What happened after Guru Teg Bahadur’s martyrdom …
The Guru’s sacrifice had symbolically but completely smashed the arrogance of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. It proved to be a great event that galvanized the nationalist forces politically. It led to a surge of pride and self-belief that swept over the entire length and breadth of India. Apart from firming directions for Guru Gobind Singh’s opposition in Punjab, it engendered the rise of several formidable forces against the Mughals, under whose patronage the native people suffered religious oppression and administrative tyranny : Rana Raj Singh in Rajasthan, Shivaji in Deccan, and Chhatrasal in central India. Much later, towards the end of 19th Century, Swami Vivekananda would often fill his eyes with fire and express aloud the wish for such martyrdom at the hands of British occupiers of the land.
In sum, inspired insurrections and collected mobilisations broke the back of Mughal forces in the subcontinent and finally, barely five decades after Guru Teg Bahadur’s martyrdom, drove the myth of Muslim supremacy and Islamic grandeur into the ground.
The Emperor’s Lament … in his last hours :
During his last days Aurangzeb came to realize that the days of the Mughal dynasty were numbered and that he himself was responsible for sowing the seeds of destruction.
“Azma fasad baq !” were his words, which means, “After me, the chaos !” The last words of Aurangzeb, addressed to his sons from death-bed, echo mournfully…
“I came a stranger to this world and a stranger I depart. I know nothing of myself – what I am and what I was destined for.
“My back is bent with weakness and my feet have lost the power of motion. The breath which rose is gone and has not left behind even a ray of hope.
“The agonies of death come upon me fast. My vessel is launched upon the waves !
“Farewell, Farewell !”
* * *
Guru Gobind Singh’s Letters To The Emperor … one of which was clearly written from Machhiwara, after the battle of Chamkaur when the Guru had seen the brave sacrifice of his two elder sons in the battle field. It also reveals that though Guru Gobind had suffered heavy losses in men and material, he was in no way overcome or feeling vanquished but was instead full of confidence, faith and courage. The Guru chastises, shames and reprimands the Emperor for is deceit and unbecoming conduct…
1 In the name of the Lord of Sword and Axe.
In the name of the Lord of Arrow and Shield.
2 In the name of the Lord of Men of Heroic Deeds.
In the name of the Lord of Speeding Steeds.
3 He, who has given you kingship, has entrusted to me the task of defending Dharam and Righteousness.
4 Your frantic activities are confined to deceit and diplomacy, whereas my efforts are based on faith and truth.
5 The name of Aurangzeb hardly behoves you, for kings should not indulge in deceiving others.
6 Your rosary is nothing more then a collection of beads and thread… the beads to ensnare and the thread as a net to enslave others.
7 You kneaded the earthly remains of your father with evil deeds and with the blood of your brothers.
8 And with that mud you built your house to live in.
9 I will now storm you like rain water and deal with you with the sharp edges of my steel arms.
10 You have met with failure in the Deccan and are coming back thirsty from Mewar.
11 If you now turn you eyes to the north then you will find your thirst quenched and parched throat set right.
12 I will place fire under your feet and will not allow you to drink water of the Punjab.
13 What if the sly fox has killed the two cubs of a lion with deception.
14 The lion itself is alive and will wreak vengeance.
15 I do not now ask you for anything in the name of your Allah and your scripture.
16 I have no faith in your word. Only the sword will now serve its purpose.
17 Even if you claim to be a clever leopard, I will ensure the lion remains outside your net.
18 Even when you talk to me, if you will, I will always speak of the path which is pious and straight.
19 Let the armies on both sides draw up opposite to each other.
20 And let there be a distance of three miles between them.
21 There, then, I will come alone and you may come along with your horsemen.
22 You have had easy fruits and enjoyed the unusual gifts but have never met the warriors, in person.
23 Come forward yourself, armed with a sword and axe, for a duel and kill no more the innocent people in God’s creation.
Bhai Dhaya Singh had taken this letter to Aurangzeb on December 26, 1704. By the time he arrived, Aurangzeb had been briefed about the Guru having suffered being uprooted from Anandpur Sahib. He felt the injustice done on his part, especially since he had been promised on solemn oath to Quran a safe passage to the Guru from Anandpur.
