Many believe that Mughal rulers destroyed temples, tortured Hindus and converted Hindus to Islam at the point of sword. They also link these actions to “Islam” and some even hold a grudge against Indian Muslims who are living today. This is despite the fact the Indian Muslims living today have nothing to do with the Mughal rulers of the past. Did the Mughals did do any good to India? Let’s find out the truth.
What did the Mughals give to India?
The contribution of Mughals spanned various disciplines like: Art and Architecture, Cuisine, Language and Literature, Governance and Religion and Philosophy.
Art and Architecture: The Mughals were great patrons of art and architecture and contributed significantly to the development of Indian art. Iconic structures such as the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort stand testimony to the architectural legacy of the Mughals.
Cuisine: The Mughals introduced a lot of new dishes. Many of them are still very popular. If you are a fan of Biryani, Haleem, Paneer Tikka, Chicken Tikka or Shawarma, then you must thank the Mughals for it.
Language and Literature: Persian, Urdu, Sanskrit and several regional languages thrived during the Mughal rule. The Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads were translated into Persian for the first time under the Mughal rule.
Centralized Government: The Mughals established a template for centralized system of government, which laid the foundations for modern India. At the center of power was the Emperor, who was assisted by several ministers. The empire was divided into provinces and were governed by a governor. The governor had a network of officials, including revenue collectors, police officers, and judges.
Religion and Philosophy: Mughal period was a golden period for Religion and Philosophies. The Bhakti movement gained momentum during the Mughal period. Most Mughal emperors had high religious tolerance, and were supportive of the Bhakti movement. Akbar, for example, was very supportive of the movement. He even appointed several Bhakti poets to his court. A good example was Tulsidas, who wrote Ramcharitmanas and Hanuman Chalisa.
Did Mughals make India rich?
Under the Mughal rule, India became a major center of global trade and commerce. The Mughals invested heavily in infrastructure, such as building new roads, bridges, and canals. This helped in boosting trade and commerce across the country. All these factors resulted in significant economic growth. According to this Times of India article, in 1700, when most part of the country was ruled by Mughals, India had a 24.4% world GDP share (1/4th of the entire world’s GDP). This was higher than the entire Europe’s GDP (23.3%). After the Britishers took over the rulership, the GDP declined drastically and by 1952, India’s GDP slipped below 4%.
Did Mughals Destroy Temples?
Romila Thapar, a renowned historian and academic says:
Islam does NOT condone destruction of temples and other worship places
God says in the Quran:
The verse above clearly shows that Islam does NOT command Muslims to attack the places of worship of non-Muslims and existence of non-Muslim places of worship is allowed even in an Islamic country. Indonesia and Malaysia are very good examples of this.
Actions of Muslim rulers and Islam
Is it correct to link the actions of Muslim rulers to Islam? The answer is an emphatic “NO” because:
- NOT a single Muslim ruler performed Hajj, which is one of the 5 mandatory pillars of Islam. It’s comical to paint Islamic colour to rulers who did not even bother to fulfil a mandatory obligation of their faith. Therefore, it is NOT correct to attribute the actions of Muslim rulers to Islam.
- We must look at Muslim rulers as just Kings who happened to belong to Muslim faith. Their attitude and temperament were the same as Kings of other faiths – which was to expand their territory and live a life of luxury.
Actions of non-Muslim kings
History shows that many non-Muslim kings, were cruel and have committed atrocities against innocent people. King Ajatashatru imprisoned his own father to claim the throne and he was later killed by his son Udayabhadra. Mahapadma Nanda killed his brothers to claim the throne and started the Nanda Dynasty. Will you link these actions to Hindu faith?
Some Saivaite Chola Kings persecuted Vaishnavas. Will you link these actions to the Saiva Philosophy and blame the Saivaites today for it?
So why don’t you look at the actions of the Muslim Kings, the same way you look at the actions of Hindu Kings?
You will be surprised to know that Hindu kings even raided temples and abducted idols.
Kings and Battles
Some people paint “Islamic colour” for the battles between Muslim kings and Hindu kings. The truth is, kings fought battles to expand their territory and to defend it. Both Hindu and Muslim kings were not an exception to this. Hindu Kings fought with other Hindu Kings. Example: the wars between Cholas, Pandyas and Cheras are well documented. The Marathas conquered Gujarat, and still have influence on Baroda. Ashoka killed the ruler of Kalinga and massacred thousands of Oriyas. The list is endless. Did the Hindu kings fight these battles for the sake of Hinduism or to expand their kingdom? Will you link Hinduism with the battles between the Hindu kings?
Muslim kings and attack on “India”
There is an allegation that Muslim kings invaded “India” and looted it. The statement is very misleading and deceitful because there was nothing called “India” back then. What is India today, was split into different kingdoms (Rajyas) ruled by different Kings who always fought with each other. The invasions of the Muslim rulers were on those Kingdoms and NOT on India.
Did Hindu kings invade foreign lands?
Many Hindu Kings invaded foreign lands that fall outside of what we call India today. One King who deserves special mention is Rajendra Chola, of the Chola Dynasty. He conquered what is Sri Lanka today and also successfully invaded Malaysia and Indonesia. You would now understand how we have temples in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Will you attribute Rajendra Chola’s invasion on foreign lands to Hinduism? If no, how can you attribute invasion of Muslim rulers to Islam?
Did Muslim rulers forcefully convert Hindus to Islam?
Did the Muslim rulers love and practice Islam so much that they wanted the Hindus to become Muslims? The answer is a clear NO because NOT a single Muslim ruler performed Hajj which is a mandatory pillar of Islam. This shows that they were least bothered about religion and were busy living the “life” of kings. Why would these kings be interested in spreading Islam in the country? It is comical to say that Muslim rulers who did not care to fulfil a mandatory pillar of Islam were interested in spreading Islam because of their attachment to Islam.
Muslim rulers ruled India for around 800 years (8 centuries). 800 years is a very long period. Keep that in mind when you read the next sentence. If each Muslim ruler, throughout their rule of 800 years, attempted to convert Hindus to Islam at the point of sword, do you think we will have 80% Hindus left in this country? The answer is a clear NO.
Moreover, during the rule of the Muslim rulers, Hindus were still the majority community. Needless to say, to rule a country a peacefully and that too for a long period of 800 years, you need to earn the goodwill, trust and the cooperation of the majority community. Unlike today, there was no war technology and strength of the army was ONLY in the number of men. Needless to say, most of the soldiers in the army were from the Hindu faith. If the Muslim kings converted Hindus to Islam at the point of sword, do you think the Hindu soldiers who were the majority in the army would have kept quiet? How can you rule the country by creating enemies in your own army? It should be now clear to any unbiased mind that conversion of Hindus to Islam at the point of sword is just a myth.
All kings, irrespective of their faith, had a common goal of protecting their rulership and expanding their kingdom. They did things that helped them achieve this goal. We should never link religion with the actions of the kings. We are in the 21st century and are faced with several challenges like: casteism, poverty, inflation, increasing gap between the rich and the poor etc. It would make more sense to talk about these issues than speaking about what happened several hundred years ago.