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Gur Panth Parkash

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

 

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Editorial

ਚਾਹੈ ਜੋ ਅਨੰਦ ਤੌ ਅਨੰਦਪੁਰ ਆਈਐ
(Come to Anandpur if you want to live in joy forever and ever)

Prabhjot Kaur

350th anniversary celebrations of the founding day of Sri Anandpur Sahib have just been concluded. All roads appeared to be leading to Anandpur Sahib. Lakhs of devotees made a beeline to the City of Bliss founded by the ninth Guru, Guru Teg Bahadur and his son Guru Gobind Singh; to pay their obeisance at one of the most historic of the places not only in Sikh history, but in the history of humanity from where a crusade was started fir the protection of human rights,

One unique and most remarkable thing in the history of the world religions, is about the Gurus of the Sikhs, who even while believing in the transitoriness of the physical existence of this mortal earthly world, remained wedded to the idea that a spiritual man must always lead a socially useful productive and creative life, so as to make this earth, an abode of the Lord, a better place to live in. They set a practical example before their followers by devoting themselves to all kinds of social reform and involved themselves even in those developmental activities that fall within the ambit of kings of the area. They did not wait for the kings to make proper arrangement for the water supply if they felt that a particular area was facing water shortage. They set themselves to the task of getting wells and baulis dug, so as to relieve the suffering of the suffering of the people in the local population; they would take care to look after the patients in the plague affected areas and would organize free kitchens whenever there was a famine. And also, they would established cities, an activity usually undertaken by the kings. It is remarkable that the Gurus appear to be aware of the latest principles of town planning.

Guru Nanak established Kartarpur Sahib on the banks of Ravi, where he settled down after completing his four journeys around the world. It was here that Guru Nanak made Bhai Lehna carry the basketfuls of the dirt on his head, because being involved in socially useful work was a precondition for anyone to qualify to be elevated to the position of a Guru. Guru Angad, the second Guru, converted a small town of Khaddor into Khaddor Sahib, a big progressive town: ਫੇਰ ਵਸਾਇਆ ਫੇਰ ਆਣਿ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਖਾਡੂਰ। Guru Amardas ji established Goindwal Sahib on the banks of river Beas. The fourth Guru meticulously planned the city of Amritsar, which in the times to come was to become the central rallying point of the community. He arranged for artisans from all trades to come and settle down at Amritsar. That is how we have Misri bazaar, bazaar mochian, bazaar kathhian and bazaar bajaajan etc. With the business booming, Amritsar became a famous trade centre in those days.

The fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev ji encouraged the trade still further and motivated the Sikhs for international trade, sending their teams to Kabul to trade in good breed horses. He also got the construction of Harimandir Sahib done with the help of Bhai Gurdas ji and Bhai Buddha ji, in the midst of a pool, which became the most sacred site of the Sikhs, a marvel of the Sikh architecture. He also established the city of Tarn Taran and built many sarovars.

Guru Hargobind, the sixth Guru built Akal Takhat Sahib, just in front of Harmandir Sahib. He also got constructed the fort of Lohgarh Sahib, Bibeksar and Kaulsar. He carried on the activity still further, by deputing his son, Gurditta ji to undertake the responsibility of the construction of Keeratpur Sahib. The land for the site of Keeratpur Sahib, was  bought from Raja Tara Chand of Kahloor. Tara Chand was one of the 52 kings, who had been released from the fort of Gwalior along with the Guru. Tara Chand had become a great admirer of the Guru and came to Lahore along with his family to pay his obeisance. The Guru forewarned him of the coming difficult times because of the fanaticism of the Mughal emperor and advised that all kings should put up a united front to repulse the activities of the emperor. Tara Chand requested the Guru to make Kahloor his permanent abode. This way they would feel safe against any attack. The Guru, who had to fight the battles in Amritsar and Kartarpur, too felt that it was a good idea to have a township in the peaceful environs of Kahloor area. Thus Baba Gurditta established the new township called Keeratpur Sahib in Kahloor area.

