCF). Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) It is said that President Paramjit Singh Sarna lobbied hard with Sonia Gandhi for this decision.

Aurangzeb’s deadly legacy of murderous fanaticism is still alive in parts of the world; such as Kashmir or Pakistan. The Sikh community should protest Dalrymple books and remember how much they suffered at the hands of Aurangzeb.


  1. Francois with all due respect this article is inaccurate in almost every detail. My next book is not about Aurangzeb (its about the evils of the East India Company and is called The Anarchy). Aurangzeb is not mentioned in Last Mughal or White Mughal, let all alone praised in either book, and I attack him very strongly in City of Djinns where on p198 and p239-40 I compared Aurangzeb and Roshanara to ruthless villains from the Shakespeare play King Lear– him to Edmund the disliked son who takes revenge and Roshanara to the evil sisters Regan and Goneril. Here is what I’ve actually written: “rigidly fundamentalist… Aurangzeb’s rule was harsh and repressive, and made a clean break with the liberal attitude toward the Hindu majority of his subjects pioneered by Akbar. The ulema were given a free hand to impose Sharia law. Prostitution was banned, as was wine, hashish, and the playing of music. Many Hindu temples across the country were destroyed or converted into mosques, and the Emperor reimposed the jizya tax on Hindus that had been abolished by Akbar; he also executed Teg Bahadur, the ninth of the gurus of the Sikhs.

    The religious wounds Aurangzeb opened in India have never entirely healed; at the time they literally tore the country in two. Unable to trust anyone, Aurangzeb marched to and fro across the empire, viciously putting down the successive rebellions of his Hindu subjects. On his death in 1707, the empire fragmented. Built on tolerance, mutual respect, and an alliance with the Hindus, especially with the warrior Rajputs, who formed the core of the Mughal war machine, the breakdown of that alliance and the Mughal retreat into bigotry shattered their state and lost them the backbone of their army. ” http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2007/nov/22/the-most-magnificent-muslims/?pagination=false

    You have based this article on a single inaccurately transcribed interview where the interviewer mangled what I said. What I actually believe about Aurangzeb is however on record in print and I challenge you to find a single word praising Aurangzeb anywhere in my writings on him. I dislike puritans and iconoclasts in all cultures, and Aurangzeb is no exception, although it is true I find him an interesting villain, and one that someone should indeed research and write about. Please check out the facts. You and I may not agree on much about Mughal history and will have to agree to differ on many counts, but about Aurangzeb you will be pleasantly surprised to find there is absolutely no disagreement.

  2. Bless you dr ak

  3. Islam is a 1400 year old colonizing force from the Middle East to Africa, Europe, South Asia, and Asia. “The Colonialist Crimes of Islam” http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/16050

  4. I read Darrymple’s article in NY Books link. The difference between Akbar and Aurangzeb is that Akbar went Native, while Aurangzeb adhered to Islam. Akbar became over the years a better liberal human, but bad Muslim, while Aurangzeb was a good Muslim but that made him a horror to non-Muslims just like ISIS today forcing non-Muslims to pay jizya just like Aurangzeb and other Islamic rulers before him http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10666257/Militant-Islamist-group-in-Syria-orders-Christians-to-pay-protection-tax.html

  5. I wonder if one day in the future someone will find the ISIS members “Shakespearean.” ISIS’s leader is no different than Aurangzeb in his adherance to Islam.

    And what is it about England that has produced so many fanatical Islamic militants especially British women? So many British Muslims men and women have flocked to the Islamic State in what was Iraq and Syria. And they are very cruel. They would make Aurangzeb proud. Enslavement of infidels through jihad is 100% acceptable in Islam. Through ISIS today you can see what Hindus of India suffered under Islamic invasions over the centuries, and under Muslim rulers like Aurangzeb.

    “Dozens of young British women are using social media to boast of joining the Islamic State’s terrifying all-female police force – claiming to be doling out savage beatings, punishment lashings, ordering executions and managing brothels where thousands of Yazidi sex slaves are imprisoned and raped daily after being sold for as little as £27….

    …The group, which is largely made-up of educated Western women, operates as an ultra-oppressive police force monitoring the behaviour of females in Raqqa – meting out brutal punishments to anyone wearing shoes that aren’t black, or those wearing veils made from the wrong material. ….Such was Khadija’s visible fear that another commander Umm Rayan later sought her out to tell her not to be afraid and that: ‘We are harsh with the infidels, but merciful among ourselves.’

    ISIS has attempted to justify the keeping of sex slaves by claiming that members of the Yazidi religion are devil worshippers – making them worse than so-called ‘people of the book’ such as Christians and Jews, who can escape imprisonment by paying a monthly tax known as jizyah.

    Captured Yazidis – whose belief system mixes elements from a range of religions and whose central figure of worship is a ‘Peacock Angel’ – are not able to pay their way out of jail, however.

    Men and boys are told to convert to Islam or face immediate death, while women and children are often transported to Raqqa, where the Al-Khansa Brigade force them into sex slavery.

    Earlier this month a chilling document emerged purporting to show the ‘price list’ for sex slaves.

    According to the document, obtained by website Iraqinews.com, just £27 will fetch a Yazidi or Christian woman aged between 40 and 50. Chillingly, a child between one and nine will fetch four times that.” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2858819/Up-60-British-Jihadette-women-rule-ISIS-s-capital-fear.html

  6. Gautier have you seen his latest article in the New Yorker on partition? It is a good insight not into Partition but into the mentality of Brits like him. When you read it pay careful attention to how he describes Hindus and Sikhs versus how he describes Muslims. Notice how he white washes Muslims historically. As if they followed Islam light through the centuries. Notice also who he quotes and references for opinions on partition – nearly all Muslim. Notice how he paints Gandhi as a religious fanatic and Jinnah as a secularist. Jinnah who belonged to a religious party the Muslim league, Jinnah who said Muslims are a separate “nation,” not just a religion or a people but a nation, and said Muslims and Hindus cannot be of the same nation. Jinnah who created an Islamic state out of India. Notice what words he uses to describe Indians versus Pakistanis – “Indian nationalists” while Pakistanis are just “Pakistanis” not “Pakistan nationalists.” Notice when he does point out the violence of Muslims it is only as equal to Hindu Sikh violence. The genocide to him was mutual. Notice how he likes Nazi atrocities to Indian partition several times in the article and especially to Hindus and Sikhs.
    Not one Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist or any other religion in India wanted to partition India on Islamic lines. Muslim nationalism partitioned India. And British interests which Dalrymple white washes most of all
    [Turkey] had lost her leadership of Islam and Islam might now look to leadership to the Muslims of Russia. This would be a most dangerous attraction. There was therefore much to be said for the introduction of a new Muslim power supported by the science of Britain … It seemed to some of us very necessary to place Islam between Russian communism and Hindustan.
    – Sir Francis Tucker, General Officer-Commanding of the British Indian Eastern Command.


  7. AT least this government has renamed Aurangzeb Road after Dr Kalam. They will surely not take Khalistani terrorism, which is a subset of Islamic terrorism, lightly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s