High time we rename Aurangzeb Road to Guru Tegh Bahadur Road

In modern times all of us are guaranteed freedom and liberty due to the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.  The situation however was different during the 17th century when monarchies were the order of the day. And as far as India of that era was concerned, this meant almost exclusively the prolonged Mughal monarchies which barring Akbar were uniformly tyrannical, cruel and barbaric as far as Hindus were concerned. Neither was this barbarism against Hindus merely accidental or owed to the quirk of a random Mughal king.

And as history tell us, this tyranny reached its apogee during Aurangzeb’s rule. Perhaps no other Muslim monarch oppressed Hindus, did such colossal damage to their way of life, trampled on their beliefs, and destroyed their temples as much as he did, as often as he did, and over such a protracted period. And paved way for large scale mutinies and rebellions across his vast empire from the Hindus. Many courageous heroes emerged—from Shivaji in Maharashtra to the Raja of Bundelkhand to the Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur.

bundela   bhonsle

Guru Tegh Bahadur was the ninth Sikh Guru who took it upon himself the to act against the oppression of the mighty Mughal megalomaniac Aurangzeb. One’s heart is filled with sorrow—and pride when the tale of this gallant Guru is read.

To forgo one’s life for a cause is a difficult and exigent calling. Many eminences in the history of mankind have given their lives often for personal reasons, but Guru Tegh Bahadur was willing to risk his life not for just protecting his own kinsmen and followers but mainly for the persecuted Pandits from Kashmir.

The Kashmiri Pandits were acclaimed for their erudition and for a long period of time shared a good rapport with the Sikhs and their Gurus. One of the renowned members of the community, Kripa Ram had known the Ninth Guru and also taught Sanskrit classics to the Guru’s young son Gobind Rai.

But by the late 1660’s this community of scholars faced an existential threat from Aurangzeb who made it his mission to rid India of everything un-Islamic and pave the path for an Islamic state. To imagine the horrors  unleashed by Aurangzeb, one need not look farther than the present-day atrocities of radical Jihadi groups like ISIS and Boko Haram who seem to have taken a leaf out of Aurangzeb’s book. The Mughal tyrant not only wanted to change the religion of his non-Muslim subjects but cherished the dream of erasing any trace of Sanatana Dharma from this nation—and so, the scholars of Varanasi and Kashmir were among his chief targets.

isis
In early 1675, the besieged Kashmiri Pandits had been given a simple option by the Aurangzeb:  either convert to Islam or be executed. A large delegation of Pandits led by Kripa Ram approached Guru Tegh Bahadur in their acute hour of need and poured out their woes.

Guru Tegh Bahadur was the ninth Sikh Guru who took it upon himself the to act against the oppression of the mighty Mughal megalomaniac Aurangzeb. One’s heart is filled with sorrow—and pride when the tale of this gallant Guru is read.

The following is said to be the conversation between Kripa Ram and Guru Tegh Bahadur:

Kripa Ram :”The Emperor had given us some time to decide to convert to Islam or to be executed. The time for deciding has expired. Now, we have to convert to Islam or die. What shall we do? Guru ji, we have no one else to turn to. We don’t have an army to protect us – We need your help. Please assist us.”

It is said that Guruji’s son, Gobind Rai was present in this gathering and said the following:

Gobind Rai to his father:”Guru ji, I see the acutely sad faces of the Sangat and you are silent and in deep thought. What is the problem?”

Guruji : Son, this is a sangat from Kashmir. They have been friends of Sikhs since the time of Guru Nanak. They have a very serious problem on their hands.

Gobind Rai : You are the Guru of the entire world (“Jagat Guru”). You must know of a solution .

Guruji:  Son, Emperor Aurangzeb has given them an ultimatum – If they do not become Muslims, he will kill them all. Someone needs to stop this despotism. We have to find a supreme soul who will die so as to awaken the sleeping consciousness of the people of Hind”.

Gobind Rai : Father, there is an easy answer to this problem. You are the most spiritually aware person in whole of Hind. You can make that sacrifice.

