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A SHORT HISTORY OF INDIA—ITS HEROES AND INVADERS
This relates the invasions, challenges, massacres, and struggles of India’s people and heroes against the criminals who tried to destroy India and its culture. This is presented to preserve the real history of India.
ALEXANDER AND THE GREEKS
THE ARAB INVASIONS
THE TURKISH INVASION
THE MAMLUK (SLAVE) DYNASTY
THE SAYYID & LODHI DYNASTIES
THE BRITISH EAST INDIA COMPANY
THE INITIAL STRUGGLE FOR INDEPENDENCE
THE BRITISH RAJ
HEROES AFTER SHIVAJI
ADDITIONAL HEROES WHO WORKED FOR PROTECTING INDIA AND ITS CULTURE
HALL OF SHAME (Muslim Rulers and Criminals Against India)
For more than two millennia, India has suffered one bloody invasion after another, leaving a Holocaust of millions of lives and a civilization and culture left in near ruins. Through it all, India is the only one of the great ancient civilizations that has survived today. Hinduism is the most ancient and only continuously surviving religion and culture that has successfully maintained itself while so many other cultures and civilizations have vanished. No other ancient civilization has retained its ancient religion and culture under the onslaught of the western Abrahamic monotheist religions.
The first of the major invasions came from Alexander of Macedonia. His invasion of India was intended to bring Greek culture to India and to encourage cultural exchange between the Indic and Hellenic worlds. This invasion was mild compared to the savage invasions of Islam, which continue even today, attempting to decimate the Indian religions of Dharma and the Culture of Bhaaratvarsha (India). The contemporary French writer François Gautier has said, “The massacres perpetuated by Muslims in India are unparalleled in history, bigger than the Holocaust of the Jews by the Nazis; or the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks; more extensive even than the slaughter of the South American native populations by the invading Spanish and Portuguese.”
Just as India was about to successfully throw off the yoke of Islamic barbarism after nearly 1000 years of slaughter, the British and Portuguese came with their missionaries. They tried to finish what Islam had begun, beginning centuries more of colonial strangulation of the great Vedic Culture of India, until finally India won her Independence in 1947. By then, so much damage had been done that India was forced to accept partition along religious lines and give up much of her northern territories to what are today the Islamic States of Pakistan and Bangladesh.
What is left of modern India is still rife with a growing population of Muslims and the continuing threat of Christian missionaries, openly seeking to wipe out Hinduism, which is not only the majority religion of India, but more than that, the Indian way of life and her very culture. Here we present a brief overview of the history of the foreign invasions and occupations of India.
ALEXANDER AND THE GREEKS
336 B.C.E. – 323 B.C.E.
Alexander was the King of Macedonia, a nation north of the city-states of ancient Greece, which was heavily influenced by the Hellenic (Greek) culture. Alexander was just 21 years old in the year 336 B.C.E., when he decided to invade India, after having conquered much of Asia Minor and the Middle East. At the time, King Taxiles ruled a large area in India. When he heard that Alexander was coming, Taxiles did not wait, but went in person to meet him in peace. “Why should we make war on each other,” Taxiles said, “if the reason for your coming is not to rob us of our water and our food? Those are the only things that a wise man has no choice but to fight for. As for any other riches or possessions, if I have more than you I am ready to share. But if fortune has been better to you than to me, then I have no objection to being in your debt.”
These courteous words pleased Alexander, and he replied: “Do you think your kind words and courteous conduct will avoid a contest between us? No, I will not let you off so easily. I will do battle with you on these terms: no matter how much you give me, I will give more in return.”
Thereupon Taxiles made many fine presents to Alexander, but Alexander responded with presents of even greater value and topped them off with a thousand talents in gold coins. This generosity displeased Alexander’s old friends but won the hearts of many of the Indians.
King Porus, however, refused to submit, and he took up a position to prevent Alexander from crossing the Hydaspes River. Porus was a huge man, and when mounted on his war elephant he looked in the same proportion as an ordinary man on a horse. After a long fight, Alexander won the victory, and Porus came to him as a prisoner. Alexander asked him how he expected to be treated, and Porus replied: “As a king.” When Alexander asked a second time, Porus explained that in those words was included everything that a man could possibly want. Alexander not only allowed Porus to keep his kingdom as a satrap, but he also gave him more territory.
This was a costly victory, however. Many Macedonians died, and so did Alexander’s old war horse, Bucephalus. This grieved Alexander so much that it seemed as though he had lost an old friend. On that spot he ordered a city to be built, named Bucephalia after his beloved horse, Bucephalus.
Such a difficult victory over only 22,000 Indians [May 326 B.C.] took the edge off the courage of the Macedonians. They had no enthusiasm for Alexander’s proposed crossing of the Ganges, a river said to be four miles wide and six hundred feet deep, to encounter an army on the other side consisting of 200,000 infantry, 80,000 cavalry, 8,000 chariots, and 6,000 war elephants.
Alexander was so angry at their reluctance that he shut himself up in his tent, saying that if they would not cross the Ganges, he owed them no thanks for anything they had done so far. But finally the persuasions of his friends, and the pleas of his soldiers, got Alexander to agree to turn back.
To exaggerate his reputation, Alexander left bridles and armor that were much bigger than normal, and huge altars to the gods. On a flotilla of rafts and barges, Alexander’s army floated down the Indus River.
Along the way, they stopped to take some fortified cities, and at one of them Alexander came very close to losing his life. Alexander was the first one up the ladders onto the wall of the city of the Mallians, and then he jumped down into the town with only two of his guards behind him.
Before the rest of the Macedonians could catch up and save him, Alexander had taken an arrow in the ribs and had been knocked dizzy by a club. He was unconscious when they carried him away, and he fainted when the doctors cut out the arrow. Rumors spread that Alexander was dead.
While in India, Alexander took ten of the Brahmins prisoner. These men had a great reputation for intelligence, so Alexander decided to give them a test. He announced that the one who gave the worst answer would be the first to die, and he made the oldest Brahmin the judge of the competition.
Which are more numerous, Alexander asked the first one, the living or the dead? “The living,” said the Brahmin, “because the dead no longer count.”
Which produces more creatures, the sea or the land? Alexander asked the second. “The land,” was his answer, “because the sea is only a part of it.”
The third was asked which animal was the smartest of all, and the Brahmin replied: “The one we have not found yet.”
Alexander asked the fourth what argument he had used to stir up the Indians to fight, and he answered: “Only that one should either live nobly or die nobly.”
Which is older: day or night? was Alexander’s question to the fifth, and the answer he got was: “Day is older, by one day at least.” When he saw that Alexander was not satisfied with this answer, the Brahmin added: “Strange questions get strange answers.”
What should a man do to make himself loved? asked Alexander, and the sixth Brahmin replied: “Be powerful without being frightening.”
What does a man have to do to become a god? he asked the seventh, who responded: “Do what is impossible for a man.”
The question to the eighth was whether death or life was stronger, and his answer: “Life is stronger than death, because it bears so many miseries.”
The ninth Brahmin was asked how long it was proper for a man to live, and he said: “Until it seems better to die.”
Then Alexander turned to the judge, who decided that each one had answered worse than another. “You will die first, then, for giving such a decision,” said Alexander. “Not so, mighty king,” said the Brahmin, “if you want to remain a man of your word. You said that you would kill first the one who made the worst answer.” Alexander gave all of the Brahmins presents and set them free, even though they had persuaded the Indians to fight him.
Alexander’s voyage down the Indus took seven months. When he finally arrived at the Indian Ocean, he decided not to take the army home by ship but to march them through the Gedrosian Desert. After sixty miserable days, they arrived at Gedrosia, where they finally found enough to eat and drink. Many died in that desert: out of the 120,000 infantry and 15,000 cavalry that Alexander took with him into India, only one in four came back.
THE ARAB INVASIONS
636 C.E. – 850 C.E.
In one of the Hadiths (Muslim scripture) the Prophet Muhammad is quoted as saying “Two groups of my Ummah, Allah has protected from the hellfire: a group that will conquer India and a group that will be with Isa ibnu Maryam (Jesus, son of Mary).” The first attempted invasion of India by Muslims occurred in 636 CE — under Caliph Umar, within four years of Muhammad’s death. The first 16 invasion attempts utterly failed. But the 17th attempt to invade India by Muhammad bin Qâsim, which was carried out against the wishes of the Kalifate, was successful. Muhammad bin Qâsim marched to Sindh with 15,000 men. He arrived at Debal, a port city near the modern Karachi, in 711. There he was bolstered by the arrival of his artillery by sea, and took the town. This was followed by his conquest of Alor, located north of Hyderabad in June 712. In the fighting before Aror the Raja Dâhir was slain. The next year he also conquered the important city of Multan.
Following the rapid conquest of Sindh, Arab progress was checked. In part this was caused by internal division. In 714 Hajjâj died, and in 715 the Calif Walid I (705-715) took interest in the campaign and recalled the conquering general, Muhammad bi Qâsim. Arab control thereafter rapidly disintegrated, leading many local rulers to repudiate their allegiance to the Arabs. The Arabs also met stiff resistance from neighboring Indian kings. When an Arab governor of Sindh, Junaid, sought to seize Kacch and Malwa, he was foiled by the Pratihara and Gurjara kings. The Arabs were thus unable to expand beyond Sindh, but they were able to maintain their hold on the province. In 985 an Ismaili Fatamid dynasty declared its independence in Multan.
THE TURKISH INVASION
1000 C.E. – 1206 C.E.
The break-up of the Gurjara-Pratihara empire led to a phase of political uncertainty in north India. As a result, little attention was paid to the emergence of the aggressive and expansionist Turks from north-west.
The three most important of the Rajput states in north India were the Gahrwals of Kanauj, the Paramaras of Malwa and the Chauhans of Ajmer.
There were other smaller dynasties in different parts of the country, such as the Kalachuris in the area around Jabalpur, the Chandellas in Bundelkhand, the Chalukyas of Gujarat, the Tomars of Delhi, etc. Bengal remained under the control of the Palas and later, the Senas.
There was a continuous struggle and warfare between the various Rajput states. It was these rivalries which made it impossible for the Rajput rulers to join hands to oust the Ghaznavids from the Punjab. In fact, the Ghaznavids felt strong enough to make raids even up to Ujjain.
Most of the Rajput rulers of the time were champions of Hinduism, though some of them also patronized Jainism. The Rajput rulers protected the privileges of the brahmanas and of the caste system. Between the tenth and the twelfth century, temple-building activity in north India reached it’s climax.
The most representative temples of this type are the group of temples at Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh. Most of these temples were built by the Chandellas, who ruled in the area from the beginning of the ninth to the end of the thirteenth century. In Orissa, magnificent examples of temple architecture are the Lingaraja temple (11th century) and the Sun temple of Konark (13th century). The famous Jagannath temple at Puri also belongs to this period.
Mahmud of Ghazni
Mahmud of Ghazni raided the country in 1000 AD, with his first great victory against the Hindushahi kings of Peshawar. The muslim rulers of Multan were the second targets. In a short period of 25 years, he is said to have made 17 raids into India. From the Punjab, Mahmud raided Nagarkot in the Punjab hills and Thanesar near Delhi.
His most daring raids, however, were against Kanauj in 1018 and against the fabulously rich Somnath temple in Gujarat. No attempt was made to annex any of these areas. The rich spoils from the temples, which were repositories of wealth, helped him to consolidate his rule and embellish Ghazni with palaces and mosques. He died in Ghazni in 1030.
Muhammad of Ghur
The second Turkish attack was led by Mu’izzu’d-Din Muhammad (also known as Muhammad Ghuri), who conquered Sindh and Lahore in 1182. Soon after, he commenced his attack on the Rajput kingdoms. Prithviraj Chauhan successfully led the Rajputs against Ghuri at the first battle of Tarain in 1191 AD. However, at the second battle of Tarain in 1192 AD, Prithviraj was defeated and the kingdom of Delhi fell to Muhammad Ghuri. Before Ghuri’s assassination in 1206, Turkish control had been established along the whole length of the Ganga. Bihar and Bengal were also overrun.
Ghuri’s conquests started a new era in Indian history… The Delhi Sultanate
THE MAMLUK (SLAVE) DYNASTY
1206 C.E. – 1290 C.E
Ghuri’s conquest became the nucleus of a new political entity of India – the Delhi Sultanate. For almost one hundred years after that, the Delhi Sultanate was involved in foreign invasions, internal conflicts among the Turkish leaders and the dispossessed Rajput rulers and chiefs to regain their independence.
Ghuri left his Indian possessions in the care of his former slave, General Qutb-ud- din Aibak. He played an important part in the expansion of the Turkish sultanate in India after the battle of Tarrain.
On the death of his master, Aibak severed his links with Ghazni and asserted his
independence, and founded the Slave Dynasty (mamluks). This helped to prevent India being drawn into central asian politics and enabled the Delhi Sultanate to develop independently.
Iltutmish (1210 AD – 1236 AD), son-in-law of Aibak – succeeded Aibak as the sultan by defeating Aibak’s son. Thus, the principle of heredity, of son succeeding his father was checked at the outset. Iltutmish must be regarded as the real consolidator of the Turkish conquests in north India.
He gave the new state capital, Delhi, a monarchical form of government and governing class. He introduced Iqta – grant of revenue from a territory in lieu of salary. He maintained a central army and introduced coins of Tanka (silver) and Jital (copper). The famous Qutub Minar was completed during his reign. He despatched an expedition against the Chalukyas of Gujarat but it was repelled with losses.
Around this time, Mongols under the leadership of Ghinghiz Khan, swept across central Asia and mercilessly sacked the kingdoms. They periodically crossed river Indus to attack Punjab and Iltutmish had to keep constant check on this side.
During his last years, Iltutmish finally nominated his daughter Raziya (1236 AD – 1239 AD) to the throne. Raziya was the First and only Muslim lady to sit on Delhi Throne. In order to assert her claim, Raziya had to contend against her brothers as well as against powerful Turkish nobles, and could rule only for three years.
Though brief, her rule had a number of interesting features like the beginning of the struggle for power between the monarchy and the Turkish chiefs, sometimes called as the forty or Chahalgami. She sent an expedition against Ranthambhor to control the Rajputs, and successfully established law and order in the length and breadth of her kingdom. In 1239 AD, an internal rebellion broke out in which Raziya was imprisoned and killed by bandits.
The struggle between the monarchy and the Turkish chiefs continued till one of the Turkish chiefs Balban (Ulugh khan) (1265 AD – 1285 AD) ascended the throne. During the earlier period he held the position of naib or deputy to Nasiruddin Mahmud, a younger son of Iltultmish. He broke the Chahalgami and made the Sultan all important.
After Balban’s death, there was again confusion in Delhi for some times. In 1290, the Khilji’s, under the leadership of Jalaluddin Khilji, wrested power from the incompetent successor of Balban.
1290 C.E. – 1320 C.E.
The Khiljis used their Afghan descent to win the loyalties of the discontented nobles, who felt that they had been neglected by earlier Slave sultans.
Jalaluddin Khilji (1290 AD – 1296 AD) tried to mitigate some of the harsh aspects of Balban’s rule. He was the first ruler to put forward the view that the state should be based on the willing support of the governed and that since the majority of Indians were Hindus, the state cannot be truly Islamic.
Alauddin Khilji (1296 AD – 1316 AD) treacherously murdered his uncle and father-in-law, Jalaluddin. By harsh methods, he cowed down the nobles and made them completely subservient to the crown. He was ambitious and dreamt of an all India empire.
Over a twenty five years period, Malwa, Gujarat and Rajasthan was brought under his control. To solve the water problems in summer, he constructed lot of Baolis (Wells). His famous general Malik Kafur led the campaign (1308 AD – 1312 AD) to the south and defeated the Yadavas of Deogiri, the Kakityas of Warangal and the Hoysalas of Dwarasamudra.
Alauddin also repelled the Mongols successfully. His military success was because of the creation of a large standing army directly recruited and paid by the state. He revoked all grants made by previous sultans, introduced price control covering almost the entire market and rationed the grain.
In order to effectively subordinate nobles, he banned drinking of intoxicants. The sultan’s permission was necessary before marriage could be arranged among the member of nobility, so that marriage alliances of a political nature could be prevented. No further rebellion took place during his life time, but in the long run his methods proved harmful to the dynasty. As the old nobility was destroyed, the new nobility was taught to accept any one who could ascend the throne of Delhi.
Kings followed in quick succession after his death, till in 1320, a group of officers led by Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq raised the banner of revolt and put an end to the Khilji dynasty.
1320 C.E. – 1412 C. E.
The Tughlaqs also wished to rule the whole of India. Ghyasuddin’s (1320 AD – 1325 AD) campaign to Warrangal, Orissa and Bengal were directed towards this end. He built the city Tughlaqabad near Delhi.
By 1324 AD, the territories of the Delhi sultanate reached upto Madurai. However, his economic policy was not consistent with his political ambitions. As the Iqta holders were permitted their earlier perquisites, power gradually slipped back into the hands of nobles.
