Episodes from the Lives of Sikh Gurus
Episode No. 31
The Khalsa had another encounter with the rajahs, in which the rajahs fled like cowards.
Many of them were slain by the Khalsa. The news reached the Guru that the Khalsa had killed the rajahs, and that the others that remained, would also be slain, since the Khalsa was pursuing them and was in no mood to spare them. The Guru gave his dagger to some musaddi, his head cloth to another, his long scarf to still another, his ring to still another, and an arrow to another one, by way of authentication, with the instructions that the Khalsa should stop the pursuit as soon as they see memorabilia.
“O True Emperor, today we were in a position to liquidate them, such that they could never have faced us again. But we have returned on your orders,” complained the Khalsa as they returned.
“O Khalsa, this is our sport. We do not want to finish it all in one day. We shall continue to play this game by and by,” said the Guru.(31)
Episode No. 32
Shun Pride And Ego In Victory
In most of the scuffles, the Khalsa was victorious against the rajahs. The Guru sensed that the Khalsa had begun to harbour vanity in their mind. One day he sent the Khalsa to fight the rajahs, and he himself withdrew. When the Khalsa learnt that the Guru had left, they abandoned the fight to follow the Guru. The armies of the rajahs pursued and slayed the Khalsa soldiers. Sikh horsemen rode at top speed to the Guru and said, “O True Emperor, the armies of the enemy are slaying us. Have mercy and issue a personal command to attack the enemy, so that their army can be thrown off.” The Sikhs entreated repeatedly, but the Guru would not listen, and continued his march. Nor did he give them any answer.
Then some more Sikhs came running, followed by more and more. All of them prayed, “O Guru, have mercy and stop.” The Guru did not relent, and continued to move on. One of the Sikhs alighted from his horse and drew a line in front of the Guru’s horse named Jan Bhai.
“Jan Bhai, in the Guru’s name please stop and do not cross this line,” said the Sikh. The horse stopped there and then, and would not cross the line. The Guru used his whip and his spurs to goad the horse, besides cursing him. But the horse would move backwards only. “Jan Bhai, I know you. In your last birth you were a masand. You have lived on their crumbs. How can you disobey them” said the Guru and alighted from horseback. The Khalsa gathered around the Guru, sitting on a cot. Then the Guru himself ordered the Khalsa to attack the rajahs. With the Guru’s blessings, the Khalsa liquidated the rajahs, resulting in the Guru’s victory. The Guru continued his journey.(32)
Episode No. 33
Key To Happiness
Once Mata ji developed some physical ailment. When the Guru came for his meals, she prayed, “O True Emperor, I have suffered much pain. Pray give me comfort and relief from this suffering.”
“O Mother, you want comfort and relief for yourself. Have you yourself ever given these to anybody?” asked the Guru.
“In what way can I do that?” replied Mata ji.
“Have you ever served a meal to anybody? Have you ever offered cold water to anybody?
Have you ever fanned anybody? Have you ever massaged a tired person?”
“O True Emperor, because of you, there are so many people eager to serve food and water, to wield the fan and to do the massaging, that many of them do not even get a turn to perform these services. How can I do that?”
“Mata ji, he alone can get comfort or peace, who gives it to others. This is the Law laid down by the Lord Himself. And if you have not given comfort to anybody, how can you aspire for it yourself?”
“O True King, the past is past. In future I shall do as you say.”
“Very well said,” remarked the Guru, “now let us proceed like this. Let us hold a big feast, cook wholesome, delicious food including luchis, jalebis, kichoris, and invite all the four vamas. We should seek the pleasure and blessings of all.”
Mata ji complied with the wishes of the Guru. A huge feast was organised. All the four varnas were invited. Followers of all the six systems of philosophy were invited, and all near and dear ones as well as those distantly connected, joined. All showered their blessings. The feast continued for several days, with no restrictions. “Dear Mother, now you have earned the pleasure of so many. Therefore, you will also have comfort and peace,” said the Guru. Thus ended Mata ji’s ailment.(33)
Episode No. 34
Lessons In Endurance And Scorched Earth Policy
Once the Guru was in his fort on the bank of the Satluj river. He got his treasury opened and took stock of the contents through the Sikhs.
“O True Emperor, it is many lakhs ,” reported the Sikhs.
“Throw the money into the Satluj river, and debit it to the River’s account,” ordered the Guru. The Sikhs obeyed, threw the money into the river and entered it against the Satluj river.
“Now take out such articles as can be burnt in fire,” ordered the Guru next. The Sikhs took out all such articles, including silk, florescents, masroo, soosi lacha, naringsahi baftas, kimkhab, gold-fibre turbans, chhint, banat and tansukh. Countless such costly articles were taken out and piled in a heap. An inventory was prepared by the Sikhs. They reported, “O True Emperor, the articles are valued at several lakhs.”
