The Master at a Glance— II : Guru Gobind Singh Ji

At a time when, because of religious differences, humanity was dividedinto mutually hostile groups, when in India non-Muslims were, with aruthless use of the sword and the might of the state, being forced toembrace Islam, when the Muhamadans and the Hindus were filled withmutual hatred and intolerance, when millions of “low-caste people”

were being spurned by the ‘high-caste people’, Guru Gobind Singhraised his voice against all this un-Godly state of things. Here are someof his utterings : —

(i)

Some, shaving their heads, become Sanyasis,

Others become Yogis, Brahmcharis, and Jatis;

Some are Hindus and other are Muhammad ans; among the latter, some are Sunnisand some are Shias;

Still remember that human beings are all of one race of caste;Karta (the creator) and Karim (the Baneficent) are the same;Razik (the Sustainer) and Rahim (the Merciful) are the same;Let no man even by mistake suppose that there is a difference.’

Serve and worship the one God who is the one Lighi-giver for all.

Know that His form is one, and that He is the one light diffused in all.

(ii)

The temple and the Mosque are the same; the Hindu.

worship and the Muhammadan prayer are the same;

All men are the same; it is through error that they seem different.

Deities, demons, Yashas, heavenly singers,

Muhammadans, and Hindus adopt the customary dress of their different countries.

All men have the same eyes, the same cars, the same

body, and the same build — a compound of earth, air, fire and water.

Allah and Abhekh are the same; the Purans and the Quran are the same;They are all alike; it is the one God who created them all.

1, That is, there is not one God for the Hindus and another for the Muhammadans.

(iii )

As from one fire millions of sparks do rise;

Though rising separately, they unite again in the fire;As from one heap of dust several dust particles fill the air;As in one stream million of waves are produced;

The waves of water will all be know as water;;

The waves of water will all be known as water;

So from God’s form incorporeal and corporeal beings are manifested;And, springing from Him, shall all be united in Him again.

He put these teachings of his into practice and, abolishing all differencesof caste and birth, created the Khalsa Panth; baptized all by makingthem drink Amrit from the same vessel; and even the “untouchables”

he admitted as equals into the new Brotherhood. He exhorted all tolove all, without exhibiting any differentiation on account of caste,creed, or country. He proclaimed it vehemently-:

I tell you the truth, hear ye all.

Only those who love will find the Lord.

A Poet and Scholar

He was poet and scholar. He honoured poets and appreciated fine arts.

Besides Panjabi, he was a scholar of Sanskrit, Persian, and Hindi- HisHindi poetry is without a parallel in Hindi literature.’A good part ofhis literary compositions is believed to have been washed away by theSirsa. Still, enough of them have come down to us to prove the loftyexcellence of his genius as a poet and thinker. Speaking of the ‘Bookof the Tenth King’, S.M. Latif writes as follows — ‘It raised the dormantenergies of the Sikhs, who, at that time,, were a vanquished race, andurged upon them the necessity of leading an active and useful life. Theauthor infuses into it his own fervour and spirit, kindling the mind ofthe reader with lofty ideas of social freedom, and inflaming them todeeds of valour. [Guru] Gobind [Singh] possessed a poetical mind, andhis description of the heroic deeds of warlike men lays before thereader a vivid and sprightly picture of the fields on battle in ages goneby, and animates him with ideas of military glory and national honourand ascendancy’.

1» Dr G.C. Narang, op cit, p.73, and Appendix i,ii.

A Peerless Archer

In archery he surpassed the famous ancient heroes of old. He couldshoot his arrows over a long distance and with unerring aim. The greatlosses which the army of Sarhind suffered at Muktsar were, in no smallmeasure, due to the fast, continuous rain of arrows that fell from theGuru’s bow. During the course of a war, his enemies were playing atchess in their camp. Suddenly, a gold-tipped arrow of the Guru struckone of the legs of the bedstead on which they sat. They began towonder at the miracle displayed by the Guru in having shot so far, anddreaded that, if he had liked, he could have killed them there. Justthen, another arrow came and struck another leg of the bedstead. Itbore a paper on which was written, ‘It is not miracle, but perfectionwas greater archer than Arjun, the hero of Mahabharat, and that theworld had never seen another who could bend the bow so well as he.

A Prophet

He was p r ophet and social reformer. His teachings equal, and inseveral respects surpass, those of the most famous of the world’sprophets. But, unlike some of them, he did not claim to be God,His incarnation, His only Begotten son, or His Deputy on the earth.

