India was neither a no man’s land, nor a primitive country. Being a superior and developed civilization as compared to Islamic barbarians, Hindus by and large continued resisting the invasion on their country by Muslims, who were the anti-thesis to their concept of living according to doctrine of Live and let live. Islam practiced live, but did not let others live. It remained opposed to Hinduism in every way and both remained at loggerheads. Whenever opportunity arrived for Hindus, attempts were made to dislodge Islamic rule from India. The struggle did have ups and downs.
Counter efforts by Hindus
Introductory account of some prominent Hindu warriors who tried to dislodge Islamic rule are given below:-
- Rana Sangram Singh of Chittod was near to defeat Babur in the battle of Kanhua, but due to treacherous conduct of one Hindu chieftain by name of Shiladittya, the Rana ultimately lost the opportunity.
- Hemchandra Vikramadittya, came to occupy Delhi after the fall of Suri dynasty. He tried to prevent Akbar occupying the seat of power after the sudden death of Emperor Humayon. He sought help from Rajputs to dislodge Mughals from India but they declined to fight under him due to their caste pride. Still he was near victory, but fell victim to a chance arrow that pierced his eye and Hindus suffered a defeat at the hands of Akbar in second battle of Panipat.
- Maharana Pratap, the grandson of Rana Sangram Singh kept the freedom flame burning during the life time of Akbar, but due to division amongst Rajputs he also did not succeed much. Rajputs were used by Mughals to subdue Hindu freedom fighters, but due to lack of farsightedness, most of the time, they fought against their own countrymen.
- Raja Krishnadev Raya of Vijay Nagar Empire in the south, kept Hindu flag flying in the face of opposition from Islamic Sultans of Bahmini state. But there also, Raja Krishnadev Raya lost due to back stabbing from one of his own family members. With him the prosperous Vijaynagar Empire was raised to ground by united petty chieftains of Bahmani.
- Chattrapati Shiva ji Raje rose to power in south, but was lured into treaty by Aurangzeb, through Mirza Raja Jai Singh. He was invited to visit Delhi but was imprisoned there. However, he escaped and finally succeeded to establish himself as Chhattrapati Hindu Samrat in the face of Aurangzeb. After his death, Aurangzeb defeated his son Shambhaji through treachery. Shambhaji was tortured to death.
- Guru Gobind Singh raised the sagging morale of Hindus and motivated them to stand against the onslaught of Mughals, but local Hindu chieftains did not cooperate. Treacherously they sided with Mughals, or stayed aloof. While going to South Guru Gobind Singh was stealthily stabbed by a Pathan, whose life the Guru had saved in the past. The Guru subsequently succumbed to the wounds at Nandhed in Maharashtra.
- Banda Bahadur Singh was appointed by Guru Gobind Singh to continue resistance against the onslaught of Mughals. He successfully avenged the atrocities committed by Mughals against Hindus, but he was also let down by saboteurs within. He was captured and was given a tortuous death.
Immediately after becoming Emperor in 1657, Aurangzeb vigorously resumed Islamization of India, with Brahmins as primary-target. He had been convinced by his clerics that once Brahmins accepted Islam, rest of Hindus would follow suit.
In utter desperation, the Brahmins of Kashmir approached Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru of Sikhs, for guidance and help. Guru Tegh Bahadur entrusted Guru-Dom seat to his son Govind Rai, and proceeded to Delhi, to plead with Aurangzeb. Guru Tegh Bahadur and his companions were asked to convert to Islam. Upon refusal, all of them were arrested, imprisoned, and tortured. Red-Hot Sand was poured over Guru Tegh Bahadur’s head, but he did not flinch and refused to convert to Islam. Guru Tegh Bahadur sacrificed his life for Dharma and the freedom of his people as he was beheaded at Chandni Chowk in Delhi.
Birth of Khalsa
After the martyrdom of his father, Govind Rai became the tenth Guru of Sikhs at very young age. On 30 March 1699, Guru Govind Rai delivered a stirring-oration at Anandpur-Sahib. Thereafter, he flashed his un-sheathed sword, and demanded one head for sacrifice. After some trepidation one person offered himself. The Guru took him inside a tent. A little later, he reappeared with his sword dripping with blood, and asked for another head. One by one, four more earnest devotees offered their heads. Every time the Guru took a person inside the tent and came out with a bloodied sword in his hand.
