Why did Aurangzeb ban the playing of the pungi?

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Note: Aurangzeb’s tyrannical rule was harsh. He banned almost everything that was considered pleasurable: music, dance, and sports. In 1679, he outlawed the playing of the pungi, which was a popular pastime in those days.


Emperor Aurangzeb banned the playing of the musical instrument called pungi in the royal residence because he considered it produce shrill and unpleasant sound.

Who is Aurangzeb?

Aurangzeb was the sixth Mughal emperor who ruled from 1658 to 1707. He is remembered for his extreme religious conservatism in a time when there was no middle ground. He persecuted those who opposed him, including Hindus and Sufis and ordered the destruction of thousands of temples throughout India.

What is Pungi?

Pungi is a musical instrument made of bamboo and a hollow tube. It has no metal, strings, or keys so to play it you must use your mouth to blow across the tube. This creates a sound that is similar to an old-fashioned pipe organ.

The pungi is a very ancient instrument used by snake charmers. It is traditionally made of wood or bamboo and has many different sizes depending on the region it is used in. It works on the principle that its rattle produces vibrations that make snakes feel relaxed, which makes it possible for them to be led away without fear of being bitten by the snake.

In 17th century, when Aurangzeb, the Mughal Emperor of India, banned the playing of the harmonious and soothing pungi or dholak in public. He claimed that the instrument could cause musical hallucinations among the audience-an additional reason for him to ban it. He also wanted them to uphold Islamic laws, which forbid playing musical instruments, gambling, and listening to music.

The noise the pungi made, which he did not want to disturb those who stayed up late. Aurangzeb also argued that because the Hindus became more vocal in their opposition to him, they were using the pungi to spread propaganda against his rule.

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