Guru Tegh Bahadur was pleased to hear these words as it confirmed that his son had reached a suitable age to become the next Guru, as he declared to the Pandits: Go and tell Aurangzeb that if he can convert Guru Tegh Bahadar to Islam, you will all convert. Otherwise he should leave you alone.

pandits
The Pandits duly informed Emperor Aurangzeb of the decision. Aurangzeb was delighted as he believed that by converting the Guru, he would easily convert thousands of Hindus to Islam. In view of that he summoned his officers to bring Guru Tegh Bahadur to his durbar to complete the act.

Acting on the emperor’s orders Guru Tegh Bahadur, along with some of his followers, Bhai Dayal Das, Bhai Mati Das and Bhai Sati Das, was arrested in July 1675 and was kept in custody for over three months. He was then put in an iron cage and taken to Delhi in November 1675 where Aurangzeb asked them to accept Islam or face the death penalty.

Guru Tegh Bahadur declared that he would rather die than give up his faith. An enraged Aurangzeb issued a farman calling for the Guru and his companions to be tortured. The Guru was chained and imprisoned in a cage and was treated in the the most inhuman way for five long days. In order to terrorize the Guru, all his companions were executed in the most morbid manner known to humankind:

i. Bhai Mati Das was lacerated.

ii. Bhai Dyal Das was boiled alive in a giant cauldron

iii. Bhai Sati Das was burned alive.

But Guru Tegh Bahadur true to his word remained adamant. Finally he was executed on the charge that he was a stumbling block preventing the spread of Islam in Mughal India. The exact location of the beheading is marked by Gurdwara Sis Ganj in Delhi (‘Sis’ in Punjabi means head).

The Guru’s martyrdom roused the besieged Hindus from their inert silence and gave them the resilience to value the power that comes from self-respect and sacrifice. Guru Tegh Bahadur thus earned the affectionate title of “Hind-di-Chadar” or the Shield of India.

Yet in modern India, apart from the Sis Ganj Gurdwara, neither a monument nor any prominent sign has been erected and celebrated to commemorate the supremely selfless sacrifice of this great Guru, and keep his memory alive. Instead, the bizarre Nehruvian nightmare whose vestiges still endure celebrates the evil memory of Guru Tegh Bahadur’s tormentor in the form of Aurangzeb Road in New Delhi.

shoah

That said, I believe that the name of Aurangzeb should not be forgotten as a nation needs to remember the dark time it passed through during his cruel rule but that remembrance cannot be complemented with ignorance about our liberators. Aurangzeb should be remembered in exactly the same manner as the Jews remember the Holocaust at the Holocaust Memorial.

The Guru’s martyrdom roused the besieged Hindus from their inert silence and gave them the resilience to value the power that comes from self-respect and sacrifice.

It is unfortunate that there was no Guru Tegh Bahadur to shield the Kashmiri Pandits when the ISI-backed Jihadis successfully expelled them from their native soil, completing the task started by Aurangzeb.

We cannot change history but we can glorify its positive aspects and its heroes. Although it needs to be accepted that Aurangzeb was indeed at one point the ruler of India, it is more important that we remember the brave Guru Tegh Bahadur as the one who symbolized true nationalism and an immensely courageous hero who at great personal cost helped the Kashmiri Pandits and ignited the dormant Hindu warrior spirit and paved the way for a spirited nationalist response against Mughal tyranny.

Aurangzeb should be remembered in exactly the same manner as the Jews remember the Holocaust at the Holocaust Memorial.

And that is among the innumerable reasons for the present government to take the necessary steps to change the name of Aurangzeb Road in Delhi to Guru Tegh Bahadur Road. After all the Guru epitomizes the fabled maxim uttered by soldiers of freedom:

When you go home, tell them of us and say

For their tomorrow, we gave our today.

  • SATYAMITRA

    Had it not been for AURANGI the Mughal dynasty may have prospered in India
    for much longer, even up to 20TH century, especially if DARA SHIKON had
    replaced Shah Jahan? But the MUSLIM FANATIC that AURANGI was, he antagonized
    all HINDU KINGS and within 13 years of AURANGIS death, by 1720, the MUGHAL rule
    ended and the Marathas become the de-facto rulers of India. The
    re-establishment of combined HINDU MARATHA -SIKH rule in India was only
    possible because of AURANGI. So AURANGI IS GREAT.

