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Aaj ke Aurangzeb

india Updated: Nov 15, 2008 00:40 IST
Renuka Narayanan
Renuka Narayanan
Hindustan Times
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The Guru Granth Sahib contains hymns by Hindu and Muslim saints along with those of the Sikh Gurus. It is inclusive, not divisive. The Gurus, from Guru Nanak (1469-1539), through Gurus Angad, Amardas, Ramdas, Arjun, Hargobind, Har Rai, Har Kishan, Tegh Bahadur to Gobind Singh, each brought something to the evolution of this unifying concept. It was Guru Arjun (1563-1606) who compiled the Adi Granth in 1601-4 and installed it at the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar. It’s always worth recalling that it was the Sufi, Mian Mir, whom the Guru invited to lay the foundation stone.

Guru Tegh Bahadur lived a retired life at Bakala village on the banks of the Beas and was known as “Bakala Baba’ before Kashmiri Pandits pleaded with him to save religious freedom in India and he sacrificed himself to death-by-Aurangzeb. But there is an important point here: Aurangzeb was a bad ruler who tormented his people and alienated their affection by his intolerant behaviour. He was hated, moreover, for having killed his popular elder brother Dara Shikoh, the rightful king. So Aurangzeb cannot be classified as “Muslim’ in the spiritual sense, only in the political sense: a political bigot who applied Qur’anic surahs literally, not liberally. In sum, Aurangzeb, the last Great Mughal, manifestly failed in his dharma as a son, a brother and a king. (Why do you think Lord Ram is upheld as a political counter-symbol today?).

Do some Muslims in the sub-continent indeed celebrate Aurangzeb as a ‘good Muslim’ because he persecuted Hindus? It is an interesting thought, bound to reap its own consequences. However in the interests of co-existence it is important for every Indian to see Aurangzeb for what he was - a political failure - and not take him personally.

It was righteous wrath at the murder of his father that made Guru Gobind (1666-1708) militarize the Sikhs. He composed a Persian couplet to justify it: “Chunkaar az huma heeltey dar gujasht/Haal ast burdenay ba shamshir e dast’: ‘When there is intolerable oppression in the land, it is right and fitting to pick up the sword.’

We must remember though that the Guru fought against an absolute monarch. The rules are different in a democracy. ‘The Hindus’ made their grand gesture against 1192, 1526, etc by shooting an unarmed old man on January 30, 1948. We made the laws ourselves after Independence.

That is why Babri Masjid, Kashmiri Pandit refugees, Gujarat riots, Kandhamal and anti-Hinduism pamphlets/speeches are ALL equally unacceptable. Every community seems guilty of something. Nail and punish spoilers of the peace, starting with today’s Aurangzebs, our politicians.