He was ultra-rightist, an orthodox muslim, a man of religion, one of the most prolific emperor India ever had. A workaholic. As Abraham Eraly writes, “Aurangzeb would twist facts and concoct lies without compunction to suit his purpose and gain his goals.” He was the only Mughal who executed his brothers by legal process, which of course he must have designed in his own way. Fearless, and strong. A theocrat, yet a great administrator. A strong campaigner, who loved to win territories, making Mughal empire most extensive in entire history.
But, what happened in Deccan ruined almost entire second half of his life. The man who never tasted failure, could not fathom the thought of losing in a place, he had excelled earlier. A disciplined mighty strongly visioned king with a religious temperament, halted by a just-another-man, who claimed himself a ‘messiah’ of people. Diamond-studded crown against home-spun turbans.
Marathas were a bunch of commoners, with a poorly composed yet a strong organisation. Their war were unconventional with nightly raids and ambushes, which a conventional political warrior failed to understand. Shivaji was termed an anarchist, a disturber of peace for entire Deccan by Aurangzeb. The mountain rat as they termed him, and lampooned him. Shivaji, in whatever capacity he had, secured the hearts of people of Deccan. He instilled faith in himself, door-by-door, people-by-people. You may fight an organised army, but there was none. How Guerrilla warfare originated is a mystery, but Aurangzeb tasted it, and it remains a communist, naxal or commoner warfare style till now.
Shivaji believed himself a ‘hero’, while Mughals snubbed him off as ‘small cog in big wheel’. He was arrested and pardoned, attended and ignored, fought and left off. But, the man was rising in background, challenging the mighty empire. He created issues out of nowhere, gaining faith of people. He became a Hindu messiah to rival a muslim emperor, and a maratha pride to instill immense faith in himself. A rebel with a difference. An anarchist, a warlord who transformed himself into a great king with diplomatic vision. His own bunch of traitors couldn’t stop him, rather he indeed halted the Mughal Ashwamedha.