Last Will of Guru Gobind and Emperor Aurangzeb

From @parikramah ‘s blog, some comments on the last will and testament of Guru Gobind and Emperor Aurangzeb.  (I am mostly interested in the two wills and posted those here.. if you are interested in the dharmic vs adharmic discussion you can to to the link above for the full post)

Fatehnamah – A Tale of two Wills

Guru Gobind had earlier written in the Zafarnama

چه ها شد که چون بچگان کشته چار
که باقی بماند است پیچیده مار
che ha shod keh chon bachegaan koshteh chaar
keh baaqi bemaand ast peycheedeh maar

“What happened that you have killed four children (my sons, the sahibzadas)? For the coiled snake (in the form of my Khalsa) still remains…”

It is interesting that the Ten Gurus of Sikhism spanned an epoch of India’s recent history that coincided with the Moghal dynasty. Guru Nanak was imprisoned by the invader Babur, the first Moghal. And Guru Gobind Singh faced off with Aurangzeb, who died rather pathetically shortly thereafter. The Last Guru was called Sacha Patshah (The True Emperor) by Indians at that time, while Aurangzeb isn’t.

It is just 24 verses, the Guru boldly declares the facts of time, and is still advising and admonishing Aurangzeb. Its remarkable that, having just escaped against overwhelming odds from a siege and assassination attempt, the Guru was able to write – in verse no less! – to his persecutor and the murderer of his father and sons, with words of wisdom and warning. He was still willing to meet with the old Moghal and accept his apologies. There can be no doubt who is Guru here.

به نام خداوند تیغ و تبر
خداوند تیر و سنان سپر
be naam e khodaavand e tegh o tabar / khodaavand e teer o sanaan o separ!

1. In the Name of the Lord of the sword and shield! Lord of arrow, battleaxe and spear!

خداوند مردان جنگ آزما
خداوند اسپان پا در هوا
khodaavand e mardaan e jang-aazmaa / khodaavand e aspaan paa dar havaa!

2. Lord of those men that try the test of battle! Lord of their horses that fly through the air!

همان کو ترا پادشاهی بداد
بما دولت دین پناهی بداد
hamaan koo toraa paadshaahi bedaad / bemaa dowlat e deen-panaahi bedaad!

3. The same Lord that granted you a material kingdom, To me He entrusted the protection of the Dharma.

ترا ترک تازی با مکر و ریا
مرا چاره سازی با صدق و صفا
toraa Tork-Taazi ba makr o riyaa / maraa chaareh-saazi ba sedq o safaa!

4. Whereas you engaged in plunder by deceit and hypocrisy, To me was left the responsibility of creating the Way of truth and purity!

[Note: The word Tork-Taazi, which literally means “Turk-Arab” in Farsi, but is a term used to mean plunder and vandalism, pillage and rape in that language.]

نه زیبد ترا نام اورنگزیب
ز اورنگزیبان نه یابد فریب
na zeebad toraa naam e Aurangzeb / ze aurangzeebaan na yaabad fareeb!

5. The name “Aurangzeb” does not befit you, Since one doesn’t find fraud in that which is supposed to bring “honor to the throne”!

تسبیحات از شجه و رشته بیش
کزان دانه سازی وزان دام خویش
tasbeehat az shojeh o reshteye beesh / kazaan daaneh saazi vazaan daam e kheesh!

6. Your rosary is nothing more than tangled beads and thread, With every movement of your beads you only expand your snare of entanglements!

[Note: Here the Guru is referring to the test of sanity of will and purpose. It is an inferred fact that Aurangzeb would have not been able to experience any peace and bliss in his tasbeeh (japa), even if he carried one wherever he went. He may have clung to it for a sense of security, but there was no immediate experience of bliss in it, nor any clarity and ability gained from it. For Aurangzeb, the Holy Name was a co-dependency. For the Guru, it was a relationship based on pan-determinism.

A dharmaarthic system should foster pan-determinism between individual contributors, not co-dependency on or between elites and subjects.]

