Friday, November 24, 2006

Sakhi Series - 26 ( Guru Tegh Bahadur ji's - upholding the principle of freedom of conscience)

Guru Tegh Bahadur ji's Sacrifice
"Do not frighten anyone nor be afraid of anybody"

This event happened long before the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) guaranteed every one right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It was also much before the establishment of Western democracies. The Guru carried the conviction more than three hundred years ago, when religious intolerance and persecution were common all over the world that every individual must have the freedom to worship the faith of his or her choice.

Guru Tegh Bahadur lived at a time when even personal laws were oppressive and the right to worship as per one's choice was denied, culminating in an atmosphere of fear and severe backlash. Guru Tegh Bahadur became the spiritual head of the Sikhs just at the time when the Mughal Emperor of India , Aurangzeb, was imposing Islam on the people.
He had no tolerance for other religions and proceeded on a brutal campaign of repression. Aurangzeb closed down Hindu schools, demolished temples or turned them into mosques, charged non-Muslims heavy taxes and Emperor persecuted those who would not conform to Islamic law. He forbade Hindus from celebrating their festivals, ordered that only Muslims could be landlords of crown lands, dismissed all Hindu clerks and ordered governors to put a stop to the teachings and practicing of idolatrous forms of

Denied the freedom to follow their faith, the Hindus of Kashmir approached Guru Tegh Bahadur for help and guidance. The Hindu Brahmin Pandits of Kashmir were among the most highly learned and orthodox of the Hindu leadership. Aurangzeb felt if they could be converted, the rest of the country would easily follow. Given this ultimatum, a large delegation of 500 Kashmiri Pandits met the Guru and explained their dire predicament and requested him to intercede on their behalf.
When an anguished Guru Tegh Bahadur sought a way to help the suffering multitude, his son Guru Gobind Singh, as a nine-year-old, spoke words of encouragement, which energized him to pursue the path of wisdom. He told the Pandits to inform Aurangzeb that the Brahmins would gladly accept and embrace Islam if Guru Tegh Bahadur can be convinced to do so and made preparations to go to Delhi
and sacrifice his life.

As soon as Aurangzeb heard the news he ordered the immediate arrest of the Guru. He ordered Guru Tegh Bahadur to be forced to convert to Islam through torture or be killed. Guru Tegh Bahadur refused to embrace Islam, saying

"For me, there is only one religion - of God - and whosoever belongs to it, be he a Hindu or a Muslim, him I own and he owns me. I neither convert others by force, nor submit to force, to change my faith."

Guru Tegh Bahadur was subjected to many cruelties; he was kept in an iron cage and starved for many days. The Guru faced a further test to his righteousness when three of his followers were tortured in his presence. Yet he remained steadfast and bore these cruelties without flinching or showing any anger or distress. He preferred the torture of the flesh to sacrificing the ideals of virtue. Finally on November 11, 1675 Guru Tegh
Bahadur was publicly beheaded as he prayed. The bodies of those so executed were usually quartered and exposed to public view, but Tegh Bahadur's followers managed to steal the body under cover of darkness, cremate it in Delhi
, and bring the severed head to Tegh Bahadur's son Gobind Rai, 250 miles away in Anandpur. The last rites were performed in Anandpur Sahib by Guru Gobind Singh ji.

The site of Guru Tegh Bahadur jis execution was later turned into an important Gurudwara (Sikh House of Worship) Sisganj in Delhi, India . Millions of people of all social and religious backgrounds pay homage to the Guru at this shrine. He is honoured as a man who gave his life for religious freedom for all peoples, not just Sikhs. The shrine holds the symbolism of war against injustice, a determination to stand up to atrocity, though it may mean sacrifice of the self.
He taught the ethos of self-sacrifice for the common good of mankind and this is enshrined in his spiritual legacy.
Never in history has the religious leader of one religion sacrificed his life to save the freedom of another religion .

"One untouched by avarice, attachment, egotism and pursuit of evil passions,
And one risen above joy and sorrow â€" know such a one to be God's own image."

Thus sang Guru Tegh Bahadur. Guru sacrificed his life for upholding the principle of freedom of conscience.

In today world, scarred by religious fanaticism and intolerance Guru Tegh Bahadur is truly a hero to be revered and emulated.

