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Aurangzeb Archives - varnamvarnam
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Tag Archives | Aurangzeb

Indian History Carnival-69: 1258 CE, Aurangzeb, Singphos, Ganesh Utsav,

  1. In 1258, the Mongols reached Baghdad, a large volcanic eruption happened somewhere and Europe was devastated. All these had consequences for a place called Calicut in Kerala. Maddy writes
    In summary, the events in the Middle East of course was a reason for the emergence and resulting maintenance of the trade links with Calicut. The Periyar floods that occurred around the same time resulted in the necessity of the move of trading ports northward from Muziris to a more stable area geographically and politically, thus resulting in the choice of Calicut. As this was happening, I would come to the conjecture that the worrisome situation in Europe and the Middle East owing to the 1258 volcanic eruption, resulted in increased export volumes and profitability, speeding up the maritime passages and numbers, which at one time were forays by smaller groups of Jewish traders like Abraham ben Yiju.As you can imagine, Europe was in recovery mode – coming out of the horrible effects of the 1258 dry fog. This recovery needed larger amounts of spices, not just as a possible cure for pestilence but also to enhance preservation of smaller supplies of meat.

  2. The Asian and African studies blog takes a look at depictions of Aurangzeb painted during his lifetime from 1619-1707
    Aurangzeb left northern India for the Deccan in 1681, never to return. An increasingly orthodox Muslim, he re-instated the poll-tax levied on non-Muslims, revived the power of Muslim clerics, and fostered a political and social divide based on religion. The last portrait of Aurangzeb pictures the devout Muslim ruler in profile, with a downward gaze at a manuscript held in his hands, most likely to be the Qur’an. Dressed in stark white garments, his appearance is in sharp contrast to the golden radiance of the halo, the floral patterned bolster and the luxurious carpet hung on the window ledge. For Aurangzeb, there was no greater personal accomplishment than to memorise every verse and chapter of the Qur’an. Having committed to memory the entire text, he wrote two copies of the Qur’an in perfect calligraphy. This style of portraiture, featuring Aurangzeb in his old age and hunched over a manuscript, was commonly produced and suggests that artists felt that this was the most appropriate type of pictorial format to depict the elderly ruler.

  3. Ranjit Singh writes that it was not Robert Bruce who discovered tea in Assam, but the Singphos
    Robert Bruce is the Englishman who is credited with discovery of tea in Assam in the year 1823. But the Singphos, who were the a major tribe of Upper Burma and their territory once extended from Arunachal into Assam, beyond Jorhat, and covered large tracts in northern Burma, smirk at this statement. They contend that they had been drinking and using the tea plants in the food seven centuries earlier than 1823. . Griffith also noticed that tea leaves were eaten as a vegetable food prepared in mustard oil and garlic. A similar salad recipe in Burma, called ‘Letpet’, promised marital bliss. Here the leaves were boiled for several months for fermentation. The resuscitated leaves were chopped and mixed with oil, garlic, fried shrimps, fruits and dried coconut and served to newly wed

  4. Mohini writes about Ganesh Utsav of the Peshwas
    Ganesh Utsav was not held in the Shaniwarwada after the murder of Narayanrao Peshwa in1773. It was restarted by Nana Phadnis and Sakharam Bapu Bokil, the two able administrators of the Peshwa in 1778 at Fort Purandhar as the next Peshwa, Sawai Madhavrao was living there. He was 4years old. After Sawai Mahavrao came back to Shaniwarwada, between the period 1760 to 1791, the Utsav was celebrated on an enormous scale with great pomp and splendour. There were 526 dancers, 185 singers, 732 folk artists, play actors who came from all over India to perform on the 10 days of the festival. The estimated cost coming to around Rs. 4358

The next carnival will be up on Oct 15th. Please send your nominations by e-mail or by leaving a comment.

