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The present publication (Vol. IV. Part ii.) completes the fourth volume of the History of India. At the same time it completes the history of Hindu and Muhammadan rule which preceded the establishment of British rule. The portion thus brought to a close may be described as both ancient and modern. It begins with the earliest dawn of Sanskrit legend, and ends with the downfall of the Moghul Empire, about the middle of the eighteenth century. Vol. I. deals with the Vedic hymns and the Sanskrit epic known as the Mahá Bhárata ; Vol. II. with the Sanskrit epic of the Rámáyana and the Laws and Institutions of Manu; Vol. III. with the history of India during the Hindu, Buddhist, and Brahmanic periods. These three volumes cover a period which can only be imperfectly mapped out by chronology, as they deal with a remote antiquity, whilst overlapping much of modern times. Vol. IV. is more definite. It comprises the history of Muhammadan rule in India, from the Arab conquests in the eighth century down to the eve of British conquest in the eighteenth ; a period of a
thousand years, corresponding to the interval in English history between the later wars of the Heptarchy and the accession of George the Third.
Muhammadan rule in India is an important era in the history of the world, inasmuch as it intervenes between the idolatry of Hindus and the professed Christianity of Englishmen. The annals of early Muhammadan conquest are, perhaps, of comparatively minor importance. Arabs, Turks, and Afghans were mostly bent on plundering temples and breaking down idols, but they could not crush out the old mythological worship of the Hindus, or establish the religion of the Koran as the dominant faith of the masses. Kingdoms were created by the sword and maintained by the sword; but there was no cohesion between the Muhammadan rulers and the Hindu population to ensure the permanence of Muhammadan dominion.
The Moghul Empire, which was established in India during the sixteenth century, was based upon a totally different policy. Akbar, the contemporary of Queen Elizabeth, was the real founder of the empire. Although a Muhammadan in name, and for some years a Muhammadan by profession, he introduced a new system of religious toleration and equality of creeds, which was unknown to previous Muhammadan princes, and, indeed, was repugnant to the fundamental principles of the Muhammadan religion. Akbar trampled on the exclusiveness of the Koran, threw off the ecclesiastical domination of the Ulamá, raised Hindus as well as Muhammadans to the highest offices in the
state, and, finally, affected to be not only a temporal sovereign, but an incarnation of deity. Right or wrong, the policy of Abkar secured for a while the cohesion, and, consequently, the permanence, of the Moghul Empire, and maintained it intact through the reigns of his two immediate successors, Jehangir and Shah Jehan.
The history of Mubammadan rule in India, from the early Arab conquests in Scinde down to the end of the reign of Shah Jehan, has already been treated in Part I. of the present volume. Part II., which is now submitted to the public, deals with the violent reaction of bigotry and intolerance which characterised the reign of Aurangzeb, the son and successor of Shah Jehan. Aurangzeb professed to be a Sunní Muhammadan of the strictest type. He gained the throne by hypocrisy and murder, and then lavished the strength and treasures of the empire in the hopeless attempt to crush out idolatry and heterodoxy, and to establish the religion of the Koran as the dominant faith of the people of India. Then followed popular tumults, Rajpút revolts, and Mahratta uprisings, which sapped the vitality of the Moghul Empire, and rendered it an easy prey to internal enemies and foreign invaders.
The present half of the fourth volume is thus devoted to the reign of Aurangzeb, under whom the Moghul Empire reached its zenith, and the reigns of his 'successors, under whom the empire declined and fell. It covers an entire century, beginning with the accession of Aurangzeb in 1658, the year of the death
of Oliver Cromwell, and ending just before the rise of British dominion in India in the early years of George III. It thus deals with a period of peculiar interest to English readers ;-namely, the old commercial era, when India was still governed by its native princes, whilst the late East India Company was exclusively occupied with its trading transactions at Madras, Calcutta, and Bombay, and had not as yet begun to aspire after territorial aggrandisement or political power.
The reign of Aurangzeb is not generally familiar to English readers. Previous Moghul sovereigns had been anxious to hand down the story of their lives to future generations, but Aurangzeb was induced to issue an edict strictly forbidding his subjects from writing the annals of his reign. The reasons for this strange prohibition are explained in the accompanying History ;' but the consequence has been that the materials furnished by Muhammadan writers for dealing with the reign of Aurangzeb are meagre and unsatisfactory. Fortunately the deficiency has been supplied in some measure by the old records of the Madras Government, and Catrou's History of the Moghul Empire, which was based upon the contemporary memoirs of Manouchi, the Venetian physician, who resided for nearly fifty years in India, and was for a long time in the service of the Moghul. The Madras records were investigated by the author in 1860-61 under the instructions of Sir Charles Tre
i See Chap. vii. page 361.