Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sakhi Serires :- 225 ( Guru Arjan Dev Ji - the first Sikh martyr )

Guru Arjan Dev Ji - the first Sikh martyr

During the rein of Guru Arjan Dev ji, loads of people were joining Sikhism in Punjab and in various other parts of India and even in the neighboring countries. It is said that the hilly Rajas of Kulu, Suket, Haripur and Chamba visited the Guru and became his followers as did the Raja of Mandi. Guru's fame and influence became widely spread.

At that time Chandu Lal was Emperor Akbar's Diwan (financial advisor). His official duties necessitated him to reside in Delhi. He had a young daughter of extreme beauty. Her mother, one day, said to her father, "Our daughter is growing to maturity. We should search for a husband for her." Chandu Lal, therefore, sent his family priest and barber in search for a suitable match for his daughter. The priest and the barber searched every city in the Punjab but could not find a satisfactory match. One day again Chandu's wife insisted that they should continue their efforts. So the priest and the barber were again dispatched for the purpose. They searched and searched and when they reached Lahore, they heard about the Guru's young son, HarGobind. They went to Amritsar and found HarGobind as the most descent match for the young girl. They came back and reported to Chandu accordingly. They gave their analysis on the excellence of HarGobind and the enormous respect that his father was commanding in the city of Amritsar. Chandu was not pleased hearing praises of the Guru, so he asked the priest and the barber, "Do you think him equal to me? Guru's caste is inferior to me. You desire to put the ornamental tile of top storey into a gutter! Where am I, the imperial finance minister; and where is the Guru, though he may be an object of veneration to his followers?"

After the husband and wife had argued the whole night over the matter, it was decided that Sada Kaur (their daughter) should be given in marriage to HarGobind. The marriage presents were, therefore, dispatched to Amritsar.

It came to the ears of the Sikhs of Delhi that Chandu had used derogatory expressions for the Guru. They sent a messenger with a letter explaining Chandu's utterances and prayed to the Guru to reject his alliance. The Sikhs of Delhi as well as of Amritsar prayed that the alliance of a haughty head like Chandu should not be accepted. The Guru was obliged to accept the advice of his Sikhs and so with utmost humility he told the matchmakers, "I am contented with my humble lot and desire not an alliance with the great. An ornamental tile should not be put in a gutter."

While the matchmakers were still remonstrating, a Sikh, Narain Das, a grandson of Bhai Paro (a famous Sikh of Guru AmarDas ji) stood in the congregation and beseeched the Guru,"O king, I am the dust of thy lotus feet. I have a daughter whom my wife and I have vowed to offer to thy son. If you make her the slave of thy feet, I shall be fortunate. I am a poor unhonored Sikh and thou art the honor of the unhonored." The Guru replied,"If you have love in your heart, then your proposal is acceptable to me." Narain Das at once went and purchased the marriage presents and betrothal ceremony was performed.

All this happened in the presence of Chandu's matchmakers who went back to Delhi and disappointed their master with sad news. Chandu was very much incensed and he wrote a letter to the Guru apologizing for his thoughtless expressions. He pleaded with the Guru that if he accepted his alliance, he would give large dowry to his daughter and he would have many favors conferred on him (Guru) by the Emperor. In the end he threatened that he was already on bad terms with his brother Prithi Chand and if he fell out with him too, it might ignite a blazing fire which would be difficult to extinguish.

He dispatched the letter with the priest. The Guru having read it, stated, "It is the pride that ruins men. Man suffers for his acts. They whom the Creator joined, are united and they whom men joined, are not. It is the Guru's rule to comply with the wishes of his Sikhs. Their words are immutable. As for his threats, I have no fear because God is the guardian of all." The priest returned with this message. This set the stage for Chandu's evil designs against the Guru.

The Emperor Akbar died soon after and was succeeded by his son Jahangir. Akbar had nominated his grandson Khusro in suppression of his son. Khusro claimed Punjab and Afghanistan which his father, Jahangir, was unwilling to concede to him. Jahangir ordered Khusro's arrest but the latter escaped and went towards Afghanistan. On his way he visited the Guru at TarnTaran and told him that he was needy, poor and had no traveling expenses. So he begged the Guru for pecuniary assistance.

