Hindu Dharma, also known as Sanatana Dharma and Manava Dharma, like the mighty Ganges, comes down from the Himalayan eights of the Vedas and Upanishads, nourished and nurtured by the streams of devotion and systems of philosophy propounded by countless spiritual savants from times immemorial, to enable man to sail into the Ocean of Immortal Bliss, the summum bonnum of human existence. Swami Vivekananda called Hinduism the Mother of all religions for, in fact, all the religions of the world are nothing but the offshoots of the Sanatan Dharma. Hinduism has produced in every age and clime, spiritual giants who made their appearance whenever the eternal values propounded by the sages and seers deteriorated and narrow sectarianism, superstitious beliefs and blind hero-worship dominated the minds of, the children of Mother Bharat, threatening the very existence of this mighty nation expected to play the role of Loka Guru, the preceptor of the entire humanity.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, there was a religious and spiritual revival in India. When the universal and unifying force of Sanatan Dharma started declining, Guru Nanak (1469-1538) appeared on the scene and re-emphasised the truth proclaimed in the Vedas and Upanishads. The Oneness of the formless, nameless, Ultimate Reality, hailed in hundreds of names and adored by people in various forms, was stressed by the great teacher. He founded Sikhism which is a historical development of the Vaishnava Bhakti Movement that began in Tamil Nadu and introduced into the North by Sri Ramanuia. It adopted a catholic and universal approach and we find all the names of God, as were current in those times in Asia, mentioned in the Sikh Scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahib. All these names are for contemplation of the Supreme Being which is beyond name and form.
The Hindu mythology and Upanishadic Idioms have enriched the vocabulary of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. As Sri Kushwant Singh has rightly pointed out, “Almost nine-tenths of Granth Sahib composed largely by Guru Arjan, is in fact Vedanta, and essence of all that you read in the Upanishads and the Gita.” The path of Yoga preached by Nanak does not lie in living in cremation grounds, embracing extreme asceticism, but in living a balanced life doing the affairs of the world in a selfless and dedicated manner. That is why Guru Nanak made Guru Angad, a householder, his successor, bypassing his own son, Sri Chand, who turned into a recluse.
The valiant history of the Sikh Gurus and the martyrs, who shed their blood and laid down their precious lives as a great sacrifice at the altar of Sanatan Dharma and Hindu Nation, is written in golden letters in the annals of Bharatavarsha. Guru Nanak himself gave the dictum: “Je Toi Prem Khelan ka cao, sir dhar tali Gali meri aao” – “If you be enthused to join the great game of love, enter my domain with thy head on thy palm!” He proclaimed Martyrdom as spiritual answer to repression. When the Mughal emperors raised their swords to slash down the mighty banyan tree of Hindu dharma to subjugate the entire land of Bharatavarsha to the fanatic rule of Islam, it was the brave Sikh Gurus who stood up as guardian angels of the Hindu race and Hindu Rashtra. Guru Arjan Devji, the fifth Guru of the Sikhs, was tortured to death in 1606 by Jehangir who found him as a threat to the growing Islamic Imperialism and fundamentalist faith. Arjun Dev’s grandson and the ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, was cut down by the sword of the fanatic Muslim ruler, Aurangazeb, who was grandson of Jehangir, in 1675. The martyrdom of the heroic Gurus is not only a matter of pride for the Sikh community, but for the entire Hindu Nation. Children in the remote villages of India, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, even today sing the glory and cherish the memories of these great martyrs who shed their blood for the protection of dharma, for saving Mother Cow and for the freedom of the sacred Motherland.
