Saturday, 24 November 2012

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."

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Sakhi Series :- 206 ( Amazing Journey of Guru Tegh Bahadur's Sees from Delhi to Anandpur Sahib)

How Bhai Jaita took Guru Sahib's sees (head) back to Anandpur Sahib 

Based on "Guru Kian Sakhian" of Bhatt Svarup Singh Kaushish and Katha by Giani Pinderpal Singh ji

The aftermath of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's Shahidi and how Bhai Jaita took Guru Sahib's sees (head) back to Anandpur Sahib is not well known. It is an amazing story that is worth sharing. 

Early Life 
Bhai Jaita jee, later known as Bhai Jeevan Singh, was born in 1649 to a Sikh family once of the scavenger caste. Bhai Jaita and his brother Bhag Chand were Sikhs of Guru Har Rai Sahib. They began to live in Ramdas with Bhai Gurditta jee a very respected Gursikh who was a descendant of Baba Buddha jee. Bhai Gurditta jee was with Guru Harkrishan at the time of Guru jee's leaving this world and was later the one who performed the Guruship ceremony of Guru Tegh Bahadur. Before Guru Tegh Bahadur left for Delhi, he was called once again to perform the ceremony for Guru Gobind Rai jee. 

After Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib set out to court arrest, Bhai Gurditta jee also left for Delhi. Bhai Jaita followed him. At Delhi, Bhai Gurditta jee saw the brutal martyrdoms of the three Sikhs, one after another. So did Bhai Jaita. The day of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's martyrdom was now approaching. Bhai Jaita and Bhai Gurditta did not sleep the entire night. They prepared themselves for the sight they were about to see. Their beloved Satguru would be beheaded before them but they could not let their tears escape or utter any cry. They would have to be silent lest they be discovered and not be able to perform seva of Guru Sahib's body. They did Ardaas to Guru Tegh Bahadur that they be able to bear the sight of the horror that was to come and not utter a sound. 

Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's Shahidi 
Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib

The morning of November 11 1675 dawned. Guru Tegh Bahadur's small cage was brought to Chandani Chownk. There was a large tree that stood in the middle of the Chownk. The Chownk was a terrifying place this day. There were still the marks of the horrific tortures and Shahidis of Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das and Bhai Dayala. Amongst the crowd assembled to see the execution was Bhai Jaita, hiding himself so no one could recognize that a Sikh of the Guru was present. 

It was mid-day now. There stood the Kazi, Abdul Wahabb and the executioner, Jalaludin. Jalaludin came forward and opened Guru Tegh Bahadur's cage. Satguru jee stepped out. The Kazi said to Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, "There is still time. Embrace Islam and you will be saved. Or you may show us a miracle and you will be rewarded with a great position. If neither of these are acceptable to you then you may choose death." 

Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib replied, "I want that which my Sikhs wanted. If my Sikhs did not falter then can you expect anything different from me?" 

Guru Tegh Bahadur was asked his final wish. Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib replied that he should be allowed to do ishnaan. Guru Tegh Bahadur was allowed to bathe with water from a nearby well. He dressed in fresh clothes and sat under the large tree at the centre of the Chownk. Satguru jee closed his eyes and began to recite Sri Japji Sahib in a loud voice. Clouds began to form and it began to grow darker. The sky had a reddish glow now. As Guru Sahib recited Japji Sahib in his sweet voice, with every word, the Sikhs in the crowd realized the moment of his Shahidi was drawing closer. Satguru jee recited the final Salok and bowed his head before Akaal Purakh. There was an instant of silence and then Jalaludin, with both hid hands clenching the sharp sword, swung and severed Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's head from his body. 

Streams of blood flowed on to the ground and the sky too was now blood red. A ferocious wind began to blow and the storm broke. As the heavy rain fell, the crowd dispersed. 

The Sikhs Gather 
The Sikhs who witnessed the Shahidi of Guru Tegh Bahadur gathered at house of Bhai Nainoo. Their grief knew no end. Bhai Tulsi insisted that they could not allow Satuguru Tegh Bahadur's body to simply lie in Chandani Chownk. They decided to ask Bhai Lakhi Das, a powerful trader for help. They went ot Bhai Lakhi Das's home where he had just returned from a trip to Narnaul to get lime and sand. The caravan carrying the goods Bhai Lakhi Das had purhcased was to arrive in Delhi that night and the Sikhs decided that they would hide in this caravan and take the bodies of the Sikhs and Guru jee from the Chownk. 

