Aurangzeb And Tipu Sultan:
valuation of their religious policies

By Dr. B. N. Pande


After critical examination of the farmans of Mughal emperors scholars like Tarapada Mukherjee, Irfan Habib and B.N. Pande have opined that Mughal rulers issued land grants for the maintenance of Hindu temples. The aforesaid first two scholars have studied the farmans of Akbar,Jahangir and Shah Jehan and have showed that these  rulers had  issu -ed land to temples particularly in Vrindabana, Aritha and Mathura. Dr. B.N. Pande on the other hand undertook the study of the farmans of Aurangzeb and paid attention to the religious policy of Tipu Sultan. Dr. Pande was nice enough to deliver two lectures on the themes "Farmans of Aurangzeb And Other Mughal Emperors" and "Tipu: An Evaluation of His Religious Policy" under the auspices of the Institute of the Objective Studies at the Academic Staff College, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi on the 17th and 18th November 1993 respectively. In the first paper Dr. Pande has stated, after a critical examination and analysis of the farmans of Aurangzeb collected from various parts of the Indian sub contin -ent, that the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb had issued jagirs and cash gifts for the maintenance of temples namely Someshwar Nath Mahadev Temple situated at the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna at Allahabad. Mahakaleshwara Temple situated at Ujjain, Balaji Temple at Chitrakut, Umananda Temple at Gauhati and the Jain Temple of Shatrunjal and other Temples and Gurudwaras scattered over northern India. Dr. Pande has cited instances, which show that Aurangzeb ordered destruction of temples and mosques and the mention may be made of Vishvanath Temple at Varanasi and the Jama Masjid at Golkunda. But the reasons have to be viewed and investigated in proper historical perspective. The aforesaid temple had become the centre of conspiracy against the state and similar was the case with the mosque as highlighted by Dr Pande. On further investigation, it is reported that Aurangzeb had ordered raid of the temple in order to rescue women members of the family of a Minister of Rajasthan who had gone there on pilgrimage. The ruler of Golkunda after collecting revenue of the state, did not pay his dues to the Empirial Authority at Delhi. He buried this Khazana and erected a Jama Masjid over it. When Aurangzeb came to know of it, he ordered the demolition of the mosque. Dr. Pande refuted the charge against Aurangzeb that he was an anti-Hindu monarch and had established that Aurangzeb did not make any distinction between temples and mosques so far as state administration was concerned. Thus Dr. Pande has thrown new light on the role, character and personality of one of the brightest of the Mughal rulers.

In the second paper Dr.Pande has focused his attention on the issue of mass conversion at the time of Tipu Sultan and opined that the Tipu’s state, which may be generalized as medieval to modern Indian Muslim state, did no engage itself in any mass-scale conversion. However, it is a fact that there occurred cases of conversion during that time. Firstly these occurred at the mass level and secondly these were voluntary or on economic or other considerations or may be as consequence of the popularity of the Sufi saints who lived among the people and disseminated tenets of Islam to them in their own dialects and language. Following the legacy left behind by the Mughal rulers, Tipu Sultan made lavish gifts to Hindu temples particularly to Shri Rangnatha Temple located inside the Fort of Shrirangapatnam at Mysore. Tipu was an enlightened ruler and was secular in outlook. If he crushed the Hindus of Coorg, the Christians of Mangalore and the Nayars of Malabar that was to due to the fact they wished to undermine his authority by joining the British. He did not spare the Mopillas of Malabar or the Mahadevi Muslims or Nawabs of Sawanur or Nizam whenever he suspected such tendencies among them. Despite his long-drawn conflict and wide differences with the British, he did not hesitate to profit himself by Western science and art of governance. Tipu was a highly educated monarch who could enter into discussion with experts in Persian, Kannada, Marathi and French languages. Tipu’s approach towards socio-religious issues was egalitarian. He abolished the custom of human sacrifice to Kali Temple (Mysore), banned the use of liquor and the cultivation of bhang, dried leaves of which are highly interacting made prostitution and the exploitation of female slaves illegal and took measures to safeguard the honor and modesty of the Nair Women. Dr. Pande has pointed out that Tipu was a devout Muslim and not a bigoted one. He has strongly refuted the charge levelled by some Hindu communalists that Tipu was anti Hindu and has convincingly shown that on the basis of religion Tipu made no distinction among his people.