21. Visit of the hill Rajas
At this time the Raja
of Bilaspur visited Anandpur accompanied by several other hill chieftains.
The Guru received them in an open Durbar and in an eloquent speech asked
them and other high-caste Hindu leaders, assembled on the occasion, to join
hands with him in his campaign of reform. " Their ancestors " said he, "
were the Lord's Paramount in the country.
They made and
administered laws according to their requirements. From time immemorial they
were accustomed to receive homage from contemporary potentates and men of
note and influence. Their people were happy and prosperous. In religion, as
in arts, nations of the world considered it a privilege to follow their
lead. But the state of things had, then, undergone a complete change.
They were no more a
self-governing, conscientious and sacrificing people. Their religion was
discarded. Their places of worship were insulted and demolished. Their men
were taken into slavery. Their women were forcibly removed into the
seraglios of the Turks and their children were sold in the market of Kabul
and Kandhar for a penny a head. They were no more masters but slaves in
their own land, incapable of doing a good turn to themselves or to others.
What was this due to ? Certainly the land had not changed; neither the
elements had grown fickle in their ministration of beneficence.
The same Himalayas
fed the streams that watered their fields and gardens mud quenched their
thirst. The same lands yielded them numerous varieties of corn and luscious
fruits. The same sun and air refreshed their souls and purified their tomes.
Thousand and one other blessings existed as of yore. Evidently, therefore,
the fault was their's and their's alone.
They had ceased
worshipping God Almighty and had taken to the worship of stocks and stones
instead. This had deprived them of the only source of goodness and had
consequently destroyed fellow-feeling in their minds. Their religion was
only an hallucination, their social system was still worse. It was based on
selfish principles that brought good to few and evil to many. Professedly
intended to bind people into one homogeneous whole, in reality it engendered
and nurtured man-hatred. Did they not daily witness the sight of large
crowds of Hindus overawed by a handful of the conquering race ?
And did they not
notice that the members of this race were powerful because their hearts were
united, while they, the Hindus, would not suffer for one another's troubles
? If they still desired to have a place among the living and progressive
nations of the world, he would ask them to enter the fold of the Khalsa
Panth and be saved from the otherwise inevitable downfall and extinction."
This pathetic appeal
failed to move the stone-hearted hill-men, in whom all manliness had become
dead. " The Guru," they replied, " being gifted with miraculous powers could
well afford to face the mighty Moghul. He was, moreover, a Faqir having no
land or country of his own. Wherever he lived was his home. This was not the
case with them. They were men of the world having much to lose.
The Moghuls would not
notice him seriously; for .they knew they could not wrest from him any
territory or treasure. But what would be their position ? They would be
kicked and turned out from the land of their fathers and would be either
killed or sold as slaves. They knew full well the might of the Moghuls and
regarded the expectations raised by the new agitation as mere idle drearns.
The religious and
social propaganda of the Guru was still less acceptable to them. They
refused to believe that any ceremony could drive out the brute from the
base-born or that any good could come out of promiscuous eating and
inter-mingling with the low castes who formed the major portion of his
They saw no harm in
the worship of idols, and they did not see why they should not stick to
their old ways and beliefs. They had come to Anandpur out of mere curiosity
to see how the low castes looked in their new garb. The previous nine Gurus
had confined themselves to the preaching of God's name and impressing upon
the people the importance of Bhakti (devoutness) above all other things.
They did not disturb the old order of things or introduce any revolutionary
measure. They wished to be understood that these changes were not acceptable
"That all should come
into (the fold of) one religion, so that the difference between them (the
Hindus and the men of the new Faith) may dis- appear and all the four castes
of the Hindus, viz., the Brahmans, the Chhatris, the Vaishas, and the
Shudras, for each of while the Ved Shastra has prescribed a different
creed, may leave that creed and deal with one another according to one
creed; that they should consider each other as equals and no one should
think himself superior to another.
And all pilgrimages
like that to the Ganges, etc., which are enjoined in the Vedas and Shastras
must he removed from 4he mind and with the exception of Guru Nanak and his
successors, none like Rnma, Krishna, Braluna and Devi, &c., should he
believed in. And after taking my Puhul (baptism), men of all the four castes
may eat out of one vessel and may learn from one another.
He (Guru Gobind Singh
ji) said a great many things like this. When the people heard them, many of
the Brahmans and Chhatris got up and said that they would never accept a
creed that was opposed to the Vedas and Shastras and they would not give up
the old religion which their ancestors had believed in, upon the advice of a
youth (Guru Gobind Singh was a young man). Saying this they got up; but
twenty thousand people accepted the propaganda and agreed to act up to its