Sunday, January 10, 2010

List of 25 Blasphemous Quotes

Published by Atheist Ireland

1. Jesus Christ, when asked if he was the son of God, in Matthew 26:64: “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” According to the Christian Bible, the Jewish chief priests and elders and council deemed this statement by Jesus to be blasphemous, and they sentenced Jesus to death for saying it.

2. Jesus Christ, talking to Jews about their God, in John 8:44: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” This is one of several chapters in the Christian Bible that can give a scriptural foundation to Christian anti-Semitism. The first part of John 8, the story of “whoever is without sin cast the first stone”, was not in the original version, but was added centuries later. The original John 8 is a debate between Jesus and some Jews. In brief, Jesus calls the Jews who disbelieve him sons of the Devil, the Jews try to stone him, and Jesus runs away and hides.

3. Muhammad, quoted in Hadith of Bukhari, Vol 1 Book 8 Hadith 427: “May Allah curse the Jews and Christians for they built the places of worship at the graves of their prophets.” This quote is attributed to Muhammad on his death-bed as a warning to Muslims not to copy this practice of the Jews and Christians. It is one of several passages in the Koran and in Hadith that can give a scriptural foundation to Islamic anti-Semitism, including the assertion in Sura 5:60 that Allah cursed Jews and turned some of them into apes and swine.

4. Mark Twain, describing the Christian Bible in Letters from the Earth, 1909: “Also it has another name – The Word of God. For the Christian thinks every word of it was dictated by God. It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies… But you notice that when the Lord God of Heaven and Earth, adored Father of Man, goes to war, there is no limit. He is totally without mercy – he, who is called the Fountain of Mercy. He slays, slays, slays! All the men, all the beasts, all the boys, all the babies; also all the women and all the girls, except those that have not been deflowered. He makes no distinction between innocent and guilty… What the insane Father required was blood and misery; he was indifferent as to who furnished it.” Twain’s book was published posthumously in 1939. His daughter, Clara Clemens, at first objected to it being published, but later changed her mind in 1960 when she believed that public opinion had grown more tolerant of the expression of such ideas. That was half a century before Fianna Fail and the Green Party imposed a new blasphemy law on the people of Ireland.

5. Tom Lehrer, The Vatican Rag, 1963: “Get in line in that processional, step into that small confessional. There, the guy who’s got religion’ll tell you if your sin’s original. If it is, try playing it safer, drink the wine and chew the wafer. Two, four, six, eight, time to transubstantiate!”

6. Randy Newman, God’s Song, 1972: “And the Lord said: I burn down your cities – how blind you must be. I take from you your children, and you say how blessed are we. You all must be crazy to put your faith in me. That’s why I love mankind.”

7. James Kirkup, The Love That Dares to Speak its Name, 1976: “While they prepared the tomb I kept guard over him. His mother and the Magdalen had gone to fetch clean linen to shroud his nakedness. I was alone with him… I laid my lips around the tip of that great cock, the instrument of our salvation, our eternal joy. The shaft, still throbbed, anointed with death’s final ejaculation.” This extract is from a poem that led to the last successful blasphemy prosecution in Britain, when Denis Lemon was given a suspended prison sentence after he published it in the now-defunct magazine Gay News. In 2002, a public reading of the poem, on the steps of St. Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square, failed to lead to any prosecution. In 2008, the British Parliament abolished the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel.

8. Matthias, son of Deuteronomy of Gath, in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, 1979: “Look, I had a lovely supper, and all I said to my wife was that piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.”

9. Rev Ian Paisley MEP to the Pope in the European Parliament, 1988: “I denounce you as the Antichrist.” Paisley’s website describes the Antichrist as being “a liar, the true son of the father of lies, the original liar from the beginning… he will imitate Christ, a diabolical imitation, Satan transformed into an angel of light, which will deceive the world.”

10. Conor Cruise O’Brien, 1989: “In the last century the Arab thinker Jamal al-Afghani wrote: ‘Every Muslim is sick and his only remedy is in the Koran.’ Unfortunately the sickness gets worse the more the remedy is taken.”

11. Frank Zappa, 1989: “If you want to get together in any exclusive situation and have people love you, fine – but to hang all this desperate sociology on the idea of The Cloud-Guy who has The Big Book, who knows if you’ve been bad or good – and cares about any of it – to hang it all on that, folks, is the chimpanzee part of the brain working.”

12. Salman Rushdie, 1990: “The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas – uncertainty, progress, change – into crimes.” In 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie because of blasphemous passages in Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses.

13. Bjork, 1995: “I do not believe in religion, but if I had to choose one it would be Buddhism. It seems more livable, closer to men… I’ve been reading about reincarnation, and the Buddhists say we come back as animals and they refer to them as lesser beings. Well, animals aren’t lesser beings, they’re just like us. So I say fuck the Buddhists.”

14. Amanda Donohoe on her role in the Ken Russell movie Lair of the White Worm, 1995: “Spitting on Christ was a great deal of fun. I can’t embrace a male god who has persecuted female sexuality throughout the ages, and that persecution still goes on today all over the world.”

15. George Carlin, 1999: “Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!”

16. Paul Woodfull as Ding Dong Denny O’Reilly, The Ballad of Jaysus Christ, 2000: “He said me ma’s a virgin and sure no one disagreed, Cause they knew a lad who walks on water’s handy with his feet… Jaysus oh Jaysus, as cool as bleedin’ ice, With all the scrubbers in Israel he could not be enticed, Jaysus oh Jaysus, it’s funny you never rode, Cause it’s you I do be shoutin’ for each time I shoot me load.”

17. Jesus Christ, in Jerry Springer The Opera, 2003: “Actually, I’m a bit gay.” In 2005, the Christian Institute tried to bring a prosecution against the BBC for screening Jerry Springer the Opera, but the UK courts refused to issue a summons.