Taking Guru Sahib's Body 
It was now well into the night and the storm over Delhi was still raging. Bhai Nainoo, Bhai Ageya, Bhai Jaita and Bhai Udda traveled with the caravan carrying Bhai Lakhi Das's goods. They passed by the Red Fort and then the Kotwali and finally reached Chandani Chownk. Bhai Jaita jee, using the darkness and the cover of the storm, lifted up Guru Tegh Bahadur jee's head and covered it with a white scarf. 

Bhai Lakhi Das and his son Bhai Nagahiya were following in the caravan and as it slowly passed through the Chownk, they took the body of Guru Tegh Bahadur and placed it in a cart and kept moving. Bhai Lakhi Das thought the most inconspicuous way to cremate Guru Sahib's body would be to place it within his home and light the entire home on fire so know one would suspect what really was happening. This is what he did. As he and the other Sikhs stood outside, the flames from Bhai Lakhi Das's home lept into the sky and Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's body was cremated. Rakab Ganj – Where Guru Jee's body was cremated 

The next day, Bhai Gurditta jee also left this world, following his master Guru Tegh Bahadur. He was cremated by the banks of the Jamuna. Bhai Lakhi Das remained in Delhi for some days and managed through the help of the town crier to take away the bodies of the Shahid Sikhs and cremate them at the same place Bhai Gurditta was cremated. 

Bhai Jaita meanwhile was escaping with Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's head. He decided that Guru Gobind Rai and the Sikhs would be waiting to have the final darshand and so he began to make his way towards Anandpur Sahib. Bhai Jaita clenched Satguru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's head to his chest and did an Ardaas that he be blessed with the strength to return to Anandpur Sahib. The Mughals would be searching for the head and so he could not travel on the common roads. He would have to travel through the forests and jungles so he would not be detected. 

The First Night 
Bhai Jaita left Delhi and in his first night, covered 40 kilometers. He arrived in the town of Baghpat. 

The morning of November 12th was beginning to dawn and Bhai Jaita arrived near the Dargah of a Sufi saint, Sheikh Wahuddin. Wahuddin asked "Who are you?" Bhai Jaita declared, "I am a Sikh of Guru Tegh Bahadur." Wahuddin asked, "Where is your Guru now?" Bhai Jaita with tears in his eyes told the Sufi of Guru Sahib's martyrdom and revealed that he was carrying Guru Sahib's head back to Anandpur Sahib. Wahuddin was an admirer of Guru Tegh Bahadur and said he would help Bhai Jaita. He led Bhai Sahib to the house of Bhai Krishan Pal. Bhai Jaita had been running without stop all night and finally rested at Bhai Krishan Pal's home. 

Bhai Jaita jee tenderly uncovered Guru Sahib's head and saw that the cloth was covered in blood and so he took a fresh cloth and covered the head once again. 

The Second Day: Meeting a Devoted Sikh 
After a brief rest, Bhai Jaita left Baghpat and ran all day, arriving by nightfall at Taravari. Bhai Jaita was exhausted and wanted to rest for a few hours so he could once again set out at amrit vela. There was a large fort in the town and beside it a pond. The people would come there to wash their clothes and on side of the pond was a dense forest. Bhai Jaita decided to rest in the forest. As he trudged through the trees, a washerman who was still at pond and called out, "Who's there?!" Bhai Jaita heard the voice and something in him said that this voice sounded like that of a Sikh. He did not know why, but he trusted it. Bhai Jaita replied, "I am a Sikh of Guru Tegh Bahadur". The washerman exclaimed, "You are a Sikh and this town too has the home of a Sikh so why should you spend the night lying in the forest? Come with me beloved Sikh of the Satguru! I am a poor man with very little, but whatever I have you are welcome to share." 

Bhai Jaita stepped out from the trees, clutching Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's head to his chest and began to walk with the washerman who introduced himself as Bhai Deva Ram. Bhai Deva Ram had picked up the clothes he had been washing and asked, "Is there any news of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib?" 

