Episodes From the Lives of Sikh Gurus
Episode No. 38
How to Get over attachment
A Sikh once asked this question, "O True Emperor, holy men have risen above worldly attachments. By what thought are they aided? Attachment is a very chronic ailment of mankind. By what method have they risen above this? Pray, be kind and explain it to us."
"I will tell you the way the saints have conquered attachment to the world. They regard the material possessions as a dream. Just as what you see in a dream does not exist when you wake up, in the same way saints have woken up to the real knowledge (gyan). All objects of the world appear to be transient to them," explained the Guru, and proceeded to tell a story, "There was a saint, who had attained a high spiritual stage. Living in the midst of the world, he remained above its pleasures and sorrows. Someone came and informed him that his son had died. The saint did not express any grief at the news. The people talked about the son thus, 'Sant ji, your son was very handsome and young. He was also very learned. At his death all others expressed their shock. But you have not mourned his death. What considerations have influenced your mind?'
"'During the night I saw a dream in which I was a king. I married and got a son. But when I woke up, there was neither kingdom, nor wife and son. On waking from this dream, I heard the news that my son of the world of consciousness had died. Then I went to my Gurdev and told him of my miserable plight. 'Swami ji,' I said, 'not only has my dream world disappeared, but my real son also is no more. What should I do now? I am overwhelmed with grief.'
"'Give up mourning over both, for the whole universe is an illusion, the dream world and the conscious world. What is an illusion, does not deserve mourning over. Illusion means that in fact nothing was created, or exists. Uncreated objects enter our vision in dreams or in the conscious world. Therefore, stop mourning over both,' explained my Gurudev to me, and the reality clearly dawned in my mind. For this reason, I am not affected by sorrows or pleasures of the world.' This is the way saints have risen above worldly attachments," concluded the Guru. (48)
The Guru explains that the way to get over attachment to this world is to always keep in mind the transient nature of the world and all that there is in it.
Episode No. 49
BLINDNESS -TOTAL AND PARTIAL
Once the Guru explained the significance of the statement "The Hindu is blind, and the Turk kana (one-eyed). The God-enlightened are wiser than either." The Sikhs asked, "0 True Emperor, kindly explain this judgement in detail. Why is the Hindu completely blind, and the Turk (Muslim) half?" The Guru explained, "The elders of the Hindus have ruined the path of Hindus, while those of the Turks have cleared the path for them. When the Turks sit together, they think of their prophet and forefathers, and talk about their way of life, their austerities and their non-attachment with the world. Then they think of their meditation and their generosity. Then they miss and lament that while God has liberated the saints from the bonds of this world, they themselves are still entangled in it. Besides such remembrance, they do some good deeds also. For this reason, a Turk has been called one-eyed. And that is what he is. On the other hand, a Hindu has been called blind of both eyes. The reason for calling him blind is this: when the Hindus sit together and remember their prophets, they only think of the love drama of Shri Krishna with the gopis. These dramas alone form the subject of their discourses. The stories and their discussion also relate to this love drama. Their songs and hymns centre around these love stories, which are a cause for shame. After this they perform the ras, or enact the love drama. Beautiful girls in ornaments and costumes are made to dance. Themselves they play mirdang (drum) and other musical instruments. The girls dance to the music. Guru Nanak describes it thus:
'In the Krishna theme, the disciples play on instruments,
Their mentors enact dances,
By movement of the feet and moving the head.
Flying dust falls into their hair.
The people watching the fun, amused, go back home.
All these mime-makers tune their instruments for bread,
striking themselves on the earth.
Sing those acting milkmaids and Krishna;
Sing Sita, King Rama
Know, God is without fear, without form, of the holy manifestation,
I Who has created the entire universe'.
"Women as gopis move about in their company without hesitation. And they claim that by such acts they perform the worship of Parameshwar (God). In reality, they are pursuing the pleasure of their minds. But they say that they are enacting God's play. For this reason, Hindu has been described as blind, devoid of sight in both eyes. The game that Krishna played conformed to his status. But his followers overlook their own entitlement. For this reason, they commit the blunder. Those who thought over Sri Krishna's words, have found the right path. But the majority think only of his love drama. For, this alone appeals to them. They enjoy it and say that they are worshipping God. This is the reason for the appeal of Sri Krishna's love plays." (49)
The moral of the story is that thinking of the lighter side only of one's elders and enacting their love plays, is refusing to see the truth, which is blindness. On the other hand, thinking of the good deeds of elders and deriving inspiration from their examples is to see the truth, atleast partially. Namdev ji calls the former as blind and the latter one-eyed.
