Guru Gobind Singh, Khalsa and Indian Nationalism

Guru Gobind Singh was a nationalist among the nationalists. He not only adopted the national culture in its purest form, but also worked to protect it. He preferred local language in his day-to-day practices on the one hand and accorded full honour to different languages of the country on the other. He developed his active method of working having contemporary regional and national problems in the centre so that their solution in an effective manner could be feasible. He searched the remedy for pains of vast majority of the people.

Furthermore, he based his method of working and the searched remedy on those eternal values which were approved by Indians thousands of years ago in their lives for ever. Those very values had become the basis of their unique identity; they are the basis of the identity of the Indians until today. Universal acceptance, forbearance and tolerance are the main among those values. The fearless and enmity-free Supreme Lord, God, is the original source of those values.

The entire views of Guru Gobind Singh were connected to the true beliefs and welfaristic traditions of his motherland. Imported or foreign-originated views never became the basis of his actions for the mass awakening. Whole of his actions were on priority to light a fire of nationalism in the hearts of the people to make them active. They were for the resolution of national problems on the basis of the mass awakening. In the root of his views was equality-based life for each and everyone in the society so that all could live with honour. So was the purpose of his actions. He wished a life full of fearlessness and chivalry for everyone so that all could defend their motherland and add to the pride of the nation.

Creation of the Khalsa

In this regard the creation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 A. D. at Anandpur on the occasion of the ‘Baisakhi Day’ was a historical event as it was a unique step taken by him for the protection and solidarity of the universal acceptance-based Indian way, culture and national values. Without a doubt it was an act of strengthening nationalism; it was a milestone of the way of national renaissance. The importance of the creation of the Khalsa could be understood from the following points of view:

The purpose of the creation of the Khalsa was to awake Indians, who were sleeping for centuries, through those well-prepared brave men who were monotheistic, adherent to the path of truth, possessors of strong character and mindful of their duties. Through them the message of struggling against any kind of injustice was conveyed to the masses. The common men were filled with courage and enthusiasms to become fearless in toto, and came forward to perform their duties and become ready to sacrifice themselves for the cause of the nation. Furthermore, by overcoming of the artificial division of the society in the name of caste and class, to bring all within the scope of unity and thus to establish the real and practical equality among the people was the purpose of the creation of the Khalsa.* *

Dayaram [1661-1708], the first among the Five, Panch [Panj] Pyare, appeared at the time of the creation of the Khalsa, was the son of Suddha and Dayali Sobti; he was Khasttriya by caste. Dharmarai [1666-1708], the second, son of Santram and Sahabo, resident of Hastinapur, Meerut was a Jat by caste.* *Himmatrai [1661-1705], the third and who was a son of Gulzari and Dhanno of Jagannathpuri, Orissa was a water-drawer by caste. Similarly, Mohkamchand [1663-1705], the next, son of Tirathchand and Divi, resident of Dwarika, Gujarat was a tailor by caste while the last Sahebchand [1662-1705], son of Guru Narayana and Anakamma of Bidar, Karnataka was a barber by caste. Thus, undoubtedly, the Khalsa created by Guru Gobind Singh was a unique organization based on social equality. There was no place for the system like caste or class in it. It was a matchless way towards the development, maturity and strengthening of nationalism.

For centuries Indian Society has been divided into castes, sub-castes and classes thousands in number. This division as an evil has constantly widened the range of inequality among the people. Consequently, besides suffering in many ways India has to loose its independence internally and externally from time-to-time. Guru Gobind Singh, a philosopher, visionary and a man of wisdom, well understood the consequences of this artificial and inequality-based division of society and the creation of the Khalsa by him was a remedy to this centuries-old evil. In Khalsa everyone, doesn’t matter if he was engaged in a work of a particular nature, received representation and that too with equal honour. The purpose of the Khalsa was quite clear: difference between general and particular was to mitigate to enable all to come forward to fight against attackers, barbarians, exploiters, invaders, oppressors and tyrants wholeheartedly and with unity, doesn’t matter if they were internal or external. Moreover, getting the people realized of truth, their duties and responsibilities towards strengthening nationalism and eventually defending and serving the humanity as a whole was the successful objective behind the creation of the Khalsa.

