The biased make for the worst historians. Ironically, biases have been finding awards for ages and nothing has changed. We have many eminent historians around us who seem to be sculptures sculpted out of biases coated in various colonial hues: Timurid, British and more.
One such historian from the current time is Audrey Truschke, a recruit of Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. Any serious student of history can tell you that she is a crusader of fake information in the name of history. But now we see a paradigm shift as the lies spoken by her are finding substantial response. People are questioning her research, sources and nothing can be a bigger nightmare than to see her chair of glory being fractured by truthful whips of scholars like Dr Vikram Sampath. Recently, she, in alliance with two other academicians, put a serious charge of plagiarism on Dr Sampath which was right away busted by Sanjeev Sanyal.
A man of such calibre like Dr Sampath doesn’t need any support as such and rightly showing the spine, he decided to take the matter to the court of law. But I thought that it would be the right time to reflect upon the shoddy work of “Hindu hatred” that Audrey sells in the name of scholarship and gets patronage from so many eminent forums.
Audrey spends time, research, and efforts only to glorify everything which would put Bharat in a bad light. Unfortunately, the word of professional academic is taken on the face value and the same modus operandi has made her biases shape up into a mainstream narrative even about the history of India. Of all the sinister acts, her performance as darbari of Aurangzeb appears most troubling.
The most laughable claim she makes about the Sufi Padishah is that he “did good to the Hindus more than the atrocities.” One statement of hers which sums it up so well is as below: “Aurangzeb protected more Hindu temples than destroyed them.”
Even if this statement is to be considered true for a while, will any judiciary use the same logic to spare a murderer who has committed only one murder ever? What is even more interesting is that not many from the Timurid (distorted as Mughal) fan club too would be able to digest what she states with respect to Aurangzeb.
The Timurid records state that Aurangzeb’s policy saw the demolition of Hindu mandirs as the most imperative object. Dara Shukoh had presented carved railings for the Keshava Rai Mandir of Mathura which the great Sufi Aurangzeb ordered to be removed on 13 October, 1666. He observes: “In the religion of the Musalmans it is improper even to look at a Temple’, and that it was unbecoming of a Muslim to act like Dara Shukoh”.
According to Siyah Waqa’i-Darbar (3/9/1667) and Siyah Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Mu‘alla, (12/9/1667) Aurangzeb soon destroyed the Kalka Mandir of Delhi. Mirza Raja Jai Singh of Amber passed away in 1669. On 9 April, 1969, Aurangzeb ordered the demolition of temples and gurukuls throughout the Timurid Colony (distorted as Mughal Empire). Maasir-i-‘Alamgiri lets us know that he had also ordered for the complete banning of Puja Samskaras.
Below is the excerpt (page 81) as translated by Sir Jadunath Sarkar: “The Lord Cherisher of the Faith learnt that in the provinces of Thatta, Multan and especially at Benaras, the Brahmin misbelievers used to teach their false books in their established schools, and their admirers and students, both Hindu and Muslim, used to come from great distances to these misguided men in order to acquire their vile learning. His Majesty, eager to establish Islam, issued orders to the governors of all the provinces to demolish the schools and Temples of the infidels, and, with the utmost urgency, put down the teaching and the public practice of the religion of these unbelievers.”
Soon after these orders, the great temple of Keshava Rai in Mathura was demolished in January 1670 (Maasir-i-‘Alamgiri, page 95-96, Translation by JN Sarkar) and a large mosque was erected. As per the author of Maasir-i-‘Alamgiri, the murtis were carried to Agra and buried under the steps of the mosque built by Begum Sahiba, so that they could be continually trodden upon by the Musalmans, and the name of the ancient sacred town Mathura was changed to Islamabad.
The bigotry of Aurangzeb did not stop there. He demolished the sacred temple of Vishwanath at Varanasi (Maasir-i-‘Alamgiri, page 88) and of Somanatha. Likewise, Aurangzeb kept demolishing Hindu mandirs and the evidence flowed from the Timurid (distorted as Mughal) writings itself. He destroyed the great Mandir of Mewar, Marwar, including two hundred other mandirs in the environs of Udaipur and many more. In Chittor he ordered demolition of more than five dozen mandirs which included finest works of Kumbha’s time and earlier. Several cart loads of Murtis were brought from Marwar & cast in the courtyard and under the steps of Jama Masjid (Maasir-i-‘Alamgiri, page 175, Translation: JN Sarkar).
