Two heroes of India are celebrated today … Bir Lachit Borphukan’s birthday and Guru Tegh Bahadur’s Martyrdom day. Bir Lachit Borphukan, the Ahom general who stopped the Mughal army from capturing Assam and Guru Tegh Bahadur, the 9th Guru of Sikhism, who gave his life on this day, to protect Hindus from being converted to Islam.
Bir Lachit Borphukan
Read more about him on this wikipedia link – Lachit Borphukan. In 1671, Lachit Borphukan won the battle of Saraighat despite all odds. He had fewer soldiers than the massive Mughal army, but he used guerrilla tactics (like Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj). The Ahom army attacked at night, completely demoralising the Mughal army. Read more about the battle of Saraighat – Lachit Borphukan: Assam’s Great General.
Lachit Borphukan’s bravery and tales of patriotism remained confined to the State of Assam for almost three centuries. In the year 1999, the then Indian Army chief General V P Malik made the formal announcement that the best passing out cadet of the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, near Pune will be conferred the Lachit Borphukan gold medal. Later, in the year 2000, Bir Lachit Borphukan’s statue was unveiled at the NDA by Lt. Gen. S.K. Sinha (Retd), the then Governor of Assam.
Its extremely sad that we never read about this hero in our history books. Hope the history books are re-written and updated to include such great heroes of our country.
Guru Tegh Bahadur
I grew up in a Sardar household and I have probably visited a Gurudwara more often than a temple. I feel deeply connected with the Sardar community.
On this day in 1675, Aurangzeb, the worst of the Mughal emperors, beheaded Guru Tegh Bahadur because he refused to convert to Islam. Aurangzeb wanted the Mughal empire to be totally islamic. He tortured the Hindus, imposed the jizya (tax) and tried every which way to convert every Hindu citizen of his empire into a Muslim. Someone suggested to him that if he managed to convert the Kashmiri Pandits to Islam, it would be easier to convince the other Hindus. The Kashmiri Pandits reached out to Guru Tegh Bahadur and he promised to protect them.
Aurangzeb arrested Guru Tegh Bahadur and he was tortured for many weeks while being asked to abandon his faith and convert to Islam; he stood by his convictions and refused; Finally he was beheaded on Nov 24, 1675, at Chandni Chowk where the Sisganj Gurudwara stands today.
Not just the Guru, but three of his associates were also killed. Bhai Mati Das was sawed into pieces, Bhai Dayal Das was thrown into a cauldron of boiling water and Bhai Sati Das was burnt alive.
If Aurangzeb didn’t succeed in his attempts to convert all Hindus to Islam, a big reason was Guru Tegh Bahadur and his associates’ martyrdom. I have goosebumps as I write this because, when Guru Tegh Bahadur was being arrested, his then 9 year old son Guru Gobind Singh said – “who else but you, can make the ultimate sacrifice”. Asking his father to sacrifice his life for protecting those who came to him for help is great, but coming from a 9 year old is unbelievable.
Our history books don’t do justice to our heroes … many have been forgotten and many more have been reduced to a footnote. The Mughal empire was neither the longest empire nor the greatest. In our quest to glorify them, we have forgotten many other truly great emperors, generals and empires.
Glad to see that Bir Lachit Borphukan’s statue has been erected on the Brahmaputra. Its one thing to say that we don’t need statues, but some of these heroes do need statues and memorials otherwise they would just be forgotten.
Btw, the Ahom Kingdom maintained its sovereignty for 600 years, the Chola Dynasty ruled for 900+ years … in comparison, the Mughal empire existed for just 350 years. Time to get over this Mughal fetish.
Sat Sri Akal. And like the Assam Rifles regimental salutation – Tagra Raho !
Jai Hind. Jai Hind ki Sena.