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MAARGASHIRA SHUKLA SAPTAMI
The 7th Day of bright half of Maargashira
Punjab, rightly claimed as the traditional sword-arm of Bharatvarsha, has valiantly borne the first brunt of all the pre-European aggressors on her. And one of the most luminous stars which rose in that north-western horizon and shed its lustre over the entire length and breadth of the country is undoubtedly Guru Govind Singh the tenth and the final Guru in the holy tradition initiated by that great saint Guru Nanak.
Richly had Guru Govind Singh inherited the legacy of the fearless martyrdom of his father - Guru Tegh Bahadur. Guru Tegh Bahadur, with a view to instilling courage and confidence among the Kashmiri Hindus to withstand Aurangzeb's fanatical tyranny and threats to Islamize them, challenged the Moghal emperor to convert him first. And the great Guru preferred to have his head roll down in Chandni Chowk of Delhi rather than sacrifice his faith, Govind Singh was just a boy of nine years at that time. On coming to know of his father's terrible end he exclaimed: "He saved with his blood the honor of Hindu Dharma. Oh, what a remarkable act in this Kaliyuga! He preferred to give up his life, but not his faith!"
It is with such a fiery note of idealism that the young Govind Singh embarked upon his life-mission even from his infancy. As a child he had drunk deep at the fount of Raamaayana, Mahaabhaarata and Puraanas. He was inspired with the heroic examples of Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, Bheema and Arjuna. He felt convinced that he too like those great forbears was born to vanquish the wicked and protect Dharma. He began preparing himself in a thorough-going fashion to play that historic role. He assimilated the spiritual truths enshrined in the Vedas, Upanishads and the Bhagavad Geeta. He became adept in Persian, Arabic and Punjabi languages just as in Samskrit and Hindi, and was a peerless poet as well. As an archer he was unequalled in the whole of Hindusthan. No wonder, equipped as he was with such a rare combination of brahmateja and kshaatrateja, he wrote in his autobiographical poem Vichitranaatak that he was commanded by God to take birth to uphold the true path of Dharma.
No catastrophe to his personal self or to his family members, however tragic, could shake his rock-like resolve to pursue his chosen mission. When his two elderly sons, Ajit and Jujhar whom he had sent to lead the battle laid down their lives before his very eyes thus did the Guru offer prayers to God: "O Lord, I have surrendered to Thee what belonged to Thee." Later, when his two younger kids Jorawar and Phatte were bricked alive by the Moghals for refusing to succumb to Islam, and the heart-rending news reached the Guru, he simply lifted his hands in prayer and uttered the words: "These two, Thy trust, I have rendered unto Thee." The Guru's mother, Gujjari Devi, from whom the two kids had been snatched away, broke her heart and died.
The tone of the historic epistle which the Guru wrote some time later to Aurangzeb is evidence of the majestic equanimity and the supremely high moral posture he maintained even in the wake of such dire calamities: "I know you believe neither in God nor in your prophet, nor do you know the worth of an oath on Koran. Did your God ask you to tyrannise over others? Fie on your sovereignty and on your regard for God and religion! Fear God, who is the Master of earth and heaven and Whose vengeance is terrible. What if you have killed my four sons? By putting out a few sparks, you cannot quench the blazing fire. My protection is God than Whom there is no one higher."
The Guru bore all the cruel blows of Fate with an invincible will and fortitude and pressed forward in rousing and organizing his countrymen in the cause of Swadesh and Swadharma. He moved from the north to the southern parts of the country contacting and trying to string together the various patriotic forces. Finally, in the south he found a great warrior turned into a yogi, Maadhav Daas by name, and charged him with the task of proceeding to Punjab to lead the struggle there. Maadhav Daas, known in history as Bandaa Bairaagi, abided by the Guru's command and carried out the war of liberation with such remarkable ability and was crowned with such rare success - finally falling a martyr to the cause in the true tradition of the Gurus - that even to this day he stands as a glowing testimony to the magic touch of Guru Govind Singh.
