300 Years of Khalsa Celebrations
There have been occasions in the lives of nations and religions, which can be called turning-points in history. For instance, when during the first half of the 4th century, the far-flung Roman Empire was threatened from the East by the Persians and in the West by Germanic people, Emperor Constantine, among other defensive measures, adopted Christianity as the state religion. Earlier, Christians accounted for one-fifth in the empire, now they did for hundred per cent. A common religion and culture of this vast empire became a model for the whole of Europe to adopt, and this helped the spread of Christianity.1
Similarly, wherever Muslim conquerors went, Islam followed. Ever since Mahmud Ghaznavi defeated Raja Jaipal in 1001, Islam continued to spread in India, until emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707) decided to turn Dar-ul-Harb (India) into Dar-ul-Islam.2 Again, this proved a turning-point and changed the course of Indian history.
Two forces in India stood up against this onslaught, Shivaji Marhatta in the South and Guru Gobind Singh in the North. But Shivaji’s aim was to establish his Raj in the areas inhabited by his kinsmen and to win its recognition from the emperor. Even when he was put in confinement, he consented to an armistice. Raja Jai Singh reported to Aurangzeb that Shivaji, “...wrote me a long Hindi letter saying that he was a useful servant of the imperial threshold and would readily help in the conquest of Afghan kingdom of Bijapur.” He again wrote to Jai Singh, “The emperor has cut me off, otherwise I intended to have begged him to allow me to recover Kandhar for him with my own unaided resources.”3
On the other hand, Guru Gobind Singh’s life mission4 is verily in line with the basic teachings of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion :
jau qau pRym Kylx kw cwau[[
isr Dir qlI glI myrI Awau[[
iequ mwrg pYru DrIjy [[
isru dIjY kwx nw kIjY [[20[[
If you want to play the game of love,
Then enter upon my path with your head on your palm,
And once you have set foot on this path, then never look back.5
In strict pursuance of this religious tenet, the first nine Sikh Gurus (1469-1675) studiously inculcated among the people the spirit of remembrance of God, brotherhood of man, honest means of livelihood, service of the poor and needy and to stand up against injustice and tyranny, whether from individual or the state. Guru Arjun also declared this way of truthful living as extremely difficult (eyhu mwrg KMfy Dwr6), and faced martyrdom rather than compromise with the state repression under emperor Jahangir. There had been injustice and hardships against the Hindus by Muslim rulers since the beginning (1001 AD), but when Aurangzeb issued a general order on April 9, 1669, “...to demolish all schools and temples of the infidels, and to put down their teachings and their practices throughout the empire”7, Guru Teg Bahadur took up the challenge and faced martyrdom in defence of Dharma (righteousness) :
bWh ijnW dI pkVIey, isr dIjY bWih n CoVIAY [
gurU qyg bhwdr boilAw, Dr peIey Drm nw CoVIAY [
Guru Teg Bahadur pronounced that one should lay down one’s life for those whom one took under protection for the sake of dharma.8
This new challenge by the state was of a different nature than what the Hindus had been facing for centuries and Guru Gobind Singh decided to stand against it like an iron wall. He invited the brave to his court and asked for weapons and horses as offerings. He also welcomed the spiritual, the learned, the poets, and men of arts and literature to his court. As Aurangzeb had forbidden the teaching of Sanskrit and display of arts and music at public places, Guru Gobind Singh, the greatest patron of these faculties, remained the only sanctuary where they could get together, show their talents and receive liberal rewards.
Soon enough, there was a steady flow of such men and material from as far as Assam, Kashmir and Kabul to Anandpur Sahib. This galaxy of spirituality, courage, piety, and arts and music produced voluminous literature and poetry which the singers (dhadis) sang to the thrill of young and old. Puranic epics were rendered into vernacular.
