It is Master's gift-this life of inspiration. All the gods exist in the Master-Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma; and the Vedas are in him, and the Diving Song.
The Book of the ten masters I the record of the teacher of the Sikhs, who have handed over the mystic doctrine first taught by Guru Nanak in the sixteenth century. Nanak is "The unknown man who roams disguised on earth", who enters into the vacant house, the heart of his disciples, through whom the mystery of the divine in men is revealed. A poem of Puran Singh says, "Nanak is still with us, a Song, a Book,
.his voice still sings in our ears, his figure flits before us, his eyes meet or, his feet we touch." He is part of the changing permanence of things eternal, which is one of the secret doctrines of sacred book of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth.
Nanak, the first Master, not only lives in his disciples; his spiritual self, his very presence, passed into the mind and body of the nine Masters who were his successors. "Him have I seen not once, but for ten generations." After hi, Angad received the sacred message and became the apostle of his inspired faith in God. To Angad, succeeded Amar Das. "I saw Amar concealing the All Father in a majestic from of man, the silver knot of hair, the white beard flowing down like a river of light, a tall ancient stern man of love and labour; for behold, Nanak has now become Amar Das." So the succession goes on and in the following pages the reader will be able to find the opening into that region of ecstasy which was scaled by Nanak and entered by his true disciples.
While the legacy of the ten Gurus, Master of the Sikh religion, was maintained, there was a break in the tradition after the fourth, Ram Das. He founded the golden Temple at Amritsar, and planned the bathing tank from whose waters that city takes its name, which means the divine essence of the true ambrosia. Under the next Master, fifth in the line, Arjun, the tank and the temple were completed. That meant a new stage in the growth of the Sikhs they were becoming a properties people, acquiring a collective religious and social sense. The Golden Temple of Amritsar was symbol of their new consciousness. They worked to complete it with desperate devotion and unsparing energy. It was on Arjun's initiative, that the bible of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth took form, and the orally preserved sayings, songs and other remains of the four previous Gurus were written down. Arjun's fame, and the growing wealth of his people, excited the envy of the Emperor Jahangir. Arjun was put to torture-fire and water and boiling cauldron-he bore all firmly. The last message he sent through the Sikhs to his son and successor, Har Gobind, was one that sounded ominously the change from peace to war. "Let him sit armed on his throne, and raise as best he can an army at his right hand!" That was I the year 1606 A.D., and the religion of the Sikhs went through a gradual metamorphosis in succeeding yeas, their quietist faith became more and more militant. "Father, why are thou so silent?" "My son," he said, "thou art sill a child, and cannot know how the very earth is grieved at the great oppressions (by the Turks). Yet none is brave enough to give up his life, in order to free the earth from this burden."
"Oh Father, thou art brave and thou art generous. Who is worthier than thou for this mission."
Tegh Bahadur gave himself up to Aurangzeb, and suffered martyrdom, a cruel death for his people's sake. His son, Gobind Singh became the most warlike of all the Sikh leaders and Gurus. In the Song of the Master, he as the tenth reincarnation of Nanak appears I the form of the ancient huntsman, before whose arrows fires the Stage of Death.
"He were the starry crest. He carries the hawk on his thumb and bears aloft the flags of the kingship of Heaven."
"The Rider on the Blue Horse; the wearer of the Blue Robe, he leads the Sikhs, the armies of the heroes, to defend the sacred cause and the purpose of god on earth."
The end of Gobind Singh was in keeping with his warrior aspect. His four sons, mere boys, were cruelly ordered to execution by Aurangzeb; and died fearlessly. Their mother took her own life by suspending her breath when she found she could not save them or aid her husband. Gobind Singh, while still his wounds from the last battle he had fought were only half healed, took up a mighty bow to try his strength, and his blood burst out afresh. Sic itur ad astra. With his last breath he left the book, the Granth Sahib, to his disciples as Sacred Guru.
Another account of his end is not so dramatic; it is more mysterious. When the predestined day came, Gobind Singh sent for the sacred offering a coconut and five paise and laid them before the Holy Book, the Granth Sahib. "The Word is Master now," he said, "Let all bow before Sacred Book, as my successor!" Thereupon, attired in his symbolic blue soldier's dress, he mounted his blue war-horse, rode away and vanished behind the spiritual veil of the sensual world.
It is no wonder that the Sikhs look upon Gobind Singh as their deliverer, he, who by his sword became the true defender of their faith. For he had realized, that a state or a city must have courage for -"the safe-keeping of that wisdom which teaches what things and what kind of things are to be feared." It was the sacred idea of the Sikhs which was imperiled and which Gobind Singh knew had to be saved and "to be preserved alike in pleasure and in pain, in fear and in desire, and never to be cast away."
The living spirit of the Ten Masters or Gurus, passes finally into the pages of the Book, the Testament of the Sikh faith, the revelation of the divine father to the child lost in the world-fair.
