There is much work in queue to occupy. But the one least happy and most needed is to reach the elusive reader of a work as wayward as Kalinjar Fort. It keeps you stuck to something that’s past. It’s no longer in my heart. But the absorbing human interest story needs to be read, not only for its novelty value or the mystery surrounding it but for the perspective it offers to human nature and its evolution over the long term.
A huge and immensely joyous task is to begin on the first installment of Vedanta, the secret knowledge that gives to us the eye for the transcendent, even as it roves over the ephemeral and wrestles with the phenomenal. Without it, no amount of intellectual waxing or rhetorical exhortation is of much avail at effecting the much needed shift in our paradigms. Our fears return, and the primordial one is not even unhinged !
The second matter that I am charged up with is to discover the voices of sensitive minds and rebellious hearts living in barbaric times under the Islamic and Christian occupiers of our land… to hear the “poet” through those oppressive times in the Indian sub-continent in 18th Century and later. I would have the greatest empathy with those tormented souls who would found their lexis and the courage to express them.
* * *
GURU TEG BAHADUR
One of the grandest stories ever anywhere, from the annals of Indian history… a real tale of transcendent courage in the cause of universal human values and rights, of unflinching compassion for the oppressed and the downtrodden, and of one man’s infinite commitment to his conviction of truth. My salutations… again and again…
… Guru Teg Bahadur lapsed into deep thought after listening to the plight of Kashmiri Pandits, some 500 hundred of whom led by Kripa Ram met the great warrior saint with woes of great suffering at loss of their freedom to keep faith and their religious beliefs. They pleaded for the Guru’s intervention with Emperor Aurangzeb to put a halt to this tyranny. The Guru knew that this was not a problem of Kashmiri pundits alone. Their cries of pain were screams of humanity all over the subcontinent under the hidebound and crude Islamist regime. Nor was it a mere political matter. Their calamitous misfortune was reflective of the senseless adversity which the entire Hindu society was groaning under. Nor was it a case of social repression or economic oppression. It signified a collective indignity that drew the lion in the Sikh Guru to the fore. It was a moment of truth, an issue that concerned the very future of humanity, in the way people of the land would live and believe, look upon themselves and their fellowmen, through centuries to come !
When the Guru emerged from his reverie, his face shone bright as the sun. The call of duty was upon him, and the ringing of truth was clear in his heart. The entire might of the bigoted savagery of the Mughal Emperor had to be opposed, here and now. The Guru’s son, Gobind Rai, barely nine year old, was seated close to him. He asked the Guru about the cause that had sent him into such deep contemplation. The Guru cheerfully told his inquisitive son that there was need of sacrifice from a great man, someone exceptionally holy, for protecting the Hindu society from its misfortune. Gobind Rai, who was brought up in the same spirit of universal love and spiritual regeneration, instantly suggested, “Father, who else is greater than you ?” It sealed the Guru’s steel resolve.
Guru Teg Bahadur, the son of the sixth Sikh Guru, was anointed the ninth in line in the year 1665 AD. As was the custom since Guru Har Gobind, the Guru kept a splendid lifestyle. He had his royal attire, armed attendants and a seat to suit when holding court. He himself led an austere life and there is no historical mention of any conflict or clash with powers ruling during his lifetime. He travelled a lot to different parts of the country, including Dacca and Assam, to preach the teachings of Guru Nanak and resolve conflicts between neighbouring states when invited. It was during one of these tours, in 1666, that Gobind Rai was born.
These were one of the worst of times in Indian history, when people were driven to the very pits of despair. Four years through his “padshahi”, Guru Teg Bahadur was informed of Emperor Auragzeb’s general decree, authorising and charging every State official of note with the ‘pious’ duty of demolishing all native places of worship and education, converting as many of them into mosques, and prosecuting the persistent non – believers as if they were “persona non grata.” After Aurangzeb’s 1669 order to demolish non-Muslim temples and schools, a Sikh temple at Buriya was converted into a mosque, which the Sikhs then demolished. The Emperor visited Punjab in 1674, and his officials forced many people to convert to Islam. The Guru gave a call to Sikhs everywhere to withstand these persecutions.