The Emperor assured Bhai Dhaya Singh that he would make ample amends and extended an invitation to the Guru to meet him in the Deccan. Bhai Dhaya Singh shrewdly suggested that a written letter would be more appropriate. The Emperor agreed and sent two messengers with Bhai Dhaya with his letter to the Guru. The return journey of 900 miles lasted three months.
The Guru heard Bhai Dhaya Singh’s report, of how sympathetic and remorseful the Emperor was while penning the reply. There was a mixed light of magnanimity and sombreness on the Guru’s face. He decided to send another, even more detailed, letter to the Emperor, in which he neither accepted nor refused the invitation.
The ‘Zafarnama’ by Guru Gobind Singh :
Salutations to God…
O Master of miracles, O Eternal and Beneficent One, O Provider of sustenance, O Deliverer, Bestower of Grace and Mercy ! (1)
O Giver of Bliss, O Great Pardoner, Who holds me by the hand, O Remitter of sins, O Bestower of daily bread, O Charmer of our hearts ! (2)
O King of kings, O Giver of Good, O Guide of the Way. O One without colour, without form, without equal ! (3)
He who has no material possessions, no army, no ground to stand upon, Him too, Thou blessest with Heavenly Bliss. (4)
Separate from the world yet most powerful, Thou O Presence, Who givest Thy gifts as if Thou wert here before us. (5)
O Thou Pure One, our Cherisher, our only Giver. O Thou Merciful One, who givest to every land ! (6)
O Greatest of the great, Thou art the God of every land : Of Perfect Beauty, Merciful and Giver of sustenance ! (7)
O Master of intellect, O Embellisher of the meek, O Refuge of the poor, O Destroyer of the tyrant ! (8)
O Protector of the faith, Fountain of eloquence, O Knower of the Real, O Author of revelation ! (9)
O Master of intelligence, O Appreciator of Wisdom, O Diviner of secrets, O Omnipresent God ! (10)
Thou knowest all that happens in the world, And Thou resolvest all its problems and doubts. (11)
O Thou all-knowing God, O Great One, Thou alone art the organiser of our lives. (12)
The Guru’s Memorandum to Aurangzeb :
I have no faith in thy oaths, even if thou bringest in God as thy witness. (13)
I haven’t even an iota of trust in thee, for all thy ministers and thy courtiers are liars. (14)
He who puts faith in thy oath on Quran, he comes to ruin in the end. (15)
But beware; the insolent crow can lay not its hands upon one whom Huma, the Bird of Heaven, protects. (16)
He who seeks the refuge of the tiger, can he be harmed by a goat, a deer or a buffalo ? (17)
Had I vowed on the book of my faith, even in secret, I would have withdrawn the infantry and cavalry from the field. (18)
And, what could my forty men do (at Chamkaur), when a hundred thousand men, unawares, pounced upon them ? (19)
The oath breakers attacked them, of a sudden, with swords, arrows and guns. (20)
I had perforce to join battle with thy hosts, and fought with muskets and arrows as best as I could. (21)
When an affair is past every other remedy, it is righteous, indeed, to unsheathe the sword. (22)
Hadn’t I taken thee to thy word upon the Quran, I wouldn’t have chosen the path I did. (23)
I knew not that thy men were crafty and deceitful, like a fox. else I wouldn’t have driven myself to this state. (24)
He who swears to me on the Quran ought not to have killed or imprisoned my men. (25)
Thy army dressed like blue bottles, charged us, of a sudden, with a loud bang. (26)
But they who aggressed not against us were left unhurt, unmolested by us. (28)
But, he who advanced from thy ranks beyond his defenses was hit with such deadly aim of my single arrow that he was deluged in blood. (27)
When I witnessed thy general, Nahar Khan, advancing to war, I gave him the taste of a single deadly arrow. (29)
And many of his men, who boasted of their valour, fled the battlefield in utter shame. (30)
Then advanced another one of Afghan blood, rushing forth like flood, like a gun-ball, or a deadly arrow. (31)
He made many assaults with great courage, sometime with conscious skill, and at others like a mad man. (32)
The more he attacked, the more he was mauled, and then while killing two of my ranks, he too fell dead in the cold dust. (33)
But the cowardly and contemptible Khwaja came forth not like a man, and hid himself behind a wall. (34)
Had I but seen his face, I could have helped him too with an arrow of mine. (35)
At last, many on their side fell on the ground, hit by arrows and our death dealing bullets. (36)
There was, indeed, an overpowering rain of these, and the earth turned red like the lalla flower. (37)
Torn heads and legs lay in heaps,
As if the earth was covered with balls and sticks. (38)
The arrows whizzed, the bows twanged, and it brought forth from earth only cries and yells. (39)
