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“The Hasty Genius of Aurangzeb”

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Iqbal was incomparable as a political thinker, and I think a small paragraph on Aurangzeb in his Stray Reflections is a proof of his genius. It must be read by everyone who wants to understand Aurangzeb as a historical figure and his hasty genius. The demonisation of Aurangzeb has never allowed people to understand the crisis of the medieval times and the advent of colonial capitalism that shaped the specific characteristics of Indian modernity. In fact, it is in the interest of the right wing to anti-politicise the masses by devalorising the cosmopolitan contributions of ‘Muslim’ thinkers like Iqbal and political personalities like Aurangzeb, without whom the transition to capitalist modernity in India cannot be understood. The backward, conservative iconisation of (‘Hindu’ and ‘Sikh’) rulers can definitely serve the petty trading and even neoliberal interests in commodifying India’s exoticism…, but even the resistances and importance of those tribal leaders and rulers, despite their localist character, cannot be comprehensively grasped, unless we understand and give credibility to historical figures like Aurangzeb… You cannot understand your freedom struggle, the specific character of 1857 mutiny without this. Of course, you don’t expect this from RSS and RSS trained leaders who did not contribute in the freedom struggle – or those who do not look for parivartan, but sanatanta in the Indian society.

The political genius of Aurangzeb was extremely comprehensive. His one aim of life was, as it were, to subsume the various communities of this country under the notion of one universal empire. But in securing this imperial unity he erroneously listened to the dictates of his indomitable courage which had no sufficient background of political experience behind it. Ignoring the factor of time in the political evolution of his contemplated empire he started an endless struggle in the hope that he would be able to unify the discordant political units of India in his own lifetime. He failed to Islamise (not in the religious sense) India just as Alexander had failed to Hellenise Asia. The Englishman, however, came fully equipped with the political experiences of the nations of antiquity and his patience and tortoise-like perseverance succeeded where the hasty genius of Aurangzeb had failed. Conquest does not necessarily mean unity. Moreover, the history of the preceding Mohammedan dynasties had taught Aurangzeb that the strength of Islam in India did not depend, as his great ancestor Akbar had thought, so much on the goodwill of the people of this land as on the strength of the ruling race. With all his keen political perception, however, he could not undo the doings of his forefathers. Sevajee was not a product of Aurangzeb’s reign; the Maharatta owed his existence to social and political forces called into being by the policy of Akbar. Aurangzeb’s political perception, though true, was too late. Yet considering the significance of this perception he must be looked upon as the founder of Musalman nationality in India. I am sure posterity will one day recognise the truth of what I say. Among the English administrators of India, it was Lord Curzon who first perceived the truth about the power of England in India Hindu nationalism is wrongly attributed to his policy. Time will, I believe, show that it owes its existence to the policy of Lord Ripon. It is, therefore, clear that in their political purpose and perception both the Mughals and the English agree. I see no reason why the English historian should condemn Aurangzeb whose imperial ideal his countrymen have followed and whose political perception they have corroborated. Aurangzeb’s political method was certainly very rough; but the ethical worth of his method ought to be judged from the standpoint of the age in which he lived and worked.


Written by Pratyush Chandra

July 30, 2015 at 2:18 am

Who’s who in the terror story

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1. Nazis put the Reichstag building on fire, and then blamed the communists. The purpose was simple – to create an anti-communist wave and legitimise fascistic measures.

2. So, “Why ignore Bajrang Dal [and others’] role in blasts?”

3, Within hours of the Delhi blasts, the police administration finds heroes among rag-pickers. They are supposed to get 50,000 Rs and be made honorary SPOs…

4. A 11-year old child labourer at the Barakhamba Road crossing in central Delhi – the heart of Delhi – saw two bomb dumpers and described them for the police.

5. For middle class elite paranoiacs in media, politics and societies – it is sufficient for them to hear the word “bomb”, and they easily visualise the image of “two bearded men in black kurta-pyjamas” planting bombs. It is obvious!

6. Next day, every TV news channel showed and glorified the “spirit of Delhi” as heroic since it was back to normal – people without livelihood security swarming through the streets…

Written by Pratyush Chandra

September 18, 2008 at 6:26 am

Indian expansionism’s ugly face – Hindu Fascism

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For legitimising any imperialist and expansionist design, a State needs a particular ideology of “interests” that can mobilise opinion behind it within its territory, and also identify agencies outside which can justify its “cross-border” intervention. India with its rising economic interests beyond its territory has used all sorts of “identities” to create such diasporic homogeny under the garb of which it can operate. It is not very surprising that this expansionist tenor was firmly and vocally established by the Rightist forces. It can in fact be comfortably said that the rightists became a legitimate force in India only with the rise of neolliberalism, when Indian capital found Indianness, Hinduism etc to be effective in its “free” market consolidation and operation globally. One needs to cursorily go through the widely circulated weekly of Hindu fascists, Organiser and its chatterbox journalism to grasp the confident obscenity of Indian expansionism in its extreme. Recently it invented “The Western-Christian agenda in Kathmandu” and “the Christian leadership of the Maoists”, lamenting the threat to the “Hindu civilisation”:

“The bells are tolling, not just for the Nepalese monarchy, but also for the Hindu culture and civilisation of the nation.”

So embrace your khaki-nickers and oiled lathis to save monarchy, save Hinduism… while the Nepali resources – human and natural – are plundered by Indian interests in the name of “economics above politics”. Similarly, it was the leader of opposition, the instigator of the Babri Mosque demolition LK Advani who first petitioned the Indian government to “save Indians” in Uganda, where the Ugandan people are struggling against the Mehta group’s acquisition of Mabira forests.

Written by Pratyush Chandra

April 26, 2007 at 4:25 pm

A Report: “LYING RELIGIOUSLY: The Hindu Students Council and the politics of deception”

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Full Report:

from Prologue:

“The Hindu Students Council (HSC) is a North America based organization that publicly claims to provide a space to learn about Hindu heritage and culture and draws its membership primarily from the Indian American student community. HSC is headquartered in Houston, Texas, and is registered as a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. On its website (, HSC claims to have more than 75 chapters, most of them located on university campuses across the United States and Canada. The website also states that HSC was formed to assist Hindu students in their spiritual, emotional, and identity needs, including sorting out confusions and alienation arising from being brought up Hindu in a predominantly Judeo-Christian culture. Many Indian American youth join HSC chapter on their campus and participate in its activities because of HSC’s claim to be a cultural and spiritual organization providing an independent, apolitical space to learn about Hinduism through activities, such as celebration of Hindu festivals, discussion of sacred texts, religious rituals and community service (see

This report challenges the above claims of HSC and provides comprehensive evidence to the contrary. It documents the findings of an investigation into the history, organization, and political links of HSC and demonstrates that it is part of the Sangh Parivar (literally, the Sangh Family), the extended network of affiliates of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the creators of Hindutva. These findings sharply contradict the public face HSC presents in the U.S. as a spiritual and religious body. The information presented in this report locates and documents the origins and institutional links of HSC, and throws light on the concealed purpose behind the creation of such an organization. This report shows that HSC has deep-rooted connections – institutional, personal, and political – with the Sangh Parivar.”

[CSFH is a collective of academics and professionals who work on monitoring the fundraising activities of the Hindutva movement in the U.S. See for more details.]

Written by Pratyush Chandra

April 19, 2007 at 1:48 pm

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