Punjab, the land of not just literal but even spiritual warriors of Bharat, is seeing a disturbing trend yet again. After the killings of three functionaries of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), another leader of Hindu Sangharsh Sena was murdered in Amritsar in a broad daylight on October 30. In the series of murders that are taking place in the same pattern, where unknown assailants are targeting the unarmed individuals on religio-political grounds, is not just a threat to the nation and social fabric of Punjab but antithetical to the very idea of Sikhism. Unfortunately, this is happening when the nation is celebrating the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj.
Punjab is the land where Sikhi began, where it commands a special place, connects Afghanistan to northwest via Khyber Pass. This position was widely used as a corridor for countless invasions into Bharat. Guru Nanak Dev Ji Maharaj, who witnessed the Mughal invasion of India and saw the horrors inflicted upon the common people by the invaders, founded the Sikhism to counter this. At the same time, he diagnosed the internal ills of our society and carried out the mission of his life to lead people on the true path to God, to dispel superstition, to bring people out of ritualistic practices, to lead them directly to follow Gurbani without the need for priests and clergy, and to restrain and guard against the five thieves within – Pride, Anger, Greed, Attachment and Lust.
This was perfectly in tune with the eternal practice of all Bharatiya Dharmik tradition where internal reformism and fight against the external invasions went hand in hand. Reiterating this position, RSS Prant Sanghachalak Brij Bhushan Bedi Ji in his statement released on October 23, has clearly stated that, “RSS in 2001 itself made it clear before the Minority Commission that like Jains and Buddhists, RSS always believed ‘Sikh’ to be a distinct reilgious identity.” ‘Ik Onkaar’ – There is only one God and ‘Sat Naam’ – His Name is Truth have been the perfect incarnation of ‘Ekam Sat Vipraha Bahuda Vadanti’ – Truth is One, Spiritual Leaders explain it in different ways, the larger beliefs of Bharatiya religions.
Guru Gobind Singh ji Maharaj built the Khalsa on the edifice created by the earlier Gurus. He saw that his Sikhs, had come a long way on Guru Nanak’s path, and now deserved to take the larger responsibility of securing the nation. He, therefore, transformed the Sikhs into a brave freedom loving people who shook the powerful Mughal empire, and played a major role in India’s struggle for freedom against the British. While doing so he maintained the basic teaching that, “When all other methods fail, it is proper to hold the sword in hand.” This was all for protecting the sacred land of Bharat and great spiritual tradition of seeing intrinsic unity in all.
Unfortunately, some of the elements in connivance with the same forces that the entire Guru tradition fought against are trying to vitiate the atmosphere by misrepresenting Sikhism as foreign to the Bharatiya tradition. Foreign funding and use of violent means is justified for nurturing separatism. The basic concept of separating Sikhism from Bharatiyata itself is an ill-conceived proposition and therefore, has failed miserably on earlier occasions. The unity of Sikhism with other Bharatiya faiths is inherent and natural but ruptured with some historical fallacies. Due to this some people contest about the relationship between Sikhism and Hinduism. They have right to do so. While doing that using violence against the unarmed individuals who are also serving the society in their own way is against the teachings of Shri Guru Granth Sahib. The Guru Granth Sahib and all the Gurus transcend creed and caste, cant and convention and monopolising and misrepresenting them will be opposed by the Sikh brethren only.
When there is a growing threat of Islamic radicalism and terrorism what we need is the the revolutionary spiritual and political fire which Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj lit. Therefore, Swami Vivekananda said, “Mark me, every one of you will have to be a Govind Singh, if you want to do good to your country.” This message is important not only for Sikhs but for all the Indic religions. When the entire nation is going through the phase of transformation and ‘breaking-Bharat’ forces are trying their best to halt this journey, saving and promoting the true spirit of Sikhi is need of the hour. Working in that direction with the sense of service will be the greatest tribute to Guru Gobind Singh ji Maharaj on his 350th birth anniversary.
By Prafulla Ketkar