18. Tim Minchin, Ten-foot Cock and a Few Hundred Virgins, 2005: “So you’re gonna live in paradise, With a ten-foot cock and a few hundred virgins, So you’re gonna sacrifice your life, For a shot at the greener grass, And when the Lord comes down with his shiny rod of judgment, He’s gonna kick my heathen ass.”

19. Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, 2006: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” In 2007 Turkish publisher Erol Karaaslan was charged with the crime of insulting believers for publishing a Turkish translation of The God Delusion. He was acquitted in 2008, but another charge was brought in 2009. Karaaslan told the court that “it is a right to criticise religions and beliefs as part of the freedom of thought and expression.”

20. Pope Benedict XVI quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor, 2006: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” This statement has already led to both outrage and condemnation of the outrage. The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the world’s largest Muslim body, said it was a “character assassination of the prophet Muhammad”. The Malaysian Prime Minister said that “the Pope must not take lightly the spread of outrage that has been created.” Pakistan’s foreign Ministry spokesperson said that “anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence”. The European Commission said that “reactions which are disproportionate and which are tantamount to rejecting freedom of speech are unacceptable.”

21. Christopher Hitchens in God is not Great, 2007: “There is some question as to whether Islam is a separate religion at all… Islam when examined is not much more than a rather obvious and ill-arranged set of plagiarisms, helping itself from earlier books and traditions as occasion appeared to require… It makes immense claims for itself, invokes prostrate submission or ‘surrender’ as a maxim to its adherents, and demands deference and respect from nonbelievers into the bargain. There is nothing-absolutely nothing-in its teachings that can even begin to justify such arrogance and presumption.”

22. PZ Myers, on the Roman Catholic communion host, 2008: “You would not believe how many people are writing to me, insisting that these horrible little crackers (they look like flattened bits of styrofoam) are literally pieces of their god, and that this omnipotent being who created the universe can actually be seriously harmed by some third-rate liberal intellectual at a third-rate university… However, inspired by an old woodcut of Jews stabbing the host, I thought of a simple, quick thing to do: I pierced it with a rusty nail (I hope Jesus’s tetanus shots are up to date). And then I simply threw it in the trash, followed by the classic, decorative items of trash cans everywhere, old coffeegrounds and a banana peel.”

23. Ian O’Doherty, 2009: “(If defamation of religion was illegal) it would be a crime for me to say that the notion of transubstantiation is so ridiculous that even a small child should be able to see the insanity and utter physical impossibility of a piece of bread and some wine somehow taking on corporeal form. It would be a crime for me to say that Islam is a backward desert superstition that has no place in modern, enlightened Europe and it would be a crime to point out that Jewish settlers in Israel who believe they have a God given right to take the land are, frankly, mad. All the above assertions will, no doubt, offend someone or other.”

24. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, 2009: “Whether a person is atheist or any other, there is in fact in my view something not totally human if they leave out the transcendent… we call it God… I think that if you leave that out you are not fully human.” Because atheism is not a religion, the Irish blasphemy law does not protect atheists from abusive and insulting statements about their fundamental beliefs. While atheists are not seeking such protection, we include the statement here to point out that it is discriminatory that this law does not hold all citizens equal.

25. Dermot Ahern, Irish Minister for Justice, introducing his blasphemy law at an Oireachtas Justice Committee meeting, 2009, and referring to comments made about him personally: “They are blasphemous.” Deputy Pat Rabbitte replied: “Given the Minister’s self-image, it could very well be that we are blaspheming,” and Minister Ahern replied: “Deputy Rabbitte says that I am close to the baby Jesus, I am so pure.” So here we have an Irish Justice Minister joking about himself being blasphemed, at a parliamentary Justice Committee discussing his own blasphemy law, that could make his own jokes illegal.

Finally, as a bonus, Micheal Martin, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, opposing attempts by Islamic States to make defamation of religion a crime at UN level, 2009: “We believe that the concept of defamation of religion is not consistent with the promotion and protection of human rights. It can be used to justify arbitrary limitations on, or the denial of, freedom of expression. Indeed, Ireland considers that freedom of expression is a key and inherent element in the manifestation of freedom of thought and conscience and as such is complementary to freedom of religion or belief.” Just months after Minister Martin made this comment, his colleague Dermot Ahern introduced Ireland’s new blasphemy law.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Racism in Dubai

from Just Landed (a Blog)

Hi guys! I found this thread with experiences from other expatriates on Gulfnews - this should answer some of your question

Clubbers in Dubai have claimed that they are often turned away from some nightspots because of their race.

Many Dubai residents have stories about being refused entry to various clubs in the city because it is 'couples and reservations only', and a recent Gulf News online poll revealed that 70 per cent of people thought they had been turned away from a club due to racism.

Club and bar owners in Dubai deny that they have racist policies - some saying that groups of men often cried racism after being denied entry, others said they were often too busy to let people in.

Do you think some clubs in Dubai have racist policies? Do you think you've been turned away from a bar because of your race? Are people using the race card simply because they've been refused entry? What can be done to alleviate any problem that may exist?

