A Brief Account of the Episode: After the death of Mohammed, he was succeeded by Abu Bakr, Omar and Osman, as the Caliphs: all three were related to him by marriage alliances. Osman was not popular and was assassinated. After his death, Hazrat AlL the son-in-law of Mohammed (he was also his first cousin) who was married to the Prophet’s third daughter and the only surviving issue, Bibi Fatima Zahira, became the 4th Caliph. There was stiff opposition to Ali’s rule from Amir Moavia, a known protege of Osman. He fought with him a bitter war for 5 years and finally got him murdered in a mosque of Koofa, his mausoleum with a golden dome, stands in the nearby town of Najaf (Iraq). After the extermination of Ali, Moavia grabbed the Caliphate and converted the Islamic state into a kingdom, After his death, his notorious son Yazid became the next ruler. However, the rightful claimants of the Caliphate were the descendants of Hazrat Ali, namely, Hassan and Hussain. While Hassan abdicated his claim to the crown and later died of suspected poisoning, his younger brother Imam Hussain who was till then leading a secluded life in Medina, came out and challenged the usurper, Yazid. It was the war of attrition between the two which led to the bloodshed of Karbala (102 km south of Baghdad), on Oct. 10, 680 AD.
The participation of the Mohyals Brahmins and more precisely that of a Dutt family living in Arabia at that time, in the holy war, is a fact of the history. They were a part of the entourage of 200 men and women, including 72 members of Hussain’s family (40 on foot and 32 on horseback), when he left Medina and made an arduous trek to Karbala, where he had a large friendly following. After 18 days, i.e. on the 2nd. day of Mohurrum, the Hussain’s caravan reached Karbala, on the bank of river Euphrates and surrounded by a hostile desert. On the 7th day of Mohurrum, all hell broke out when 30,000 strong army sent by Yazid from Mecca and other places, attacked them. 6,000 soldiers guarded the river bank to ensure that not a drop of water reached the Hussain’s thirsty innocents. By sunset of 10th (Ashoor), a Friday, all were dead including his step brother Abbas (32), his son Ali Akbar (22), daughter Skeena (4) and 6 months old infant Ali Asghar who was killed by an arrow while perched in his lap. Imam Hussain himself was slain with thirty three strokes of lances and swords by Shimr, the hatchet man of ignominious Yazid. The ruffians of Yazid, as they ran carrying the smitten head of Hussain to the castle of Koofa, were chased by Rahab. He retrieved the holy man’s head, washed it reverentially and then carried it to Damascus. According to legend, he was overtaken by Yazid’s men during his ovenight shelter on the way.
They demanded Hussain’s head from him: Rahab executed the head of one of his sons and offered to them. They shouted that it was not the Hussain’s head, then he beheaded his second son and they again yelled that it was not his. In this way Rahab executed the heads of his seven sons but did not part with the head of Imam Hussain. Later, after one year, it was buried in Karbala along with rest of his body.
The intrepid Datts rallied round Amir Mukhtar, the chief of the partisans of Imam Hussain, fought with extraordinary heroism and captured and razed the fort of Koofa, seat of Yazid’s governor, Obaidullah, the Butcher. After scoring a resounding victory on the battlefield, they beat the drums and yelled out that they had avenged the innocent blood of Hussain shed at Karbala.
It is also significant to note that even before the Karbala incident, Hazrat Ali had entrusted the public exchequer to the regiment of the valiant Datts, at the time of the Battle of Camels fought near Basra.
The above provides an impeccable evidence about tha pragmatic role played by the Datt Mohyals in the catastrophe of Karbala. There are more than a dozen ballads composed centuries ago which vividly and with great passion describe the scenario of the historic event.
Interestingly, in the Preface of his famous historical novel, titled Karbala, published in 1924 from Lucknow, Munshi Prem Chand has stated that the Hindus who fought and sacrificed their lives in the holy war of Karbala, are believed to be the descendants of Ashvathama.This clearly establishes their link with the Datts who consider Ashvathama as an ancestor of their clan.
Later on, when Sunnis let loose an orgy of vendetta on Shias and Datts, Datts returned to their motherland around 700 AD and settled at Dina Nagar, District Sialkot (vide Bandobast Report of Gujarat by Mirza Azam Beg page 422 and folk songs) and some drifted to as far as the holy Pushkar in Rajasthan. Starting from Harya Bandar (modern Basra on the bank of river Tigris) with swords in hand and beating durms, they forced their way through Syria and Asia Minor and marching onwards captured Ghazni, Balkh and Bukhara. After annexing Kandhar, they converged on Sind and crossing the Sind at Attock they entered the Punjab.
An ancestor of Rahab named Sidh Viyog Datt assumed the title of Sultan and made Arabia (old name Iraq) his home. He was a tough and tenacious fighter. He was also known as Mir Sidhani. He was a worshipper of Brahma. He was the son of the stalwart Sidh Jhoja (Vaj) who was a savant and saint and lived in Arabia (Iraq) around 600 AD.
The supporters of Hassan and Hussain honoured the Datts with the htle of ‘Hussaini Brahmin’ and treated them with great reverence in grateful recognition of the supreme sacrifices made by them in the war of Karbala. According to Jang Nama, written by Ahmed Punjabi, pages 175-176, it was ordained on the Shias to recite the name of Rahab in their daily prayer. At the time to the Karbala, fourteen hundred Hussaini Brahmins lived in Baghdad alone