What makes wakademic tosspots rewrite history to please Mohammedans?

“When Hindus and Muslims lived in harmony,” by Aijaz Zaka Syed, Saudi Gazette… 

Printed with praises in the Saudi Gazette? How much are they paying her for that?

When they conquered India, Muslims were benevolent and tolerant, right? That’s what Rutgers Newark professor Audrey Truschke would have you believe.

If you reject revisionist claptrap you can get truth overload if you read Robert Spencer’s  new book The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS,

Aurangzeb was a bigot not just by our standards but also by those of his predecessors and peers

Audrey Truschke’s biography of the king fails to demolish the conventional view of the Mughal emperor.

This week marks the 400th anniversary of the birth of the controversial Mughal king Aurangzeb. All right, it marks the 399th anniversary, but since Narendra Modi turned the 124th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s famous Chicago speech into the 125th, I feel entitled to do something similar. Having written about Shah Jahan and Akbar in preceding columns, it seems apt to round off the series with a piece on the last Great Mughal.

Much of the debate on the subject this year has been driven by Audrey Truschke’s biography, Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth. It’s a slim volume that promises a lot in its introductory chapter, but delivers little. It received good notices from reviewers who seemingly took those promises at face value, but I found it a joyless read about a joyless man, consisting mainly of well-known biographical details retold with neither enthusiasm nor verve.

In an early page, Truschke states that Aurangzeb,

“Expanded the Mughal Empire to its greatest extent, subsuming most of the Indian subcontinent under a single imperial power for the first time in human history.” 

In truth, the contours of the Maurya empire at its peak were extremely similar to those of the Mughal kingdom following Aurangzeb’s expensive and short-lived expansion into the Deccan.

The book’s gravest shortcoming lies not in errors like this one, but in a failure to prove its case. Taking issue with Jawaharlal Nehru’s description of Aurangzeb as “a bigot and an austere puritan”, the author states that such critiques are based on “shockingly thin evidence.” Yet, she accepts that Aurangzeb, “rolled back some of his court rituals with Hindu roots and withdrew imperial patronage from certain practices, such as music.” She admits his reintroduction of the discriminatory jizyatax,

“upset many Hindus. A scathing letter to Aurangzeb, perhaps penned by Shivaji or Rana Raj Singh, the Rajput ruler of Mewar from 1652 to 1680, disparaged the jizya on the grounds that it went against the notion of sulh-i kull (peace for all), which had been a bedrock of Mughal policy since Akbar’s time.” 

In 1672, she writes,

“Aurangzeb issued an order recalling all endowed lands given to Hindus and reserving all such future land grants for Muslims.” 

So, a king ends patronage for music, prohibits rituals with Hindu roots in his court, burdens his non-Muslim subjects with a religious tax, and introduces discriminatory provisions in land grants, and yet people calling him a bigot are basing their view on shockingly thin evidence?

In Aurangzeb’s defence, Truschke points to his incorporation of Hindu Maratha nobles from the Deccan, which substantially increased the proportion of Hindus in the Mughal nobility. Tackling his rules for endowments, she writes,

“Some modern historians have suggested that the 1672 order was followed almost nowhere in the empire, remaining ‘on paper only’ except in select areas such as the Punjab.” 

And as a general justification of the emperor’s behaviour, she opts for the relativist route,

“It is not difficult to identify specific actions taken by Aurangzeb that fail to meet modern democratic, egalitarian, and human rights standards. Aurangzeb ruled in a premodern world of kingdoms and empires, and his ideas about violence, state authority, and everything else were conditioned by the time.”

The problem with the actions specified above is not just that they seem abhorrent to modern individuals, but that they undercut the liberal policies of previous Mughal rulers, something Truschke herself admits. Bringing up modern morality is a red herring, because the namazi, as his eldest brother Dara Shikoh contemptuously called him, was a bigot not just by our standards but by those of his predecessors and peers.

Temple Destructions

The most contentious issue related to Aurangzeb, though not uniquely to him, is his destruction of Hindu temples. The Vishvanath temple at Benares and Mathura’s Keshava Dev temple were the most prominent shrines razed under his orders. Both were replaced by mosques. We have no idea precisely how many such acts were committed under his command, but Truschke accepts a figure of a few dozen. Levelling a hundred or so shrines does not, in her estimation, qualify a king for the label of bigot. After all,

“He also issued many orders protecting Hindu temples and granted stipends and land to Brahmins.” In the author’s view, “A historically legitimate view of Aurangzeb must explain why he protected Hindu temples more often than he demolished them.”