Khusro had previously visited the Guru accompanying his grandfather Akbar and was, therefore, very well known to him. Secondly in Guru's house everybody- friend or foe, king or pauper, is treated equally. The Guru knew what was coming, but seeing the plight of the prince, he gave Khusro financial help. Khusro was, however, seized while crossing Jehlum, by the imperial forces and was brought in chains to his father.

Prithia(Prithi Chand) continued to retain the assistance and co-operation of Sulhi Khan against the Guru. On the pretext of collecting revenue in the Punjab, Sulhi Khan obtained leave from the Emperor. On his way he visited Prithia at his village Kotha where they concocted plans for the Guru's destruction. In the meantime, however, Prithia took Sulhi Khan to show his brick-kilns, where Sulhi Khan met with his accidental death by his sudden fall in the live brick-kiln.

Prithia was very much saddened at the death of his ally in evil. In those circumstances Chandu came to his rescue and filled the gap. Chandu wrote to Prithia to use his influence to bring his daughter's alliance with HarGobind. Prithia was ready to assist Chandu in his nefarious designs against the Guru. He wrote back that the Guru who had deprived him of his right over Guruship, was already his enemy; and he would only be too happy to assist in meting him with adequate punishment. In his letter he begged Chandu to use his influence with the Emperor to bring the Guru to justice. So they both concocted a plan to induce the Emperor by some means to visit Punjab where they would have an opportunity to enter into some conspiracy against the Guru.

Chandu's scheme was successful and in a short period of time the Emperor came to Punjab. He told the Emperor that Guru Arjan Dev was acting as his rival in Punjab by entertaining thieves and exercising independent authority. Upon this the Emperor sent an order to the Guru through Sulbi Khan, the nephew of late Sulhi Khan, to abstain from such practices. On his journey to Amritsar, Sulbi Khan confronted with some Pathans and was killed. When Chandu heard the death of Sulbi Khan, he convinced the Emperor that it had been done through the machinations of the Guru. He added other false allegations as well. For example the Guru had deprived his elder brother Prithi Chand of his rights over Guruship and had also endeavored to deprive Hindus and Muslims of their religions. The Emperor immediately sent for Prithia who was overjoyed with the invitation. He made preparations to go to the Emperor but after the dinner he got a cramp in his stomach and died the same night.

Meharban, son of Prithia, wasted no time after the death of his father in informing Chandu who in turn informed the Emperor that the Guru had blessed Khusro and had promised that he would become the Emperor. The Emperor was also notified that the Pundits and the Qazis were enraged at the compilation of Adi Granth which blasphemed the worship rules of the Hindus and the prayer and fasting of the Muslims. By such accusations, Chandu induced the Emperor to summon Guru Arjan Dev ji.

Emperor Jahangir writes in his autobiography:
"In Goindwal, which is on the river Biyah (Beas), there was a Hindu named Arjan, in the garments of sainthood and sanctity so much so, that he had captured many of the simple- hearted of the Hindus and even the ignorant and foolish followers of Islam, by his ways and manners, and they had loudly sounded the drum of his holiness. They called him Guru and from all sides stupid people crowded to worship and manifest complete faith in him. For three or four generations (of spiritual successors) they kept this shop warm. Many times it occurred to me to put a stop to this vain affair or to bring him into the assembly of the people of Islam.

At last, when Khusro passed along this road, this insignificant fellow proposed to wait upon him. Khusro happened to halt at the place where he was, and he came out and did homage to him. He behaved to Khusro in certain special ways, and made on his forehead a finger-mark of saffron which the Indians call Qashqa and is considered propitious. When this came to my ears and I fully knew his heresies, I ordered that he should be brought into my presence and having handed over his houses, dwelling places, and children to Murtaza Khan (Sheikh Farid Bukhari) and having confiscated his property I ordered that he should be put to death with tortures."

