Salted history

I used to hate him. Hate him with the bottom of my heart. For what he did to his father. For what he did to his brothers. For what he did to many many thousands of people who he killed and mowed and so on.

Yet today, i want to see him. Kind of go stand where he lies. Its ironical. For my friends don’t want to go anywhere close. Not because they hate him as much.

But today to go close to him, you have to go to a small nondescript place. A place nondescript enough that without direction and desire to get there, missing it would be normal ! He perhaps had all of India under his thumbs. Palaces were built and minor empires destroyed with a casual wave of a hand.

And all who talked thus far, about him, talked with a sense of borrowed spite and frown. The eternal bad chap image stayed fixed. Today, the simplicity of what i hear moves me to think.

Today, another man gives us another angle:

Imagine being born in a royal family. Imagine seeing your head of state dad, spend crane heaps of government money on a tomb for his wife. Imagine you having consternation about it. Imagine having the resolve to fight for simplicity yet scale. Fight anybody.

From an aggressive neighbour to your own father. Imagine ruling the land with great simplicity and methodical precision. Imagine living a simple frugal life when surrounded by royal splendour.

Imagine stitching caps and writing the holy scripture. The proceeds of which, you mandate, is all that would go to making of your own tomb ! I

Imagine, first of all, mandating that there wont be a significant tomb, despite being the emperor of India ! Imagine Aurangazeb.

As the shudder runs down the spine all the way to the left toe, he adds. “History is written by the victor. Its never factual”. The tourist guide moves me.

In some time we reach Khuldabad. In what appears to be another mosque in a predominantly muslim neighbourhood, Aurangazeb’s lies at the feet of his guru. No grand structure. Simple and quiet.

The Taj loses sheen in the mind. Think of it this way: Shah Jahan built the Taj out of government money and emptied the state coffers. His son threw him in jail ruled the land ably and died a simple man.

Well, i dont know what the truth is. None of us will never ever know. But then, i have resolved to read history with pitchers of salt by the side.

And as Dylan says, “All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie”

23 thoughts on “Salted history

  1. Everything has two sides, Kavi. And you are one of the fortunates who have the ability to see them both!

    Thanks for the perspective!

  2. History is often suspect. Depending on who has been writing it. With what defined pre-specified emphasis. But some monuments speak better than pages of books, and you end up imagining a different sort of history. Whatever it is, its probably better to take it with a pinch of salt. Most guides overspice the stories at the site anyway….

  3. manuscrypts says:

    suggested read “Emperors of the Peacock Throne” by Abraham Eraly.. shares the same persective.. 🙂

  4. manu says:

    suggested read (in case you haven’t already) – “Emperors of the Peacock Throne” by Abraham Eraly… shares the perspective 🙂

  5. Aurangabad – Correct?
    I am planning to visit but National Highways too hot these days for driving. May be once rain arrive And now I had an important information And I will visit for sure. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Last line : Very true.

    I think the wheel keeps on moving.

  7. Neha says:

    oh my! I have never thought of this at all..anyways i am pathetic when it comes to history; but this is an interest side of the history..

    If i had your posts on history to read in schools, I would have topped! I missed out on that rank cos of this subject..

    amazing post 🙂

  8. amreekandesi says:

    This was new to me.

    Did some more research on Aurangzeb, and found this.

    “Aurangzeb funded his resting place by knitting caps and copying the Qu’ran, during the last years of his life, works which he sold anonymously in the market place”[link]

    He willed that not more than 8 rupees be spent on his tomb.


  9. Insignia says:

    Its shades of gray. Last line…hmm makes sense.

  10. radha says:

    Interesting. I think I shall delve into this subject a little more for better understanding.

  11. starry says:

    Interesting post, never ever saw it the way you have wriiten.thanks for the insight.

  12. bodaat says:

    very interesting kavi. i want to learn more.

  13. RGB says:

    Versions that change according to the writer’s perceptions / bias. But I guess we can be the better judge. Take the final call, whether to believe or not. And take it for what it is.

  14. Arundhati says:

    Very interesting read.