Thank you for your response. This topic is now closed. No more emails will be published on this page

Last night my friend and I were refused entry to a club for no apparent reason. First they said it was a private graduate party, but then they let some Europeans in. Little did the bouncer know that I was in fact a guest of the graduate party, however they did not care. I think the policy of the night club makes me sick; I’m an Indian who’s been in London, Australia and California for the past six years and I have never experienced such treatment.
By email

Bouncers are not only racist, but they are also rude. If the argument is don't blame the bouncers they are working under management orders, then I believe that they have also been told to treat any dark skinned men, i.e. Arab, Asian or African, like an animal, while they graciously open the door to any white clubbers. Not only do we get refused entry, but they stand 'in your face' with a disgusted look on their face. Once we were not allowed in and left outside the club for being an uneven ratio of males to females, five guys and three girls. They claimed it was couples entry only and during our argument three young, white lads walked right in and received a smile on their way. It's outrageous, just disgusting. Have we forgotten where we are? Last time I checked this wasn’t London or Berlin or Paris, but an Arab/Asian country.
By email

As an Indian born in Dubai and having lived in Dubai my entire life, but currently residing in Australia, I have seen both sides of the proverbial river. I can safely say that I have yet to face racism in Australia, but while in Dubai it was almost a daily occurrence. In Dubai racism is prevalent; it seems to be encouraged and segregation enforced, for example the discrimination that occurs when attending/entering night clubs and this it just the tip of the iceberg.
By email

I'm a black African and when I was in Dubai I was turned away from several nightclubs and it was obvious to me that it was because of my race. I was also almost in a fight for just trying to speak to a woman in Dubai. Some men did not take kindly to me speaking to an Arab woman and threatened me with violence. We must stick together to some degree or the Europeans will destroy us both.
By email

Clearly racism is part and parcel of life, as anybody living in the UAE should know. You just have to pick up the classifieds to know what I am talking about. Anyway, I would think that this is a much more serious issue for a progressive society than being barred from clubs. We all know what half of them are like anyway. Trust me, you are not missing much.
By email

Racism exists in Dubai's nightclubs but I would not say to a large extent. I've frequented numerous clubs in the past but have been turned away only thrice from three different clubs. Quite obviously, the rejections were race-based. How else could one explain a no-stags policy when hoardes of White men are allowed in at the same time? What else would you understand when you are not let in since you have no reservations or you are not a guest while other nationalities are given entry without a whimper? But please don't blame the bouncers...they are under the management's orders. Racism is not only obvious at the entry point, some clubs have the serving staff instructed not to entertain certain race so that they don't stick in there for long. I guess, they are only trying to create a perfect world! On a positive note, there are so many wonderful nightclubs waiting with their arms wide open and they even entertain better.

Racism does exist in clubs in Dubai. The bouncers often give a suspicious look to certain 'Dubai residents' from an Asian decent. I have myself faced this. I think its time tht the management of these places take a note of this and understand that these groups are large in numbers and may even contribute more to their bottom line numbers (if given a chance) than the other expats.
by email

Hello, I'm born Canadian of African/Arab roots who looks Indian and I'll vouch for the comments above there is huge racism in clubs here. If I go to the pub with my white friends they bend over backwards to welcome me in but if I'm meeting them inside or come on my own there are instances where they won't let me in. I was at a bar in Bur Dubai, was a regular there for a few months (no longer) went in with my girlfriend they asked for her ID after looking at it and seeing her nationality they said 'no I'm sorry reservations only' and then let the five white people behind us go in no questions asked. So I'm sorry there is blatant racism here, no question. Dubai has changed considerably and the colour of your skin is not indicative to your income or education level and it is about time that people realize this.

Every time. That's how many times we face racism in UAE's Nightclubs. Even though I am fair, and most of my friends are from India, we (mixed groups) are denied entry at Dubai and Abu Dhabi nightclubs. It's absolutely ridiculous. Sometimes we flash stacks of money to show these bouncers that we are monetarily eligible to be entertained at their nightclubs. Its embarrassing. My boyfriend personally tips the bouncers 100 bucks to remember his group of friends. How sad is that? DTCM needs to take severe action. We Indians have the money to buy you guys out and yet they treat us like trash. And if you ask any Indian, they will tell you the same thing, "Yeah! Only reservations or guests are allowed". But then you see flocks of white stags and couples walking in. It's frustrating and extremely embarrassing. Look at the nightclubs in Toronto or NYC. 100 times better than Dubai's nightscene and yet very gracious to every colour of human race that walks in.

I think this whole article is shameful and should not have been published. The racism in this country is probably the lowest in the world. And all I see this article doing is firing-up racism between people and encouraging it even further. From my point of view, nightclubs are private businesses and not some sort of public parks made to amuse the public. The owners have every right to let-in or stop people in whichever way they see serves the interest of the business. I hope not to see such articles in your newspaper in the future as it is only gives negative impressions about your newspaper and the country.
by email

Once, a friend and I were walking in to a club on Shaikh Zayed Road. Prior to walking in, we were talking in Arabic, then to our surprise the bouncer wouldn't let us in! He said only couples are allowed (the oldest excuse in the book). To our amazement, two guys walk past and go in without hesitation, why? Well because they were blonde haired guys speaking in a heavy British accent. After yelling and screaming, we told him we are Lebanese and proud, but to make them feel stupid, I took out my Australian passport, and my friend took out his Canadian passport. That's right, I was born in Australia and my friend in Canada, even though this, i am not ashamed of my roots and heritage. To make things worse, he said that, "I didnt know you were foreign". They begged us to go in, but my pride was worth more than a glass of beer.

I do understand the reason for an enterprise to maintain the male to female ratio in a night club, but blatant discrimination is certainly not the remedy. If companies recruiting in the UAE can boldly state the nationality of the candidate they are seeking, then I don't see anything wrong for a nightclub to clearly state who their target audience is. It's high time they clean up their act. They welcome everyone on a weekday, when business is low and then keep the same client out during the weekends, when they wish to patronise a particular section of the people. Ridiculous.

