Monday, April 14, 2014

A Journey from Sikh to Singh – Part 2

This is part 2 of the article (A Journey from Sikh to Singh) contributed by Dr. Umesh Gulati. Dr. Umesh Gulati writes on variety of subjects and his articles are published in several magazines. This part focuses on five ‘K’ and opinion of noted people. Part 1 of this article can be found here.

My personal note on this article: Some say religion and reason contradict each other. Religion is faith and beyond reason. But sometimes a profound reason is the reason of a new religion. Generations later descendants realize the significance as some of us do now.

The five symbols, mentioned in the first installment, beginning with ka or fivekakaars are: 1. Karhaa is a steel bracelet on the right wrist symbolizing strength and integrity. 2. Kesh, the uncut hair is the symbol of holiness in India, but with a turban on represents leadership. 3. Kachha the boxer shorts, is the symbol of self-control and chastity. 4. Kanghaa is a small comb, which is tucked at the back of the hair-bun, indicates cleanliness and order. 5. Kirpaan stands for a sword. Collectively these are the reminders of moral values for this martial and self-sacrificing race.

The fifth symbol, Kirpaan, needs further elaboration. First and most important of all, it should never be used as a sword or a butcher's knife. Kirpaan is krpaa + aan, which means kindness and self-respect. While on one hand, kirpaan is meant to bestow kindness to the suppressed community by the tyrant rulers of the time; it also means the assertion of the community's self-respect. It should never be forgotten that the Mogul Emperor Jahangir had put the fifth Guru Arjan to death for advocating harmony between the Hindus and Muslims, while the ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur's head was severed in Chaandani Chowk, Delhi, on the order of Emperor Aurangzeb. For, the latter feared that the Guru was converting many Muslims to Hindu faith. At any rate, the martyrdom of the two gurus would always stand witness to the bigotry of the cruel and ruthless rulers of the time. 

It was very clear that the Kirpaan would be used only when every other remedy to relieve the suppression failed. As the former President of India, Dr. Radhakrishnan put it, '… Guru Gobind Singh raised the Khalsa to defy religious intolerance, religious persecution and political inequality. … This [achievement of] freedom [of India] is the crown and climax and logical corollary to Sikh Guru's and Khalsa's terrific sacrifices and heroic exploits.'

       A Punjabi Sufi poet, Bulle Shah, noted, 'Had Guru Gobind Singh not been there, all [Hindu Indians] would have been converted to Islam.' In fact the guru himself said that the formation of the warrior class by him was the need of the time and the mission of his life, allotted to him by God Himself. According to his faith, the Hindu temple and the Muslim mosque were the same.

       Late Swami Ranganathananda, the thirteenth President of Ramakrishna Mission said: Guru Nanak and his movement sought to weld Hindus and Muslims into a powerful nation dedicated to the realization of universal spiritual and human values transcending the prevailing communalism of sects and creeds and castes. This movement soon gathered strength, and equally soon, faced fierce opposition from the contemporary Muslim communalism and the Mogul political state. The tragedy, which began with Guru Arjan, the fifth guru of the Sikhs, continued and reached its highest intensity during the period of the tenth guru, Gobind Singh, whose struggles, sacrifices, and successes make him shine as the greatest tragic hero of the later Indian history. His character, dedication, intellect, courage, and above all, compassion, mark him out as a born leader and saviour. In his life as well as in death he has been a beacon of light and hope to millions of his countrymen.

       Swami Vivekananda was a great admirer of the Sikh gurus. He had longed to pay a visit to the Punjab. When he set out from Kolkata in May 1897 for a lecture tour of northern India, his chief objective was to visit the Punjab. Swamiji reached Lahore (in Pakistan now) on November 5, 1897 and stayed there till November 15. In his lecture at Lahore, on the 'The Common Basis of Hinduism', he eulogized the greatness of Guru Nanak and Gobind Singh and said, "This is the land which, after all its sufferings has not yet entirely lost its glory and its strength. Here it was that in later times, the gentle Nanak preached his marvelous love for the world. … Then and then alone you are a Hindu when you will be ready to bear everything for them [countrymen], like the great example of your great Guru Gobind Singh."  

       In a his conversations at the house of Balram Bose in Kolkata in 1898, Swamiji touched upon the life of Guru Gobind Singh, how the guru reinvigorated the Sikh sect by his great renunciation, austerities, fortitude, and life consecrating labors-how by his initiation he re-Hinduized Mohammedan converts and took them back into the Sikh community. … Speaking of the great power that used to be infused in those days into the initiates of Guru Gobind Singh, Swamiji recited a Dohaa (couplet) of the Sikhs:
Sava laakh par ek charaahun
Jab Guru Gobind naam sunaaun

       The meaning is, "When Guru Gobind Gives the Name, that is, the initiation, a single man becomes strong enough to triumph over a lakh and a quarter [125,000] of his foes." 
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