Memorial of mistakes: Converted Kashmir
A Bitter saga of Religious Conversions: by Narender Sehgal
Source: Kashmir information Network
Religious Conversion with Sword
- Aurangzeb, on assuming power in Delhi, took his sword out of the shield for converting entire India into a Darul Islam. For fulfilling his cruel desire one Subedar of Kashmir, Iftihar Khan, played a “bloody Holi” with the Pandits for increasing the pace of religious conversion.
When after Shahjahan fundamentalist Aurangzeb occupied the throne of Delhi he tore to shreds the well debated and so called secular policies of his predecessor Mughal rulers. He, while rejecting all the double-edged policies of the Mughal emperors, took his sword out of the shield to implement God’s dictate for converting India into an Islamic state. The entire country was shocked and shudered because of his atrocities. First of all he made Hindu scholars and the Pandit community as his target. He believed that this very community of Hindus would teach people their religion and nationalism. It is because of their preaching and teaching that the entire population of India had not become Muslims despite continuous pressure for many years. He thought that it was necessary to eliminate the Brahmin community for the elimination of that society that keeps on struggling against conversion.
This analysis of the Indian mind made by Aurangzeb became the source of encouragement for him in his evil and cruel deeds. Since Kashmir has remained India’s centre for learning and since the same land has produced great scholars, Aurangzeb entrusted the reigns of the land to dreadful Subedars for Islamisation of Kashmir.
During his 49-years rule Aurangzeb deputed 14 Subedars to Kashmir for achieving his goal of Islamisation. And among those Subedars Iftihar Khan proved the most loyal who between 1671-75 perpetrated cruelties on the Hindus of Kashmir and forced them to adopt Islam.
Kashmiri Pandits approach Guru Teg Bahadur for help
After getting frustrated by the inhuman cruelties committed by Iftihar Khan, Kashmiri Pandits decided to approach great nationalist, Shri Guru Teg Bahadur, at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab for help, about 500 Pandits, under the leadership of Pandit Kripa Ram, met Guru Teg Bahadur. Giani Gurja Singh has given an account of the appeal of Pandits to the Guru. He has written:
(Guru Teg Bahadur, son of Guru Hargobind, we have now no strength. Take us by our arm. You are world reformer, you are a prophet of Guru Nanak, just as Lord Krishna saved the honour of misfortune-stricken Draupdi and shaped and smoothened the work of his beloved Sudama, similarly you are the current Krishna to set right things. Kindly fulfil the hopes of the people. You will remain immortal).
The delegation from Kashmir, under the leadership of Pandit Kripa Ram, narrated their condition to acquaint Guru Teg Bahadur of the situation in Kashmir.
An account of this pity-inspring story has been given by Giani Gian Singh in his book “Shri Guru Granth Prakash” whose translation is published in September issue of the Weekly Panchjanya in 1991 and this describes the evil deeds of Aurangzeb and Subedar Iftihar Khan.
He has written that the Mughal of Chugtai dynasty, Aurangzeb, is highly wicked. Being drunk he has occupied the throne of Delhi. He does not recognise the power of God in relation to the non-Muslims. This cruel person has willed to do evil deeds. He wants to dye the entire India in the colour of his religion and Islamise it. This proud and arrogant person has ordered demolition of all temples of deities without any delay. He wanted to finish ancient customs and religious and pious policies. He would not allow worship of deities, ancestors, God, prayers and association with saints and sages. Propagation of Puranic tales, importance of pilgrimages and worship of deities have all been finished. On the other Aide construction of mosques and propagation of the Koran have increased in India. It is not known what shape the future will take ?
Through allurement and atrocities he has converted many Hindus to Islam. Many Hindus have been polluted after their sacred thread and vermillion were removed. This way a big misfortune has gripped the Hindus in India. It gives immense pain. There is no parallel to his cruelty. He removes 1.25 maunds of sacred thread daily. These Muslims have plundered honour of everyone. This cruel ruler had forcibly abducted many daughters of Hindus and offered them to cruel people. We all have thought over all these misfortunes and have come to your refuge for the protection of the religion of the land. Now you alone can save us.
A historical decision for protection of religion
Shri Guru Teg Bahadur became engrossed in deep thought after listening to the story of the Pandits. His face lit bright like the sun. The Kshatriya in him awakened for the protection of religion and nation. His son, Gobind Rai, enquired from him the reason of his trance. The Guru told his inquisitive son that there is need for the sacrifice of a greatman for protecting the Hindu society from the misfortune. The son of the Guru, who was dedicated to the nation and religion, had the same blood in his veins. He said instantly “Who else is more great than you ?”
With these words of his son, Gobind, Shri Guru Teg Bahadur decided to sacrifice himself for the protection of the sacred thread and vermillion (Tilak). This decision was of national importance, because it changed the course of future history.
