Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, is undoubtedly, undeniably the greatest of Indians of all times. He wrought a wonderful change in the religious, military and political life of Punjab.
Gobind Singh regenerated the decaying people and created a new nation the Sikh, the khalsa of today. The new nation was to be based upon justice, freedom of conscience, liberty equality and fraternity. Guru Gobind Singh was one of the remarkable personalities of his time. He made notable contributions to the field of art, literature and religion and politics alike. He turned to be a warrior by the circumstances but he remained saint at heart. He gave the concept of nationhood to the people of India. He is a symbol of sacrifice for the common cause. He was lawgiver in the pulpit, a champion in the field, a king on his mansard and a fakir in the Society of Khalsa. He made some unique contributions to the modern thought, in social and political ideologies.
Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Master of the Sikhs, is Guru Nanak at the.-climax of his spiritual glory. He came to the earthly world to redeem humanity from the bondage of evils. So did Mohammad, Rama, Krishan and Jesus Christ! In the article I will endeavor to bring about uniqueness that I found during my very brief study of his life. I feel that in Guru Gobind Singh there is a unique kind of direct and personal attestation of prophet-hood in the history of religion, which was not demonstrated by the other prophets. The first uniqueness that struck me was Guru’s perfection in languages. He was a linguist and a scholar of great eminence. As a child at Patna, in the province of Bihar he learned Punjabi from his mother and could recite several hymns from the Granth Sahib. He learned from his playmates and wrote several couplets in that language. At the age of six when the family moved to Anandpur Sahib he started to learn Sanskrit from a Pandit and Parsian from Pir Mohammed. During his stay at Paonta Sahib in Nahan State he called great Pandits from Banaras and Patna and great scholars of Persian from Punjab. In all, he had 52 scholars and poets with him at Paonta. He developed a style of Hindi poetry, which remains unsurpassed since his times. He learned the entire range of Epic literature in Sanskrit and other literature to enrich his intellect.
No other prophet spent 20 years to receive the best practical, intellectual and scholarly education in so many different languages that the time could offer. During the period by practice and by association with the most eminent Hindi poets of the day he developed a unique class of warlike poetry unknown in Punjab, before him, he used this as a strong vehicle in awakening the dormant energies of his people. He realized the importance of intellectual development and education therefore he demonstrated it in his own life. He excelled in all the languages that were currently indispensable at that time. I have no doubt in my mind that Guru Gobind Singh would have equally excelled in English had he felt the need at that time.
Guru Gobind Singh was a staunch supporter of the principle of secularism. To him the mosques and the temples point out only the reality of one God. All human beings were alike. God made no distinction between man and man. The Guru asserted, certainly it is man and man alone who has made these artificial barriers on the basis of religion. The Guru proclaimed that men of all religions and convictions were one
Manas ki jat sabe ek pachhan bo’
The call of the Mullah and the chanting of the Pandit were the same.
In one of his compositions the Guru says:
‘The temple and the mosque are the same, The Hindu worship and the Musalman prayer are the same, it is through error they appear different. Musalmans and ‘Hindus adopt the customary dress of their countries; All men have the same eyes, the same ears, the same body, the same build. A compound of earth, air, fire and water. Allah Abhekh is the same, the purans and the Quran are the same, they are all alike; it is one God who created them all.”
Guru Gobind Singh rose above and over the considerations of Parochialism and _ sectarianism. He gave an everlasting and unique example of secularism in _ selecting “Panj Pyaras’’ from amongst different castes. He admitted people of all castes and regions into the fold of the Khalsa, in which the high and the low, the rich and the poor stood amalgamated and became brothers to one another. He represented a real specimen of secularism. The Hindus and the Muslims had a common ideal under Guru Gobind Singh and thus rightly proved that he was the true founder of secularism in India. He raised his sword against the evil forces not against any particular religion, faith or sect; he did not fight for any territory or power. His voice and actions were against the unjust, irrespective of their caste and creed. His ideology was secular in the true sense of the word.
As he admitted people of all castes in the creation of Khalsa, he initiated theocratic democracy in India. He removed inequality of religious privileges in the men of the new Panth, the Khalsa, by giving them Amrit and ending their names by one common word “Singh.” He gave them all a common brotherhood. Guru Gobind Singh abolished privileges of caste, birth, status and creed and raised the lowest to the highest. He restored dignity of manhood to men, womanhood to women.
Guru Gobind Singh was a democrat in the real sense of the word. He advocated equality of castes, equality of men and women, and service of the people. The Guru emphasized,
“One, who served the people, pleased me. Nothing else is pleasing to my mind. Offer gifts ‘to them, if thou may, for no one else is worthy to receive them. To show favor to them bears fruit both here and hereafter and all other service is of no avail. O, my possessions, my body, my soul are at the disposal of my people, for nothing else avails, nay nothing.
We must bear in mind that Guru Gobind Singh’s concept of democracy is slightly different from the modern concept of democracy. The basis of modern political democracy is essentially numerical, while the kind of democracy envisaged by the Guru was qualitative, as depending upon the guidance to the people coming from the noble and the wise in spirit. None the less when the Guru initiated his first beloved ones he said,
“From this day, I have started a new Panth in which there will be no high and low, and the PEOPLE shall have equal, if not more power, than their Guru, thus establishing supremacy of the people.
Sovereignty of the People by creating the Panth a true specimen of equality the Guru not only introduced theocratic democracy and sowed the seeds of nationalism but initiated the Sovereignty of
The People too.
Guru Gobind Singh proclaimed that supreme power resided in the people, and the people were the real sovereign. He enshrined this concept in ‘SANGAT’ and to ‘SANGAT’ he gave the supreme position and preached his followers to act upon the wishes of the ‘Sangat.’ He not only preached this but gave an empirical proof of it during his lifetime. At the time of the Battle of Chamkaur, the resources in the Guru’s camp had dwindled and it became very difficult to continue to fight with the imperial forces. The Guru was advised by his followers to escape and abandon the fort. The Guru was vehemently opposed to the very idea of such an action. Then came the time of test of his concept the five beloved ones (Panja Piaras) got together and ordered the Guru to leave, to this order he readily submitted. This historically recorded fact shows that he not only preached the supremacy of the people but lived up to the ideal by demonstrating it himself. This unique contribution of Guru Gobind Singh can be further collaborated by his couplets in an address to his followers:
‘It is through ye that I have won battles, through your favor that I have distributed bounties to the poor.
Through ye, it is that all my woes are past, through your favor my house is overflowing with material possessions, through your favor I am instructed in wisdom
O I am exalted because ye have exalted me; else there were many poor ones like me wandering luckless and friendless.”
Guru Gobind Singh transferred the divine sovereignty vested in him to his chosen people, the Khalsa. He not only delegated supreme authority to the will of the Sangat but submerged his own personality in the Khalsa. He proclaimed:
Khalsa is image, In Khalsa do I dwell, Khalsa is my face and limb, With Khalsa do I live all the time, Khalsa is my true faith, and my true Khalsa is my known prestige.
Guru Gobind Singh Made unique contributions to humanity in the fields of education social and political disciplines. He transformed the whole society through a homogeneous, dynamic, conscious and unprecedented organization deriving its authority from, and working solely in the interest of, the whole people, in every detail of their life, and yet making a Universal God both the inspiration and the ideal of social and individual activity.
Ajit Kaur Deol is President Singh Sabha of Winnipeg Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Sikh representative on Manitoba Intercultural Council Executive,
Chairpersons Immigrant Settlement,
VicePresident Manitoha Asso-Ciation of Ancestral Languages.