Islam's European slave trade

“there one could find carefully selected boys and girls, with beautiful faces, sweet young boys and girls who shone more brightly than the sun. To what nations did they belong? They were Byzantines, Serbs, Walachians, Albanians, Hungarians, Saxons, Bulgarians, and Latins. Each of them sang songs in his own language, although reluctantly. He himself (the sultan) unceasingly gave himself over to pleasure, to the point of exhaustion, by indulging in debauchery with these boys and girls” (Angelov p 489, Bulgaru p567)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Battle for Chitor: Storming the Last Hindu Fortress in 1567


The walls had been breached. The Mogul forces were closing in on the gallant Rajput defenders inside Chitor Garh, the fort of Chitor. Suddenly, flames were seen rising up in the air from three places inside the fort. The courtiers of Akbar the Great, the Mogul emperor, gave various explanations for the fires. Then Raja Bhagwant Das, a Rajput leader who had allied himself with the Moguls, said that the fires could only mean one thing. The johar–the Rajput custom of burning their women to death in the face of impending defeat–had been performed. Now the Rajput warriors sallied forth to meet the invaders in a desperate last stand with their traditional cry of ‘death for all before dishonor.

It was Tuesday, February 23, 1568. For more than four months, the Mogul army had undertaken a costly and grueling siege of the fort, directed personally by their commander in chief and emperor, Akbar. Now the campaign had reached its apocalyptic climax.

Abu-al-Fath Jalal-ud-Din Muhammad Akbar was born on October 15, 1542. His grandfather and the first of the Mogul emperors, Babur, was a Chaghatai Turk who came from an area in what is now Uzbekistan in Central Asia–and was a descendent of the Mongol conquerors Genghis Khan and Tamerlane. Akbar became emperor at the age of 14 upon the death of his father, Humayun, in 1556. In his nearly 50 years on the throne (1556­1605), Akbar proved to be a tolerant statesman, a shrewd administrator and an avid patron of the arts. He was also a strong-willed individual and a brilliant military commander whose courage and determination enabled him to become master of a vast empire that covered almost two-thirds of the Indian subcontinent. One of the greatest testaments to Akbar’s military and political skills was his subjugation of the martial Rajput kingdoms.

The domain of Rajputana or Land of the Rajputs (in what is now the desert state of Rajasthan) occupied the northwestern portion of India and had presented special difficulties for preceding Muslim rulers, as well as the Moguls. The hostile Rajput kingdoms lay across the routes that ran south from the principal Muslim centers of Delhi and Agra and were uncomfortably close to Dehli and Agra themselves. Mogul rulers also feared that the independent Rajput kingdoms could provide a safe haven for rebels plotting against them. Furthermore, Rajputana bordered on Gujarat, an important center of commerce with western Asia and Europe. To Akbar and the Moguls, therefore, there were potentially huge political and economic advantages to be gained by securing Rajputana.

The Rajputs (sons of kings) had begun to settle in northern and northwestern India after the breakup of the mighty Gupta empire in the late 5th century. They were probably descendants of Central Asian invaders who had contributed to the fall of the Gupta dynasty. Others believe that the Rajputs were the descendants of the kshatriyas (warrior caste, the second tier of the Hindu caste system), who had lived during the Vedic period between 1500 and 500 bc, when an Indo-European people from Iran, called the Aryans, settled in India.

The Rajputs were governed by a chivalric warrior’s code not unlike that of the knights of medieval Europe. It emphasized compassion for defeated foes, generosity toward the helpless, fair play in battle, respect for women, and conduct of warfare by elegant forms and ceremonies. The Rajputs were renowned for their courage on the battlefield.

Their proud martial tradition and passion for war enabled the Rajputs to become the dominant power in northern India by the 9th century, but internecine conflicts led to the emergence of numerous petty kingdoms within their own domain. From time to time, the Rajputs would form confederacies to repel the Turko-Afghan armies that invaded India from the 8th century onward. Such unity tended to be only temporary, however, and their internal discord would ultimately prove to be their undoing.

The victory of Turkish forces from Afghanistan under Muhammad of Ghur over the Rajputs in the second battle of Tarain in 1192 firmly established a Muslim presence in northern India. Nevertheless, the Rajputs maintained their independence in Rajputana and remained a power to be reckoned with in northern India until the arrival of the Moguls in the 16th century.

Akbar fully realized that the Rajputs were tenacious opponents, so he adopted a shrewd policy that combined both military action and diplomacy. For instance, he married Hindu princesses and arranged similar marriages for his heirs. After he defeated a Rajput chieftain, Akbar would make him an ally rather than depose him. As long as they acknowledged Akbar’s suzerainty, paid tribute and supplied troops when required, the Rajput rulers were allowed to retain their territories. That policy of conciliation and compromise won a number of Rajput kingdoms over to Akbar’s side and further weakened whatever remained of Rajput unity. Even as they watched their brothers surrender their independence, however, the Sesodia Rajputs of Mewar refused to bow to Mogul authority.

The Sesodian clan was considered the most powerful and recalcitrant of the Rajputs, carrying the banner of Rajput independence and zealously opposing the Muslim invaders. The Rana of Mewar (rana was a royal title, and rani was the female equivalent) was recognized as the foremost among the 36 royal tribes of the Rajputs. The formidable fortresses of Chitor and Ranthambhor, both in Mewar, were regarded as bastions of Rajput sovereignty and strength.

Mewar, however, had the misfortune of being ruled in 1567 by a weak and incompetent ruler, Rana Udai Singh II. Udai Singh’s defiance was one of the main reasons that Akbar marched against the Sesodias. Akbar also realized that without establishing his suzerainty over the dominion of the Sesodias, he could not hope to be the master of northern India. He was determined to capture the fort of Chitor in particular, thereby setting an example so that no other fortress would dare to resist his army in future.

On October 20, 1567, Akbar arrived at the outskirts of Chitor Garh and pitched camp. A ferocious thunderstorm greeted the Mogul army, as if to serve as an ominous warning against their undertaking. When the storm calmed and the sky cleared, the fortress of Chitor became visible in the distance.

