Thursday, September 29, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

 

30th May

 

1606 Martydom, Patshahi Fifth, Guru Arjan Dev Ji in Lahore. Guru Arjan Dev Ji is tortured to death in Lahore.

Fifth Patshah, Guru Arjun Dev Ji, with wounds blistering on his body, hands and feet, was thrown into river Ravi near Lahore, wherein he disappeared. Guru Arjan's martyrdom is the first of its kind in the history of the region. It caused great resentment and indignation among the general body of Hindus and Muslims, apart from the Sikhs. At the young age of 43, he was the first martyr of Sikh history. He was tortured to death by the orders of Emperor Jehagir and at the hands of Chandhu Shah, a diwan (minister) in the finance ministry of Delhi. Guru worked tirelessly for 25 years to transform the young Sikh movement into a national religion, later to become a world religion. In this period a large number of devotees became Sikhs. But this period also witnessed a significant increase in the number of people who became enemies of the Guru and the Sikh movement. These people could not tolerate the success of the mission of the Guru. They became jealous of him. The death of the Guru was a result of a conspiracy of five common enemies. they included:

PRITHI CHAND and his son MEHRBAN: Prithi Chand was the elder brother of the guru and Mehrban was his nephew. They wanted to get the Guru Killed so that Prithi Chand could take over the Guruship.

CHANDU SHAH: became Guru's enemy when Guru refused to accept his offer to marry his daughter to Guru's son, Hargobind.

SULAHI KHAN: a Mughal officer of Batala who was against conversion of Muslims to Sikhism. He wanted to eliminate the Guru to halt such conversions.

SHEIKH AHMED FARUQUI SIRHINDI: a leader of a Muslim sect who had declared Guru Arjan as a "kafir" (infidel) and wanted his death. He was a revivalist of Islam.

EMPEROR JEHANGIR: After the death of Emperor Akbar, a war of succession was fought between Prince Salim (later known as Jehangir) and his young son Khusrau. Prince Salim became the emperor and Khusrau was first blinded and then put to death. Before his death, Khusrau escaped and took shelter with the Guru and also took some financial help from him to procure food and shelter for survival. Jehangir, declared this act of the Guru as treason. He had already been briefed by Prithi Chand, Mehrban, Sulahi Khan, Chandu Shah and Sheikh Ahmed Faruqui regrading Guru's missionary work which they called as anti-muslim. Jehangir was looking for an excuse to punish the Guru. This act of the Guru gave him ammunition to eliminate him.

-Ref. "The Sikh Religion and The Sikh People," by Dr. S.S. Kapor, Hemkunt Press, New Delhi, 1992.

==> GURU ARJAN DEV (1563-1606) Guru Arjan, the 'Prince of Martyrs' and the 'Prophet of Peace', proffered his precious life to nurture the glory that was to be the Sikh Panth. The Fifth Master's life was marked by divine bliss and sublime sacrifices, born of a sweet acceptance of God's Will. Gifted with a quintessential poetic afflatus, and immeasurable imaginative sympathies, the Guru gave the movement of Sikhism a definite direction, perspective and program. He made the new faith coeval or coextensive with the whole gamut of existence and raised its exquisite edifice on values for which there is neither death nor change.

Guru Arjan Dev adorned the sacred throne of Guru Nanak from Sept. 1, 1581 to May 30, 1606. Born at Goindwal on April 15, 1563, he was the youngest and noblest son of Guru Ram Das and Mata Bibi Bhani. On 23 Hadh sunmat 1636, he married Ganga Devi, daughter of Krishan Chand of Mau village. He had an innate poetic sensibility which was exquisitely displayed in the epistles that he sent to his father from Lahore. They are deeply expressive of the pangs of separation and the exuberance of Love. The Fourth Master's decision to make Guru Arjan his spiritual heir was bitterly opposed by Prithvi Chand who contended that being the eldest son, he alone was entitled to the Guruship. Thus, he could never reconcile himself to his younger brother's installation as Guru.

