Monday, June 5, 2017

Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth

If history must be rewritten, the task is best left to a professional historian. In her little monograph on Aurangzeb, Audrey Truschke tries to rescue the most poorly-understood Mughal monarch from the soap opera scriptwriters of contemporary politics, who cast him as the greatest bigot in Indian history. Hindu-Muslim polarisation, she reminds the reader, is a modern game, with modern trophies and payouts which medieval India did not anticipate.

In Truschke’s words, Aurangzeb was man of his time. To single him out as a despot label him a bigot is a gross misrepresentation. We can only do justice to his life if things are viewed in context.

Truschke attributes the caricature of the bigoted Aurangzeb to later colonial history, which constructed the “eastern potentate” as a malevolent clown, with the political objective of showing British rule as enlightened by contrast. It follows, quite ironically, that the currently popular nativist readings of Muslim rule are effectively reviving a long-dead colonial project.

read more here @ Indian Express and @ Hindustan Times

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