Posted on: 1 November 2012

"I came alone and I go as a stranger. I do not know who I am, nor what I have been doing."

— Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal emperor of India

Read more at Amanda McCrina's blog:

Painting; Watercolour on ivory, Aurangzeb (1658-1707), Delhi, ca.1850

Copyright: © V&A Images

 View Post on Facebook

Comments from Facebook

Sadly a butcher of Hindus/Sikhs in Hindustan then known, and a blotch on Akbar's legacy.

Pretty stupid to take that quote out of it's metaphysical context as an oft-repeated sufi maxim and then use it to propagate a-historical political analysis....

More than Amanda's, it is Aryan's comments in the blog which is the mainfeed. Is he a member of this forum?

Hasher Majoka: Could you enlighten us more on the 'metaphysical context' of this quote?

It is Aryans comments which i utterly disagree with anyways good wishes to his incomplete research and historical info

Stanley Wolpert writes in his New History of India: …Yet the conquest of the Deccan, to which [Aurangzeb] devoted the last 26 years of his life, was in many ways a Pyrrhic victory, costing an estimated hundred thousand lives a year during its last decade of futile chess game warfare…. The expense in gold and rupees can hardly be accurately estimated. [Aurangzeb]'s moving capital alone- a city of tents 30 miles in circumference, some 250 bazaars, with a 1/2 million camp followers, 50,000 camels and 30,000 elephants, all of whom had to be fed, stripped peninsular India of any and all of its surplus gain and wealth…. Not only famine but bubonic plague arose…. Even [Aurangzeb] had ceased to understand the purpose of it all by the time he…was nearing 90….. "I came alone and I go as a stranger. I do not know who I am, nor what I have been doing," the dying old man confessed to his son in Feb 1707. "I have sinned terribly, and I do not know what punishment awaits me." (Wolpert 2003, 167). Source:

Sau choohe kha kar bill haj ko chali!!!


Rare Book Society of India the principle background of that quote is the prophetic saying (Hadiis) "O children of Adam, you were born alone, you will die alone and be judged alone". A second hadis says that 'he who gets to know his 'self' gets to know his God". Thus in Persian (and Persianate) sufi poetry this is an oft-visited theme where you dwell upon your existential loneliness and combat your lack of knowledge about yourself and consequently your knowledge of the Creator.

Wolpert is an historian of the 20th century and I'm not surprised that he would take a 17th century quote out of its context and conveniently use it to paint a large canvas with a very broad brush. All of us historians are guilty of that at times.

It then appears all the more plausible that Aurangzeb who was a deeply religious man to have uttered this quote to his son during his last written by Stanley Wolpert in his book.

A mass murderer!

Again that context thing! such pious utterances had become formulaic turns of phrase to be employed in all stylistic writings. That is not to suggest that they were devoid of feelings or conviction. If you were to read writings from that period - or even as late as 19th century where letters written by the Urdu poet Ghalib are easily accessible- you will find this refrain expressed over and over. This perfectly illustrates the perils of taking singular historical quotes out of their contemporary context and using them to advance a brutish, ill informed vision of history.....

A man who has not used anything from his treasure,he used to knit skull cap and do calligraphy of Quran for his bread ( sound weird?) a man who donated more to Brahman than to Muslims.the only thing he did to to restarted jaziya on non Muslims which is a part of Islamic system for the security of non Muslims under Muslim rule, whereas Muslim pay zakat. Stop reading crap written by pro british historian. Havnt you know the saying divide and rule. If you want to know about ram or Krishna you should read the scripture and books written by people of India or you Wil read mr James Henry or Michael.

As a king he felt the guilty of killing in wars, on the other hand he was the king and supressed the uprisings and conspiracies against him so that sone ki chidiya remain the same. He has not sent anything to damascus and hijaz Islamic treasure from India. And yes he never preferred nautch girls and wine like the great Akbar

RBSI my article on Dara shukoh and Aurangzeb.

6th Great Mughal Auranzeb Alamgir had realized in his old age that unwittingly he had sought the seeds of dissension and the started the begining of the end of the Mughal Empire. That is why he said, in his old age, "After me Chaos."

