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







In Islam the “true king is God, and earthly rulers are merely His agents bound to enforce is law on all. The civil authorities exist solely to spread and enforce the true faith. In such a state infidelity is logically equivalent to treason, because the infidel repudiates the authority of the true king and pays homage to his rivals, the false gods and goddesses. Therefore, the toleration of any sect outside the fold of orthodox Islam is no better than compounding with sin. And the worst form of sin is polytheism, the belief that the one true God has partners in the form of other deities. Islamic theology, therefore, tells the true believer that his highest duty is to make exertion (jihad) in the path of God1, by waging war against infidel lands (dar-ul-harb) till they become a part of the realm of Islam (dar-ul-Islam) and their populations are converted into true believers. After conquests the entire infidel population becomes theoretically reduced to the status of slaves of the conquering army. The conversion of the entire population to Islam and the estinction of every form of dissent, is the ideal of the Muslim State. If any infidel is suffered to exist in the community, it is a necessary evil, and for a transitional period only. Political and social disabilities must be imposed on him, and bribes offered to him from the public funds to hasten the day of his spiritual enlightenment and the addition of his name to the roll of true believers.”2

Aurangzeb was a true believer in this Islamic theory. His reputation had suffered greatly in the Muslim world for having executed all his brothers and their sons and for imprisoning his father. To improve his image he became a ruthless puritan. He wished to show that his aim was to restore Islam to its original glory. He adopted the policy of persecution of non- Muslims as well as non-Sunni Muslims.

 Aurangzeb decided to use all the resources of a vast empire in suppressing Hinduism and converting the infidels to Islam. During his viceroyalty of Gujarat in 1644 he “desecrated the recently built Hindu temple of Chintaman in Ahmadabad by killing a cow in it and then turned the building into a mosque. He had at that time also demolished many other Hindu temples in the province.”3

 In the beginning of his reign Aurangzeb ordered “the local officers in every town and village of Orrisa from Cuttack to Medinipur” “to pull down all temples, including even clay huts, built during the last 10 or 12 years, and to allow no old temple to be repaired.”4 In 1661-62 a big temple was demolished at Mathura and a Jama Masjid was erected in its place in the heart of Hindu population.5 From April, 1665, Hindus were charged double the customs duty of that paid by Muslims on all articles brought for sale.6 In May, 1667, Muslims were exempted from payment of customs duty altogether, while Hindus had to pay at the old rate of five percent.7

In 1668 Hindu fairs and festivals were stopped.8 On April 9, 1669, a general order applicable to all parts of the Mughal Empire was issued “to demolish all the schools and temples of the infidels and to put down their religious teachings.” In January, 1670, the biggest temple of Keshav Rae at Mathura was destroyed and the city was named Islamabad.9 “The destruction of Hindu places of worship was one of the chief duties of the Muhtasibs or Censors of Morals who were appointed in all the sub-divisions and cities of the empire.”10

Hindus employed in public services including clerks and accountants were dismissed in 1671.11 The post of Qanungo could be retained by a Hindu on embracing Islam.12 Others who became Muslims received stipends, rewards, government jobs, release from jails, right to ancestral property and other privileges. The new converts riding on elephants followed by bands and flags were paraded through the streets and bazars.13 Jazia was charged from all Hindus from April 2, 1679. “Jazia meant for the Hindus an addition of fully onethird to every subject’s direct contribution to the State.”14 The contemporary European traveller Manucci observed: “Many Hindus who were unable to pay, turned Muhammadan, to obtain relief from the insults of the collectors. ...Aurangzeb rejoices.”15 In June, 1680, the temples of Amber, the capital of Jaipur State, the most loyal Hindu State, were demolished.16 In March, 1695, all the Hindus except Rajputs were ordered not to ride on elephants, fine horses and in palanquins or to carry arms.17

Syed Muhammad Latif in his History of Punjab on pp. 176-77 writes: “He discouraged the teachings of the Hindus, burnt to the ground the great Pagoda near Delhi, and destroyed the temple of Bishnath at Benaras, and the great temple of Dera Kesu Rai at Mathura, said to have been built by Raja Narsingh Deo, at a cost of thirty-three lakhs of rupees. The gilded domes of this temple were so high that they could be seen from Agra. On the site of the ruined temple, he built a vast mosque at a great cost. The richly decorated idols of the temples were removed to Agra and placed beneath the steps leading to the mosque of Nawab Begum. The name Mathura was changed into Islamabad, and was so written in all correspondence and spoken by the people. Aurangzeb had resolved that the belief in one God and the Prophet should be, not the prevailing, but the only religion of the empire of Hindustan. He issued mandates to the viceroys and governors of provinces to destroy pagodas and idols throughout his dominions. About three hundred temples in various parts of Rajputana were destroyed and their idols broken. The emperor appointed mullahs, with a party of horse attached to each, to check all ostentatious display of idol worship, and, sometime afterwards, he forbade fairs on Hindu festivals, and issued a circular to all governors and men in authority prohibiting the employment of Hindus in the offices of state immediately under them, and commanding them to confer all such offices on Mohammedans only. About the year 1690, the emperor issued an edict prohibiting Hindus from being carried in palanquins or riding on Arab horses. All servants of the state were ordered to embrace the Mohammedan religion, under pain of dismissal, those who refused were deprived of their posts. A large number of jogis, sanyasis and other religious men were driven out of the king’s dominions. The emperor reduced the duty on merchandise belonging to Mohammedans to one half the amount paid by Hindus, and remitted a number of other obnoxious taxes. Following the tradition of his house, he, in 1661, married his son, Moazzam, to the daughter of Raja Rup Singh. In the 22nd year of his reign, he renewed the Jazia, or poll-tax, on Hindus, throughout his dominions. The Hindus of Delhi gathered in large numbers beneath the jharoka window, on the banks of the river, and implored his majesty to remit the obnoxious tax; but the emperor was inexorable. The Hindus adopted the expedient of closing the shops in the city, and all business came to a standstill. They thronged the bazars from the palace to the grand mosque, one Friday, with the object of seeking relief. The crowd increased every moment, and the king’s equipage was interrupted at every step. He stopped for a while to hear them, but the multitude held their ground. At length under orders from the emperor, war elephants were directed against the mob, and, the retinue forcing its way through, numbers were trodden to death by horses and elephants. After this the Hindus submitted without further demur.”