Chitor was the capital of Mewar and had served as the stronghold of the Sesodias since 728. Chitor was formerly called Chitrakut after Chitrang, a Rajput chieftain. Located in present central Rajasthan in northern India, 111 kilometers from Udaipur, Chitor Garh (garh means fort) is the finest medieval Hindu fortification to survive in any state of completeness.

Chitor was situated on a steep, isolated mass of rock that rose some 558 feet from the plain, and was 31ž4 miles long and 1,200 yards wide in the center. On the summit of the rock stood Chitor Garh. The principal approach to the fortress was from the southeast angle of the present-day location of the lower town (the town was built at the foot of the escarpment after the Sesodias abandoned the fort in 1568) by a steep road that ran for nearly a mile, then made two zigzag bends that were defended by seven massive gates. The summit of the rock, which sloped inward on all sides, collected rainwater that filled several tanks, ensuring an abundant water supply that added to the fort’s capacity to withstand a protracted siege. Unlike most forts in Rajputana, which only enclosed the residence of the clan’s ruler, Chitor Garh held a veritable city within its walls: magnificent palaces, temples, houses and markets. Some of the remains of Chitor Garh can still be seen today.

A 9th-century Hindu chronicle, the Khoman Rasa, described Chitor Garh as the chief amongst eighty-four castles, renowned for strength…it is within the grasp of no foe. Formidable as it was, Chitor had, in fact, been sacked twice before by Muslim forces. It was first taken in 1303 by the Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khalji and was sacked again in 1535 by Bahadur Shah, the sultan of Gujarat. On both occasions, the johar or ritual death by immolation was performed when defeat seemed imminent, after which the Rajput warriors, having taken a vow of death, staged a desperate final charge. Ironically, it was Akbar’s father, Humayun, who intervened and restored the Sesodias after the second sack. That enabled Udai Singh to become rana in 1541.

When he got wind of the Mogul army’s approach, Udai Singh fled to the relative safety of the distant hills, after using scorched-earth tactics to devastate the countryside. When Akbar was informed of the rana’s flight, he considered pursuing him but decided against it because of the distance involved and the inhospitable terrain.

The rana left the fort in command of two teenage Rajput princes, Jaimal and Patta, ages 15 and 16 respectively. Chitor was defended by a garrison of 8,000 warriors, supported by 40,000 peasants. Several other Rajput clans and their chiefs were also at the fort during this time. The garrison was evidently prepared for a long siege, since it had a well-stocked supply of ammunition, grain and other provisions. And the fort had plenty of firepower, including archers, a corps of crack musketeers and a number of artillery pieces.

When Akbar arrived at the summit of Chitor hill on October 21, 1567, he pitched his camp, which extended 10 miles to the northeast of the hill. The site of the camp was marked by a 30-foot limestone pyramidal column, or tower, known as Akbar’s lamp, which served as a beacon to stragglers at night and denoted the imperial headquarters (such markers were a regular feature of Mogul camps of significant size).

The Mogul army included some 3,000 to 4,000 horsemen and 300 war elephants. The soldiers were armed with swords, lances, matchlocks, and bows and arrows. In addition, there were about 5,000 builders, carpenters, stonemasons, sappers and smiths to construct siege engines and to mine the fort’s walls.

Accompanied by his courtiers and surveyors, Akbar made a reconnaissance of his target and ordered batteries to be set up at various strategic points around the fort. It took about a month for the whole circumference of the fort to be invested.

There were three principal batteries, one of which was Akbar’s, located opposite the Lakhuta gate in the north. The second battery, under Shujaat Khan and other officers, and the third, under Asaf Khan and other officers, were emplaced at unspecified locations. Meanwhile, Akbar sent his officers to devastate the rana’s territory, hoping to find Udai Singh in the process, but they found no trace of the rana.

The opening phase of battle began when some overzealous Mogul troops launched a reckless direct assault upon the fort. Not surprisingly, the Moguls’ arrows and bullets glanced off the surface of the walls and battlements, whereas those the garrison discharged exacted a heavy toll on them.

After that minor debacle, Akbar decided that strategic planning rather than reckless courage was what was needed if the fortress was to be taken. Accordingly, the emperor adopted a two-pronged strategy. One entailed mining the walls of the fort in front of the royal battery, whereupon a party of selected Mogul troops would rush into the fort as soon as the breach was made. While the sappers dug mines under the walls, stonemasons opened the way by removing obstacles with their iron tools.

The other strategy called for the construction of sabats, or covered passageways, an ingenious siege contrivance that was peculiar to India. A sabat was a sinuous sheltered passageway that was constructed out of gunshot range, with earthen walls on both sides and a roof of planks strongly fastened together and covered with rawhide. When a breach was made by mines, troops would rush in under the cover of the sabat. Akbar ordered the construction of two sabats: one to be commenced from the royal battery and the other to be built in front of Shujaat Khan’s position.

At the same time, in the emperor’s presence, an exceptionally large mortar was cast to demolish the walls of the fort. When the defenders became aware of this and saw that the Moguls were making daily progress toward the destruction of the fort, they sent out two representatives to Akbar to bargain for peace, offering to become subjects of his court and to send an annual tribute. Several Mogul officers advised him to accept the offer, but Akbar was adamant: Nothing short of the rana surrendering in person would persuade him to lift the siege. As they were unwilling–or perhaps unable–to deliver the rana, the Rajputs had no choice but to continue the defense of their fort with renewed fervor.