تو خاک پدر را با کردار زشت
با خون برادر بدادی سرشت
to khaak e pedar ra ba kerdaar e zesht / ba khoon e baraadar bedaadi seresht!

7. Your nature and disposition is from your grisly deeds, Moulded by the dust of your father and the blood of your brothers.

وزان خانه خام کردی بنا
برای در دولت خویش را
vazaan khaaneye khaam kardi banaa / baraaye dar e dowlat e kheesh ra!

8. And from that (by imprisoning your father and murdering your brothers) you have laid a weak foundation for your kingdom.

من اکنون با افضال پرش اکال
کنم ز آب آهن چنان برشگال
man aknoon ba afzaal e Purush e Akaal / konam ze aab e aahan chonaan barshgaal

9. “Now by the grace of the Eternal Oversoul (Akaal Purush), I have made the water of steel (Amrit for my warriors) which will fall upon you like a torrent.”

که هرگز از آن چاردیوار شوم
نشانی نماند بر این پاک بوم
ke hargiz az aan chaardeevaar e shoom / neshaani namaanad bar een paak boom!

10. And with this torrent your sinister castle will vanish from this holy land without a trace!

ز کوه دکن تشنه کام آمدی
ز میوار هم تلخ جام آمدی
ze kooh e dakkan teshneh-kaam aamadi / ze mewaar ham talkh e jaam aamadi

11. You came thirsty (defeated) from the mountains of Deccan; the Rajputs of Mewar have also made you drink the bitter cup (of defeat).

[Note: Throughout the ten-generation span of the Gurus, they took a pan-Indic view in terms of political and social mobilization, and even the panj-piare came from all parts and strata of society. In ideological and spiritual terms, they took a global view, as Guru Nanak did.]

بر این سو چون اکنون نگاهت رود
که آن تلخی و تشنگی ات رود
bar een soo chon aknoon negaahat ravad / ke aan talkhi o teshnegee at ravad

12. Now you are casting your sight towards this side (the Punjab). Here also your thirst will remain unquenched.

چنان آتش زیر نعلت نهم
ز پنجاب آبت نه خوردن دهم
chonaan aatash e zeer n’al at naham / ze panjaab aabat na khordan daham

13. I will put fire under your feet when you come to the Punjab and I will not let you even drink water here.

چه شد گر شغال با مکر و ریا
همین کشت دو بچه شیر را ؟
che shod gar shaghaal ba makr o riyaa / hameen kosht do bacheye sher ra?

14. What is so great if a jackal kills two cubs of a tiger by deceit and cunning?

چون شیر ژیان زنده ماند همی
ز تو انتقام ستاند همی
chon sher e zhiyaan zendeh maanad hamee / ze to enteqaam setaanad hamee!

15. Since that formidable tiger is still alive, he will definitely extract revenge on you!

نه دیگر گرایم با نام خدا ات
که دیدم خدا و کلام خدا ات
na deegar garaayam ba naam e khodaat / ke deedam khodaa va kalaam e khodaat!

16. I no longer trust you or your ‘God’ since I have now seen your ‘God’ as well as his Word.

با سوگند تو اعتبار نه ماند
مرا جز با شمشیر کار نه ماند
ba saugand e to e’tebaar na maanad / maraa joz ba shamsheer kaar na maanad

17. I do not trust your oaths any more and now there is no other way for me except to take up the sword.

توی گرگ باران کشیده اگر
نهم نیز شیر ظ دام بدر
tuye gorg e baaraan kesheedeh agar / naham neez sher ze daam bedar

18. If you are an old fox, I, too, will keep my tigers out of your snare.

اگر باز گفت و شنیدت با ماست
نمایم ترا جاده پاک و راست
agar baaz goft o shoneedat ba maast / namaayam toraa jaadeye paak o raast

19. If you come to me for detailed and frank talks, I shall show you the path of purity and truthfulness.

به میدان دو لشکر صف آرایی شوند
ز دوری به هم آشکارا شوند
be maidaan do lashkar saf-araee shavand / ze doori be ham aashkaaraa shavand

20. Let the forces from both sides array in the battlefield at such a distance that they are visible to each other.

میان هر دو ماند دو فرسنگ راه
جون آراسته گردد این رزمگاه
miyaan e har do maanad do farsang e raah / chon aaraasteh gardad een razm-gaah

21. The battle field should be arranged decoratively in such a manner that both the forces should be separated by a reasonable distance (of two furlongs).