Aurangzeb was a terror even to his co-religionists and members of his own family. He had imprisoned his sister and his father, Shah Jahan, and had all his brothers murdered to become an unrivalled authority unto himself. Perhaps to wash his sins in his own eye, he presented himself to the people as being a good Muslim, offering prayers five times a day, leading a simple and frugal life, and defering to the advice and ruling of the Islamic clergy, who thence endeavoured to bestow on him his very elusive ‘peace of mind.’ He sent gifts to rulers of Mecca and Medina in 1659. That year he appointed a muhtasib as a censor to enforce Islamic laws. His main advisors became the chief judge (qazi) and supervisor of ‘pious’ charity. In 1672, he took back all grants that had been given to Hindus. In his zeal to reinforce the ‘pious Muslim’ face in public, he sought to please the fanatic Islamists by converting the native non-believers, especially Hindus, through making their keeping of faith impossible, prohibitive and fatal. His method of measuring the success of his ‘conversion program’ was to weigh the sacred thread worn by Hindus ! A “maund” would imply that about 7000 of them had been either converted or killed
With major centers of learning then, Kashmir was governed by a liberal Subedar, Mir Ahmed Khan, who restricted his administrative machinery to maintaining law and order and implementing the taxation policy of the State. The smooth functioning however was soon disrupted by an overzealous Islamist, Muhata Khan, who was a powerful Islamic scholar of repute. The latter had been sidelined by the coterie whom the brutal Emperor courted, and was hence in dire need of establishing his ‘holier than thou’ upmanship over others in order to tide over his discontentment and regain the Emperor’s favour.
Muhata Khan submitted to the Subedar of Kashmir a list of measures the State must take to penalise, indignify and pauperise the Kashmiri pundits. He was bitterly critical about the liberal policies of Subedar Mir Ahmed Khan and his treatment of the Hindus. He had made it clear that any avenue or opportunity available to the Hindus to advance and progress was intolerable.
Muhata Khan’s charter of demands included the following :
- Hindus should not be allowed to ride a horse.
- They should not permitted to wear the “jama” (a type of Mughal dress).
- They should not keep, carry or handle any kind of weapon.
- They should not visit the public gardens.
- They should be barred from wearing vermillion (Tilak) on their forehead.
- Their wards should not be receive education of any kind.
The Subedar Mir Ahmed Khan refused to entertain any of the proposals submitted by Muhata Khan. He instructed Muhata Khan to keep his distance from affairs of the State in Kashmir.
Attack on Hindu function
But Muhata Khan decided to have his way, by taking the law in his own hands. He set up a centre in a mosque for carrying out his plan. He incited people, who used to come for Namaz, and exhorted them to remain steadfast on tenets and proclamations of Islam, and to bring the Hindu idol worshippers within the ambit of declared Islamic policies of the Emperor. He roused a following of Muslim youth with his discourses, and raised a group of young men who were ready to to do his bidding. Muhata Khan issued instructions for implementing the resolutions he had submitted to the Subedar. As a result, any Hindu found with Tilak on his forehead was mauled badly, even killed, his home vandalised and women folk abducted, molested and raped. The Hindu could no longer ride horses, a speedy means of transport in those days. And he could hardly carry on with his trade or profession, or official duties of the State, without being presentable enough in a decent dress !
An attack on a well-known trader, Majlis Rai Chopra, took a historical turn. Majlis Rai had arranged for community luncheon in connection with a religious function, to which thousands came. While they 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 srounded and picketed by the blood-thirsty rowdies. Mir Ahmed Khan made good his escape by a secret door and took refuge in the nearby cantonment. He waged a battle against Muhata Khan with the help of a company of troops, but was defeated. Muhata Khan arrested and jailed the Subedar, denouncing him as a Hindu supporter, and took over the powers of the State.
Majlis Rai was mercilessly killed and all his property was confiscated. It was followed by many more instances of shameless atrocities on the Hindu community in Kashmir. The new Subedar of Kashmir, Iftikhar Khan, took to the task of forcibly converting the Hindu population to Islam by the sword. The Hindu Brahmin Pandits of Kashmir were among the most learned and orthodox of Hindus and Aurangzeb felt that if they could be brought to accept Islam the rest of the country would easily follow. He decided to strike at their exalted identity by barring the practice of wearing tilak (holy mark on the forehead) or janaeu (sacred thread). There was turmoil among Kashmiri pundits and their families lived in fear of their lives. They bore an ultimatum upon their head : convert or die.
In that conspired atmosphere of terror, many Hindus gave in and were converted to Islam. Among the rest was Pundit Kripa Ram, who had met the Guru several times. He led the pundits to the assuring sanctuary of the Sikh Guru, Teg Bahadur, whose very name meant, “Brave of the Sword.” Pandit Kirpa Ram Datt would later become the Sanskrit teacher of Guru Gobind Singh and eventually a Khalsa, and would die fighting in the battle of Chamkaur against Mughal forces led by Wazir Khan.