Thinking their Guru had gone berserk, and was out of control, the congregation started to disperse. As this began to happen, before anybody knew it, the Guru suddenly emerged, with all five men dressed piously in white. He initiated all five of them, in a new and unique ceremony called Amrit Chhakna (consuming nectar for attaining immortality). Summoning those five Initiated-Sikhs, the Guru asked them to initiate him as well. He then declared those five Initiated-Sikhs as Panj-Pyare (Five Beloved Ones), and made public that they would be the embodiment of the Guru himself. That was the birth of Khalsa (pure) Panth. Till date all religious congregations of Sikhs are led by Panj Pyaras who are armed with un-sheathed swords to protect Dharma.
Identification of Khalsa
The reverend Guru also offered five ‘signs and symbols’. These symbols, worn by all ‘initiated’ Sikhs of both sexes, are popularly known today as Five Ks – Kesh, (un-shorn hair); Kangha, the wooden-comb; Kara, (the steel bracelet); Kirpan, (the sword); and Kachchera, (the underwear). The Guru said that since those initiated by him as Sikhs were distinct and identifiable, no Sikh would conceal himself behind cowardice whenever the need to protect Dharma and the weaker arose.
Revival of Karamyoga
Thus final and ultimate transformation of Sikhs, into a fighting force, came with Guru Gobind Singh. He realized that to raise a fighting force from the peaceful followers of Nanak, he had not only to teach them the use of arms, but also to convince them of the morality of use of force. He set about ardently and assiduously to train the sparrow how to hunt the hawk, and one man to have courage to take on a regiment. The Guru gave a hero’s welcome to each and every Sikh, and psychologically infused a new life in him. Sikhs fondly quote Guru’s statement that ‘one Sikh is equal to 125,000 opponents’. By initiating ‘Khalsa’ into ‘Saint Soldier’ image of Hindu youth, Guru Gobind Singh revived the spirit of Karamyoga. Hindu society that had immersed itself into pessimism and escapism in the face of Muslim atrocities welcomed the transformation. Sikhs came to be recognized as the sword arm of Hinduism.
End of Islamic Rule
After the death of Aurangzeb, there was no central government in the country. Prolonged wars of succession had fragmented the country into several rebellious fiefdoms. By the time almost nine-century-old Muslim Rule ended, economy had been wrecked. Administrative systems had crumbled and the country had been plunged in to darkness.
Myth of Composite Culture
Cultural integration among the various communities of India had been taking place in India since the Pre-Vedic period. Before Islam, all those who entered India were assimilated into the Hindu culture. Muslims did not enter India to co-exist. Their objective was to discredit, disrupt, and destroy Hinduism. Islam provided four choices, such as Islam, Sword, Slavery, or Jaziya. These were no civilized or human options.
A religion, as oppressive as Islam, with its draconian laws, could hardly be indigenous to India. Islam had been an imposition on India and an alien graft on the Hindu population that subjugated and attempted to destroy Hindu identity. There was not a speck of the Indian religion or culture to mesh with its social system in any form. The practice of absorption, that had been an important tradition of Hinduism, did not work with the Muslims, as they had not come to blend or integrate with Hindu society, but were motivated to deliver a death-blow to Hindu Culture and remained at loggerheads. To put it simply, the Muslim culture invaded India, not to make friends with the Hindu, but to wipe them out.
Muslims remained unacceptable
Hindus would have had nothing to oppose Islam had they confined themselves to the region of their origin – the Middle East. Since they did not subscribe to the idea of live and let live, the foundation stone of Hinduism. Thus Muslims have remained unacceptable in India till date.
There had been no progress in any field for which Hindus could feel proud of the Muslim Rule. Neither Muslims made any worthwhile contribution towards the progress of general masses, nor they assimilated anything from Hindu culture. Instead of talent or wisdom, with which India used to be perceived earlier, luxuries and licentiousness of Islamic rulers attracted some of the European nations towards India for taking some share of the materialistic wealth. When borrowed light of new learning appeared to be dawning in Europe, India had slid into the darkness.
Chand K Sharma
(Next: Splashes – 62/72 – Neglected Hindu Martyrs)