Shri Guru Teg Bahadur sent a message to Aurangzeb that if he could convert Teg Bahadur to Islam, every Hindu will become a Muslim. On receiving this message Aurangzeb danced out of delight and ordered Subedar of Kashmir, Iftihar Khan, to stop forcible religious conversion because now it had to be easy to complete this work. Only one person had to be converted to Islam and the rest will automatically accept Islam. He sent a message to Anandpur Sahib inviting Shri Guru Teg Bahadur to Delhi.
Prior to the receipt of this invitation Guru Teg Bahadur had left for Delhi alongwith his five disciples. On reaching the periphery of Delhi all were arrested and carried to the court of Aurangzeb. There was a discussion between Aurangzeb and the Guru. The Guru roared like a lion and told the king that he could not change his religion. Forcing anyone to change religion was against humanity. The Mughal ruler is irreligious by following an irreligious path. Honouring his dictates and orders is a deep dishonour for the entire country of India and for the vast Hindu society. He told him that he opposed, strongly, clearly and with determination these evil deeds.
Aurangzeb felt losing ground under his feet on seeing the courage and strong religious faith of Guru Teg Bahadur. Aurangzeb flared up and gave two options to the Guru – either death or adoption of Islam.
Great love for Hindu religion
The Guru opted for the option of death for sacrificing his life for the protection of nation and religion. And for this very purpose he had come from Anandpur Sahib to Delhi. The desire of the Guru and his expression of courage finds an account in the book “Shri Guru Pratap Suraj”.
(On hearing Aurangzeb the brave Guru Teg Bahadur said: “We belong to Hindu religion. How can we give up our highly dear Hindu religion ? This Hindu religion is a source of happiness in this and the other world. No other religion seems to be equal to Hindu religion. Those having mean and unwise bent of mind and give up this religion are wicked and base. Such people suffer greatly in this world and even Yamraj (god of death) does not get satisfied while punishing them. We are wise and learned. Why should we forsake Hindu religion ? We have a permanent commitment and love for protecting our religion”.
This gave birth to a period of cruelty on Guru Teg Bahadur and his colleagues. Tieing to a hot pillar, throwing hot sand on their bodies, wounding their bodies and other intolerable pains became a routine. And whenever anyone was not made unstable, orders were issued to kill them mercilessly. As per the Fatwah (decree) of the royal Qazi the Gurus first associate, Bhai Dayal, was thrown in a boiling pot and killed. The second associate Bhai Sati Das, was packed in a bale of cotton which was set ablaze and the third one, Bhai Mati Das, was sawed to death. After the immortal sacrifice of these three persons, Shri Guru Teg Bahadur was beheaded. Before his assassination the Guru had recited the first five lines of the sacred book Japuji. This way the name of this great nationalist is immortal in the pages of history for having smashed the arrogance of Aurangzeb.
Guru Teg Badaur treats this misery as national tragedy
This great nationalist sacrificed everything on the altar of India, its religion and its nationalist life values. He gave a call for the entire Hindu society to unite and get strong for preserving and protecting their religion. On the request of Kashmiri Hindus a greatman of Punjab went to Delhi and sacrificed his head. This by itself is an example of basic unity of our nation. No one, at that time, had said that he being a Panjabi why should he die for Kashmiri. There was no dirty game of votes and appeasement at that time. There was no danger of losing the Muslim vote bank through the sacrifice of Guru Teg Bahadur.
Treating the cries of 500 Kashmiris as the pain and misfortune of the entire Hindu society and India he sacrified in the interest of the nation. He did not treat the problem of Kashmir as an ordinary national issue. It was really an image of the tragedy of the entire nation. Thus the woeful tale of 500 Kashmiri Pandits was given national importance by the Guru who sacrificed himself to fulfil the national duty. But today the woeful plight of three lakh Kashmiri Hindus, who have migrated from the valley, could not achieve national importance. Possibly there is no great nationalist and saviour of religion like Guru Teg Bahadur in India at present. Everybody is a victim of the policy of “vote bank” and appeasement and are busy in baking their bread in the naming oven of Kashmir problem. The traders of Muslim “vote bank” not only handed over Kashmir to terrorists in the interest of their self-interest but also wasted the sacrifice of Guru Teg Bahadur for Kashmir. The situation has reached a stage where anyone having solid, clear and right outlook on the security of Kashmir are being dubbed as anti-Muslim. It means that the importance of the Muslim vote bank is greater than the security of Kashmir and integrity of the country.
How strange it looks: the Guru who sacrificed himself for the safety of Kashmiri Panditis, the so called and disloyal followers of the same Guru are now supporting those who are the cause for the current disaster of Kashmiri Pandits. What else can be the national tragedy and misfortune that once again Kashmir is a victim of the schemes of Aurangzeb ? At that time 500 Kashmiri Pandits had found Guru Teg Bahadur but today three lakh Kashmiri Pandits are helpless in finding any saviour of religion.
