The Danish Embassy in India is located on Aurangzeb Road in New Delhi. So there is still a road in India that is named after the most ruthless and cruel of the many ruthless and cruel Muslim rulers, oppressor and mass-murderer of Hindus. Why is there a road by that name? Change it, for god’s sake.
Placenames are not forever. Burma becomes Myanmar (though Burma Shave jingles are immortal, and cannot be touched). Saigon becomes Ho Chi Minh City. Stalingrad becomes Volgograd, and Leningrad reverts to Sankt Peterburg. Bombay becomes Mumbai. Ceylon, Sri Lanka. So why in god’s name does “Aurangzeb Road” have to stay?
Would that modern, bustling young Hindus, all those computer whizzes we keep reading about, would not ape the Western world’s young in their indifference to their own history, and especially in this damn fear among Hindus abroad of being accused of narrow-minded communalism.
Muslims invaded India. They destroyed tens of thousands of Hindu and Buddhist artworks. They killed, over time, 60-70 million Hindus. They had a deplorable effect on Indian civilization, interrupting its natural and healthy evolution with mass murder and rapine on a colossal scale. They forced the conversion to Islam of many millions of Hindus. These are the ancestors of today’s Muslims in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India itself. Those descendants should recognized this; so should the lucky Hindus whose ancestors managed to escape forced conversion — possibly because as Hindus they continued to be the jizyah-paying stratum that the Muslims wished to preserve. After all, if everyone forcibly became a Muslim, who would pay for things?
It was only under the British, and because of people such as Sir William — “Oriental” — Jones, that the sympathetic study of India’s pre-Islamic and non-Islamic past was undertaken and rediscovered by Hindus themselves. Whatever other high crimes or misdemeanors may be attributed to British colonialism, forcing people to forget their own pasts was not one of them — that is a feature of Islamic conquest.
The conquest continues. In Kashmir, in Pakistan, and in Bangladesh today, there are attacks all the time, on Hindus (and Sikhs, and Christians, and even on the occasional Buddhist in Bangladesh). They are almost never reported outside of India itself. And there, in fact, a ruling elite downplays them, determined to show how very forward-looking it is, how far from the supposed crime of “communalism.” In Indian terms, “communalism” is coming to mean an awareness of the history and threat and permanent menace of Islam. This is maddening.
Indians abroad have the leisure to see the history of India without fear of being labelled “communalists.” It is they who should tutor others in what Islam has meant for India. Would that those who are the Muslim descendants of Hindus who were forcibly converted (either on pain of death, or because of the intolerable conditions to which they were subject by Muslim masters) would bethink themselves, and would realize how it is that they “became Muslims.” Indeed, would that they were able to jettison the belief-system of the conqueror. Whether they revert to Hinduism or choose another religion, or none at all, is not the most important thing.
The Western world, and many who consider themselves too “advanced” for this kind of thing even in India, deplore and what’s more, mock those who wish to restore the Hindu temple at Ayodhya. They should not be so quick to do so. Before the mocking, and the distancing, and the inability to comprehend the great damage inflicted on the civilization of India by the Muslim invaders, who collectively showed less interest (save for Al-Biruni, a singular personage) in the Hindu civilization of India than such English scholars as Sir William Jones all by himself, such people should study up a bit on what the claims, the justified claims, of those who are dismissed as part of some “fanatical” Hindutva really are. The more one studies the matter, the more sympathetic to those who are part of that movement to draw attention to, and here and there undo, the great crimes committed in the name of Islam, everywhere that Islam’s power reached in India, right into The Deccan.
So as part of that effort, a question: why memorialize a killer like Aurangzeb? Why not make a little statement, by removing his name?