Bhai Jaita jee heard the question and kept walking silently. Bhai Deva Ram and Bhai Jaita arrived home and once again Bhai Deva Ram asked, "What news is there of Satguru jee?" It was dark now and Bhai Deva Ram lit some candles and asked his wife to prepare some food. He saw the bundle in Bhai Jaita's arms and asked, "What is in your bundle?" Bhai Jaita replied, "It is my treasure that I would not trade even for my life." Bhai Deva Ram offered, "give your bundle to us and rest. We shall take care of it till morning…" Bhai Jaita remained silent. 

Bhai Deva Ram saw the silence and decided to ask Bhai Jaita something else. He said, "When you meet Guru Tegh Bahadur please tell him that his poor Sikh, Deva Ram has sewn some clothing for him. May he bless us by stopping here some time to accept our offering." 

It was as if even after leaving his body, that Guru Tegh Bahadur was accepting the ardaas of his Sikhs. 

Bhai Jaita took the candle from Bhai Deva Ram and layer by layer began to uncover his bundle. The final fold had some blood on it and when he pulled it back, Bhai Deva Ram's eyes fell on Guru Tegh Bahadur jee's head. Bhai Jaita could not speak and sat to one side on the ground as Guru Sahib's head rested on the bed. 

Bhai Deva Ram began to weep and thought that he had asked for Guru Sahib's darshan but who knew it would come in this form? 

Bhai Jaita could eat very little. He told Bhia Deva Ram all that had happened. Bhai Deva Ram asked Bhai Jaita to rest and said he would do the seva of Guru Sahib's head. Bhai Deva Ram lovingly covered Guru Sahib's head in the new scarf he had prepared for Guru Sahib and wass going to offer. He took the rest of the clothes he had sewn and began to whisk them over Guru Sahib's head as a chaur. All night, Bhai Deva Ram did chaur of Guru Sahib's head and did not sleep for even an instant. 

Third Day 
At amrit vela, Bhai Jaita did ishnaan and then took up Guru Sahib's head. He saw that Bhai Deva Ram had covered it in the scarf he had said he wanted to offer. Tears formed in Bhai Sahib's eyes and he thought, "Guru Sahib, even now you take me where your Sikhs wait for your darshan…" 

It was now November 13th. Traveling through the jungles over rocks and thorns, Bhai Jaita arrived at sunset near the town of Ambala. There was a river flowing there and Bhai Jaita rested under a tree. Bhai Jaita asked a passerby if there was the home of a Sikh anywhere. He was told to go to nearby Kainth Majri. 

At Kainth Majri, Bhai Jaita met Bhai Ramdev. He told Bhai Ramdev that he was a Sikh and asked if he might rest somewhere. Bhai Ramdev took Bhai Jaita to his home. Once there, he asked Bhai Jaita what was in the bundle he was carrying. Once again, in the candlelight, Bhai Jaita uncovered Guru Sahib's head and Bhai Ramdev too fell to the ground. While Guru Sahib's head rested on the bed, Bhai Jaita and Bhai Ramdev remained the entire night on the ground. 

Fourth Day: Meeting a Fakir 
The next day, Bhai Jaita arrived at Nabha Sahib. Bhai Jaita hid in the bushes to rest but was noticed by a fakir, Dargahi Shah. Dargahi Shah asked Bhai Jaita who he was and Bhai Jaita replied, "A Sikh of Guru Tegh Bahadur". Dargahi Shah replied, "You are a Sikh and so why do you stay here? Come with me to my hut." 

Dargahi Shah who was a devotee of the Gurus, took Bhai Jaita to his home and there said to Bhai jee, "Oh Sikh, when you see Guru Tegh Bahadur be sure to tell him that this old man would like to have his darshan once before he dies." 

For the fourth time in his journey, Bhai Jaita uncovered Guru Sahib's head and said, "Baba, if you truly want Guru Sahib's darshan, then behold his divine head." The Fakir fell back and asked what had happened. Bhai Jaita told him of the Shahidi of Guru Tegh Bahadur. 

All night, Dargahi Shah stayed awake and gazed at Guru jee's head. At amrit vela, as Bhai Jaita asked to leave, Dargahi Shah took Guru Sahib's head in his arms and as he would normally see off his respected guest, began to walk with Bhai Jaita. After some distance, he gently handed the head back to Bhai Jaita and said, "Tell Guru Gobind Rai that this old fakir will only leave his body after having his darshan." Some years later, after the battle of Bhangani, Guru Gobind Singh and Bhai Jaita returned to meet this old fakir and only then did Dargahi Shah leave this world. 

