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Aurangzeb too dies

“I came alone and I go as a stranger.  I don’t know who I am, nor what I have been doing.”

Azam listened.  He knew his father, Aurangzeb the Great, was blabbering on his deathbed.  Everybody blabbers on the deathbed.  Everybody blabbers in old age.

“I conquered.  I defeated.  For what?” Aurangzeb continued holding on to Azam’s hand.  Azam was the legal heir.  But in a family with six official wives and their sons.  Forget the daughters, they are born to be wives and son-bearers.  Sons fight.  Sons make the rules.  Sons conquer and rule.

My father is dying, realised Azam.  All my siblings will fight for the throne. 

Fighting is all that they had learnt. Is there nothing more than fighting that life can offer?  Aurangzeb asked himself lying on his deathbed.

Too late to learn lessons.  It’s only when you lie down helplessly, unable to fight, unable to put on the armour, you realise the futility of all. 

How many temples did I demolish?  How many people did I kill?  All for the sake of conquering some land.  And what did I gain?

I ruled.  I ruled almost the whole of what can be called India.  What did I gain?

I’m sick and dying. 

You must die, thought Azam.  I should get the power.  You die and I become the next emperor. 

No, my son.  The larger the empire, the more the enemies.  Keep your ambitions low.  The crown, the country, and the glory.  They mean nothing. 

You are dying, old man.  Die.  Die in peace. 

The Empire is dying, my son.

I’m the Empire, responded Azam.  People are fools.  Any fool with ambition and heartlessness can be a ruler.  And I am not a fool.  At least I know how to kill.  At least how to conquer the gods of the others.

Nobody knew better how to conquer the gods of others than Aurangzeb.  He knew it was his time to die.  


  1. Nice post....beautifully penned....

  2. Thanks, Arpita. The opening dialogue is quoted from Stanley Wolpert,, Indologist.

  3. May be this is exactly how he felt.. may be this is exactly how everybody feels at the end. All our lives we go through struggle, fights, defeats, victories and at this age, I have asked myself many a times "why am I doing all this? So that I can live? So that I have a purpose to live?" Ultimately what is the real purpose of life? Does fame and money and power makes our life successful?? If we live a normal peaceful life and before death we might feel we have not achieved anything. and if we live a successful life, which of course comes with a price tag, we might never be able to forget our sins. So, is there a peaceful death for anyone???

    1. It must be how he felt, Shruthi. In fact, the opening dialogue is supposed to have been spoken by Aurangzeb himself, according to Stanley Wolpert.

      Most people forget that human life is a brief affair. They amass power, wealth and other things as if they would live a whole eternity!

  4. I think he just did what he was supposed to. People don't have much control over their actions, contrary to what they believe.

    Destination Infinity

    1. No, I think we have control and we should cultivate it, if we don't have it already. Otherwise what were we given the rational faculty for?

  5. In the end nothing remains!

  6. This narration would have suited Jahangir or Shah Jahan well than Aurangzeb. History does not show any traces of Aurangzeb reconsidering his motives or giving a second thought on his actions which would have resurfaced in his mind at the deathbed. He was no “great” like his great grandfather Akbar. Instead he damaged the foundations laid by Akbar. His achievement was managing to remain a king at the expense of vast resources he inherited.

    None of the Mughal emperors were wired to keep their ambitions low. And Aurangzeb for sure. He had faced death more than all other Mughal princes put together so deathbed would not have altered his thoughts. He would have blabbered for sure but for more power and crushing the enemies. If he was born again, I believe he would have done the same thing he had done in his previous life.

    1. Some of our current leaders are behaving not very unlike Aurangzeb. That's why I wrote this.

    2. Yes, very much. But the religions are reversed. One thing to note is, both Aurangzeb and today's leader represents the society which chose them.

      Military leaders in the Mughal forces backed Aurangzeb against Dara Shikoh as they felt their religion was sidelined and neglected. And they saw a hero in Aurangzeb. In today's times it appears Hindu' voters felt neglected and they chose a leader who they thought is the savior.

      Since leaders are product of the times, what we are seeing is replay of the history. One can guess where it leads without much effort.


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