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Origins of Sikh Militancy

INTRODUCTION

Rulership vis-á-vis the relationship between political power and authority, and social order, is a complex and nuanced subject at the best of times, especially when it involves the connection between the state and its many socio-religious institutions. The state has to deal with a variety of factors that make up a diverse society in order to maintain social order. The rulers of the Mughal Empire, which comprised of a myriad of socio-cultural and -religious norms, had their hands full in maintaining social order and the status quo. And since it is the purview of the official system of power and authority to regulate the variety of social processes contributing to order in a given society, the rulers of the Mughal Empire were perfectly entitled to uphold the laws of the land, which would include managing dissent, by taking whatever necessary actions they deemed appropriate to repress a movement perceived to be a challenge or threat to state authority or to the disruption of societal harmony. Although it is agreed that the state has the dual role of ensuring the preservation of society and protecting its citizens, differences do exist over the manner in which this is to be done.

In this context, we will be examining the relationship between the Mughal rulers and the 10 Gurus, i.e. what type of reaction these rulers had towards the Gurus’ mission and why.

Sikh apologists throughout the ages have been consistent in their condemnation of certain rulers from the Mughal dynasty for their perpetration of injustice, persecution and harassment against their 10 Gurus. The relationship portrayed between the Gurus and those who lorded over them has, almost without exception, been one of good versus evil, oppression versus freedom, and the persecuted versus the persecutors. It is extremely rare to find a Sikh apologist even alluding to the possibility of blame or fault lying even partially with any of their Gurus. It cannot be discounted that prejudice and bias will invariably play a large part in not willing to acknowledge a plausible reason or justification for any heavy handedness used by the rulers against the Gurus.

What this paper seeks to determine is whether these Mughal leaders, in spite of their political and ethico-religious shortcomings, had any cause for concern vis-á-vis the Gurus and their community. Did these Sikhs pose a significant threat? If so, was the use of force against them justified? Or is it the case, as is almost universally presented ad nauseam by Sikh intellectuals and lay alike, that these Gurus were entirely the innocent victim of unprovoked aggression by the Muslim state?

AN HISTORICAL PROLOGUE

In the system of the Gurus, so long as the end is spiritual and not self centred, the use of necessary force is justified.

As with all new religious movements, Sikhism arose within a context of socio-economic fluctuation and conflict. And as an ideological movement it strove for change by protesting against and challenging the status quo so as to pave the way towards achieving its aims and expounding its values. But any such attempts at change will always be deemed by the authorities as voices of dissent and a challenge to social order. And this clash with the authorities was no different for the Gurus, except that their overt social protest was not unique to themselves, but rather a continuation of what K. W. Jones called “a tradition of dissent”:

A powerful mixture of social criticism and devotion grew from the teachings of Ramananda (1360-1470) …. Ramananda’s teaching spread throughout the northern plains and were carried forward by his disciples, often in more radical forms than his own. Kabir (1440-1518), a weaver, possibly a Muslim by birth, became a disciple of Ramananda …. Kabir rejected both orthodoxies, Hindu and Islamic, as well as all forms of caste. His doctrines enjoyed broad appeal among the peasants, artisans, and untouchables. This was a sustained attack on the established order; one that envisioned a new egalitarian society.

A similar message was proclaimed by Guru Nanak (1469-1539) …. Guru Nanak created a quietist movement that rejected priestly Hinduism, its rituals, idols, and basic authority. He also taught equality. Nanak was followed by a succession of nine gurus… Beginning as a quietist sect, the Sikhs evolved into a structured socio-religious movement and finally a separate religion. [1]

Ishwar Gaur describes the first Guru, Nanak, as “the non-conformist ‘elder’ of the people of Punjab”. [2]

But to Surjit Singh Gandhi, Guru Nanak’s modus operandi was much more far-reaching and threatening than mere protest and non-conformism:

Our study of Guru Nanak leads us to the conclusion that he was a revolutionary. …

Nanakism was not a protest but a revolutionary retort against the enormity of spiritual obscurantism, superstition-ridden, caste-riven society debased by meaningless rituals, totems and esoteric practices. [3] (bold ours)

Daljeet Singh echoes similar observations when he remarks that Nanak’s “mystic system almost completely reversed the trends, principles and practices of the then prevailing religions, he criticised and rejected virtually all the old beliefs, rituals and harmful practices existing in the country”. [4] (bold ours) Thus, Nanak’s stance specifically towards Islaam and its scripture was damning:

In the same way the Guru did not recognise the authority of any sacred text. He repudiated the authority of Vedas as also of Quran. He regarded self-revelation as the sole inspirer. I.B. Bannerji’s opinion that the Guru condemned scriptualism and not scriptures is wide of the mark as the Guru did not recognise any scripture whether of the Hindus or of the Muslims so far his mission was concerned. [5] (bold ours)

Though Nanakism “gave birth to Punjabi nationalism”, it was not restricted to this:

He had a higher aim of uniting the people of the whole world on the basis of his programme. This Punjabi nationalism was the expression of Guru Nanak’s impact on the regional level. [6]

Daljeet points to “twenty-five years of his [Nanak’s] extensive preparatory tours and preachings across the length and breadth of the country” as proof of “his deep conviction” [7] towards the fulfilment of this aim, which he sees as having a three-fold objective:

These tours were not casual. They had a triple object. He wanted to acquaint himself with all the centres and organisations of the prevalent religious systems so as to assess the forces his mission had to contend with and to find out the institutions that he could use in the aid of his own system. Secondly, he wanted to convey his gospel at the very centres of the old systems and point out the futile and harmful nature of their methods and practices. It is for this purpose that he visited Hardwar, Kurukshetra, Benaras, Kanshi, Gaya, Ceylon, Baghdad, Mecca, etc. Simultaneously, he desired to organise all his followers and set up for them local centres for their gatherings and worship. [8]

Daljeet adds that Nanak “calculatedly tried to wean away his people” from the “traditional religions and concepts” simply because they were “of no use for his purposes”, which was ultimately to “enrich the moral, social and political life of man”. [9] (bold, underline ours)[/padding]

This revolutionary drive continued to gain momentum with each successive Guru until it culminated in a physical confrontation with the state.

But this inevitable clash would certainly not have been unforeseeable to one as calculating and as seemingly prudent as Nanak was. Such radical and far sweeping changes would necessarily require a radical overhaul of the socio-politico-religious institutions.

In this regard, Daljeet correctly construes that for the “gurus [to] contemplate and suggest the reconstruction and creation of alternative moral institutions. Naturally, new human institutions can come up only by the substitution, remoulding or destruction of the old and oppressive organisations. The lives of the Gurus are a clear pointer that, in their system, change of environment to improve the moral climate in all fields is clearly envisaged and sanctioned“. (bold, underline ours) Why? Because: “It is logically impossible to construct anything without… destroying and remoulding the existing environment.” [10]

It goes without saying that for Guru Nanak and the Sikhs, this radical change was, in the end, for the better.

