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  Gur Panth Parkash
Gur Panth Parkash
by Rattan Singh Bhangoo
Translated by
Prof Kulwant Singh






“Raj Karega Khalsa Aid Rahe Na Koe.
Khwar Hoe Sabh Milenge Bache Saran jo Hoe ?”

This couplet has been, and continues to be, a part of the Litany sung by all Sikhs at all  congregational prayers for the last three centuries or so. This has worked as a slogan to  remind the followers of the Great Gurus of the ultimate triumph of truth, of their destiny and  of their commitment to social responsibilities and struggle to ensure genuine freedom and  equality for all human beings. It has, thus, inspired the Sikhs to make sacrifices unparalleled  in history, for the cause of bringing about the kingdom of God on earth. A free rendering of  the couplet is as follows :

“The Khalsa shall exercise political power: No-body will challenge this resolve. Eventually  every one will accept this position. And he who seeks refuge, shall be protected.”

According to tradition the couplet follows from the Tankhahnama of Bhai Nand Lal, whose  Granthawali, collected or verified from the family records ofBhai Sahib, was edited by Dr.  Ganda Singh. This question-answer series also records the words of the Guru, “Listen, Nand  Lal to this truth; I shall cause an expression of Self-rule or sovereignty” (Suno Nand Lal eho  sach; Pargat Karoon apna raj).1 On the same page after the above statement appears this  couplet “Raj Karega Khalsa.” This explains how the couplet originated and became part of  the Sikh prayer. Following upon this and with the blessings of Guru Gobind Singh himself,  Banda Singh Bahadur undertook his mission and after the capture of Sirhind established the  Khalsa Government in 1710 (AD), within two years of the demise of Guru Gobind Singh.

Bhai Rattan Singh Bhangoo testifies to the conviction of the struggling Sikhs about the  righteousness of their cause and inevitability of their goal in his Panth Parkash in his  description of the following two events.

i. Nawab Aslam Khan of Lahore sent his emissary, Subeg Singh, to the Khalsa for peace,  offering them a Nawabship. The initial reaction of the Khalsa, when the title (Nawab) was  offered to Darbara Singh, was “When did we ask for it ? The Satguru has promised us a  Sovereign rule. In comparison to this, the title of Nawab appears to be a lump of clay. We  claim sovereignty, which is sure to come sooner or later. What the Satguru has promised is  bound to happen. The word of the Guru can never remain unfulfilled, although the Dhruva  (the Pole Star) or Dhawala (the legendary Bull supporting the earth) may shift their positions.  How can we exchange our sovereignty with this insignificant title of Nawab. Accursed be  such servility.” Similady, others who were offered the Nawabship, refused the title saying.  “How can sovereignty be had by begging?” 2

ii. Capt. Murray who was Charge-De-affairs of the East India, Company at Ludhiana, and  who was obsessed with the question of legitimacy of the Sikh Rule, had It dialogue with the  author of the Panth Parkash. This is recorded as follows :

Murray: Explain to me how did the Sikhs attain power? And who gave them sovereignty? Answer: Sovereignty was bestowed on the Khalsa by the True Lord.
Murray: Who is the true Lord ?
Answer: He is Satguru Nanak.3
From the above it is clear that the Sikhs during their fierce struggle with the Mugha1 Rulers  had no doubt about their social goal of gaining sovereignty, which is expressed in the couplet  “Raj Karega Khalsa.” Nobody, Hindus or Sikhs, objected to the singing of this couplet during that, period, or even after that upto Independent of India in 1947. During the last few  decades, however, the reactiort has changed. In the words of Sardar Kapur Singh :

“This startlingly tall and audacious claim has been publici Iy proclaimed by the Sikh people during the last three centuries, firmly and defiantly and it has moved many to sheer ridicule, others to  fright, still others to resentment and boiling-head anger, many Sikhs themselves to chicken-hearted craven fear of  shameless apologia, and to the political Hindus of the post - 1947 euphoria, it has, almost invariably moved to greater  contempt for those whom they see as already in their last death - throes.” 4

Objections to this slogan are understandable, when they come from non-Sikh quarters.  However, some Sikhs have also raised their voice against this concept. Their advise is that  “politics must be insulated from religion.” 5 or politics does not go well with Sikh ideology,  and, therefore, it should be eschewed. It has also been argued that the Gurus preached only  Naam Simran and had no socio-political directions or doctrines for their followers. Some  even go to the extent of saying that any struggle for an honorable political status for the Sikhs  or to ensure their identity, is against the teachings of the Gurus.