The following events led to the Guru's summons by the Emperor resulting in martyrdom:

To begin with, it was his elder brother, Prithi Chand who devoted his whole life to harm the Guru in every possible way. Secondly Chandu's animosity over his daughter's non-alliance with the Guru's son, is considered the main fuel. These men with jealousies in their hearts, concocted the real story of Khusro to rouse the ire of Emperor Jahangir which added fuel to the blazing fire. Along with these circumstances Guru's increasing influence in bringing crowds of Hindus and Muslims to Sikhism, created a stir in the minds of the Pundits (Brahmans) and the Qazis (Muslim priests). The compilation of Adi Granth was considered a serious blow to other religions. Through all these circumstances Guru Arjan Dev ji fell a victim to the bigotry and inhumanity of the Mohammadan Emperor.

Before his departure to Lahore, the all knowing Guru appointed his son, HarGobind as his successor and gave suitable instructions. He took five Sikhs, Bhai Bidhi Chand, Bhai Langaha, Bhai Piara, Bhai Jetha, and Bhai Pirana, with him. Some writers say that Emperor Jahangir had gone to Kashmir before the arrival of the Guru in Lahore.

The Emperor Jahangir addressed the Guru, "Thou art a saint, a great teacher, and a holy man; You look on all, rich and poor, alike. It was therefore, not proper for you to give money to my enemy Khusro." The Guru replied, "I regard all people, whether Hindu or Musalman, rich or poor, friend or foe, as equals; and it is on this account that I gave your son some money for his journey, and not because he was in opposition to you. If I had not assisted him in his forlorn condition, and so shown some regard for the kindness of thy father, Emperor Akbar to myself, all men would have despised me for my heartlessness and ingratitude, or they would have said that I was afraid of you. This would have been unworthy of a follower of Guru Nanak Dev ji."

The Guru's reply did not sooth Jahangir's feelings and he ordered him to pay two lakhs of rupees (two hundred thousand rupees), and also to erase the hymns in his Granth which were opposed to the Hindu and Muslim religions. The Guru replied, "Whatever money I have is for the poor, the friendless and the stranger. If you ask for money, you may take whatever I have; but if you ask for it by way of fine I shall not give you even a penny, because a fine is imposed on the wicked worldly persons and not on priests and saints. As regarding the erasure of hymns in the Adi Granth, I cannot erase or alter an iota. I am a worshipper of the Immortal God. There is no monarch save Him; and what He revealed to the Gurus, from Guru Nanak to Guru Ram Das, and afterwards to myself, is written in the holy Granth. The hymns contained in the Adi Granth are not disrespectful to any Hindu incarnation or any Mohammadan prophet. It is certainly stated that prophets, priests, and incarnations are the handiwork of the Immortal God, Whose limit none can find. My main object is to spread the truth and the destruction of falsehood; and if, in pursuance to this objective, this perishable body is to depart, I shall account it great good fortune."

The Emperor left and the Guru was placed under the surveillance of Chandu. Some writers say that Guru Arjan Dev ji's execution was nothing except usual punishment of revenue defaulter. It seems that these writers are totally ignorant of Sikh tradition. When the Sikhs of Lahore came to know about the fine of two lakhs of rupees, they decided to raise the money to discharge the Guru's obligation of fine. The Guru issued a stern warning to his Sikhs that whosoever contributed to pay the fine imposed on him, would not be his Sikh. It was a matter of principle as mentioned in the Guru's reply above, and not a matter of two lakhs of rupees which could have been collected in twinkling of an eye. Fines are for thieves, robbers, slanderers and the wicked. Men devoted to religion did not belong to that category. It is, therefore, baseless to say that Guru's execution was usual punishment of revenue defaulter. The Qazis and Brahmans offered alternatives to the Guru to exchange death for expunging the alleged objectionable passages in Adi Granth and inserting the praises of Mohammad and of the Hindu deities. The Guru did not budge from his position.

