Thursday, November 23, 2017
Gateway to Sikhism

Sikh religion is unique to have teachings and examples on extremes of human conduct, that of piety and forbearance preached by Guru Nanak and the call to arms of Guru Gobind Singh The Sikn Gurus in between also occupy special positions for their contributions to the Sikh religion, their acts of resistance and martyrdom in the face of oppression from the Mughals and the process of moulding the Sikh identity. Initially when Guru Nanak founded the religion the identity of Sikhs was not too conspicuous as Sikhism welcomed people of all religions, castes and classes. Only over the years, under the later Gurus, Sikh identity crystallized, culminating with the forming of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in April 1699. In the painted images, therefore, the largest numbers are those of the founder Guru Nanak and of Guru Gobind Singh. Individual portraits of other Gurus are also there as well as those on specific themes like the compilation of the Guru Granth Sahib, the establishment of the Golden Temple, depiction of sacrifices and acts of martyrdom by the Gurus. Guru Nanak is invariably shown with his companions Bala and Mardana in lively scenes from the janamsakhi series, and sometimes even with Guru Gobind Singh, apart from other paintings depicting all the ten Gurus together. The paintings of the Sikh Gurus were never contemporary to their lives and were on the basis of historical facts and legends. Guru Gobind Singh was the ideal of the Sikh painters and has been lovingly depicted in the various series. He was a warrior saint and his entire family was martyred, including his four sons. He was also a man of letters and among other treatises wrote the Dasam Granth. These qualities and his turbulent life and struggle made him the most important icon for the painters. In the paintings Guru Gobind Singh is always shown as a gentle warrior, baptizing the Sikhs or with his 'beloved five', the panj pyare. His courage as well as literary skills come out very clearly in his famous Zafarnama to the evil emperor Aurangzeb.



The ten Gurus, with Bala & Mardana and Baba Budha

In court painting there appeared to be two distinct groups of paintings - those done in the Lahore court during (and just after) Maharaja Ranjit Singh's time and others painted in the remaining Sikh States. The subjects of Ranjit Singh, his family and courtiers dominated those of the Lahore court, while in the other Sikh States their rulers were the main subjects. The linking of painters with the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh occurred with his conquest of the hill states, where the art of miniature painting had reached its zenith under Maharaja Sansar Chand. In 1809 Sansar Chand was attacked by the Gurkhas and he asked for Maharaja Ranjit Singh's assistance, who liberated him from them but made him his tributary. It was fortunate that the Governor he appointed at Kangra was the genial Sardar Desa Singh Majithia who built up a good rapport with the local population and facilitated the crossing over of painters from the courts of the hill Rajas to that of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. In any case, around that time, with the loss of independence of their hill Rajas the painters too would have been looking for greener pastures. Describing the Governor, Barnes writes, Sirdar Lehna Singh enjoyed a good reputation in the hills; he was a mild and lenient Governor, his periodical visits were not made the pretense for oppressing and plundering the people; he maintained a friendly and generous intercourse with the deposed Hill Chiefs and contributed, by his conciliatory manners, to alleviate their fallen position. At the same time, he is held in favourable recollection by the peasantry. His assessments were moderate for a native system and, although he did not possess that force of character to keep his agents under proper control, yet he never oppressed himself, nor willingly countenanced oppression in others. He was also, according to Griffin, known as Hasmuddaula, the Sword of the State and was a man of considerable ability. He was a skillful mechanist and an original inventor. He much improved the Sikh ordnance. Among other things, he invented a clock, which showed the hour, the day of the month and the changes of the moon. He was fond of astronomy and mathematics, and was master of several languages. As an administrator, he was very popular. He never oppressed the poor, his assessments were moderate and his decisions essentially just. As a statesman, he may be said to have been almost the only honest man in Lahore.

Sardar Desa Singh Majithia
Desa Singh Majithia enjoying with a Guler lady.
After Kangra in 1809, Guler was subjugated in 1813, followed by Jasrots and Jammu. The links of the Sikhs with the hill people continued to become stronger and Sardar Desa Singh Majithis also married a hill woman. In 1828, Maharaja Ranjit Singh did not appreciate Anirudh Chand refusing Dhian Singh's proposal of the marriage of his son Hira Singh with Anirudh Chand's Sister, especially since Hira Singh was his great favourite. He himself led a force to Kangra in 1828 but by the time he reached there Anirudh Chand had fled for Hardwar where he founded the kingdom of Tehri Garhwal, and Kangra came totally under the Sikhs without firing a single shot. There is not much evidence of his court painters following Anirudh Chand and he took with him his best folios, including the famous Gita Govinds series. Hira Singh ultimately married the daughter of Fateb Chand, uncle of Anirudh Chand. In the process Maharaja Ranjit Singh also married two daughters of Sansar Chand and Nokhu, his Gaddan Rani .

Raja Hira Singh son of Dhian Singh- a favourite of Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Raja Dhian Singh will strive to be most comprehensive directory of Historical Gurudwaras and Non Historical Gurudwaras around the world.

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. brings to you a unique and comprehensive approach to explore and experience the word of God. It has the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Amrit Kirtan Gutka, Bhai Gurdaas Vaaran, Sri Dasam Granth Sahib and Kabit Bhai Gurdas . You can explore these scriptures page by page, by chapter index or search for a keyword. The Reference section includes Mahankosh, Guru Granth Kosh,and exegesis like Faridkot Teeka, Guru Granth Darpan and lot more.
Encyclopedias encapsulate accurate information in a given area of knowledge and have indispensable in an age which the volume and rapidity of social change are making inaccessible much that outside one's immediate domain of concentration.At the time when Sikhism is attracting world wide notice, an online reference work embracing all essential facets of this vibrant faithis a singular contribution to the world of knowledge.