On Pir Budhu Shah’s recommendation, 500 Pathan soldiers were also employed. Along with the spiritual and literary advancement, sports, hunting, and weapons training went hand in hand. These activities greatly alarmed the Hill Chieftains. The increasing number of so-called low castes taking to arms was anathema to their deep-rooted caste prejudices. So was the democratic spirit of social equality, a danger to their feudal way of life. Out of the 20 battles that the Guru had to fight, most of them were against these Hindu Rajas. When they themselves could not face the Guru’s forces, they sought Aurangzeb’s help in destroying the Sikh egalitarian movement. It was at this stage that the emperor issued an order on November 20, 1693, “News of Sirhind. Gobind declares to be Guru Nanak. Faujdars ordered to prevent him from assembling (his forces).” When these orders did not produce much effect, “...a general order was issued for their massacre.”9
After about three years’ stay at Paonta Sahib (1685-86 to 1688-89) the Guru returned to Anandpur Sahib. His fame as a warrior-saint, after the battle of Bhangani (end-Aug., 1688), attracted to him many more chivalrous youth. In this battle, the Guru found that mercenaries like the Pathan soldiers who deserted him were unreliable. So were the Udasis, (with the exception of their leader Kirpal Chand) who escaped on the approach of battle. As such, the Guru’s Sikhs got the first place in his future scheme of things.10 The Guru had begun reorganising his forces when, on the request of Raja Bhim Chand of Bilaspur, the Guru helped him defeat Alif Khan, the Governor of Jammu, in the battle of Nadaun (1691).11 He constructed five forts in and around Anandpur Sahib. Provisions were made for the long struggle ahead. The Guru prepared his Sikhs physically, mentally and morally for his future campaigns. Inspite of all this the religious and scholarly activities did not slacken.
During the crucial decade, 1689-1699, the Guru had been preparing to give the final shape to Guru Nanak’s mission to salvage the suffering and distressed people. Finally, he sent Hukamnamahs to his Sikhs throughout India and beyond to visit Anandpur Sahib. On that historic day — March 29, 1699, the Guru made a stirring address to the specially invited vast audience and dilated on the tyranny of the age, horrors of bad government, miseries of economic inequality, evils of social degradation and humiliations of religious corruption, which were not to be tolerated. Time had come to stand up against this state of affairs, with God’s Name in heart and Sword in hand, for, he had earlier declared :
rwj ibnW nhIN Drm cly hY[
Drm ibnW sB dly mly hY[
Without political power, Dharma cannot be practised,
And without Dharma, the society would be an admixture of scum.12
koaU iksI ko rwj n dyh hY[
jo ly hY inj bl sy lyh hY[
Nobody will offer you sovereignty.
It will have to be obtained with the force of arms.
Drawing out his sword on the lofty platform, the Guru then demanded sacrifice for the purpose. Five devoted Sikhs of different castes and far-off places offered themselves who were to become the nucleus (Panj Pyaras) of the emerging new nation of Singhs, being created on the basis of equality, fraternity and faith in one God. They were initiated by the Guru by administration of amrit and then he himself partook of it from their hands, thus becoming one of the order of Khalsa. With one stroke of destiny, previous religion, caste, profession, creed, and superstitious moorings were cancelled for those who joined the Guru (80,000 in a few days). Instead, the code of “truthful living”, remembrance of God and laying down of even one’s life for dharma and the oppressed and the afflicted was laid down.13 The establishment of the Khalsa thus again proved a turning-point in history by re-emphasising and strengthening the egalitarian nature of the Sikh movement, which was to knock down the once great Mughal / Pathan tyrannical empires, act as a bulwark against foreign invasions, establish a truly secular kingdom and give the long suppressed and afflicted people, a life of peace, liberty, prosperity and dignity.
There was wide publicity of this historic congregation. The hill Rajas and the Mughal government took serious note of it. As a result, the Guru had to fight eleven more battles against them. The last one at Anandpur Sahib continued for 7 months.14 In response to repeated sworn assurances of safe conduct to vacate Anandpur Sahib, the Guru left the place.15 Skirmishes started soon thereafter and fierce fighting took place on the bank of river Sirsa which was in spate. The Guru reached Chamkaur Sahib by the next evening with only 40 Sikhs out of the 500 that had left Anandpur Sahib with him. By next evening, only five Sikhs were left, others including the two elder sons of the Guru having faced martyrdom fighting the besieging enemy hordes. Through the first ever Gurmatta, the Five Sikhs requested the Guru to leave the fort during the night with three of them as escorts, so that the fight against tyranny and injustice could be continued. The Guru wanted to die fighting, but he had to give in. The remaining two Sikhs received martyrdom fighting the next day.16 During the fight at Sirsa, the Guru’s mother and two younger sons were separated and fell into the hands of Nawab of Sirhind. He got the Sahibzadas bricked alive and Mata Gujri died of cold having been put in the Thanda Burj (cold tower).17 James Browne recorded, “Of all the instances of cruelty exercised on the propagators of new doctrines, this was the most barbarous and outrageous... no wonder then, that the vengeance of the Sikhs was so severe.”17a
