In this short story, I have tried to go against the stereotypical notion that regards Aurangzeb as some sort of a “Darklord” from Indian history & I have tried to present him in somewhat positive light by writing the story from his point of view.
There was a rumor going around that Shah Jahan was planning to build a black Taj Mahal for himself just opposite the white marble one which he built for his Begum (Queen) Mumtaz Mahal. This is when Aurangzeb planned to launch an attack on the emperor & Dara as he saw this as the best opportunity to catch them off-guard.
“Is Shah Jahan really planning to build a black Taj Mahal?” inquired a surprised Aurangzeb. As he heard the news he had an ominous smile on his face.
“This is what a fellow soldier told me. Isn’t it incredible news?” the army chief said with immense excitement.
“I’m not fascinated by his desire to construct a black Taj Mahal close to the white Taj Mahal. They would look more like pieces of chess close together, rather than monuments. I see this as an opportunity to seek revenge ” said Aurangzeb in a stern voice
The army chief perplexedly asked “Revenge for what? Hasn’t Shah Jahan provided you with all luxuries”
“Except for the luxury of having a loving father… There is more to life than materialistic objects.” Aurangzeb went towards the palace as he said this in a sad tone.
The following conversation took place at the army camp next night where Aurangzeb was restlessly walking, waiting for the right moment & the army chief was preparing the troops for war:
“This night seems endless. I have waited for this moment all my life when I brush off mediocrity & claim what should be rightfully mine. Army chief, I want to attack them at the crack of dawn. Tomorrow, the first ray of the sun would be their moment of reckoning.” The dark age representing a new era was slowly tip-toeing its way as an impatient Aurangzeb planned to launch an attack on his brother.
Army chief informed him, “Sir, he has the support of emperor Shah Jahan, are you sure you want to attack your own brother & go against your father ?”
Aurangzeb with a tear trickling down from his eye, said in a deep cold voice “Father favoring Dara isn’t some sort of breaking news; it’s always been the case. Dara may have his father as his ally but there is something divine which I possess & that is my determination. It’s my ultimate ally”
With vengeance clouding his mind Aurangzeb looked like a bloodthirsty warlord whose being craved the decay and death of his enemies. To some extent the army chief had sympathy for Aurangzeb; the emotional turmoil which had victimized him from his childhood was secretly known to everybody.
As the dawn cracked, the first ray of sun proved to be the messenger of a massacre: a fierce battle ensued, many great warriors were slaughtered to death. After the intense war ended; Aurangzeb emerged victorious. With the sword of defeat hanging above Dara’s head, he had to flee for his life. Shah Jahan was captured and chained and imprisoned in the coldest corner of a ruined fort. Aurangzeb became the new emperor.
It was a stormy night when Aurangzeb decided to confront his father. The storm seemed to be an external manifestation of the emotions which were raging within Aurangzeb. Just like a predator stalks its helpless prey, with a vindictive smirk, Aurangzeb approached Shah Jahan.
What do we have here ? An arrogant king of the past now in dismal despair? Aurangzeb propounded, sarcastically
An aggressive Shah Jahan’s fury knew no bounds. He replied in a nerve chilling way, “I can’t believe you are my son”
Aurangzeb retaliated by saying “You never made me feel like you were my father, either. Dara was your blue-eyed boy whom you showered with your love while I was no less than a low-level circus clown to you. I used to look up to you; I used to desperately yearned for love from you. I learnt the Quran, mastered Arabic & Persian just to make you feel proud of me but love was a luxury solely reserved for the apple of your eye (Dara). Where were you when I needed to share my problems with you? You were busy solving problems of people in Diwan-e-Aam /Diwan-e-Khas! Where were you when I designed a Persian poetic symphonies? You were busy designing & constructing some fancy monuments! You always had time for Dara, which you never had for me. You loaded him with precious gifts; all you gifted me was loneliness. You gave respect & fame to him. But you blessed me with depression as a result of which tears have become the jewels of my eyes. I burnt in the agony of inferiority while Dara earned respect in your heart. When love towards you made me weak & helpless, hatred towards you gave me the purpose to exist. … You sowed in me the seed of hatred & I watered it with my tears. My hatred grew with each passing day & here I am today, presenting myself as the ultimate incarnation of evil. You have made me the beast I am today. My heart once had emotions of love & respect for you but as the wheel of time carelessly moved on and as your neglect towards me increased, this heart of mine was transmuted into a stone. All the emotions it once possessed are now replaced by the poison of hatred.”
“What do you know about being an emperor?
When you are an emperor you need to pay attention to the overall functioning of the empire! I treated Dara with love because the level of his maturity was simply incredible. In him, I saw the ideal ruler & I was training him to be the future king. He would have been the perfect person to carry on the Mughal legacy” said Shah Jahan in a loud & clear voice.
“Is that so, father? Even though I exhibited my superiority over Dara in warfare, still you glorify him, as someone better than me. As always your blind and incorruptible love towards Dara has again eclipsed the value of my capabilities. You still question my capability? I may have won this battle against Dara but from my childhood days, I have always lost the love of my father to him” replied Aurangzeb.
Shah Jahan finally began to realize how unfair he had been to Aurangzeb. He decided to admit his mistake & emotionally said “I am guilty of this injustice towards you. But I did not mean any harm. Everything I did was for the welfare of the empire. Please forgive me for the sorrow I caused you ” his voice cracked as he said this.
Turning his back on Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb wiped his tears & said “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter whether I forgive you or not, the question is whether your own self-conscience would forgive you. You are my father & I can’t punish you. I’ll leave you here in this dark cell where you would be haunted by loneliness, just the way I was for ages. I’ll leave it up to your introspection to decide your punishment”
Finally, Aurangzeb exhibited his true potential & became the writer of his own destiny. He became a powerful emperor but the love he had sought from his father eternally eluded him. People feared him but nobody loved him. He was the most hated emperor in the history of the Mughal empire. He was a victim who later created many innocent people the victims of his immense hatred.