Modern society it seems has turned its back on the past. We prefer to define ourselves in terms of where we are going, not where we come from. Therefore, the past, even the relatively recent past, is, in the minds of most of us, enshrouded by mists and only very vaguely perceived. Our ignorance of the past is not the result of a lack of information, but of indifference. We do not believe that history matters.

How do we deal with the past as Communities. Typically, we tend to forget the past if it has been painful. We cannot turn the pages of history without reading them. Communities no doubt, pass their pain from generation to generation. If we do not have a mechanism, the poison passes to next generation. The reality is that the past keeps coming back and biting the next generation, especially because there are deep psychological, emotional and spiritual wounds in all those affected.

Major causality with this attitude is that we also tend to forget the great things that happened in the past, which are inspirational & require us to revisit regularly to express our gratitude.

Considering what our community has gone through in the past, these great events could become healing factors. Revisiting our history, we find events which can leave a very lasting and profound impact on our present.

I have chosen the following events from our history, which the community can remember:

  • Zain Ul Abdin, the Badshah (r .1420-1470)
  • Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-1675)
  • Benevolence of Bala Sahib Thakre (1926-2012)

Zain Ul Abdin, the Badshah

Sultan Ghiyas-ud-Din Zain-ul-Abidin (r.1420-1470) was a sultan of Kashmir in the present day Jammu and Kashmir state of India, who was named Badshah (the great king) by his subjects.

Shahi Khan, was the son of Sultan Sikander ( Butshikan) was left with the charge of the kingdom by his elder brother Sultan Ali Shah when he went for pilgrimage to Mecca. But Ali Shah's father-in-law, the king of Jammu induced him to return from Thatta to Kashmir with a contingent of the army of Jammu. Shahi Khan became angry and went to Jasrath, the chief of the Khokkars after handing over the kingdom to Ali Shah and refused to come back. Ali Shah led an expedition against Jasrath and was defeated. According to late accounts, Ali Shah was captured by Khokkars and died at Chadura. Shahi Khan ascended the throne under the title of Zain-ul-Abidin.

The period of his reign up to the 35th regnal year is described by Jonaraja in the Rajatarangini Dwitiya, while the rest of it is described by his pupil Srivara in the Rajatarangini Tritiya. According to these texts, he extended his suzerainty over Gandhara, Madra (Punjab), Sindhu and Rajapuri (Rajouri). He defeated the king of Udbhandapura (Ohind) several times. He carried his victorious arms to Gogga in Bhotta-desha (Guge in Ladakh). Jasrath, the Khokkar chief defeated Maladeva, the king of Madra with his help.

During the last days of his reign, his three sons, Adam Khan, Haji Khan and Bahram Khan rebelled against him but he took energetic measures to crush them. He was succeeded by his son Haji Khan, who took the title of Haidar Khan.

Zain-ul-Abidin enforced the system of responsibility of the village communities for local crimes. He regulated the price of the commodities. He stabilized the currency which had been debased during the reign of his predecessors. He was responsible for a large number of public works. He founded several new cities, built many bridges and dug many irrigation canals. He also prevented the local governors from exacting illegal taxes and gave the peasants much needed tax relief.

Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin was a learned man. He knew Persian, Sanskrit and Tibetan. It is said that the Mahabharata and the Rajatarangini were translated into Persian by his order, although the Persian translations of Akbar’s time are more prevalent.

He was known for his religious tolerance. He called back the Brahmans who left Kashmir during his father's (1st migration) & his brother’s reign (2nd migration) and abolished the Jizya. He allowed the Hindus to build their temples and follow the personal law according to the Dharmashastras. He stopped the killing of cows by means of poison and passed some regulations about eating beef. He re-introduced the grant of stipends to the learned Brahmans.

Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin is credited for inspiring the genesis of Kashmiriyat - a socio-cultural ethos of religious harmony and Kashmiri consciousness.


Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur

The state of Jammu and Kashmir is inhabited by people of different faiths, such as Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists , Christians, Jews. Every community has its own history. The History of Sikhism in J&K can be traced back to the visit of various Sikh Gurus and their missionaries to propagate Sikhism in the state.  Raja Sukh Jeevan Mal a Durrani Governor’s role in establishment of Sikhism in the Valley is also considered important historically. The conquest of State by Maharaja Ranjit Singh firmly established this faith among Punjabi’s who had settled in the valley on account of trade.