This seems like a very low bar indeed. Should we not criticise sportspersons who take money to fix matches unless they do so in most games they play? Should we defend sexual predators on the grounds that the vast majority of their interactions with women are respectful? Should we object to a serial killer being called a psychopath because we can’t be sure why he targeted particular victims but not hundreds of other people he met? It is important to push back against the Hindutvavadi idea of Muslim rulers as genocidal maniacs who destroyed shrines indiscriminately. But it is imperative we do it without explaining away Muslim religious prejudice where it exists. That’s what clear eyed thinkers like Tagore, Nehru, Gandhi and Ambedkar managed in their assessment of medieval India. For all their differences, none of them turned apologists for past zealotry in their effort to counter contemporary biases. It’s a pity that Truschke fails to distinguish between Nehru’s assessment of Aurangzeb and that of Hindu right-wingers.

Historical error

Needless to say, Nehru was not infallible, and a revisionist history setting the record straight on Aurangzeb’s temple desecrations would be welcome if accurate. Unfortunately, in tracing the history of desecrations by Muslim rulers, Truschke shifts into apologism based on an erroneous reading. Conventionally, desecrations have been seen as conditioned by a strong iconoclastic streak within Islam. Truschke contests this, arguing that temple destructions by Muslim kings merely copied temple destructions by Hindu kings:

“Hindu kings targeted one another’s temples beginning in the seventh century, regularly looting and defiling images of Durga, Ganesha, Vishnu, and so forth. They also periodically destroyed each other’s temples. Some Hindu kings even commissioned Sanskrit poetry to celebrate and memorialize such actions. Indo-Muslim rulers, such as Aurangzeb, followed suit in considering Hindu temples legitimate targets of punitive state action.” 

One might think Hinduism has enough crimes to answer for without iconoclasm being added to the list, but Truschke doubled down on this line in a recent article, writing,

“Medieval Hindu rulers desecrated one another’s temples and idols (a practice which inspired similar behaviour among Muslim rulers after they arrived in India).”

Were the likes of Mahmud of Ghazni and Aurangzeb just following an indigenous Hindu tradition when they sacked religious sites? Truschke bases her conclusion on three sources, Richard Davis’s Lives of Indian Images, Richard Eaton’s, Temple Desecrations in Pre-modern India, and Michael Willis’ Temples of Gopaksetra. Eaton’s article contains no original research in this respect, merely recounting the findings of Davis and Willis, also cited by Truschke. Davis, in a chapter from his book titled Trophies of War, describes how Hindu kings often looted idols considered specially powerful, and installed them in custom-built shrines within their own domains. This seems the precise opposite of the idol smashing of Islamic iconoclasm. Acknowledging this, Eaton writes,

“Although the dominant pattern here was one of looting royal temples and carrying off images of state-deities, we also hear of Hindu kings engaging in the destruction of the royal temples of their political adversaries. In the early tenth century, the Rashtrakuta monarch Indra III not only destroyed the temple of Kalapriya (at Kalpa near the Yamuna River), patronised by the Rashtrakutas’ deadly enemies, the Pratiharas, but also took special delight in recording the fact.”

The notion that medieval Hindu kings destroyed Hindu temples, and therefore served as forerunners and inspirations of Islamic acts of desecration, comes down to this single example. Eaton’s footnote leads to a different essay by Michael Willis, but the incident and the verse is obviously the same one referred to by Truschke. Here is the verse in the book cited by Truschke, and here the same verse in the chapter cited by Eaton. It says,

“After the courtyard of the temple of Kalapriya was knocked askew by the strokes of his rutting tuskers, his steeds crossed the bottomless Yamuna, which rivals the sea.” 

Is this a description of a temple being razed, or merely of a temple courtyard being damaged by elephants who might have been stabled there while the army rested?

Dineschandra Sircar, in his book Studies in the Geography of Ancient and Medieval India (page 305 – 306) states that Indra III encamped near the temple, as did his successor Krishna III, who,

“Developed a fondness for installing gods under the name Kalapriya in different parts of his empire”. 

It certainly seems as if the temple of Kalapriya survived Indra III’s rutting tuskers.

Truschke and Eaton, between them, produce just one example of a Hindu temple being destroyed by a Hindu king. This turns out to be a fictive incident created by misunderstanding a bit of verse. They then seek to balance the entire sordid history of temple destruction on this feeble base. If you want shockingly thin evidence, you will find it not in descriptions of Aurangzeb’s bigotry (for which there is ample enough proof) but in revisionist histories like those of Truschke and Eaton.

