Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

 

4th November

 

1469 Prakash Utsav, Patshahi first, Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

==> GURU NANAK (1469-1539):
In a world rife with falsehood, sunk in superstitions and plagued by all kinds of inequities and inequalities, Guru Nanak rang in the gospel of truth, universal love and brotherhood. The Founder Guru of the Sikhs and one of the greatest and saintliest of saviours, he redeemed the soul of a moribund society that had experienced a total eclipse, if not annihilation, of all abiding human values. The condition of the contemporary society has been vividly described by the First Master in the well -known words

"This age is a knife, kings are butchers,
justice hath taken wings and fled.
In this completely dark night of falsehood
the moon of truth is never seen to rise."

Guru Nanak was born in a Bedi family at Talwandi (Nankana Sahib), near Lahore, in 1469. At an early age he learnt Sanskrit, Persian and the prevalent form of Gurmukhi. He was a precocious child with a pronounced penchant for religion. His father, Mehta Kalu, made vain efforts to woo him to a mundame mode of life. Accordingly, he was got employed in a Government store of the Nawab of Sultanpur where he served for 13 years.

It was in 1499 that the day of destiny of ecstatic communion with God came. While taking his daily bath in the rivulet Bain that flows near Sultanpur, Nanak had his illumination through a soul-stirring vision of Almighty God. It was here that the Guru delivered his great sermon in the memorable words: "There is no Hindu, there is no Musalman". The spiritual enlightenment enjoined on him a mission to the propagation of which he consecrated his entire life. He set out on his great Udasi's (Missionary journeys) to deliver God's message to sinning and suffering humanity.

He toured the whole of India and many foreign countries, preaching the gospel of true religion and rooting out ignorance and evil. The great Guru undertook five major missionary journeys in this behalf.

In the course of his first long travel, Guru Nanak visited celebrated Hindu places of pilgrimage like Kurukshetra, Banaras and Jagnnath Puri. He taught people how to distinguish Dharma from Adharma and abandon such pretentious rituals and prayers as constituted the accepted religious practice of the times. During his second journey the Guru went as far as Sangla Deep and having done his ministry returned to the Punjab.

The Master's third missionary journey is known for his discussions with reputed Kashmiri Pandits and savants and for his visits to famous haunts of the Yogis, the Sidhas and the Nathas in the Himalayas. The Guru preached truth and righteousness wherever he went.

The fourth missionary journey comprised the Master's visit to prominent Muslim shrines in Mecca, Medina and Baghdad. After his return to the Punjab, the Guru set out on his fifth and final journey. This time he confined his travel to places nearer home such as Saidpur, Pakpattan, Multan, Achal Batala, etc. Saidpur had been sacked by Babar's forces. Deeply moved by spectacle of infinite human suffering resulting from the inhuman atrocities perpetrated by the Mughal invader, the Guru chanted hymns of Sorrow.

At Achal Batala, a renowned centre of the Yogis and Sidhas, the Guru preached the unity and equality of all religions. For twenty-two years Guru Nanak propagated his faith in India and abroad. During his 18 years' stay at Kartarpur, he incarnated into splendid deeds the lofty ideals that he had been preaching all his. life. Thus, by his own inspiring example, the Guru demonstrated how Raj and Yog, the worldly and the spiritual modes of life, could be happily and fruitfully conjoined.

During his extensive missionary journeys, Guru Nanak exhorted the benighted humanity to pursue the path of divine meditation. He stressed the significance of righteous living above all other things. The Guru made men realize that there is only one God Who is peerless. He held that through Nam Simran (Meditation of God's Name) and concentration on Shabad (the word) man could muster up courage enough to uphold truth in his life.

Guru Nanak cried down all cant and blind observance of soulless customs, rites and rituals. The Guru averred that they were a meaningless meandering unconnected with the attainment of man's spiritual destiny, Thus he rightly laid accent on pious practical living which alone constitutes true religiosity.

