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Gur Panth Parkash

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

 

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Episodes From lives of the Gurus

STORIES OF THE TENTH MAHAL
Episode No. 13

Zafarnamah
The departure of Guru Tegh Bahadur gave a rude shock to the Sikhs who started bewailing. The Guru consoled them, saying, "O Sikhs, the Guru treated life and death alike. He was God's own image while living. After leaving his body, he merged with the Lord. He who mourns his death, is mistaken." This consoled the Sikhs. The Guru explained, "It was necessary to expose the falsehood of the Turks, which has been done. Now it is our turn to destroy the Turks. They inflicted torture on Guru Tegh Bahadur. The Guru had not usurped any of their territories. He had not killed any of their men. They perpetrated this cruelty in the name of their religion. They have committed a sin. Their falsehood has been demonstrated by the tortures to such an enlightened soul. In fact, they have committed suicide. Guru Tegh Bahadur has exposed the hypocrisy of the Turks. It will be my job to finish them."

A long time passed. Then the Khalsa was ordered, "Let us now go to war with the Turks and destroy them." "The Turks are very wicked. They are accompanied by a million horsemen. But we shall obey," replied the Khalsa. "All right, let us kill the Turk with a letter. When he reads my letter, he will die," said the Guru. "O True King, you are the doer of all actions. Do whatever pleases, you." Then the Guru addressed a letter to Aurangzeb. The letter was titled, ‘Zafarnamah'. This was written in great detail. But here we reproduce a brief sample of it. The letter covered several pages, and contained a large number of quartets, dealing with the role of the emperor, besides the Guru's point of view. The Guru recorded his version thus: "God seated you on the throne to dispense justice, and not injustice. But ever since you took over, you have indulged in injustice. You have not done a single act of justice. Firstly, you did injustice to me. I lived on barren rocky land, making no claims. I made no encroachments on your land. I did not subsist on any village granted by you. I was living like a faqir. You killed my father, without any offence, and marched your armies on me in conjunction with the rajahs. These rajahs are as unjust as you are yourself. You collaborated to kill my sons, women and Sikhs. You plundered my treasure and took away my horses. I have received this treatment because of your policies of injustice, pursued only in your house. Against this, the House of the Lord dispenses justice, so that not even the slightest good done by anybody is overlooked, nor is the slightest evil ignored. Both bear fruit. When He sits on judgement, He will ask you, 'What harm was done to you by Ram Das (sic. Guru Tegh Bahadur), for which you tortured him so much? Beware, that time is very near. Do not consider it distant. I shall be a witness to it. Think of some explanation, for otherwise you will be condenmed to hell. All hells have been created for the unjust. There, a king's request for justice is attended to after others. You take pride in earning your living through labour, and think that you will be forgiven on that account. This plea does not hold water. Horses toil for their feed. That does not make them saints. And if you believe that since you recite the Quran, you will be forgiven, this argument is equally untenable. You have recited it merely with your tongue. Nobody can claim forgiveness without good deeds. The dagra bird has the whole Quran written on its wings, but that does not make it a saint, any more than your hope of being forgiven on the plea that you meditate. So, you can forget about that also. Worship or meditation does not consist in reciting a few verses. Real worship is supressing evil desires, i.e., to control the mind, not to be led by it. But you have been doing everything to satisfy the evil desires of your mind. You killed your father to satisfy your mind. You killed your brothers, Dara Shikoh and Murad Bakhsh, because of the same desires. Is this meditation? So this claim of yours is also not acceptable. That is why the Prophet has said that he who does not follow his command, shall not be entitled to his blessing. One has to give up the evil acts forbidden by the Prophet, and obey his commands. Only such persons shall be entitled to patronage of the Prophet. But those who ignore his commandments, in pursuit of mundane objects, are referred to in the Quran as 'dogs'. This means that this world is like a corpse, and that is what a dog seeks. Why would the Prophet help such dogs? So this claim of yours is also invalid. And if you feel that you are destroying idolatry of the Hindus, and that this will save you, this is equally without substance. You have destroyed a statue where tens of thousands of Hindus paid their obeisance and would not eat before doing that. This was their routine. So, when you demolished that statue, idols appeared in every house. Some made the idols out of flour; others used wax or clay. They had to carry out their routine before they could take their meals. So, if you had not broken one statue, tens of thousands of new idols would not have come up. By breaking one statue you created a hundred thousand idols. The real statue is 'ego' or selfishness, which is the mother of all idols. Those who have conquered their ego, have in reality destroyed idolatry:

Destroy thy ego; this is real idol-breaking.
Free thyself from ego; this is real release.