Fifth Day: Reaching Kiratpur Sahib 
On November 14th, Bhai Jaita finally saw Kiratpur Sahib ahead of him. Kiratpur Sahib is not very far from Anandpur Sahib and is the holy place where Guru Hargobind Sahib and Guru Har Rai Sahib were cremated. Bhai Jaita wondered whether Guru Gobind Rai would want Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's head to be cremated here as well. Bhai Jaita rested where today stands Gurdwara Bibangarh Sahib. 

Bhai Jaita had now been meet by other Sikhs and they sent a message to Guru Gobind Rai that his father's head had arrived at Kiratpur Sahib. As the sun set on November 14th, the message arrived at Anandpur Sahib. 

The Sikh carrying the message entered Guru Sahib's home and Mata Nanaki asked, "what is the news?" The Sikh could not speak. When Guru Gobind Rai appeared, the Sikh fell at his feet and told them that Bhai Jaita had brought Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's head. Upon hearing the news, Guru Gobind Rai, Mata Nanaki jee, Mata Gujri jee, and the rest of the Sikh Sangat left Anandpur Sahib and took with them a palki (palanquin). 

Ranghreta Guru Ka Beta

The Sangat arrived at Kiratpur Sahib, singing Gurbani. Bhai Jaita was still holding Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's head. He saw Guru Gobind Rai and placed the bundle before him and stepped back his eyes cast downwards. Guru Gobind Rai first uncovered Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's head and had its darshan. He then took Mata Nanaki jee by the arm and said, "Grandmother, come and see your son's head." Mata jee tenderly kissed Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's forehead, smiled and said, "look, the glow on my beloved one's face is the same as it always was." 

Mata Gujri jee stepped forward, bowed and said, "Lord, you love (for the Divine) endured. May mine endure as well." 

Guru Gobind Rai jee called Bhai Jaita. Bhai Jaita, who had traveled for so many days, his body tired and battered by the long and treacherous journey, stepped forward. Guru Gobind Rai took Bhai Jaita in his arms and said "Ranghreta, Guru ka Beta". Meaning, "Ranghreta (one from the Ranghar tribe) is the Guru's own son." Bhai Jaita replied, "Satguru, give me the gift of Sikhi, bless me that I may remain yours. I only ask that the day I die, may I have your blessings." 

Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's head was placed in the palki and carried by the Sangat to Anandpur Sahib where Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib stands today. Rosewater was brought and Guru Gobind Rai washed Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's head and asked Bhai Jaita to also join him. They then made the pyre of sandalwood and Guru Gobind Rai gave it the flame. 

After the Saskaar 
Guru Gobind Rai asked Bhai Jaita to tell him what he had seen and how Guru Tegh Bahadur had embraced martyrdom. After hearing the story, Guru Gobind Rai asked how many Sikhs were in the crowd that saw the martyrdom. Bhai Jaita replied that he did not know as it was hard to recognize them. Guru Gobind Rai declared that he would create such an image for Sikhs that they could be spotted in a crowd of thousands. 

At the place of Damadama Sahib at Anandpur Sahib, Guru Gobind Rai arranged for the recitation of Guru Granth Sahib jee and Bhai Chaupat Rai (later Bhai Chaupa Singh) lovingly recited the saloks of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib. 

Bhai Jaita to Bhai Jeevan Singh 
Bhai Jaita jee began to live at Anandpur Sahib now. In 1691 he marred Bibi Raj Kaur and they had four sons. When Guru Gobind Rai established the Ranjit Nagara, Bhai Jaita jee was the first one given the duty to play it. Bhai Jaita became known as a great warrior and trained other Gursikhs as well. 

In 1699 when Guru Gobind Singh gave Khande ki Pahul, Bhai Jaita jee became Bhai Jeevan Singh. 

Shahidi of Bhai Jeevan Singh 
When Guru Gobind Singh and the Sikhs evacuated Anandpur Sahib, Bhai Jeevan Singh too accompanied Guru Sahib. Bhai Sahib's old mother Mata Prem Kaur was lost in the Sirsa. When Baba Ajeet Singh jee was surrounded by the Mughal army at the banks of the Sirsa, Bhai Jeevan Singh charged forward, his horse's reins in his mouth and a sword in each hand. With the kirpans in both hands, he cut through the encirclement and made a path for Baba Ajeet Singh to exit. 

