image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

December, the Most Moving Month In Gur-Ithas

In a message about the significance of the month of December for the Sikhs, renowned diaspora kirtania, Dya Singh of Australia wrote:-

The month of December is one of the most touching and moving months in Gur-Itihas []]Guru-history]. The siege of Anandpur Sahib and the starving Sikhs in the Anandpur Fort with Guru Gobind Singh daily the number of Sikhs who could fight, dwindling the leaving of Anandpur Fort under false promises of safe passage sworn on the Koran []]and similar sacred promises by treacherous Hindu hill rajas] the deadly attack at Sirsa River the separation of the family of Guru Ji the betrayal of Mata Gujri by Gangu, the Kashmiri Brahmin []]cook in Guru household] the torture and killing of the Shotay Sahibzaday and martyrdom of Mata Gujri the epic battle of Chamkaur the deaths in battle of the Vadday Sahibzaday and the return to the Guru and Shahidhi of the Chali Muktay led by Bhai Mahan Singh and the legendary Mai Bhago. So, please remember this entire passage of our lofty history as you enjoy the festive end-of-year period.

No apologies for the longish quote above. It is the concluding sentence which reminds us that while we should join in the seasonal and even religious festivities of the communities we live in, we should also continue to research and discover own community-family Treasure (Peo-Daaday da Khajana).

Regrettably, some of the best educated holders of senior-most positions, born in Sikh families and brought up by hard-working, first generation Sikh parents doing factory jobs, have preferred by own choice to remain ignorant about their great heritage. Too readily, their parents are blamed. These were the thoughts in my mind as I Google-searched to know that the lady judge in a recent famous case, who delivered a brilliant judgement, was from Sikh background but converted to Christianity. Conversion is a personal and free choice. However, if at all, it should be after a deep study of own religion. Giving up own heritage, ideology and identity is perhaps the biggest step in life.

Returning to the topic started by Dya Singh, while there is hardly any month in the year when thousands of Sikh men and women have not made great sacrifices, the blood-stained history of the month of December is particularly moving. The month is especially remembered for the martyrdom of the four Sahibzaday. That requires reflection in the context of sarbans-daan by Guru Gobind Singh, regarded as a unique example of a living-martyr. He taught his Khalsa how the mar-jeevra Khalsa should live a full life but without attachment while treading the path of dharam, fighting for the righteous cause.

Guru Arjan Dev ji started the Sikhi shaheedi tradition and will always be remembered as Shaheedan de Sirtaaj (Leader of Martyrs). He gave his life for the cause of the Panth of Guru Nanak. Guru Tegh Bahadur gave his life for the right of all to follow own chosen path. His martyrdom has no other example e.g. in Abrahamic and Christian martyrdom traditions while the concept is alien to the Indic tradition.

However, the final Guru-period sacrifices of living-martyr Guru Gobind Singh and the Four Sahibzaady, stunned, shocked and roused ordinary people to topple, first the Mughal empire and later the Colonial Raj.

It is for next generations to study and own their rich Sikh heritage.

Gurmukh Singh OBE

Principal Civil Servant Ret&rsquod (UK)