Guru Nanak was born on 21st October, 1469 at a village called Talwandi on the bank of river Ravi near Lahore. Guru Nanak traveled for 24 years (1497-1521) all over the world. His tours are called as four Udasis. Guru Nanak’s visit to the state was during the third Udasi. It took about 4 years to be completed (1515-1519). This visit to various places in J&K helped establish a plethora of Gurudwara’s at places where Guru Nanak touched base. Martand, Bijbehara, Awantipura. Guru Nanak did not have to work hard in Jammu to make converts as Jammu had topographical ties with Punjab. So, the influence of Sikhism which had started in Punjab had entered into Jammu. After completion of his tour Guru Nanak returned back to his home town Kirtarpur via Himachal Pradesh.

Guru Arjan Dev (1563-1606) the fifth Guru of Sikhs also played a role in propagating Sikhism. It was on request of Sikhs of Kashmir, Guru Arjan deputed Mado Sodhi to propagate Sikhism and thus became first missionary to come from Punjab and propagate Sikhism in valley.

Guru Arjan Dev was succeeded by his son Guru Har Gobind - 6th Guru (1594-1644). Guru Har Gobind also took up religious tours and trips to propagate the message of Sikhism. His trips included state of Jammu and Kashmir. In 1620 A.D Guru ji visited the state through traditional Mughal route via Poonch, Rajouri, finally reached Shopian in Kashmir. Gurdwaras were built at Rajouri, Noushera and Bhimber.  Guru ji Proceeded towards Srinagar. He was accorded a warm welcome by many followers of Sikhism. Guru ji reached outskirts of Srinagar, at the foot of Hari Parbat, a place known as Kathi Darwaza. A Gurdwara has been built at Kathi Darwaza to commemorate the visit of “Chati Padshahi”.

Guru Har Gobind’s grand son and successor Guru Har Rai (7th Guru) also visited Kashmir to preach Sikhism.

The conversion of Sikhs to Khalsa is also said to be related to Kashmir. Ninth Guru Teg Mal was born on 1st April, 1621 A.D.   Guru ji’s father was so much impressed by performance of his son in the tactics of sword, that he changed his name from Teg Mal to Teg Bahadur which means Hero of Sword.  

The Kashmiri Pandits were Hindus renowned for their high intellect and education. They had a good relationship with the Sikhs and their Gurus. Guru Nanak Dev had met Pandit Brahm Das during the third Udasi. Brahm Dev was an ancestor of Pandit Kripa Ram in Mattan. Kripa Ram had known the Ninth Guru and also taught Sanskrit classics to the young Gobind Rai. During the reign of Jahangir, Guru Har Gobind had come to Srinagar and met Kashmiri saint Mata Bagya Bari, who lived at Rainawari. It is interesting to note that Mata Bagya Bari's spiritual interaction with the sixth Sikh Guru is incredibly well-preserved in the Sikh religious tradition. In Pandit tradition Mata Bagya Bari is a person renowned for her high spiritual merits.

Aurangzeb the Mughal 'Puritan King' whose life is a sharp contrast to that of his predecessors/ancestors. He lost no time ,after as­cending the throne in Delhi in 1658,  to convert whole of India to Islam. To fulfil this desire of his he had no hesitation in using and wielding sword. The fundamentalist emperor, threw to winds, the seemingly secular policy of his forefathers re­placing it by one of religious harassment and persecution. He re-imposed the "Jazia" (a protection tax paid by non-Muslims), which often was as much as 60%. While the entire Indian people shuddered at his manner of building an Islamic state, he implemented a well calculated plan according to which he started with liquidating Hindu scholars in India in general and the Kashmiri Pandits in particular. According to him ,elimination of Hindu scholars was a pre-requisite for the spread of Islam India.

At that time Kashmir was ruled by Mughal governor Iftikhar Khan, who followed the policy of Emperor Aurangzeb regarding conversion to Islam by force. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                 Kashmiri Pandits were looking for relief from the tyranny perpetrated by the Moghul governor. They were looking for a savior. They decided to contact Guru ji for Help.  A deputation of 16 Pandits with Kirpa Ram Dutt as its leader went to Chak Nanki Anandpur Sahib to meet Guru Tegh Bahadur on 25th. May1675.The Kashmiri Pandits approached Guru Tegh Bahadar to seek his assistance in their acute hour of need. These Hindus from Kashmir had been given a deadline by Emperor Aurangzeb to convert to Islam or be killed. Pandit Kripa Ram with his delegation met Guru Tegh Bahadar at Chak Nanki, Kahlur (now known as Anandpur Sahib). He explained their dilemma to the Guru in the open Sangat at the place where today stands Gurdwara Manji Sahib, in Anandpur Sahib.

