Islam got entrenched in India due to multiple reasons. The most prominent of all were federalism, local treachery, lack of aggressive spirit and outdated military tactics. Almost every Hindu feudal ruler looked towards other side when his neighbor was under attack. Many often someone close to the Hindu ruler was won over by Muslims to defect and sabotage. Hindu warriors did not resort to offensive action even when situation was favorable. They remained defensive and allowed the invader to choose his time and direction of attack. Instead of offering wider frontage, Hindus would assemble at one place and let the invader launch a concentrated attack. Hindus lacked mobility, shrewdness to anticipate enemy moves while Muslims were cunning and did not shy from adopting ruthless and deceitfulness means. Hindus lacked initiative and did not learn from their defeat after defeat and repeated same mistakes. Prithviraj Chauhan and later several Rajputs were the victims of outdated military tactics despite their individual valor. Thus Hindu paid heavily for their own neglect and are continuing in the same fashion.
Enslaving of Hindus
Apart from actual killing on the battlefield, millions of Hindus disappeared by way of enslavement. Slave markets in Baghdad and Samarkand were flooded with Hindus. Many of the slaves died of hardship. The mountain range Hindu Koh, (Indian mountain), was re-named Hindu Kush, (Hindu-killer), when on a cold night a hundred thousand Hindu captives died during transportation to Central Asia by Timur. Slaves were always subjected to inhuman treatment such as whipping, amputation of limbs, sexual assault and whatever else the master could think of. Their life had no meaning. They were subjected to ill-treatment till they died or converted to Islam. Because of conversions the numbers of Muslim community swelled.
Destruction of Temples
Many prominent Hindu temples were desecrated and destroyed. Somnath temple on the coast of Gujarat was plundered and destroyed. The Vishnu temple was replaced with the Alamgir mosque at Benares, and The Treta-Ka-Thakur (Lord Rama) temple in Ayodhya was demolished and Babri Masjid was erected on its debris. This is just to mention the few, as about over 63000 temples all over India were destroyed, or converted in to mosques. Many Hindu buildings like Dhruva Stambha at Mehroli (Delhi) and Tajo Mahalya at Agra were usurped and converted to Muslim monuments. Today every ancient site of temple is either fully usurped by some Islamic shrine or is being shared by Muslim encroachment.
Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707) topped the list. The number of temples destroyed under his orders is counted in four figures. He ordered all temples destroyed such as the Kashi Vishvanath that was one of the most sacred temples, and a center of Hindu learning. He had mosques built on a number of cleared temples sites. All other Hindu sacred places within his reach also suffered destruction, and mosques were built upon them. Krishna’s birth temple in Mathura was desecrated by cow slaughter and a mosque was built over it. Aurangzeb did not stop at destroying temples; the worshippers were also wiped-out. He had his own brother, Dara Shikoh, beheaded for showing little interest in Hindu religion.
Islamic Conversion of India
Islamic Conversion of India continued for eight centuries as under:-
Language – Sanskrit went out of use. Arabic and Persian came to dominate royal court. After some competition between the two, Persian replaced Arabic but most of the converted could not grasp the same. Thus a new language emerged by the name of Hindvi. That was a mixture of Persian and some Sanskrit words. Muslims wrote Hindvi in Persian script and called that Urdu, while Hindus used Devnagri script and called that language Hindi. Urdu derived its vocabulary from Persian and Arabic, while Hindi had her foundation in Sanskrit.
Places and Palaces – Ancient cities were renamed. Prayag and Ayodhya were made Allahabad and Faizabad. From the booty taken from Temples and Jazia Tax, Muslim rulers maintained large harems, built mosques and tombs for their dead. The ‘great builder’ Shahjehan kept more than seven hundred concubines, and emptied his coffers in building palaces for himself, including the Taj Mahal, a mausoleum, built for the burial of his wife, who had died far away long ago. On the basis of records made in ‘Badshahnama’, the official chronicle of Shahjehan, and other archeological evidence, Taj Mahal is now suspected to be a Hindu building ‘Tajo Mahalya’, which had been allegedly usurped by the Emperor from one of his Hindu nobles Mirza Raja Jai Singh.
Conversions – Many Hindu family names can be found in India among Muslim families. Some prominent surnames are Suri, Bakshi, Malik, and Desai. Those were basically Hindus that converted to Islam in the past. There is no case where any Muslims was converted to Hindu faith. Hindus maintained that one had to be a Hindu by birth. Thus conversions were never sought.
But Hindu identity withstood
Although Muslim rulers changed the identity of cities and places but they failed to obliterate the identity of the country. India remained to be the land of Hindus. Every Muslim ruler called the country as Hindustan and preferred to be addressed as Shahansha -e – Hind or Sultan –e- Mumalkat-e- Hindostan. Many of the Muslim Emperors extended their rule up to Afghanistan, but they could not shift their capital out of India or merged India with Afghanistan.
This aspect is pertinent that India’s identity remained tied with Hindus only. Muslims tried hard to make India Muslim dominated but India continued to be Hindustan till 1947. They were Muslims when compared to Hindus but when compared to outsiders they remained owners of Hindustan.
Hindu Survival Adaptations
The Hindu adaptations for survival were necessity-dependent. They had to survive under nearly impossible conditions to save Hindu girls from Muslim loot, raid, plunder, and rape, among other things.
- Some Hindu texts escaped destruction as the same went underground, like Bhrigu Samhita. It was a compendium of all possible horoscopes to correctly predict the life events of every individual, provided, the sheet matching the time and place of birth of the individual could be traced within the bunch. The book is still available in parts with certain families practicing astrology in North India.
- As an escape route from depression and humiliation, Brahmins, saints and poets devoted themselves to Hindu deities instead of being called the slaves of Muslims. They suffixed their name with ‘daas’ of their chosen deity such as Ram Dass, Krishna Dass or something like that.
- From the practice of ‘Karamyoga’ they turned to ‘Bhaktiyoga’ to find some solace, while they lived in an environment polluted by insecurity, insult and fear.
- Some sought spiritual guidance from humanized gods like Rama and Krishna; while others like Sant Kabir and Guru Nanak sought salvation in abstract from of God, and vainly tried for Hindu Muslim synthesis. Subsequently such individualized sects expanded and carved their own distinct identifying rituals. Primarily, they were Hindu initiatives for rapprochement, and have remained so. However they could not bring any change in absolutely fundamentalist Islamic mindset.
Hindus had to pay terrible price in order to survive. Although many Hindus rulers individually continued their military struggle to resist Muslim rule but collectively due to the selfishness of traitors among them, they failed to forge any united resistance.
Record of Births and Dead
Brahmins confined their activities and affiliated themselves to certain geographical areas. They maintained records of births, deaths and other events in respect of their client families at pilgrim centers at Haridwar, Varanasi, Ujjain and Nashik. Even today any Hindu can approach such places to trace out the names of their ancestors and allied records more than five generations backward, provided ancestors had visited the pilgrim center during their life span and had updated the data. Fortunately, at certain places those records are now being computerized. Unfortunately the younger generation is unaware of it and patronage is lacking.
Chand K Sharma
(Next: Splashes – 61/72 – Hindu Resistance to Islam)