Book Review of Aurangzeb Whitewashing Tyrant, Distorting Narrative

Mark Twain: “The very ink with which history is written is merely fluid prejudice.”

Prejudice and bias take heavy toll on the truth of history, in such manner that, the truth which had never been questioned before, sometimes gets challenged to the extent that its rediscovery and then sustenance becomes simply a utopia. In this age where narratives and counter narratives are fought on the battle field of ideologies, viewing history through the prism of neutrality becomes very difficult particularly with regard to Indian History which was twisted on a grand scale by its colonial masters but even post-independence. Several well-known facts about history have been manipulated in order to make them suit a specific agenda.

In this context Aurangzeb who was indisputably the most brutal of all Mughal rulers, from quite a sometime, has been portrayed in a positive light by the So Called Reputed Chroniclers, even at the stake of misinterpreting or presenting the wrong facts. But fortunately, some never lose hope and with conviction pursue their journey towards unearthing the real history and exposing such fake historians.

Numerous books have been written on Aurangzeb with a certain agenda and facts related to his life have remained a serious bone of contention. Unbiased accounts on this Mughal King are still trying to find the way out and finally one such effort has been culminated into a book form. The book by Saurabh D. Lohogaonkar named “Aurangzeb Whitewashing Tyrant, Distorting Narrative” is an excellent attempt to deconstruct the narrative peddled to justify the atrocious rule of a bigoted Aurangzeb by a so called ‘Eminent historian’.

In a way this book is a unique effort made by the author and it is not merely a history telling exercise but more an investigative and bold endeavor, critically analyzing the complete false account by a so called renowned historian. Needless to say the book is an interesting read.

The first chapter sufficiently captures the attention of the reader by its engaging title; Post Script to War of succession Justice or Justification which the author amply dismantles on the basis of the Primary sources, the wrong justification given to the war of succession that took place among Aurangzeb and his brothers with the former  winning it brutally.

The author moves on further dismantling the edifice of fake facts and accounts by his sharp edged intellectual sword. In one of the initial chapters the author explicitly exposes the supposedly ‘Secular’ nature of Aurangzeb. In order to validate his point, the case of Raja Raghunath has been discussed with quite reasoning. The part that was conveniently omitted, by the otherwise reputed historian, in order to show Aurangzeb as highly tolerant has succinctly been elaborated upon by the author of this book. So, bringing forth a valid point that why Aurangzeb promoted Raghunath as Wazir.

Further the book impressively challenges the wrong theory of Aurangzeb being the protector of temples by putting up a well-grounded case of his passion for desecrating Hindu temples. In this context, the author’s quotes foreign visitors thus, substantiates his point quite fairly. The Jaziya imposition, the most controversial decisions of Aurangzeb has been dealt with in the book very precisely and the author has successfully ripped into shreds the frivolous reasons given by ‘Eminent historians’ to justify this harsh tax. The author’s quoting of original letters as appendix makes the thesis a compelling read e.g. in Appendix 4, the author shares the original letter written by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to Aurangzeb against Jaziya.

Shri Lohogaonkar ji’s book further makes an objective analysis of Mughal-Rajput relations under Aurangzeb with regard to the three major kingdoms of Rajputana viz. Marwar, Amber and Mewar. As the writer puts forth his case, he himself mentions that until now many historians had tried to postulate that no change happened in the relationship between Rajputs and Mughals post 1679 but in his opinion, “this understanding is quite superfluous and needs further deeper analysis.”

Therefore, he ably attempts to enquire into the various aspects of this relationship in a more nuanced way and as a result finds the biased religious attitude of Aurangzeb the significant dimension while interfering in the affairs of Rajputs. The references quoted in the book evidently makes it clear that Aurangzeb eyed on the Rajput issues completely through a religious lens.

In the later part of the book, there is a chapter named “Manufacturing History”, aptly describing how history is manufactured first and mainstreamed in no time.  In the chapter the author proves his point by probing deep into an episode quoted by the so-called learned historians about Nadira Begum, the supposed wife of prince Azam being saved by the Hada Rajput from the Marathas. He does not find any evidence supporting the story.

When this particular league of chroniclers lose all their stakes in this battle of narratives, they bring forth another set of superficial facts to besmirch the truth of history. But the present book clearly proves that if our intent is pure then divine force will help us in our pious goal too.

The meticulous research done by Sh. Saurabh D Lohogaonkar with the primary sources is a superb achievement in the course of demystifying the narrative and rewriting the correct history of our country. The author is fully successful in contrasting, what was made known as genuine, for the benefit of our new generations.

In this way, the present book is surely going to be a well-meaning project loading our youth with enough facts to well challenge any colored and distorted version of history in future so they are never a victim of the propaganda game.

Hence, I strongly recommend that each and every Indian reads this work of high integrity by a promising Historian and appreciate his spectacular accomplishment.

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