While every day is a struggle for the Kashmiri Pandits, Jan 19th is symbolically observed as Kashmiri Pandit Exodus day.
On this day, in the year 1990, the Kashmiri Pandits were forced out of their home state, Jammu and Kashmir. This was not the first time though that the Pandits had to face hostility from another community.
A Similar Situation
A crucial year it was, the year 1675 CE; the free thought, of the people of the land was trampled by the Mughals.
It was during that period, a delegation of about 500 Kashmir Pundits led by Pundit Kripa Ram met Guru Teg Bahadur at Anandapur Saheb with their harrowing experiences and tales of torture by Aurangzeb, forcing Hindus to convert to Islam.
The choice was “Convert-Or-Perish”.
Guru Teg Bahadur took upon himself the task of rescuing not just the Kashmir Pundits but the entire society.
But why was Aurangzeb bent upon converting the Kashmir Pundits in the first place?
Aurangzeb vexed with the enigma, of thriving Hindu presence in, despite centuries of Muslim rule, vis-à-vis, the total annihilation of native cultures in other Muslim lands, called his Court to order one day and beseeched them for a solution. His council of advisors then suggested, that, the Seat of Hindu thought and inspiration must be identified and destroyed; they conclusively opined that, this was the only sure way of ensuring that the perennial flow of faith is put to an end.
Having said that, Varanasi, Kasi was identified as the Seat of Hindu faith and the Brahmins of Varanasi, were identified as its custodians.
They were pulled up tortured and asked to convert.
Aurangzeb then, repeated the same torture, formula on the Kashmiri Pundits.
The Sikhs were looked up to as the martial force of the land, were approached by the Kashmir Pundits.
Sikhs being approached
Guru Teg Bahadur, gallantly took upon himself the responsibility of protecting the people of this country.
He asked the Kashmir Pundits, to go and tell Aurangzeb that,
- Kashmir Pundits would convert to Islam; If Guru Teg Bahadur converts.
- Therefore the Brahmins of Varanasi would too convert.
- The entire Hindu faith would eventually would convert to Islam.
Delighted at such an easy solution of converting the entire lot of Hindus into Islam, Aurangzeb invited Guru Teg Bahadur to Delhi. Guru Teg Bahadur along with his disciples Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das and Bhai Dyal Das, went to Delhi and met Mughal Aurangzeb.
Guru Teg Bahadur held extensive discussions on Religious, Philosophical, Spiritual, Logical, Scientific and even on mundane matters to dissuade Aurangzeb from converting Hindus to Islam.
Alamgir was deeply disappointed and disillusioned and seething with vengeance made two offers to Guru Teg Bahadur:-
- Either embrace Islam or
- Face beheading
The great Guru preferred beheading than to convert to Islam.
Aurangzeb, the very Embodiment of Benevolence, as described by our History books, ordered that Guru Teg Bahadur and disciples should be killed.
This henious act was carried out on 09.11.1675.
In the presence of Guru Teg Bahadur, his disciples were done to death one after the other.
Bhai Mati Das
Bhai Mati Das was cut into two halfs by slicing through head downwards.
Mati Das while standing erect was tied between two posts. He was asked if he had any parting words, to which Mati Das answered, “I request only that my head be turned toward my Guru as I am executed.” Two executioners placed a double-handed saw on his head. Mati Das serenely uttered “Ek Onkar” and started reciting the Japji Sahib, the morning prayer of the Sikhs. He was sawed across from head downwards.
Bhai Mati Das being cut into two
Dayal Das abused the Emperor and his courtiers for this act. He was tied up like a round bundle and thrown into a huge cauldron of boiling oil. He was boiled alive into a block of charcoal.
Dayal Das being boiled alive
Sati Das condemned these brutalities. He was wrapped round with cotton and burnt alive and then he was hacked to pieces limb by limb.
Sati Das being burned alive
Then Guru Teg Bahadur was beheaded.
Guru Teg about to be beheaded
All this happened on 9th November, 1675 AD at Chandni Chowk under the orders of Emperor Aurangzeb.
Now the questions arise:-
- Why should Guru Teg Bahadur become a martyr, when he had all chances to escape inhuman torture and death?
- Why should Bhai Mati Das, Dyal Das and Sati Das die, when they too have had all chances to escape merciless torture and death?
- For whom they endured all the inhuman suffering and made all these sacrifices?
They suffered and sacrificed so that we can live in accordance with our native practices.
How many of us know all this?
How many even know the name of the Martyr Guru Teg Bahadur? Is it not our duty to pay respects to the great Souls?
Sis Ganj Gurudwara
This haloed location, where they were martyred is now venerated as Sis Ganj Gurudwara situated in Chandini Chowk in Old Delhi.
Sis Ganj Gurudwara
It is sad that in present times we even had prominent road in Delhi named after Aurangzeb. The name of this road however has been renamed as Abdul Kalam Road.
Aurangzeb Road sign board
Exodus of a whole ethnic group of people is not just a medieval event we read in history books but happened here & now in our lifetimes, with the Kashmiri Pandits, and in their own homeland.
What an irony! Where else on earth & in history have you had over 5 lakh people of the majority community made refugees in their own country?
While the Kashmiri Pandits, who are natives of this land, have been driven away from Kashmir, the Rohingya Muslims refugees of Burma have been settled in refugee camps in Jammu and Ladakh. Obviously there is a plan to wipe out Kashmiri Pandits out of the valley, their home land.
The government needs to speedup the rehabilitation process of the Kashmiri Pandits, so that they get back their homeland.