Woeful toles of Kashmiri Pandits moved Guru Teg Bahadar so much that the sorrows of deputation became his own and assured them of help.  Guru Teg Bahadar became ready for any sacrifice for sake of Kashmiri Pandits to safeguard their religion and to stop conversion.

A panel from the Harimandir Sahib, depicting Guru Tegh Bahadur counselling a group of Kashmiri Pandits led by Kirpa Ram depicts this event.

The scene at Sangat is reproduced as under:

"The emperor had given us some time to decide to convert to Islam or to be executed. The time for deciding has expired. Now, we have to convert to Islam or die. What shall we do? Guru ji, we have no one else to turn to. We don't have an army to protect us - We need your help. Please assist us", said Kripa Ram.

Guru Tegh Bahadur ji is said to have gone into deep thought after Pandit Kripa Ram's request. At this point, it is said that Guru ji son, Gobind Rai walks into the Sangat to see Guru ji deep in thought.

"Guru ji, I see the acutely sad faces of the Sangat and you are silent and in deep thought. What is the problem?" asked Gobind Rai to his father. Gobind is about 9 years old at this stage.

Guru ji slowly turns to his son and explains the situation as concisely as possible.

"Beta (Son), this is the sangat from Kashmir. They are Hindus who have been friends of Sikhs since the time of Guru Nanak. They have a very serious problem on their hands" said Guru ji.

Gobind Rai replied, "Pita ji, you are the Guru of the entire world ("Jagat Guru"). You will know of a solution to all problems"

"Beta, Emperor Aurangzeb has given them an ultimatum – If they do not become Muslims, he will kill them all", explained Guru ji.

Guru ji continued, "Some well-known religious person ("Mahapurakh") will have to make a sacrifice to stop this butchery. We have to find a supreme soul who will die so as to awaken the sleeping consciousness of the people of Hind".

"Pita ji, there is an easy answer to this problem. You are the most spiritually aware person in whole of Hind. You can make that sacrifice", answered Gobind Rai.

Guru ji was pleased to hear these words as it confirmed that his son had reached a suitable age to become the next Guru, and that Guruji’s work on Earth had been completed.

Guru ji addressed the Pandits, "Go and tell Aurangzeb that if he can convert Guru Tegh Bahadar to Islam, they will all convert. Otherwise, he should leave them alone"

The Pandits were delighted that a solution was found and duly informed Emperor Aurangzeb of the decision. Aurangzeb was delighted that by converting one person, he would without any further delay have the conversion of many more to Islam.  

Aurangzeb had also heard a lot about Guru Tegh Bahadur. He summoned his officers to bring Guru Tegh Bahadur to his durbar. Guru ji decided to leave Chak Nanaki after nominating his son Gobind Dass as his successor.

On 11 July1675, the Guru, along with some of his companions was finally brought to Delhi and asked to convert to Islam or else face the penalty of death. Guru ji was also asked to perform a miracle. Guru Tegh Bahadur averred that he would rather sacrifice his life than give up his faith and his freedom or belief or

perform a miracle. Thus, under Aurangzeb's orders, Guru ji and his companions were tortured. The Guruji was chained and imprisoned in a cage and was tortured in the cruelest and the most inhuman ways for five long days. In order to terrorize him further into submission, one of his distinguished devotees (Bhai Mati Das) was sawn alive, another (Bhai Dyal Das) was boiled in the cauldron and the third (Bhai Sati Das) was roasted alive before the Guru.

Finally, the Guru himself was beheaded, under imperial warrant, in broad daylight, in the middle of a public square, the most prominent public place in India, called Chandni Chowk, of Delhi, on the charge that he was a stumbling block preventing the spread of Islam in the Indian subcontinent. The exact location of the beheading is marked by Gurdwara Sis Ganj in Delhi. His martyrdom was yet another challenge to the Sikh conscience. It was then realized that there could be no understanding between an insensate power imbrued with blood and a proud people wedded to a life of peace with honor.

The sacrifice roused the Hindus from their passive silence and gave them the fortitude to understand the power that comes from self-respect and sacrifice. Guru Tegh Bahadur thus earned the affectionate title of "Hind-di-Chadar" or the Shield of India.

