शुक्रवार, 25 मार्च 2011

Why & How Sikh Gurus Sacrificed by Mughals

Martyrdom of Guru Arjan

During the Guruship of Guru Arjan many thousands of the native people had began to follow the teachings of Sikhism and both the Hindus and those who had converted to or been born as Muslims were crowding into Govindwal (the centre of the Sikhs during the late 1500s) where they were soon becoming Sikhs.

The Mughal clergy, who had angry of the popularity and the growing following of the Sikh Gurus, but after the death of Akbar in 1605, in his son Jahangir become the emperor. Jahangir was a fundamentalist Muslim who soon was influenced with the idea of turning the whole of Hindustan (as the Mughals called their kingdom in Northwest India) into an Islamic State. The powerful Ulemas associated with the Mughal Court, having seen their own power base rapidly disappearing under the influence of Guru Arjan, joined the hands in their attempt to influence Jahangir into arresting Guru Arjan, hoping to plunge a dagger into the heart of Sikhi.

Jahangir, with his own jealousies, promptly obliged the enemies of Guru Sahib. Many baseless allegations were soon levelled against the Guru; the old claim that the Sikh Granth defamed the Muslim religions was leveled again; it was also claimed that the rebellious Khusrau, Jahangir's son who Akbar and many nobles of his Darbar (court) saw as a more fitting Emperor, worthy of ruling India, more than the wine loving, opium taking Jahangir, had been aided by Guru Arjan.

But in the war of succession Jahangir had won and Khusrau had managed to hold onto Punjab alone. Diwan Chandu Shah (who had finally warmed to a marriage of his daughter with Guru Arjan's son Hargobind, had lost no anger when his proposal had been refused by Guru Arun Dev ji) went to Jahangir and "filled his ear with poison against the Guru".

This is what Emperor Jahangir had written in his diary the "Tuzuk-i-Jahagiri" ( "Memoirs of Jahangir"):

"In Govindwal, which is on the river Biyah (Beas), there was a Hindu named Arjun, in the garments of sainthood and sanctity, so much so that he had captured many of the simple-hearted of the Hindus, and even of the ignorant and foolish followers of Islam, by his ways and manners, and they had loudly sounded the drum of his holiness. They called him Guru, and from all sides stupid people crowded to worship and manifest complete faith in him. For three or four generations (of spiritual successors) they had kept this shop warm. Many times it occurred to me to put a stop to this vain affair or to bring him into the assembly of the people of Islam.

At last when Khusrau passed along this road this insignificant fellow proposed to wait upon him. Khusrau happened to halt at the place where he was, and he came out and did homage to him. He behaved to Khusrau in certain special ways, and made on his forehead a finger-mark in saffron, which the Hinduwan (the people of India) call qashqa, (Tilak) and is considered propitious. When this came to my ears and I clearly understood his folly, I ordered them to produce him and handed over his houses, dwelling-places, and children to Murtaza Khan, and having confiscated his property commanded that he should be put to death."

Accordingly in late May 1606, Guru Arjan Dev was arrested and brought to Lahore where He was subjected to severe torture. He was made to sit on a burning hot plate after which red hot sand was poured over his head and body. After several days, Guru Arjan Dev was allowed to take a cooling bath in the nearby river, Ravi.

As thousands watched the Guru, he entered the river never to be seen again. Thus Guru Sahib embraced martyrdom on Jeth Sudi 4th (1st Harh) Samvat 1663, (May 16, 1606).

The martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib radically changed the entire character of Sikhism from a passive people to courageous saint soldiers.

Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur

An extremely important event in Sikh history that had a profound impact on the future direction of Sikhism, the religion of theSikhs. Guru Tegh Bahadar undertook the supreme sacrifice for the protection of the most fundamental of human rights - the right of a person to freely practice his or her religion without interference or hindrance. In the modern day we tend to take this freedom for granted – but in 1675, millions of people were denied this basic right.

However, what is even more astonishing is the fact that the Guru was not protecting the right of the Sikhs to practise their religion but instead the rights of non-Sikh peace-loving people from Kashmir. These people from Kashmir were very respectedHindus who were being converted to Islam under the threat of death by the "Muslim" Emperor, Aurangzeb. In 1669, the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb instead a policy of religious persecution against non-Muslims. This caused large-scale demoralisation, fear and panic among the people.