1. The jats
Gokal, a Jat of Tilpat, revolted against the bigoted governor of Mathura, Abdu Nabi, and in an encounter shot him dead in May, 1669. Aurangzeb sent a strong force against him. After a fierce resistance Gokal was defeated and hacked to pieces. His womenfolk were given away to Muslims. Five thousand Jats were killed and 7,000 were taken prisoners.18

2. The Satnamis
Satnamis were living at Narnaul and in its neighbourhood. Khafi Khan, the contemporary historian of Aurangzeb, writes: “Though they dress like faqirs, most of them follow agriculture or trade on a small capital. Following the path of their own faith, they wish to live with a good name and never attempt to obtain money by any dishonest and unlawful means.”19 One day in 1672 a Mughal soldier picked up a quarrel with a Satnami and broke his head with his baton. Other Satnamis beat the soldier in return. The local officer sent a party of footmen to punish the Satnamis who gathered in a body, seized their arms and drove them away. Thereafter about 5,000 Satnamis gathered in arms. Small parties of troops sent by local officers were repulsed. The rebels plundered Narnaul and demolished mosques. Aurangzeb sent a force of 10,000 strong with artillery. “After a most obstinate battle, two thousand of the Satnamis fell on the field, while many more were slain during the pursuit.”20 All the Sathamis were wiped out, and no trace of them was left.

3. The Sikhs
Aurangzeb dealt with the Sikhs in the same manner. In November, 1675, Guru Tegh Bahadur was called upon to embrace Islam, and on his refusal he was beheaded. His companions were most brutally murdered.

4. The Rajputs
In December, 1678, Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur, the thanadar of Jarnrud at the Khaibar Pass, passed away. Aurangzeb immediately proceeded to annex his kingdom to the Mughal Empire, and himself went to Ajmer in January, 1679. Jaswant Singh’s two widows gave birth to two sons on their way back at Lahore. One of them died soon afterwards. The other child, Ajit Singh, was detained at Delhi to be brought up in the imperial harem. “The throne of Jodhpur was offered to Ajit on condition of his turning a Muslim.”21 On the Rani’s refusal, Aurangzeb ordered them to be taken under a strong escort to the prison fortress of Nurgarh. Before the Mughal troops could arrive, their residence in Delhi was besieged by Raghunath, a noble of Jodhpur, with one hundred devoted soldiers. There were a few Mughal troopers guarding the mansion. In the melee, Durgadas, “the flower of Rathor chivalry,”22 “slipped out with Ajit and the Ranis dressed in male attire, and rode away direct for Marwar.”23 Raghunath and his men “dyed the streets of Delhi with blood,”24 and then all met hero’s death. The Mughal army went in pursuit of Durgadas. Small bands of Rathors turn by turn, at intervals, barred the path of Mughal forces, and thus allowed time to Durgadas to escape. These terrible conflicts every two or three hours, dismayed the Mughals who gave up the pursuit late in the same night. Ajit and Ranis reached Marwar territory safely. Then ensued a regular war between Aurangzeb and the Rathors. “But for Durgadas’s twenty-five years of unflagging exertion and wise contrivance, Ajit Singh could not have secured his father’s throne.”25 “Jodhpur and all the great towns in the plain fell and were pillaged; the temples were thrown down and mosques erected on their sites.”26

The annexation of Marwar was followed by the conquest of Mewar. Aurangzeb’s artillery manned by Europeans easily defeated Maharana Raj Singh of Udaipur. Chitor was seized and 63 temples in the town were razed to the ground. At udaipur 173 temples were demolished.27

5. The Marathas
Aurangzeb then turned his attention towards the Marathas. He reached Aurangabad on March 22, 1682, never to return to the north, and died at the same place 25 years later. The great Shiyaji had passed away at the age of 53 on April 4, 1680. His eldest son, Shambhuji, succeeded him. Aurangzeb decided to destroy him. An Englishman who was living at Karwar wrote about the Emperor on July 30, 1682 : “He is so inveterate against the Rajah that he hath thrown off his pagri and sworn never to put it on again, till he hath either killed, taken, or routed him out of his country.”28 Aurangzeb succeeded in his object. On February 1, 1689, he was captured and dragged by his long hair. 29 Twenty five of his leading chiefs along with their wives and daughters were also seized. Shambhuji and his prime minister Kavikalash “were dressed as buffoons with long fool’s caps and bells placed on their heads, mounted on camels, and brought to Bahadurgarh with drums beating and trumpets pealing. Hundreds of thousands of spectators lined the roads, to gaze at Shambhuji as at a new kind of wild beast or demon. Thus degraded, the captives were slowly paraded through the entire camp and finally brought to the Emperor who was sitting in full darbar for the occasion. At the sight of the prisoner, Aurangzeb descended from his throne and kneeling down on the carpet bowed his head to the ground in double thankfulness to the Giver of this crowning victory.”30

Khafi Khan, the contemporary historian of Aurangzeb’s reign says that at this Kavikalash shouted to Shambhuji:

“O Rajah! even Aurangzeb dare not sit on the throne in thy presence, but must kneel to do thee homage.”31 Shambhuji did not bow before the Emperor though pressed hard by the courtiers to do so. On the other hand he asked for the hand of one of Aurangzeb’s daughters. He was immediately blinded and the tongue of Kavikalash was cut off. They were tortured for a fortnight. On March 11, 1689, their limbs were hacked to pieces, one by one, and dogs were fed on their flesh. Their heads were fixed on spears and exhibited in all the major towns and cities of the Deccan with the beat of drums and blowing of trumpets.32 Aurangzeb then seized the surviving widows of Shivaji, wives of Shambhuji and of his younger brother Rajaram and their sons and daugthers including seven year old Shahu.33

The Marathas harass the Emperor
Now there being no head of the Marathas, hundreds of Maratha chiefs at the head of their small bands began to harass the Mughals anywhere and everywhere. It became a people’s war. Aurangzeb and his generals could not be present at all places. The Emperor had to face “an enemy all pervasive from Bombay to Madras across the Indian Peninsula, elusive as the wind, without any headman or stronghold whose capture would naturally result in the extinction of their power.”34 The Empire’s leading chiefs and men suffered terribly. “Porters disappeared; transport beasts died of hunger and overwork; scarcity of grain was ever present in his camp. The endless war in the Deccan exhausted his treasury; the Government turned bankrupt; the soldiers starving from arrears of pay (usually three years overdue) mutinied.”35 The Marathas were supreme. They plundered the Mughal territory and camp mercilessly. “There was an exultant and menacing Maratha army always hanging three or four miles behind the emperor’s camp wherever it marched or halted.”36 This happened during the regime of Rajaram, the younger son of Shivaji who died at the age of thirty on March 2, 1700.