But look at what kind of comical statements the historian makes. It seems that she and her ilk are hell bent to make historians the most mistrusted professionals ever but at the same time I’m glad that people like Dr Vikram Sampath are ensuring that history remains an important serious profession.
Let’s look more at the misdeeds of Audrey’s hero, Aurangzeb, whom she portrays as the great protector of Hindus.
It was the summer of 1681. Aurangzeb ordered for the demolition of the most revered Jagannath Mandir in Puri (Siyaha Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Mu‘alla, 1 June, 1681). Then just a year later in September of 1682, the Bindu-Madhav Mandir in Varanasi was demolished as per the Aurangzeb’s orders (Siyaha Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Mu‘alla, 13 September, 1682).
Interestingly, on 1 September, 1681, his rebel son Akbar joined Chhatrapati Shivaji’s son, Shambhaji. The news reached him when he was travelling to Deccan and it made Aurangzeb extremely furious. He immediately ordered that all the mandirs on the way should be destroyed (Siyaha Akhbarat-i-Darbar, 21 September 1681). We find him ordering the destruction of Pandharpur Mandir and sending a butcher camp to slaughter the cows of Gowshala in the precinct (Source: Akhbarat 49-7). Aurangzeb kept ordering destruction of temples almost till the time he died.
Following the sayings of the Holy Qur’an, Aurangzeb reimposed jizyah on Hindus on 2 April 1679 (Maasir-i-‘Alamgiri, page 175, Translation: JN Sarkar) but exempted Muslims from paying Zakat (Siyaha Akhbart-i-Darbar-i-Mu‘alla, 16 April 1667).
Now let us note at few bans and anti-kafir rules brought by the Sufi Padishah Aurangzeb as listed below:
- Atishbazi thereby restricting Diwali (Source: Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Mu‘alla, April 9, 1667).
- Replacement of Hindu officials by Muslims to enhance latter’s welfare and glory of Islam (Source: Siyaha Akhbarat Darbar Mu’alla, May 30, 1667).
- Gathering of the Hindus at religious shrines (Source: Siyaha Waqai Darbar, 26 Septemberm 1667).
- Travelling in Palkis, or riding elephants and Arab-Iraqi horses, as Hindus should not carry themselves with the same dignity as the Muslims (Source: Maasir-i-‘Alamgiri, page 370).
- Rules to convert Hindus by persuasion, coercion or by offering Qanungo and to honour the converts in the open Court (Source: Akhbarat, 15 November 1680; 5 June, 1681; Siyaha Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Mu‘alla, May 16, 1681; Siyaha Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Mu‘alla, 17 June, 1681). Directions were as simply as possible. It stated that a Hindu male and female be given Rupees four and two respectively on conversion (Source: Siyaha Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Mu‘alla, Julus, 7 April 1685). “Continue giving liberally,” were the words of Aurangzeb when he was told that the Faujdar of Bithur, Shaikh Abdul Momin, had converted more than a hundred Hindus giving them cash and the dresses of honour (Source: Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Mu‘alla, 11 April 1667).
I’m surprised that the world is not calling upon people like “Audrey as crime doers” who are coming to defence of one of the biggest Hindu persecutors, Aurangzeb. I’m not sure if anyone would ever be able to build a career mainstreaming that Hitler did lots of good for the Jews too. As Hitler wasn’t shy to speak aloud of his crimes against the Jews, Aurangzeb too wasn’t the one to conceal; he took pride in talking about persecution of Hindus. His ultimate motto was establishment of Dar-ul-Islam (Islamic State).
We are only left with the reflection of the fact that Audrey has no sensitivity for Hindus and perhaps she has grown old only with an injection of hate against Hindus.
But is that all? When she makes the charges of plagiarism on the work of Dr Sampath, does she forget to look at her own work? People must read through the pages of her biography on Aurangzeb. The book is devoid of any substantial reference notes and citations. Can any historian on earth vouch for her book as even being close to methodological history writing? The pages dedicated for notes, citations, appendices & bibliography put by Dr Sampath sum to more words than the total length of Audrey’s book. Is this the level of “history witing” we are going to be given in the name of “professional historian’s scholarly work?” Below is sample of a few pages from her book which in my opinion as serious student of history looks way below the standard of any historical writing:
So, what exactly is Audrey’s intention?
