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Ten centuries of continuous religious persecution of Hindus: Brahmins at the center of target

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Rakesh Kumar Pandey
Rakesh Kumar Pandey
Professor in Physics at Kirori Mal College. Teaching in a DU college since 1989. Academic Council member in Delhi University from 1994 to 1998. Activist associated with NDTF activities in Delhi University. Former President of NDTF.

Dr. Ambedkar concludes the chapter on “Break up of Unity” of his book “Thoughts on Pakistan” with the following remarks:

“The methods adopted by the (Islamic) invaders have left behind them their aftermath. One aftermath is the bitterness between the Hindus and the Muslims which they have caused. This bitterness between the two, is so deep-seated that a century of political life has not succeeded in assuaging it, nor making people forget it. Accompanied as the invasions were with the destruction of temples and forced conversions, with the spoliation of property, with the slaughter, enslavement and abasement of men, women and children, what wonder if the memory of these invasions has ever remained green, as a source of pride to the Muslims and a source of shame to the Hindus?” (chapter 4: Break up of Unity, Page 59, Thacker and Company ltd. 1941)

Before arriving at this conclusion Dr. Ambedkar has illustrated the plight of Hindus starting from Mahmud of Gazni to return of Ahamadsha Abdali that continued for 762 years in his book. He has quoted extensively from original sources to justify his point.

He writes “These Muslim invasions were not undertaken merely out of lust for loot or conquest. There was another object behind them……..there is no doubt that striking a blow at the idolatry and polytheism of Hindus and establishing Islam in India was also one of the aims…” (chapter 4: Break up of Unity, Page 49, Thacker and Company ltd. 1941)

He has quoted Muhammad Bin Quassim, historian Utbi for Gazni, Hasan Nizami for Muhammed Gori, Timur himself describing his acts of aggression. He has used Tabaquat-i-Nasiri written in persian by Minhaj-i-Siraj to give chilling accounts for Bakhtiyar Khilji, Md bin Quasim and Mahmud Gazni. He has quoted Lane Poole for narrating Gazni’s expedition on Somnath Temple. He has cited some quotes for Qutab-ud-din Aybak and Firoz Shah also. He has quoted from ‘Badshah Namah’ detailing the atrocities of Shah Jahan. He has cited Massir-I-Alamgiri to find hints about Aurungzeb’s brutality and so on. He has used these writing to give brutal account and scale of inhuman treatment and mindless destruction and terrifying killings that were caused to thousands of temples, Hindus and priests during the medieval period.

In particular he quotes from ‘Tabaquat-i-Nastri’ to narrate the story of Bakhtiyar Khilji “great plunder fell into the hands of victors. Most of the habitants were Brahmins with shaven heads. They were put to death. Large number of books were found……but no one could explain their contents as all the men were killed” (chapter 4: Break up of Unity, Page 52, Thacker and Company ltd. 1941)

He writes “Muhammad Bin Quasim’s first act of religious zeal was forcibly to circumcise the Brahmins of the captured city of Debul …… he then proceeded to put all above the age of 17 to death and to order all others, with women and children, to be led into slavery” (chapter 4: Break up of Unity, Page 51, Thacker and Company ltd. 1941).

On Muhammed Gazni plunder of Somnath temple he quotes “there a hundred thousand pilgrims were to assemble, a thousand Brahmins served the temple ….. parts were swarmed with incredulous Brahmins…..fifty thousand Hindus suffered for their faith”.(chapter 4: Break up of Unity, Page 52, Thacker and Company ltd. 1941)

From ‘Badshah-namah’ he cites for Shah Jahan “it was reported from the province of Allahabad that 76 temples had been destroyed in the district of Benaras”.(chapter 4: Break up of Unity, Page 54, Thacker and Company ltd. 1941)

The “Tarikh-i-Firuz Shah” is a historical record written during his reign that attests to the systematic persecution of Hindus under the rule of Firuz Shah Tughluq, third ruler of the Tughlaq dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate.

“Capture and enslavement was widespread. When Sultan Firuz Shah died, slaves in his service were killed en masse and piled up in a heap…………..Victims of religious violence included Hindu Brahmin priests who refused to convert to Islam. An order was accordingly given to the Brahman and was brought before Sultan. The true faith was declared to the Brahman and the right course pointed out. but he refused to accept it. A pile was risen on which the Kaffir with his hands and legs tied was thrown into and the wooden tablet on the top. The pile was lit at two places his head and his feet. The fire first reached him in the feet and drew from him a cry, and then fire completely enveloped him. Behold Sultan for his strict adherence to law and rectitude.”(chapter 4: Break up of Unity, Page 55, Thacker and Company ltd. 1941)

Further for Gazni “Mahmud seems to have made the slaughter of infidels, the destruction of their temples, the capturing of slaves and the plundering of the wealth of people, particularly of the temples and the priests, the main object of raids …… and the fair and the dark, the rich and the poor were commingled in one common slavery”(chapter 4: Break up of Unity, Page 55-56, Thacker and Company ltd. 1941)

In 1202, Qutub-ud-Din captured Kalinjar “fifty thousand men came under the collar of slavery and the plain became black as pitch with Hindus” (chapter 4: Break up of Unity, Page 56, Thacker and Company ltd. 1941)

In the days of Alla-ud-din at the beginning of fourteenth century “The Hindus was to be left unable to keep a horse to ride on, to carry arms, to wear fine clothes or to enjoy any luxuries of life” (chapter 4: Break up of Unity, Page 56, Thacker and Company ltd. 1941)

All these quotes and instances are enough to establish that these 800 years were the darkest period for Hindu temples and Hindus and therefore Brahmins suffered the most. In the effort to carry out religious expansion they had targeted temples, priests and Brahmins on a large scale to spread terror in common Hindus to make them see reason in accepting Islam.

