Did Aurangzeb Ban Cow Slaughter?

Apr 2018
69
Ayodhya
#11
I searched thru the Indexes of of following books which are primary sources on Aurangzeb:

(i) Maasir-i-Alamgiri : The official Mughal record of Aurangzeb's deeds completed 2 or 3 years after his death

(ii) Storia do Mogor by Niccolao Manucci: An Italian traveler who came to India and settled here. Manucci lived thru the entire reign of Aurangzeb. He was employed in Mughal setups as artillery man (by Prince Dara, son of Aurangzeb. by and Mirza Raja Jai Singh, the topmost Hindu Raja who served in Aurangzeb's army) and as physician (to Prince Shah Alam, son of Aurangzeb).

Neither of the above talk about ban on cow slaughter.
That may be true. But we have to look at the actual nature of the sources.

(i) This was written by an orthodox Muslim who wanted to portray Aurangzeb as "the sword of Islam". So in his zeal, he tends to give all of Aurangzeb's temple destructions an iconoclastic motive, even though some were clearly influenced by other reasons. It is thus natural for him to omit laws by Aurangzeb that defy this "Islamist Emperor" perception.

(ii) Manucci had utter contempt for Aurangzeb, and even refused to enter the emperors service when his Agrah friends persuaded him in 1663 (when Aurangzeb went to Kashmir). So he did not have direct access to the Mughal court in the 1660s, and thus really had no way of knowing the detailed laws put forth by Aurangzeb. He was only employed with Jai Singh in the 1665 campaign against Shivaji. Then he abandoned the service and went to Goa. So most of what he says about the Mughal court in that period is influenced by public gossip...

Bernier was under the employment of Danishmand Khan, one of Aurangzeb's nobles. Being thus employed and a good friend of Danishmand Khan he had a good way to obtain detailed info about the Mughal court. He even quotes some of Aurangzeb's letters to Shah Jshan in his book.
 
Likes: Ashoka maurya
Oct 2015
1,106
India
#12
Historians often put a discount on the memoirs / evidence of Manucci, but I find him to be the best.

As regards his dislike to Aurangzeb, there is nothing surprising. Aurangzeb killed Dara, who was Manucci's first employer in India. Manucci was present in the battlefield when two armies of Dara & Aurangzeb fought. After defeat Dara fled to Rajasthan-Pakistan, and after sometime Manucci followed him and joined him. In the meantime, Aurangzeb imprisoned his father and treacherously his brother Murad Baksh. Then Dara someone betrayed Dara, he was captured & brought to Aurangzeb, was executed, and his head was sent to Shahjahan who was under house-arrest in Agra. Many people would naturally to dislike the morality of such a person - and Manucci was in this category. Even the Sharif of Mecca had rejected & returned the gifts sent by Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb had his compulsions, but dislike towards such a person in the heart of a young lad (Manucci) is natural.

Since you know precise details, you must be aware that Mughal court had an excellent system of Akhbarat (something like a official newsletter) where information was disseminated to nobles and provinces. Possibly, Manucci had - direct or indirect access to them. How else can we account that while narrating events covering 62 years (1656-1708) he has given names of several hundred people, hundreds of places, hundreds of dates - and they are almost all accurate?

More later on his access to high-level sources at one end and common people at the other.
 
Last edited:
Apr 2018
69
Ayodhya
#14
Historians often put a discount on the memoirs / evidence of Manucci, but I find him to be the best.

As regards his dislike to Aurangzeb, there is nothing surprising. Aurangzeb killed Dara, who was Manucci's first employer in India. Manucci was present in the battlefield when two armies of Dara & Aurangzeb fought. After defeat Dara fled to Rajasthan-Pakistan, and after sometime Manucci followed him and joined him. In the meantime, Aurangzeb imprisoned his father and treacherously his brother Murad Baksh. Then Dara someone betrayed Dara, he was captured & brought to Aurangzeb, was executed, and his head was sent to Shahjahan who was under house-arrest in Agra. Many people would naturally to dislike the morality of such a person - and Manucci was in this category. Even the Sharif of Mecca had rejected & returned the gifts sent by Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb had his compulsions, but dislike towards such a person in the heart of a young lad (Manucci) is natural.

Since you know precise details, you must be aware that Mughal court had an excellent system of Akhbarat (something like a official newsletter) where information was disseminated to nobles and provinces. Possibly, Manucci had - direct or indirect access to them. How else can we account that while narrating events covering 62 years (1656-1708) he has given names of several hundred people, hundreds of places, hundreds of dates - and they are almost all accurate?

More later on his access to high-level sources at one end and common people at the other.
You have raised some nice points. I was introduced to Manucci for the first time when I saw some of your comments on other threads about his work, so I must thank you for that. So far I have read half of volume 2 of his work, so my comments are based on whatever I read of him.

As you said, some level of dislike for Aurangzeb is natural. But Manucci goes over and above, and accuses Aurangzeb of doing black magic. He states that Aurangzeb celebrated on Jai Singh's death, whereas this is contradicted by Bernier, who had a more direct access to the court. Bernier says that the king lamented and consoled Jai Singh. Pick up any major figure that died in Aurangzeb's rule, and Manucci says that Aurangzeb conspired to kill him or gave him poison (i.e. Mir Jumla, Jai Singh, Roshan Ara Begum, Sultan Muhammad, etc).

