Delhi University Serves Its Political Bosses
Sardar Gurtej Singh was an IAS Officer who resigned his post in protest of the 1984 genocide of Sikhs. Hailing from the landed Sikh gentry, Sardar Gurtej Singh was a pupil of the great Sikh idealogue, Sirdar Kapur |Singh. He is the author of the future history: India Commits Suicide
The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was. The world around it will forget even faster. A nation cannot cross a desert of organized forgetting.
– Milan Kundera
Please refer to “Delhi University goes beyond book, blackboard” by Sonia Sarkar, in The Times Of India, Delhi, dated January 10, 2008, Section Times City, (2).
Sikh-baiting has been the favourite pass-time of the boorish anglicised Hindu youth since 1947. It is now going to be made a part of the syllabus by the Delhi University (Delhi University), if the above quoted news-item is true. It is distressing to note that the Delhi University’s strong dependence on the hagiographic and hearsay, which was hitherto the basis of its studies in Gandhi’s history and ‘philosophy,’ is now to become also the basis of its teaching of history in general.
The misinterpretation of Sikh history and the denigration of high spiritual personalities are now going to be the official stance of the University which plans to train its young wards to grow up into ignorant but efficient calumnious adults. It has long been suspected that denigration of the Sikh role models and the distortion of Sikh history is not only the favourite pastime of the Hindu politicians and intellectuals, but has been accepted as the national policy of the de-colonised Hindu-India. Apart from the ample volume of credible evidence that could be adduced to establish the hypothesis, the Delhi University’s latest move will be in glaring confirmation of it. The misguided policy of political India, aimed at ‘containing the Sikhs’ by limiting the cultural impact of the unique Sikh movement and by stealing its heroes, is henceforth to be imparted an intellectual veneer. Who should the Sikhs thank for making everything so plain?
Even if the purpose of invention of new material to demolish the authentic Sikh thesis is ignored, the activity to sow intellectual dishonesty must be considered abominable. It is particularly when it is being done amongst Hindus, who have been the greatest beneficiaries of the Sikh movement – greater even than the Sikhs themselves. (In Baba Bulleshah’s estimation, ‘only Guru Gobind prevented the conversion of the entire population of India to Islam,’ agar na hote Guru Gobind Singh, sunnat hoti sabh ki). The long drawn out campaign to cast aspersions on the personalities of the Gurus, along with its various and varied manifestations in the cultural and political life of the country, that have led to distortions of far reaching consequences, can only be considered reprehensible. It is surprising how lies of mind-boggling dimensions are often invented to attack particularly Guru Gobind Singh, who may justly be regarded as the greatest human being of all times. The latest is that the emperor Bahadur Shah defeated the Sikhs and induced Guru Gobind Singh to serve as a servant of the Mughal empire.
The facts known to history are entirely different. The Sikh political resistance movement was an off-shoot of the spiritual movement led by ten Nanaks. The object of both was to free the human mind of oppression of all kinds and to inculcate the cultural norms that would banish fear and tension from human relations for all times to come. It passed through many phases. It adopted a variety of methods depending upon the quality resources available to it and on the requirement of times. At no time however, did the Sikh movement accept defeat, not even momentarily as, for instance, Rana Pratap Singh did. (Muni Lal, Mughal Glory, Vanguard Books (Pvt) Ltd., Lahore, 1988, 91-92) In the closing years of the 17th century and thereafter, the movement adopted a militant stance and did not relax until the Mughal rulers (shashinshah-i-alam, rulers of the world) were rendered effective only ‘az Delhi ta Palam.’ The Sikhs also put a permanent stop to the invaders from Afghanistan and Iran who had been used, for centuries, to having a cake walk into India at will.
Once begun, the Sikh militant struggle to retrieve self-respect of the people, culminated only in self-rule. It had many serious setbacks. Those were incidental to an undertaking by a handful of unarmed people against the well established empire – one of the greatest known to history. At one crucial time, the Sikhs were reduced to mere eight hundred and many times to much less than that figure.