One does not need to go very far in researching the position adopted by Sikh scholars and historians towards the behaviour of the Mughal leaders and the political state of affairs that existed during the period of the 10 Gurus before coming across a generally accepted party line. We have already seen the Nanakian take on things: the need for a complete radical overhaul so as to replace the existing socio-politico-religious “evils” of the time:

The Gurus clearly deprecate evil and oppressive institutions… In the field of politics, the oppression of the rulers, the tyranny of the invaders and the corruption of the officials have been condemned. [11]

And in keeping with their Gurus censure and condemnation, Sikh scholars and historiographers have, since then and almost without exception, portrayed these Mughal leaders as tyrannical and oppressive.

The question of right and wrong, good and evil, etc., was, as Daljeet naturally points out, “judged by the standard of Sikh ethics”:

Every activity has to be judged on the basis of the principles and the standard of Sikh ethics. So long as human action measures up to these two yardsticks, the use of force is not barred. [12] (bold ours)

And force it was that was eventually used by the Gurus against those they deemed as the aggressors in order to achieve their goals.

It is inherently impossible being contrary to the very law of physics, that violence or aggression can be undone or resisted without an equal and opposite use of force. In the world of God all progress has been made only through the use of force. All progress is change. And no change is possible without the necessary force to impel or cause it. As such, all action and activity, howsoever good, involve the use of force because action and force are synonymous. Action not involving the use of force is a contradiction in terms. To call any activity as involving the use or non-use of force is purely the expression of an arbitrary or relative point of view of the person concerned. In the system of the Gurus, so long as the end is spiritual and not self centred, the use of necessary force is justified. The Gurus prescribe no shackles or limitations as to the means to be employed. [13] (bold ours)

Naturally, new human institutions can come up only by the substitution, remoulding or destruction of the old and oppressive organisations. The lives of the Gurus are a clear pointer that, in their system, change of environment to improve the moral climate in all fields is clearly envisaged and sanctioned.

All such action, which eventually leads to the use of force, necessarily requires some preparatory groundwork; and so it was true for this early fledgling community. But, before this point is explored, it is necessary to provide a brief, yet sufficient, study of those involved during the stage of violent conflict.

The first such confrontation to arise between the state and the Sikh community was during the respective reigns of the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir (1569-1627 C.E.), and the fifth Guru, Arjan Dev (1563-1606 C.E.). We, therefore, begin by investigating the general character of Jahangir, the circumstances that surrounded this incident and the prevalent socio-political milieu of the time.

JAHANGIR

Nur-ud-din Salim Jahangir, the third and eldest surviving son of Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar (famously known as: Akbar the Great), was the ruler of the Mughal Empire from 1605 C.E. until his death.

Politically speaking, the general perception of Jahangir has been that, like his father before him, he was a leader said to be “tolerant” of non-Muslims and their respective religious practices:

Like Akbar, Jahangir managed diplomatic relations on the Indian subcontinent adroitly, was tolerant of non-Muslims, and was a great patron of the arts. He encouraged Persian culture in Mughal India. [14]

This attitude was similarly witnessed first hand by a disinterested historical source and a contemporary of Jahangir: Edward Terry. On his voyage to East India between 1616-1619, the English chaplain – who referred to Jahangir as The Mogul – said of his administration:

In that empire all religions are tolerated, which makes the tyrannical government there more easy to be endured. The Mogul would speak well of all of them; saying, that a man might be happy and safe in the profession of any religion; and therefore would say that the Mahometan religion was good, the Christian religion good, and the rest good; therefore the ministers of any religion find regard and esteem amongst the people. I shall speak something of this, from my own particular usage there, then very young, while I lived in those parts…. [15] (bold ours)

Terry then recounts a story that he witnessed of a man who was summoned in the presence of Jahangir after converting to Christianity. The King attempted to convince him “to renounce that his new profession” firstly by way of threats, and then with promises of riches. When Jahangir “perceived that his resolution indeed was to be a Christian… he [Jahangir] bid him to continue, and with a reward discharged him”. [16]

Concerning Terry, Prof. Alison Games of Georgetown University observes that “he [Terry] applauded the freedom of religion that all enjoyed”. [17]

We also know, thanks to Prof. Pashaura Singh’s discovery of a copy [18] found in Vaid Mohan Singh’s library of an imperial order given by Jahangir, that before relations turned sour, the Emperor had generously granted Guru Arjan 1400 bighas of land (approximately 280 acres) for Taran Taran. [19] 

Another contemporary of Jahangir, Sir Thomas Roe, not only believed the King to be an “atheist”, but like Terry, affirmed:

Hee is Content with all religions, only hee loves none that Changeth [sic]. [20]

Although Jahangir’s Islamic practices and theological stance are not the topic of discussion, it is important to note in the context of his lenience towards the religions, including polytheism, that “like Akbar, Jahangir sought out eminent holy men like the widely venerated Vaishnava ascetic, Gosain Jadrup of Ujain, whom Akbar had also visited”. J. F. Richards states:

Finally, in 1616, Jahangir visited the saint at his residence, a hole dug in the side of a hill near Ujain. Emperor and holy man talked for several hours and the emperor returned for later visits over the years. Of his last interview in 1620 Jahangir commented:

On Monday, the 12th, my desire to see Gosain Jadrup again increased and hastening to his hut, without ceremony, I enjoyed his society. Sublime words were spoken to between us. God Almighty has granted him an unusual grace, a lofty understanding, and excellent nature, and sharp intellectual powers, with a God-given knowledge and a heart free from the attachments of the world, so that putting behind his back the world and all that is in it, he sits content in the corner of solitude and without wants. [21]

These discussions, however, seem to have thoroughly confused Jahangir:

The result of all these discussions was the emperor’s belief that the Vedantic philosophy of the Hindus, and the Sufi thoughts of Muslims, were more or less identical. [22]

Gladwin and Aiyangar comment:

He [Jahangir] confirmed all the laws that had been enacted by his father, and issued an edict containing twelve institutes, or regulations, remarkable for the humanity, justice, and political sagacity that pervade them…. [23]

While H. Beveridge said:

It is a remark of Hallam’s that the best attribute of Muhammadan princes is a rigorous justice in chastising the offences of others. Of this quality Jahangir, in spite of all his weaknesses, had a large share, and even to this day he is spoken of with respect by Muhammadans on account of his love of justice. [24]

This is not to say that he was tolerant of all religious practices. According to Jahangir’s famous autobiography, Tuzuk-e-Jahangiri or Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri (also referred to as Jahangirnama), there was an incident (though this appears to be an isolated case) where he ordered the demolition of a statue he saw in a Hindu temple that was of a man with a pig’s head said to represent God!

However, in spite of Jahangir’s seemingly amenable disposition towards non-Muslims, as well as his initial displays of tolerance through the granting of land to Arjan, somewhere down the line relations started to deteriorate and hostility began to foment between Jahangir and Guru Arjan Dev.

THE THREAT OF ARJAN DEV

The Mughal military state considered the early Sikh Gurus to be heading a separate community.