Dr. Ganda Singh wrote a brief scholarly article which appeared in the Sikh Review July  1987, on this subject and showed clearly that the slogan issued from Guru Gobind Singh  himself, and that there was nothing wrong or sectarian about this couplet. He concluded that  It was “a permanent and inseparable part of the Sikh prayer and should be recited as such on  all occasions of prayers by all Sikhs and Sikh congregations, where-ever they might be, in all  Gurdwaras, historical or other.”6

The controversy, however, is kept alive by stray views ‘expressed in some quarters every  now and then. The basic question is as to what is the Sikh ideology, or what the Gurus had  been aiming at, or whether it is only a church of worship or a church of social policy as well.  This is the fundamental question. It is the difference on this issue that had led to  misconceptions, especially in the field of historical interpretation. Sikhism is not an extension  of the Bhakti movement; nor were the Gurus Bhakti Saints who started their own cult.  Sikhism is a revealed religion and mission, indeed, the only whole-life or Miri-Piri religious system that appeared in India. Outside India also except Judaism and Islam, no whole-life  system, combining the spiritual with the empirical, has arisen. It is not an accident that the  last five of the Ten Gurus maintained an army, and the Fifth Guru had already created a  “state within a state”, much to the annoyance of the political power of the day who ordered is  execution. It is Guru Nanak who calls God the ‘Destroyer of the Evil’-doers’ and ‘of the  Demonical’,7 Again in his Babur Vani, he unambiguously states that oppression is violative  of the Order of God who is Shelter of the shelter less, and who, as the Master of the flock, is  responsible to see that the weak are not oppressed.8

This further clarifies two things, namely, that the Gurmukh who carries out the Altruistic  Will of God, and who, for that end, creates a society, has to see that in society, aggression,  oppression and injustice are resisted. In whole-life religions, whether Sikhism, Judaism or  Islam, social responsibility clearly extends to the political field as well. For, what is within  the domain of God, is within godman’s domain of responsibility. Two facts are undeniable  that while the rulers, in order to maintain their moral legitimacy, have to ensure justice  among their subjects, it is righteous for the man of religion to confront oppression and  injustice; and that when kings or rulers fail to be virtuous, and injustice and oppression are  the result, such a situation invites response of the man of religion. For over hundred years the  Sikh Gurus had maintained an army, and initially even employed mercenaries for that end.  he point to be seen is what was the oppression to be confronted, injustice to be undone, or  challenge to be met. This militarisation was progressive, until the Tenth Master created the  Khalsa on the Baisakhi Day, 1699, and prescribed Kirpan as one of the five Kakars. At that time it is significant that all the sons of the Guru were alive. It is important to understand that  in whole-life systems, monasticism, asceticism, celibacy, Ahimsa, pacificism and all kinds of  negativism, are rejected. This is a common characteristic of the three whole-life systems  mentioned above. And these fundamentals explain why this category of systems mentioned  above accepts socio-political responsibility, and others do not. The Kirpan, it has to be  understood, is not just a symbol. It is a Hukumnama emphasizing two things that the Sikh  society is both permitted and enjoined to use force, as a last resort, for a righteous cause, and  second, that Sikhism should never revert to monasticism. The Kirpan as a weapon, may not  be of much public use today, but the injunction it represents, is fundamental and eternal.

Pleading against political activities a writer recently stated : “they (The Gurus) were ready to  take the sword, but always in self-defence and only as a last resort. For the zulum of the  Governor of Sir hind, Guru Gobind tried to seek redressal from Aurangzeb and Bahadur Shah  to punish the culprits and transgressors. It is also significant that when Banda Bahadur started  establishing a State with the help of Khalsa, a hukamnama was issued by Mata Sundri to  disassociate themselves from the objective which did nqt have the approval of the tenth Guru,  and they did so, which led to the defeat of Banda Bahadur.”9 The first point is what was the  zulum that the Governor of Sirhind had done. Was it during the general course of his  administration over the years he had done it, or was there any specific act that was wrong or tyrannical? So far as the general administration of the Governor is concerned, there is nothing  to suggest that he did anything in violation of the orders or wishes of the Emperor in Delhi.  In any case, there is nothing known to have happened to which the Emperor could have taken  offence, as being contrary to his instructions, or for which only the Governor had been  responsible and not the Emperor. If, however, the reference is to the martyrdom of the two  younger Sahibzadas, we wonder if this could be the real or even a laudable reason, for the  Guru to depute Banda Bahadur. Is it the writer’s suggestion that while there was nothing  wrong with the administration of the Emperor or the Governor, it was only the execution of  the two Sahibzadas that furnished a good reason to the Tenth Master to seek revenge by  directing Banda and the Sikh armies to do so ? Also, can we accept the suggestion that the Gurus who were always the first to sacrifice their person, would, in this case, seek to have  revenge? For, we know full well that no military reaction was made after the martyrdom of  the Ninth Master or the Fifth Master, except the general preparation for confrontation with  the Empire or the  Establishment, as a whole, for its misrule over the decades. The Tenth  Master could not be unaware that the attack on the Governor meant full-scale war involving  death of thousands of Sikhs as well as of the opponents. Is it suggested that revenge, involving death and devastation on a vast scale of the people, was justifiable? And if that had  really been the reason, would it serve as a good moral precedent or lesson for the Sikhs or the  people? Further, even assuming that only the Governor was to be punished, the Tenth Master could not be so unaware that as to believe that the task could be accomplished without a  major war about which the Emperor at Delhi could not remain unconcerned. And in the event  of Banda’s victory and death of the Governor and the transgressors to whom was the rule of  Sirhind to be handed over, if the Sikhs were not to accept political responsibility and power?  It is known to every historian that one of the greatest revolutionary and humanitarian work  the Sikh rule did, was Banda’s distribution of land among the poorest tillers. He created “The Bold Peasantry” which continues to be the backbone and the fundamental strength of the  Sikh Society.

