This is a VERY important article, all SikhArchives patrons should consider this mandatory reading. Please read it slowly and carefully.
Editor’s Note: This is chapter I from Sardar Sangat Singh’s magnum opus: The Sikhs In History. Chapter I is a detailed historical examination of the extinction of Buddhism in India. It becomes evident that Sikhs in India are undergoing the same process as the Buddhists did in India and face the same Hobson’s choice. Just as Buddhism became extinct in India so will Sikhism. When one catalogues the entire panalopy of techniques that were used to exterminate Buddhism in India: physical extermination, destruction of Temples, take-over of the management of Temples; mixing Hindu doctrines with Buddhism; marginalization and demonization of Buddhists; one can see the same template being applied to Sikhs. The causa causan of the annihilation of Buddhism was Brahminism which is nothing more significant than an Aryan ideology of race superiority and social stratification dressed up in the garb of Religion. Like Buddhism, Silkhism will only avert total annhilation because it has migrated to foreign countries.
In the West, the prime miscegnators of Sikhism are the Yogi Bhajan – 3HO- Sikhnet Sikhs. This is a RSS front whch completely miscegnates the Sikh Religion with Hindu practises : including Yoga, Tantra, Shiva Pooja, Durga Worship. demonology and so forth. This is a vile cult that is a tool of Brahminism. In reading the Chapter below, note that the Author mentions that Yoga and Tantric practises were introduced into Buddhism by Brahmins in order to dissolve the fabric of the religion. In the same manner, the introduction of Sanatan Sikhism. Yoga, the Dasam Granth and the worship of Sri Chand by White RSS Sikhs is a bid to confuse Sikhs and dissolve the fabric of the Sikh Religion. A complete dossier on this cult is available here: The Yogi Bhajan-3H0-Siknet RSS Cult.
After reading this article you might want to check out the following article which gives a real world practical example of how the the template is being applied against Sikhs: Shiv Shakti Pooja Event.
When the Hindu and Muslim rulers came under the Europeans, the Brahmins collaborated with them and emerged as greatest beneficiaries. Like the previous Hindu and Muslim rulers, the East India Company derived large annual profits from the management of Hindu temples. The English emerged as patrons of Brahminical priestcraft and idolatry and of temple-girls to satiate their carnal requirements in the absence of English women from home. The First Governor General, Warren Hastings’, established Caste Courts, to excommunicate any Hindu who resisted writing of their caste along with their names. Sir William Jones, was appointed Judge of Supreme Court in 1784. He emerged as the foremost Orientalist and founder of the Asiatic Society. Sir William Jones in collaboration with the Brahmins, resurrected the archaic Manu Smriti and other spurious and unjust Shastras, and enforced them as authoritative texts of Hindu law, on all non-Muslims and non-Christians. When the British divested themselves of the management of Hindu religious endowments in 1863; the Brahmin’s triumph was complete in taking over the management of Hindu temples, and enforcing a graded iniquitous caste and entry system in to the temples.
Chapter I : The Sikh Problem
Sikhism stands today at the same crossroads where Buddhism once stood at the beginning of the 9th century. Just as the Buddhists and their places of worship came under attack from a reviving Brahminism under the inspiration of Adi Shankaracharya, so too are the Sikhs come under the assault from not very dissimilar forces. Jainism, which was equally threatened, managed to survive by transforming itself so as to be encompassed within the framework of Hinduism.
Buddhism, which had already spread far beyond India, could not compromise its religious tenets and was exterminated. Today, Sikhism has spread outside India and cannot accept the stipulated modifications required to fall within the framework of Hinduism. Therefore, it is faced with a struggle for survival. This has been intensified since Indira Gandhi’s aim of physically liquidating it, in much the same way as Buddhism was once liquidated.
Gautam Buddha, like the Sikh Gurus, earned the deep-rooted hostility of Brahminism because of his revolt against the Brahminical caste system, priestcraft and rituals. Buddha’s message of universal brotherhood and equality, as that of Guru Nanak later, was considered subversive of varnashram dharma, of Brahminical hegemony. Also, Buddha, and Guru Nanak later, preached in the popular language of the common man, Prakrit/Pali and Punjabi and gave them their respective scripts Brahmi and Gurmukhi.1 It was designed to break the monopoly of Sanskrit and strike at the roots of Brahminical dominance.