Episode No. 50
GURU'S LAST DAYS
How Guru Baba merged his soul, with the Supreme Spirit, is explained here, in detail. During the time of the Fifth Master there lived one Chandu Khatri, Sahia by caste. He was a resident of Lahore and a diwan of the ruler. He wanted to marry his daughter to Guru Baba's son. Guru Baba rejected the proposal. Chandu took this humiliation to heart. He fed the king with false reports against the Guru, which led to torture of the Fifth Master. He continued to backbite against the Sixth Master as well, which turned the king against him also. One day the king was seated on his throne at Lahore. All his governors and ministers were in attendance. "Is there anybody who will attack Guru Har Gobind?" asked the king. Painda Khan, a Pathan, who commanded sixteen thousand horsemen, stood up, and paying obeisance to the king said, "Your Majesty, I will tie Ram Das (sic.,Guru Har Gobind) with the string of my bow, and present him to Your Majesty. This is no problem." This made the king very happy. Painda Khan mounted his attack from Lahore. He had seen the Sixth Master earlier. The Guru was extremely handsome. All the ministers, etc., would come and have a look at him on the pretext of paying obeisance. When Painda Khan mounted his attack, the Guru was sixteen years of age. The news reached the Guru. But the Guru was also a great warrior. He had no fear of confrontation and battles. When Painda Khan undertook his expedition, the Guru was at Kartarpur. So, he proceeded to Kartarpur. The Guru sent his messenger to Painda Khan with this message, "You have seen me, and I have seen you. So why should we cause trouble to others? You can come from your side, and I shall come from my side. Let us fight this religious duel, and let your men as well as mine be witness to the drama. Let us leave the outcome to God." When this message from the Guru reached Painda Khan, he was very happy. He thought to himself that he would capture the Guru like a sparrow. Painda Khan was a known fighter. His appetite was phenomenal. He was capable of eating ten kilos of raw grain. He could rub the letters off a rupee coin with his thumb. Painda Khan accepted the challenge, saying, "The proposal sent by you is ten times more acceptable to me. You should now stick to your word."
Thus, both the armies, the Pathan's as well as the Guru's, stood by. There were a large number of Brar Sikhs with the Guru. Beating of drums started from both sides. No arrows were shot or cannons fired from either side. Then from his army Painda Khan came forward. The Guru came forward from the other side. Painda Khan was covered with arm our from head to foot, and was fully armed. The Guru's horse was uncovered, and he himself wore a dress of simple cloth, turban on his head, and a shawl wrapped around, sword on his waist and a bow in his hand. Painda Khan stood with arrow mounted on his bow, and asked the Guru if he would like to use arrows or swords.
"Painda Khan, fight the way you like," said the Guru.
"Guruji, you shoot three arrows, and I shall also shoot three arrows. After this we shall fight with swords," suggested Painda Khan.
"Very well, but you may shoot your arrows first," said the Guru. At this the Pathan started shooting arrows. The first arrow flew past the Guru's right ear, the second past his left ear. The third one took Guruji's shawl with it, leaving the turban intact on his head. When the Path an had shot his three arrows, the Guru said, "Now wait, it is my turn." The Pathan paused. The Guru went around him on his horse to see if any part of his body was not covered with iron, where an arrow could be fired. The Guru saw his naked ear. He aime,d his arrow on this point. The very first arrow struck its target and pierced through his head throwing him from his horse. The Guru came close to the Pathan who said, "Guru ji, pray save me."
"Recite your prayer now. This is no time to save your life," said the Guru and cut his head with his sword. After killing Painda Khan, the Guru returned to his army, and commanded it to attack the Pathan army. The Guru's army pounced upon the enemy. The Pathan army, however, fled like cowards, and Painda Khan's son was also killed, besides several other Path an leaders. A large number of them sustained injuries. While several drowned in the river, some managed to cross it. A large number of horses fell into the hands of the Sikhs. This operation took place at Kartarpur.
Years later, a grandson of the same Painda Khan met the Tenth Lord somewhere in the eastern territories. The Guru seated him near himself with great affection and honour. He gave him a regular daily allowance. Whenever he came, the Guru talked to him sweetly. Later, he would always remind him thus, "O Khan, if somebody has killed your father as well as grandfather, will you not avenge their deaths, being son of a Pathan? If one does not, he is not son of a Pathan, but somebody else." Every day the Guru would talk to him like this in order to incite him. In his heart the Pathan also knew that Ram Das (sic. Guru Har Gobind) had killed his father and grandfather, and that Guru Gobind Singh was his grandson, and was occupying his seat. A long time passed and the Guru continued to incite him like this. One day a Sikh came and presented a very sharp dagger to the Guru. At the same time the Path an also reached there. The Guru called him by name and affectionately seated him beside himself. The Guru drew the dagger out of its sheath, handed it over to him, and asked, "Pathan, haw many times should this dagger be struck to kill a man?"