After him the leadership of the Marathas was taken over by Rajaram’s 25 year old widow, Tara Bai. This young woman worked wonders. She created a new and vigorous Maharashtra in a few years. “The Maratha queen flew from camp to camp and from fortre ss to fortress, sharing the hardships of a trooper, exposed to the sun, sleeping on the ground. Tara Bai seemed to multiply herself to be everywhere and always encouraging her officers, and planning campaigns on a wider front. So clear was her vision, unerring her judgement, that she was equally welcome on the battlefield and in the council chamber by the warworn soldiers and astute politicians of the older generation. Within a short time the Maratha counteroffensive, at first halting and ineffective, assumed alarming proportions and began to threaten the very heart of the Mughal Empire.”37

The enormous losses sustained by the Emperor are thus described by Sir Jadunath :

“The wastage of the Deccan war which raged intensely for nearly twenty-years, was one hundred thousand soldiers and followers and three times that number of horses, elephants, camels and oxen on the Mughal side every year.”38

About the appalling economic devastation of the Maratha country, the European traveller Manucci wrote:

“The fields are left devoid of trees and bare of crops, their places being taken by the bones of men and beasts. The country was so entirely desolated and depopulated that neither fire nor light could be found in the course of a three or four day’s journey.”39

Guru Gobind Das’s contemplation
The Guru knew that he had a definite mission and duty to perform. The time had come and the hour had struck. The circumstances were favourable and the opportunity was at hand. Delay might be dangerous. If the Emperor, the mightiest of the mighty, could be defied while commanding in person, there was no reason why he should not succeed against the emperor’s governors.

 A moment’s reflection reminded him that Guru Nanak had described the rulers of his time as tigers and dogs. That situation had not changed even after 200 years. The policy of non- violence, submission and surrender had produced no effect upon these ferocious tigers and mad dogs. Appeals, protests and representations were treated as treasons, punishable with death. Agitation was followed by disastrous consequences. Should this situation be allowed to continue till eternity?, the guru thought. Musketry and gunnery were the only remedies, he realized.

After the most determined meditation on this sad state of affairs, the Guru came to the conclusion that to Commit tyrannies was bad, but to bear tyranny patiently was worse. The country did not belong to the king. The king belonged to the country, and the country belonged to the people. If the king was bad, people must rise in revolt. Without political liberty, religious intellectual, social and economic freedom could not be achieved. Political freedom could be won by armies. The armies of the suppressed people were non-existent. The spirit of the brave Jats of Agra and Delhi had been crushed. The heroic Satnamis had been completely wiped out of existence. The Rajput resistance was broken. The noble Shivaji had died young. His eldest son Shambhuji had been hacked to pieces. His only son Shahu was in captivity. The Guru’s own house was no exception. His great grandfather, Guru Arjan, was tortured to death. His grandfather Hargobind had suffered twelve years’ imprisonment. His father Guru Tegh Bahadur was executed. His most faithful follower, Bhai Matidas, was sawn across from head to loins, while others were boiled or skinned alive.

Gobind Das did not feel dismayed. He did not lose heart. He knew that human mind when properly inspired was capable of rising to the loftiest heights, and when rightly guided and controlled could work wonders. He also realized that he would have to depend entirely on his own resources. The hill Rajputs whom he wanted to use in the national cause had failed. He set about planning and preparing himself for the struggle to win freedom. His army was to be based on social justice. There could be no discrimination in the name of caste, creed and colour. His soldiers unpaid, ill-armed, poorly equipped, untrained were to be inspired with feelings of patriotism and nationalism.

In Krishna Avtar the Guru says:
Kou Kise ko raj na de hai
Jo lai hai nij bal sit lai hai.
[No people can have self-rule as a gift from another. It is to be seized through their own strength.]40

Was Guru Gobind Singh an Enemy of Islam?
Guru Gobind Das was determined to exterminate the religious oppression of the Mughal Government. He concentrated against the cruel Government and not against Islam. There is not a word in his speeches and writings to prove this baseless charge. Nor does history offer any event or incident in proof of it. He was an embodiment of love and affection for all. His instruction to his Sikhs were to treat everybody with courtesy and consideration. It was for this reason that both Hindus and Muslims were attracted towards him. Muslim Sufi saints and Muslim commanders of note, and hundreds of Muslim soldiers fought under his banners. Pir Buddhu Shah of Sadhaura, together with his sons and seven hundred followers fought hard in the battle of Bhangani in 1688 in which the Muslim saint lost two of his sons and hundreds of his disciples. In the battle of Anandpur in 1702 Mir Beg and Mamun Khan commanded Guru’s forces in fighting against the Mughal troops. At the same place in 1704 General Sayyid Khan of the Mughal army considered it improper and unjust to wage a war against the Guru. He deserted his post and joined the Guru. Nabi Khan and Ghani Khan saved him from capture by the Mughal army. Qazi Pir Muhammad did not confirm the Guru’s identity, while Rae Kalha offered him a refuge and entertained him generously. In Akal Ustat the Guru says:

1. “Some are Hindus while others are Muslims. Of the latter some are Shias and others are Sunnis. Man’s caste should be considered as one.” (Manas ki jat sabhai ekai pahchanbo.)

2. “Karta, Karim, Rajak, Rahim is the same. No other distinction should be recognised at all.”

3. “Temple and mosque are the same. Hindu worship and Muslim prayer are the same. All men are alike, but they are under delusion.”

4. “Gods, demons, heavenly dancers, singers, Muslims, Hindus wear different dresses under the condition of their countries. But they possess eyes, ears, bodies, made of the same elements, composed of earth, air, fire and water.”

5. “Allah, the unknowable, the Puranas and the Quran are the same. All are manifestations of One, and One is the creator of all.”41

In the jap Guru Gobind Das has given 735 names to God. Of these 30 are of Islam. He declared Ram and Rahim were the same. Ishwar, Allah were the same. Barat and Roza were the same. Puja and Nimaz were the same. Pandit and Qazi were the same. Brahman and Mullah were the same.

