23. Converting Hindus to Islam by Aurangzeb
Aurangzeb had started a campaign of converting Hindus to Islam en masse, with the ultimate objective of converting Dar-al-Harb (land of infidelity) into Dar-Al-Islam (land of faith). He had been advised by the Qazis to convert the Brahman priests into Islam, for the rest of the Hindus would automatically follow their example; owing to the respect that the Brahman priests enjoyed in the Hindu society. One further point to note is that by a mass conversion of the Brahmans, Aurangzeb had aimed at uprooting Hinduism root and branch, for under the traditional Hindu society, knowledge was the confine of the Brahmans, and if they were converted, then no one could read the ancient scriptures that were written in Sanskrit. Anyone, who did not wish to embrace Islam, had to pay a tax called "Jazia" (substitute money for the price of indulgence). Another instrument of the policy of putting economic pressure on "non-believers" was the granting of rewards to the converts, and the offering of posts in the public service, release from prison, or succession to disputed property, as a reward for accepting Islam. The temples of the Hindus were desecrated and destroyed and mosques were constructed on their foundations. The cows that are so sacred to the Hindus were slaughtered in their temples and their flesh thrown into the wells, from which Hindus were ordered to drink water. Therefore, it would be no exaggeration to say that Hinduism was on the verge of extinction. An admirer and a flatterer of the Emperor writes, "On Thursday, the 8th April 1669, occurred an eclipse. The Lord Cherisher of Faith (Aurangzeb) learnt that in the provinces of Tatta, Multan, and especially Banaras, the Brahman misbelievers would teach their false books in their established schools and misguide men. His Majesty, eager to establish Islam, issued orders to the governors of all the provinces to demolish the schools and temples of the infidels, and with the utmost urgency put down the teaching and the public practice of the religion of the misbelievers."