Return to the Eternal Home— II : Guru Gobind Singh Ji

What, then, is the version which we would put forth as true andauthentic, and what are our grounds for passing it as such? We shallfirst narrate what appears to us to have been the true course of eventsleading to Guru’s death, and then give our reasons for regarding thataccount as true.

A young Pathan was deputed by the Nawab of Sarhind to murderGuru Gobind Singh. 1 The Pathan at first went to Delhi and met theGuru’s wife. From her he ascertained the whereabouts of the Guru andstarted for Nander (Abchalnagar). Reaching there, he went to the Guru’sdarbar with murderous intentions. On the first visit he found too manySikhs around the Guru and returned to his abode disappointed. Herepeated these visits day after day. No suspicions arose in anyone’smind; for he seems to have already met and honoured the Guru in thePunjab, and also because there were many Muslims even then with theGuru. All the time, he was studying the situation and making up hismind about the hour that would best suit his nefarious job. From steadyobservation he concluded that the evening time was the best. So, oneevening, he came with two confederates. The Guru did not feel anysuspicions regarding the Pathan’s visit at that late hour. He seated thePathan near his bed and gave him Parshad (Some sweets) which thePathan devoured at once.

1 . Daulat Rai, after weighting the various traditions which were current about themotives underlying the murderous assault on the Guru, believes the tradition thatthe Pathan was deputed by Bahadur Shah. The Emperor knew that the Guru hadparted with him in no friendly mood. Knowing the military abilities and potentialcapacity of the Gum, the Emperor could not feel secure as long as the former lived.

So he managed to get the Guru murdered.

Macauliffe also refers to a tradition according to which the murderer was ‘speciallydeputed by Bahadur Shah to assassinate the Guru because he had importuned himto fulfil a promise solemnly made. It had been thought that the Emperor believedthat if he could remove the Guru form his path, all troubles would be at an end.’

These explanations seem to be quite plausible, but the one given above in thetext is more authentic.

Most of the Sikhs had retired for the night. The only Sikh whowas near him had fallen asleep. The Guru himself was sitting on hisbed. A few minutes after the Pathan’s arrival, the Guru, too, lay downto rest. This was the Pathan’s opportunity. Like a tiger, he sprang tohis feet, draw his sword, and plunged it into the belly of the Guru.

Before the Guru could get up, the Pathan made another stab. But thenhis fate was sealed. With one stroke of his sword, the Guru severedthe head of the treacherous Pathan from his body. Then he called outto his Sikhs. The Guru’s call at that late and unusual hour made themsuspect some foul play.

The two confederates of the Pathan, who had seated themselvesat some distance, now tried to escape. But they were caught anddespatched. When the Sikhs saw the body of the Pathan lying near theGuru, they were about to hack it in the belief that there was lyinganother of the suspicious persons. The Guru restrained them sayingthat the wretch had already had his due.

Till then, no one suspected that the Guru had been wounded. Itwas only when he got up and staggered, that the Sikhs came to knowof the dismal fact. They were struck with grief and anxiety. But theGuru encouraged them saying, ‘Have no Fears. The Immortal God hasprotected me. I am all right.’ The wounds were washed and sewn. Butwhen the Guru lifted him self a little, the threads broke. They weresewn again. Next day, they were again treated with ointments and weremore properly dressed.

For some three or four days the Guru did not move from the bed.

Sikhs from far and near came in large numbers and were very anxiousto see the Guru and be sure that he was out of danger. On the earnestentreaties of these Sikhs, the Guru agreed to appear in the darbar.

Immense was the joy of the Sikhs at beholding their Master again.

They returned to their homes with joyful hearts. Others came and, afterbeholding the Master, returned in peace and joy. Several days passedin this way.

The Guru then felt that the end of his earthly days was near. Heretired for the night after taking a little food. About an hour and a halfafter midnight, he got up and began to recite the Divine Word. He thencalled aloud to the Sikhs and bade them the last farewell.

Deep were the grief and distress of the Sikhs. They lamented thetthey had not had the opportunity of taking to the Master before hisdeparture to the Home from where he had come. They felt awe-struckat what had so unexpectedly happened. All of them sat together anddecided to cremate the Guru’s body before day-break. This was done.

The Master had returned Home. This happened on the fifth of the brighthalf of Kartik {Kartik 6) 1765 Bk/ October 7, 1709 A.D.

Such is the account of the Guru’s death as given in the Chaturjugi 1 and the Gur Sobha. Our reasons for regarding it as true historyare as follows : The explanation here given of the motives that inspiredthe murderous attack appears to be the best and most credible. 2 Afterthe accession of Bahadur Shah, active punitive measures against theSikhs had been suspended. The Emperor was known to be favourablyinclined towards the Guru. Now, Wazir Khan, Nawab of Sarhind, hadbeen foremost and most active in persecuting the Guru. The story ofhis excesses against the Guru had shaken even Aurangzeb, and hadlowered the Nawab in the eyes of the Emperor. 3 Bahadur Shah dislikedhim even more on that account. On the other hand the Guru hadrendered valuable assistance to Bahadur Shah in the war of succession,and the latter had honoured the former in an open darbar by conferringon him a rich robe of houour and a scarf (dhukhdhukhi) worth sixtythousand rupees, thereafter. They were together for some time and hadthen proceeded to geather towords the Deccan. the Guru is reported tohave urged the Emperor to punish the Nawab of Sarhind for hisun-Islamic murder of his two innocent children. It was rumoured thatthe Emperor had asked for time. Whether the Guru actually made sucha request or not, the Nawab of Sarhind could not but have felt perturbedat the friendship which was springing up between the Emperor and theGuru whom he had grievously wronged. He knew what would happento him, if full concord were established between the Emperor and the1. An old manuscript written by Bhagwan Singh and unearthed by the late indefatigable research-scholar, Bhai Sahib Vir Singh of Amritsar.

