Guru Gobind Singh: An Upholder of Justice and Human Values!
Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth and last Sikh Guru, was the most fascinating and remarkably dazzling personality ever known in our history. A rare combination of character, compassion, determination, self-discipline, equality and heroism, his sense of commitment to human rights and justice was quite strong from his early days. When he was a child, he stood up by the Kashmiri Pandits, who were living in constant fear as Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb wanted them to convert to Islam. An ace strategist, visionary and excellent administrator, Guru Gobind Singh was a true leader of masses.
As a versatile warrior, he had ultimate mastery in handling various kinds of weapons and had tremendous abilities to move the people for the cause of righteousness. If Guru Nanak Dev ji was almost Gandhian in his approach to human life, Guru Gobind Singh Ji was of the view that human rights must be protected from oppressors even if one has to take up arms — “When all peaceful means have been tried and failed, it is righteous and just to pick up the sword!” His thoughts were aligned to the prevalent realities marked by tyrannies of the Mughal regime, caste-based divisions and disparities among Hindus and the rulers having little or no respect for human values and rights.
It was, in fact, a vicious circle of atrocities, hopelessness and uncertainties when Guru Gobind Singh was born in 1666 in Patna Sahib in Bihar. He came to be known as Guru Gobind Singh with the formation of the Khalsa in 1699, a historical moment not only in the Sikh history but that of the entire humanity. The principal focus of Khalsa was to fight against injustice, protect human and people’s religion. It was very much inspired by the Gita where Lord Krishna tells Arjuna in the battlefield of Mahabharata: “Whenever there is a decline in righteousness and an increase in sinfulness, O Arjun, at that time I manifest myself on Earth.”
Guru Gobind Singh raised his army from among oppressed caste groups who were not permitted to keep weapons or even worship by Hindu priests and rulers. All those in the Khalsa were directed to use Singh, which means lion, as a common last name and shun using caste specific surnames. The 20,000 strong Khalsa was an inclusive force in all respects, a rare milestone in world military history. It was perhaps the first of its kind military formation in which people were enrolled irrespective of their caste, religion and beliefs.
The post Khalsa period was fraught with a multitude of challenges for Guru Gobind Singh Ji. He fought several wars, which have very few parallels – Battle of Anandpur Sahib, Battle of Nirmoh, Battle of Satluj, Battle of Basauli, second Battle of Anandpur Sahib, Battle of Shahi Tibbi, Battle of Sirsa, Battle of Chamkaur Sahib and Battle of Khidrana. Each of these battles proves the multifacetedness of Guru Gobind Singh’s sublime personality.
Earlier, Guru Ji fought against the army of 15 kings in which he got support from all sections of society. The Battle of Bhangani with Phadi Kings in September 1688 saw 22-year old Guru Gobind Singh commanding the army bubbling with self-confidence and enthusiasm. Every war he fought left him more confident, strengthened and determined to alleviate people’s miseries.
His appeal among people went beyond all man-made barriers! Such was the aura of his divine personality that Guru Gobind Singh had disciples from the families of his enemy. For example, the mother of Bhim Chand, Rani Champadevi, was his disciple. She advised her son against fighting with Guru Gobind Singh, saying that he is a great Guru, and don’t fight with him but call him to our house.
Similarly, when General Sayyid Khan was moving towards Anandpur to have a war with Guru Gobind Singh, his sister Nasreena tried to persuade him not to fight against him. Her husband and sons were already in the army of Guru Gobind Singh. In the war, Sayyid did not have courage to fight with Guru Gobind Singh. Khan was scared from within after seeing the valour of his soldiers, who had eliminated many Mughal soldiers. Khan was left awestruck when he saw the illuminating personality of Guru Gobind Singh on his iconic blue horse. Impressed by his divine persona, Khan did not fight with him. Guru Gobind Singh too forgave him. Transformed, Khan left the battlefield and went to the hills to live in seclusion. Such was the impact of Guru Gobind Singh’s personality even on his enemies.
The vision behind the ‘Panj Pyare or Five Beloved Ones’ of Guru Gobind Singh was to establish the supremacy of those who were pure and liberated ones in sync with the spirit of Khalsa. He said: “The Khalsa is me and I the Khalsa both in flesh and spirit with no difference.” He then ordained them to follow five principles of five Ks – Kesh – the unshorn hair; Kanga – a comb to clean the hair; Kachha – underwear to indicate virtuous character; Kara – an iron bracelet, symbol of dedication; and Kirpan – a sword symbolizing dignity, power, and unconquerable spirit.
In fact, Guru Gobind Singh Ji was very particular about the importance of character in one’s life. He knew well that without a strong and pure character one cannot withstand either adversity nor can fight against atrocities. His two sons – Shahibjadas – Baba Ajit Singh and Baba Jujhar Singh – embraced martyrdom while fighting the enemy. Two Shahibjadas – Baba Fateh Singh and Baba Zorawar Singh – were bricked alive and later killed at the behest of Wazir Khan. When mothers asked about their sons, Guru Gobind Singh Ji said that having performed the work of the ‘Akal Purkh,’ they have now returned home to Him. Therefore, accept God’s will as the best of all things. Instead of your children, I present you with all my Sikhs as brave and worthy sons.”
Guru Gobind Singh Ji was the greatest among the great. Swami Vivekananda, a great philosopher and monk, was all praise for his ‘self-sacrifice, austerity, self-discipline and his heroism.’ “Both Hindus and Muslims of the time were living under the regime of intense oppression and injustice. Guru Gobind Singh Ji not only created a common interest but also gave them the courage to realize it. So, Hindus and Muslims alike followed him. The great Guru after shedding his blood, and that of his dearest and nearest, for the cause of religion, for the sake of the down-trodden, the victimized, even when deserted by those for whom this blood was shed, retired into the South, without a word of complaint against his country or his men, without a single word of murmur,” remarked Swami ji while strolling with his disciples in Calcutta in 1882.
Today when we are celebrating 75 years of Independence in the form of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, we need to take lessons and inspirations from the great souls like Guru Gobind Singh ji who led a pure life and sacrificed everything for the sake of humanity and mother land. As he fought decisively against fissiparous forces, we need to keep them under check in new India while making best of efforts to realize the goal of Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat! We can speak in different languages, follow different faiths and religions but we must follow the principle of ‘Nation First.’ The life and sacrifices of Guru Gobind Singh Ji teach us to be ever prepared to safeguard what is just for humanity. No service is better than the service to humanity and Mother Land!
(The views strictly personal of the author)