The Guru Stands Tall
And Proves To Be Heavier Than A Mountain…
The Guru soon appointed his son, Gobind Rai, as the tenth Guru of Sikhs and thus addressed the Pandits, “Go, my esteemed friends, and tell the Emperor that if he can cause Guru Tegh Bahadar to change his faith and accept Islam, you will all follow suit in his footsteps. If not, he should leave you alone.”
The Pandits rejoiced at the resolution and duly informed Emperor Aurangzeb of the decision. Aurangzeb was delighted with the reduced task of having to convert just one person in order to obtain the cooperation of thousands of Hindus and Sikhs, and the way to bring millions of willing infidels into the folds of Islam. He summoned his officers to arrest Guru Tegh Bahadar and present him in the royal court.
Meanwhile, the Guru left Anandpur Sahib with Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Dyala and Bhai Sati Das, to seek an audience in Mughal court. He was arrested soon after on the way and brought to Delhi in chains. In the royal court, reminiscent of Jesus’ interrogation by the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate, Aurangzeb asked him why he was hailed as the Guru or the Prophet, addressed as the ‘Saccha Padshah’ or the True King. The argument between Guru Teg Bahadur and the Emperor went on for days. Finally, the Emperor posed to the Guru the plain course, and his Islamist sycophants echoed in unison : “ If you really are the One, as addressed, perform a miracle for us to believe the truth.”
Guru Tegh Bahadur was unmoved and in fact reprimanded the Emperor for his blind orthodoxy and his persecution of people of other faiths. He said, “Hinduism may not be my faith, and I may not believe in the supremacy of Vedas or the Brahmins, nor in idol worship or caste, in pilgrimage or other rituals, but I would stand for the right of all Hindus to live with honour and dignity, and freedom to practice their faith according to their own beliefs.” The Guru further suggested : ” Every ruler of the world must pass away, but not the Word of God will not, nor would the Saint who holds it in heart. This is how people call me a “ True King “ and that is why they have done so through two preceding centuries, in respect of my “ House “ and also in respect of all those others who came before and identified themselves not with the temporal and the contingent, but with the eternal and the immortal.”
The Guru refused to perform any miracle, saying, “this is the work of charlatans and mountebanks to hoodwink the people. Men of God submit ever to the Will of God.” Guru Tegh Bahadur refused to embrace Islam, saying “For me, there is only one religion – of God – and whosoever belongs to it, be he a Hindu or a Muslim, him I own and he owns me. I neither convert others by force, nor submit to force. I will not change my faith.”
Aurangzeb was enraged and ordered Guru Tegh Bahadur to be forced to accept Islam as his faith through torture, or be killed. It led to a period of great cruelty on Guru Teg Bahadur’s body, and of his colleagues. The Guru and his companions were tied to hot pillars and heated sand was poured over their bodies, which were scalded and covered with wounds. The torment, in some form or other, became a routine. Guru Tegh Bahadur was kept in an iron cage and starved for many days. When even the intolerable pain and physical afflictions heaped on them proved ineffective, orders were issued to kill each, one after the other for appropriate effect.
The Fatwa or decree of the Royal Qazi specified the precise manner in which the life of each one was to be taken, with maximum brutality : Bhai Dayal was to be thrown in a boiling pot; Bhai Sati Das, to be packed in a bale of cotton and set ablaze; and, Bhai Mati Das to be sawed into two. The Guru was made to watch as Bhai Mati Das, the devoted Sikh, was tied between two pillars and his body sawed into two, as Bhai Dayal was boiled alive in a cauldron of heated water until he died, and, as Bhai Sati Das was wrapped in cotton wool and set on fire.
The Guru bore these cruelties without flinching or showing any anger or distress. Finally, having put these orders into effect, Guru Teg Bahadur was publicly beheaded on November 11, 1675. Before his head was severed from the body, the Guru had enough to recite the first five lines of the sacred book, Japuji.
The Gurus body was left to lie in dust, in Chandni Chowk, the area right in front of the Red Fort, where no one dared to approach for fear of the Emperor’s reprisal. But a severe storm swept through the city and, while it raged, a Sikh named Bhai Jaita managed to collect the Guru’s sacred head under the cover of darkness. He brought the Guru’s precious remain to Anandpur Sahib, where Guru Gobind waited for the latest to happen. Another Sikh, Bhai Lakhi Shah, smuggled the Guru’s headless body in a cart and brought it to his house nearby, where the Gurudwara Rakabganj today stands. Since a public funeral would have been impossible, Bhai Lakhi Shah cremated the body by setting the entire house on fire !
