The impact of Sikhism in Haryana

The impact of Sikhism


Haryana also felt the impact of Sikhism. Several Sikh Gurus visited Kurukshetra and other parts of Haryana and in their memory various Gurudwaras were built here. An account of these visits is available in the works of Macauliffe and the Sikh traditional literature of Bhai Santokh Singh who had received instruction in Hindu religion from a Pandit of Kaul (in Kurukshetra Distt.). He also served under Sardar Megh Singh of Buria (in Ambala Distt.) and under his auspices produced Hindi translation of Amarakosa, a Sanskrit work. In 1823 Santokh Singh wrote Ndnak Pr^kdsh i.e, the life and teachings of the founder. During his service under Bhai Udai Singh of Kaithal, with the assistance of several Brahmins he translated various other Sanskrit works in Hindi and then completed his well known work in 1843 under the title Gur Partdp Suraj in six ponderous volumes.


Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion visited Kurukshetra on the occasion of solar eclipse. That was a great occasion for the Guru to preach his message to thousands of pilgrims gathered together from far and near. The story goes that a disciple of the Guru presented him a deer which he ordered to be cooked. The Brahmin priests protested against this ‘sacrilegious act’, and expressed their horror at the use of flesh on a sacred day. The Guru silenced his critics by his brilliant exposition of the superstitions which figure in daily life.’ Nanak gave the following parting message to his followers:


Live in harmony, utter the creator’s name and if any one salutes you therewith, return his salute with the addition true and say Sat Kartar, the True creator in reply. There are four ways by which, with the repetition of God’s name, men may reach Him. The first is holy companionship, the second truth, the third contentment, and the fourth restraint of the senses, by w hichever of these doors a man enterth, whether, he be a hermit or a house holder, he shall find God.


After a careful study of the passage one is reminded of what King Kuru of the antiquity had practised, and what Aloka had inscribed on his pillar edict at Topra (in Ambala district). In Kurukshetra near Brahmasara there stands a Gurdwara known as Sidha Bati to commemorate this visit.


On his way to Delhi Guru Nanak and Mardana halted at Panipat where an interesting dialogue between him and a successor of Shaikh Abu Ali Qalandar took place. The Shaikh inquired about the Guru’s religious sect, his loin-cloth and asked about the meaning of ‘darvish’. To all the questions the Guru gave philosophical answers. And the Shaikh who was convinced of the nobility of the Guru’s soul concluded with the following remark: ‘Well done! Why make a further examination ofhim who beareth witness to God? Even to behold him is sufficient’. And then shook hands with the Guru, kissed his feet and departed.


Guru Amar Das (1479-1574) in the course of his pilgrimage to various tinhas, visited Pehowa and Kurukshetra. The purpose of his visit was to bring about the moral regeneration of the people by means of preaching. Amar Das went to Pehowa. The Pandits and Brahmins were pleased to see him and greatly admired his discourse. At Pehowa he made a scathing criticism of religious bigotry and the caste system. In the eyes of God, he said, ‘all his children are equal. The Sudras were as dear to Him as the Brahmanas’. A Gurudwara at Pehowa commemorates this visit.’ The Guru next visited Thanesar ‘the place par excellence of Siva, the destroyer’. Guru Amar Das was asked why he had abandoned Sanskrit, the language of Gods, and’ composed hymns in the popular language he replied, ‘Well water can only irrigate adjacent land but rain water the whole world’, suggesting that his message was not meant for Sanskrit scholars only but for common people of all castes and classes.’ The Sikh traditional sources do not provide authentic data of the Guru’s visit to Kurukshetra. Dr. Balbir Singh on the basis of a hymn in Guru Granth Sahib and its commentary Faridkot Tika which provides astronomical data for calculation, has worked out the date of his visit as January 14, 1553.’ Explaining it further Dr. Singh states, ‘It becomes clear that when the Guru went to Kurukshetra it was the occasion of the solar eclipse and that it was the ruling conjunction of the Nakshatra Abhijit’.’ Further, he points out that during the period of the pontificate of Guru Amar Das (i.e. between 1552-74) the solar eclipse occurred nineteen times but the conjunction of Abhijit Nakshatra occurred only twice i.e. on January 14, 15.’3 and January 15, 1572. The choice, therefore, lies between these two dates.


The hymn of the Adi Granth also states that the Guru was not called upon to pay the pilgrim-tax, though tax collectors were posted for this purpose. The pilgrim-tax had been remitted by Akbar in 1563 A.D. The visit of the Guru to Kurukshetra might therefore be placed before this date, on January 14, 1563


There are also two Gurudwaras in Kurukshetra named after the sixth Guru Hargovind (1606- 645) and the seventh Guru Har Rai (1645-1661). But in the absence of authentic information, the local tradition about their visits to the place cannot be relied on. It is possible that some of the disciples might have built the Gurudwaras and named them after the Gurus. Macauliffe mentions the visit of the eighth Guru Har Krishna to Panjokhera (near Ambala) on his way to Delhi. Here the Guru entered into discussion with a Brahmin through a water carrier Chhajju on question related to the philosophy of the Gita.


The ninth Guru, Teg Bahadur (1664-1675) visited Kurukshetra and its adjoining area. He first visited Tekpur also called Baharjakh (one of the traditional Yak^as forming the boundary of Kurukshetra) and stayed with a carpenter who took him to Kaithal. Kaithal has two Gurudwaras in his memory, one in the town and the other outside the Dogran gate to the north of the town. From Kaithal the Guru proceeded to Barna, a small village near Pehowa. Here he preached against the use of tobacoo, the pernicious stimulant’. The Guru thereafter visited Kurukshetra on the occasion of a solar eclipse. During his stay here he gave discourses on ‘Sat Nam’. At Bani Badarpur he contributed money for the construction of a well, The Gurudwaras at Jind, Rohtak and in its surrounding areas are connected with the visits of Guru Tegh Bahadur who passed through the Haryana tract more than once during his journeys to and from the eastern provinces and to Delhi where he was executed in 1675 under the orders of Emperor Aurangzeb for expousing the cause of the Kashmiri Brahmins against forcible conversions to Islam.


Since there is a Gurudwara known as Gurudwara Dasham Padshahi it is believed that Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru also visited Kurukshetra. In the absence of any historical evidence the credibility of this popular belief remains doubtful.


The Nirmal Sadhus, a sect of Sikhism, had their centre at Kurukshetra. One of their leader Bhai Gulab Singh (b. 1632) who had his education at Varanasi set his a rama (hermitage) at Prachitirtha. He was the disciple of Man Singh, another saint of the Nirmalas residing near the Sannihit tank. Bhai Gulab Singh had renounced worldly life early, and made Kurukshetra his permanent place of residence. He is known to have composed about twenty-five works on spiritual themes of which only four exist namely, /a (Sara. Mokshapantha Prakdsa {Sdim, 1835),


Adhyatma Rdmayana, Karmavipdka and Prabodhachandrodaya Ndtaka{S 2 im, 1846).

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