The Bhatt Vehis say that Bhai Jeevan Singh kept traveling with Guru Sahib's caravan until Kotla Nihang Khan. Here, Bhai Jeevan Singh shot arrow after arrow and wreaked havoc on the Mughals. Finally, a bullet hit Bhai Sahib in the forehead and after bellowing "Sat Sri Akaal!" he fell to the ground and left his body, a beloved Sikh of the Guru till the end. 

Aftermath & History 
Sardar Baghel Singh

In 1783 Sardar Baghel Singh and the Sikh army conquered Delhi. The Nishan Sahib flew high over the Red Fort. Sardar Bagehl Singh had one desire, that the places associated with Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's be commemorated. 

He had an announcement made by the beat of a drum that if anyone knew where the exact place of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's martyrdom was, they should come to him. The old grand daughter of a water carrier came forward. She told Sardar Baghel Singh that when Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib was beheaded, her grandfather was called to wash the place. She said that she was a little girl but she had seen the martyrdom of the Sikhs and Guru Sahib. They took her to Chandani Chownk and though she was almost blind and walked very slowly, she walked to the spot where Guru Sahib was martyred and said that Guru Sahib's blood had spilled at this place. Sardar Baghel Singh thanked her profusely and gave her family countless gifts. This is the place that Gurdwara Sis Ganj was established and even today can be seen. 
In total, with help of old Hindu, Muslim and Sikh residents of Delhi, Sardar Baghel Singh found and established Gurdwaras at seven historical places: 
1. Gurdwara Mata Sundri Ji at the place which was know as the Haveli Sardar Jawahar Singh. 
2. Gurdwara Bangla Sahib. A Mansion belonging to Raja Jai Singh existed there once. Guru Harkrishan Dev, the Eighth Guru had stayed there. 
3. Gurdwara Bala Sahib. Last rights of Guru Harkrishan, Mata Sundri and Mata Sahib Kaur were performed at this place. 
4. Gurdwara Rakab Ganj. The torso of Guru Tegh Bahadur was cremated here. 
5. Gurdwara Sees Ganj. Guru Tegh Bahadur was martyred at this place. 
6. Gurdwara Moti Bagh. Guru Gobind Singh sent a message to the Mughal King, Bahadur Shah, by shooting an arrow from this place. 
7. Gurdwara Majnu Tilla. It was established in the memory of a Sikh of Guru Nanak, named Majnu. Guru Hargobind stayed at this place on his way to Gwaliar.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Sakhi Series :- 205 ( Bhagat Dhroo Ji - Raam japo jee, aise aise|| Dhroo Prehlaad japiyo Har Jaise|| )

Bhagat Dhroo ji

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Bhai Gurdaas Ji in Vaars Bhai Gurdaas on Pannaa 10

One Oankar, the primal energy, realized through the grace of the divine preceptor
Boy Dhru came smiling to his house (palace) and his father full of love put him into his lap. 
Seeing this, the stepmother got angry and catching hold of his arm pushed him out of the lap of the father (the king).
Tearful with fear he asked his mother whether she was a queen or a maidservant?
O son! (said she) I was born queen but I did not remember God and did not undertake acts of devotion (and this is the reason of yours and mine plight).
With that effort can the kingdom be had (asked Dhru) and how can enemies turn friends?
The Lord should be worshipped and thus the sinners also become sacred ones (said the mother). 
Listening to this and getting totally detached in his mind Dhru went out (to the jungle) to undertake rigorous discipline.
On the way, sage Narad taught him the technique of devotion and Dhru quaffed the nectar from the ocean of the Name of the Lord. 
(After some time) King (Uttanpad) called him back and asked him (Dhru) to rule forever. 
The gurmukhs who seem to be losing i.e. who turn their faces from the evil propensities, conquer the world.

Dhruva's was the son of king Uttanapada. Literally "Dhruva" means the one who has become "immortal". His father had two queens, named Suniti and Suruchi. Suruchi was much more dear to the king. But Suniti, the mother of Dhruva, was not his favorite. Once upon a time, the king was patting the son of Suruchi, Uttama, placing him on his lap. Dhruva, who was playing nearby, was also trying to get on his father's lap. 