At Anandpur Sahib, on November 16, 1675, the young Guru Gobind Singh and the grief stricken widow, Mata Gujari, placed the late Guru’s “head” on a pyre of sandalwood, covered it with roses. Guru Gobind lit the pyre to complete the cremation rites of the departed saint
Never before in the annals of history, or after, has a religious head of one faith stood so tall and heavily steadfast, as to sacrificed his own life, for the sake of another religion, for their rights and freedoms.
Thus ended the mortal saga of the ninth Nanak, Guru Tegh Bahadur.
What Happened After …
The Guru’s sacrifice had symbolically but completely smashed the arrogance of the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. It proved to be a great event that galvanized the nationalist forces politically. It led to a surge of pride and self-belief that swept over the entire length and breadth of India. Apart from firming directions for Guru Gobind Singh’s opposition in Punjab, it engendered the rise of several formidable forces against the Mughals, under whose patronage the native people suffered religious oppression and administrative tyranny : Rana Raj Singh in Rajasthan, Shivaji in Deccan, and Chhatrasal in central India.
In sum, inspired insurrections and collected mobilisations broke the back of Mughal forces in the subcontinent and finally, barely five decades after Guru Teg Bahadur’s martyrdom, drove the myth of Muslim supremacy and Islamic grandeur into the ground.
The Emperor’s Lament … in last hours
During his last days Aurangzeb came to realize that the days of the Mughal dynasty were numbered and that he himself was largely responsible for sowing the seeds of destruction.
“Azma fasad baq !” were his words, which means, “After me, the chaos !”
The last words of Aurangzeb, addressed to his sons from death-bed, echo mournfully :
“I came a stranger to this world and a stranger I depart.
I know nothing of myself – what I am and what I was destined for.
“My back is bent with weakness and my feet have lost the power of motion.
The breath which rose is gone and has not left behind even a ray of hope.
“The agonies of death come upon me fast.
My vessel is launched upon the waves !
“Farewell, Farewell !”
Guru Gobind Singh’s Letters To The Emperor …
The contents of this letter, written in 1704 in Persian, reads as follows :
NAMEH GURU GOBIND SINGH BA AURANGZEB
(Letter from Guru Gobind Singh to Aurangzeb)
This letter clearly shows that it was written from Machhiwara, after the battle of Chamkaur, after the Guru had seen the brave sacrifice of his two elder sons in the battle field. It also reveals that though Guru Gobind had suffered heavy losses in men and material, he was in no way overcome or feeling vanquished but, instead, was full of confidence, faith and courage.
Observe how the Guru chastises, shames and reprimands the Emperor for is deceit and unbecoming conduct…
1 In the name of the Lord of Sword and Axe.
In the name of the Lord of Arrow and Shield.
2 In the name of the Lord of Men of Heroic Deeds.
In the name of the Lord of Speeding Steeds.
3 He, who has given you kingship, has entrusted to me
the task of defending Dharam and Righteousness.
4 Your frantic activities are confined to deceit and diplomacy,
whereas my efforts are based on faith and truth.
5 The name of Aurangzeb hardly behoves you,
for kings should not indulge in deceiving others.
6 Your rosary is nothing more then a collection of beads and thread…
the beads to ensnare and the thread as a net to enslave others.
7 You kneaded the earthly remains of your father with evil deeds
and with the blood of your brothers.
8 And with that mud you built your house to live in.
9 I will now storm you like rain water
and deal with you with the sharp edges of my steel arms.
10 You have met with failure in the Deccan
and are coming back thirsty from Mewar.
11 If you now turn you eyes to the north
then you will find your thirst quenched and parched throat set right.
12 I will place fire under your feet
and will not allow you to drink water of the Punjab.
13 What if the sly fox has killed the two cubs of a lion with deception.
14 The lion itself is alive and will wreak vengeance.
15 I do not now ask you for anything
in the name of your Allah and your scripture.
16 I have no faith in your word.
Only the sword will now serve its purpose.
17 Even if you claim to be a clever leopard,
I will ensure the lion remains outside your net.
18 Even when you talk to me, if you will,
I will always speak of the path which is pious and straight.
19 Let the armies on both sides draw up opposite to each other.
20 And let there be a distance of three miles between them.
21 There, then, I will come alone
and you may come along with your horsemen.
22 You have had easy fruits and enjoyed the unusual gifts
but have never met the warriors, in person.
23 Come forward yourself, armed with a sword and axe, for a duel
and kill no more the innocent people in God’s creation.