Sujan Rae Bhandari, while describing the Sikhs wrote in 1696 :

“In their eyes their own people and others as well as friends and foes are all alike. They love their friends, but they do not ill-treat their enemies.”42

The Guru’s mission
Guru Gobind Das decided to create national awakening in Punjab as it had been done in Maharashtra by Shivaji. The time chosen was opportunate. Aurangzeb was involved in the life and death struggle in the Deccan with Marathas. Punjab was in charge of Prince Muazzam who lived in Kabul. The Governors of Lahore, Jammu and Sirhind had failed to crush him. The Government at Delhi was in a state of disorganization. The hill rajas were in revolt against the Mughals. A better time could not be expected to fulfil his life’s mission, and the Guru was not the man to miss it. He had first tried to plant his ideas in the minds of the warrior class of Rajputs of the Shivalik Hills. He soon discovered that the caste-ridden and class-dominated feudal lords would not respond to his appeals and they would not fit in his ideology. They had grown flabby possibly because of comforts enjoyed by them. He therefore turned his attention to the down-trodden masses. He believed that he would be able to achieve his objective by stirring the latent faculties of the human will, which possessed the elasticity of rising to the tallest heights as well as of sinking to the lowest depths. The Guru made full use of the strong sentiment which had been expressing itself in the Sikh community in the form of sincere devotion and loving obedience for the person of the Guru. Sujan Rae in 1696 described the devotion of the Sikhs to their Gurus thus:

“They cherish such faith in their Guru as is not found in other communities. They utter his name at all times, and consider serving him as the most meritorious act. If a wayfarer arrives at midnight and takes the name of the Guru Nanak, he is treated as a friend and brother, no matter he may be an utter stranger, or even a thief, or a robber, or an evil-doer.”43

The Guru realised that God was the wielder of arms to punish tyrants and destroy evil-doers. He was also bestower of gifts and fountainhead of mercy. Further, the Guru had been deeply struck by the idea that God had been sending a saviour at critical times to save the virtuous and destroy the wicked. He knew that he had been sent to this world for the same purpose. In Bachitra Natak the Guru says:

1. Ham eh Kaj jagat mo ae
Dharam het Gur Dev pathae
jahan tahan tum dharam bitharo
Dusht dokhian pakar pachharo.

[For this purpose did I come into this world, God sent me for the sake of dharam; Wherever you are, spread dharam, Root out the oppressors and the wicked.]

2. Yahi kaj dhara ham janmam
Samajh leho sadhu sab manmam
Dharam chalawan sant ubaran
Dust saban ko mul uparan.44
[For this purose was I born, Bear this in mind all ye saints; To propagate dharam, to protect saints, To annihilate all the tyrants.] In order to seek divine approval of his mission, he entered into a blissful communion with Almighty and received the following reply:
Main apna sut tohe niwaja
panth prachur karbe kaho saja
jahan tahan tai dharam ch alae
Kabudh karan te lok hatae.45
[I have cherished you as my son, I have created you to prea.ch righteousness; Wherever you are, promote righteousness, Restrain the people from evil deeds.] The Guru then prays to God to give him strength of mind to fight valorously to a finish for victory in the cause of right and justice. He says:

Deh Siva bar mohi ehai
Subh karman te kabhun na tarun,
Na darun ar so jab jae larun,
Nishche kar apni jit karun,
Aru Sikh hau apne hi man kau
Eh lalach hu gun tau uchrun,
Jab av ki audh nidhan bane,
At hi ran mai tab jujh marun.46

[O God ! give me the boon that I may not deter from righteous deeds; Nor may I fear from an enemy, when I go to fight, I must have determination for victory; And I may guide my mind to aspire after uttering your attributes; When the end of my life comes, then I may die fighting heroically.]
The Guru then invokes for the long life of all those whoever remember God and fight in the righteous cause. In Krishna Avatar he writes:

Dhan joyo tih kau jag main
Mukh te Rari chit main yudh bichare.

[Blessed are they in this world, who have Hari on their tongue and war in their heart.]
The foundation of the Khalsa, March 30, 1699

The Guru declared that his mission would be proclaimed at Anandpur on the first of Baisakh, the New Year Day, March 30, 1699. He invited the entire audience to attend the grand function.47 He was then on a visit to the shrine of Naina Devi.

The Guru remained busy in meditation and contemplation. On the morning of 30th March he sought God’s blessings:
Thad bhayo main jor kar bachan kaha sar nyae
Panth chale tab jagat men jab tum ho sahae.

[I stood up with folded hands and head bent down and said, Panth can flourish in the world only with your help.]

He entered a specially constructed canopy where a huge congregation was seated. Behind it there was a small tent which was closed on all sides and it could be entered from the canopy alone. The Guru asked them to utter the following call after him:

No one hath found its limits. Thou art God of gods, King of kings, Compassionate to the poor, and cherisher of the lowly.” Addressing the fighting weapons the Guru said:

Jite shastar nam
Namaskar tam
Jite astar bhen
Namaskar ten.52
Namaskaryan more tiran tufang,
Namo khag, adong, abhen abhang,
Gadaen grishtan, namo saithiyan.
[Like them no other hero is born]
He made a stimulating appeal in the name of the country and nation. He placed great emphasis on the love of the mother country and loyalty to dharam. He dwelt on the necessity of subverting the Mughal Empire and building a new nation. He presented a picture of a new class of men and women ready to sacrifice everything in the service of the nation. He put forth the belief that the time was ripe for action.

