It may not be out of the way to say here that throughout the annals of human history, there was no other individual who could be of more inspiring personality than Guru Gobind Singh. At its climax the tenth Nanak infused the spirit of both the saintlihood and the undauntedness in the minds and hearts of his followers to fight oppression in order to restore justice, righteousness (Dharma) and to uplift the down-trodden people in this world. It is said that after the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the tenth Master declared that he would create such a Panth (nation) which would not be cowed down by tyrant rulers but it would rather challenge the oppressor in every walk of life to restore justice, equality and peace for mankind. He further resolved that he would feel worthy to be called Gobind Singh only when any single member of his Khalsa Panth would successfully and undauntedly challenge the army of one hundred and twenty-five thousand opponents in the field. This point was rightfully proven at Chamkaur Sahib when Sahibzada Ajit Singh (Guru's about 18 years old eldest son) challenged the Mughal forces and their allies, the hilly Rajas.
"The Divine Guru hath sent me for religion's sake
On this account, I have come into the world;
Extend the faith everywhere
Seize and destroy the evil and sinful.
Understand this, ye holymen, in your minds
I assumed birth for the purpose of spreading the faith, saving the saints and extirpating all tyrants."
(Guru Gobind Singh- Chaupai, Bachitar Natak)
Guru Tegh Bahadur's martyrdom symbolized in itself the resistance to the tyranny of Muslim rule in favor of a new society. When evil is holding its head high, should a holy man knuckle under it or take up arms to combat and destroy it? The young Guru, Gobind Rai, decided in favor of the latter course i.e. to combat evil and uphold righteousness. He thus enjoined upon his followers to make use of the sword if all other means failed to liquidate the wicked and his wickedness. In order to achieve this mission, he issued 'Hukamnamas' (circular letters of authority) to his followers to present to him arms of different designs. The Guru's orders were obeyed with great zeal and devotion. He himself wore uniform and bore arms and induced others to practise archery and musket- shooting. He encouraged various muscle-developing and strenuous sports as part of the program of physical culture. Many followers with martial instincts whose forefathers had served the Guru's father and his grandfather, flocked to him. His principal companions at that time were his aunt Bibi Viro's (Guru Har Gobind's daughter) five sons, Sango Shah, Jit Mal, Gopal Chand, Ganga Ram, Mohri Chand; his uncle Suraj Mal's two sons- Gulab Rai and Sham Das; his maternal uncle Kirpal Chand; Bhai Daya Ram, the friend from his youth; and Bhai Nand Chand, a favorite masand.
The Guru instructed his followers to lead a well-meaning and disciplined life. He according to the customs of his predecessors, used to rise early in the morning and perform his devotions. He was particularly delighted to listen to Asa di Var. After day-break, he gave divine instructions to his Sikhs and then practised martial exercises. In the afternoon, he received his followers, went shooting or raced horses; and ended the evening by performing the divine service of 'Rehras'.
The Guru's handsome exterior was much admired both by men and women. A person called Bhikhia from Lahore came to visit the Guru. Seeing the handsome young Guru, Bhai Bhikhia offered the alliance of his daughter Jito to him. The proposal was accepted and there were great rejoicing at Anandpur on the occasion of the betrothal ceremony. The twenty-third of Har, Sambat 1734 (1677 A.D.) was fixed for the marriage. The Guru sent orders in all directions for this occasion and the Sikhs thronged from various places including Lahore. A place was set up near Anandpur, which was called Guru ki Lahore where the marriage ceremony took place.
VISIT OF DUNI CHAND AND RAJA RATTAN RAI:
Surging crowds of people with their hearts filled with love and devotion to the Master, thronged to see him. Some came from Kabul, Qandhar, Gazni, Balkh and Bukhara. They brought several priceless gifts- rugs, carpets, shawls and other valuables when they came to pay homage to their Lord. Duni Chand, one of the devotees, visited Anandpur in 1681 and presented to the Guru a woolen tent, 'Shamiana' or a royal canopy which surpassed in excellence. It was embroidered in gold and silver studded with pearls. It is said that its splendor surpassed that of the Emperor's canopy.
Through the grace of Guru Tegh Bahadur, Raja Ram of Assam was blessed with a son, Rattan Rai. Raja wanted to take his son to the Guru but he died soon and could not visit Anandpur. His last injunction to his Rani (wife) was that the prince should be brought up as a devout Sikh. The Rani faithfully carried out the behests of her husband and imparted the knowledge of the lives and teachings of the Gurus to the growing prince. When Rattan Rai, the prince, attained the age of twelve, he felt an inclination to see the Guru. Accordingly he with his mother and several of his ministers proceeded to Anandpur. He brought with him an offering of five horses with golden trappings, a very small elephant, and a weapon out of which five sorts of arms could be made, a pistol, a sword, a lance, a dagger, and a club.
The Raja was accorded a great reception. He offered his presents and prayed to the Guru to grant him the Sikh faith. He was granted all his desires. The Raja exhibited the traits of his presents. He caused the elephant to wipe Guru's shoes and placed them in order for him. At the word of command the animal took a chauri and waved it over the Guru. The Raja requested the Guru never to let the elephant out of his possession.