The sources are plenty including the quotation of Guru Nanak “Khurasan Khasmana kiya Hindustanu daraia, aapai dos una dai karta jamu kari Muglu chadhaia, eti maar pai karlane tain ki dardu na aaia” (Asked the creator that did he not feel the pain when Mughals invaded, plundered and terrorized the habitants of Hindustan) (Gurbani, Asa Mahla 1: page 360)

Francois Fidele Ripaud de Montaudevert, a French soldier who fought for Tippu, in his diary entry of January 14, 1799 writes “I’m disturbed by Tipu Sultan’s treatment of these most gentle souls, the Hindus. During the siege of Mangalore, Tipu’s soldiers daily exposed the heads of many innocent Brahmins within sight from the fort for the Zamorin and his Hindu followers to see.”

On the basis of British commission report, during the Malabar attacks of Tippu Sultan (1783-1791), about 30,000 Hindu Nambudri left all their wealth and home in Malabar and settled in the state of Travancore. Raja Verma writes in Kerala about the horrific description of the breakdown of temples in the history of Sanskrit literature, that the temples were defiled by breaking the statues of Hindu deities and cutting the heads of animals. William Logan mentions Hindu temples broken down by Tipu in Malabar manual, whose number is in hundreds.

Will Durant argued in his 1935 book “The Story of Civilisation: Our Oriental Heritage” (page 459): “The Mohammedan conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. The Islamic historians and scholars have recorded with great glee and pride the slaughters of Hindus, forced conversions, abduction of Hindu women and children to slave markets and the destruction of temples carried out by the warriors of Islam during 800 AD to 1700 AD. Millions of Hindus were converted to Islam by sword during this period.”

Francois Gautier in his book ‘Rewriting Indian History’ (1996) wrote “The massacres perpetuated by Muslims in India are unparalleled in history, bigger than the Holocaust of the Jews by the Nazis; or the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks; more extensive even than the slaughter of the South American native populations by the invading Spanish and Portuguese.”

Alain Danielou in his book, Histoire de l’ Inde writes “From the time Muslims started arriving, around 632 AD, the history of India becomes a long, monotonous series of murders, massacres, spoliations, and destructions. It is, as usual, in the name of ‘a holy war’ of their faith, of their sole God, that the barbarians have destroyed civilizations, wiped out entire races.”

Dr. Ambedkar also gives a detailed statistics of British Army in 1940s and concluded (in his book “Thoughts on Pakistan”) “whatever be the explanation, two glaring facts stand out from the above survey. One is that the Indian Army today is predominantly Muslim in composition” ….. “the change is particularly noticeable after 1919. These figures show a phenomenal rise in the strength of the Panjabi Musalman and Pathan…. substantial reduction of the Sikhs from first to the third place, Rajputs in the fourth and by the closing ranks to the UP Brahmins” (chapter 5: Weakening of the Defences, Page 89 & 75, Thacker and Company ltd. 1941)

The entire narration given above is sufficient to establish that Hindus were at the receiving end of the continued persecution carried out by Islamic religious expansionists and followed by British for at least last ten continuous centuries. And throughout this terrific and brutal campaign temples, priests and Brahmins were picked up in particular to hurt, humiliate and kill to spread fear of terror and sense of defeat in Hindus. From Rome, Misr to Yunan and Afganistan they had tasted the success of this brutal-terror strategy and were able to completely convert the inhabitants of these area who were practicing Buddhist and Christianity, to Islam. They achieved this success by defeating and humiliating the reigning kings and shaming the established priests and temples in the area. They had expected similar results here too and were sure that even Hindustan will follow the same pattern. Thankfully, contrary to what they had expected, Indians didn’t succumb to en masse conversion even after witnessing the helplessness of their Gods, idols, temples, priests and Brahmins.

This was only because we as Hindus believe in only one thing that there is no final word in the path to explore God. We collectively believe in the science of religion. Unlike others who believe in God’s creation we believe in creating God as we can see God virtually anywhere. They kept on hammering and shaming communities like Brahmins and Kings but could not shatter our faith as our faith was hardly controlled by them. Instead of having blind faith, Hindus understand the science behind faith.

Kashmiri Pandits seeking help from a Guru Tegh Bahadur who obliged them with his extreme sacrifice followed by the mission of Guru Gobind Singh to keep our culture of religious freedom safe, is a story that is capable of creating faith in Karma of Krishna and not in miracles of God.

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Rakesh Kumar Pandey
Rakesh Kumar Pandey
Professor in Physics at Kirori Mal College. Teaching in a DU college since 1989. Academic Council member in Delhi University from 1994 to 1998. Activist associated with NDTF activities in Delhi University. Former President of NDTF.
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