Muhammad-Bin-Tughlaq (1325 AD – 1351 AD) succeeded his father and was referred to as an ill-starred idealist, whose experiments generally ended in failure. He extended the kingdom beyond India, into Central Asia.
To meet the expenses of the large army Muhammad increased the tax but the peasants refused and rebelled. Though the rebellion was suppressed, the taxation policy had to be revised. He decided to issue token coins in brass and copper which had the same value as silver coins. But due to the absence of a central mint, people began to forge the new coins, and the token coins had to be discontinued.
Muhammad Bin-Tughlaq decided to move his capital from Delhi to Deogir (Daulatabad), in order to control the Deccan and extend the empire into the south. The plan ended in failure because of discontent amongst those who had been forced to move to Deogir and Muhammad also found that he could not keep a watch on the northern frontier.
In 1334 bubonic plague wiped out more than half his army, and the army ceased to be effective. Due to this, in 1334 the Pandyan kingdom (Madurai) rejected the authority of the sultanate and this was followed by Warangal. In 1336 the Vijayanagara empire and in 1337 the Bahamani kingdom were founded. They built magnificent capitals and cities with many splendid buildings, promoted arts and also provided law and order and the development of commerce and handicrafts. Thus while the forces of disintegration gradually triumphed in north India, south India and the Deccan had a long spell of stable government.
Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351 AD – 1388 AD) succeeded Muhammad. Having become sultan with the support of the nobles and the theologians, he had to appease them. His death was followed by civil war among his descendants.
The sultanate became weak and in 1398, the Mongols, under the leadership of Timur (Tamerlane), mercilessly sacked and plundered Delhi. Timur returned to central Asia leaving his nominee to rule in the Punjab.
THE SAYYID & LODHI DYNASTIES
1414 C.E. 1526 C.E.
The Tughlaq dynasty ended soon after the Timurs invasion but the sultanate survived, though it was merely a shadow of its former self. Timurs nominee captured Delhi and was proclaimed the new sultan and the first of Sayyid Dynasty (1414 AD – 1451 AD), which was to rule the earlier half of the fifteenth century.
Their rule was short-lived and confined to a radius of some 200 miles around Delhi. They kept the machinery going until a more capable dynasty, the Lodhis, took over. The Lodhis were of pure Afghan origin, and brought an eclipses to the Turkish nobility. Bahlul Lodhi established himself in Punjab after the Timur’s invasion. The most important Lodhi Sultan was Sikandar Lodhi (1489 – 1517), who controlled the Ganga Valley as far as Bengal. He moved his capital from Delhi, to be able to control the kingdom better, to a new town which later become famous as the city of Agra.
The last, Lodhi Ibrahim, asserted his absolute power and did not consider the tribal feelings. This lead to his making enemies with them. Finally they plotted with Babar and succeeded in overthrowing him in 1526 at the first battle of Panipat.
As the power of the Sultanate declined, a number of other kingdoms arose.
In Western India – Malwa and Gujarat,
In Eastern India – Jaunpur and Bengal,
In Northern India – Kashmir, and
In the Deccan and the south – The Vijayanagara and the Bahamani.
As the Islamic population in India swelled, the identity of the Indian Moslem acquired a new definition. Islam now actively influenced most facets of life. The Hindu elite adopted the purdha system and their language began to be written in Arabic script, leading to a new language, Urdu. Calligraphy came into its own and was raised to the highest form of aesthetic expression.
Around this time on the north-western part of India, especially around Punjab a new religion Sikhism started to gain popularity
1346C.E. – 1689 C.E.
The Bahamani kingdom was founded by Hasan Gangu, who led a rebellion against Sultan Muhammad- Bin-Tughlaq and proclaimed the independence of the Bahamani kingdom (1346 AD).
He took the title of Bahaman Shah and became the first ruler of the dynasty. This kingdom included the whole of the northern Deccan upto the river Krishna. South of the kingdom was the Vijayanagara Empire with which it had to fight continueous wars for various reasons.
The most remarkable figure in the Bahamani kingdom was Firuz Shah Bahamani (1397 AD – 1422 AD), who fought three major battles with the Vijayanagara Empire without any major result. He was well acquainted with religious and natural sciences. He wanted to make the Deccan the cultural centre of India.
Ferhishta – the court poet, calls him an orthodox Muslim, his only weakness being his fondness for drinking wine and listening to music. Firuz Shah was compelled to abdicate in favour of his brother Ahmad Shah I, who was called a saint (wali) on account of his association with the famous Sufi Gesu Daraz. He invaded Warangal and annexed most of its territories.
The loss of Warangal changed the balance of power in south India. The Bahamani kingdom gradually extended and reached its climax under the prime ministership of Mahmud Gawan (1466 AD – 1481 AD). One of the most difficult problems which faced the Bahamanis was a strife among the nobles, who were divided into Deccanis (old-comers) and Afaqis or gharibs (new-comers).
Since, Gawan was a new-comer, it was hard for him to win the confidence of the Deccanis. His broad policy of conciliation, could not stop the party strife. In 1482, Gawan who was over seventy years, was executed by Sultan Muhammad Shah of the Deccan.
After his death, the party strife became more intense and various governors became independent and were finally divided into five parts, namely, Adil Shahi of Bijapur, Qutub Shahi of Golconda, Nizam Shahi of Ahmadnagar, Barid Shahi of Bidar and Imad Shahi of Berar.
This kingdom together crusaded against Vijayanagara Empire and defeated it in 1565. Later on, Imad Shahi was conquered by Nizamshah (1574 AD) and Barid Shahi was annexed by Adilshah (1619 AD). These three kingdoms played a leading role in the Deccan politics till their absorption in the Mughal empire during the seventeenth century. It was Aurangzeb, the Mughal king, who after the death of Shivaji, marched towards the south and annexed Bijapur (1686 AD) and Golconda (1689 AD) and brought an end to the Bahamani kingdom.
One of the largest domes of the world, Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur and Charminar at Hyderabad were the fine examples of architecture of this time. The Bahamanis, in many respects were similar to the Delhi sultanate. Their income came almost entirely from land and the administration revolved around the assessment and collection of land revenue.
The Bahamani kingdom acted as a cultural bridge between the north and the south. The culture which developed as a result had its own specific features which were distinct from north India.
These cultural traditions were continued by the successors states and also influenced the development of Mughal culture during the period.
1526 C.E. – 1857 C.E.
The Mughal period can be called a second classical age in northern India. In this cultural development, the Indian traditions were amalgamated with the Turko-Iranian culture, brought to the country by the Mughals.
The Mughal rulers of India kept up the closest of contacts with Iran and there was a stream of scholars and artists coming over the frontiers to seek fame and fortune at the brilliant court of the Great Mughal, Babar.
Babar (1526 AD – 1530 AD)
Babar founder of the Mughal dynasty, was the king of Kabul. He was invited to India to fight against Ibrahim Lodhi. He confronted and defeated Lodhi in 1526 at the first battle of Panipat.
Babar was the first king to bring artillery to India and succeeded because the cavalry that he had brought from central Asia, which was new to the Indian army, and the fact that he was a good general, with an easily moved army.
Before his death, he had made himself the master of the Punjab, Delhi and the Ganga plains as far as Bihar. He wrote Tuzuk-i-Babari an autobiography, containing a lively description of India, in Turkish.
Humayun (1530 AD – 1556 AD)
He inherited a vast unconsolidated empire and an empty treasury. He also had to deal with the growing power of the Afghan Sher Shah, from the east, who had Bihar and Bengal under him. Sher Shah defeated Humayun in Kannauj (1540 AD) and Humayun passed the next twelve years in exile. In 1555, after Sher Shah’s death, Humayun regained the throne from his weak successor.
Akbar, his son, succeed him in 1556 AD, and consolidated the empire. He was such a good builder that the edifice he had erected lasted for another hundred years in spite of inadequate successors.
There was great subversion of Indian culture, in an effort to Islamicize it. Indian music was adopted as a whole and with enthusiasm by the Muslim Courts and the nobility. Literature and poetry were also encouraged and among the noted poets in Hindi some were Muslims. Ibrahim Adil Shah, the ruler of Bijapur, wrote a treatise in Hindi on Indian music.
Akbar (1556 AD – 1605 AD)
He consolidated the occupying Mughal empire. Daring and reckless, an able general, and ruthless. An idealist and a dreamer, and yet a man of action and a leader of men who roused the passionate loyalty of his followers.
He was only thirteen, when he came to the throne. His first conflict was with Hemu, a general of Adil Shah, under whom the Afghan resistance had regrouped. King Hemu was the only one Hindu King who ever ruled the Delhi Throne in Indian History. At the second battle of Panipat (1556 AD), Hemu was defeated and Akbar reoccupied Delhi and Agra. Akbar annexed Malwa and brought a major part of Rajasthan under his control. He built the Buland Darwaza, after his successful campaign in dominating Gujarat. Most of the Rajputs were forced to recognise his suzerainty, except Mewar, which continued to resist under the great hero Rana Pratap and his son Amar Singh.
After his success in military activities and administration, Akbar’s insatiable quest and his personal need led him to build the Ibadat-Khana – Hall of prayer (1575 AD). Initially it was open only to the Sunnis but later in 1578, it was opened to people of all religions in an effort to win over those who refused to convert. However, in 1582, he discontinued the debates in the Ibadat-Khana.
Later the academic, spiritual and metaphysical aspects of it crystallized into Tauhid-i-Ilahi (Divine Monotheism). Akbar did not create a new religion but suggested a new religious path based on the common truths of all religions, which continued to place Islam in a supreme position. The word Din (Faith) of Din-i-Ilahi, was applied after eighty years.
Akbar claimed to believe that a ruler was the guardian of his subjects and had to look after their welfare irrespective of their sect or creed. He claimed a policy of Sulh-i-kul (peace to all).
Because of his attempt to convince the native population that he was a generous and tolerant tyrant, he has come to be called by the gullible as one of the great rulers in Indian history, a lie still believed by many today.
Salim (1605 AD – 1627 AD)
Akbar’s son, Salim succeeded him as Jahangir after his death. He strengthened his control over Bengal and his four successive campaigns forced Amar Singh of Mewar to accept his suzerainty. The Mughal empire became more vulnerable to attacks from central and western Asia. Towards the end of his reign, he had to deal with the rebellion of his son Shah Jahan. Toward the end of his reign, the East India Company (1600 AD) was established in India. An important event of his reign was the active interest taken by Nur Jahan, his queen, in matters of the State and she also ruled the empire when he was ill.
Shah Jahan (1628 AD – 1658 AD)
On his succession to the throne, the first thing he had to face was revolts in Bhundelkhand and the Deccan. The former he put down easily and the latter came into control with difficulty. Meanwhile the Marathas also emerged as a major threat to the authority of the Mughals.
The Famous peacock throne and the Red Fort were completed by him. He seized and remodeled a great Shiva Temple, the Tejo Mahila, and turned it into a graveyard for one of his dead wives and renamed it Taj Mahal. His failing health started a war of succession amongst his four sons in 1657.
Aurangzeb (1658 AD – 1707 AD)
Aurangzeb, the third son treacherously emerged victorious by killing his brothers and imprisoned his father in Agra fort till his death. He ruled for almost 50 years. During his long reign the Mughal empire reached its territorial climax. At its height, it stretched from Kashmir in the north to Jinji in the south, and from the Hindu Kush in the west to Chittagong in the east.
He was an orthodox in his outlook and kept himself within the narrow confines of the Islamic law. He discarded Akbar’s supposedly secular principles and vigorously enforced the Jaziya Tax on all non-muslims with severity and destroyed many temples. This did not make Muslims more loyal to the Islamic state, although, the vast native Hindu majority became even more alienated.
Most of his time was spent in trying to put down the revolts in different parts of his empire. While the empire was rent by strife and revolt, the new Maratha power was growing and consolidating itself in western India. Shivaji, the Maratha King, stopped Aurangzeb’s mission of expanding towards the south. However after Shivaji’s death Aurangzeb accomplished his mission of southward expansion. Apart from him, no one else, except the Britishers held India under a single rule.
Aurangzeb, the last of Mughals, tried to put the clock back, and in his attempt broke up the empire. After his death, the Mughal empire collapsed with internal conflicts among the successors and was reduced to the area around Delhi.
The various provinces declared their independence and the Marathas under the leadership of Peshwas, gradually extended their hold in North India. Foreign invasion of Nadir Shah Abdali in 1729 AD and Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1747-61 AD further weakened the empire. The last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was imprisoned by the Britishers after the 1857 mutiny.
India’s connection with the west has predominantly been related to trade. Amongst the modern Europeans, the Portuguese were the first to establish themselves in India and the last of the Europeans to leave. They arrived as early as 1498 via the ocean route discovered by Vasco-da-Gama.
He was the first discoverer of sea route via Cape of Good Hope to India, when Constantinople came under Arab power. Portuguese left behind Roman Catholic Christianity with its Baroque churches, its musical liturgy and its great monastic order committed to education. What happened to India when the Portuguese arrived?
European interest in India has persisted since classical times and for very cogent reasons. Europe had much to steal from India such as spices, textiles and other oriental products. The best classical accounts are in fact the commercial ones. When direct contact was lost with the fall of Rome and the rise of the Muslims, the trade was carried on through middlemen. In the late Middle Ages it increased with the increasing prosperity of Europe. It should be remembered that the spice trade was not solely a luxury trade at that time. Spices were needed to preserve meat through the winter (cattle had to be slaughtered in late autumn through lack of winter fodder) and to combat the taste of decay. Wine, in the absence of ancient or modern methods of maturing, had to be ‘mulled’ with spices. This trade suffered two threats in the later Middle Ages. There was
the threat of Mongol and Turkish invasion which interfered with the land routes and threatened to engulf the sea route through Egypt, and there was the threat of monopoly shared between the Venetians and Egyptians.
In 1510 Affonso de Albuquerque captured the island of Goa on the west coast of India from the Sultan of Bijapur and made it the capital of the Portuguese eastern empire. Its strong points besides Goa were Socotra off the Red Sea (he could not take Aden), Ormuz in the Persian Gulf, Diu in Gujrat, Malacca, the entrepot for the Far East and the spice trade in the East Indies, and Macao in China. The function of Goa was to supervise Malabar, to control the pilgrim traffic to Mecca as well as the general trade to Egypt, Iraq and Persia, and of Malacca to control the East Indian spices at their source.
However, the Portuguese irked some of the Mughal and preceding rulers because of the toll they took of the trade from the port of Surat and the pilgrim traffic. In seizing and retaining their strong points they acquired a reputation for cruelty and peridy because their practice on both these points was below the current Indian standard. They were deeply impregnated with the idea that no faith need be kept with an infidel. It was from this period that the word feringi (lit.farangi, frank) acquired the opprobrium of which echoes may still be heard today.
However, the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir admired their pictures and had them copied. Emperor Akbar listened with interest to Jesuit Father’s discourses. The New Testament was translated into Persian. However, during the whole of the 16th century the Portuguese disputed with the Muslims the supremacy of the Indian seas, and the antagonism between Christianity and Islam became gradually more intense. In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese navigator commanded the first expedition to sail around the world. In the Collins Encyclopaedia it is written that Magellan set sail to check the power of Muslim navy and fleet that was dominant. In 1560, the Portuguese
being intolerant in religion, introduced the Inquisition with all its horrors. This was regarded as sub-standard from the Indian standpoint, advertising this trait in their rough handling of Syrian Christians of Malabar to secure their submission to the Catholic faith.
Socially the policy of Albuquerque in encouraging mixed marriages had important results. His object was to rear a population possessing Portuguese blood and imbued with Portuguese Catholic culture who would be committed by race and taste to the Portuguese settlements and so form a permanent self-perpetuating garrison. The result was the race long known as Luso-Indians and now as Goansese or Goans. They are mainly Indian in blood, Catholic in religion, and partially western in outlook. In recent times, they have spread all over India as traders and professionals, a less successful version of the Parsis. (Of all the Asians in Britain, a majority of whom are Muslim, the first Asian MP had to be a Roman Catholic of Goanese descent, Keith Vaz).
Some Portuguese words have even crept into the Urdu language such as the names of items for furniture (mayze for desk, almaari for cupboard/wardrobe). Also vindaloo (curry) is part Portuguese and part Urdu: vian is Portuguese for meat and aloo is the Urdu for potato – thus we have meat and potato curry.
The Portuguese were soon followed by European rivals like the French, Dutch and British. Rivalry between the Dutch and English resulted in the Dutch East India Company “winning” Southeast Asia and Indonesia (known to Europeans as the East Indies); and the British East India Company having to settle for “second-best”, that is India.
THE BRITISH EAST INDIA COMPANY
The East India Company chartered by the British crown and ultimately responsible to the parliament, launched British rule in India. The British East India Company was established under a Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I for 15 years for spice trading on 31st December 1600 AD with the capital of £70,000.