    The MARATHAs and the SIKHS ruled most of India from 1720 to 1845, a period
    of about 125 years, when the resurgent HINDU-SIKH rulers exterminated MUSLIMS
    from many part of India which would have not been possible without the
    contribution of AURANGI. SO AURANGI is certainly GREAT.

  • SATYAMITRA

    In New Delhi we have Aurangzeb
    Road,
    . So did the Britishers , atheist Nehru and Communists in India have
    done enough damage to our pride. This could be one of those steps taken by them
    to portray Indian history differently. Yet, one has just to go through
    Aurangzeb’s own firmans (edicts), which are still preserved in the Bikaner
    archives, to know what kind of man he was. As and when I appalled to pass
    through a road named after the cruelest Mughal ruler Aurangzeb, I am
    disappointed that none of patriot politician, accomplished journalists have
    asked the authorities to rename this road in order not to glorify the name of
    this most inhumane man. His atrocities against the non Muslims are well known.
    His name should be removed at once. Please do something positive for your
    country and help change this unpleasant and offensive name of the road. Thanks.
    Why then should we be so anti British as to remove their names, yet ignore the
    Hindu killer Aurangzeb who converted so many people by brutal force, and
    committed heinous crimes against humanity, by naming a road in the capital of
    bleeding partitioned India after him?-SATYAMITRA

  • What about St Xavier and all the Parsis who were drug peddlers like Jamsetji Jeejeebhoy who led the opium trade and killed thousands in China. What about David Sassoon ? In Mumbai there are many buildings named after Xaviers, JJ and Sassoon. Does China have statues of Sir JJ like we do ?

  • Qaiser Usmani

    Ye kya bakwaas hai.yahi mugloo ne hindostan ko tajmahal diaya lal kila diya kutubminaar diya.tokde me bate hue india ko ek majbhhot desh banaya uska adar aur samman karne ki bajay sikh jo ki angrezo se milkar 1857 me bahadur shah zafar ki agwaai me chal rahi jung me angrazo ke saath milgaye the ab ye bade deshbhakt ho gay? Aurangzeb was most mercifull king of mughal so their is an eg of gyaanwaapi masjid in banaras.

    • Politeindian

      Your arguments in favour of Mughals giving Taj Mahal and Lal Qila sounds as outrageous as a rapist asking his victim to be thankful to him since the child born out of the rape happens to be handsome.

      By the way, the muslims did not give India anything. Shah Jahan, the despot, built Taj Mahal not for India, but to satisfy his own ego. While building Taj Mahal, the thought that India would become Dar ul Harb from being Dar ul Islam in future would never have crossed his mind. So much for benevolent muslims giving “gifts” to Hindu India.

      By the way, Bahadur Shah Zafar was still dithering what to do when the revolt erupted, and it ended for him when the British killed three of his sons, who were with the revolutionaries. His “empire” had already been reduced to six square miles in 1857.

    • Raj

      India was united way before Mughals were or theirforefathers were born…..
      Civilizatiosn are born and die bycentureis.. so asoka was the one who inunited a bigger india nad perhaps before him was another hindu king…. Uniting India is not a Moghul story……only….

      And on gyaanvapi- ther eare multiple versions… But can we say Aurangzeb destroyed some hindu templesso we can destroy lalquila…we should forgive our past but not gorget.. os lets remember aurangzeb as the biggest temple plunderer and destroyer who eventually led to teh destruction of moghul rule…. he simply UNITED all his haters to nibble away territories and could no long er restrict the mfrom victories….

