ਬਹੁਤ ਜਨਮ ਬਿਛੁਰੇ ਥੇ ਮਾਧਉ ਇਹੁ ਜਨਮੁ ਤੁਮ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਰੇ ਲੇਖੇ ॥
बहुत जनम बिछुरे थे माधउ इहु जनमु तुम्हारे लेखे ॥
Bahuṯ janam bicẖẖure the māḏẖa▫o ih janam ṯumĥāre lekẖe.
For many births, have I been separated from Thee, O Lord.
This life, I now dedicate unto Thee.
ਕਹਿ ਰਵਿਦਾਸ ਆਸ ਲਗਿ ਜੀਵਉ ਚਿਰ ਭਇਓ ਦਰਸਨੁ ਦੇਖੇ ॥੨॥੧॥
कहि रविदास आस लगि जीवउ चिर भइओ दरसनु देखे ॥२॥१॥
Kahi Raviḏās ās lag jīva▫o cẖir bẖa▫i▫o ḏarsan ḏekẖe. ||2||1||
Says Ravi Dass, pinning my hope in Thee, I live,
It is long since I has seen Thy vision. ~ Ang 694
Bhagat Ravidas ji was a true and vehement devotee of Waheguru whose devotion and ardent divine love poured out in the form of spiritual poetry. His compositions expressed deep love and strong passion for Waheguru and Guru Arjan Dev ji decided to include his compositions in Shri Guru Granth Sahib ji. The divine ditties of Bhagat Ravi Das ji in the form of 41 shabads in different raags are included in Shri Guru Granth Sahib ji Maharaj as Bani Bhagat de.
Bhagat Ravi Das ji was an inhabitant of Benaras. He belonged to a lower Chamaar class and his profession of making and repairing shoes was considered inferior in the society and his work was considered menial in those times.
Bhagat Ravi Das ji was connected with Almighty Waheguru from his childhood only. He was an ardent devotee of Waheguru. He used to spend his lot of time in the company of holy people and he also used to spend his money to fulfill the needs of holy saints and poor people.
Bhagat Ravi Das ji expressed his passion and love for Waheguru through his divine poetry and music. Poetry and music both are a form of art and art is very close and dear to Waheguru as Waheguru is himself an adroit artist and we can witness his skillful and breathtaking art in nature and in his creation.
He told the society of that time that a human being is recognized by his good deeds and not by his caste. He raised his voice against the wave of untouchability and caste system which was prevalent at that time. He advised his fellows that every human has the right to love and serve Waheguru. Devotion and service to Waheguru is done by pure heart and not by rituals.
By true love and devotion for Waheguru Bhagat Ravi Das ji got elevated. By praising the virtues of Waheguru and keeping the company of holy saints his status was uplifted in the society. By keeping Waheguru in his heart he was revered by the people from other castes too and he became pious and was emancipated.
ਤੋਹੀ ਮੋਹੀ ਮੋਹੀ ਤੋਹੀ ਅੰਤਰੁ ਕੈਸਾ ॥
तोही मोही मोही तोही अंतरु कैसा ॥
Ŧohī mohī mohī ṯohī anṯar kaisā.
Thou art me, I am Thou, What is the difference.
ਕਨਕ ਕਟਿਕ ਜਲ ਤਰੰਗ ਜੈਸਾ ॥੧॥
कनक कटिक जल तरंग जैसा ॥१॥
Kanak katik jal ṯarang jaisā. ||1||
The same as between gold and its bracelet and
between water and its ripples. ~ Ang 93
In this verse he is expressing his indelible relationship he has with his creator. He is saying I am in you and you are in me. We are a part of each other and absorbed into each other. He compares his nexus with Waheguru to gold and bangle and then to water and tide.
By being immersed in devotion to Waheguru he becomes a denizen of Begampura. By devoting his life and soul to Almighty Waheguru he attains a blissful state of mind and in that state of mind he always feel happy and in euphoric state. This state of his mind is evident in his bani as:
ਬੇਗਮ ਪੁਰਾ ਸਹਰ ਕੋ ਨਾਉ ॥
बेगम पुरा सहर को नाउ ॥
Begam purā sahar ko nā▫o.
Begampura is the name of the town.
ਦੂਖੁ ਅੰਦੋਹੁ ਨਹੀ ਤਿਹਿ ਠਾਉ ॥
दूखु अंदोहु नही तिहि ठाउ ॥
Ḏūkẖ anḏohu nahī ṯihi ṯẖā▫o.
At that place there is no pain or worry.
ਨਾਂ ਤਸਵੀਸ ਖਿਰਾਜੁ ਨ ਮਾਲੁ ॥
नां तसवीस खिराजु न मालु ॥
Nāŉ ṯasvīs kẖirāj na māl.
There is no fear of tax of goods there.
ਖਉਫੁ ਨ ਖਤਾ ਨ ਤਰਸੁ ਜਵਾਲੁ ॥੧॥
खउफु न खता न तरसु जवालु ॥१॥
Kẖa▫uf na kẖaṯā na ṯaras javāl. ||1||
Neither awe, nor error, nor dread nor decline is there.
ਅਬ ਮੋਹਿ ਖੂਬ ਵਤਨ ਗਹ ਪਾਈ ॥
अब मोहि खूब वतन गह पाई ॥
Ab mohi kẖūb vaṯan gah pā▫ī.
I have now found an excellent abode.
ਊਹਾਂ ਖੈਰਿ ਸਦਾ ਮੇਰੇ ਭਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ऊहां खैरि सदा मेरे भाई ॥१॥ रहाउ ॥
Ūhāŉ kẖair saḏā mere bẖā▫ī. ||1|| rahā▫o.
My brethren there is ever-lasting safety there. Pause. ~ Ang 345
In Shri Guru Granth Sahib ji, Guru Ram Das ji Maharaj, the fourth Nanak, praises Bhagat Ravi Das ji and writes:
ਰਵਿਦਾਸੁ ਚਮਾਰੁ ਉਸਤਤਿ ਕਰੇ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਿ ਨਿਮਖ ਇਕ ਗਾਇ ॥
रविदासु चमारु उसतति करे हरि कीरति निमख इक गाइ ॥
Raviḏās cẖamār usṯaṯ kare har kīraṯ nimakẖ ik gā▫e.
Ravidas, the tanner, glorified God and every moment sang His praise.
ਪਤਿਤ ਜਾਤਿ ਉਤਮੁ ਭਇਆ ਚਾਰਿ ਵਰਨ ਪਏ ਪਗਿ ਆਇ ॥੨॥
पतित जाति उतमु भइआ चारि वरन पए पगि आइ ॥२॥
Paṯiṯ jāṯ uṯam bẖa▫i▫ā cẖār varan pa▫e pag ā▫e. ||2||
Though of fallen caste, he become sublime and the four
castes came and fell at his feet. ~ Ang 733
Shri Guru Arjan Dev ji has also expressed about the great spiritual achievement of Bhagat Ravi Das ji as
ਰਵਿਦਾਸ ਧਿਆਏ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਅਨੂਪ ॥
रविदास धिआए प्रभ अनूप ॥
Raviḏās ḏẖi▫ā▫e parabẖ anūp.
Ravidass meditated on the beauteous Lord.
ਗੁਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ ਗੋਵਿੰਦ ਰੂਪ ॥੮॥੧॥
गुर नानक देव गोविंद रूप ॥८॥१॥
Gur Nānak ḏev govinḏ rūp. ||8||1||
Guru Nanak Dev is the very embodiment of
the Master of the universe. ~ Ang 1192
The pivotal message we get from Bhagat Ravidas ji’s life is that a human being is recognized by his deeds and not by his caste from birth. Bhagat Ravi das ji was a cobbler by profession but he was connected to Almighty Waheguru. He was not entangled and engrossed in the vagaries of human life but was ahead and beyond the petty things of human life. His intellect was way more than a normal human being and he could realize the divine presence and his bond with his creator in his life.
ਸਾਚੀ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਹਮ ਤੁਮ ਸਿਉ ਜੋਰੀ ॥
साची प्रीति हम तुम सिउ जोरी ॥
Sācẖī parīṯ ham ṯum si▫o jorī.
True love I have joined with Thee, O Lord.
ਤੁਮ ਸਿਉ ਜੋਰਿ ਅਵਰ ਸੰਗਿ ਤੋਰੀ ॥੩॥
तुम सिउ जोरि अवर संगि तोरी ॥३॥
Ŧum si▫o jor avar sang ṯorī. ||3||
Attaching myself to Thee, I have broken with all others. ~ Ang 659
We should also try to connect with our creator and love our creator like Bhagat Ravidas ji. We should practice and make usage of music and poetry to connect with Waheguru as Bhagat Ravidas ji did. We should have utmost and unwavering faith in our creator. During dark times this faith should give solace to our heart and strength to come out of darkness. We should accept his Hukam gracefully, keep full faith in his graciousness and live life in high spirits. This should be the way of life of a Gursikh and Bhagat Ravi Das ji’s life is an impeccable example of that.
Guru Har Gobind had five sons and one daughter. The eldest son was Baba Gurditta who had two sons, Dhir Mal and Har Rai. Dhir Mal turned out disloyal and disobedient. He had some influence in the court of Emperor Aurangzeb and was in communication with the Guru’s enemies. When Guru Har Gobind moved to Kiratpur, Dhir Mal with his mother, remained at Kartarpur and took possession of the Guru’s property and also of the priceless original copy of the Adi Granth. He thought that as long as he had its possession, the Sikhs would look upon him as their religious leader and thus as mentioned in the last chapter, Dhir Mal refused Guru’s invitation to come to Kiratpur on his father’s death. Guru Har Gobind nominated Har Rai, younger brother of Dhir Mal, as his successor before he departed for the heavenly abode on March 3, 1644.
One day as a child, while passing through a garden, his loose flowing robes damaged some flowers and scattered their petals on the ground. This sight effected his tender heart and brought tears in his eyes. After that he always walked with his skirts tucked up, and resolved never to harm anything in the world. When he grew up, he carried the same spirit with him. He used Baba Farid’s quotation frequently:
“All men’s hearts are jewels; to distress them is not at all good;
If thou desire the Beloved, distress no one’s heart.”
Guru Har Rai was most magnanimous. His food was very simple, he did not desire dainty dishes. Whatever valuable offerings were made to him, he used to spend on his guests. On the advice of his grandfather, Guru Har Gobind, he kept twenty-two hundred mounted soldiers. In the afternoon he used to go to chase. The Guru took some of the animals he had obtained from the chase, freed them and protected them in a zoological garden, which he had made for the recreation of his followers. In the evening the Guru used to hold his court, listen to hymns sung by his choir, and then give divine instructions.
The Emperor Shah Jahan had four sons, Dara Shikoh, Shuja Mohammad, Aurangzeb, and Murad Bakhsh. Dara Shikoh who was the heir-apparent, was very dear to his father. Aurangzeb was very clever, cunning and ambitious, and aimed at succeeding to the throne. It is said that Aurangzeb administered tiger’s whiskers in a dainty dish to Dara Shikoh who became dangerously ill as a consequence. The best physicians were consulted but in vain. The Emperor, filled with anxiety, sent for astrologers and diviners from every country but of no avail. The wise men arrived at a conclusion that until tiger’s whiskers were removed from Dara’s bowls, there was no hope of recovery. They were of the opinion that if a chebulic myrobalan weighing fourteen chitanks (14/16th of a pound) and a clove weighing one masha could be administered to the patient, he would be restored to health. The Emperor searched for these articles everywhere in his empire but in vain. At last some one told him that the required items were available in the Guru’s storehouse. On the advice of his courtiers the Emperor found it necessary to humble himself before the Guru, and accordingly addressed him the following letter:
“Your predecessor, the holy Baba Nanak granted sovereignty to Emperor Babar, the founder of my
dynasty; Guru Angad was exceedingly well disposed to his son, Emperor Humayun; and Guru Amar
Das removed many difficulties from my grandfather Akbar’s path. I regret that the same friendly
relations did not subsist between Guru Har Gobind and myself, and that misunderstandings were
caused by the interference of strangers. For this I was not to blame. My son Dara Shikoh is now very
ill. His remedy is in your hands. If you give the myrobalan and the clove which are available in your
store, and add to them your prayers, you will confer an abiding favor on me.”
