Battle for truth – Dr Ramesh Kumar

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It is a tragic scene from 1400 years ago when the powerful Yazidi army was encountering Hazrat Imam Hussain (a.s.) and his unarmed family at Karbala.

The great Imam was in fact leading the unforgotten struggle for the glory of truth and justice. On this historic occasion, a caravan of Hindu merchants was travelling to the surrounding areas. They decided to support Imam Hussain on the basis of principles. However, Rahib Dutt, a Hindu from present-day Lahore, was captured by Yazid’s forces and forcibly deported to India, whereas his seven sons and two companions sacrificed their lives in a heroic manner to protect Imam Hussain and his family.

Hinduism, like other religions, urges its followers to support those who are oppressed or facing cruelty and injustice. According to the Bhagavata Purana, if a man persecutes another human being, God won’t be pleased with him even if he is a devout worshipper. The everlasting sacrifice of Hindu Rahib Dutt in support of Imam Hussain proves that peace-loving and God-fearing people are present in every society who, regardless of their religious or geographical affiliations, used to stand for safeguarding truth, principles and justice.

In one of my previous pieces of writings published in these pages on September 29, 2017, I had mentioned in detail that Rahib Dutt, after coming back to India, founded a new community in order to raise awareness among local Hindus about the great sacrifices made by Imam Hussain. The community is known as the Hussaini Brahmins. A large number of Hussaini Brahmins used to reside in Lahore before Partition. Currently, they are settled in different areas of the Subcontinent, including Sindh, Lucknow, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Ajmer Sharif. It is believed that Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt and his late father Sunil Dutt also belong to the Hussaini Brahmins community.

The inspiring personality of Imam Hussain played a key role in the struggle against British imperialism in the Subcontinent. At the time of British invasion, Muharram was marked with great solemnity in different Hindu and Muslim states. Lakshmi Bai, the Rani of Jhansi, was one of the leading characters during the War of Independence 1857. She was also a devotee of Imam Hussein who preferred to sacrifice her life while following in the footsteps of Imam Hussein but never accepted the British occupation.

Mahatma Gandhi, a prominent figure in the Independence Movement, had also shown his respect towards Imam Hussain in the following words: “I learnt from (Imam) Hussain how to attain victory while being oppressed”. He also vowed that: “If I had an army like the 72 soldiers of (Imam) Hussain, I would have won freedom for India in 24 hours”. Reportedly, many Hussaini Brahmins also played a pivotal role in the freedom struggle against the British rule.

Even today a large number of Hindu followers observe Muharram to recall the sacrifice of Imam Hussain. In order to promote interfaith harmony and show solidarity with Muslims, they also condemn Yazid’s cruelty. Similarly, the Hindu community in Sindh shares a special bond of respect with Imam Hussain. On Ashura, local Hindu people, wearing black, volunteer to safeguard the Muharram processions.

In my view, the martyrdom of Imam Hussain along with his family is a unique event in our entire human history. Many Hindu poets, such as: Jai Singh, Mathur Lucknawi and Kunwar Mohinder Singh Bedi, also paid tribute to Imam Hussain through their poetry.

Every year, we commemorate the great sacrifice of Imam Hussain but we are not ready to implement his principles in our practical life. We must understand that all religions, including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Buddhism, ask to support the oppressed, serve humanity and offer sacrifice for noble cause. The real importance lies in the moral character of a person. Today, Ashura demands that there must not be a compromise on principles and we must support the truth at any cost.

The writer is a member of the NationalAssembly and patron-in-chief of the

Pakistan Hindu Council.