There were other dreadful, vengeful noises too, of weapons and men, when men, the bravest of brave, battled like mad. (40)
But, what kind of chivalry is this in war, that countless hosts should pounce upon a mere forty of us ? (41)
When the lamp of the world veiled itself, and the queen of night came forth with all her splendour.(42)
He who trusts, however, in an oath on God, his Protection too is on Him; in need, He shows the Path. (43)
So, not even a hair of mine was touched, nor my body suffered, for God, the Destroyer of my enemies, Himself pulled me out to safety. (44)
I knew not that you, o man, was a perjurer, a worshipper of self and a breaker of faith. (45)
Nay, you keep no faith, nor mind religion, nor know God, nor believe in Mohammed. (46)
He who observes the tenet’s of his faith, he never breaks a promise, after he makes one. (47)
You have no idea of what an oath on the Quran is : nay, you have no faith in the one God. (48)
Now, even if you were to swear a hundred times on the Quran, I’d regard not thy word, not an iota of it. (49)
Had you ever a mind to keep thy faith, you would have taken courage and come to me. (50)
From when you gave your word, swearing in the name of God’s Word, it was incumbent on you to keep your faith. (51)
If your majesty were to be present here before me, I would have with all my heart posted you with your treachery. (52)
Do now what is enjoined upon you, and stick to your written and plighted word. (53)
Both the written word and the verbal promise of your envoy, should have been fulfilled by you. (54)
He alone is a man who keeps his word : not have one thing in heart and another on his tongue. (55)
Your promise was to honour the Qazi’s word, if that be true, then come thou to me. (56)
If you want to seal thy promise on the Quran, I would for sure send the document to thee. (57)
If only you were gracious enough to come to the village of Kangar, we could see each other face to face. (58)
On the way, there will be no danger to your life, for, the whole tribe of Brars accepts my command. (59)
Come to me that we may converse with each other, and I may utter some kind words to thee. (60)
I’d send thee a horseman like one in a thousand, who will conduct thee safe to my home. (61)
I’m a slave of the King of kings, and ready to obey His Call with all my heart. (62)
If He were to order me thus, I’d with utmost pleasure present myself to thee. (63)
And if you are a believer in one God, tarry not in what I ask you to do. (64)
It is incumbent upon you to recognise the God, for He told you not to create strife in the world. (65)
You occupy the throne in the name of God, the one Sovereign of all creation, but strange is thy justice, stranger thy attributes ! (66)
What sense of discrimination is this ? What regard for religion ? O fie on such a sovereignty ! Fie, a hundred times !! (67)
Stranger than strange are thy decrees, o king, but beware : broken pledges boomerang on those who make them. (68)
Shed not recklessly the blood of another with thy sword, lest the Sword on High falls upon thy neck. (69)
O man, beware, and fear thy God, for, with flattery or cajolery He can be deceived not. (70)
He, the King of kings, fears no one, and is the True Sovereign of heaven and earth. (71)
God is the Master of earth and the sky : He is the Creator of all men and all places. (72)
He it is who creates all – from the feeble ant to the powerful elephant, and is the Embellisher of the meek and Destroyer of the reckless. (73)
His name is : “Protector of the meek.” And He is dependent upon no one’s support or obligation. (74)
He has no twist in Him, nor doubt. And, He shows man the Way to Redemption and Release. (75)
You are indeed bound by your word on the Quran, let therefore the matter come to a good end, as is your promise. (76)
It is but in abiding that you act wisely, and be discreet in all that you do. (77)
What if you have killed my four tender sons, when I remain like a snake coiled. (78)
It is not brave to put out a few sparks, and stir up a fire to rage all the more ! (79)
What a beautiful thought has Firdausi, the sweet-tongued poet, expressed : “He who acts in haste, plays the devil.” (80)
When both you and I will repair to the Court of God, you will bear witness to what you did unto me. (81)
But, if you forget even this, the God on High will also cast you off from His Mind. (82)
God will reward you amply for your misdeed, which you launched with all your recklessness ! (83)
This is the keeping of faith, the act of goodness : To put God above love of one’s life. (84)
I believe not that you know God, since, from you, have come only acts of tyranny. (85)
The Beneficent God also will know thee not, and will welcome not thee with all thy riches. (86)
If now you swear a hundred times on the Quran, I will not trust you, even for a moment. (87)