    Have you considered teaching history to schoolkids? I would have loved to have a teacher like you, I did briefly… and it made the lessons so interesting, still remeber them

    I’ve always thought if Germany had won the war, we would have known a very different version of Hitler. That comment used to get me quite a few dirty looks

  15. sujata says:

    Have never been a fan of the Taj, because of the simple reason that a monument of love cannot be built on the cruelty bestowed on the people who actually built it, and basically whats the whole point? Aurangazeb’s story was a revelation though, thanks for sharing this one..

  16. Kavitha says:

    Agreed, to whatever he(Aurangazeb) said…but did not not bring brutality on people by imposing the religion?

    Or was it just a written history?!

    Btw, If don’t mind me being so prudish – According to Tech Writing and General English –

    The proceeds of which, you mandate, is all that would go to making of your own tomb !

    In the sentence, the comma should be before the word, which…not after it!

    Thank you for a nice and crisp write-up…! Wish I could do that 🙂

  17. There is too much blood and gory in the history of Mughals. And History is always written with the victor in mind but one can read the flow of times with empires changing hands. All those magnificent temples, palaces, mosques built by kings were public money. But they make India proud today, can’t say what the poor felt when they were being built.

  18. Rohith.R.Das says:

    Just a word,”Great”… Reading your writings is a delight. So, keep delighting 🙂

  19. Aparna says:

    There are quite a few people I know, mainly muslims, who admire Aurangzeb for his simple living. They consider him pious and a great ruler.
    There will always be two sides to a story. And who can really say if the Taj was a monument of love or guilt?

  20. rajk says:

    Hi Kavi,
    Coming here after a long time, and am I glad! Great post…especially the way you’ve started it, building anticipation. Yes, you’d make a great history teacher!

  21. Kavi says:

    Manju : Well, i guess people like you and others like the tourist guide nudge me to think in other dimensions as well ! 🙂

    Ugich Konitari : Yes ! tourist guides do spike. But the tourist guide who spoke to us about Auragazeb wasnt at his tomb. He was somewhere else, and was clearly interested in us getting some ‘perspective’ ! And what a job he did !

    And i think the best of history is ‘imagined history’ ! 🙂

    Manu : Not yet. Thanks for this. Will surely pick it up and read it through !

    Hobo : yes. just on the way to Ellora. You could miss it if you arent looking for this place !

    Chandrika : Yes. the wheel keeps turning !

    Neha : You are poking fun at me big time ! 😉 hmm !

    Amreekandesi : I did the search as well. That very night the guide said whatever he had to. And that was when it hit me, that there was another side to what i thought was ‘truth’ ! I found it absolutely fascinating as well !

    Insignia : Shades indeed of deep grey ! 🙂

    Radha : Super. Let us know if you come across something interesting…

    Starry : Thanks for the nice comment. Infact i didnt see it the way i see it now… ! 🙂

    Bodaat : hmm ! Sure will keep writing !

    RGB : yes. We should be the better judge. Just the world of caution on reading history ! Where i took every word for truth earlier, i take it with a pitcher of salt now !

    Arundhati : Well, i do the odd bit of teaching to any kid who is interested in learning whatever. These days the syllabus is too tricky ! 😉

    And you bet, the story would have been so different if Germany won the war. Even now, i guess the story is different in different parts of the world !

    Sujata : Thats a very neat dimension to the Taj itself. While the architectural splendour is spectacular, the pain it unleashed on people hardly bestows itself to ‘love’ !

    Kavitha : He sure could have. I am not sure. But i guess, all of that is just written history of some kind. Wonder what the truth is !

    Thanks for pointing out the General English error. Well, i am not so sure footed on grammar ! 🙂 Do keep pointing out such errors. Greatly value them !

    The Holy Lama : you are so right. While the monuments stand tall, and the government gets it revenue..i wonder what the poor of that time thought about such structures !

    Rohit : Thank you ! A big thank you ! Will keep writing ! 🙂

    Aparna : I didnt know that angle of him being admired at all. kind of completely caught me by surprise. But as i said earlier, i have a very different perspective on history nowaday !

  22. nsiyer says:

    How true. ‘History is written by the victor and is never factual.’ You made me think as always.

  23. Thought provoking post. Shah Jahaan had a daughter – Jahaan Aara – whose life is equally mysterious and interesting. Aurangazeb imprisoned her too.

    And you might lke this line – the opposite of truth is another truth!

    Keep writing…


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