While the sabat in front of the royal battery was being constructed, artillerymen and marksmen inside the fort kept up such a fusillade that about 200 Mogul laborers were killed daily, even though they protected themselves with rawhide shields. The corpses were buried in the walls of the sabat. But the workers were kept going by lavish gifts of gold and silver coins from the emperor–the amount of which was calculated according to the number of containers of earth added to the sabat. The sabat opposite Akbar’s position was soon completed near the fort. It was reported to be so extensive that 10 horsemen abreast could ride along it and so high that an elephant rider with his spear in his hand could pass under it.

At the same time, two mines close to each other were brought to the wall of the fort and filled with large quantities of gunpowder. A party of fully armed and accoutered Mogul soldiers, noted for their bravery, stationed themselves near the wall, ready to rush in when it was breached. On December 17, the gunpowder of both mines was set to explode at the same time. One part of the bastion was blown up, inflicting heavy casualties on the defenders. Unknown to the Moguls, however, only one mine had exploded. When the soldiers rushed toward the large breach and were about to enter, the second mine exploded (apparently, the match used to ignite the gunpowder of the mine that exploded first had been shorter than the other match, so the mines failed to discharge simultaneously).

Moguls and Rajputs alike, battling in the breach, were hurled into the air together, while others were crushed by falling debris. The blast was so powerful that limbs and stones were hurled a great distance from the fort. Mogul reinforcements and Rajput troops then engaged in a brief skirmish until the Rajputs succeeded in quickly repairing the demolished part of the wall. About 500 Mogul soldiers, including a significant number of noteworthy men, were killed, while a large number of Rajputs also perished. On the same day, another ill-timed mine exploded in front of Asaf Khan’s battery and claimed 30 more lives.

Akbar viewed these botched undertakings as temporary setbacks that should serve to inspire even greater exertion and resolve on the part of the Moguls. To ensure that the assault on the fort would continue unabated, he ordered the construction of the sabat in front of Shujatt Khan’s battery to be speeded up.

The emperor also frequently visited the sabat in his sector and fired at the garrison from loopholes in the sabat. One day, Akbar saw that some of his men were admiring the marksmanship of one of the musketeers of the fort when, at that very moment, a shot from that marksman hit Jalal Khan, one of Akbar’s attendants. Akbar was reported to have said to his injured attendant, Jalal Khan, that marksman does not show himself; if he would do so, I’d avenge you. Although he could not see the marksman, Akbar took aim at the barrel of the musket that projected from a loophole. He fired but could not determine whether his shot had found its mark. It was only later that Akbar learned that his shot had indeed killed the sharpshooter, who was identified as Ismail, head of the musketeers.

Akbar proved to be quite a marksman himself, killing many noted members of the garrison. But the emperor also came close to losing his own life on a few occasions. Once, a large cannonball that fell near Akbar killed 20 soldiers but left him unscathed. On another occasion, a soldier standing near Akbar was hit by a bullet, and the emperor was saved from the same round only by his coat of mail.

When the second sabat was completed, the Mogul forces prepared to launch a full-scale assault on the fort. The Mogul troops went about their operations with such vigor and intensity that for two nights and a day they had neither food nor sleep, inspired by the personal example of Akbar, who was supervising the operations and keeping up a fusillade upon the garrison from the sabat. Special quarters had been erected for Akbar on top of the sabat, and the emperor stayed there during this crucial period.

On the night of February 22, the Moguls attacked the fort from all sides and created several breaches in the walls. The Rajput warriors put up a stubborn resistance. At one point in the fighting, Prince Patta’s mother commanded Patta to don the saffron robe, which would indicate his desire to die for his gods and his country. She also armed his young bride with a lance and accompanied her down the rock. The defenders of Chitor saw mother and daughter-in-law die heroically, fighting side by side.

The Moguls had destroyed a large part of the wall at the end of the sabat that faced the royal battery. The defenders collected such combustible materials as muslin, wood, cotton and oil to fill the breach, intending to set fire to the heap when the Mogul troops approached to prevent them from entering the fort.

Akbar was in a vantage point inside a specially made gallery on top of the sabat at the time, and he saw a man wearing a chieftain’s cuirass directing the proceedings at the breach. The emperor took out a matchlock he had christened Sangram (Akbar was said to have killed a few thousand birds and animals with this gun during his hunting trips). He then fired at the Rajput chief, but no one could be certain whether the chieftain had been hit.

An hour had passed when Akbar received reports that the Rajputs had inexplicably abandoned their defenses. At about that time, fire broke out in several places in the fort. Akbar’s Hindu adviser, Raja Bhagwan Das, told the Mogul emperor that the Rajputs must be performing their custom of johar.

It came to light later that Akbar’s shot had indeed found its target–none other than Jaimal. The Rajputs, disheartened by the death of their leader, had gone back to their homes to gather their wives, children and property in preparation for the johar. As many as 300 women, including nine ranis and five princesses, and an unknown number of children perished in three houses that served as fiery furnaces.

Although the defenses appeared to have been abandoned, the Moguls decided to proceed cautiously. They took advantage of the lull in the fighting to regroup in preparation for an organized assault on the fort. When the Mogul forces were massed, the soldiers entered the fort through several breaches.

The Rajputs, meanwhile, had finished eating their last betel nuts together and donned their saffron robes. They then sallied forth to meet their enemies and their destiny. Akbar, who was watching the close hand-to-hand combat from atop the sabat, then ordered his war elephants to be taken into the fort to join the onslaught.

At dawn on February 23, the Mogul emperor, accompanied by several thousand men, entered the fortress mounted on a majestic elephant. By then the Rajputs had been routed. People were fighting everywhere, and bodies lay in every street, lane, passageway and bazaar. Some Rajputs died fighting in temples, while others fought to the death in their own homes. Many Rajput warriors had made their last stand in the rana’s house, from which they emerged in twos and threes to die fighting.

