8.) Beginning and End of Islamic Rule in India: a Striking Similarity

According to Aziz Ahmad:

In the context of the less liberal Turco-Persian conquest of north-west India it has to be remembered that Mahmūd’s inconoclasm was aimed against images and not men.  He regarded administration of the state as a practical proposition not necessarily related to religion.  While he sacked Hindu temples he also mobilized three Hindu divisions in his forces and at least three Hindu generals, Sundar, Nāth, and Tilak rose to positions of high responsibility in the Ghaznawid army.  Sundar was the commander of Hindu troops under Mas‘ūd (1030-40).  Tilak, the son of a lowcaste barber, who would have had no opportunities to distinguish himself in the caste-ridden Brahmanical society, took up service in Mahmūd of Ghazna’s court, and by his eloquence in Hindi as well as Persian, his ability as an interpreter, his alertness of mind, and his capacity of securing the loyalty of the scattered Hindu military communities in the Ghaznawid Kingdom he rose to a position of trust and power.  His great opportunity came when he was appointed by Mas‘ūd, in supercession of Muslim generals, to lead a punitive expedition against Ahmad Yanāltigīn, a Ghaznawid governor who had occupied Benares, and who was reputed to be an illegitimate son of Mahmūd, and therefore suspected by Mas‘ūd and intrigued against by Qāzī-yi Shirāz and other Muslim nobles.  Tilak defeated and killed Yanāltigīn with a force which was preponderently Hindu, and in the process he mobilized the support of Hindu Jāts for the Ghaznawid cause reducing Muslim Turkmāns to submission; and he continued to be held in great esteem by Mas‘ūd for having re-established Ghaznawid hold on its Indian provinces.[1]

He then compares Mahmūd to Aurangzeb in this respect:

Aurangzeb’s fanaticism like that of Mahmūd of Ghazna, was directed primarily at the ‘false gods’ and had its counterpart in his continuation of Akbar’s enlightened administrative policy.  Thus, while in 1670 the temple of Keshav Rāo was demolished and a mosque built on its site, the same year a veteran Hindu general Rājā Rām Singh was appointed commander of 5,000 horse and his son was given a jewelled turban.  Despite all the theoretical decisions taken by Aurangzeb against the employment of Hindus to higher revenue offices, in actual practice he appointed more competent Hindus as higher mansabdārs, in the interest of sound administration, than any of his predecessors including Akbar.  Three Hindus under Aurangzeb rose to be commanders of 7,000 horse, under Akbar only one; four of Aurangzeb’s’ Hindu generals, but none of Akbar’s commanded 6,000 horse; while Akbar had two Hindu commanders of 5,000 horse, Aurangzeb had sixteen.  Number of lower Hindus mansabdārs under Aurangzeb exceeded several times those under Akbar.  It is possible that the greater number of Hindu mansabdārs in Aurangzeb’s administration were due to the extension of the empire and its military commitments; and his administrative policy cannot be described as eclectic, but as one based solely on the requirements of administrative efficiency.[2]

The evidence adduced above seems to suggest that the ideology of the state may have be distinguished from the policy of the state, while discussing the role of religion in politics.

[1] Aziz Ahmad, Studies in Islamic Culture in the Indian Environment (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964) p. 101.

[2] Ibid., p. 104-105.


7 Responses to “8.) Beginning and End of Islamic Rule in India: a Striking Similarity”

  1. Ashraf Says:

    Aurangzeb was most definitely a great and kind King. Even the Hindus believe in that – look at the video of the play enacted by a Hindu actor in Kansas as Aurangzeb – and portraying him as a kind and great king.


  2. Ashraf Says:

    Not only did they portray him as a caring King – this was done on Diwali nite – debunking the theory that Aurangzeb was anti-Hindu. Dr. Sharma – what is your response to that video


  3. hailey Says:

    when did it end?

  4. Keshav Says:

    Hailey –
    It hasn’t, really, if you think about it.

    Ashraf –
    Plays are called “fiction” for a reason. Take them lightly. There are plenty of stupid people out there, but that does not change the historical carnage that Aurganzeb wrought on the Hindu people on HINDUsthan.

    Let’s ask the Sikhs if they liked Aurangzeb? Umm, nope! He killed Guru Tegh Bahadur for sticking up for Hindus when they being forced to convert.

    Let’s ask Shivaji? Oops! Aurganzeb killed his father for not converting to Islam.

    Let’s ask worshipers at Kashi, Mathura, and Somanath? Oops. He destroyed the most sacred places in all of Hinduism.

    But I guess a Muslim would consider the destruction of “idolatrous” ideologies a good thing. There is only one place where Aurangzeb could be considered to be a kind and gentle king – in your dreams, bub.

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  6. bghosh Says:

    the Ottomans learned from Sultan Mamood and built the Janissary by forcibly taking away the eldest son of Christian families at tender age. some would argue that this helped the boys to get rid of poverty! but suppose kafir kings did this to moslem boys ?

  7. Tiffani Woodside Says:

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