After many a hardship, the Guru and his three Sikh companions reached Dina. Here, in reply to a letter from the emperor to see him in Deccan, he wrote his famous Zafarnama (Epistle of Victory) to Aurangzeb in Persian, chastising the emperor for the false oaths sworn on the Quran in his name for a safe passage from Anandpur Sahib, for his tyrannical rule, for his having no sense of true religion, for Sikhs’ having suffered so much for his bigoted policies and finally justifying his (Guru’s) taking to arms when all other means had failed. The epistle was delivered through Bhai Daya Singh and Bhai Dharam Singh. The emperor was greatly distressed on going through it, as he wrote to his younger son, “I know not who I am, where I shall go and what will happen to this sinner full of sins. My years have gone by profitless. God has been in my heart, but my darkened eyes have recognised not His light. There is no hope for me in the future. When I have lost hope in myself, how can I have hope in others. I have greatly sinned and know not what torment awaits me (in the hereafter).”18 The emperor then invited the Guru to see him personally and issued orders for his safe journey to Deccan, providing escort and travelling expenses. According to Ahkam-i-Alamgiri (pages 7-9), he deputed Mohammed Yaar Mansabdar and Mohammed Beg Gurzbardar to try placate the Guru.19
The Guru remained at Damdama Sahib for about a year. He busied himself in getting prepared copies of Adi Granth for distribution amongst the Sikh sangat. Earlier, Guru Teg Bahadur’s hymns had been incorporated in it at appropriate places, under instructions of the Guru at Kiratpur Sahib. Again, there were huge congregations and Sikhs were coming from as far away as Kabul. Another 125000 Sikhs were initiated at this place.20
On receipt of another message, the Guru left for the South for a tete-a-tete with the emperor. On the way, he learnt about the emperor’s death and returned to Delhi. The war of succession had begun among the three sons of Aurangzeb. On the suggestion of Bhai Nand Lal, the eldest son Prince Muazzam, appealed to the Guru for help. In a rare spirit of forgivenness, as he had earlier shown in going for talks with Aurangzeb, the Guru sent a small force under Bhai Dharam Singh for the purpose. After winning the battle, Prince Muazzam, assuming the title of Bahadur Shah, invited the Guru to his Coronation on July 23, 1707. The Guru escorted by five Sikhs attended fully armed against the etiquette of the Darbar. He was presented with a robe of honour including a jewelled scarf, an aigrette and other valuable presents.21 He was seated in the court alongside the emperor, thereby accepting the Gurbani principle of equality of all.
The Guru had found Aurangzeb repentant at his high-handedness towards his subjects and had therefore decided to see him in person with the sole intention of teaching him the absolute necessity of doing justice. Same was his aim in helping Bahadur Shah in the war of succession. His (emperor’s) sense of gratitude in inviting him (the Guru) to his Coronation encouraged the Guru in assuming that from then onwards there would be no more hurdles in propagation of Sikh ideals. On Oct. 2, 1707, the Guru issued a Hukamnama to the sangat of Dhaul saying, “Negotiations with the emperor are in progress. I shall soon return to Anandpur Sahib when the entire sangat, duly armed, should attend. This is my order.”22
But destiny willed it otherwise. Bahadur Shah’s youngest brother revolted in Deccan, which forced him to proceed thither. He requested the Guru to accompany him so that further negotiations could be carried on. They reached Nanded by mid-September 1708. By then, the Guru had realised that negotiations with the emperor were fruitless, possibly because of opposition by his nobles, and therefore parted company with him.23
With a view to carry on the crusade against the tyrannical regime and to punish the wicked, the Guru discussed the situation with his companions and planned the future course of action in the North. In order to provide corporate leadership to the Khalsa, he appointed a “Council of Five” with Banda Singh, after his initiation into the Khalsa, as leader, conferring the tittle of Bahadur on him. Twenty five more Sikhs out of the Guru’s contingent were to accompany them. Banda Singh was given the Guru’s sword and bow with five arrows from his own quiver. As a symbol of temporal authority, he was provided with a standard and a drum, with Hukamnamas for the entire Khalsa, in the Guru’s own handwriting. Three hundred cavaliers, in the battle array, accompanied the party to a distance of five miles to give them the final send-off.
Fearing the consequences of his own deeds, the Nawab of Sirhind employed two of his Pathan confidants to harm the Guru’s person. In consequence, one of them stabbed the Guru while he was resting but in the process both of them perished at the hands of the Guru and his attendants.