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The History of Jihad explodes prof’s claim that Hindus lived in peace under Muslim rulers in India

When  they conquered India, Muslims were benevolent and tolerant, right? That’s what Rutgers Newark professor Audrey Truschke would have you believe.

“When Hindus and Muslims lived in harmony,” by Aijaz Zaka Syed, Saudi Gazette, August 19, 2017:

AT a time when the Muslims are being hunted like animals on the benign watch of the BJP, two brave new books revisit a time when they ruled the country. The Hindus and Muslims lived in harmony under Muslim rulers, including under the powerful Moguls, argues Audrey Truschke of Stanford University, an authority on South Asian culture and history.

In her fascinating book, Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court, Truschke suggests that the heyday of Muslim rule, from the 16th to 18th centuries, had been one of “tremendous cross-cultural respect and fertilization and not religious or cultural conflict.”…

The ‘Culture of Encounters’ was followed by another groundbreaking tome on perhaps the most controversial figure in Indian history. Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth is another brave attempt to understand the life and times of the last great Mogul emperor who ruled for nearly half a century and whose reign covered the length and breadth of India including Afghanistan and parts of Mynamar.

“The Aurangzeb of popular memory bears only a faint resemblance to the historical emperor,” notes Truschke as she seeks to clear the cobwebs that have always clouded his image. She sifts fact from fiction and the man from the many myths that have grown around him over the centuries, thanks to biased telling of history as part of the British colonial project.

She dismisses the myth that Aurangzeb had been driven by religious zeal and his rule was defined by the oppression of Hindus….

In my new book The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS, I introduce you to the real Aurangzeb, beyond these ridiculous academic myths, in his own words and the words of eyewitnesses to his deeds. Aurangzeb in 1670 issued this decree: “Every idol-house built during the last 10 or 12 years, whether with brick or clay, should be demolished without delay. Also, do not allow the crushed Hindus and despicable infidels to repair their old temples.”

A Muslim historian, Saqa Mustad Khan, writing just after Aurangzeb died in 1707, reported that in January 1680, Aurangzeb “went to view lake Udaisagar, constructed by the Rana, and ordered all the three temples on its banks to be demolished.” The following day, “Hasan Ali Khan brought to the Emperor twenty camel-loads of tents and other things captured from the Rana’s palace and reported that one hundred and seventy-two other temples in the environs of Udaipur had been destroyed.” Later that year, “Abu Turab, who had been sent to demolish the temples of Amber, returned to Court…and reported that he had pulled down sixty-six temples.”

Bakhtawar Khan, a nobleman during Aurangzeb’s reign, was also pleased, noting that “Hindu writers have been entirely excluded from holding public offices, and all the worshipping places of the infidels and great temples of these infamous people have been thrown down and destroyed in a manner which excites astonishment at the successful completion of so difficult a task.”

You won’t learn all this at Rutgers, or most any other American university. They’re too busy teaching academic fictions such as those retailed here by Audrey Truschke, and warning their students about “Islamophobia.” But you can get the truth in The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS. The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS is the only comprehensive one-volume history of jihad in the English language, including not just the jihad in Europe but in India, Africa and elsewhere, drawing primarily on accounts of eyewitnesses and contemporary chroniclers. Arm yourself with the truth against the prevailing disinformation. Order here now.

One thought on “What makes wakademic tosspots rewrite history to please Mohammedans?”


    Well, that’s an easy one!

    People who are too cowardly to face, identify, and oppose the real threat always end up “failing upwards” simply because “there’s no money in solutions!”


    Evading fear increases parasitism and corrupts society.

    To put it in more complex, “wacademic” terms:

    When one wants pleasure without pain and fear, and rights to same without the responsibility for having earned them, one must oppose and ignore cause and effect. Ignoring cause and effect means refusing to perceive and detect dynamic actions, in favour of static pre-conceptions. It means killing thoughts to favour pre-conceived, pre-judiced biases (“psycopathy”).
    To choose such excuse-making images over reality, such subjectively opinionated empty forms and formalities over any and all substantive universally objective rationality, reasons and facts, is what defines the literally pathological idolater.
    It’s a process of wishful, magical thinking, and it usually relies on trying to force reality to bend to the fantasy, and as such engages in an increasing scale of group-might-made rights practices as manipulation/coercion/extortion/terrorism.
    The final failed fascist fantasy is always that force can be used to change inconvenient facts – that people can vote to change the truth into their favourite lies – which, again, is always that they can have rights to pleasure without having to deal with any painful responsibilities of having to pay for or otherwise earn it; equality of outcome over equality of opportunity.

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