About the Book
Creation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh was the greatest achievement of his genius. It laid the foundation of brotherhood, which produced in the fullness of time, men of uncommon bravery. unique devotion and rare spirit of sacrifice. The Khalsa was inspired by a sense of divine mission to right the wrongs of the world. Moreover, in doing this. Gum never deviated from the path shown by his predecessors. Gum gave sword in the hands of the Khalsa not to establish any political power but to defend the weak and the downtrodden and to destroy the armies of the wicked and the tyrants. and to fight the dharni vudh. The Khalsa brought about a socio-cultural transformation in Indian life and thought, of which the hallmarks were liberty, equality and fraternity-values cherished so well by Guru Nanak.
The present volume includes twenty- five articles written by scholars from as diverse fields as history. sociology, philosophy, religion and art. Seven of these articles are directly related to the creation of the Khalsa and eleven on its impact whereas others are on Guru’s life, Sikh tenets and theology. Collectively all these articles speak of the spirit behind the creation of the Khalsa-spirit to fulfil Gum Nanak’s Mission.
A multi-disciplinary volume dedicated to the ‘Tercentenary of the birth of the Khalsa’, it will be of immense use and interest to the scholars from different fields.
About the Author
Shiv Kumar Gupta is Head, Department of History. Punjabi University, Patiala (punjab). He earned his Ph.D. from Panjab University, Chandigarh, and has put in 30 years in teaching. He is the author of Arya Samaj and the Raj (1991), edited ‘Jallianwala Bagh and the Raj’ (under publication), completed a project on ‘Fauja Singh’s Contribution to the History of the Punjab’ (1998). He has published about three dozen research papers in learned research journals and has made his presentations in various conferences and seminars. He has guided more than a score of research scholars for their M.Phil’ and Ph.D. degrees.
Sikhism, the youngest of the world religions, arose over 500 years ago in this part of Indian sub-continent. A monotheistic, spiritual movement, with a pronounced social outlook, started by Guru Nanak, it received its sustenance, inspiration and guidance through the succession of nine Gurus. But it was not all smooth sailing. During the period of first two hundred years, Sikhism had to undergo a period of travails and tribulations. Guru Arjun, the fifth Guru, became a target of Mughal emperor Jahangir’s wrath. This led to another phase in the evolutionary course of Sikhism under Guru Hargobind, the sixth Guru, who proclaimed the doctrine of correlation of ‘Miri’ and ‘Piri’-through which, along with spiritual guidance, he asked his followers to take up arms for protection of righteousness and be prepared to meet the challenge of the times.
The period of Guru Har Rai and Guru Harkrishan passed off peacefully but the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur led to another re-orientation in Sikhism, when his son and successor, Guru Gobind Singh, rightly felt the pulse of the times and created the Khalsa to fight a dual battle-political tyranny of the alien rule and the religious tyranny of the priestly class-in the true spirit of Guru Nanak’s Mission. Building his Khalsa Holy Order on Guru Nanak’s doctrine of human brotherhood and unequivocal rejection of caste system, Guru Gobind Singh achieved the pinnacle of the social and spiritual revolution. A new community was borne with a new heroic spirit and crusading zeal.
The year 1999 marks the tercentenary of the creation of the Khalsa; On this historic occasion, it is our earnest duty not only to remember the tenth Guru but also to comprehend and imbibe the spirit behind his Mission. It is in this spirit that we thought of producing a few Volumes to commemorate the great event so that not only the present generation but also the posterity may know and grasp the Guru’s message for a better future. Commemoration of the tercentenary of the Khalsa has also relevance in the sense that today’s society is passing through a new phase of globalisation and liberalisation leading to the decline of values enshrined in religion.
I am happy that the Department of History of our University has produced this Volume consisting of twenty six articles by experts in their respective fields in commemoration of the great event. I congratulate Dr. Shiv Kumar Gupta, Head, Department of History, for putting all efforts in the collection and editing of the articles included in this Volume.
I am sure contents of these articles will go a long way in better understanding of the spirit of the Khalsa and stimulate scholars to interpret it in modern perspective.