He did not say,”I am the only Begotten Son of God. If you putfaith in me, my Father in Heaven will pardon all your sins.” He didnever say,”I am God Himself. I sustain the world. I have come tokill the demons. “He did not say, “On the Day of judgement I shallbe standing beside God. Whoever puts faith in me shall be savedby me from hell and conducted to paradise.” He described himselfto be but a servant of the Supreme Being 1 Of course, He did callhimself a son of God, but that was in the same sense in which hecalled all human beings to be his sons. His method was ever of lovingpersuasion; no threat, direct or veiled, did he ever employ to convincepeople of the necessity and reasonableness of the course advocated byhim, or of him sincerity in his beliefes. On the other hand, no fear of1. ‘Those who call me God

‘Will into the Hell’s deep pit fall;

‘Regard me as a slave of His;

‘And have no doubt whatever of this;

‘I am a servant of the Supreme Being.

‘And have come to behold the drama of this word.’ (Vachittar Natak)opposition from any quarter deterred him from the path of progressthat he had chosen for his people’ 1

A Social Reformer

Guru Gobind Singh completed the task of eradicating social evils whichhad been initiated by Guru Nanak. He abolished social distinctions andgave practical effect to the doctrine that ‘the lowest is equal with thehighest, in race as in creed, in political rights as in religious hopes’.

He fused all the four castes into on Brotherhood, the Khalsa Panth.

He placed women in a position of equality with men, in the religiousas well as in the social field. The social reforms which he introducedremain to this day the ideal of many an advanced community.

A Statesman and Administrator

He was a statesman. A warrior and general must needs be a statesmanif he is to achieve any tangible success. But the Guru’s statesmanshipwas based on truth and morality, and not no diplomacy. No deceit,no craft, no treachery, and no falsehood, did he ever employ to gainhis end. His was not a statesmanship of the moderns who wouldjustify any means and devices, however base and unfair, providedthey help in the attainment of the end on view. ‘Why care for themeans when the end is good ?’ That was not his method. But if hedid not employ craft himself, he was not, on that account, liable tofall a victim to the low designs of his enemies. He was wide-awakeand alert.He kept himself well informed of the enemies’ moves. Heknew the value of forests, streams, and mountians as means ofdefence, and made the fullest use of them. His fortification ofAnandpur was so well designed that it was inpossible for an enemyto suprise him or take him unawares.

He was an administrator. His rule was based on love and justice 2 .So well managed was his city that victims of imjustice and oppressionfrom their places adopted Anandpur as their home. His followersnumbered many thousands. Never was there among the any discord ofany semblance of unrest of mutiny.

1. What the Lord of the Universe bade me that will I surely utter; And will notremain silent through fear of mortals. (Bachittar Natak)2. In the Vachittar Natak he writes :

‘When the duties of a ruler devolved upon me,

I promoted righteousness to the best of my power.’

A Householder

He was a householder. He was an obedient son, a considerate father,a kind master, and a loving husband. When his mother, under theinfluence of the treacherous, crafty Rajas’ oaths asked him to evacuatethe fort, he tried to convince her that their oaths were false; but, whenshe persisted and declared her determination to go in spite of him, he,like a dutiful son, resigned himself to her wishes, and evacuated thefort. The reader knows what happened afterwards. He brought up hissons like an ideal father. It was by virtue of the training which he hadgiven them that his sons of six and eight preferred the most horribledeath to the life of renegades. It was the same training which enabledhis elder sons, fourteen and eighteen years of age, to face whole armieswith firm and steady hearts, and be hewn down to pieces rather thanfleeing from the field or owning defeat. When his mother was goneand his sons were murdered or cut to pieces, he bore these bereavementswith a firmness which has no parallel elsewhere. When people showedgrief at the death of his sons, he cheered them up by saying/No, mysons are not dead. They live in the lap of the Eternal Father. And onthis earth live millions of my sons in the form of the Khalsa.’

A Patriot and Liberator

He was a patriot, indeed the first Indian to be inspired with that noblesentiment. He was filled with unbounded grief at the abject slavery towhich his countrymen had been degraded. His heart yearned to bringabout a true liberation and to break the chains that bound the bodies,minds, and hearts of his people. He had a passion to make his countrymenregain self-reliance and self-confidence. He wanted to raise their character, to make them free and bold, and to teach them selfless sacrificeand service for the country’s sake. He aimed at making them love theirneighbour better than their own selves, be friends off all, be foes ofno man as such, but oppose and resist with their lives any tyrannousand vicious system that debased and degarded humanity. His love forhis country did not diminish his insistence on high principles whichhe placed before the people as the Guru and Prophet.

A Nation-builder

He was a nation-builder. It was Guru Nanak that had conceived theplan of welding the various sections of the Indian populace into anation; and it was Guru Gobind Singh that accomplished what hadbeen begun by Guru Nanak and promoted by the other Gurus. Thesentiment of nationalism had not entered the Indian mind before thattime. Guru Gobind Singh created the nation and a feeling for nationality.

He taught people to take concerted action against common enemiesand at times of common dangers. He taught them people to Takeconcerted action against Common enemies, and at time of commondangers. He taught them a corporate life in which the common goodand welfare were placed higher than individual interests. He establisheda system of democracy which had never been thought of in India before.