The Buddhist concept of egalitarianism and democratic social structure in the organisation of their Sangha (from which was probably derived the Sikh concept of sangat – congregation) was in sharp contrast to the elitist Brahminical social order. Buddhism in India was at its peak during Ashok’ s reign and later under Kushans. Subsequently, during the Gupta period, which is considered the Golden period of Hinduism, Brahminism turned the tables on Buddhism. The Buddhist Sanghas which had been centers of political power were persistently attacked in the effort to weaken their power. Buddha and Buddhism were subjected to venomous diatribes virtually amounting to a hate campaign in various Smritis, Puranas and other classical works including those of Manu, Chanakya and others. To cite an instance, Lord Buddha had breathed his last at Harramba near Monghyr. The Brahmins propagated that if any one dies at Harramba or Monghyr, he will straight away go to hell, or be born a donkey.
The hatred took many forms, particularly, the ongoing and selective attack on the Buddhists and their places of worship. Firstly, Brahmins entered the Buddhist Sangha to subvert Buddhism from within: The introduction of Tantrakism in Buddhism was a case in point. Secondly, Brahmins did not desist from cooperating with foreign invaders like Huns and early Kushans to strike at the roots of Buddhist power. For instance, they cooperated with Hun invader Mihirgul, who not only built Saiva temples but also destroyed Buddhist monasteries and Maths in his Kingdom.1a By the time of Fa-Hien’s visit to India in the 5th century AD, Kapilvastu had become a jungle and Gaya had been laid waste and desolate.2 Saivite Brahmin King Sasank of Bengal carried out acts of vandalism against the Buddhists, destroyed the footprints of Lord Buddha at Pataliputra, burnt the Bodhi tree under which he had meditated, and devastated numerous monasteries and scattered their monks.3
During the next hundred years, because of an intolerant society and constant persecution, there was mass scale migration of Buddhist monks and lay Buddhists to China and East Asia. Jawaharlal Nehru (the first Prime Minister of India) mentions of one such wave of migration in 526 AD when the grand patriarch of Indian Buddhism, Bodhidharma, accompanied by other monks sailed from South India for Canton in China. Nehru adds “that in one province of China alone – the Lao Yang – there were at this time more than 3,000 Indian monks and 10,000 Indian families.”4 All of them and others who followed later to China, Tibet or to Korea and Japan were fugitives from oppressive Brahminism, which threatened their very existence.
Buddhism had a short revival under Emperor Harsha. This was followed by a steady decline. The death of Harsha in 648 AD saw an intensification of Brahmin-Buddhist confrontation and was in a large measure responsible for the political degeneration in north India. It saw the emergence of small principalities and dynastic rulers who favoured Hindu revivalism.
This period also saw the advent of Islam with the invading Arabs. It constituted a retrieving feature for the Buddhists who had, as testified by the contemporary Chachnama, helped Mohammad Bin Qasim in his conquest in Sind in 710 AD. This was reflective of widespread contacts between the Arabs and the Buddhists, and regular social interaction between the two. Hiuen Tsang talks of Buddhist monasteries in Persia, Mosul and Khorasan, Iraq or Mesopotamia right up to the borders of Syria.5 The Buddhists saw their democratic principles and social egalitarianism adequately reflected in the Islam of the Arabs and there was growing conviviality between Islam and Buddhism in India during the period.
The rise of Adi Shankaracharya in the late 8th-early 9th century, saw the intensification of Brahmin-Buddhist conflict, rather an all-out Brahminical onslaught on Buddhism. The Buddhist Sangha which frowned upon the killing of animals for food (in fact during Harsha’s reign a state edict had been promulgated prohibiting the slaughter of animals for food) provided Shankaracharya-led Brahmins, then voracious beefeaters, with an alibi to mobilise the lumpen elements to attack the Buddhists and their monasteries. Plunder was another factor as the Buddhist monasteries were rich and affluent centres amidst a decadent society. This resulted in large scale vandalism, in destruction of Buddhist personal property, Buddhist monasteries, stupas, their images and idols.
