All organisations are political in nature and organised religions are just the same. This politicisation of religion by rulers, governments, politicians and priests, distances the individual from his or her spiritual quest. No organised religion can be exempt from this curse of corruption. Older the religion greater the corruption, and it must be rejuvenated from time to time.

Over time a materially and spiritually rich India became spiritually parched by follies and weaknesses of humans. Just as the thirsty seek the water, the water also seeks the thirsty. To quench the spiritual thirst, by divine grace there emerged great saints, and Gurus, and one of the most notable and transformational were the Sikh Gurus.

Sikhism through the 'Prema Bhakti', (the path of love and universal brotherhood) built an inclusive humanity which shunned dogma, casteism, intolerance and violence while facilitating a user friendly path for individual spiritual realisation.

Sikhism was gifted to mankind by Guru Nanak ji more than 550 years ago, and carried forward by 9 more Gurus. The 10th Guru was Guru Gobind Singh ji (1677 - 1708 C.E.)

'Sikh' means 'student or learner', one who seek to awaken and cut through the complicated practices and malpractices to embrace the whole world as one family, while granting full freedom to the individual to live and work as they wished, while being in harmony with all of existence.

No wonder Sikhism mushroomed and the general population who were spiritually awakened by Guru Nanak ji's teachings grew happy, successful and as a consequence a vast peaceful community of hardworking Sikhs flourished. This development surprised both the political and religious authorities, and naturally they felt threatened. Muslim rulers, and many Hindu Kings, who collaborated with Muslim invaders to rule India along with the clergy sought to destroy the Sikhs.

Any authority devoid of nobility and justice, will not have moral legitimacy. It always feels insecure and fearful. Mughal ruler Aurangzeb and his Hindu vassals protected themselves from the people by suppressing all freedoms, backed by use of extreme violence to induce fear. They used organised religion both as a crutch and weapon. The general population was prohibited from formation of any group no matter how benign, good or noble it may be.

The history of the peace loving Sikhs is peppered with atrocities inflicted by Mughal rulers, and the priests of the day. Sikh Gurus were often imprisoned, brutally and publicly tortured and then martyred. In spite of all this the noble Sikhs imbibing Guru Nanak's teachings grew in numbers and in their spirituality.

When the 9th Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bhadur ji, was publicly tortured and beheaded at Chandani Chowk in Delhi on the orders of Moghul Tyrant Aurangzeb, the 10th Sikh Guru, young Guru Gobind Rai ji, proclaimed 'that to be a tyrant is wrong and to timidly accept tyranny is also wrong.'

On the auspicious day of Vaisakhi in 1699, Guru Gobind Rai baptised 5 Sikhs as the Khalsa (the pure) and then subordinated himself to the Khalsa by asking them to baptise him in turn. Each Sikh who became a Khalsa had the title Singh (meaning lion) appended their names. So Guru Gobind Rai became Guru Gobind Singh ji.

The miracle of the baptism convinced the Khalsa that the blessing of Guru Gobind Singh ji had truly transformed ordinary Sikhs into fearless lions. With a focus on self defence militarisation and arms training, the Sikhs had become a powerful force that could not be persecuted any more.

The armies of Mughal Aurangzeb and his Hindu vassal kings mounted waves of attacks between (1700 to 1704 C.E.) to destroy the Sikhs and Guru Gobind Singh ji. All attacks were futile and the attacking armies fled under the stiff defence and counter attack of the Khalsa.

Eventually the generals of Aurangzeb offered a truce, in the name of Aurangzeb and the Quran that if the Guru peacefully handed over the fort and town of Anandpur, the Moghul guaranteed free and unharmed passage to the Guru and his followers.

Aurangzeb's generals dishonoured their oaths and attacked and killed many Sikhs. In the subsequent pursuit and battles the Guru and his family were separated and his mother and his four sons were martyred.

Alone without even horse and sandals, the Guru was rescued and carried to safety by two Afghan disciples (Ghani Khan and Nabi Khan) to Jatpur where he became the guest of the Muslim chieftain. Here Guru Gobind Singh ji was contacted by one of his Muslim disciples who also had excellent relations with Aurangzeb. The disciple had a message and proposal from Aurangzeb for a compromise with the Guru to end hostilities.

Aurangzeb would call off the war if the Guru conceded defeat and joined Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb was sure that the Guru would agree, after all the Guru's father had been martyred as also his four young sons, his forts demolished and his Sikhs decimated, in fact everything material had been destroyed as per Aurangzeb.

The Guru agreed that he had lost much, but for the Guru to concede defeat would be tantamount to conceding the defeat of God and Dharma before an evil tyrant like Aurangzeb.

When the disciples pleaded to the Guru that, "You are a fakir, a man of God and you should accept the truth and proclaim it, that you are finished". The Guru in response drafted and despatched the Zafarnama to Aurangzeb, stating,

"If a heavy stone boulder should be thrown on a golden cup, it is true the cup would break. Yet in the encounter the value of the boulder would not be enhanced nor the value of the cup be diminished."

Guru Gobind Singh ji refused to concede defeat nor join Aurangzeb, and over the next four years rebuilt the Sikh movement and revived the Khalsa until he breathed his last in 1708 C.E. The atrocities of the Mughal rulers led to the rapid downfall of their rule.

The world owes Guru Gobind Singh ji a great debt for gifting humanity with the Khalsa Sikhs a hardworking loyal and fearless people endowed with the highest and noblest values of humanity. Sikhs, are friends not only of the strong and brave, but also of the needy, weak and oppressed, continuing to serve and even sacrificing themselves to protect India and her people. It is the Sikh Guru Gobind Singh ji whose birthday we celebrate today.

On this day like always, we Sikhs send to you our good wishes and salutations, as we renew our Guru's promise to all of humanity.

Written and Posted on Birth Anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh ji: 9th January 2022 ~ Gurvinder Singh

Gurvinder Singh

Gurvinder Singh

Gurvinder Singh is an engineer by education, Industrialist by professional experience. I have travelled and  conducted business both India and abroad (34 countries). 

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