The rise and growth of Sikhism culminating in the creation of the Khalsa more or less synchronised with some significant intellectual and religious movements in Europe like Renaissance and Reformation. Renaissance, regarded as an epoch-making movement of the early sixteenth century produced a critical, enquiring spirit, gave man a new outlook upon life and thus emboldened him to challenge medieval institutions. It was a time when there existed in the European Church most serious scandals and abuses. The necessity of the thorough reforms of the Church was recognised by all earnest and spiritually minded men. The only difference of opinion among such men was as to the manner in which the work of renovation should be effected, whether from within or from without, by reforms or by revolution. Foremost among those who came out to protest against the prevailing evils in the Church was Martin Luther (1483-1546). Before he made journey to Rome, he had all reverence for the holy city as also the Pope. But on this visit to Rome “the simple German monk saw things at Rome which gave his reverence a rude shock. He had expected to see everyone awed in perpetual reverence by the holy atmosphere of the place.” Instead, he found luxury and dogmatism, open profligacy and irreverence for holy things. All this produced a deep impression upon the serious-minded monk. The seed had been sown which yielded a great harvest in the form of ‘Reformation’ in the Church and emergence of ‘Protestestantism’.
During the same period the religious condition of the Indian sub-continent was in no way better. Hinduism had degenerated. “The spring of religion had been choked up by weeds of unmeaning ceremonials, debasing superstitions, the selfishness of priests and the indifference of the people.” The condition of Islam was in no way better. It had also degenerated to the mere observance of formal and superstitious practices to the exclusion of substance of religion. A contemporary of Martin Luther, Guru Nanak (1469-1539) came out to challenge the prevailing degenerate scene. No wonder his message worked like magic and could transform the lives of the people of this region with his simple teachings to purge evil. He had laid great stress on unity of God-head, worship of the True Name, self-surrender, importance of the Guru; denunciation of asceticism and renunciation, condemned caste system, vehemently denounced empty ritualism, penance, pilgrimages, fasts and all sorts of superstitions. No wonder his teachings had profound impact on the then society. Summing up the impact of Guru Nanak’s teachings, Gokal Chand Narang observed:
Guru Nanak left the Hindus of the Punjab immensely better than he had found them. Their beliefs had been ennobled; their worship purified; their rigidity of caste considerably relaxed, their minds greatly emancipated and they had now become more fit to enter the career of natural progress to which Nanak’s successors were destined to lead them.
The work of Guru Nanak was carried further and consolidated under the successive nine Gurus (1539-1708), culminating in the ‘creation of The Khalsa’ under the Tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh, in 1699, Creation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh was his greatest achievement, it laid the foundation of a brotherhood, which produced in the fullness of time, men of uncommon bravery, unique devotion and rare spirit of sacrifice. The Khalsa by the Guru was inspired by a sense of divine mission to right the wrongs of the world, and in the discharge of his duties no fear of earthly power was to stand in his way. The spirit of Khalsa was so strong that “Even those people who had been considered as dregs of humanity were changed, as if by magic, into something rich1and strange, the like of which India had never seen before.” By creating the Khalsa, Guru Gobind Singh “roused the dormant energies of a vanguished people and filled them with a lofty, although fitful longing for social freedom and national ascendancy.” In doing this he never diverged from the path shown by his predecessors. The Guru gave sword in the hands of the Khalsa not to establish any political power but to defend the weak and the downtrodden and to destroy the armies of the wicked and the tyrants-to fight the Dharam Yudh as it was termed. He inherited and fully identified himself with the religious, social and political ideology of the preceding Gurus. There is no denying the fact that “in the creation of the Khalsa lay the fulfilment, the culmination of the foundation of the Khalsa commonwealth-an ideal dreamt and put forward by Guru Nanak.”
A study of the history of the Khalsa reveals how it was a socio-political order with its base resting upon spiritual and moral values a corporate body of people who, deriving from religion strength as well as inspiration, aimed at bringing about a social and political revolution of which the hallmarks were equality, justice and liberalism-values which Guru Nanak cherished so well.
