Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Bhai Gurbaksh Singh ji - Shahid Ganj

Bhai Gurbaksh Singh ji (1688-1764)

Baba Deep Singh ji Shaheed martyrdom in 1757 at Amritsar Sahib was not the last one, in fact it inspired thousands more. In 1757, Baba Deep Singh ji took a vow to evacuate Amritsar Sahib which was in control of Afghani Durrani (Abdali) forces and started his march along with about 500 or so disciples and fulfilled his vow by breathing last at Parikarma periphery of Darbar Sahib Amritsar Sahib. His martyrdom inspired countless others; one of them was Bhai Gurbaksh Singh.
Gurbaksh Singh (1688-1764), also known as Gurbaksh Singh Nihang or Shaheed, hailed from the village of Lil, in Amritsar District. According to an old manuscript which was preserved in the Sikh reference library, Amritsar, until it perished in the Government of India's Army action in 1984, and which is quoted by Singh Sahib Giani Kirpal Singh, he was born on Baisakh Vadi 5, 1745 Bk i.e. 10th April 1688 (father Dasaundha Singh, Mother Mai Lachchami). In 1698, the family shifted to Anandpur where Gurbaksh Singh took pahul of the Khalsa on the historic Baisakhi day of 1699. He completed his religious education under Bhai Mani Singh. He later joined the Shahid Misl under Baba Deep Singh and after the latter's martyrdom in 1757 at Amritsar, organized his own Jatha or fighting band. In battles against Durranis (Afghanis) and Mughals his dera usually formed the vanguard carrying the banner, and won renown of its acts of gallantry.

In November 1764, Ahmad Shah Abdali at the head of 30,000 afghanis invaded India for 7th time, Bhai Gurbaksh Singh happened to be stationed at holy Shrine at Amritsar. The Durrani (Abdali) advanced up to the town virtually unopposed and entered the partially reconstructed Harmandar Sahib, which he had demolished two years earlier. Bhai Gurbaksh Singh, who had already evacuated from the precints women, children, and the aged, had with him only thirty men. According to Ratan Singh Bhangu, prachin Panth Prakash "Bhai Gurbaksh Singh with garlands around his neck and sword on his shoulder, dressed himself as a bridegroom, his men forming the marriage party, waiting eagerly to court the bride-death." As soon as they saw the Afghan king and his hordes, they swooped down upon them.
This was an unequal fight - thirty pitted against thirty thousand. All thirty Sikhs were killed before Gurbaksh Singh, though throughout in the forefront, also fell. Giving an eyewitness account of the action, Qazi Nur Muhammad, the chronicler who was in the train of the invader, writes in his jangnamah when the king and his army reached the chakk (Amritsar Sahib), they did not see any infidel kafir there. But a few men stayed in a fortress were bent upon spilling their blood and they sacrificed themselves for their Guru. They were only thirty in number. They did not have the least fear of death. They engaged the Ghazis (i.e. in Islamic terminology, a Ghazi is a Muslim person who had killed an Infidel or a kafir) and spilled their blood in the process. Thus all of them were slaughtered and consigned to the seventh [hell].
This happened on 1 December 1764. Bhai Gurbaksh Singh was cremated behind Takht Akal bunga, later a tomb was built on the site which is now known as Shahid Ganj.

Salute to Great Sikh Warrior Bhai Gurbax Singh ji

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Gold Watch and a Gursikh's Amritvela

The Gold Watch and a Gursikh's Amritvela

This incident is from 1950s. There was once a gursikh who decided to go out for darshan of Siri Anandpur Sahib and celebrate Holla Mahalla there. After getting darshan, as he was travelling back, he decided to rest for night at Siri Kiratpur Sahib. He found a good spot near a creek and parked his chariot there.

This person was a good gursikh, who used to do regular Naam simran. One's who do Naam simran know that most of the time, worldly thoughts become a big hindrance to concentration on Naam. Only fortunate ones are able to break the bonds of maaiya and other thoughts of this world and concentrate on Naam. Normally, we feel lucky if we can concentrate even for few moments.

As he was about to rest, he was accosted by a simple looking gursikh who seemed uneducated. This gursikh had a cow with him and requested the Gursikh with chariot to allow him to tie his cow to his chariot. The gursikh with cow did not want to sleep alone and was looking for company in this isolated area. The Gursikh with chariot too was happy to get company.

Pretty soon, the second gursikh tied his cow there and few meters away from the chariot lied down on floor. He was asleep in no time. The first Gursikh on the other hand suddenly got a weird thought that perhaps this second gursikh had come to him to steal his gold watch. As soon as this thought came to his mind, all his sleepiness went away. He started thinking that the second gursikh was going to steal his gold watch as soon as he went to sleep.

With such intense and stressful thoughts, the first gursikh could not sleep and now had a severe headache. All night he could not sleep and kept waking up to see if his watch was safe.

In the morning, at amritvela, the second gursikh got up, did ishnaan (take shower) and did his paath / simran. . The first gursikh who could not sleep all night had just slept for few moments when he was woken up by the second gursikh. The second gursikh offered him a glass of fresh milk from his cow and thanked him for letting him sleep near him.

As the second gursikh spoke to him, he (first gursikh) realised how big of a mistake he had committed by suspecting such a gursikh person to be a thief. He now looked at his face and saw how pious he looked. The first gursikh felt very ashamed of his behaviour.

In the meantime, the second gursikh left for his destination. The first gursikh was overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and shame. He thought to himself that he had come to Siri Anandpur Sahib to get laaha and sangat but instead had suspected such a good gursikh. To make matters worse, he lost his amritvela and an opportunity to concentrate on Naam and Baani.

What worse could have happened if he had taken his watch? He should have trusted the gursikh. As he was thinking along these lines and was on his way to his village, he approached the bridge for river Sutlej.

As he was in halfway through on the bridge, he took out his gold watch and threw it in the river.

As he did this, his mann (mind) said to him, "What did you do, you fool? You threw away such a good and expensive watch in the river. You are such a fool."

"I will not give you a reason to hinder my simran and Amritvela in the future. O my Mind, you stayed entangled in the thoughts of this gold watch all night. If you had concentrated in simran, you could have earned million such watches."

The Gursikh felt much better after this