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

Sikh Missionary Society: Publications: The Saint - Soldier (Guru Gobind Singh):

The Master's Character

The Master's Character

Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, declared that he was the 'Slave of the Supreme Being,' come into this world to witness the great and wonderful drama. But when we look at his achievements, we are left in no doubt that he had qualities which are rarely to be found in one person. As a man he was a perfect human being who led a fancily life and behaved as an ideal husband, a loving father, a faithful son and an exemplary leader. He was a great nationalist who sacrificed his father, sons, friends, wealth and social status, comforts and home life for the sake of creating political awareness among his countrymen. In his religious philosophy and practice, he was every inch an internationalist. His was the faith of tolerance, equality, liberty and fraternity of mankind. Had he wished, he could have lived a life of peace, comfort and honour and he could have carved out a kingdom for himself and his sons.

He was a perfect saint Who could ask his armies to halt even when being pursued and to stop for the evening prayers to be said on time. Throughout his life he neither resorted to lies nor did he encourage his followers to do so although he could have succeeded easily by using deceit. Even Muslims testify to the fact that he and his Sikhs never molested any woman. In a battle, a Muslim Officer's young wife fell into the hands of the Sikhs and it is on record that she was escorted home unmolested. So long as she remained in the Sikh Camp, she was treated as a sister.

"Like Guru Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh attached the utmost importance to purity of life; but on a level with it he placed brave deeds and devotion to the Sikh cause. There was no higher duty for a Sikh than to die fighting in defence of his faith."
(C. H. Payne pages 34-35)
Although rendered friendless and helpless he never lost courage. In the jungles of Machhiwara, barefoot and hungry, he remained firm and sang a merry song:
"O give Him this news of me,
Without You O Lord, the luxury of soft beds is full of pain and discomfort,
Pleasures of palaces are like living among snakes,
The thorns that prick my feet are now my flask for drink.
The dagger that is pursuing me is my cup, O Lord.
Without Thy grace O Lord, comforts are nothing but a butcher's knife.
The bed on the ground is heaven to me, Lord, if Thou art with me,
Burnt be the rich dwellings. they are hell to me if I forget Thee."
He had declared openly:
"I will make the sparrow hunt and kill the falcon,
I will make one Sikh fight a legion.
Then and only then I can justify my name, Gobind Singh."

"The Guru really succeeded in turning the very dregs of society into the sturdiest soldiers."

G. C. Narang in his book, Transformation of Sikhism (page 84) writes:

"Men who had never touched a sword or shouldered a gun became heroes. Confectioners and washermen and barbers became leaders of armies before whom the Rajas quailed and the Nawabs cowered with terror."
He was an apostle of human unity and universal brotherhood. He loved all, rich and poor, Hindus and Muslims, princes and paupers. Learned men of all creeds Who feared Aurangzeb, found asylum in his sanctuary. He declared that love was the surest way to God.
"I tell you the truth, hear ye all,
Only those who love God's creation will find Him."
He was an excellent poet and scholar and he appreciated the fine arts. He could write poetry in Punjabi, Hindi, Persian and Sanskrit and he was conversant with Arabic. His poetry is without parallel in all the languages in which he wrote. Although most of his literary work was washed away by Sarsa river, we still have quite a large amount of it in the 'Dasam Granth.' About the Guru's literary work, S. M. Latif writes as follows:
"It raised the dormant energies of the Sikhs, who, at that time, were a vanquished race, and urged upon them the necessity of leading an active and useful life. The author infuses into it his fervour and spirit, kindling the mind of the reader with lofty ideas of social freedom, and inflaming them to deeds of valour ... his description of the heroic deeds of warlike men lays before the reader a vivid and sprightly picture of the fields of battle in ages gone by, and it animates him with ideas of morality, glory, national honour and ascendancy."
The Guru had so much love for literary work that he kept 52 fine poets in his court and held poetic symposiums and literary competitions on important days.

He was a marvellous arched. It is said that once when his enemies were playing a game of chess the Guru shot an arrow which struck into one of the legs of the bedstead on which they sat. They began to wonder at the skill of the Guru who had shot from about a mile away. Just then another arrow came and struck the other leg of the bedstead. This one brought a piece of paper on which was written, "I do not believe in miracles. I believe in skill and this is what I teach my followers."

As a prophet, the Guru is unique. His teachings are very scientific and most suitable for all times. Unlike many other prophets he never called himself God or 'the only son of God.' Instead he called all people the sons of God sharing His Kingdom equally. For himself he used the word 'Slave' or servant of God.

"Those who call me God, will fall into the deep pit of hell.
Regard me as one of his slaves and have no doubt whatever about it.
I am a servant of the Supreme Being;
and have come to behold the wonderful drama of life."
He was the most excellent social reformer. He tried to abolish all distinctions of caste, race, creed, sex or social status and instead he fused all the people into one brotherhood. The Khalsa. He was never afraid when attacking hypocrisy. He declared:
"What the Lord of the universe bade me say, that I will surely utter;
And will not remain silent through fear of mortals."
(Bachittar Natak - The Wonderful Drama)
He was a great statesman and his statesmanship was basest on truth and morality. Never in his life did he resort to deceit, treachery or falsehood. He was alert and always well informed of the enemies' moves. He knew the art of making fortifications. The forts of Anandpur and Paunta speak volumes for his ability and foresight in the war. When people showed grief at the loss of his four sons, he showed great statesmanship in reaching the innermost recesses of the people's minds by saying "No, do not think that my sons are dead. They have gone into the lap of the Eternal Father, And on this earth, millions of my Singhs will always live and glorify my Father's Name."

