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Friday 25 November 2011

Guru Teg Bahadur was the first martyr for human rights

Guru Teg Bahadur was the first martyr for human rights

I P Singh, TNN | Nov 24, 2011, 07.10AM IST
ALANDHAR: As the martyrdom day of ninth Sikh master, Guru Teg Bahadur, is being observed on Wednesday, only a few may know that he was the first martyr for human rights, who attained martyrdom for defending the rights of followers of a different faith to practice their faith.
It was around a century before the popular quotation, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it", attributed to French writer, deist and philosopher Voltaire, that the ninth master demonstrated it literally.
Ironically, this statement became more popular in the world than its real demonstration, which preceded it a century ago in the Indian subcontinent.
"Guru Teg Bahadur was undisputedly the first martyr for human rights. His martyrdom was unparalleled in world history as never before somebody had laid down life to defend the right of followers of another faith to practice their faith," said former IAS and Sikh scholar, Gurtej Singh.
"It was his martyrdom in 1675 that forcible conversion of Hindus to Islam under the rule of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb could be checked," he said.
After guru Teg Bahadur laid down his life, Pandit Kirpa Ram Dutt, heading a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits, had approached the Guru to protect them from forcible conversion and later became a Khalsa. He then became Kirpa Singh and attained martyrdom in the battle of Chamkaur in presence of Guru Teg Bahadur's son and tenth Sikh master, Guru Gobind Singh. Later Guru Gobind Singh sacrificed his four sons for the righteous cause and to end tyranny.
"Once I wrote in a national daily to set the record straight about his martyrdom by referring to a number of historical references as a noted historian had tried to create confusion about his martyrdom. It was the sheer uniqueness of his martyrdom that my article was reproduced by several publications in various languages of South and all this was done by non-Sikhs," Gurtej recalled, adding, "There is much wider audience for Guru's martyrdom in and outside the country".
Gurbachan Singh, general secretary of Punjab Human Rights Organization, said that lessons from Guru Teg Bahadur's martyrdom assume more significance as human rights issues are turning much more serious across the world. "At a philosophical level also, he has beautifully explained the idea of accepting death fearlessly and naturally in his hymns. His hymns can inspire even those in deep despair," he said. "He was rightly called Hind Di Chadar (saviour of Hindus and their faith)," Gurbachan Singh said.
Inspirational act
A contemporary of Guru Teg Bahadur had put the idea of his martyrdom in a few couplets -- Baanh Jinna Di Pakrie Sir Dije Baanh na chhodiye (If you take somebody under your protection, you may give your life but don't leave your asylum seeker) and Guru Teg Bahadur Bolia Dhar Paaiye Dharam Na chhodiye (Guru Teg Bahadur demonstrated even if you get entire earth, don't give up your faith).

Virasat-e-Khalsa: Bringing alive the gurus' inspiration

Priya Yadav, TNN | Nov 24, 2011, 07.09AM IST
ANANDPUR SAHIB: Its history pieced together through a series of paintings, depicting the lives of the Gurus, their struggle, the heritage they left behind and the pride of their followers in the way of life laid down. The Virasat-e-Khalsa, set to be thrown open 13 years after its foundation stone was laid, lends an insight into the turbulent events that unfolded in the previous three centuries in Punjab that gave birth to Khalsa.
Envisaged as a repository of the rich heritage of Khalsa, its history and culture of Punjab, to inspire visitors with the vision of Gurus, the building has cost over Rs 350 crore and has survived multiple controversies. The first phase of the complex has been politicized right from the foundation stone laid by Congress to its completion by the SAD-BJP government.
The complex contains a 400-seat auditorium, double storied library, galleries to put up exhibitions, a walk-through ramp, a series of water bodies -- conceptualized by US-based Israeli architect Moshe Safdie and spread over 100 acres at the foot hills of Shivalik ranges.
"It has taken a long time to make the building and we hope we have brought alive the inspiration of the gurus. I am satisfied with the work so far. Of course, there are more phases to come up," said Moshe Safdie.
The lives of Gurus, right from 15th century to the early years of Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Angad Dev, Guru Amardas, Guru Arjan Dev, martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur, setting up of Harminder Sahib and more are depicted through paintings and videos.
The place is not without its critics, though. Made of sandstone, the building departs from the original Khalsa designs. Contrary to the tradition of domes, which crown the sacred Sikh sites, the roofs of the museum are concave-shaped receptors facing the sky. The exterior supports a striking resemblance with synagogues, especially due to the shape of the building and does not match with the old Sikh buildings of Anandpur Sahib, sources said.

