The Sikh community is getting ready to celebrate Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s 343rd birthday. One event is being organized by the International Institute of Gurmat Studies Inc. on Christmas Day in Southern California.
I have recently completed writing a book on Guru Ji’s life, “The Royal Falcon,” and below is an adaptation of one story.
It was sometime in 1705. The place was Ananadpur Sahib, a township in Punjab. A fierce combat was going on between the Sikhs and the Mughal army. Sikhs who were standing up against he tyrannical regime of Aurangzeb, the Emperor of India who was forcefully converting mainstream Hindus to Islam.
Two tall burly Sikh soldiers holding long spears stood guard at the doors of the Khalsa fortress. Inside, in a large open court yard hundreds of men and women were congregated in a religious gathering. The sun was setting in Anandpur Sahib and the entire quad was bathed in a soft, golden light. At the top of the courtyard, seated on a magnificent throne was Guru Gobind Singh Ji. He was dressed in saffron silk robe embellished with tiny pearls woven into it with a gold thread. A white plume with precious stones adorned the top of his immaculately tied turban.
Rich maroon swags hung on both sides of the elevated throne. A red carpet ran in the center of the courtyard leading to the throne. A man dressed in simple garments was kneeling in front of Guru Ji. Another man who looked like a soldier was towering over him, pointing an accusing finger at him.
The man kneeling in front of Guru Ji, carried a mashik, a brown leather sack on his shoulder. It looked a little wet.
The soldier looked angry and sought reprimand for the man he had brought in. “He is the water-bearer that was reviving the wounded soldiers of the enemy. Here we are fighting a vicious army, and, he is going around giving their wounded life-saving water.”
There was a stunned silence in the congregation. Giving water to the wounded of the Mughal? On whose side was this man who looked like a Sikh?
Guru Ji looked at the man with a smile and said, “You are a good man, Kanhaiya. I have seen you serve water in the battle field. Could you please tell us why you were serving water to the wounded of the enemy? Your fellow soldier is very upset with you.”
Kanhaiya looked up at Guru Ji. His hands were folded and there was a slight quiver in his voice.
“I am a water–bearer, my Lord, a poor water–bearer. I have been coming to your darbar for many months and I have listened to your teachings. You have instilled in me a desire to serve. I bring water to the battlefield to revive the wounded soldiers.”
Kanhaiya paused and looked at Guru Ji with an unspoken plea for understanding.
Guru Ji smiled at him in encouragement and said, “Go on, we are listening.”
“You have taught me to have no enmity towards anyone. Yes, I am guilty of serving water to the Moghul soldiers, but I see no difference between them and our soldiers.” He paused to clear his throat. Cleary, he was very nervous.
“My job is to serve water and I am serving it to everyone alike. Please forgive me if I have made a mistake,” he paused again and looked at Guru Ji with tears in his eyes.
Guru Ji leaned forward to embrace Kanhaiya as people gasped in disbelief. They had expected Guru Ji to reprimand him. “My dear man,” Guru Ji spoke, “You have truly understood the message of seeing all mankind as one. We have no enemies. For us, beri meet hoye smaan. Friends and foes are alike. We are fighting the Mughals only to defend the honorand dignity of our people who are being attacked and forcibly converted. We do not hate anyone.”
Guru Ji’s voice was powerful but very kind. It was as if he was calming every ones’ anger with his gentle words.
He was now handing something to Kanhaiya.
“Here is an ointment that heals. When you serve water, please apply this to the wounded. I am very pleased with you. You will always be remembered as Bhai Kanhaiya, someone who was a brother to everyone. You have truly understood our message of compassion under all circumstances. One is always guided to do the right thing, when the light of love burns strong in the heart,” Guru ji added.
Bhai Kanhaiya was now standing tall and beaming with joy as he held the ointment in his hand. Everyone was now rushing to embrace Bhai Kanhaiya who had been especially blessed by Guru Ji. The entire congregation burst into jaikaras, of “Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal.” (Those that declare that God is the ultimate truth shall be blessed.)
Jessi Kaur is author of The Royal Falcon and Dear Takuya … Letters of a Sikh Boy! www.jessikaur.com.
Darbar-e-Khalsa will be held on Friday, Dec. 25, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Diamond Bar High School, 21400 Pathfinder Road, Diamond Bar. Presented by IIGS. (909) 348-3036, (714) 926-4440. email@example.com.