Gurudev began, “Over 300 years ago our country was ruled by a cruel Emperor Aurangzeb. He killed his own brother, imprisoned his father and became an emperor. Then he decided to convert India into an Islamic country.” “Why Gurudev?” “Because he thought that if other countries could become Islamic, why not India where he a Muslim ruler, ruled. He imposed heavy taxes on Hindus called Jazia and enforced humiliating conditions, so that they would give up their religion. He ordered his officers to bring one mound of Janeu and weight it every day by killing or converting Hindus. Many were killed but many gave in due to fear.” “Did he succeed?”, Aditya asks. “No, his cruelty frightened many as it is Hindu temples all over India. Wherever his armies went they would build mosques over them. It is said that his armies would throw the deities under the stairs of the mosque so that people trample on them.” “Did it break the will of Hindus.” “No, a large number of Hindus chose death over conversion and Aurangzeb faced a dilemma. If Hindus choose to die who would he rule over. He decided to try and convert all the pundits of Kashmir first. Why Kashmir? Because Kashmir was the seat of Hinduism and his belief was that if Kashmir could be converted the rest of India would follow. He ordered his governor that all the pundits of Kashmir be converted to Islam or be put to death. Hearing this, when death grip around, a prominent Kashmiri Pandit- Pundit Kripa Ram along with a delegation of 500 pundits went to Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth guru at Anandpur Sahib.” “Why did they go to Guru Tegh Bahadur?” “Because Guru Teg Bahadur was known as the protector of the weak.
When the Guru heard about their suffering, he said that a sacrifice was necessary to teach Aurangzeb a lesson. His son, Guru Gobind Singh who was only can do that sacrifice!” “He was my age and could say that to his own father!” Aditya said while widening his eyes. “Yes Beta, in olden time’s children took great responsibilities. Life was so brief.” I remember reading this part to my daughter one day and she said, “You mean to say that children at 10 could say that! That means that in olden times life must have been really difficult, that I feel so privileged that I don’t have to say something like that to you or to anyone. “Then what happened?” “The Guru told them to return and tell their governor, Iftikhar Khan, that he should send this message to Aurangzeb – ‘if you can convert the Guru to Islam then the whole of India will convert but if you can’t, you would have to give up your dream of making India an Islamic country.’ On hearing this Aurangzeb felt that he won. Converting a single person, which would not be any problem, his name would be written in golden letters.
First, the Guru and the disciples were brought in front of the qazi who threatened them with dire consequences if they didn’t embrace Islam. The Guru listened to him with amusement and refused. Then the Guru was brought to the Emperor’s court in Chains. His presence brightened the royal court making all the jewels look pale. Even though he stood on the ground he appeared higher than the emperor who sat above him on the throne. The Guru looked majestic with his flowing beard. His eyes so powerful that they could see through your soul. Aurangzeb could not look at him in the eye. ‘Teg bahadur, you came here to embrace Islam.’ One of the Emperor’s courtiers finally said to him. ‘No, I didn’t’, the Guru thundered. ‘I said if you can convert me to Islam then the whole of India will follow and if you can’t you will give up your dream.’ Let us see if you, Aurangzeb, have the power to do that. I dare you to convert me. If you fail, you will stop the forced conversion of Hindus and the desecration of their temples.’ The silence was deafening. ‘Do you know whom you are talking to?’ one of the courtiers asked, who finally found his voice. ‘If you embrace Islam the Emperor promises to give you a high post at his royal court and you will be given many jewels and have the biggest harem in his kingdom.’ The Guru laughed. The pillars in the Hall seem to shake with his laughter. His laughter was like a lion’s roar.
When Aurangzeb looked around, he saw his whole royal court sitting there frozen. ‘You fool.’ The Guru thundered. ‘Do you think you can lure me in the name of God, the Almighty? You think if I call him by any other name saying that that’s the only right path then I acknowledge my path is wrong? Who lead you to come to this mistaken conclusion?” “How could the Guru speak like this to the Emperor?” Aditya asked. “Those who stand up for others and are the embodiment of Dharma develop such a quality.” his guru replied. “And he called the Emperor a fool in front of everyone!” Aditya laughed. Aurangzeb sat unable to utter a word. History will not forget this day, his courtiers thought, when the Emperor of India looked so pathetic in front of an obscure guru.
The guru continued, ‘God is one. Whatever name you call him, he is the same. Our paths take us to the same destination. We can call him by whatever name but need to do so without pride, conceit or deceit and you Aurangzeb are full of all three.’ “Why did the Emperor remain so mute unable to say anything?” Aditya asked. “Proud men lose their tongue when confronted by someone who speaks the truth.” said Gurudev. “The Emperor said, ‘can you show me a miracle that you are a holy man?’ ‘No, I will not do something so foolish to convince you Aurangzeb.’ ‘Then this is the last time I ask you, will you convert or not?’ ‘No, I will not. Not now. Not ever, even if my body is cut into a thousand pieces.’
The Emperor had never felt so humiliated. ‘Tomorrow the whole of India would know how the Guru had refused his offer. Not only would his subjects laugh at him but also future generations.’ He spoke, ‘you fool! You stand in front of chains. I can put you to death before you can blink your eye.’ ‘Yes, you can Aurangzeb. You can kill my body but not the spirit of my people. I have never seen someone more pathetic than you are Aurangzeb. You, the Emperor of India, is acting like a beggar, begging me in front of your whole court.’ ‘Take him away, torture him for forty days until he repents. If he does not, behead him so that only one drop of blood drips at a time’, Aurangzeb screamed. ‘Then take the head of him around the town so that everyone can see.’ The Guru laughed. ‘Who lost today, Aurangzeb? With all your might you could not convert a single unarmed man.’
After several days the Guru was beheaded, and his head paraded around the town. Finally, some of his disciples managed to take his body away and performed the last rites. Today, that place where he was beheaded, is known as Gurudwara Sheesh Ganz.