But because of king's favoritism towards his queen Suruchi, the king did not very much welcome Dhruva. While Dhruva was trying to get on the lap of his father, Suruchi, his stepmother, became very envious of him and said: "my dear child, you do not deserve to sit on the throne or on the lap of the King. Surely you are also the son of the King, but because you did not take your birth from my womb, you are not qualified to sit on your father's lap." 

Furthermore, sarcastically she said he should have taken birth from her womb if he wanted to be a King.

Having been struck by the strong words of his stepmother, and upon seeing his father silent and not protesting, Dhruva immediately left the palace in anger and went to his mother. He was five years old then. 

He said to her 'I am a prince but they shout at me like a servant boy.  Why don't they respect your son Mata jee...I thought you were a queen not a slave?'  She replied 'because of my destiny i am a queen, but because i never meditated on God's name I have no more respect than a slave.' 

Dhruva was furious that they didn't respect his mother. Dhruva's mother advised her son not to wish for anything inauspicious for others; for anyone who inflicts pains upon others suffers himself from that pain instead she told Dhruva if he desired to rise to the throne, then he should start meditating on the all powerful Almighty to satisfy the Divine, and then, when he is favored by the Divine because of such worship he can get anything and everything

He told his father the King, 'I am leaving this kingdom to go and meditate on God's Name, one day when I have enough spiritual power I will reclaim the throne.' His father insisted he stayed, but the other queen was quite happy to let him go.  He was determined and left into the wilderness. 

Travelling to the jungle were all holy people went to meditate he was met by a Saint(Narad), the Saint spoke to the little boy and was surprised to hear a child saying he was going to the jungle to meditate.  So he tested the boy to see if he was serious.  He said to Dhruva, 'you know it's dark and dangerous in the jungle, wont you get scared of the wild animals?'  Dhruva replied, 'I dont care if its dark and dangerous, I'm going to meditate on God's Name.'  The Saint tested him again, 'But you're the son of a king and used to being fed the finest food, will be able to live on berries and roots in the jungle?'  Dhruva was determined and replied, 'I'm going to meditate on god's name even if there's no food.'  The saint was truly impressed by Dhruva's determination and whispered the secret name of God into Dhruva's ear. 

nwrd khq sunq DR¨A bwirk Bjn mwih lptwno ]1]
naaradh kehath sunath dhhrooa baarik bhajan maahi lapattaano ||1||
Listening to Naarad's teachings, the child Dhroo was absorbed in deep meditation. ||1||  ( Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 830)

Indirectly, the harsh words of Dhruva's stepmother turned out to be benediction for him; for because of the influence of his stepmother's words, he became a great Spiritual Being (Gurmukh). To achieve the desired results of attaining his father's kingdom, Dhruva's mother motivated him to engage himself in the worship (Bhakti) of the One Divine Being and nobody else. Determined to execute devotion, Dhruva left the palace.

He had met his true guru and for the next few years he meditated long and hard. When he was a teenager he felt he had enough spiritual power to overtake the king and claim the kingdom.  He had been meditating on God's name with this sole target for all these years and now his ego had got the better of him. On his way to the palace, his True Guru met him again and laughingly said were are you going,  Dhruva replied 'I'm going to fight the kings army and reclaim the throne.' His True Guru laughed and said how are you going to beat an army?.  Dhruva replied, 'I have meditated on God's name for years and years and the spiritual power I have is immense.'  His True Guru handed him his staff and said 'Before you break the Kings Army, just break my measly staff.'  Dhruva tried with all his might but failed miserably to even break a 3 foot stick!  He fell at his True Guru's feet and begged for forgiveness, his ego had broken. 

He returned to the jungle were he continued to meditate.  He followed the Divine Teachings with faith, love and dedication. Later when he actually became Self-realized, he turned completely satisfied within and forgot all about his father's kingdom. 

Instead, he said, "My dear Lord, I was searching for some pebbles, but instead I have found valuable Jewel. I no longer care for my father's kingdom. Now I am fully satisfied."