"Guruji, if properly struck, one should suffice," relpied the Pathan. Turning to him, the Guru said, "If one who has killed your father and grandfather is there in front of you, while you have such a dagger in your hand, and you are young and son of a Pathan, and if you still do not avenge the death of your father and grandfather, then shame upon you! You cannot claim to be son of a Pathan." So saying the Guru closed his eyes, as if he was dozing. This was his opportunity. He pushed the dagger into the Guru's abdomen three times in quick succession, and tried to run away. The Guru caught hold of him, and said, "You have had your turn. You have to let me have mine." And the Guru dispatched him off. Report of this incident reached Bahadur Shah. He sent his royal surgeons and physicians for the Guru's treatment. They were able to heal the wound and give a bath to the Guru on the eighth day.
The Guru's body had recovered. But he had decided to abandon his physical frame. With full force he stretched the string of a bow, so that the wounds, which were still fresh, opened again. The surgeons could see that the Guru was himself directing the course of events. Seeing this, they went away without attempting further treatment. The Guru reached Nanded in a palanquin. The town is known as Nanded, as well as Abchal Nagar. It is in the East. Reaching there the Guru said, "We want to end our physical existence here. This town, Nanded, is a most sacred place. Once the town was spread over fifty two kos ( one kos is approximately two kms.). Devtas lived here. Sidhas and saints had their dwellings here. We want to quit our body here." A huge yajna was arranged at this place, in which all kinds of foods were served to the hearts' content of everybody. The Guru arranged purchase of fuel wood for his cremation. The Sikhs collected a lot of sandalwood. They collected incensce, saffron and scents. Many Sikhs could not help crying aloud. One pahar before leaving his body, the Guru recited the following quartet:
'Ever since I grasped Your feet,
Everything else has lost its appeal.
Rama, Rahim, Puranas, Quran - All say different things;
I accept none of them.
Smritis, Shastras, Vedas, all deal with mysteries,
I pay no heed to them either.
O the Wielder of the Sword (All-powerful One),
This is all Your Grace; You, not I, have said everything.'
Then the entire Khalsa gathered and prayed, "O True Emperor, give the Khalsa a leader."
"I have placed the Khalsa under the protection of the Timeless Lord (Akal Purkh)," said the Guru. He changed his dress, wore a new set of arms and ordered, "No additional clothes are to be put on my body. Let it remain in the same clothes and arms." In his own presence the pyre was laid. When it was done, he climbed up the pyre and squatted on it in posture of meditation. Thus, he merged his soul with the Supreme Soul. Then the Khalsa laid sandalwood and incense, besides rose perfume and saffron on the funeral pyre. Everybody showered flowers that piled into heaps. Liberal quantity of ghee (butter oil) was poured over it. As soon as the fire was lighted, everybody started crying, and a din rose which lasted for a long time. Several Sikhs attempted to jump into the pyre, but the attendants stoutly resisted, and did not let anybody do so. When the pyre turned into ashes, there was no trace of the body or the arms. Everybody believed that Guru Baba had taken his body along. There was a prolonged ovation. Countless kirtan sessions were organised. A memorial was raised at the spot, around which a number of dharamshalas were later constructed. Everywhere, the holy Granth was recited and the rababis sang hymns. There the Khalsa settled in large numbers. This has become a place for praise and meditation of the Lord. The place reminds one of the Guru. Whoever goes there, attains happiness. The world worships it with offerings. All kinds of prayers are granted by the Guru. All kinds of foods are served, and all Sikhs and saints enjoy it. This place fulfils the aspirations of all beings in every way.
Funeha: Sewa Das Udasi has authored this series of anecdotes –
'This book of the Guru's praise and discussion of the saffron of his love. The Guru's praise is endless and beyond measure and beyond reach. For my own good have I made this humble attempt. Here ends the sakhi of Guru Gobind Singh. With this one sakhi the number of stories has reached fifty'.
Dohira : 'Study and listen and grasp in your mind
the secrets of the saints.
You will attain salvation and freedom from
suffering in this world.'
The author gives his own account of the last days of the Guru at Nanded. His version can only be explained by his firm conviction that life and death are in the Guru's own hands. Having accomplished the divine mission, the Guru had decided to leave. He himself, therefore, caused the circumstances leading to his departure, and even organized his last rites himself.
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2015, All