Another important idea behind the creation of the Khalsa was to pave a way towards the establishment of the political unity of the country. Although Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel integrated India on a larger scale after its political freedom from the British Empire in the year 1947 and thus he established a record, but it is equally true that along with his followers who were limited in number Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa having the approach of national unity in the centre. Moreover, Guru Gobind Singh did so in a critical time and difficult situation and that too through limited means. Therefore, his work was too great and exemplary. His approach towards political unity of the country was of a high level. The five, Panch Pyare, represented the whole of India-from north to south and east to west. They also represented that portion which is not a part of today’s India. The Khalsa was a symbol of India’s political unity. It, therefore, clearly reflected Guru Gobind Singh’s approach and commitment towards nationalism. His nationalism could also be seen in the light of the most effected and excellent system like the Panch Parmeshwar established centuries ago in India in accordance with the national circumstances.

As mentioned earlier, Guru Gobind Singh first prepared the Five, Panch Pyare, and then asked them to offer the Amrit to him. They did so and he drunk it. By doing so, he granted them an equal status. He accepted them as his Guru and said, *”Where the five true Sikhs [Khalsa] will present, I will also be there. The decision of the five will be considered the decision of the Guru himself. The Guru himself is bound by their decision.”*

His nationalism was not isolated in nature. Rather, its scope was large enough and it was refined. It was full of spiritualism. Human welfare was in the centre of it. It was connected with high human-values. Therefore, his nationalism was the furthering step towards universalism. In other words, it was an effective basis of transforming the idea of *Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam*into a reality.

For the establishment of true and firm nationalism and through it for the development of the spirit of internationalism one has to set himself free to a large extent from the self interest that is inevitable in day-to-day human practices. He has to come forward to make sacrifice, some time great in nature. In this regard the sacrifice made by Guru Gobind Singh was unparallel and exemplary. No other sacrifice could be greater than the sacrifice made by him.

His father, the ninth Sikh Guru Teg Bahadur, sacrifice his life for the cause of the nation and humanity. He, as Gobind Rai, had himself inspired his father for that. He took all pains in his individual life. He faced so many difficulties. In spite of that he never compromised at the cost of the honour of the nation, cultural heritage and humanity. Rather, he throughout his life fought for safeguarding the national culture, values and humanity and that too by fair means. In this fight his four sons-Ajit Singh, Jujhar Singh, Jorawar Singh and Fateh Singh-too sacrificed themselves. But Guru Gobind Singh neither expressed grief nor did he shed a single tear over the sacrifice of his sons. Rather, he thanked God, and thus, by setting example of greatest sacrifices exhorted the people to defend the nation and humanity. Moreover, he left it as his legacy to be followed by generations to come.

So many examples of those great men are found in the pages of history of India, and the world also, who lived for the welfare of humanity. Indeed, through their exemplary acts they created histories. But, some of them certainly became helpless, doesn’t matter if for a while, when a critical situation got emerged in their individual life. But the case of Guru Gobind Singh is quite different; it is an exception. After the sacrifice of his four sons he neither mourned nor did he deviate for a moment from his mission. Where is the other example to compare the sacrifice of Guru Gobind Singh?

Guru Gobind Singh well identified the element necessary as per the demand of time for the establishment of true nationalism in India, a country of unity in diversity. In other words, he recognized indifference of his misguided compatriots from their duties. That is why; he encouraged them to dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to the cause of nationalism. He declared it to be their foremost duty towards their nation. But, his nationalism was undoubtedly dedicated to humanity. It was a furthering step towards internationalism. All-backwards, down-trodden, poor or unprivileged-were within the scope of his nationalism. In it were the warriors, soldiers or the weak. As a Guru and a disciple Gobind Singh, the initiator of a new age, was himself a part of it.

In his forty-two years’ worldly life Guru Gobind Singh tirelessly worked for the protection, development and steadfastness of nationalism and through nationalism to save humanity. In this regard he adopted a practical and wonderful approach of uniting people on the basis of equality. That approach is still relevant and exemplary particularly for those who think about nationalism, who are concerned of it and desire to work for its development and strength. Doubtlessly, for them Guru Gobind Singh is an ideal. Simultaneously, his ideas and works pertaining to nationalism are also significant and exemplary for those who see it in the perspective of human-welfare, and thus believe in universalism. Guru Govind Singh’s words that *”I have been sent [to teach the humanity the lesson of truth, love and sanctity and to fight for justice, and to prepare the people to follow eternal values], although, I am myself an ordinary person”* are enough to set those free from their doubts who consider his nationalism to be isolated and far from internationalism. He was a true representative and defender of nationalism of his time. The creation of the Khalsa was a historical step to strengthen nationalism. But the real purpose of it was the defence and welfare of all human beings.

Dr. Ravindra Kumar is an eminent writer, Indologist, political scientist and a former vice chancellor of Meerut University, India, who authored and edited over 100 works on great personalities like Mahatma Gandhi and on various social-cultural issues.