Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dharam Dee Chaadar - Sri Guru Teg Bahadar Jee... (Part 1)

ਬਾਹੇ ਜਿਨਾ ਦੀ ਪਕੜੀਐ ਸਿਰੁ ਦੀਜੈ ਬਾਹੇ ਨ ਛੋੜੀਐ |
ਤੇਗ ਬਹਾਦਰ ਬੋਲਿਆ ਧਰਿ ਮਈਐ ਧਰਮ ਨ ਛੋੜੀਐ |
(ਕਵੀ ਦੇ ਬੋਲ)
Give up your head, but forsake not those whom you have undertaken to protect. Says Guru Tegh Bahadur Sacrifice your life, but relinquish not your faith.” (poet’s word) 

"Guru Teg Bahadur's martyrdom was the first ever martyrdom for human rights in the world". (Professor Noel King, University of California) 


Aurangzeb's reign of terror 
Aurangzeb ruled India from 1658 to 1707. In the 49 years of his rule, Kashmir had 14 governors. He tried to make the Mughal state a Muslim nation, similar to other Islam invaders who had invaded other countries. In November 1665 he issued orders to ban the celebration of Holi and Diwali. In 1668 he banned the holding of Hindu festivals in pilgrimage centres. In 1668 he banned music and prosecuted musicians. Taxes were imposed on Hindus in almost every field. Pilgrim tax was imposed and Jizya (tax for non-Muslims) was re-imposed. Kashmir and Banaras, the two Hindu religious centres in India where targeted in the campaign. According to Macauliffe (The Sikh Religion, Vol. IV, p. 369): "The experiment of wholesale conversion was first tried in Kashmir. The Kashmiri Pandits were well known for their scholarship and converting them to Islam would encourage other Hindus to embrace Islam. Surrounded as they were with Muslim lands, they could be threatened with war and complete annihilation. The peaceful Kashmiris could not be expected to resist the Muslim military might. The emperor also felt that he might succeed in tempting the Brahmins from Kashmir into accepting Islam by promises of money and government appointments.” Iftikhar Khan (also known as Sher Afghan Kan), the Governor of Kashmir from 1671 to 1675 began in full zeal to terrorise the non-Muslims with force conversions, death, imprisonment and destruction of their schools, temples and homes.

Pandit Kirpa Raam Jee
The Hindu leaders didn't know who to turn to. The leadership of the Brahmins first turned to the Rajputs, the Hindu kings. However, they declined to help fearing the wrath of Aurganzeb. The Brahmins then turned to their gods. However, even their gods were silent and didn't come to their aid. Having failed to secure help from anywhere, Pandit Kirpa Raam jee asked the Brahmin leadership to approach Guru Teg Bahadar jee. Pandit Kirpa Raam jee of Mattan (Kashmir) was a Sikh of Guru Teg Bahadar jee. He came from a family of scholars (Pandits). His forefather, Pandit Brahm Daas had first met Guru Nanak Dev jee in 1517 in Mattan on their third Udaasi (journey) and become a Sikh. His grandfather, Pandit Narain Daas met Guru Hargobind Sahib jee in Sri Nagar, Kashmir and was blessed by the Guru. His father, Pandit Arroo Raam jee was blessed by Guru Har Rai jee in 1660 in Kashmir. Pandit Kirpa Raam jee had done Sangat with Guru Teg Bahadar jee and spent time with Guru jee. For this reason he shared with the other Brahmins that if there is anyone who can save you, it is Guru Teg Bahadar jee. Having faith in Pandit Kirpa Raam jee, 16 Head Brahmins who were leaders from the different main Hindu centres across India and a group of 500 normal Brahmins from Kashmir followed him to Anandpur Sahib.

Plea to the Guru
The 16 Hindu Brahmins representing the major Hindu centres and 500 Kashmiri Brahmins led by Pandit Kirpa Raam jee arrived at Anandpur Sahib on 25th May 1675. The Brahmins took off their Janeoos (sacred threads) and placed it before Guru jee and falling it his feet. They asked him to save their people, religion, culture, mother tongue, and identity. They shared their stories of horror and how Guru Teg Bahadar jee was their only hope for their identity, religion and culture to survive. Guru Sahib said, "A great soul needs to give a sacrifice. Blood is needed. The conscience of the people of this land has become ill. The honour of the people has died. It requires blood through which Naam flows to be donated so that Aurangzeb's rule will break." At the age of 9, Sri Gobind Rai jee, said to his father, "Whose blood can be more pure than yours. Who better than you to give the sacrifice." Guru jee happily accepted sacrificing himself and asked the Brahmins to tell Aurangzeb that if he bring the Sikh Guru to become a Muslim then they will follow in converting.

The challenge
As Aurangzeb was staying for a few days at Lahore on his way back to Delhi from Hasan Abdal, therefore, the Kashmiri Pandits submitted their petition at Lahore through Zalim Khan, the Governor. The Hindu Brahmins told Aurangzeb that that they are behind Guru Teg Bahadar jee and said, "Whatever the Guru is, we will become." The petition was submitted. "The Emperor was highly gratified to read it and called the Qazis and Maulvis in a durbar and joyfully announced the contents of the petition to them. Of course they all received the tiding with acclamation. He told the Pundits that he cheerfully accepted the condition laid down. He sent them back to Kashmir, making a suitable arrangement for their return journey. He wrote to Iftikhar Khan, Governor of Kashmir, to desist from forcible proselytising; for he said, he was now satisfied that no more force was needed for attaining the object in view."  (P. N. Kaul Bamzai: A History of Kashmir, p. 555). Guru jee was offered the title of 'Peeran Peer (Holiest of Holy) of Hindustan' if he converted to Islam. Guru jee refused the offer.

To be continued...

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