I will enter not your presence, nor travel on the same road, even if you so ordain, I would oblige you not. (88)
O Aurangzeb, king of kings, fortunate are you, an expert swordsman and a horseman too : (89)
Handsome is your person and your intellect high, master of lands, the ruler and the emperor. (90)
A skilled wielder of the sword and clever in administration, a master-warrior and a man of charitable disposition. (91)
You grant riches and lands in charity, O one of handsome body and brilliant mind. (92)
Great is your munificence, in war you are like a mountain, of angelic disposition, your splendour is like that of Pleiades. (93)
You are the king of kings, ornament of the throne of the world : Master of the world, but far from religion ! (94)
I warred with the idol-worshipping hill chiefs, for, (you think) I am the breaker of idols and they their worshippers. (95)
Beware, the world keeps not faith with any: he who rises also falls and comes to grief. (96)
And look also at the miracle that is God, that He may destroy a whole host through a single man ! (97)
What can an enemy do to him whose has God as friend ? For the function of the Great Bestower is : To Bestow. (98)
He grants Deliverance and shows too the Way. And He teaches the tongue to utter His praise, in love. (99)
In times of need, He blinds the enemy, and protects the helpless from injury and harm. (100)
And he who acts in good faith, on him, the Merciful One, rains His Mercy. (101)
He who serves Him with all his heart, God blesses him with the Peace of Soul. (102)
What harm can an enemy do to him, with whom God, our Supreme Guide, is pleased. (103)
The Creator-Lord is ever his refuge, even if tens of thousands of hosts were to proceed against him. (104)
If you have the pride of your army and riches, I bank upon Praise of God, the Almighty. (105)
You are proud of your empire and material possessions, while I am proud of the Refuge of God, the Immortal. (106)
Be not heedless : for the world lasts but a few days, and man will depart, one knows not when. (107)
Look at the ever changing faithless world : And see what happens to every house, every denizen. (108)
If you are strong, torture not the weak, and thus lay not the axe to thy empire. (109)
If the one God is one’s Friend, what harm can the enemy do, even if he multiplies himself a hundred times ? (110)
A thousand times let an enemy assault him, and yet touch he would not even a hair of his head. (111)
This letter is called “Zafarnama” – the Epistle of Victory. Written in Persian verse it was sent from Dina in 1705 through two Sikhs, Bhai Dhaya Singh and Bhai Dharam Singh. It was not entrusted to the Emperor’s messengers because of the nature of its content and because the Guru wanted to know from his Sikhs the instant reactions of the Emperor upon reading it.
Although Bhai Dhaya Singh and Bhai Dharam Singh travelled with great speed they could not get an early audience with the emperor. They stayed at the house of Bhai Jetha. It was some months before the Sikhs met the Emperor. The Guru had instructed Bhai Dhaya Singh to speak boldly and fearlessly to Aurangzeb when handing over the Guru’s letter.
The Emperor read the letter and felt that the Guru was highly intelligent, truthful, and a fearless warrior. He was nearly 91 years of age and his body started to tremble with feelings of remorse and regret of what he had done in his life time. Again, he put pen to paper and wrote a letter to the Guru, stating his inability to come to the north and requesting the Guru to meet him in Ahmadnagar at his earliest convenience. The letter was sent through royal messengers.
The Emperor’s peace of mind was lost. He wrote another letter to his sons in which he states : ” I do not know who I am, where i am, where i am to go and what will happen to a sinful person like me. Many like me have passed away, wasting their lives. Allah was in my heart but my blind eyes failed to see him. I do not know how I will be received in Allah’s court. I do not have any hope for my future : I have committed many sins and do not know what punishments will be awarded to me in return.”
The Zafarnama had a demoralising effect on Emperor Aurangzeb, who saw his end looming over the horizon. The future seemed so very bleak. He saw Guru Gobind Singh as his only hope… the only one who could show him the right path in truth, as was hinted by the Guru in his epistle. Although he had greatly wronged the Guru, he now knew the latter to be a man of God and wanted to meet the Guru in person, to seek his own redemption. He issued instructions to his Governors to withdraw all orders against the Guru. He instructed his minister, Munim Khan, to make arrangements for the safe passage of the Guru when he came to meet.