By the middle of the eighteenth century, the company succeeded in establishing power in Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and the east coast. After the battle of Plassey, in 1757, they secured permission from the Mughals to collect land revenue from these provinces in return for an annual tribute and maintaining of order and peace.
They collected the land revenues through the local Nawab and took control of his army. This gave them power without responsibility. The Company took control of Mysore by defeating Tipu Sultan in 1792 and the Marathas were finally defeated in 1817 AD – 1819 AD. Further the company expanded its rule by defeating Nepal in 1814-16, Sind in 1843, Punjab in 1848-49 and Burma in 1886.
The cruel management of the company ultimately lead to the mutiny of 1857, after which its rule over India ended and the British Crown officially took over the administration in 1858.
THE INITIAL STRUGGLE FOR INDEPENDENCE
The many changes that Britain had brought about in the administration and the ways of life created considerable discontent; and there were many risings in various parts of the country from 1816 to 1857. This culminated in the Revolt of 1857, which shook the very foundation of the Company’s rule in India.
After nearly a century of British rule, the spirit of revolt was growing, especially among the feudal chiefs and their followers. Even amongst the masses, discontent and an intense anti-British feeling was wide spread. In March 1857, the Indian army at Barrackpore mutinied and this spread rapidly like a wildfire and assumed the character of a popular rebellion and a war of Indian independence.
By 1857 the material for mass upheaval was ready and required only a spark to set it afire. The episode of greased cartridges provided this spark and the revolt was started by Mangal Pande. The greased cartridges which were to be chewed before firing contained fats of cow and pig. The cow was holy for Hindus where as pig was the most unholy animal for muslims.
Immediately the revolt engulfed North and Central India. On May 10, 1857 sepoys stationed at Meerut mutinied and marched to Delhi and proclaimed Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal Emperor, as the Emperor of India.
THE BRITISH RAJ
The Revolt of 1857 severely jolted the British administration in India and forced its reorganisation. By the act of 1858, the governing power was transferred from the East India company to the British crown. This power was to be exercised by the Secretary of State for India (member of the British cabinet and responsible to Parliament) aided by
an Indian Council, which had only advisory powers.
For administrative purpose India was divided into three presidencies, namely, Bengal, Madras and Bombay Presidency. The interests of the British thus became paramount in the governance of India. The policies and interests of the British in India were determined by the industrialists, the most powerful section in British society.
Indian resources were also utilized to serve the interests of the British empire in other parts of the world and in costly wars. The queen’s proclamations of 1858, promised not to extend British territories in India by annexing Princely
states and they were subordinated to the British government. By the act of 1876, Queen Victoria assumed the title of Empress of India. This implied that Britain would protect the Indian states from internal as well as external danger and get the unlimited powers to intervene in the internal affairs of the State.
Thus after 1857, India was divided into two parts – British India, directly governed by the British government and the Indian states ruled by Indian princes. Britishers gradually stopped their support to the reforms which resulted in the
preservation of social evils. After 1857 mutiny, they followed the Divide and rule policy, in a aim to create a rift between the Indian Hindus and Muslims.
He founded the Hindu kingdom in the Deccan against all odds, fighting against the mighty Mughals. He inspired and united the common man to fight against the tyranny of Mughal ruler Aurangzeb, by inculcating a sense of pride and nationality in them. At the age of 16, he took a pledge to establish a sovereign Hindu state. His life appears like a fairy tale to children. He clearly outstands all the rulers and generals of India by the exemplary life he lived and is thus respected by the entire cross section of Indians. Shivaji is to India what Napolean was to Europe.
He raised a strong army and navy, constructed and repaired forts, used guerilla warfare tactics, developed a strong intelligence network, gave equal treatment to the people from all religions and castes based on merit, and functioned like a seasoned Statesman and General. He appointed ministers with specific functions such as Internal security, Foreign affairs, Finance, Law and Justice, Religious matters, Defense etc. He introduced systems in revenue collection and warned the officials against harassment of subjects. He thought ahead of times and was a true visionary. In his private life, his moral virtues were exceptionally high. His thoughts and deeds were inspired by the teachings of his mother Jijabai, teacher Dadaji Konddev, great saints like Dnyaneshwar & Tukaram and the valiancy and ideals of the Lords Rama and Krishna.
The tiny kingdom established by Chhatrapati Shivaji known as “Hindavi Swaraja” (Sovereign Hindu state) grew and spread beyond Attock in Northwest India (now in Pakistan) and beyond Cuttack in East India in course of time, to become the strongest power in India. The Peshwas (Pune), Shindes Gwalior, Gaekwads (Baroda) & Holkars (Indore) contributed to its growth. The history of India is incomplete without the history of Marathas and Shivaji is the nucleus of Maratha history. Shivaji has been a source of inspiration and pride and will continue to inspire generations in future.
Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj
and the National Revival under the Marathas
by Sudheer Birodkar
The Marathas – Samurais from Western India
The Marathas are a proud and hardy race who are a sub-set of the wider Hindu Community. They are first mentioned in Indian history as the stout fighters in the army of the Chalukya King Pulikeshin who resisted the Southward march of Emperor Harsha in the 7th century C.E.
The Maratha dynasties of the ancient (pre-Muslim) period are the Chalukyas (500 C.E. to 750C.E.), the Rastrakutas (750 C.E. to 978 C.E. and the Yadavas or Jadhavs (1175 C.E. to 1318 C.E.).
The Marathas were the first who crossed Malik Kafur’s path, when he invaded the deccan in 1314 C.E. They were then led by the last scion of the Yadava dynasty – Ramdev Rai Yadava who ruled from Devagiri (today’s Daulatabad). In their first clash with the Muslims; the Marathas lost to the invaders and accepted the status of being vassals and mercenaries of their Muslim overlords.
The Marathas before Shivaji were Mercenaries and revenue Collectors for the Muslim Rulers. In keeping with the feudal tradition, the Maratha Sardars (Generals), before Shivaji kept shifting their loyalties from one Muslim ruler to another. And there were many Muslim rulers like the Adilshahis at Bijapur, the Nizamshahis at Ahmednagar (Berar), the Qutubshahis at Golkonda (Hyderabad), etc.
Shahji Bhosale, who was Shivaji’s father typified this practice of shifting loyalties from one Muslim overlord to another. He was from time-to-time in the service of the Mughals, the Adilshahis and the Nizamshahis. The thought of establishing an Independent Maratha-Hindu kingdom, does seem to have crossed his mind, but he never really got about to doing it successfully. The germ of this idea however seems to have got rubbed into Shivaji – his son by Jijabai.
Shivaji Maharaj – the Visionary Saint-Soldier
Shivaji was born in the year 1627 at the Fort of Shivneri in Maharashtra in Western India. Shivaji’s mother, Jijabai was a direct descendant of the erstwhile Yadav royal family of Devagiri. She seems to have nursed deep within her mind the idea of recovering independence from Muslim rule which her Yadav forebears had lost in the year 1318. Shivaji grew up with these ideas embedded into him. His childhood stories are those of playing games in which he and his friends attacked and captured forts held by the enemy.
The Oath of Independence – at Raireshwar
When Shivaji was seventeen, he decided to transform what were till then simply games to a reality. He and his friends encouraged by Jijabai and his Guru Dadoji Kondeo; decided to take a formal oath to free the country from the shackles of Muslim tyranny. This was done in the year 1645 in a dark cavern housing a small temple to the Hindu God Shiva (locally called Raireshwar).
At the cave temple of Raireshwar in the Sayhadris Shivaji and his select band of teenaged Maratha friends slit their thumbs and poured the blood oozing from it on the Shiva-linga (representing the Lord Shiva). By this act they declared a blood-feud against
This was the beginning of a long and arduous Maratha-Mughal struggle that went on for the next century and a half to culminate in the defeat of the Mughals and their replacement by the Marathas as the dominant power in India when the British came into the scene. (But more of the British later.)
Shivaji’s encounter with Afzal Khan
When Shivaji started his military career by capturing the fortress of Torana, it sent shockwaves in the Adilshshi court at Bijapur. Here was a local Hindu chieftain, daring to challenge the might of a Muslim ruler. The retribution was swift and Adil Shah sent in his most fearsome general named Afzal Khan to bring back Shivaji dead or alive to Bijapur. Afzal Khan who was reputed to be more than six feet tall and of a real massive built, set on his mission and in order to lure Shivaji down into the plains, he destroyed the Hindu temples at Tuljapur, Pandharpur and Shikhar Shenganapur.
Afzal Goes Up to Pratapgad
This ploy failed to work and Shivaji stuck to his Hill fastness in the Sahyadris. Shivaji even sent a letter to Afzal Khan praising the legendary strength of Afzal Khan’s powerful arms and his reputed fearlessness. Shivaji addressed him as his uncle and said that he was afraid to come down to meet Afzal Khan. Shivaji asked him to come up into the hills to meet him and on condition that Afzal Khan came with not more than few select soldiers. The proud Khan felt that the Dekkhan-Ka-Chuha (Rat of the Deccan as the Muslims scornfully addressed Shivaji) had really chickened out.
Afzal Meets his Nemesis in Shivaji
Khan-Saheb agreed to go up the hills at Pratapgad to meet his nemesis. When the meeting took place, Afzal Khan embraced Shivaji and with his diminutive enemy (Shivaji was less than five feet in height) in his grip, Afzal suddenly pulled out his dagger and tried to stab Shivaji. When Afzal’s dagger could not plunge into Shivaji Maharaj due to the protective armour which Shivaji was wearing, Afzal tried to throttle him. But the wily Maratha was more than prepared for this as he had come down not only with full armour that was hidden by his thick satin robes, but he also had with him the ‘Wagh Nakh’ – a sharp weapon resembling tiger claws that could be hidden in the grip of one’s fist. In addition, he had the Bichhwa – curved dagger hidden in the pocket of his
On sensing that the Khan meant to throttle him, Shivaji pierced the tiger claws deep into Khan’s belly and pulled out his intestines. After which Shivaji repeatedly stabbed him with the bichhwa. The Khan bellowed “Daga” “Daga” and yelled for Syed Banda, his bodyguard to come to his rescue. When Syed Banda, also a burly Muslim was about to strike Shivaji with his sword, Shivaji’s bodyguard Jiva Mahalya struck off Banda’s upraised arm in the air itself.
After this commotion, the bleeding Khan tried to make good his escape and rushed into his palanquin. As the palanquin bearers set off with the fleeing Khan, Santaji Kawji, another of Shivaji’s select warriors cut-off the feet of the bearers and Khans’ palanquin, with its load of Khansaab fell to the ground. Santaji Kawji, then finished off the task of sending Khan to his final resting place. Khan’s army which was waiting in the valley was ruthlessly massacred by the Marathas who were hiding behind every crevice and bush in the densely wooded jungles around the Pratapgad fort. At the place where this encounter took place on 10th November 1659 between Shivaji Maharaj and the Khan, there stands today a Kabar (grave) erected by Shivaji for the departed Khan’s soul to rest in peace.
The result of this dramatic encounter was that the Bijapur ruler panicked and after that never posed a serious threat to the growing Maratha power. The next Muslim power which Shivaji turned to was that of the Mughals. Here was the real challenge for Shivaji. The Bijapur rulers were a provincial power, while the Mughals were an power of imperial dimensions whose writ ran almost all over Northern India.
The Siege of Panhalgad
Despite this defeat, Bijapur’s Adil Shah made one last attempt to check Shivaji by sending another general named Siddhi Jouhar against him. Siddhi besiged Panhalgad where Shivaji was camping. The seige went on for some months, from summer till the monsoons. But Shivaji Maharaj slipped out of Panhalgad and reached safely at Vishalgad.
The Brave Deed of Baji Prabhu Deshpande
It is during this escape that Baji Prabhu Deshpande held the pursuing enemy troops at a narrow pass called Ghod Khind. Baji Prabhu immortalized himself by laying down his life but ensured that his Master reached safely at Vishalgad. This narrow pass is today known as Pawan Khind i.e. a Holy Pass. Made holy by Baji Prabhu’s memorably brave deed.
Encounter with Shaista Khan – Aurangzeb’s Uncle
The next Khan to come down ‘literally’ before Shivaji was Shaista Khan. On hearing Shivaji’s depredations, Aurangzeb was furious and wanted to desperately crush this infidel upstart. He sent his uncle maternal Shaista Khan with a large and powerful army to checkmate Shivaji.
He set an example of religious tolerance in an age when conversion at the point of the sword was the norm. He defended the honour of womenfolk in an age when captured women of the enemy were considered to be the rightful property by their Muslim captors
to be put in the Harem – concubine chamber. Shivaji Maharaj was way ahead of his times
in his vision and mission.
But even this time the wily Maratha proved that brain was stronger than the brawn. Shaista Khan came into Maharashtra and started devstating towns, villages fields, temples, forts and everything that came in his path.
Shaista Establishes his Harem in Shivaji’s Devghar (Prayer Room)
To provoke Shivaji, Shaista Khan established his camp in Shivaji’s home in Pune called Lal-Mahal. And to top it up, he put up his Harem in Shivaji’s Devghar (prayer room).
Shaista is Lucky – He Only Loses His Fingers
Shivaji bided his time for many months and one on fine day (night), he with a select band of Maratha Samurais, sneaked into Pune and into the Lal-Mahal. He tracked down the sleeping Khan to his bed. The Khan sensing that his time was up tried jumping out of the window. At that point Shivaji cut off the Khan’s fingers with which he was holding on to the window sill.
On the Khan’s wife’s pleading before Shivaji to spare her husband’s life as she considered Shivaji to be her brother. And so killing her husband would mean making her a widow, Shivaji spared the Khan’s life. This was a mistake for which Shivaji was to pay dearly later. Shivaji made good his escape from the Khan’s lair, but not before the treacherous Khan ordered his troops to give chase and try to capture the fleeing Shivaji.
Shaista’s Retreat from Maharashtra
The Khan however, decided that enough was enough and returned to Delhi – without his fingers. This happened in April 1663 The failure of his uncle peeved Aurang to no end and he now sent another general to subjugate Shivaji. This was Mirza Raja Jai Singh, Aurangzeb’s Hindu general who was also the scion of the house of the Suryavanshi Kachhawaha’s who we saw earlier had ingratiated themselves to the Mughal rulers by giving away their daughters in marriage to the Mughal Padishah. (The Moghuls
incidentally never returned the favour by giving, or even offerring, their daughters to the Rajputs!).
This Mirza Raja Jaisingh who came with a powerful force was smarter than Shaista Khan sent earlier by Aurangzeb. Mirzaji laid siege to Purandar alongwith a systematic loot and destruction of rural Maharashtra.
The Brave Deed of Murar Baji
When Raja Jai Singh and his general Diler Khan laid siege to the Fort of Purandar. Murar Baji was the Maratha Fort Commandant at Purandar. To break the morale of the Maratha troops, Diler Khan launched a viscious attack on the fort and laid waste the surrounding countryside. The Mughals succeeded in forcing their way into the outer defenses of Purandar.
However, the Marathas were not easily intimidated, they withdrew to the inner fort (bali-killa) and kept on their attack on the besieging Mughals. One day, Murar Baji decided to rain hell on the enemy and the Marathas stormed out of the fort and fell upon the Mughals who were occupying the outer fort. In face of the Maratha attack, the Mughals broke ranks and fled to their main camp in the plains below, where Diler Khan was camping.
Seeing the ferocity of the Maratha attack, Diler Khan, decided to tempt Murar Baji with an offer of making him a general in the Mughal army if he betrayed Shivaji. When news of this offer reached Murar Baji, in the midst of the battle, his rage knew no bounds, and in a rash act he pushed into the ranks of the Mughal troops, hacking right, left and center towards Diler Khan and shouted at him that he would reply Diler’s offer by cutting off his head and taking it to Shivaji Maharaj.
Murar Baji had left his own troops behind and was now surrounded by Mughal troops on all sides, but he could only see Diler, whose head he wanted. This act was brave but rash and cost Murar Baji his life. Their leader dead, the Marathas withdrew into the fort. The news of this battle and the passing away of Murar Baji and the long drawn siege along with the destruction of the countryside forced Shivaji to reach out for a compromise with Jai Singh in the interests of the sufferring population of Maharashtra.
The Treaty of Purandar
The treaty of Purandar signed between Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Shivaji Maharaj had among many conditions, one condition that Shivaji accompany Mirzaji to Agra. Shivaji decided to go to Agra in 1666.
Shivaji’s Visit to Aurangzeb at Agra
At Agra, when Shivaji presented himself at the Moghul court, Aurangzeb deliberately insulted him by making him stand behind a lesser noble whom Shivaji has once defeated in battle. This was a calculated humiliation that Aurang had arranged for Shivaji. As a result Shivaji left the court in a huff. This gave Aurangzeb an excuse to declare Shivaji of having committed the offence of insulting the Mughal court.
