«AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION O thou that buttest the high mountain, seeking to dislodge it with thy horns, take pity, not on the mountain but on thy head ...»
Bharat Mat Darpan, 1926 (ii) Randhir Singh : Udasi Sikhan di Vithiya (iii) Sita Ram Chaturvedi : Bharat Ke Udasin Sant (iv) James Hastings, Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. XII, (v) H.A. Rose, A Glossary of Tribes and Castes of Punjab and N. W Frontier Provinces, 1970 (vi) Asiatic Researches 1801, Calcutta Review Xl, 1875.
3. On Sewa Panthis; see: (i) Sant Lall Chand : Sri Sant Mal 1862 A.D.; (ii) Sant Baba Sham Singh: Bhagat-Prem-PrakashGranth. (Un-published)..
4. On Nirmalas see: (i) Ganesha Singh : Nirmal Bhushan (ii) Gian Singh : Nirmal Panth PradiPika, 1891 A.D. (iii) Mahant Dayal Singh : Nirmal Panth Darshan: 4 Vols.
5. Balwant Gargi, Baba Gurbachan Singh : Sant Nirankari (A Biography). Thomson Press, Faridabad.
European writers and following them, many Hindu and Muslim historians have expressed their views on military preparedness and armed resistance of Guru Hargobind, the sixth Guru and his grandson Guru Gobind Singh, against armed attacks on them. While giving critical analysis and assessment of the life and character of the Sikh Gurus, they tend to see everything from the Mughal point of view and have never cared to study the basic facts of the life, teachings, and the ideals of these Gurus, nor have they cared to study the historical context of the purely defensive battles which the sixth and tenth Guru had to fight. After the martyrdom of Guru Arjun executed by the orders of Jahangir, Guru Hargobind, his son had to fight three battles and one skirmish with a Zamindar during the reign of Shah Jahan. After the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur, his son Guru Gobind Singh had to fight a number of battles.
The battles of both the Gurus are ex-plained as revenge attacks, although none of these battles was an attack, and no revenge of any kind was involved, a fact which most of the non-Sikh historians, who have not cared to study the lives of the Gurus, in correct historical perspective, have ignored.
GURU HARGOBIND’S BATTLESIt was Emperor Jahangir by whose orders Guru Arjun suffered martyrdom on 30th May, 1606 A.D. He had come to the throne on 12 October 1605, and when his son 202 Khusro escaped from confinement on April 16, 1606 he chased him, arrested him and blinded him. In the heat of punishing all those who had helped Khusro, he ordered the death of Guru Arjun and confiscation of his property. Apart from imprisonment of Guru Hargobind in the Gwalior Fort which also did not take place immediately, the attitude of jahangir towards Guru Hargobind was friendly for the next twenty years of his reign and no battle was fought by Guru Hargobind with the Emperor who ordered the cruel death of his father, Guru Arjun.
Three battles were fought only in Shahjahan’s reign after
1628. The dates of these three battles are fixed by some historians between 1628-1634, a period of six years and by others in the years 1634-35. All these battles were defensive battles, although the Guru’s army suffered losses, the battles were morally assertive victories. Therafter Shah Jahan never touched Guru Hargobind but on the other hand, established friendly relations with him and with Guru Hari Rai who also maintained an army of 2200 horse-men. The very idea of revenge or offense or violence was completely absent. The Guru won the respect of those with whom he fought the battles.
His period of Guruship from 1606 to 1645 was of peace, travels for missionary work, and organization of the Vdasi missionary order. Once the Mughal Emperors were convinced that Guru Hargobind used his sword and army not for aggression but for the defence of the faith and liberty of his follow-ers, neither jahangir nor Shahjahan hindered or put any obstacle in his movement in Punjab, Kashmir, V.P. and the jungle area of Malwa where he established innumerable missionary centres. Shah jahan befriended Guru Had Rai who under orders from Guru Hargobind continued to maintain a wellequipped army. Dara Shikoh became his devotee and admirer, and when Dara Shikoh was in distress, Guru Hari Rai helped him and protected him during his bid to escape the hotly chasing army of Aurangzeb. To protect the saintly in distress was one of the objective of the Guru’s military preparedness.
