05 January 2009

Guru Gobind Singh - The Spiritual Warrior

This came in today from D. S. Gill, the Chairman of IHRO. With all the trouble in the world these days, it is good to stop now and then, especially on Gurpurab, and remember. And learn.

This time, it was different. I wanted to know the spiritual aspect of the Guru, the Tenth Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh on his 342nd birth anniversary that was celebrated on Monday, January 5, 2009. I started searching Google and found abundant literature to feel the theme.

As Guru Gobind Singh is the last of the ten Gurus, the one who transformed the Sikh faith, I was curious to know his spiritual contribution to the Khalsa Panth. In 1699, he created the Khalsa, a community of the faithfuls who wore visible symbols of their faith and trained as warriors so that people would no longer be easy victims of those in power, whether Hindu or Muslim. A select group of Sikhs who undergo an initiation becomes Akal Purakh ki Fauz (army) and the Khalsa Fauz must dedicate themselves to the defense of the oppressed at all times.

In 1708, the Tenth Master of the Sikhs named the Guru Granth Sahib his successor. Shortly before his death in October 1708 at Nanded, now Hazoor Sahib, he gave corporal Guruship to the Khalsa Panth.

"The Eternal Father willed and I raised the Panth. All my Sikhs are hereby ordered to accept the Guru Granth Sahib as their Preceptor. Have faith in the holy Granth, as your master and consider it the visible manifestation of the Gurus. He who hath a pure heart will seek guidance from its holy words." These are the words uttered by Guru Sri Gobind Singh, before he left for his heavenly abode, on October 7, 1708 at Nanded in Maharashtra.

Whenever there is degradation in moral and human values in the world, God sends His messengers to give proper guidance. Bhai Gurdas (the second) expresses, "Guru Gobind Singh (the Tenth Nanak), molded in the image of God, appeared in the world, as warrior." Bhagat Kabir too says in Maru, "Truly brave is he who fights for Dharma (righteousness)."

Guru Nanak says, 'The Lord hath called to His service a bard of no consequence' (Guru Nanak in Manjh). And Guru Gobind Singh says, "I (God) bless thee (guru) to be my son and I commission thee to propagate the Way.' Thus the first Nanak started the Way and the tenth Nanak propagated the same. 'His light and the way of his life were basically the same as those of his Master (Guru Nanak). He was the Master's reincarnation in spirit as the other Sikh Gurus were' (Var of Satta Balwand in Ramkali).

Thus, after ten gurus, we have the Interfaith Guru- Sri Guru Granth Sahib, that was bestowed to us by Guru Gobind Singh. And the Guru preaches: Ek Pita Ekas ke hum barik (Guru Arjan Dev in Sorath) - We all have a common Father (God) and, on that basis, we are all His children (brothers). The Interfaith Guru gives us the concept of world brother-hood. The enlightening and revolutionary word by the first Nanak- Na ko Hindu, Na Muslman (there was neither a Hindu nor a Muslim) should also be seen, in this context.

It is an admitted fact that, because of this, the Muslims at large, in this part of the world, regarded Guru Nanak as one of them. Hence, this popular verse describing him as a Guru for the Hindus and a Pir for the Muslims. It is also because of the fact that the interfaith Guru- Sri Guru Granth Sahib, consists of seven saints from Muslims and fifteen from Hindus, and it preaches universal humanism and spiritualism.

Besides Guru's spiritual aspect, the temporal horizon of the Guru– 'When all other means of resistance against tyranny and oppres­sion have failed, it is legitimate, as a last resort, to turn to the sword' (Guru Gobind Singh in his Zafarnama (1704) is too of the world consequence and importance.

That is why; the United Nations had to declare in the Preamble of its Universal Declaration on Human Rights, December 10, 1948, 'Whereas it is essential, if a human being is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by rule of law.'

And that is why, the Sikhs believe in the Sikh concept of Miri-Piri (spiritual-cum-temporal) or Saint-Soldier inspiration of the Khalsa Panth.

- D S Gill

Chair IHRO