Shankaracharya himself killed hundreds of Buddhists of Nagarjunakonda in Andhra Pradesh and in the words of A.H. Longhurst “wantonly smashed” the Buddhist temples there. Nagarjuna, it may be mentioned, had been a great Buddhist missionary and Nagarjunakonda was “one of the largest and most important Buddhist settlement in southern India”.6 Shankaracharya, thereafter, led the group of marauders to Mahabodhi temple in Gaya, and they indulged in large scale destruction of Buddhist monasteries and stupas. The Brahmins took over the temple under their control.7
His appetite whetted, Shankaracharya personally led a motivated group through the Himalayas. The object now was the Buddhist centre at Badrinath. His reputation of wholesale destruction of Buddhists preceded him. The Buddhists chose to abandon Badrinath. They threw the statue of the presiding deity in Alakananda river at the foot of the temple and escaped to Tibet.
The centre was taken over by the Brahmins. Keeping in view its importance amidst a host of ancient places of historical importance, Shankaracharya named it as one of the centres of Brahminism.8 So was with Buddhist centres at Puri, Sringeri and Tirupati.
The fate of Buddhist property and their places of worship especially in central and southern India was similar, when Saivism asserted its dominance through the armed strength. The fact that Shankaracharya travelled widely and converted Buddhist centres into Brahminical centres of learning, maths, at Badrinath in the north, Sringeri (and Kanchipuram) in the south, Puri in the east and Dwarka in the west, the impact of his militant campaign against Buddhism was all pervasive.
Buddhism almost disappeared from India. Over the next couple of centuries, aptly termed The Dark Age, it flickered in different regions before it finally became extinct.
Jawaharlal Nehru (editor: the first Prime Minister Of India) traces the “cultural unity of India” and the emergence of “common Indian consciousness” to this period of Shankaracharya’s annihilation of Buddhism,9 for India now became a homogenised Hindu state. But the advent of Islam, which, like Buddhism, was already an international religion, introduced a discordant element. It is truism for Hindu historians to say that Shankaracharya defeated the Buddhists because of his superior intellect and arguments, and that was why the Buddhists agreed to give up their faith and be absorbed into Brahminism! The arguments were carried with the help of fire and power, and not logic or persuasion. Jawaharlal Nehru, the acclaimed builder of modern India, was no exception and gave expression to his Brahminical proclivities in his presentation of historical processes.10 He later sought to make partial amends by organising the celebration of 2,500 years of the Mahapari-nirvana of Lord Buddha on national, indeed international, scale. Buddhism was revived in India during the 20th century with the conversion of some backward classes led by Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar. But this was on a limited scale, and Brahmins intended to keep the faith within the framework of Hinduism.
Buddhism had become non-violent but in spite of that, it took Hinduism, perhaps because of lack of centralised organisation, several centuries to exterminate it. The Brahminical social order was not always successful. The Buddhists, the general mass of them who had been alienated from Brahminism, chose to accept Islam which provided them equality and met their natural instincts and aspirations. That was the reason why north-western India including Kashmir, western part of Punjab and Sind was Islamised. That also happened to the Buddhists in Bihar and Bengal. The contemporary Shunya Purana and Dharm Puja Vithan bear testimony to that. It is remarkable that district gazetteers of the Gangetic valley speak of the existence of Muslim societies in 10th and 11th centuries before the arrival of Muhamad Ghauri.11 Hindu historians, however, plead inadequate understanding of the conversion of the rural elite and large sections of peasantry to Islam in eastern India at that time.12 They fight shy of facing this phenomenon, the upshot of backlash of violent extermination of Buddhism by Shankaracharya.
