India had always been a land of peace over the centuries. It still stands out as one of the few countries in the world which never went outside its boundaries to invade any other country. At a time when the lust for invading countries was prevalent in Europe and in the Middle East, India stood aloof by itself, its people living in peace.

By 500 BC India was a very powerful nation. Ashoka the Great had unified all of India through internecine battles. But his heart so revolted at the thought of the killings that he became a Buddhist and shunned the sword and adopted non-violence as a national policy.

As was to be expected in this cruel world, very soon Ashoka's vast empire disintegrated into smaller kingdoms, who forgot the pinciple that "united we stand and divided we fall".

Around 700 AD word had got around to the nations of the Middle East and to Europe that India was a land of gold and silver and untold riches, apart from the spices and silk for which it was famous.

And then came the conquerors in search of wealth and power, from Arab lands, from Turkey, from Mongolia, from Afghanistan and from Persia. India became a homing ground for all monarchs seeking power and glory.

Indians were known to be strong in battle but susceptible to non-violence. in fact the Indian armies were brave, chivalrous, but very trusting and even befriended their foes on many occasions giving aid to their wounded soldiers.

The Indians held the cow to be a sacred animal, mainly because it resembled the human mother in nourishing man with its milk. Some enemy forces took advantage of this and would drive herds of cows ahead of their soldiers, knowing that the gentle Hindus would not strike.

Thus it was that between 700 AD to 1700 AD India came to be ruled by the Muslim conquerors who were called Mughals, and India became known as the mighty and glorious Mughal Empire.

Not wanting to be left out of the spoils, there came the British in or about 1750 AD. They came as traders known as the British East India Company.They were clever folk who pitted one regional ruler against another and sought lands in return. And very soon the British had taken over the entire country. The Mughal Empire was shattered and replaced by the British Empire.

The British remained in India till 1947, until Gandhi engineered the only non-violent movement in the world, to overthrow the British Empire.

Sir Winston Churchill the conservative Prime Minister of England who had deridingly called Gandhi a "half naked fakir", found himself packing his bags as the British PM. And the British in turn found themselves packing their bags in India.

The British left India in 1947. India was now an independent nation which soon established itself as a powerful and united nation on its own merits.

The Indians with their penchant for non-violence, non-hatred, established a very friendly relationship with England thereafter, and the two countries today are the best of friends.

To go back to the picture on this post. It is that of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Moghul Emperor of India (1775-1862).

The last Moghul Emperor of India, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was overthrown by the British in 1857 and was subsequently exiled to Burma, where he lived, and died in exile in 1862.

One of his last wishes had been that he be buried in his homeland India. But, alas! the British would not hear of it, and today his grave lies in isolation in Burma.

He was a great poet of his time and his poetry of those days shows the sorrow that pervaded his heart. He was a romanticist, a philosopher and spiritual seeker, a known Sufi, who saw oneness and love in the world but sadly found only hatred and war.

Here is one of his last verses, which was penned just before he died:

"How unfortunate is Zafar
In the desire for his burial,
Alas, he was denied even two yards of length
Of the Earth, in the Lane of his Beloved"

GHAZAL ZAFAR - Lagtaa naheen hai dil meraa (with English subtitles)
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