The Source Book On Sikhism

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Chapter Thirty-Six

The Saintliness of Guru Gobind Singh Ji

Dr. S.S. Sodhi

It is an empirical fact that the highest flights of charity, devotion, trust, patience, bravery, self-sacrifice have been flown by saints operating at super-conscious states. These super-conscious states are very difficult to comprehend by ordinary individuals who usually are stuck at the linear, myopic, convergent and fanatic levels of consciousness.

Saints are universal, i.e. they are found in every religion. They are always in touch with the “True Reality of the Unseen”. They develop an unshakeable conviction not based on inference but on personal experiences. These experiences help them in melting down confining selfhood, thereby providing them with immense freedom of self surrender. In Guru Gobind Singh this self surrender became so passionate that it led to self-immolation. The inner, non-ego conditions in him succeed in overruling the demands of the flesh and he found a positive pleasure in sacrificing his SARBANS. He could stand the loss of his father, mother, four children because he had experienced a sense of enlargement of life - a feeling of stretching his soul which led to fortitude.

Guru Gobind Singh took up the spiritual heritage of Guru Nanak and disseminated it. Guru’s strength (physical/spiritual), handsomeness, grace, dignity of his imposing appearance enthralled the sangant especially those who had martial tendencies. He became warrior/prophet for them and they flocked towards him with deep devotion. His super-spiritual powerful body and properly cultivated crystallized intelligence suffered constant dissonance at the thought of what is and what could be. His mind became a battlefield for his storm-tossed soul. He wanted to burn what was evil and lay the foundation of Indian nationalism based upon self-respect, courage and action leading to equality. Battle and life became synonymous to him. He wanted to burn fast for the maximum glow - a glow that anewed the conscience of India.

Saints or Karmyogis such as Guru Gobind Singh have been called Arahat in traditional literature. Arahat is the perfect man, the ideal man who has destroyed the obsessions, lived a life according to His directives, done what was to be done, laid down the burden, attained the goal, broken the fetters of humanity through spiritual actions. Arahat personifies the Ultimate Truth. he is so imbued with the basic virtues that it is impossible for him to act otherwise.

To sum up, it can be said that Guru Gobind Singh presented to the world, spiritual actions which were of vital import to humanity. His awareness of problems and their solutions was clear and incisive. The kernel of the matter consists in the fact that he possessed qualities for which at present we have no names or concepts. It is sometimes difficult to visualize that such a "Man" walked the beautiful land of India and enlightened its people by His Spiritual Grace. In Guru Gobind Singh the human race reached the peak of spiritual evolution.

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Guru Gobind Singh Ji

Apostle of Courage and Benevolence

Pritpal Singh Bindra
Aurangzeb installed himself as the Emperor of India in 1657. To achieve his aim he had annihilated almost all his family oppositions; he either killed or disgraced his brothers, and imprisoned and starved to death his own father -- Emperor Shah Jehan. Immediately after consolidating his power he embarked on a policy of religious persecutions. He set upon the process of Islamization of India. He levied unethical religious taxes against Hindus, and shut their temples and places of learning. The Brahmins were his primary target. He had been convinced by his clergies that once the Brahmins accepted Islam the others would follow. The Brahmins, particularly the inhabitants of Kashmir, looked for some dynamic leadership to fight this subversion.

Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru, was on the throne of Sikh Religion started by Guru Nanak (1469 - 1539). The Brahmins of Kashmir approached Guru Tegh Bahadur for his guidance to combat the atrocities committed by the Mughal Emperor.

At the time of their meeting, Guru Tegh Bahadur’s nine year old son, Gobind Rai, was sitting beside him. As Guru Tegh Bahadur went into a deep state of contemplation, the young son asked the reason of his repose. Guru Tegh Bahadur said that 'this matter... is of vital importance. The world is grieved by the oppression... No brave man is now to be found...who is willing to sacrifice his life to free the earth from the burden of' Aurangzeb's policy of subjugation of Hindus.

Young Gobind replied: ‘For that purpose who is more worthy than thou who art at once generous and brave.’ And Guru Tegh Bahadur consented to sacrifice his life for the sake of the freedom of religion. After entrusting Guruship to Gobind Rai, he proceeded towards Delhi, the seat of Mughal Empire, to attain martyrdom.

When Guru Tegh Bahadur was in the interment of Aurangzeb, he foresaw the beginning of his ecclesiastic journey. To test his son’s courage and capability, to carry on the mission, he wrote to him:

“My strength is exhausted, I am in chains and I can make not any efforts.”