Mystic Saint Kabir in one of his verses says, "The true hero is one who in defence of the helpless may be hacked limb to limb, but flees not the field," and there can be no greater testimonial to the Guru's unflinching courage which earned him the praise as "one who covered dharma (religion) and protected it."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Sakhi Series - 25 ( Anand bhya meree maaye, Satguroo main paaya)

Sikh and Gurbani:

Once, a Sikh made a request before the Guru Ji, "O true King! I am grieved by the world. Eliminate the pain of birth and death. Save me from sins. I am in your protection" I am illiterate so cannot even recite or understand Gurbani.

Guru Ji said, "Brother Sikh! You are blessed that you became detached (from the world). To gain wisdom, knowledge is very important. One should get education. An uneducated person cannot understand anything.

Guru Ji asked another learned Sikh to teach that Sikh with love. The Learned Sikh started to teach him. While teaching, he taught him this line of Anand Sahib prayer, "Anand bhya meree maaye, Satguroo main paaya." (The heavenly pleasure occurred, O my mother, for I have found my True Guru).

The Sikh recited this line with love and went on reciting it. His faith increased reciting this line. After six months, Guru Ji asked the learned Sikh, "Did he learn?"

He replied, "He did not return after learning one line."

Guru Ji called for that Sikh and asked, "You were sent to learn."

He replied with folded hands, "Guru Ji! One line was enough. When the True Guru has been found, 'Anand' is gotten. " what else I could possibly ask for ?

Guru Ji smiled and said, "You are 'nihaal' (bliss). Your cycle of birth and death has been curtailed."
He has gained wisdom with this one pankti of gurbani.

har har naam m aerai pr aan vasaae ae sabh sa(n)saa dh ookh gavaae iaa adhisatt ag ochar gur bachan dhh iaaeiaa pav ithr param padh paae iaa

He has enshrined the Name of the Lord, Har, Har within my breath of lfe, and all my doubts and sorrows have departed. I have meditated on the invisible and unapproachable Lord, through the Guru's Word, and I have obtained the pure, supreme status.

anehadh dhhun v aajehi n ith vaaj ae gaaee sath igur b aanee n aanak dhaath kar ee prabh dhaath ai joth ee joth sam aanee 1

The unstruck melody resounds, and the instruments ever vibrate, singing the Bani of the True Guru. O Nanak, God the Great Giver has given me a gift; He has blended my light into the Light. 1

-- GGS ji pg 442

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sakhi Series - 24 ( Malik Bhago and Bhai Lalo )

Malik Bhago and Bhai Lalo

"Taking the rights of others pollutes the mind.
Always be honest, ever be kind."

Once Guru Nanak Dev stayed with Bhai Lalo ( a devotee) when he began his preaching missions. Bhai Lalo was a carpenter who earned his living honestly by working hard all day. The local village official was a corrupt person. He was known as Malik Bhago. One day he invited every resident of the village to a feast, so he could make a good image with the people. Guru Nanak Dev declined to go to the feast. Special messengers were sent to bring him. Bhago offered delicious food to the Guru and in response to his offer, waited for good words from him but Guru Nanak Dev, rather than blessing Malik Bhago declined to accept any food from him. Bhago was surprised to hear a refusal for the delicious food and he immediately asked the reason for the refusal.

The Guru told him that the food that Malik Bhago considered to be tasty and sweet was, in fact, made from blood of the poor. Malik Bhago had been extracting money from the people, instead of living on his honest earnings. Bhago was very much embarrassed by the bold and frank comments of the Guru. Everyone else appreciated the truth spoken fearlessly by Guru Nanak Dev. Bhago could not deny the allegations. Good sense prevailed and Malik Bhago confessed his guilt. He requested to be pardoned for his past deeds and promised to live a true and honest life in the future.

Guru Nanak Dev told the gathering there that only honestly earned food, such as that of Bhai Lalo, tastes good and sweet like milk. All dishonest earnings are like the blood of the innocent. If drops of blood fall on a cloth, it becomes dirty. How can the mind of a person who lives on the blood of the helpless people remain pious and clean?

Such was the effect of Guru Nanak's piety and personality that people did visualize blood in Malik Bhago's delicious dinner and milk in Bhai Lalo's frugal meal.