Dara Shikoh Cured
Dara, the elder son of Emperor Shah Jehan (r. 1627-1658 AD) fell ill. Inspite of the best efforts of Hakims, he could not be cured. The rare medicine needed for his ailment was nowhere available. Information reached the Royal Hakim that required medicine was available with Guru Har Rai. He came personally to the Guru Sahib and requested for the medicine. Guru Ji gave him the rare medicinne required for the treatment and also sent a pearl, which was to be ground into fine powder and taken with the medicine.
A noble carried the letter to the Guru at Kiratpur, who commented,”Behold, with one hand man breaks flowers, and with the other he offers them, but flowers perfume both hands alike. Although the axe cuts the sandal-tree, yet the sandal perfumes the axe. The Guru is, therefore, to return good for evil.” He sent the necessary medicine which was administered to Dara Shikoh. The medicine effected a speedy and complete cure. The Emperor was naturally very pleased, forgot all enmity against the Guru, and vowed that he would never again cause any annoyance to him.
One day during a ride, the Guru halted and knocked at the door of a poor woman and said,”Good lady, I am very hungry, bring me the bread you have prepared.” The woman, throbbing with joy, brought out some coarse bread which he partook on horseback, without washing his hands, and relished it very much. He then blessed the woman and cut off the shackles of her transmigration. Next day the Sikhs prepared dainty dishes with great attention to cleanliness and offered them to the Guru at the same hour. He laughed and said,”O Sikhs, I ate food from that woman’s hands because she was holy. This food which you have prepared with attention to ancient ceremonial is not pleasing to me.” The Sikhs asked,”O true king, yesterday you ate bread on horseback from the hands of an old woman whom you did not know. There was no consecrated space and the food was in every way impure. Today we have prepared the food for you; no impurity is attached to it, yet you reject it. Be kind enough to explain the reason.” The Guru replied,” The woman with great devotion and faith prepared food for me out of what she had earned from the sweat of her brow. On this account the food was very pure, and I partook of it. The Guru is hungry for love and not for dainty dishes. In the matter of love for God, no rule is recognized. It is not what man eats that pleases God, it is man’s devotion that is acceptable to Him.”
GURU’S PREACHING TOURS:
Guru Arjan had practically completed the organization of his followers on peaceful lines and under Guru Har Gobind, Sikhism had added into itself an army. Apart from laying emphasis on the free kitchen and religious congregation and faith in the Adi Granth, Guru Har Rai undertook extensive tours in Malwa and Doaba regions of the Punjab. These regions provided good opportunities for the Sikh faith to sprout. Guru Har Rai made some notable conversions among the landed families of the Punjab who were, at that time, considered the natural leaders of the people.
On one of the Guru’s tours, he stayed at Mukandpur in the present district of Jullundhur. There he drove a bamboo shoot into the ground in memory of his visit; and it still survives as a stately tree. From there he went to Malwa and visited the tank near Nathana where Guru Har Gobind had fought. Kala and Karm Chand, two brothers of Mahraj tribe, came to him to complain that the people of Kaura tribe did not allow them to live among them. The Guru tried to settle the matter amicably but when Kaura tribe refused to listen, he helped the Mahraj brothers to take forcible possession of a piece of land and settle there. He remained for some time at Nathana preaching to the people, and Kala and his friends frequently waited on him. He made many disciples. His hearers abandoned the worship of cemeteries and cremation grounds, and embraced the simple worship of God. One day Kala with his two nephews, Sandali and Phul, whose father was killed in the battle during Guru Har Gobind’s time, went to visit the Guru. When the children arrived in his presence, Phul who was five years old, struck with his hands his own naked belly like a drum. When asked for the reason, Kala explained that he was hungry and wanted something to eat. The Guru took compassion on him and said,” He shall become great, famous and wealthy. The steeds of his escendants shall drink water as far as the Jamna river; they shall have sovereignty for many generations and be honored in proportion as they serve the Guru.” When Kala reached home and his wife heard Guru’s benediction, she put pressure on him to take his own sons to him, and teach them to strike their bellies in token of hunger.
Bestower of Boons
Once a man called Bhai Kala brought two of his nephews to the court of Guru Ji. The boys were called Sandlu and Roopa. Both of them played on their stomachs like on drums. Guru Ji was delighted and granted them estates. Later their descendents formed the princely states of Patiala and Nabha. On another occasion the same Kala, this time on his wife’s insistence, brought his sons to Guru Ji and asked for a boon for them. However Guru Ji replied, That was merely a push of that moment, will of God at that time.
When Kala and his own sons appeared before the Guru, he told him that he acted in obedience to his wife. The Guru said,” The parents of these children are alive, but at the same time they shall have their own cultivation, eat the fruit of their toil, pay no tribute, and dependent on no one.” This prophecy has been fulfilled and their descendants owned twenty-two villages called the Bahia. Phul had six sons. From the eldest, Tilok Singh, the Rajas of Nabha and Jind were the descendants. From Phul’s second son, Ram Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala was the descendant. These three were known as the Phul ke Raje, or Phulkian chiefs. After India became independent in 1947, these states along with other hundreds of states in the county, were annexed by the Government of India.
The Guru, having been convinced of the deterioration of Masand system, evolved Bakhshishs or missionary centers. Six centers were manned by Suthrashah, Sahiba, Sangata, Mihan Sahib, Bhagat Bhagwan, Bhagat Mal and Jeet Mal. Bhagat Bhagwan was appointed as the incharge of the preaching work in the east, where he along ith his followers, established as many as 360 gaddies (centers) to carry on these efforts. Bhai families of Kaithal and Bagrian were made responsible for missionary work in the land between the Jamna and Satluj rivers. Bhai Pheru was responsible for the area between the Beas and Ravi rivers. Another center was established in the central districts of Punjab. Bhai Aru, Sewa Das, Naik Das, Durga Chand and Suthra Shah were the important priests of the Guru’s times who did missionary work in Kashmir.
THE GURU, HIS SON RAM RAI AND MUGHAL EMPEROR:
The Emperor, Shah Jahan, kept his eldest son Dara Shikoh near him. He made his second son, Shujah Mohammad, the governor of Bengal. The third son, Aurangzeb was appointed governor of Dakhan and Murad Bakhsh received the province of Gujrat. Their ambition was not satisfied and each one of them was eagerly seeking to become Emperor, and for that purpose they amassed wealth and armies in their respective regions. When Shah Jahan became ill and showed no signs of recovery, a war of succession broke out. Dara Shikoh dispatched Raja Jai Singh against Shujah Mohammad and sent Raja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur to Dakhan. Jai Singh defeated Shujah Mohammad but combined armies of Aurangzeb and Murad forced Jaswant Singh to retreat. Upon this Aurangzeb prepared to retaliate and tried to seize the reigns of empire. Dara proceeded with great pomp and show to oppose Aurangzeb, and pitched his camp at Samugarh near the margin of the river Chambal. Aurangzeb soon appeared at the head of his own and Murad’s armies and ensued a determined battle. Aurangzeb succeeded in capturing Dara’s several nobles. Dara himself fled from the battle field. Aurangzeb came to Agra and imprisoned his father and his brother Murad, and then proceeded to Delhi. Dara fled towards Lahore.
Famous Muslim saint Mian Mir was Dara’s priest from whom he had heard Guru’s praises. Dara’s life was saved with the medicine from the Guru. In view of these circumstances Dara had great regard for him. Since Dara ecame governor of Punjab, there were healthy relations between the Emperor and the Guru.
Shah Jahan had an order against the Hindu temples while Sikh temples were exempt from such an order. While Dara Shikoh was on his way to Lahore, the Guru happened to be in Goindwal. They both met. Many writers give their own fanciful accounts of the assistance that the Guru gave to Dara. What type of assistance Dara asked or the Guru gave to Dara, is a big question? He had all the royal wealth, he had his generals and he had his army of thousand` and thousand of men. He enlisted twenty thousand men in his army within days at Lahore. He had everything but he lacked a brave heart to fight in the battle-field. He fled from the field and ultimately was captured through a Pathan who betrayed him. He was brought to Delhi and was executed.
Having made his position secure on the throne of Delhi, Aurangzeb embarked on his religious crusade against the Hindus. After Dara the enemies of the Guru got a chance to poison the mind of Aurangzeb that he had rendered assistance to Dara against him. Upon this Aurangzeb summoned the Guru to his presence in Delhi. The Guru had vowed not to see the Emperor. Instead he sent his eldest son Ram Rai to Delhi instructing him to rely on the divine ower of the Gurus, not in any way recede from the principles of his religion, and in all his words and actions to fix his thought on God, everything would prove successful.
When the Emperor was informed that the Guru had not come himself but sent his son, he thought that if his object in trying the Guru was not fulfilled by his son, he would send for the Guru himself. It is said that Ram Rai performed seventy miracles. The Emperor sent him poisoned robes which he wore but was not hurt. In one interview a sheet of cloth was spread over a deep well so that Ram Rai when asked to sit, would fall into the well. The sheet did not give way and Ram Rai was miraculously preserved. The Emperor was shown the sight of Mecca while sitting in Delhi. After seventy such miracles were shown, Aurangzeb was almost convinced of Ram Rai’s powers and became friendly to him. Then came the last question. The Qazis’ asked Ram Rai,” Ram Rai, your Guru Nanak has written against the Muslim religion. In one place he has said,
‘Mitti Musalman ki peirei paee kumiar;
Ghar bhandei itan kia, jaldi karei pukar.’
(Asa Mohalla 1, p-466)
‘The ashes of the Mohammadan fall into the potter’s clod; Vessels and bricks are fashioned from them;
they cry out as they burn.’ (Translation of the above)
What is the meaning of this?”
Ram Rai had won Aurangzeb’s respect so much that he perhaps did not want to displease him and forgot his father’s parting injunctions not to recede from the principles of his religion. So in order to please the Emperor, Ram Rai replied,” Your Majesty, Guru Nanak wrote, ‘Mitti beiman ki’, that is the ashes of the faithless, not of the Musalmans, fall into the potter’s clod. The text has been corrupted by ignorant persons and Your Majesty’s religion and mine defamed. The faces of the faithless and not of the Musalmans, shall be blackened in both worlds.” All the Mohammadan priests were pleased with this reply. The Emperor then conferred a mark of favor on Ram Rai and dissolved the assembly.
The Sikhs of Delhi immediately sent an envoy to Kiratpur and informed the Guru of the pomp and honor with which Ram Rai had been received in Delhi, and detailed miracles he had exhibited. The envoy then explained how he had made an alteration in a line of Guru Nanak in order to please the Emperor. The Guru was much distressed at the insult and remarked that no mortal could change the words of Guru Nanak and that ‘the mouth which had dared to do so should never be seen by me.’ The Guru decided that Ram Rai was not fit for Guruship. He confirmed,” The Guruship is like a tigress’s milk which can only be contained in a golden cup. Only he who is ready to devote his life thereto is worthy of it.”
After Ram Rai had resided in Delhi for some time, he decided to go to Kiratpur and try to convince his father to reverse his decision regarding him. He pitched his camp near Kiratpur and wrote to his father for permission to visit him. He confessed that he had suffered for his sins and desired forgiveness. The Guru replied,”Ram Rai, you have disobeyed my order and sinned. How can you aspire to become a holy man? Go whither your fancy leads you. I will never see you again on account of your infidelity?”
The Guru feeling his end approaching thought of his successor and called for a meeting of his Sikhs. He seated his younger son, Har Kishen who was only five years old, on Guru Nanak’s throne. He then placed a coco-nut and five paise before him, circumambulated him three times and had a tilak or patch put on his forehead. The whole assembly then rose and did obeisance to the young Guru. Guru Har Rai enjoined all his Sikhs to consider Har Kishen as his image, to put faith in him, and they would obtain salvation.
