Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Heroes of India – Hind ki Chador: Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji

Heroes of India – Hind ki Chador: Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji
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Islam conquered many countries in a very short period of time. Most of the great nations and civilizations that came under Islamic rule end up being Muslim nations such as Persia, Egypt and Mesopotamia. India was something new in the history of Islam’s territorial expansion. For the first time, the majority of the conquered population did not convert to Islam. How come this happened in spite of the fact that majority of the country was being ruled by Muslim rulers for 800 years? Many people give different reasons for this. Many Pakistani Muslims love to claim that this was due to the tolerance of Muslim rulers who practiced secularism. This is a false claim. Muslim rulers tried every possible way to erase Hinduism from Indian scene. The only reason the majority of India did not convert is the dedication of the Indian men, women and even children towards their faith and honour of their country. The greatness of Indian civilization lied in its strong emphasis on religious freedom and even attaining martyrdom to preserve it. Many Indian men and women chose to die over giving up their faith or being dishonoured by the enemy.

Following is the story of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, the ninth Guru of the Sikhism, who gave up his life in order to preserve Hinduism in India. He was given the title of ‘Hind ki Chador’ (Shield of India) by people of India for his great sacrifice to preserve their religion and culture.

During the reign of Muslim Emperor Aurangzeb in India, Hindus, Sikhs and Sufis were subjected to many atrocities and discrimination. In 1675 CE, the Delhi’s emperor cherished the ambition to convert entire India into Islam. Aurangzeb decided to begin his evil mission from the beautiful Kashmir, as Kashmiri Hindus were known to be the most highly learned and orthodox of the Hindu leadership. Hindus Kashmiris were known as Pundits, which means scholars or learnt people. Aurangzeb felt that if they could be converted the entire Hindu India will easily follow them. Therefore, he placed the orders on the Governor of Kashmir, Iftikhar Khan to carry out the policy to convert all the non Muslims by force. Iftikhar Khan gave an ultimatum to Hindus of Kashmir, embrace Islam or die.

Given the ultimatum, a large delegation of 500 Kashmiri Pundits decided to go to Anandpur Sahib (a city in Northern India) to seek the help of Guru Tegh Bahadur. This delegation was led by Pundit Kirpa Ram Dutt, who eventually joined the Sikh Army later in his life and became a martyr. The Pundits met the Guru and explained to him their dire predicament to the Guru and requested him to find a solution to their problem. As the Guru was pondering over this issue his ten year old son Gobind Rai walked into the room. He noticed the gloomy mood of his father and thus began the famous conversation between a father and his son which changed the future of India.

Gobind Rai: ‘Guruji, I see the acutely sad faces of the Sangat (Congregation) and you are silent in a deep thought. What is the problem?’

Guru Tegh Bahadur: ‘Son, this is a Sangat from Kashmir. The emperor Aurangzeb has given them ultimatum, of a choice between Islam and death. Unless a holy man lies down his head for the sake of these Hindus, there is no hope for their escape from imperial tyranny.’

Gobind Rai: ‘For that great sacrifice, O Father, who can be worthier than you?’

Pundits were delighted that a solution was found and duly informed Emperor Aurangzeb of their decision. They told the Emperor, that Guru Tegh Bahadur is our leader and guide, first make him a Muslim and then we shall follow. Therefore, Aurangzeb ordered his officers to arrest the Guru and bring him to Delhi. On 27th July, 1675 CE Guru was arrested along with his three companions, Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das and Bhai Dyal Das. Guru and his companions were tortured. Guru himself was chained and was kept in a cage. In order to terrorize him further into submission, his companions were tortured to death. The Qazi (Muslim priest) told Bhai Mati Das to embrace Islam “Brother, embrace Islam and enjoy the pleasures provided by the government. Moreover when you die as a Muslim, you will go to heaven where there will be streams of milk, many kinds of wine to drink and beautiful women to enjoy. If you do not embrace Islam, your body will be sewn into two.” Bhai Mati Dass replied, “I can sacrifice hundreds of such heavens for my faith. I don’t need women or wine. I see all the happiness in the path of my faith.” After his refusal, by the order of the Qazis, the executioners sawed Bhai Mati Das in two on the 8th November, 1675 CE. On the 9th of November, Bhai Dayal Das was boiled alive. On the 10th November, Bhai Sati Das was wrapped in cotton wool and was burnt alive.

Finally, on 11TH November, 1675 CE, the Guru himself was taken into the famous public spot, the Chandni Chowk of Delhi. Under imperial charge that he was preventing the spread of Islam in India, he was beheaded.

In this carnage, India saw the rise of a new nation of heroes. The martyrdom of Guru and his companions evoked the conscience of India. It was realized that there could be no understanding between brutal imperial power and a proud people wedded to a life with peace with honour. The sacrifice roused the Hindus, Sikhs and even Sufi Muslims from their passive silence and gave them the fortitude to understand the power that comes from self respect and sacrifice. In order to honour the Guru, they gave him the title of Hind ki Chador, Shield of India.

Following is a verse of poetry written by Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji in Punjabi.

Bah Jinahn di pakariye / Give up your head
Sar dije bah na chhoriye / but forsake not those whom you have undertaken to protect.
Tegh Bahadur bolya / Says Tegh Bahadur, sacrifice your life, but
Dhar payae dharma na chhoriye / relinquish not your faith

Jai Hind!

written by Ananta - The Infinity

2 Responses to “Heroes of India – Hind ki Chador: Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji”

1. a_comment Says:

June 16th, 2009 at 8:19 am
I bow my head in reverence to the Sikh Gurus.
Let me add this, initially the 10th Guru, Guru Govind Singhji asked only for the eldest son of the family to be given to the panth for the protection of Hindus. Only the eldest son carried the 5 symbols of Sikhism at that time. This eldest son in turn was supposed to give only his eldest son upon reaching maturity and so on. These Sikhs were normal Hindus following a saintly tradition started by Guru Nanakji. No wonder you can find Ram’s name 100s of time in the “Guru Granth Sahib” the holy book of Sikhs.

2. kenmirzz Says:

June 16th, 2009 at 8:43 am

Nice article.

I heard that Sikhism is a mixture of Hinduism and Sufistic Islam, is this true?

I read about the mughal emporer compelling Teg Bahadur to accept islam but the latter refused and then was executed. When i read this story around 15 years ago, i was yet a muslim and did not see the biasness and prejudice exercised by the conquerer.

This prove the myth of peaceful Islam, the religion never was a tolerant one.

Humanity is but one family.


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