Initially, only about 50 elephants entered the fort, but by the battle’s end, there were as many as 300. The elephants did much damage, and a few were singled out for special praise. One such elephant, named Jangia, had its trunk cut off by a Rajput’s sword. Despite the severe injury, Jangia, who had killed 30 men before he was wounded, crushed another 15 before dying of his wounds.

On another occasion, an elephant trampled a Rajput, rolled him up in its trunk and brought him before Akbar. The mahout (elephant driver) said he did not know the man’s name, but he appeared to be a leader, as a large number of warriors had fought around him. That leader turned out to be the 16-year-old Patta.

The emperor also witnessed an act of Mogul chivalry in the battle. A Rajput warrior had challenged a Mogul soldier to combat when another Mogul decided to come to his aid. But the Mogul soldier waved his compatriot away, saying that it was against the rules of chivalry to render assistance when an opponent had challenged him. The Mogul then single-handedly disposed of the Rajput.

Nearly 30,000 Rajputs were killed, the majority mercilessly slaughtered when Akbar ordered a general massacre of the population. This uncharacteristic barbarity was to remain the only major blemish on the emperor’s otherwise enlightened reign. The peasantry had evidently incurred Akbar’s wrath when they participated as auxiliaries in the fighting. Akbar also may have been exasperated by the fierce resistance put up by the tenacious Rajput defenders. Many, mostly peasants, were made prisoners; few Rajput warriors survived to, in the words of their creed, stain the yellow mantle by inglorious surrender. The Mogul troops also engaged in systematic pillaging of the palaces, temples and residences.

Akbar had particularly wanted to punish the musketeers who had exacted such a heavy toll on his troops when the sabats were being built. Apparently, they had managed to escape by a clever stratagem. In the confusion of battle, they tied up their wives and masqueraded as Mogul soldiers escorting prisoners of war. Mogul losses may have been small, but it is hard to believe the claims of Mogul sources of the time that only one soldier, Zarb Ali Tuwaci, had died in the fighting that followed the final storming of the fort.

After he fled from Chitor, Udai Singh II and his small band of followers took refuge among aboriginal hill tribes and later founded the city of Udaipur, which was named after him. He died four years after the fall of Chitor at the age of 42. In 1616, Akbar’s son and successor, Jahangir, handed Chitor back to the Sesodias, but they had already comfortably settled at Udaipur. Jahangir would not–or dared not–allow them to rebuild the defenses of the fortress, and Chitor was abandoned.

Akbar had known that Chitor would be difficult to take. If his efforts were successful, he had planned to make a thanksgiving pilgrimage to the tomb of Khwaja Muiddin Chisti in Ajmer, about 120 miles from Chitor. Akbar set out on his trek on February 28, 1568. In 1571, when he built his new capital city of Fatehpur Sikri, 24 miles west of the old capital of Agra, Akbar erected statues of Jaimal and Patta in front of one of his gates–as much a testament to the merits of his gallant foes as to his great conquest.

This article was written by Jeffrey Say Seck Leong and originally appeared in the February 1999 issue of Military History magazine. For more great articles be sure to subscribe to Military History magazine today!

Juahar in Hungary.

Throughout Indian history, and continuing up until the horrors of partition in the 1950s, Hindu women either committed suicide (Juahar or Johar) or were killed by their own to prevent them from falling into the hands of muslims. This practice was simliar to that in other cultures that faced islamic invaders and the story of Szigetvar has many parallels to that of Chittor in India.


Szigetvár, situated close to the city of Pécs in Southern Hungary, was never a particularly large or strong fortress. Its existence, however, had been a thorn in the Turks' side since 1556, when Ali Pasha of Buda had lost ten thousand men under its walls in an unsuccessful siege.

Ten years later Suleiman "the Magnificent", the victor of Mohács, decided that as a preparatory step to the capture of Vienna, Szigetvár must be destroyed. When in August 1566 he arrived with 90,000 troops and 300 cannons under Szigetvár, he was not impressed. To him, Szigetvár was a "molehill."

A few hundred kilometers to the north another army, 80,000 strong, struck camp between Gyor and Komárom. These were the troopsgathered by Emperor Maximilian, King of Hungary, to fend off the anticipated Turkish advance on Vienna after the expected fall of Szigetvár. The efforts of Hungarian leaders to induce Sam Ekhard, the Imperial commander of his force, to aid the beleaguered fortress were of no avail.

Count Miklós Zrínyi, who was then the Ban (viceroy) of Croatia, decided to take charge of the defense himself. With only 2,500 Hungarian and Croatian soldiers he had no illusions about the final outcome. The wives and daughters of Zrínyi's officers refused to leave the city, they wanted to stay with their husbands and fathers until death.

After due preparations for the siege, Zrínyi gathered his men for a meeting during which all swore to defend Szigetvár against the infidels to their last breath. Then red flags were hoisted as a signal to the Turks that Zrínyi was ready for battle.

What made Szigetvár defensible at all were not high hills or strong walls, but the marshes of the Almás Creek which surrounded Szigetvár, a city built on three islands. A dammed lake added to its defense potential. Szigetvár's three islands were connected by wooden platforms built over the water. The largest island was situated in the middle, serving as the base for the "old city." Connected to it on one side was the "new city" and on the other side the fort proper, which included a high point called Nádasdy Hill. From Nádasdy Hill, gun emplacements looked down on the plain around Szigetvár.

The defenders were at an immediate disadvantage, because an unusually dry summer had reduced their best weapon: water, to inundate the marshes. Whatever was left in the lake and moats had been drained by the Turks, who had destroyed the dam in preparation for the siege. As a next step, the Turks built three causeways of brushwood and dirt across the drained lake bed. The Portuguese artillery expert, Aliportug, whom the Sultan had used at the siege of Malta, devised a monster platform, made of forty-two wagons (three wagons wide, fourteen wagons long) fastened together by tree trunks to bridge the gap between the bastion and the causeway.