His feelings of insult and honor (duality or Doojaa Bhaav) banished, and he attained Transcendental Bliss. Thus Dhruva, for example, first became a devotee with the motive of getting a better kingdom than that of his father, but as he progressed in devotion he became selfless and contented.

nau iniD Twkuir deI sudwmY DR¨A Atlu AjhU n tirE ]3]
no nidhh t(h)aakur dhee sudhaamai dhhrooa attal ajehoo n ttariou ||3||
Sudama's Lord and Master blessed him with the nine treasures; he made Dhroo permanent and unmoving; as the north star, he still hasn't moved. ||3|| ( Guru Granth Sahib ji, Ang 1105)

"Do naam abhyaas with as much sincerety and urgency as Bhagat Prahlad jee and Bhagat Dhruva jee did."

Vaaheguroo Ji Ka Khalsaa Vaaheguroo Ji Ki Fateh 


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Got Gatka?

Got Gatka?

Sikh Traditional Martial Art Being Revived as a Sport


Swords clash, sticks meet and battles take place in front of audiences as they watch awe-inspiring Gatka—the Sikhs' traditional martial art form.

While it is generally shown for public display, usually during religious procession, the ancient martial art is being popularized and revived as a sport across the globe. In these public displays, robed men and women dressed in traditional attire combat fiercely as they showcase their technical abilities.

Some spectators fear for the martial artists' safety, while others are simply spellbound by the sportsmanship and talent displayed. A closer examination shows that there is more than technical ability to this martial art— there exists a specified order and coordination with the martial artist's body during his/her attacking motions with carefully followed rhythms and motions.
Gatka is a martial art that originated in northern India, and was used mainly by the followers of the Sikh religion to defend the local people against Moghul oppression in South East Asia in the 17th century. It is believed that the Sikhs would use this ancient form of combat to fight opponents outnumbering them five to one.

But how can one person be able to defend him/herself from five people?

"Fluidity is really important in this art, as every move is calculated to start with an attack and end with a defensive pose in one motion," said Gurcharan Singh, who teaches Gatka in Ontario.

The martial art streamlines each move to be as efficient as possible and demands great physical control of the weapon. This efficiency "reduces the reload time," as Singh mentioned, and keeps a continuous flow of attack and defence.

"It takes a lot of mental strength to be able to maintain the coordination required to keep the pace of Gatka," said Gurcharan.

As a result, Gatka emphasizes and puts a special focus on mental training in addition to the physical training of handling and learning the techniques to yield a weapon.

"This sport is a method to maintain a discipline. We are all in a battle to control our minds, whether it is anger, greed, or other negative emotions, and sports, in general, help us achieve this."  —Balwant Singh,  Gatka instructor

Today, Gatka is rarely used in combat and evolved into a sport out of sword practice in the British Indian Army during the 1880s. The sport was heavily influenced by other combat sports, especially fencing.

A single match—or fight—is played between two opponents who spar with wooden shafts or cudgels intended to simulate swords. Sometimes the sticks are paired with a shield.

In North America, the major Gatka competition is the annual "Yudh Gatka Tournament" held across the continent. The Tournament features duels between competing players who alternate between offence and defence. Each fight is three minutes long and points are awarded for striking the opponent—with no intention to hurt them—using a wooden sword called the "soti."

A hit to the lower body rewards the offensive player with one point. Hits to the upper torso are two points and hits to the back and head result in three points. A hit must be clear to the body, head, arms, legs or the feet of the opponent. Any hits to the face/ears or hits in attempts to injure result in a foul.

"Before even touching a weapon, a student is first taught the correct step methods and body movements," said Gurcharan, noting many students are eager to pick up weapons to fight. "This in itself takes a very long time, and I know many students often feel frustrated that they're not fighting with weapons. However, it is crucial that the students know the motions before even touching a weapon."

Both males and females can partake in the sport, but it is mandatory that the combat skills be used only in self-defence.

"This sport is a method to maintain a discipline," said Balwant Singh, a junior instructor at the Fateh Singh Gatka Akhara school in London, England. "We are all in a battle to control our minds, whether it is anger, greed, or other negative emotions, and sports, in general, help us achieve this."

With the growing demand for Gatka instruction, it seems many people are looking to Gatka to learn the discipline, improve their self-defence skills and maintain healthier lifestyles. As a result, many new Gatka schools have begun to spring up across the country. However, for any interested Montrealers, none exist in the city as of yet.