According to J. F. Richards:

The harshness with which Jahangir treated the Sikh Guru appears to have stemmed more from Arjan’s perceived political threat than from hostility to his religious doctrines as such. Religious leaders who cultivated large popular followings suffered persecution; their quietist colleagues did not. [25] (bold ours)

It is safe to say that Guru Arjan and his community involved themselves in such activities as to be deemed a threat to the state and be seen as a nonconformist, dissident movement which had the potential to rebel.

I.D. Gaur correctly observes:

As a matter of fact, the Sikh-Muslim conflict or religious fanaticism was not the determining factor which is said to have led to the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev. Rather the cause of the martyrdom was grounded in the inherent conflict between the hegemonic and counter-hegemonic forces. A state exercises its power whenever it perceives that its hegemony is being defied by those whom it identifies as rebel or counter-hegemonic or anti-establishment. The latter are characterized by the state and its allies with various nomenclatures, a kafir being one of them. [26] (bold ours)

But, in what sense was this threat perceived by Jahangir and how was it manifested?

We have already mentioned the grand revolutionary vision of Nanak: to see the people of the world united under his philosophy. This would only be achieved through condemnation of the old ways followed by a complete overhaul of the prevalent socio-politico-religious structure.

By the time of Arjan Dev, “the organisation of the community, according to Gupta, became a state within a state”: [27]

There is ample evidence to indicate that Guru Arjun had created a ‘state within a state.’ This is recorded by contemporary Mohsin Fani and other historians like HR Gupta. Today even scholars like Juergensmeyer concede that the Mughal military state considered the early Sikh Gurus to be heading a separate community. [28] (bold ours)

For Jagjit Singh:

How far the Sikhs had actually become “a state within a state” is not the question before us. What is relevant to our purpose is whether or not they took to that path? Jahangir’s own autobiography points to an affirmative answer. [29] (bold ours)

S.M. Latif delineates the extent of this organisational structure as follows:

He kept a numerous retinue, fine horses and elephants, and lived in splendour. He was an energetic and aspiring Guru, and his aims were high. He organized the Sikhs into a community, and devised measures for extending his spiritual authority. [30]

He organized a system of taxation and appointed delegates, or deputies, for the purposes of collecting it from his followers throughout the country. These contributions, or nazranas, from the faithful were collected in all districts by means of the deputies abovementioned, and presented by them to the Guru in au annual assembly. Thus were the Sikhs accustomed to a regular system of government, and, having been formed into a community, gradually developed into a real power. To increase the commonwealth, Arjun also sent his disciples to foreign countries for the purposes of trade, dealing principally in Turkistan horses. [31]

It should be mentioned that such organisation was an accumulative effort on the part of the Gurus. Sir G. C. Narang suggests that the “strong friendship” that developed between Arjan’s predecessor Guru Amar Das and Jahangir’s father, Akbar, “considerably contributed to the increasing prestige and influence of the Gurus”:

Guru Amar Das had numbered many of the hill chieftains among his followers who contributed thousands to the funds of the Church, but the greatest triumph of the Church in the eyes of the people was scored when the Guru’s fame brought the great Akbar to his doors.

Akbar sent a trusted official, one Bhagwau Das Khatri of Sirhind, to beseech the Guru to pray for his success …. Akbar afterwards paid a visit to Guru Amar Das, and a strong friendship grew up between the two great men.

After the death of Amar Das, Akbar held his successor in the same respect, and, as time went on, the relations between Ram Das and Akbar grew more and more friendly.

Akbar’s friendship with the Gurus operated in two ways for the benefit of the Church. In the first place, it increased the prestige of the Gurus and made their mission more popular with the higher classes of the society. …

The Sikhs had now asserted their own individuality, a definite secular turn had been given to their ambition, some slight foundation of organisation had been laid by the establishment of the twenty-two bishoprics under Amar Das, and the public institutions founded by that Guru and his successor, together with the prestige derived from the friendship of the Emperor, had considerably strengthened the foundations of the Sikh Church. [32]

As “the capital and metropolis of the infant commonwealth”, Amritsar’s conversion “into a base of operations by Guru Arjan had considerably contributed to the propagation of Sikhism among the Jats of Manjha”. Narang continues:

The town of Tarn Taran was founded and a large tank laid out. “Tarn Taran is the capital of the tract of country known as the Manjha or middle land, which extends from the Ravi to the Beas, the nursery of the chivalry of the Native Army, and the home of a sturdy and strong race of agriculturists.” …

The division of the area permeated by Sikhism into 22 provinces by Amar Das, the law of hereditary succession introduced by Ram Das, the foundation of Amritsar which became the chief centre of Sikh activity and became a sort of Sikh Capital, and the compilation of the Granth, which served as a code of sacred as well as secular law, had introduced into the constitution of the Sikh community some preliminary elements of an infant theocratical state with the Guru as the true King. [33]

It did not stop there:

The next step taken by Guru Arjun was calculated to encourage adventure and enterprise among his followers. …

Horse trade, being a lucrative trade in those days, enriched the Sikh traders and brought large contributions to the coffers of the Church.

It laid the foundation of the future armies of the Khalsa, by developing a taste for riding among the Sikhs, who gradually became the finest horsemen in Northern India. [34]

Horse-riding was an imperative part in bringing to fruition a standing army:

He encouraged his followers to trade in horses from Central Asia. For his personal maintenance, the Guru also took up that trade. As such, the Sikhs became good horsemen and formed later the nucleas of military power. All these features were important developments because they were clear preparation for the military organisation that was to follow from the time of the sixth Guru. It was in the life-time of Guru Arjan that his son, Guru Hargobind, started learning how to wield the sword and going on trips for hunting. [35], [36] (bold ours)

We have already detailed in our article Guru Game Hunters how, in conjunction with the militarisation of the Sikh community, hunting had become a popular past-time.

As a matter of fact the Sikhs had made a great advance under the pontificate of Guru Arjun. A State, peaceful and unobtrusive, had been slowly evolved, and with the Guru at its head as Sachcha Padshah, the Sikhs “had already become accustomed to a form of self-government within the empire.” Their power and prestige had increased, and they were fast becoming a factor in the political life of the province. [37]

Baldev Singh echoes:

Guru Arjan (fifth Nanak) called for the establishment of kingdom of peace and justice for “all”.

His growing popularity was perceived as threat [sic] by Emperor Jahangir, the proponents of caste ideology and the schismatic opponents. [38]

How far the Sikhs had actually become “a state within a state” is not the question before us. What is relevant to our purpose is whether or not they took to that path? Jahangir’s own autobiography points to an affirmative answer.