از آن پس در آن ارصه کارزار
من آیم به نزد تو با دو سوار
az aan pas dar aan arseye kaarzaar / man aayam be nazd e to ba do savaar

22. Then I will advance in the battle field for combat with your forces along with two of my riders.

تو از ناز و نعمت ثمر خورده
ز جنگی جوانان نه بر خورده
to az naaz o ne’mat samar khordeh / ze jangi javaanaan na bar khordeh

23. So far you have been enjoying the fruits of a cosy and comfortable life but haven’t yet collided with fierce warriors (in the battle field).

به میدان بیا خود با تیغ و تبر
مکن خلق خلاق زیر و زبر
be maidaan biyaa khod ba tegh o tabar / makon khalq e khalaaq zir o zebar

24. Now come into the battle field with your weapons and stop tormenting the people who are the creation of the Lord.

According to internal Moghal reports, Aurangzeb was old and senile by this time. He had been a fratricidal bigot who acted on the encouragement of a jealous priesthood hardened by ethnic and theological differences. Apparently, he could not tell the difference between Dharma and Adharma, and so his sense of duty was imbued with this lack of ethical discrimination. He dies in the hope of redemption, and had even apologized and invited the Guru to come see him on his deathbed. Here is his last will and testament (link):

“Praise to be God and blessing on those servants [of Him] who have become sanctified and have given satisfaction [to Him]. I have some [instructions to leave as my] last will and testament:

FIRST – on behalf of this sinner sunk in iniquity [i.e. myself] cover [with an offering of cloth and capital] the holy tomb of Hasan (on him be peace), because those who are drowned in the ocean of sin have no other protection except seeking refuge with that Portal of Mercy and Forgiveness.

SECOND – Four Rupees and two annas, out of the price of the caps sewn by me, are with Aia Bega, the mahaldar. Take the amount and spend it on the shroud of this helpness creature. Three hundred and five Rupees, from the wages of copying the Quran, are in my purse for personal expense. Distribute them to the faqirs on the day of my death.

THIRD – Take the remaining necessaries [of my funeral] from the agent of Prince Alijah; as he is the nearest heir among my sons, and on him lies the responsibility for the lawful or unlawful [practices at my funeral]; this helpless person (i.e. Aurangzeb) is not answerable for them, because the dead are in the hands of the survivors.

FOURTH – Bury this wanderer in the Valley of Deviation from the Right Path with his head bare, because every ruined sinner who is conducted bare-headed before the Grand Emperor (i.e. God), is sure to be an object of mercy.

FIFTH – Cover the top of the coffin on my bier with the coarse white cloth gazi. Avoid the spreading of a canopy and uncanonical innovations like [processions of] musicians and the celebration of the Prophet’s Nativity (maulud)

SIXTH – It is proper for the ruler of the kingdom (i.e. my heir) to treat kindly the helpless servants who in the train of this shameless creature [Aurangzeb] have been roving in the deserts and wilderness [of the Deccan]. Even if any manifest fault is committed by them, give them in return for it gracious forgiveness and benign overlooking [of the fault].

[SEVENTH, EIGHT, NINTH – His assessment of the Irani, Turani, and the Saiyid nobles and his advice how to treat them keeping in mind their qualities and weaknesses.]

TENTH – As far as possible the ruler of a kingdom should not spare himself from moving about; he should avoid staying in one place, which outwardly gives him repose but in effect brings on a thousand calamities and troubles.

ELEVENTH – Never trust your sons, nor treat them during your lifetime in an intimate manner, because, if the Emperor Shah Jahan had not treated Dara Shukoh in this manner, his affairs would not have come to such a sorry pass. Ever keep in view the saying, ‘The words of a king are barren’.