Guru Har Rai closed his eyes and went to his heavenly abode on October 6, 1661.
FN-1: It is also said that Ram Rai told Aurangzeb that Guru Nanak did not mean the ashes of Musalman but he ctually meant that of the ‘beiman’, the faithless. Ram Rai thus did not alter the original verse but only changed the meaning of it.
Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji (1687–1705) was the eldest of Guru Gobind Singh’s four sons. His younger brothers were Sahibzada Jujhar Singh, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh. With his three brothers, Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji carried on a family tradition: that of attaining the status of one of the most hallowed martyrs in Sikh history. Before him and his brothers, their grandfather, the Ninth Sikh Guru Ji, Guru Tegh Bahadur and his great-great grandfather, the Fifth Sikh Guru Ji, Guru Arjan Sahib had also been executed by the muslim Mughals in the name of islam.
Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji was born to Mata Sundari and Guru Gobind Singh Ji at Paonta Sahib on 26 January 1687. The following year, Guru Gobind Singh Ji returned with the family to Anandpur where Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji was brought up in the approved Sikh style. He was taught religious texts, philosophy and history, and had training in the manly arts such as riding, swordsmanship and archery. He grew up into a handsome young man; strong, intelligent and a natural leader of men.
The Ranghars of Nuh
Soon after the creation of the Khalsa on 13 April 1699, he had his first test of skill. A Sikh Congregation (‘Sangat’) coming from the Pothohar region of northwest Punjab, was attacked and looted on the way by the Ranghars (a Muslim tribe) of Nuh, a short distance from Anandpur across the River Satluj. Guru Gobind Singh Ji sent Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji, then barely 12 years old, to that village. Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji along with a 100 men reached the spot on 23 May 1699, punished the Ranghars and recovered the looted property.
Taragarh and Nirmohgarh
A harder task was entrusted to Sahibzada Ajit the following year when the hill chiefs supported by imperial Mughal troops from Lahore and Sirhind attacked Anandpur. Sahibzada Ajit Singh was made responsible for the defence of the Taragarh Fort, which became the first target of attack on 29 August 1700. Ajit Singh, assisted by Bhai Udai Singh, a seasoned soldier, repulsed the attack. He also fought valiantly in the battle of Nirmohgarh in October 1700. On 15 March 1701, a Sikh Sangat coming from the Darap area (near Sialkot) was waylaid by Gujjars and Ranghars. Sahibzada Ajit Singh led a successful expedition against them.
Restoring a Brahmin’s wife
In March 1703, Dewki Das, a Brahmin came to Anandpur and requested the Guru to help him in getting back his wife whom Chowdhry Jabar Khan, the chief of Dera Bassi, had taken away forcibly; the Guru asked Sahibzada Ajit Singh and Bhai Udey Singh to help the Brahmin. On the 7th of March 1703, both of them, joined by about one hundred Sikhs, went to Bassi Kalan; they put siege to the village and sent a message to Jabar Khan to return the Brahmin’s wife; but Jabar Khan, instead of returning the Brahmin’s wife, asked his soldiers to attack the Sikhs; it was followed by a full-fledged battle, in which Jabar Khan was killed; the Brahmin’s wife was restored to him. When this news reached the people, they praised the Sikhs for their role.
The birth of Sahibzada Jujhar Singh
In 1691, Mata Sundari gave birth to another boy who was named Jujhar Singh. Sahibzada Jujhar Singh was four years younger than Ajit Singh. Sahibzada Ajit Singh became a model for him. Jujhar Singh also was entrusted with several engagements around Anandpur and on hills. Both Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh led hundreds of successful expeditions, helping the needy who would come to Guru Gobind Singh asking to get them justice.
Like his elder brother Ajit Singh, at the age of 4 to 5 years, he started training in the fighting skills (Gatka) and started learning the religious texts. In 1699, when he was eight years old, he received holy Amrit at the rites of Khalsa initiation, called Amrit Sanskar. By the time it became necessary to leave Anandpur under the pressure of a besieging host in December 1705, Jujhar Singh, nearing the completion of his fifteenth year, was an experienced young warrior, strong and fearless.
Sikh Fight Against Tyranny and Oppression
Sikhism raised hopes of equality for all and freedom from tyranical rulers of the time. Ever increasing numbers of Hindus and even Muslims adopting Sikhism, alarmed both Hindu kings of the Hill States adjoining Anandpur Sahib and of the Muslim rulers who thought that if Sikhism were allowed to grow at this rate neither rulers would not be able to control the oppressed for very long. The Hindu Hill State Kings, through persistent complaints, alarmed Emperor Aurangzeb about the growing strength and influence of Guru Gobind Singh which according to them could one day endanger the rulers of both Hindu and Muslim communities.
Thus the Muslim rulers in Delhi, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir joined hands with the Hindu rulers of Hill States around Anandpur Sahib, to destroy the growing influence of Guru Gobind Singh forever. Their combined fighting forces marched towards Anandpur Sahib and encircled it completely. They cut off supplies to the besieged Sikh community in the Anandpur Sahib Fort.
The Sikhs besieged in Anandpur Fort had to undergo extreme hardship due to unavailability of rations, water and medicines. On the other hand, seven months of unsuccessful military venture had also demoralized the leaders and soldiers of the tyrant rulers. As a result they searched for a face-saving device to please Emperor Aurangzeb.
Each respectively swore on the Geeta and Koran assuring Sri Guru Gobind Singh that in case he vacated Anandpur Fort along with his Sikhs, they would not attack him and his soldiers. After this evacuation, they would also leave and be in a position to show their faces to the Emperor Aurangzeb. Guru Gobind Singh Ji decided to evacuate Anandpur Sahib on the advice of Sikhs although he had no confidence on the promises made by the adversaries and told them about his views.
Guru Ji, accompanied by Sikhs and his family members evacuated Anandpur Sahib in December 1704 A.D. They had hardly reached the bank of rivulet Sirsa, when the enemy forces attacked them from behind without caring a bit about the promises made by them earlier in the name of their Holy Books.
Sahibzada Ajit Singh and part of Sikh forces kept the attacking enemy at bay by engaging them in a fierce battle till Guru Gobind Singh accompanied by others crossed the rivulet, which had swelled due to heavy rains upstream. Later Ajit Singh and the remaining Sikhs too crossed the rivulet Sirsa and joined Guru Gobind Singh. The enemy forces were deeply impressed by the fighting and leadership qualities shown by the eldest son of Guru Gobind Singh. The flooded rivulet took a heavy toll of Sikh lives.
By evening of the following day, Guru Gobind Singh accompanied by his only two elder sons and forty surviving Sikhs arrived at village Chamkaur, thoroughly exhausted. They quickly settled in the fortress-like house of Chaudhary Budhi Chand and decided to face the approaching enemy forces there.
During the night, enemy forces encircled this fortress in large numbers. Their numbers swelled to 100,000 by day break. When the enemy attacked the fortress in the morning, Guru Gobind Singh, and his disciples kept the enemy at bay with the hails of deadly arrows which inflicting heavy casualties. When the stock of arrows started dwindling and the enemy forces starting coming close to the fortress, it was decided by Guru Gobind Singh to send Sikhs outside the fortress in batches of five to engage the enemy soldiers in hand to hand combat. Imagine 5 Sikhs, daring to take on thousands of enemy soldiers! This amply proved to the world how fearless the Sikhs of the Guru were. They had love not for their lives, but the orders of their master.
Sahibzada Ajit Singh’s Sacrifice
When groups of Sikhs started leaving the fortress and fought bravely while afflicting heavy causalities before laying down their precious lives, Sahibzada Ajit Singh sought permission of his father to also allow him to go out to fight side by side the brave Sikhs.
Guru Gobind Singh was immensely pleased at this and embraced his son. He himself armed his son and sent him out with the next group of five Sikhs whom he considered no less dear than his own sons. Their valor lent proof to Guruji’s saying that he would be worthy of being Gobind Singh when he would make a Sikh so brave and fearless that he would fight with one lakh and quarter enemies alone.
Emerging from the fortress, Ajit Singh, the brave son of the Tenth Master, attacked the enemy soldiers like a lion leaping on them as if to hungrily tear and shred sheep. Many enemy soldiers were both astonished and terrified on seeing the fighting caliber and methods of attack of this young boy. The accompanying Sikhs prevented enemy soldiers from other sides from encircling the brave Ajit Singh.
After the brave son of the Master exhausted his arrows, he attacked to enemy with his spear. However, the blade of spear which had penetrated into the chest of one of the adversaries piercing his steel dress, broke inside the body of the enemy solider, when Sahibzada Ajit Singh pulled his spear back. Taking advantage of this delay of Baba Ajit Singh, the enemy soldiers were successful in injuring his horse, which fell dead.
The Sahibzada swiftly dismounted the horse and pulling out his sword from its sheath, engaged the enemy soldiers. While he was cutting the adversaries to pieces by lightening strikes with his sword, an enemy soldier successfully attacked the brave son of Guru Gobind Singh with a sharp spear. This spear pierced deeply into the body of Baba Ajit Singh. The brave son of Guru Gobind Singh was fatally injured and the youth fell on ground.
He attained martyrdom under the watchful and appreciative eyes of his great father. Scores of enemy soldier’s bodies were lying in heaps around the fallen body of brave Ajit Singh.
Guru Gobind Singh was watching the brave acts of his son in the battlefield from the fortress. He had been keeping the enemy at bay by his arrows thus providing enough cover for his son to fight a prolonged battle with the enemy soldiers.
The Guru was immensely pleased at the courage shown by his son and the tactics employed by him while inflicting heavy casualties on the adversaries.
Guru Gobind Singh thanked God for helping Ajit Singh to live up to his father’s expectations. The Guru thus proved that for the cause he was fighting, he would not hesitate to offer his own sons for sacrifice, while demanding the same supreme sacrifice from his Sikhs. The Sikhs were as dear to him as his own sons.
Thus fell the brave son of the Great Guru providing inspiration to the Sikhs for generations to come. The Sikh community will remembering this young martyr son of the tenth master for all times to come.
Sahibzada Jujhar Singh’s Sacrifice
Sahibzada Jujhar Singh, the second son of Guru Gobind Singh had been keenly observing from the fortess Chamkor the heroic fight put up by his elder brother, Sahibzada Ajit Singh against overwhelming number and better equiped enemy soldiers. The brave fight put up by his elder brother filled Sahibzada Jujhar Singh with happiness and courage.
No sooner did Sahibzada Ajit Singh fell as a martyr, Sahibzada Jujhar Singh requested his dear father Guru Gobind Singh to grant him permission to accompany the next batch of Sikhs to repeat the heroic acts of his elder brother. He assured his father that he will not let him down and that he would attack the enemy soldiers and drive them away as a shepherd drives his flock of sheep.
The Guru Father was filled with immense pleasure at the determination of his 16 year old second son. He armed his son with weapons and allowed him to go out with next batch of five Sikhs.
Once outside the fortress, the young Jujhar Singh fearlessly attacked the enemy soldiers like a lion, while accompanying Sikhs formed a protective ring around him. Guru Gobind Singh was watching his brave son’s deeds of valor and appreciated his courage and swordsmanship from atop the fortress.
The enemy soldiers could not help appreciating the ferocity and smartness of the young boy. They had never seen such bravery performed by anyone at such a young age against mighty enemy forces. Sahibzada Jujhar Singh using arrows, his spear and finally his sword felled numerous enemy soldiers. Headless bodies of enemy soldiers were piling up around him. The accompanying Sikhs were likewise putting to death many more enemy soldiers while keeping a protective ring around Sahibzada Jujhar Singh.
After a long drawn battle, the enemy soldiers attacked the young Jujhar Singh from all sides in large numbers, breaking the protective ring around him.
Under the appreciative gaze of his father and the accompanying Sikhs, Sahibzada Jujhar Singh put up a brave fight but was ultimately fatally injured and was martyred on amidst heaps of dead bodies of the enemy forces.