There seems to be an apparent discrepancy, however, with the aforementioned allusions of a “state within a state” being peaceful and just. The question that arises is how a community, enjoying sufficient freedom to achieve all that it had, could continue to increase its power establishment, move towards relative self-autonomy whilst impudently converting the Muslims from the truth of Islam to the falsehood and disbelief of Sikhism, without being perceived as a real and apparent threat to the state and social order? How could the leader of a religious community, who accepts the derogative epithet Sacha Padshah – True Emperor, who attempts to stir up trouble and rebellion against a Muslim led-state by encouraging its co-religionists to renege from their faith, who holds the government as tyrannical oppressors, and who prepares a standing army by increasing its military arsenal, be seen by the powers that be as peaceful and just? The answer is obvious, at least for J. Singh:

Guru Arjun converted some Mussalmans to his faith, and it irked Jehangir. According to the Shariat law such a conversion invited death penalty. The confrontation between the Sikh movement and the Muhammedan power bent upon enforcing the Shariat was, therefore, inevitable. It was a clash between two opposed ideologies. It was not a question of mere conversion from one sect to another. Nor was it merely because the state happened to be a Muhammedan state. It was rather an irony of fate that the followers of the two religions, which were so close to each other, at least in their social approach, were to be locked in an unavoidable collision. [39] (bold ours)

The straw that ultimately broke the camel’s back is Guru Arjan’s decision to side with the rebel Khusraw, who was attempting a coup d’etat against his own father: Jahangir. Up till then, Arjan’s threat was perhaps perceived as non-threatening. But his treasonous move to ally himself with Khusraw meant that it was not Jahangir who initiated the conflict, but the “peaceful and unobtrusive” Sacha Padshah: Guru Arjan Dev ji:

Secondly, Khusrau visited the Guru as a rebel and was blessed by him. This blessing could have been sought only for his success in his rebellion and NOT for a religious purpose; because Khusrau was a Muslim and by showing his religious allegiance to a non-Muslim he would have jeopardized his claim to the throne of a Muslim state. In any case, both these instances mean a deliberate confrontation with the state. [40] (bold, underline, capital ours)

GURU ARJAN ALLIES WITH KHUSRAW

Khusrau visited the Guru as a rebel and was blessed by him. This blessing could have been sought only for his success in his rebellion and NOT for a religious purpose.

In Gobindwal, which is on the river Biyah (Beas), there was a Hindu named Arjun, [41] in the garments of sainthood and sanctity, so much so that he had captured many of the simple-hearted of the Hindus, and even of the ignorant and foolish followers of Islam, by his ways and manners, and they had loudly sounded the drum of his holiness. They called him Guru, and from all sides stupid people crowded to worship and manifest complete faith in him. For three or four generations (of spiritual successors) they had kept this shop warm. Many times it occurred to me to put a stop to this vain affair or to bring him into the assembly of the people of Islam.

At last when Khusrau passed along this road this insignificant fellow proposed to wait upon him. Khusrau happened to halt at the place where he was, and he came out and did homage to him. He behaved to Khusrau in certain special ways, and made on his forehead a finger-mark in saffron, which the Indians (Hinduwan) call qashqa, and is considered propitious. When this came to my ears and I clearly understood his folly, I ordered them to produce him and handed over his houses, dwelling places, and children to Murtaza Khan, and having confiscated his property commanded that he be put to death.

There were two men named Raju [42] and Amba, who, under the shadow of the protection of the eunuch Daulat Khan, made their livelihood by oppression and tyranny, and had done many acts of oppression in the few days that Khusrau was before Lahore. I ordered Raju to the gallows and a fine to be taken from Amba, who was reputed to be wealthy. [43]

The above is an excerpt from Jahangir’s famous memoir Tuzuk-i-Jahanghiri concerning Arjan Dev and Jahangir’s son Khusraw.

The Sikhs became good horsemen and formed later the nucleas of military power. All these features were important developments because they were clear preparation for the military organisation.

From this primary source, it is immediately noticeable that one thing Jahangir was especially displeased with was how “the ignorant and foolish followers of Islam” had been beguiled by Arjan’s “ways and manners”. Although he does not act upon these intentions, what is of crucial note is his disclosure in wanting to put a stop to Arjan’s divisive exploits.

Despite the Gurus’ efforts in developing their stronghold, something that had not gone unnoticed by Jahangir, it was Arjan’s unforgiveable decision to align himself with Khusraw’s rebellion that unsurprisingly exhausted Jahangir’s patience and brought about retaliation.

Daljeet Singh is one of the few Sikh apologists not to mince words in this regard, and here he accurately and bluntly, despite its bitter truth, tells it in a way that many of his fellows would not admit to for fear of incriminating themselves:

But probably, the chief reason that upset the Emperor was that the Guru had blessed Khusro and helped him monetarily while the latter had rebelled against Jehangir. …

That this incident rankled in the mind of Emperor Jehangir, is evident from his own statement recorded in his autobiography. He wrote that he had ordered the execution by torture of Guru Arjun, unless he embraced Islam, because the Guru had raised aloft the standard of holiness and many Hindus and Muslims had foolishly become his followers. [44] (bold, underline ours)

And neither should Arjan’s support be trivialised, especially given the violent pillage and plunder that followed in the wake of Khusraw’s rebellion:

In the spring of 1606, or six months after the accession of Jahangir, his eldest son, Khusrow, having broken into rebellion, fled to the Panjab, where he collected a body of upwards of 10,000 troops. He plundered the country as he went, and having invested Lahore, set one of the gates of the city on fire. [45]

When Khusru arrived at Mehtra, he met with Hassan Beg Bedakhshee, on his way to Agra from Cabul from which Government he had lately been dismissed, Khusru easily persuaded him to join his party with about three hundred men, and return with him to Penjab. They attacked and plundered every one who fell in their way, and seized some horses, upon which they mounted their infantry; even women and children did not escape their fury; and they burnt all the villages through which they passed. Khusru was much affected at beholding these scenes of violence and distress, but was obliged to comply with what he had not the power to prevent. [46]

What worried Jahangir was the potential threat this sedition could have had in serving as a rallying cry for a group that he described as “fractious or rebellious”:

My trouble was this, that my son without any cause or reason should become an opponent and an enemy. If I should make no endeavour to capture him, the fractious or rebellious would have an instrument, or else he would take his own way and go for an asylum to the Uzbegs or the Persians, and contempt would fall upon my government. [47]

The Gurus certainly fit the description of holding general contempt towards the Mughal government.

It was only a matter of time before a Sikh Guru decided to transform his actions into force. Arjan’s allying with Khusraw against what he saw as the greater evil was the opportunity he was awaiting to kick start his move towards achieving the end goal for his community: to become an independent and autonomously self-governed state.

It can, therefore, be deduced that the trouble which eventually befell Guru Arjan was wholly self-wrought. His decision to side with the enemy of the state was an insidious and calculated one; the consequences of which he was fully aware of and prepared for.