Bhai Dhaya Singh had taken this letter to Aurangzeb on December 26, 1704. By the time he arrived Aurangzeb and been briefed about the Guru having suffered being uprooted from Anandpur Sahib. He felt the injustice done on his part, especially since he had been promised on solemn oath to Quran a safe passage to the Guru from Anandpur.
The Emperor assured Bhai Dhaya Singh that he would make ample amends and extended an invitation to the Guru to meet him in the Deccan. Bhai Dhaya Singh shrewdly suggested that a written letter would be more appropriate. The Emperor agreed and sent two messengers with Bhai Dhaya with his letter to the Guru. The return journey of 900 miles lasted three months.
The Guru heard Bhai Dhaya Singh’s report, of how sympathetic and remorseful the Emperor was while penning the reply. There was a mixed light of magnanimity and sombreness on the Guru’s. He decided to send another, even more detailed, letter to the Emperor, in which he neither accepted nor refused the invitation.
The ‘Zafarnama’ by Guru Gobind Singh :
Salutations to God…
O Master of miracles, O Eternal and Beneficent One,
O Provider of sustenance, O Deliverer, Bestower of Grace and Mercy ! (1)
O Giver of Bliss, O Great Pardoner, Who holds me by the hand,
O Remitter of sins, O Bestower of daily bread, O Charmer of our hearts ! (2)
O King of kings, O Giver of Good, O Guide of the Way.
O One without colour, without form, without equal ! (3)
He who has no material possessions, no army, no ground to stand upon,
Him too, Thou blessest with Heavenly Bliss. (4)
Separate from the world yet most powerful, Thou O Presence,
Who givest Thy gifts as if Thou wert here before us. (5)
O Thou Pure One, our Cherisher, our only Giver.
O Thou Merciful One, who givest to every land ! (6)
O Greatest of the great, Thou art the God of every land :
Of Perfect Beauty, Merciful and Giver of sustenance ! (7)
O Master of intellect, O Embellisher of the meek,
O Refuge of the poor, O Destroyer of the tyrant ! (8)
O Protector of the faith, Fountain of eloquence,
O Knower of the Real, O Author of revelation ! (9)
O Master of intelligence, O Appreciator of Wisdom,
O Diviner of secrets, O Omnipresent God ! (10)
Thou knowest all that happens in the world,
And Thou resolvest all its problems and doubts. (11)
O Thou all-knowing God, O Great One,
Thou alone art the organiser of our lives. (12)
The Guru’s Memorandum to Aurangzeb :
I have no faith in thy oaths,
Even if thou bringest in God as thy witness. (13)
I haven’t even an iota of trust in thee,
For all thy ministers and thy courtiers are liars. (14)
He who puts faith in thy oath on Quran,
He comes to ruin in the end. (15)
But beware; the insolent crow can lay not its hands
Upon one whom Huma, the Bird of Heaven, protects. (16)
He who seeks the refuge of the tiger
Can he be harmed by a goat, a deer or a buffalo ? (17)
Had I vowed on the book of my faith, even in secret,
I would have withdrawn the infantry and cavalry from the field. (18)
And, what could my forty men do (at Chamkaur),
When a hundred thousand men, unawares, pounced upon them ? (19)
The oath breakers attacked them,
Of a sudden, with swords, arrows and guns. (20)
I had perforce to join battle with thy hosts,
And fought with muskets and arrows as best as I could. (21)
When an affair is past every other remedy,
It is righteous, indeed, to unsheathe the sword. (22)
Hadn’t I taken thee to thy word upon the Quran,
I wouldn’t have chosen the path I did. (23)
I knew not that thy men were crafty and deceitful, like a fox.