The Udasis, an ascetic order of the Hindu Naga Sannyasins, was founded by Baba Sri Chand, the elder of the two sons of Guru Nanak. Nanak himself had predicted that the religious sect to be founded by his son will be popular all over the world and he himself had initiated Baba Sri Chand, at the age of seven, with the mystic symbol “Satnam” and advised him to do jap. Sri Chand initiated Baba Mohan, son of Guru Amardas, in the jap of “Ek Onkar Satnam”. Sri Chand bestowed his gadi or succession to Baba Gurudita, a householder and son of the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind. The Udasis are usually celibate and wear ochre clothes while some of them wear only kaupin (loin cloth) and besmear their bodies with sacred ash. Baba Gurudita’s four disciples established four dhunis that constitute Bara Akhara or the Senior Assembly. A Bakshis Sanghai founded by Bhai Pheru with the permission of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, established the Chota Akhara. They all pay reverence to Sri Guru Granth Sahib. During the Mughal Tyranny, when Sikhs were hunted down and they withdrew into deep forests, the ascetic order of Udasis kept the torch burning as custodians of Gurudwaras and kept the spirit of Sikhism alive. The Order of Nirmala Sadhus created by Guru Gobind Singh helped Sikhs in missionary activities. Writing the biography of Sri Chand (the founder of the Udasi Sarnpradaya), Sri K.M. Munshi points out that at the time of Sri Chand’s birth, astrologers predicted his great future – and the wise believed that Bhagavan Shankar Himself had appeared. Udasis, also known as Nanakputras, were recruited from all castes of the Hindus and they ate food from any Hindu. They revered Adi Granth as well as the Granth Sahib of Sri Guru Govind Singh and repeated the clarion call “Wahe Guru'” – “Well done, Master!”; “Wahe Guru ki Fateh” – “Well done, Master’s victory!”
Every patriotic Hindu hails, with a heart swaying with pride and heroism, the name of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, the lion of Punjab – “Guru Gobind Ki Jai Ho!” – “Victory to Guru Gobind!” In the 17th century, when the devil dance of unrighteousness under the hellish rule of Mughal emperor Aurangazeb spread a veil of darkness over the land, Guru Gobind Singh unsheathed his sword to protect the virtuous and annihilate the evil-doers. Right from the age of nine, his life was a saga of heroism and sacrifice. His illustrious father, Guru Teg Bahadur, as executed by the Mughal ruler, Aurangazeb. Guru Gobind lost his mother, his wives, his kith and kin. His two elderly sons fell in the battlefield and two younger sons were captured by the Mughal emperor and given the choice of giving up their faith or losing their lives. The brave children preferred to give their lives rather than renouncing their dharma. “Sir diya, par siraar na diya!” – “They gave their heads, but not their faith!” The children were, made to stand on an open ground and walls were erected, around them burying them alive. The martyrdom of these two brave children – Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh – is one of the unforgettable events in the Hindu history for all the time. Guru Govind was not shaken by the tides of sorrow and suffering that lashed against him. He gave a call to his men to come forward to give their heads in a sacrifice to Chandi – the mighty war-goddess of the Hindus. The first five men who stepped forward were made his commandants and he founded the Sikh Khalsa. Every Hindu family offered a son to the Khalsa and Guru Gobind initiated them and gave them the Adi Granth as their Guru. With this band of dedicated followers, he defended his faith and the honour of Hindu women and protected the sacred cows and holy temples of the Hindu Nation. Guru Gobind with his small band of followers was to Aurangazeb with his mighty army, a lion to the herd of elephants. Even at the time of his death, Guru Gobind, who was treacherously wounded by his own Pathan soldiers, gave a heroic call, to his followers to carry on their battle for the protection of dharma and dharma bhoomi.
The banner of Freedom that fell from the hands of Guru Gobind was soon lifted up by the brave Kukas, the Namdhari Sikh community founded by Sadguru Ramsingh Kuka. The followers of the religious sect turned into a revolutionary organization for the emancipation of Motherland Bharat from alien rule, soon spread, to Kashmir, Nepal and Russia to seek support for the freedom of Motherland. Though the Kuka Uprising, which was perhaps another major valiant effort immediately after the First War of Indian Independence in 1857, was well planned, like in the previous uprising, the premature rising up of the warriors spoiled the game. On 13th January 1872, the Namdharis who went to Bhaini, the birth place of Sadguru Ramsingh Kuka, for the celebration of Magh Mela, got the news of an attack on one of their brethren by the Mussalmans in Malarkota State who killed a cow very sacred to the Namdharis and sprinkled its blood on the Sikh soldier. The Namdaris, mad with rage, marched to Fort of Malodh, captured it and drove away the officers and then proceeded to Malarkota. But the British Army became alert and captured the Namdharis at Radh on the border of Patiala. The Namdharis were tied in tens and fifteens, fastened to the cannons and blown off from cannon mouth. However, even in death, the brave Namdharis raised their war cry. A 13 year old boy among the Namdharis was attempted to be bribed by a British officer, Mr. Caven, with the bait of Iife. But the brave young lad sprang Iike a tiger cub on the officer who insulted his Guru. The boy was cut to pieces by the Firangi and the other Namdharis were hanged. Sadguru Ramsingh Kuka was captured and transported to Brahmadesh.
