The right to freedom of religion is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution of India. Do we know who stood up to get this right secured for the people of India? Do we know we were deprived of this Fundamental Right in our very own country in the 17th Century? Yes, it was the time when Aurangzeb was forcibly converting the Hindu brothers and sisters of Hindustan to Islam. Embrace Islam or face death – that was his message. Not that one religion is better than the other but forcing one’s faith on other is absolutely wrong. And this was being done in our motherland.
Who at that time came forward to save Hindustan? Who secured the right to freedom of religion for Hindu brothers? Who stopped India from FORCIBLY being converted to an Islamic Country? Was he a Hindu? He should be… why would a person from any other faith come forward to fight with Aurangzeb, the Shehanshah of India? Would you do that? But someone dared… The Hind Ki Chaadar, the 9th Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji.
The Delhi Emperor, Aurangzeb cherished the ambition of converting India into a land of Islam. This philosophy was also pleaded by Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi (1569–1624), leader of the Naqashbandi School, to counter the liberal policies of Akbar’s reign. The Emperor’s experiment was first carried out in Kashmir since the Kashmiri Pandits as they were always looked up by Hindus in the other parts of the country. The viceroy of Kashmir, Iftikar Khan (1671–1675) carried out the policy vigorously and set about converting non-Muslims by force.
A group of Kashmiri Pandits (Kashmiri Hindu Brahmins), approached Guru Tegh Bahadur and asked for help. They, on the advice of the Guru, told the Mughal authorities that they would willingly embrace Islam if Guru Tegh Bahadur, did the same.
Orders of the arrest of the Guru were issued by Aurangzeb, who was in present day North West Frontier Province of Pakistan subduing Pushtun rebellion. The Guru was arrested at a place called Malikhpur near Anandpur after he had himself departed from Anandpur for Delhi. His arrest was made in July 1675 and he was kept in custody for over three months. He was then cast in an iron cage and taken to Delhi in November 1675.
The Guru was put in chains and ordered to be tortured until he would accept Islam. When he could not be persuaded to abandon his faith to save himself from persecution, he was asked to perform some miracles to prove his divinity. On his refusal, Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded in public at Chandni Chowk on 11 November 1675. Guru Ji is also known as “Hind Di Chadar” i.e. “the shield of India”, suggesting that to save Hinduism, Guru Ji gave his life.
Isn’t this the only incident in the WORLD where the Guru of one religion gave his life to save other? But do we even remember this today? Haven’t we (Sikhs and Non-Sikhs) become ignorant? We remember Valentine’s day and celebrate Rose day each year, but what about this day which spreads such a beautiful message of brotherhood, to stand against injustice, to fight for the weak.
For those who make fun of Sikhs by cracking jokes, there can be no one more thankless than you. Be ready to show you face in the court of the Lord.
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