At Nahan and Paunta Sahib : Guru Gobind Singh Ji

Raja Medni Parkash, chief of Nahan State and Raja Fateh Shah ofSrinagar were mutual enemies. The latter had occupied some of theformer’s territory and contemplated still further aggressions. MedniParkash did not know whom he should turn to for aid and advice. FatehShah was known to be a close friend of Sri Ram Rai, who had greatoccult powers and who had, by their exhibition, acquired great influenceat the Emperor’s court. Fateh Shah’s daughter was to be betrothed tothe son of Bhim Chand, the strongest of the Hill-Chiefs. So Fateh Shahhad, as his allies, persons who owned spiritual as well as militarystrength. Medni Parkash was anxious for his safety. He has a strongdesire to acquire equally strong allies. But where to look for them wasthe question.

He consulted with his courtiers. One of them told him of GuruGobind Singh and said, “He occupies the gaddi of Guru Nanak andis, hence, in possession of that ocean of miraculous powers out ofwhich Ram Rai has received a few drops. He has, at his command, anarmy of dauntless warriors, ready to lay down their lives at a nod fromhim. He himself is a marvellous archer, excelling even Arjun of theMahabharta fame. The people of Majha and Malwa, nay, those of thewhole Panjab, are his devoted discipless. If he could be made an ally,all our worries would end. In these days Raja Bhim Chand and someother hill-chiefs tire intent on a war with him. Hostilities are about tobegin. If the Guru could be prevailed upon to come and dwell amongus for some time, that war would be averted, and, perhaps, he may bepleased to better our condition. He, by himself is, stronger than RamRai, Bhim Chand, and the rest, put together.’

This relieved Medni Parkash a good deal. He decided to invitethe Guru and seek his advice and aid. He sent his minister to the Guruwith the following request, “This land abounds in beautiful naturalscenery; there is plenty of game, too. Also, we are yearning to havethe bliss of your darshan. Do graciously come and spend some timein our midst.”

What with the love and devotion professed by Medni Parkesh,and what with the manifold entreaties made by the minister, the Gurubecame inclined to go, but he added, “Bhim Chand and his friends areall ready for a war with us. We, on our side, are equally prepared tomeet them. Not until do they get~a taste of our steel, will they cometo their senses and agree to live in peace. Therefore, I fain would settlescores with them before going to Nahan. Now, when all preparationsfor the coming conflict are made, it is not wise to leave our base andour strong position.”

The Masands and others of their way of thinking thought withinthemselves, “Bhim Chand is pre-occupied with preparations for hisson’s marriage. If the Guru were to go to Nahan, he might get soengrossed in hunting expeditions that he might cease to think of war.

In this way the war may be averted, for the time being at least.”

Thinking thus, they went to the Guru’s mother and explained theirthoughts and views to her. They begged her to persuade the Guru. Sheagreed to try. To begin with, she won over prominent Sikhs like BhaiSango Shah, Diwan Nand Chand, Munshi Sahib Chand, and her ownbrother, Bhai Kirpal. Then, taking them with her, she went to the Guru,and urged him to accept Raja Medni Parkash’s invitation. She alsoreminded him of his filial duty to obey his mother. After hearing allthis, he agreed to accept the invitation. 1 He gave orders for preparationsto be made for the journey. He had another reason, too, for goingthither. A certain love-force was drawing him in that direction. We shallsee what it was.

As a matter of precaution, and in order to be ready for alleventualities, he decided to take with him a band of his choicest soldiersand five hundred Udasi Sikhs. He started towards Nahan in the beginningof Baisakh 1742 BK (April, 1685 A.D.) Visiting his ancestors’ shrinesat Kiratpur and passing through Ropar etc., he reached Nahan onBaisakh 17,1742 BK (or April 14,1685 A.D.). The Raja gave him aroyal and hearty welcome.