Taking away the rights of others is like drawing their blood ; it pollutes the mind. Honest earnings are like sweet milk; they make the mind pious.

hir ruKI rotI Kwie smwly ] hir AMqir bwhir ndir inhwly ]

har r ukhee r ott ee khaae sam aal ae har a(n)thar baa har nadhar nih aalae

One who meditates as he eats dry bread, sees the Blessed Lord inwardly and outwardly.

Kwie Kwie kry bdPYlI jwxu ivsU kI vwVI jIau ]2]

kh aae khaa e karae badhaf ailee j aan v isoo k ee v aarree j eeo 2

Know this well, that one who eats and eats while practicing evil, is like a field of poisonous plants. 2
- Guru Granth Sahib ji - pg 105

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Sakhi Series - 23 ( The Power Of Five )

The Power Of Five
True story as narrated by a Sikh(about his experience during riots ) in FROM THE HEART
'suva luc se ek laroa
thabay gobind singh naam kahao

"It was during the anti-Sikh riots. I was at that time living in Gurudwara Nanaksar in Haryana. There were 7 other sewadars in the Gurudwara. Trouble started brewing early in the morning. We noticed about 50 young men gathering outside a few hundred metres away from the Gurudwara sahib. We didn't really pay too much attention to them.

By noon, the group had turned into a rowdy crowd of about 300. We became quite concerned at that point. Our telephone wires had been cut, so there really was not much we could do. But we were still in chardi kala.

At about 3 pm, a truck driven by a Singh was driving by the crowd when the crowd attacked it. The Singh gave up the truck and ran to the Gurudwara. Some gundas overtook him and injured him but he, being a strong man, managed to escape. Still, he was quite bloody when he came in. That increased our number to 9. The number outside had increased to about 500 by evening. They were very loud and obnoxious by now. We tried to ignore them and began our evening diwan at 6 pm. But as the darkness approached, the crowd became more and more bold. In fact, soon they started stoning the Gurudwara. We stopped the evening programme and placed all the Guru Granth Sahib jees in the safest place possible.

At 7.30 pm it was very dark and the rabble became so bold that they put fire to the Gurdrawa's gate. It hit us then how serious the situation was. We soon would be killed!
Our jathedar gathered us and said, "Khalsa jee, the Khalsa has faced worse situations then this. The Khalsa has gone through two holocausts but the Khalsa lives and will live in freedom forever! Khalsa jee, the Khalsa has never given up and will never give up. The enemy stands outside. There are 500 hundred, we are 9 but remember Guru Gobind Singh jee has made each of us equivalent to sava-lakh (125,000)! Khalsa jee, get prepared to fight!"

He said this with so much josh and bir ras that our body hair stood on their ends. Even though I had been seriously ill for the past 3 months, I too was ready to fight. The jathedar then told us that we must make two groups. The first group of five will go out first and fight the enemy. The rest (4) can go later. Everybody agreed. Jathedar Sahib then chose 4 other pyaras. I was not chosen, most probably due to my illness.

The five were ready. Then the jathedar sahib did Ardas to Guru Gobind Singh jee. The five then took out their kirpans and with BOLE SO NEHAAL! SAT SRI AKAL! BOLE SO NEHAAL! SAT SRI AKAL! filling the air, came out to face the enemy. You will not believe what happened then. Seeing 5 Khalsa in the uniform of Guru Gobind Singh jee, the rabble of 500 ran away It was as if 5 lions were chasing 500 hyenas away!

One of the Singhs managed to cut off a running man's ear. The Khalsa's victory was sweet."
waheguru waheguru waheguru waheguru...

Just as an epilogue, some police officers had the gall to come a few days later to investigate the ear injury!!!! But this was so ridiculous and the Singhs were in such high spirits that the police had to leave without even a bribe.

gagan dham aam aa b aaj iou par iou n ees aan ai gh aao

The battle-drum beats in the sky of the mind; aim is taken, and the wound is inflicted.

kh aeth j m aa(n)dd iou s ooram aa ab j oojhan k o dh aao 1

The spiritual warriors enter the field of battle; now is the time to fight! 1

- Bhagat kabir ji GGS - pg 1105