“Say Nanak, God alone is now my refuge. He will help me as he did his Saints.”

In reply young Guru Gobind Rai wrote:

“I have regained my Power, my bonds are broken and all options are open unto me.”

“Nanak, everything is in thine hands. It is only thou who can assist thyself.” (Eng.Tr. S. Manmohan Singh)

And that was the courage and the spirit of sacrifice and benevolence through which Guru Gobind Singh initiated the 10th pontification of the Sikh Religion.

Guru Gobind Singh was born on December 29, 1666 A.D. at Patna, in the Province of Behar in northern India. When Guru Tegh Bahadur had gone on a missionary tour of the East, the family stayed in Patna for about five years and then moved to Anandpur Sahib in Punjab. His maternal uncle, Kirpal, was instrumental in providing him a childhood full of rigorous physical and mental activities that made Guru Gobind Singh the man of great endurance, understanding, innovations, and most of all outstanding in the literary field. The Guru ‘retired for a number of years to a place called Paonta Sahib’, in the State of Nahan, in the lower ranges of the Himalayan hills. There on the ‘beautiful banks of the river Jamuna’ and in the divine hilly surroundings he set upon his mission of self-illumination, self-realization, self-training, and self-education. As ‘a child he had Behari on his tongue’. He learnt Gurmukhi, and achieved perfection in Persian, Hindi and Sanskrit. His literary debuts, their understanding and interpretations, are conclusive. His own literary compositions depict ‘optimism, freedom from superstitions, and faith in oneness of God and all humanity’. Through his literature he ‘infused a new spirit among his followers, and inspired them to fight against all injustice and tyranny’.

Hundreds of people had gathered around the place where Guru Tegh Bahadur was martyred in Delhi. None of them came forward openly to claim the body to perform religious rites. Even the ardent disciples withdrew unrecognized. Along with the infusion of new spirit of courage Guru Gobind Singh wanted to give the people an indiscreet identity.

On Baisakhi day in April 1699, he addressed the congregation and ‘demanded five men for sacrifice’. After ‘some trepidation one person offered’ himself. Guru Gobind Singh took him inside a tent. A little later he reappeared with a sword dripping with blood, and asked for another head. One by one four more earnest devotees offered their heads. Every time the Guru took one person inside the tent, he came out with bloodied sword in his hand. The congregants started to disperse, thinking the Guru had gone berserk. But, at the end, the Guru emerged with all five dressed piously in white. He baptized the five men in a new and unique ceremony called pahul and told the people that they were his own image; Guru would be there wherever Five Baptized Sikhs would together be. He called them Panj Pyare - the Five Beloved Ones. Then the Guru asked those Five Baptized Sikhs to baptize the Guru himself. He proclaimed that the Panj Pyare would be the embodiment of the Guru himself and pronounced:

“Where there are Panj Pyare, there am I, when the Five meet, they are the holiest of the holy.”

With this he created the Khalsa, the pure ones and articulated edicts to be observed by them and all the Sikhs. At the same time he prescribed five symbols to make the Sikhs distinct in society. These symbols are popularly known as Five Ks - Kesh, unshorn hair; Kangha, the comb; Karra, the iron bangle; Kirpan, the sword; and, Kachehra, the underwear. These Five Ks would be the emblems of purity and courage, and identifiable among thousands of people; a Sikh could never hide under cowardice.

The political tyranny was not the only circumstance which was degenerating the people’s moral. The discriminatory class distinction, promoted by Brahmins and Mullas, was equally responsible for the degradation. The Guru wanted to eliminate the anomalies caused by the caste system. The constitution of the Panj Pyare was the living example of his dream; both the high and low castes were amalgamated into one. Among those Panj Pyare, there was one Khatri, shopkeeper; one Jat, agriculturist; one Chhimba, washerman; one Kahar, water carrier; a Nai, barber. He designated the surname of Singh, lion to every Sikh, and put all of them on one platform of courage, unanimity, and equality.

Guru Gobind Singh was above malice and devoid of any spirit of revenge. He was an angel of benevolence.

The Guru had realized that without religious perception a Raj - the political rule - became unethical and totalitarian. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather - Guru Har Gobind (1595 - 1644), he had envisaged the importance of physical command, and raised an effective defence force. He perceived that a political umbrella was essential for the growth of a faith without hindrance and persecution. Otherwise, he had no territorial aspirations. When the hill chiefs around Paonta, out of sheer jealousy, forced the Guru to fight, the Guru gave them a crushing defeat. The Guru could easily have established his Raj - political rule over those states. But, after making them concede to their follies, he decided to move back to Anandpur.