This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 31, Issue 15, published November 23, 2010.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Dhan Guru Gobind Singh Ji Mahararaj


PERSONALITY :  A visionary of the highest order and a born leader - an excellent planner and superb strategist. Apart from educating his followers in the art of war, guruji also introduced them to literature. The Guru had a natural genius for poetic composition and knew not only Punjabi but also Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic. (among other languages)
Manas Ki Jaat Sabhey Aikey Pechhanbo.  - Sri Guru Gobind Singh Sahib

Behold All Human Race as ONE.

1. Have a mission and continuously work for its success. Let no grief, no hardship, no adversity, in short nothing deviate you from the goal. ,

2. The weak are to be defended against injustice, oppression and tyranny but without entertaining any malice.

3. Evil is to be resisted and uprooted, but the sword is never to be struck in hatred or in anger or in spirit of revenge.

4. Power is never to be used for material gains at the cost of suffering of others.

5. At times it might be possible to reform an evil doer by love and non violence. The silent resistance and suffering for a righteous cause might enable the evil doers to see the truth and he may be reformed, but no amount of non-violence can succeed against a tyrant who is hardened and steeped in criminal oppressive ways and pays no heed to basic values of moral and civilized conduct.

6. One must not be attached to anything as all that is visible has to vanish.

7. Wealth is never to be loved. One may attain wealth but one should always be prepared to part with it.

8. Power (Physical and intellectual) helps one gain dominance in any sphere. The powerless are pushed to wall, humbled and humiliated.

9. Wahe-Guru is symbolic of the Formless Eternal Lord, who is True Guru (Enlightener) of all and the Creator of the Universe.

CONTRIBUTIONS : The contributions made by Guru Gobind Singh ji to the society are far reaching and immense and bear the stamp of his personality. Infact, his contributions are a living embodiment of his "life in action and thought".

Guruji's organizational skills were an immaculate blend of political pragmatics and spiritual ethics and manifested itself in his creation of the Khalsa- a movement for the establishment of an egalitarian society and just social order that was initiated by Guru Nanak Dev ji and reached its finale during the times of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

The KHALSA Pure was created ostensibly to awaken fragmented society and get rid of ritualistic superstitions that were prevalent in the name of religions. Khalsa, as a new order of the saint-soldier, was to uphold Truth and achieve not only self conquest but also control physical evil.

Guru Gobind Singh ji conceived the KHALSA as a common brotherhood composed of persons who were pure at heart and in mind and soul. These persons would join each other as equals in community kitchen and in all other activities- spiritual binding force being the presence of God with them at all hours.

Underlining the significance of this act, Sri Aurobindo in his book, Foundation of Indian Culture, writes that "The Khalsa was an astonishingly original and novel creation and its face was turned not to the past but to the future."

In equally glowing terms Swami Vivekananda writes "Guru Gobind Singh by a flash of his sword filled the dying soul of India with the life- giving light of Truth and Lo! It shone in all its glory again in the life of the new born Khalsa.

Arnold Toyanbee attributed the conceptualization of this egalitarian community with just social order to Guru Gobind Singh when he wrote in Study of World History that "The Khalsa Panth of Guru Gobind Singh, established in 1699, was the fore runner of Lenin's communist party and refuted the claims of Lenin that his party, set up in 1917, was the first to establish a classless and socialist society."

Verses from Sikh Scriptures

1)  Sab Main Jot Jot Hai Soi  -Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji,  ang 663

=> God is in everyone and everywhere

2) Satguru Daya Nidh Mehma Agadh Bodh Namo Namo Namo Namo Net Net Net Hai -  Bhai Gurdas Ji

"Satguru is an Ocean of Mercy, Daya, Compassion. It means Daya on all alike. This covers the whole humanity."

3) Sarb Dharam Mein Shreisht Dharam Har Ko Nam Jap Nirmal Karam  - Sri Guru Granth SahibJi, ang 266

"Best of all religions is the thirst for the Divine and pure deeds, says Sri Guru Arjan Sahib."

4) Saach Kahou Sun Laih Sabhai Jin Prem Kio Tin Hi Prabh PaioGuru Gobind Singh ji

'Let the Eternal Truth be known by all, Only those who thirst for the Divine attain Him'