7. Guru Govind Singh's aims and Methods
Guru Govind Singh sought to organise his followers, who were scattered far and wide and who belonged to the various grades and castes of the Hindus, into a real brotherhood united by not only a community of beliefs but by that of other worldly interests. Mere singing of hymns and recitation of the scriptures did not satisfy him. He yearnt for the adoption of the means wherewith he could inspire his people with the feelings of love, manliness and sacrifice. It was when he was engaged in such mental pursuits that the Pandit whose duty was to recite Kathas from Maha Bharata, while lecturing to the Sikhs, dwelt on the manifold advantages that resulted from the performance of ' Havan.' The mighty Kshatrya princes of yore, said he, owed their strength and valour to the performance of ' Havan. From Rama and Lakshmana down to Bhim and Arjun all the great warriors were blessed by the goddess Kali, invoked during the performance of this ceremony.
The Guru had no faith in such superstitions ; but pressed by a number of disciples and particularly to show the absurdity of the notion he gave his consent to the performance of the ceremony. Preparations were elaborate and expenditure profuse. Days, weeks and months passed, but the goddess did not appear. Some ingenious reply or other was given to the Guru's impatient enquiries. At length the cunning old priest, Kesho Das, who presided at the ceremony declared . that the goddess would not appear unless the Guru scarified some sacred person at her altar. The Guru understanding what was passing in the man's mind observed that so far as he could think the presiding priest himself was the only person qualified to receive the distinc- tion suggested. The night following the Pundit took all: that he could and fled for his life. The Guru, thereupon, threw the whole samigri (ingredients) of ' Havan ' into the fire. The night was pitch dark. The flames rose high and their fragrance pervaded the whole atmosphere. People on the distant hills ascribed this unusual illumination to the appearance of the goddess. Large crowds poured into Anandpur to congratulate the Guru on the successful termination of the ceremony. No time was, however, lost in making the proper explanation and exposing the deceitful behaviour of the runaway priest. By this time a complete change came on the Guru. He was no more a jolly, communicative, dashing prince. His smiling face gave place to sadness and gloom. He shunned society and loved retirement. His admirers were filled with a feeling of alarm. The Masands who inwardly disliked him for the reprimands they had so often received rejoiced at the change which they thought would soon lead to insanity. But the Providence had decreed otherwise. The patient, if so he may be called, was, all this while, in communion with the Creator.
He was suffering. from an acute pain at the sight of so many of his countrymen and countrywomen sunk in deep ignorance and reduced to slavery. He prostrated himself before the Father Almighty and prayed for grant of power where with he could put life into his people. The prayer was heard. A voice from on high told hina that he had been anointed as God's son and commissioned to save humanity from sin and suffering. Thus strengthened by divine support he came out of his place of retirement and taking a naked sword in hand and addressing a large assembly of his followers he told them that this was the goddess that had appeared to him and enquired if any one was ready to sacrifice his life at its altar for the sake of the Guru and the communality. All was quiet. Not one out of the thousands assembled responded ta the call. Colour vanished from the cheeks of many. The call was repeated. This time there was a response. Daya-Ram Khatri of Lahore stood up and offered his head. He was taken into the adjoining tent. Down came the sword. A body fell with a thud. Blood flowed in torrents. The whole assembly was speechless with horror. In a couple of minutes the Gura came out and demanded another sacrifice. Dharma Jat boldly came forward and offered himself to be sacrificed. Ho, too, was taken inside.' The sound of the sword, as it was brandished in the air, and the thud were again heard from the tent and blood flowed out in larger quantities. Struck with terror the 'Masands ran to the Guru's private 'residence and reported to mother Gujri that her son had actually became mad, that he was killing his disciples by his own hand and that if she did not interfere in time there was no knowing how many more lives would be lost.
The good lady was naturally pained to hear all this; but, before her messengers arrived to find out what the matter was, three 'more bravo men ,.. Himmat, water carrier, Sahiba, barber, and Mohkam, washerman, had offered themselves to be sacrificed and had been treated like Daya Ram and Dharma. A few minutes more elapsed. The five brave man stood in new attire before their bewildered brethren. The Guru followed and seated the Five Pyaras (five loved ones) as thenceforward they were destined to be remembered in Sikh history on the dais alongside of himself. He congratulated the assembled Sikhs on their possessing such brave men. He was sure that these five were not the only gems they possessed. When so many were ready to give away their very lives for the sake of dharam. Sikhism was a real force destined to .work wonders. They saw that instead of taking the lives of the Five Pyaras he had killed goats. He had resorted to this procedure to know if his people were ready to give their lives at his bidding. The device had succeeded to his immense satisfaction.
The disciples now gave free vent to their long peat up feelings and the air resounded with the cries of " Sat Sri A.kal ! " (The Timeless One is t rue !) Some regretted that they should have failed in offering their lives and earning this unique honour. Others were glad that the awful scene they had witnessed a few moments previous was at last over. In this way the evening passed off pleasantly.