In the time of Guru Har Rai ji, Keeratpur Sahib was further developed into a beautiful area, and it started being called the city of gardens. He developed all kinds of beautiful gardens and took special care to collect the best herbs which could be used as medicinal plants, to relieve the suffering humanity of their physical ailments. The most rare herbs were made available in the gardens at Keeratpur Sahib.

Carrying on the tradition of his predecessors of setting up new cities, Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth Guru, bought land six miles north of the beautiful city of Keeratpur Sahib in the year 1665 to set up a new city. The new city was named Chak Nanaki, after the name of his revered mother Mata Nanaki. A small township came up and very soon the place became the centre of all activity. It is here that Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, spent his eventful childhood. It is here that the tenth Guru got all kinds of training. It is here that he learnt Persian from Munshi Pir Mohammad, Braj Bhash from Sahib Chand, Sanskrit from Pandir Kirpa Ram, and Gurmukhi from Bhai Harjas Rai. Horse riding and weaponary, archery and other martial arts he learnt from Bhai Bajar ji Shahdara. Lessons in Gurbani were imparted to him by Guru Teg bahadur Sahib himself.  

Guru Gobind Singh bought more land in the close vicinity of Chak Nanaki and built a new township here in 1689 and the whole are came to be known as Anandpur Sahib. it was planned to be a city which was to bring eternal bliss to its residents, by way of all kinds of creative activity that was planned to be undertaken in this area. The place was to be the birth place of Khalsa. It was here that Guru Gobind Singh saw off his revered Father to Delhi, to make the Supreme sacrifice on the altar of human rights, the kind of sacrifice that remains unprecedented till today.I t was to be a place which was to witness an ordinary man being transformed into a complete man, a fully evolved man, who was to be a symbol of total surrender, a total sacrifice, who could lay down his head for the asking. The transformed man, was to be excellent not only in the warfare, but was also to be a great scholar, who would be well versed in all the ancient classics, it was here that Guru Gobind Singh invited all the poets and gave them a safe environment, so that undisturbed and in safe environment, they could devote their time in creative work.

It is said that Bhai Nand Lal, a great scholar of Persian from Lahore, once explained a verse of Koran very beautifully. When Auragzeb came to know about his scholarship, he ordered that he should be forcibly converted to Islam, as infidels had no right to have such a scholar amongst them. When Bhai Nand Lal came to know of this, he rushed to Anandpur to save himself from forcible conversion. He knew that nobody could lay hands on him when he was under the protection of the Guru. We all know that Bhai Nand Lala created a poetry of superb quality, which has been authorized to be recited in Sikh congregations.

Thus many poets and scholars had settled in Anandpur where a lot of scholarly activity started being carried on. It is believed that the Guru deputed some of these poets to translate old classics. Till that day these classics were not in the access of the common man, because of these being available only in Sanskrit. And the common mas had no right to the study of Sanskrit as per the injunctions of the law makers. The Guru also encouraged the scholars to go to Kashi, a seat of great learning in those days, so that they could learn Sanskrit and get access to all available literature.

A great military and martial activity was also undertaken under the supervision of the Guru at Anandpur. The Guru would divide his men into two groups and would engage them in a mock fight to prepare them for the coming times when they would have to face the most difficult and uneven of the wars fought throughout the history of mankind. The Guru converted the festival of Holi into Hola Mohalla, to fill his followers with a martial spirit. Six forts were also got constructed to meet the exigencies arising out of the attacks by the enemy. One fort was reserved for making the weapons of the war. Historian Archer says that the founding of Anandpur was a farsighted political decision, ideal for fighting the war. Farsighted as the Guru was he made all the appropriate preparations, about which, his grandfather, the sixth Guru had forewarned the kings of the hill states. And Anandpur was witness to the wars that have no parallel in the history of the whole world. If the Sikhs could successfully meet all the challenges that were thrown to them, it was because of the farsighted decisions and preparations made by the Sikh Gurus.