Imprisonment of Shivaji
Aurangzeb detained Shivaji in Mirza Raja Jai Singh’s house where Shivaji had put up. Shivaji seems to have read Aurangzeb’s mind of having him put to death. Aurag had made plans to shift Shivaji into the proper Mughal dungeons.
Shivaji’s Escape from Aurang’s Clutches
Shivaji struck upon an idea and said that he wanted to make peace with God by sending fruit and sweetmeats to Brahmins and holy men. To this Aurangzeb consented. One fine day Shivaji and his son Sambhaji hid himself in two of the sizable baskets in which fruits and sweetmeats had been packed everyday and made good their escape from Aurnag’s custody. In doing this Shivaji must have had in mind what had happened to his general Netaji Palkar who after being captured by the Mughals had been forced to embrace Islam and change his name to Quli Mohammed Khan. Netaji was forced to serve as a Mughal soldier in Afghanistan, till he too made good his escape and returned to Shivaji to reconvert to Hinduism and join the forces of Swaraja once again. Others were not so lucky, they were made to convert to Islam and some others were simply tortured to death – as was to happen later with Shivaji’s son Shambhu Raje or Sambhaji, after
Shivaji Maharaj’s Seal
Shivaji Maharaj was the first Hindu King to ascend a throne after a long time. During the Dark Days of Muslim Tyranny, Shivaji Maharaj was one of the very few (along with the Ranas of Mewad), to issue his own coinage. Shivaji’s coinage was in
lower denomination coin and the Hon was a gold coin of a higher denomination. To erase
the memory of Shivaji Maharaj, Aurangzeb issued an order after the passing away of
Shivaji Maharaj that all Hons were to be imponded and melted. That Aurang did not
succeed in erazing Shivaji Maharaj’s illustruous personality from our memory is another
Coronation of Shivaji as Chattrapati
After returning to the Deccan, Shivaji again raised an army and recaptured all the forts that he had been made to surrender to the Mughals as per the treaty of Purandar. In this phase we see the exploits of his brave general Tanaji Malusare who perished while recapturing the invincible fort of Kondana from Uday Bhan – the renegade Rajput who was the Mughal commandant of the fort.
After all the forts had been recaptured, Shivaji was pursuaded by Gaga Bhatt (a brahmin from Benaras) and his mother the ageing Jijabai to formally crown himself as the king of the Marathas. The coronation took place at Raigad on the 6th of June 1674.
Narvir Tanaji’s Impossibly Brave Deed
The fort of Kondana, which is today on the outskirts of Pune town was then an outpost overlooking Pune and the surrounding countryside. It was strategically placed in the center of a string of forts of Rajgad, Purandar, and Torna. The capture of Kondana was necessary if Shivaji Maharaj was to re-establish de facto control over the Pune region.
Recognizing the strategic importance of Kondana, the Mughals had maintained a battalion of 5000 troops led by Udai Bhan, a relative of Mirza Raja Jai Singh. The fort was built in such a way that all its approaches were covered by cannon-fire. Only on turret was not well defended as it was at the top of a vertical overhanging cliff.
Tanaji decided that this was the only way, he could enter the fort. He dressed himself as a Gondhali (devotee of the Goddess Bhavani of Tuljapur) and roamed the surrounding villages. He won the trust of one Mahadev Koli who was in the service of Udai Bhan. Koli presented the disguished Tanaji to Udai Bhan, who was suitably impressed by this “devotee” and allowed him free access to the fort.
Tanaji carried out a careful surveillance of the fort and at that very night when he was told that at the overhanging cliff Udai Bhan and all his senior commanders would be celebrating a usual party with an alcohol and dance orgy; Tanaji decided that he should seize this opportunity.
With almost all his troops, Udai Bhan had a roaring party on top of the overhanging cliff. Unknown to them after midnight, Tanaji and his brave followers who numbered 300 scaled the cliff using ropes tied to a reptile called Ghorpad. The Ghorpad can stick fast to any surface and a number of adults can use this force to scale a vertical cliff with the help of a rope, one end of which is tied to the Ghorpad. Silently Tanaji and his comrades slunk up to the top of the cliff.
On the other side his uncle Shelar Mama and his brother Suryaji had moved close to the other gates of the forts with another 300 Mavalas (Maratha Soldiers). On a signal from Tanaji, all his comrades who has taken up strategic position all round the celebrating Mughal army, broke into the party and mercilessly fell upon their enemies. They started slaughtering the surprised and ill-prepared and drunken Muslim soldiers.
When Udai Bhan saw that Tanaji – the leader of this invading band of Marathas was no other than the devotee whom he had given permission to visit the fort, he flew into a mad rage. On seeing Tanaji, Udai Bhan rushed at him and we are told that for a few fatal seconds, Tanaji started dancing in the same fashion as he had done as a Gondhali (devotee) when he had met Udai Bhan earlier in the day. The enraged Udai Bhan lunged at dancing Tanaji and cut off the arm with which Tanaji was holding his shield. But undaunted Tanaji used his turban to ward off further thrusts from the blade of Udai Bhan’s sword and continued fighting him for 2 hours in this state with his wristless left arm bleeding profusely. It is for this feat of Tanaji, that he is called Narvir – Brave amongst Men.
At the end of this ordeal, the exhausted Tanaji fell to a fatal swish of Udai
Bhan’s sword. But Udai Bhan too was throttled by Shelar Mama and thus lost his life.
Shivaji Maharaj is said to have said on this occasion “Gad aala, paan Simha gela” (We have won the fort but have lost the Lion – Tanaji). The fort of Kondana was renamed as “Sinhagad” in honour of Tanaji’s brave deed.
A “Nazarana” – The Daughter-in-law of the Muslim Subahdar of Kalyan
During the days after the coronation, many Maratha generals presented Nazaranas (tribute in kind) to the newly anointed King of Maharashtra. It was then a practice of the Muslims to abduct any fair maiden and to force her into the harem as a concubine. (A harem is a term for the living quarters of abducted women, nominally treated as wives.) On one such occasion, following the “illustrious” example set by the Muslim aggressors, a Maratha Sardar also (general) abducted a daughter-in-law of the Muslim Subahadar of Kalyan, near Mumbai (Kalyan was then under Mughal occupation).
This Sardar presented this “Nazarana” to Shivaji Maharaj, expecting to be patted on the back for such a “fair” tribute. Shivaji Maharaj’s reaction at this occasion, gives us an insight into the mind of the person who lived 300 years before us. Shivaji not only chided the general, but warned him and all the other Maratha generals that such a heinous offence would henceforth attract a penalty of the offender’s hands being chopped off. The dazed general was asked by Shivaji to return with full honours, the daughter-in-law of the Muslim Subahadar of Kalyan.
The Maratha ballads (Povadas) that describe this event say that on hearing Shivaji’s dialogue in Marathi the teenaged girl is said to have exclaimed “Ya Allah, yeh aadmi nahin farishta hai. Ees farishtey pe kamyaabi bahal karna.” (“O Lord, this is not an ordinary man but an angel. Bestow success on this angel.”) The Maratha balladeers, while narrating this event say that “Asseech amuchi aai asatee,sundar roopavati; amhi hee sundar zhalo asato – vadaley Chattrapati” (“If my mother had been as beautiful, I too would have been as beautiful – exclaimed Chattrapati”).
These dialogues might as well be a later romanticization of what actually happened. But it proves a point – Shivaji Maharaj had risen above the attitudes of religious bigotry, and beastly behaviour that had come to typify the Indian ruling class under Muslim rule.
Karnataka and Tamil Nadu Campaigns of Shivaji
After this Shivaji launched his campaign in Karnatak, which took him up to Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. The period from 1674 up his passing away in 1680 was a relatively peaceful period, as the Mughal made no more attempts to molest the Marathas. Only after the passing away of Shivaji Maharaj did Aurang again dared to venture into Maharashtra, and then too he did not entrust the task to any general. He came himself in 1682 and stayed on in the deccan till his death in 1707.
HEROES AFTER SHIVAJI
The Marathas After Shivaji Maharaj – Sambhaji
After the passing away of their illustrious leader, the marathas fell into relative disarray. Shivaji’s eldest son Sambhaji did not prove adequate to the responsibility of preserving the flame of independence to which his father had given the initial spark. Sambhaji was extremely fearless and brave. Maratha chronicles (Bakhars) refer to him as in fact more assertive and independent than his father. But in addition to all this Sambhaji also had vices like wine and women. In his eventful life, Shivaji Maharaj did not seem to have had enough time to groom his successor.
Sambhaji’s temper had a short fuse. During Shivaji’s life-time itself, he had once quarreled with his father and had gone over to join the Mughals as one of their Mansabdars. Subsequently, he realized his folly and came back to his father and repented. But this act of his deeply hurt his father nad also displayed his chimerical nature for which he was to pay later with a painful death.
After the death of Shivaji Maharaj, Sambhaji was crowned as Chattrapati. He brazenly followed policies detrimental to the fledgling Maratha power. In this he was given short-sighted advise by his friend Kavi Kalash.
Sambhaji did not falter in battling the Mughals, as well as the Portuguese. In those days Aurnagzeb had come over to the Deccan. After subjugating the Bijapur and Golkonda kingdoms, he turned his attention on the Marathas. He carried on a ceaseless campaign against the Marathas. Sambhaji performed many daring acts in this guerrilla campaign especially in the Konkan region. But in spite of his bravery, his short temper and his vices went against him. One night, when he was passing thru Sangmeshwar with a small band of bodygaurds, he was waylaid by the Mughals and was brought in chains before Aurangzeb.
On being presented to Aurabgzeb, Sambhaji was asked to surrender all his forts, accept Islam and enter the service of the Mughal Emperor. To this affront, Sambhaji scronfully replied that he could consider this if Aurangzeb gave him his daughter in marriage and proclaimed him as the successor to the Mughal throne! On hearing this Aurang flew into a rage and decided to torture Sambhaji to death. Sambhaji’s eyes were gouged, his tongue was cut off, followed by his arms and legs. Sambhaji died an inhuman death, but till the agonizing end he never recanted his faith.
Rajaram, Tarabai and Shahu
After Sambhaji’s assassination, his step-brother Rajaram became the king. He was not especially brave and is said to have been physically weak. During his time Aurangzeb besieged and captured Raigad. Instead of fighting the enemy, Rajaram fled from Raigad when the fort was about to be besieged. Raigad fell into the hands of the Mughals in 1689 when a renegade Maratha called Suryaji Pisal betrayed the defences of the fort to the besieging Mughals. During the capture of Raigad, Sambhaji’ wife Yesubai and his son Shahu were taken captive by the Mughals. Rajaram’s life as Chattrapati was spent mostly in fleeing from the Mughal armies.
Nevertheless during his times, the generals like Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav carried out a whirlwind guerrilla campaign to harras the Mughal army and never let Aurangzeb rest in one place. Thus in spite of his presence in the Deccan for more than 25 years from 1680 to 1707, Aurang could not subsume the flame of independence lit by Shivaji Maharaj.
In 1700, Rajaram died of sickness and he was succeeded by his wife Tarabai. She was the nominal leader of the Marathas from 1700 to 1707, although the military activities were coordinated by the duo of Santaji and Dhanaji.
Aurang’s Death in 1707
When Aurang died in 1707, his son Azamshah who was with him at his deathbed, proclaimed himself the Mughal Emperor and prepared to battle his elder brother Muaazam, who was then in Kabul. To ensure that the Marathas came over to his side, Azamshah released Shahu who was till then held as a prisoner by the Mughals. Shahu had been a prisoner for 18 years from 1689 up to 1707. When Shahu staked his claim to the throne, Tarabi was ruling. A battle between the two was inevitable. This battle fought at Khed went in favour of Shahu and he became the Chattrapati. He was incidentally the last de facto Chattrapati of the Marathas.
Prime Ministers Peshwas become de facto Kings
During the days of Shahu, his general Dhanaji Jadhav had a very able accountant named Balaji Vishwanath Bhatt. This accountant rose in Dhanaji’s favour by dint of hard work. His successful track record brought him visibility in the eyes of Shahu.
On Dhanaji’s passing away, Shahu appointed him as his accountant. During this period, Shahu was attacked by forces loyal to Tarabai. To face this attack, Shahu appointed Balaji Viswanath Bhatt as a Senakarta (i.e. Commander). Balaji Viswanath proved to be an able soldier too. This increased the confidence Shahu had in him and he appointed Balaji Viswanath as his representative to negotiate with Kanhoji Angre, the Admiral of the Maratha Navy, who was at that time with Shahu’s rival Tarabai. Before, balaji Viswanath could take up this assignment, he asked Shahu to appoint him as a Prime Minister or Peshwa. To this request Shahu conceded and Balaji Vishwanath Bhatt became the Chattrapati’s first Peshwa.
Balaji negotiated with Kanhoji Angre and both consented to accept the other’s independent sphere of influence. With Balaji Vishwanath in charge of the Maratha military and Kanhoji in charge of the Marathas Navy. This agreement set the course for Balaji Viswanatha’s rise as a Peshwa during his subsequent visit to Delhi with an army of 12,000 Marathas. During this visit to Delhi, on an invitation from the Syed brothers in their struggle with the Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiyyar, the Maratha forces led by Balaji Viswanath clashed with the forces of Mughal Emperor and defeated them. This was the first Maratha victory over the Mughals in Delhi. This event marks the asendency of the Marathas in Delhi an asendency that was to last for almost a century till they were supplanted by the British in 1803.
The Peshwas – Baji Rao, Balaji Baji Rao, Madhav Rao
As we saw above, after Shahu, the de facto executive power passed into the hands of the hereditary Prime Ministers the Peshwas. Balaji Viawanath Bhatt was succeeded by his son Baji Rao the first. Baji Rao was a very able and ambitious soldier and he was the one who consolidated Maratha power in North India.
Baji Rao died at a relativey young age of 40 in the year 1740. His was succeeded by his son Balaji Baji Rao. Balaji Baji Rao played a tragic role in Maratha history and the fissiparous tendencies he let loose ultimately let to the downfall of the Maratha empire.
His first mistake was to go back on the agreement between his grandfather Balaji Viswanath Bhatt and Kanhoji Angre according to which the Peshwa was to have no direct control over the Maratha Navy. He attacked the his own navy and weakened one arm of the Maratha might.
During his rule, North India was invaded by Ahmed Shah Abdali first in 1756. Balaji Baji Rao then sent his brother Raghunath Rao along with Malharrao Holkar to defeat Abdali. Raghunath rao not only defeated Abdali but chased him up to the Khyber pass till Attock in Paktoonistan.
This success of Raghunath Rao aroused the jealousy of Balaji Baji Rao’s wife Gopikabai, who started conspiring against Raghunath Rao to undermine his influence. This led to corresponding jealousy from Anandibai who was Ragunath Rao’s wife. The unfortunate fallout of this court intrigue ws to end in the disastrous 3rd battle of Panipat in 1761.Let us see the event that led to this catastrophe at Panipat.
The Persian Invasion of 1740 by Nadir Shah
Some 80 years after Shivaji when the Mughal Empire had been weakened by repeated Maratha attacks, the Afghan raider Ahmed Shah Durrani (Abdali) invaded North India. As the Mughals were past their prime and were now living at the mercy of the Marathas, they did not dare oppose Ahmed Shah. The task of challenging him was left to the Marathas. The Marathas who then were on their ascendancy in North India had since the first Persian-Afghan invasion by Nadir Shah, the king of Persia in 1740, established themselves as a dominant power in Northern India. The 20 years from 1740 to 1760 saw a see-saw battle between the Afghans and the Marathas for the domination of North India.
With the defeat of Mohammed Shah, the Moghul Emperor in 1740 by Nadir Shah (in whose army Ahmed Shah Abdali was a general), the Mughal power steadily declined and its place was usurped by the Rohillas who were led by an ambitious and ruthless chieftain named Najib Khan. Najib’s ambition was to supplant the Moghal Emperor and crown himself as the ruler of India by capturing Delhi.
The Marathas Liberate Punjab
The growing power of the Marathas in their northward expansion, stood between Najib and his ambition. To overcome the Marathas, in 1755, Najib invited Ahmed Shah Abdali from Afghanistan to help him in defeating the Marathas and crown himself the ruler of India. In this, he was thwarted by the Marathas who decisively defeated the Rohillas and Afghans near Delhi in 1756.
The defeat was so decisive that Najib Khan surrendered to the Marathas and became their prisoner. The Maratha forces were led by Shrimant Raghunath Rao and Malhar Rao Holkar.
After defeating the Afghan-Rohilla forces, the Marathas pursued the Afghans into the Punjab and beyond up to the Khyber pass. The last frontier of the Marathas was at Attock in today’s NWFP (or Paktoonistan) on the Afghan border. (This campaign of the Marathas led by Shrimant Raghunath Rao is called as Raghu’s Bharari – i.e. whirlwind campaign.
Thus after nearly 800 after the last Punjabi King Tirlochan Pal Shahi had been defeated by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1020 C.E. did that part of India come under Indian rule in 1756 due to the liberation of Punjab by the Marathas.
