Q13. How has martyrdom helped Sikhism?
No nation, sect or community can survive and prosper unless it has a band of persons who are prepared to die, to uphold its faith, integrity, unity, its tradition and way of life. That is what the history of the world demonstrates clearly.
The essential condition for entry into the Sikh fold is self- surrender and devotion to the Guru and God. Readiness for the supreme sacrifice, or of offering one's head on the palm of one's hand to the Guru is an essential condition laid down by the Gurus for becoming a Khalsa Sikh. Seeking death, not for personal glory, winning reward or going to heaven, but for the purpose of protecting the weak and the oppressed is what made the Khalsa brave and invincible. This has become a traditional reputation of the Khalsa. Right from the times of the Gurus till the last Indi-Pakistan conflict (1971), the Sikhs have demonstrated that death in the service of truth, justice and country, is part of their character and their glorious tradition. They do not seek martydom, they attain it. Dying is the privilege of heroes. It should, however, be for an approved or noble cause. Sikh history furnishes outstanding examples of Guru Arjan, Guru Teg Bahadur, sons of Guru Gobind Singh and countless other Sikh men and women, who laid down their lives to uphold the cause of the religious freedom and the uproot of tyranny.
Undoubtedly, in a world of evil and sin, men of God must be prepared to suffer for the cause of righteousness and truth. According to Guru Gobind Singh, the true hero is one who fights to uphold "The Truth". He then does not run away from the battlefield.
Martyrs face the gallows with a smile. The greatest tortures hold no terror for them. They look at the executioner with equanimity because they believe in the justness of their cause. A true martyr regards himself as God's instrument. Sri Guru Teg Bahadur's martydom was unique. He sacrificed himself not to save any of his own followers but to save Hindu Dharm. Sikh History is replete with the glorious deeds and the heroic sacrifices of the Sikhs who suffered for upholding decency, truth, justice and moral values.