SIKHISM ~ [Op-Ed]

Based upon basic sikh philosophy, belief, and defined path (Guru Marg)

Religion, political climate and social order in 15th century in Punjab was in turmoil. Tension between Hindus ans Muslims had escalated leading to polarisation of two religions. Even within the religion, there were sub- classes, suppression of lower communities, untouchability and gender discrimination. Birth of Baba Nanak took place in 1469 at Talwandi Rai Boe (now known as Nankana Sahib) Lahore, Pakistan in the house of Kalian Das and Mata Tripta. His coming to the earth signalled enlightenment and his early childhood was eventful and exhibited great spiritual maturity and social wisdom much beyond his age.

A new religion order in the eyes of Baba Nanak became inevitable as he was of the firm belief that GOD IS ONE AND ALL ARE 'HIS' CHILDREN. He was determined to create a casteless society based upon truth, brotherhood and equality , for which he not only dedicated his life, but also delineated definite path for his successor's to follow in achieving his mission. To remove lot of illusions 'andh viswas' (blind faith), unnecessary and orthodox rituals, that were deep seated merely out of fear in the minds of people, Nanak demonstrated to allay their fear from any form ill effect from these meaningless customs/ traditions. Worst was satti pratha in Hindus, while the Muslims rulers forcefully converting especially weaker sections (down trodden) non-Muslims to Islam and infidelity in the social culture was ramped.

Once clouds of resistance against Baba Nanak (even within his own relations) begins to recede and people started understanding his pious approach in enlightening the society across all religions, his movement got tremendous support within Punjab and adjoining regions. Nanak got divine power (A state of Sach Khand) while in morning ablution from the river at Sultanpur in 1499. Nanak is said to have received the robe of honour by the hands of GOD. Nanak in praise of GOD recited 'MOOL MANTAR' and subsequently composed Japji Sahib. Thereon, Nanak moved to four Udasis (divine journeys taken intermittently) to east, west, north and south not only in Indian Sub- continent but also adjoining countries covering a distance of 30,000 KM in 20-24 years (1500-1524) . The spark ignited by Baba Nanak spread far and wide to strengthen Sikh movement.

This movement so started, continued uninterrupted by his 9 successors (Gurus) over a period of over 200 years till it made deep in- road in creation of a separate religion- THE SIKHISM with its own holy Granth- the Central religious Scripture of Sikhism- Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS). The SGGS is thus a means (Eternal living Guru) and not an object of worship (unlike any other religious Scriptures).

Parallel to the spiritual developments, temporal adjustments (suiting to the progressive changes/ transformations in social order) continued, so as to keep their relevance to the time. Circumstantially, TIMID SIKHS WERE RESHAPED AS COURAGEOUS KHALSA to enable them to meet the mightiest of the mighty oppressors and the tyrants of the times and this warrior brigade was charged with a duty to protect innocents from religious persecution. Thus, the birth of new breed of Khalsa having unshorn hair & beard, turbaned, appropriately armed, having unique identity in this universe in physical swaroop (appearance) and follows the teachings of Gurus and accept SGGS as their spiritual Guru/ guide). Along with the creation of Khalsa Panth on the Vasakhi day of April 13, 1699, religious practices (Rahat Maryada) were also formalised which continued to be modified/improvised from time to time. Upkeep of holy granth, conventional types of paath(Nitnem), manner of conduct of proceeding for different occasions, ritual ceremonies, ardas, hukamnama and other banis were properly defined and appropriately placed in due course of time.

Besides, SGGS, Dasam Granth- a scripture from banis and life sketch of Sri Guru Gobind Singh, compiled by Bhai Mani Singh, though, not a component of SGGS in its composite form, but some of its relevant Banis/ hymns (Jaap Sahib, Tav Prasad Saviya, Chopai Sahib) have been incorporated/ merged with routine paaths/ rituals (nitmam, ardas etc). Guru Gobind Singh also delineated the main framework of the fixed components of first eight line and concluding part of Ardas, which are unaltered. Mid components of the Ardas are flexible and have been revised extensively by Tat Khalsa mainly in 20th century. This component is also modified/ altered depending on the type of rituals/ ceremony.

Factually, the tenth Guru Gobind Singh could accomplish successfully the translation of Guru Nanak philosophy in totality, both in a spiritual way of life of a Sikh and also simultaneously raised Khalsa Panth capable of defending not only self but to the society to safeguard it against ills from the oppressive rules / tyrants.

Guru Marg. This sacred statement was made by Guru Gobind Singh just before relinquishing the universe by affirming that SRI GURU GRANTH SAHIB TO BE THE NEXT ETERNAL GURU. IT IS BINDING ON EVERY SIKH TO FOLLOW GURU GRANTH SAHIB AS A LIVING GURU. THE REVEREND GURU GRANTH IS THE VISIBLE BODY OF THE GURU. THOSE WHO SEEK TO MEET ' WAHEGURU' SHALL DELVE INTO THE SHABAD.