After this exciting oration, the Guru flashed his sword and said that every great deed was preceded by equally great sacrifice. The Holy Sword would create a heroic nation after supreme sacrifice. He said that the Dharam thirsted for sacrificial blood. The Guru demanded a devotee in whose heart he would plunge his sword. This sent a thrill of horror in the audience. He repeated it in a sterner and more sonorous voice. All were terror-stricken and there was no response at the first and second call. At the third call, Daya Ram, a Khatri of village Dalla in District Lahore, rose in his seat and expressed willingness to lay down his life. He was led into the adjoining tent and asked to sit there quietly. He dipped his sword blade into a vessel full of goat’s blood. The general belief is that the Guru had tied five goats, and he killed them one by one with a single stroke. This assertion does not appear to be plausible. At the first killing the goats would have bleated loudly which could have been easily heard in the open ground where the Guru was conducting the meeting. He came back with the sword dripping with blood, and asked for another head. Dharam Das, a Jat of Jatwara village in District Saharanpur, offered his life. He was also taken to the same place. The blade was again immersed in blood. The sword was gleamed again and the Guru said: “Is there any other Sikh who will offer me his head? I am in great need of Sikhs’ heads.”54 Sahib Chand, a barber, stood up. The Guru acted similarly. At the call for a fourth Sikh the audience was horrified. Some fled away, while others bent down their heads in despair. Himmat Chand Kahar or water carrier by caste offered himself for the sacrifice. The fifth to volunteer was Mohkam Chand Chhimba, or a calico-printer. 55 The Guru stopped at five. He then ordered the curtain separating the tent from the canopy to be removed. All were wonder-struck to see the five men standing hale and hearty. The whole area rang with loud applause and thunderous clapping of hands.

All the five men were robed in similar new dresses and garlanded and then brought into the assembly. The Guru declared that Baba Nanak had found only one devoted Sikh in Guru Angad, while he had found five such Sikhs. Through the devotion of one true disciple, Sikhism had flourished so well. By the consecration of five Sikhs his mission was bound to succeed beyond measure. He further said that since the time of Guru Nanak the newly initiated Sikhs had taken charanpahul or water in which Gurus had dipped their toes. It developed spirit of humility and meekness. The times had changed. In place of humility and meekness boldness and pluck were required. He would therefore change the form of baptism and would administer to his warrior Sikhs, water stirred with a double-edged dagger in an iron vessel, and would change the name Sikh to Singh or lion. This title previously was exclusively confined to the noble Rajputs. His Singhs would look upon themselves as inferior to no other. Every man was a sworn soldier from the time of his baptism. His Singhs would fight against the enemies of their faith and freedom like lions. They would be rulers in this life and would attain salvation and bliss hereafter.56

The Guru’s wife did not like that the five Sikhs who had offered their heads to the Guru, should be given plain water. She immediately brought a plate full of sugar cakes (patashas) , and with the approval of the Guru, put them into water. The Guru observed: “We filled the Panth with heroism (bir-ras), you have mixed with it love (prem-ras)57 While stirring water the Guru recited the sacred hymns of the holy Granth. The following five banis were recited by the Guru while preparing the amrit or nectar: Guru Nanak’s japji, Guru Amar Das’s Anand, and his own jap, Chaupai and ten Swayyas. The five Sikhs were asked to kneel down on their left knees and look into the eyes of the Guru. In this way the Guru’s soul power penetrated into their souls. The Guru then gave everyone of them five palmfuls of sweet water called Amrit or nectar to drink, and five times was the holy water sprinkled over their heads and faces. They were designated panj Pyare or the five beloved ones. The Guru said that the five beloved ones were his sons.58 Individually each was called a Singh and collectively they were given the name of Khalsa.

After administering baptism, the Guru stood before these five beloved ones and requested them to baptise him in the same manner. They pleaded their unfitness for such a performance. The Guru replied that he was not superior to his devoted disciples. His superiority lay in one thing. The Guru had attained salvation, nirwan or sachkhand, while his disciples were in the process of attaining it. The Guru said: “The Khalsa is the Guru and the Guru is the Khalsa. There is no difference between you and me.” They baptised him, everyone of the five giving one palmful of nectar and sprinkling it on his head and face turn by turn. He also added Singh to his own name in place of Das and henceforth came to be called Gobind Singh.

Somebody in the congregation observed: “Wah Guru Gobind Singh, ape Guru te ape Chela “. [Bravo Guru Gobind Singh ! himself divine as well as disciple.]

The Guru’s Khalsa consisted of four Shudras and only one Kshatriya. Guru Gobind Singh then addressed the Five Beloved Ones:

You are now of one creed, followers of one path. You are above all religions, all creeds, all castes, and all classes. You are the immortal soldiers of true dharma. You are the messengers of God. This country’s honour and liberty is entrusted to you by Wahiguru. Mix freely with the world, but remain of one soul, one ideal, and one aim. As Baba Nanak and his successors possessed one soul and one mind, so you possess one soul and one mind in the service of Wahiguru, dharma and country. You are the soldiers of God. Today you have taken new birth in the home of the Guru. You are members of the Khalsa brotherhood. Anandpur is your birthplace. Gobind Singh is your father. You are the citizens of Bharatvarsha. Its independence and security is entrusted to you. Work for it with one mind. Success is sure. From today your salutation will be : Wahiguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahiguru Ji Ki Fatah. Koer Singh in Gur Bilas Patshahi Das says:

Char barn ik barn pukara
Nam Khalsa panth sudhara
Meaning of Khalsa

There are different views about the meaning of Khalsa. Some say that in Persian the word means pure and sincere, and that the guru had purified his Sikhs after a certain ceremony by a test of steel and called them Singhs or lions. This is the general view which is accepted by almost all historians.

As a matter of fact the Guru wished to inspire his’ Singhs with the conviction that while engaged in the service of the Panth (community) and the country, God was always present with them. For this purpose he made full use of the number five.

The number five has always been sacred in India from time immemorial. The best form of self-government provided by ancient sages was panchayat or a council of five. Panchon men Parmeshwar (God is present in the council of chosen five) was the famous saying in those days. The village administration in this country based on this principle survived unpolluted through all the upheavals of history. Guru Nanak also laid emphasis on number five. In japji he says:

Panch parwan, panch pradhan,
Panche pawen dargah man,
Panche so hain dar rajan,
Panchan ka Gur ek dhayan
Guru Gobind Singh made the best use of this spiritual sentiment. According to Giani Kartar Singh Kalaswalia in Sri Guru Dashmesh Prakash, page 106, Guruji sent from Paonta five Sikhs to Kashi to study Sanskrit. He built five forts at Anandpur. He selected five beloved ones at Anandpur. He read five banis while preparing amrit. He administered to each of them five palmfuls of amrit or holy water. With a view to giving the Singhs an optimistic view of, life in the midst of trials and tribulations which lay ahead of them, the Guru gave them a unique form of salutation:

Wah Guru ji ka Khalsa,
Wah Guru ji ki Fatah
[The Khalsa is thine, O Lord ! So does the Victory belong to you.]

