Today in Sikh History :19th April
|####||Prakash Utsav, Fifth Patshah, Guru Arjan Dev Ji.
==> 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)
|1621||Patshahi Ninth, Sri Guru Teg Bahadhur Sahib, enlightened this planet with his birth.
==> GURU TEGH BAHADUR (1621-1675): RAG SORATH
In the galaxy of immortal martyrs who laid down their precious lives to keep ablaze the flame of faith and freedom, the name of the Ninth Master, Guru Tegh Bahadur stands out radiantly prominent. Doubtless, there have been prophets who sacrificed themselves at the altar of their own religion, but the uniqueness of the Ninth Master’s martyrdom lies in the fact that he courted death in defending the religion of the persecuted Hindus who had sought his shelter when they were forced to choose between death and Islam. Guru Tegh Bahadur, the second martyr Guru, who was born at Amritsar in 1621, was the youngest son of Guru Hargobind Sahib, the Sixth Master (1595-1645). Guru Har Rai, the Seventh Master (1630-61), and Guru Hari Krishna, the Eight Master (1656-1964): however, preceded him as Gurus. He adorned the sacred throne of Guru Nanak from 1664 to 1675. His installation as Guru enraged Dhirmal and the masands, who were the most contentious claimants to the Guruship.
Guru Tegh Bahadur toured the Punjab, particularly the Malwa region, and Eastern India, to preach Sikhism. He also went to Assam with Raja Ram Singh and stayed with him for nearly two years. The Guru’s family accompanied him on this trip, but, while proceeding to Assam, he left his familly at Patna. It was here that his only son Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708) was born. While leaving Assam for the Punjab, Guru Tegh Bahadur broke his journey at Patna for a short time and then returned to the Punjab. He purchased land from the Raja of Kahloor at Makhowal (Anandpur) and settled down there. From here he set out on extensive missionary tours and attracted amongst others, several Muslims to his faith.
The main theme of Guru Tegh Bahadur’s sacred hymns is Nam Simran (concentration on the Divine Name) and Guru Bhakti (adoration of the Guru). One hundred and fifteen hymns of Guru Tegh Bahadur are incorporated in the Adi Granth.
He has clearly set forth his own definition of Giani (or the enlightened one). In these compositions he has laid special stress on vairag or detachment for the realisation of the lofty ideals that distinguish the life of a BrahmGiani.
During Guru Tegh Bahadur’s ministry, Emperor Aurangzeb intensified his fanatical plans for forcibly converting the Hindus to Islam. This move had serious repercussions in Kashmir, and, the learned Pandits of Kashmir came to Guru Tegh Bahadur to seek refuge. The Guru advised them to go and tell Aurangzeb that if he could persuade Guru Tegh Bahadur to embrace Islam, they would all willingly become Muslims. This proposal appealed to Aurangzeb, who had already hatched plans to bring to an end Guru Tegh Bahadur’s missionary activities, so, he at once issued orders for his arrest.
The Guru, along with some of his companions was finally brought to Delhi and asked to convert to Islam or else face the penalty of death. The Master averred that he would sacrifice his life rather than give up his faith and his freedom of belief. Thus, under Aurangzeb’s orders, he was beheaded at the place now called Sis Ganj in Delhi. His martyrdom was yet another challenge to the Sikh conscience. It was realized then that there could be no understanding between an insensate power imbrued with blood and a proud people wedded to a life of peace with honour. The sacrifice roused the devitalized Hindus from their supine somnolence and gave them a hint of the power that comes from self-respect and sacrifice. Guru Tegh Bahadur thus earned the enduring sobriquet title of Hind-di-Chadar or the Shield of India.
-Ref. "Guru Granth Ratnavali," (pp. 70) by Dr. D.S. Mani, Sardar Bakhshish Singh, and Dr. Gurdit Singh.
|1661||Ninth Patshah, Guru Tegh Bahadhur visited Arayag.|
|1717||Bhai mani Singh assumed control of Amritsar and wrote a letter to Matta Sundar Kaur and Matta Sahib Kaur describing the painful tales at the hands of the barbarians. As a result Bandiai Khalsa was removed.
-Ref. Amritsar Ji Dae Darshan Eshnan Utay 500 Sala Di Ethasak Directory, Satnam Singh Khalsa Advocate, pp. 74.
|1758||Sikhs gather in huge numbers for Baisakhi in Amritsar and performed cleaninsing and kar-sewa. Maratha Sardar Ragunath Rao and Malhaar Rao donated Rs. 25,000. They were honored on Panth’s behalf.
-Ref. Amritsar Ji Dae Darshan Eshnan Utay 500 Sala Di Ethasak Directory, Satnam Singh Khalsa Advocate, pp 82
|1850||Bhai Maharaj Singh, Maharaja Kharak Singh, and Mool Raj, hero of 2nd Anglo-Sikh War and governor of Multan, arrive at Calcutta.|
|1854||Maharaja Dalip Singh, the last ruler of Punjab, was sent to England.
==> Maharaja DALIP SINGH, the youngest son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who was born in Lahore, on Feb. 1837, to mother Maharani Jind Kaur. His date of birth is disputed by some and alternately suggested as Sept. 4, 1838. Many foreign journalists have wrongly named him as Dhalip Singh and Duleep Singh. However, it should be noted that his correct name is Maharaja Dalip Singh. He assumed the Punjab throne as a child, after Maharaja Sher Singh, on Sept. 18, 1843. During his reign several wars were fought with the British. Unfortunately, he was surrounded by corrupt advisors as illustrated by the following quote.