In Afghanistan -Turkistan, Bamiyan and Kabul – the Buddhist faith and Kingdom were stamped out by the Saivite Brahmin Minister, Kallar or Kulusha, in the second half of 9th century. He effected a coup, overthrew the last Buddhist King, Lagaturman, and founded Hindu Shahi Kingdom.13 In tune with the guidelines laid down by Shankaracharya, Kulusha killed the Buddhists in thousands and levelled their monasteries and citadels. It was during the course of Hindu Shahi vandalism that the Buddhist structures in Bamiyan, Gardez, Laghman and other places were disfigured or destroyed.14
Buddhists, persecuted harshly by Brahmins, now became the followers of Ibn Karami, a local Sufi Pir, and were called Karamis. They placed a statue of Allah on his throne in place of Buddha set on the Lotus.15 The Karami sect was the half-way between Buddhism and Islam, and assumed great importance in the life of Ghur, Ghazni and Qusdar.
Al-Beruni mentions that by 950 AD when the Hindu Shahi Kingdom was at its zenith, Kabul was Muslim.16 That was half a century before Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni began his campaigns in India. Mahmud appointed teachers to instruct the people of Ghur in the precepts of Islam after his campaign of India in 1010-1011.17 Mahmud Ghazni’s campaigns against the places of Hindu worship in India including the breaking of Hindu idols at Jawalamukhi, Mathura and Somnath temples were, in part, in retribution to earlier Hindu onslaught on the Buddhist places of worship which rankled in the minds of the people. Brahminism had sowed the seeds of iconoclasm in the sub-continent and now they reaped the whirlwind. It may be mentioned here that Mahmud Ghazni’s general, Tilak or Tilaka, son of Jaisen or Jayasena, educated in Kashmir, was a Buddhist. The destruction of Hindu places of worship from now on became a regular feature with the Muslim invaders of India. For instance, Qutubuddin Aibak demolished 27 Hindu and Jain temples at Delhi and used the material for the construction of Qutab Minar.18 No Buddhist monastery was destroyed as these had already been demolished by the Hindus! Qutab Minar was designed to teach the lesson of subjection to the Hindus! It also marked the end of the Indo-Aryan period of Indian history. The contemporary Hindu was conscious of that. Compilation of Shunya (Zero) Purana during the period was recognition of the Zero sum game.
The Hindus straightaway developed a deep-rooted hatred of the Muslims and in the words of Al-Beruni enclosed themselves in a shell calling the new rulers miechhas, impure. That coloured the Hindu nationalism which was born from a sense of defeat. 19 Buddhism became extinct in India around that time, though Hinduism too was subjugated for next eight centuries. That was the retribution meted out to Hinduism, or was the price paid by the Hindus for the crime of violent extermination of Buddhism from the land of its birth.
With the Indian independence in 1947, Hindu revivalism underpinned by the state power and machinery resumed its onward march after a hiatus of one thousand years. The first task undertaken immediately after independence by the new government, avowing secularism and composite nationalism, was the decision to reconstruct, at the state expenses, the Somnath Temple which, in the words of K. M. Munshi, had served as a galling reminder of the degradation of the Hindus. And, the Cabinet meeting was presided over by Jawaharlal Nehru.20 Only a year earlier in his Discovery of India (1946) he had given expression to his atavistic perception of Hindu revivalism and in the words of Shaikh Mohammad Abdullah (Atish-i-Chinar), he “regarded himself as an instrument to establish, once again, that old dispensation”. It was another matter that he was later acclaimed the apostle of Indian secularism. That was an upshot of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s working on his megalomania, especially after Sardar Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel’s death in December 1950. Presently, the mosque constructed at the site in the 17th century was demolished.
It was contended that protagonists of Allah had migrated to Pakistan, and those who stand up for the mosque would be made to do so. Sikhism which came up during this thousand-year interregnum, as a distinct religion, has since been the butt of Hinduism.
The story as to how the Sikhs, who were the third party at the time of Indian independence, have been reduced to a non-existent role, and how using the Hindu card, the leadership of the Indian National Congress (which has been in power during the last 43 out of 47 years) has gradually pushed the Sikhs out of the national mainstream which enabled Indira Gandhi to launch her Sikh war, makes a grim reading.
To begin with, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the acclaimed father of the nation, did not accept Sikhism as a religion distinct from Hinduism; and the Sikhs trustingly – a trust that immediately after independence was betrayed – placed all their eggs in the Congress basket without suspecting the Hindus. They are now paying the price for that trust. As of now, thinking Sikhs all over the world are apprehensive of the very existence of Sikhism in India as a vibrant faith.
