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THE GROWTH OF RESPONSIBILITY IN SIKHISM


GURU HARGOBIND 1595-1644
JUSTICE

Enlightened, not passive, suffering was the rule under Guru Arjun. It was a very useful lesson, which the nation learnt whole on the road to responsibility. But it was not sufficient. To suffer patiently in defense of your cause is very noble; but until you have learnt to suffer for others rights, you have not learnt much of responsibility. When does the spirit of democracy enter into the character of a nation? Not when it has learnt to cry up its rights in the face of other nations. Not when it has learnt to collect votes and decides by majorities. But only when its individuals have learnt to respect and fight for the rights of their neighbors.

This public spirit and fellow feeling was the characteristic mark of the Sikhs of Guru Hargobind's time. The Guru himself was of course, an example of this character. When founding the cities of Hargobindpur and Kartarpur he had the liberality to build mosques in them at his own expense. When he got release from the fort of Gwalior - where he had been sent before any differences had arisen between him and the Emperor-his first thought was not to get away himself, but to get the same deliverance for the numerous rajahs who had been co-prisoners with him in the fort. He is still remembered there as the Bandichhor Baba, or the Holy Liberator, On another occasion, the Guru refused to partake of the honey which had been first demanded by and refused to Kattu Shah, a Sikh in Kashmir.

The story for Bhai Sadhu and Rupa, who, even when most thirsty, would not drink cool water because somebody else deserved it more, shows how effectively the Sikhs had learnt to sacrifice their own interests for those of others. By the time of the sixth Guru, it had become an establishment custom that it anybody desired a gift from heaven he would mention it before a company of Sikhs, who would come together and pray for him, the Guru himself joining in the service, According to the Dabistan-i-Mazahib, even the Guru in his own case would request his followers gathered in a meeting to pray for him. There began our congregational prayers, which beside increasing religious favour, strengthened the spirit of cooperation and unity.

The Sikh nation at that time was numerically small, but spiritually great. It had required an intensity of character, which steeled it against all tyranny and corruption. "The order of the Merciful has gone forth that no one shall molest another."(Sri Rag V) And the Sikhs had been sufficiently prepared to understand what that order meant for them. The forces of good had been organized, and were now to be put in action against the forces of evil. The weak must not be allowed to be trampled under foot by the tyrannous. Justice must be secured even to the poorest. For "nobody was without some worth." (Gauri Guareri, V).

This was the vocation of the Sikhs under the sixth Guru. They were no less saintly than before, but they were brave withal, and we never hear of their being defeated even once by the overwhelming numbers of the enemy. They had become a nation, heroes. Greatness had come and did not find them unprepared. They met it without flinching, without lowering themselves, knowing what the fourth Guru had said, "Those, whom God gives greatness, receive homage from the world. Why should we fear it coming, when we do nothing in selfishness ? it is only God's glory that increases thus." (Gauri ki Var, IV).


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