The Golden Temple, at Amritsar, India is the seat of Sikhism. Built by the fourth and the fifth Sikh Gurus, there is history seeped into each step of the Temple. I recently visited, sharing some photographs. Click on the photographs to enlarge, or move into the full screen mode:
In a recent episode of India’s Got Talent Season 2, there was a performance by a Sikh group, showcasing Sikh martial arts using swords with some beautiful music, which had one 5-6 year old kid as part of the group. One of the judges, Sajid Khan mentioned that while the performance was “okay”, the involvement of the kid (in a performance using swords) was not a good decision since it would lead kids to copy him. I disagree personally: there are many dangerous performances shown in that particular talent hunt which can also lead kids to copy. One of the judges appreciated the performance, and the third one opined that she is fine, subject to that kids are not part of the next performance. Click on the image below to watch an excerpt:
However, I am sorry to note that Sajid does not understand Sikhism. The power of Sikhism lies not only in the sword, but also in the scriptures that teach how to use it. Many people mistakenly believe that the Tenth Guru “turned” Sikhism, what was till then a way of life, into a warring tribe. The need for the ability to defend, using arms was part of Sikhism ever since the Sixth Guru who made Sikhs into not just saints, but saint soldiers.
Sajid also claimed that what started as a “performance” gave way to a riot on stage. That was the intended effect, which is what Sajid failed to understand. The Tenth Guru, in his writings beautifully recreates war scenes, with great insight, and then points out the futility for both the winners (who becomes bloated with ego not knowing he will also die one day making way for more winners), and the losers (who end up with a few bones less).
I show case two of my favourite stanzas from such writings:
ਜੀਤ ਫਿਰੈ ਸਭ ਦੇਸ ਦਿਸਾਨ ਕੋ ਬਾਜਤ ਢੋਲ ਮ੍ਰਿਦੰਗ ਨਗਾਰੇ ॥
With the beat of drums and trumpets the emperor conquers all the countries.
ਗੁੰਜਤ ਗੂੜ ਗਜਾਨ ਕੇ ਸੁੰਦਰ ਹਿੰਸਤ ਹੈਂ ਹਯਰਾਜ ਹਜਾਰੇ ॥
Along with the drums is the roaring of beautifully decorated elephants and thousands of neighing houses of best breed.
ਭੂਤ ਭਵਿੱਖ ਭਵਾਨ ਕੇ ਭੂਪਤ ਕਉਨੁ ਗਨੈ ਨਹੀਂ ਜਾਤ ਬਿਚਾਰੇ ॥
So many such emperors have existed in the past, exist today and will exist in future; the numbers cannot be fathomed
ਸ੍ਰੀ ਪਤਿ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਭਗਵਾਨ ਭਜੇ ਬਿਨੁ ਅੰਤ ਕਉ ਅੰਤ ਕੇ ਧਾਮ ਸਿਧਾਰੇ ॥੩॥੨੩॥
Their might will be forgotten similarly; without remembering the Lord’s True Name, they will leave for the final abode (and lose the opportunity). 3.23.
ਸੁੱਧ ਸਿਪਾਹ ਦੁਰੰਤ ਦੁਬਾਹ ਸੁ ਸਾਜ ਸਨਾਹ ਦੁਰਜਾਨ ਦਲੈਂਗੇ ॥
The trained and war tested soldiers, with strong arms, mighty and ironclad – just waiting to crush the enemies.
ਭਾਰੀ ਗੁਮਾਨ ਭਰੇ ਮਨ ਮੈਂ ਕਰ ਪਰਬਤ ਪੰਖ ਹਲੇ ਨ ਹਲੈਂਗੇ ॥
With great ego in their mind; even if mountains were to grow wings and fly away frightened, they would still not lose their stand
ਤੋਰਿ ਅਰੀਨ ਮਰੋਰਿ ਮਵਾਸਨ ਮਾਤੇ ਮਤੰਗਨ ਮਾਨ ਮਲੈਂਗੇ ॥
They would destroy the enemies, twist the necks of rebels and smash the pride of intoxicated elephants.
ਸ੍ਰੀ ਪਤਿ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਭਗਵਾਨ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਬਿਨੁ ਤਿਆਗਿ ਜਹਾਨ ਨਿਦਾਨ ਚਲੈਂਗੇ ॥੫॥੨੫॥
But without the Grace of the Lord-God, they would ultimately leave the world empty handed and none the wiser. 5.25.
Sajid talks of kids, but does not realise that the Guru even as a kid used to create two different teams among his friends, and play war games. The Gurus younger sons were aged 8 years and 6 years when they achieved martyrdom. Just because a tyrant decides to go to war, you will have to go to war too – even though you may not want to. Whatever you want to excel at, you have to start learning as a child. He is simply afraid of the unknown – and his very limited experience of life makes him feel he is correct. In the days of the Guru, people were afraid to stand up against the tyrants – what will become of my kids? – such thoughts prevented them. The Guru led the way by teaching kids to defend themselves.
I cannot stop myself from showcasing another beautiful Hymn by the Tenth Guru where the Sword reigns supreme:
ਖਗ ਖੰਡ ਬਿਹੰਡੰ ਖਲ ਦਲ ਖੰਡੰ ਅਤਿ ਰਣ ਮੰਡੰ ਬਰ ਬੰਡੰ ॥
खग खंड बिहंडं खल दल खंडं अति रण मंडं बर बंडं ॥
The sword chops well, chops the forces of fools and this beautiful and powerful weapon adorns the battlefield of life.
ਭੁਜ ਦੰਡ ਅਖੰਡੰ ਤੇਜ ਪ੍ਰਚੰਡੰ ਜੋਤਿ ਅਮੰਡੰ ਭਾਨ ਪ੍ਰਭੰ ॥
भुज दंड अखंडं तेज प्रचंडं जोति अमंडं भान प्रभं ॥
It is as an extension of the arm, unbreakable, terribly fast, it has a powerful luster and its radiance even bedims the light of the sun.
ਸੁਖ ਸੰਤਾ ਕਰਣੰ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਦਰਣੰ ਕਿਲਬਿਖ ਹਰਣੰ ਅਸਿ ਸਰਣੰ ॥
सुख संता करणं दुरमति दरणं किलबिख हरणं असि सरणं ॥
It brings happiness to the saints, mashing the vicious ones, it is the destroyer of sins and I seek its refuge.
ਜੈ ਜੈ ਜਗ ਕਾਰਣ ਸ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਉਬਾਰਣ ਮਮ ਪ੍ਰਤਿਪਾਰਣ ਜੈ ਤੇਗੰ ॥੨॥
जै जै जग कारण स्रिसटि उबारण मम प्रतिपारण जै तेगं ॥२॥
Hail, hail to the cause of the world, saviour of the universe, it is my preserver, I hail its victory. 2.
Beautifully rendered, on YouTube.