The most modern reformist movement in Hinduism started by Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda also drew inspiration from the earlier movements, especially that of Guru Nanak and his followers. Guru Nanak propagated that any name of God is enough for Jap Sadhana and Self-realization. The Sarva dharma samabhaavana of Sri Ramakrishna also reflects the same Vedic and Upanishadic ideal that all paths ultimately lead to the same goal. Sri Ramakrishna, during the period of his interaction with Sikhism, met many Nanakshahis and Nanak Panthis. The Sikh ascetic, Udasi Totapurl, imparted to Sri Ramakrishna the Sikh esoteric instruction efficacious for removing impediments on the spiritual path. Swami Vivekananda often uttered and introduced into his writings the Sikh mystic formula, Wahe Guru! In Eastern India, Sikhism was propagated by the Udasis or Nanak Panthis and the Bengal reformist movements drew inspiration from them. Even in Maharashtra, the impact of Sikhism was felt as Shivaji’s Guru, Samarth Ramdas, met Sikh Guru Har Gobind in Kashmir in 1634. Sri V.V.S Iyer, a great patriot-revolutionary of Tamilnadu, wrote an inspiring biography of Guru Gobind Singh in Tamil to instil the revolutionary spirit in the hearts of Tamilians. Mahakavi Subramania Bharati, the great poet-patriot of Tamilnadu, installed the Sikh Guru in the hearts of Tamilians by his immortal poem on Guru Gobind Singh.
Today, when the Hindu Dharma is facing the onslaught of fanatic and fundamentalist religions indulging in mass conversions of the poor and downtrodden Hindu brethren, and when the Hindu nation is threatened with disintegration by the political machinations of power-hungry politicians, when the country is plagued by selfish and narrow-minded imposters who parade themselves as Bhagavans, Gurus and Avatars with no concern about the integrity of the nation and unity of the Hindu society and with the only motive to fill their own coffers, in the name of their religious institutions, with the ill-gotten wealth of black-marketers, black-money hoarders, and corrupt businessmen, bureaucrats and politicians who foolishly believe that their sins are washed off by sharing their booty with the so called mahatmas, our Hindu society needs a Guru Nanak, a Guru Gobind, a Ramakrishna and a Vivekananda, to whip the Hindus and rouse them from this dangerous slumber and to preach once again the practical Vedanta of the ancient seers and sages. Guru Gobind elevated the Guru Granth Sahib, the symbol of the highest ideal, as Guru instead of encouraging blind hero-worship in the name of religion. Swami Vivekananda elevated the common masses to the status of Gods and proclaimed that Nara seva is Naryana Seva. The great masters also made it clear that religious life is not in running away from responsibilities, adorning the garb of recluses, but in standing bravely on one’s own dharma and performing one’s actions dedicating oneself to a higher ideal. Sri Aurobindo said that every religion, sect or religious institution “begins with religion and ends in commerce”. We have had enough of religious institutions, sects and cults in our country to divide our people. WhiIe each and every individual, family or social group must have complete freedom to evolve and adopt their own religious ideals and ways of worship for the purpose of spiritual realisation, blind faith, superstitious beliefs and irrational and fanatic notions of religious life must be totally removed from the Hindu race and Hindu Nation, so that the most scientific and rational truths proclaimed by the Vedas and Upanishads shine once again in their pristine glory to lead kindly light to the entire humanity. If various sections of the Hindu society comprising the Vaishnavites, Shaivites, Shaktas, Baudhas, Jainas, Sikhs and other sampradayas stand united, proclaiming the glory of Santana Dharma and Hindu Nation, and the religious heads of various denominations give up their narrow, selfish interests and elevate themselves to the status of the protectors of the entire Hindu society, the other religious groups like Muslims and Christians will be compelled to give up their fanatic and fundamentalist ideas and live in this land in peace and harmony as Children of Mother Bharat. Sikh Gurus. Naga Sannnyasins, Buddhist Monks, Jain Acharyas and religious heads of various other sampradayas of Hindu society must come forward with a clear vision to push Bharat into the twenty first century to gloriously emerge as the Loka Guru, the Preceptor of the World. Wahe Guru! Vande Mataram!
Author: Professor Sadhu Rangarajan