By Prof. Abdul Majid Khan
Prophets and saviors with strong minds and great hearts who appear from time to time have a very vital role to play in the remaking of society. History is eloquent on the fact that Guru Gobind Singh came with a clear message and stood for definite spirit. Indeed, the be-all and the end-all of his strenuous efforts was to rejuvenate a rotten social order. Guru Gobind Singh saw that the people of the Punjab, nay, of northern India, were slaves of prejudice, pride and passion, in as much as they attached undue importance to theological disputes. metaphysical abstractions, meaningless conventions and customs, with the result that they were unbalanced and fanatical or they were steeped in sloth. So the situation was quite hopeless and the atmosphere very depressing.
The master realized that he would have to work ceaselessly to change the psychology of his countrymen. In the absence of a sense of direction, plan and compass, even when things are done with the best of intentions and for the purest of motives, the result is heavy sorrow, or blank despair. The master mind, the great genius that he was, he put an end to all hazy indetermination, impotent rage and the idle dreams of the sluggards and the cowards. In other words, he was convinced of the supreme necessity of the work of liberation-political as well as social.
Political power was to be seized and a parallel government was to be established in order to draw all the patriotic elements to a rallying point, to a strong centre. The Guru achieved this by introducing a new form of “baptism’ and thenceforward called the initiated Sikhs, “the Khalsa of Wahiguru”, the Lord’s Own. The Panj Piyaras i.e. the first five Baptized ones and their revered Guru formed the nucleus of the band of liberators. The Master aimed at building up a nation of the Purified Once who would be completely free from fear as well as selfishness, from hatred and haughtiness and would count no sacrifice too great for emancipating their land from the galling yoke of the rulers, were intoxicated with power. In other words Khalsa came into being i.e. uphold righteousness and to uproot oppression. The Guru was bent upon the development of a well – knit, homogenous class of people, inspired by a common national ideal and joined together in a common cause-the freedom and the uplift of India and through India he wanted to serve humanity. Short sighted historians are wrong when they hold or even imply that the struggle in the days of Guru Gobind Singh was between the Sikhs and the Muslims. As a matter of fact, the armies of the Tenth Master had a considerable number of Hindus and Muslims among them. On the other hand, the Mughal forces had the active support of some of the Hindu rajas of the hills.
Guru Gobind Singh could always count on his faithful friends like Qazy Pir Mohammed, Ghani Khan and Nabi Khan, who saved his life at a critical moment. Pir Budhu Shah of Sadhura sent 500 Pathans and his sons, who died fighting under the flag of Guru Gobind Singh. Sayyed Khan and Maimu Khan, two famous Muslim generals offered ungrudging help to the Guru. Likewise, numerous liberty-loving Hindus generally supported him.
The teachings and message of the Tenth Guru are for the whole of the troubled and groaning humanity. As a farsighted seer and a noble sage, he knew that nationalism was only a passing phase in the evolution of mankind.
True, it was a sort of half-way house between tribalism and international unity or global co-operation. In one of his Swayyas, the Master says, “The power of God and Bliss, this is my sole prayer before Thee. Give me the strength to pursue righteous conduct come what may”. When he emphatically said, “Recognize all humanity as one”, he implied thereby that no cause could be nobler than the firm conviction that basically and essentially East and West constitute one global brotherhood.
Every human being is a spark of the Divine Essence. God, in the final analysis, is the sum total of millions of human souls i.e. there is no Divinity higher than humanity.
Compare the Practical Vedanta of Swami Vivekananda with the core of the message of Guru Gobind Singh. Swami Vivekananda held, “The only God to worship is the human soul in the human body. Of course, all animals are temples too, but man is the highest, the Taj Mahal of temples. If I cannot worship in that, no other temple will be of any advantage.” The tragedy of the present – day civilization is that the conquest of the forces of Nature has not been accompanied by the ethical control the dispositions of mankind. Intellect has done wonders, but it has not yet dispelled inner darkness, the head has grasped a lot but the heart continues to be diseased as ever, as bad as ever. Guru Gobind Singh rightly stresses the overriding importance of the refinement of human emotions “May the dispositions of men remain under the control of ethical reason, and the ethical reason of men, under the guidance of God, forever and ever, Amen” is an excerpt from the daily congregational prayer of the Khalsa-the prayer which Guru Gobind Singh himself used to offer every day.
Talking to Bhai Nand Lal one of the most cultured and trusted disciples-Guru Gobind Singh remarked, “men should listen to the Guru attentively and with devotion. That what the Guru teaches, they should hear and preach. Men should listen to the words of the Guru with love in their hearts and faith in their minds. Men should serve each other without pride and without selfishness.
Those who serve humanity thus, their service do I recognize as service to my person. Pay attention, O Nand, in this way humanity shall be treed and attain everlasting bliss Day in and day out, we talk of service to mankind. It is impossible to serve others till we believe in the ideals of equality and fraternity. What does that mean? The U.N.O. is now emphasizing the importance of making the world free from fear and free from want.
About three hundred years ago, the Tenth Master stood and strove for making this terrestrial globe, this earth i.e. the whole of mankind free from fear and free from want. He was totally opposed to privilege, in the social as well as in the political domain.
The challenge of today is democratic liberalization of religion- religion which under the guidance of Guru Gobind Singh influenced lives and conduct of thousands of politically backward and socially disinherited folk and welded them into a strong brotherhood, pledged to the service of mankind. Faith is anything but a dope. Indeed it is a living and vivid belief in the gospel of bringing man nearer to man, of promoting global goodwill and universal peace. This is the spirit which the Tenth Guru infused in the Khalsa. Let us all be worthy of it. Let us all live up to it. May God bless us with “strength to right the wrong, through truth and justice’.
(Republished with permission from Punjab Beat)