After some days, the Guru realising his end close at hand, asked for the holy Granth to be brought to him. In this last congregation, he bowed before it and conferred Guruship upon it. Addressing the sangat, the Guru declared “I have entrusted you to the Immortal God... (Guru’s) mental and bodily spirit (infuses) Granth Sahib and the Khalsa... obey Granth Sahib. It is the soul of the Guru.24 This was another divinely ordained act of exalted wisdom that saved the new religion from the danger in future from likely claimants to Guruship. The Guru further ordained that in the “Council of Five Beloved Ones”, he would always be present in spirit. Their decision, called Gurmatta was to be regarded as Hukam of the Guru. It was to be binding on the Panth. Saying his final, “Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh” to the sangat, including Mata Sahib Kaur, Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Dharam Singh, Bhai Mani Singh, Mai Bhago, Bhai Nand Lal and 300 devout Gursikhs, the Guru left for his heavenly abode in the early hours of Oct. 7, 1708.
In less than 19 months, the Guru’s saint-soldiers with 40,000 Sikhs surging from all over Punjab, were to capture the entire land between Lahore and river Jamuna, killing the Nawab of Sirhind and many other tyrants. Emperor Bahadur Shah, in the wake of his personally leading the campaign against the Khalsa went to his grave on Feb. 18, 1712, at Lahore.
Prof Jagjit Singh recordes, “During the first 175 years, the Sikh Movement was continuously engaged, first in propagating the ideals of complete human freedom and equality, then in building a society (the Sikh Panth) on these ideals, and finally, in creating through the Panth, a political revolution. The French Revolution began in 1789. The Khalsa was created 90 years earlier in 1699. The former was started by the middle class. The Khalsa included the downtrodden and the outclassed as well. The French Revolution put the middle class in power. The Khalsa under Banda Singh Bahadur shared political power with the lowest of the low in the Indian social system.” 25
Dr Hari Ram Gupta was so impressed by the achievements of the Sikh Movement that he asks the question, “Readers ! Have we not witnessed a miracle ? The struggle waged by the Khalsa was so glorious that any people in any culture would be proud of it.” Prof Jagjit Singh answers this question, “It was those elements who had fully imbibed the Sikh ideology who worked this miracle. It is they who were the steel-frame of the movement. It was not ordinary warfare. It tested to the farthest human limit a person’s faith in his cause, his tenacity of purpose, his courage and his endurance. The story of the Sikh deeds opens up the great difference between head and heart, between knowledge and action, between saying and doing, between words and deeds, and between a dead and a living faith. Only the best could have successfully faced the challenge of turning Dar-ul-Harb into Dar-ul-Islam.” 26
We will now discuss the role of Khalsa in the 21st century with feelings of foreboding and optimism. Foreboding first —
Sir Mohammed Iqbal, the mystic poet of the East had prophetically warned almost a century earlier :
Na samjhogey to mit jaogey, aey Hindostan vaalo;
Tumhari dastaan tak bhi na hogi dastaano mein.
“O Indians! If you do not realise the dangers ahead,
Not a trace of you will be found even in legends.”27
There is no doubt that the Hindus suffered much under the Muslim rulers, but by the middle of the 18th century, the Sikhs and the Marathas had acquired political power in the North and South of India, providing security against their former tormentors. The British ascendancy was, by and large, peaceful, smooth and comparatively just. It was a period when the Hindus and the Muslims could get over their past prejudices and instead of calling each other Kafirs and Malechhas, could unitedly work for a composite culture and mutual advancement. Earlier, the Sikhs on rising to power, had provided a model for a secular and benign regime, when Maharaja Ranjit Singh subjected himself to scrutiny by his appointed nobles, Sardar Amir Singh and Fakir Nur-ud-Din, and provided handsome jagirs to his fallen foes. Not a single man was hanged during his 40 year long rule. An entry in a diary of August 25, 1825, records, “The Qazis, Sayyads, Alamas, and Faqirs of Peshawar were given khilats and each was given a jagir for his maintenance, when the Maharaja annexed Peshawar. During the victory procession through the streets, the Maharaja issued strict orders to observe restraint in keeping with the Sikh tradition, not to damage any mosque, not to insult any woman, and not to destroy any crops. The Muslim priests were so pleased that they blessed the victor.”28 The Maharaja practically demonstrated what Guru Nanak-Guru Gobind Singh had preached and strived for nearly two and a half centuries.