To extract annual tribute, the Mughal Army invaded the hill chiefs. Guru Gobind Singh, overlooked their misdeeds of the past and readily ordered his forces to fight on the side of the chiefs.

Forty of his devotees had deserted him at Anandpur after signing a disclaimer. Taunted by their spouses, they had rejoined the attack on the Mughal troops at Khidrana. They were fatally wounded when they were found by the Guru in the battlefield. They begged the Guru’s pardon and the Guru, who still had the disclaimer in his pocket, readily tore it up, and blessed them with an eternal salvation.

Ram Rai, the eldest son of Guru Har Rai (1631 - 1661), had twisted Gurbani to please the Mughal Emperor. He was disowned by his father and debarred from Guruship. When he met Guru Gobind Singh at a ripe old age, he begged to be pardoned. Not only did Guru Gobind Singh bless him with immortal deliverance, he also saved his wife, Punjab Kaur, from the dishonest practices of the massands, after the demise of Ram Rai.

When Aurangzeb’s son Muazzam approached the Guru through the exigencies of Bhai Nand Lal, the Guru readily pardoned him and extended his helping hand to capture the Delhi throne.

By deceitful means, Guru Gobind Singh was forced to abandon the Anandpur fort. In the melee that followed his family was split, the treasurers were lost, and the precious literary collections were mislaid. His two older sons fought Mughal usurpers courageously at Chamkaur, and attained martyrdom. Betrayed by a domestic of the Guruís household, his two younger sons, who had refused to accept Islam, were apprehended and put to death by Wazir Khan, the Mughal Viceroy of Sirhand. On arriving in Dina, in the south of Punjab, the Guru wrote to Aurangzeb giving the details of the religious mission of Guru Nanak. He pointed out to the Emperor the deceitful atrocities committed by him and his generals. Probably Aurangzeb realized his abominations, and invited the Guru for a meeting. The Emperor ‘issued orders to his Prime Minister, Munim Khan, to provide the Guru full security at provincial borders, and pay all his travelling expenses if demanded’. But unfortunately, Aurangzeb died while the Guru was still on his way. Perhaps, in spite of all those offences, Guru Gobind Singh’s compassion would have pardoned him, had the Emperor asked his forgiveness.

With this he created the Khalsa, the pure ones and articulated edicts to be observed by them and all the Sikhs. At the same time he prescribed five symbols to make the Sikhs distinct in society. These symbols are popularly known as Five Ks - Kesh, unshorn hair; Kangha, the comb; Karra, the iron bangle; Kirpan, the sword; and, Kachehra, the underwear. These Five Ks would be the emblems of purity and courage, and identifiable among thousands of people; a Sikh could never hide under cowardice.

Wazir Khan had committed a crime against humanity by killing two innocent children. No doubt, Guru Gobind Singh wanted him to be disciplined. But the Guru’s main concern was the safety of the Sikhs as a whole. Wazir Khan and other Mughal adversaries were still proceeding with the policy of persecution in the Punjab. The Guru was constantly in negotiation with the Emperor to check this indiscriminate abuse of power. The Emperor was lending a sympathetic ear to the Guru as he was under his obligation; the Guru had helped him acquire the throne. But on the other hand, Wazir Khan's strong lobby was working positively among the courtiers and advisers of the Emperor. The Guru was not getting any affirmative response. Simultaneously, the Guru started to contemplate a plan for the protection of his people. He nurtured Banda Bahadur for this task. When he envisioned that his negotiations were not going to materialize, he ‘invested Banda with authority to complete his (Guru’s) work of national struggle in Punjab’; for him all the Sikhs were as his own children, and their honourable protection was the main purpose of Banda Bahadur’s mission.

The massands (the representative - priests who received offerings from people and presented them to the Gurus) had become the victims of human failings. The corrupt practices had crept into their dealings. Guru Gobind Singh disbanded them. Similarly, the Guru remembered the ‘family feuds as well as the impostors claiming Guruship’. He wanted to endow the Sikhs with a Guruship that was not amenable to the transgressions, and was showered with unalterable, and unadulteratable eternal message of love and humility. He decided to eliminate the pregnable human element, and abolish the human Guruship.

A day before the demise of Gurujee, in the presence of Kavi Senapati, Bhai Nand Lal and Dhadi Nath Mal, the Sikhs inquired as to whom he was entrusting his Khalsa.

