Aurangzeb imprisoned his father Shah Jahan in the Fort of Agra. He killed Dara Shikoh condemning him as an infidel (Kafir). He treacherously did away with his brother Murad. He forced Shujah to flee for his life and he died unsung. He cleared every hurdle, eliminated every aspirant to the throne and made it smooth for himself to ascend the Mughal throne of India.
Unlike Dara Shikoh, Aurangzeb was a bigot. He wanted to make India a land only for the Muslims.
But the fact was quite the opposite; because more than 80% of the population was Hindu. He was zealous to convert the Hindus and bring them to the Muslim fold. He was not in favour of allowing the construction of new temples and opening of new schools for the infidels. He was against the Sikh Gurus because they were respected even by the Muslims. They had their following among the Muslims too. The teachings of the Sikh Gurus were not confined to any single faith; but those were for all people. Thus, the Sikh Gurus,stood in his way of promoting only the Muslim religion in India.
Bigot as Aurangzeb was, he was not a man to forget and forgive. It was quite fresh in his mind that a detachment of the Guru’s army had been a source to secure a safe passage for Dara Shikoh at Beas. He was aware that his forces were made to halt for two days at the passage of river Beas by the Guru’s men. So a as soon as he established himself on the throne, he summoned Guru Har Rai to his presence.
Guru Har Rai knew that Aurangzeb was a
fanatic. In addition to political matters, he would question the religious beliefs of the Sikhs. He did not honour the royal summons in person. However, he decided to send his eldest son Ram Rai to present himself at Aurangzeb’s court. But before despatching him for the royal presence, Guru Har Rai told him in no uncertain terms that courage and uprightness must never be deserted under any tried circumstances. He reminded him that Jahangir had wanted Guru Arjun Dev to change certain passage from the Granth Sahib, but he did not yield. The Gurubani was the wise words of God, not to be altered under any situation. To follow the Sikh way was to tread on a double edged dagger. Steadfastness and unshaken belief in God were the armour of a true Sikh.
Ram Rai promised not to do anything against the Sikh tenents. Guru Har Rai again reminded his son, Ram Rai,that Guru Arjan endured the cruel wrath of Jahangir with examplary fortitude. Guru Har Gobind bore imprisonment and then faced battles thrust upon him by the rulers. But the rulers failed to deter them from their truthful conviction.
One, who followed the path of Nanak came with his head placed on his palm, so that he should always be ready to sacrifice his life for truth and the love of God.
Ram Rai reached Delhi to explain what Emperor Aurangzeb wanted from Guru Har Rai. He was received well and treated kindly by the Emperor.
Aurangzeb asked Ram Rai why the Sikh troops had contested against his troops at the passage of the river Beas. Why they had prevented his troops from crossing the river until Dara had reached a place of safety. Ram Rai replied that the house of Guru recognised no foe. There was love and kindness for all. The Guru’s Sikhs did not clash their arms with his troops. They did not support the cause of Dara. They had only saved a life and saving life and not taking it had been the ideal of the Guru. As the Sikh troops had not entered into any armed skirmish with the Mughal forces; Aurangzeb did not lay much emphasis on that political aspect.
He was much more offended because of the popularity of Sikh religion. He rained question after question about the Sikh faith. Ram Rai wasaquick witted person. He tried to convince the Emperor that the Sikh faith bore secular character. Its teachings had the universal appeal. Besides the Gurubani of the Sikh Gurus, they had the perfect reverence for the writings of the Hindus and the Muslim saints. Those sacred writings were the part of the volume, the Granth Sahib.
For Aurangzeb that was an offence. He was bent upon seeing India only the land of the faithful, the Muslilms. He had even punished the Muslim Sufi saints because they did not abhore other faiths.
He then asked Ram Rai, “In your holy book, Guru Nanak says that the dust of the Muslim’s body is made into potter’s clay. He (The potter) manufactures bricks and pots from this clay. He then puts the bricks and the pots in the fire to bake them. Thus, the dust of a Muslim raises cries in agony being burnt in fire.”
The Muslims do not burn their dead. They bury them. They think it a cursed action to burn the dead body, fearing that it was cruel and full of agony for the dead. To this day death from burns is considered unauspicious by the Muslims.
Guru Nanak tried to educate people that despite all efforts to keep the body of a Muslim away from fire it had to bear the agony of fire. The body turned itself into dust (clay) after the passage of time.
Then, it reached the hands of potter to be moulded into bricks and pots.
Aurangzeb asked Ram Rai why there was the mention of thebody of Musalman. Caring more for the Emperor’s pleasure than for the explanation of the absolute truth, Ram Rai answered, “No, my Lord! It is the mistake of the scribe. The word really means is Beiman or an infidel. It is not Musalman.”
This explanation of Ram Rai, no wonder, pleased the Emperor. Aurangzeb found him intelligent, diplomatic and a good repartee. He also needed his services to ensure the peace in the Punjab. So, he treated him kindly. Ram Rai was able to win the favour of Aurangzeb. The latter gave him a jagir in the Doon Valley.
But the cleverness of Ram Rai proved suicidal for him. He succeeded in purchasing his security and securing a position in the royal court; but he lost the favour of the true king, Guru Har Rai. Guru Har Rai heard that Ram Rai had proved to be a coward. He had not exhibited courage to stand by the truth. He was guilty of showing affront to the Gurbani by altering the word Musalman to Beiman. He came to know that he had purchased his safety and favour of the Emperor at the cost of truth and courage. The tender hearted Guru was deeply hurt. He remarked that Ram Rai was not worthy of inheriting the Gurugaddi. He proclaimed that henceforth, Ram Rai should never see the face of the Guru. He also made it known to most of his Sikh§ that after him, Har Krishan would occupy the holy seat of the Gurugaddi.