The Turks took the indefensible "new city," built on the smallest island, in two days, a feat claiming the lives of 3,000 Turks and 300 defenders. But the fortress proper still stood and the guns from Nádasdy Hill continued to batter the attackers, causing heavy casualties.

In his frustration, Grandvizier Ahmed Sokolovits changed tactics. He sent envoys to Zrínyi, promising him eternal possession of all of Croatia and Slovenia if he would only surrender. Zrínyi turned the offer down with contempt. Next, the Turks used arrows to shoot messages written in Hungarian and Croatian to the defending soldiers to induce them to open the gate. The result was the same.

Angered. the Grandvizier ordered the fortress to be bombarded on all four sides day and night. At the same time, his men began sinking shafts to underminethe entrenchments, to no avail. The general attack on the night of August 26 was beaten back with the Turks losing Ali Pasha of Buda, and Ali Borsuk, the commander of Turkish artillery.

Suleiman Dead and Still "Alive"

Suleiman the Magnificent was furious. On August 29, the 40th anniversary of his Mohács triumph, the aged Sultan personally took charge of an all-out attack which was renewed ten times during the day. But this time it was Zrínyi who took revenge for Mohács: thousands of the Sultan's best soldiers were piling up dead or wounded in the ten futile attempts at a breakthrough. The Portuguese Aliportug was one of the first victims, felled on his wagon-bridge trying to crossover with Janissary troops. The defenders even captured the commander of the Janissaries.

The "Magnificent" was crying in shame and anger when he witnessed how his best regiments took to flight from the walls. At the end, when he was helped down from his horse, he was a dying man although he had not been touched by any weapon.

For five days a deadly silence fell upon the Turkish camp while new attempts were made to sink shafts under the fortress. This time the Turks succeeded. On September 5th a shattering explosion demolished Nádasdy Hill, fire engulfing all surrounding buildings. Through the gaps caused by the explosion thousands of Janissaries rushed in and began to sack the buildings in the marketplace, killing women and children. They thought the fortress was already theirs.Not quite. Zrínyi and his soldiers descended on them like avenging angels killing most of the invaders and repelling two new attacks. Turk bodies were piled up in the passages made by the explosion, blocking further attempts to enter. Those who remained alive were seen fleeing like scalded ants from an ants' nest.

Sultan Suleiman could not bear the sight any longer. When the Turkish trumpets signaled retreat again, a fatal stroke felled him.Sultan had come to kill Miklós Zrínyi and ultimately it was Zrínyi whose resistance killed him.

Suleiman died, but he lived for three more days - officially, that is.The Grandvizier believed it was essential to conceal the truth from his troops to prevent general panic. In an act of make-believe unprecedented in history, he had the Sultan dressed up in his imperial robes with a diamond-studded turban on his head and a golden war-hammer in his hand, and placed him in a chair under his tent as if he were watching his troops in review.

This farce continued for three days to allow time for the complete capture of Szigetvár, now practically ruined and with only 300 defenders left under Zrínyi's command. All their cannons and supplies, except for the ammunition, had been destroyed by the flames.
Zrínyi knew that the end was near.

Storming out into Certain Death

The defenders were all prepared to die in keeping with their oath, but first a horrendous task awaited them. Their wives and daughters were still alive in the tower. Should they fall into Turkish hands, they would suffer a fate worse than death, and so, they had chosen instead to die at the hands of their beloved fathers and husbands.After tearful farewells the men plunged daggers into their loved ones' hearts. This was the Hungarian version of Masada. the immortal self-sacrifice of Jewish zealots in a Roman-besieged fortress two millenniums ago.

With this tragic event behind him, Zrínyi donned the silk and velvet garment he had worn on his wedding day, and hung a heavy gold chain around his neck. He discarded his shirt of mail and instead, stuffed his pockets with gold pieces to "provide for my funeral" and with the unsheathed sword of his father in hand he joined his men in the tower yard. He blessed and thanked them for their loyalty.

His men, following their commander's example, also discarded their armor.Then Miklós Zrínyi, with the national flag in one hand, his sword in the other, ordered the opening of the gate behind which enemy troops swarmed on a bridge.

When the gate was flung open Zrínyi's men fired two heavy cannons stuffed with nails and sharp pieces of iron, point blank into the enemy ranks. A moment later

Zrínyi and his 300 men stormed out of the fortress. "Like a fiery ray of lightning he cracked down on them, cutting down everybody within range to make way for himself and for the courageous men following him," wrote the German historian Wagner.

The bridge had been cleared of Turkish troops when the inevitable happened. Zrínyi was fatally hit by two bullets in the chest and by an arrow in his eye. His officers and men also fell - all except three.

Zrínyi's head was promptly severed by the Janissaries and his body placed on a cannon. As a sign of victory, his head was put on a plate and rushed to the Sultan's tent by troops still unaware of the Magnificent's death.

This, however was not the end of the resistance.

Booty-hungry Janissaries invaded the fortress searching for the alleged treasures of Miklós Zrínyi. Thousands jammed the yard and the tower when the last holdout, a young woman hiding in the underground ammunition chamber, threw a flaming torch into the gunpowder stored in the cellar. The terrible detonation which followed buried not only those in the tower but practically everyone in the yard. Thus, it became the burial ground for 3,000 Janissaries.
All told, the Battle of Szigetvár claimed the lives of 2,500 Magyars and Croatians and 25,000 Turks in a siege in which no stones remained unturned.
The remains of the fortress of Szigetvár still stand as a silent memorial to a battle fought for country, faith and honor.

Gabor Vincze