Under Guru Arjan Dev the Sikh movement registered great progress. In sunmat 1645, he cemented the Santokhsar sarovar. Further, the Guru not only completed the construction of the Sarovars started at 'Guru Ka Chak' by his predecessor but also constructed two more Sarovars. He had the Harmandar built in the middle of Amritsar Sarovar and invited a celebrated Muslim divine, Mian Mir, to lay its foundation stone in sunmat 1645. Remarkable for its architectural and aesthetic beauty and unique in its conception, the temple with its four doors symbolizes the inborn equality of all mankind.

Indeed, it is open to all the four castes without any discrimination. Thus, the Guru sought a dissolution of all castes and creed distinctions. Unlike the Hindu shrines that are built on a high plinth, the Harmandar (the Temple of God) was built on a level lower than that of the surrounding areas, thereby making it imperative for the devotees to go down the steps in a spirit of true humility. In addition, the towns of Tarn Taran and Kartarpur flourished under the Guru's tutelage. He had a magnificent tank built at Tarn Taran (pool of salvation) in sunmat 1647 and a Bavalli constructed at Lahore. in sunmat 1651, he established the town of Kartarpur Nagar (Dist. Jullander) and Ramsar in sunmat 1659-60.

Guru Arjan undertook a tour of the Punjab to preach Sikhism. He rationalized the institution of the masands and ordained that every Sikh should voluntarily donate a tenth of his income raised by the sweat of his brow for religious purposes. The masands collected the offerings thus made and deposited them in the Guru's treasury. Again, when the Punjab was in the grip of drought and famine, Guru Arjan persuaded the Emperor Akbar to remit the land revenue for that year.

The most epochal achievement, however, of Guru Arjan was the compilation of the Adi Granth. The Guru devoted three years from 1601 to 1604 to the completion of the sublime project. He studied thoroughly the entire treasure of Gurbani, collected the hymns and psalms of the previous Gurus, and screened the utterances of the bhakts collected by the previous Gurus. He not only put the entire Bani together but also compiled it systematically under different ragas. Guru Arjan's genius for compilation is eminently projected by the vars included in the Adi Granth. He has added shlokas to the Bani of all the earlier Gurus in order to elucidate the deeper meanings. To compile the outpourings of his predecessors and the, Bhakts under various ragas (musical measures) obviously demanded an unflattering grasp of the musical measures. Besides being a notable compiler, Guru Arjan was also a gifted poet. More than half of the holy Granth consists of his own utterances. They comprise 2218 verses. Thus his work exceeds that of the other 35 inspired poets whose compositions are enshrined in the Guru Granth.

The essential message of Guru Arjan's hymns is meditation on Nam. The Guru has lucidly expatiated on the concept of brahmgiani (the enlightened soul). According to him, this enlightenment can be attained only through meditation on the Lord and the Guru's grace. In depicting the attributes of the brahmgiani, he has compared him to a lotus flower which immersed in mud and water is yet pure and beautiful. Without ill-will or enmity he is forever courageous and calm.

Guru Arjan set a fine personal example by living up to his own concept of a brahmgiani. All his holy compositions are characterized by humility and tenderness. He seeks the grace of God for the fulfillment of all kinds of human needs. With the compilation of the first volume of the Adi Granth, the Sikh religion registered greater unity and identity. The Sikhs now owned a unique Book or Granth of their own, and thus acquired a distinct and separate entity. Guru Arjan installed the holy Granth at the Harmandar and appointed Baba Budha Ji as the first Granthi of Harmandar Sahib. Thus, Amritsar became the most significant centre of the Sikh faith and the Sikhs emerged as a new and powerful community.

During the period between Guru Nanak and Guru Arjan, there was no conflict between the Sikhs and the Mughal Kings. Emperor Akbar was in particular a man of liberal views and he respected the ideals of the Sikh movement. But, with his death and the following enthronement of Jehangir, there was a total reversal of policy and change of attitude.

