Hindu-Sikh Relationship (part 1/10)
Hindu-Sikh Relationship (part 1/10)
Sikhs have always been honoured members of Hindu society.
Hindus at large have always cherished the legacy left by the
Gurus and venerated Sikh Gurudwaras no less than the shrines of
any other Hindu sect. There has never been any bar on inter-
marriage, inter-dining and many other modes of inter-mingling
between the parent Hindu society on the one hand and the Sikh
community on the other. Hindus and Sikhs share a common cultural
heritage and a common historical consciousness of persecutions
suffered and freedom struggles fought.
The Sikh sect was founded by Guru Nanak Dev ( 1469-1538 A.D.)
and promoted further by nine other Gurus, the last of whom,
Govind Singh (b. 1675), died in 1708 A.D. GuruNanak came from a
Vaishnava family in that part of the Punjab which went to pakis-
tan after the partition in 1947. He was born at a time when the
sword of Islamic invaders had already swept over the length and
breadth of India and done immeasurable damage not only to the
shrines and symbols of Hinduism but also to the self-confidence
of Hindus. The Punjab alongwith North-West Frontier and Sindh
had suffered more heavily than elsewhere. Many Hindus in these
provinces had been converted to Islam by force. The rest had
been reduced to second class citizens who could not practise
their religion publicly without inviting persecution at the
hands of Muslim theologians and tyrants.
It was in this atmosphere that Guru Nank asserted the su-
periority of his ancestral spirituality as against Islamic
monotheism which had divided mankind into hostile camps and set
children of the same Divinity at each other's throats. This was
an act of great courage because Islam prescribed the penalty of
death for anyone who said that Hinduism was a religion as good
as Islam, not to speak of saying that Hinduism was superior.
Many Hindus had been put to death for uttering such a "blasphemy.
What Guru Nanak had Proclaimed was, however, a part of the
Hindu response to the Islamic conslaught. The response was two-
pronged. While Hindu warriors fought against Islamic invaders
on many a battlefield all over the country, Hindu saints
and sages created a country-wide spiritual upsurge which
came to be known as the Bhakti Movement. The message of this
Movement was the same every- where, based as it was on the Ve-
das, the Ithihasa Purana and the Dharma-Shastras. The only vari-
ation on the central theme was that while most schools of
Bhakti deepened the spirit behind outer forms of worship, some
others laid greater emphasis on advaitic mysticism as ex-
pounded in the Upanishads and the various traditions of Yoga.
The latter schools alone could flourish in the Punjab and the
rest of the North-West which had been denuded of Hindu temples
and where ritual Practices were forbidden by the Muslim rulers.
It was natural for Guru Nanak to be drawn towards this school in
the course of his spiritual seeking and sing its typical
strains in his own local language.
The Bhakti Movement produced many saints in different parts
of the country, North and South, East and West. They spoke and
sang in several languages and idioms suited to several regions.
It was inevitable that their message should go forth from as many
seats and centres. Guru Nanak established one such seat in the
Punjab. Those who responded to his call became known as Sikhs
(Sk. Shisyas, desciples ). The fourth Guru, Ram Das (1574-1581
A.D. ), excavated a tank which subsequently became known as
Amrit- sar (pool of nectar) and gave its name to the city
that grew around it. In due course, a splendid edifice, Hari-
mandir (temple of Hari), rose in the middle of this tank and be-
came the supreme centre of the Sikh sect. Its sanctum sanc-
torum came to house the Adi Granth confining compositions of Sikh
Gurus and a score of other Hindu saints from different parts
of the country. The songs of a few Muslim sufis who had been
influenced by advaita were also included in it. The compila-
tion of the Adi Granth was started by the fifth Guru, Arjun
Dev(1581 - 1606 A.D.), and com- pleted by the tenth Guru, Govind
[To be concluded]
Authored By Shri Sita Ram Goel. Courtesy: Voice of India.