Hindustan Times
January 26, 2003

V. S. Naipaul Sees the Light!

by Amulya Ganguli

Naipaul would probably be dumbfounded to find that Aurangzeb, that most bigoted of all Mughal emperors, had once written to his underlings: "... information has reached our noble and most holy court that certain persons interfere and harass the Hindu residents of the town of Benaras and its neighbourhood and the Brahman keepers of the temples... Therefore, our royal command is that, after the arrival of this lustrous order, you should direct that, in future, no person shall in unlawful way interfere and disturb the Brahmans and other Hindu residents at these places, so that they may, as before, remain in their occupation and continue with peace of mind to offer prayers for the continuance of our god-gifted empire, so that it may last forever."

Passages like this may not find place in Murli Manohar Joshi's distorted textbooks, but they are a part of history. Jadunath Sarkar's History of Aurangzeb records, for instance, that "the clerks, both Hindus and Muhammadans, formed a brotherhood bound together by a community of duties and interests, education and ideals, social life and even vices. We find in the memoirs of one of them, Bhimsen of Burhanpur, a pleasing picture of the clerkly world, with its mutual dancing parties, dinners, aid in trouble, consolation in sorrow and union t sittings of Sufi devotional exuberance".


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