Thus the city of Anandpur was witness to the process of the creation of a New Man who was to perform a very significant role in the times to come. He was to create a new history in this part of the world. This Man had to be physically strong, intellectually enlightened and spiritually the most awakened personality. And the most important of all, this man had to imbibe a total strength of character, a total commitment to the highest ideals of humanity.

It was at Anandpur, that the Guru had taught the first lesson in human values and human rights as a young child of nine, when he sent his father to sacrifice himself on the altar of human rights. The first ever call for human rights was given from the land of historic city of Anandpur, when a young child of nine sent his father to sacrifice himself for what he himself did not believe in, but respected the right of other to believe in whatever they want. Kashmiri Pandits had that faith in the Guru that he will come to their rescue. And the Guru did. It is about hundred years later that Voltaire, a scholar of Enlightenment era is attributed with the line "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it". Voltaire merely said it, the Guru actually died for somebody's right to believe in what he himself did not believe in.

The New Man being creared at Anandpur, had in his genes the idea of the protection of human rights of the whole humanity. To evolve to the highest potential, what this New Man got in genes from the Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, gave practical lessons in self sacrifice for an upright cause. The highest lesson in self-sacrifice, in self surrender was imparted to his Sikhs by the Guru at Anandpur Sahib, on Vaisakhi day of 1699, when he demanded five heads, which were readily given. The Guru had put his all, his father, his mother, his sons in the creation of the New Man this motivated his Sikhs and they passed the test in distinction. The Guru at Anandpur had desired this New Man to reach his highest potential in physical, intellectual and spiritual achievements and lo! Here was the man who would continue his struggle till he was free from all forms of subjugation. Anandpur Sahib became a symbol of the crusade against tyranny, a symbol of self sacrifice of the highest level, where the children of tender ages of seven and nine thought nothing of laying down their lives, a symbol of the spirit that did not rest till India was free from the Mughal rule.

 Anandpur Sahib stands for one thing more unique in the history of the world. Here Bhai Ghanaaya became the forerunner of movement, which was of an order higher than that of the red cross movement. Here Bhai Ghannaya served water to the soldiers of the enemy in the battlefield itself, where they were supposed to be killed. Indeed, the highest level of spirit of service to the humanity. No doubt, it was in Anandpur Sahib that the most glorious chapter of the human history was written. Mangal, a poet, invited to stay in the court of Guru Gobind Singh, motivates others to come to Anandpur saying:

ਪੂਰਨ ਪੁਰਖ ਅਵਤਾਰ ਅਨਿ ਲੀਨੀ ਆਪ,
ਜਾ ਕੈ ਦਰਬਾਰ ਮਨ ਚਿਤਵੈ ਸੋ ਪਾਈਅੇ।
ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਬਾਸੀ ਅਬਿਨਾਸੀ ਨਾਮ ਜਾ ਕੋ ਜਗ,
ਕਰਤਾ ਕਰਨਹਾਰ ਸੋਈ ਦਿਖਰਾਈਏ।
ਨੌਮੇ ਗੁਰਨੰਦ, ਜਗਬੰਦ ਤੇਗ ਤਯਾਰ ਪੂਰੇ,
ਮੰਗਲ ਸੁ ਕਬਿ ਕਹਿ ਮੰਗਲ ਸੁਬਾਈਏ।
ਆਨੰਦ ਕੇ ਦਾਤਾ ਗੁਰੂ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਰਾਇ, 
ਚਾਹੈ ਜੋ ਅਨੰਦ ਤੌ ਅਨੰਦਪੁਰੀ ਆਈਏ।

Mangal, the poet invites all others to come to Anandpur in case they wanted to experience the joy, the bliss of the highest level, as here, one gets whatever one wants, God himself had come to live there. The ninth Guru ever ready to do good to others lives here. Guru Gobind Singh, the giver of the eternal joy too lives here. So O man, if you want to share the eternal bliss come to Anandpur.

The new Man, the new personality carved out by the Guru out of the perpetual slaves of Hindustan, rightfully inherited the eternal bliss that was the natural destiny of the inhabitants of the city of Eternal Bliss, Anandpur Sahib.

May the spirit of Anandpur always live!

 

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