The Guru was not willing to go to Delhi yet and, instead, stopped outside the town of Sabo Ki Talwandi. According to Sikh chronologists, it was at Sabo Ki Talwandi that Guru Gobind Singh untied his waist band after a period of nearly eighteen months, and breathed a sigh of relief. This is why Sabo Ki Talwandi is known as Damdama Sahib (place of rest). It was at Damdama Sahib that Mata Sundri, the Guru’s mother, learned of the fate of four Sahibzaday – sons of the Guru and Mata Gujri. And, it was here that Guru Gobind Singh re-wrote the Adi Guru Granth Sahib from memory and added the Gurbani of his father, the martyred Guru Teg Bahadur.
Upon receiving the Emperor’s letter, Guru Gobind let the matter rest for a period before deciding to meet the Emperor in Deccan. He felt that Aurangzeb’s invitation was extended with due humility and concluded the time was right to accept it in view of the Emperor’s old age, without compromising on his oath to mete out justice to anyone who resorted to acts of barbarity.
Unfortunately, by the time the Guru entered Rajasthan, news came of the Emperor’s death at Aurangabad. Historical records, kept by Bhai Santokh Singh, show that the Emperor had lost all appetite, capacity to digest, and could not expel waste. Whatever he consumed acted as poison in his body. He remained in great pain and torment for several days, terrified, as it were, by ‘angels of death.’
Born in 1616, Aurangzeb had lived for about 91 years, his last Will (appended below) confirms the degenerate state of his physical and mental health.
What The Emperor’s Last Will Reveals …
The Emperor’s last will was recorded by Maulvi Hamid-ud Din in chapter 8 of his hand-written Persian book on the life of Aurangzeb.
1 There is no doubt that I have been the emperor of India and I have ruled over this country. But I am sorry to say that I have not been able to do a good deed in my lifetime. My inner soul is cursing me as a sinner. But I know it is of no avail. It is my wish that my last rites be performed by my dear son Azam. No one else should touch my body.
2 My servant, Aya Beg, has my purse in which I have carefully kept my earnings of Rupees 4 and 2 Annas. In my spare time, I have been writing the Quran and stitching caps. It was by selling the caps that I made an honest earning. My coffin should be purchased with this amount. No other money should be spent for covering the body of a sinner. This is my dying wish.
By selling the copies of Quran I collected Rupees 305, which is also with Aya Beg. It is my will that poor Mohammedans should be fed with sweet rice procured with this money.
3 All my articles – clothes, ink stand, pens and books should be given to my son Azam. The labour charges for digging my grave will be paid by Prince Azam.
4 My grave should be dug in a dense forest. When I am buried, my face should remain uncovered. Do not bury my face in the earth. I want to present myself to Allah with a naked face. I am told, whoever goes to the supreme court on high with a naked face will have his sins forgiven.
5 My coffin should be made of thick Khaddar. Do not place a costly shawl on the corpse. The route of my funeral should not be showered with flowers. No one should be permitted to place any flowers on my body. No music should be played or sung, I hate music.
6 No tomb should be built for me. Only a chabootra or a platform may be erected.
7 I have not been able to pay the salaries of my soldiers and my personal servants for several months. I bequeath that after my death at least my personal servants be paid in full, even as the treasury is empty. Niamat Ali has served me very faithfully : he has cleaned my body and has never let my bed remain dirty.
8 No mausoleum should be raised in my memory. No stone with my name should be placed at my grave. There should be no trees planted near the grave. A sinner like me does not deserve the protection of a shady tree !
9 My son, Azam, has the authority to rule from the throne of Delhi. Kam Baksh should be entrusted with governance of Bijapur and Golconda states.
10 Allah should not make anyone an emperor. The most unfortunate person is he who becomes one. My sins should not be mentioned in any social gathering. The story of my life should not be told to anyone.
(Translated from a history article published by Sh Ajmer Singh, MA, in the Fateh weekly Nov. 7th, 1976.)
According to wishes of the emperor, his grave made of ‘kuccha’ bricks can still be seen in Aurangabad.
And thus ended Emperor’s Aurangzeb’s reign of fifty years. He was over 90 when he died.
His death marked the beginning of the decline and fall of the Mughal dynasty.
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