Finally the Guru himself, while in the south at Nanded, fell a martyr to the treacherous designs of the Moghals and embraced Mahaasamaadhi in the true tradition of yogis.
Could such a string of stirring martyrdoms of all his four sons, his father, his mother and finally he, the great Guru himself, followed by that of his successor, ever go in vain? The flames of those sacrificial offerings soon spread and inflamed millions of hearts. By the turn of the century, the vast areas of the strategic north-western region of Bharat right up to the Khybar Pass were freed from the foreign Islamic yoke and the tide of one thousand-year old invasions from that quarter turned back once and for all.
The spirit of oneness and harmony which the Guru infused in the society has also made him a social reformer of the highest order. His vision encompassed the whole of Bharat, and his love embraced within itself the lowliest in the society. The Panch Pyaare, the five self-sacrificing heroes of the Khaalsa whom he chose through a fiery ordeal on a aVaishaakha Pratipada, were those drawn from distant parts of the country, right from Bidar in Karnataka, Jagannaath Puri in Orissa, Dwaraka in Gujarat to Delhi and Lahore. And three of them belonged to the so-called lower castes.
The Guru's breadth of national vision could not brook any idea or gesture which would even remotely suggest an exclusive or a warped mind. The Khaalsa, the Pure, were to be the devotees of Akaal - The Timeless Reality - in the true tradition of the Hindu tapaswis. The Guru had founded the creed for the achievement of all-round glory of Hindu society and Hindu Dharma. He thundered: Sakala jagat me Khaalsa panth gajei (may the creed of the pure and the dedicated flourish the world over) and Jagai dharma Hindu sakala bandha bhajai. (may the wickedness vanish and the Hindu dharma live for ever.)
The five signs the Guru prescribed for the Khaalsas signified the highest virtues of heroic Hindu manhood; unshorn hair like that of the ancient sages and kshatriyas as a pledge of dedication, a comb to keep it clean, a steel bracelet indicating the universality of the Almighty, an underwear to denote chastity, and a steel dagger to remind him of his role as the defender of Faith.
The Guru knew the potency of ancient Hindu epics and Puraanas and had organized a Poets' Council to translate the Puraanas into Hindi. His own poetry composed in Hindi, in its Braj form, overflowed with the essence of Raamaayana, Mahaabhaarata and all the Puraanic legends and their Gods and Goddesses and radiated the lofty spiritual message of Upanishads and Bhagavadgeeta. Sarvakaal was to him the father and Devi Mahaa Kaali the mother. The Guru Granthsaheb which he re-edited contained the hymns and couplets of saints of various regions. Neither the Sikhs nor the rest of Hindus ever considered themselves distinct or separate from each other. Right up to the recent times, every Hindu family used to nominate one of its boys as a Sikh. Blood relationship between the Keshadhaaris and non-Keshadhaaris continues undisturbed even to this day. Brother belonging to both sections living under a common paternal roof is not an uncommon sight even today.
Rarely do we come across in the annals of human history a life of such all-round greatness as that of Guru Govind Singh - a yogi and a warrior-martyr, a poet and a social reformer, a national emancipator and a dhaarmic rejuvenator - all rolled into one supremely majestic personality commanding the reverence of his countrymen and even of his enemies.
No better appreciation could be there of the inspiring legacy left behind to
the entire nation by that great Guru than what Swami Vivekananda has observed:
"Mark me, every one of you will have to be a Govind Singh, if you want to
do good to your country. You may see thousands of defects in your countrymen,
but mark their Hindu blood. They are the first gods you will have to worship,
even if they do everything to hurt you; even if every one of them sends out a
curse to you, you send out to them words of love. If they drive you out, retire
to die in silence like that mighty lion, Govind Singh. Such a man is worthy of
the name of Hindu; such an idea ought to be before us always."
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