Sikh ideals in the context of the social fabric of India. cont

The Hindu, no doubt, had declared the invading muslim to be on the level of an untouchable of his own society, but that did not spirit away the ugly facts of oppression and tyranny. Muslim rule was firmly established over the major portions of the vast land of India and whatever resistance the Hindu princes had put in the beginning was rendered futile by their own petty rivalries and the lack of either a unified vision or a powerful central authority whose resources could cope with the onslaught of the foreign invaders.

 

Muslim rule in India took the well known lines of development which had taken place elsewhere. India was perhaps too vast a country for the kind of total cultural conquest which the muslims were able to effect in comparatively smaller lands. While hatred and resistance was met by the muslims in other conquered lands, but the institutionalised boycott that they encountered of untouchability for all muslims was a peculiar phenomenon in India.

Nevertheless the muslims were able to convert sizable portion of the Indian population, if only by outward appearances. It was in this social fabric that Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji immobilised the Sikhs. His seat was called “takht” or throne and marks of royalty and power were initiated. The faith had to make itself militant in order to resist the mughal onslaught. Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji held court and those who flocked to him brought gifts and offerings of arms and horses. Guru Jis battles with Janhangirs forces led to open hostility, the Sikhs in the meantime were acquiring the character of a militant force, which was later given , with the inspiration and thoroughness of genius, such a powerful turn by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, grandson of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji. In Guru Gobind Singh Ji the might and force of India, till then lying dormant and helpless, rose with the splendour of a powerful flood and swept off the meek sufferings of centuries.

How painful it is then, that such a rich and glorious history is often swept under the carpet by the same people who owe their very existence to the magnificence of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji had not only to contend with the powerful and vastly resourceful empire of Aurangzeb backed by aroused muslim fanaticism, but also with the apathy and active hostility of elements within the native royalty, the very people who Guru Ji was trying to inspire to throw off the shackles of oppression and servitude. The fight of Guru Gobind Singh Ji was not against muslims as such, nor against islam but against the occupying forces who happened to be muslim.

However peaceful and broadbased in universal terms Guru Sahib Jis appeal might be, his fight against Mughal persecution was sooner or later bound to arouse the general opposition not only of the muslim nobility but also of the muslim masses. This was inevitable, but more surprising was the Hindu opposition. Sikhism was not just another sect within Hinduism, if it had been then it would have drawn a loosely assorted Hindu following, but because of the separate nature of Sikhism and its opposition and challenges to many Hindu rituals and long standing beliefs, then the opposition by the Hindu nobility can be understandable.

 

Sikhism made for a general realistic approach to the problems of life. The Hindu outlook was thorough its mythological past, uncritical in its approach to problems to which it reacted unrealistically. Nevertheless, as long as the main emphasis of Sikhism till the time of Guru Ajun Dev Ji was on Bhagati (Devotion), simran (meditation) and general piety, them the Hindu could still recognise in it something not very unfamiliar. Consequently during this period Hindus particularly of the Kharti caste came under its influence. But with the revolutionary turn towards resistance and militarism which Sikhism appeared to take, it presented the average Hindu a somewhat unfamiliar emphasis.

While Hinduism had a noble past, it ceased to have a realistic appeal because of the mythological manner of its presentation of war. The Hindu failed to realise that the Asuras and Rakshasas (Demons and monsters) of legends of religious figures were here and now, in the shape of invaders and tyrants. Hence to the average Hindu, Sikhism was strange and startling. The dynamic view of history, which he did not have could have alone justified Sikhism to him. Hence, while Guru Hargobind Sahib and his son and grandson, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji and Guru Gobind Singh Ji, engaged the enemy oppressor in a mighty crusade, the Hindu stood generally aloof. It was those who generally stood outside the orthodox Hinduism – the Jats, Kalals, carpenters and other artisans, who mainly carried the burden of the new revolutionary programme of the Gurus.

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