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The Slaying of Afzal Khan

When Francois Gautier’s Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism put together an exhibition titled Aurangzeb as he was according to Mughal records, the folks at Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, Manitha Neethi Paasarai, and someone called the Prince of Arcot did not like it a bit and with violence managed to end the exhibition. Now there has been violence between two communities (possibly Taoists and Manicheans) over a poster depicting Afzal Khan being killed by Shivaji.

So this would be a good time to examine an old post by Kedar in which he explained the strategic brilliance of Shivaji.

Fifth point, choosing the point of escalation. When Afzal khan entered Maharashtra, first he roamed around on Deccan plateau. He destroyed temples in an attempt to incite Shivaji. Shivaji did not escalate the matters. Khan committed atrocities. Shivaji chose not to respond. Khan attacked and conquered several forts. Shivaji kept quiet. Khan attacked Pune. Shivaji just sucked up that insult. If there is a man who has killed your brother in the past (Khan had killed Shivaji’s brother Shambhu raje) and who comes back and one by one destroys the things you love and revere, won’t you respond in revenge? You will right? That’s why you are not Shivaji.[How Shivaji Tackled Afzal Khan « The Eastern Horizon]

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Some FACTS about Aurangzeb

French journalist Francois Gautier’s Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism put together an exhibition titled “Aurangzeb as he was according to Mughal records.”  The exhibition displayed various paintings which show Aurangzeb ordering the removal of his father’s body and trying to convert a Jewish philosopher. There were also two paintings which showed the destruction of the Somnath temple and pieces of a temple being used to build the steps of a mosque.

This exhibition was held at Delhi, Pune and Bangalore without incident, but when it reached Chennai, the Aurangzeb DNA in some got activated. The folks at Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, Manitha Neethi Paasarai, and someone called the Prince of Arcot did not like it a bit and with violence managed to end the exhibition. According to them the displayed objects were a fabrication  and would “promote enmity between various groups” and ironically they had to resort to violence to drum once more that Aurangzeb was a benevolent ruler.

There has been great effort in India to confer an aura of sanctity on Aurangzeb by naming roads after him and whitewashing his terror. State circular (Syl/89/1) published by the West Bengal Government explicitly removed certain lines from history text books. They include, “”The early Sultans were eager to expand the sway of Islam by forcibly converting Hindus to Islam” and “”As dictated by Islam, there were three options for non-Muslims, get yourself converted to Islam, pay jaziya or face death. In an Islamic state, non-Muslims had to accept one of these choices.” Two paintings at the FACT exhibition shows exactly this.

The history books — not the state sanctioned ones — do not present a flattering image of Aurangzeb (1659 – 1707) and agree with depictions. This Mughal emperor reversed whatever tolerance Akbar had practiced. Restrictions were put on the practice of Hindu rituals, orthodox Muslims were preferred in courts,  Jaziya was reimposed and Hindu temples were demolished. This has to be contrasted with the rule of Akbar when religious tests and Jaziya were abolished and Rajput princes and other Hindus were given prominent positions in the state.[1]

Why don’t we all read the G rated NCERT text books and sing Kumbaya? Why rake up the past and cause communal disharmony?

One of the contentions of those, who protested against the exhibition, was that raking up the past would create a communal divide in Tamil Nadu, which has been relatively free of it.One of the lessons of history has been that remaining silent on unpleasant periods in history leads to a repetition of such unpleasant experiences. That is why Western school children are taught about the evils of rulers like Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin etc. That is why the Jewish people keep reminding themselves and the  rest of the world about the holocaust. That was why some years ago Jean-Marie Le Pen, the French rightist leader, was severely criticised for denying the reality of the  holocaust.

When we deny harsh truths of history, we are only playing into the hands of jihadi terrorists, who see themselves as the Aurangzeb of today. [AURANGZEBS OF TODAY]

See Also: B Raman: “Aurangzebs of Today” , From Baroda to Chennai, FACT India, Will Arundhati Roy pl. stand up for Francois Gautier?

[1] Wonder That Was India by A.L.Basham

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