The commitment by the Sikh Guru to protect and support the liberty of all the people of a country was unprecedented. This type of supreme sacrifice had never previously been recorded in human history. On May 25, 1675 in answer to an appeal of a large group of revered Kashmiri Pandits, Guru Tegh Bahadur made the momentous decision that has forever changed the level of moral commitment, dedication and sacrifice required by followers of God. The Guru made this critical decision to risk laying down his life if necessary to protect the right of the Hindus to follow their religion freely without interference or duress.

Emperor Aurangzeb was a barbaric ruler of the Mughal Dynasty who came to power in 1658 and ruled for 49 years until his death in 1707. When he came to power in 1658, he killed or had killed his three brothers and imprisoned his father and forcibly converted Lakhs (hundreds of thousands) of Hindus to Islam. He is commonly considered the last of the "grand" Mughal emperors. His last 25 years were spent in the Deccan fighting a war of attrition against the Marathas which practically bankrupted the Mughal Empire, which never rose again to its onetime splendour. Thought the succeeding Mughal Emperors were even more blood thirsty in their attempts to wipe out the Hindu and Sikh religions, they would soon fall to the perhaps, greater atrocities of the Persians, Afgaanis and the mixed blessings of the British conquerors that completed their demise.

The Kashmiri Pandits were Hindus renowned for their high intellect and education. They had a good relationship with the Sikhs and their Gurus. Guru Nanak Dev met Pandit Brahm Das who was an ancestor of Pandit Kripa Ram in Mattan. Kripa Ram had known the Ninth Guru and also taught Sanskrit classics to the young Gobind Rai. During the reign of Jehangir, Guru Hargobind came to Srinagar and met Kashmiri saintess Mata Bagh Bari, who lived at Rainawari. It is interesting to note that Mata Bagya Bari's spiritual interaction with the sixth Sikh Guru is incredibly well-preserved in the Sikh religious tradition. In Pandit tradition Mata Bagya Bari is a person renowned for her high spiritual merits.

In early 1675, the Kashmiri Pandits approached Guru Tegh Bahadar to seek his assistance in their acute hour of need. These Hindus from Kashmir had been given a deadline by Emperor Aurangzeb to convert to Islam or be killed. Pandit Kripa Ram with his large delegation met Guru Tegh Bahadar at Chak Nanki, Kahlur (now known as Anandpur Sahib). He explained their dilemma to the Guru in the open Sangat at the place where today stands Gurdwara Manji Sahib, in Anandpur Sahib.

"The Emperor had given us some time to decide to convert to Islam or to be executed. The time for deciding has expired. Now, we have to convert to Islam or die. What shall we do? Guru ji, we have no one else to turn to. We don't have an army to protect us - We need your help. Please assist us", said Kripa Ram.

Guru ji addressed the Pandits, "Go and tell Aurangzeb that if he can convert Guru Tegh Bahadar to Islam, they will all convert. Otherwise he should leave them alone"

The Pandits were delighted that a solution was found and duly informed Emperor Aurangzeb of the decision. Aurangzeb was delighted that by converting one person, he would without any further delay have the conversion of many 1000's to Islam. Accordingly he summoned his officers to arrest Guru Tegh Bahadar.

In the summer of 1675, the Guru, along with some of his companions were finally brought to Delhi and asked to convert to Islam or else face the penalty of death. Guru ji was also asked to perform a miracle. Guru Tegh Bahadur averred that he would rather sacrifice his life than give up his faith and his freedom or belief or perform a miracle. Thus, under Aurangzeb's orders, Guru ji and his companions were tortured. The Guru was chained and imprisoned in a cage and was tortured in the cruellest and the most inhuman ways for five long days. In order to terrorise him further into submission, one of his distinguished devotees (Bhai Mati Das) was sawn alive, another (Bhai Dyal Das) was boiled in the cauldron and the third (Bhai Sati Das) was roasted alive before the Guru.

Finally, the Guru himself was beheaded, under imperial warrant, in broad daylight, in the middle of a public square, the most prominent public place in India, called Chandni Chowk, of Delhi, on the charge that he was a stumbling block preventing the spread of Islam in the Indian subcontinent. The exact location of the beheading is marked by Gurdwara Sis Ganj in Delhi. His martyrdom was yet another challenge to the Sikh conscience. It was then realized that there could be no understanding between an insensate power imbrued with blood and a proud people wedded to a life of peace with honour. The sacrifice roused the Hindus from their passive silence and gave them the fortitude to understand the power that comes from self-respect and sacrifice. Guru Tegh Bahadur thus earned the affectionate title of "Hind-di-Chadar" or the Shield of India.

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