A ruling administration never takes notice of a religious institution, unless it has a political complexion and potential. The Moghul emperors never bothered about any saint of the Bhakti school. The Sikh movement was growing into a clear political body, fired with a religious and moral zeal. It continued a disciplined people who were being guided and led towards their ideals by a prophetic mystic. It was this socio-political growth which no ruler or administration could fail to take note of as a potential danger and challenge to its existence and rule. It is evident that the Sikh growth was of such dimensions that it attracted the attention of the Administration and also of the Emperor. Further, this organisation was of such size and importance that the Emperor not only took the extreme step of the execution of Guru Arjun, so as to stop altogether this unwanted growth (as recorded by the Emperor), but also found the movement and the episode as significant enough for mention in his autobiography. Jehangir was undoubtedly right that the organisation and the movement posed a political threat to the Empire. [48] (bold ours)

The chief reason that upset the Emperor was that the Guru had blessed Khusro and helped him monetarily while the latter had rebelled against Jehangir.

In effect, Guru Arjan Dev sided with a man whose decision to unjustifiably rebel against his father had led to widespread unrest, the innocent bloodshed of young and old, and large scale wanton destruction. For Guru Arjan Dev, this, it seems, did not matter; if it did, why side with Khusraw?

As a side note, it is for this reason that according to the most correct opinion among Muslim scholars, as adduced from the clear and apparent textual proofs of the two Islamic revelatory sources – the Qur’an and the Sunnah (authentic preserved tradition of Prophet Muhammad) as per the understanding of the beau ideal generation of Muslims: the pious predecessors (Salaf as-Saalih) – it is not only forbidden for Muslims to physically revolt or rebel against the ruler, be he righteous or tyrannical, but to also denounce and criticise him publically in his absence. The reason being is that such a choice of action invariably leads to greater harm. It is from the fundamental principles of the Shari’ah (Divine Legislation) that if the preponderance of evidence for a given action points to the resultant harm being equal to or greater than the benefit, then it is impermissible to actualise. This wise ruling stems from the objectives (maqaasid) of the Shari’ah, which includes the preservation of five necessities (daruriyyah) that need to be sustained in order to ensure individual and social welfare and to stave off both unbearable hardship in this life and potential punishment in the hereafter. These five basic human rights are:

  1. Religion (deen)
  2. Life (nafs)
  3. Intellect (‘aql)
  4. Property (maal)
  5. Lineage (nasl)

These two Islamic concepts: the certainty of procuring religiously sanctioned benefit from a chosen action, and the preservation of the basic necessities from the objectives (maqaasid) of the Shari’ah, will be returned to when giving an overall evaluation of the actions chosen by the Gurus, insha’Allaah (God-Willing).

AN EMBARRASSING ALLEGIANCE 

Despite the direct and primary evidence from Jahangir of the collusion that took place between Arjan and Khusraw, there have been a number of Sikh apologists determined to falsify the encounter altogether by casting doubt over its authenticity. This attempt is perhaps motivated by a sense of embarrassment: a righteous Guru in cahoots with and blessing a rebel leader whose actions led to such murderous atrocities?! Obviously, this had to have been a fabrication; and so the ad hoc efforts to prove otherwise.

Pouring over the apologetics, one fallacy that is often repeated in this regard is the argument from silence. Sangat Singh states:

Jahangir crossed to Beas on April 26, and was encamped at Jhabal. Upto May 22, i.e. for 27 days, there was no mention at all of Khusrau’s calling on Guru Arjan much less the latter’s blessing him. [49]

Similarly, Surjit Singh Gandhi fallaciously reasons:

Had the Guru meant to assist the Prince, the Emperor must have given some of the details in Tuzk-i-Jahangiri. Since Jahangir in his diary is silent on this point, this proves that the Guru had not participated in Khusro’s revolt in any way. [50]

But, of course, Jahangir is not completely silent because for him, the affixing of the teeka from Arjan is sufficient proof of where the Guru’s allegiance lay. Instead, both S. S. Gandhi and S. Singh move to flippantly dismiss the veracity of the account without proving it. S. S. Gandhi feebly asserts that the story was “a creation of the fancy of some cunning conspirator” while S. Singh calls it “a pure concoction” and speculates that it was “probably the work of Shaikh Farid Bukhari who might have used Chandu as a tool”. S. Singh then appeals to the authority of Ganda Singh and quotes him thusly:

Never in the whole history of the Sikh Gurus, there has been any occasion for any Guru to anoint anyone, Sikh or non-Sikh, with a teeka. Even the succeeding Guru was never teeka’d by any Guru himself. The teeka or tilak ceremony of the succeeding Guru was always performed by a leading Sikh. In the case of Gurus Angad to Hargobind, the ceremony was performed by Bhai Buddha, a venerable old Sikh coming from the days of Guru Nanak. And the same practice was followed upto the time of Guru Gobind Singh, tenth and last Guru. [51]

Notice, however, that Ganda also resorts to the argument from silence, i.e. the absence of documentary evidence for a Guru not having done something in the past being evidence that it could not occur in the future. The problem with this argument is two-fold: firstly, Ganda himself affirms that the teeka ceremony was practiced, albeit it by a respected member of the community; and secondly, there does not seem to be any theological prohibition against a Guru blessing a non-Sikh in this manner. Even if such a prohibition existed, it would only serve as proof against the historical validity of the teeka incident and not the actual meeting itself.

Jaswant Lal Mehta, however, fully affirms these accounts:

The Guru, who was stationed at Goindwal when the revolt of Khusrau took place, was hauled up by Jahangir’s officials on the ground that he had supported an enemy of the state. It so happened that Khusrau had passed through Goindwal on his way to Lahore. He seems to have already been acquainted with the Sikh gurus through his grandfather Akbar. There is every probability that the prince, in his early boyhood, might have even visited the abode of the gurus in the company of Akbar. That is why he sought the blessings of the saint in his hour of struggle. It is said that Guru Arjan received the prince just like his other devotees and admirers in the midst of the Sikh congregation. He applied a tilak with saffron (called qashqa in Turkish language) on his forehead, which was ‘considered propitious’; and the Sikh followers of the Guru gave a sum of five thousand rupees to the prince by way of help. According to the Sikh traditions, the Guru was ordered to pay a fine of two lakhs of rupees for having supported a state criminal. The Guru denied the charge and refused to pay the fine on the ground that he was a recluse with no material possessions and that the property of the Sikh shrines belonged to his sangat or the devotees. [52] (bold ours)

Moreover, if, for arguments sake, the teeka account was an historical fabrication, it does not solve the problem of the Guru having given, according to Mehta, Macauliffe and others, monetary help to the prince in the amount of five thousand rupees. According to Macauliffe:

Guru Arjan, seeing the Prince’s evil plight and humility, took compassion on him. … [S]o he gave him five thousand rupees to defray his expenses to Kabul. [53] (bold ours)

S.S. Gandhi does not dispute this account; instead he interprets it not as a “conspiracy” or proof of Arjan’s participation in the rebellion, but as proof of “the high values for which the Guru was striving to take roots [sic]”. [54] To confirm this, the author cites Mehma Parkash: “The Guru took pity upon the Prince in misery and provided him with food, obviously from the Guru’s Langar, or free kitchen open to all way-farers.” At least he does not dismissively falsify the actual encounter between the two men altogether as some of his fellow apologists, such as Ganda Singh, have outlandishly done.

