Reimagining the Mughal Emperors Akbar and Aurangzeb in the 21st Century

Osama Amin


The paper focuses on the reigns and policies of the two Mughal Emperors, Akbar and Aurangzeb, and analyses how they have been remembered in the wider social memory. While Akbar is glorified as a 'secular' and 'liberal' leader, Aurangzeb is often dismissed and ridiculed as a 'religious bigot', who tried to impose the Shari'ah law in diversified India. The paper traces and evaluates the construction of these two grand narratives which were initially formed by the British historians in colonial India and then continued by specific nationalist historians of India and Pakistan, after the independence of the two nation-states. By citing some of the most popular misconceptions surrounding the two Mughal Emperors, this study attempts to understand the policies of these two emperors in a wider socio-political narrative and attempts to deconstruct these ‘convenient’ misinterpretations. Concluding the analysis of how these two emperors are viewed differently in both India and Pakistan, the paper asserts the importance of leaving behind the modern concepts of 'liberal versus conservative' while understanding these emperors and reinforces the practice to understand these historical figures on their own terms.



South Asian History; Akbar; Aurangzeb; Mughals; Mughal Emperor; India; Pakistan; South Asia.

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Journal of South Asian Studies
ISSN: 2307-4000 (Online), 2308-7846 (Print)
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