In February this year, Penguin Random House India published Audrey Truschke’s ‘Aurangzeb: The Man and The Myth’. In the 216 page book, the author who is an assistant professor of South Asian History at Rutgers University in Newark tries to humanize Aurangzeb by engaging with popular myths about his hatred for Hindus and inhumanity that are part of contemporary discourse in India. The book does bring to light some interesting facts about his life but it is not free from flaws.

Naturally the Right leaning lot of people on social media had a busy few days when the book came out. The hashtag #‎YoAurangzebSoNoble‬ was trending. In her Stanford University Press Blog, Audrey wrote:“I am the target of daily, sometimes hourly, hate speech on social media. I am regularly attacked on the basis of my gender, nationality, race and perceived religion. I have even faced (so far, limited) calls to ban Aurangzeb and even to ban me from India.”

On the same blog a certain Kumar commented: “I wish you get a Muslim husband and live in Pakistan. You will get many Aurangzeb[sic].”‬‬

You maybe naïve enough to think that if people were so outraged by an “incorrect, politically motivated version of history”, someone must have written something in response. Maybe a book or a correct retelling of history. Audrey Truschke’s book was published on February 10 this year. On February 26, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, an Amazon company, published ‘Aurangzeb: The Man and The Myth Parody’. The book is just 78 pages long and was printed in the United States of America. The author: Audrey Truschke Parody. Just to put things in perspective, the cost of the parody is Rs.395 while the original is available on Amazon for Rs.238(Prime Customers, of course).

Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth by [Truschke, Audrey]

That Right-wing propaganda exists just like Left-wing propaganda is known to all. But what we don’t know is that sometimes Right-wing propaganda can get obscene and pornographic. After all, there is nothing like two “sickulars” struggling to do it! Surprisingly, nothing has been written about this parody in the media.

The book is about a love affair between Mr.Kanha Kumar and Dr.Kana Gayyub that starts off in PANU Campus. This is all that the book says about Aurangzeb: “Aurangzeb was reborn as Mr.Kanha Kumar in Bitihar.” The other characters in the book are novelist Cheaton Bhagaot, Delhi Chief Minister U-Turn Khujliwal, Kanha’s ideological guru Lord Lenin, Dr.Zakir Nalayak, Gharkha Dutt, Faizal Guru, Chagalika, Kancha Ulluya who wants to convert lower castes to Christianity, Baba Badkar who is the butt of all jokes on Buddhism, Chayabati and Endrani Pukherjea.

In an email conversation, Audrey Truschke told the author of this piece, “If it has nothing to do with Aurangzeb, as I have heard, then calling it a "parody" of Aurangzeb seems generous. In contrast, at least the #YoAurangzebSoNoble moment on Twitter a few months back featured some creative jokes dependent on basic knowledge of Mughal history.”

“I spoke with numerous people-including colleagues, people at Amazon, and both my Indian and North American publishers, about the parody. I learned that such parodies are an increasing trend, apparently, and I'm not the first target. I was told that part of the goal is precisely what happened to some unfortunate buyers of the parody of my book, namely to trick people who want to buy the real book into purchasing the parody. I asked Amazon (and they complied) to decouple links between my author page and the parody in order to avoid, or at least reduce instances of, such mistakes,” she explained. When you search for “Audrey Truschke” on Amazon, 3 out of the 6 books displayed as results are parodies.

Source: Image shared by Audrey Truschke with the author

The book does have some good one-liners for those on the Left willing to laugh at themselves. At one point Kanha says, “If lower caste are not allowed to enter temple, whole religion needs to be banned, people can then convert to other religion[sic] like Communism."

To be honest, anybody would genuinely want to find this book funny. And if you’ve paid Rs.395, you will try your best. But it just isn’t funny. It is obscene at best and irresponsible, casteist writing at worst. Fancy this justification of the 2002 riots:

"The number was few thousands not lakhs! You seem to be very bad in mathematics, it was reaction[sic] of Muslims burning train full of Hindu Karsevaks."

Or this account of the Mandal protests:

"Some lower caste raped upper caste girls while demanding reservation, they damaged property worth 20000 crores."

The book tries to trivialize caste atrocities and discrimination by coming up with random explanations like “if ponds are private property not allowing access is normal”. At one point the author gets really honest and writes: "Because Brahmins are most peaceful, most poor, socially boycotted caste, you are being able to spew this nonsense against Brahmin, try that with other castes and you may be hanging upside down from a tree, next day[sic]."

If you’re still wondering, that last statement was not meant to be ironic. It came as a monologue towards the end of the struggle that reading this book was. This book is a must-not-read for anybody; not even folks on the Right who are looking for something funny. I’m sure you find the Manifesto quite funny. Read that for a change. Or as Kanha would say, “Jai Lenin!”