And if you think you are a strict follower of Shariat (Islamic Code), and for this reason you will be forgiven, this belief of yours is also wrong. Like you, followers of other religions also observe their own religious codes with equal strictness. All religious codes are similar. Because of ignorance, people think one is superior to others. If only such codes could save people, who would worship the Lord? He who expects salvation without meditation, and grace of His saints is mistaken. Also, if you feel that people flatter you, and on this account you will be forgiven, you are mistaken there also. Sycophants used to flatter Pharoh also for their selfish motives. That Pharoh was condemned by the Lord to burn in hell. Real praise is deserved by one whose heart follows the dictates of the Lord's saints. He is praiseworthy, whether others praise him or condemn him. Again you might believe  that the Lord is benevolent and that His benevolence will save you. There are two answers to this. One, He blesses only the poor and the humble who are free from ego in their hearts. The second answer is that the Lord possesses both the attributes; He dispenses benevolence as well as punishment. In case you have been benevolent to others, He will dole out benevolence to you, and if you have been cruel, you will also get the same treatment at His hands. It never happens that you sow kikar (Acacia) and harvest mangoes. You will reap only what you sow."

The letter contained the warning, "Beware! The Khalsa is born, the real idol-breaker Khalsa. Khalsa will punish you. You will not be spared." The name of the messenger who took this letter was Bhai Daya Singh. When Aurangzeb read this line of the letter, he looked at Bhai Daya Singh and asked, 

"Has the Khalsa taken birth?"
"Yes Sir, the Khalsa has appeared," replied Bhai Daya Singh.
"It should not have appeared at this time. I see doom ahead," saying this, Aurangzeb's face turned pale, and he died. (13)

NEXT FOLLOWS ANOTHER STORY
Episode No. 14

Purity of Mind
Aurangzeb’s son, Bahadur Shah succeeded him. But his brothers dethroned him. As he was fleeing, Guru Baba, with his powers reached him, and said, “Bahadur Shah, where are you going? I have come to help you. Come with me. I shall fight your brothers and put you back on the throne.” Thus Bahadur Shah became the Guru's ally. The Guru caused armies from the heavens to appear, which frightened Bahadur Shah’s brothers. Bahadur Shah was crowned emperor. A Sikh said, “O True Lord, you have done extreme kindness to Bahadur Shah.” The Guru replied, “In his previous birth, he had served the Guru with devotion. For this reason this help has been rendered to him.”

From that day Bahadur Shah showed great respect for the Guru. He would regularly send his offerings of fruit, etc. He wrote several letters expressing his affection, gratitude and longing to meet the Guru. He invited the Guru to meet him. The Guru was proceeding to the South. Agra, where Bahadur Shah was camping, was on his way.

So, in response to Bahadur Shah’s letters the Guru visited him. Bahadur Shah showed great respect and made rich offerings. Bahadur Shah’s Turk minister (qazi) asked the Guru, "Guruji, which is better, your religion or our religion?” “Your religion is good (perfect) for you, and our religion is good for us,” replied the Guru. "Guru ji, our religion is such that when somebody is initiated into it and recites the kalima, we can sit together and eat as equals. Nobody minds this. Is this also possible in your religion that when some Musalman is converted to say Ram, will you eat with him?” “When we come to power, you will have the liberty to do as you like,’ replied the Guru. This satisfied the minister. Then the qazi asked this question, “Guru ji, the Lord has said that man has been created to worship Him. What kind of worship should a man do?” “One should get rid of sins, and still regard himself a sinner. In this state of mind one should worship the Lord.”

“Guru ji, when somebody is free from sins, how can his heart accept the feeling of being a sinner? He might say this from his lips. In that case will the Lord accept what the lips say? Will He not look into his heart?”