Guru Arjan Dev ji was made to sit on the red hot iron pan (Tati Tavvi) and burning sand was poured over his bare body. He was seated in red-hot caldron, and was bathed in boiling water. Guru's body was burning and was full of blisters.

His friend and devotee, Sain Mian Mir, a Muslim saint, rushed to see him. When Mian Mir saw the ghastly scene, he cried out and said, "O Master! I cannot bear to see these horrors inflicted on thee. If you permit me, I would demolish this tyrant rule (Mian Mir is said to have possessed supernatural powers at that time)."

The Guru smiled and asked Mian Mir to look towards the skies. It is said that Sain Mian Mir saw Angels begging the Guru's permission to destroy the wicked and the proud.

The Guru addressed Sain Mian Mir, "Mian Mir, you are perturbed too soon. This is the Will of my Master (God), and I cheerfully submit and surrender to His Sweet Will." The Guru repeated and exemplified in action the meaning of this verse:

"Tera kia meetha lagei
Har Nam padarath Nanak mangei." -
(Guru Granth Sahib ji, Ang 394)
'Sweet be Thy Will, my Lord
Nanak beseecheth the gift of Nam.'

The Guru bore all this torture with equanimity and never uttered a sigh or a groan. The Guru was unruffled!
The Guru remained calm and unperturbed like a sea! The Guru was in Absolute Bliss!
This was the wonder of the Lord- an unparallel example in the history of mankind.

Sain Mian Mir asked, why was he enduring the suffering at the hands of his vile sinners when he possessed superpowers? The Guru replied, "I bear all this torture to set an example to the Teachers of True Name, that they may not lose patience or rail at God in affliction. The true test of faith is the hour of misery. Without examples to guide them, ordinary persons' minds quail in the midst of suffering." Upon this Sain Mian Mir departed commending the Guru's fortitude and singing his praises.

The Guru was again addressed to comply with the demands of his enemies. When he was threatened with further torture, he replied, "O fools! I shall never fear any torture. This is all according to God's Will, any torture wherefore afforded my pleasure." He is said to have uttered this Shabad:

"The egg of superstition hath burst; the mind is illumined;
The Guru hath cut the fetters off the feet and freed the captive.
My transmigration is at an end.
The heated caldron hath become cold; the Guru hath given the cooling Name||
Since the holy man hath been with me, Death's myrmidons,
who lay in wait for me, have left me.
I have been released from him who restrained me; what shall the judge do to me now?
The load of karma is removed; I am freed therefrom.
From the sea I have reached the shore; the Guru hath done me this favor.
True is my place, true my seat, and truth I have made my special object.
Truth is the capital; truth the stock-in-trade which Nanak hath put into his house."
(Guru Granth Sahib ji, Ang 1002)

Chandu thought to suffocate him in a fresh cowhide, in which he was to be sewn up. Instead the Guru asked for a bath in Ravi river which flowed embracing the walls of Lahore city. Chandu reveled at the thought that the Guru's body full of blisters, would undergo greater pain when dipped in cold water and he permitted him to bathe in the river. The soldiers were sent to escort the Guru. The Master's disciples saw him leaving. He looked at them still forbidding any action. He said, "Such is the Will of my God, submit to the Divine Will, move not, stand calm against all woes."

Crowds watched the Master standing in water and having a dip. Lo! The light blended with Light and the body was found nowhere. Hail to the Master! Thou art Wonderful- Martyr, the greatest. Thou art the Greatest!

Guru Sahib was martyred in 1606. Guru Sahib instructed that his martyrdom would show that all peaceful means to persuade the Emperor against tyranny having failed, it was now right and just to resort to the sword to protect the weak and innocent.

