Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bandi-Chhor Divas (Diwali)

Bandi-Chhor Divas (Diwali)
(Source: Varinderpal Singh)

The Sikhs celebrate Diwali in memory of the return of the sixth Nanak (Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji) from detention in the Gwalior Fort.
When Murtaja Khan, Nawab of Lahore, noticed that Guru Ji had constructed Sri Akaal Takht Sahib, 'The Throne of the Almighty', at Amritsar, and was also strengthening his army, he informed about it to the Mughal Emperor Jahangeer. He emphasized that he is making preparations to take revenge for his father's torture and martyrdom. Jahangeer at once sent Wazir Khan and Guncha Beg to Amritsar to arrest Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji..

But Wazir Khan who was a devotee of the Sikh Guru's requested the Guru to accompany them to Delhi as Emperor Jahangeer wanted to meet him. Guru Sahib accepted the invitation and reached Delhi.

On their first meeting when Jahangeer saw the Guru, he was completely won over by his youthful charm and holiness. The Emperor gave a royal welcome to the Guru. But Chandu Shah could not bear it. His daughter was still unmarried and thus the rotten sore was still bleeding (that Guru Arjan Dev Ji and the Sikh Sangat had refused the offer to marry his daughter with his son Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji). At Agra, the Emperor fell seriously ill. The physicians tried their best but they failed to care him. Then Chandu Shah conspired with the astrologers, who were asked to tell the Emperor that his sickness was due to wrong track of stars and it could, be cared only if some holy man goes to Gwallior Fort to offer prayers to the deity. He also pointed out that Guru Hargobind Ji was such a holy man and he should be asked go to Gwallior Fort. At the Emperor's request Guru Ji agreed and left for the Gawalior Fort.

In the fort Guru Ji met many princes who were detained there due to political reasons. They were leading a very deplorable life. With the help of Hari Dass (the governor of fort) Guru Ji improved their condition. Hari Daas was a Sikh of Guru Nanak and he become ardent devotee of Guru Hargobind. Once when Chandu wrote to Hari Daas to poison Guru Sahib, he at once placed that letter before Guru Ji.

When several months passed and Guru Ji was not released then Baba Buddha Ji and other devotees sikhs met the Guru. They informed him about the despicable condition of the Sikhs, who were waiting for him with great eagerness. The Guru assured them that they should not worry, he would join them soon. In the meantime Sai Mian Meer Ji met Jahangeer and asked him to release the Guru. Jahangeer, who had fully recovered ordered Wazir Khan to release Guru Sahib. But Guru Ji declined to leave the fort unless the princes confined in the fort were also released.

When Wazir Khan informed the Emperor about the desire of the Guru Ji, the Emperor was forced to agree, though he didn't want to free the prisoners. But the Emperor put down the condition that "whoever can hold on to the Guru's cloak can be released." Having compassion for others, Guru Sahib was determined to get the fifty–two Hindhu princes prisoners freed. He had a cloak made with 52 corners, for each King to hold on to and Guru Ji finally left the fort with all fifty-two princes. As the Guru liberated all the prisioners he is known as Bandi-Chhor (Liberator). Jahangeer was very much pleased with his Goodness. He ordered Wazir Khan to bring Guru Hargobind Sahib in his court at Delhi with great honour. Jahangeer had realised that he was wrong for torturing and killing His father (Guru Arjan Dev Ji), who had not committed any crime or offense. He exonerate himself by indicting the crime on Chandu Shah and other officers.

A Gurudwara known as Bandi-Chhor is built at the place where Guru Ji stayed during his detention. The Sikhs celebrate this day as Bandi Chhorr Divas i.e., "the day of release of detainees" and illuminations are made in the Gurdwaras and in homes.

What do we learn from Bandi-Chhor Diwas?
52 Hindu Kings were freed with Guru Sahib. Guru Sahib could have left the Fort alone, however, Guru Ji thought of others before himself. For him the ohers freedom and rights were more important than his own. Guru Ji never thought only of his emancipation but was concerned about everyone's emancipation (SARBAT DA BHALLA). This is the attitude and virtue which Guru Ji wanted to fill within his Sikhs. We should pray for His mercy. May WAHEGURU emancipate our soul from five dreaded vices and help us to enjoy real essence of  light within.

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