image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

Vaisakhi 1699: The High Point of Guru Nanak Jote-Jugat Mission (Part-IV)

ਜੋਤਿ ਓਹਾ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਸਾਇ ਸਹਿ ਕਾਇਆ ਫੇਰਿ ਪਲਟੀਐ

They shared the One Light and the same way the King just changed His body.


(Part IV: Development of Sikhi institutions and Qaumi identity - continued)

In earlier parts we have seen how each Guru-person contributed to the Jote-Jugat process from Guru Nanak Sahib to Guru Ram Das. This week we continue from Guru Arjan Dev Ji, while keeping in mind that the Guru Jote (Divine Light) was One and the same. The Jote manifested Itself in Ten Guru-persons from Guru Nanak Sahib to Guru Gobind Singh. Each Guru-person developed the Jugat or the Sikhi way (Sikh rehni) by own example.

It is only by learning from the lives of the Ten Guru-persons representing the progress of the Jote-Jugat sytem that we can correctly interpret the Gurbani in Guru Granth Sahib as the foundation of Sikhi Miri-Piri (temporal & spiritual) Sikhi System. The system and way of life so derived is the Sikh Reht Maryada which also defines who is a Sikh.

By the time of Guru Arjan Sahib (Guruship 1581 &ndash 1606), the development of the Sikhi institutions was nearly complete. The revolutionary Sikhi ideology preached and practised by the Guru-persons, had started attracting the attention of the emperors at Delhi. The Gurbani composed by the Guru-persons taught practical living and a distinct theo-political Sikh community was emerging.

There were Sangats, first established by Guru Nanak Sahib, in many parts of India and Amritsar was a prosperous trading town. The sarowar or pool &ndash Amritsar (literally, the pool of nectar) - from which the town derived its name, had been dug. Guru Arjan completed the project by building Harmandir Sahib in the centre of the Sarowar. Guru Arjan composed 2312 Shabads in 31 Ragas and compiled the Adi Granth Sahib by also including the Bani of earlier Guru-persons and (selectively) that of many Bhagats from diverse backgrounds. He completed the Sarovar and the Darbar Sahib complex (later known as the Golden Temple).

From Guru Nanak Sahib to Guru Arjan Dev, the rulers at Delhi were getting increasingly concerned about the emergence of the Sikhs as a sovereign theo-social and political people. That rankled with the emperor Jahangir and Guru Arjan Dev was martyred as a result.

As directed by Guru Arjan Dev before his shaheedi (as witness to the sovereignty of the Panth of Guru Nanak), the next phase of Sikhi Miri-Piri progress started with the investiture of Guru Hargobind Sahib (Guruship 1606-1644). The Guru now openly wore the swords of the two worlds of Miri-Piri (temporal and spiritual). It is clear from events that followed Guru Arjan the He had already designated the place for Sri Akal Takht Sahib opposite the Harmandir. The Akal Takht project was completed by Guru Hargobind Sahib within a matter of days of the Guru Arjan Dev ji&rsquos martyrdom.

Guru Hargobind strengthened the combination of worldly and spiritual (miri-piri aspects of Sikhi) and introduced armed defence of human rights as a last resort. The final phase of the mission of Guru Nanak Sahib had started, which would lead to the emergence of the Khalsa in 1699 as Akal Purakh ki Fauj.

Gurmukh Singh OBE