As to Altamash Mahammed's comment that he started Jaziya tax on non-muslims, firstly, it was started in the reign of 5th Great Mughal Shahjahan and 2ndly if it was for the protection of non-muslims (for their own good), may be all countries in the world where muslims reside but are not in power, e.g. USA, UK, Russia, India etc, should impose a similar tax on muslims for "their own good and protection". I am sure Altamash Mohammed will agree with me. Or can he? Because he may invite Fatwa on himself by the muslim country leaders like Iran or Saudi Arabia.......

Have there ever been wars worse than WWI and WWII, all fought mainly by European Christians? The death toll went into over a hundred million for just WWIi. Who us more savage? Let's keep things in context, before criticizing Aurangzeb, who wanted nothing for himself.

'is' not 'us'.

The Problem with most of us that we have not personally checked or read the actual historical sources and unfortunately have to rely on what British historians and their blind followers have painted...

A spartan life and a futile chase !

I would go a little far and say that there was no King who did not kill the non-muslims in the field or off the field. Jizya was imposed there during the Sultanate period as well........Temples were pulled down much earlier than Aurangzeb as well....... Hemu was killed by Akbar ? and scorse of examples can be given ? So what ........

May I know who were the Meer Munshi, Katib, Guardians of the royal treasures during Mughal Period --------There was All Hindus... If Aurangzeb was so ferocious a communalist, why is it, some historians have asked, that the number of Hindus employed in positions of eminence under Aurangzeb's reign rose from 24.5% in the time of his father Shah Jahan to 33% in the fourth decade of his own rule? The image of Aurangzeb as an idol-breaker may not withstand scrutiny, since there is evidence to show that, like his predecessors, he continued to confer land grants (jagirs) upon Hindu temples, such as the Someshwar Nath Mahadev temple in Allahabad, Jangum Badi Shiva temple in Banaras, Umanand temple in Gauhati, and numerous others. On the other hand, one might argue, if Akbar was so dedicated to the principle of religious harmony, why is it that none of the Mughal princesses were ever allowed to marry into Rajput households No one should accuse Aurangzeb of being communal minded. In his administration, the state policy was formulated by Hindus. Two Hindus held the highest position in the State Treasury. Some prejudiced Muslims even questioned the merit of his decision to appoint non-Muslims to such high offices. The Emperor refuted that by stating that he had been following the dictates of the Shariah (Islamic Law) which demands appointing right persons in right positions." During Aurangzeb's long reign of fifty years, many Hindus, notably Jaswant Singh, Raja Rajrup, Kabir Singh, Arghanath Singh, Prem Dev Singh, Dilip Roy, and Rasik Lal Crory, held very high administrative positions. Two of the highest ranked generals in Aurangzeb's administration, Jaswant Singh and Jaya Singh, were Hindus. Other notable Hindu generals who commanded a garrison of two to five thousand soldiers were Raja Vim Singh of Udaypur, Indra Singh, Achalaji and Arjuji. One wonders if Aurangzeb was hostile to Hindus, why would he position all these Hindus to high positions of authority, especially in the military, who could have mutinied against him and removed him from his throne? Emperor Akbar had fourteen Hindu Mansabdars (high officials) in his court, Aurangzeb actually had 148 Hindu high officials in his court. (Ref: Mughal Government) But this fact is somewhat less known. Interestingly, the 1946 edition of the history textbook Etihash Parichaya (Introduction to History) used in Bengal for the 5th and 6th graders states: "If Aurangzeb had the intention of demolishing temples to make way for mosques, there would not have been a single temple standing erect in India. On the contrary, Aurangzeb donated huge estates for use as Temple sites and support thereof in Benares, Kashmir and elsewhere. The official documentations for these land grants are still extant." It should be pointed out here that zakat (2.5% of savings) and ‘ushr (10% of agricultural products) were collected from all Muslims, who owned some wealth (beyond a certain minimum, called nisab). They also paid sadaqah, fitrah, and khums. None of these were collected from any non-Muslim. As a matter of fact, the per capita collection from Muslims was several fold that of non-Muslims. Further to Auranzeb's credit is his abolition of a lot of taxes, although this fact is not usually mentioned. In his book Mughal Administration, Sir Jadunath Sarkar, foremost historian on the Mughal dynasty, mentions that during Aurangzeb's reign in power, nearly sixty-five types of taxes were abolished, which resulted in a yearly revenue loss of fifty million rupees from the state treasury.