The way both these sons of Guru Gobind Singh achieved martyrdom, upholding the principles for which their father had been actively mobilizing within his disciples, showed that Guruji was able to show to all the Sikhs and the enemy that he did not value his own sons more than his Sikhs and that he would not hesitate even to sacrifice his own sons for the Sikh cause.
On seeing his second son falling martyr like his first son, Guruji thanked God for enabling his sons to live up to his expectations. There is no parallel in the world when a father had thanked God, instead of weeping, on the death of his sons witnessed in front of him.
The heroic deeds of these two elder sons Guru Gobind Singh will keep inspiring the young Sikh generations to rise to the occasion whenever called upon to fight for justice and rights against injustice and cruelty for all times to come.
Thus, Guru Gobind Singh sacrificed his dear and brave sons, only to prove that when it comes to making sacrifices for Sikh cause, he would not hesitate to offer his own sons to show to the world that the Sikh ideals alone, and not his own sons, were dearer to him.
Sahibzada Fateh Singh (12 December1699 – 26 December1705), the youngest of Guru Gobind Singh‘s four sons, was born to Mata Jito ji (also known as Mata Sundari ji) at Anandpur on 12 December 1699. During the flight from Anandpur, when the Sikhs, having been promised safe passage to Punjab, Sahibzada Fateh Singh was, along with his elder brother Zorawar Singh, put under the care of his grandmother, Mata Gujari Kaur ji, Unfortunately in the confusion of the rain swollen Sarsa (normally little more than a creek) and an attack by Muslim pursuers, the Guru’s two youngest sons and their Grandmother were separated from the main body of Sikhs. However, managing to get across they were befriended by one of the Guru’s former cooks. Later betrayed and handed off by the authorities of the small village where they had been given sanctuary, they were handed over to agents of Wazir Khan and carted off to Sirhind and placed under arrest in the Khan’s Thanda Burj (cold tower). While the Thanda Burj was built to capture the cool night breezes of air drawn over water channels in the areas hot summers, during the dead of winter the unheated burj offered no comfort for the Guru’s mother and sons.
On 26 December 1705, Fateh Singh and his elder brother, Zorawar Singh were martyred at Sirhind. Fateh Singh is the youngest recorded martyr in history who knowingly laid down his life at the very tender age of 6 years. Sahibzada Fateh Singh and his older brother, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh are among the most hallowed martyrs in Sikhism.
The mind boggles to understand how children of such young age had the guts, courage, bravery and focus to refuse the promise of many lavish gifts and a future of cosy comforts of royalty that were being offered by the Mughals. All they had to do to get all these luxuries was to abandon their religion. This young child was asked to weigh an easy out against the stark option of a brutal, painful and tragic death entombed within a wall of bricks and cement.
The world salutes the supreme sacrifice of these kids of steel who never once – even for a moment considered the easy option and always remained focused on their mission to uphold the principles of God’s kingdom and allowed their bodies to be tortured, violated and endured the intense pain of a slow, pain-ridden and certain death.
On the one hand the world witnessed, the supreme sacrifice of the youngest members of the Guru’s household for the highest ideals of humanity and on the other hand you have the lowly, cruel, cold-blooded and barbaric acts of the heartless and immoral Wazir Khan who had broke an oath sworn on his own Holy book—the Qur’an. May the world reflect on this supreme sacrifice made by this 6 year old, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Guru Tegh Bahadar to fight for justice and for the right of his people and people of other faiths to practise their own faiths without interference or imposition. May we all, the different peoples of our planet learn from this episode in our global history, the values of life and the way to uphold these values. Also, may we all realise the dangers posed by uncontrolled and immoral minds on the development of humanity on this fragile earth.
Bhai Vir Singh (December 5,1872 – June 10, 1957) is known as a ‘MaIter of Punjabi Literatuze’ and hence `The Sixth River of Punjab’. He was a poet, novelist, editor, exegete, historian and a journalist. He was the leading figure in the Singh Sabha, the dynamic Sikh renaissance movement in early 20. century Punjab.
Bhai Vir Singh was born into a family of scholars, and he grew up in the holy city of Amritsar. He finished his Matriculation winning the district boards gold medal. When he was still at school, he was married to Bibi Chattar Kaur.
Considered to be the harbinger of modern Punjabi literature, Bhai Vir Singh wrote prose, novels, poems, plays and historical research. He also started publishing Khalsa Samachar, the first Punjabi daily. Through the pages of Khalsa Samachar, he tried to bring about social and religious reform such as importance of education, equal rights to women, abolition of the caste system, and so on. He established the Khalsa College in Amritsar, and with the help of Wazir Singh, he set up a lithographic press in Amritsar in 1892. The following year he started the Khalsa Tract Society with a view to serving the count, and the Khalsa Panth. He was a great scholar not only of Sikhism but also of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.
Bhai Vir Singh also edited and published Prachin Panth Prakash and Janamsakhi, the life-sto, of Guru Nanak Dev. He organised the Chief Khalsa Diwan, a representative body of the Sikhs for bringing about religious and social reforms. Since very few cared to get themselves educated during his day, he formed the Sikh Educational Committee for spreading of education.
Bhai Vir Singh inspired novelists like Nanak Singh, Bhai Mohan Singh Void, Charan Singh Shahid, Master Tara Singh, and Gurbakhsh Singh. Panjab University conferred on him a doctorate in Oriental Learning, and the Sahitya Akademi awarded him its first annual award for outstanding contribution to Punjabi literature. He was also awarded the Padma Bhushan. He was nominated member of the Punjab Legislative Council in 1952.
Bhai Vir Singh was the most important writer and theologian in Punjabi who expounded Sikh history and philosophy for more than fifty years. He is regarded as the Bhai Gurdas of the twentienth century. His most important works are Guru Nanak Chamatkar, Kalgidhar Chamatkar, Baba Nodh Singh and Meray Saeeyan jeeo.
His poet, possesses the sublimity of Milton, the spontaneity of Wordsworth, the music of Tagore and the mysticism of Yeats. He was the `finest flower’ in the renaissance of modern Punjab. Dr. Vir Singh sang of the struggles of the village folk. He wrote poems on freedom and patriotism.
Bhai Vir Singh was very versatlie. He was poet, novelist and critic. He found spiritual lessons in the objects of Nature. The Kikar Tree is a symbol of the spiritual seeker who must face the slings and arrows of worldly people. His poetry throbs with the longing of the individual 5111 11 rejoin the Universal Soul. The hurdle between man and God is the Ego. Once that is subdued, man may meet God, face to face. He would find beauty and God’s presence in the ordinary things of life. He believed toot could find peace and bliss through self control and spiritual effort.
Dr. Vir Singh was also a historical novelist. His important works in this genre are Sundri, Bijay Singh and Satwant Kaur. Their popularity, is such that they have been reprinted many times.
Bhai Vir Singh was not only a philosopher but also a stylist. Even his prose captures the dignity and harmony of poet,. Kalgidhar Chamatkar is full of purple passages. A registered society, Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan, is now busy publishing his works and popularising them among the masses. His centenary was celebrated in India and abroad in 1972.
Bhai Vir Singh’s creative talent was recognized by the government and the Punjab university. He was given the title of Padam Shri by the Gov. of India and a Honorary Doctorate by the Punjab University. H. Chattopadhaya called him the “sixth river in the land of the five rivers.”
Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji was born in 1469 in Talwandi, a village in the Sheikhupura district, 65 kms. west of Lahore. His father was a village official in the local revenue administration. As a boy, Sri Guru Nanak learnt, besides the regional languages, Persian and Arabic. He was married in 1487 and was blessed with two sons, one in 1491 and the second in 1496. In 1485 he took up, at the instance of his brother-in-law, the appointment of an official in charge of the stores of Daulat Khan Lodhi, the Muslim ruler of the area at Sultanpur. It is there that he came into contact with Mardana, a Muslim minstrel (Mirasi) who was senior in age.
By all accounts, 1496 was the year of his enlightenment when he started on his mission. His first statement after his prophetic communion with God was “There is no Hindu, nor any Mussalman.” This is an announcement of supreme significance it declared not only the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God, but also his clear and primary interest not in any metaphysical doctrine but only in man and his fate. It means love your neighbour as yourself. In addition, it emphasised, simultaneously the inalienable spirituo-moral combination of his message. Accompanied by Mardana, he began his missionary tours. Apart from conveying his message and rendering help to the weak, he forcefully preached, both by precept and practice, against caste distinctions ritualism, idol worship and the pseudo-religious beliefs that had no spiritual content. He chose to mix with all. He dined and lived with men of the lowest castes and classes Considering the then prevailing cultural practices and traditions, this was something socially and religiously unheard of in those days of rigid Hindu caste system sanctioned by the scriptures and the religiously approved notions of untouchability and pollution. It is a matter of great significance that at the very beginning of his mission, the Guru’s first companion was a low caste Muslim. The offerings he received during his tours, were distributed among the poor. Any surplus collected was given to his hosts to maintain a common kitchen, where all could sit and eat together without any distinction of caste and status. This institution of common kitchen or langar became a major instrument of helping the poor, and a nucleus for religious gatherings of his society and of establishing the basic equality of all castes, classes and sexes.
When Guru Nanak Dev ji were 12 years old his father gave him twenty rupees and asked him to do a business, apparently to teach him business. Guru Nanak dev ji bought food for all the money and distributed among saints, and poor. When his father asked him what happened to business? He replied that he had done a “True business” at the place where Guru Nanak dev had fed the poor, this gurdwara was made and named Sacha Sauda.
Despite the hazards of travel in those times, he performed five long tours all over the country and even outside it. He visited most of the known religious places and centres of worship. At one time he preferred to dine at the place of a low caste artisan, Bhai Lallo, instead of accepting the invitation of a high caste rich landlord, Malik Bhago, because the latter lived by exploitation of the poor and the former earned his bread by the sweat of his brow. This incident has been depicted by a symbolic representation of the reason for his preference. Sri Guru Nanak pressed in one hand the coarse loaf of bread from Lallo’s hut and in the other the food from Bhago’s house. Milk gushed forth from the loaf of Lallo’s and blood from the delicacies of Bhago. This prescription for honest work and living and the condemnation of exploitation, coupled with the Guru’s dictum that “riches cannot be gathered without sin and evil means,” have, from the very beginning, continued to be the basic moral tenet with the Sikh mystics and the Sikh society.
During his tours, he visited numerous places of Hindu and Muslim worship. He explained and exposed through his preachings the incongruities and fruitlessness of ritualistic and ascetic practices. At Hardwar, when he found people throwing Ganges water towards the sun in the east as oblations to their ancestors in heaven, he started, as a measure of correction, throwing the water towards the West, in the direction of his fields in the Punjab. When ridiculed about his folly, he replied, “If Ganges water will reach your ancestors in heaven, why should the water I throw up not reach my fields in the Punjab, which are far less distant ?”
He spent twenty five years of his life preaching from place to place. Many of his hymns were composed during this period. They represent answers to the major religious and social problems of the day and cogent responses to the situations and incidents that he came across. Some of the hymns convey dialogues with Yogis in the Punjab and elsewhere. He denounced their methods of living and their religious views. During these tours he studied other religious systems like Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Islam. At the same time, he preached the doctrines of his new religion and mission at the places and centres he visited. Since his mystic system almost completely reversed the trends, principles and practices of the then prevailing religions, he criticised and rejected virtually all the old beliefs, rituals and harmful practices existing in the country. This explains the necessity of his long and arduous tours and the variety and profusion of his hymns on all the religious, social, political and theological issues, practices and institutions of his period.