Each half of this salutation again consists of five words. By this mode of salutation a strong link was established between the Khalsa and Victory, these two being the offspring of the Lord. Guru Gobind Singh was in search of a word which could have the sanctity of five and the presence of God. Persian was the language of the elite and the Guru was himself a great scholar of Persian language and literature. He adopted the word Khalsa for his Singhs because it fulfilled both the conditions in the most appropriate manner. Besides, this word had already been used by Guru Hargobind for his Sikhs. In Persian script Khalsa consists of five letters:

(i) Khe or Kh stands for Khud or oneself.

(ii) Alif or A represents Akal Purkh, Allah or God.

(iii) Lam or L signifies Labbaik. The New Royal Persian- English Dictionary by S.C. Paul, 1925 edition, Allahabad, page 357, gives its meaning as follows: “What do you want with me? Here I am. What would you have?

(iv) Swad or S alludes to Sahib or Lord or Master.

(v) It ends with earlier A or H. Alif or A points to Azadi or freedom. If written with He or H as it is generally the case, it refers to Huma, a legendary bird. Every head this bird over- shades, in time wears a crown. The word Khalsa, therefore, has the sacredness of number five as well as the presence of God with his Singhs both engaged in a pleasant conversation. God Himself asks the Singhs:
“What do you want from me ? Here am I. What would you have?” The Singhs reply: Lord! give us liberty and sovereignty. “

The formula of five into five
For the guidance of his Singhs, Guru Gobind Singh prescribed a formula consisting of five principles each governed by five rules. The five principles were: Five beliefs, five symbols, five vows, five deliverances and five rules of conduct.

(i) Five beliefs :
The Khalsa were enjoined to have fivefold belief in God (Akalpurkh), Guru Granth, Greeting- Wah Guru ji ka Khalsa Wah Guru ji ki Fatah and Guru Nanak’s Japji.

(ii) Five symbols:
In those days Hindus of respectable families wore five ornaments: gold earrings, a necklace, gold or silver bangles, finger ring and a waist belt of gold or silver or a tagri. The wearer felt proud of displaying his superior social position. At the same time he ran the risk of losing these articles as well as his life into the bargain. Guru Gobind Singh provided to his followers, five jewels which were within reach of everybody down to the poorest peasant and the lowest labourer. Instead of creating fear in the mind of the wearer, his five jewels made his Singh bold, brave and awe-inspiring. These jewels were kesh or long hair, kangha or comb, kirpan or dagger, kara or steel bracelet and kaccha or a pair of knicker-bockers. These symbols gave the Khalsa a semblance of unity, close brotherhood and equality. They developed group consciousness.

Several arguments are advanced in favour of unshorn hair, beards and moustaches:

1. That it was a general practice with Hindu sages and ascetics to keep long hair tied in a knot on top and flowing beard, and that Guru Gobind Singh wanted his disciples, in spite of their being householders, to be karam yogis or practical saints like Rama, Krishna and Bharata or the Five Pandavas.

2. That the warlike tribesmen of the North-West Frontier kept long hair though trimmed, and that the Guru wished his followers to have a similarly impressive and alarming appearance.

3. That the Guru adopted the practice of Goddess Durga of preserving long locks unshorn.

4. That the previous Gurus also kept long hair and Gobind Singh did not introduce any innovation.

5. The most reasonable explanation is that Guru Gobind Singh desired to provide his Khalsa a natural military uniform, the least expensive and most impressive permanent costume. Besides he deemed it necessary that their heads should be properly guarded from sword cuts and lathi blows by means of long hair and turbans.

Comb indicated cleanliness. Steel bracelet developed an iron will and destroyed the evil effects of misfortune. It was a permanent substitute of rakhri, a thread tied by sisters on the wrists of brothers, reminding them of their duty to help and protect them. Similarly the kara served as a reminder to the Sikhs that they had promised to be true to the Guru and the- Panth and that promise must be kept at all cost. Dagger depicted power and prestige. The pair of knickers-bockers aimed at agility. It was more convenient for fighting than the long dhoti of Hindus and loose trousers of Muslims. Thus the five symbols of Guru Gobind Singh gave strength to the body, mind and soul and developed an integrated personality of the wearer.

(iii) Five Vows
The Khalsa were required not to do five things: (a) to shave or cut hair, (b) to smoke60, (c) to eat halal meat of the animal killed in the Muslim style, (d) to wear a cap [To Sikh sar topi dhare, sat janam kushti hoe mare] and, (e) to worship tombs, graves and relics of cremation and cherish superstitions.61

(iv) Five deliverances
Guru Gobind Singh declared the following five deliverances for his disciples:

1. Dharam Nash or freedom from previous religious practices and customs.62
2.Karam Nash or the obliteration of the past bad deeds.
3. Janam Nash or giving up the family influences and caste effects. The Guru explained that all the four Hindu castes had been blended into the Khalsa like the betel leaf. When mixed with supari (betel nut), Katha (catechu) and chuna (lime), the leaf reddened lips, strengthened gums, gave flavour to mouth and added heat to the body. Individually none of these things could produce this effect. Similarly the four Hindu castes when united, would change them into a flower possessing beauty, bloom, fragrance and freshness. All the castes were blended on a democratic basis in which all were equal, and nobody was higher or lower.
4. Sharam Nash or the disappearance of hereditary professional distinctions, as all the callings like those of priests, soldiers, traders, weavers, tailors, barbers, cobblers and sweepers were given equal respect and status.
5. Bharam Nash or discarding the rituals prescribed by previous practices.