Anyone who claims to have researched on Aurangzeb would know complete details of Fatawa-e-Alamgiri. It had provisions for slavery (including sex slavery) as mentioned below (source: Fatawa i-Alamgiri, Sheikh Nizam, al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 6 vols):
- The right of Muslims to purchase and own slaves
- Muslim man’s right to have sex with slave girl he owns or owned by another Muslim (with master’s consent).
- No inheritance rights for slaves.
- The testimony of all slaves was inadmissible in a court of law.
- Slaves require permission of the master before they can marry
- An unmarried Muslim may marry a slave he owns but a Muslim married to a Muslim woman may not marry a slave
- Conditions under which the slaves may be emancipated partially or fully
I wonder that how woman on earth can ever be an advocate for the Padishah who practised ugly misogyny and sex-slavery so openheartedly?
In my opinion, being an advocate for Aurangzeb is the biggest low in academia and Audrey has achieved it. Well, it is not just about romanticising of one of the biggest religious bigots, but the sinister plot of Audrey becomes way more problematic when she gets into misquoting and passing wrong information about Hindu Shastras.
While she cosies up to Aurangzeb, she never stops to reflect wrongly how Mahabharata, Ramayana have been books of misogyny, unethical acts and more social evils. She goes on to “compare Nirbhaya’s situation with that of “Draupadi” and mentions how India has not changed in ages.
She indirectly emphasizes India as being the epicentre of crimes against females. Does it not sound like some Islamist’s part 1 argument for hijab?
For a moment I wish to do away with her wrong portrayal of the character of Draupadi and many other in Mahabharata, but it is a grave issue that how her work on eulogising sex-slavery supporter Aurangzeb came to be accepted and appreciated in the world of academia.
The wrong doers in cases like Nirbahaya were brutal marauders, no less than filthy Aurangzeb. It is disgusting that Rutgers University too once went on to defend such a person who claims to be a scholar but sells only Hindu-hatred day and night.
While she demonises every Hindu Shastras, she is quite vocal about “how Hinduism is good and Hindutva bad”. But by doing so, does she not appear a hypocrite of the highest order? I mean, how can she demonise all the Hindu Shastras and then claim that “Hinduism” is good?
She even goes on to talk about how no manuscripts of Mahabharata are the same but would never tell you about hundreds of versions of the Holy Qur’an? Will she ever stand with Wasim Rizvi (now Jitender Tyagi), who called for removal of hateful verses from the Qur’an?
Will she call out the maulvis who passed fatwas to have Tyagi killed? Will she stand with the Bajrang Dal activist Harsha who was murdered in cold blood? Will she raise a voice for the killing of Kamlesh Tiwari on grounds of blasphemy? Does she even know the name of a single person who was burnt alive in Godhra in a train, just because they were karsevaks?
Why such biases?
On the other hand, she keeps misinforming people about Hindutva. According to Audrey, “The Hindutva was born in the era of fascism, when Europe witnessed the rise of Hitler and Mussolini.” How can Rutgers University recruit such a misinformed associate professor?
Interestingly, Hitler was three years old and Mussolini nine years old when the term Hindutva was coined by Chandranath Basu in 1892. Her understanding of Hindutva is highly flawed, and she pointlessly keeps vilifying Savarkar, Golwalkar, etc.
She ignores the Hindu genocide that was executed during the Mopllah riots with a plan for Islamic Invasion over India in the pretext of Khalifat Movement. If one observes it carefully, it becomes more clear on why the idea of “Hindutva” evolved and how essential it is.
It is appalling and highly disgusting situation to see someone (Audrey) teaching the oppressed ones “how not to call out oppression and keep turning more victim.”
It is a high time that the West and its scholars stay away from summoning Indians. If white supremacists and Islamic State sympathisers keep setting a jaundiced eye to jeopardise Indian interests in every possible way, we must respond as strongly as possible.
The writer is an architect and an author. Views expressed are personal.