This historical fact is also supported by Mani Singh’s Sakhi Pothi (Ms: 1736 A.D.), whose eldest brother Bhai Dayal Das suffered martyrdom with Guru Tegh Bahadur and by ShahZd-Bilas of Kavi Sewa Singh. Koer Singh in his Gurbiliis, Sarup Das Bhalla in Mehma Prakash quote Bachiter Natak verbatim. 2 It is quite clear that Guru Tegh Bahadur offered his life as a sacrifice at the altar of freedom of worship for all. His son, young Gobind had himself sug-gested to his father this course of action. The question of revenge did not arise.
Guru Gobind Singh ascended the Pontific throne in November 1675. He inherited not only spiritual and tem-poral powers of the Guru but also a well-equipped army, in which the five sons of Bibi Viro (Guru Tegh Bahadur’s only sister) were the oustanding regiment commanders. He had to fight his first battle thirteen years after the martyrdom of his father at Bhagani near Paonta Sahib when he was living a peaceful and creative life for nearly four years, as guest of the Nahan Raja.
About sixteen Hindu Hill Chiefs attacked him led by Fateh Shah of Sri Nagar, Bhim Chand of Kahlur. On his side the Muslim Pir Buddhu Shah and his sons fought the battle. Guru Gobind Singh gave a stunning defeat to all and could have occu-pied the territory of at least three or four Hindu Chiefs living in his neighbourhood, but when they repented and sought forgiveness pnly to cheat and betray the Guru again, he forgave them but never compromised on political and moral principles. This battle was fought on 18 September, 1688 A.D. Between 1688 and 1695 A.D. all the 205 battles were fought with Shivalik Hindu Hill Chiefs in some of which they acquired the support of Lahore Governor, but always suffered defeat.
Prince Muazzam (later Bahadur Shah) had been arrested by Aurangzeb in March, 1687 with all his family and personal staff. Only BhaI Nand Lall had escaped and became a disciple of Guru Gobind Singh. After seven years he was released on May 24, 1695. Aurangzeb was so upset by the reports sent by Hindu Hill Chiefs about Guru Gobind Singh that he sent Prince Muazzam with an army of five lakhs to punish and arrest Guru Gobind Singh. But instead of attacking the Guru he sent two envoys to investigate the complaints against the Guru. He reported back to his father that all reports of Hindu Chiefs against Guru Gobind Singh were false.
Aurangzeb sent four military officers for direct investigation.
They not only supported Prince Muazzam’s stand but also punished those who had betrayed Guru Gobind Singh.3 On all these battles of Guru Gobind Singh, Dr A.C.
Banerjee has given a firm opinion after a historical analy-sis.
He says, “The entire narrative is obviously based on a single idea-the implacable hostility of the Hill Rajas to the Gurus.
The Mughals came as a subsidiary force; the feroc-ity of the imperial officers increased as a result of their repeated failures and culminated in the execution of the Guru’s innocent sons. It is a struggle primarily between the Gurus and the Hill Rajas.”4 All the theories constructed by ignorant as well as biased European and Indian historians suggesting that Guru Gobind Singh went to Paonta Sahib for fear of being taken as hostage or for avenging his father’s martyr-dom indicates that these scholars and historians, no mat-ter how eminent in their status and position, have never taken any serious interest in investigating the historical truth of the lives of Guru Hargobind or Guru Gobind Singh.
Martyrdom is unknown and alien to Hindu culture, history and religion. No matter how brave the Rajputs 206 were and no matter how fearless Hindu sanyasis, yogis and saints were, they found escape from the danger of moral crisis or physical danger in self-immolation, rather than suffering at the hands of the tyrant and facing martyrdom. The Sikh concept of martyrdom comes close to Christian concept and the Sufi concept. It differs from the orthodox Islamic concept which associates it with Jehad and bigotry. Bhai Gurdas tells us that a sincere and true Sikh must have three basic qualities of Sabr (patience), Sidq (unshakable and deep faith) and shahtd, the spirit of a martyr.5 Many absurd comments are made by biased critics when Guru Gobind Singh on the Baisakhi gave a call that he wanted disciples who could offer their heads to him. Though no one in his right mind has doubted the histo-ricity of this event, but persons calling themselves scien-tific historians have posed unscientific and irrational ques-tions, doubting eye-witness accounts. They do not know that most of the early writers of Rahitnamas were present there. Hundreds of those who took the baptism immedi-ately after the incident were eye-witnesses and many of them like Bhai Mani Singh lived upto 1734 A.D.
The Holy Mother Mata Sahib Devi who participated in the ceremony lived for nearly three and half decades after the event to recount the details of the event.