Finally, on the completion of his tours, he settled as a peasant farmer at Kartarpur, a village in the Punjab. Bhai Gurdas, the scribe of Guru Granth Sahib, was a devout and close associate of the third and the three subsequent Gurus. He was born 12 years after Guru Nanak’s death and joined the Sikh mission in his very boyhood. He became the chief missionary agent of the Gurus. Because of his intimate knowledge of the Sikh society and his being a near contemporary of Sri Guru Nanak, his writings are historically authentic and reliable. He writes that at Kartarpur Guru Nanak donned the robes of a peasant and continued his ministry. He organised Sikh societies at places he visited with their meeting places called Dharamsalas. A similar society was created at Kartarpur. In the morning, Japji was sung in the congregation. In the evening Sodar and Arti were recited. The Guru cultivated his lands and also continued with his mission and preachings. His followers throughout the country were known as Nanak-panthies or Sikhs. The places where Sikh congregation and religious gatherings of his followers were held were called Dharamsalas. These were also the places for feeding the poor. Eventually, every Sikh home became a Dharamsala.
One thing is very evident. Guru Nanak had a distinct sense of his prophethood and that his mission was God-ordained. During his preachings, he himself announced. “O Lallo, as the words of the Lord come to me, so do I express them.” Successors of Guru Nanak have also made similar statements indicating that they were the messengers of God. So often Guru Nanak refers to God as his Enlightener and Teacher. His statements clearly show his belief that God had commanded him to preach an entirely new religion, the central idea of which was the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God, shorn of all ritualism and priestcraft. During a dialogue with the Yogis, he stated that his mission was to help everyone. He came to be called a Guru in his lifetime. In Punjabi, the word Guru means both God and an enlightener or a prophet. During his life, his disciples were formed and came to be recognised as a separate community. He was accepted as a new religious prophet. His followers adopted a separate way of greeting each other with the words Sat Kartar (God is true). Twentyfive years of his extensive preparatory tours and preachings across the length and breadth of the country clearly show his deep conviction that the people needed a new prophetic message which God had commanded him to deliver. He chose his successor and in his own life time established him as the future Guru or enlightener of the new community. This step is of the greatest significance, showing Guru Nanak s determination and declaration that the mission which he had started and the community he had created were distinct and should be continued, promoted and developed. By the formal ceremony of appointing his successor and by giving him a new name, Angad (his part or limb), he laid down the clear principle of impersonality, unity and indivisibility of Guruship. At that time he addressed Angad by saying, Between thou and me there is now no difference. In Guru Granth Sahib there is clear acceptance and proclamation of this identity of personality in the hymns of Satta-Balwand. This unity of spiritual personality of all the Gurus has a theological and mystic implication. It is also endorsed by the fact that each of the subsequent Gurus calls himself Nanak in his hymns. Never do they call themselves by their own names as was done by other Bhagats and Illyslics. That Guru Nanak attached the highest importance to his mission is also evident from his selection of the successor by a system of test, and only when he was found perfect, was Guru Angad appointed as his successor. He was comparatively a new comer to the fold, and yet he was chosen in preference to the Guru’s own son, Sri Chand, who also had the reputation of being a pious person, and Baba Budha, a devout Sikh of long standing, who during his own lifetime had the distinction of ceremonially installing all subsequent Gurus.
All these facts indicate that Guru Nanak had a clear plan and vision that his mission was to be continued as an independent and distinct spiritual system on the lines laid down by him, and that, in the context of the country, there was a clear need for the organisation of such a spiritual mission and society. In his own lifetime, he distinctly determined its direction and laid the foundations of some of the new religious institutions. In addition, he created the basis for the extension and organisation of his community and religion.
The above in brief is the story of the Guru’s life. We shall now note the chief features of his work, how they arose from his message and how he proceeded to develop them during his lifetime.
(1) After his enlightenment, the first words of Guru Nanak declared the brotherhood of man. This principle formed the foundation of his new spiritual gospel. It involved a fundamental doctrinal change because moral life received the sole spiritual recognition and status. This was something entirely opposed to the religious systems in vogue in the country during the time of the Guru. All those systems were, by and large, other-worldly. As against it, the Guru by his new message brought God on earth. For the first time in the country, he made a declaration that God was deeply involved and interested in the affairs of man and the world which was real and worth living in. Having taken the first step by the proclamation of his radical message, his obvious concern was to adopt further measures to implement the same.
(2)The Guru realised that in the context and climate of the country, especially because of the then existing religious systems and the prevailing prejudices, there would be resistance to his message, which, in view of his very thesis, he wanted to convey to all. He, therefore, refused to remain at Sultanpur and preach his gospel from there. Having declared the sanctity of life, his second major step was in the planning and organisation of institutions that would spread his message. As such, his twentyfive years of extensive touring can be understood only as a major organizational step. These tours were not casual. They had a triple object. He wanted to acquaint himself with all the centres and organisations of the prevalent religious systems so as to assess the forces his mission had to contend with, and to find out the institutions that he could use in the aid of his own system. Secondly, he wanted to convey his gospel at the very centres of the old systems and point out the futile and harmful nature of their methods and practices. It is for this purpose that he visited Hardwar, Kurukshetra, Banaras, Kanshi, Maya, Ceylon, Baghdad, Mecca, etc. Simultaneously, he desired to organise all his followers and set up for them local centres for their gatherings and worship. The existence of some of these far-flung centres even up-till today is a testimony to his initiative in the Organizational and the societal field. His hymns became the sole guide and the scripture for his flock and were sung at the Dharamsalas.
(3) Guru Nanak’s gospel was for all men. He proclaimed their equality in all respects. In his system, the householder’s life became the primary forum of religious activity. Human life was not a burden but a privilege. His was not a concession to the laity. In fact, the normal life became the medium of spiritual training and expression. The entire discipline and institutions of the Gurus can be appreciated only if one understands that, by the very logic of Guru Nanak’s system, the householder’s life became essential for the seeker. On reaching Kartarpur after his tours, the Guru sent for the members of his family and lived there with them for the remaining eighteen years of his life. For the same reason his followers all over the country were not recluses. They were ordinary men, living at their own homes and pursuing their normal vocations. The Guru’s system involved morning and evening prayers. Congregational gatherings of the local followers were also held at their respective Dharamsalas.
(4) After he returned to Kartarpur, Guru Nanak did not rest. He straightaway took up work as a cultivator of land, without interrupting his discourses and morning and evening prayers. It is very significant that throughout the later eighteen years of his mission he continued to work as a peasant. It was a total involvement in the moral and productive life of the community. His life was a model for others to follow. Like him all his disciples were regular workers who had not given up their normal vocations Even while he was performing the important duties of organising a new religion, he nester shirked the full-time duties of a small cultivator. By his personal example he showed that the leading of a normal man’s working life was fundamental to his spiritual system Even a seemingly small departure from this basic tenet would have been misunderstood and misconstrued both by his own followers and others. In the Guru’s system, idleness became a vice and engagement in productive and constructive work a virtue. It was Guru Nanak who chastised ascetics as idlers and condemned their practice of begging for food at the doors of the householders.
(5) According to the Guru, moral life was the sole medium of spiritual progress In those times, caste, religious and social distinctions, and the idea of pollution were major problems. Unfortunately, these distinctions had received religious sanction The problem of poverty and food was another moral challenge. The institution of langar had a twin purpose. As every one sat and ate at the same place and shared the same food, it cut at the root of the evil of caste, class and religious distinctions. Besides, it demolished the idea of pollution of food by the mere presence of an untouchable. Secondlys it provided food to the needy. This institution of langar and pangat was started by the Guru among all his followers wherever they had been organised. It became an integral part of the moral life of the Sikhs. Considering that a large number of his followers were of low caste and poor members of society, he, from the very start, made it clear that persons who wanted to maintain caste and class distinctions had no place in his system In fact, the twin duties of sharing one’s income with the poor and doing away with social distinctions were the two obligations which every Sikh had to discharge. On this score, he left no option to anyone, since he started his mission with Mardana, a low caste Muslim, as his life long companion.
(6) The greatest departure Guru Nanak made was to prescribe for the religious man the responsibility of confronting evil and oppression. It was he who said that God destroys ‘the evil doers’ and ‘the demonical; and that such being God s nature and will, it is man’s goal to carry out that will. Since there are evil doers in life, it is the spiritual duty of the seeker and his society to resist evil and injustice. Again, it is Guru Nanak who protests and complains that Babur had been committing tyranny against the weak and the innocent. Having laid the principle and the doctrine, it was again he who proceeded to organise a society. because political and societal oppression cannot be resisted by individuals, the same can be confronted only by a committed society. It was, therefore, he who proceeded to create a society and appointed a successor with the clear instructions to develop his Panth. Again, it was Guru Nanak who emphasized that life is a game of love, and once on that path one should not shirk laying down one’s life. Love of one’s brother or neighbour also implies, if love is true, his or her protection from attack, injustice and tyranny. Hence, the necessity of creating a religious society that can discharge this spiritual obligation. Ihis is the rationale of Guru Nanak’s system and the development of the Sikh society which he organised.
(7) The Guru expressed all his teachings in Punjabi, the spoken language of Northern India. It was a clear indication of his desire not to address the elite alone but the masses as well. It is recorded that the Sikhs had no regard for Sanskrit, which was the sole scriptural language of the Hindus. Both these facts lead to important inferences. They reiterate that the Guru’s message was for all. It was not for the few who, because of their personal aptitude, should feel drawn to a life of a so-called spiritual meditation and contemplation. Nor was it an exclusive spiritual system divorced from the normal life. In addition, it stressed that the Guru’s message was entirely new and was completely embodied in his hymns. His disciples used his hymns as their sole guide for all their moral, religious and spiritual purposes. I hirdly, the disregard of the Sikhs for Sanskrit strongly suggests that not only was the Guru’s message independent and self-contained, without reference and resort to the Sanskrit scriptures and literature, but also that the Guru made a deliberate attempt to cut off his disciples completely from all the traditional sources and the priestly class. Otherwise, the old concepts, ritualistic practices, modes of worship and orthodox religions were bound to affect adversely the growth of his religion which had wholly a different basis and direction and demanded an entirely new approach.
The following hymn from Guru Nanak and the subsequent one from Sankara are contrast in their approach to the world.
“the sun and moon, O Lord, are Thy lamps; the firmament Thy salver; the orbs of the stars the pearls encased in it.
The perfume of the sandal is Thine incense, the wind is Thy fan, all the forests are Thy flowers, O Lord of light.
What worship is this, O Thou destroyer of birth ? Unbeaten strains of ecstasy are the trumpets of Thy worship.
Thou has a thousand eyes and yet not one eye; Thou host a thousand forms and yet not one form;
Thou hast a thousand stainless feet and yet not one foot; Thou hast a thousand organs of smell and yet not one organ. I am fascinated by this play of ‘l hine.
The light which is in everything is Chine, O Lord of light.
From its brilliancy everything is illuminated;
By the Guru’s teaching the light becometh manifest.
What pleaseth Thee is the real worship.
O God, my mind is fascinated with Thy lotus feet as the bumble-bee with the flower; night and day I thirst for them.
Give the water of Thy favour to the Sarang (bird) Nanak, so that he may dwell in Thy Name.”3
Sankara writes: “I am not a combination of the five perishable elements I arn neither body, the senses, nor what is in the body (antar-anga: i e., the mind). I am not the ego-function: I am not the group of the vital breathforces; I am not intuitive intelligence (buddhi). Far from wife and son am 1, far from land and wealth and other notions of that kind. I am the Witness, the Eternal, the Inner Self, the Blissful One (sivoham; suggesting also, ‘I am Siva’).”
“Owing to ignorance of the rope the rope appears to be a snake; owing to ignorance of the Self the transient state arises of the individualized, limited, phenomenal aspect of the Self. The rope becomes a rope when the false impression disappears because of the statement of some credible person; because of the statement of my teacher I am not an individual life-monad (yivo-naham), I am the Blissful One (sivo-ham ).”
“I am not the born; how can there be either birth or death for me ?”
“I am not the vital air; how can there be either hunger or thirst for me ?”
“I am not the mind, the organ of thought and feeling; how can there be either sorrow or delusion for me ?”
“I am not the doer; how can there be either bondage or release for me ?”
