I was living in Aurangabad, away from home, alone and bored. In this feeling of boredom, I asked a friend whether he would accompany me to Ellora caves, a place I wanted to visit ever since I had stepped foot in Aurangabad. He readily agreed. The plan was to visit Ellora on a Sunday. I was very excited and finally the D-day arrived. We left for Ellora at around 7 am.
While halfway through the journey, I saw a small worn out board on a tree at the side of the road. It read Aurangzeb’s tomb with a right turn symbol. I asked my friend whether we should go there. He was reluctant, saying what good would it be to visit a tyrant’s tomb. It took some convincing, but finally he agreed. I knew how depraved Aurangzeb was, but nevertheless he was a part of our history. He was last of the prominent Mughal emperors and hence I was poised to see his tomb.
We took the right turn, and followed the directions on the board, but the tomb was nowhere to be seen. We asked few people and they pointed in random directions. After roaming to and fro around the same area, we finally realized that the tomb was right in front of us. It was nothing as I had imagined. The sheer extravagance of the Mughal monuments known, made me paint a similar picture for the tomb. The tomb complex was small, with traces of Mughal architecture. There were hardly any tourists, and my visit concluded in about 5 min.
We then resumed our journey to Ellora. Even after the visit was over, there was one thought that constantly irked me. How can a tomb of such a big emperor of his time, lie in such shambles? Why there was no rush of people at his tomb, as there is at other historic monuments. The answer was in my friend’s reaction of disgust when I asked him to visit the tomb. This was because Aurangzeb is seen as a symbol of tyranny. I being an history buff was curious .This curiosity led me to dig deeper into Aurangzeb’s life and I got to know many unknown things about him.
Aurangzeb came to power after jailing his father and killing his brothers. A power hungry and highly conservative man, he did away with the secular policies of his predecessors. Since he used tyranny as a state policy, his reign was marred by wars and rebellions, resulting in an empty treasury and loss of more than a hundred thousand lives.A stone-hearted man, he executed his opponents mercilessly and without any remorse.
These atrocities carried out by Aurangzeb make him a symbol of tyranny. He wanted to create a legacy of his own, and shape the world in the way he wanted to see it. But while following this path, he lost the faith and the respect of his subjects. His brutality led to the downfall of the Mughal Empire. He spent the last 26 years of his life, fighting the War of the Deccan. During this war, he is quoted as saying “I came alone and I go as a stranger. I do not know who I am, nor what I have been doing”. The war had engulfed Aurangzeb. He was unable to identify the purpose that his tyranny served, but persisted with it. While reading about him,I remember a quote by Sylvester Stallone which read ’ There’s a natural law of karma that vindictive people, who go out of their way to hurt others, will end up broke and alone.’
I had got my answer. Aurangzeb is seen as a tyrant because the atrocities he committed during his lifetime were inhuman. The way the great Maratha king Sambhaji was executed mercilessly spectacles the level of tyranny that Aurangzeb could stoop to. Today, the Samadhi of Sambhaji is like a pilgrimage, whereas the tomb of Aurangzeb is no less than garbage. He could command respect by force during his lifetime, but after his death no one respected him. His legacy is all about the atrocities he committed.
More I read about him, more I believe that our legacy is defined by our karma. Hence, our motto in life should be to do good things. It is what we would be remembered for. It would define our legacy. No matter how rich and powerful we might be today, tomorrow we would be remembered only by our deeds. True respect is not when we are revered by people when we live; it is only when we are revered by people for years after we die.
“Be nice to people, it is an amazing legacy to leave behind.” – Anonymous.