In Pashaura Singh’s critique of Arjan’s “martyrdom”, Ganda Singh’s reason for such a dismissal is on the basis that “the Guru was at Taran Taran at that time, not at Goindval…” [55] But Kapur Singh “takes issue with modern Sikh writers, including Ganda Singh, who have endeavoured to show that in reality Guru Arjan was in no way involved with the rebellion of Prince Khusrau directly or indirectly”. Although Kapur accepts said encounter, he also “accepts the possibility that the emperor himself may have been misled regarding the true facts of the case”. [56]

Pashaura then points to another contemporary source which also records said encounter: a letter written from Lahore on 25 September 1606 by Father Jerome Xavier. According to Pashaura, “Xavier’s letter was based upon what was popularly known to the people about this event at that time”:

It was a well-known fact among the residents of Lahore that it was Prince Khusrau who went to see Guru Arjan at his place, “hoping apparently that this would bring him good fortune,” not that the Guru went to see him, as wrongly claimed by Jahangir in his memoirs. [57]

Pashaura, however, does not falsify the teeka blessing. Instead, he points to C. H. Payne’s reconciliatory explanation:

Khusrau was the son of a Hindu princess (his mother was the daughter of Raja Bhagwan Das of Jaipur), the Guru considered him entitled to this distinction. In the charged atmosphere of rebellion, however, Jahangir misinterpreted Guru Arjan’s innocent gesture of ‘blessing’.

And yet, after all this, Pashaura tenuously concludes that describing Guru Arjan as a “rebel… reflects an agenda in scholarship, exaggerating fragmentary traces of documentary evidences in historical analysis”. [58] But Pashaura had already conceded that Jahangir “did not like the conversion of ‘some ignorant, stupid Muslims’ to the Sikh faith”. He also states:

Jahangir perceived Guru Arjan’s blessings to the rebel Prince Khusrau (/Khusraw) as an indication of his involvement with the movement attempting to put the prince on the throne rather than his father. [59]

Guru Arjan received the prince [Khusrau] …. He applied a tilak … which was ‘considered propitious’; and the Sikh followers of the Guru gave a sum of five thousand rupees to the prince by way of help.

It is, therefore, surprising that Pashaura has failed to connect the dots in reaching the following conclusion: if state law is established upon the Shari’ah, and the Shari’ah forbids conversion to another religion, and Jahangir was, in general, opposed to Muslim conversions, then this collusion could, at best, be interpreted as a criminal offence not deserving of execution, or, at worst, rebellious and, thus, guilty of a capital offence and deserving of execution. After all, Jahangir all but alludes to the rebellious and unruly nature of the Gurus, as Pashaura himself quotes:

For three or four generation they had been pedalling this same stuff. For a long time I had been thinking that either this false trade should be eliminated or that he should be brought into the embrace of Islam. At length, when Khusraw passed by there, this inconsequential little fellow wished to pay homage to Khusraw …. When this was reported to me, I realized how perfectly false he was and ordered him brought to me. I awarded his houses and dwelling and those of his children to Murtaza Khan, and I ordered his possessions and goods confiscated and him executed [siyasat o yasa rasadand]. [60] (bold ours)

Pashaura even goes so far as to break down the meaning of “siyasat o yasa rasadand” as follows:

Literally, yasa is the Mongol term for ‘law’ and siyasat means ‘punishment’, signifying the phrase as ‘punishment under law’. In Mughal times both words were used for capital punishment. [61]

How is it then, that Pashaura, after acknowledging Kapur’s conclusion that Jahangir ordered the punishment of Yasa because “the Guru’s existence was definitely considered a danger to the safety of the Mughal Empire in India”, [62] considers those who charge the Guru with rebellion as exaggerators who have an “agenda in scholarship”?

It is beyond reasonable doubt, as we have shown, that the accumulative efforts of the five Gurus up to and including Guru Arjan, which included the establishment and healthy growth of a “state within a state” along with the temerity of knowingly violating the law of the land, i.e. the Shari’ah, by actively converting Muslims to Sikhism, clearly point to a rebellious and unruly nature.

Hence, many Sikh apologists, such as Jagjit Singh, accept the validity of this historical event without resorting to spin and disingenuous apologetics. Jagjit gives the following summary while rhetorically ending:

Above all, we have the direct evidence of Jahangir, given in his autobiography, that Guru Arjan “noised himself as a worldly leader”, and the glaring historical fact that the Guru blessed, in his enterprise, the rebel prince Khusrau, who contested the throne against his father. Jahangir. “He (Guru Arjan) discussed several matters with him (Khusrau) and made on his forehead a finger-mark in saffron, which in terms of Hindus is called qushqa and is considered propitious.” [63] An European contemporary to this event draws the same inference as done by Jahangir: “The Gum congratulated him (Khusrau) for assuming sovereignty and applied three marks on his forehead. Although the Gum was a heathen, and the prince a Mussalman, yet he was glad to put that pagan sign on the prince’s forehead, as a mark of good success in his enterprise…” [64] If blessing Khusrau in his rebellion against the Emperor was not involvement in politics, what else was it? [65] (bold ours)

G.C. Narang likewise affirms:

The first is this. When Prince Khusro, who had rebelled against his father, fled to the Punjab, and took refuge there, he resorted to the Guru for help. The Guru had not yet initiated a policy of military organisation, but he advanced a considerable sum of money to the Prince, and lent him his moral support by praying for his success in the civil war. …

The Guru had made the mistake of openly espousing the cause of the rebel Prince Khusro, and as stated in the previous chapter, had helped him by placing a sum of money at his disposal.
Through his machinations, the Guru was arraigned of treason, [The charges also included the allegations that the Guru called himself “true king,” and had a large organisation under him with the intention of making war upon the Emperor] and fined two hundred thousand rupees. [66] (bold ours)

However, to say that Guru Arjan made a “mistake” is to undermine the intelligence and shrewdness of this man. He was too clever to have made a mistake; it is too implausible to assume that he and his intelligentsia would have been oblivious to the ramifications of inviting Khusraw in for a meal, blessing him and assisting him financially, especially given the overt anti-Islamic nature of the Nanakian agenda and their conspicuously nonconformist past record.