Jehangir's own writings reveal that he considered the spread of Sikhism as a positive threat to Islam. In a moment of fanatic frenzy, he characterized Sikhism as a 'shop of falsehood' and declared that he would extirpate it at the earliest opportunity. Thus he set about with a fanatical zeal to carry out his threat: and he trumped up the charge of treason against the Guru. With the complicity of the officials, Jehangir had the Guru soon imprisoned and tortured to death at Lahore in 1606. The martyrdom of Guru Arjan engendered a wave of shock and indignation among the Sikhs. No single event till then had so profoundly brought home to them the necessity of the sword. It is therefore not surprising that under the Sixth Master, Guru Hargobind they were militarized and prepared to face the Mugal might squarely. Thus emerged a new epoch in the history of Sikhism which led to a synthesis between Bhakti and Shakti (wordly power). Guru Arjan was the first Sikh Guru, who by his martyrdom lent to Sikhism a strength and solidarity that it had never known before. As desired by the Fifth Master, Guru Hargobind was ordained Guru in 1606, and, he guided and shaped the destiny of the Sikh community until 1645.

-Ref. Mahan Kosh (pp. 80) Dr. D.S. Mani, Sardar Bakhshish Singh, and Dr. Gurdit Singh Guru Granth Ratnavali, page 90

1710 Bahadur Shah called for volunteers for Jehad against the Sikhs.

Bahadhur Shah was appraised of the news of Banad Singh's exploits. Taking this into view the poignancy of the situation, he made up with the Rajputs and called for volunteers for "Jehad", holy war, against the Sikhs. He ordered the mobilisation of all available forces, rallied Bundhela Rajputs against the Sikhs and himself personally proceeded in person to the Punjab.

1813 Raja Karam Singh Patiala ascended the throne of Patiala State.

==> PATIALA FAMILY traces its descent to Maharaja Gaj, founder of the town Gazni (now in Afghanistan) in the first quarter of the 16th century. His descendents, Maharawal Jaisal, founded the State of Jaisalmer and his grand son, Rao Hans Raj, is considered the ancestor of Patiala family. However, Tawarikh Guru Khalsa written by Giani Gian Singh, traces the Patiala family descent to Chaudhri Phul, a Sidhu Jat in "Malwa country" and the Chaudhri belonged to the 23rd generation of the family of Bhatti Rajputs. When Bhim Mal came to Punjab in 1237 he helped Shahabuddin Gauri, in his attack on Delhi and in lieu of that, he was given the area comprising of Hissar, Sirsa, etc. In 1251, he built a fort in Hissar town. After his death, his son Jawand Rao succeeded and had 21 sons. According to Giani Gian Singh, Chaudhri Phul, son of Chaudhri Rup Chand, belonged to the family tree belonging to the descendents of Jawand Rao. When Guru Har Rai Patshah visited Malwa in 1702 B.K., Chaudhri Kala, brother of Chaudhri Rup Chand, brought his two nephews, Phul and Sandali to the Guru. On instructions of their uncle, who was acting as their guardian, both Phul and Sandali started beating their bellies and when Guru Sahib asked the reason, Chaudhri Kala explained that his nephews wanted to sariate their hunger. At that time, Guru Sahib blessed and ordained that the Phul family would reign for a considerable period of time and that it would feed lakhs of people. Chaudhri Phul died in 1745 B.K. and was succeeded by his two sons, Talok Chand and Ram Chand, who were introduced to amrit by Guru Gobind Singh in 1761 and were subsequently named Talok Singh and Ram Singh. Because of their great services to Guru Sahib, the two brothers were blessed and the Guru ordained "My house is your house and I am much pleased with you". Maharaj Ram Singh, who effectively controlled the areas surrounding Patiala, was murdered in 1771 B.K. (1741) at the hands of Chain Singh, Uggar Sain and Biru. He was succeeded by six sons, Baba Ala Singh proved to be the most dominating and promising. He was introduced to amrit by Nawab Kapur Singh.