On receiving the news about the sacrifice of Guru Teg Bahadur his son, Shri Guru Gobind Singh, had said:
“tilak janju raakhaa prabh taakaa keeno bado kalu mahi saaka —- “
Guru Teg Bahadur’s religious steadfastness and his nationalism and his unique amd matchless sacrifice would be remembered for ages. It was a great deed for the protection of Hindu society, nation and the permanent values of humanity. With this unique sacrifice of Guru Teg Bahadur the rule of Aurangzeb started experiencing tremors. This sacrifice led to the wave of Hindutva, which swept the entire India, and direction was given to this wave by Guru Gobind Singh in Punjab, Rana Raj Singh in Rajasthan, Shiva Ji in the south and Chatrasal in the east. A united revolt was launched against the cruel Aurangzeb.
Aurangzeb had himself, before his death, prepared the coffin for the Mughal rule through his fundamentalist and cruel dictatorial policies. After him the Mughal rule started witnessing continuous fall. Though many states in India had declared independence, Kashmir continued to remain under the Mughal rule. In Kashmir Mir Ahmed Khan was running the administration as Naib Subedar. His policies were liberal towards Hindus but the process of religious conversion continued with a slow pace.
Muhata Khan’s dangerous resolution
Muhata Khan, a Muslim Sardar, was an influential person in the court of Bahadur Shah, who succeeded Aurangzeb on the throne of Delhi. He was a Kashmiri but having remained out of the valley for a long time he had established contact with the Mughal ruler in Delhi. He had become an owner of an estate in Delhi because of the benevolence of Bahadur Shah. But when he lost his estate after the death of Bahadur Shah he returned to Kashmir. He requested Subedar Mir Ahmed Khan to give up his liberal policy. He established an honourable place in the Muslim society becauge of his knowledge of Islam. Gradually he started criticising the basic principles of Hindu religion, religious customs in Kashmir. In his eyes conversion of Hindus to Islam in any fashion was the order of God. That is why he got fully engaged in this work. He objected to the grant of equal rights to Hindus by the Subedar. That human approach and policy was intolerable for him.
Khwaja Ajim Khan has given information about the dangerous resolution Muhata Khan submitted to the Subedar of Kashmir. In his book “History of Kashmir” Ajim Khan has said that Muhata Khan was a scholar of Islamic laws. Once he had bitterly criticised the liberal policies of Subedar Mir Ahmed Khan towards Hindus. He had made it clear that progress of Hindus was not tolerable in any way. In this context he submitted the following proposals to the Subedar.
1. Hindus should not be allowed to ride a horse. 2. They should not wear “jama” (a type of Mughal dress). 3 . They should nat handle weapons. 4. They should not visit gardens. 5. They should not put vermillion (Tilak) on their forehead. 6. Their wards should not be given any education.
The Subedar rejected all the proposals of Muhata Khan. He instructed Muhata Khan to remain away from such activities.
Attack on Hindu function
But Muhata Khan decided to have his way for achieving his aim by taking law in his hands. He set up a centre of his activities in a mosque. He incited people, who used to come for Nimaz, for remaining rigid on Islam and bring the idol worshippers within the ambit of Islamic principles. Having been influenced by his powerful religious discourses the Muslim youth decided to obey his instructions. Muhata Khan issued instructions for implementing his above mentioned resolutions on Hindus. The result was that any Hindu found with vermillion (Tilak) on his forehead would be smashed. Hindus could no longer ride horses and wearing good dresses was banned for them.
At that time an attack on a famous trader, Majlis Rai Chopra, took a historical turn. Arrangements for a luncheon in connection with a religious function were made by Majlis Rai. When thousands of Hindus were having their lunch in a garden Muhata Khan, with a band of bigots, attacked them with weapons. Majlis Rai managed to escape and took shelter in the house of Mir Ahmed Shah. But that house too was gheroad and surrounded by the men of Muhata Khan. Mir Ahmed Khan escaped from a secret door and took refuge in a nearby cantonment. He waged a battle, with the help of a company of troops, against Muhata Khan but was defeated. Muhata Khan arrested and iailed this supporter of Hindus and assumed power himself.
Majlis Rai was killed mercilessly and all his property was oonfiscated. It was followed by shameless atrocities on the Hindus. There was turmoil among the Hindu families. Many Hindus were converted to Islam in this atmosphere of terror.
Muslims gave shelter to Hindus
But there was no impact of the atmosphere on the common Muslims. Muhata Khan’s influence was limited to the Muslims belonging to the rich and the upper class.
According to one historian, Anand Rai Pahalwan, the attack on Majlis Rai is an indication of the class struggle. Common Hindus were tormented because their link with him (Majlis Rai) was based on religion and not money. But a big number of common Muslims would participate in this function and festival. One non-Muslim historian has written that many Muslims gave shelter to innumerable Hindus in their houses till the situation improved.