Often, Sikhs play on emotions by making reference to the alleged harshness of the punishment when justice was served against Guru Arjan the upstart. It should be noted, however, that Jahangir was, in general, consistently severe against those involved in acts of rebellion. Take the example of his own flesh and blood, Khusraw. His rebellion, as is the case with almost all rebellions, led to widespread unrest, destruction, pillage and murder. As Fernao Guerreiro points out, Jahangir is often not given the credit he deserves for the manner in which he clamped down and extinguished this impending crisis:

And a crisis it was; for Khusru was popular with all classes of the people; and had Jahangir allowed the grass to grow under his feet, the rebellion would soon have assumed formidable dimensions, and the positions of pursuer and pursued might easily have been reversed. [67]

This is, of course, also true of the threat posed by the Gurus; but, returning to the aftermath of Khusraw’s attempted coup, Donald F. Lach and Edwin J. Van Kley relate:

Chained hand and foot, the rebellious prince [Khusrau] is led into his father’s presence at Lahore along with his two chief supporters, both of whom are important imperial officials. After brutal public punishment, one of the officials is beheaded and the head sent to Agra where it is displayed on the city’s gate. The other official, after diverse punishments and the payment of a huge fine, is set free and restored to his office. Two hundred of the lesser followers of the prince arc impaled or hanged on cither side of the route by which Jahangir enters Lahore. Khusru is deprived of his titles and his claim to the throne is given to Jahangir’s second son. The hapless prince is kept in chains, and constantly shown off to the public. [68]

But that is not all; in addition S. R. Sharma records:

Khusru himself was blinded and imprisoned; subsequently he partially recovered his sight, but not his liberty. [69] He was destined to be a pawn in the political game, ultimately to be disposed off under very tragic and suspicious circumstances. [70]

If this was the retribution against his very own son, any suggestion that Guru Arjan’s punishment was exclusively an act of religious persecution is highly implausible given the overall context, i.e. Jahangir’s consistency in punishing acts of high treason, something that Indologist Vincent Smith (as Sharma cites) also acknowledged:

The punishment, it will be observed, was inflicted as a penalty for high treason and contumacy, and was not primarily an act of religious persecution. [71] (bold ours)

Let us also not forget that this violent confrontation was the inevitable consequence of the Nanakian revolutionary aim, which was so far reaching that S. S. Gandhi concludes:

It started not as a protest but as a revolutionary retort and till to date its tenor is the same. [72] (bold ours)

Thus, Arjan’s so-called “martyrdom” effectively laid down a precedent for the emergence of a long tradition of dissent which could, on the pretext of defending freedom and equality as per the ethico-religious standards of Sikhism, justify readily switching to the use of violence and rebellion to achieve end objectives.

For three or four generation they [the Gurus] had been pedalling this same stuff. For a long time I had been thinking that either this false trade should be eliminated or that he [Arjan] should be brought into the embrace of Islam. At length, when Khusraw passed by there, this inconsequential little fellow wished to pay homage to Khusraw …. When this was reported to me, I realized how perfectly false he was and ordered him brought to me. – Jahangir

CONCLUSION

What this research strongly suggests is that even before its transformation into a rebellious militant movement, the Nanakian philosophy was predisposed towards the use of a revolutionary strategy. Guru Nanak was a revolutionist whose modus operandi was to remould the old organisation through a long term ideological-political campaign and ultimately substitute it with his politico-religious system.

As cited above, since all action and activity eventually culminates in the need to utilise force when encountering physical resistance, and since the use of necessary force is justified to achieve a spiritual end in the socio-political ideology of the Gurus, what else could have materialised other than a violent clash between the state and the Sikh community as an inevitable climax?

What has been shown beyond reasonable doubt is that despite the Mughal Empire’s patience towards the Sikh community’s drive to strengthen its “state within a state”, which included Jahangir’s generous granting of land to Guru Arjan, the same Satguru colluded in Khusraw’s brutal rebellion by blessing him and offering financial assistance. As Shaikh Muhammad Ikram puts it:

The first trouble came during Jahangir’s reign when Guru Arjun had given assistance to the revolt led by Prince Khusrau. [73] (bold ours)

What this proves is that any contention that the Gurus were wholly innocent bystanders that were the victims of injustice is certainly untrue. To the contrary, the Sikh community, led by their politically driven Gurus, had, from the very beginning, visions of grandeur in seeking independence and self-autonomy. To achieve this end, they theologically justified the use of violence. When they felt an opportune moment had presented itself, Guru Arjan led them to violate the laws of the land by joining a rebellion that ultimately led to the capture and brutal execution of said Guru.

The point that needs to be stressed in conclusion is that it was not the Mughal Empire that acted criminally (or more accurately: treasonously), but the Gurus and their Sikh community by taking up arms:

The guru [Arjan] died under torture, but one of his last instructions to his son, Guru Har Govind, was to maintain an army. This was the turning point in Sikh history. They now began to organize themselves on semi-military lines, and there were further conflicts with the Mughal government. Guru Har Govind had “so completely sunk the character of a religious reformer into that of a conquering general, that he had no scruple in enlisting large bands of Afghan mercenaries.” [74]

Unlike the moral premise upon which Muslims are instructed to make decisions, i.e. the certainty of procuring religiously sanctioned benefit from a chosen action so as to protect and preserve the five basic necessities that are part of the objectives (maqaasid) of the Shari’ah, Guru Arjan’s decision certainly did not take into consideration the overall harm this would not only cause his own community, but also the citizens at large.

In effect, this war of attrition initiated by “[t]he Sikhs, who ultimately were to play an important part in the weakening of the empire,” [75] would continue between the Gurus and each successive Mughal ruler, thus leading to the death of tens of thousands of people, until the eventual collapse of the Mughal empire.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thanks to (jazakAllaahu khairan) Abu Ubayd (Islam-Sikhism Researcher) for his valuable efforts and for his sagacious comments and suggestions.