Na Kisi Ki Aankh Ka Noor Hoon Na Kisi Ki Aankh Ka Noor Hoon Na Kisi Ke Dil Ka Qarar Hoon Jo Kisi Ke Kaam Na Aa Sake Main Woh Ek Mushth-E-Ghubaar Hoon Na Kisi Ki Aankh Ka Noor Hoon Na To Main Kisi Ka Habeeb Hoon Na To Main Kisi Ka Raqeeb Hoon Jo Bigad Chala Gaya Woh Naseeb Hoon Jo Ujad Gaya Woh Dayaar Hoon Mera Rang Roop Bigad Gaya Mera Yaar Muhjse Bichad Gaya Jo Chaman Khizaan Mein Ujad Gaya Main Usi Ki Fasl-e-Bahar Hoon Na Kisi Ki Aankh Ka Noor Hoon Na Kisi Ke Dil Ka Qarar Hoon Pay- Faatiha Koyi Aaye Kyon

It is a very famous Gazal written by the Sultan and it was one of the hit song sung by Rafisaab.

@Nagabhushana Maravanthe . Correction Its written by Bahadur shah Zafar.

@Pulin Trivedi Sir, Those time were diffrenet..two type of financial contribution levied on society under muslim rule....jaziya by Non Muslim..and zakaat fitrah etc...but today there are No tax for any one countries ruled under islamic one pay tax in saudia arabia,oman UAE etc...whereas tax is levied on everyone in USA,Russian,Germany even on muslim...apart from their zakaat and fitrah.

Aurangzeb is only a propogated subject of Hatred by saffron forces in India..Historian were always there to note down each and everything...Royal as well as freelancers...everyone know how much in numbers stalin,hitler,lenin,bush,modi has killed...can anyone show the numbers killed by Muslim rulers..since 12th century till bahadur shah Zafar? In war the soldier are killed..this is the rule...and it must happened during the invades, but always remeber a Mulsim never killed women,children,Old age man, and not even cut or burn trees while wars. This is the rule which has been strictly follwed by Muslim rulers as per my knowledhe and information,and as per my knwledge... i know how many childrens, women has been burned raped and killed western so called Buzdil warriors.

According to me Aurangzeb was an ambitious power hungry man who used his wahabi religious leanings to justify his quest. His simple lifestyle etc is a paradox to his constant lust of power. Even if one looks at him from a Muslim point of view. He did more harm than good for Muslim cause. He destroyed fellow Muslim Shia Kingdoms of Deccan which eventually led to weakening of Muslim rule in India. He was so Paranoid of his own children that he did not relinquish his throne till he died as a result the Prince who took over rule after him was in his 60's and incompetent becaue Aurangzeb never groomed any of his son's to be the king. This lack of foresight was his undoing and for Muslims. So any Muslims who think Aurangzeb was a True Muslim or fought for Islamic Cause needs to think again

khan sahib ko salaam.. Inshallah ! Aap tho sahee pharmayah.. lekin yeh " Waqt waqt khi baat hai " Jab mulq meh sirf power lekin abh sirf paisa .. kaha bhi rahey no do.. Swiss bank ya R B I..

but some says that " history repeats " is that true ?

Vinita Ullal, you can not try and white wash some ones action by comparing it with some one else in a different time, or place. If a comparison is valid, it can only be in imeediate circumstances and even then is poor justification. Every act/individual and event can be judged only as per specific case. Its all case to case. In any case judging history is somewhat pointless, history is what is -- what can be judged would be current people and their relationship with historical patterns.

@Khalid Bin Umar: There were Hindus in High posts since Akbar's time as Akbar in his wisdom realised that a country cannot be ruled without the goodwill of its majority. No Hindu who agreed to be feudatory to Akbar revolted behind Akbar's back. But in Aurangzeb time he (Aurangzeb) insulted the Rathores while he was campaigning in Burdwan (or Bengal) and hence Rathores looted his and stole his Red Tent and rode away to Jodhpur and the Tent can still be seen in the Meherangarh Palace. Rathores had always maintained that in the Mughal Army, "Lakhon talwara rathodi" & hence aurangzeb cannot ill treat them. Jaswant Singh had also changed sides at least 3 times before finally being with Aurangzeb.