The conflict of the Sikhs with the powers of Islam, which reached its climax under the Tenth Master, Gobind Singh, was one based on a fundamental religious difference. Islam was, in fact, extremely dualistic in practical life. As the conqueror's religion, it lost its original beauty of universal good-will, implicit in the faith and sacred name of Allah. The Hindu and Muslim cultures met, clashed and died, after giving brief life to Hindu-Muslim art and thought: they never met in living faith of the people; nor did they give any impetus to the true contemplation or right conduct. Both the Hindu and the Mussalman became slaves of selfishness, in their contempt of the common people. Opposed to both these civilizations is the doctrine of Buddha and Nanak. Both these teachers insist on the attainment of a life-calm, unruffled, supremely felicitous. In Buddhistic history, the image of Buddha was carved in stones, while the Sikh history aimed at chiseling the image of Guru Nanak in living human bodies. This realization was higher than anything art alone can do, but human nature still craves artistic expression. There ought to have been a great renaissance of art and letters in the wake of Sikh culture; and a beginning was made by the Tenth Guru at Anandpur, which assumed the proportions of a great Sikh University.
From the varied reports of the life of Gobind Singh we discern the noble figure of a true leader, a soldier of God, who deliberately set out to storm the strongholds of superstition and tyranny. He did it with unfailing power, making everyone confess his soul to him, the Master. A word, a song, a smile form him, was enough to search the hearts of the people; and as the Master gave to them, so he took the Living World from their lips. Such words as Yama, Destiny, Nirvana, Yoga, Atma, Anhad, Brahman, Para-Brahman, Guru, Sadhu and Saint are taken from the people as they used them and given back to them with an inner illumination that came from the personal sanction of the Master. The Sikh people saw the meaning of everything: life, love death and afterlife in Him. The language of Nanak cannot be interpreted by taking it in its literal or traditional meaning. The simple word, Hukam, is a whole song in Japji suggestive of law of the Creator's Mind, that we cannot, indeed, clearly express in modern philosophic phraseology because the Master is dealing with the secret laws of life and not with the thought-products of his mind as does a mere philosopher. The word, Suniye, literally "hearing:" s visibly a simple word; but the Guru devotes four complete songs in its praise. Such words again as "Rama", "Krishna", "Govinda", Raghunath", "Vedas", "Vishnu", carry in them the devotional fervour of centuries. The sentence, "Rama is my Beloved", began to have a new significance to the people, when it was weighed with their own personal devotion to the Master.
"Now that I have taken refuge in Thee, I look to none beside. They tell me there is the Purana and the Quran; They tell me there are gods like Rama and Rahima; But I know none but Thee! They tell me there are a hundred other scriptures, Vedas, and Smritis, and many sacred books; But I need nothing beyond Thy Word! I have heard of all them: but there is no close companion between them and me. Now that I have taken refuge at Thy feet I look to none beside."
The faith of the Sikhs, is a living one, inspired and reinspired by Divine Idea and by the Living Word that passes current in the mouths of the people. To understand it the readers needs to enter into the mind, childlike spirit and religious imagination of the followers of Nanak. Many episodes in these pages, such as the stories of Gobind Singh as a merry boy or as man who had not forgotten his boyhood indicate these. Humility of Amardas who, when kicked by the would-be Master, Datu is too profound. "Honoured Sir, my old bones are very hard. They must have hurt your precious foot?" he said, and rubbed Datu's feet in deep reverence.
As a revelation of the inner mind of the Orient, in its transparent truth and faith the book is unique, We need to throw aside our modern disbelief to get on terms with so child-like a spirit, with a temper of mind which was gentle, yet brave and fierce as the four young sons of Gobind Rai and the Master himself.
Prophets appearing at different times and periods have spoken of the truth which was their mission to bring to humanity, to cure the sickness of the soul. They give it in words and forms suited to the needs of times to show the true way, out of the darkness of superstitions and formalism. They came to show the path of integration. They said that he law of life is to love one another and in that loving to awaken the spirit of devotion and find God.
"When the mind in tranquil Like the limpid lake And the path is made smoothThe light of the name enters the heart, Hold fast in heart the true name It guides even the unseeing and the blind,"
This volume is fully illustrated in colours ad is a unique guide about the ten Gurus of Sikh Dharma. The idea behind the present venture is to make available these rare works to most libraries and readers.
Dr. Ranjit Singh Gill belongs to the family of Hindustani classical singers, was born in 1938 in Punjab. He received his education at the College of Art Delhi, higher education at the Garit Reit Velld Academy Amsterdam (Holland). He was awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy by Meerut University for his dissertation on History of Art: "Cosmos of Vincent Van Gogh."
Dr. Gill's studies have been published in various books. His major publications include Adi-Granth Paintings, Rag, Raga Mala & Bara Maha, The Ten Master-life and Works of Ten Gurus of Sikh Dharma, Raga Mala Origin and Evolution, and Bliss and peace-poems and paintings blessed by Mother Teresa.
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