Dhan Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji had settled in Anandpur Sahib. They wrote a letter to their son Gobind Rai, who was still living in Patna with Mata Gujri Ji. In this letter Guru Sahib described Anandpur as a very happy and peaceful place with the blessings of the Almighty. Knowing what was to come, Guru Sahib gave instructions to their son ... “as soon as you receive this letter you should come here with your sikh sangata so that you can now look after your Anandpur.”
In contrast, at the same time Aurangzeb was committing more and more sins every day. Aurangzeb only wished to see Muslims and for Sharia Law to prevail all around him. His ideology was similar to that which we have seen in recent years with Isis. Hence he decided that his first aim should be to completely eradicate the Hindu religion.
Although everyone loves their own community, and in itself this is not a bad thing, to force someone to convert is not acceptable in Sikhi. Whilst every person has the right to preach their religion - to force your views on someone else is a crime.
Aurangzeb’s advisors suggested to him that in the first instance the Hindus of Kashmir should be converted to Islam as that was where the most revered members of the Hindu faith, the Brahmin pandits, resided. Aurangzeb believed that once they converted, the common Hindus would be much easier to persuade.
Aurangzeb therefore sent a letter to his appointed Subedaar (governor) of Kashmir, Sher Afghan Khan, telling him to make all of Kashmir Muslim. As political people know how to play these games very well, Aurangzeb advised Afgan ..."Give people money to encourage them to change their faith. If that doesn’t work, offer land as an incentive. Talk to them sweetly and tell them the virtues of the Islamic faith and bring them into the fold. Those who do not agree, tell them they will be married into Muslim families and offered high posts. If that doesn’t work ... then you can threaten them with death."
Sher Afghan Khan called the high Brahmin pandits of Kashmir into a meeting and informed them of Aurangzeb’s wishes ... “You will receive whatever your heart desires ... if you give up your faith!”
The Brahmins heard what Sher Afgan Khan had to say but told him this was an impossible ask... "How can we make such a big sacrifice? As long as we live, we will live as Hindus!"
The Brahmins were proving to be harder work than Sher Afgan Khan had envisaged, so he decided to switch his strategy by first converting the uneducated Hindus that lived in the villages of Kashmir.
Within a short time frame, Sher Afgan Khan had succeeded in making almost all of the Hindus living within the region into Muslims. He would gather them in their hundreds and thousands and make them remove their Janeoo (holy thread). Some Hindus took off the Janeoo for money, others in return for land and the rest in fear of death.
It is noted in history that Sher Afgan removed the equivalent of 50kg of janeoo (which is an almost weightless thread) in just one day!
Those who refused to convert to Islam at this time were beaten, tortured and eventually killed. Only the Hindu men wore a Janeoo, so once the man of the household was converted, all of his family would follow suit.
Sher Afgan Khan once again called the educated Brahmin pandits to a meeting and informed them ... "all your followers in this region have been converted to Islam! It’s time you give up your mantras and instead recite the Qur’an! There is nowhere for you to hide from Sharia Law now so either convert or be killed!"
When all avenues fail, it is then that humans turn to God. The Brahmins put their hands together and pleaded with Sher Afgan Khan ... "please give us 6 months time. We wish to go to Amar Nath mandir and pray for help. If our Lord, Shivji does not come to help us then we will convert without a fight".
It is important to remember that Gursikhs never plead for their life in this way as the stories of our shaheeds constantly remind us! This is exactly the reason Dasam Pita Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave us Shashters - so we can stand up and protect ourselves and others! That is also why the kirpan worn by a Sikh should be reasonably sized and checked regularly, so that it can serve its practical purpose should the need arise!
Whilst reading and listening to such a saakhi we should strengthen our own Sikhi by doing ardas to Guru Ji - that no matter what happens in our lives, may we never leave the sanctuary of Dhan Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj. May our love for Sikhi grow in our hearts. Everyone will die at some point but may Maharaj bless us so that when we die our Sikhi is intact!
The leader of the Brahmin pandits was Kirpa Raam ... an elderly but very educated man who meditated devotedly on God’s name. On arrival at Amar Nath mandir the Brahmin pandits began to pray to Shivji calling Him by his various names.
Some recited Shumbooo over and over, others called Mahadev, Mahadev, Mahadev. They sat and prayed in harsh conditions, without consuming any food or drink.
After 8 days of hearing the pleas of the Brahmin pandits, Shivji wrote a letter which he then dropped amongst the pandits as they prayed for a saviour. In this letter Shivji told the pandits that “in the age of Kalyug, Dhan Guru Nanak Dev Ji is the samrath (all powerful) Guru. Whoever is on that throne now will be able to help you. Go to them, tell them what has happened to you, show them this letter too and they will save your faith.”
The Brahmins were amazed and overjoyed. One particular Brahmin knew of the house of Guru Nanak and informed the others that the current Guru was Dhan Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji.
The Brahmins prepared for their journey on foot from Kashmir to Punjab. Nowadays we can reach Kashmir in just 4 or 5 hours ... about 10 years ago it would take a whole day to get there even in a car. Imagine what the journey must have been like on foot for these Brahmin Pandits, many of whom were quite elderly.
It was a long and treacherous journey, with numerous mountains having to be crossed. They eventually reached the blessed land of Anandpur Sahib where Dhan Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji were sitting on the throne of Guru Nanak.
In the next post we will share the conversation that took place between Guru Sahib and the Kashmiri Pandits.
(Source: Gurpartap Suraj Granth Katha by Bhai Vishal Singh Ji)