With their back to the wall, the Sikhs face Hobson’s choice.
In retrospect, Hinduism’s extermination of Buddhism did not lead to wholesome results. The cost-benefit ratio was in an adverse scale. But the Hindus have learnt one thing from history that they cannot learn anything. This is not the first time that the Sikhs face extinction in India. Attempts have been made earlier as well.
How will the Sikhs fare now? Will history repeat itself? Or, will it be rewritten, this way or that? Only time will tell – the gruesome time that lies ahead.
1. Gurmukhi alphabets for Punjabi language were prevalent even before Guru Nanak. Kabir earlier had used Gurmukhi alphabets when Brahmins of Benaras violently reacted to his use of devnagri alphabets, which they contended was devbhasha, language of the gods. Kabir had picked up Gurmukhi alphabets prevalent for Punjabi language during his several journeys through Punjab for Haj. For Kabir’s acrostic in Gurmukhi script see Adi Granth or Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 360-63. It also appears in the same form in Kabir Bijak, containing the collected hymns of Kabir.
1a. E.B. Havell, History of Aryan Rule in India, (London, n.d.), p. 269.
2. Jawaharlal Nehru, Glimpses of World History, (1934-35) (Delhi, 1982 reprint), p. 105.
3. Walters, On Yuang Chwang, Vol. II, p. 165 quoted in R.C. Majumdar and K.K. Dasgupta (Eds), A Comprehensive History of India, Vol. III, Part II, (Delhi, 1983), p. 837.
4. Nehru, n. 2., p. 115.
5. Ibid, p. 125. According to Al-Beruni, the Buddhists had extended their sway upto Syria, but later with the rise of Zarathustra, Buddhists were pushed back east of Balkh. Cf. Edward C. Sachau(Ed), Alberuni’s India, (London, 1888), Vol I, p 21.
6. A.H. Longhurst, Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India, No. 54, The Antiquities of
Nagarjunakonda, (Delhi, 1938), pp. 6-7.
7. The formation of Mahabodhi society by Ananganika Dharmpala of Ceylon in 1891 signalled start of the proceedings, and it-was restored to the Buddhists after six decades of litigation, only partially after Indian independence. Brahmins still control some parts of the shrine. They have a strangulating control over the management. The Hindus still emphasise that Lord Buddha was the tenth Avatar of Vishnu, to the chagrin of the Buddhists.
8. The Digambar Jains credibly contend that originally Badrinath was a Jain temple with the idol of Rishabh Dev as the presiding deity. When Buddhists took over the temple from the Jains, they did not break the idol but treated it as a Buddhist one, as Buddhist and Jain idols were identical in sitting pose with both hands at the naval in meditating posture. Shankaracharya had the idol of Rishabh Dev recovered and reinstalled. Later to give it a distinct Hindu frame, two more arms which are quite distinct to the naked eye, were added. The fact that Shankaracharya restored the Jain idol at Badrinath signifies that the Jains, unlike the Buddhists, in face of Brahminical atrocities, by the time, had agreed to function within the framework of Brahminism and accepted Brahiminical ascendancy. Cf, Balbhadra Jain, Bharat Ke Digmbar Jain Tirath, Part I, (Bombay, Bharat Varshya Digambar Jain Tirath Kshetra
Committee, 1974), pp. 91-93.
The author is thankful to Mr. Justice M. L. Jain, former Judge of Delhi High Court for bringing this to his notice.
9. Nehru, n. 2, pp. 128-29.
10. In a revealing passage about his ‘making’, Nehru wrote, “Behind me lie somewhere in the sub-conscious, racial memories of hundred or whatever the numbers may be, generations of Brahmins. 1 cannot gel rid of that past inheritance…” Jawaharlal Nehru, An Autobiography. (1936),
(Delhi. 1980), p. 596.