TWELFTH – The main pillar of government is to be well informed in the news of the kingdom. Negligence for a single moment becomes the cause of disgrace for long years. The escape of the wretch Shiva took place through [my] carelessness, and I have to labour hard [against the Marathas] to the end of my life, [as the result of it].

Twelve is blessed [among numbers]. I have concluded with twelve directions. (Verse).
“If you learn [the lesson], a kiss on your wisdom.

If you neglect it, then alas! alas!”

Ahkam-i-Alamgir, (Eng. Tr. J.N. Sarkar, Text in Ir. Ms. 8b-10a).

There is another will of Aurangzeb in India Office Library MS.1344 p.49b (Sarkar, Aurangzeb, Vol.V, 201). Its chief interest lies in the suggested method of partitioning the empire among his three surviving sons.

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Omar Ali

I am a physician interested in obesity and insulin resistance, and in particular in the genetics and epigenetics of obesity As a blogger, I am more interested in history, Islam, India, the ideology of Pakistan, and whatever catches my fancy. My opinions can change.

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4 years ago

I can’t help but notice similarities between the USA and pre-partitioned South Asia:

* In the USA today and the British Raj, there was a major fault line amongst the population with many similarities. The USA has the progressives and the conservatives. The British Raj had the Muslims and the non-Muslims (mostly Hindus).
* The ruling class of the USA, the white male, has their power being challenged. In British Raj, the Muslims ruled for 800 years or so. When the British came and went, they shifted the ruling caste from the Muslims, and the Hindus were ascendant in the power structure.
* Every single hero of the Republicans is, for the most part, considered a tragic figure for the Democrats. Same way, every single hero of the Muslims (such as Aurangzeb, Ghouri, Ghazni) are villains to the non-Muslims. The heroes of the Hindus are kaffirs to the Muslims (such as Prithvi Chauhan, Nanak).

4 years ago

Telling that you went from “Hindus consider Muslim heroes as villains”, to, “Muslims consider Hindu heroes as kaffirs”.

Because Indian Muslims largely aren’t affected by the same pathology as Hindus today, needing to view pre-modern Hindus/Sikhs as “villains”. Muslims do not view Nanak as a villain, nor Ranjit Singh or Shivaji. They even belly-ache a lot less about the British Raj than Hindus do, despite suffering far more under it.

We could say that in addition to Hindus considering Muslim heroes villains, they also considered them Mlecchas.

Shaik Rasheed
Shaik Rasheed
4 years ago

Indian Muslims even fought against Aurangzeb by joining the fauz of Shivaji Maharaj and many Muslims joined Sikhism because justice is to their side no matter how big a Muslim is either king or padusha
If he is not following dharma he is not a good human

4 years ago

Muhammad Aurangzeb was the greatest emperor in Indian history. He is the only to have fully defeated the british (child’s war). During his reign, India was the world’s largest economy, worth over 25% of world GDP, and the proto-industrializstion was triggered. Killing og Hindus and destruction of temples were exaggetated. He employed more Hindus than any non Hindu ruler and built many temples and paid for their maintenance. His death marks the end of Medieval Indian and the beginning of European invasion in South Asia. India needs him.

4 years ago
Reply to  Md

You have read the Pakistan history book

P N Tripathi
P N Tripathi
4 years ago

After reading both the documents ,it appears that though Guru suffered a lot ,but his conscience was clear.Though defeated and all his sons murdered ,he has faith in future and he asks his followers to take the path of righteousness.
Aurangzeb ,though Emperor of one of the largest empire, is extremely unhappy and wants to repent and during his last days also he is wary of deceit.He tries to reduce his guilt by blaming Shahjahan for his excessive liking of Dara.

4 years ago
Reply to  P N Tripathi

Very well said!

4 years ago

Looking at the will of Aurangzeb, he was in control of his faculties right till the last breath and he was also in control of his empire. Basically he is a tragic character who did not even trust his own sons or brothers or family or anyone else. It needs a Shakespeare or 19th century Russian operas like Boris Godunov, Kovanschchina which mercilessly dissected the Russian autocracy and tragedy at and from high places, to describe the life of someone like Aurengzeb. . Aurangazeb was less bigoted and more stable minded than Ivan the Terrible. Lessons from Aurangzeb , both in politics and as personality factors, are invaluable for state building in India than merely bogeyman for Hidnutva guys.

