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Guru Tegh Bahadur Martyred for the Kashmiri Hindus

Guru Tegh Bahadur Martyred for the Kashmiri Hindus

Author: Vaidehi Nathan
Publication: Organiser
Date: November 14, 2004
URL: http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=50&page=3

He made the supreme sacrifice for the sake of the men of faith. He gave his head but uttered not a groan. He did the deed to uphold the Dharma.

This is how Guru Gobind Singh described the supreme sacrifice by his father Guru Tegh Bahadur, for the cause of the Hindus of Kashmir. The date was 1675.

Aurangzeb was then the ruler. He was eager to convert the entire land of Hindustan into a land of Islam. He set about it in a methodical manner. After banning Hindu festivals in places of worship and in public, he turned his eyes on the Hindu centres of learning and spiritual power. Kashmir, Kurukshetra, Kashi and Haridwar came in the first list. The Brahmins in Kashmir were his chief targets.

Aurangzeb encouraged his Governor in Kashmir, Iftikhar Khan, to use all means to en masse convert the Brahmins.

This he said would set the trend for others to follow. Khan enticed the Pandits with money, land and government positions. When they did not agree, he threatened them, jailed them and promised release only if they converted to Islam. When this too did not work, with the approval and at the instance of Aurangzeb, he started killing the Kashmiri Brahmins. There are accounts of the piled up sacred threads of the killed Pandits. For centuries, the Kashmiri Hindus had been pursuing only religious and spiritual studies and had next to nothing in terms of physical training to defend and attack.

The Pandits, in a group, went to Amarnath, to seek Lord Mahadev's help. At Amarnath, one of the Pandits had a dream in which Shiva directed them to go to Punjab and seek the help of Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru. In accordance with the Divine direction, they went to Punjab. They met Guru Tegh Bahadur in May 1675, at Anandpur. The head of the Kashmiri Pandit's delegation was Kripa Ram Dutt of Mattan.

They related to the Guru their woes. The Guru assured them that he would do all he could to save them. Then he was in a pensive mood. His son Guru Gobind, who was only nine then, asked his father the reason for his pensive mood. The father explained to the son that the country was facing a situation of hardship as the non-Muslims were being tortured and forced to embrace Islam. When the son asked him what was the solution, Guru Tegh Bahadur said the remedy lay in the supreme sacrifice by a truly worthy person. Hearing this, as if speaking under a spell, the son asked, "Who is worthier than you, Father?" This spontaneous reply confirmed the resolution of Guru Tegh Bahadur, who had already thought along those lines.

He sent word to Aurangzeb through the Kashmiri Pandits that they would all convert to Islam if Guru Tegh Bahadur embraced Islam.

Word reached Aurangzeb. He issued orders to arrest Guru Tegh Bahadur and present him at his court. Meanwhile, the Guru sought the blessings of God to bestow upon him the glory of martyrdom and then he set out to Delhi. He was arrested and taken to Delhi, where he was jailed and tortured. The physical harm caused to him cannot be described. Then Aurangzeb told him to perform some miracle, so that he may be released. The Guru refused, saying he would not interfere with the Divine will.

As an ultimate test of his limits of tolerance, the Guru's devoted follower Mati Das was tied between two pillars and his body was sawed into two, head downwards. The Guru's resolve was unmoved; no, he would not give up his faith and embrace Islam.

Guru Tegh Bahadur was produced in the court of Aurangzeb twice. The first time he told Aurangzeb, "If God wishes that there should be only one religion Islam, nobody would be born a non-Muslim, and that is not the case. You are violating the orders of the Almighty and as a consequence you shall rot in hell. Can you ask your ears to do the job of the eyes and the mouth to do the job of the nose? If you can do that, then convert Hindus to Islam. Why should we renounce the Divine path and accept man-made religion and pave our way to hell?" This obviously would have enraged Aurangzeb.

Within a week of the first appearance, Guru Tegh Bahadur was brought to the court a second time, on November 11, 1675. Aurangzeb gave him a choice, one last time-Islam or the sword. The Guru said clearly, categorically, "I will not convert to Islam." As was the practice of the rulers of those days, the Guru was to be executed in public. He sat at the very spot where his disciples Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Dyala (thrown in a cauldron of boiling water) and Bhai Sati Das (wrapped in cotton wool and burnt) had been slain the previous day. There was great composure on his face. He was absorbed in prayer. It is at this very spot that Gurdwara Shishganj stands. His son, and tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh wrote in his Bachitra Natak that he laid down his life for the sake of Dharma; he sacrificed his life but not his ideal. Sar kati par sar na jhuki.

More than 325 years later, the blood-thirst in Kashmir has not been satiated. How much more will it take?

Sources: Bachitra Natak by Guru Gobind Singh, A History of Kashmir by P.N. Kaul Bamzai, Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur by Surjit Singh Chawla.

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