Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bahadur Shah Zafar - The Last Emperor

By Manuwant Choudhary

India's last emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar is all but forgotten so it was surprising to see India's foreign minister Salman Khurshid paying a visit to the place where Bahadur Shah was buried in Rangoon, Burma, in exile.

Wikipedia describes Bahadur Shah Zafar as the Mughal Emperor whose empire extended only till the Red Fort !

Yet, if you study Indian history you will note how when a rebellion broke out in 1857 and sepoys mutinied against the British, the rebels looked towards Bahadur Shah Zafar for leadership and to give the rebellion a sense of national unity.

Bahadur Shah although weak, supported the rebels.

British historians called this a `Sepoy's Mutiny' but Indian nationalists like Veer Savarkar called it India's First War of Independence.

Savarkar said it was not a mutiny because not just soldiers but Jhansi Ki Rani, Tantia Tope and many others fought the British and they were definitely not sepoys of the East India Company.

Bahadur Shah Zafar was tried on four counts - one of them was treason - and convicted on all four but later exiled to Rangoon, Burma, where he went with his wife Zeenat Mahal and later died.

It is one thing to be strong and fight for your country but quite another to be weak yet choose to fight for your country.

In a sense Bahadur Shah Zafar was braver.

And he loved India.

Yet, I cant say the same about Salman Khurshid and India's Congressmen.

I wonder what went through Mr. Khurshid's mind when he paid homage to Bahadur Shah Zafar.

Can he hold his heart and honestly say the Congress Party is building a stronger India?

Or will India become one day as weak as the last days of  Mughal rule?

We don't even remember our hero's.

Studying in the UK an English girl came up to me and asked me, "Do you like Jhansi Ki Rani? She is my hero."

I asked her how she heard about Jhansi Ki Rani and she told me that they study her their history lessons.

Its always been economics and corruption and character of its people that makes a nation great or petty.

But when Walmart pays 125 crores to lobby for opening up FDI in retail in India, it just shows where we are heading.

It looks like the Mughal court where the East India Company representatives would come and offer expensive gifts to win favours.

What has changed really?

The Congress Party swears by socialism and disallows anybody to set-up a political party that opposes socialism.

India is a democracy for only socialist parties.

So its not even a democracy.

I still think Bahadur Shah Zafar was a greater man than our present rulers and his poetry better than Vajpayeeji's...he was denied a pen and paper in his cell and so Bahadur Shah used charcoal to write this on the walls of his prison cell...

"My heart has no repose in this despoiled land
Who has ever felt fulfilled in this futile world?

The nightingale complains about neither the sentinel nor the hunter
Fate had decreed imprisonment during the harvest of spring

Tell these longings to go dwell elsewhere
What space is there for them in this besmirched heart?

Sitting on a branch of flowers, the nightingale rejoices
It has strewn thorns in the garden of my heart

I asked for a long life, I received four days
Two passed in desire, two in waiting.

The days of life are over, evening has fallen
I shall sleep, legs outstretched, in my tomb

How unfortunate is Zafar! For his burial
Not even two yards of land were to be had, in the land of his beloved.

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