I carelessly drove in through the front gate and parked my motorbike. Ajoba was sitting in the front porch as he did every evening. He enjoyed greeting and chatting with the passersby. The chair next to him was empty which meant one of two things; either Aaji was busy with her Mahila Mandal work or was engrossed in reading something that was unputdownable!
Regardless, I ran inside to change into my sports gear. Once inside, I thought I heard a hiss, a whimper, a sob(?) Puzzled, I looked around the room and the house as Aaji was the only one inside. I walked up to her room where she appeared to have dozed off while reading a book that lay on her chest. I did not think much of it and dashed off to my basketball practice.
The next evening, the same scene played out all over again including that strange sound, except this time I knew Aaji was sobbing. I ran to Aaji’s room and saw her, just as I had yesterday — with the book on her chest and eyes closed and tears streaming down her cheek. I asked her what was wrong and she said, “Just something that I am reading. Don’t let that disturb you. You carry on…” so I gave her a glass of water and dashed off again.
When the same thing happened the third evening, I could not leave. I had NEVER EVER seen Aaji lose her composure before, so 3 days in a row was a bit too much. I dropped everything and went and lay down beside her and asked her what had been making her cry. “अमानुष क्रौर्य, राजा, अमानुष क्रौर्य” (Unimaginable torture, my dear, inhumane torture). Her usual speed of reading was affected, and she had taken a few days to read what she usually would in just a few hours. She was still in a state of shock.
She was reading through the darkest part of Bharat as well as Maratha empire’s history where Sambhaji Maharaj and Kavi Kalash were brutally tortured by Aurangzeb for a fortnight. Nails removed, eyes gouged with burning rods, eardrums punctured, skinned alive, cut and bled to death, chopped into pieces and fed to the dogs. All because Sambhaji Raje refused to convert to Islam! The kind of brutality where even the mercenaries had to be drugged to complete the torture and execution. Simply hearing that description makes one nauseous with anger and fear. Till date, I have not mustered the courage to read that book — Chaava by Shivaji Sawant.
This painting shows Shivaji’s son Sambhaji captured by Mughals, dressed as a buffoon and paraded on a camel, executed, cut into pieces and fed to dogs because he refused to convert to Islam.
She regained composure as she let it out of her system. “Just stop reading then,” I said. Her reply echoes in my ears till date but truth be told, I had not understood it until now. “Sambhaji Maharaj sacrificed his life so that we can be here today. The least we can do is be brave enough to read about it and learn from it.” Quite naively I had replied, “That was 1689, this is 1997 and it will never happen again.” She muttered something in response, but I had already jumped out of her bed, on to my bike and out of the house.
This conversation became a distant memory but came back to haunt me once in 1999. Captain Saurabh Kalia who was martyred during the Kargil War, suffered brutal torture at the hands of Pakistan army which turned our stomachs…but it was war, after all, I thought.
Now, this conversation is a constant agony that does not leave me. Because it happened again – this time in the heart of our capital Delhi in February 2020!! The bone-chilling murder of a young Intelligence Bureau operative Ankit Sharma. The autopsy report revealed the horrific brutalities that were inflicted on him before his body was dumped in a drain behind the house of perpetrator AAP leader Tahir Hussain.
“The autopsy report said that Ankit Sharma was stabbed over 400 times, and his body had been mutilated beyond belief. He had stab wounds all over his body and not even a single portion of it was spared. He was stabbed for hours, four to six hours, by possibly as many as six individuals together, according to the report. Moreover, his intestines were ripped apart, said the autopsy report. Forensic doctors have reportedly said that they haven’t seen such nightmarish mutilation in their lives. The report said that the body had “multiple abrasion.. deep cuts.. by sharp edge objects”.
Aaji may have muttered under her breath, but I had heard her say “वाचाल, तर वाचाल. मी नसेन, पण तुम्हाला हे उघड्या डोळ्यांनी बघायला लागणार आहे.” You will survive only if you read (history). I won’t be alive, but YOU will have to witness it.
She was right — She is not here today, but History has repeated itself in this so-called modern, progressive day and age and we have witnessed it unfold. Have we learnt from the past? Are we ready to face the uncomfortable truth staring us in the face and what lies ahead?
Scarier still is that fact that all the Breaking India forces stand united against their one true enemy — The fragmented, deracinated, intellectually colonised Hindu, deep in a secular slumber. The jihad is lurking in the shadows waiting to claim the next Ankit and the next Sambhaji.
The only way to break a bad dream is to wake up and get to work! We have much to do, much to preserve, much to rebuild and much more to create anew. As Swami Vivekananda said, “Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.” Do one or all of the below, but start somewhere and do something.
- Swadhayay — Study and examine everything critically. The beauty of Hinduism is that it’s a framework that can be adapted to the time and place we live in. Challenging the status-quo and reforming what does not work is a part of the system which requires no external agency. Just take the time to understand the first principles yourselves.
- Karma — Actions speak louder than words. Be available, visible, active and of service within your community. Understand that Hindus do sewa which is different from charity. Find local Sewa Sansthas that work for the upliftment of Hindus and support them in whatever way you can…fundraising, skills exchange or volunteer work, whatever is possible yatha shakti.
- Tapas — Become disciplined in developing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual grit. Talk about it, show our children the incredible role models and superheroes we have. Train our daughters to become the fierce Durga we once worshipped and our sons to be the Shivajis we now need. Remember this is no longer a solo adventure, so grow stronger together and as a community. There’s strength in numbers.
- Daana — Sharing is caring, they say. Share a part of your prosperity that helps others prosper too. 10 rupees, 100 rupees, no matter the amount…it may be through other means such as food, clothes, education or something else that is needed in your part of the world.
- Yadnya — Let’s understand that it is impossible to chart the future without honouring the past with all its trials and tribulations. Let’s acknowledge the despite the genocidal crusades and persecution we faced, WE ARE STILL HERE and it is an incredible achievement to be still standing and calling ourselves Hindus today! Chaap tilak sab cheene, mose naina milayke, may have succeeded back then in erasing the tilak…Let the Tilak reemerge once again as the Sanatan symbol of honour, valour and courage. Let us not be lost in translation anymore and commit to our identities wholeheartedly.
Non-action is not an option because how we respond now, will demonstrate our character, determine our fate and our children’s destiny.
Sambhaji Maharaj picture and info — TrueIndology. For the full post, please visit
Ankit Sharma autopsy report
Ankit Sharma information cited above was based on the details available at the time the article was originally published. Updated reports state that he was stabbed 12 times and sustained 51 injuries. This does not take away from the trauma and brutality of the incident.