The societal transformations toward Sikhism have systematically been carried forward by 10 Gurus while working with down trodden, demoralised and oppressed class of society. Thus in order to complete the story, salient contributions (in abridged format) carried orderly under the successive Gurus to proceed forward and carried out adjustments as per the need.

Guru Angad Dev 1539-1552 (Nanak-2) of a literacy taste, scripted GURMUKHI - the Punjabi language that formed the primary base for communication.

Guru Amar Das 1552-1574 (Nanak-3) strengthen the belief of Nanak by making it clear that all human being are created from the same source. Further, he not merely established Langar pratha (tradition) in Gurdwaras, but also made to people to sit the floor to have langar together, irrespective of their religion, caste or status including down trodden & weaker section. In the same vain, even Emperor Babar (who came to visit Guruji) was made to share langar in the same pangat before meeting Satguru.He set a tradition of 'Pehele Pangat Phir Sangat'. He also composed a famous Bani- Anand Sahib, that form an important hymns sung in daily ardas and most of the religious functions.

Guru Ram Das 1574-1581 (Nanak-4) purchased 100 acres of land and established a city of Ramsar/ Ramsar Chhak which subsequently has been named as Amritsar. He also constructed a sarovar (for Holy bath), the area in the midst of which was earmarked for Gurdwara Harmandir Sahib.

The period of the Guru Arjun Dev 1581-1606 (Nanak-5) was marked with spectacular developmental activities which also invited tremendous hostilities from Muslim rulers. Amongst the notable contributions, Guru Arjun Dev supervised construction of Harmandir Sahib. Another task taken by him was to pool the banis of all the first 4 Gurus, which were scattered here and there in form of loose writing/ improper format and placed them in form of a Granth. It was a gigantic task to collect the materials from different sources including Bhai Mohan, son of Guru Amar Das and then organised these into sequential order and composed these into appropriate poetic order. He also added 2215 of his own hymns. Apart from these, he picked up hymns relevant to Sikh philosophy from sufi and sants etc. This exercise of compilation of ADI GRANTH was completed in almost a year with an able support from Bhai Gurdas ji -a prolific writer & preacher. Adi Granth was placed in Harmandir Sahib in 1604. He made Bhai Budha ji a head granthi (priest). THE GRANTH REFLECTED THE FAITH OF BABA NANAK IN ITS ENTIRETY. THIS IN FACT, WAS THE BEGINNING OF ORGANISED SPIRITUAL ACTIVITIES IN GURDWARAS. These developments attracted hundred thousands of people to adopt to Sikhism. He also composed Sukhmani Sahib (psalm of peace- a bliss of lord's name). His popularity brought wreath of Mughals on him and Emperor Jahagir on wrong pretext/ flimsy grounds arrested him and showered merciless atrocities on him by splashing boiling water/ hot sand and making him to sit on hot plate etc. Guru Arjun became the first martyr in the Sikh history.

Contrary to the belief of Mughals, that such a merciless killing would suppress Sikh movement ,Arjun's blood became the seed of multiplications of Gurdwaras as well as a step forward towards establishing a Punjabi Nation.

Guru Hargobind 1606-1644 (Nanak-6) a young boy of 11 years, had to transform his approach to enable him to meet the threats from Mughals and thus he changed saintly costume to a dress of a warrior and raised the strength of his armed force. He girded two swords across his waist; one of which symbolises power and other temporal. He was thus known as MIRI PIRI DA BADSHAH..

He constructed Akal Takhat - supreme seat of temporal activities, constructed lohgarh at Amritsar (iron fort) and established city of Kiratpur. Guru Hargobind defended successfully in 3 battles. Guru Har Rai 1644-1661 and Guru Harkrishan 1661-1664(Nanak- 7 and Nanak-8) utilised their energies in propagating Nanak philosophy. Both of them avoided any form of clash despite, provocations. In the human history, amongst a very few, Guru Harkrishan has achieved supreme level of spirituality at such a tender age of 5-8 years. He rendered self service to sufferers from the spread of contagious disease(small pox), which entrapped him as well.

 

Guru Har Rai 1644-1661 (Nanak-7) was a man of peace, but he never disbanded the armed Sikh warriors who earlier were maintained by his grandfather Sri Guru Hargonind ji. Guru ji was a man of firm convictions and true follower and preacher of Guru Nanak philosophy. He did not pardon his own son Sri Ram Rai who distorted the true version of Guru Granth Sahib to please emperor Aurangzeb. For this infidelity Guru ji got him dissociated from all personal, social and religious affairs and side tracked his claim for Guruship.

Guru Har Krishan1661-1664 (Nanak-8) In human history, amongst a very few, Guru Harkrishan has achieved supreme level of spirituality at such a tender age of 5-8 years. He rendered self service to sufferers from the spread of contagious disease(smallpox),  which entrapped him as well.