(v) Five rules of conduct
Five rules were laid down for the general observance of the Sikhs:
1. Before beginning every work or enterprise, prayer should be offered.
2. The Sikhs should help one another and serve the Panth.
3. They should practice riding and using arms.
4. A Sikh coveting another’s property would go to hell.
5. Regarding sexual matters the Guru said that his father Guru Tegh Bahadur had given him these instruction which should serve as a guide to the Sikhs:

“O son, as long as there is life in the body, make this thy sacred duty ever to love thine own life more and more. Approach not another woman’s couch either by mistake or even in a dream. Know, that the love of another’s wife is a sharp dagger. Believe me, death entereth the body by making love to another’s wife. They who think it great cleverness to enjoy another’s wife, shall in the end, die the death of dogs.”63

The Guru declared:

“Par nari ki sej,
bhul supne hun na jaiyo.
[Go not ye, even in dream, to the bed of a woman other than your own wife]

Abolition of the institution of Masands
Immediately after the creation of the Khalsa, Guru Gobind Singh took another momentous decision in regard to the institution of Masands. The third Guru, Amar Das, 1552-1574, had organised his Sikhs territorially into twentytwo districts. They were called manjis because the priest in charge of the district sat on a cot, while all others were seated on the floor. These missionaries were called Sangatias. During the pontificate of Guru Ram Das, 15741581, they were called Ramdas after the name of the Guru. The fifth Guru, Arjan, 1581- 1606, put a Sikh of status in charge of each district. He called him by the dignified term of Masand. It was the Panjabi form of the Persian word Musannad or an elevated man of grace and dignity. The Masands collected one-tenth or daswandh of the income of each Sikh living in the area of their jurisdiction, and presented it to the Guru on the occasions of Baisakhi and Diwali, twice a year.


The Masand system worked well in the beginning at least up to the time of the sixth Guru, Hargobind. The seventh Guru, Har Rae, died at the age of thirty-one. Out of this short life he lived at Nahan for twelve years. The eighth Guru Har Krishan died at the age of eight. The ninth Guru Tegh Bahadur lived outside Punjab for many years, and when he came back, he was involved in a conflict with the Government and was shortly afterwards executed. The central control having been loose and weak the masands became independent to all intents and purposes. They began to gather riches and power for themselves, and became corrupt.

Ram Rae, the eldest son of Guru Har Rae, had been excluded from succession for misinterpreting the holy Granth. He established his own institution of Guruship at Dehra Dun. Many people became his followers. To collect their offerings he also appointed masands. He failed to control them. Guru Gobind Singh in his early days was living at Paonta, not very far from Dehra Dun. He sought Guru Gobind Singh’s help. He said: “My masands are getting too powerful and headstrong. When I am gone, do protect my family and property from being ruined at their hands.”64

A little later Ram Rae was in a trance. The masands said he had died. Ram Rae’s wife protested that it often happened before and he was alive. The masands cremated him and seized his property. At her request Guru Gobind Singh went to Dehra Dun and punished them. This was the first experience by the Guru of their arrogance and effrontery. The Guru’s own masands had become corrupt, selfish, profligate and cruel. Frequent complaints were pouring in against their misbehaviour. They treated the Sikhs with scorn, and persecuted them. They had courtesans in their harems. They demanded the hands of the daughters of the Sikhs for their servants and sycophants. The extorted from them good food, good beds and full service. They let loose their horses into the green and ripe fields of the Sikhs.65

They were also adopting a defiant attitude towards the Guru. They retained a larger part of the offerings for themselves. They opposed the Guru’s Ranjit Nagara, the huge kettledrum beaten every morning and evening at Anandpur. They exerted pressure upon Gobind Singh to lend his elephant and the tent to the Raja of Bilaspur. They often boasted that the Guru’s power and prestige was mainly due to their work of preaching and procuring money.66

In Bachitra Natak the Guru condemns the masands thus:
Jo Babe ke dam na dai hain
Tin te gah Babar ke lai hain

Dai dai tin ko bari sajai Pun lahen greh loot banai.67
[Those who do not pass on the offerings received for Baba, They would be seized by the successors of Babar; Severe punishment would be inflicted upon them, Then their houses would be ransacked,]

On this occasion Guru Gobind Singh abolished this institution. Most of the masands were present there. The notorious ones were severely punished, while others had to pay fines.

The Akhbarat-e-Durbar-e-Mualla or a newsletter of the Mughal court dated May 13, 1710 stated: “Guru Gobind Singh had summarily dismissed the masands long ago.”68 This measure not only freed the Sikhs from humiliation but also restored a close personal contact between the Guru and his disciples.

He issued strict instructions to the Sikhs not to pay anything to the masands, but make their offerings to the Guru directly while visiting him. Those Sikhs who gave money to masands were placed under a curse:
Jab hawai hai bemukh bina dhan
Tab charhi hain Sikhan kah mangan
Je je Sikh tin ain dhan dai hain
Loot Malechh tin u hau lai hain.
[When these disloyal persons become paupers, They go to the Sikhs to beg; Those Sikhs who give them money, Shall be plundered by the Muslims.]

In Chaupais 12 to 15 the Guru says he will not forgive them, and God also will not own them.

Admonition to princes
Besides the Sikhs, a large number of hill Rajputs and the Rajput princes of the neighbourhood had gathered there to see what the Guru was doing. After creating the Khalsa, the Guru addressed them:

“How has your religious, political and social status deteriorated ! You have abandoned the worship of the true God and addressed your devotions to gods, goddesses, rivers, trees, etc. Through ignorance you know not how to govern your territories; through indolence and vice you disregard the interests of your subjects. You place over them officials who not only hate you, but are besides your mortal enemies. You despise and loath one another through your narrow prejudices, and you act contrary to the wishes of the great Almighty Father. Our morals have become so perverted that through fear and with a desire to please your “Musalman rulers, you give them your daughters to gratify their lust. Self-respect hath found no place in your thoughts, and you have forgotten the history of your sires. I am intensely concerned for your fallen state. Are you not ashamed to call yourselves Rajputs when the Musalmans seize your wives and daughters before your very eyes? Your temples have been demolished and mosques built on their sites; and many of your faith have been forcibly converted to Islam. If you still possess a trace of bravery and of the ancient spirit of your race, then listen to my advice, embrace the Khalsa religion, and gird up your loins to elevate the fallen condition of your country.”70

Parable of donkey
After the creation of the Khalsa, a large number of Sikhs stayed at Anandpur to get baptism and to enjoy the company of the youthful Guru who was then 32. A Sikh presented a tiger’s skin to Guru Gobind Singh. In the evening stroll the Guru saw a donkey grazing in a field. He left two Sikhs to keep a watch on the donkey’s movements. In the night the tiger’s skin was fastened on the donkey. Early next morning people raised an alarm. The whole population was terrified Nobody dared to stir out of his house. The Guru collected his Sikhs, approached the donkey and removed the tiger’s skin. The Guru then said: You should be Khalsa from within and without and should not behave like the disguised donkey. Your persecutors are outwardly like lions, but inwardly they are cowards. Face them boldly, and they will be beaten.

