Abu Muzaffar Muhiuddin Muhammad Aurangzeb Alamgir (November 3, 1618 - March 3, 1707), also known as Alamgir I, was the ruler of the Mughal Empire from 1658 until 1707. He is commonly considered the last of the great Mughal emperors. He is a historical figure that can be described as "lightning rod", drawing strong condemnation as well as great reverence. Critics level the charge, specifically, of the destruction of Hindu temples (see Temple destruction in Indian History) and his suppression of the Shia sect within Islam. Supporters, particularly Muslims, draw a very aposite picture of a pious, simple-living figure in the best traditions of the companions of The Prophet himself and his early successors. The latter group has even gone to extent of using the phrase Fifth Rightly Guided Caliph.Aurangzeb Aurangzeb (from Persian, &1575;&1608;&1585;&1606;&1711;&8204;&1586;&1740;&1576; meaning "suitable for the throne") was the third son of the previous emperor Shah Jahan. His eldest brother, Dara Shikoh, was favored for succession. When the Fifth Great Mughal, Shah Jahan fell severly ill beginning in 1657, the struggle for succession began like many others before it. (Shah Jahan himself had raised an army against Jahangir and Auranzeb had spent a large part of his childhood and early manhood as virtually a hostage at his grandfather's court against the possibility of his father revolting again. Thus, like other Indian princes over the ages, Aurangzeb challenged his father and the succession. He claimed that Dara Shikoh was a habitual gambler and had drinking problems. Aurangzeb was supported by his youngest brother. Despite strong support from Shah Jahan, who had recovered enough from his illness to remain a strong factor in the struggle for supremacy, Dara was defeated. He attempted to rally support after this defeat, but was betrayed and turned over to his brother. Aurangzeb beheaded Dara Shikoh and had his severed head taken to their father. He also killed another of his brothers who had supported Dara. Becoming not the the first Mughal prince to fight an imperial army, but the first to defeat one, in July 1658 he put his father under house arrest in Agra Fort. Among the reason given in scholarship for putting his father under house arrest was that Shah Jahan wanted to build another Taj Mahal, a black one this time. Aurangzeb did not approve of this at all, as this was an attrocious waste of money to him. The conditions of Shah Jahan's detention are also the subject of disagreement and legend. Some say that the Fort was a luxurious residence, others say it was restrictive. Legends include one that says that he could see the Taj directly from his residence, but the architecture of the Sheesh Mahal is such that you can see the Taj in its multitude of mirrors. Aurangzeb is said to have become fascinated with conservative interpretations of the Qur'an, which he set about codifying. According to Aurangzeb's interpretation, Islam did not allow music, so he banished court musicians, dancers and singers. Further, based on Muslim precepts forbidding images, he stopped the production of representational artwork, including the Persianate Mughal miniature painting that had reached its zenith before his rule. Up until Aurangzeb's reign, Indian Islam had been informed by mystical Sufi precepts. But based on his conservative interpretation of Islamic principles, Aurangzeb propagated a less mystical, more didactic form of Islam. People have often said that he forcefully converted People to Islam, though this may be a matter of exaggeration. He imposed tax on non Muslims and is said to have banned Some Hindu practices. He said to have brought down Hindu temples at Kashi and Mathura, the holiest of Hindu temples. These acts are documented, but the motivation is a matter of much academic and social argument.. Scholarship that contradicts the usual conventional wisdom on Aurangzeb, like the material above, includes his donation of land and money for various temples and provision of security to priests of Varanasi temples. A noted Indian scholar and historian, Dr Bishambhar Nath Pande, in his book Religious Policy of Muslim Rulers describes Aurangzeb's Religious policy. He provides documentation to support Aurangzeb's donation of land for temples. The following article tells more about his work on this subject. [See http://www.sabrang.com/cc/comold/oct99/cover5.htm] In 1675, Aurangzeb publicly executed the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. Sikh mythos says that Guru Tegh Bahadur sacrificed himself to save Sikhs who the Emperor had condemned for failure to convert to Islam. This marked a turning point for Sikhism. His successor, Guru Gobind Singh further militarised his followers (see Khalsa). After Aurangzeb killed four of Gobind Singh's sons, Gobind Singh sent Aurangzeb the Zafarnama (''Notification of Victory''). Aurangzeb also tried to invade Maharashtra which was then under the leadership of king Shivaji. So fierce were these conflicts around the Deccan that Aurangzeb eventually left the Mogul capital Delhi to take up residence in nearby Kirki, now known as Aurangabad, and he remained there until the end of his reign. Though Marathas under Shivaji were not strong enough, his descendents gave stiff resistance to Mughals and eventually led to downfall of Mughal Empire. Though Aurangzeb could not defeat Shivaji, he captured, tortured and later killed Shivaji's son Sambhaji. Aurangzeb imparted great hardship and destroyed many temples according to what he thought Islamic teachings, but Marathas refused to give up and after his death established Maratha empire encompassing Western and North India and Thus liberating India from Mughal rulers. Unlike his predecessors, Aurangzeb left few buildings. He created a modest mausoleum for his first wife, sometimes called the mini-Taj, in Aurangabad. He also built in Lahore what was at the time the largest mosque outside Mecca: the Badshahi Masjid ('Imperial' Mosque, sometimes called the Alamgiri Mosque). He also added a small marble mosque known as the Moti Masjid ( Pearl Mosque) to the Red Fort complex in Delhi. He was a very pious Muslim. He lived a relatively simple life. Aurangzeb outlived many of his children. He considered the royal treasury as a trust of the citizens of his empire and that it should not be used for his personal expenses. This is contrary to the general idea of treasury, which was considered as a personal property of the Emperor. Throughout his life, Aurangzeb had knitted haj caps and copied out the Qura'n. He sold these works in the marketplace anonymously. He used the proceeds, and only these, to fund his modest resting place. Aurangzeb is the only Great Mughal whose tomb is not marked with a large mausoleum. In conformance with his view of Islamic principles, his body rests in an open-air grave in Kuldabad, near Aurangabad. He died in Ahmednagar in 1707 at the age of 90. After Aurangzeb's death, his son Bahadur Shah I took over the throne, and the Mughal Empire, due to his weak military & leadership qualities, entered a long decline.