2. Further support is lent to this version from rather an unexpected quarter. KhafiKhan says that when Bahadur Shah was proceeding to Haiderabad, the Guru joinedhim with a company of two or three hundred soldiers. Two or three months later,continues Khafi Khan, ‘he died of a wound received from a sudden and unexpecteddagger-thrust; his murderer could not be discovered.’

So, according to Khafi Khan, the murderer was neither a grandson of PaindaKhan, nor the son of a Pathan allegedly murdered by the Guru, nor further, washe exhorted to commit the crime by the Guru. One thing more is significant inKhafi Khan’s statement. He says that the murderer could not be discovered. Hedoes not even say that he was a Muhammadan, though, if there is any pointconcerning the episode on which there is a complete consensus of opinion, it is thisthat the murderer was a Pathan. Khafi Khan seems to be over-cauu’ous in concealingthis fact. Does not this very over-cautiousness and reticence lend colour to the viewthat he had knowledge of the real instigator of the crime ? And that the best method,he could devise, for averting any suspicions from Bahadur Shah or the Governorof Sarhind, was to omit saying that the murderer was a Muhammadan ?3. Forster’s Travels.

Guru. The Emperor had already shown an inclination to help the Guruat the expense of the Nawab. As said already, he had granted a farmanin favour of the Guru upon the Nawab for payment of three hundredrupees a day. Hence, Wazir Khan came to be in fear of his life. Heknew the custom of those days. The offender was made over to thefamily of his victim for any punishment by which they might chooseto satisfy their thirst for revenge. It was but natural that the Nawabshould have felt anxious lest he should meet a similar fate. He couldnot rest in security as long as the Guru was alive. It is no wonder,then, that he devised a plan to end his fears and anxiety. This is furthersupported by the fact that the same Nawab, in after years, employedanother Pathan to do away with Banda Singh Bahadur after gaininghis confidence. But the latter proved too much for the would be assassin.

About the Gur Sobha and its author reference has been made inan earlier chapter. Saina Pati was one of the fifty-two poets at theGuru’s darbar. He began his book in Sambat 1758 and finished it sometime after 1765. His book is the earliest on the subject and, being thework of a contemporary and close associate of the Guru, the mostreliable, especially in matter which came in his personal observationand knowledge. No doubt, he was not an eye-witness of the Guru’sdeath. In fact, he says it so. But his account was based on the reportsof many Sikhs who, after the Guru’s death, returned from Abchalnagarto the Panjab. The Sikhs of the Panjab must have naturally been anxiousto hear of all facts relating to an event which had immense importancefor them. There seems to be no reason for desbelieving the accountthat became current among them then, and was recorded by Sainapati,at that very time.

Such was the visible cause of the Master’s departure from hisworld. That the end of the period of his separation from the father wascoming had been clear to the Guru soon after he had received thewounds. In the few days that he attended the darbar after they hadslightly healed, the Guru applied the finishing touch to his work. Hehad already named his successor and also crowned the Khalsa atChamkaur. He now proceeded to perform the formal ceremony. Havingplaced five pice and a cocoanut before the sacred Book, he said :”The Panth, the Khalsa, I formed and helped it grow.

‘For the Eternal Father had ordained it so;

‘Hear ye all my Sikhs, the Father’s behests for the future.

‘From today, the Granlh, the Divine Word is the Master.

“The Guru Granth is the embodiment in visible form of all the Gurus.

‘With a heart pure and clean, with a faith unbounded and serene.

‘Let the Khalsa seek the Master in his Word:

‘Foi the Word, the Granth, is the Guru, the Master, From today’

He said this and bowed before the Guru Granth. Then he turnedto his Sikhs and said, ‘Grieve not over my departure. It is true that youwill not see this body with your eyes. But I shall be ever in the midstof my Khalsa. Whenever you need my counsel and guidance, gatherin a true disciple-like sincerity in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib,and discuss and decide matters in the light of the teaching of the tenMasters embodied therein. Whenever a group of my Sikhs rememberme with true hearts and pure minds. I shall ever be in their midst. Lovenot this body which is perishable; but love the lofty ideals which,assuming this body, I tried to place before you. Love the Word. ThroughWord you can have constant communion with my Master and with me.

Those who die fighting for the preservation of high principles and ofthe Khalsa Panth will be especially dear to me. They will go straightunto the Lord’s presence, freed from the misery of repeated births anddeaths. I am returning to the City where there is neither sin, sorrow,strife, nor jealousy. Let none weep after me.’

Thus the last of the Sikh Gurus “merged his personality in theranks of his disciples. He declared that the Guruship would vest in thegeneral body of the Khalsa, and not in any mortal. The whole.” 1Sikh community, in its organized form called the Panth, was toguide itself by the Holy Granth, and also by the collective sense ofthe community. 2

1. Gut Sobha ; Suraj Prakash; Majma-ul-Akbar, by Harsukh Rai, page 481; SohanLai, i.64-65; Forster, i. 263; Malcolm, 76; History of the Panjab, Allan & Co..

(1846), 109; History of the Sikhs, (Calcutta, 1846), 86; History of the Sikhs,Cunningham, 83; Rahimama of Prahlad Singh, 24.

2 . Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, A Short History of the Sikhs.