Exodus under the Mughals (1585-1753)
by the idyllic and scenic beauty of the valley of Kashmir visited
the place three times. His court poet Maulana Faizee composed a poem to
eulogize the beauty of Kashmir. It purposes to say that the dust of Kashmir
is like an eye lotion and the grass and herbs are vital medicines for beauty.
Faizee depicts the great Mughal's fascination for the allurement of Kashmir.
Akbar initiated many plans and welfare schemes for the people of Kashmir.
He attempted to expend his liberal policies to Kashmir. He entrusted the
administration of the valley to a subedar.
Akbar launched a
comprehensive scheme for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits honourably
in their native place. He also became aware of the importance of the role
they could play in managing and running the administration of Kashmir.
They in fact rose to high places of status and prestige. After about a
span of thirty years the KPs again started feeling comfortable and
assured of their safety and security. They found the atmosphere favourable
enough to practise their faith without any coersion and persecution.
Akbar was admittedly
highly tolerant and refrained from falling into the net of fanatic
religious zeal. He never resorted to following the policy of persecution
and discrimination against the Hindus who had earlier encountered periods
of misfortune at the hands of Muslim rulers who made them targets of their
religious bigotry and persecution.
On his visit to Kashmir
in 1589 Akbar gleaned accounts of stirring and blood boiling plight of
the KPs where groaning, being crushed to pulp under the heavy weight of
the vexatious extortion's like the much deplored Jazia (Poll tax),
Akbar repealed the black tax along with other taxes and fines imposed by
the vicious Chak rulers. Akbar's decree abolishing them brought a relief
and much sought after respite to the KPs. Many KPs who fled to other safer
places their lives and honour found conditions in their home Iand quite
conductive to their honourable return though shocked to find their homes
and hearths looted and plundered by the Muslim zealots during the period
of their absence.
son made a departure from the path of religious tolerance and non-interference
in other religious affairs. His sectarian predilection and prejudices were
clearly pronounced. He shuffled his stances in his dealing with KPs and
his inconsistencies were to a large extent responsible for the communal
frenzy and rioting to resurface in its full fury. It was during his rule
the Kashmiri Pandits were forced to marry their daughters to Moghul officers
and Subedars and yet it is an irony that Jehangir is known for his "adal"
and love and concern for justice. Seemingly just and equitable in his treatment
of the Kashmiri Pandits, he upheld and followed in letter and spirit Islamic
practices. This blots and besmears his image of being a tolerant ruler.
He disapproved of and opposed matrimonial relations between Hindus and
Muslims but declared that while a Hindu was forbidden by law to marry a
Muslim woman. Muslim had all the license to marry a Hindu woman.
Jehangir did not
lag behind in following the footprints of earlier Muslim fanatics. It was
at his behalf that the flight of steps linking the temple of Shankeracharya
to the river Jhelum near the temple of Trepur Sundary was dismantled and
the smooth chiseled stones thus got were used by Noorjehan to erect the
massive mosque at Pather Masjid in down town Srinagar on the west bank
of over Jhelum. The Mughal Sardar Itquad Khan, cruel and inhuman as he
was, further tarnished and blackened Jehangir's image that had already
been soiled by anti-Hindu pursuits in Kashmir. Itquad Khan forced the Hindus
at gun point to get converted to Islam and tortured them by levying taxes
on them. As the Shia Chaks had persecuted Sunni Muslims, he persecuted
Shah Jehan was a
chip of the old block of his father and proved true to him. No less ardent
lover and admirer of the natural beauty of Kashmir he did conceal the ugliness
in his mind. He did justice to his faith as a Muslim in devoting himself
to torturing and persecuting the Kashmin Hindu. He laughed with pleasure
when a Muslim mob led and instigated by Kwaja Mam pounced on a prominent
Kashmir Hindu Pandit Mahdeo's house and looted it and set it ablaze.
Shah Jehan did not
fall to keep up the iconoclastic heritage of his father and did his bit
by desecrating and demolishing a number of temples in Kashmir. Bernier
is reliable in his conclusive finding that "the doors and pillars were
found in some of the idol temples demolished by Shah Jehan and it is impossible
to estimate their value." Shah Jehan showed his love for gardens by laying
out Shalimar, Nishat, Achabal. He also got constructed many mosques, but
hardly cared to reconstruct temples, monasteries and libraries of Hindus
demolished and destroyed by Islamic zealots preceding him.