He was a great patriot and liberator who created self-confidence in his countrymen when they were degraded, debased and demoralised. His love for his country was bound less. He was the first to establish a democratic system in religion and politics. He was a nation-builder whose ideas still guide his followers. Perhaps, for the first time in history the Guru set an example of a disciple baptizing a prophet when he requested his Five Beloved Ones to baptise him and accept him as a member of The Khalsa.

He valued his principles more than anything else. Once when on his way to Deccan, he bowed to the grave of a Muslim saint, in violation of his own instructions to The Khalsa, at once the Sikhs protested and the Guru was severely criticised. He gladly agreed to be judged and punished by the Sikhs. The Sikhs sat as judges and fined him. He gladly paid the fine. Later he disclosed that he did all this to test his Sikhs to see whether they cared more for their principles than mere personalities.

Although the Guru had so many rare qualities of the head and the heart, he was never proud. He attributed all his successes to the grace of God and to the bravery of the Khalsa and said, "It is through their kindness that I have been so exalted; though there are millions of people like me."

Thus we find in Guru Gobind Singh an ideal man, a poet, a scholar, a householder, a philosopher, a reformer and an internationalist. He was a friend of all, a fearless statesman, an excellent warrior, a reputed general, a famous administrator, a nation builder and a master of humour. The world will have to wait a long, long time to see such an ideal person again.

What he inherited -

Before the birth of Guru Gobind Singh the tyranny of the Muslim rulers had beaten all records. M. Dods describes it as follows:

"Here converts (to Islam) are made on the field of battle with the sword at their throat. Tribes are, in a single hour, convinced of the truth of the new faith, because they have no alternative but extermination."
(M. Dods, pages 101, 102)

"The spirit of the Sikh religion promised to keep its votaries at peace with all mankind; but such views of comprehensive charity were particularly odious to the bigoted section of the Mohammedans."
"Nanak preached the gospel of peace; but there was no peace for Sikhs in the empire of the Mughals. Just as the Romans sought, by unremitting persecution, to stamp out Christianity, so the Mughal Emperors sought to stamp out The Khalsa. Like the Romans, they succeeded only in strengthening that which it was their purpose to destroy."
(C. H. Payne, page 30)
"The officially avowed policy in re-imposing the Jazia (a special tax imposed on the Hindus) was to increase the number of Muslims by putting pressure on the Hindus. The contemporary observer, Manucci noticed, 'any Hindus who were unable to pay, turned Muhammedan to obtain relief from the collectors."
(J. N. Sarkar Aurangzeb Rejoices, page 158)
"Ishwro va Dilishwro va - The lord of Delhi is as great as God - had long been a maxim with the terrified Hindus."
(G. C. Narang, The Transformation of Sikhism, page 98)

What he left -

"He had broken the charm of sanctity attached to the lord of Delhi and destroyed the awe and terrier inspired by Muslim tyranny. Govind (Singh) had seen what was yet vital in the Hindu race, and he resumed it with promethean fire. He had taken up sparrows and had taught them to hunt down Imperial hawks. He was the first Indian leader who taught democratic principles and made his followers regard each other as Bhai or brother, and act by Gurmatta or general counsels. He taught them to regard themselves as the chosen of the Lord destined to crush tyranny and oppression, and look upon themselves as the future rulers of their land."
(G. C. Narang, Transformation of Sikhism, page 98)
"It is acknowledged on all hands that the conversion of a band of undisciplined Jats (given to rapine and plunder or to agricultural pursuits) into a body of conquerors and a political corporation, was due entirely to the genius of (Guru) Gobind (Singh)."
(Mohammed Latif, History of the Punjab)
"A living spirit possesses the whole Sikh people, and the impress of (Guru) Gobind (Singh) has not only elevated and altered the constitution of their minds, but has operated materially and given amplitude to their physical frames. The features and external form of a whole people have been modified, and a Sikh chief is not more distinguishable by his stately person and free and manly bearing, than a minister of his faith is by a lofty thoughtfulness of look, which Darks the fervour of his soul and his persuasion of the near presence of the divinity."
(Cunningham's History of the Sikhs, page 75)

Some Independent Opinions -

"Come one, come all, follow me,
The Guru gives you the call.
From the depth of my inspired soul I say:
Awake, my country, awake, arise."
(Rabindra Nath Tagore)
"Again and again have I meditated on the Khalsa Vows and aspirations. I wished these were inscribed on tablets and passed on from school to school, from college to college, from group to group of students and young folk, eager to serve India in these difficult days."
(Sadhu T. L. Vaswani)
"The creation of the Khalsa was the greatest work of the Guru. He created a type of superman, a universal man of God, casteless and country less. The Guru regarded himself as the servant of the Khalsa. He said, "To serve them pleases me the most; no other service is so dear to my soul." The Khalsa was the spearhead of resistance against tyranny."
(Miss Pearl, S. Buck)
"If we consider the work which (Guru) Gobind (Singh) accomplished, both in reforming his religion and instituting a new code of law for his followers, his personal bravery under all circumstances; his persevering endurance amidst difficulties, which would have disheartened others and overwhelmed them in inextricable distress, and lastly his final victory over his powerful enemies by the very men who had previously forsaken him, we need not be surprised that the Sikhs venerate his memory. He was undoubtedly a great man."
(W, L. McGregor)
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