Altamash Mohammad: You say that Hitler, Lenin Stalin killed a lot. That is why they are vilified. Similarly Aurangzeb should be vilified because he belonged to the same club. Did he not destroy the temple at Mathura and Kashi? He did. You see the curses being cast at Hindus who destroyed the Babri Masjid, a place of worship even though it was built by destroying a Ram Temple there. So why should not the same abuses be cast on Aurangzeb, You tell me.

History given perspective the light of the current warring Imperialist USA's 2012 election....what an interesting thread this is to read .

>> Babri Masjid, a place of worship Small nitpick, the Babri was not a Masjid, at least not since Auranzeb made a brief attempt at using it post the destruction of Ram temples remaining pieces. The disputed structure (as per HC :-P ) has been used for hindu prayers pretty much soon after Mughal power waned, Since last 60+ years, it has been in Hindu hands solely.

@ Pulin Trivedi ,I have read that the Rathores revolted against Aurangzeb because after Jaswant singh's death(1678AD) Aurangzeb did not recognise the successor Ajit Singh and wanted to sack Kingdom of Marwad and join it with Mughal territory .At that time Durgadas Rathore fled from Delhi with the heir of Rathore throne and raised a banner of revolt.Its also interesting that the famous Kesaria stance of Rajputs was abandoned by them after they faced many reverses initially .They took shelter in Aravali ranges and bidded for right time to strike back!. After this all the Rajputs Kings decided among themselves not to offer help to Mughals in Deccan.

The Rajput Kings seldom took a hard stance against Marathas. Even Jai Singh I, was disliked for helping Shivaji. Jaswant Singh in particular, pretty much left no opportunity to not really fight for Auranzeb and spent most of his time fighting against him.

@Satyakam Sudershan: When I called Babri as Masjid,I was being generous towards the muslims. Yes of course it was known as The Disputed Structure.

Nitin Ashok Bhagwat: There seems to be some doubt on the dates your offer. Durgadas picked up the body of Rathore king, Amar Singh from the gates of Agra Fort where it was displayed by 5th Great Mughal Shahjahan. Durgadas and his 19 other followers who were in the Jodhpur Deorhi (if it is the correct way to say it, or Jodhpur House that was given to Amar Singh where he constructed his thikana), stealthily come to Agra Fort, brought down the body of Amar Singh and made way towards Jodhpur, with Mughal Troops following them. When the Mughals drew too close, 1 Rathore fell back and held up the Mughals, while killing as many as he can before he was killed. The Mughal army followed the Rathores again and again 1 Rathore fell back and tried to delay the Mughal troops, and so on till only Durgadas reached Jodhpur with Amar Singh's body. And the Bhaatt Charannas of Jodhpur sang an ode to Durgadas as follows: "Mai ehddo puut jann, jehddo Durgadas. Bhaley mathey rakhiyo bina khumbh aaskash." Now Shahjahan was imprisoned in 1656 or 1658 by the 'benevolent?' Aurangzeb (He didn't even spare his father leave alone Hindus). Hence in 1678 Durgadas still doing his deeds is a little doubtful UNLESS there was another Durgadas.

Aurangzeb decided to impose Jaziya tax not as a source of revenue collection .He considered it as his duty to Islam.Why Hindus used to hate Jaziya?It was the explicit and implicit insults associated with the collection of Jaziya.THe person paying this tax was supposed to walk and not use horse or palanquin to go to the tax collector.The tax collector used to remain seated and the person paying the tax had to stand.and pay Jaziya.In a class conscious society of that time it was felt a insulting way to treat . So wealthy and persons with good standing in society used to feel offended .It was compulsory for every Hindu above 14 years of age to pay Jaziya.Women were exempted .Blind ,handicapped and mentally retarded were also obliged to pay Jaziya if they had the means .Hindus were divided in three groups for the collection of Jaziya.Poor, middle class and rich.The rate of taxation on annual basis was 3.33 ,6.75 and 12.5 rupees respectively.So for a poor hindu whose annual income was in the range of 30/40 rupees at that time it was quite a burden.But for a wealthy hindu the burden would be less .The main perpose of Jaziya was to insult the wealthy hindu and make them feel inferior and burden the poor hindu to induce them to convert to Islam.According to the official biographer of Aurang zeb the chief perpose of Jazia was to "Spread Islam and root out the infedel religeous practices which do not follow the true religion (ie. Islam)".