There are many well documented facts of history that militate against the thesis propounded by the Delhi University that the Guru, ever entertained a desire to serve the Mughal emperor as a servant, like Shivaji did or like his father remained all his life. (James W. Laine, Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India, Oxford University Press, 2003, 26 & 21) The following is not an exhaustive list:
1. When the Guru met Bahadur Shah, a special protocol, unheard of in the history of the imperial Mughals, was evolved for the meeting. The Guru came fully armed (Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Maula, Jaipur, dated July 24, 1707, Forster, A Journey from Bengal to England, vol. ii, pp 302-303 and Koer Singh, Gurbilas Patshahi 10, Punjabi University, Patiala, 1969, 258 Koer Singh also affirms that the Guru went wearing an aigrette, the visible sign of sovereignty) and riding to the very door of the court room. When he dismounted and started walking towards the throne, the emperor vacated the throne and walked towards the Guru. They met half-way. The emperor enquired after the Guru’s welfare and thereafter they exchanged greetings. He walked to the throne along with the Guru and provided him a seat (at least) on the throne platform itself. (See, Rattan Singh Bhangu, Prachin Panth Prakash, (1845) Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Amritsar, pp.238-239, see also Koer Singh, Op. Cit., 260)
2. During the spiritual discourse with the official Qazi of the empire, the Guru drew his sword to underline a point under discussion. Any subordinate attempting this would have been executed even before he had laid his hand on the hilt of his sword.
3. The Guru presented the customary presents of one hundred gold coins. In return, besides other valuable presents, he received a costly robe of honour and a bejewelled medallion (See, J. S. Grewal, Sikh History from Persian sources, Indian History Congress, Tulika, 2001, 106). The ornament was worth at least sixty thousand rupees (Ganda Singh, Hukamnameh, Punjabi University, Patiala, 1967, 186) and the sword of Ali the son-in-law of prophet Muhammad. Without doubt, it was “the costliest jewel in the treasury of imperial Mughals” as Bahadur Shah put it at the time of presentation. (See, Kapur Singh, “An Islamic sacred heirloom at Kesgarh Takhat,” The Sikh Review) He was exempted from the well established custom that obliged recipients to carry away the presents personally. They were carried away by a disciple or a servant of the Guru named Sahib Singh (Koer Singh, p. 260).
4. It is also known that the Portuguese East India Company headquartered at Agra struck a special coin to commemorate the Guru’s visit to Agra.
5. The Sikh tradition, recorded on the evidence of near contemporaries, is that henceforth the emperor regarded himself as a follower of the Guru (See, particularly Rattan Singh Bhangu)– may be, in the fashion of the present day politicians who are acolytes to many holy-men at the same time.
6. Down south, on the banks of the resplendent Godawari, the emperor often met the Guru publicly as a friend. On his death, he had sent the mourning robes (khillat-i-maatmi), proclaimed him a holy man ‘darvesh’ and ordered that his belongings need not be attached to the state treasury (William Irvine, Later Mughals, Oriental Books Reprint Corporation, New Delhi, 1971, 90; Grewal and Irfan Habib, 107) as was the custom in respect of those who died without leaving a male successor.
7. During his last days at Lahore, the emperor was declared a heretic by the most learned Qazis of the empire. They refused to dine with him even when threats of execution were held out to them. (Note the conduct of Haji Yar Muhammad as quoted by William Irvine, Later Mughals, 130) It was ostensibly because Bahadur Shah had hinted at turning a Shia. People also came to accept him as a heretic and a lunatic. Historians attributed the killing of all dogs in Lahore ordered by him as proof of his unstable mind. (See Later Mughals, 131-132) When the thus exhausted, rejected and the dejected emperor died, Guru’s Banda was still defiant and headed the ‘people’s commonwealth’ exercising sovereignty in behalf of the people at large.
8. Addressing the Sikhs during his last moments on earth, the Guru had clarified, ‘we did not come as a suppliant to the king. We have nothing to do with anyone. Whatever happens has to happen on our own strength.’ (Koer Singh, Gurbilas Patshahi 10, Punjabi University, Patiala, 1969, 281)
It is also a historically verifiable truth that the Guru never considered himself as less than fully sovereign, so he was regarded by his followers and his enemies, including Aurangzeb were aware of the position. (J. S. Grewal & Irfan Habib, 113 & 114) The only fact deducible from the known credible evidence, is that Bahadur Shah revered the Guru as a spiritual person and politically regarded him as an equal.
It is distressing that the Delhi University is planning to convert the most glorious chapter in human history into a shameful one, just to slight the Guru and to deflect the Sikhs from their faith. There are dimensions to history that do not concern individuals but have wider repercussions from the point of view of human progress. The places of higher learning must not consent to becoming the willing tools of base and destructive propaganda.
The Sikh people must effectively resist the attempts of the Delhi University and must protest against the senseless policies pursued by the neo-colonial rule in this regard. The denigration of the most cherished ideals and the most evolved spiritual personalities is an insult to humanity and must never be allowed to go unchallenged. It is astounding that in spite of ample historical evidence, the Delhi University’s make belief based on deep-rooted prejudices of Hindutava origin are being inflicted upon the unsuspecting young minds as facts of history.