The 6th Mughal emperor of India, Aurangzeb was a brave but cruel man. While he was an excellent military leader, he was a weak administrator with poor understanding of economics. As a result he landed up being dependent on corrupt, fanatical people who only hungered for power and wealth.
Aurangzeb's lust for power was insatiable. In this quest he spared no one, imprisoning his own father, and slaughtering his brothers and nephews. He inherited an expanding empire which permitted him to rule the largest area of the Mughal empire's history, before he led it into decline.
He felt that his actions had probably made him repugnant to the people and his legitimacy to rule would always be questioned. So he adopted a frugal life style and tried to be a good Muslim to appease the powerful clerics, soldiers, noblemen and the muslim public, which would allow him to rule effectively.
Like many other misguided men he came to believed that Islam meant only violent, subjugation and persecution. To strike fear in the hearts and minds of everyone. To be fair to Aurangzeb he went after everyone. He persecuted Sufi and Shia Muslims and had them slaughtered as did he 4.9 million Hindus and Sikhs.
A plundering army can conquer a population by force, destruction and induced fear. However an empire can only prosper if peace and harmony prevail and when the empire has the goodwill of the majority of its subjects. As a consequence of his misdeeds, cruelty and intolerance his empire was brought down and destroyed by the former subjects of the empire, most notably the Sikhs and the Marathas.
Aurangzeb probably the most reviled Indian emperor ruled India for 49 years. and died at the age of 91. What does the last will of the powerful, arrogant, cruel and violent emperor Aurangzeb reveal and teach us? It makes fascinating reading, as what went through the heart, mind and conscience of such a man when he reviewed his whole life on his death bed.
The Emperor’s Lament … in last hours
During his last days Aurangzeb came to realize that the days of the Mughal dynasty were numbered and that he himself was largely responsible for sowing the seeds of destruction.
“Azma fasad baq!” were his words, which means, “After me, the chaos!”
Then the final words of Aurangzeb, addressed to his sons from death-bed, echo mournfully :
“I came a stranger to this world and a stranger I depart.
I know nothing of myself – what I am and what I was destined for.
My back is bent with weakness and my feet have lost the power of motion.
The breath which rose is gone and has not left behind even a ray of hope.
The agonies of death come upon me fast.
My vessel is launched upon the waves !
Farewell, Farewell !”
Aurangzeb’s last will was recorded by Maulvi Hamid-ud Din in chapter 8 of his hand-written Persian book on the life of Aurangzeb.
- There is no doubt that I have been the emperor of India and I have ruled over this country. But I am sorry to say that I have not been able to do a good deed in my lifetime. My inner soul is cursing me as a sinner. But I know it is of no avail. It is my wish that my last rites be performed by my dear son Azam. No one else should touch my body.
- My servant, Aya Beg, has my purse in which I have carefully kept my earnings of Rupees four and two Annas. In my spare time, I have been writing the Quran and stitching caps. It was by selling the caps that I made an honest earning. My coffin should be purchased with this amount. No other money should be spent for covering the body of a sinner. This is my dying wish. By selling the copies of Quran I collected Rupees 305, which is also with Aya Beg. It is my will that poor Mohammedans should be fed with sweet rice procured with this money.
- All my articles – clothes, ink stand, pens and books should be given to my son Azam. The labour charges for digging my grave will be paid by Prince Azam.
- My grave should be dug in a dense forest. When I am buried, my face should remain uncovered. Do not bury my face in the earth. I want to present myself to Allah with a naked face. I am told, whoever goes to the supreme court on high with a naked face will have his sins forgiven.
- My coffin should be made of thick 'Khaddar'. Do not place a costly shawl on the corpse. The route of my funeral should not be showered with flowers. No one should be permitted to place any flowers on my body. No music should be played or sung, I hate music.
- No tomb should be built for me. Only a 'chabootra' or a platform may be erected.
- I have not been able to pay the salaries of my soldiers and my personal servants for several months. I bequeath that after my death at least my personal servants be paid in full, even as the treasury is empty. Niamat Ali has served me very faithfully : he has cleaned my body and has never let my bed remain dirty.
- No mausoleum should be raised in my memory. No stone with my name should be placed at my grave. There should be no trees planted near the grave. A sinner like me does not deserve the protection of a shady tree !
- My son, Azam, has the authority to rule from the throne of Delhi. Kam Baksh should be entrusted with governance of Bijapur and Golconda states.
- Allah should not make anyone an emperor. The most unfortunate person is he who becomes one. My sins should not be mentioned in any social gathering. The story of my life should not be told to anyone.