Muhata Khan tormented Hindus but he did not spare those Muslirns who gave assistance to Hindus in any way. There were many Muslims officers, who, while being on key Government posts, had given help to their Hindu colleagues. And when this section of the Muslims became victim of the atrocities of Muhata Khan, they started getting annoyed. The result was that this sectien sounded the bugle of revolt.
Anarchy gripped the state and one Muslim sardar beheaded Muhata Khan with his sword.
Two liberal Subedars, Abdus Samad and Inayat Khan
After this the Mughal emperor, Mohammed Shah, sent four to five Subedars, one after the other, to Kashmir but no one was able to control anarchy, communalism and uncertain political situation. Ultimately it was left to Subedar Abdus Samad to control the situation in Kashmir. He made a vigorous effort for resettling uprooted Hindus. They were given monetary help from the state exchequer. They were given posts in the government. After his Subedar Barkae Khan too installed many Pandits on high Government posts. This liberal Subedar appointed one scholar Pandit, Mukand Ram Kar, as his chief advisor. After giving him major powers, Barkat Khan started a new chapter of strength and co-existence in Kashmir’s history.
During this era there was hegemony of Kashmiri Pandits in the Delhi Mughal court. But despite this whenever Mughal emperors, Muslim Subedars or sardars, were obsessed by bigotry they started massacre of their trusted Hindu friends. There are many instances in support of their discriminatory attitude and cruel activities. The leaders of Kashmiri Pandits, settled in Delhi and Agra, Jairam Bhan, had great influence in DeIhi Durbar. Under this influence he worked for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Hindus and for the education of their children. But one Hindu, being jealous of his influence, lodged a complaint against him in Delhi Durbar. Dubbing him as an enemy of the Muslims, he poisoned the ears of Kamaruddin, a minister of Emperor Mohammed Shah. Pandit Bhan was arrested and killed through deceit. His two sons were also jailed.
Under the instructions from Delhi Durbar the then Subedar of Kashmir, Inayatullah Khan, was asked to confiscate the property of Jairam Bhan in the valley. But Inayatulla alerted Pandit Bhan’s brothers before implementing the court order. As a result of it they were saved and so was saved their property.
During the closing days of the rule of Mohammad Shah the invasion of an Afghan Sardar, Nadir Shah, had its impact on Kashmir too. Subedars of Kashmir refused to accept the leadership of Delhi Durbar. The administration became victim of local groupism and once again Kashmiris were pushed to the abyss of deep darkness.
Kashmir a land of lust and tour in the eyes of Mughal Kings
If an analysis is made on the impact of the rule of the Mughals on Kashmir it is clear that except for Aurangzeb Kashmir remained peaceful under the Mughal reign. During the Mughals people got relief and Kashmiri Hindus lived honourably. Even if these facts are correct, deep probe in the era reveals many other details.
The Mughal emperors would live in Delhi. They would come to Kashmir with their harem for pleasure trips. Kashmir for them was nothing else than a place for pleasure trips.
According to a known scholar and writer, Mr. Vachnesh Tripathi, eras went on changing. The Kashmir which was once famous for its sanctity as a pilgrimage and on whose soil baching of Sanskrit and fruitful discourses of Sanskrit scholars had given importance in life and which was treated with devotion by Prince Darashikov, the same Kashmir became a spot for pleasure for the Mughal kings. The Shalimar Bagh was known for being a garden where Jehangir and Noor Jahan would give shape to their lust and pleasures. As such Kashmir was turned into a centre for pleasure and luxury and from that very period India’s freedom and integrity was jolted.
Mughal kings ruled Kashmir from Delhi through their Subedars. These Subedars had two groups. One was influenced by the religion of “Din Illahi” propounded by Akbar and they allowed the cool breeze of goodwill to blow over the verdant vales of Kashmir. But the other group came under the influence of Akbar’s practice of organising programmes for sensuous delights and “Meena Bazaar” type pleasure outlook. As such they patronised such shameless and uncivilised activities in Kashmir and tormented Hindu women. There is a big question mark on the personality of Akbar because as a secular he patronised both the “Meena Bazaar” and “Din Illahi”, two contradictory trends.
Kashmir felt the impact of these two opinions and trends. The result was that while roads were constructed, mosques were built but no one repented over the demolition and destruction of temples and idols by the Muslim sultans. No renovation of temples and shrines was carried out. None promoted ancient culture of Kashmir through schools and there was no system under which a Kashmiri Hindu would remain a Hindu. The eyes of the Mughal rulers remained fixed on the dreams of “Darul Islam” and “Islamic Millat”. As a result of it the Hindutva which earlier was being poisoned to death was now being lured to sleep through sweet lullabies.