image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

December Reminds the Sikhs of the Sarbans Daan of Guru Gobind Singh

The month of December reminds the Sikhs of the siege of Anandpur Fort. It reminds them of the starving and dwindling number of Sikhs with Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the leaving of Anandpur following false promises by the Mughals and the Hill Rajas, the treacherous attack at Sirsa River and the separation of the family of Guru Ji, the betrayal of Mata Gujri by Gangu, the Kashmiri  Brahmin, the torture and martyrdom of Shotay Sahibzaday, martyrdom of Mata Gujri the epic battle of Chamkaur the martyrdoms in battle of the Vadday  Sahibzaday and the Sikhs. So, please remember this entire passage of our lofty history. (From Facebook message to young Sikhs by Dya Singh of Australia)

As they take part in seasonal festivities, the Sikhs are also reminded of the epic events of December 1705 that they should also continue to research and discover own great heritage, the treasure left behind by their ancestors (Peo daaday da khajana).

While there is hardly any month in the year when hundreds 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, how the mar-jeevra Khalsa should live a fully participative life but without attachment and not hesitating to make the ultimate sacrifice for the righteous cause.

Guru Arjan Dev 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 in the Abrahamic martyrdom traditions while the concept of martyrdom is alien to the ancient Indic tradition more concerned with internecine wars for land or women. In the closing chapters of the Guru-period, sacrifices of living-martyr, Guru Gobind Singh, and the Four Sahibzaady, stunned, shocked and roused ordinary people to topple successive oppressive empires.

Let us reflect on the meaning of sarbans daan. It means the end of the family line &ndash no progeny or descendants. This was a willing sacrifice by Guru Gobind Singh while he offered a prayer of gratitude before the Timeless Being. Why? Because he believed that the mission with which he came to the world was nearing completion. Four had died so that thousands of Khalsa children of the Guru would live and multiply (Jeevat kayee hazaar).

Regrettably, some of the best educated Sikhs born in Sikh families and brought up by hard-working, first-generation Sikh parents, have preferred by own choice to remain ignorant about their great Sikh virsa (heritage). It is most refreshing to see Sikhs like Ajaypal Singh Banga, newly appointed President of the World Bank, who have kept their proud Sikh identity, reaching for the stars.

It is for next generations to study and contribute to their rich Sikh heritage and be identified as Sikh. Because, the life of every Sikh man and woman, no-matter how high an achiever regarding wealth and worldly position, is but a very small time-window in the continuity and prosperity of the family of Guru Nanak-Guru Gobind Singh.

Best Wishes for the New Year.

Gurmukh Singh OBE

Principal Civil Servant retd (UK)