Some wise and sagacious Hindu minds had their fears about the way Hindus were going to behave on getting freedom. C Rajgopalacharya noted in his prison diary of January 24, 1922, “Elections and their corruptions, injustice and power, tyranny of wealth, and inefficiency of administration will make a hell of life as soon as freedom is given to us. Men will look regretfully back to the old regime of comparative justice and efficient, peaceful, more or less honest administration.” Others, with blinkers on their eyes had their own variety of fears. Lala Lajpat Rai, in a letter to C R Dass in November 1924, wrote, “I am not afraid of seven crore Muslims. But I think, the seven crores in India plus the armed hosts of Afghanistan, Central Asia, Arabia, Mesopotamia and Turkey will be irresistible… Are we then doomed ?”29 Another stalwart, conscience of Hindu intelligentsia, Lala Hardyal, put forth an alternative scheme to the idea of Pakistan, as published in the daily Partap of Lahore in 1925, “I declare that the future of Hindu race, of Hindustan and of the Punjab, rests on these four pillars : I) Hindu Sangathan, II) Hindu Raj, III) shuddhi of Musalmans, IV) Conquest and shudhi of Afghanistan and Frontiers. So long as the Hindu nation does not accomplish these four things, the safety of our children and great-grand children will be ever in danger and the safety of the Hindu race will be impossible.”30
About the ‘saintly’ Mahatma Gandhi, Lord Wavell recorded on February 1, 1948, “Whether he did more harm or good for India, would be hard to say... He wrecked the Cabinet Mission Plan, which might possibly have secured a united India and saved all the massacres. I do not believe that he really worked for an understanding with the Muslims. He was always the lawyer and the bania who would drive a hard bargain and then find some legal quibble to deprive his opponent of what he had seemed to gain. I always thought he had more of malevolence than benevolence.”31 No wonder then, that India was partitioned with disastrous consequences, now sitting on a nuclear powder-keg, with three wars in between, since partition. The world famous Booker prize winner, Ms Arundhati Roy, describes the current Indian situation in a ten page long devastating narration thus, “The truth is that it is far easier to make a bomb than to educate the 400 million illiterates who live in absolute poverty and to provide even basic sanitation to the unfortunate 600 million and safe drinking water to the 200 million who desperately need this. If there is a nuclear war, our foes would not be China or Pakistan. Our foe will be the earth herself. The very elements, the sky, the air, the land, the wind and water will turn against us. Their wrath will be terrible. My world has died. And I write to mourn its passing.”32
During the struggle for freedom, the contribution of the Sikhs was massive by any standard.33 At the time of transfer of power, the British government consulted the Congress, Muslim League and the Sikhs. The Sikhs were anxious to secure a homeland where they could live in peace and with honour, enjoying their past rich heritage without let or hindrance. But on the persistent, though deceitful assurances of their rightful place in free India, by the top Congress leaders, they decided to stay in India, even when there was a proposal by the British government to give them an unallied status so that they could have political feet of their own on which they may walk into the currents of world history.34 On partition, 40 per cent Sikhs of the new flourishing colonies in West Punjab which they had developed, suddenly became homeless and 2.5 per cent of the total Sikh population perished in the process of reaching Indian borders.35 Soon, the new Indian rulers began to call the Sikhs ‘criminal tribes’36 rather than the patriots of yesterday, which they undoubtedly were accepted as, till August 1947. Campbell Johnson, press secretary to Lord Mountbatten, recorded, “The leaders of Muslim League and Congress had won more than either had expected. The Sikhs lost everything they valued, their homes, their property, irrigated rich lands and their holy places.”37 For 35 years they patiently bore the tyranny of ill-treatment and humiliations in the political and socio-economic fields. They decided, therefore, as a last resort in 1982, to launch the Dharam Yudh Morcha, mainly for redressal of their economic grievances. For 22 months, a peaceful crusade went on, when more than two lakh Sikhs courted arrest.