[1] K.W. Jones (1989), Socio-Religious Reform Movements in British India, (Cambridge University Press), pp. 12-13.
[2] I.D. Gaur (2008), Martyr as Bridegroom: A Folk Representation of Bhagat Singh, (Anthem Press), p. 24.
[3] S.S. Gandhi (2007), History of Sikh Gurus Retold: 1469-1606 C.E. Vol.1, (Atlantic Publishers & Distributors), pp. 183, 185.
[4] D. Singh (2004), Sikhism: A Comparative Study of its Theology and Mysticism, (Amritsar, Singh Brothers), p. 258.
[5] S.S. Gandhi (2007), History of Sikh Gurus Retold: 1469-1606 C.E. Vol.1, (Atlantic Publishers & Distributors), p. 185.
[6] Ibid., p. 192.
[7] D. Singh, op. cit., p. 259.
[8] Ibid., p. 261.
[9] Ibid., p. 265.
[10] Ibid., pp. 239-40.
[11] Ibid., p. 239.
[12] Ibid., p. 241.
[13] Ibid.
[14] http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/299395/Jahangir
[15] E. Terry (1777), A Voyage to East-India, (The New York Public Library, J. Wilkie), p. 418.
[16] Ibid., p. 425.
[17] A. Games (2008), The Web of Empire: English Cosmopolitans in an Age of Expansion 1560-1660, (New York: Oxford University Press US), p. 236.
[18] According to P. Singh, the copy was reproduced in Gurmukhi script in two old manuscripts entitled Gur Pranavali Dasan Parishahian Ji Ki and Gur Pranali, respectively.
[19] P. Singh (2006), Life and work of Guru Arjan: History, Memory, and Biography in the Sikh Tradition, (Oxford University Press), p. 75.
[20] T. Roe (2008), The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the Court of the Great Mogul, 1615-1619, Volume 2, (BiblioBazaar, LLC), p. 314.
[21] J.F. Richards (1996), The Mughal Empire, Volume 1; Volume 5, (Cambridge University Press), p. 98.
[22] M. Alam (2004), The Languages of Political Islam: India, 1200-1800, (C. Hurst & Co. Publishers), p.95.
[23] F. Gladwin, K. V. R. Aiyangar (1930), The History of Jahangir, (Read Books), p.20.
[24] (Ed.) H. Beveridge, (Trans.) A. Rogers (1909), Tuzuk-i-Jahanghiri (Memoirs of Jahangir), (London Royal Asiatic Society), p. xii.
[25] J.F. Richards, op. cit., p. 98.
[26] I.D. Gaur, op. cit., p. 28.
[27] D. Singh, op. cit., p. 273.
[28] (Eds.) D. Singh, K. Singh (1997), Sikhism, its Philosophy and History, (Chandigarh, India; Institute of Sikh Studies), p. 306.
[29] J. Singh (1999), Dynamics of Sikh Philosophy, (Chandigarh, India; Institute of Sikh Studies), p. 116.
[30] S.M. Latif (1889), History of the Panjab from the Remotest Antiquity to the Present Time, (Calcutta, Central Press Co.), p. 253.
[31] Ibid., p. 254.
[32] G.C. Narang (1910), Transition of Sikhism into a Political Organization, (Lahore, Tribune Press), pp. 26-7, 31.
[33] Ibid., pp. 33-4.
[34] Ibid., pp. 35-6.
[35] Fn.14: Gur Bilas Patshahi Chhevin, p.85; Mehma Parkash, ii, p. 395.
[36] D. Singh, op. cit., p. 272.
[37] G.C. Narang, op. cit., p. 37.
[38] B. Singh (2009), An Analysis of Text as Sword: Sikh Religious Violence taken for Wonder, p. 47.
[39] J. Singh, op. cit., pp. 116-7.
[40] Ibid., p. 117.
[41] Fn.1: The fifth Guru of the Sikhs and the compiler of the Granth. He was the father of Har Govind. See Sayyid Muhammad Latif’s history of the Panjab, p. 253. Arjun’s tomb is in Lahore.
[42] According to A. Rogers, Raju was a Sikh, see index, p. 474.
[43] (Ed.) H. Beveridge, (Trans.) A. Rogers (1909), Tuzuk-i-Jahanghiri (Memoirs of Jahangir), (London Royal Asiatic Society), pp. 72-3.
[44] D. Singh, op. cit., p. 274.
[45] S.M. Latif, op. cit., pp. 150-1.
[46] F. Gladwin, K. V. R. Aiyangar, op. cit., p. 26.
[47] (Ed.) H. Beveridge, (Trans.) A. Rogers, op. cit., p. 54.
[48] D. Singh, op. cit., pp. 274-5.
[49] S. Singh (2002), The Legacy of Guru Arjun Devji, (SikhSpectrum.com Monthly, Issue No.5).
[50] S.S. Gandhi, op. cit., p. 430.
[51] S. Singh, op. cit.: Fn.17: Ganda Singh, n. 77, p. 165.
[52] J.L. Mehta (1984), Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India Vol.2: Mughal Empire (1526-1707), (Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd), p. 384-5.
[53] M.A. Macauliffe (1909), The Sikh Religion, its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors – Vol.3, (Clarendon Press, Oxford), p. 85.
[54] S.S. Gandhi, op. cit., p. 431.
[55] P. Singh (2005), Understanding the Martyrdom of Guru Arjan, (Journal of Punjab Studies, Spring 2005, Volume 12, No. 1), p.33.

NOTE: Dr Kirpal Singh of the Institute of Sikh Studies also repeats Gandha Singh’s objection:

No doubt, it is a primary source for this significant event but everything narrated relating to the Guru Arjun Dev may not be taken as true. There are many assertions made therein which do not prove to be correct… Guru Arjun never went out of his residence at Taran Tarn where he was staying at the time Khusrau passed that way…. (New Light on the Martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev; accessed: 7 Nov 2011)

[56] Ibid., p. 34.
[57] Ibid., p. 38.
[58] Ibid.
[59] Ibid., p. 31.
[60] Ibid., pp. 30-1.
[61] Ibid., p. 31.
[62] Ibid., p. 34.
[63] Fn.29: Tuzuk-i-Jehangiri, quoted by Hari Ram Gupta: History of the Sikh Gurus, p. 100.
[64] Fn.30: Ganda Singh (ed.): Early European Accounts of the Sikhs, p. 184.
[65] J. Singh, op. cit., pp. 129-30.
[66] G.C. Narang, op. cit., pp. 37-8, 40, 40-41.
[67] F. Guerreiro, (Trans.) C. H. Payne (1930), Jahangir and the Jesuits: with an account of the travels of Benedict Goes and the mission to Pegu, from the Relations of Father Fernao Guerreiro, S.J., (Taylor & Francis), p. 91.
[68] D.F. Lach, E.J. Van Kley (1971), Asia in the making of Europe Volume 3, (University of Chicago Press), p. 633.
[69] Fn.3: The blinding of Khusru was the result of another insurrection attempted in his favour. The plot was hatched when Jahangir had been away in Kabul, to assassinate him on one of his hunting expeditions and place Khusru on the throne. There were, however, too many conspirators and the whole plan was betrayed to Jahangir.

The ring-leaders were caught and executed. The Prince was further victimised as a result of the excessive solicitude of his well-wishers.

The Intikhab-i-Jahangir-Shahi gives the following account of the blinding:-

‘His Majesty ordered Prince Khusru to be deprived of his sight. When the wire was put in his eyes, such pain was inflicted on him that it is beyond all expression. The Prince, after being deprived of sight, was brought to Agra ; and the paternal love again revived. The most experienced physicians were ordered to take measures to heal the eyes of the Prince, that they might become as sound as they were before. One of the physicians of Persia, Hakim Sadra by name, undertook, to cure the Prince within six months. By his skill, the Prince recovered his original power of vision in one of his eyes, but the other remained a little defective in that respect, and also became smaller than its natural size. After the lapse of the assigned time, the Prince was presented to His Majesty, who showed the physician great favour, and honoured him with the title of Masihu-z Zaman.’ – E. & D., op. cit., pp. 448-49.

Beni Prasad observes, “After weighing all available evidence, my conclusion is that the version of the Intikhab-i Jahanghiri comes nearer the truth than any other. The author writes with inside knowledge.” – History of Jahangir, pp. 165-6 and n.
[70] S.R. Sharma (1999), Mughal Empire in India: A Systematic Study including Source Material-Volume 2, (Atlantic Publishers & Distributors), p. 322.
[71] Ibid.: Fn.2: Smith, op. cit., p. 376.
[72] S.S. Gandhi (2007), op. cit., p. 189.
[73] S.M. Ikram (1964), Muslim Civilization in India, (New York: Columbia University Press), p. 194.
[74] Ibid.
[75] Ibid., p. 193.

2 comments

  1. Assalamu Alaikum

    Please help with the allegations regarding Aurangzeb killing Guru Tegh Bahadur.

    Jazakallah

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