It is on the basis of this precedent and tradition that, when the British Government created  canal colonies and wanted to turn-the clock of socialization back by granting only tenancy  rights to the Colonists, the Sikhs and others agitated and forced the Government to confer  proprietary rights on them, Here it is relevant to recall that Martin Luther, the great Christian  reformer, called the peasants ‘mad dogs’ when they agitated for their rights against the princes with whom Luther sided. Equally significant is the fact that, even in the French  Revolution, which took place eight decades after Banda, the peasants and the poor, the  Fourth Estate, had no place in its leadership, which rested with middle classes; nor were they  among its beneficiaries. Jagjit Singh in his book, ‘In the Caravan of Revolutions’ has made a  detailed comparison of the work of the Sikh Gurus with the French Revolution. Its obvious  conclusion is that the characteristics, ideals and achievements of the Sikh Revolution were in  every respect superior to and more enduring than those of the French Revolution.10

It is relevant to state that in Bhangoo’s ‘Panth Parkash’ there is a reference to a letter said to  have been written by Mata Sundri to the Khalsa. In that letter there-is nothing to suggest that  the objective of the attack by Banda Singh was not to gain rule of the land, or that the Khalsa  as forbidden to rule. In fact, on the contrary, there is a clear statement that the Guru had  bestowed Patshahi (Rule or Sovereignty) on the Panth and not on any individual. Thus, the letter, by implication or otherwise, far from denouncing the war objective of temporal  sovereignty for the Sikhs, clearly records, in the words of Mata Sundri, that Patshahi was  granted to the Sikhs (Banda ko Khijmat dei, dei patshahi nahei; Dei Patshahi Panth nij, ap  sache patshahei.)11

The above, we feel, explains, both the reason for the Tenth Master’s deputing Banda Singh  and the letter written by Mata Sundri to clarify that objective.

The writing of Tamur Shah12  should also be revealing to every one, that Emperor conveyed it  to the ‘apostle of tranquility  and harmony’, the Ninth Master, that if he desisted from  political activities and confined himself only to spiritual prayers and preaching, he would have no trouble, and in fact, would be given considerable grants. But the offer was spurneo,  with results that are a part of history. Quoting Ghulam Hussain Khan in ‘Siyurul Mutakharin’  Sher Singh concludes that there were clear apprehensions of revolt by the Guru and that the revolt by the Guru would lead to the setting up of a Sikh State.13 Further, quoting ‘Hiqiqat-i- Banau Uruj-i-Firqa-Sikhan’, he states, that the Emperor feared that the people gathering  around Guru Tegh Bahadur were emerging as a new nation (MillatNau). 14 The unfortunate  part is that persons often conditioned by pacificist influences, or with pacificist inclinations,  fail to understand the Saint-Soldier concept. The Ninth Guru embodied it as much as the  Tenth Master. The Establishment has generally used aggression and oppression as the source  of its power, and the Saint-Soldier, as the instrument of God’s Will, must inevitably come  into conflict with it. This is the eternal equation. For ‘the earth belonging to the ‘saint’ is  being usurped by the robber.15 Hence, the struggle for its liberation. The lesson of history is  that the series of martyrdoms initiated by the Fifth Guru, the Ninth Master, the Sahibzadas,  the Tenth Master, a single historical process, and it would, we feel, be a sheer distortion to  reduce this glorious spiritual marvel to the level of an episode of personal revenge as we  egoist humans do or conceive.

