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In a Nutshell: The reasons for destruction of temples were political rather than religious and comprised reprisal for rebellion, political misconduct or disloyalty to the emperor.


Mughal history has been darkened in a similar manner and for similar reasons as to other Muslim civilisations like the Ottomans as can be seen here. This included orientalist writers seeking to justify or support colonialist projects, secular Indian nationalists seeking a Hindu India or Muslim nationalists creating their own nation states like Pakistan or Bangladesh.

Mughal emperors, namely Aurangzeb, were purported to have governed solely to tyrannize India’s Hindu majority whilst emperorslike Akbar were valorised for their tolerance - both of which are ahistorical, lityle more than propaganda.

Historian Audrey Truschke is one of many who highlight these issues when claiming the British created the modern legacy of Aurangzeb as a cartoonish bigot to highlight Aurangzeb’s alleged hatred of his majority-Hindu populace.

Humiliation breeds nationalist sentiments: Truschke states Hindu Nationalists are embarrassed as to how India was ruled for so long by a Muslim minority, which is a phenomenon that can precede the rise of ethnonationalist politics.

Aurangzeb's patronage to a number of temples is documented during his rule as are some temples that were attacked and destroyed whilst orhers were spared.


The reasons for this comprised reprisal for rebellion, political misconduct or disloyalty to the emperor.

Meena Bhargave in her book "Understanding Mughal India: Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries" cites the attacks on the Vishwanath temple at Kashi, the Keshav Dev temple at Mathura, and several prominent temples in Rajasthan as driven by such reasons.

In 1669, during a zamindar revolt in Banaras, it was suspected some of them had assisted Shivaji in his escape from imperial detention, facilitated by the great-grandson of Raja Man Singh, who had built the Vishwanath temple. It was against this background Aurangzeb ordered its destruction in 1669.

Around the same time, in a Jat rebellion that had erupted in the neighbouring regions of Mathura, a patron of the local congregational mosque was killed, leading to Aurangzeb's order in 1670 to attack the Keshav Dev temple at Mathura.

Temples in Marwar and Mewar were also attacked following the death of Maharaja Jaswant Singh to reprimand and crush the Rathor rebellion and the development of a Sisodia-Rathor alliance.

These included:

  • temples in Khandela patronised by rebel chieftains;
  • temples in Jodhpur maintained by a former supporter of Dara Shukoh; and
  • the royal temples in Udaipur and Chittor patronised by Rana Raj Singh after the Rana entered into an alliance with the Rathors that signalled the withdrawal of loyalty to the Mughal State.

The Rathor rebellion was not a reaction or a protest against the re-imposition of jizya. Instead, this re-imposition was meant for 'the affliction of the rebellious unbelievers'.


There are well-documented evidences of Aurangzeb's patronage of various Hindu religious institutions, namely temples, maths, grants to Brahmins and pujaris:

  • Land grants were renewed to the temples at Mathura, Banaras, Gaya, Gauhati, and others, while the emperor is known to have donated ghee for the navadeep in a few temples, including the Mahabateshwar temple at Agra;
  • Gifts were offered to the Sikh gurudwara at Dehradun;
  • Madad-i ma'ash grants, as listed in the Rajasthan documents, were continued to a math of Nathpanthi yogis in pargana Didwana, sarkar Nagor;
  • Grants were made to Ganesh Bharti faqir and his successors in pargana Siwana with the instructions the faqir should not be disturbed so he could 'pray for this sultanat'.
  • The Vrindavan document of 1704 referred to a parwana which sanctioned the rights of Chaitanya gosains who had founded Vrindavan and established pilgrimages in Braj Bhumi, and recognised the right of Brajanand Gosain to receive a fee from the followers of the sect due to expenses on guests and travellers from each village. In effect, it was a government levy for the benefit of Brajanand Gosain and his Vaishnavite followers.


The reasons for destruction of temples were political rather than religious and comprised reprisal for rebellion, political misconduct or disloyalty to the emperor

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