Significance of the creation of the Khalsa

  1. The creation of the Khalsa was an epoch-making event in the religious and political history of the country. It marked the beginning of the rise of a new people, destined to play the role of hero against all oppression and tyranny. The severities of the high caste people over their brethren, the Shudras, were set at naught as soon as one joined the ranks of the Khalsa, where all were equal and ready to render one another every help and useful service. Their only difficulty lay in destroying the organised oppression of tyrannical despotism of the Mughal Government. It was a gigantic task for the small community of the Khalsa. Under the direction of the Guru, the Khalsa took up the profession of arms and the results were most surprising. The people, lowliest of the low, who had lived for centuries under complete servility, now turned into doughty warriors, the praises of whose physique and valour were sung by the whole world including their bitterest foes. The Guru’s assertion made on this occasion was fully justified:
  2. “Chiryan kolon baz marawan,

Tan main Gobind nam kahawan.”
[Call me by the name of Gobind only if I succeed in making sparrows kill hawks.]
Its implication was that his Khalsa who were poor and unarmed and who were as docile and innocent as sparrows, would destroy the hawks meaning the Mughal Empire and the foreigners whose constant stream was running from the north-west across the Punjab to Delhi and other places.

2. The Guru declared himself equal with his five beloved ones. He considered them even superior to himself when he took baptism at their hands. It was pure and genuine democracy. It represented spirit of the Glorious Revolution in Britain which had taken place ten years earlier in 1689. It had demolished the theory of the divine rights of kingship.

3. Further, the foundation of the Khalsa implied that the people had the divine right to overthrow a tyrannical government, and establish in its place a governmer1t of their own choice. In this doctrine the Guru anticipated the Declaration of Rights by the thirteen American colonies in 1776.

4. The Guru gave the Khalsa the social ideal of equality and close brotherhood. There was to be no distinction of birth, caste, class or colour. All were equal in social status, and had the same rights and privileges. He thus enunciated ninety years earlier the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity which formed the bed-rock of the French Revolution.

1. The Quran, ix, 29, quoted by Sir Jadunath Sarkar in his A Short History of Aurangzeb (1954), p. 140.
2. Sir Jadunath Sarkar, A Short History of Aurangzeb (1954), pp. 140- 41.
3. Ibid, 147.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid, 152.
6. Ibid, 150 +0.
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid, 151.
9. Ibid, 147-48.
10. Ibid, 148.
11. Ibid, 150-51.
12. Ibid, 151.
13. Ibid, 150.
14. Ibid, 149.
15. Ibid, 150.
16. Ibid, 151.
17. Ibid.
18. Ibid, 152.
19. Ibid, 153.
20. Ibid, 154.
21. Ibid, 161.
22. Ibid, 162.
23. Ibid.
24. Ibid.
25. Ibid, 162.
26. Ibid, 163.
27. Ibid, 164.
28. Ibid, 277.
29. Ibid, 293.
30. Ibid, 294.
31. Ibid, fn.
32. Ibid, 295.
33. Ibid, 296.
34. Ibid, 300.
35. Ibid, 302. 36. Ibid, 303.
37. Rajware, xvi, document no. 35, quoted by Brij Kishore, in his Tara Bai and Her Times, p. 70.
38. A Short History of Aurangzeb (1954), p. 303.
39. Ibid.
40. Narain Singh, Guru Gobind Singh, Guru Gobind Singh Foundation, Chandigarh, 1967, p. 16.
41. Akal Ustat, Swayyas 15, 85; Pt. Narain Singh Giani, Dasam Granthi Stik, published by Buta Singh Pratap Singh, Amritsar, pp. 82-83.
42. Khulasat-ut-Twarikh 70.
43. Ibid.
44. Bachitra Natak, Section vi. Chaupais 42, 43.
45. Ibid, section vi, Chaupai 29. In the translation from Bachitra Natak,Chandi Charitra and Akal Ustat my friend and colleague Professor Nirbhai Singh has given me great help.
46. Chandi Charitra, Part I, 231.
47. Sainapat, Sri Gur Sobha, Hamam Singh, Lahore, 1925, pp. 18-19.
48. Bachitra Natak, Nanak Chand Naz, Jullundur, 1952, No. 140, p. 126.
49. Gur Rilas, quoted by Banerjee in Evolution of the Khalsa, ii, 95.
50. Macauliffe, v, 83.
51. Ibid, 286, 287, 289.
52. Bachitra Natak, Raswal Chhand.
53. Bachitra Natak, Bhujang Paryat Chhand.
54. Macauliffe, v, 92.
55. Ganda Singh, Makhiz-e-Twarikh-e-Sikhan, i, 8.
56. Macauliffe, v, 93.
57. Kalaswalia, 203.
58. W.L. M’Gregor draws a ludicrous conclusion: “The term Singh, applied by Gooroo Govind to his followers, may have had reference to the great number of lions infesting the Punjab even in his time.” History of the Sikhs, i, 23.
59. The word Wah Guru is used in Puratan Janam Sakhi on p. 23. It says Guru Nanak used it. McLeod, op. cit., 41.
60. The Guru said: “Wine is bad, bhang destroyeth one generation, but tobacco destroyeth all generations.” (Macauliffe, v, 153). Santokh Singh says that the tobacco leaf resembles the ear of a cow, and so the Guru prohibited its use. Sura} Prakash, 5571, f.n.
61. Bhai Nandlal, Rahit Namah, published by Bhais Partap Singh Sunder Singh, Amritsar, p. 2 “Gor marhi mat bhul na mane “. [Worship not even by mistake a tomb or a relic of cremation.]
62. Phokat dharam na kaurl kaman. Bhagat Lakshman Singh, Guru Gobind Singh, 1963, p.3.
63. Macauliffe, v, 110.
64. Kartar Singh, Life of Guru Gobind Singh, pp. 70-71.
65. Bhagat Lakshman Singh, Guru Gobind Singh, 1963, pp. 24-25.
66. Macauliffe, iv, 316-17; V,S, 11, 12, 23, 84, 86.
67. Bachitra Natak, Section xiii, Chaupai 10.
68. Ganda Singh, Makhiz-e-Twarikh-e-Sikhan, i, 84, Kalgidhar Chamatkar, pp. 293-95.
69. Bachitra Natak, Section xiii, Chaupai ii.
70. Macauliffe, v, 100-101; Kalgidhar Chamatkar, 217-24.




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