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The Saint - Soldier (Guru Gobind Singh)
The Saint - Soldier (Guru Gobind Singh)

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The Last Scene

The Last Scene

The Guru started from Damdama travelling southwards on his missionary tour preaching and converting people to the fold of the Khalsa. He was at Baghaur when he received the news that Aurangzeb had died in his camp at Ahmednagar on February 20th, 1707. The very next day the news reached the Guru that a war of succession had broken out amongst the sons of Aurangzeb. The third son, Mohammad Azam, had declared himself the Emperor of India and the second son Muazzam (later known as Bahadur Shah) was on his way from Afghanistan to challenge his younger brother and oust him from Delhi. Later that day Bhai Nand Lal brought a letter written by Bahadur Shah to tile Guru, asking for help in securing the throne with the understanding that if he succeeded in winning the throne he would pursue a policy of religious tolerance towards the Guru and other non-Muslims. The request was discussed in the evening Diwan and a band of chosen warriors was immediately despatched towards Delhi under the command of Bhai Dharam Singh. The Sikh warriors made one of the quickest marches and overtook Bahadur Shah near Jaju where the combined forces of the Khalsa and Bahadur Shah inflicted a crushing defeat on Azam Shah who was himself killed (on June 8, 1707). Elated, Bahadur Shah sent back Bhai Dharam Singh to the Guru thanking him and asking him to be present at the coronation ceremony. The Guru was received with honour and was given the title of 'Hind Ka Pir' (The Holy Man of India). The Guru was offered a robe of honour and a jewelled scarf (Dhukhdhukhi) worth 60,000 Rupees. The Guru remained with the Emperor from July to November 1707 during which period they discussed many points concerning religion and government.

Guru Gobind Singh entering the court of emperor Bahadur ShahOne day while discussing religion the Emperor stated that if anyone were to repeat the Kalima (The Mohammadan creed), he would be saved from hell. The Guru held that people go to heaven not because of repetition of certain words but on account of their deeds. The Emperor was not convinced, and the Guru did not press his point further. The next day, the Guru gave a Rupee to the Emperor's attendant in the presence of the Emperor and asked him to bring sugar from the town. The attendant came back and reported that all had visited half a dozen shops but nobody accepted the Rupee because it was base. Thereupon the Guru addressed the Emperor and said - "In your own empire no one has paid any regard to the Muslim Creed engraved on this Rupee. How can this creed conduct people to heaven? The Monarch in heaven will not accept base people, even though they may have repeated the Kalima. Because that Monarch is much wiser than those shopkeepers. In His court the counterfeit and the genuine are distinguished in a second. Only those go to heaven who can show a balance to their credit."

The Emperor put another question to the Gurus "There are two ways in the world-the Hindu way and the Muslim way. Which do you prefer to follow?"

"I like both of them and instruct the people to put their beliefs into practice rather than only professing them," replied the Guru.

"There is one God and one faith. Do you agree with this?" asked the Emperor.

"No," said the Guru ironically. "From what you say, I conclude that there may be three."

"What! three Gods? Where is it written?" asked the Emperor in anger.

The Guru smiled and said: "Your father hindered the Hindus from worshipping Rama and instead asked them to utter the name of another God, Allah Pak or Khuda. He proclaimed that heaven is made for Muslims and Hell for the Hindus. Hindus on the other hand do not worship Khuda and claim that the Muslims will go to hell. I believe in a God whom neither of these acknowledge. He is the merciful father of all, and loves the Hindus and the Muslims alike, and sends them to heaven or hell on the basis of their action's."

The Emperor and the Guru had become friends and always discussed things of common interest and matters concerning the betterment of the people. One day the Guru asked the King to deliver up to him Wazir Khan who had bricked up his children alive at Sirhind. The Emperor naturally desired to know what the Guru proposed to do with him. The Guru smiled and said, "He would be dealt with according to the Mohammadan Law which you proclaim to be the best. According to the Muslim sacred law of 'a life for a life,' he should be punished fairly." The Emperor shuddered on hearing this because Wazir Khan had helped him in his fight for the throne. However, he did not give a direct refusal. He said that he would consult his ministers on this point and let him know of the decision later on.

In November 1707 the Emperor had to march into Rajputana against the rebel Kachvahas and from there to the Deccan to suppress the rebellion of his brother Kam Bakhsh. Wazir Khan had got wind of the Guru's intentions and did not like the Guru's friendship with the Emperor. He wanted to create a rift between them. While the Guru and his party were on their way towards the Deccan on their missionary tour, Wazir Khan employed two patrons to either kill tile Guru or to create distrust between him  and the Emperor. The first to fall prey to this plot was Mann Singh, one of the surviving heroes of Anand Pur, who had never parted from the Guru. The murderer of Mann Singh was caught and under orders from the Emperor, was handed over to the Guru who pardoned him.

While the Emperor was still busy in his campaigns the Guru reached Nander in August 1707 with some infantry and three hundred cavalry equipped with weapons. He went straight to the hut of a Bairagi saint Madho Das. Madho Das was not in the hut so the Guru occupied the saint's couch and ordered his Sikhs to prepare food and eat. They had hardly finished their meal when the Bairagi came in. Red with anger he tried to use his occult powers to chastise the Guru. His plans having failed he entered the hut and said, "Who are you?"

Guru Gobind Singh: "He whom you know full well."

Madho Das: "What do I know?"