The prince and his party remained at Anandpur for five months and during this time, he enjoyed kirtan and felt uplifted by the Guru's sermons. At the time of departure, the Guru accompanied them to some distance and then bade them good-bye. They were sent off with presents. Besides these tangible gifts, the Guru gave Rattan Rai a RATTAN - a jewel of Nam, which was the ultimate gift of life:
"Nam is the priceless Jewel that the perfect Guru hath;
If one dedicates oneself in love to the True Guru,
He lights in one's heart the Light of Wisdom, and Nam is then revealed.
Blessed is the fortunate one who goeth to meet the Guru."
(Sri Rag Mohalla 4, p-40)
The Guru's army was swelling day by day and he was now set for the construction of a big beating drum which was deemed necessary to enthuse his army and without which he considered his equipment was incomplete. The work of the drum was entrusted to his Dewan, Nand Chand. In those days, only an independent chieftain was to use such a drum within the limits of his territory. The beating of the drum within the bounds of another chief's domain was an hostile act and meant an open invitation of war. The completion of the big drum which was called Ranjit Nagara, or victorious drum on the battle- field, was celebrated with prayers and the distribution of Parshad (sacred food). When it was beaten, the men and women of the city came to behold it and there were great rejoicing.
The Guru and his men went for hunting the same day and when they reached near Bilaspur, the capital of Kahlur, the drum was beaten and it sounded like a thunder to the hillmen who became apprehensive of some danger. Raja Bhim Chand of Kahlur consulted his prime minister who advised him that it was the Guru's drum who was worthy of worship, secondly, he maintained a large army and was greatly feared; and thirdly the Guru was brave, and such men were sometimes useful as allies. On hearing this Raja Bhim Chand desired to meet the Guru and despatched his prime minister to arrange for an interview which was granted. The Raja accordingly went with his courtiers to Anandpur.
RAJA BHIM CHAND AND THE GURU:
Raja Bhim Chand was received in Guru's darbar (court) with great honor. He prayed to the Guru to let him see the gifts from the Raja of Assam. He was shown all the presents. Bhim Chand was astonished at the magnificence of the Kabuli tent. He was told that it was the offering of a pious Sikh from Kabul. During this conversation when the beautifully decorated elephant was let forward, Bhim Chand stood spellbound and expressed his unbounded admiration of all that he had seen. On his homeward journey his mind burned with jealousy of the Guru's state and wealth and he made up his mind to take possession of at least the elephant.
On his return to the capital, Bhim Chand disclosed his designs to his courtiers. It was decided that a message should be sent to the Guru that Raja Fateh Chand of Garhwal's party was coming with the object of betrothing his daughter to Bhim Chand's son, and Bhim Chand desired to borrow the elephant so as to make a display of his wealth to his guests. When the message was delivered to the Guru, he knew that it was only a trick to obtain permanent possession of the animal. He sent the reply to Bhim Chand, " The Raja who presented the elephant, requested me not to let the animal go out of my possession. It is the principle of Guru's house to comply with such requests." It is said that the Raja sent his emissaries thrice, the last one being Kesari Chand, the Raja of Jaswal, but the Guru did not yield and therefore, Bhim Chand's demand was not met. So he got angry and wanted to take revenge.
Majority of the masands felt agitated at the Guru's warlike preparations and they represented to Guru's mother to dissuade him from such activities lest it should bring some trouble to him. When the Guru's mother talked to him about it. He replied, " Dear mother, I have been sent by the Immortal God. He who worshippeth Him shall be happy; but he who acteth dishonestly and worshippeth stones shall receive well-merited retribution. This is my commission from God. If today I give Raja Bhim Chand the elephant, I shall have to pay him tribute tomorrow." Nand Chand then joined the conversation and said, " Mother, hath a lion ever feared jackals? Hath any one ever seen the light of the firefly in bright sunshine? What availeth a drop of water in comparison with the ocean? The Guru is a tiger brave and splendid as the sun. Shall he fear Bhim Chand?" The Guru ended the discussion by saying, "Dear mother, heed not the evil advice of the masands. They have become cowards by eating the offerings of the Sikhs."
The Guru and his troops continued to practise archery and devoted themselves to the chase. The Sikhs kept visiting continually and make offering of arms. Those who came for military service, were readily received and were taught the profession of arms. In this way the Guru collected a considerable army.
GURU LEAVES FOR PAUNTA SAHIB:
In the meantime the Raja Medani Parkash of Nahan, invited the Guru to visit him. The invitation was accepted and he left for Nahan. Gulab Rai and Sham Das were made incharge for the defence of Anandpur. The Raja came to greet and welcome the Guru and then took him to his palace. One day he took the Guru on hunting excursion and complained that Raja Fateh Shah of Garhwal had often quarrelled with him over the ground on which they were then standing. He suggested that he would be very pleased if a fort were to be constructed on the spot for protection against the enemy. The Guru erected a tent on that spot and held a darbar. He laid down foundation stone of the fort. With the help of the Raja's army and with the zeal and energy of the workmen, the fort was completed within a short time. The Guru named it Paunta, and started to live there and continued to increase his army.
Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji
( 1666-1708, Guruship 1675-1708 )