“I am neither male nor female, nor am I sexless. I am the Peaceful One, whose form is self-effulgent, powerful radiance. I am neither a child, a young man, nor an ancient; nor am I of any caste. I do not belong to one of the four lifestages. I am the Blessed-Peaceful One, who is the only Cause of the origin and dissolution of the world.”4
While Guru Nanak is bewitched by the beauty of His creation and sees in the panorama of nature a lovely scene of the worshipful adoration of the Lord, Sankara in his hymn rejects the reality of the world and treats himself as the Sole Reality. Zimmer feels that “Such holy megalomania goes past the bounds of sense. With Sankara, the grandeur of the supreme human experience becomes intellectualized and reveals its inhuman sterility.”5
No wonder that Guru Nanak found the traditional religions and concepts as of no use for his purpose. He calculatedly tried to wean away his people from them. For Guru Nanak, religion did not consist in a ‘patched coat or besmearing oneself with ashes”6 but in treating all as equals. For him the service of man is supreme and that alone wins a place in God’s heart.
By this time it should be easy to discern that all the eight features of the Guru’s system are integrally connected. In fact, one flows from the other and all follow from the basic tenet of his spiritual system, viz., the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. For Guru Nanak, life and human beings became the sole field of his work. Thus arose the spiritual necessity of a normal life and work and the identity of moral and spiritual functioning and growth.
Having accepted the primacy of moral life and its spiritual validity, the Guru proceeded to identify the chief moral problems of his time. These were caste and class distinctions, the institutions, of property and wealth, and poverty and scarcity of food. Immoral institutions could be substituted and replaced only by the setting up of rival institutions. Guru Nanak believed that while it is essential to elevate man internally, it is equally necessary to uplift the fallen and the downtrodden in actual life. Because, the ultimate test of one’s spiritual progress is the kind of moral life one leads in the social field. The Guru not only accepted the necessity of affecting change in the environment, but also endeavoured to build new institutions. We shall find that these eight basic principles of the spirituo-moral life enunciated by Guru Nanak, were strictly carried out by his successors. As envisaged by the first prophet, his successors further extended the structure and organised the institutions of which the foundations had been laid by Guru Nanak. Though we shall consider these points while dealing with the lives of the other nine Gurus, some of them need to be mentioned here.
The primacy of the householder’s life was maintained. Everyone of the Gurus, excepting Guru Harkishan who died at an early age, was a married person who maintained a family. When Guru Nanak, sent Guru Angad from Kartarpur to Khadur Sahib to start his mission there, he advised him to send for the members of his family and live a normal life. According to Bhalla,8 when Guru Nanak went to visit Guru Angad at Khadur Sahib, he found him living a life of withdrawal and meditation. Guru Nanak directed him to be active as he had to fulfill his mission and organise a community inspired by his religious principles.
Work in life, both for earning the livelihood and serving the common good, continued to be the fundamental tenet of Sikhism. There is a clear record that everyone upto the Fifth Guru (and probably subsequent Gurus too) earned his livelihood by a separate vocation and contributed his surplus to the institution of langar Each Sikh was made to accept his social responsibility. So much so that Guru Angad and finally Guru Amar Das clearly ordered that Udasis, persons living a celibate and ascetic life without any productive vocation, should remain excluded from the Sikh fold. As against it, any worker or a householder without distinction of class or caste could become a Sikh. This indicates how these two principles were deemed fundamental to the mystic system of Guru Nanak. It was defined and laid down that in Sikhism a normal productive and moral life could alone be the basis of spiritual progress. Here, by the very rationale of the mystic path, no one who was not following a normal life could be fruitfully included.
The organization of moral life and institutions, of which the foundations had been laid by Guru Nanak, came to be the chief concern of the other Gurus. We refer to the sociopolitical martyrdoms of two of the Gurus and the organisation of the military struggle by the Sixth Guru and his successors. Here it would be pertinent to mention Bhai Gurdas’s narration of Guru Nanak’s encounter and dialogue with the Nath Yogis who were living an ascetic life of retreat in the remote hills. They asked Guru Nanak how the world below in the plains was faring. ‘ How could it be well”, replied Guru Nanak, “when the so- called pious men had resorted to the seclusion of the hills ?” The Naths commented that it was incongruous and self-contradictory for Guru Nanak to be a householder and also pretend to lead a spiritual life. That, they said, was like putting acid in milk and thereby destroying its purity. The Guru replied emphatically that the Naths were ignorant of even the basic elements of spiritual life.9 This authentic record of the dialouge reveals the then prevailing religious thought in the country. It points to the clear and deliberate break the Guru made from the traditional system.
While Guru Nanak was catholic in his criticism of other religions, he was unsparing where he felt it necessary to clarify an issue or to keep his flock away from a wrong practice or prejudice. He categorically attacked all the evil institutions of his time including oppression and barbarity in the political field, corruption among the officialss and hypocrisy and greed in the priestly class. He deprecated the degrading practices of inequality in the social field. He criticised and repudiated the scriptures that sanctioned such practices. After having denounced all of them, he took tangible steps to create a society that accepted the religious responsibility of eliminating these evils from the new institutions created by him and of attacking the evil practices and institutions in the Social and political fields. T his was a fundamental institutional change with the largest dimensions and implications for the future of the community and the country. The very fact that originally poorer classes were attracted to the Gurus, fold shows that they found there a society and a place where they could breathe freely and live with a sense of equality and dignity.
Dr H.R. Gupta, the well-known historian, writes, “Nanak’s religion consisted in the love of God, love of man and love of godly living. His religion was above the limits of caste, creed and country. He gave his love to all, Hindus, Muslims, Indians and foreigners alike. His religion was a people’s movement based on modern conceptions of secularism and socialism, a common brotherhood of all human beings. Like Rousseau, Nanak felt 250 years earlier that it was the common people who made up the human race Ihey had always toiled and tussled for princes, priests and politicians. What did not concern the common people was hardly worth considering. Nanak’s work to begin with assumed the form of an agrarian movement. His teachings were purely in Puniabi language mostly spoken by cultivators. Obey appealed to the downtrodden and the oppressed peasants and petty traders as they were ground down between the two mill stones of Government tyranny and the new Muslims’ brutality. Nanak’s faith was simple and sublime. It was the life lived. His religion was not a system of philosophy like Hinduism. It was a discipline, a way of life, a force, which connected one Sikh with another as well as with the Guru.”‘� “In Nanak s time Indian society was based on caste and was divided into countless watertight Compartments. Men were considered high and low on account of their birth and not according to their deeds. Equality of human beings was a dream. There was no spirit of national unity except feelings of community fellowship. In Nanak’s views men’s love of God was the criterion to judge whether a person was good or bad, high or low. As the caste system was not based on divine love, he condemned it. Nanak aimed at creating a casteless and classless society similar to the modern type of socialist society in which all were equal and where one member did not exploit the other. Nanak insisted that every Sikh house should serve as a place of love and devotion, a true guest house (Sach dharamshala). Every Sikh was enjoined to welcome a traveller or a needy person and to share his meals and other comforts with him. “Guru Nanak aimed at uplifting the individual as well as building a nation.”
Considering the religious conditions and the philosophies of the time and the social and political milieu in which Guru Nanak was born, the new spirituo- moral thesis he introduced and the changes he brought about in the social and spiritual field were indeed radical and revolutionary. Earlier, release from the bondage of the world was sought as the goal. The householder’s life was considered an impediment and an entanglement to be avoided by seclusion, monasticism, celibacy, sanyasa or vanpraslha. In contrast, in the Guru’s system the world became the arena of spiritual endeavour. A normal life and moral and righteous deeds became the fundamental means of spiritual progress, since these alone were approved by God. Man was free to choose between the good and the bad and shape his own future by choosing virtue and fighting evil. All this gave “new hope, new faith, new life and new expectations to the depressed, dejected and downcast people of Punjab.”
Guru Nanak’s religious concepts and system were entirely opposed to those of the traditional religions in the country. His views were different even from those of the saints of the Radical Bhakti movement. From the very beginning of his mission, he started implementing his doctrines and creating institutions for their practice and development. In his time the religious energy and zeal were flowing away from the empirical world into the desert of otherworldliness, asceticism and renunciation. It was Guru Nanak’s mission and achievement not only to dam that Amazon of moral and spiritual energy but also to divert it into the world so as to enrich the moral, social the political life of man. We wonder if, in the context of his times, anything could be more astounding and miraculous. The task was undertaken with a faith, confidence and determination which could only be prophetic.
It is indeed the emphatic manifestation of his spiritual system into the moral formations and institutions that created a casteless society of people who mixed freely, worked and earned righteously, contributed some of their income to the common causes and the langar. It was this community, with all kinds of its shackles broken and a new freedom gained, that bound its members with a new sense of cohesion, enabling it to rise triumphant even though subjected to the severest of political and military persecutions.
The life of Guru Nanak shows that the only interpretation of his thesis and doctrines could be the one which we have accepted. He expressed his doctrines through the medium of activities. He himself laid the firm foundations of institutions and trends which flowered and fructified later on. As we do not find a trace of those ideas and institutions in the religious milieu of his time or the religious history of the country, the entirely original and new character of his spiritual system could have only been mystically and prophetically inspired.
Apart from the continuation, consolidation and expansion of Guru Nanak’s mission, the account that follows seeks to present the major contributions made by the remaining Gurus.
Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was born on Vaisakh Vadi 5, (5 Vaisakh), Bikrami Samvat 1678, (1st April, 1621) in the holy city of Amritsar in a house known as Guru ke Mahal. He had four brothers Baba Gurditta Ji, Baba Suraj Mal Ji, Baba Ani Rai Ji, Baba Atal Rai Ji and one sister Bibi Veero Ji. He was the fifth and the youngest son of Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji and Mata Nanki Ji. His childhood name was Tyag Mal. The Sikhs began to call him Teg Bahadur after the battle of Kartarpur against Painda Khan in which he proved to be great sword-player or gladiator. But he preffered to call himself ‘Degh Bahadur’
From the very childhood Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji used to sit inside the house and spend most of his time in meditation. He seldom played with other boys of his age. Due to the rich religious atmosphere at home he developed a distinct philosophical bent of mind. Naturally he developed inspirations towards a life of selfless service and sacrifice.
Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji had a regular schooling from the age of six. Where he also learnt classical, vocal and instrumental music. Bhai Gurdas Ji also taught him Gurbani and Hindu Mythology. Apart from the schooling he was also given the military training like horsemanship, swordsmanship, javelin throwing and shooting. He had witnessed and even participated in the battles of Amritsar and Kartarpur. But inspite of all this, he developed an extra ordinary mystic nature in due course of time.
Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was married to Gujri Ji (Mata), daughter of Sh.Lal Chand & Bishan Kaur of Kartarpur at an early age on 15 Assu, Samvat 1689 (September 14, 1632). A son (Guru) Gobind Singh (Sahib) was born on Poh Sudi Saptmi Samvat 1723 (December 22,1666). Gujri (Mata) was also a religious lady. She was disciplined in behaviour and modest in temprament. Her father was a noble and rich man.
Soon after the death of Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, Mata Nanki Ji, the mother of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji took him and his wife (Gujri) to her natal village (Baba) Bakala near the river Beas. Some Chronicles state that Bhai Mehra, who was a devout Sikh of Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, got constructed a house for Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji where he lived in complete peace and led a normal life for the next twenty years (from 1644 to 1666).
It is a totally wrong conception (as some historian point out) that Guru Sahib got constructed a solitary cell in his house where he often used to meditate God. Actually, it is seen that the meditation for self-purification and self-attainment of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji is wrongly mis-understood. Guru Nanak’s spiritual traditions hold that after attaining the divine light, one has to lift others from darkness to liberate the world. In JapJi sahib, Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji says: ” There can be no love of God without active service.” Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji’s long spell of silent meditation perfected his will. Through meditation Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji archived the torch of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji creative vision. He developed aspirations towards a life of selfless service and sacrifice, with a moral and spiritual courage to abide by the will of God. When Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji invested Sri Guru Har Rai Ji with Guruship, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was the first to bow to Sri Guru Har Rai Ji. He never contested the will of his father (Guru).
