Cover buys are a real thing, and if you as a bibliophile are going to deny it, I for one, am not buying it! A long time ago, I had read a fiction based in the Mughal era, and I was head over heels in love with it. So, when this book was released, it held quite the appeal to me. Partly for the non fictional take and partly for its cover, I bought this book. Here is what I think of it.
The first thing that I noticed about this book is the cover. It is a simple artist’s impression of the king with a tranquil green background and warm orange-yellows standing out on it. Published by Penguin, this is possibly the only edition available in the market as per my knowledge.
The lead character of this book is, quite obviously, Aurangzeb. The book, as the title suggests aims to unravel the man and clear the air over all the myths that surround him.
It is a non fictional documentation of the life and reign of Aurangzeb. Like all kings, there are many stories—some true, some false—that make this king one of the most hated kings to have ruled the Indian Subcontinent. But was he that bad? Are all the stories that we have heard about him historically accurate? The Author aims to dissect the life and myths that we have heard about this apparent tyrant.
Free of any frills and frolic, the writing is very simple and to the point. It is written in an almost textbook manner without glorifying or degrading anything.
The Author has tried to give an unbiased factual account of the reign of Aurangzeb. While there are instances that show that he was quite heartless, there are also instances that show that the stories fed to us were merely concocted by political agencies, starting from the British regime to divide the country based on religion. These stories suited many other political outfits as it helped their propaganda, hence, they were given more encouragement, further sparking hate for him and the religion he practised.
The book is a very “sitting on the fence” take on the entire thing. There are no strong opinions, just mild and safe attempts to convey ideas that the Author may believe in. While it is understandable as to why she may have maintained a safe approach to the whole thing, if you are claiming to clear the air, perhaps you must first be absolutely confident to face the risks that come with it.
I really enjoyed reading this book. The little I knew about him was further built on by the factual presentation of the book. He is considered as a religious bigot. However, it is quite evident that he was no Islamic hero either as he was extensively criticised by many clerics for his heartless behaviour at varied instances.
He was considered a Hindu hater—stories have been told about his torturous behaviour towards them—but most historic documents do not support this, which shows that these stories have been woven by political groups to incite communal hatred and differences amongst people. This is my biggest takeaway from the book: Aurangzeb, or any other king for that matter is no hero in the complete sense of it. Many kings have done vengeful things for the sake of power—some documented as tyranny, some others as acts of bravado, based on varied and ill-placed benchmarks set to define them. But it is the way it is presented to the common man—the one who builds his opinions on mere heresy—that makes all the difference.
We have been fed twisted truths, stories built on lies and we have been happily lapping them up partly because it suits us, and partly because we are too lazy to verify the truth. Political groups have always used communal differences as a way to reinstate their power, and to misguide people into trusting them. Aurangzeb is merely one such instance. He is a leaf from the history of our country—coloured in varied shades to misguide people. We are all entitled to our opinions; we are all entitled to dislike someone for their actions. But maybe, first, we learn the whole truth before choosing a side, and second, not define an entire community based on one person or a group of few men who used (and continue to use) religion as a shield to fulfil their own aspirations.
Who do I recommend this to?
If you are keen on learning about the king, more about his reign and if you are trying to formulate your thoughts (could be positive or negative) and opinions on Aurangzeb, this could be a useful read for you as it doesn’t try to take sides, but just shows the events as they have been.
What connections do earthly affairs with religion? And what right administrative works to meddle with bigotry? For you is your religion, and for me is mine.
Go ahead, grab yourself a copy of Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth and tell us what you think about the book! If you are a Kindle person, ensure to select the Kindle edition of the book.
Looking to buy a Kindle?
The frontlit, high-resolution Kindle Paperwhite seems to be the officially preferred Kindle at Meraki Post; Veena, Gazala and Ram have one each. And while Pooja may claim she is more of the “Love the new book smell” kind of person, she may be secretly deciding between the premium Kindle Oasis and the simple and efficient Good Ol’ Kindle.
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