After him, he gave the whole community the power to frame rules andlaws in conformity with the fundamental principles of the Sikh religion.

An Apostle of Democracy

All the Gurus were apostles of democracy. This was something newat that time. They wanted to develop a sense of power and responsibilityin the people. They encouraged them to exercise self-expression andself-reliance. They took care to impress upon their disciples that, amongthem, claims to seniority or superiority had all to rest on merit. Hewho took the greatest pains to do even the lowliest service to thepeople, along with being devout and regular in his prayers, was to beworthy of the highest honour. A memorable illustration of this idealwas witnessed long afterwards when the Sikh power was in the making.

The Nawab of Lahore, in order to appease and win over the Khalsa,offered the title of “Nawab”, a Jagir of one lakh, and a rich robe ofhonour to a suitable Sikh. He sent a messenger with the offer to theSikhs assembled at Sri Akal Takhat, Amritsar, and requested them tochoose someone for the purpose.’ Let it go to Kapoor Singh, whocleans the Khalsa’s stables and is now fanning the assembly.’ Thiswas the unanimous decision.

Guru Gobind Singh completed the development of the Sikhcharacter. He gave his Sikhs many practical lesson in self-rule, selfreliance, and self-expression. We know that after he had baptized thefive Dear Ones, he implored them to baptize him in the like manner.

It is on that account that he has been called the Guru who was also adisciple at the same time.’

Once, when on his way to the Deccan, he made a sign of salutationto the shrine of a renowned Sadhu, named Dadu. The act was inviolation of the principles of Sikhism. The Sikhs at once stood up andprotested against the Guru’s violation of his own teachings. He gladlyconceded that it was a msitake on his part. He agreed to be judgedand punished by the Sikhs. They did not hesitate. They sat as judgesand fined him. He gladly paid the fine and added that he had committedthe mistake purposely. He had wanted to test them.

Later, when he deputed Banda Singh to the Panjab, he sent fiveSikhs with him to be his counsellors. Banda Singh was strictly enjoinedto pay due heed to their advice. He was also told that he must donothing in opposition to the wishes of the general body of the Khalsa.

Still later, when he was about to retire to his Celestial Home, heinvested the Khalsa under the guidance of Guru Granth Sahib with thefull authority till then exercised by the Guru. Here was the fullestdevolution of power and responsibility amongthe masses.

The lesson taught by the Guru has gone deep into the Sikhcharacter. They have been always in the forefront of all popularmovements against autocracy in any form and in any sphere.

Free form Pride and Vanity

Though endowed with great gifts and noble qualities, he never feltproud or vain on that account. He lifted the depressed and the lowlyto a position of equality with the “high caste people”, and made themmembers of his Khalsa on the same footing as the Brahmins orKashatriyas; yet he never boasted of having done a favour to them.

On the other hand, he attributed all his own success and greatness tohis Khalsa. “It is through their kindness that I have been so exalted;otherwise there are millions of worms like me.”

When he won battles, he did not boast of the victories as beingdue to his valour; but invariably attributed them all to the grace of Godand the bravery of his soldiers.

Humorous and Witty

He possessed great wit and humour and he made use of this qualityin driving home the lessons which he wanted to teach, or in clinchinga point in argument. For example, one day he secretly dressed a donkeyin the skin of a tiger. All animals fled from the supposed tiger in fright,and soon, complaints were brought to the Guru that a very big tigerwas disturbing the people. When a hunting party challenged the supposedtiger, he brayed in terror and ran to his master. Thereupon, the Guruimpressed upon his followers the benefit and necessity of their keepinga bold exterior and preserving their form, faith, and observances, distinctfrom the mass of the Hindus who were then mostly idolatrous, casteridden, and superstitious. On another occasion, Bahadur Shah wasdiscussing religious matters with him, and said, ‘There is only oneGod.’ The Guru said, ‘No, there are three Gods.’ The Emperorretorted, ‘Even a child knows that there is only one God.’ ‘No,no,’

said the Guru, ‘there are three Gods. The first is the one who iscalled Allah or the God of the Muslims; the second is the one whois called Ram or Ishwar, the God of the Hindus. These two are inapparent and constant strife and rivalry, for each of them apperarsto have sworn to damn for ever the followers of the other. The thirdis the one whom I call Wahiguru Wonderful Lord, who loves all Hiscreatures, Many other anecdotes could be quoted, but these areenough as axamples.

Such then was the Master — a perfect man, Sarav yogi, householder,poet, scholar, thinker, reformer, prophet, lover of truth and purity,fearless as a lion, champion of the weak and oppressed, irreconcilableopponent of tyranny, friend of all; a general, archer, statesman, administrator, patriot, nation-builder, giant in physical strength, and amaster of wit and humour. This is the master at a glance. Who candescribe a full view of him ? Where can you find the like of him ?