TO truly appreciate Guru Gobind Singh’s contribution to mankind, we must go back to turbulent times of the treachery and persecution at the time of Guru Nanak. It was the time when ethos was dominated by cruel despots and fanatical rulers. Guru Nanak Ji preached the gospel of truth and asserted that service of the people is the service of God. He emphasized the virtue of actions rather than the mere repetition of the holy rituals. Guru Nanak tried to build a nation of self-respecting people devoted to God and humanity. Guru Arjun Dev and Guru Teg Bahadur Ji laid down their lives for the same cause.

After the execution of Guru Teg Bahadur Ji, the task of upholding the freedom of the faith and freeing the country from oppression fell upon the shoulders of young Guru Gobind Singh. While trying to spread the message of Guru Nanak and other Gurus, He simultaneously took up the training of the oppressed in the art and technique of warfare. In His written message to Aurangzeb (Zafar Nama), He wrote:

When all efforts to restore

peace prove useless

and no word prevails,

 Lawful is the flash of steel then

 and right it is the sword to hail.

He was a poet, prophet, patriot, saviour, scholar, soldier, and a statesman. As a warrior, he possessed a dauntless courage, impressive personality, strong mind and high soul. He was a king over his masands yet poorest among the poor. Throughout his life of 42 years, he waged a ceaseless war on ignorance and tyranny. It is a miracle how he fought against all odds and yet maintained interest in creative literature and other fine arts. He honored literature and had in his court 52 eminent scholars, well versed in Sanskrit, Persian, and other languages. He gave them full freedom and provided them with all the facilities for the full expression of their creative faculties.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji had a very well defined objective in mind which was initiated by Guru Nanak; to create a selfless society which is willing to fight for a righteous cause and yet humble enough for total submission to God. To achieve this he created Khalsa. Guru Ji knew that Sikhs had always been, and would invariably be in minority and that minority would be challenged at times by power intoxicated and shortsighted tyrants. He devised a marvelous plan, which if followed faithfully would never reduce the Sikhs to a state of impotent helplessness. Guru Gobind Singh Ji originated the idea of Panth, to which he assigned the position of Guru ship. It meant intelligent, disciplined organization on right lines, as the Panth would be the Guru that could never make mistakes and when it seriously took up the religious question and made it Panthic, it was sure to succeed. After creating Khalsa and Panth, Guru Gobind Singh wrote stirring poems which infused a martial spirit in His followers, united as fearless group of men devoted to the cause of righteousness and truth. Look at the following verses:

Grant me this boon O God,

from Thy greatness,

May I never refrain from righteous acts,

May I fight without fear all foes in life’s battle,

With confidence, courage, claiming the victory,

May My highest ambition be singing Thy praises,

And may Thy glory be grained in my mind,

When this mortal life reach its limits,

May I die fighting with limitless courage.

The highest example was set by Guru Ji Himself. He sent out His father to die for this cause at the age of nine, sent out his two sons from the besieged fort of Chamkaur Sahib to face the huge Mughal armies and meet an end worthy of heroes. Guru Ji’s two younger son sat age 7 and 9 were burried alive into brick wall by Governor of Sirhind. When Mata Ji enquired about the sons He lovingly pointed to thousands of Sikhs and said:

What if | have lost four sons, here thousands are still alive.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji was treacherously assassinated at Nander by two Pathans but Khalsa established by Him lived and thrived. The examples set by Him are unique in the history of mankind. He had a purpose in life. He lived, struggled, sacrificed everything in life and died for that purpose.

Today, His Khalsa is at crossroads being torn apart by different forces. Sikhs in the past weathered many storms. Right from the beginning they have been up against odds, at times from the insane individuals, but more often from governments. There is no doubt the Sikhs will survive the insane behavior of the Indian government. God willing they will even emerge stronger than before.

It cannot be denied that a segment of the Sikh society is still indulging in meaningless rituals and petty objectives. It is time for those individuals to seriously and honestly look at Guru’s true mission. We have to look more inward for answers. If we really want to pay respect to the Saint Soldier, then we must reevaluate our commitment to His cause. If His mission is still misunderstood when there is a gigantic task still ahead of us, mere celebration of His birth day is nothing more than another ritual.

Article extracted from this publication >>  January 16, 1987