      Had Dara shikoh succeeded after Shah jahan.. perhaps indian history would have been having al onger Mughal rule…

  • Rishi

    Have to agree there with Arjun’s comments.. And of course Dr. Elst’s research in this. However, I am surprised at Poulasta sounding so brazenly plagiarizing of the Sikh-ized version of the story. Considering the fact that the Guru culture in Sikhism was something placed retrospectively after the start of Khalsa pant by Guru Govind. By that logic, Tegh Bahadur should have been venerated on “IndiaFacts” as a great “Hindu” saint, who fought for his faith, not someone who saved the KPs (a twisted retrospective tale again!). Also, to see something like “the prolonged Mughal monarchies which barring Akbar were uniformly tyrannical, cruel and barbaric as far as Hindus were concerned” is something which is not expected on IndiaFacts, as Sandeep was the one who exposed the psecular brigade’s whitewash and love for Akbar! First let down by Poulasta though, I love her research and erudition in all other posts till date.

    • Arjun

      I agree Rishi. I would expect IndiaFacts keeping to it standards of telling facts instead of promoting Sikh Separatist properganda even when its so obvious it doesn’t add up .Aurangzeb rd should be replaced with Shivaji rd as it was because of Shivaji and the Maharatas that the Mughals were finally destroyed in the 18th century

  • Arjun

    Full of historical inaccuracies .Just the usual khalistani propaganda which Hindus keep on promoting without checking the facts.Dr Koenraad Elst has already exposed much of the above as nonsense

    Tegh Bahadur’s martyrdom is usually interpreted as an act of
    self-sacrifice for the sake of the Kashmiri Pandits threatened with
    forced conversion. As such, it is a classic Hindutva proof of the
    Hinduness of Sikhism, though it is also a classic neo-Sikh proof of the
    “secularism” of Sikhism (“showing concern even for people of a different
    religion, viz. Hinduism”). However, this whole debate may well rest
    upon a simple misunderstanding.

    In most indo-Aryan languages, the oft-used honorific mode of the singular is
    expressed by the same pronoun as the plural (e.g. Hindi unkâ, “his” or “their”, as opposed to the non-honorific singular uskâ), and vice-versa; by contrast, the singular form only indicates a singular subject. The phrase commonly translated as “the Lord preserved their tilak and sacred thread” (tilak-janjû râkhâ Prabh tâ-kâ), referring to unnamed outsiders assumed to be the Kashmiri Pandits,
    literally means that He “preserved b is tilak and sacred thread”,
    meaning Tegh Bahadur’s; it is already unusual poetic liberty to render “their
    tilak and sacred thread” this way, and even if that were intended,
    there is still no mention of the Kashmiri Pandits in the story.

    This is confirmed by one of the following lines in Govind’s poem about his
    father’s martyrdom: “He suffered martyrdom for the sake of his faith.”
    in any case, the story of forced massed conversions in Kashmir by the
    Moghul emperor Aurangzeb is not supported by the detailed record of his reign by Muslim chronicles who narrate many accounts of his biogorty.

    Tegh Bahadur’s martyrdom in 1675 was of course in the service of Hinduism,
    in that it was an act of opposing Aurangzeb’s policy of forcible
    conversion. An arrest warrant against him had been issued on
    non-religious and nonpolitical charges, and he was found out after
    having gone into hiding; Aurangzeb gave him a chance to escape his
    punishment by converting to Islam. Being a devout Muslim, Aurangzeb
    calculated that the conversion of this Hindu sect leader would encourage
    his followers to convert along with him. The Guru was tortured and
    beheaded when he refused the offer to accept Islam, and one of his
    companions was sawed in two for having said that Islam should be
    destroyed.

    At any rate, he stood firm as a Hindu, telling Aurangzeb that he loved his Hindu Dharma and that Hindu Dharma would never die,-a statement conveniently overlooked in most neo-Sikh accounts. He was not a Sikh defending Hinduism, but a Hindu of the Nanakpanth defending his own Hindu religion. However, even Tegh Bahadur never was a warrior against the Moghul empire; indeed, the birth of his son Govind in the eastern city of Patna was a souvenir of his own
    enlistment in the party of a Moghul general on a military expedition to
    Assam.