‘Creation of The Khalsa : Fulfilment of Guru Nanak’s Mission’, is a humble attempt in commemoration of The Tercentenary of the birth of the Khalsa. Way back in 1997, it was decided by a committee chaired by Professor J. S. Puar, former Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, that the best way to commemorate the ‘Tercentenary of The Khalsa’, in the University would be to organise seminars, conferences and publication of books on the theme. It is in pursuance of this decision that this volume has been envisaged and articles invited from the scholars in the field. There was an over- whelming response to the request. Each article reflects the spirit of the volume in hand. Fauja Singh’s thought-provoking article, “Foundation of the Khalsa Commonwealth: Ideological Aspects” brings forth how at the time of Guru Gobind’s death, “the personal Guruship was abolished and the Khalsa was transformed into the Panth or the Commonwealth, it was endowed with sovereignty and it operated under God’s special protection, for the Panth, like the Khalsa was God’s own.” Thus endowed and protected, “The Khalsa Commonwealth set out to achieve the comprehensive religion-based socio-political ideology which its founder had placed before it.”
Renowned scholar in Sikh studies, Dr. Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia’s article ‘The Order of the Khalsa: Significance in World History and Civilization’, make a palpable departure from the beaten track in his interpretation of the Khalsa. He was rightly brought out how Sikhism has ‘played a great revolutionary role on metaphysical, social, cultural, economic and political levels marking a significant watershed in the history of civilization.’
S. K. Bajaj in his scholarly article ‘The Khalsa-An Interpretation’ has analysed how the ‘Creation of the Khalsa’ was intended to transform the spirit of man by arousing heightened awareness of his being by making him conscious of the energy for achieving higher and permanent values of life.
In his article, ‘Creation of the Khalsa-Fulfilment of Guru Nanak’s Mission’ Shiv Kumar Gupta dwells upon the theme as to how by creation of the Khalsa, Guru Gobind Singh never turned from the path shown by his predecessors. In fact, the Guru inherited and fully indentified himself with the religious, social and political ideology of the preceding Gurus and marched ahead bringing about the desired cataclysim on the Indian scene.
Gurbachan Singh Nayyar’s article “Creation of The Khalsa : The Legacy” brings out how the spirit imbibed in the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh for emancipating his followers from the oppression, turned over a new leaf and enabled his ‘Khalsa’ to establish a unique identity and tolive with self-reliance and dignity.
Dharam Singh has in his article “Khalsa Panth : Ideal Social Order of the Gurus’ Vision” analysed that “the ideal society of the Gurus’ vision, which they tried to build basing it on their metaphysical assumptions, has ethico-moral values serving as its foundations.”
“Creation of The Khalsa-Uniformity of the Sikh Society” by Sukhdial Singh, throws light on as to how the Khalsa brought about uniformity among the Sikhs with a particular common code of conduct about their dress and discipline.
In his article “Institution of the Khalsa-A Philosophical Perspective” G. S. Sandhu has attempted to answer why the need of the institution of The Khalsa was felt by the Tenth Guru? What values this institution was to achieve and have been achieved?
In her article “Guru Gobind Singh’s Relations with Aurangzeb”, Harpreet Kaur brings out how “there was a change in Aurangzeb’s policy towards Guru Gobind Singh during his last days when the latter settled at Talwandi Sabo for many months without being harassed by Mughal forces. Kirpal Singh’s article “Guru Gobind Singh: The Last Phase” throws fresh light on this important phase of Guru’s life. In his article “Humanism of Guru Gobind Singh” Sudarshan Singh explores how the Guru evolved a class-less, well-knit brotherhood of saint-soldiers and aroused in them a strong spirit of patriotism and nationalism; how his inspiring message of love, equality and universal brotherhood has a great relevance for the people all over the world.
Writing on “Guru Gobind Singhin Indian Art” R. P. Srivastva, brings out how “encouraged by the new faith and religious spirit, artists also expressed their innermost urge to visualise the achievements of Guru Gobind Singh in more than one style and medium.”
Jaspal Kaur in her paper “Some Light on Sikh Tenets” highlights how Sikhism denounced renunciation and asceticism and advocated to lead a householder’s life, made a virtue of hard work and efficiency. Spurred on by the teachings of their Gurus, the Sikhs are always keen to improve their living conditions by honest means instead of living in poverty, isolation and stagnation.
“The Concept of suffering and Liberation in Sikhism- A Philosophical Perspective” by G. S. Sandhu and Parminder Kaur brings out that the Sikh Gurus gave to their Sikhs the idea how they could come out of worldly bondage, overcome suffering and achieve liberation.