Meanwhile with machinations and trickery, Najib Khan won over Malhar Rao Holkar and secured his release. On his release Najib started to undermine the Marathas once again and treacherously killed Dattaji Shinde (eldest brother of Mahadji Shinde). Najib continued to battle the Shindes in 1757-58 and with his newly found confidence again invited Ahmed Shah Abdali to invade India.
PANIPAT – A Result of Court Intrigues at Pune
The court intrigues at Shaniwarwada in Pune between Gopikabai (Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao’s wife) and Anandibai (Raghunath Rao’s wife) led to the sidetracking of Raghunath Rao in favour of the Peshwas cousin, Sadashiv Rao Bhau (along with Viswas Rao the Peshwa’s son and successor) as the Supreme commander of the Maratha forces that were to give battle to Abdali a second time. It was unfortunate for the Marathas, that due to rivalries, a successful commander like Raghunath Rao was bypassed in favour of another general.
The 3rd Battle of Panipat
When Abdali launched his second invasion in 1759 the Marathas who after their successes in 1756 had been hibernating in Maharashtra and Central India again woke up and in alliance with the Jat King Suraj Mal of Bharatpur formed an alliance. This alliance led by Shrimant Sadshiv Rao Bhau and Shrimant Vishwas Rao (the Peshwa Shrimant Balaji Baji Rao’s son) won spectacular victories and captured Delhi and Kunjapura (where the Afghan treasury and armoury was located). Here the alliance developed cracks due to the Maratha insistence on not allowing the Jats to loot Delhi. This ultimately split the alliance and Suraj Mal withdrew from the alliance.
The Marathas consequently marched upto Panipat, but instead of continuing their attacks to completely defeat the partly defeated Abdali and Najib Khan, they stayed put at Panipat, blocking the way of the Afghans back to Afghanistan. Seeing their way back to their homeland blocked, the Afghans now became restless. They in turn, decided to block the way of the Marathas back into the Deccan.
Stand-off for one year
This stand-off continued for one whole year from the 14th of January 1760 up to the 14th of January 1761. This led to the fall in the morale of the stranded Marathas and ultimatley led to their defeat at Panipat. The Marathi term “Sankrant Kosalali” meaing “Sankranth has befallen us” comes from this event. During this stand-off the Afghans cut-off all supplies to the huge Maratha army. The Afghans with Najib Khan meanwhile also recaptured Delhi and Kunjpura. On the decisive day of 14th January 1761 (Makar Sankranti), the Marathas decided to break-through the Afghan blockade and re-enter Deccan. The disastrous battle saw about one hundred thousand Maratha troops being slaughtered in a matter of eight hours. But the Afghans too suffered heavy losses and decided enough was enough and went back to Afghanistan never to return to India.
The defeat of the Marathas and the withdrawal of the Afghans created a power vacuum in North India in the period 1761-1790. It was this vacuum that was filled up by the rising British power.
The Sikhs meanwhile united under the leadership of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and carried on the unfinished task of the Marathas. The Sikh general Jussa Singh Ahluwalia invaded Abdali’s kingdom, defeated Abdali ignominiously and captured his capital city of Kabul. The saffron flag (Nishan Saheb) then fluttered over Kabul after a gap of 800 years after Raja Jaya Pal Shahi lost the city to Sabuktagin in 980 C.E.
ADDITIONAL HEROES WHO WORKED FOR PROTECTING INDIA AND ITS CULTURE
Meanwhile in India proper, in the period between 1761 and 1790, the Maratha power was consolidated by Mahadji Shinde, Nana Phadnavis and Shrimant Madhav Rao Peshwa. Mahadji Shinde took initiative in military matters and he successfully checked the British in the first Anglo-Maratha war. Later of course, the Marathas were to succcumb to the British in after the third Anglo-Maratha war of 1817.
Maratha Rule did not Change the Feudal Relations of Production and Distribution
But as far as changing the feudal economic relations were concerned, the Maratha rule did nothing. The feudal relations remained intact. Politically speaking too, the Maratha intermission from around 1720 to 1790 was too brief a period and though the writ of the Marathas ran in the whole of western India with parts of the north and south under their domination they could not bring the entire country uniformly under their rule. And in those parts of the country they ruled, the feudal relations did not undergo any fundamental change apart from the abolition of the Jazia penal tax levied on the Hindus by the Muslim rulers and general freedom from religious persecution of petty Muslim chieftains and representative of the Muslim monarchy based at Delhi.
Maharana Pratap was a great Rajput King. The Rajputs are a brave and a chivalrous race who were feudal kings in ancient India before the Mughals came. They were the first to resist the Mughal invaders and many wars were fought between the Rajputs and the Mughals. Though the Mughals captured the north of India they were unsuccessful in capturing central India where they faced tough opposition from the Rajput kings there. Akbar wanted to control the whole of India and used a mix of tolerance, generosity, and force to over come the Rajput kings. One of the most gallant Rajput kings was Rana Pratap who did not want to give up his kingdom to the Mughals. Rana Pratap was the Grandson of Raja Udai Singh (Udaipur is named after him), the king of Chittod. Rana Pratap led the Rajputs against the army of Akbar to preserve the independence of Mewar. Rana Pratap not only had to face the mighty Mughals but also had to fight against other Rajput kings (Raja Todar Mal and Raja Man Singh) who aligned with the Mughals. In the Battle of Haldighati (1576) fought between Maharana Pratap and the Mughals; the Rajputs were not able to overcome the combined strength of the Mughals and the renegade Rajput princes who had played the role of traitors.
Maharana Pratap was badly hurt in the battle and was saved by his wise horse Chetak, who took him in an unconscious state away from the battle scene. Rana Pratap died in 1597 when his son Amar Singh took over the kingdom. Although Maharana Pratap was not able to thwart the Muslims successfully, the saga of Rajput resistance to Muslim rule continued till the 17th century when the baton of the struggle for Indian Independence from Mughals was taken up by the upcoming power of the Marathas, who brought about an end to Muslim domination of India.
He was a hero of the fight for freedom in 1857. His very name made the mighty English generals tremble. Deceived by his friend, he faced death like a hero, for the sake of his country. The British troops had pitched their tents on the parade grounds near the fort of Shivpuri, 75 miles from Gwalior. The day was April 18, 1859. It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon. A smiling, charming prisoner was brought out of the prison.
His hands and feet were chained. Under guard he was taken to the hangman’s post. He had been condemned to death. The prisoner stepped towards the post fearlessly. There was no hesitation as he stepped upon the platform. It was the custom to cover the eyes of the condemned man with a scarf. When soldiers stepped forward with the scarf, he smiled and made signs to say, ‘I don’t need all this.’ Nor did he allow the hands and feet to be bound. He himself put the noose around his neck. The rope was tightened. Then, at last, there was a pull…. In a moment it was all over.
It was a heart-rending scene, which moved the whole country to tears. The man who was hanging lifeless on the gallows of the English was no criminal. He was not a thief, nor was he a cutthroat. He was the supreme commander in the War of Indian Independence, which in 1857, had challenged the hold of the British over India. It was he who, more than anybody else, shook the mighty British Empire to its foundations. Holding aloft the flag of freedom, he sought to break the chains of slavery and fought the military might of the English heroically. His name was Tatia Tope, a household word for bravery.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji
He is one of the most radiant stars in the galaxy of religious leaders. Time cannot wither nor stale the luster of the sacrifices that he made for the cause of religious freedom. His transformation of senile and sloppy mentality of degraded and demoralized Hindu society of that time into militant and challenging fervor is a landmark in our history. It can be said, throughout the annals of history there was no other individual who could be a more inspiring personality than Guru Gobind Singh’s. But mankind has yet to know and appreciate and understand the height of his spiritual ideals and his own practical adherence to their dictates and the way in which they sprouted and blossomed in the hearts of his followers.
A study of his life and personality and all that he achieved in a span of forty two years that he lived, confirms that he has become a most eloquent symbol of all that is virile and positive in our religious traditions.
Govind was born at Patna (Bihar) in the year 1666 and was assassinated at Nandar (Deccan) in the year 1708 A.D. He was hardly nine years of age when Guru Tegh Bahadur was martyred at Delhi. Guru Gobind Singh then assumed the Spiritual suzerainty and became Guru. He soon trained himself for fulfillment of his duties both in spiritual and temporal sense. He became a great poet, a mystic scholar, a fine soldier, a tactical General, and an astute politician. He was soon able to consolidate the Sikhs into a body of brave fighting people with common loyalty and common purpose. As he has his life’s mission: “Extend the region of righteousness on earth seize and destroy the evil and the sinful”
It reached a culmination point in 1699 when Guru originated baptism-Nectar-Amrit ceremony for the saint soldiers. They stood liberated, this information was verily a psychological miracle. Low born and untouchables shed their inborn and innate repression. The outstanding example of Guru Gobind Singh’s power to make the sparrow to hunt the hawk and one man fight a legion was the sovereign tested truth after the baptism. These liberated souls were Guru’s Khalsa – Guru in his tribute to the Khalsa records.
“All the battles I have won against tyranny I have fought with the devoted backing of these people.”
All baptized Sikhs must wear the five symbols which are bestowed on them – the five “K’s” KESH, KANGA, KARA, KIRPAN, KACHCHA – namely unshorn hair, a comb, a steel bangle, a sword and short underwear.
This uniform of unshorn hair and bearded appearance enjoined by the Guru for the baptized disciples was a bold step as one to feel that he has emerged from larval skin leaving behind chrysalis of a dead past. Guru Gobind Singh thus built on foundations so nobly laid by his predecessors an enduring nationality. He infused new enthusiasm for freedom, democracy, righteousness and self sacrifice in to the minds of vanquished people suppressed under the killing weight of Mughal despotism. He kindled an unextinguished passion for brave deeds in love of God and down trodden which made the Sikhs a distinct people a model of inspiration for all times.
In performance of divine mission his two sons were lost fighting the Mughal hordes while other two were bricked alive at Sirhind under orders of a Mughal Governor. Guru Gobind Singh retained equanimity in all circumstances whether he was at Anandpur riding his blue steed, with regal plume or in desert of Machivara barefoot and forlorn his heart was in constant harmony with the Supreme Being.
All the battles Guru fought had no personal ambitious or territorial aim. They depict man’s inner struggle against tyrannies, religious, social and otherwise. They vividly portray that spirit ultimately triumphs against all impediments. His life’s emblem of sacrifice, represents the price spirit has to offer to redeem freedom.
The other great thing in the career of Guru Gobind Singh is his self effacement in the domain of spiritual leadership. He abolished the office of earthly guru. He declared Guru Granth was to act as GURU henceforth and it will act as supreme leader and teacher while his personality will amalgamate with Khalsa.
Khalsa mera Roop-e-Khas Khalsa me ho Karu Nivas. Khalsa represents my facial appearance and I indwell with them. Thus he achieved his mission of life.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak
He was a great Sanskrit scholar and astronomer. He fixed the origin and date of Rigvedic Aryans, which was highly acclaimed and universally accepted by orientalists of his time. His role in Congress and advocating Home Rule for India were enormous. His newspaper (Kesari) founded in 1881 is going strong even today. He was Guru to V.D. Savarkar and hundreds of nationalists and thousands of Indians. He led the Indian Freedom Movement, till 1920, his death. After him Gandhiji took over. Although Gandhi accepted Gokhale as his mentor, in practice, he adopted all of Tilak’s ideas of Swadeshi and of social reform.
His words, “Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it!” roused a sleeping nation to action, making Indian people aware of their political plight under a foreign rule. Tilak did not question the British Sovereignty nor his demands were rebellious or revolutionary. All he was asking was favorable conditions in India, to enable people to learn to govern themselves. May be all over the world, the separatist forces should follow his vision and define freedom as ability to govern one’s land. But the handful rulers who ruled India’s millions thought otherwise. They thought that Tilak was whipping a rebellion and he was imprisoned twice; two years for the first and six during the second. They said, he had committed treason.
Born in Ratnagiri, a small coastal town in 1856 in a middle class family, Tilak had to feed himself for college education. At an early age he was convinced that the educational system the British provided for the Indians was not at all adequate. After graduation and a law degree, he helped found a school which laid emphasis on nationalism. He started a news paper ‘Kesari’ which tried to teach Indians of their glorious past and reminded them to be self reliant (Swadeshi).
Tilak rightly calculated the attitude of the British towards the economic exploitation of the Indians. The British used the raw material from the Indian soil and produced finished products in their country, which in turn were sold in India. This made the Indians totally dependent on the British. In the process, all the self-employing industries of India like spinning, weaving, glass making, sugar ,dyeing, paper making were destroyed. People became destitute for no fault of theirs to help an empire become richer and stronger.To fight this situation, he gave four mantras called Chatuhsutri: (1). Boycott of foreign goods (2) National Education (3) Self Government (4) Swadeshi or self reliance. He realized that mere protest against British rule was not going to help and insisted on native production and reliance.
He founded Deccan Education Society to give better education as per the country’s needs. He wrote articles over inhuman punishment meted out to the nationalist youth who protested the division of Bengal (VangaBhanga). Indian newspapers were not to criticize the British policy in those days and two articles titled “Has the Government lost its head ?” .and “To Rule is not to wreak vengeance” appearing in Kesari landed him in jail, after a namesake trial. For the first time in British history, intellectuals in England (including the great orientalist, Max Muller) were able to convince the Government that the trial was unfair. But the second time (1908) was no different. Tilak advocated his own case and when the judgment of six years of black-waters (kala pani) imprisonment was pronounced, he gave the famous statement :
“All I wish to say is that in spite of the verdict of the jury, I maintain my innocence. There are higher powers that rule the destiny of men and nations. It may be the will of Providence that the cause I represent may prosper by suffering than by remaining free”.
His trial and punishment led to national upheaval. But the British were careful enough to arrange everything in secret and the judgment was delivered at midnight and Tilak was taken under military vigil to be deported to Burma (present Myanmar, which was also under British control).
At 52, Tilak wrote his famous commentary on Bhagavad-Gita, the sacred book of Hindus; Geeta-Rahasya in the jail. By the time Tilak completed his six year prison term, he was the unquestioned leader of the Indians – the uncrowned king. He was known as the Tilak Maharaj.
There was unprecedented jubilation after Tilak was free and back in India. Civil resistance, the concept of Swaraj, and nationalism had taken deep roots. Tilak’s suffering did not go in vain. A band of leaders, full of zeal for nationalism and self-sacrifice was coming up. National schools were coming up in all corners of India. He paved the way for Khadi (hand woven cloth), picketing against foreign goods and alcoholism. His death in 1920 brought Mahatma Gandhi on the scene and Gandhiji gave a concrete shape to Tilak’s ideas of Swadeshi.
He was born in September 27, 1907 in the village Banga of Layalpur to Mata Vidyavati and Sardar Kishan Singh. Bhagat Singh grew up in a patriotic atmosphere as his father and uncle, were great freedom fighters and were put in jail many times by the British.
Bhagat Singh grew up at a time when the Freedom struggle was all around him. Since his young age he wondered why so many Indians could not get freedom from a few British invaders, he dreamed of a free India. The massacre at Jallianwala Bagh on April 13, 1919 drove him to go to Amritsar, where he kissed the earth and brought back home a little of the blood soaked soil, he was just 12 years old then. Kartar Sing Sarabha, hanged at the age of 19 by the British was Bhagat Singh’s hero.
Bhagat Singh, along with the help of Chandrashekhar Azad, formed the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army (HSRA). The aim of this Indian revolutionary movement was defined as not only to make India independent, but also to create “a socialist India.”
In February 1928, a committee from England visited India. It came to be known as the Simon Commission. The purpose of its visit was to decide how much freedom and responsibility could be given to the people of India. Indian freedom fighters started an agitation called “Simon go back”. It was in this agitation that during a police lathicharge, Lala Lajpat Rai was hurt and died. To avenge the death of Lala Lajpat rai, Bhagat Singh and Rajguru shot and killed the British Officer who had hit Lala Lajpat Rai.
In April 1929, the Central Legislative Assembly met in Delhi. The British Government wanted to place before the Assembly two bills which were likely to harm the country’s interests. Even if the Assembly rejected them, the Viceroy could use his special powers and approve them, and they would become laws. Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt planned to throw a bomb in the Legislative Assembly and, get arrested. On 8th of April 1929 this is what they exactly did. The idea of the attack was not to kill anyone but to create awareness about India’s freedom struggle. They were arrested after this attack.
In their trial Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt stated, “If the deaf are to hear, the sound has to be very loud. When we dropped the bomb, it was not our intention to kill anybody. We have bombed the British Government. The British must quit India and make her free.”
In the trial it was decided that Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were to be hanged for all their anti British activities. On 24th of March 1931 Bhagat Singh walked upto the hanging rope kissed it and put it around his neck to be hanged.
Bhagat Singh became “Shaheed Bhagat Singh” or Martyr at the age of 24. The stories of his courage and patriotism became an inspiration for many youth at that time who wanted to see India independent. Even today Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s memory continues to inspire the youth and many poems and songs have been written about his courage and undying patriotism.