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi wearing the mask of ‘national security’, ‘secularism’ and ‘socialism’ on her face, as qualities of a great ruler, but disguising in her government the crimes of a usurper and the misdeeds of Emergency, was in fact, heading for dynastic rule, supported by the Hindu majority and the Brahmin bureaucracy. It was a regime ‘where every sentiment of virtue and humanity was extinct.’ Dynastic rule was on the cards since the days of Pt. Motilal and Jawaharlal. Morarji Desai was to report later that Jawaharlal in his last days sent a ‘message’ inviting him to serve as Deputy Prime Minister if he would support Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister, which he refused.38 With such ugly designs in her mind, she struck the deadliest blow to the Sikh psyche by sending the army into the Golden Temple followed by the horrendous Operation Wood Rose, although she herself also perished in the attempt to exterminate the Sikh people. Another countrywide wave of massacres came, worst of all in the capital itself, in November 1984. The process of Sikh annihilation in particular and of all the minorities in general, is still on, in one form or another. Why is all this being done ? The answer is simple. Lajpat Rais, Hardyals, Gandhis, Vir Savarkars and others of their ilk had laid down guidelines regarding the future shape of independent India. Nehru, Patel, Indira Gandhi were, and BJP is, merely giving it a practical shape.
By 1973 the Sikhs had realised that their woes were due mainly to their being without a homeland. As such, they wisely passed the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, demanding autonomous status, which in constitutional jargon is called a federal form of government. Prof Stanley Wolpert of California University, the world famous American expert on South East Asia, recorded, “For recent Sikh political history, the Anandpur Sahib Resolution adopted in 1973 (274 years after the historic Vaisakhi of 1699) by the Sikh Akali Dal would, in fact, prove almost as significant a turning-point as Guru Gobind Singh’s earlier baptising had for his martial Panth.”39 But the Sikhs were helpless to pursue its implementation. On the other hand, through government machinations, the Akali Dal was split up into several units including a one-man Pheruman Akali Dal. There were at times more than one Jathedar of Akal Takht Sahib simultaneously. The Congress Sikhs such as Giani Zail Singh, Darbara Singh and Buta Singh stabbed their own community in the back. At lower level, the so-called Sikh intellectuals and others have become willing tools in government hands to malign the Sikhs. The worst happened when Jathedar Manjit Singh of Takht Kesgarh Sahib — the very centre of celebrations, himself came under a storm of financial accusations in the press. This greatly dimms the shine of Khalsa celebrations.
The Akali Dal has twice shared power at the Centre, in 1977-78 and now in 1998, but they uttered not a word in Parliament about the implementation of the Resolution they had passed 25 years earlier and again reiterated in 1978 in the Akali Dal conference at Ludhiana. Now, the Resolution has some sort of endorsement by the Sarkaria Commission. More importantly, several regional parties, all in favour of provincial autonomy, are in control of state governments in Punjab, Haryana, J & K, Assam, Bengal, Tripura, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The Akali Dal should take a lead in joining them for implementation of this Resolution. Even Congress provincial leaders are not against it. No single all-India political party is able to form a stable government at the Centre. The time is, therefore, most opportune to bring the Resolution in Parliament and work hard for its implementation. Walking unconditionally into the BJP’s embrace has boomeranged. At the same time, the Akali Dal should come out of the Central Government and give it issue-based support, most of all for passage of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. Besides, they should also firmly demand rectification of all the crippling wrongs done to Punjab at the time of formation of new state, cancellation of all discriminatory laws, rehabilitation of victims of the 1984 massacre and immediate release of all those thousands languishing in jails without trials. To provide constitutional security for the fractured and much maligned Sikh people through autonomous status and to safeguard their civil rights should be the principle aim and object of 300 years of Khalsa Celebrations.
This is not to say that nothing else should be done during these celebrations. In addition to whatever else is already being done, the following is suggested:
– Great efforts are afoot to initiate a maximum number of Sikhs. Herculean efforts are, however, needed to emphasise and practice the virtues of Khalsa in daily life. This calls for exemplary conduct of piety and moral rectitude by all initiated Sikhs.
Kwlsw myrw rUp hY Kws
The Khalsa is fashioned in my own image.
Every initiated Sikh should consider himself an ambassador of his nation. More so now when we are spread all over the world. We pray that the Sikh leaders take the lead.
– Nishan-i-Khalsa : The Sikhs have their Nishan-i-Khalsas already established by the holy Gurus themselves in the form of Sri Akal Takht Sahib and four other Takhts including Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib at Anandpur Sahib. Besides, their institutions and traditions like, Miri-Piri, Panj-Pyare, Hukamnamas, Gurmattas, Ardas, Sarbat-da-bhala and gurdwaras are all Nishan-i-Khalsa. The Rs. 35 crore earmarked for the project at Anandpur Sahib should be spent in spreading Gurbani through latest information dissemination media techniques throughout the world.