The agreement of March 9, 1846, after the first Sikh war with the British, included the following conditions:
However, towards the end of this year, another set of arrangements were made, under which a council was established to run the Punjab affairs. This council was headed by a British Resident. Further, British forces were brought in to maintain peace in the country. Lahore darbar was charged 22 lakh annually for the maintenance and upkeep of such forces.
However, this arrangement did not last for too long. As in April of 1848, a war erupted among the Sikhs and British. At the end of this war, Sikh kingdom was annexed and Maharaja Dalip Singh was sent out of Punjab to FatehGadh (Uttar Pradesh, dist. Karrukhsbad) under the care of Sir John Spencer Login.
Maharaja Dalip Singh was still a child at the time of the annexation of Punjab and there was no one to dispense any religious education to him. His companions (AudiyaPrasad, Purohit GulabRai, Fakir Jahurudeen) had absolutely no interest or sympathy with GurSikh Dharam. As a result, BhajanLal, a local resident brahmin who had converted to christianity, was given the responsibilities of Dalip Singh’s education. Under his influence, Maharaja Dalip Singh adopted christianity on March 8, 1853. A few days prior to adopting christianity, Dalip Singh had presented his hair as a gift to lady Login.
On April 19, 1858, Dalip Singh left for England and started residing at Elveden resident in Norfolk. Dalip Singh married a German lady, Bamba Muller (educated form Cairo missionary school) on June 7, 1864. This marriage resulted in three sons (Victor Dalip Singh, Frederick D.S., and Edward D.S.) and three daughters. Two of his sons were brought up as English gentlemen. The elder, Prince Victor, held a commission in the 1st Royal Dragoons and married a daughter of the Earl of Coventry. He died in 1918 at the age of 58. The younger brother, Prince Frederick was educated at Eton and Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he took history Tripos and later took his M.A. He held a commission in the Suffolk Yeomanry and then transferred to the Norfolk Yeomanry. He resigned his commission in 1909 but rejoined the corps in 1914 and was two years on active service in France. He was awarded the Territorial Decoration. Prince Frederick was deeply interested in archaeology and became a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and contributed articles to various periodicals on this subject. He died in August 1926, at the age of 58. One of Maharaja’s daughters married Dr. Sutherland, lived in Lahore, and was popularly known after her parents as Princess Bamba Sutherland.
Maharani Bamba died in 1890. Later, Maharaja Dalip Singh married an English lady, A.D. Etherill, who lived after Maharaja’s death. Maharaja’s later years were extremely difficult. He was barred from returning to Punjab, and his pension severed. He died pretty much as an orphan, in Oct. 22, 1893 in Grand Hotel of Paris.
-Ref. Mahan Kosh.
The Anglo-Sikh wars resulted in ultimate liquidation of the Sikh power, and on 30th March, 1849, Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s short lived kingdom was annexed by the British. Maharaja Dalip Singh was taken away to Fatehgarh in the U.P., and put under the tutelage of Sir John Login of the Bengal Army., with the result that after two years the young Maharaja expressed desire to renounce his faith and embrace Christianity. He was baptised, granted a pension, sent to England and given an estate in Suffolk. The married Bamba Muller, daughter of a European merchant and an Abyssinian mother.
Maharani Bamba spoke and understood only Arabic, and in the beginning the Maharaja had amusing difficulties when attempting to converse with his fiancee. She bore him Prince Victor Dalip Singh, (b. 1866, d. 1918), Prince Fredrick Dalip Singh (b. 1886, d. 1926), Princess Bamba Jindan (b. 1869, d. 1957), Princess Katherine, Prince Albert Edward Dalip Singh (b. 1879, d. 1893), and Princess Sophia Alexandria (b. 1874, d. 1948). The children of Maharaja Dalip Singh died issueless. Dalip Singh came to India twice and was reconverted to his paternal faith. In 1886 he made an attempt to leave England for good and settle down in Punjab, but his attempt failed and he was not allowed to proceed beyond Aden. He did not return to England and died in Paris in 1893.
Princess Bamba Dalip Singh, who later married an English gentleman Dr. Sutherland, continued to keep in her custody the collection of paintings and objects of arts, belonging to her father. She died in Lahore on March 10, 1957, without having any issue, and thus her death ended the line of the Sikh ruling dynasty. She bequeathed the collections to Pir Karim Bakhsh Supra of Lahore who sold it recently to the Government of Pakistan.
The collection consists of 18 oil paintings, 14 water colours, 22 ivory paintings, 17 photographs, 10 metallic objects and 7 miscellaneous articles.
-Ref. "The Princess Bamba Collection" an official publication of Department of Archeology, Pakistan;
Maharaja Dalip Singh’s life is a tragedy in the true sense of the word. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but died very poor in a hotel in Paris.
Most people do not know that he wanted to reclaim his kingdom by launching a war against the British. Although he had become Chritain at one time, yet he re-entered Khalsa Panth by taking Khade di Pahul (amrit).
Maharaja wrote the following letter to Sardar Sant Singh who was his relative from his mother’s side. Here is the text of the letter:
Note: Maharaja Dalip Singh stayed sometime in Aden. During his stay at Aden, the Maharaja Dalip Singh was baptised and re-entered the Sikh faith. He was baptised on May 26, 1886. There is a photograph of Maharaja with full beard (which is tied back) and beutiful uniform and turban. In this picture he looks very handsome and a true Maharaja. This picture must have taken when he was around 35-40. This picture is not the one that most of us have seen where the handsome Maharaja is standing with a sword in his right hand.
-Ref. "History of Freedom Movement in the Punjab – Maharaja Duleep Singh Correspondence, Vol III," published by Punjabi University Patiala.