What’s in a name? Asked William Shakespeare. Name and form are however interrelated, if I say Banana, you can’t think of coconut. Name is especially important in the case of an individual. An individual’s name reflects his culture, tradition, and values.
Recently, Mughal Museum in Agra has been named after Great Maratha King Maharaja Chhatrapati Shivaji and as expected huge debate has started and certain lost journalists trying to find their voice in the din. Why the name is important if that’s the question then given the free run of the secular historians right from the dawn of India’s independence, made us almost forget our own history, our ancestry, our tradition, and our culture. We have been served cooked up and selective history to build a narrative that would in turn yield political mileage albeit secularism remained on the lips.
The country was partitioned on the basis of religion. The new entity which came into existence as a result of the partition started its journey as secular states soon choose to be the Islamic Republic. Do we have a problem with that? Absolutely not! But then Hindus also should have the right to celebrate their own culture and tradition by celebrating their Heroes by naming public places after them. Thereby, though the history won’t be erased, what it will do at least is to bring those Heroes, who reflect the culture and tradition of the land, out of the obscure darkness, that they had been pushed to by those celebrated self-seeking historians and introduce them with the up-coming generation.
The Mughal Museum being constructed in the Uttar Pradesh district of Agra will now be named after Maratha Icon Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath questioned “How can Mughal be our heroes ?” he tweeted , “The museum under construction in Agra will be known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The symbols of slavery mentality have no place in your new Uttar Pradesh. Our hero is Shivaji Maharaj. Jai Hind Jai Bharat.”[i]
Mughals are history now and we have to understand how historians have not only mislead us but also have created myths according to their personal whims, political affiliations resulting in their personal benefits.
A number of historians have dedicated their whole life in creating a propaganda which portrays that it was the Mughal invasion which brought culture to us, as later the Britishers said it loud that we have unified India for the first time. Though India was not under the control of any single dynasty or political the rule in its thousands of years of its history but culturally, socially and spiritually was always one. As the verse from Vishnu Purana says उत्तरं यत्समुद्रस्य हिमाद्रेश्चैव दक्षिणम् । वर्षं तद् भारतं नाम भारती यत्र संततिः ।। “The country north of the sea and south of the Himalayas is Bharataand her child are Bharati.” [ii]
While asking for the proof of the birth of lord Rama and Krishna is part of secular history and showing facts about plunder, brutal repression, and temple destruction becomes communal history. It has been asked many times now that why don’t the Hindus accept the Mughals or the Muslim rulers as their own? This is an invalid question, the question should be why Indian Muslims don’t accept our common ancestry do they connect or have anything to do with the Vedas, the Puranas, the Upnishads, Shrimad Bhagwat Gita, the Sangam literature, the two national epics the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Is lord Buddha and Mahavira part of their past or not? Does the 16 Mahajanpadas have anything to do with their ancestry? Is Ajatasatru, Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka, Samudragupta, Krishnadevaraya part of their cultural heritage or not?
First, we have to understand why the practice of naming roads and museums after the Mughals. As one of the most devastating things that India had experienced was Aurangzeb’s rule, although the Mughal rule, in general, is not that of a pleasant memory. Religious persecution, violence, demolition of temples and replacing them with Mosques, of mass forced conversions, and destruction of learning and educational centers are few achievements to count. Our secular zealots made us pay to witness a tower built on the ruins of our own culture and we are to clap while celebrating another alien notion of secularism. It was Babur with whom the Mughal Dynasty started, as according to the book ‘The Mughals of India’ by Harbans Mukhia, “Babur found hope in the fold of Islam. His battle cry at Khanuwa was a jihad against the infidel Rana Sanga .’’ For Babur, this battle was a holy war, a jihad and he encouraged his army by reminding them that they were fighting for the glory of their religion. Everyone swear on the Quran that they will fight to the end and stand by Babur.[iii]
His grandson Akbar who had been presented as liberal (his liberalism was however confined to his court only) can be put in the terms of “andho me kana raja” as he also slaughters around 30,000 innocent civilians after the fall of Chittor. These numbers exclude the people who were involved in the battle and Jauhar.
His son Jahangir who had a little of war history, after his victory over Kangra (present-day in Himachal Pradesh) writes in his memoirs, the ‘Tuzuk-i- Jahangiri’ , that he celebrated the event by demolishing the temple of the Hindu goddess Durga, and constructing a mosque at the site. He was a hypocrite too, as according to the Italian traveler Niccolao Manucci Jahangir’s love for both wine and pork which are prohibited in Islam grows more intensely during the holy month of Ramazan. [iv]So Muslims should also ponder how much they would like to identify themselves with the Mughal pride. It was under the same emperor that Guru Arjan the 5th Sikh guru was arrested and was asked to convert to Islam and when refused, he was tortured and executed in 1606 CE.[v]
Jahangir’s son Shah Jahan in his court chronicle Shah Jahan Nama, describes his armies as the force of Islam. But it was his son Aurangzeb a religious bigot, who according to Vincent Arthur Smith in his book ‘The Oxford History of India’, in 1669 ordered, all his governors of provinces to “destroy with a willing hand the schools and temples of the infidels, and that they were strictly enjoined to put an entire stop to the teaching and practice of idolatrous forms of worship.”[vi][vii]
According to the historian Abraham Eraly during Aurangzeb’s era all temples around Ujjain were destroyed’’, and later, “300 temples were destroyed in and around Chitor, Udaipur and Jaipur’’ among other Hindu temples destroyed elsewhere in campaigns through 1705. Exclusively he demolished 66 temples in Amber, Rajasthan. [viii][ix]Abu Turb who was sent to the place returned to the court and reported the destruction. Two of the most important temples of Hindu civilisation Mathura (the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple) and Vishwanath Temple at Varanasi was not only destroyed but mosques were established after the demolition. The temple of Mathura was demolished in 1670 and a grand mosque was erected and the name of Mathura was changed to Islamabad,’ observes chronicler of Aurangzeb’s reign Saqi Mustaid Khan. [x]The destruction of temples and educational institutions, the killings of learned monks, and the scattering of students led to a widespread decline in Hindu education. When ninth Sikh guru Guru Tegh Bahadur fought against these evils of forced religious conversions and imposition he was beheaded in front of a huge mass by Aurangzeb on 24 November 1675, Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib in Chandni Chowk marks the place of his execution.[xi]
So the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath’s question ‘’How can Mughals be our hero?” Is absolutely correct. If Germany cannot have places named after Hitler and Spain removing places and streets named after fascist leaders how can we have Cities, places, roads, and buildings named after Mughals who killed our spiritual leaders, demolished Mathura, Kanshi temples among other thousands, and have religiously converted, killed and plundered many? Identifying with and considering Mughals as heroes would justify all their brutality and oppression. Thinkers of the Nation should decide.
(Nikhil Yadav is a State Youth Head at Vivekananda Kendra, Uttar Prant. He obtained his Masters in History from the University Of Delhi and is pursuing COP in Vedic Culture from Jawaharlal Nehru University.)
[iv] Mukhia Harbans ,The Mughals of India, ; Blackwell Publishing, UK, 2004 ,Page – 18-19
[ix] Eraly, Abraham (2000). Emperors of the Peacock Throne: The Saga of the Great Mughals. Penguin Books. pp. 398–399.
[x] Mukhia Harbans ,The Mughals of India, ; Blackwell Publishing, UK, 2004 ,Page – 24-25