How do the values, beliefs, and deeds which a Sikh ought to uphold come to culmination in the personality of Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708 A.D.)? Is there any synthesis of the pure mysticism of Guru Nanak (1469-1539 A.D.) and the electric unyielding martial spirit of Guru Gobind Singh? Since these two gurus are both the beginning and the end of the guru line, there must be some continuity in it. Both the divine (religious) and the worldly (secular) in juxtaposition reveal themselves in the total personality and mission of Guru Gobind Singh, in a brief lifespan of only Forty-two years.
What makes the life of Guru Gobind Singh so crucial for the Sikhs? Through it unfolds the whole chain of events in Sikh history. His great grandfather, Guru Arjun (1563-1605 A.D.) was tortured by the Mughul oppressors. His grandfather, Guru Hargobind (1595-1644 A.D.) took military means to oppose the oppressors: he wore two swords, Miri symbolizing temporal authority, and Piri symbolizing religious authority. The strong need to defend the emerging Sikh tradition became evident, and Guru Gobind Singh carried this mission to completion. His own father, Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-1675 A.D.) was beheaded by the Mughul oppressors while defending the lives of Hindus being forcibly converted to Islam. At the time this occurred, Guru Gobind Singh was only a boy of nine years. It left a deep impression on his mind and heart.
With such a tragic background, and the awesome responsibility of Sikh tradition upon his shoulders, Guru Gobind Singh arrived at a stage where he had to integrate Guru Nanak’s pure spirituality with the martial spirit of Guru Har Gobind. Very rapidly, this synthesis evolved, and came to the forefront. Both the temporal and the spiritual are manifested in action of very high magnitude. The parts of the story became whole, and the Khalsa tradition was born.
Serious opposition from the Pahari Rajas around Anandpur conspiring with the Mughuls of Delhi intended to crush the rising power and influence of the Khalsa. This resulted in a series of political treacheries and maneuvers. The fact that many religious traditions, including Jewish and Moslem have eventually become political states because they have carried on their struggles in a cohesive way raises the question, could Sikhs also achieve this result? The great appeal and popularity of Guru Nanak was taken as a political threat by the Mughul Babur, who had him imprisoned. Indira Gandhi’s ‘“‘Operation Blue Star’’ (the assault on the Golden Temple in Amritsar, June 1984) in which Sant Bhindranwale and another 10,000 innocent Sikhs perished, was a political conspiracy motivated by her desire to crush the power of the Sikhs forever. Instead of achieving this sort of ‘final solution,” the assault multiplied the problem for both Sikhs and Hindus for all time. Guru Gobind Singh never accepted any submission nor showed any fear from all the events occurring around Anandpur. He persevered at his task, and pushed forward. His knowledge and insight about himself and the events soon to come were so vast and keen that he clearly saw drama unfolding before his eyes, with himself as the main actor. He succinctly delineates all the aspects of these times in the Bachitar Natak.
The ultimate fate of the Khalsa spurred him on to prepare for the dynamic struggle that must succeed in preserving Sikh ideals and development. He must preach Sikhism to his followers on one hand, and defend them from torture and persecution on the other. He accomplished both beautifully; the Panj pyaras are created, the Guru Granth Sahib is symbolized as a living Guru for the Sikhs, and the Khalsa Panth is born as a living and perpetuating tradition. Now it is a self-correcting and dynamic religious tradition, reaching over thirteen million people at this time in history. The whole Today, Sikhs are to be found in all of the major, and also minor, countries of the world. Sikh secular power and religious tradition, though at odds throughout world history even at times with itself, have not produced harmonious societies. Instead, it breeds political problems. Man can neither abandon his value system, nor live in chaos. Since values are primary for the development of mankind, then a political system must protect man. If it cannot do this then it must be changed. Politics necessarily comes into being to preserve the development of mankind, and not vice versa. Therefore, politics must be controlled so that religious values flourish. In strict political terms, this can be classified as Theocracy. Guru Gobind Singh has expounded this political theory by saying;
“Without political control, freedom of religion is impossible. No one offers political control; whoever gets it does so by sheer strength.”
Guru Gobind Singh Guru Gobind Singh’s martial spirit in Sikh life extended throughout the Sikh tradition. It has given distinction to Sikhs in military affairs, as well as all other challenging professions. The Sikh spirit never shirks from tackling what others may consider to be impossible; impossibilities are challenges. Sikh men and women are imbued with the spirit of making something of themselves in this world. This is built into the Sikh character. In order to live meaningfully, they must act out their religion. Sikh values without action are unknown.
As Guru Gobind Singh leaves Anandpur, he finds his family scattered and his own ease and comfort gone. What were left were the hardship of life in the arid lands and sparse forests of Malwa, and the heartbreaking news of the martyrdom of his four sons. Despite these things, his resolute will never slackens, and his efforts to protect and preserve Sikhism never waver. He moves from place to place (see map)
Article extracted from this publication >> DECEMBER-28-1984