Anandpur was now all astir and crowded. Sikhs had come in numberslarger than ever before. Big groups poured in everyday. The Guru feltelated on seeing the mighty host which had gathered and was still gathering,day by day.
As most of the Sikhs in the past had not been distinguishable inappearance from the Hindus, they had not attracted much notice ontheir way to the Guru. But on this occasion, because of their uncuthair and beard, they met with great molestation and had to employ thesword in more than one place. All this was narrated to the Guru, whoutilized the occasion for impressing upon his Sikhs the need and benefitof girding arms and remaining ever ready for self-defence.
A day before the first of Baisakb Samvat 1 756 i,e, on March 29,1699, a great gathering was held at Kesgarh, in Anandpur. A large andbeautiful tent was set up. Divine music lifted the mortals to heightscelestial. As soon as the chanting of Asa-di-Var was concluded, theGuru went inside the tent. He remained there for some time. At lasthe came out; his eyes shone like fire; his face was flushed with theglow of a mighty resolve; his naked sword glistened in his upliftedarm; and his whole body was transformed like that of a warrior steppingforth into the field of battle. In a voice as of thunder, and brandishinghis sword aloft, he addressed the assembly as follows : ‘My devotedfriends, this goddess is daily clamouring for the head of a dear Sikh.
Is there any one among you all, ready to lay down his life at a callfrom me ?’
What an amazing call from one whose anxiety had so far beento serve and preserve his followers ! Some thought that his ‘insanity’
had advanced a step further. For months and months he had been quiet,gloomy, and morose. Now he was uttering he knew not what. Thethought made them tremble. There was a dead silence for a moment.
The Guru called forth twice, but there was no response. Who shouldagree to be killed for nothing and by a ‘mad man’ for no reason? Hiseyes flashed fiercer; his voice grew more terrible; and his sword quiveredstill more angrily. For the third time he asked for a true follower ofhis, who would lay down his life at a call from him. What a trial ! Hewondered whether his Sikhs would act up to his teachings. At last,Bhai Daya Ram, 1 a Khatri of Lahore, aged thirty, stood up and said,’O True King, my head is at thy service. Thou hast taught us :”Desirest thou to play the game of Love with me ?
Then come, but thy head on thy palm should be:
If choosest thou to tread this path, be ready, O friend.
To part with thy head in absolute joy and serenity.”
‘I have been preparing myself to follow that order of thine. ButMaster, there has been a bit of wavering. Pardon that, my Lord; makeperfect what is imperfect, and let me taste eternal bliss; for under thysteel is the highest bliss.’
The Guru took him by the arm and dragged him into the tent
with apparent hurry and violence. A blow and a thud were heard; astream of blood rushed out; and the Guru, his sword dripping withfresh-drawn blood, called for another head. Now the crowd felt convincedthat he was in earnest, and that he had killed Bhai Daya Ram. Therewas a dead silence again. At last, on the third call, Bhai Dharm Das 2 ,a Jat of Delhi, aged thirty-three, stood up, and offered his head. Hewas also dragged into the tent. Another blow, another thud, and a freshstream of blood convinced the horror-stricken people that the secondSikh, too, had been killed. Many fled for their lives. The Guru cameout and called for another head.
The gathering became thinner and thinner. Some went and complained to the Guru’s mother that he had gone ‘mad’ and was killing1. Bhai Daya Ram was the son of Shri Sudha Khatri of Lahore. His mother’s namewas Shrimati Diali. He was born in 1726 Bk. After taking Amrit, he became BhaiDaya Singh. He accompanied the Guru to the end of his life and participatedtieroically in the Guru’s religious wars. When the Guru was prevailed upon to leaveChamkaur Sahib in December 1704, the five “Dear Ones” assigned to Bhai DayaSingh the duty of going with the Guru. It was Bhai Daya Singh that took the Guru’sletter, called the Zafamama, to Aurangzeb in the Deccan. He later went with theGuru to Nander in .Deccan, and continued to serve him most devoutly. He diedthere in 1765 Bk.
