Guru Govind Singh: The warrior saint
Er. Prabhat Kishore
India is dotted with several great personalities and the people of the country are justifiably proud to their deep-rooted religious traditions. Notable among them was the Dasmesh Pita Guru Govind Singh, who had the all-rounder personality of saints, poets, warriors and sacrificial great men. His whole family sacrificed for the safeguard of the Dharma and the pious Bharat Bhumi.
The holy land of Patna Sahib of ancient Pataliputra enjoys the glory, where the child Govind Rai was born. The ninth Guru of the Sikh sect, Guru Teg Bahadur, had come to Patna in connection with his “Sangat” along with his mother Nankiji, wife Mata Gujri, brother Kripalchand and other courtiers.
After staying for a few days in Gaighat, he left for Bengal and Odisha and Mata Gujri and other family members started living in the palace of Salish Rai Johri. Meanwhile, on the Saptami tithi (seventh day) of Shukla Paksha Paush month of Vikrami Samvat 1723, boy Govind Rai incarnated on this holy earth. After spending the first four years of Govind Rai’s childhood in Patna, his family returned back to Punjab and in 1672 they settled in Chak Nanaki (now known as Anandpur Sahib).
When Govind Rai was only 9 years old, on 11th November 1675 his father Guru Teg Bahadur Ji sacrificed himself for the sake of Sanatan Dharma. At a young age, on 29th March 1676, on the day of Vaisakhi, Govind Rai was declared the tenth Guru of the Sikhs. At the age of 11, he tied the knot with Jeetoji in Basantgarh, 10 km north of Anandpur. At the age of 17, his second marriage was with Mata Sundari and at the age of 33, his third marriage was performed with Mata Sahib Devan.
Guruji was a supporter of cultivating both weapons and scriptures together. Poet hearted Guruji sent Sikh society to Kashi with the aim of making it a learned congregation and got many Sanskrit texts translated. He not only completed the Guru Granth Sahib, but also created compositions like Dasham Granth, Jaap Sahib, Akal Ustat, Bichitra Natak, Chandi Charitra, Shastra Naam Mala, Ath Pakhyon Charitra Likhyate, Khalsa Mahima etc. Along with education and religion, he prepared the organization of arms and army and got five forts constructed to secure Anandpur from the point of view of living.
Govind Rai founded the Khalsa Panth on the day of Vaishakhi in 1699 and uttered the Khalsa speech “Wahe Guruji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guruji Ki Fateh”. He demanded five heads for the protection of faith and incidentally people from five different castes of five provinces of Bharat came forward to offer their heads. These five people were made to drink Amrit (nectar) and were given the name of Panj Pyare.
Guruji himself became a Khalsa by drinking Amrit from the hands of these Panj Pyare, and added the title of “Singh” to all the names including him. It was made mandatory for everyone to have Panch Kakar i.e. Kesh (hair), Kada (iron bracelet), Kaksha (short breeches), Kripan and Kangha (comb). He banned smoking, halal meat, fornication and adultery in the Khalsa Panth.
Mughal ruler Aurangzeb was very nervous after knowing Guruji’s strong organizational power. He ordered his subedars and kings based in Punjab to attack Anandpur and arrest Guruji to present him in the Delhi court. Even after the fierce battle, the combined Mughal army did not succeed to defeat Guruji.
Eventually Aurangzeb on 21st December 1704 requested Guruji to vacate Anandpur and allow to go elsewhere safely. But as soon as Guruji came out with his army and family, the pro-Mughal army, defying all the oaths, stormed from all sides on the bank of Sirsa river. While crossing the flooded river, Guruji’s family separated from each-other. His two younger children, Baba Zorawar Singh (8 years old) and Baba Fateh Singh (6 years old) along with Mata Gujari wondered towards Sirhind and were captured by Nawab Wajit Khan, who tortured them mercilessly. Both the brave sons were ruthlessly executed by burying them alive into a wall on 27 December 1704. After knowing heart breaking news of grandsons’ death. Mata Gujari collapsed and gave up her life shortly.
Guruji himself, along with two elder sons and forty Sikhs, was surrounded by Mughals at Chamkaur village. He prepared the Kachchi Gadhi of Chamkaur like a fort. With the resolve of “Chidiyan Te Main Baaj Tudaun, Gidiladan Ko Main Sher Banaun, Sava Lakh Se Ek Ladaun, Tabhi Guru Govind Singh Naam Kahaun” he started sending Jatthas (groups) of five Sikhs to fight with the army of 10 lakh standing outside. Both his sons Baba Jujhar Singh and Baba Ajit Singh were martyred while fighting bravely on the battlefield.
Fighting valiantly, Guru Gobind Singh reached the forest of Machiwara according to the orders of the Panj Pyare. When asked by Guruji’s wife about their sons, pointing to the Sikhs present he said – “En Putran Ke Shish Par, Vaar Diye Sut Chaar, Chaar Muye To Kya Hua; Ye Jivit Kai Hajar.” During his lifetime, Guruji fought a total of 13 battles against the Mughals and other Shivalik cruel rulers. In the last phase of his life, Guruji used to preach Guru Vachan in Nanded (Maharashtra).
Meanwhile two men, sent by the Nawab of Sirhind, disguised as disciples fraudulently injured Guruji by stabbing him in the stomach with daggers. Seeing his life journey at the end; one day Guruji, wearing royal dress and scriptures, called a meeting and announced that after him there would be no particular Guru and only the Granth Sahib would be the “Guru” of the Sikh sect.
According to Indian tradition, keeping 5 paise and coconut, he got his head bowed in front of the Granth Sahib and at the age of 42, he departed for heaven on 7th October 1708 (Ashvin month of Vikrami Samvat 1765).
Guru Govind Singh Ji Maharaj was a unique symbol of the world’s sacrificial tradition. The first philosophy of his life was that the path of dharma is the path of truth and victory is always of truth. One should neither intimidate nor be afraid of anyone – “Bhay Kahu Ko Det Nahi, Nahi Bhay Maanat Aan”. The pious Bharat Bhumi will always be proud of this unique warrior saint son.
(The Author is a Technocrat and an Educationist)