He was a brave revolutionary who gave up his life smilingly for the sake of the Motherland. He was persecuted by an enraged foreign government, hunted by the police and betrayed by follow workers. And yet he lit the fire of revolution to burn down the slavery. He was the brave leader of the Kakori Rail Dacoity episode. His poetry is also a lamp lighted at the altar of the Mother land.
Kakori is a village near Lucknow. It became famous, because the attack on the train took place near by.
It was the evening of the 9th of August 1925; the number eight down train was passing near Kakori. Ramaprasad and his nine revolutionary followers pulled the chain and stopped it. They looted the money belonging to the government, deposited in the Guard’s carriage. Excepting that one passenger was killed by an accidental shot, there was no bloodshed.
This extremely well planned dacoity jolted the government. After a month of detailed preliminary inquiries and elaborate preparations the government cast its net wide for the revolutionaries. Arrest warrants were issued not only against the ten participants but also against other leaders of the Hindusthan Republican Association. With the lone exception of Chandrashekhar Azad, all participants were caught.
The case went on for over a year and a half, Ramaprasad, Ashfaqullah Roshan Singh and Rajendra Lahiri all four were sentenced to death. A strong campaign was organized throughout India to save the lives of these revolutionary heroes. All the leaders of public life appealed to the British Government to show mercy to the condemned men. But the Government was unyielding.
It was the 18th of December 1927. A middle-aged lady was waiting at the main gates of the Gorakhpur Central Jail. Her face was radiant but anxiety was writ large on it. She was eagerly waiting to be called into the prison.
By that time her husband also arrived there. He was surprised that his wife was there before him. He also sat down to wait for the call.
Another young man came there. He was not related to them. He knew that the couple would be permitted to enter the prison. But how could he manage to enter? This was his problem.
The officials of the prison called in the husband and the wife. The young man followed them. The guard stopped him and rudely asked, “Who are you?”
“Permit him also, brother. He is my sister’s son”, the lady said in an entreating voice. The guard relented.
All the three entered the prison to visit a freedom fighter that was to face his death on the morrow.
The freedom fighter was brought there in chains. They were like ornaments on him. This was the last time that he could see his mother, the last time he could address her as ‘Mother’. At this thought grief welled up in him. He stood speechless and tears rolled down his cheeks.
In a firm voice the mother said, ‘What is this, my son? I had thought of my son as a great hero. I was thinking that the British Government would shiver at the very mention of his name. I never thought that my son would be afraid of death. If you can die only in this way, weeping, why did you take up such activities?”
The officials were astounded at the firmness of the mother. The freedom fighter replied, “Mother dear, these are not tears of fear – the fear of death. These are tears of joy – joy at beholding so brave as mother!”
The brave son of that brave mother was Ramaprasad Bismil. He was the leader of the famous Kakori Rail Dacoity case. The last meeting ended.
Next morning Ramaprasad got up earlier than usual, bathed and said his morning
prayers. He wrote his last letter to his mother. Then he sat down with a calm mind awaiting his death.
The officials came and removed his chains. They took him from the prison cell-towards his death.
He was completely untroubled and walked like a hero. The officials were amazed. As he moved to the gallows he joyfully chanted Vande Matharam’ and ‘Bharath Matha ki Jai’. At the top of his voice he shouted down with the British Empire.” Then he calmly recited prayers like ‘Vishwani deva savithaha dunithani….” And embraced death.
As he was being executed, there was a strong guard around the prison. When he was dead the officials brought out the dead body. Not only his parents but also hundreds of his countrymen were waiting in tears.The people of Gorakhpur deco rated the body of the brave son of Bharath as befitted a hero and carried it in a procession. Flowers were showered on the body, and the last rites were performed.
Ramaprasad Bismil joined the select band of martyrs who dreamt of a free India and made the supreme sacrifice, so that the dream might come true.
‘Bismil’ is the penname of Ramaprasad. As ‘Bismil’ he is well known as a great
revolutionary poet in Hindi. At the end of his autobiography, he has reproduced some selected poems. Every line of his poems throbs with patriotic fervor.
In one poem he prays: ‘Even if I have to face death a thousand times for the sake of my Motherland, I shall not be sorry. Oh Lord!Grant me a hundred births in Bharath. But grant me this, too, that each time I may give up my life in the service of the Mother land.’
In a poem written just before going to the gallows, he prays: ‘Oh Lord! Thy will be done. You are unique. Neither my tears nor I will endure. Grant me this boon, that to my last breath and the last drop of my blood, I may think of you and be immersed in your work.’
(Excerpts from Author N.P.Shankara Narayan Rao)
M. S. Golwalkar
He was known throughout India as Guruji, was the second Sarsanghchalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. His full name was Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar. His was an impressive personality: dignified gait; a long flowing beard reaching down to his chest; curly locks of hair touching the shoulders; a face luminous with innate intellect and learning. His was an inspiring presence. It aroused instant reverence. Whoever saw him spontaneously folded their hands and bowed their heads. Such was Guru.
He instilled patriotism in the hearts of millions of youths of the country. He explained to them the Hindu way of life and philosophy in simple words. Like a true friend, he shared in the joys and sorrows of his countrymen. He molded them into effective instruments for the worship of Bharat Mata as her worthy children. He demonstrated that strength derives from organization. He traveled untiringly through the length and breadth of the country almost a hundred times during the 33 years of his glorious tenure as Sarsanghchalak, kindling in the society the immortal flame of enduring love for the Motherland.
He had scaled the highest levels of spirituality through his intense austerity and perseverance. By constant study and reflection he had become a veritable treasure of knowledge. He was a voracious reader even as a boy. He avidly read whatever books he could lay his hands on, from childhood through youth. Several are the disciplines in which he had acquired commendable mastery – History, Art, Religion, Culture, Sciences, Sociology and Economics, to name a few; and he dedicated all his stupendous intellectual faculties to the service of the country. He vastly expanded the network of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in multipledirections, and inspired and guided thousands of efficient dedicated workers spread throughout the country.
Countless discourses, thousands of letters and hundreds of press statements by Shri Guru are now part of the cherished knowledge legacy of humanity. The life of Shri Guru is lustrous and multi – faceted. His thoughts are a perennial source of inspiration for mankind. Here are a few rays of that brilliance:
1. Fearlessness is the first and foremost virtue of the brave, and the starting point of all sublime qualities.
2. ‘This is my Dharma, my Vedanta. This is my Hindu Rashtra. I have to live and strive for its realization. I must live as an example for the entire world to follow’-only such abiding faith would provide a firm foundation for reorganization of theHindus.
3. The will of a person becomes tempered like steel when he prepares himself for the supreme sacrifice for a just and lofty goal.
4. We are not so narrow-minded as to call any one as ‘alien’ merely because he has changed his mode of worship. We have no objection to the use of any name in addressing God. We in the Sangh are Hindus in every particle of ours. That is why we respect all religious faiths equally. A person with religious intolerance cannot be called a Hindu at all.
5. The most demeaning sin is to remain weak in the world. It not only destroys us, but also incites others to attack us with violence.
6. No doubt it requires two to fight. But both of them need not necessarily be fighters. It is, all the same, a fight, even if one goes on beating and the other gets beaten. There is no guarantee that others would behave properly with us even if we remain peaceful and cordial with them.
7. There must be an axis at the center of a wheel if it has to rotate. No wheel would rotate if its axis were outside it. There cannot be a circle with its center outside it. It is impossibility. Those cherishing extra-national loyalties can only be called traitors. Will it not be treacherous if an individual is drawing inspiration from elements beyond the boundaries of his country?
8. A grain of salt completely dissolves in water, and then retains no separate existence. But the salty taste will beevident in each drop of that water. Likewise an individual should dissolve him in the nation.
Author – Rasika Puttige
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
He was born on 18th May, 1883 in Nasik, Maharashtra. In his later years he came to be known as Vir Savarkar. He was born at a time which was the preparatory period for India’s freedom Struggle.This was the time when Indian national Congress was initiated.
The end of nineteenth century and the start of twentieth century saw the revolutionary movement gain momentum.
This was also the period of English cultural influence on Indians. Well-to-do fathers wanted their sons to go to England, learn the English language, acquire the English way of life and manners.
Madanlal Dhingra, Aurobindo Ghose, Vir Savarkar, had all gone or been sent to England for this purpose, to acquire English education and English way of life, but they all became more Indian. The more they came close to the English language and the English life-style, the more their hearts burned for revolution, for freeing their Motherland from the shackles of foreign rule.
Savarkar was also such an able son of India. After getting his B.A. degree, he went to England to study Law, but he joined the Indian revolutionaries there. The British Government had kept an eye on them. Vir Savarkar was arrested and was deported, that is, sent back to India. But the man of independent spirit that he was, he wanted to be free and jumped from the ship into the water. He was captured, brought to India and was sent to the Andamaris (prison).
There he had to grind oil and do all sorts of strenuous work. His elder brother Ganesh Savarkar was also there. They had to face evil behaviour of their keepers. The British Authorities wanted to break the spirit of these young patriots. The British thought that physical pain and torture would make these revolutionaries forget their mission and bring them on the right or normal way of life.
The British had no knowledge of the urge and devotion felt by these revolutionaries. No amount of torture could turn away these brightest sons of India from their determined course. On 26th February, 1966, Savarkar passed away. Yet another brighter star from the Indian sky had fallen.
He was the most visionary and fierce activist in the pre-independence era. Known as Netaji, he followed the path which no one even could have thought of.
An unparalleled example of the declaration of Independent Indian government with a cabinet & its own army was seen in form of the Indian National Army under the leadership of Subhash Chanda Bose. It literally had a military attack on British India & had confronted them till Imphal. With the help from Germany & active support from Japan, they shook the very foundation of the British Empire. The saga of their valor is chronicled separately, under the head Indian National Army.
While he was the president of Indian National Congress during 1937 to 1939, he founded the Indian National Congress. He was acclaimed as a god-like figure and continued as a legend in Indian mind.
Subhas Chandra was born on January 23rd 1897 in Cuttack (in present day Orissa) as the ninth child among fourteen, of Janakinath Bose, an advocate, and Prabhavatidevi, a pious and God-fearing lady. A brilliant student, he topped the matriculation examination of Calcutta province and passed his B.A. in Philosophy from the Presidency College in Calcutta. He was strongly influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s teachings and was known for his patriotic zeal as a student. He joined the Indian Civil Services in England as per his parent’s wishes. This kept him a little away from the Indian Freedom Movement. He finished those examinations also, at the top of his class (4th rank), he could not complete his apprenticeship and returned to India, being deeply disturbed by the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. He came under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi and joined the Indian National Congress . Gandhiji directed him to work with Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, the Bengali leader whom Bose acknowledged as his political guru.
Due to his outspoken character for the British Government, he went to jail for around 11 times between 1920 and 1941 for periods varying between six months and three years. He was the leader of the youth wing of the Congress Party, in the forefront of the trade union movement in India and organized Service League, another wing of Congress. He was admired for his great skills in organizational development .
Bose advocated complete freedom for India at the earliest, whereas the Congress Committee wanted it in phases, through a Dominion status. Other younger leaders including Jawaharlal Nehru supported Bose and finally at the historic Lahore Congress convention, the Congress had to adopt Poorna Swaraj (complete freedom) as its motto. Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom and the inability of the Congress leaders to save his life infuriated Bose and he started a movement opposing the Gandhi-Irvin Peace Pact. He was imprisoned and expelled from India. But defying the ban, he came back to India and was imprisoned again!
He was elected president of the Indian National Congress twice in 1937 and in 1939, the second time defeating Gandhiji’s nominee. He brought a resolution to give the British six months to hand India over to the Indians, failing which there would be a revolt. There was much opposition to his rigid stand, and he resigned from the post of president and formed a progressive group known as the Forward Block (1939).
During the World War 2nd he was against rendering any kind of help to the British. He warned them so. The second World War broke out in September of 1939, and just as predicted by Bose, India was declared as a warring state (on behalf of the British) by the Governor General, without consulting Indian leaders. The Congress party was in power in seven major states and all state governments resigned in protest.
Subhas Chandra Bose now started a mass movement against utilizing Indian resources and men for the great war. To him, it made no sense to further bleed poor Indians for the sake of colonial and imperial nations. There was a tremendous response to his call and the British promptly imprisoned him . He took to a hunger-strike, and after his health deteriorated on the 11th day of fasting, he was freed and was placed under house arrest. The British could do nothing except locking him in the prison.
It was in 1941, that Bose suddenly disappeared. The authorities did not come to know for many days that he was not in his Barrack ) the house in which he was being guarded) He traveled by foot, car and train and resurfaced in Kabul (now in Afghanistan), only to disappear once again. In November 1941, his broadcast from German radio sent shock waves amongst the British and electrified the Indian masses who realized that their leader was working on a master plan to free their motherland. It also gave fresh confidence to the revolutionaries in India who were challenging the British in many ways.
The Axis powers (mainly Germany) assured Bose military and other help to fight the British. Japan by this time had grown into another strong world power, occupying key colonies of Dutch, French, and British colonies in Asia. Bose had struck alliance with Germany and Japan. He rightly felt that his presence in the East would help his countrymen in freedom struggle and second phase of his saga began. It is told that he was last seen on land near Kiel canal in Germany, in the beginning of 1943. A most hazardous journey was undertaken by him under water, covering thousands of miles, crossing enemy territories. He was in the Atlantic, the Middle East, Madagascar and the Indian ocean. Battles were being fought over land, in the air and there were mines in the sea. At one stage he traveled 400 miles in a rubber dingy to reach a Japanese submarine, which took him to Tokyo. He was warmly received in Japan and was declared the head of the Indian army, which consisted of about 40,000 soldiers from Singapore and other eastern regions. Bose called it the Indian National Army (INA) and a government by the name “Azad Hind Government” was declared on the 21st of October 1943. INA freed the Andaman and Nicobar islands from the British and were renamed as Swaraj and Shaheed islands. The Government started functioning.
Bose wanted to free India from the Eastern front. He had taken care that Japanese interference was not present from any angle. Army leadership, administration and communications were managed by Indians only. Subhash Brigade, Azad Brigade and Gandhi Brigade were formed. INA marched through Burma and occupied Coxtown on the Indian Border. A touching scene ensued when the solders entered their ‘free’ motherland. Some lay down and kissed, some placed pieces of mother earth on their heads, others wept. They were now inside India and were determined to drive out the British! Delhi Chalo (Let’s march to Delhi) was the war cry.
The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki changed the history of mankind. Japan had to surrender. Bose was in Singapore at that time and decided to go to Tokyo for his next course of action. Unfortunately, the plane he boarded crashed near Taipei and he died in the hospital of severe burns. He was just 48.
He was the man whom the Indians looked upon as their future leader. They never believed that he died in plane crash. Some believe that he is still alive.
Vallabh Bhai Patel
He was the iron-man of India, born on 13th October, 1875, in a small village Karamsadh of Bombay region. His father Jhaber Bhai Patel was a simple farmer and mother Laad Bai was a simple lady.
From his childhood itself, Patel was a very hard-working individual. He used to help his father in farming and studied in a school at Patelaad. He passed his high-school examination in 1896. Throughout school he was a very wise and intelligent student. Inspite of poor financial conditions his father decided to send him to college but VallabhBhai refused. Around three years he stayed at home, worked hard and prepared for the District Leader’s examinaton, hence passing with very good precentage.
Sardar Patel hated to work for anyone, especially the Britishers. He was a person of independent nature. He started his own practice of law in a place called Godhara. Soon the practice flourished. He saved money, made financial arrangement for the entire family. He got married to Jhaberaba. In 1904, he got a baby daughter Maniben, and in 1905 his son Dahya was born. He sent his elder brother to England for higher studies in law. In 1908, Vittha Bhai returned as barrister and started practising in Bombay. In 1909 his wife became seriously ill and was taken to Bombay for treatment VallabhBhai had to go for the hearing of an urgent case and his wife died. He was stunned. He admitted his children in St. Mary’s school Bombay, and he left for England. He became a barrister and retuned to India in 1913.
He started his practice in Ahmedabad and soon he became aware of the local life, activities and people’s problems. He became an extremely popular person and he got elected in the Municipal Corportaion in 1917. Around 1915, he came across Mahatma Gandhi. The Swadeshi Movement was at its peak. Gandhiji gave a lecture at a place in Ahmedabad where Patel heard him and was very impressed and started actively participating in the freedom movement. The British government’s atrocities were increasing. The government declared to confiscate all the lands of farmers. He forced the British government to amend the rules. He brought together the farmers and encouraged them and hence got the title of ‘Sardar’ and thus became famous.
The British government considered him as a threat and his lectures were considered anti-government and he was imprisoned several times. In 1942, he took part in the Quit India Movement under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. He was arrested along with other leaders and was sent to Ahmednagar jail. Inspite of the British Rule, rulers of the small kingdoms were spending a lot of public money, and were having a nice time. Sardar Vallabh Bhai opposed this.