    Though Govind Singh is considered as the founder of the Khalsa order (1699) who “gave his Sikhs an outward form distinct from the Hindus” he too did things which Sikh separatists would dismiss as “brahminical”. As Khushwant Singh notes, “Gobind selected five of the most scholarly of his disciples and sent them to Benares to learn Sanskrit and the Hindu religious texts, to be better
    able to interpret the writings of the gurus, which were full of allusions to Hindu mythology and philosophy. Arun Shourie quotes Govind Singh as declaring: “Let the path of the pure [khâlsâ panth] prevail all over the world, let the Hindu dharma dawn and all delusion disappear. (…) May I spread dharma and prestige of the Veda in the world and erase from it the sin of cow-slaughter.”

    Ram Swarup adds a psychological reason for the recent Sikh attempt to sever
    the ties with Hindu society and the Indian state: “‘You have been our
    defenders’, Hindus tell the Sikhs. But in the present psychology, the
    compliment wins only contempt-and I believe rightly. For self-despisement is the surest way of losing a friend or even a brother. It also gives the Sikhs an exaggerated self-assessment.

    Ram Swarup hints at the question of the historicity
    of the belief that “Sikhism is the sword-arm of Hinduism”, widespread
    among Hindus. It is well-known that the Sikhs were the most combative
    in fighting Muslims during the Partition massacres, and that they were
    also singled out by Muslims for slaughter.

    The image of Sikhs as the most fearsome among the Infidels still lingers in the Muslim mind; it is apparently for this reason that Saudi Arabia excludes Sikhs (like Jews)from employment within its borders. Yet, the story for the earlier
    period is not that clear-cut. Given the centrality of the image of
    Sikhism as the “sword-arm of Hinduism”, it is well worth our while to
    verify the record of Sikh struggles against Islam. In the Guru lineage, we don’t see much physical fighting for Hinduism.

    Guru Nanak was a poet and a genuine saint, but not a warrior. His
    successors were poets, not all of them saintly, and made a living with
    regular occupations such as horse-trading. Guru Arjun’s martyrdom was
    not due to any anti-Muslim rebellion but to the suspicion by Moghul
    Emperor Jahangir that he had supported a failed rebellion by Jahangir’s
    son Khusrau, i.e. a Muslim palace revolution aimed at continuing the
    Moghul Empire but with someone else sitting on the throne. Arjun refused
    to pay the fine which Jahangir imposed on him, not as an act of
    defiance against Moghul sovereignty but because he denied the charges
    (which amounted to pleading his loyalty to Jahangir); it was then that
    Jahangir ordered a tougher punishment. At any rate, Arjun was never
    accused of raising the sword against Jahangir, merely of giving
    temporary shelter to Khusrau.

    Tegh Bahadur’s son and successor, Govind Singh, only fought the Moghul army when he was forced to, and it was hardly to protect Hinduism. His men had been
    plundering the domains of the semi-independent Hindu Rajas in the hills
    of northeastern Panjab, who had given him asylum after his father’s execution. Pro-Govind accounts in the Hindutva camp equate Govind’s plundering with the Chauth tax which Shivaji imposed to finance his fight against the Moghuls;
    they allege that the Rajas were selfishly attached to their wealth while
    Govind was risking his life for the Hindu cause.

    The Rajas, after failed attempts to restore law and order, appealed to
    their Moghul suzerain for help, or at least to the nearest Moghul
    governor. So, a confrontation ensued, not because Govind Singh had
    defied the mighty Moghul Empire, but because the Moghul Empire
    discharged its feudal duties toward its vassals, i.c. to punish what to
    them was an ungrateful guest turned robber.

    Govind was defeated and his two eldest sons killed in battle; many Sikhs left
    him in anger at his foolhardy tactics. During Govind Singh’s flight, a
    Brahmin family concealed Govind’s two remaining sons (Hindus protecting
    Sikhs, not the other way around), but they were found out and the boys
    were killed.