“Set fire to them and debit it against the account of Baisantar,” ordered the Guru. The Sikhs set fire to it, and debited the value to the account of Baisantar (god of fire). Somebody stole a string of a bow. The Guru got him beaten with battens. The bullock carts of the ardasia Sikhs were grounded, so that they could not take away anything in them. Instructions were given not to feed any grains to the horses, and to let them starve. The hay stacks were ordered to be burnt. The Sikhs were to be given a ration of only five sarsahis (one sarsahi is 20 grams) of grains. At this time, the rajahs mounted their attacks. Battles became very frequent, and food was not available. The Sikhs would go to battle with belts tightened, and the Guru ordered them to go one by one and fight single-handed, and not in groups. Many devoted Sikhs came and offered their services, saying, “O True Emperor, we offer our heads to you.”
“Blessed are you, O Sikh. Go and fight,” said the Guru in return. Thus, the Sikh would go alone and fight. Each Sikh would kill as many as five or seven aggressors. Sitting at a vantage point the Guru watched the drama. Many Sikhs became martyrs fighting this way, and many more were wounded. Many Sikhs lay suffering due to hunger. Some even ground stone to eat. Some would make loaves of simbal tree bark. At this stage one of the good Sikhs beseeched the Guru thus, “The Sikhs are your followers as well as your servants. Hostilities with the rajahs continue. They cannot fight on empty stomachs. If they get one seer (approximately one kilogram) of grains daily, then they can fight properly. The rest will be as you wish.”
“The Guru has no enemies. Nor is he himself anybody’s enemy. Whatever situation has been contrived, has been created for the benefit of the Sikhs themselves. I have no other purpose. Whatever money there is with me, is all from offerings. Such maya is a form of poison. It is deadly poison. It was the money from offerings that corrupted the masands and led to their punishment. Correct? The Sikhs have come to me in the hope that the Guru will free them from the cycle of birth and death. If I feed them on this kind of offerings, they will surely be condemned to the cycle of eighty-four lakhs of species of life, and while they look to me for salvation, I shall be ruining their lives in stead. But I am not the type of Guru to ruin them. The Guru’s money is like poison to the Sikhs, but the Sikhs do not know this. It is clear to me. For example, if milk is poisoned by a deadly snake, and the mother has seen it, while the child has not seen it, she will throw it on a heap of manure. And even if the child cries for the milk, the mother will never give it to him, because she loves the child. The mother will feed the child on this milk only if she considers the child her enemy. As the mother loves her child, similarly, I love my Sikhs. I will never feed them on these poisonous offerings. Living in this world is like a dream.
Time will pass. So, why turn one’s face away from God? This is how I feel. And listen to one thing more. The Sikhs who offer their heads to me, do so only when they are hungry.
They offer their heads when they feel that it is better to die one day than to be dying everyday. The reward they get for dying, prompts them to fight. To entitle them to this reward, and to encourage others to follow their example to sacrifice their lives like moths on a flame, such situations are created, and involve hunger and battles. All these circumstances are ultimately in the interest of the Sikh~,” replied the Guru. When the Guru uttered these words, the Sikhs listened with attention, and took them to their hearts. Those who put the words into practice, were freed from the cycle of birth and death. Their faith in the Guru was unshakeable. In utter humility, they bowed their heads low before the Guru Baba. (34)
Episode No. 31
This episode highlights the Guru’s instructions not to pursue and kill the fleeing enemy. Those who fight for God’s cause have no enemies as such. Sewa Das adds another dimension to his account by saying that the Guru treated it for this view. But hostilities with the Hill princes did provide opportunities for training of the Sikhs in the art of war.
Episode No. 32
This small episode is remarkable in many ways. The Guru, like his grandfather, Guru Har Gobind, never forgot his role of a teacher even in the thick of battle.he teachers his Sikhs to shun pride and ego. The Guru’s love for animals also comes to light. He had tenderly named his mount as Jan Bhai, and his regard for the feelings of the animal was unmistakeable. Guru Nanak and other earlier Gurus also preached compassion and kindness towards animals.
Sewa Das reproduces a jovial remark of the Guru to show that even in the thixk of war. With the enemy pursuing at the heels, the Guru did not loss his sense of humour.
Episode No. 33
This story stresses the importance of sewa or rendering physical service to others or looking after the comfort of others in the Sikh way of life. The Guru does not exempt even his own family from this obligation. He says to Mata ji: “If you want comfort and salvation, you must provide comfort to others through service.” The need for serving good meals to all, particularly the poor and the needy, and practice of equality through the institution of langar is also emphasisted. The Guru themselves always lived up to this ideal, and are known to have been rendering personal physical service to Sikhs.
Episode No. 34
The story apparently relates to war times, and the various steps reported to have been taken by the Guru like throwing the treasures into the river and destruction of food and fodder, constitute what is known as “Scorched Earth Policy”, which may be justified in a particular situation. Barn Von stein is believed to be one of the principal authors of this policy in the last century. On his advice the policy was extensively used by Russia during the French invasion under Napoleon.
It must be noted that the Guru was perhaps the first leader to employ human psychology at almost every step of his strategy. He understood how and why Sikhs come to him and offer their heads. Under his teaching people had realized that it was better to die once than to live as slaves which is equivalent to dying every day of life. It was also necessary to import lessons in endurance.
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2014, All