Baisakhi of 1699 A.D - The completion of Guru Nanak’s mission

Dr Rajinder Singh | Apr 25, 2011, 02.34PM IST
Guru Nanak Dev ji, the founder of Sikh Religion gave a new vision of life and a new concept of respectful living. His divine message, rooted in purity, truth and simplicity, pierced superstitious walls and won the heart of the people. 

He made it clear to the people that only those should join him who love truth and can fearlessly stand like a rock for justice, equality, discipline, self respect and compassion. In fact, total commitment on their part was needed. The path was hazardous. The followers were made aware of the difficult terrain of the new path. The Guru's call was:
Jau tau prem khelan ka chaao
Sir dhar tali gali meri aao.
It marg pair dhareje,
Sir deje kan na keeje.
(Guru Granth Sahib , p. 1412)

"If you desire to play the game of love then come to my street with head on your palm. Once you are on the path, face death unhesitatingly."

It took 230 years (1469-1699 CE) for the followers to get completely familiarized with the new path. In fact the master plan and the blue print of the new path was sketched and displayed by Guru Nanak Dev ji and the successor Gurus added to the completion to the plan. Practice was made more important than the precept. History bears witness to the fact that each Guru remained steadfast on the moral and spiritual ground as ordained by Guru Nanak Dev ji. The Gurus, throughout their lives, remained a perfect personification of the spirit which later on culminated as the spirit of the Khalsa. This spirit was for the welfare of the entire humanity.

Manas ki jaat sabai ekai pehchaanbo.

"Recognize all human beings as one and the same".

In 1675 CE, Guru Tegh Bahadur ji the 9th Nanak gave supreme Sacrifice in Chandni Chowk, Delhi, India to save Hindu Religion from the hands of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb who was bent upon converting all of them to Islam. His martyrdom perhaps , is the only example , in the history of the world, of a life given for the protection of religion of others and for the freedom of conscience. It was this unique martyrdom and the circumstances there after in Delhi at that time, which made Guru Gobind Singh ji think for the first time, to give his followers (Sikhs) a distinctive identity, so that they may become fearless and may not be able to hide even if they so wished.

The Baisakhi Day: 
Guru Gobind Rai was nine years when his father Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib ji made supreme sacrifice. He organized Sikhs and led them to follow spiritual route to attain union with Waheguru (Almighty God) and at the same time, trained them to be self defendant and guard the helpless against injustice, suppression and tyranny. He observed deeply the effects of the concepts, mainly of Miri-Piri (Saint Soldier) given by his grand father Guru Hargobind Sahib ji and the impact of the supreme sacrifice of his great-grand father and the prince among the martyrs Guru Arjun Devji on his followers .

At the age of 33 i.e. 24 years since the Guruship, Guru Gobind Rai was set out to accomplish God's spiritual mission started by Guru Nanak Dev ji of creating 'Khalsa Panth' (God's Religion) as referred by Bhai Gurdas II, a contemporary poet of Guru Gobind Singh ji who wrote as : Gur Sangat keeni Khalsa manmukhi duhela, Vah vah Gobind Singh aape Gur chela.

He chose the day of Vaisakhi for such a grand and historic venture. Guru ji has been quoted to have not made any public appearance for over 11 months. In early 1699, few months before the Vaisakhi day, Guru ji sent a special invitation to the Sikh all over the country to join the special Vaisakhi Diwan in the town of Anandpur Sahib in Punjab State of India with special directions not to cut any of their hair and to come with their turbans on .

As the day came nearer, many Sikhs started to come and gather at Anandpur . It is estimated that close to 80,000 Sikhs had gathered there.