– Guru Granth Sahib has been translated into Punjabi, Hindi, English, French and Persian. This should be extended to other languages of world importance such as German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and Urdu. The decision of a group of Russian intellectuals who have expressed the desire to adopt Sikhism as the state religion in Russia instead of its present atheism, speaks volumes regarding this faith being the Religion of the 21st century.40 Prof Arnold Toynbee had rightly recorded as early as 1959, “The Sikhs in losing Punjab in 1947 had gained the World. Today they are established all over the world.”41
– Trained and well-versed Granthis and Parcharaks of international standing should be sent out to explain Gurbani in and out of gurdwaras.
– Works relating to Sikhs are lying scattered throughout the West and Middle East. Bhat Wahis are more or less forgotten. These should be located, collected and put in a Central Library on the pattern of Khuda Bakhsh Library of Patna. Dr Trilochan Singh records, “The Sikhs have built over 300 costly gurdwaras in the West and collect millions of Pounds and Dollars as offerings every month, but they have not built one good library and have not produced two well-researched books.”42
– Side by side with the production of new literature, old Gurbilas type volumes by Sikh scholars should be purged of unauthentic and misleading material by editing them as was done by Bhai Vir Singh in case of Gurpartap Suraj Granth.
– Correct dates and places are important in human field of activity. Some of them have defied solutions till today. For instance, actual date of birth of Jesus Christ43 and places of birth of Lord Buddha44 and Lord Rama45 have intrigued scholars down the ages. But this concerns events more than 2,000 years old. The Sikh religion will be 530 years old in 1999. Many dates and places pertaining to it are also controversial. This should be sorted out with the help of Bhat Wahis, along with other relevant material including the guidelines recently given by Pal Singh Purewal. Some of these dates are already accepted by the SGPC. These finally accepted dates, places, and events should be incorporated date / year wise from January 1 to December 31, for the period of 1469 to date, in book form on the model of, 365 Days To Remember (published by Purnell Books, Berkshire House, Queen Street, Maidenhead, Berkshire), published in Italy in 1981. Example : March 29 : Guru Gobind Singh established Khalsa at Anandpur Sahib (1699). Gurmatta was passed at Akal Takht Sahib, Amritsar, on Vaisakhi day to form Dal Khalsa for the first time (1748). Maharaja Duleep Singh signed away the Sikh empire in favour of the British in a darbar held at Lahore (1849), and there may be some other historical events having taken place on this date during different years. Each entry should be explained in four or five brief sentences. This would prove as capsuled history of the Sikhs.
– On the model of, Hundred Great Events, Hundred Great Lives, and Hundred Great Books, (ed. John Canning, Chauser Press Ltd., Suffolk, England, 1966), the Sikhs should also produce such books pertaining to their nation. For instance, in the Hundred Great Events can be included events such as the travels of Guru Nanak to Assam, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Mecca, Baghdad and Baku as one event. Each entry should be explained in 4-5 pages so that the book comprises of four-five hundred pages.
– The Sikhs in Punjab are in the throes of heavy drinking and Government- sponsored drug and narcotics mafia.46 According to one report, Punjab consumed eight crore bottles of liquor in 1995, the highest per capita consumption in the world. Herculean efforts during the celebrations are needed to save the community from this scourge.
Consciousness among the Sikhs throughout the world about the 300 years of Khalsa celebrations, is of great significance. Preparations in various forms are under way, every where in the East and the West. Several new organisations are coming up for the purpose. In the West, knowledge of Punjabi language and Gurmukhi script is spreading through Sunday schools in gurdwaras. Students in the age group of 7-21 are competing in Gurbani and Sikh studies. In Punjab, the two major Sikh organisations, the Akali Dal and the SGPC, are fully engaged in this work. The Punjab government and several Central Ministeries are also involved. The Prime Minister himself is taking substantial interest. Earlier, during the past two years, Gurmat Chetna Lehar under the sponsorship of Sri Akal Takht Sahib took long strides in the spread of Gurbani. The formation of the World Sikh Council with its all-embracing programme is another milestone on the eve of these celebrations.
May the Akal Purkh bless all those engaged in celebrating a genius who selected, refined and embellished the human material from the countless layers of an afflicted humanity and welded them together into an immortal Khalsa, who, with the Guru’s message in their hearts and swords in their hands, not only gave a new life of hope, peace and prosperity to the long humiliated people, but also eradicated the scourge of foreign invasions, (71 during the past 700 years), by establishing a vast kingdom, based on justice, equity and true secularism, still unknown in the West.