Thus Guru Sahib sacrificed his life to uphold the principle of Social, Economic, Political, Religious Freedom for all and doing Sewa, being Merciful and helping the needy.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sakhi Series :- 224 ( Bhai Kala ji)

Bhai Kala Ji

One day a man named Bhai Kala came to see the Guru and receive his instruction, bringing his two orphan nephews Sandali and Phul with him( their father was killed in the battle during Guru Har Gobind Sahib ji's time). When Kala bowed before the Guru the two boys began to weep and wail and hit their bellies like a drum. Everybody was surprised at this unusual behaviour of the boys in the presence of the Guru. The Guru smiled and said, "Dear Kala, what is the matter with the boys?"

"Sir," said Kala with tears in eyes, "They are the sons of my brother who died a few years ago leaving me to look after them and their mother. My Lord, I am very poor and can hardly afford them two meals a day. They have been hungry since yesterday. Help me my Guru, or the whole family will starve to death."

"Take heart Kala," said the Guru, "The Lord is merciful and gracious. Who knows what is in store for these lads? Today they are striking their empty bellies, tomorrow their sword might strike the tyrants bellies.

Mysterious are the ways of the Lord, Kala, and these same orphans may become kings and rule over a vast country. The Lord can make oceans turn into deserts and the deserts He can make into oceans. Only repeat His Name, earn an honest living and look after the poor orphans as best you can."

Having received this blessing Kala was very happy and went home full of joy. He told the whole story to his wife. She was disappointed because Kala had earned a blessing for his nephews and not for his own sons. Pressed hard by his wife, Kala once again went to the Guru, this time carrying his two sons on his shoulders. The Guru understood what had happened and said, "Dear Kala, I am only a servant of the Lord. It is he who bestows honours and grants wishes. Pray to Him, dear Kala, if He is pleased He may make your sons what you wish. I can only say that if they work hard and honestly, they will be happy and will enjoy the fruit of their own labour."

In time, the straight-forward words of Guru Har Rai ji turned out to be a sort of blessing for the two families. The two orphans Phul and Sandli became the rulers of Nabha and Patiala. Phul had six sons. From the eldest, Tilok Singh, the Rajas of Nabha and Jind were the descendants. The Maharaja of Patiala was the descendant from Phul's second son, Ram Singh. Phul died in 1689. The present ruler, Maharaja Yadvindra Singh, agreed to merge his state with the Indian Union in 1956. The Maharaja does not rule now but he is held in great respect because of his voluntary decision to join with the Indian Union and accept the national Government.

Kala's own sons did not become rulers but they became very rich landlords and were known as Bahias. They lived freely and no Government ever charged any land revenue or tax from them up to the present day.

"Nanak, call that a miracle, 
Which the Lord graciously bestows."
(Guru Granth Sahib)

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Sakhi Series :- 223 ( Dhan Dhan Raja Janak Hai )

Dhan Dhan Raja Janak Hai Jin Simran Keo Bibek
Ek Gharhi Ke Simraney Paapi Tharey Anek

Raja Janak is considered to be a great king of ancient times who was a very Dharmi(righteous) king.
Bhai Gurdas Ji has written about King Janak in his Vaars:

bhagath vaddaa raajaa janak hai guramukh maayaa vich oudhaasee
King Janak was a great saint who amidst maya remained indifferent to it.

dhaev lok no(n) chaliaa gan ga(n)dhharab sabhaa sukhavaasee
Along with gans and gandharvs (calestial musicians) he went to the abode of the gods.

jamapur gaeiaa pukaar sun vilalaavan jee narak nivaasee
From there, he, hearing the cries of inhabitants of hell, went to them.

dhharamaraae no aakhioun sabhanaa dhee kar ba(n)dh khalaasee
He asked the god of death, Dharamrai, to relieve all their suffering.

karae baenathee dhharamaraae ho saevak t(h)aakur abinaasee
Hearing this, the god of death told him he was a mere servant of the eternal Lord (and without His orders he could not liberate them).

gehinae dhharian eik naaou(n) paapaa(n) naal karai nirajaasee
Janak offered a part of his devotion and remembrance of the name of the Lord.

paasa(n)g paap n pujanee guramukh naaou(n) athul n thulaasee
All the sins of hell were found not equal even to the counterweight of balance.

narakahu(n) shhuttae jeeaa ja(n)th kattee galahu silak jamafaasee
In fact no balance can weigh the fruits of recitation and remembrance of the Lords name by the gurmukh.

mukath jugath naavai(n) kee dhaasee a
All the creatures got liberated from hell and the noose of death was cut. Liberation and the technique of attaining it are the servants of the name of the Lord.

