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Images: details from a painting by Kanwar Singh (ArtofPunjab.com).

History

Birth Of A Nation:
Part II

Bhai VIR SINGH, translated from original Punjabi by BIMAL KAUR

 

 



From ‘Dilgir, Dilzor, Dilshaad’, Sri Guru Kalgidhar Chamatkar (1925), by Bhai Vir Singh


Continued from yesterday …


CHAPTER III


At Kesgarh, arrangements were being made for a large gathering. Where yesterday there had been doubt, fear and suspense, today the atmosphere was full of joy and eager anticipation.

Guru Sahib arrived, followed by his Five Beloved. He sat down on his throne-like seat. All around the pandal stood imposing Sikhs resplendent in the uniform of soldiers.

Guru Sahib was dressed in pure white with the Sri Sahib (kirpan, sword) thrust into his waistband. In front of him was placed an iron bowl full of water. In it rested a khanda (double-edged sword).

Facing him stood the five selfless ones with folded hands. They too wore white clothes and carried kirpans in their waistbands.

Guru Sahib said to them, “Bhai, Guru Nanak gave us the mantar to remember the Lord by and it is ‘Waheguru’. Concentrate your minds and recite: ‘Waheguru!’

They began to recite ‘Waheguru, Waheguru …’ softly.

Then Guru Sahib knelt down in front of the bowl of water in a bir-aasan (warrior’s) stance and took a firm hold of the khanda. Just then, Mata Jeeto ji entered the diwan and as the people moved aside respectfully, she slowly walked up to Guru Sahib. Smiling gently, she murmured, “My contribution is sweetness and love! May it be a part of peace and valour, of zeal and renunciation -- may Waheguru’s love permeate each life!”

And she poured a heap of pataasas (white round sugar-cakes) into the water. Then she sat down and glanced with loving pride at the Five Beloved.

Guru Sahib began to stir the water with the khanda while reciting gurbani in a resonant and measured tone. It was a solemn moment. Lion-heartedness and love of peace were going to be merged into the soul of the Panth through the
sacred Amrit he had prepared.

He stood up and asked one of the Five to recite the Mool Mantar five times. Then he dipped his fingers into the bowl and taking some Amrit, splashed it five times in his eyes, making him repeat with gusto, the new jaikara (clarion call), which was heard for the first time from Guru Sahib on this day:

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Sri Waheguru ji ki Fateh

Five times the Sikh drank the amrit from Guru Sahib’s hand, five times it was poured into his hair. Each time it was accompanied with the jaikara.

The ceremony was repeated till all the five had received the amrit.

Then Guru Sahib spoke: “You have partaken the Amrit of Akal Purakh Waheguru, and you have received the gift of His Naam - ‘Waheguru‘. You have heard the words describing Him in the Mool Mantar and you have understood the meaning of those words. You must recite the Naam and keep your faith in Him firm and without wavering.

“You are now His ‘Khalsa’. Fateh (victory) is always His and since you belong to Him, fateh is now yours as well. Say with me:

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Sri Waheguru ji Ki Fateh.

The words echoed through the congregation, sending a powerful thrill through every heart.

He continued: “By singing the praises of the Eternal Lord and thinking about His glorious qualities, you will feel near to Him. Recite the nitnem gurbanis daily. Do not be negligent about this.

“Your spiritual support is reading gurbani and understanding the Gurus’ words, listening to kirtan and participating in the singing, living by the advice given in the gurbani and acting on it. This strong foundation will enable you to abide by the Rehat (Code of Conduct), which I am about to reveal to you:

You must keep your hair and beard unshorn.

You must always wear on your person the five Kakaars - Kesh (unshorn hair), Karra (iron bracelet) on the wrist, Kirpan in the waist-band, Kangha in the hair to comb and keep it clean, and Kachhaa (breeches).

You must not use tobacco, alcohol or drugs.

You must treat all people as equal, without caring about their caste or status.

From today, I have merged all castes into one.


Your thoughts must be lofty but your hearts full of humility. Do not worship at graves or become enamoured of other paths. Your biggest happiness will come from reciting Waheguru naam and this will make your minds strong so that your thoughts will be based on rational and logical thinking.

Finally, you, my Beloved Five, are the nucleus of a new Panth, as I place my spirit in you.


Guru Sahib now felt that he too had to undergo the initiation, as was the tradition begun by Guru Nanak. He got up from his seat and stood in front of the Punj Pyarey and folding his hands, asked them to prepare Amrit and grant him the divine gift.

A hush descended on the sangat. There was no fear or confusion but a sense of wonderment at what Guru Sahib was asking. The Punj Pyarey were perplexed. They were mere followers. How could they carry out Guru Sahib’s orders without being irreverent and disrespectful to Him?

But then they thought, since they had offered their heads to him, they belonged body and soul to him and were duty-bound to obey his wishes.

In complete surrender to Guru Sahib, they stood up and carried out the sacred rite of preparing and offering Amrit to him. Someone in the gathering was overcome with emotion and loudly called out:

Wah-o, Wah-o Gobind Singh … aapay gur chela!’

(Behold Gobind Singh, Hail! Himself the Guru, He Himself the Disciple!)

Till today these words ring out in the memory of Guru Sahib during our spiritual celebrations.

Guru Sahib now went back and took his seat while the sangat bowed reverentially and sat down. He gave a signal to one of his Sikhs, who made an announcement that all Sikhs may now partake of the Amrit. A few still hesitated but many came forward. It is believed that 20,000 Sikhs became Singhs and Kaurs -- the new common given to all Sikh males and females respectively -- on that day.

Then Guru Sahib spoke about what it meant to be a Khalsa.

“It is not merely the name of a man or woman, or a Panth, but an ideal with innumerable facets. A gurmukh Sikh considers himself to be always in the presence of his Creator, firm in his faith, pure of thought and action, of upright moral character. His head remains unbowed before corruption and evil. He is self-reliant and confident, yet believes fully that everything comes from Waheguru.”

Guru Sahib’s high expectations of his Khalsa came to fruition. Today, when we think of a Khalsa, he or she appears glowingly on the pages of history, with his sincere devotion to Sikhi and deep love and devotion for his Guru Saheban, motivating him to acts of extreme valour on the battlefield, emerging victorious or sacrificing his life for the common good without hesitation.

All this, and his actions of compassion towards one and all, pass in front of our eyes, infusing our lives with vigour and fresh enthusiasm.

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Sri Waheguru ji ki Fateh


*   *   *   *   *

Concluded

[Sardarni Bimal Kaur, the translator, has embarked on a project to make available more of Bhai Vir Singh ji's works in English.] 
April 6, 2017

Conversation about this article

1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), April 07, 2017, 4:16 PM.

Bimal ji, not an easy task but you have come out with flying colours. Perhaps you may want to translate another chapter of the highly spiritual and literary work in 'Gur Kalgidhar Chamatkar' - 'Pritam Ji'. But, if you need respite, you may want to translate the easier handbook of Sikhi - 'Baba Naud Singh' - which some call the autobiography of Bhai Sahib himself. Don't put down your pen yet.

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Part II"









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