When Sri Ram Rai heard of the Guru’s visit to Nahan, he counselledFateh Shah to be on good terms with him. Raja Fateh Shah, thereupon,1. That the stress of circumstances had a share in persuading the Guru to be awayfrom Anandpur for some time is shown by his own account of the event in theVachittar Natak. There he simply says, “Then we had to leave the place and payour attention to Paunta.” He fain would avoid a conflict as long as, and as far as,it was possible to do so without compromising his position and principles.

sent a messenger with suitable presents and a letter addressed to theGuru. In this he described himself as a devoted admirer of the Guru,and expressed a strong desire for a sight of him. The Guru knew thatFateh Shah and Medni Parkash were mutual enemies. He decided toeffect a reconciliation between them, so that they should cease to molesteach other, and let the people live in peace. He sent his uncle, BhaiKirpal Chand, to Raja Fateh Shah. He explained to the Raja the idealsof the Guru. ‘He has no earthly ambition’, said he. ‘He wants to fightthe enemies of dharma, the foreign oppressor who have enslaved ourmotherland and are tyrannizing over our countrymen. It behoves youto help him in this noble cause. There are scores of kings and chiefslike you with armies at your back. But you are all fallen out with eachother. This mutual animosity has made you slaves of the Muhammadanoppressors. If you were to unite your forces, you would attain independence and bring peace and prosperity to your land. Be counselled,O Raja, and give up these suicidal quarrels. Return to Medni Parkashthe lands which you have forcibly annexed and be friends with him.’

Sri Ram Rai also advised him to bow before the Guru’s wishes.

Fateh Shah accepted the advice, went to the Guru, and got reconciledwith Medni Parkash. The latter was profuse in this protestations of loveand gratitude. He urged the Guru to choose his abode in his territoryjust as his father had done in the State of Kehlur.

The Guru selected a beautiful spot on the banks of the Jamuna,and erected there a fortress which he called Paunta. The days whichhe passed here were of the greatest earthly happiness. He devotedhimself to the composition of poetry and to the diversion and pleasureof the chase. Hearing of his sojourn at Paunta, his devotees flocked tothe place from far and near. Anandpur was, so to say, reproduced atPaunta Sahib. Religious gatherings were held in the morning andevening, exploits of heroes were sung by bards, and feats of valourand physical strength and skill were exhibited by the Sikhs during the’

day. Much attention was paid to literary creation. His court poets alsocame down there. Besides other poetical works, the tenth section ofthe Bhagwat was rendered into Hindi and completed here on the seventhday of the bright half of Sawan, 1745, i.e., some time in July 1688A.D.

Sayyid Budhu Shah, a faqir and jagirdar, lived at Sadhaura, aboutfifteen miles from Paunta. He had heard of Guru Nanak’s mission andof the work that his successors had been doing. He had learnt thatGuru Nanak’s gaddi was then occupied by Guru Gobind Singh andthat the latter was then staying at a place quite near him. The Sayyidhad lived a life of austerities. He had read many religious books, hadaccociated with sufis and faqirs, and had done all that he could thinkof as leading to that stage of spiritual enlightenment at which Godstands revealed in all His glory. Still, he had felt a want, a void. Hisheart longed for one who could tear the veil which separated him fromthe All-Light.

The presence of the Guru in his neighbourhood made that inwardlonging take a definite direction. Something in his heart told him thatwhat he was in need of could be had from none but the Guru. Hewent. He had with him a band of his followers. Though inwardlyalready a convert, he was too conscious of his dignity to bow beforethe Gurur He knew not that greater pirs than he had been conqueredand enslaved by the love-shafts of those deep, serene eyes. The Guruseated the Sayyid near him. The Sayyid desired to know how one couldobtain union with the Almighty. The Guru said, ‘God dewells in everyheart. But we, in our ignorance and shortsightedness, get entangle inour love for our own world — our sons, our lands, our followers, ourdignity, and so on. This wall of self or ego comes in between us andthe Lord. He is thus concealed from our view. When we awake to thereality of our separation, and come to think of Him, we feel ourselveslost. V/e run about in search of Him. Some torture their bodies, someworship this or that object, and some sit lost in concentration. But thewall of self or ego gets thicker and thicker. These austerities onlyheighten their sense of ego and self-importance. It is only when weconquer self, and leam to bear ourselves in conformity with the DivineWill, when we attune ourselves to the Infinite, that the screen is tornasunder and He whom we had vainly searched for in forests andmountains, is revealed enthroned in our own hearts. We lose ourselvesin Him and find Him in ourselves. Then we are His and He is oursfor ever.’

These words, falling from those lips, and accompained by thelook of those eyes, went straight to the heart of Sayyid Budhu Shah.

He lost all pride, fell on the Guru’s feet, and rose with light in his eyesand hitherto unknown bliss in his heart. Here was another love-conquest.

We shall see later that the conquest was quite complete, in mind, body,and spirit.