The quintessence of Guru Nanak's philosophy is enshrined in his mul mantra. He has aptly emphasized the imperative need of truth and beauty, freedom and fraternity. According to Guru Nanak, religion implies a communion between God and man. As a corollary to this, a person who devotes himself to Nam Simran is naturally virtuous and fearless. Unsullied by ill-will or enmity, he works for the amelioration of the weak and the down-trodden. His noble actions give an impulse to his aesthetic ability. A truely religious man of the Guru's conception is opposed alike to serfdom and masterdom. His life is radiant with love and humility, sweetness and light.

Indeed, Guru Nanak wanted to unite and organize his disciples in order to give religion true solidarity. To this end, he established sangat (congregations) at numerous places and appointed their chiefs. Besides, he compiled his writings in book form which he handed over to his successor, Guru Angad Dev.

The Guru established a sangat at Kartarpur and prescribed a set of values to be cherished and practised. He also founded the great institution of langar (free community-kitchen) and spent his earnings from land on running it. Thus, he gave a living form to his doctrine of work, Nam Simran and the Temple of Bread. The Guru nominated Bhai Lehna, his most beloved and trusted disciple, for the exalted office of the Guru after him. In the Adi Granth are enshrined 974 hymns by the First Master.

-Ref. "Guru Granth Ratnavali," (pp. 38) by Dr. D.S. Mani, Sardar Bakhshish Singh, and Dr. Gurdit Singh Mahan Kosh (pp. 111)

1753 Mir Mannu died near Lahore. Immediately, after Ahmad Shah's departure from his 3rd invasion, Mir Manu recommended persecution of the Sikhs. About 30,000 Sikhs were killed under sustained pressure, yet the spirit of the Khalsa remained undaunted and could not be subdued.

Mannu and his elite guards were camped in a small village near Lahore on Mar. 8, 1753. He was on a hunting expedition with his chosen marksmen. Their presence was detected by Bhai Garja Singh, a young man who lived in the vicinity. He rode his horse as fast as he could and found some Khalsa forces in a jungle near by. He informed them that Mannu was near by and would be an easy Target. The Khalsa forces (number unknown but historians agree that it could not have been any larger that 200 Singhs) attacked the Mannu camp at night. In the darkness of the Moonless night Sikhs were able to hit hard on the Mannu forces. In the pitch of the battle, Mir Mannu tried to escape the field but his horse was hit by an arrow of a Sikh. As wounded horse jumped in pain Mir Mannu fell off and was dragged for miles through the thick brush of the jungle. He was severely wounded and died the next day. Sikhs left the battle field once they could do all the damage that could be done. Thus came a painful end to a tyrant of Punjab who was responsible for the execution of thousands of innocent Sikhs including very old and the very young. The news of his death came as a great relief for the Sikhs.

1763 Sikh forces attacked and defaetaed Ahmad Shah's Jahan Khan at Wazirabad. 1982 Akali Dal organized morcha in Delhi during the 9th Asian Games. Haryana police harassed Sikhs on their way to Delhi. No rank, status, or position mattered. All Sikhs were thoroughly harassed and made to feel foreigners in their own home.

Nov. 4-30, Sikhs were insulted during the 9th Asian Games held at Delhi. The moderate Sikh Party, the Akali Dal, had organised a morcha and announced its intention to court arrests on this occasion. The Indian Government, therefore, ordered the search and humiliation of all Sikhs travelling to Delhi. Sikh passengers were pulled out of buses and trains and were searched by the para military forces and police. Even old men, women and children were not spared. Sikh army officers in their uniforms, retired Army generals, senior civil and police officers, High Court Judges, who were per chance carrying their identity cards, were also stopped, searched, insulted and badly humiliated. Nine main barricades and check posts guarded by armed policemen and para-military forces, were established in Haryana province. All Sikhs were treated as if they were a part of an enemy's army who were going to attack India with most dangerous weapons. Sikh women were also searched by male police officials. Even when the Indian Parliament was told about this humiliation of the Sikh officers of the military, judiciary and administration, etc., but no action was taken against.

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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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