Shahid Ibrar
Shahid Ibrar
4 years ago

Judging Aurangzeb by modern standard is not right. It’s true he did terrible things to the Sikhs, the Hindus i.e the Marathas, the Rajputs and the Satnamis but we should also keep in mind that he killed all his brothers, imprisoned and humiliated his father and also killed his beloved sister Roshanara. He upheld and discarded the canonical precepts whenever these suited him and were mostly against what can be termed right. Indian and Pakistanis should move ahead from from blaming past injustices. All three sides engaged in terrible things on the eve of parting of the ways. Also remember the Mughals and for that matter Aurangzeb never like the British and the Iranians looted India, the former did the henious work in the most systematic way. Some estimates suggest they may have drained India of 1000 billion pounds. In Mughal times, Bengal was one of the richest lands of the world but loom at it now. For a king in the early modern period acting like we should like him to have acted is not fair. The Portuguese in Goa and the British in northern India has committed far greater cruelties and injustices. The current enmity between the two groups was not prevelant in those times as it is now. Surely divide and rule has done it’s work. In the end the Mughals emerged as losers while the Sikhs emerged winners as we can look the Sikh kingdom shortly started taking shape and ruled and some time pillaged an area which population was 70% non Sikhs and in other areas the Muslims progressively lost power and privileges. I am not saying those days come again but should take lessons from the wars between Germany and France only then can India and Pakistan progress and lift the multitudes from poverty, ignorance and humiliation which was not the case at all during the old days.

4 years ago

It’s surprising that some of the comments are praising Aurangzeb; it’s akin to praising Adolf Hitler in general. Thinking that Aurangzeb was the greatest emperor in India doesn’t make him so, that’s pure speculation. This creature Aurangzeb tortured the Kashmiri pandits in unimaginable ways, murdered Guru Tegh Bahadur who stood up for the pandits (people may even look at for some information and try to contradict citing reliable and verifiable sources if they feel the information is incorrect), to mention only two of his outstanding heinous acts. Painting him as a person driven by complicated times doesn’t absolve his crimes, if anything, it merely reinforces the thought that he wasn’t after all an emperor at all.

Most of us have read our history as painted by the Marxist historians, and they’ve hidden massive sources of evidence. Indeed, when they say that very few Hindu temples were destroyed by the Mughals, it’s laughable to anyone who’s seen the Qutub Minar and translated the emblem right in front of it that reads in Arabic that 27 temples were destroyed to create that minar. And that’s just one monument. Anyone versed reasonably in Hindu temple architecture will recognize such pillars under the Taj Mahal; you can’t hide facts for long. The Vijaynagara kingdom is hardly ever mentioned in our texts, and it occupied more land (and governmed more people) than the Mughal kingdom ever did, lasted more than twice as long as the major Mughal emperors combined. I’m not going to cite any specific source about the Vijaynagara empire here but put pointers so that people explore further and find more evidence: I have found most interesting sources in this context are independent eyewitness accounts of travellers from what are now Iran, China, and Russia, and they agree on these matters. Even court documents of the Nawabs in Bengal contain corroborating information.

I don’t understand the problem with Muslims trying to make the Mughals appear just. They were not. For instance, Dara Sukoh was murdered by Aurangzeb due to (and this is speculation but it seems correct with high probability) his translation of the Upanishads in to Urdu and claiming that the missing verses in the Quran are the Upanishads. (This manuscript by Dara is still preserved at a certain location in India.) The Jews have an excellent relationship with Germany now, Germans don’t deny the holocaust, that period is studied with great interest so that such mistakes are never repeated. And over 95% of the Muslims in the Indian subcontinent, have descended from the Hindus, the ones alive today didn’t torture the population back in the Mughal times; what’s their problem if criminals adhering to Islam lived a few hundred years ago? It’s time that a truth and reconciliation commission is set up in our subcontinent.