In his article “Transformation- through Sikhism” Bhagat Singh throws light on “how Sikhs were instinctively opposed to religious bigotry and commercial hostility and instead followed a path of perfect toleration towards those who did not belong to their faith. Sikhism sheds caste; provides equality of status to woman, freedom from superstitions and empty rituals.
Gurcharan Singh, in his article “Social Harmony in Sikhism”, epitomizes how Sikh Gurus gave to the world a message of universal brotherhood and equality of man which brought about social amity among people from all walks of life.
Parkash Singh -Jammu, in his path-breaking article. ‘Sikhs and The Nature’ brings out how the Sikhs wherever they settled created “a new equilibrium with nature and instead of polluting it regenerated its improved version.”
Surinder Singh, an expert in numismatic studies in Sikhism, in his article “Initial Sikh Coinage” firmly establishes that Banda Bahadur struck the first Sikh coin in 1710. These coins, according to the scholar, “throw light on a very important feature of the Sikh concept of sovereignty amongst them shortly after the demise of Guru Gobind Singh.”
Navtej Singh in his article “Sikhs Overseas and the British” brings out how it was the economic pressure which compelled the Punjabi population to migrate to areas of new avenues by the turn of the nineteenth century. The British j concern towards the migrants from Punjab was strongly influenced by the racial discrmination and was indicative of the evolution of a policy of repression in diversified form.
Shyamala Bhatia in her article “Chief Khalsa Diwan in Historical Perspective-A Critique,” has brought forth how this institution had achieved the aim of protecting a young sapling of distinct Sikh identity, nurturing till it had taken roots and grown to maturity. “Achievements of Sikh Education Conference”, by Amrit Walia brings out how the said institution has done a magnificent job not only in promoting education among the Sikhs but also to safeguard their religion, culture and language.
Mohinder Singh, in his article on “Gandhi, Sikhs and Non-Violence” observes how during the “Gurudwara Reform Movement” “Akali Volunteers’ strict adherence to non- violence even in the face of official repression so much impressed Gandhiji that in his writings and speeches, he often quoted their example to other Satyagrahis.” Gurcharan Singh, gives a thought to the “Role of Babbar Akalis in Freedom Struggle”. According to him, “A by-product of the cumulative effect of the anger of the Sikhs against the British administration, the Babbar Akali Movement was the outcome of the Akali-Movement and was directed towards the attainment of independence advocating the use of weapons in defiance of the official Akali-policy, hence branded brave or ‘Babbar Akalis’.
In his paper “The Role of the Sikhs in the National Freedom Struggle” Jagjiwan Mohan Walia has expressed how “The struggle which commenced with sporadic and spontaneous risings against the British rule, gradually assumed the shape of a national movement with the objective of attaining independence.”
In her well-researched article “Woman and Development in Punjab” Malkit Kaur brings out how Sikh Gurus condemned the social evils, like Purdah, Sati, female infanticide and the beliefs -and practices that down-graded women. But despite all these efforts, we have still to go a long way in translating these teachings into practical life.
In his article” A Brief Survey of Sikh Theological Studies” Anand Spencer sketches out an outline of the various stages of Sikh theological writings with brief notes on the basic nature of important works attempted during these stages.
I am grateful to all the scholars who have contributed to the volume in hand. My sincere apologies to those whose contributions could not be included in it.
I am beholden to Dr. Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala for having evinced keen interest in the publication of this volume as also for contributing a scholarly article and meaningful foreword.
Thanks are due to my colleagues in the Department of History as also other friends for their keen observations and suggestions in the preparation of this volume. My sincere thanks to Dr. Jaspal Kaur for helping me in going through the proofs. I shall be failing in my duty if I do not accord my appreciation for Dr Hazara Singh, Head, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University, Patiala for having taken personal interest in the publication of this volume.
Last but not the least I must put in a word for Mr. Paramjit Singh, Office Assistant of the Department, for typing the articles.
The volume is dedicated to the memory of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru for having conceived the idea of ‘Creation of the Khalsa’, which fulfilled the mission of Guru Nanak by bringing about a socio-religious-cum-political cataclysm in this part of the Indian sub-continent.
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