image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

Vaisakhi 1699: The High Point of Guru Nanak Jote-Jugat Mission

(Part VII: Conclusion)


The time had come for the Sikh movement to confront the religious zealotry of Emperor Aurungzeb (1658 &ndash 1707).

Guru Har Krishan, at the age of 8 years, had shown Aurungzeb that the Divine Wisdom of the Guru was not limited by age. When offered presents he chose the cloak of a holy man and not attractive ornaments and toys as Aurungzeb expected. Sensing the evil designs of the Emperor in the guise of a pious religious man, the Guru decided not to see him again but to confront him as Nanak IX, Guru Tegh Bahadur in the Jote-Jugat ( ਕਾਇਆ ਫੇਰਿ ਪਲਟੀਐ) tradition.

Guru Har Krishan, whose holy sight dispelled the pain and suffering of all (ਜਿਸ ਡਿੱਠੇ ਸਭ  ਦੁੱਖ ਜਾਏ), was struck by smallpox that evening. He left for Sach Khand 5 days later on 30 March, 1664. According to Bhat Vahis, despite the contrived confusion about Guruship, Guru Har Krishan did actually name his Baba, Tegh Bahadur of Bakala as the next Guru. The latter was consecrated as Guru at a well-attended ceremony on 11 August 1664, before the arrival of Makhan Shah Lubana. (Bhat Vahis Multani Sindhi and Talaonda Pargana Jind, Sakhi 19 of Guru Kian Sakhian.) It was for Guru Tegh Bahadur to teach his Khalsa (referred to in His Hukamnamas) the final lesson in the Sikh martyrdom tradition. By showing the transitory nature of human life he prepared the Sikhs to face death with equanimity. The worldly detachment in His Bani also points to the positive (life-affirming) objective of human life.

The unique martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur was triggered by the collective plea of the oppressed Brahmins of Kashmir and other Hindu centres. However, the event itself was the inevitable consequence of the war between religious zealotry and state oppression on the one hand and the egalitarian mission of Guru Nanak Sahib defending human rights and diversity on the other.

The impact of the martyrdom changed the course of Indian history, while it became the most prominent landmark on the landscape of martyrdoms for human rights and just causes in human history. The Guru gave his life to stabilize the world (Bhai Gurdas II Vaar 41.23).

The Guru Jote was now in young Gobind Rai (Guruship 1675-1708) who would become the Guru and the Disciple (ਆਪੇ ਗੁਰੁ ਚੇਲਾ) of His beloved Khalsa on the Vaisakhi Day in 1669 as Guru Gobind Singh. The qualities and the sacrifices of the living-martyr Sarbansdani Guru are beyond human description.

In these seven parts we have seen how the Message of Gurbani is consistent and how in stages the Guru Jote-Jugat process evolved Sikhi from Guru Nanak Sahib to Guru Gobind Singh. Thus was Vaisakhi 1699, the high point of Sikhi tradition and marked the completion of the teaching period of the Guru.

Next would start the Khalsa period when, following in the footsteps of the Guru, the great Sikhs of the 18th Century would defeat the evil and oppressive Mughal regime supported by the rajas, religious judges and Bipran administrators, so vividly described in the Asa ki Var in Sri Guru Granth Sahib.


Gurmukh Singh OBE