Else I wouldn’t have driven myself to this state. (24)
He who swears to me on the Quran
Ought not to have killed or imprisoned my men. (25)
Thy army dressed like blue bottles,
Charged us, of a sudden, with a loud bang. (26)
But they who aggressed not against us
Were left unhurt, unmolested by us. (28)
But, he who advanced from thy ranks beyond his defenses,
Was hit with such deadly aim of my single arrow that he was deluged in blood. (27)
When I witnessed thy general, Nahar Khan, advancing to war,
I gave him the taste of a single deadly arrow. (29)
And many of his men who boasted of their valour,
Fled the battlefield, in utter shame. (30)
Then advanced another one of Afghan blood,
Rushing forth like flood, like a gun-ball, or a deadly arrow. (31)
He made many assaults with great courage,
Some time with conscious skill, and at others like a mad man. (32)
The more he attacked, the more he was mauled,
And then while killing two of my ranks,
He, too, fell dead in the cold dust. (33)
But the cowardly and contemptible Khwaja came forth not like a man,
And hid himself behind a wall. (34)
Had I but seen his face,
I could have helped him too with an arrow of mine. (35)
At last, many on their side fell on the ground
Hit by arrows and our death dealing bullets. (36)
There was, indeed, an overpowering rain of these,
And the earth turned red like the lalla flower. (37)
Torn heads and legs lay in heaps,
As if the earth was covered with balls and sticks. (38)
The arrows whizzed, the bows twanged,
And it brought forth from earth only cries and yells. (39)
There were other dreadful, vengeful noises too, of weapons and men,
When men, the bravest of brave, battled like mad. (40)
But, what kind of chivalry is this in war,
That countless hosts should pounce upon a mere forty of us ? (41)
When the lamp of the world veiled itself,
And the queen of night came forth with all her splendour.(42)
He who trusts, however, in an oath on God,
His Protection too is on Him; in need, He shows the Path. (43)
So, not even a hair of mine was touched, nor my body suffered,
For God, the Destroyer of my enemies, Himself pulled me out to safety. (44)
I knew not that you, o man, was a perjurer,
A worshipper of self and a breaker of faith. (45)
Nay, you keep no faith, nor mind religion,
Nor know God, nor believe in Mohammed. (46)
He who observes the tenet’s of his faith,
He never to breaks a promise, after he makes one. (47)
You have no idea of what an oath on the Quran is :
Nay, you have no faith in the one God. (48)
Now, even if you were to swear a hundred times on the Quran,
I’d regard not thy word, not an iota of it. (49)
Had you ever a mind to keep thy faith,
You would have taken courage and come to me. (50)
From when you gave your word, swearing in the name of God’s Word,
It was incumbent on you to keep your faith. (51)
If your majesty were to be present here before me,
I would have with all my heart posted you with your treachery. (52)
Do now what is enjoined upon you,
And stick to your written and plighted word. (53)
Both the written word and the verbal promise of your envoy,
Should have been fulfilled by you. (54)
He alone is a man who keeps his word :
Not have one thing in heart and another on his tongue. (55)
Your promise was to honour the Qazi’s word,
If that be true, then come thou to me. (56)
If you want to seal thy promise on the Quran,
I would for sure send the document to thee. (57)
If only you were gracious enough to come to the village of Kangar,
We could see each other face to face. (58)
On the way, there will be no danger to your life,
For, the whole tribe of Brars accepts my command. (59)
Come to me that we may converse with each other,
And I may utter some kind words to thee. (60)
I’d send thee a horseman like one in a thousand,
Who will conduct thee safe to my home. (61)
I’m a slave of the King of kings,
And ready to obey His Call with all my heart. (62)
If He were to order me thus,
I’d with utmost pleasure present myself to thee. (63)
And if you are a believer in one God,
Tarry not in what I ask you to do. (64)
It is incumbent upon you to recognise the God,
For He told you not to create strife in the world. (65)
You occupy the throne in the name of God, the one Sovereign of all creation,
But strange is thy justice, stranger thy attributes ! (66)
What sense of discrimination is this? What regard for religion?
O fie on such a sovereignty ! Fie, a hundred times !! (67)
Stranger than strange are thy decrees, o king,
But beware : broken pledges boomerang on those who make them. (68)
Shed not recklessly the blood of another with thy sword,
Lest the Sword on High falls upon thy neck. (69)
O man, beware, and fear thy God,
For, with flattery or cajolery He can be deceived not. (70)
He, the King of kings, fears no one,
And is the True Sovereign of heaven and earth. (71)
God is the Master of earth and the sky :
He is the Creator of all men and all places. (72)
He it is who creates all – from the feeble ant to the powerful elephant,
And is the Embellisher of the meek and Destroyer of the reckless. (73)
His name is : “Protector of the meek.”
And He is dependent upon no one’s support or obligation. (74)
He has no twist in Him, nor doubt.