Guru Tegh Bahadur 1664-1675 (Nanak-9) at his young age moved to village Bakala with his mother, Mata Nanki, where he spend over 20 years of his life, most of the time in meditation, though, not as recluse (in isolation). Circumstances forced him to accept the wishes of the general masses to accept Guru-ship after the demise of the eighth Guru Har Krishan (his great grand son). Owing to the retiring habit, spiritual bent of mind and initial reluctance to accept Guru gaddi, Guru Tegh Bahadur was made to run from place to place by his own relatives. Adversaries made him to move out of Punjab, but before leaving, he built a new township and named as Chhak Nanki (which subsequently was named as Anandpur- a heaven of bliss) on the land provided to him at Makhowal. He along with his pregnant wife Bibi Gujari and Mother Mata Nanaki moved toward east India, but they had to abandoned journey at Patna as Bibi Gujari was unable to move owing to advanced stage of her pregnancy. He lodged his wife and mother under the supervision of his brother-in-law (Mata Gujari's brother) at a rest house in Patna and moved forward on his mission to eastwards; Bengal, Assam and Dhaka. Gobind Rai was born there at Patna but Guru ji returned back to Patna only 3 years after his birth. At that stage the presence of Guru Tegh Bahadur was badly needed in Punjab to protect both Hindus and Sikhs from unabated atrocities from Mughal Emperor. To come to the rescue of Kashmiri Pandits, he stood himself as a shield to their forceful conversation to Islam, Emperor Aurangzeb tortured Guru Tegh Bahadur and falsely implicated him and his close associates and kept them in imprisonment initially for 3-4 months and finally killed mercilessly his associates in front of him and then be-headed Him.

Guru Tegh Bahadur is the only Prophet in the history to have sacrificed his life for the sake of other religion. His sacrifice made him with the decoration as HIND KI CHADDAR.

Guru Gobind Singh 1675-1708 ( Nanak-10) who worked relentlessly in finally reshaping the events and set up a new religious philosophy much needed to guide the destinies of people.

Epilogue
To sum up the period of little over 200 years between Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh, both of these were the divine missionaries (Apostles) for the accomplishments of specific task. If Baba Nanak made a perfect beginning by sowing the seed 'ONENESS' (monotheism) in this universe, Guru Gobind Singh ensured the benefit of this ripped fruits of peace, truthfulness and compassion percolate to one and all. In addition he also reshaped the course of events to set up new religious philosophy, much needed to guide the destinies of the people. The Khalsa Brigade is duty- bond to protect innocents from religious persecution. Guru Gobind made a mention in his biography (Bachitra Natak) 'TO DESTROY SIN AND EVIL, IT IS PERMISSIBLE TO DRAW SWORD'.
The contributions of other Gurus also cannot be undermined as they stood by Philosophy of Guru Nanak even under all types of adversaries- internal revolts and external threats/ attacks.
Sikhism is showered on us, not by sheer luck but by dedication and hardships faced by the Gurus and insurmountable harassment, torture, indiscriminate killing of Sikh Gurus, disciples and even ordinary people, women and children who got massacred for the forsake of sustaining our religion.
Further, Sikhs got their physical Swaroop (visible appearance) which makes us unique and globally identifiable for which every Sikh owe to Guru Gobind Singh.

 

Dr. Jitendra Singh Bhatia
Id: [email protected] or
[email protected]
91-9316612588

Note: Anyone who is desirous to have some insight on Sikh Gurus, he may please refer to my publications:

  • A book on 'The Sikh Gurus; A journey from the proclamation of Sikhism to the Birth of Khalsa Panth'
  • An article on 'Mystic Entity; Abridged on the life mission of Guru Gobind Singh'.
    Soft copies of these would be made available on demand.
  •  

What Guru expects SIKH to be?

  • He who keeps unquenchable torch of TRUTH
  • Never Swerves (change abruptly) from the thought of ONE GOD (ONENESS)
  • Cool headed, high thinking and ever prepared to serve humanity
  • Follow 3 PILLARS OF Sikhism- KIRAT KARO; NAAM JAPPO;WAND CHAKO
  • Practices 5 Virtues- SANTHOKH (CONTENTMENT); TRUTH; DAYA (COMPASSION); NIMRATA (HUMILITY) and PYARE (LOVE)
  • Control over 5 vices KAAM (lust), KRODH (rage), LOBH (greed) and AHANKAR (conceit/ ego). At times ABHIMAN (greed), MAD (egocity) and NINDA (slander- false statement to defame other) falls in the same category
  • Stand against inhumanity and bravely and fearlessly
  • Follow Guru Marg; Sub Sikhon Ko Hukam hai, Guru Maneyo Granth
  • Keep enmity , grudge, jealously or hatred towards none

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