The Patiala family attained prominence during Baba Ala Singh reign, who founded the State of Patiala by defeating the neighboring chieftains. Emperor Shah Jahan conferred the title "Raja" on Baba Ala Singh.

Unfortunately, the Patiala family often acted against interest of the Sikhs. They were often concerned with propagating their own family business interests firs and foremost. Among the damage they did to the Panth was the reinforcement of the Brahminincal tradition of Nirmalae Sikhs and in total disrespect to GurSikh women many Patialites kept countless Ranis, performed anti Sikhi parades, etc. When Gadarites were orgainzing in US and Baba Khadak Singh was pursuing Keys Morcha and Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh was organinsing Rakab Ganj protest, Patialites were busy bootlicking British reprentatives. They offered many naive young rural Sikhs for deployment in Greece, North Africa and Europe, who eventually sacrificed their lives for a war they had absolutely nothing to do with. The Sikhs continously failed to recognize Patialites and remained loyal to them, even during partition talks (when Patiala family's daughter was to be wed with Dr. Ambedkar's nephew and 100 million of Dalits who were going to embrace Sikhism were thrown out by a series of calculated malicious events).

For these reasons and many more, PATIALA FAMILY were never considered a part of the Khalsa Misls and remained as fringe elements to GurSikh society.

-Ref. The Illustrated History of the Sikhs (1947-78), by Gur Rattan Pal Singh.

1924 7th and 8th Jathas, each of 500 Akalis courted arrest after reaching Jaito.

==> WHERE IS JAITO? A village under Nabha, which falls on the Bathinda-Ferozpur railway line. It is 96 miles from Lahore and 17 miles from Bathinda.

WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF JAITO? On this place situated near a fort, is a historical Gurudwara of Guru Gobind Singh Patshah. Maharaja Hira Singh constructed the beautiful buildings of this Gurudwara. The sarowar is popularly known as "Gangsar". About a mile and a half north of Jaito is "Tibhi Sahib" Gurudwara, where Guru Gobind Singh Patshah used to organize and participate in the evening recitation of Rehras. Both Gurudwaras have extensive land sanctioned to it by the Nabha rulers. Additionally, extensive financial resources are made available on an annual basis from the Nabha rulers and the surrounding villages. A maela celebration is held every 7th of Pooh month (Dec.-Jan.) and Katak (Oct.-Nov.) Puranmashi. Jaito's markets are well renowned. People come from far distances to buy and sell their herds.

WHY AKALIS COURTED ARREST? The key issue involved was resoration of Maharaja Ripudaman Singh of Nabha. Maharaja of Nabha, well-known for his pro-Tat Khalsa Proclivities, had a dispute with Maharaja of Patiala, known for this pro-government role. Although Maharaja of Nabha had absolutely no dispute with the government, as a result of mediation, he was forced to abdicate in July 1923. Col. Michin, with the help of troops and armoured cars, took the Maharaja by surprise on July 8, 1923 and taunted him with the query, "Where is that Akali?" The news of deposition by the government raised a strom of protest against the Government's interefernce in Nabha and was decsribed as a challenge to the Akali movement. As a result tensions mounted. The Akalis, in defiance of state orders, continued to hold diwan indefinitely. The Nabha police in order to arrest all the Akalis, including the one reading the holy Granth Sahib, was said to have disrupted the Akhand Path on Sept. 14, 1923. This dispute took such a tragic shape and got so inflames by Feb. 21, 1924 that several people lost their lives. After sixteen shaheedi jathas apart from one from Bengal and another from Canada, the agitation process was completed two years later, on August 6, 1925, after the concurrent bhog of 101 Akand Paaths.

-Ref. Mahan Kosh "The Sikhs in History," by Sangat Singh, 1995

 

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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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