Guru Gobind Singh’s vision of India

Today is Vaisakhi. While Sikhs celebrate Vaisakhi across India; rest of India wonders if it is about doing Bhangra and dancing. No, it is not; Vaisakhi holds a lesson for all Indians.

So this day in 1699, in a congregation of people from across India were standing there listening to their Guru, Gobind Rai. Gobind Rai asked for human sacrifice of five men one after the other. Five men from different castes from different parts of the Indian Sub-Continent stood up from a crowd of thousands.

Gobind Rai (as Guru Gobind Singh was then known) seeking Sacrifice
Gobind Rai (as Guru Gobind Singh was then known) seeking Sacrifice

– A shopkeeper Baniya called Daya Ram from Lahore
– A farmer Jat called Dharam Das from Meerut
– A so called low-caste water carrier called Himmat Rai from Jagannath Puri, Odisha
– A tailor of Cheemba caste called Mukham Chand from Dwarka, Gujarat
– A barber of Naai caste called Sahib Chand from Bidar, Karnataka

One of the Panj Pyaras, standing up for sacrifice
One of the Panj Pyaras, standing up for sacrifice

With his choice of disciples from five different corners of India, Gobind Rai manifested his vision from the coast of Gujarat along Western Arabian Sea to coasts of Odisha along the Bay of Bengal; from the great Plains of Punjab to the the Gangetic Plain and then to the Deccan peninsula covering Karnataka. Do not forget that at that time, all these were separate nations; it was Guru Gobind Singh that thought of all of them as one. This day Baisakhi 1699.

With the choice of disciples from five different caste-groups, he visualised an integrated class-less society. The five were christened as the first five Khalsa Sikhs, and the five in turn christened their Guru as the sixth. Gobind Rai was now Gobind Singh.

The Panj Pyaras ordaining their Guru
The Panj Pyaras ordaining their Guru

All caste names and surnames were dropped, and a common surname was proposed for all Indians across India – ‘Singh’; a surname that denoted a caste-less, class-less creed of men willing to sacrifice themselves against injustice.

And the swaroop he chose for the class-less people was an amalgmation of the ancient Indian thought of Rishis (as mentioned by Guru Gobind Singh in the Sarbloh Granth) and the Kshatriya tradition of Warriors, hence the Jooda, the hairs and the Talwar. The concept of Miri-Piri was coded in the dress-system of this new society envisioned by him. A group of people who were strong in Miri (Physical Strength and material possessions) and Piri (Spiritual Strength and humility)

So, the five so called lower castes were given the temporal strength of a Rishi (a Brahmin citadel till now) and the Physical responsibilities of a Kshatriya (a duty till then limited to the Rajputs). This motley group of people uprooted Afghan and Mughal rule from entire North India from the Yamuna to the Khyber pass, such was the power of the vision.

guru-gobind-singh-ji-vaisakhi-by-bhagat-singh-bedi-600x600.jpg
Art on the event as at http://www.sikhiart.com/2017/04/13/new-painting-guru-gobind-singh-vaisakhi-1699-khalsa-creation/

And this was the Indian that he envisioned from five corners of the Peninsula. Guru Gobind Singh was a visionary par excellence. His vision has been diluted and limited to Sikhism, that is the travesty. Awake India, awake to his vision. Leave those caste barriers, acquire knowledge, be strong in body and be a Khalsa in spirit. Your religion doesn’t matter. Khalsa is a state of mind, not just a religion.

Happy Baisakhi, by the way.

Advertisements

3 comments

  1. Though we agree with some of your sentiments, we do not wholly concur with the notion of the Guru being a promulgator of pan-Indianism. His philosophy was Gurmat, per se, which declared all of mankind to be equal. It seems a grievous insult to imply the Guru to be a patriot when his vision far exceeded the parameters of nationalism. It would be more appropriate to declare him as a philanthropist rather than a patriot. His was a message for the entire world rather than the sub-continent.

    • No insult implied, how could I ever dream of a grievous one.

      His vision did exceed nationalism, and my idea was a) to convey the pan India spread and advent of Sikhism, something which is denied by many who want to limit Sikhism to Punjab b) to convey to non-Sikhs that the Sikh identity of the Gurus, if implemented across the areas influenced by him directly, would have created a casteless creed of intellectual warriors.

      India was not a nation then but was a geographical conundrum of several nations, hence the Geographic spread of the Guru’s disciples across such a large sub continent needs to be highlighted.

      I will re-read and re-word any para that implies that his vision was limited to India.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s