Mughals are the pioneers of architecture in India but they don’t have a roof over their head now. What a pity for the former emperors of India? As I went through a news item some months back how the descendants of India’s last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, were rescued from a life of penury in Kolkata given a job at a government run PSU, I recollected my trip to five generations above this lady.
Bahadur Shah Zafar is the son of Aurungzeb who chose to live and die in penury. But it is a pity that the Mughal dynasty ensured their descendants live in poverty unknown and unnoticed. All the monuments they built are government properties now and many of them are disputed. The only mistake they did was they built monuments that defied wisdom. These monuments were great wonders that made the governments take it over and open it to public for a fee. Taj Mahal is just one among them.
I have not seen the lady in question, Madhu, the illiterate great-great-granddaughter of emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. But I have seen the place where her great-great-grandfather spent his last days. I reached Ahmednagar to visit the place where Aurungzeb lived his last two years virtually in self-imposed penury. Aurungzeb is not my hero or the role model that I follow on Twitter, Facebook or Orkut(now defunct). But my interest to learn about him was because he is the first person recorded in history who abolished taxes on commodities and inland transport duties. In today’s language, you can put this as abolition of Octroi and Commodity Transaction Tax.
Born as Mohyuddin Muhammad Aurangzeb on October 24, 1618, as the third son of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz, his aura and status is robbed by today’s generation. In Maharashtra and elsewhere he is displayed as a butcher who tried to destabilise India. Today’s political thugs know that there was no concept of India during those times and what Aurungzeb did was to unite the country ruled by innumerable kings, Rajputs and Peshwas. But if they reveal this truth, their political game of religious animosity and regional chauvinism will end.
Very few also have interest to know about his descendants. Why should they? When his own community fellows have not respected him, why should the people from ‘other side’ give him any due? In Ahmednagar the first thing I noticed was a bill board. ‘Alamgir Chicken, Mutton, Fish and Biriyani’, read the board of a small restaurant bang opposite the darghah which is a Madrassa now. For your information Alamgir is none other than Aurungzeb himself.
As far as I know, Aurangzeb was not selling chicken. Though he was a humble man, he deserves much more than the shabby place and unplanned concrete structure that the local Muslim organisations are building all around the dargah.
The above picture, of Champaner, is representational