The Sikh nation owes it to God, to the Guru and to posterity to maintain the true spirit and traditions of the Khalsa, for the Guru had enjoined :
jb lg Kwlsw rhy inAwrw, qb lg qyj dIE mYN swrw [
The Khalsa has my blessings so long as they adhere to its basic tenets.
And may, as such, ever remain engaged in the service of God and man, as heretofore.
1. The Universal History of the World, Vol. IV, Golden Press, New York, 1966.
2. Sir Jadu Nath Sarkar, History of Aurangzeb, Vol. III, Orient Longman Ltd., 1972, pp. 164, 174.
3. Prof Jagjit Singh, The Sikh Revolution, Kendri Singh Sabha, New Delhi, 1984, p. 220.
4. Bachitar Natak, |43|
5. Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1412.
6. Ibid., p. 534.
7. Sir Jadu Nath Sarkar, op. cit, p. 174.
8. Prof Piara Singh Padam, Tegh Bahadur Simriye (Punjabi), New Patiala Printers, 1975, p. 38.
9. Dr Sangat Singh, The Sikhs in History, New York, 1995, p. 55. Also, Dr Gopal Singh, A History of the Sikh People, Delhi, 1979, p. 283, footnote.
10. Dr Sangat Singh, The Sikhs in History, New York, 1995, pp. 54-55.
11. Ibid., p. 55.
12. Ibid., p. 67.
13. Ibid., pp. 56-58.
14. Ibid., p. 61.
15. Ibid., p. 61.
16. Ibid., pp. 61-62.
17. Ibid., p. 61.
17a.Dr Ganda Singh, Banda Singh Bahadur, The Sikh History Department, Khalsa College, Amritsar, 1935. p. 58.
18. Dr Sangat Singh, The Sikhs in History, New York, 1995, p. 64. Also, Dr Gopal Singh, History of the Sikh People, p. 311, footnote.
19. Dr Sangat Singh, op. cit., p. 64. Also, Hari Ram Gupta, History of Sikh Gurus, p. 225.
20. Dr Sangat Singh, op. cit., pp. 64-65.
21. Ibid., p. 65. Also, Hari Ram Gupta, p. 228 and Dr Ganda Singh, Banda Singh Bahadur, 1935, p. 10.
22. Hari Ram Gupta, History of Sikh Gurus, U C Kapur and Sons, New Delhi, 1973, p.228.
23. Dr Sangat Singh, op. cit., p.65.
24. Dr Ganda Singh, Guru Gobind Singh’s Death at Nanded, 1972, p. 13.
25. Prof Jagjit Singh, The Sikh Revolution.
26. Ibid., p. 190.
27. Sir Mohd. Iqbal, Kulyat-i-Iqbal, (Urdu), Educational Book House, Aligarh, p. 71.
28. Prof Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, in, Sikhism — Its Philosophy and History, Editors, Daljeet Singh & Kharak Singh, Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh, 1997, p. 490.
29. Krishan Kant, in an article in The Tribune titled, Aftermath of British Game.
30. Dr B R Ambedkar, Pakistan or The Partition of India, Thakur and Co. Ltd., Bombay, 3rd edition, 1946, p. 117.
31. Wavell, The Viceroy’s Journal, ed. Sir Panderel Moon, Oxford University Press, Bombay, 1977, p. 439.
32. Arundhati Roy, Outlook, The Weekly News Magazine, Aug. 3, 1998, pp. 62-71.
33. Prof Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, Truth About Punjab, SGPC, Amritsar, 1996, p. 13.
34. Ibid., p. 31.
35. Ibid., p. 35.
36. Ibid., p. 42.
37. Campbell Johnson, Mission with Mountbatten, London, 1951, p. 118.
38. Prof Stanley Wolpert, India, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1991, pp. 208-209.
39. Ibid., p. 107.
40. Abstracts of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh, July-Sept., 1998, pp. 108-109
41. Prof Arnold Toynbee, East to West, p. 123.
42. Dr Trilochan Singh, Ernest Trumpp and W.H. McLeod as Scholars of Sikh History, Religion and Culture, Chandigarh, 1994, p. 310.
43. The Plain Truth, A Magazine of Understanding, Nov. / Dec. ’90 issue, Vancouver, Canada, p. 21.
44. Khushwant Singh, Where Was Buddha Born?, The Tribune, Chandigarh, Aug. 22, 1998.
45. K C Yadav, It Began with the British, The Tribune, Chandigarh, Oct. 18, 1990.
46. Dr Sangat Singh, op.cit., p. 434.