Thanks to a reader who brought this article to my notice. I read William Dalrymple now and then. To me, he is nothing beyond a sophisticated intellectual nuisance who being biased, accuses others of it.
Despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, Dalrymple courageously asserts the Mughal rule was not blood soaked. Sample his reasons:
Yet if the Mughals represented Islamic rule at its most powerful and majestic, they also defined Islam at its most tolerant, pluralistic and eclectic. Their empire was effectively built in coalition with India’s Hindu majority and succeeded as much through conciliation as by war.
This was particularly true of the Emperor Akbar (1542-1605), who issued an edict of universal religious tolerance, forbade forcible conversion to Islam and married a succession of Hindu wives.
This is extremely mischeivous but expected. Notice how he dubs an entire dynasty as tolerant, etc and suddenly narrows it down to just one ruler. I challenge Dalrymple to show just one other Mughal ruler comparable to Akbar. Not that Akbar was exactly angelic. As I have noted earlier in this blog, marrying Hindu wives was a stroke of tactic that had nothing to do with religious tolerance. Question: why didn’t his progeny remain Hindus, the religion of the mother? Greatest example: Jahangir, born of a Rajput wife.
The mischief is now a lie. At the least, he should have completed the other half represented by Shahjahan and Aurangzeb. But the lure of the whitewash job is irresistible. More on tolerance:
Yet such simplistic binaries quickly fall apart on any sort of fair-minded examination. Both Akbar and his son Jahangir (1569-1627), for example, were enthusiastic devotees of Jesus and his mother Mary, something they did not see as being in the least at variance with their Muslim faith…
Accepted. Why don’t we see the same consideration extended to building Hindu temples or worshipping Hindu Gods? Out of the five “great” Mughal emperors, Dalrymple musters one as a stellar example of “tolerance” and an also-ran. This, in prose dripping with exaggeration: “enthusiastic devotees.”
The rest of the article heaps scorn on everybody from Samuel Huntington to Naipaul.
Postscript: Notice how he completely omits any mention of the lakhs of Hindus who were slaughtered, forcibly converted, uprooted, and enslaved to provide for the Mughal splendor.