2. Bhai Dharm Das was born at Hastnapur (Delhi) in 1723 Bk. His father’s namewas Shri Sant Ram, a Jat by caste. His mother’s name was Shrimati Sabho. Ontaking Amrit he became Bhai Dharm Singh. He remained with the Guru to the endof his life and participated heroically in his religious wars. When the Guru leftChamkaur Sahib, the five “Dear Ones” assigned to him the duty of accompanyingthe Guru. He went with the Guru to Nander (Deccan), where he continued to servehim most devoutly. He died there in 176S Bk. Some say that he died at Chamkaur.
his Sikhs like goats. They requested her to depose him and install hisson as the Guru. Pallor was on every face that was still seen in theGuru’s presence. All lips were dry, and all eyes were downcast. On thethird call, Bhai Mohkam Chand, 1 a washerman of Dwarka, agedthirty-six, offered himself as a sacrifice to please the Master. He wasdragged into the tent and the horror-stricken people again heard thesword fall and saw the blood flow out.
He came out again. The same sword dripping with blood, the
same blood-red eyes, and the same stunning demand for another head’O My Sikhs,’ said he,’You know not what great need have I for theheads of my Sikhs. Come on, my sons. Taste the cup of life givingdeath.’ But all were dumb with terror and amazement. For a time itappeared that no one would get up to go the way that the other threehad gone. At last, Bhai Sahib Chand 2 of Bidar, a barber by caste, agedthirty-seven, got up, advanced to the Guru’s feet, and said,’0 Master! I have taken too long to make up my mind. But what could I do,Master ? Thou hast taught us to lead a householder’s life. The householdhad captured by feeble heart. I struggle, Master, but the grip provedtoo tight for a time. It is with thy grace that it has been relaxed and Ihave shaken off the chains of mundane love that bound me. I confess itis a grave short-coming to have tarried so long. But thou art merciful andkind. Pardon my past failings and accept this head. It is already thine.
What shall I lose in rendering to thee what is thine already ?The Guru dragged him in. Another blow, another thud, and freshstream of blood stupefied the people who had the courage to keep theirseats in the darbar. Another had been killed ! They prayed to theAlmighty Father to cure the Guru of the strange malady. They prayedthat he might be satisfied with the four heads that he had got, and testtheir patience no further. It was getting too much. Still he came outand called for a fifth head. The call was repeated. No response. Onthe third call Bhai Himmat Rai 3 of Jagannath, a Kahar (water carrier)1. Bhai Mohkam Chand was born to Shri Tirath Ram, a washerman of Dwarka, in1720 Bk. His mother’s name was Shrimati Devanbai. On taking Amrit, he becameBhai Muhkam Singh. Thereafter he remained with the Guru and took a heroic partin his religious wars. He died fighting at Chamkaur Sahib on December 22, 1704A.D.
2. Bhai Sahib Chand was born to Shri Chamna, a barber of Bidar, in 1719 Bk. Hismother’s name was Shrimati Sonabai. On taking Amrit, he became Bhai SahibSingh. He remained with the Guru to the last and participated hcrqically in hisreligious wars. He died fighting at Chamkaur Sahib on December 22″, 1704 A.D.
3. Bhai Himmat Rai was born to Shri Gulab Rai, a Kahar or Jheewar (water carrier)of Jagannath in 1718 Bk. His mother’s name was Shrimati Dhanno. On takingAmrit, he became Bhai Himmat Singh. He remained with the Guru to the end ofhis life and took a hero’s part in his religious wars. He died fighting at ChamkaurShahib on December 22, 1704 A.D.
by caste, aged thirty-eight, rose, and bowed his head before the Guru.
‘Strike, Master.’ said he, “and ferry me across this ocean of the deludingworld. This body will not endure. It will fail and fall under the strokeof death. Take this, Master, said he, ‘and ferry me across this oceanof the deluding world. This body will not endure. It will fail and fallunder the stroke of death. Take this, Master, and, in return for it, grantme one that will endure for eye.’ He was treated like the other four.