And, He shows man the Way to Redemption and Release. (75)
You are indeed bound by your word on the Quran,
Let, therefore, the matter come to a good end, as is your promise. (76)
It is but in abiding that you act wisely,
And be discreet in all that you do. (77)
What, if you have killed my four tender sons,
When I remain, like a snake coiled. (78)
It is not brave to put out a few sparks,
And stir up a fire to rage all the more ! (79)
What a beautiful thought has Firdausi, the sweet-tongued poet, expressed :
“He who acts in haste, plays the devil.” (80)
When both you and I will repair to the Court of God,
You will bear witness to what you did unto me. (81)
But, if you forget even this,
The God on High will also cast you off from His Mind. (82)
God will reward you amply for your misdeed,
Which you launched with all your recklessness ! (83)
This is the keeping of faith, the act of goodness :
To put God above love of one’s life. (84)
I believe not that you know God,
Since, from you, have come only acts of tyranny. (85)
The Beneficent God also will know thee not,
And will welcome not thee with all thy riches. (86)
If now you swear a hundred times on the Quran,
I will not trust you, even for a moment. (87)
I will enter not your presence, nor travel on the same road,
Even if you so ordain, I would oblige you not. (88)
O Aurangzeb, king of kings, fortunate are you,
An expert swordsman and a horseman too : (89)
Handsome is your person and your intellect high,
Master of lands, the ruler and the emperor. (90)
A skilled wielder of the sword and clever in administration,
A master-warrior and a man of charitable disposition. (91)
You grant riches and lands in charity,
O one of handsome body and brilliant mind. (92)
Great is your munificence, in war you are like a mountain,
Of angelic disposition, your splendour is like that of Pleiades. (93)
You are the king of kings, ornament of the throne of the world:
Master of the world, but far from religion ! (94)
I warred with the idol-worshipping hill chiefs,
For, I am the breaker of idols and they their worshippers. (95)
Beware, the world keeps not faith with any:
He who rises also falls and comes to grief. (96)
And look also at the miracle that is God,
That He may destroy a whole host through a single man ! (97)
What can an enemy do to him whose has God as friend ?
For the function of the Great Bestower is : To Bestow. (98)
He grants Deliverance and shows too the Way.
And He teaches the tongue to utter His praise, in love. (99)
In times of need, He blinds the enemy,
And protects the helpless from injury and harm. (100)
And he who acts in good faith,
On him, the Merciful One, rains His Mercy. (101)
He who serves Him with all his heart,
God blesses him with the Peace of Soul. (102)
What harm can an enemy do to him,
With whom God, our Supreme Guide, is pleased. (103)
The Creator-Lord is ever his refuge,
Even if tens of thousands of hosts were to proceed against him. (104)
If you have the pride of your army and riches,
I bank upon Praise of God, the Almighty. (105)
You are proud of your empire and material possessions,
While I am proud of the Refuge of God, the Immortal. (106)
Be not heedless : for the world lasts but a few days,
And man will depart, one knows not when. (107)
Look at the ever changing faithless world :
And see what happens to every house, every denizen. (108)
If you are strong, torture not the weak,
And thus lay not the axe to thy empire. (109)
If the one God is one’s Friend, what harm can the enemy do,
Even if he multiplies himself a hundred times ? (110)
A thousand times let an enemy assault him,
And yet touch he would not even a hair of his head. (111)
This letter is called “Zafarnama” – the Epistle of Victory.
Written in Persian verse it was sent from Dina in 1705 through two Sikhs, Bhai Dhaya Singh and Bhai Dharam Singh. It was not entrusted to the Emperor’s messengers because of the nature of its content and because the Guru wanted to know from his Sikhs the instant reactions of the Emperor upon reading it.
Although Bhai Dhaya Singh and Bhai Dharam Singh travelled with great speed they could not get an early audience with the emperor. They stayed at the house of Bhai Jetha. It was some months before the Sikhs met the Emperor. The Guru had instructed Bhai Dhaya Singh to speak boldly and fearlessly to Aurangzeb when handing over the Guru’s letter.
The Emperor read the letter and felt that the Guru was highly intelligent, truthful, and a fearless warrior. He was nearly 91 years of age and his body started to tremble from feelings of remorse and regret of what he had done in his life time. Again, he put pen to paper and wrote a letter to the Guru, stating his inability to come to the north and requesting the Guru to meet him in Ahmadnagar at his earliest convenience. The letter was sent through royal messengers.
The Emperor’s peace of mind was lost. He wrote another letter to his sons in which he states : ” I do not know who I am, where i am, where i am to go and what will happen to a sinful person like me. Many like me have passed away, wasting their lives. Allah was in my heart but my blind eyes failed to see him. I do not know how I will be received in Allah’s court. I do not have any hope for my future : I have committed many sins and do not know what punishments will be awarded to me in return.”
