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‘Vaisakhi’ by Sukhbir Singh

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on April 16, 2010

Sukhbir Singh, Angad Kaur and Amarjeet-singh Bhamra

Vaisakhi of 1699

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a pleasure being with you on the occasion of the Joint Celebtrations. I thank Margaret Ali and Robin Marsh for inviting me to share with you the Sikh celebration of Vaisakhi. Sikhs all over the world celebrated Vaisakhi yesterday, and will continue to do so for another few days.

Vaisakhi for the Sikhs represents the birth of the Khalsa, and has its beginnings in a remarkable event that took place over 300 years ago. During the latter part of the 17th century, India was ruled by the Mogul Emperor Aurangzeb who was bent upon converting the Hindus into Islam.

In 1675, Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru of the Sikhs, gave the supreme sacrifice, to save Hindu religion from the hands of the Emperor, and was beheaded in Chandni Chowk Delhi. At this time, the only son of Guru Teg Bahadur, Guru Gobind Rai was only 9 years old when He resumed the Guruship as 10th Guru of the Sikhs.

From the very young age, Guru Gobind Rai was a perfect leader & motivator for the Sikhs. He organised Sikhs and led them to follow spiritual route to attain union with God and at the same time, trained them to be self-defendant and guard the helpless against injustice & tyranny. He re-iterated the “Saint-Soldier” concept. At the age of 33 i.e. 24 years since the Guruship, Guru Gobind Rai was set out to accomplish God’s spiritual mission started by Guru Nanak Dev Ji of creating “Khalsa Panth” (God’s Religion). He chose the day of Vaisakhi for such a grand venture. Before the event, Guru Ji has been quoted to have not made any public appearance for over 11 months.

The Vaisakhi Day

In early 1699, few months before the Vaisakhi Day, Guru Gobind Rai sent a special invitation to the Sikhs all over the country to join the special Vaisakhi Celebrations in the town of Anandpur Sahib in the Punjab state of India. He asked them not to cut any of their hair and to come with their turbans on. Masses of people turned up on the day.

About Eighty thousand Sikhs had gathered at this event. The Guru welcomed everyone and reminded them of their duty, commitment, loyalty and faith. Then to everyone’s surprise, The Guru withdrew his long sword and said in a very powerful voice “Who will be brave enough to come forward to offer me a head? The Guru asked for the sacrifice of head for the sake of Dharam, or religion. No one expected this to happen. This amazed and horrified many. There was a pin drop silence. Some people were looking for the way to escape. No one came forward. The Guru repeated this three times.

Out of many thousand, a Sikh named Bhai Daya Ram came in front of Guru Ji with head bowed and hands folded. Firstly, he apologised for not responding earlier on and then humbly uttered that his body & soul belonged to the Guru. Guru Ji took him into a tent. A few minutes later the crowd heard a big THUD! Then Guru Gobind Singh Ji came back with blood-smeared sword. He said the same words again and then another Sikh named Bhai Dharam Das offered himself. On Guru Ji’s demand, three more Sikhs came forward. Their names were Bhai Muhkam Chand, Bhai Himat Rai, Bhai Sahib Chand.

This time Guru Gobind Singh Ji took much longer to return from the tent. The crowd was getting anxious. The ruling emperor Aurangzeb had sent his spy to closely monitor the event. He just managed to catch the glimpses of the heads separated from the bodies inside the tent. Outside the tent, there was eagerness but suddenly to everyone’s surprise, the Guru came out of the tent with the five Sikhs all wearing beautiful coloured robes and their appearance was just the same as the Guru’s. Guru Ji announced that the five Sikhs have shown great courage and loyalty by offering their heads for their faith and from now they will be known as the “Five Beloved Ones” (Panj -Piyare).

Next, Guru Gobind Singh prepared Amrit, or Holy Water, Guru Ji gave five palms full of Amrit to drink (for internal/mind’s purification), sprinkled five times into their eyes (to see good) and five times on to the top of their heads (regard hair as God’s Will / Wisdom), each time making them repeat after him “WAHEGURU JI KA KHALSA, WAHEGURU JI KI FATEH” meaning Khalsa was creation of God and God has been victorious in the creation of Khalsa”.  This demonstrated Guru Ji’s humility where He disclaimed any credit for the creation of Khalsa to himself rather proclaimed it to be God’s own deed.

It had taken 230 years since the time of Guru Nanak Dev Ji to create the ideal human being.

The remaining Amrit was administered by the Panj Piyare from the same bowl which was a revolution in the history in that although being from different classes and caste (see below), they accepted to be the members of the same class that was “Khalsa Panth”, Guru Gobind Singh Ji as their father and Mata Sahib Kaur as their mother. In order to prove the significance of this event, it is reminded that the people from low classes were not allowed to enter the religious buildings, nor were they given any dignity as human beings. In fact, animals were treated better than low class people i.e. animals could live in the homes of higher class people but low classed person was not even allowed to pass through the street where so called superior class lived.

From this day onwards, every Sikh male was given an additional name of “Singh” (Lion) and every female given the name of “Kaur”

Then another amazing thing happened. The Guru knelt down before the Panj Piyare and requested them to give him Amrit, so that he could become member of the Khalsa Panth as well. This signified that the Guru gave all the glory to the Khalsa. This also showed importance of Amrit which Guru did not want himself to be deprived of. That is why Guru Ji is referred as “Aape Gur Chela”, which means He was the Guru as well as the disciple; i.e. He had no ego, and  considered himself to be a disciple of the Khalsa. He declared that there was no difference between him and Khalsa.

Guru Gobind Rai now became Guru Gobind Singh. It is worth mentioning here that the Muslim spy sent by the emperor saw the entire event and it left him spell bound. He took Amrit and was named as Gurbakhash Singh.  He later sent his resignation to the emperor and said that how foolish he had been to have worked against a God sent person Guru Gobind Singh Ji. He would hope that his sins will be forgiven.

On the day, many thousand Sikhs took Amrit and became member of Khalsa Panth. Code of conduct for the Sikhs (Reht) was established and the Sikhs were given unique identity through possession of 5 essential items as part of their uniform for unique identity, all beginning with letter “K” and were termed as 5K’s i.e. Kes (uncut hair), Kangha (wooden Comb), Karha (Iron ring worn on the wrist), Kirpan (6-12″ sword), Kachhehra (undergarment).

Panj Piyare were now named:

Previous Names New Names Meaning Of Names Profession / Class
Bhai Daya Ram Bhai Daya Singh (Daya means Kindness) Shopkeeper (Khatri)
Bhai Dharam Das Bhai Dharam Singh (Dharam means Principles) Farmer (Jat)
Bhai Muhkam Chand Bhai Muhkam Singh (Muhkam means Order) Washer man (chhimba)
Bhai Himat Rai Bhai Himat Singh (Himat means Courage) Water carrier (Ghumar)
Bhai Sahib Chand Bhai Sahib Singh (Sahib means Leader) Hair dresser (Nayee)

Vaisakhi is the second month of the Sikh calendar.

Vaisakhi is a time of thanksgiving, harvest and spring in the Punjab.

It is a time for ‘rebirth’ and ‘renewal.’

One Response to “‘Vaisakhi’ by Sukhbir Singh”

  1. […] ‘Vaisakhi’ by Sukhbir Singh […]

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