During the period of 1315-20, Rinchan, a Buddhist prince from Ladakh, revolted against the ruler of Ladakh who happened to be his uncle also. Rinchan was defeated soundly and was forced to flee to Kashmir. He was subsequently given asylum by Kashmir king Suhadeva and due to his abilities, had a meteoric rise in the darbar. He soon became a powerful minister. In this episode, Rinchan was immensely helped by the then-prime minister of Kashmir, Ramchandra. In the meantime, he became good friends with his colleague Shah Mir, also a minister at that time.
Rinchan was a pseudo-Buddhist. To be in the good books of Suhadeva and strengthen his political base, he wanted to embrace Hinduism. At the time, Shaivism was the dominant sect of Hinduism in Kashmir. Therefore, he approached Devaswami, the religious head of the Shaivas, for entry into the Hindu religion. However, Devaswami refused to accept Rinchan in the Hindu fold owing to his birth in a lower caste. This made Rinchan disheartened and swore revenge on these arrogant Hindu priests. It became a turning point in the history of Kashmir where its fortunes suddenly went south. Kashmir was never going to be peaceful again just because of the folly of a priest.
A few decades later, Kashmir prince Sikandar met a Hindu named Suha Bhatt, instantly becoming his friend. He and Hamadani, a fanatic Sufi, succeeded in converting him to Islam and christened him Malik Saifuddin. He was awarded the post of Prime Minister of Kashmir. Bhatt instantly became a rabid fanatic, as if a ghost had overpowered him and went on a spree to persecute Hindus. He even forbade Hindus to apply tilak on their forehead and banned cremation. He broke up all the temples with their idols.
Hindus were then given three options: Either convert to Islam or migrate from Kashmir or face certain death.
Many converted. Many others chose to flee from the valley. Jonaraja, a medieval historian, called the exodus “Chandh-Dandh” – violent, cruel, brutal and horrible punishment. Those who did not convert or flee were burned alive at Rainawari in Srinagar. Even today, the place is known as Bhatta Mazar (the graveyard of the Pandits). The population of Hindus in Kashmir declined rapidly.
As per historian W.R. Lawrence, six mounds (1 mound=37 Kg) of Janeyu, sacred threads of converted Muslims and seven mounds of threads of murdered Pandits were burnt. Many historians blame neo-convert Saifuddin for the carnage in Kashmir.
As a new convert, he had to prove himself as a staunch Muslim.
Folklore is that after the conversion, he was excommunicated by the Hindus. His daughter could also not be married to a Hindu, who later married Hamadani. Along with the Sufi, he brainwashed Sikandar to indulge in nefarious activities.
At the start of the sixteenth century, the rulers of Cooch Behar were very aggressive and were always on the lookout for the expansion of their territories. They were invading deep into the Sultanate of Sulaiman Karrani, an Afghan Sultan of Bengal. His ancestors came with Sher Shah Suri from Afghanistan and eventually settled in Bengal. Deeply perturbed by such raids, Sultan sent his very ferocious commander named Kalapahar (Black Mountain) in 1569–70. He plundered deep into the territory of Cooch Behar and razed the Kamakhya temple to the ground. Incidentally, Kalapahar was earlier instrumental in the destruction of the Jagannath temple at Puri and Konark Sun temple in 1568.
Kalapahar was born Rajiv Lochan Ray, a Bengali Brahmin who was an army commander under Orissa king Mukundadeva. He was known for his bravery and tactical acumen on the battlefield. In a battle, Ray was able to defeat the forces of Sulaiman Karrani, after which, Karrani told Ray that he wanted to sign a peace treaty to avoid further bloodshed. When Ray visited his court, his eyes fell on Karrani’s beautiful daughter, Gulnaaz and for him, this was love at first sight. On the other hand, the girl had already heard numerous valiant stories about Ray and his sturdy build, which she found deeply attractive. Soon, both fell in love, and rumours of their affair started swirling around and reaching Karrani’s ears. Like other Muslims, Karrani kept a condition that marriage would take place only if Ray converted to Islam. Ray, however, wanted Gulnaaz to become Hindu. Karrani angrily refused and Ray was caught between the devil and the deep sea. Since he was deeply in love with her, he decided that he would reconvert to Hinduism after he got married.
However, his plans went awry when the news of his marriage and conversion reached the Orissa king. He was immediately expelled from his army, and his entry into the city and temples was banned. Despite his repeated requests and frequent apologies, he was excommunicated from Hindu society. This made Ray a very sad, angry and disheartened man. He was a changed man now. He went back to Karrani and asked for a suitable job. Sultan was too happy to see him back, and based on his talent, he was made commander of his army. He was also given a new name based on his physique: Kalapahar. After gaining power, he took his revenge by destroying numerous Hindu temples.
Raja Ganesha of North Bengal became powerful at the start of the 15th century. Raja was oppressive to Muslims, so the Sheikhs petitioned Ibrahim Shah, the Sultan of Jaunpur, to invade Bengal, which he did and defeated Raja in the battle. After the rout, Sultan forced his son Jadu to convert to Islam and rule, whereas Raja could remain a Hindu. Raja attempted to convert Jadu to Hinduism after the Jaunpur Sultan returned. He performed various rituals and made large donations to the temples for this purpose. However, Hindus did not accept Jadu and excommunicated him. Jadu became enraged, reverted to Islam, renamed himself Sultan Jalaluddin, and began ruling Bengal. He went on to inflict a cruel genocide on Hindus. Many Hindus fled to Kamrup and the jungles of Assam.
These stories have a lot in common, even when they occurred in different regions and different eras. They all became Muslim, but after realising their mistake, they wanted a respectful ghar-wapasi. However, due to the shortsightedness of Hindus, they were denied re-entry and only then became rabid and fanatic Muslims. Most of the destruction in Kashmir, Orissa, and Bengal in the mediaeval era was wrought by these fellows. However, the wreckage of such behaviour is writ large all across Bharat.
Hindus have to learn from history. They must exhort non-Hindus to become Hindus. For that, they first have to learn about their own dharma. Hinduism must become a missionary religion once again to regain its strength.
Till then, History keeps repeating itself. Hindus keep forgetting the lessons. Nation keeps paying the price.
Images sourced from internet.
Written by Amit Agarwal, author of the bestseller on Indian history titled “Swift horses Sharp Swords” and “A Never-Ending Conflict”. You may buy the books at the following link:
Twitter handle @amit1119, Instagram/ Facebook – amitagarwalauthor