“The Lord will look into his heart.”
“His heart is conscious that he is free from sin. How will the heart accept that he is a sinner?”
“There are two kinds of purity, purity of the body and purity of the mind. Purity of the body means that one makes an effort and prevents the body from committing a sin. To keep the body from committing a sin is the purity of the body. And the purity of the mind means freeing the mind of ego. But one cannot get rid of ego with one's effort alone. When the Lord showers His Grace, one comes in contact with the perfect Guru, and only then, can one get rid of ego. So, when one reaches the stage of bodily purity with his effort, he attains purity of body, but not purity of mind. At this stage should one accept the mind’s propensity as sin or not?” The qazi agreed that in this case it has to be accepted.

The Guru continued, “It is a fact, and not fiction, that when a worldly being frees his body from sins, and looking at his ego finds himself a sinner, then the Lord showers His Grace on him, and he thus becomes purified, because he did not become boastful of his earlier achievement. Rather he put himself on the nobler path to the Lord.” The Guru illustrated this with the example of a tree. “The goal is reached only when the fruit does not fall at an immature stage. The one that falls at an unripe stage, does not experience the joy of maturity. Similarly, one who swells his head with a minor achievement, can never get rid of his ego. It means that those who attained purity of body, did not necessarily achieve freedom from ego also. Only those become free from ego, who having reached the stage of purity of body, still regard themselves as sinners." Evidence from the Book was also given. "In the Ouran the Lord says: 'Anybody who has come to me as a sinner, I have given him status of the pure.' It means that in the Court of the Lord, those who have met the perfect Guru, have attained freedom from ego as well. When one is freed from ego, he/she has realised his/her goal." This was the dialogue the Guru had with the qazi, who was indeed very happy.(14)

~~~

Notes
Episode No. 13

This is a very important narration.  It gives some insight into the Sikh theory of martyrdom.  Martyrdom is often a political and social act.  It justifies a political change which must be brought about by the heirs of the martyr.  Martyrdom is not an atonement for sins of mankind, or an end in itself.  The purpose of martyrdom is to overthrow an unjust order, which necessitates it.

Political power has an obsolute obligation to do justice. God appoints sovereigns for this purpose and to afford freedom to men of religion to flourish.

The Guru claims to be inviolable at Anandpur Sahib, because his establishment was situated on a barren rock, and because he made no claim to sovereignty over it.  This is interesting.  All revenue people know that a rocky land is classified as khalsa or the one belonging to the King. He asserts that this, coupled with his status of a man of religion, made him inviolable. Moral logic is, of course, correct and convincing. So may very well be the legal aspect asserted by the Guru. It is also possible to say that while all cultivable land belonged to the king, uncultivated land belonged to God or was deemed reserved for spiritual purposes, and every man of God (faqir) shared its ownership. That is the Guru’s claim.

The Guru adds a concept of popular approval of political deeds, when he refers to “dictates of the people”.

From this narration it is possible to construct a near complete statement of the Guru’s political beliefs.

Aurangzeb died soon after receiving the letter. Prior to his death, he instructed that the Guru be respectfully escorted to his presence. Whether the letter caused his physical death, we do not know, but it certainly caused his moral death. The severe indictment came from a prophet of God. Aurangzeb was knowledgeable enough to know its implications.  The letters he wrote to his sons during his last days, show that the questons raised in the Zafarnamah had caused him much moral agony. In fact, it is possible to deduce from a reading of these letters and his will, that he died a morally shattered and psychologically depressed man.  It is not far-fetched to observe that this could be caused by the Zafarnamah.

It may also be pointed out that Sewa Das begins the stories of the Tenth Mahal with the Zafarnamah, although the letter was written by the Guru towards the very end of his life.

~~~

Episode No. 14

This narration refers to the Guru’s meeting with Bahadur Shah and discussion with his minister and quzi, which is of great theological significance.  The Guru makes a subtle distinction between physical purity and the purity of mind. While the former is possible through control over actions or refraining from sin, the latter is attainable only when the mind is cleared of the ego which occupies it.  Freedom from ego is necessary for purity to be complete, and it possible only through the Grace of the Lord or the Perfect Guru.  The discussion reported by Sewa Dass is also reproduced in the ‘Gurbilas Patshahi 10’ in almost similar language.  It seems possible to surmise that the gist of this conversation was made known officially by the Guru himself.

The following statement of the Guru reported in this narration deserves to be noted carefully, “When we rule, you will be free to practise your religion the way you like.” This is a very clear affirmation of freedom of faith, and a pointer to the impending rule of the Khalsa.

 

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