Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Zafarnamah

Zafarnama (Gurmukhi: ਜ਼ਫ਼ਰਨਾਮਹ or ਜ਼ਫ਼ਰਨਾਮਾ, Persian: ظٝرنام۝) means the "Declaration of Victory" and is the name given to the letter sent by the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh in 1705 to the Emperor of India, Aurangzeb. The letter is written in exquisite Persian verse. In this letter, Guru Ji reminds Aurangzeb how he and his henchmen had broken their oaths taken on the holy Koran. Zafarnama is included in Hikayats and it's the first Hikayat. 

Despite this deception, this treacherous leader could not harm the Guru. Guru Ji states in this letter that in spite of his several sufferings, he had won a moral victory over the crafty Mughal who had broken all his vows and had resorted to underhand behaviour. Despite sending a huge army to capture or kill the Guru, the Mughal forces did not succeed in their mission. 

The letter reads like a reprimand by a superior personality on a higher plane to a cruel and distorted inhuman being on a lower and pitiful plane. Guru Ji in the 111 verses of this notice rebukes Aurangzeb for his weaknesses as a human being and for excesses as a leader. Guru Ji confirms his confidence and his unflinching faith in the Almighty even after suffering extreme personal loss. 

Of the 111 verses, the maximum numbers of 34 verses are to praise God; 32 deal with Aurangzeb’s invitation for the Guru to meet him and the Guru's refusal to meet the Emperor - instead Guruji asks Aurangzeb to visit him going so far as to guarantee that no harm will come to him. Though parts of the letter are an indictment of Aurangzeb and the treachery of his Mughal Generals and forces, other parts of the letter are like one from an older wiser veer (brave or valiant brother) more in touch with the part of the jyot (light) of God in his heart, who though terribly wronged on one plane, is asking his lost veer, who he sees as having lost touch with the promise of his own religion and its Holy Koran, to return to the fold of brotherly love and make things right between them again. Amazingly 6 verses actually praise Aurangzeb. 

24 verses detail the events in the Battle of Chamkaur, which took place on 21 and 22 December 1704; 15 verses reprove Aurangzeb for breaking written promises given by him and his Officers, written in the blank pages of a copy of the Qur'an, given to the Guru; In verses 78 and 79, the Master had also warned Aurangzeb about the resolve of the Khalsa not to rest until his empire and its evil practises is driven out of India or destroyed.

Aurangzeb's realisation

The Emperors peace of mind had been shaken, he wrote another letter to his sons in which he states "I do not know who I am, where I am, where I am to go and what will happen to a sinful person like me. Many like me have passed away wasting their lives. Allah was in my heart but my blind eyes failed to see him. I do not know how I will be received in Allah's court. I do not have any hope for my future, I have committed many sins and do not know what punishments will be awarded to me in return".

The Zafarnama had a demoralising effect on Emperor Aurangzeb who saw his end looming over the horizon and his future appeared very bleak. He saw Guru Gobind Singh Ji as his only hope who could show him the right and truthful path, as hinted by Guru ji in his epistle. Although he had greatly wronged the Guru he knew him to be a man of God and wanted to meet with the Guru personally to seek redemption. He issued instructions to his Governors to withdraw all orders against Guru Ji. He instructed his minister Munim Khan to make arrangements for the safe passage of the Guru when he came to meet him.

Guru Ji was not willing to go to Delhi yet and instead stopped outside the town of Sabo Ki Talwandi. According to Sikh chronologists it was at Sabo Ki Talwandi that Guru Gobind Singh untied his waist band after a period of nearly eighteen months and breathed a sigh of relief. This is why Sabo Ki Talwandi is known as Damdama Sahib (place of rest). It was at Damdama Sahib that Mata Sundri Ji learned the fate of the four Sahibzaday and of Mata Gujri Ji. It was also at Damdama Sahib that Guru Gobind Singh Ji re-wrote the Adi Guru Granth Sahib from memory and added the Gurbani (Guru's writings) of his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib. 

The Guru decides to meet Aurangzeb?

Guru Ji received the letter from Aurangzeb and after a period of rest decided to meet with the emperor, hence Guru Ji's decision to move to the Deccan. Guru Ji had no enmity against Islam. He did not harbour any ill will against Muslims, Guru Sahib Ji saw all with one gaze, a good many Muslims had sided with his cause against the Mughals. Now that Aurangzeb had invited Guru Ji with due humility and promised to do justice against those who had resorted to barbarous acts, Guru Ji felt justified in agreeing to meet the emperor in view of the latter's old age.

By the time Guru Ji had entered Rajasthan news was conveyed to him that the emperor had died. Historical records as recorded by Bhai Santokh Singh show that the emperor had lost all appetite and power of digestion and could not expel any waste, whatever he took acted as poison in his body. He was in great pain and torment and he remained in this condition for several days, terrified, as it were, by his thoughts of the angels of death the punishment of the grave. (Muslims believe that two two Angels visit the dead in their grave immediately after death. Those who are found to be guilty of evil, rather than having their grave expanded and made comfortable, receive a harsh beating which is said to be administered with a hammer so powerful that it would flatten a mountain.) Thoughts of such must have weighed heavely upon the dying Emperor.

Born in 1616, Aurangzeb lived for 91 years, his last Will (see last post confirms the degenerated state of his physical and mental health.

The Zafarnama clearly shows that it was written from Machhiwara after the battle of Chamkaur and after Guru ji had sacrificed his two elder sons in the battle field. It also shows that although Guru Ji had suffered heavy losses in men and materials he was not in any way feeling vanquished but was full of confidence, faith and courage to chastise and reprimand the Emperor for his deceitful activities. 

Further Aurangzeb describes about his will... which is written in last post

Waheguru Ji ka Khalsa,
Waheguru Ji ki Fateh ji !