An Abridged report on Martyrdom in Sikhism

Sikhism stands  on the insurmountable sacrifices made by followers of Sikh faith

An Abridged report on Martyrdom in Sikhism
 (Martyrs of Char Sahibzadas-A Blot on Humanity)

Precisely, a week between December 22-28, 1705 has been one of the greatest global tragic events of MARTYRDOM, that too, within the family of Kalgidhar Patshah, Sri Guru Gobind Singh, the Sikh Guru, where all his four heroic sons aged between 07 to 18 years (Baba Ajit Singh, 18; Baba Jhujhar Singh, 14; Baba Zorawar Singh, 10 and Baba Fatheh Singh, 07) laid down their lives to protect humanity on earth. The elder two (Baba Ajit Singh and Baba Jujjar Singh) fought against the conversion of India in Islamic Rule by widespread tyranny and unabated terrorism by their miss-rule, while the younger ones’ (Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fatheh Singh) became MARTYRS in order to protect their religious freedom.

Factually, the beginning to curb Sikhism (in a very calculative way) was started from the beginning of 17th century when saintly, fifth Sikh Guru Arjun Dev ji was brutally killed. The compilation of the writings and teachings of Sri Guru Nanak, four other Gurus, some Sufi’s and Saints in form of a religious scripture- the ADI-GRANTH by Guru Arjun Dev ji and construction of Harmandir Sahib on the land provided by the forth Guru Sri Ram Das ji, accelerated the spread of Sikhism. Such a fast spread of Sikh culture was taken as a threat to the dominance by Muslim rulers. Emperor Jahangir wanted to crush Sikhism by spreading terrorism and resorting to criminality on unarmed followers of Sikh culture. Guru Arjun Dev had to pay a heavy price of his life by not succumbing to the unabated pressure to distance him in spreading Sikh movement and also by refusing to accept conversation to Islamic culture. Guru ji was tortured till his end by showering multiple atrocities to the extent of splashing boiling water, hot sand, forcing him to sit on hot plate and many other forms of cruel acts.

This atrocious act of Mughals on Guru Arjun Dev, on the contrary of their belief, made all the Sikhs to unite and made determined move to keep Mughals at bay. Large number of non-Islamic people joined Sikhism and more and more Gurdwaras were opened soon thereafter.

His son Hargobind was baptised as the sixth Guru. Though, four wars were thrashed on him, but he, on having experienced the brunt of atrocities on his beloved father Guru Arjun Dev, had made him mentally and physically strong to face any type of assault on him. He thus, dispelled all attacks on him. Though, Muslims continued to provoke seventh and eighth Gurus and even attempted to encourage rebellion within the family of Gurus, but both could wisely handled internal dissents and also avoided any form of confrontation with Muslims.

Ninth Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur ji- widely known as a man of peace, spend earlier part of his life in meditation but not recluse (in isolation). He also possessed great internal strength and skills to defend aggression that earned him a name- Tegh Bahadur (might of sword). After attaining Guru-ship he travelled widely to spread Nanak’s message of peace and humanity.

Forces under Aurangzeb were showering atrocities for forceful conversion of Hindu to adopt Islam. Kashmiri Pundits approached Guru Tegh Bahadur ji to safeguard them from such hostilities. He readily agreed to shield them from forced conversion to Islam by Muslim ruler Aurangzeb. Guru ji was captured and put in jail along with three of his close aides- Bhai Matti Das (body sawn across from head to loins with a saw), Bhai Satti Das (rapped in cotton and burnt alive) and Bhai Dayalaji (placed live in boiling water vessel to death). They were continuously tortured for 3-4 months in jail in order to pressurise them to embrace Islamic as a way of their life. Finally their reluctance to budge an inch, Guru’s associates was mercilessly killed before him and finally his head was severed the next day.

Guru-ship came to Sri Gobind Rai (Singh), merely at the age of 9. He delineated his life mission in early phase of life. His life was eventful from the very beginning. Left to him, he loved peace and harmony and desired his life to be dedicated to spread and harmonise Guru Nanak’s Philosophy.

Circumstantially, two wars were enforced upon him in early phase of his life which he defended with all his might and established superiority. He accorded new dimensions to Sikh way of life and gave a birth to Khalsa Panth (a disciplined individual with defined spiritual norms, dress code and Maryada). He made Sikhs to be more orderly with their own identity as turbaned Sikh with unsworn hair and beard and adhering to the principles of 5K’s. Further, the names of Sikhs have been decided to be suffixed with Singh and that of Women Kaur.