The problem with history is that we’re trying to solve an inverse problem, and by definition every inverse problem is ill-posed. If one hides chunks of information, one is led to very different inferences than otherwise. Over the past 8 decades our subcontinent has suffered from severe suppression of correct information due to various vested interests; let’s not prolong that trend.

4 years ago

Why is it that whenever I read an impassioned defense of the greatness of Aurangzeb, I can guess with > 99% certainty that the person is a Muslim or an atheist. If there is a genuine debate to be had over his legacy this number ought to be much less skewed and much closer to a random sampling of the Indian population.

You should consider that if this is the only dependent variable involved in explaining the outcome, how much of this logic is based on reason and how much of it is empty bandwagoning.

4 years ago

Who is praising Aurangzeb here? I just see one comment saying that Aurangzeb may have been a more capable ruler than he is given credit for (regardless of his bigotry and brutality), but that’s not the same as praise.

So stop strawmanning, people!

4 years ago
Reply to  Numinous

You ought to have your eyes examined so that you can see strawmen when they, in fact appear. Here there are none. We have this comment in the thread

“Muhammad Aurangzeb was the greatest emperor in Indian history”

4 years ago

Well if you consider conquest and the span of his territorial extent, he could be considered as one of the greatest. Capable or not, he did outlive his opponents, as well as his opponents (Sikhs, Ahoms, Marathas and his brothers/father) only became larger than life (in public memory and hagiography) and successful (militarily) after his death only and not when he was alive. During his time he almost always had the upper hand vis-v his opponents.

For most parts he won more and losed less, and TBF that’s how most of historical emperors are looked at superficially.

4 years ago

Lets set Hindu-Muslim mythologies aside. Here is a way to judge Aurangzeb (AZ) quite objectively:
* AZ wanted to bring entire South Asia under single rule – his. This was the dream of Ashoka and later the Marathas. Nobody succeeded till the British came along.
* AZ judged astutely that the nascent Maratha power could be a threat to the Mughal empire and this was one of the reasons for his venture in the Deccan. He also wanted to bring the Shia dominated Deccani rulers to heal. AZ failed to understand that the Marathas could be “managed” through playing one faction against another, bribes, and some kind of tribute. The Nizam of Hyderabad did this very effectively.
* AZ misjudged the geography of the Deccan – especially the Western Ghats which was Maratha country. Mughal supply lines proved to be very brittle. The Marathas realized early on that they would be no match for Mughal armies and waged guerrilla warfare. AZ failed to destroy the Marthas and in fact may have helped to unite them. Maratha country also payed an enormous cost of marauding armies traipsing through their hinterland.
* Most importantly, AZ’s venture in the Deccan was a massive drain upon the resources of the Mughal treasury. Combine this with the long duration of his reign and the stage was set for a precipitous decline of the empire.
* AZ may or may not have been any more of a religious bigot than other Mughal emperors. But the fact remains that many of his actions served to alienate sections of the subject population. The Marathas obstinately fought on. The Sikhs forged a religious identity that would lead them to take up war as a means to defend themselves. The Rajputs were also increasingly sidelined. AZ did not have the foresight to co-opt the Marathas (and Sikhs) into becoming partners in the Mughal Empire. This Akbar succeeded in doing vis-a-vis the Rajputs.
* AZ did not build any new institutions or identify the emerging threat of European technology and military capability. AZ completely neglected the need for a credible navy – even a brown water one.
* Lastly, the Mughal Empire’s hold on Afghanistan began to loosen as AZ spent five decades in the Deccan. Within decades the Afghans would sack Delhi in partnership with Nadir Shah, and later under their very own Ahmed Shah Abdali. AZ and his successors forgot that the ruler of Delhi who cannot keep the restive tribes of Afghanistan under control is likely to be in for a nasty surprise. This has happened countless times in South Asia’s history.

All in all, AZ’s victories were pyrrhic. He set the stage for the decline of the Mughal Empire. Only another emperor(s) with the caliber and foresight of an Akbar could have revived the Mughal empire after AZ. No such successor came along.

Brown Pundits