Guru Gobind Singh merely repeated in more practi-cal and dramatic form what Guru Nanak openly said to all his
If you desire to play the game of love Carry your head on your palm in complete dedication, Then enter the path of my Faith.
If on this path you wish to tread Hesitate not to sacrifice your head.
What Guru Gobind Singh did was in the spiritual traditions of Guru Nanak. It was nothing more, nothing less. He wanted to know “who was willing to play the “Game of Love” in the spiritual tradition of Guru Nanak. That is why the five who came forward are now known as the Panj Pyaras, the Dearest Five. He honoured them by bending his knees before them and calling them collectively his Master and he called himself their disciple. As Dr Sinha puts it, “He left the care of the flock as well as his Army not to a single person but to the whole community. He placed his faith in the collective wisdom of the people and not in the devotion of a favourite disciple.” “He ordained the Khalsa to give dignity, prestige, equality and spiritual as well as political power to persons of the lowest castes and profession. History has proved that he infused moral, spiritual and cultural equality among all who entered the Brotherhood. No caste, colour, or racial bars were placed for persons entering the Khalsa Brotherhood. “ “Guru Gobind Singh - in Him, Guru Nanak’s sword is unsheathed. The Buddha had stood between the doe and the huntsman, the Christ, between the people and the tyran ts, and rulers, the kings. It is here too the same mercy, the same compassion. The Guru tore humanity intc no sects; Hindus and Muslims met round him as Disciples. With the Guru, Heaven unsheathed its sword to save the people from both religious and political oppression, the fanatic, savage oppression of the oppressors.”6 The sword of the Sikh like the sword of the Japanese Samurai has “thus a double office to perform: to destroy anything that opposes the will of its owner and to sacrifice all the impulses that arise from the instinct of selfpreservation. The sword comes to be identified with the annihilation of things that lie in the way of peace, justice, progress and humanity. It stands for all that is desirable for 208 the spiritual welfare of the world at large.”7 But Guru Gobind Singh made the Sikhs conscious of the fact that they could do something for the political, cultural and spiritual welfare of the world only if they were morally and politically strong enough to preserve their own faith, culture and political freedoms.
Hinduism dominated by ascetic ideals of Sannyasa, Yoga, renunciation of the world have believed by and large in selfimmolation a spiritual escape of a weak mind and soul who burns his body. Only the Rajputs and the Marathas used the sword. But the Rajputs lost all the glory and grandeur by offering not only their services to the Mughals, but even their most beautiful princesses. It is now an open chapter of history that Shivaji’s inspiration came from the Saint Ramdas and Ramdas came under the spell of Guru Hargobind - a fact confirmed by Sikh as well as Maratha history.
Sant Ramdas was 13 years younger than Guru Hargobind. After 12 years of intense meditation (tapasya) at a very young age he went to the north and visited many places of pilgrimage. He met Guru Hargobind in Kash-mir. Surprised to see a successor of Guru Nanak wearing swords and followed by pious devotees and armed Sikhs, he jokingly asked the Guru, “I hear that you are occupy-ing the gaddi of Guru Nanak, a fakir. How is that you call yourself Sacha Patshah (True King), live in royal style, and keep an army? What is all this and why these changes ?” What kind of a Sadhu you are I do not understand.?” Guru Hargobind politely and with great
Interiorly I am a fakir Outwardly I live in royal style.
My sword and weapons Are for the protection, of the poor and oppressed.
They are a flame of death, For tyrants and oppressors, Which they have to taste.
Guru Nanak never renounced the world He renounced maya, the world-attractions.8 209 Sant Ramdas, a Brahmin saint, worshipper of god Rama was greatly impressed. When Guru Hargobind assed away in 1644, he came back to his native land Maharashtra. He initiated Shivaji in 1649 and his advice to Shivaji is recorded in his work Dasabodh. He said, “You should adorn your body not with clothes and ornaments but by shrewdness and wisdom.
The Mohammadens have been spreading oppression throughout India for a long time. You should be always on the guard. When God once calls a man His own, one cannot imagine what he may do. His efforts, his alertness, his courage in the nick of the time, his great powers are all of them gifts of God. To spread the cause of God, to protect the Brahmins, to help one’s subjects are all of them gifts of God. You should use them as such.”9 Ramdas however instructed Shivaji to save the much discredited Brahmanism from lower castes.