In the presence of Granth Sahib, Guru Gobind Singh proclaimed:

“The Word as enshrined in the Granth Sahib. Whoever searched me here, finds me. You shall hereafter look upon it as the visible embodiment of the Guru....I entrust you to Him. He will be your Guide,

Protector and Refuge, so long as you keep to His Path.”

And then he sang his last sermon:

“Agya bhai akal ki tabhi chalayo Panth,

Sab Sikhan ko hukam hai Guru manyao Granth.”

(Under the permission of the Immortal Being the Panth - Khalsa religion was started. All the Sikhs are enjoined to recognize the Granth as their Guru. (Eng Tr. S. Khazan Singh)


*History of the Sikhs by Khushwant Singh

*History of the Sikhs by Dr. H.R. Gupta

*A History of the Sikh People by Dr. Gopal Singh

*History of the Sikh Religion by M.A. Macauliffe

*History of the Sikhs by S. Khazan Singh

*Tawarikh Guru Khalsa (111) by Giani Gian Singh (Pb.)

*Kalgidhar Chamatkar by Bhai Vir Singhs (Pb.)

“O God, grant me this boon;

Never should I turn away from good deeds;

Nor when fighting adversity should I be afraid;

But with a firm resolve, should I achieve victory;

Over my heart should I have complete control.

O Lord, that is what I crave of Thy Name.

When finally time comes for me to rest,

Let me die in the thick of these battles.”

(Guru Gobind Singh)

When great difficulties befall you,

And no body is there to help

When the friends have turn foes

And relatives have deserted

When all assistance have been denied

And no help is forthcoming

If you remember God at that time

Then no harm shall be done unto you.

(Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Sri Rag M5)

A Person may live in a desolate hut

His clothes may all be rags

He may have no lineage to claim

Without honour and respect he may wander in the wilderness

He may have neither friend nor beloved

He may be without wealth and beauty

He may have no relation or kinsman

But if his heart is saturated with God's Nam

He is the king of the whole world

(Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Jaetsri Rag M.5)

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Guru Gobind Singh Ji

The Tenth Guru of the Sikhs

Prof. Puran Singh

Anandpur of the Tenth Master

Out of the joy of the Masters have grown the names of our cities filtering down into the common language of the people! The Sikh gave to the Panjab thirty-five new words for “Joy”. Guru Nanak founded, on the Ravi the city of the Creator – “Kartarpur”. “Goindwal” is “The City of God”. Amritsar means the “Pond of Ambrosia”, or “Lake of Immortality”. Guranditta, son of the Sixth Master, named Kiratpur “city of praise”. Anandpur is “the City of Divine Bliss”, founded by Tegh Bahadur. At the martyrdom of Tegh Bahadur, there was no sorrow at Anandpur: the new Nanak Gobind led the town in celebrating the event with a new purity of joy: -

“Tegh Bahadur is gone!

The world says, ‘Alas! Alas!

The heaven rings with hallelujahs!

Welcoming his return home!

The angels sing 'the victor comes home! The victor comes home!

All victory is in the Dhyan of His Glorious Name!

His disciples and his saints sit still in that His Supreme Dhyanam!

And in His love is freedom for them!’

Anandpur was made once again, under the divine leadership of Gobind Singh, the City of Immortal Bliss. Nothing was lacking, the former Master had provided everything for his children. He gave all his soul to his people, coming no more in earthly form to them. He knew it; though they did not and could not know of his purpose.

Gobind Singh, too, brought new delight to the Sikh people. He scattered joy and light in an abundance hitherto unknown even in the Sikh life of the past nine generations of this dispensation of divine grace!

Anandpur was a centre of life of the people; spiritual, mental, and physical. Around the Master assembled poets and painters, and scholars; and he encouraged the development of art and learning in his people. The disciples were sent to Benaras to learn Sanskrit. He caused many long Sanskrit books to be translated into Hindi. In fact, the disciples had returned to their own line of work, forgetful of the injuries inflicted on them by the kings. There was a tremendous revival of literature and art at Anandpur. We have accounts of this period from the Dhyanam of Bhai Vir Singhji, in the little brochures published by the Khalsa Tract Society, Amritsar. One of these, Malin, or the Gardener’s Wife, lifts up the curtain that time had let fall on Anandpur, and allows us to see more of that place and its society than is permitted by an earlier historian.