After a long life of mediation and naam abhiyaas(meditation), King Janak gave up his body. A divine chariot descended and King Janak's soul boarded it. On the way the chariot came near to the abode of Dharam Raj, the lord of death. There, sinners were suffering punishment in millions of hells. When the wind that had touched the soul of King Janak came to them they felt great joy and their misery disappeared. Then those persons, oppressed by sins, wanting to keep King Janak's association, began to lament. They spoke piteously to King Janaka, "O blessed one. Please do not leave. We who are greatly tormented are feeling happy due to contact with the breezes that have touched your body."

Hearing their words, the very righteous king became filled with pity and thought to himself, "If due to the touch of the breezes that have touched my body I am bringing some happiness to the residents here, then I will stay in this place. This is heaven for me."

Thinking like this, the king stayed there by the gateway to hell. After some time, Dharam Raj himself came to that gateway. There he saw King Janak, full of mercy and a doer of great meritorious deeds, standing by the doorway.

Dharam Raj smiled and said to King Janaka, "O king! You are sarva-dharma-siromani - the crest jewel of piety. Why have you come here? This is a place for wicked sinners who cause harm to others. Men like you who perform meritorious deeds do not come to this place."

Dharam Raj then said, "Those persons who do not remember the Lord with their mind, words, or deeds I throw them into hell and punish them. Those who have remembered the Lord leave the sufferings of hell and quickly go to Heaven.

"O very intelligent king, my servants, unable to even look at persons like you, bring those who are great sinners. Therefore you should leave this place and go to lords abode.

Hearing the words of Dharamraj, with great compassion King Janaka replied, "O Dharam Raj, out of pity on these beings I shall not go to Heaven. Although situated in this place, they are feeling some comfort due to the breezes blowing past my body. If you release all of these persons living in hell then I shall be happy and will proceed to Heaven."

Hearing the words of King Janaka, Dharam Raj pointed out to him each of those living in hell and said told the king why they were in hell and the punishment each one of them was going to receive.

After making all of these persons eat the fruit of their sins, I shall release them. O best among men who have accumulated vast amounts of religious merit, please leave this place.

Having pointed out the sinful persons, Dharam Raj became quiet. With his eyes full of tears, King Janaka, the great devotee of the Lord, said, "Tell me, how can these miserable beings quickly be set free from hell and attain happiness?"

Dharam Raj replied, "These persons have never worshiped the Lord. How then can they be free from hell? O great king, if you desire to release them, even though they are great sinners, then give them the following religious merit possessed by you: Once, upon getting up in the morning, you meditated with a pure heart upon the Lord— the remover of great sins. Give them the religious merit which you obtained that morning when with a pure heart you uttered, "Rama, Rama." Obtaining that merit, they will get freedom from hell."

Hearing these words of the intelligent Dharam Raj, the great king Janak gave those persons the religious merit obtained by him from his birth. King Janak said, "Let these persons be released from hell due to the religious merit earned by me from birth by the worship of God."

As soon as he said this, those persons dwelling in hell immediately were freed from their suffering condition and obtained divine bodies. They said to King Janak, "O king, by your favour, in one moment we have been freed from miserable hell and will now go to the highest position."

All the sins of hell were found not equal even to the counterweight of balance. In fact no balance can weigh the fruits of recitation and remembrance of the Lords name by the gurmukh. All the creatures got liberated from hell and the noose of death was cut. Liberation and the technique of attaining it are the servants of the name of the Lord.
Seeing those now-effulgent persons freed from hell, King Janak, who desired the welfare of all beings, was very pleased in his mind. All those persons praised the great King Janak, the very treasure house of compassion, and went to the spiritual world.