The Zafarnama had a demoralising effect on Emperor Aurangzeb, who saw his end looming over the horizon. The future seemed so very bleak. He saw Guru Gobind Singh as his only hope… the only one who could show him the right path in truth, as was hinted by the Guru in his epistle. Although he had greatly wronged the Guru, he now knew the latter to be a man of God and wanted to meet the Guru in person, to seek his own redemption. He issued instructions to his Governors to withdraw all orders against the Guru. He instructed his minister, Munim Khan, to make arrangements for the safe passage of the Guru when he came to meet.
The Guru was not willing to go to Delhi yet and, instead, stopped outside the town of Sabo Ki Talwandi. According to Sikh chronologists, it was at Sabo Ki Talwandi that Guru Gobind Singh untied his waist band after a period of nearly eighteen months, and breathed a sigh of relief. This is why Sabo Ki Talwandi is known as Damdama Sahib (place of rest). It was at Damdama Sahib that Mata Sundri, the Guru’s mother, learned of the fate of four Sahibzaday – sons of the Guru and Mata Gujri. And, it was here that Guru Gobind Singh re-wrote the Adi Guru Granth Sahib from memory and added the Gurbani of his father, the martyred Guru Teg Bahadur.
Upon receiving the Emperor’s letter, Guru Gobind let th matter rest for a period before deciding to meet the Emperor in Deccan. He felt that Aurangzeb’s invitation was extended with due humility and concluded the time was right to accept it in view of the Emperor’s old age, without compromising on his oath to mete out justice to anyone who resorted to acts of barbarity.
Unfortunately, by the time the Guru entered Rajasthan, news came of the Emperor’s death at Aurangabad. Historical records, kept by Bhai Santokh Singh, show that the Emperor had lost all appetite, capacity to digest, and could not expel waste. Whatever he consumed acted as poison in his body. He remained in great pain and torment for several days, terrified, as it were, by ‘angels of death.’
Born in 1616, Aurangzeb had lived for about 91 years, his last Will (appended below) confirms the degenerate state of his physical and mental health.
What The Emperor’s Last Will Reveals …
The Emperor’s last will was recorded by Maulvi Hamid-ud Din in chapter 8 of his hand-written Persian book on the life of Aurangzeb.
1 There is no doubt that I have been the emperor of India and I have ruled over this country. But I am sorry to say that I have not been able to do a good deed in my lifetime. My inner soul is cursing me as a sinner. But I know it is of no avail. It is my wish that my last rites be performed by my dear son Azam. No one else should touch my body.
2 My servant, Aya Beg, has my purse in which I have carefully kept my earnings of Rupees 4 and 2 Annas. In my spare time, I have been writing the Quran and stitching caps. It was by selling the caps that I made an honest earning. My coffin should be purchased with this amount. No other money should be spent for covering the body of a sinner. This is my dying wish.
By selling the copies of Quran I collected Rupees 305, which is also with Aya Beg. It is my will that poor Mohammedans should be fed with sweet rice procured with this money.
3 All my articles – clothes, ink stand, pens and books should be given to my son Azam. The labour charges for digging my grave will be paid by Prince Azam.
4 My grave should be dug in a dense forest. When I am buried, my face should remain uncovered. Do not bury my face in the earth. I want to present myself to Allah with a naked face. I am told, whoever goes to the supreme court on high with a naked face will have his sins forgiven.
5 My coffin should be made of thick Khaddar. Do not place a costly shawl on the corpse. The route of my funeral should not be showered with flowers. No one should be permitted to place any flowers on my body. No music should be played or sung, I hate music.
6 No tomb should be built for me. Only a chabootra or a platform may be erected.
7 I have not been able to pay the salaries of my soldiers and my personal servants for several months. I bequeath that after my death at least my personal servants be paid in full, even as the treasury is empty. Niamat Ali has served me very faithfully : he has cleaned my body and has never let my bed remain dirty.
8 No mausoleum should be raised in my memory. No stone with my name should be placed at my grave. There should be no trees planted near the grave. A sinner like me does not deserve the protection of a shady tree !
9 My son, Azam, has the authority to rule from the throne of Delhi. Kam Baksh should be entrusted with governance of Bijapur and Golconda states.
10 Allah should not make anyone an emperor. The most unfortunate person is he who becomes one. My sins should not be mentioned in any social gathering. The story of my life should not be told to anyone.
Translated from a history article published by Sh Ajmer Singh, MA,
in the Fateh weekly Nov. 7th, 1976.
(According to wishes of the emperor, his grave made of ‘kuccha’ bricks can still be seen in Aurangabad).
And thus ended Emperor’s Aurangzeb’s reign of fifty years.
He was over 90 when he died.
His death marked the beginning of the decline and fall of the Mughal dynasty.