    The death of Govind’s sons provides yet another demythologizing insight about Govind Singh through its obvious connection with his abolition of the Guru lineage. A believer may, of course, assume that it was because of some divine
    instruction that Govind replaced the living Guru lineage with the
    Granth, a mere book (a replacement of the Hindu institution of gurudom
    with the Book-centred model of Islam). However, a more down-to-earth
    hypothesis which takes care of all the facts is that after the death of
    all his sons, Govind Singh simply could not conceive of the Guru lineage
    as not continuing within his own family.

    After his defeat and escape (made possible by the self-sacrifice of a
    disciple who impersonated the Guru), Govind Singh in his turn became a
    loyal subject of the Moghul Empire. He felt he had been treated
    unfairly by the local governor, Wazir Khan, so he did what aggrieved
    vassals do: he wrote a letter of complaint to his suzerain, not through
    the hierarchical channels but straight to the Padeshah. In spite of its
    title and its sometimes defiant wording, this “victory letter” (Zafar Nâma)
    to Aurangzeb is fundamentally submissive.

    Among other things, Govind assures Aurangzeb that he is just as much an idol-breaker as the Padeshah himself: “I am the destroyer of turbulent hillmen, since they are idolators and I am the breaker of idols.”Aurangzeb was sufficiently
    pleased with the correspondence (possibly several letters) he received
    from the Guru, for he ordered Wazir Khan not to trouble Govind any
    longer.

    After Aurangzeb’s death in 1707, Govind tried to curry favour with the heir-apparent and effective successor, Bahadur Shah, and supported him militarily in the war of succession: his fight was for one of the Moghul factions and against therival Moghul faction, not for Hinduism and against the Moghul Empire as such. In fact, one of the battles he fought on Bahadur Shah’s side was
    against rebellious Rajputs. As a reward for his services, the new
    Padeshah gave Govind a fief in Nanded on the Godavari river in the
    south, far from his natural constituency in Panjab. To acquaint himself
    with his new property, he followed Bahadur Shah on an expedition to the
    south (leaving his wives in Delhi under Moghul protection), but there
    he himself was stabbed by two Pathan assassins (possibly sent by Wazir
    Khan, who feared Govind Singh’s influence on Bahadur Shah) in 1708. His
    death had nothing to do with any fight against the Moghuls or for
    Hinduism.

    So far, it is hard to see where the Sikhs have acted as the sword-arm of Hinduism against Islam. If secularism means staying on reasonable terms with both Hindus and Muslims, we could concede that the Gurus generally did steer a “secular”
    course. Not that this is shameful: in the circumstances, taking on the
    Moghul Empire would have been suicidal In his last months, Govind Singh had become friends with the Hindu renunciate Banda Bairagi. This Banda went to Panjab and rallied the Sikhs around himself. At long last, it was he as a non-Sikh who took the initiative to wage an all-out offensive against the Moghul Empire.
    It was a long-drawn-out and no-holds-barred confrontation which ended in
    general defeat and the execution of Banda and his lieutenants (1716).
    Once more, the Sikhs became vassals of the Moghuls for several decades
    until the -Marathas broke the back of the Moghul empire in the mid-18th
    century. Only then, in the wake of the Maratha expansion, did the Sikhs
    score some lasting victories against Moghul and Pathan power.

    We may conclude that Ram Swarup has a point when he questions the Hindu
    attitude of self-depreciation and gratefulness towards the Sikh
    “sword-arm”. Sikh history has its moments of heroism, but not
    particularly more than that of the Marathas or Rajputs. And like the
    Rajputs and Marathas, Sikhism also has a history of collaboration with
    the Moghul throne.

    By Dr Koenraad Elst

    • ccc

      can you please give the original article link.

    • mhndv

      There is no reason to accept narration of Dr Koenraad Elstas facts too. Some of Dr Koenraad Elstas family members were Christian missionaries.

      • Arjun

        talking absolute rubbish.Dispute facts instead of promoting conspiracy theories

        • Rama

          What are KE’s PRIMARY SOURCES?

    • Rama

      Indo Aryan language? KE at times writes crap. Take his views with a pinch, I mean, a bucket of salt.

  • harihara

    More importantly, @ the end of that road a memorial for the great guru needs to be put up by all indians; every indian parent should name their first child as guru tegh prasad