Malin, or the Gardener’s Wife

Mohina and Sohina were once rich people but they had renounced all in love of Nanak. They were accomplished singers, gardeners, flower-breeders and poets. They came in disguise as poor people, and entered Gobind’s service in his garden. They never tried to see him as they had once had sentence pronounced against them by a Sikh “He will not grant you a glimpse of himself”: these words had escaped the lips of the Sikh when he was fatally wounded and dying of thirst, and when he was refused water by Mohina and Sohina who were carrying sacred water to the temple for the worship of their stone deity - for at that time they were idol-worshippers. They had been so haunted by the Sikh that they had returned hurriedly from the sanctuary to give him the very same water, but the Sikh had died meanwhile. His voice rang in their empty souls: “He will not grant you even a glimpse of himself”. One day Kesara Singh (Saffron Singh), the Guruís gardener, exhibited specimens of their work of plant breeding and making many a flower bloom out of its season, and named them to the Guru. Nobody else knew anything about them. He looked up to the sky, and repeated in an undertone the words of the dying Sikh, “He will not grant you a glimpse of himself”. Then he added: “Tell them they cannot see the Master yet”. But the Mother afterwards paid them occasional visits in their neat nest-like hut in the garden, and they used to sing the song of the master to her. Every morning, whatever the season, they sent her a garland of flowers, with which the Mother garlanded the Beloved. One day, a Faqir called Roda Jalali came and begged of the couple for some of their flowers that seemed to him a curiosity at that season. Mohina and Sohina could not part with them; they were sacred. Roda Jalali stole like a cat into the garden at night, and plucked all the flowers with a view to presenting them to the Guru in the morning. Next morning, as the Master was sitting in the assembly of disciples, Roda Jalali presented himself and made an offering of the basket of flowers. “Why did you not bring gold Mohurs as an offering?” said the Master. “Faqirs never touch gold", said Jalali. “Then a Faqir should come empty handed”, said he, “the empty hands of a Faqir are beautiful”. “But one must come with an offering”, said Jalali. Thereupon the Master made a sign to Bhai Mani Singh to take off Roda Jalali’s cap from behind - when lo! a few gold Mohurs fell out of it. Meanwhile the Guru, looking at the flowers, cried like a grieved father: “O Roda! You have not plucked flowers from the bush, but you have torn two souls from God”. Saying this, the Master ran barefooted to the hut of Sohina and Mohina. The couple had already fainted amid their despoiled bushes; they seemed near to death. He revived them with his glance, and sat by them, lifting their head into his lap while the Mother gave them water to drink. Their opening eyes saw those of the master gazing deeply into them. Thus did Mohina and Sohina enter the path of discipleship.

Bhai Nand Lal and Gyassuddin at Anandpur

Bhai Nand Lal had migrated from Kabul to India with his wife and children. Providing them with a house at Multan, Bhai Nand Lal entered the Imperial service at Agra, becoming secretary to Bahadur Shah, the son of Aurangzeb. He was a poet, and an Arabic and Persian scholar and he solved many a knotty theological problem in the theology of Al Quran, which were referred to him by the Prince. Once, when every other scholar failed to satisfy Aurangzeb as to a particular verse in private, when repeated to the Emperor, gave him great pleasure. Thus was the scholarship of Bhai Nandlal brought to the notice of the Emperor, who ordered that so able a person should no longer be allowed to remain a Hindu. The news leaked out; and Bhai Nand Lal saw that, to avoid death or apostasy, he must flee. He thought of escaping with his devoted Faqir - follower Gyassudin to Anandpur, and taking shelter with the Tenth Master. So with a few valuables they escaped by night from Agra, on two mules. When they reached Anandpur, they saw Gobind Singh sitting in the midst of a happy congregation. Bhai Nand Lal and Gyassudin offered their homage and took their seats, as the Guru blessed them and welcomed them. Addressing Gyassuddin, the Gobind said: “Brother Gyassuddin, to whom dost thou belong?” At this, one of the disciples wished to correct him, but the Master promptly stopped him, saying, “There is no dispute at all. Brother Nandlal belongs to me, and brother Gyassudin belongs to Nandlal; so, O good man! both belong to me”. These words were enough for Bhai Nandlal: he was thenceforward eternally his. By these words, and in these words, the Master gave the gift of Nam to both, and they entered the path of discipleship.

Bhai Nandlal, once he had laid his head at his Master’s feet, never left his presence. The Master was overwhelmingly kind to him, and always addressed him affectionately as "Nand Lala" - Master of Joy. He would compose Persian verses in praise of the Guru, and recite them every day. We have two volumes of these Persian poems.

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