A stage was set up with a tent pitched up near by. The congregation was eagerly waiting for the Guru to come. Guru Gobind Rai appeared on the scene. He raised his naked sword in the air and Shouted, "My dear Sikhs! Today I need a head. My sword wants to taste the blood of a Sikh. Is there any among you who is ready to offer his head to me." The crowd listened and wondered why the Guru asking for a head. This amazed and horrified many. There was a pin drop silence. Some were looking for the way to escape. For the moment, no one came forward. Guru ji repeated the same demand of a head again. On Guru ji's third call, a Sikh named Daya Ram, a Khatri by caste from Lahore came in front of the Guru with head bowed and hands folded. Firstly, he begged apology for not responding the Guru's first call and then humbly uttered that his body and soul belonged to the Guru. Guru ji took him to the near by tent. A few minutes later the crowd heard a big sword sound. Guru ji came back with blood smeared Sword. The situation grew more amazing. It became difficult for some to breath. Guru ji repeated the same call for another head and successively Dharam Das, a jat of hastinapur (Delhi) ; Himat Rai, a Water carrier of Jagannath puri ; Mohkam Chand, a washerman of Dwarka and Sahib Chand, a Barber of Bidar came forward and one by one taken to the tent. The vast gathering was getting eager and anxious to know what was going to happen next. It is said that the ruling Emperor Aurangzeb had sent a Hindu convert spy to closely monitor the event. He just managed to catch the glimpses of the heads separated from the bodies inside the tent. After some longer time than before Guru ji came out of the tent with the five Sikhs all wearing the beautiful colored robes. Their appearance looked just the same as the Guru's.

Guru ji announced that the five Sikhs have shown great courage and loyalty by offering heads to their faith and from now they will be known as the Panj Piyare (Five Beloved Ones).

After this, Guru ji prepared AMRIT (Nector). Guru ji gave, to each, five palms full of Amrit to drink-for internal mind's purification; sprinkled five times into their eyes- to see always high and good and five times into their hairs-for regarding hair as God's will and source of wisdom, each time making them repeat after him (Guru) "Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh" meaning thereby - Khalsa was creation of God and God has been victorious in the creation of Khalsa. This demonstrated Guru's humility where he disclaimed any credit for the creation of Khalsa to himself rather proclaimed it to be the God's own deed. In Guru ji's own words:-

Panth Khalsa Bheyo Puneeta
Prabh Agya kar Udit Bhaey
(Sarab loh Granth)

"Singh"(Lion) and "Kaur" (Princess) were appended to the male and female names respectively. Guru ji abolished all caste, color, creed, high and low distinctions and made them the members of same class the "Khalsa Panth", Guru Gobind Singh as their Father and Mata Sahib Kaur as their Mother. All the 'Khalsa Panth' members were made the resident of Anandpur Sahib. Five Beloved Ones assumed new names as :

Bhai Daya Singh (Mercy)
Bhai Dharam Singh (Principle)
Bhai Himat Singh (Courage)
Bhai Mohkam Singh (Firmness/determination)
Bhai Sahib Singh (Leadership)

Guru Ji knelt before Panj Piyare and requested them to bless him with Amrit so that he could become the member of Khalsa Panth and from Gobind Rai to Gobind Singh. This signified that the Guru gave all the glory to the Khalsa and the importance of Amrit from which Guru himself did not want to be deprived of. This is the reason why Guru Gobind Singh ji is referred as "Aape Gur Chela"i.e Guru as well Disciple at the same time.

As mentioned earlier that Emperor Aurangzeb had sent a Hindu Convert spy to watch the entire event and report him accordingly, he is said to be a Hindu scholar and was forcibly converted to Islam and his name was Abul Turani . He witnessed all and was left spell bound. He repented, cursed himself, wept bitterly, explained all he was deputed for which Guru ji already knew and wanted to be enrolled as a member of Khalsa Panth. He took Amrit and was named as Ajmer Singh .Later he sent his resignation to the Emperor alarming him for the stoppage of all his evil designs against the visible God in the form of Guru Gonind Singh.

This is, in brief, how Guru Gobind Singh ji the 10th Nanak completed the Mission initiated by Guru Nanak Dev ji the Founder of the Sikh Religion on the day of the Baisakhi in 1699CE

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Times Internet Limited.

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