With great wisdom and political foresight, he consolidated the small kingdoms. The public was with him. He tackled the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Nawab of Junagarh who intially did not want to join India. There were a lot of problems connected with the reunion of the numerous states into India. Sardar Patel’s untiring efforts towards the unity of the country brought success. Due to the achievement of this massive task, Sardar Patel got the title of ‘Iron Man’. ‘ He is one of the prestigious leaders of the world who became immmortal by uniting a scattered nation without any bloodshed.
His enthusiasm to work for the independent nation got a big jolt when Gandhiji was murdered. Patel was very attached to Gandhiji and considered him, his elder brother and teacher. He was encouraged by Mahatma Gandhi in all his work. Gandhiji’s death left him broken. On 15th December, 1950 he died of a cardiac arrest. The news of his death spread all over the world. The entire nation plunged into deep sorrow, everyday life came to a standstill. A grateful nation paid a tearful homage to it’s beloved leader. In 1991 the grateful nation conferred upon him the honour of Bharat Ratna.
She was the fiery patriot who first unfurled India’s flag at an international assembly. She turned away from a life of luxury and lived an exile – to serve her country. And the mighty British Government grew afraid of her.
Madame Cama, Veer Savarkar and some other patriots met and designed that tricolor flag in 1905. It was flown first in 1905 in Berlin and next in 1907 in Bengal.
The tricolor flag contained green, saffron and red stripes. In the green stripe at the top there were eight blooming lotuses. India was then divided into eight provinces and the flowers represented these provinces. The words ‘Vande Mataram’ in Devanagari script across the central saffron strip of the flag were a salutation to Mother India. In the red stripe at thebottom there was a half-moon on the right and the rising sun on the left. Red represents strength, saffron represents victory; and boldness and enthusiasm are represented by green. “This flag was designed by a distinguished selfless young Indian patriot” said Madame Cama. She was referring to Veer Savarkar.
In August 1907, she learnt that the International Socialist Conference would be held in Stuttgart ‘in Germany. Madame Cama got a golden opportunity to expose to worldview the conditions in enslaved India. A thousand representatives from several countries of the world attended the Conference. When India’s turn came, Madame Cama ascended the rostrum. She was wearing a colorful saree. She had an attractive personality. Dignity shone in the face. The representative’s thought: ‘She is an Indian princess.’
Madame Cama spoke about the sorrows and the poverty of lakes of Indians who were suffering silently.
‘One-fifth of mankind lives in India. All lovers of freedom should cooperate to free these people from subjection.’ This was the gist of the resolution, she boldly placed before the conference. She condemned the British Government which was looting from India thirty-five million pounds every year. She explained how the Indian economy was growing weaker day by day because of the lawless imperialists sucking the blood of India. At the end of her speech she unfurled the Indian flag and said:
“This flag is of Indian Independence. Behold it is born! It has been made sacred by the blood of young Indians who sacrificed their lives.I call upon you, gentle men, to rise and salute this flag of Indian Independence. In the name of this flag I appeal to lovers of freedom all over the world to cooperate with this flag.”
As if held by magic, the whole assembly stood up and honored the flag. Madame Cama was the lady who first unfurled the Indian flag, in a foreign land, in the presence of representatives of many countries! “It is my practice to speak under the flag of my country” – she would say and unfurl the flag before she spoke at any function.
After the conference in Germany concluded she came to America. To gain the support of the people there for the sacred cause in which she was engaged she had to start a campaign. In New York she explained her objects to press reporters who met her and they were full of praise for her. She told the reporters that lakes and lakes of people in India,although illiterate and suffering from hunger, loved their country. There was confidence and hope in the voice of Madame Cama when she said that Indians would attain independence within a few years and live in liberty, equality and brotherhood.
It was 28th October 1907. The Minerva Club had organized a meeting at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The speaker was Madame Cama. In her speech she said that Indians should be given the political right to vote.
“People here may know of Russia. But they may not know much about conditions in India. The British Government is adopting the practice of destroying people who are educated and can think, or of sending them to jail. They are torturing the people and driving them to hospitals in jails. We desire a peaceful atmosphere and not bloody revolution. By proceeding in a non-violent manner as far as possible we have to overthrow despotic rule” said Madame Cama. Also Madame Cama spoke at several places. She may be called Mother India’s representative to the United States of America.
In 1914, when the First World War began, Madame Cama’s activities to gain the country’s freedom became intense. The leading articles in the press condemning the autocratic rule of the British grew sharper.
To the Indian soldiers fighting for the British, she gave a warning in the following words: “Children of Mother India, you are being deceived. Do not take part in this war. You are going to fight and die, not for India, but for the British.The British have put shackles on Mother India’s hands; think how they can be removed. If you help the British, you will tighten the shackles.”
She herself would visit army camps in Marseilles. There she would meet Indian soldiers and ask them to keep away from the war. Questioned she: “Are you going to fight for those who have imprisoned your mother?” Return the arms, she would preach.
The French were allies of the British. Therefore the French Government must have been dissatisfied with the propa- ganda carried on by Madame Cama. The French Government warned Madame Cama that she was carrying on false propaganda against the British.
Madame Cama passed away on 13th August 1936. She had fought for India’s freedom. That freedom dawned eleven years after her death.
In a sense Madame Cama’s life abroad where she fought for India’s freedom was like living in obscurity. She sacrificed her life for the motherland. Even during the last moments of her life she urged repeatedly: “To gain freedom from subjection stand up against all difficulties.” “He who loses freedom will lose virtue. Opposition of tyranny is obedience to God’s command” said Madame Cama; she practiced what she preached.
(Exerpts from Author M.S.Narasimha Murthy)
HALL OF SHAME (Muslim Rulers and Criminals Against India)
There have been many villains throughout the history of the many invasions and occupations of India. And many of the worst of these despots and murderers are today considered by many to have been “great leaders” of India’s past. In an effort to appease the Muslim minority, some of the worst of the butchers of the Hindu people have been turned into national heroes, and the true heroes and defenders of the Indian people have been all but forgotten. Here we offer brief biographies of those who invaded, occupied and butchered Hindus throughout India. Some may argue that these were great rulers who contributed great things to Indian civilization, but we must always remember that Adolf Hitler also brought great efficiency to German government and made the trains run on time as well.
Firaz Shah Tughlaq
General Reginal Dyer
Mahmud of Gaznavi
(From the accounts of arikh-i-Yamini of Utbi the secretary of Mahmud of Gaznavi)
“The blood of the infidels flowed so copiously at Thanesar that the stream was discolored, not withstanding its purity, and people were unable to drink it. The Sultan returned with plunder which is impossible to count. Praise be to Allah for the honor he bestows on Islam and Muslims.”
“The Muslims paid no regard to the booty till they had satiated themselves with the slaughter of the infidels and worshipers of sun and fire…. The number of infidels killed exceeded 50,000”
“The infidels…deserted the fort and tried to cross the foaming river…but many of them were slain, taken or drowned… Nearly fifty thousand men were killed.”
Mahmud of Ghori
(from Hasan Nizami’s Taj-ul-Maasir)
At Kol (Modern Aligarh)
“Those of the horizon who were wise and acute were converted to Islam, but those who stood by their ancestoral faith were slain with the sword”
20,000 prisoners were taken and made slaves. Three bastions were raised as high as heaven with their heads, and their carcases became food for the beasts of prey.
50,000 prisoners were taken as slaves
At Varnasi or Kasi (Benaras) :
Kamil-ut-Tawarikh of Ibn Asir records, “The slaughter of Hindus (at Varanasi) was immense; none were spared except women and children,(who were taken into slavery) and the carnage of men went on until the earth was weary.”
Zahiru’d-Din Muhammed Babur (1526 C.E. – 1520 C.E.)
Babur’s Own Words on Killing Hindus: “For the sake of Islam I became a wanderer, I battled infidels and Hindus, I am determined to become a martyr. Thank God I became a Killer of Non-Muslims!
From Baburnama, the Memoires of Babur Himself: In AH 934 (2538 C.E.) I attacked Chanderi and by the grace of Allah captured it in a few hours. We got the infidels slaughtered and the place which had be Daru’l-Harb (nation of non-muslim) for years was made into a Daru’l-Islam (muslim nation).
Guru Nanak on Babur’s atrocities: Source:Rag Asa Guru Nanak Dev witnessed first hand the atrocities Babur committed on Hindus and recorded them in his poems. He says: Having attacked Khuraasaan, Babar terrified Hindustan. The Creator Himself does not take the blame, but has sent the Mugal as the messenger of death. There was so much slaughter that the people screamed. Didn’t You feel compassion, Lord? pg (360)
On the condition of Hindu women in Babur’s monster rule: Those heads adorned with braided hair, with their parts painted with vermillion – those heads were shaved with scissors, and their throats were choked with dust.They lived in palatial mansions, but now, they cannot even sit near the palaces…. ropes were put around their necks, and their strings of pearls were broken. Their wealth and youthful beauty, which gave them so much pleasure, have now become their enemies. The order was given to the soldiers, who dishonored them, and carried them away. If it is pleasing to God’s Will, He bestows greatness; if is pleases His Will, He bestows punishment pg(417-18)
On the nature of Mughal rule under Babur: First, the tree puts down its roots, and then it spreads out its shade above. The kings are tigers, and their officials are dogs; they go out and awaken the sleeping people to harass them. The public servants inflict wounds with their nails. The dogs lick up the blood that is spilled. Source:Rag Malar, (pg.1288)
From an article by Dr. Harsh Narain on Muslim Testimony (Indian Express 2/26/90): Since the establishment of Zahiru’d-Din Ghazi’s rule, officers and religious leaders spread Islam vigorously desteroying the Hindu faith. We cleared the filth of Hinduism from Faizabad and Avadh.
Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq
(from Insha-i-Mahry by Amud Din Abdullah bin Mahru)
Delhi: -a punishment in detail (from Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi), “A report was brought to the Sultan than there was in Delhi an old Brahman who persisted in publicly performing the worship of idols in his house and that people of the city, both Muslims and Hindus used to resort to his house to worship the idol. The Brahman had constructed a wooden tablet which was covered within and without with paintings of demons and other objects. An order was accordingly given to the Brahman and was brought before Sultan.The true faith was declared to the Brahman and the right course pointed out. but he refused to accept it. A pile was risen on which the Kaffir with his hands and legs tied was thrown into and the wooden tablet on the top. The pile was lit at two places his head and his feet. The fire first reached him in the feet and drew from him a cry and then fire completley enveloped him. Behold Sultan for his strict adherence to law and rectitude.”
Delhi : (after Hindus paid the toleration tax (zar-i zimmiya) and poll-tax(jizya) they were foolish enough to build their temples.so…) “Under divine guidance I (Sultan) destroyed these temples and I killed the leaders of these infedility and others I subjected to stripes and chastisement “
Gohana (Haryana): “Some Hindus had erected a new idol-temple in the village of Kohana and the idolaters used to assemble there and perform their idolatrous rites. These people were seized and brought before me. I ordered that the perverse conduct of these leaders of this wickedness be punished by publicly abd that they should be put to deathe before the gate of the palace.”
Jajnagar:(Expedition objectives as stated by Sultan: Source:Ainn-ul-Mulk) massacring the unbelievers, demolishing their temples, hunting the elephants, getting a glimpse of their enchanting country.
Orissa: ‘Sirat-i-Firoz Shahi’ records his expedition with the following words:
“Nearly 100,000 men of Jajnagar had taken refuge with their women, children, kinsmen and relations The swordsmen of Islam turned the island into a basin of blood by the massacre of the unbelievers. Women with babies and pregnant ladies were haltered, manacled, fettered and enchained, and pressed as slaves into service in the house of every soldier.”
The Jihads of Shihabuddin, the Sultankalka of Ghur
Around 1140, the Islamized Turko-Mongol chiefs of the Shansabanid tribe occupied Ghor in Afghanistan. Initially it was a vassal of the Ghaznavid Sultans, but around 1130 it came into conflict with them, after one of the leading Shansabanid nobles was murdered by the Ghaznavid Sultan, Bahram. A ferocious war ensued between the Sultans of Ghor and Ghazni, till Alla-ud-din Ghori invaded Ghazni with his entire cavalry and wrested it from Bahram. Alla-ud-din sacked the Indian spoils that Mahmud had placed there, massacred the city’s population in a 7-day killing spree and subsequently burnt it down. The next Ghaznavid Sultan, Khushro Maliq was driven out of Afghanistan by a coalition of Oghuz Turks and the Ghorids in 1157, and the Oghuz took Ghazni. The sons of Alla-ud-din, Ghiyas-ud-din Mu’azz-ud-din Ghori and Shihab-ud-din Muhammad Ghori defeated the Oghuz and annexed Ghazni in 1174. Ghiyas-ud-din, crowned himself Sultan, and appointed his brother Sultankalka. Shihab-ud-din was assigned the task of extending the kingdom to the East and he naturally gravitated towards India. 13 bloody campaigns that ravaged Northern India followed:
• Early in 1175 he invaded Punjab and sacked and burned Uch…(1)
• In 1178 he advanced south and marched towards Gujarat, but here the Indians acted quickly and rallying under the western chAlukya king MUlarAja II routed the Islamic forces completely forcing him to retreat…(2)
• In 1179 Ghori sent a message to PrithivirAja chAhamAna to make common cause with him against the Chalukyas. Prithivaraj however, wise disregarding his foolish minister, kadambavAsa’s advise to make a common cause with Ghori, preemptively attacked NaDDula and reconquered it from the Moslems.
• Shihab recovered in 1180 and invaded Sindh and ravaged the population carrying away much loot…(3)
• Then Shihabuddin Muhammad, quickly followed it up in 1181 and 1184 with two invasions of Lavapura (Lahore) accompanied with much slaughter…(4+5)
• In 1186 he invaded the Ghaznavid occupied Punjab and defeated the Sultan Khushro Maliq and wrested Punjab…(6)
• 1188 The Ghur Sultankalka invaded the ChAhamAna kingdom and sacked the fort of Tabarhindah killing the Hindu male populace and raping the women. Hindu refugees flocked around Delhi alarming the ChAhamAnas…(7)
• 1191 PrithivirAj advanced to meet Shihabuddin’s raid and routed him in the great battle of Tarai. While the Muslims suffered a crushing defeat, the Indians failed to butcher them to man and allowed Shihab to get away unharmed. He fled back to Central Asia leaving Punjab completely undefended…(8)
• 1191 PrithivirAj attacked Tabarhindah and took it back from the Muslims. Here the biggest mistake of the Hindus was not to reconquer and arm Punjab suitably.
• 1192 Shihab returned and sacked Tabarhindah again. This was followed by the second battle of Tarai, the ChAhamAna army was crushed and Prithiviraj was captured and brutally tortured to death…(9)
• 1192 the Ghur Sultankalka made a second trust towards Ajayamerupura (Ajmer) and sacked it smashing Hindu temples and a Hindu university in course of this invasion. The Hindus captured in this expedition caused slave prices to fall to a few Dirhams in the Muslim markets…(10)
• 1193 The sultankalka invaded Kannauj and slew the GAhadwala king Jayachandra. He followed this up with an invasion of vArANsipura slaughtering Hindus with great savagery and desecrating the holy city…(11+12)
After this, his viceroy Kutub-ud-din (also his lover?) and the Turkish adventurer Ikhtiyaruddin Khalji furthered the violence of Islam in the land of Hind. Meanwhile Shihab’s brother died in Ghazna and he crowned himself Sultan and immediately launched himself into another Jihad on the infidels of Hindustan in 1206. The exact course of this campaign is not clear. While on the North-western reaches of the Sindhu, he was ambushed by the Khokar chiefs and shot down by an arrow…(13). Thus ended the carrier of the Moslem brigand who brought misery to the whole of northern India through his 13 invasions.
The Jihads of Alla-ud-din Khalji
The one time when it appeared that the sanAtana dharma might vanish off the face of bhArata was during the ferocious jihads of Alla-ud-din of the Khalji tribe. The Khaljis entered India from Ghazna during the reign of the Mamluq Sultan Qutub-ud-din Aibak. The first of them to make his mark Bakhtiyar Khalji, whose savage jihad in Bihar and destruction of the Indian centers of learning like Nalanda is only well known. Jalal-ud-din Khalji, another member of this tribe, was accepted as the Sultan of Delhi by a confederation of Turkic tribes, after the collapse of the Mamluq Balban’s regime. Jalal opened his innings by consolidating the Turkic regime in India by suppressing other competing Maliqs and appointed his nephew, Alla-ud-din to expand his domains. We shall briefly consider his campaigns:
• In 1291 he was sent to destroy the remaining Kaffirs of Bhilsa in Central India. Il-tut-mish, the Mamluq had earlier desecrated this Hindu-Buddhist temple-university complex but it had fallen away from Islamic control. Alla invaded and conquered Bhilsa and total exterminated the Kaffirs and left behind a ghost city whose long lost temple remnants can be seen even today.