In the words of Madhu Limaye, the socialist leader, Jawaharlal Nehru practised both racialism and casteism, despite modern upbringing and outlook. See Madhu Limaye, “A Wealthy Bania and a Socialist Brahmin” in the weekend Telegraph, (Calcutta), November 21, 1987.
Cf. Mohammad Habib and Khaliq Ahmad Nizami (Eds), A Comprehensive History India, Vol. V,
(Delhi. 1987), p. 138.
Ravinder Kumar, The Making of Nation: Essays in Indian History and Politics, (Delhi, 1989). p. 179.
Sachau, n. 5, Vol 11, pp. 10, & 361.
Gurbax Singh, Presidential Address (Medieval Section) Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab History
Conference, Proceedings, March 17-19, 1989, Part 1, p. 92. Lord Buddha’s Statue at Bamiyan in
Afghanistan was disfigured in 856 AD.
Habib & Nizami, n. 11, p. 149.
Cf. n. 15 op cit.
In 1988 while carrying on repairs, the artisans of Archeological Survey of India removed a disjointed slab for refixing and found the sculpture of a Hindu goddess on the reverse side. Nirad C. Chaudhuri, The Auto biography of an Unknown Indian (1951), (London, 1987 p.404.). Paradoxically, Muslim rule was not an unmitigated disaster for Brahminism. With the overthrow of the bulk of Hindu rulers. Brahmins gained tremendously as leaders of a decadent society, imposing wholesale caste system and ritualism – priestcraft, dark idolatry, rank inequities, black superstitions, &c – on all classes of non-Muslims, given the nomenclature of ‘Hindu’ by the Muslim rulers. This helped to buttress Brahminism which now emerged as Hinduism of modern times. As quid pro quo. Brahmins cooperated with the new rulers to quieten the countryside, in the process, making the temple with images of gods and goddesses, social inequities and extortion of wealth from a hapless people, as centres of village life. Taking advantage of the Muslim rule. Brahmins also interpolated various Shastras, Smrities, Puranas and whole body of religious texts. They discarded Brahminism of Vedic Age which had been overtaken by Buddhism and introduced Kshatriya Princes, Lord Rama and Lord Krishna as apostles of reformed Brahminical faith. That also took care of their alignment with Rajput Princes. That buttressed their theocratic over lordship of Hindu society right from Rajputana to Indo-Gangetic valley to post-Shivaji Maharashtra to Bijapur and Golcunda. The only exception was Punjab which came under the egalitarian influence of the Sikh movement of Guru Nanak and his successors.
When the Hindu and Muslim rulers came under the Europeans, the Brahmins collaborated with them and emerged as greatest beneficiaries. Like the previous Hindu and Muslim rulers, the East India Company derived large annual profits from the management of Hindu temples. The English emerged as patrons of Brahminical priestcraft and idolatry and of temple-girls to satiate their carnal requirements in the absence of English women from home. The First Governor General, Warren Hastings’, established Caste Courts, to excommunicate any Hindu who resisted writing of their caste along with their names. Sir William Jones, was appointed Judge of Supreme Court in 1784. He emerged as the foremost Orientalist and founder of the Asiatic Society. Sir William Jones in collaboration with the Brahmins, resurrected the archaic Manu Smriti and other spurious and unjust Shastras, and enforced them as authoritative texts of Hindu law, on all non-Muslims and non-Christians. When the British divested themselves of the management of Hindu religious endowments in 1863; the Brahmin’s triumph was complete in taking over the management of Hindu temples, and enforcing a graded iniquitous caste and entry system in to the temples. That brought to a creeching halt efforts of social reformers to modernise Hinduism. In short, Brahminism throughout history has used all contrivances including cooperation with foreigners to uphold Brahminical supremacy and imperialism over the general body of “Hindus’.
Cf. Swami Dharma Theertha, The Menace of Hindu Imperialism (Lahore, 1946), chapters xii
to xvi and ad passim.
The anther is thankful to Mr. Ajit Singh Sohota of Nepean, ONT, Canada for bringing this to his notice.
20. Cf. V.B. Kulkarni, K.M. Munshi (Builders of Modern India) (Delhi. Publication Division, Government of India. 1982) p. 216. At Gandhi’s instance, t