Aurengazeb the 'Puritan
King' whose life is a sharp contrast to that of his predecessors/ancestors
lost no time after ascending the throne in Delhi in 1658 to convert
whole of India to Islam. To fulfil this desire of his he had no hesitation
in using and wielding sword. The fundamentalist emperor thew to winds the
seemingly secular policy of his forefathers replacing it by one of
religious harassment and persecution. He re-imposed Jazia (poll tax). While
the entire lndian people shuddered at his manner of building an Islamic
state, he implemented a well calculated plan according to which he started
with liquidating Hindu scholars in India in general and the Kashmiri Pandits
in particular. Not surprising he did not spare his own father. According
to him elimination of Hindu scholars was a pre-requisite for the spread
of Islam India.
Since Kashmir has
from times immemorial remained a prominent center for learning, Aurangzeb
appointed 14 atrocious subedars as administrators and governors of Kashmir
for its Islamization. Notable among them was Iftekhar Khan who during his
regime (1617-75) unleashed his pack of hounds of cruelties of all sorts
to leave the Kashmiri Hindus no alternative but to embrace Islam on pain
of death. During his rule of five years of hair raising cruelty and tyranny
Iftekhar Khan drove it home to Pandits that then future in their land of
birth was assured only if they kissed Islam, failing which they must quit
their homeland forthwith; there was no third option.
In consequence of
this dire threat thousands of Kashmiri Pandits succumbed to his policy
of duress and treacherous religious bigotry of the vicious subeder and
thus got converted to Islam. Thousands who could manage to withstand the
tremendous pressure bade good bye to their homes and hearths and sought
refuge in neighbouring regions to keep alive themselves and their faith
that was so dear to them.
It is during the
rule of Emperor Shah Jehan and Aurangzeb that Kashmiri Pandits driven out
of Kashmir reached Delhi and settled down in Bazar Sitaram. Two prominent
castes namely Zutshis and Shangloos reached there after a great struggle,
difficulties and hardships. These castes over a period of generations had
changed into Pehlvis (poets) and Topawallas, said one of the descendants
of KPs living in Bazar Sitaram Shri Gulzar Pahlvi. There is a temple of
ancient KPs now internally displaced communities in India believe in. It
is said that Pandit Nehru's marriage procession had come all along from
Allahabad to Bazar Sitaram where his marriage was solemnized. Their present
priest is Iqbal Krishen Revoo.
It is during the
Aurangzeb-Iftekhar Khan combine that reduced the Kashmin Pandits as
low as dust, nay they made them lick the dust. They trampled the Pandit
psyche by subverting all the achievements of this advanced and learned
community in social, economic and religious fields during the pseudo-secular
stance of the earlier Mughals. Aurangzeb followed Islamic law with fervor
showing no regard for normal laws of Hindus.
When the religious
persecution and cruelties perpetrated by Iftekhar Khan and approved by
Aurangzeb made life unbearable for Pandits in Kashmir, the latter
decided to approach the immortal national hero Shri Guru Teg Bahadur
at Anand Sahib for rescuing the Kashmiri Hindus from Islamic onslaught
by his personal intervention. A delegation of 500 KPs led by Pandit Kripa
Ram learned person, called on the Guru and narrated their harrowing and
woeful experiences of the diabolical misrule of Iftikhar Khan patronized
by Aurangzeb whose wickedness had no parallel. These fundamentalists
thrust Islam by hook or by crook. They converted by atrocities, by polluting
the KPs by banning the wearing of sacred thread and tilak, by sexual harassment
and forcible abductions of the daughters of Hindus and other satanic misdeeds.
The delegations appealed to Guru Teg Bahadur to deliver them from their
religion of the land.
The great Saint whose
face radiated Cecelia light was painfully moved on hearing the woeful
tales narrated by the Kashmir Pandit suppliants. This great man from Punjab
went to Delhi for the redressal of the grievances of the KPs and got killed
by the cunning Aurangzeb. The Guru was asked to embrace Islam but he preferred
death to change his Dharma which was most dear to him. Furious Muslim zealot
Aurangzeb ordered the execution of Guru Teg Bahadur. His head was slit
by one Jalal-ud-din Jalad (Executioner). In this way the Guru attained
martyrdom for the sacred cause of saving Hindu Dharma. Shat Shat Pranam.
Guru Maharaja's sacrifice sent a shiver down the spine of Aurangzeb and
it marked the beginning of the fall of Mughal empire in India.
Despite the supreme
sacrifice for the preservation of Hindu religion and Kashmiri ethos, the
state terrorism remained unabated for sometime more. The desecration of
temples and the killings of KPs continued and the process of exodus also
A griping and inspiring
and graphic account of this national issue and the unforgettable sacrifice
and martyrdom of Guru along with his three disciples has been given by
Giani Gian Singh in his book 'Shri Guru Granth Prakash' and another book 'Shri Guru Pratap
Suraj' which are strongly recommended to the readers.