Pulin Trivedi ,Maharana Jaswant singh died at Jamrud on Afghan border on 10th December 1678. Aurangzeb ordered Mughal army to camp in Marwad .In June 1679 Durgadas Rathore came to Delhi with Jaswant Singh's widow and his son Ajit Singh.BUt before that on 26th May Aurangzeb announced Indrajeet Singh who was grand son of Jaswant Singh' brother as successor but Mughal army was not ordered to leave Marwad.Durgadas pleaded to Aurangzeb to anoint Ajit Singh as the heir.Aurangzeb refused and told Durgadas to let Ajit Singh grow up in Mughal zanana and to decide about succession once he grows up.Rajputs refused to hand over Ajit Singh and on 15th July night Durgadas fled from Delhi.What followed was really a great display of valour and selfless fight by Rajputs who fought the Mughals who were in their pursuit for 3 days and nights till Durgadas and Ajit singh reached safely to Jodhpur.This same Durgadas helped Aurangzeb's son Akbar afterwards in his unsuccessful revolt.

Nitin Ashok Bhagawat: Many thanks Nitin, for the above writing. I stand educated, re Durgadas (tell me if he was the same Durgadas as the one who brought the body of Amar Singh to Jodhpur from Agra) & re Jaziya and its method of collection. Perhaps Mr Altamash Mohammed might like to comment on the method of collection of Jaziya. Did the muslims also pay their zakat and fitr in the same humiliating way? Altamash says that while we paid the Jaziya the muslims paid the zakat and hence there was nothing wrong in paying Jaziya. Open to sky tomb of Aurangzeb at Alamgiri Dargah at Khuldabad and knitting the caps and calligraphy were all part of politics to keep the local satraps on his side, just as Sonia and Congress are doing now.

@ Satyskam Would it be fair to say that Rajput's followed or improved upon Shivaji's tactics in their fight against Aurangzeb?They fought a classical Guerilla warfare by taking shelter in Aravali ranges.We can draw this inference by comparing the battle tactics of Rajputs during Babur and Akbar's time to their tactics against Aurangzeb.Specially abandoning the practice of Kesariya.

Nitin; if I may say so, I would say that Maratha's first improved upon Maharana Pratap's tactics. He was the first (in medieval India) to use Gurellia tactics (I am not aware of prior use. However Maratha's perfected it -- and post Maharana Pratap, I personally do not think, that Rajputs made significant improvements on what Pratap/Shivaji had created -- I would consider it a reuse of the same. Maratha's IMVHO are till date the best exemplars (anywhere) of such force -- for in later days they were not a small force -- like typically used in such actions, they were significantly sized light cavalry, but could move with speed and surprise typically associated with guerilla tactics.

The concept of jaziya in Islam is of a tax levied on non-muslims and only on able-bodied adult males of military age who could afford it. If a non-muslim agreed to be drafted in the army for the defense of the state or for its misadventures abroad or was already in govt' service then he did not have to pay jaziya. As all muslims were expected to be drafted when needed they did not have to pay this tax. Jaziya was also referred to as "Badal-Askari" (Military Substution) or "Sadaqah" (charity) when it was given voluntarily. I can totally accept that people were ill-treated by tax collectors, that tradition continues in India but I have not come across anything mentioning jaziya being levied on the disabled & mentally challenged. @Sameer Khan mentioned Aurangzeb being influenced by the Wahhabis. Muhammad Abdal Wahhab was 4 years old when Aurangzeb died in 1707, but Aurangzeb did potray himself as pious & othrodox. After the bloody war of succession I can only imagine that he needed to potray that image to keep the conservative ulema and right-wing muslims on his side. The Mughals declined because they had stopped evolving & there were better administrators & rulers on the horizon: The Marathas. The Ottomans also declined in part due to their succession wars & fratricide and the instability each new ruler had to contend with.

" we should revise our history critically but we should not be selective in choosing a ruler or mistakes of single community." (y)

History ...will we ever know the entre truth ? But ...this IS an exquisite portrait !