Some critics have also argued that the Gurus did not establish a political state for themselves  to rule,16 and therefore the Sikhs should also not entertain any such ambition. It must be noted  that no state could be established without a direct clash with the Mughals during the Guru’s  time. A state could be governed either by becoming a vassal of Delhi and paying tribute to it,  or by snatching a territory from the empire after an inevitable clash with it. Thus, the choice  was between becoming a subordinate of Delhi and a military confrontation with the Empire.  The question of the first alternative could not arise, and the second was the alternative for  which the preparations were being made, the community motivated and the Khalsa created.  Evidently, confrontation could not be done before Baisakhi, 1699, when was completed the  epitomic work of the Sikh religion and the movement. And it was for this end that Khalsa  was created; and even the Hill Rajahs were invited to join the struggle against Delhi. It is a  known fact that they declined to do so. It is thereafter that the organizational and the  preparatory work was completed, and the struggle started. It was in its continuity that later  Banda was deputed to lead the confrontation.

Advocates of pacificism frequently argue that because in the Guru Granth Sahib it is stated at  numerous places that a man of religion hankers neither after worldly power nor after personal  redemption, political power could not be the objective of the Khalsa. The verse often quoted  and misinterpretted, is “Raj Na Chahun Mukt no Chahun man preet charan Kamlare.”17  According to Sardar Kapur Singh, “They do not understand that these are not injunctions or  commandments of Sikhism, for statements of a doctrine, but merely clues to techniques for  mood-inducement, the roots of which techniques go to the ancient Yoga texts. To interpret a  sacred scripture is not a job which every man who happen to be graduate from a university, a  brave General or a successful lawyer can properly undertake.”18

The question never was that the Gurus wanted an empire for themselves. What they wanted  was the organisation of a community with trained motivations and aspirations to live as a  fraternal people with a sense of independence and the capacity to discharge complete socio- political responsibilities, including struggle against oppression of the invaders and the  Establishment. We have already referred to this conflict between the forces of righteousness  and those of evil, oppression and injustice. The Saints and Gurmukhs appear not to carve out empires for themselves, but to prepare the people to live as brothers and establish a kingdom  of God, or a ‘dharamsal’, the land for righteous living, as envisaged by God.

Before the close, it may be proper to have a look at the couplet “Raj Karega Khalsa” again. It  is simply an annoucement that the Khalsa should look after its own affairs, empirical as well  as spiritual. Now, what is wrong with it? In these days all sections of the population, all political parties, openly declare their intention to provide a Government, and no body objects  to that. In fact, the Government organises this exercise regularly. Why is it that the same  thing is a taboo for Sikhs? Secondly, if the Sikhs are forbidden to rule in their own area, who  will do, if others do not run it properly, what will they do ? It is both their responsibility and  destiny to confront misrule and injustice. Can they shirk to accept or discharge the moral and  historical responsibility, which is enjoined upon them by the Gurus? It will be clear that “Raj Karega Khalsa” is a couplet perfectly in consonance with the injunctions and the thesis of the  Gurus. In all Miri-Piri systems this religious responsibility is natural and essential. Of course  for the purpose, the cultivation of religious and spiritual strength and stamina is essential.  Hence this religious reminder and resolve at the time of prayer before the living Guru is  natural and necessary.

1 Ganda Singh (Ed) : Bhai Nand Lal Granthavali, Punjabi University Patiala,p. 285
2 Jit Singh Sital (Ed) : Sri Guru PanIh Parlcash,of Rattan Singh Bhangoo, SGPC Amrilsar : p. 285
3 Ibid: p. 41
4 Kapur Singh : Raj Karega Khalsa, SGPC, Amritsar (1987), p. 3
5 Ibid: p. 1
6 Ganda Singh : The True Impon of Raj Karega Khalsa; The Sikh Review, Calcutta, July, 1987 p. 7
7 Guru Graruh Sahib: p. 1208, 224
8 Ibid: p. 360, 417-18
9 Dhanoa, S.S. : The Meaning of Raj Karega Khalsa,’ The Sikh Review, Calcutta, December, 1990 pp. 24-26
10 Jagjit Singh : In the Caravan of Revolutions, 1987
11 Jit Singh Sital (Ed) : Sri Guru Panth Parkash of Rattan Singh Bhangoo, SGPC, Amritsar, p. 189
12 A. C. Banerjee : Journal of Sikh Studies, Feb., 1976, P. 61; G.N.D. University, Amritsar
13 Anonymous: Haqiqat.i.Banqau Uruj-i-Firqa.i-Sikhan 1783 AD pp. 3-6 quoted by Sher Singh; The Sikh Review,  Feb. 1991
14 Ibid: p. 22
15 Guru Granth Sahib: p. 965
16 Dhanoa, S.S. : The Meaning of Raj Karega Khalsa, The Sikh Review, Calcutta, December, 1990. pp. 24-26
17 Guru Granth Sahib: p. 435
18 Kapur Singh: Sikhism and Politics; SGPC, Amritsar 1987, p. 17



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