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THE GROWTH OF RESPONSIBILITY IN SIKHISM


GURU HAR RAI 1630-1661
MERCY

But the abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power. The Sikhs had learned to fight for justice; but, when the struggle was long continued, there was a danger of their becoming harsh in character. The sternness of Justice must be tempered with mercy. ' He who the sword of heaven will bear, should be as holy as severe.' Guru Har Rai's motto was be tender to all things even flowers. One day, in his childhood, while passing through a garden, his loose-flowing robe broken away some flowers and scattered their petals on the ground. The sight was too much for him and brought tears to his eyes. Thenceforward he always walked with his skirts tucked up and resolved for the future not to harm anything in the world.

When he grew up he carried the same heart with him. He was a hunter and yet he was too kind-hearted to kill the animals he had captured. He would bring them home and feed and protect them in zoo. He was very fond of quoting Farid's lines:

"All men's hearts jewels; it is wicked to distress them if you desire to see the beloved, grieve no man's hurt."

He said, "The temple and the mosque may be repaired or renewed, but not the broken heart."

He would always question his visitors whether they kept free kitchens and shared their food with others; and nothing would please him better than to confer benefits it was from him that the ancestors of the rulers of Patiala, Nabbha and Jind received the blessing of royalty. They had come as beggars, slapping their bellies for hunger, and went away with the promise of kingship.

Guru Har Rai was the most magnanimous of men; and yet we must not forget that he was a soldier, a strong, self-respecting man. By way of protesting against the tyrannies of Aurangzeb, he vowed never to see his face, and even when summoned, he totally refused to appear before him. The quality of mercy is most genuine, when it is practiced by a man who feels his strength, and yet suppresses himself and is tender, "Nanak, life is most fruitful, when we meet with those who practice humility and gentleness, even when they are strong." (Sri Rag 1).

It was well ordained that the teaching of Mercy should come after the teaching of Courage. For a coward is often the cruelest of men.


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