On having been established himself  successfully in achieving his dual mission of Sikh Granth (spiritual) and Panth (temporal), his life was made miserable by unified opposition from Imperial  forces and hill Rajas who persuaded Mughal rulers to cut short the spread of his Wisdom.  Despite the fact, to buy a peace, he made an agreement with Mughals to move out of Anandpur Sahib with his family and disciples, but deceptively, he was attached on his way in solace for peace. He made his family to split into two. His two younger Sahibzadas along with their grandmother Mata Gujari were made to leave with his confident cook- Gangu Brahmin to carry them safely to their Mother Mata Sundri at Delhi. Elder Sahibzadas joined Guru Gobind’s contingents with merely 40 persons. War was thrashed upon Guruji when they reached Chamkor. Baba Ajit Singh and Baba Jujjar Singh became Martyrs one after the other while gallantly fighting Mughal force which had 10 lakh soldiers and equipped with modern arms. On the other side, the younger Sahibzadas, Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fatheh Singh with grandmother were taken Sirhind. Gangu Brahmin deceived Guru’s faith and handed over the family to Muslim authorities at Sirhind. THESE YOUNG CHILDREN STOOD THE GROUND BY REJECTING ALL THE PRESSURES AND OFFERS FOR HUGE WEALTH FOR LAVISH LIVING IF THEY ADAPT TO ISLAM. These children brought Wazir Khan, Governor of Sirhind and his entire house to shame by rejecting all the offers. In a fit of rage and to cover up their moral defeat in their own fort, Wazir Khan ordered for their killing (bricking live in wall). This killing is/ shall continued to be rated as one of the most undignified attack on entire humanity. Mata Gujari died of shock on learning of this cowardly act by Mughals.

Guru Gobind Singh without publically exhibiting his grief on the killings of all his 4 sons and many of his beloved associates, continued on his mission (presumably he had inking  of limited time with him on this earth), he updated Adi- Granth with the help of Bhai Mani Singh and 5 others, to remove inconsistencies (incorporated in Adi Granth by vested power hungry people mostly from within the family) and added 115 hymns, Banis and shlokas of his father Guru Tegh Bahadur ji to bring out final version of Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS).

After accomplishing this most precious job of updating of SGGS at Talwandi Saboo (Dam Dama Sahib) he moved out of Punjab towards southwards to reach Nanded (MS). His teaching and preaching continued uninterrupted till two Pathans made their friendly entry to his hutment. One of them deceptively attached Guru Sahib, which though, he survived, but only for few days.

Guruji, inking to be short of life, he called his followers and advised them to follow of Sri Guru Granth Sahib as an eternal Guru that carries the essence of teachings of all the ten Gurus. He finally was laid to rest on Oct 7, 1708.

The period of over 100 years (from 1606 when Guru Arjun Dev was brutally killed) to 1708 (on the demise of Sri Guru Gobind Singh) has been the most atrocious phase when all out attempts were made to curb the SIKHISM AT A TIME WHEN IT WAS MAKING A DEEP IN- ROOT IN THE SOCIETY. The practice continued even thereafter. Martyrdom of Bhai Banda Bahadur (eyes pulled out, limb severed and skin removed), Baba Deep Singh (carried his severed head in one hand and continued fighting for 10 miles till he reached the destination- Amritsar), and Bhai Mani Singh (dismembered his body & joints) and many more, are extreme examples of horrifying brutalities on their life. Despite all these atrocious treatment carried out over centuries, with the inherent strength drawn from Guru’s teachings, the Sikh stood the grounds with all determination, commitment, dedication to make Sikhism-a global entity in its reality.

Today’s Sikhism is culmination of spiritual enlightenment, initiated by Dhan Guru Baba Nanak and successively carried forward by all the Sikh Gurus, and their teachings, which finally have been  embodied (in the spirited languages of the Gurus) in Sri Guru Grant Sahib (eternal living Guru). These holy compilations have been made THE ONLY spiritual Granth to shape the way of life of a Sikh. Further, Sikhism also stands  on the insurmountable sacrifices made by the people who followed Sikh faith, by undergoing cruelty of inhuman treatment to them and their families, mass killing of Sikhs, and at several instances, the Sikh  volunteered themselves to be Martyrs instead of  yielding to Islamic pressure tactics for forceful conversation. It now falls on every Sikh to become true disciple and adapt to the primary philosophy of Sikhism. It is also the responsibility of every Sikh to preserve and safeguard the dignity and integrity of the SGGS inclusive of social & cultural heritage.

Dr. Jitendra Singh Bhatia,
ID [email protected]

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