Guru Gobind Singh: "Think it over and you will understand."

Madho Das: "I have seen you many a time in my dreams. Are you Guru Gobind Singh?"

Guru Gobind Singh: "Yes. I have come to receive the blessings of a Holy man like you."

Madho Das: "My Lord, I would sacrifice myself a hundred thousand times for you. How grateful I am that you have sanctified my hut with your lotus-feet. Lord, my pride is gone, my power has vanished. I know not what to say. Kindly accept me as your Banda (slave)."

Guru Gobind Singh blesses Banda Singh BahadurThus saying, Madho Das fell at the feet of the Guru. The Guru took him by the arm and made him sit beside him. He instructed him in the tenets of Sikhism and in due course of time baptised him. Madho Das received the name Gurbakhsh Singh (The blessed one). But he preferred to be called Banda Singh (a slave). Banda Singh's hut now became a regular place of worship and the Guru held his Diwans there morning and evening. Banda Singh was not only trained in warfare but also he was well informed about the background and persecution of the Sikhs in the Punjab. He received regular military instruction from the Guru and very soon became an excellent general.

Saiyed Khan, the former general of the Royal forces, was so much touched with the divinity of the Guru that he resigned his post and now came all the way from the Kangra Hills to Nander to see the Guru. One day while he was sitting in the assembly before the Guru, a messenger brought a letter from the Punjab. It was a letter from his sister Nasiran, the wife of Pir Budhu Shah of Sadhaura. It told that the Emperor's army had hanged Pir

Budhu Shah as a rebel for helping Guru Gobind Singh, whom they called a Kafir (infidel). The letter said -

"Shah Sahib is gone to the abode of Truth and now it is my turn. Though I have not seen the Master with these eyes. I have drunk of his beauty in my dreams. I have tied a white shroud on my head* and have slung a sword in my belt ... The Guru's Nasiran is blossoming with joy, ready to accept martyrdom as soldier of the Master. Lo, brothers, I am going out to fight and die a glorious death."
* This is a phrase in Punjabi language meaning "I have accepted death gladly."
Lady Nasiran had been a Muslim all her life but she was so much influenced by the Master's divinity that her devotion to him had led her to sacrifice her sons and her husband for the Guru. When the letter was read, everybody in the assembly was sad. The Master closed his eyes and blessed Nasiran. He then told his followers that the Emperor had fallen prey to the false propaganda of Wazir Khan and was secretly plotting to kill all the supporters of the Khalsa. The Sikhs were very angry and a letter was immediately sent to the Emperor asking for an explanation of the death of Pir Budhu Shah. The Emperor did not care to reply. Rumours reached the Guru that as soon as the Emperor found time he would march against the Guru and finish his power once and for all. Seeing the gravity off the situation and being sure of the Emperor's complicity with Wazir Khan, the Guru appointed Banda Singh as the Commander of the Khalsa. Banda Singh was instructed always to adhere to Truth and always to abide by the counsel of the Five Sikhs. Thus equipped, Banda Singh marched towards the Punjab along with Binod Singh, Kahn Singh (descendants of Guru Angad) and Baz Singh (a descendant of Guru Amar Das) who commanded their own sections of the army.

The Guru was planning to go back to the Punjab himself after some time. However, he continued preaching his mission in the morning and evening Diwans as usual hoping that the Emperor and his henchmen would see reason. One day the Guru was having a nap after the evening prayers when a Pathan named Jamshaid Khan entered his room stealthily. He thrust a dagger into the Master's side and tried to escape. The Master woke up at once and with one stroke of his sword cut him in two. The Guru's wound was immediately attended to and he encouraged his Sikhs saying, "Have no fear. The Immortal God has protected me and I will be well again." Although the Guru was in bed for many days, he kept his usual cheerfulness. However, it was clear to the Guru that the call of the Father in Heaven had come. One day, after the evening prayers he addressed his Sikhs:

"My dear beloved Khalsa, Guru Arjan has said, 'Everything we behold must perish.' It is the God alone who is eternal. All other things, however, holy and exalted, must depart from this world. Of what account is Man? Know that what is everlasting is the light of God in your hearts. So always remember God and never give way to mourning over the death of beloved ones. I have entrusted you to the care of the immortal God. Read the Granth or listen to it and your minds shall receive consolation. Remain under the Lord's protection and trust no other. Wherever five Sikhs, who abide by the Guru's instructions, assemble, there shall I be also. It was instructed by my Father to set up the Khalsa and now this is my final order, that the Khalsa should consider the Holy Word of the Granth as their Guru from now on. Let all who want to seek the Lord, meditate on the divine Name in the Guru Granth Sahib, wherein lies the spirit of all the ten Gurus."
Saying this, the Guru went to his bed and retired for the night leaving the Khalsa worried and sad. About an hour after midnight he arose and recited the Japji (the Sikh Morning Prayer). He then called His Sikhs around him and bade them his last farewell.
"Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa.
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh."
"The Khalsa is of God,
May it be victorious in his Will."
Deep was the grief of the Khalsa when the news of the Guru's death reached the Punjab. The Master returned to his eternal home on 7th October, 1708 A.D., having served the nation for 42 years. Though not physically visible, every Sikh feels his presence in his heart, and a Muslim saint has very aptly said:
"Neither am I prejudiced nor biased, I say the truth. If Guru Gobind Singh had not come on the Indian scene all would be circumcised."
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