This event inspired the 10th Guru Gobind Dass to covert Sikhs to “Singh’s” to baptize them and boost their marshality among them. The Guru was converted from Gobind Dass to Gobind Singh. Thus, origin of Khalsa came into existence.

We can see how Guru Tegh Bahadur laid his life for saving the honor of Kashmiri Pandits & other Hindus.

Bachitar Nanak www.sridasam.org Page 131

ਤਿਲਕ ਜੰਵੂ ਰਾਖਾ ਰਭ ਤਾ ਕਾ ਕੀਨੋ ਬਡੋ ਕਲੂ ਮਹਿ ਸਾਕਾ  

He protected the forehead mark and sacred thread (of the Hindus) which marked a great event in the Iron age. 

ਸਾਧਨ ਹੇਤਿ ਇਤੀ ਜਿਨਿ ਕਰੀ ਸੀਸ ਦੀਆ ਪਰ ਸੀ ਉਚਰੀ ੧੩ 
For the sake of saints, he laid down his head without even a sign.13. 

ਧਰਮ ਹੇਤਿ ਸਾਕਾ ਜਿਨਿ ਕੀਆ ਸੀਸ ਦੀਆ ਪਰ ਸਿਰਰ ਦੀਆ  
For the sake of Dharma, he sacrificed himself. He laid down his head but not his creed. 

ਨਾਟਕ ਚੇਟਕ ਕੀਝ ਕਾਜਾ ਰਭ ਲੋਗਨ ਕਹ ਆਵਤ ਲਾਜਾ ੧੪॥
The saints of the Lord abhor the performance of miracles and malpractices. 14.  













"There was sadness on Earth but joy in Heaven"
Guru Gobind Singh

Guru Tegh Bahadar escalated the consciousness of the Sikh psyche to a newer level. It was now not acceptable for a God loving people to protect just their own kind, but it was the duty of all God loving people to protect the rights of all the people of God, no matter what their chosen religion may be. Guru Tegh Bahadar put into practice the profound message of Gurbani that had been in existence since Guru Nanak Dev's time:

Many in past human history have given their lives for their own personal reason; however, what is astonishing in the case of the ninth Sikh Guru is the fact that the Guru was not protecting the right of his "own people" called the Sikhs to practice their religion but instead the rights of the non-Sikhs, the peace-loving Pandits from Kashmir.

The commitment by the Sikh Guru to protect and support the liberty of all the people of a country was unprecedented. This supreme sacrifice by Guru Tegh Bahadur, in answer to an appeal of a large group of revered Kashmiri Pandits, made the momentous decision that has forever changed the level of moral commitment, dedication and sacrifice required by followers of God. The Guru made this critical decision to risk laying down his life, if necessary, to protect the right of the Hindus to follow their religion freely without interference or duress.

The Guru by this act has set a yardstick by which the Sikh must gauge their devotion to their religion. It is now not acceptable to say that: "I believe in the right of others to practice their faith peacefully" - this does not even get near the level of awareness required for the followers of Sikhism. The Guru has by his example taught the followers to maintain a high level of morality. It is not even acceptable to say: "I, as a Sikh respect and honor other religions" – even this does not get the Sikh to the required threshold of "wakefulness" ("Surat"). The Sikh mind-set has to get to a position of consciousness where he or she will be able to say: "I as a Sikh am ready to die to protect the right of the people of all faiths". The ability to advance to these reaches of awareness (Surtee or Surat) is a gift obtainable from the Almighty, and was the lesson taught by Guru Tegh Bahadur to the followers of Sikhism. Not only does the Guru's words mention this clearly in Gurbani, but the life of the Gurus also actually reinforces these words of Bani.

It should be remembered that the Gurus did not believe in the practices of the Hindu religion and had issued various holy Shabads denouncing various Hindu practices like SatiPurdah, Idol worship, etc. However, this had no bearing when it came to the decision to protect these Kashmiri Hindus - for the right of a person to freely practice their religion was considered to be predominant over their own personal beliefs and preferences.

Guru Gobind Singh recorded his father's martyrdom with these words:

Theekar fore dilees sir, Prabh par kiyo payan, 

Tegh Bahadur si kriya, Kari na kinhoo aan. 
Tegh Bahadur ke chalat, Bhayo jagat main sog. 
Hai hai hai sab jag bhayo, Jai jai jai sur log. 