During the stay at Baba Bakala, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji paid visits to many holy and historical places like Goindwal, Kiratpur Sahib, Haridwar, Prayag, Mathura, Agra, Kashi (Banaras) and Gaya. A devoted Sikh of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, Bhai Jetha Ji took Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji to Patna. Here he heard the news of the passing away of Sri Guru Har Rai Ji (6th Oct, 1661) and decided to return to Kiratpur Sahib. On the way back he reached Delhi on March, 21,1664, where he learnt the arrival of Sri Guru Harkrishan Ji at the residence of Raja Jai Singh. He alongwith his mother and other Sikhs paid visit to Sri Guru Harkrishan Ji and after expressing profound sense of sorrow and sympathy towards Guru Sahib and his mother Mata Krishan Kaur Ji, he left for Baba Bakala (Punjab).
After some days, Sri Guru Harkrishan Ji (on the eve of his death), prophetically uttered only two words “Baba Bakala” meaning that his successor would be found at (Baba) Bakala. Now with this announcement near about twenty-two posers and self-appointed successors sprung up in the small village Bakala. The most prominent among them was Dhir Mal who was the only direct descendant of the eldest son Baba Gurditta Ji and it was he who possessed the first copy of Guru Granth Sahib prepared by Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji.
This situation puzzled the innocent Sikh devotees for a few months. Then in the month of August 1664, Sikh Sangat headed by some prominent Sikhs from Delhi, arrived at village Bakala and acknowledged Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji as the Ninth Nanak, but the atmosphere remained same at Village Baba Bakala. Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji accepted the spiritual succession but never liked to be dragged into the mire of competition with the imposters. He kept aloof from them. An incident, which changed the whole scene deciding the dispute forever, occurred one day.
Makhan Shah Lubana, a rich trader and a devout Sikh from Tanda district Jehlam (now in Pakistan), came to pay his obeisance and 500 gold coins as offerings to the Guru Sahib, at village Bakala. It is said that earlier his ship full of merchandise was caught in a storm. But due to his prayer to the Guru Sahib, his ship was saved. He made up his mind to offer 500 gold coins in lieu of the safety. Reaching village Bakala he had to encounter so many ‘Gurus’. Everyone contested to be the real ‘Guru’. He offered everyone only two coins and non-of them challenged. The imposters were glad to accept only two coins. But he was disappointed as he sensed something wrong.
One day he learned from some villagers that there was also another Guru named Tegh Bahadur Ji. He went to see the Guru who was meditating in a lone house. When he offered two coins to Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, the later questioned that why Makhan Shah was breaking his own promise offering only two coins instead of five hundred. At this Makhan Shah could not contain himself with joy. He immediately climbed to the roof of the same house and cried loudly that he had discoverd the true Guru (Guru Ladho Re…Guru Ladho Re…). On hearing this a large number of Sikh devotees assembled there and paid their homage to the true Guru.
This incident ravaged Dhir Mal and he with the hired ruffians, attacked Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. A bullet hit Guru Sahib and when the Sikhs learnt about this attack, they retaliated and took possession of (Guru) Granth Sahib lying with Dhir Mal. But Guru Sahib returned it to Dhir Mal while forgiving him.
Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji with his entire family reached Amritsar (about November, 1664) to pay obeisance at Harmandir Sahib, but the ministers of the holy place shut its doors against him and he was not allowed to enter. Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji did not pressed or forced his entry but returned calmly and reached Kiratpur Sahib via Vallah, Khandur Sahib, Goindwal Sahib, Tarn Taran Sahib, Khem karan. Before reaching Kiratpur, he also visited Talwandi Saboke, Banger and Dhandaur. It is to be noted that wherever Guru Sahib went, there he established new Manjis (preaching centres of Sikhism). Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib reached Kiratpur Sahib in May 1665.
In June 1665 Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji bought some land from Raja of Bilaspur near Makhowal village on the bank of River Satlej and founded a new town Chak-Nanki after revered name of his mother Nanki. Later this town was renamed as Sri Anandpur Sahib.
After a brief stay at new founded town, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji set out for a long journey towards the east in order to strengthen the Sikh nation by setting up new preaching centers and renewing the old ones. It was his second missionary tour. He left Anandpur Sahib in August, 1665 alongwith many staunch sikhs such as Bhai Mati Das Ji, Bhai Sati Das Ji, Bhai Sangtia Ji, Bhai Dayal Das Ji and Bhai Jetha Ji apart from his close family members. It was like a long-march for the sake of suffering humanity. This mission raved the othodox regime of the Mughals, because large crowds began to attend the gatherings and sought the Guru’s blessings. When Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was coming at Dhamdhan in the Banger area in December 1665 a Mughal enforcement officer Alam Khan Rohella arrested him alongwith Bhai Sati Das Ji, Bhai Moti Das Ji, Bhai Dayal Das Ji and some other Sikh followers under the imperial orders from Delhi. All these were produced before the court of the empror Aurangzeb, who orderd to hand-over them to Kanwar Ram Singh Kachhwaha, son of Raja Jai Singh Mirza. The entire family of Raja Jai Singh was a staunch follower of Guru Sahib and hence they treated him not like prisoner but endorsed great respect and also secured the releasing orders from the imperial court. Guru Sahib was released after about two months. Resuming his mission further, Guru Sahib reached Mathura and then Agra and from here he reached Allahabad via Etawah, Kanpur and Fatehpur. He also visited Benaras and Sasaram and then reached Patna in the month of May 1666.
Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji proceeded further towards Dacca via Mongair, Calicut (now Kolkata), Sahibganj and Kant Nagar in October 1666. But before leaving for these places he made necessary arrangements under the supervision of a devout Sikh lady known as Mata Paidi for the safe stay of his family members at Patna during the rainy season. Then Mata Gujri Ji was expecting a child. At all the places Guru Sahib halted, Satsangat and Kirtan (recitations of Verses from Guru Granth Sahib) were held daily and religious sermons were delivered. Many prominent Sikhs like Bhai Mati Dass Ji, Bhai Sati Dass Ji, Bhai Dayal Das Ji and Baba Gurditta Ji, supported Guru Sahib in religious sittings during these tours.
At Dacca Guru Sahib established a big Sangat (Hazuri Sangat) with the help of ardent followers like Almast Ji and Natha Sahib. A Gurdwara Sangat Tola now marks the place where Guru Sahib used to deliver holy sermons to the audience. It was here that Guru Sahib heard the news of the birth of his son, (Guru Gobind Singh Sahib) who was born on Poh Sudi Saptami (23 Poh) Bikrami Samvat 1723, (December, 22,1666) at Patna.From Dacca, Guru Sahib proceeded towards Jatia Hills and Sylhet where he established a preaching Centre for Sikh Sangat and reached Chittagong via Agartala.
Guru Sahib returned Dacca in 1668. At this time Raja Ram Singh son of Late Raja Jai Singh who was already present at Dacca in order to make arrangements for his expedition to Assam, met Guru Sahib and sought blessings. (Some Chronicles state that Raja Ram Singh met Guru Sahib at Gaya). As Guru Sahib was already touring the Far East places, Raja Ram Singh requested Guru Sahib to accompany him during the expedition. Guru Sahib did so. During this tour Guru Sahib meditated on the banks of river Brahmaputra at Dhubri in Assam where stands a Gurdwara known as Sri Damdama Sahib. Earlier Guru Nanak Sahib also sanctified this place. It is said that by the grace of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, there was a peaceful settlement instead of bloody conformation between the ruler of Kamrup and Raja Ram Singh. Guru Sahib left Assam in April-May, 1670 and returned Patna.
A reign of terror was let loose on the Hindus in India by the Muslim theistic state. The prosecution of Hindus was the most outrageous feature of his reign. Augranzeb made up his mind to rout out Hinduism from India by hook or crook, and introduced many Islamic fundamentalist programs like special taxes for the Hindu traders, religious tax (Zazia) for non-Muslims. Celebration of Diwali and Holi was forbidden. He demolished many important and sacred Hindu Temples, and erected mosques in place of them. Chronicles state that some Sikh Gurudwaras were also demolished.
Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji heard of these black deeds of Aurangzeb and moved towards Punjab. In the way, Guru Sahib was arrested at Agra along with many of his prominent Sikhs in June 1670. They were produced before an imperial court at Delhi but released shortly. Guru Sahib returned Anandpur Sahib in February 1671. He spent about two years there peacefully preaching Sikhism. Here he identified himself with the sorrows and sufferings of the common masses.
In 1672, Guru Sahib set out for another religious journey towards Malwa region in Punjab. Socially and economically this area was backward and almost neglected, but the people were hard working and poor. They were also deprived of basic amenities like fresh drinking water, milk and even simple food. Guru Sahib toured this area about one and half year.
He helped villagers in many ways. Guru Sahib and Sikh Sangat assisted them in planting trees on barren stretches of land. They were also advised to start dairy farming and in this respect many cattle heads were also distributed free of cost among the poor and landless farmers. To cope with the scarcity of water many community wells were dug on the behest of Guru Sahib by performing Kar-Sewa (free service). Thus Guru Sahib identified himself with the common masses. At this stage many followers of Sakhi Sarver (a muslim outfit) entered into the fold of Sikhism. On the other hand Guru Sahib established many new preaching centres of Sikhism at these places. The main and important halts of Guru Sahib were Patiala (Dukhniwaran Sahib), Samaon, Bhiki, Tahla Sahib, and Talwandi in Bhatinda, Gobindpura, Makrora, Bangar and Dhamdhan. Guru Sahib toured these areas about one and a half years and returned Anandpur Sahib in 1675.
These preaching tours and social works irked the Muslim fundamentalists and created a fear-psyche among the upper privileged classes. On the other hand the secret news-writers of the Mughal Empire dispatched exaggerated and subjective reports regarding the religious activities of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib.
As it is mentioned earlier that the Muslim theistic state executed forceful conversions in order to make India, Dar-ul-Islam and to achieve this goal as soon as possible, the Hindu Pandits and Brahmins (the preaching class) of Kashi, Prayag, Kurukshetra, Haridwar and Kashmir were identified for this purpose. All types of atrocities were let loose on them. They were given an ultimatum either to embrace Islam or to be prepared for death. It is regretted that all this was done under the very nose of many so-called brave Hindu and Rajput kings and chiefs who were also subordinate to the imperial state of Delhi. They were only silent spectators aiming at their own ends. They even did not raise a minor voice of protest against the nefarious acts of Aurangzeb. There was a wave of mass conversion in India and Sher Afgan Khan an imperial viceroy first tried this practice in Kashmir. Thousands of Kahmiri Pandits were massacred and their property was looted.
At this juncture, the Brahmins especially the Kashmiri Pandits led by Pandit Kirpa Ram Dutt approached Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji at Anandpur Sahib in May 1675. They told their tales of woe to Guru Sahib and requested to protect their honor and faith. Guru Sahib heard their views and agreed to resist the nefarious act of forcible conversions by peaceful means. After long discussions with the prominent Sikhs and Kashmiri Pandits, Guru Sahib made up his mind to sacrifice himself for the cause of “Righteousness” and for the freedom of “Dharma”(Religion)
On the advice of Guru Sahib, the Kashmiri Pandits presented a petition to the Emperor and in lieu of this an imperial court of Delhi, issued summons asking Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji to appear in the said court. But on the other hand, before the imperial summons reach Anandpur Sahib, Guru Sahib started his journey towards Delhi after installing his son (Guru) Gobind Sahib as the Tenth Nanak in July 1675. Bhai Dayal Das Ji, Bhai Mati Das Ji, Bhai Sati Das Ji and many more devoted Sikhs followed Guru Sahib. When Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji reached near village Malikpur Ragharan near Ropar, an imperial armed contingent led by Mirza Nur Mohammad Khan, arrested Guru Sahib and some of his prominent followers. He kept them in a prison at Bassi Pathanan and tortured daily. Now it was the turn of Guru Sahib who remained calm & quite. The authorities offered three alternatives viz : (1) To show miracles, or (2) to embrace Islam, or (3) to prepare himself for death. Guru Sahib accepted the last. On seeing Guru Sahib adamant and immoveable, the authorities ordered the executioner (Jallad) to sever the head from the body. The order was implemented. The historians quote this date as November 11, 1675 AD. (Gurdwara Sis Ganj at Chandni Chowk marks the place where the execution was done.) There was a furious storm after this brutal deed. It caused confusion and havoc in and around the city. Under these circumstances Bhai Jaita Ji, took away the holy head of Guru Sahib, placed it in a basket, covered it carefully and set out of Anandpur Sahib. He reached Kiratpur Sahib, near Anandpur Sahib on 15th November. He was received with great honour by young Guru Gobind Rai and honoured as “Rangretta Guru Ka Beta.” The cremation of head was performed with full honour and proper ceremonies on the next day. (Gurdwara Sis Ganj also marks the place where the head was cremated.) Taking advantage of the same situation the other part of the body of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was whisked away by a brave Sikh Lakhi Shah Lubana a famous merchant and contractor and he immediately built up a pyre inside his house and set fire to it in the evening. Thus whole house including other valuables were burned and destroyed. It is said that a royal police guard arrived at the scene in search of the body, but returned, finding the house burning and the inmates weeping bitterly. (Now Gurdwara Rakab Ganj in New Delhi, marks the place.)
