• Shamsher singh

Commemorating the 400th Parkash Purab of Ninth Sikh Guru - Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib

Greatest humanitarian this world has ever seen. Nestled between a church and a masjid stands Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib in New Delhi. To an ordinary traveller in the city, this may not be the most well-known Gurdwara, but the place holds deep significance to the Sikh community. It was at the site of the Sis Ganj Gurdwara in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk where Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib who made the supreme sacrifice of his life to protect the faith and honour of the persecuted and the downtrodden , was beheaded in 1675. Another Gurudwara in Delhi, Rakab Ganj Sahib is the resting place of the ninth Guru of Sikhs — Guru Tegh Bahadur. Almost 300 odd years ago, this was the exact place that the dismembered body of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib was cremated. There are multiple versions of how Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib eventually sacrificed his body , but almost all agree that his sacrifice was one of a kind, since he died for the Hindus. It is perhaps not imprudent to call him the greatest humanitarian this world has ever seen. As we celebrate the 400th birth anniversary of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, ninth Sikh master, on Thursday, only a few may know that he was the first martyr for human rights, who attained martyrdom for defending the rights of followers of a different faith to practice their faith. It was around a century before the popular quotation, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it", attributed to French writer, deist and philosopher Voltaire, that the ninth master demonstrated it literally. Ironically, this statement became more popular in the world than its real demonstration, which preceded it a century ago in the Indian subcontinent. It was on April 01, 1621, ‘Guru Maharaj Pragat hoye’, in a family of revolutionaries, social activists and reformers, who sacrificed their lives for justice, equality, tolerance and oppression. It is obvious, that, he inherited the human rights genes from his elders. He travelled extensively throughout India to spread his mission of human rights. He preached divine virtues such as Compassion, Tolerance, Peace, Honesty, Share ( Charity), Helping the Needy (poor, sick, underprivileged), Sweetness in voice, Truth, Respect, Humility, Contentment, love, Kindness, and Brotherhood/ Sisterhood. Most importantly, he emphasized virtuous living. He raised awareness of people’s rights and inspired the downtrodden society to defend themselves against injustice, inequality, tyranny, oppression, and exploitation. Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib was undisputedly the first martyr for human rights. His martyrdom was unparalleled in world history as never before somebody had laid down life to defend the right of followers of another faith to practice their faith. The great Guru laid down his life at Chandni Chowk to up­hold the right to re­li­gion of one’s choice and the right to dis­sent. At a philosophical level also, the great Guru has beautifully explained the idea of accepting death fearlessly and naturally in his hymns. His hymns can inspire even those in deep despair. He was rightly called Hind Di Chadar (saviour of Hindus and their faith). A contemporary of Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib had put the idea of his martyrdom in a few couplets -- Baanh Jinna Di Pakrie Sir Dije Baanh na chhodiye (If you take somebody under your protection, you may give your life but don't leave your asylum seeker) and Guru Teg Bahadur Bolia Dhar Paaiye Dharam Na chhodiye (Guru Teg Bahadur demonstrated even if you get entire earth, don't give up your faith). Walking in the footsteps of this great Guru Sikh bod­ies need to stand up for the re­lease of all po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers in jails across Pun­jab, In­dia and the world. All po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers -not just Sikhs. Civil rights ac­tivists and hu­man rights de­fend­ers need to work with the gov­ern­ment to pro­vide suc­cour, psy­cho­log­i­cal and trauma re­lief to those in pris­ons, un­able to han­dle the emo­tional and so­cial stress as they are un­able to meet their loved ones, nor able to at­tend court pro­ceed­ings which could re­sult in they be­ing set at lib­erty. There is large scale stress on the fam­i­lies whose rel­a­tives are in pris­ons as they are un­able to get in­for­ma­tion about their sta­tus and wel­fare. Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib was an outspoken advocate for religious freedom and human rights. He fought, not only for the rights of Sikhs, but for the rights of everyone to live as they see fit. He encouraged his followers, and continues to encourage Sikhs today, to protect others and hold true to the faith at all times.In today world, scarred by religious fanaticism and intolerance Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib is truly a hero to be revered and emulated. We see people yelling themselves hoarse over extremely inconsequential matters and more importantly, in today’s time, religious freedom has become even more constricted and this is perhaps the best time to remember Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib The government of India along with DSGMC will celebrate the 400th birth anniversary of Guru Tegh Bahadur SahibSahibwith a two-day event at Red Fort. The PM will also release a commemorative coin and postage stamp on the occasion. Four hundred 'ragis' (Sikh musicians) will perform in a 'Shabad Kirtan' to mark the auspicious occasion. Let us cel­e­brate the Gurupurab of Ninth Sikh Mas­ter - Guru Tegh Ba­hadur Sahib by stand­ing up for hu­man rights of those who do not fol­low our phi­los­o­phy, path or re­li­gion and for those who do not agree with our po­lit­i­cal think­ing and share our fi­nan­cial sta­tus. Lis­ten to the Sloka Mo­halla Ninth from Guru Granth Sahib. It refers to death as a uni­ver­sal truth pre-or­dained for all but teaches one how to live as a hu­man­ity-lov­ing, God-fear­ing per­son.

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