He burst the bonds of mortal clay 
And went on to the abode of God. 
No one ever performed an act as noble 
As did Tegh Bahadur. 

With the departure of Tegh Bahadur 
The world was stricken with sorrow. 
A wail of horror rent the earth, 
A victor's welcome by the dwellers of heaven.

Bichitra Natak

We as representatives of the Kashmiri Community owe it to Sikhs to commemorate this day as one of the holy days & include it in our Festivals. This is the least we can do as a homage to the great Guru Tegh Bahadurji.



Bal Keshav Thackeray (Bala Sahib Thackeray)

Bal Keshav Thackeray (1926-2012), popularly known as Balasaheb Thackeray. He was born in Pune on 23 January 1926 to Ramabai and Keshav Sitaram Thackeray (also known as 'Prabodhankar'). He was the eldest of nine siblings and belonged to the Marathi Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP)

community. Keshav was a progressive social activist and writer who was involved in the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement of the 1950s that argued for the creation of a unified state called Maharashtra for Marathi-speaking areas with Mumbai as its capital. Keshav's political philosophy inspired Thackeray.

He formed the Shiv Sena on June 19th, 1966, a Hindu right wing  Marathi ethnocentric party active mainly in the western state of Maharashtra. The intent was to fight for the rights of the natives of Maharashtra (called Maharashtrians). The early objective of the Shiv Sena was to ensure job security for Maharashtrians against immigrants from other parts of India.

 Thackeray began his professional career as a cartoonist with the English language daily The Free Press Journal in Mumbai, but left it in 1960 to form his own political weekly Marmik. His political philosophy was largely shaped by his father Keshav Sitaram Thackeray, a leading figure in the Samyukta Maharashtra (United Maharashtra) movement, which advocated the creation of a separate linguistic state. In 1966, Thackeray formed the Shiv Sena party to advocate for the interests of Maharashtrians in Mumbai's political and professional landscape.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Thackeray built the party by forming temporary alliances with nearly all of state's political parties. Thackeray was also the founder of the Marathi-language newspaper Saamana.

 After the riots of 1992-93, he and his party took a Hindutva stance. Besides getting arrested multiple times and briefly going to jail, Thackeray never faced any major legal repercussions for his actions.

The Shiv Sena chief was admitted to Mumbai's Lilavati Hospital on 25 July, 2012, after he complained of breathlessness. He was discharged once he recovered after treatment. However, by late October, his illness came back to haunt him. He passed away soon after, on November 17, 2012, at 3:30 p.m. Upon his death, he was accorded a state funeral with a large number of mourners present. Thackeray did not hold any official position and never was formally elected as the leader of his party.

 To the displaced Kashmiri Pandits, his support towards the education of the community children stands out as stellar contribution towards our rehabilitation, post exodus. It continues to remain in force although the takers from our community have declined. It will be of interest to note that this scheme was also availed by Muslim children from Kashmir.

Ashok Pandit, a Mumbai based Film maker and community activist wrote in Shejar:

It is very important that the next generation of Kashmir didn’t feel inadequate in the absence of proper educational institutions that they had to abandon overnight in their mother state because of insurgency…. It was Balasaheb Thackeray who immediately ordered that a reservation should be fixed for the refugee Kashmiri youth in all the colleges of Maharashtra….

The reservation included children of Muslim’s, Ladakhi’s, Pandit’s, security forces serving in the valley….

Dr. Ajay Chrungoo, Chairman Panun Kashmir while condoling the sad demise of Babasaheb Thackery in 2012 spoke of him as a veteran Hindu leader who over the last few decades had become an icon of Hindu assertion and resurgence.

He said, it was his unflinching commitment to the Nationalist cause and fatherly concern for the children of the exiled Kashmiri Hindus that opened the gates of professional institutions in Maharashtra in 1990's and created a special category for their admission.

Arun Kaul writes in Shejar…” As he refused to be trapped in the self-inflicted cobwebs of pseudo secularists, wider Hindu groups started to look up to him as the one who could call a spade a spade. Not only that, he would also back his words with action and do what may not have been politically palatable for others to do. He stood up as a saving grace for the internally displaced community of Kashmiri Hindus. They begged educational opportunities for their helpless children and he came to their rescue. The community remains indebted and grateful to Balasaheb for this.”

We as a community cannot repay this debt. We owe it to the memory of Bala Sahib Thakrey that we include his birth anniversary as part of our festivals.

Ashok Dullu