During the time that Raja Fateh Shah was staying with the Guruat Paunta Sahib, news was brought that a white lion was doing havocamong the hill people. The Guru set out towards the place where thatlion was said to have his lair. The Rajas of Srinagar and Nahanaccompanied him. The lair was reached. The fierce beast sat up, waitingto be attacked. The Guru called upon the two Rajas and the rest to killthe lion, single-handed, with the help of a sword and a shield. Nonecame forward. The Rajas said that it was impossible to slay him withthe sword. The Guru got down from his horse, took his sword andshield, advanced towards the lion, and challenged him to come out andfight. The lion sprang forward, and with his forepaws made for theGuru’s neck. He received him on his shield. While his left hand heldsteady the shield on which the lion’s weight was pressing, his righthand cut the lion in twain.

All this was done in the twinkling of an eye. All who saw this,acknowledged the extraordinary prowess of the Guru. They said thatit was no mere human power that had killed the terrible beast. It was,rather, the power of the Almighty which worked through the Guru.

Many wavering hearts were subdued that day and filled with faith anddevotion.

Sri Ram Rai, who was a son of Guru Har Rai and had aspired forth Gaddi in place of younger brother, Guru Hari Krishan, had ever thoughthimself to have been wronged. As explained already, he had won overAurangzeb with display of his wit and occult powers. He had set himselfas a guru at the place now called Dehra Dun. This place was near Paunta.

Guru Gobind Singh was his uncle and occupant of Guru Nanak’s gaddi.

On both these accounts, the Guru was entitled to his homage. But heremembered his own animosity and feared the Guru’s treatment of him.

Besides, he had many followers who would not even look upon the•Guru. All the same, he wanted to see the Guru, yet would not go tohim, lest his followers should think him weak and desert him. He couldnot expect the Guru to come over to his place. Hence he desired theGuru to see him at some intermediate spot. The latter gladly consented.

He, who had come with reluctance, and with a heart full of prideand self-importance, found himself dwindled to insignificance beforethe Guru, verily like a candle in the face of the dazzling sun. He bowed,and his followers murmured dissent for his doing obeisance to his rival.

But he did not mind what they said. He implored the Guru to help hiswife when he would be gone; for his Masands were getting too powerful.

All the time that the two stood conversing, the followers of Sri RamRai stood with their backs to them, lest they should see the face of theGuru. ‘• Unlucky people ! They had come to a fount of immortalizingwater, but in their blindness had refused to touch it. A stone may be1. “Thus, while Sri Ram bowed before the Guru and won his blessings, his followersheld aloof from, and in open opposition to, the Guru. It is on that account that theSikhs are enjoined to have no dealings with the followers of Sri Ram Rai or theRamraiyas, as they are called.

immersed in water for centuries, still the moisture will not penetratebelow the surface. These men had similar hearts.

In the seclusion of the mountains at Paunta Sahib, the Guru evolvedhis plans for the accomplishment of his heaven-ordained task. He wantedto prepare the people for his contemplated campaign of national liberation.

With that end in view, he once visited Kapal Mochan during his stay atPaunta Sahib. He did so on the occasion of the annual full-moon fair heldthere in the month of Katak. To the people assembled there he gave themessage of Sikhism and exhorted them to get ready for achieving liberationfrom the political, social, economic, and religious bondage which wascramping them from all sides. He urged them to throw off all weaknessof body, mind, and soul, and to imbibe a passion for freedom and equality.

As we have seen, Sri Ram Rai had met and paid homage to GuruGobind Singh. During the interview he had said, “My Masands aregetting too powerful and headstrong. When I am gone, to protect myfamily arjd property from being ruined at their hands.”

The Masands did really prove to be too strong and wilful even forSri Ram Rai. Some time after the Guru’s visit, Sri Ram Rai fell into atrance. When he was in that condition, the Masands declared him to bedead. They cremated him forthwith in defiance of the wishes, prayers, andentreaties of his wife, Panjab Kaur. She vainly declared that he was notdead. This happened on the eighth of bright half of Bhadon, 1774 BK(July, 1687 A.D.). Then they proceeded to take possession of his property,the offerings intended for him, and his temple. Each began to proclaimhimself to be Sri Ram Rai’s successor.

Panjab Kaur appraised Guru Gobind Singh of her trouble andinvited him to the deceased’s obsequies to be performed on theseventeenth day after the death. The Guru went to Dehra Dun with astrong body of his troops. He held enquiries into the conduct of eachrebel Masand and gave condign punishment to all of them. He alsosuitably rewarded those of them who had remained faithful to PanjabKaur, and were otherwise good men. He then returned to Paunta Sahib.

The spot where the Guru sat when judging and punishing theMasands is the site of a memorial building.