The martyrdom of Guru Sahib had for reaching consequences and deeply influenced the history of India. It exposed the fundamental theistic nature of the contemporary state, highlighted tyranny and injustice. It made the people of India hate Aurangzeb and his government as never before and turned the Sikh Nation into militant people. It made them feels that they could protect their religion (Dharma) only but the defense of arms. It proposed the way for the final stage in creation of the Khalsa, which played the most important and significant role in the history of India.
Guru Sahib was also a great poet and thinker. For an example we may quote him, as one of his Slokas, he says: Bhai Kahu kau det naih naih bhai manat ann, kahu nanak sunu re mana gaini tahi bakhan. (SGGS 1427) (Sayth Nanak, he who holds none in fear, mor in afraid on anyone, acknowledge his alone as a man of true wisdom) Guru Sahib written Gurbani in fifteen Raagas apart from 57 salokas, got included in Guru Granth Sahib by the 10th master, Guru Gobind Singh Sahib.
Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji ‘Hind di chadar’ sacrified his life for the cause of Dharma, truth and the betterment of humanity.
Bhai Dayal Dass was son of Bhai Mai Dass and younger brother of martyr Bhai Mani Singh ji. His grandfather, Balu Ram had attained martyrdom while fighting in Guru Hargobind’s first battle of faith against the Mughals. His ancestors belonged to Alipur near Multan. Bhai Mai Dass came to Kiratpur for an audience with Guru Har Rai in 1657 A.D. While returning, he left his three elder sons for service of the Guru’s institution. Bhai Dayal Dass was fifteen when he entered the Guru’s institution.
On recommendation from Diwan Durga Mall, Guru Tegh Bahadur made him minister for domestic affairs. In 1665 A.D., when Guru Tegh Bahadur went to Assam from Patna, he left him at Patna to look after his family. The birth of (Guru) Gobind Singh took place under his care and service and he looked after the prince till he reached Anandpur.
After sending the Kashmiri Brahmins back on the 25th May, 1675 A.D., Guru Tegh Bahadur decided to go to Agra for courting arrest. Before leaving Anandpur, he asked his principal devotees to ask for any blessing they had at heart. All were unanimous in their reply, ‘That we be granted permission to accompany you to Agra.” Bhai Dayal Dass was also one of those Sikhs who had been arrested ahead of the Guru.
On the 9th November, 1675 A.D., the qazis ordered that Bhai Dayal Dass be seated in a cauldron of boiling water. On hearing the ruling, Bhai Dayal Dass asked leave of the Guru. The Guru said, “Brother, your service has borne fruit due to which your turn has come before mine. Great are you and blessed is your devotion. What pleasure can be greater for me than to see my lifelong devotees sacrificing their lives for the protection of human rights even ahead of me. May God bless you with success.”
Before putting Bhai Dayal Dass in the cauldron of boiling water, the qazis said, “There is still time. Embrace Islam and save yourself from pains otherwise you will face greater agony than your companion. You have seen how cruelly he was sawn.” Bhai Dayal Dass replied, “You could not harass my companion. Did you notice, how calmly he was meditating on the word of his Guru when he was being sawn. Having made mockery of bodily pains, he had diffused into the Supreme Being. Hurry up and let my soul attain unity with the Lord.” On his reply in the negative, the executioners sat him in the cauldron of boiling water. He stayed on sitting in the water with an unwavering mind. His flesh separated from his bones and his soul merged into the Supreme Being.
Bhai Mati Dass and Bhai Sati Dass both brothers were sons of Bhai Hira Nand. Their ancestor, Gautam Dass was a resident of village Kariala in Jehlum district. He was initiated into Sikh faith by Guru Arjan Dev. Pleased at his services, the Guru had bestowed on him the title of ‘Bhai’ (brother) which continues in their family to this day.
Their grandfather, Bhai Praga, had been given command of a ‘Jatha’ (unit) by Guru Hargobind in the first battle with the Mughals in 1628 A.D. He died of deep wounds sustained in that battle. After that, Bhai Hira Nand presented himself in the service of Guru Har Rai. Before his death in 1657 A.D., he left Bhai Mati Dass and Bhai Sati Dass, elder of his four sons, to serve the Guru’s institution. In accordance with the command of their father, they started serving the Guru’s institution with heart and soul.
Bhai Mati Dass and Bhai Sati Dass accompanied Guru Har Krishan when he went to Delhi on invitation from Aurangzeb. After the merger of the Guru into the Supreme Being on the 30th March, 1664 A.D., both the brothers went to village Bakala. On the manifestation of Guru Tegh Bahadur, both the brothers presented themselves in his service. When Vhir Mall could not become the Guru, he made a fruitless attempt to shoot the Guru in collaboration with Shihan Masand and his gang. After that he had taken away valuable items from the Guru’s institution to his camp. At that time both the brothers gave all the help to Makhan Shah to present Dhir Mall and Shthan Masand in bondage before the Guru.
One day, Durga Mall, the Diwan (chief minister) of Guru’s institution requested the Guru, “Respected Guru ! My body, soul and worldly wealth are all at your service but it is becoming difficult for me to carry out the duty of Diwan due to old age. These two nephews are in your service who are trustworthy and faithful sons. If you deem fit, bestow the elder Mati Dass, the honour to serve as Diwan and the younger Sati Dass as Wazir (public affair minister).” Accepting the request of Diwan Durga Mall, the Guru entrusted the service of Diwan to Bhai Mati Dass and Wazir to Bhai Sati Dass.
In order to bring the whole of India under one faith, Aurangzeb ordered in 1674 A.D., to convert Hindus to Islam by force from the Kashmir side. Before bowing their heads before the sword of Sher Afgan Khan, the Governor of Kashmir, the prominent Brahmins of Kashmir led by Pandit Kirpa Ram appeared before the Guru at Anandpur on the 25th May, 1675 A.D., and explained about their helplessness. The Guru knew that weak and terrified people do not become brave by listening to episodes of bravery. Fearless and great leadership is needed to make them fearless. So the Guru said to them, “Go and tell the Governor that Guru Tegh Bahadur is our leader. If you convert him to Islam, we shall become Muslims of our own accord.” On getting this message, Aurangzeb ordered the arrest of the Guru. For courting arrest, the Guru started towards Agra from Anandpur on the 11th July, 1675 A.D. At Agra, when the soldiers came to arrest the Guru, both the brothers came forward to offer themselves for arrest flrst.
On receipt of the second order from Aurangzeb, the Guru was asked to embrace Islam. The Guru refused. In order to intimidate the Guru, the qazis (Islamic magistrates) made a plan to torture to death, the Sikhs arrested with the Guru before his eyes. They thought that the Guru would embrace Islam out of fear on seeing the Sikhs murdered. The qazis decreed to cut Bhai Mati Dass with a saw first of all.
Hearing the order of the qazis, Bhai Mati Dass prayed to the Guru, “O True King ! bless me so that I may do my duty by sacfiflcing myself for the glory of the faith.” After the Guru had blessed him, the qazis asked Bhai Mati Dass, “Brother, embrace Islam and enjoy the pleasures provided by the goveInment. Moreover when you die as a Muslim, you will go to heaven where there will be streams of milk, many kinds of wine to drink and beautiful women to enjoy. If you do not embrace Islam, your body will be sawn into two.” Bhai Mati Dass replied, “I can sacrifice hundreds of such heavens for my faith. I don’t need women nor wine. I see all the happiness in the path of my faith.” After his refusal, the qazis asked him his last wish, to which he replied, ‘When I am being cut with the saw, let my face be towards my mentor so that I may behold my Guru till my last breath and he may keep on seeing me so that he may be convinced how happily I reach my last destination.” By the order of the qazis, the executioners sawed Bhai Mati Dass in two on the 8th November, 1675 A.D., in Chandani Chowk, Delhi.
On the 10th November, 1675 A.D., the qazis ordered Bhai Sati Dass to be wrapped in cotton and burnt. Before being wrapped in cotton, the qazis asked Bhai Sati Dass, “Save your life by embracing Islam and live in pleasure.” Bhai Sati Dass replied, ‘You cannot understand that my pleasure and happiness lie only in obeying the command of my Guru. It does not lie in saving this life which must end one day.” At this reply, the executioners wrapped Bhai Sati Dass in cotton, poured oil over it and set fire to it. Bhai Sati Dass remained calm while burning till his last breath and remained true to his resolve.
Since the death of Mata Jito Ji(1) on December 5, Zorawar’s grandmother, Mata Gujari, became especially attached to young Zorawar Singh and his infant brother, Fateh Singh. She took charge of both children as the column moved out of Anandpur.
While crossing the rivulet Sirsa on horseback, then in spate, the three were separated from Guru Gobind Singh. Their cook, Gangu, who had also succeeded in crossing the stream, escorted them to his own house in the village of Kheri, now known as Saheri, near Morinda in present day Ropar District.
While unsaddling the horse, Gangu saw that there was some valuables in the saddlebag. This tempted him to treachery. He not only stole the saddlebag during the night, but also planned to betray the fugitives to the government in hope of a reward.
Wazir Khan tried to lure the Sahibzade to embrace Islam with promises of riches and honors, but they spurned the suggestion. He then threatened them with death, but they remained undaunted. The death sentence of the two children was finally announced.
Upon Sher Muhammad Khan’s intercession for the innocent children’s lives to be spared, Zorawar and Fateh were given some more time to ponder over the suggestion to convert. Sahibzada Zorawar Singh Ji and his brother spent another two days during the severe winter in their old grandmother’s lap in the Cold Tower.
Atrocity by the Mughals
Still adamant, the young Sikhs were ordered to be sealed alive in a wall on December 25, 1704. According to tradition, as the masonry around their tender bodies reached chest high, it crumbled. The Sahibzade were sent to the Cold Tower again for the night. The next day, December 26, 1704, after the alternative of conversion was turned down again, Baba Zorawar Singh Ji and Baba Fateh Singh Ji were martyred by being sealed alive in a wall.
The aged Mata Gujari Kaur Ji, who had all along been kept in the Cold Tower only a little distance away, breathed her last as the news reached her ears. Mata Gujari Kaur, through the upbringing of her grandsons, played an important role in Sikhism and as Sikhs, we owe our existence to her.
It was due to her teachings that the 7 year old Zorawar Singh and 5 year old Fateh Singh did not budge from their Dharma and attained martyrdom., thus continuing and emphasizing the institute of martyrdom in Sikhism.
Seth Todar Mall, a wealthy merchant of Sirhind, performed the cremation of the three dead bodies the following day. The site of the fateful happenings, since christened as Fatehgarh Sahib, is close to the old town of Sirhind and is now marked by four Sikh shrines. A religious fair is held there from December 25 to 28 every year to honor the memory of the martyrs.