Yes, your Akhbarat comment is quite plausible. But on that note, I would like to say that unlike Bernier, Manucci never quotes from any of Aurangzeb's letters. Maybe he even got info from friends in the service of Aurangzeb. But it is also possible that some of his work was taken from Bernier, whom he criticizes in his book. Whatever be the case, I feel that the words of someone connected to the court are more valuable than those of one who got info from second hand sources.

I only wish Bernier stuck around for 5 more years, since it was during that period that Aurangzeb intensifed on anti-Hindu laws. I would have loved to see Bernier's take on that.
 
Likes: Rajeev
Apr 2018
69
Ayodhya
#15
Is there evidence that cow slaughter was permitted before Aurangzeb's time for him to ban it?
I know that Akbar banned it. Jahangir appealed to Islamic orthodoxy to attain the throne. So he may have banned it for a while. A zealous Musulman like Shah Jahan must have banned it though.

This is just speculation though. I have no concrete evidence at this time.
 
Oct 2015
1,106
India
#16
As you said, some level of dislike for Aurangzeb is natural. But Manucci goes over and above, and accuses Aurangzeb of doing black magic.

Pick up any major figure that died in Aurangzeb's rule, and Manucci says that Aurangzeb conspired to kill him or gave him poison (i.e. Mir Jumla, Jai Singh, Roshan Ara Begum, Sultan Muhammad, etc).
Yes, now that you point out, it does appear Manucci suspected poisoning in rather too many cases.

Aurangzeb did not perform black-magic but was typically dipped in India culture and was superstitious. Two examples from Manucci are here:

  • Satnamis attack on Delhi was a particularly tense moment for him as he had an army of only 10,000 people to defend. He was constantly writing some thing of paper, tearing it off, then next paper etc.
  • In Deccan, a river was flooded. He wrote a prayer on a paper and threw it in water. Water receded but people being what they were 325 years back, believed that he had some supernatural power.

Even the Maasir-i-Alamgiri, this official record of Aurangzeb's reign, says that he consulted astrologers to decide the auspicious date & time before starting on a journey etc. Here are four extracts:
  • "As astrologers indicated Wednesday the 21st July / lst Zil Q , as an auspicious day for the accession, and no time was left to go to Delhi and make preparations for the ceremony, Aurangzib stayed for a few hours in the garden of Aghrabad [ = Shalamar], and sat on the throne at the above-mentioned auspicious time." page-4
  • "Bakhtawar Khan by order took securities from the astrologers of the Emperor and the Princes that they would not construct almanacs for the next year and orders to the same purport were sent to the provinces." page-90
  • "On Sunday, the 26th April, 1685 /2nd Jamad S , the imperial camp moved from Ahmadnagar, on an auspicious day and hour, and was pitched near the Farah-bakhsh garden." - Page-158
    "At an auspicious hour Khan Bahadur Firuz Jang was appointed to capture the fort of Adoni from Masaud Habshi,.." Page-187
Reference:

Sarkar, Sir Jadunath, Maasir-i-Alamgiri of Saqi Mustad Khan. Royal Asiatic Society of Calcutta. 1947.
 
Oct 2015
1,106
India
#17
Is there evidence that cow slaughter was permitted before Aurangzeb's time for him to ban it?
Cow slaughter was widely practiced by Muslims in India even before arrival of Christians. Here is an extract from Shiv-digvijaya on Shivaji's visit to Bijapur, the capital of Bijapur Sultanate, when he was very young:

"At Bijapur, Sultan Muhammad Shah Badshah was ill, and at that juncture arrived Sivaji Maharaj with his mother and officers. * * * [68] The city was under the Muhammadan Government and cow slaughter was therefore frequent. He felt disgusted ***** and used to say to the officers in his father's house, "It is not good to live upon the bread of the Muhammadans and to witness cow slaughter. ..

One day, when Sivaji Maharaj was going in the train of the Raja (his father), he heard the lowing of a cow that was being slaughtered in a butcher's house. Sivaji had the butcher arrested and caned by his men. [69] The cow was released and its price was put into the butcher's hand. The case was reported to the authorities but they took no notice of it because of the influence of the Raja. .." [1]

The book Shiv-digvijaya, composed in 18th century, does give the socio-cultural milieu then prevailing though it is not highly regarded as a history in the modern sense of the word.

Reference:

[1] Sen, Surendranath, Siva Chhatrapati. University of Calcutta. 1920. pp 157-158
 

kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,724
USA
#18
I know that Akbar banned it. Jahangir appealed to Islamic orthodoxy to attain the throne. So he may have banned it for a while. A zealous Musulman like Shah Jahan must have banned it though.

This is just speculation though. I have no concrete evidence at this time.
Muslims who ruled from Delhi/Agra were generally of Turkish background. They preferred sheep/goat, popular meats in central Asia their ancestral lands, than beef. So it would not have been much of an issue with them to ban cow slaughter. The information I have is that Muslim rulers generally banned it in the Delhi region.

Not sure what the situation was under the British in those areas.
 

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