• 1292 He attacked the Vidisha in Central India, a great center of learning and destroyed it completely and slew the inhabitants.
• 1292 His spies got him the news of the great wealth of the yAdava dynasty of mahArashTra and Alla promptly invaded it and carried away a large amount of loot.
• 1295 In a remarkable campaign Alla carried the war right to Devagiri the heart of the yAdava kingdom. He demolished and looted all the temples in Devagiri.
• In 1296 with this loot Alla bought most of the Khalji army and murdered his uncle Jalal and drove away his aunt and cousin and declared himself Sultan of Hind. Jaziya was imposed on the Kaffirs.
• 1296. Latter in the year he joined the Southern Alliance of the Chagadai Ulus (predominantly Turkic tribes) against the Northern Alliance (predominantly Mongolic) and routed the latter in a battle at Jallandar securing the Panjab for himself.
• In 1297 he invaded Gujarat and destroyed the ancient Surya temples at Mehsana and subjugated the Hindus of the land with much slaughter. The rAja of Gujarat fled to Devagiri and the Hindu kings tried to fight back under shankara yAdava. Alla sent Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan against them, who defeated the yAdavas and the Gujarat king. They captured and castrated a Hindu youth who was name Maliq Kaffr and presented him to Alla, who took him as his lover.
• 1298 He sent his fiercest il-ghazi, Zafar Khan, to wage a jihad against the pagan Northern Alliance chief Suldus who was sent by Chagadai Kha’Khan Duwa. The battle concluded in a draw after fierce fighting.
• 1298 Later in the year he battled against Qutulugh Khawaja, a son of Duwa, of the Northern Alliance, the results were inconclusive
• 1299 Qutulugh Khawaja reached the doors of Delhi with a large horde. Alla’s il-ghazi’s Zafar Khan, Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan defeated Qutulugh Khawaja, but Zafar Khan was shot dead by an arrow in this battle.
• 1299 Ulugh Khan was sent to quell the Hindu resistance in Gujarat. He conquered the fort of Junagad and demolished all the temples in the surrounding regions and then went on to attack Somnath and destroy the great temple that the Hindus had rebuilt.
• 1299. Hammira Deva of the Ranthambhor defeated Alla as he attempted to sack the Rajput stronghold.
• 1301. Alla returned with his entire force to sack Ranthambhor. He succeeded and slew Hammira Deva. He conducted a massive temple demolition operation destroying all the temples of Jhain and Sawai Madhopur and slew the inhabitants.
• 1303. Chittor alone that had held out against the Muslims, attracted Khalji’s attention due to its beautiful queen Padmini. Khalji sacked and burned Chittor after slaying Rana Rattan Singh.
• 1303. Turghai and Ali Beg of the Northern Alliance wrested the Punjab from Alla and invaded Sindh. They blockaded Delhi itself for two months but retreated due to the summer heat.
• 1304. Jihad was launched on Ujjaini. This ancient center of Indian learning was destroyed completely. Chanderi was attacked next by Alla and the ancient temples were demolished.
• 1305. Malwa and Mandu were savaged and the inhabitants slaughtered.
• 1306. Then Turghai and Ali Beg defeated Khalji’s army and captured Lahore and Amroha near Delhi. Tughlaq Khan, a general of Alla, counter-attacked defeated and captured 9000 Pagan Turko-Mongols of the Northern Alliance. He had them all trampled to death by elephants for refusing to accept Islam.
• 1308. Qebek (another son of Chagadai ruler, Duwa) and Ibaqmand of the Northern Alliance struck back captured Multan. But Alla defeated them on their way back and again slaughtered all the pagan prisoners he took.
• 1308. Later in the year, the Rajputs regrouped in Sivana and declared independence but Alla smashed them in a lightning campaign and destroyed the temples in the region.
• 1309. He sent Maliq Kaffr against Devagiri that was attempting to reassert itself. Maliq Kaffr defeated the yAdavas and penetrated the Hoysala kingdom.
• 1310 Maliq Kaffr destroyed Dwarasamudra after a fierce battle and ended the Hindu Hoysala rule over those regions.
• 1311 Maliq Kaffr devastated Telengana and destroyed the temples of Warangal. He then invaded Madhurai and destroyed the Pandyan kingdom. The temples of Madhurai and Chidambaram were destroyed. Kaffr returned with enormous amounts of gold looted from the destroyed temples.
• 1311 Alla invaded Jalor to destroy the Rajput fight back and massacred the Hindu population while destroying the city.
• 1313 Devagiri made another attempt to defy the Muslim terror, Alla personally invaded mahArashTra to ravage the Devagiri kingdom.
• 1314 Alla more or less became a puppet in the hand of his lover Kaffr and subsequently died in 1316.
• 1316 Death.
Thereafter, Maliq Kaffr killed all the members of the Khalji tribe except for Qutbuddin Mubarak, Alla’s last son, and ruled in his name. Kaffr was murdered by the Turkish chiefs of the Southern Alliance and Mubarak ascended the throne. In 1318 Qutbuddin Mubarak invaded Devagiri again as its ruler Haripala Deva had cast off the Muslim yoke. Haripala faced a massive defeat and was captured. He was skinned alive and his head and skin were placed on display at the entrance to the Devagiri fort. Thus ended the yAdava dynasty and Hindu sovereignty in mahArashTra. Mubarak’s lover Khusru murdered him and made himself Sultan. Amir Qazaghan of the Qara’Unas tribe, from Konduz, became the lord of the Southern Alliance and sent his commander al Ghazi al Maliq Tughlaq to seize the throne of Delhi after murdering Khusru.
Sources: Histoire des Mongols D’Ohsson.; Hafiz-i-Abru, trns Byani (Paris 1936). Tazjiyat-al-amsar va tajriyat of Wassaf; A Forgotten Empire : Vijayanagar : A Contribution to the history of India”, Robert Sewell
Aurangazeb (1658 C.E. – 1707 C.E.)
Aurangzeb considered himself “The Scourge Of The Kafirs” (non-believers) and closed Hindu schools and libraries. In his lifetime he destroyed more than 10,000 Hindu, Buddhist and Jam temples and often erected mosques in their stead.3 In 1669 in Agra he had hacked off the limbs of the recalcitrant Hindu King Gokla and in 1672 several thousand revolting Hindus were slaughtered in Mewat.
From: Maasi-i-Alamgiri: He issued general order to destroy all centers of Hindu learnings including Varnasi and destroyed the temple at Mathura and renamed it as Islamabad
In Khandela (rajastan) he killed 300 Hindus in one day for they resisted the destruction of their temple.
In Udaipur all Hindus of the town were killed as they vowed to defend the temple of Udaipur from destruction — 172 temples were destroyed in Udaipur. 66 temples were pulled down in Amber. All Hindu clerks were dismissed from the office of the Imperial empire.
In Pandhpur , Maharashtra, the Emperor ordered and executed the destruction of temple and butchering of cows within the temple.
Aurangazeb also tortured to death the disciples of Guru Tegh bahadur before his death and also killed Guru. Guru Tegh Bahadur – the pride of Hindustan was martyred for he spoke for the persecuted Hindus of Hindustan. Aurangazeb also killed Guru Gobind singh’s two children aged less than ten by walling them alive for not accepting the choice of Islam. In Punjab Muslim governors killed hundreds of Sikh children and made Sikh women eat the flesh of their own killed children. Banda Bahadur another great Sikh martyr before being torturd to death was also made to eat the flesh of his own children killed before his eyes. Any Muslim bringing the head of a dead Sikh was also awarded money.
Jahangir (1605 C.E. – 1628 C.E.)
Source: Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri: Though in the beginning of his rule Jahangir followed the humanistic rule of his father Akbar the great -the policy of sulehkul even issued a proclamation against the forcible conversion of Hindus to Islam, he revoked Akbar’s orders that those who have been forcibly converted from Islam could return to Hinduism. He severely punished Kaukab, Sharif and Abdul Latif for showing inclination to Hinduism. He also prohibited the free inter-marriage customs between Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir. Hindus marrying Muslim girls and those who had already married were given a hoice between Islam and death. Many were killed.
Jahangir’s torture of Guru Arjun Dev ji: Guru was imprisoned at Lahore fort. He was chained to a post in an open place exposed to the sun from morning to evening in the summer months of May to June. Below his feet a heap of sand was put which burnt like a furnace. Boiling water was poured on his naked body at intervals. His body was covered with blisters all over. In this agony Guru used to utter.
Tera Kiya Metha lage, naam padarath Nanak mange(whatever you ordain appears sweet. I supplicate for the gift of name)
The Guru was ordercd to be executed. In addition a fine of Rupees two lakhs was imposed on him. Some historians say that, as a measure of clemency at the intervention of Mian Mir, this fine was imposed in lieu of the sentence of death. The Sikhs offered to pay the fine themselves but the Guru forbade them to do so. He replied to the Emperor, “Whatever money I have is for the poor, the friendless and the stranger. If thou ask for money thou mayest take what I have; but if thou ask for it by way of fine, I shall not give thee even a Kaurz (penny).” The Guru accepted death by torture.
Shah Jahan (1658 C.E. – 1707 C.E.)
In 1632 Shah Jahan ordered that all Hindu temples recently erected or in the course of construction should be razed to the ground. In Benares alone seventy six temples were destroyed. Christian churches at Agra and Lahore were demolished. In a manner befitting the Prophet he had ten thousand inhabitants executed by being “blown up with powder, drowned in water or burnt by fire”. Four thousand were taken captive to Agra where they were tortured to try to convert them to Islam. Only a few apostacised, the remainder were trampled to death by elephants, except for the younger women who went to harems.
Shahjahan put enormous eonomic pressure on Hindus particularly peasents to become Muslims. The criminals too were forced to become Muslims.
Source: Badshah Nama, Qazinivi & Badshah Nama , Lahori
When Shuja was appointed as governor of Kabul he carried on a ruthless war in the Hindu territory beyond Indus…The sword of Islam yielded a rich crop of converts….Most of the women (to save their honour) burnt themselves to death. Those captured were distributed among Muslim Mansabdars.
Source: Manucci, Storia do Mogor vol-II p.451 & Travels of Frey Sebastian Manrique
Under Shahjahan peasents were compelled to sell their women and children to meet their revenue requirements….The peasents were carried off to various Markets and fairs to be sold with their poor unhappy wives carrying their small children crying and lamenting. According to Qaznivi Shahjagan had decreed they should be sold to Muslim lords.
General Reginal Dyer — Commander of Amritsar Massacre
Soon after Dyer’s arrival, on the afternoon of April 13, 1919, some 10,000 or more unarmed men, women, and children gathered in Amritsar’s Jallianwala Bagh (bagh, “garden”; but before 1919 it had become a public square) to attend a protest meeting, despite a ban on public assemblies. It was a Sunday, and many neighbouring village peasants also came to Amritsar to celebrate the Hindu Baisakhi Spring Festival. Dyer positioned his men at the sole, narrow passageway of the Bagh, which was otherwise entirely enclosed by the backs of abutted brick buildings. Giving no word of warning, he ordered 50 soldiers to fire into the gathering, and for 10 to 15 minutes 1,650 rounds of ammunition were unloaded into the screaming, terrified crowd, some of whom were trampled by those desperately trying to escape. According to official estimates, nearly 400 civilians were killed, and another 1,200 were left wounded with no medical attention. Dyer, who argued his action was necessary to produce a “moral and widespread effect,” admitted that the firing would have continued had more ammunition been available.
The governor of the Punjab province supported the massacre at Amritsar and, on April 15, placed the entire province under martial law. Viceroy Chelmsford, however, characterized the action as “an error of judgment,” and when Secretary of State Montagu learned of the slaughter, he appointed a commission of inquiry, headed by Lord Hunter. Although Dyer was subsequently relieved of his command, he returned a hero to many in Britain, especially conservatives, who presented him with a jeweled sword inscribed “Saviour of the Punjab.”
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre turned millions of moderate Indians from patient and loyal supporters of the British raj into nationalists who would never again place trust in British “fair play.” It thus marks the turning point for a majority of the Congress’ supporters from moderate cooperation with the raj and its promised reforms to revolutionary noncooperation. Liberal Anglophile leaders, such as Jinnah, were soon to be displaced by the followers of Gandhi, who would launch, a year after that dreadful massacre, his first nationwide satyagraha (“devotion to truth”) campaign as India’s revolutionary response.
“It was a horrible duty to perform. But I think it was a merciful thing. I thought I should shoot well and shoot straight so that I or anybody else would not have had to shoot again.”
The words of Brigadier General Reginald Dyer himself — the perpetrator of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre which left 379 dead and 1,500 injured in 1919.
Deposing before the Hunter commission inquiring into the shooting, General Dyer said his action was meant to punish the people if they disobeyed his orders. He thought from a military point of view, such an action would create a good impression in Punjab.
However, what was more damning was his statement, ”I think it quite possible that I could have dispersed the crowd without firing but they would have come back again and laughed, and I would have made, what I consider, a fool of myself.”
He contended that martial law existed de facto in Amritsar at that time although only demonstrations had been forbidden. He also claimed that his military column had stopped at every important point to announce that all meetings have been banned which were accompanied by the beating of drums.
However, when questioned with the help of a map of the city, General Dyer was forced to admit that important localities had been omitted, and a large number of people would not have known about the proclamation.
He confessed he did not take any steps to attend to the wounded after the firing. ”Certainly not. It was not my job. Hospitals were open and they could have gone there,” came his pathetic response.
However, the misery suffered by the people was reflected in Rattan Devi’s account. She was forced to keep a nightlong vigil, armed with a bamboo stick to protect her husband’s body from jackals and vultures. Curfew with shoot-at-sight orders had been imposed from 2000 hours that night.
Rattan Devi stated, ”I saw three men writhing in great pain and a boy of about 12. I could not leave the place. The boy asked me for water but there was no water in that place…At 2 am, a jat who was lying entangled on the wall asked me to raise his leg. I went up to him and took hold of his clothes drenched in blood and raised him up. Heaps of bodies lay there, a number of them innocent children. I shall never forget the sight. I spent the night crying and watching…”
General Dyer admitted before the commission that he came to know about the meeting at Jallianwala Bagh at 1240 hours that day, but took no steps to prevent it.
Colum, a scholar who interviewed his widow and consulted his papers, said, “This unexpected gift of fortune, this unhoped for defiance, this concentration of rebels in an open space — it gave him an opportunity as he could not have devised. It separated the guilty from the innocent, it placed them where he would have wised them to be — within the reach of his sword.”
However, General Dyer admitted in his deposition that the gathering at the Bagh was not a concentration only of rebels, but people who had covered long distances to participate in the Baisakhi fair.
Swinson, an English journalist, described the scene as: ”Hundreds were asleep in the sun, others were concentrating on their game of cards. A number of them had come with their children, three to 12 years old. Some 27,000 odd people had gathered in the Bagh, an open space surrounded on all sides by houses with only four narrow entrances.”
General Dyer said he would have used his machine guns if he could have got them into the enclosure, but these were mounted on armoured cars. He said he did not stop firing when the crowd began to disperse because he thought it was his duty to keep firing until the crowd dispersed, and that a little firing would do no good.
He was censured by the Hunter commission for his action. He retired and was sent back to England. However, he continued to maintain that he had done no disservice to the Raj, and what he did was right, for which the British ought to be thankful.
In London, the general was given a hero’s welcome. Called ”the saviour of India,” the editor of the Morning Post collected 3,000 pounds to award him for his services. The Tories and a majority of members in the House of Lords rallied to his support. The army counsel which took up the case charged him only for an error of judgement, and recommended his retirement on half pay with no prospects of further employment. A British court even exonerated him of this charge.
* * *
The Hindu Holocaust continues throughout the world today. More than any other religious group anywhere, Hindus are being persecuted and murdered by fanatical members of other religious groups, and even by the Government of India itself. In the supposedly “secular” country of India, we find that the minority religions are given special treatment and allowed to manage their own affairs. Muslims in India are offered a financial subsidy to pay for their religious pilgrimage to Mecca (the Hajj Subsidy), and Christian missionaries are allowed to run rampant using various forms of deception and material promises to convert entire villages, while the Hindu religion is denigrated in India’s universities. Patriotic Hindus are called fundamentalists and fanatics, while Muslim and Christian terrorists carry out an unprecedented campaign of murder and violence against Hindus. Hindu temples are not allowed to be managed by the Hindus themselves, rather huge amounts of donations are collected by the “secular” government and pocketed by non-Hindu officials while the Temples are left to fall into ruins. At the same time, Muslim “Madrassas”, or religious schools, are growing by leaps and bounds, and left free to preach their hatred against Hindus. Muslim and Christian separatists threaten to tear Mother India apart even more than she has already been in order to secede and carve out new nations from India based on religious governments, rather than on secular lines that insure religious freedom for all.
[This article and more information at STEPHEN KNAP.