There was heard the same sound of a falling sword and a falling body,and a similar stream of blood was seen to flow from the tent.
This time the Guru stayed longer in the tent. People began tobreathe a bit more freely. Perhaps he had finished, and would not repeatthe amazing call. At last he came out. But, O heavenly bliss, what achange ! His sword was sheathed, his face was beaming with joy andsatisfaction, and his eyes were drunk with the cheer which filled hisheart. Any Good Lord ! Who were they that came after him, lookingstrangely like him ? They had been killed; had they been revived ?Were they in mortal frames or in celestial ones ? They were the Fivewho had cheerfully offered their heads to the Guru. They were alldressed tike the Master in saffron-dyed garments. Their faces, theirdress, and their whole appearance, were all like the Master’s. Therewas, on their faces, a glow which appeared to be a reflection of thelight that illuminated the Guru’s face. They had given him their heads,and he had given them himself and his glory.
There were exclamations of wonder and sighs of regret on allsides. Every one was sorry that he had not offered his head. One cameup and said, ‘Master, I failed in the trial and merit punishment. Theheads of these my brothers thou hast accepted and made thine own.
Throw this one into the gutter ; for it is unworthy to stand on theseshoulders.’ Another got up and said, My Lord, I was all the whilemaking up my mind. I thought you would call for a sixth head. I hadprepared myself to be the sixth. But my bad luck, Master! Thou didstnot call for that. I took too long to decide, but decide I did. So bekind, and let me die for this tardiness in responding to thy call. It wasa grievous fault Master ! So strike this unworthy head off these uglyshoulders.’
The Guru then addressed the assembly saying : ‘My dear Sikhs! Beof good cheer. The power to make a prompt response to the call of the houris not given to all. Yet blessed are thy who rise equal to the occasion. WhenGuru Nanak tested his followers, only one Sikh— Guru Angad — stood theordeal successfully. Now five Sikhs have proved their devotion to the Guru.
This is a matter of joy for us all. Now I feel certain that the true religionwill flourish well and long. My Sikhs will ever be foremost among thewinners and defenders of their and their country’s freedom, and protectorsof the weak and the oppressed. All hail ! All hail to these five DearOnes who have given me an earnest of the future glory of my people.
Some, whose love was shallow and weak, thought that I was mad andfled from my presence. They are Manmukhs, wilful people who prefer tofollow their own unillumined will. My Sikhs who did not desert me, thoughthey had not courage to respond to my call, are Sanmukhs, and are dear tome. They have not turned their backs on the Guru. These five, who haveresigned themselves to the Guru’s will, are Gurmukhs. Be ye all of goodcheer. This is yet the beginning. I shall need the heads of almost all of youin the course of time. So wait, get ready for that call. Beware, lest youshould fail again.
Shouts of Sat Sri Akal: “Glory to the Eternal Lord,” went up tothe sky. The Guru had, in this novel manner, tested the fidelity andcourage of his followers. He had ascertained that his Sikhs had leamtwell the lesson of self-sacrifice and unflinching, unquestioning obedienceto their leader, the soldier’s obedience which pauses not ‘to ask thereason why’ which lingers not ‘to make reply’, and which only yearns’to do and die’. He had also shown to his Sikhs that the path overwhich he meant to march them entailed hardships and demanded amplesacrifices. The subsequent history of the Sikhs stands witness to theexcellent manner in which they lived up to the lofty ideals placedbefore them by their Gurus. 1
Full of joy, the Guru went to his mother in the evening, and toldher all that had occurred. She heard it all with delight and blessed herson’s projects.
1. ‘tf Cromwell’s Ironsides could have been inspired with the Jesuists’ unquestioningacceptance of their Superior’s decisions on moral and spiritual questions, the resultwould have equalled Guru Gobind’s Sikhs as a fighting machine.’
J.N. Sankar, A Short History of Aurangzeb, p.167.