SIKHISM. (from the Panjabi word sikh or sikha = Sanskrit s’ishya, “a disciple” or “pupil “). The religion of the Sikhs in the Panjab. Founded by Nanak, who was born in the village of Talvandi (now known as Nankana), on the banks of the river Ravi, near Lahore, in A.D. 1469.
The history of the Sikh religion has not yet been subjected to the scrutiny necessary to warrant strong dogmatism as to the ultimate source, or sources, whence the system of Nanak and his followers took its rise. The literature and traditions of Sikhism present a strange intermingling of Hindu and Muslim ideas; and this is so palpably apparent that oven superficial inquirers have been led to conclude that Nanak purposely intended his creed to be a compromise between those two great religions. Dr. Trumpp, the able translator, of the Adi Granth (the sacred book of the Sikhs), who is the only, author that has written with knowledge on the subjects is, however, distinctly of opinion that Sikhism has only an accidental relationship with Islam. In the Introddotion to his Translation of the Adi Granth (p. ci.), he says:—
“It is a mistake, if Nanak is represented as having endeavoured to unite the Hindu and Muslim ideas about God. Nanak remained a thorough Hindu, according to all his views; and if he had communionship with Musalmans, and many of these even became his disciples, it was owing to the fact that Sufism, which all these Muslims were professing, was in reality nothing but a Pantheism, derived directly from Hindu sources, and only outwardly adapted to the forms of the Islam. Hindu and Muslim Pantheists could well unite together, as they entertained essentially the same ideas about the Supreme.”
If the foregoing opinion accurately represents the real truth, then Sikhism hardly deserves mention in the present work; but it will soon be seen that the balance of evidence is heavily on the other side. A careful investigation of early Sikh traditions points strongly to the conclusion that the religion of Nanak was really intended as a compromise between Hinduism and Islam, if it may not even be spoken of as the religion of a Muslim sect. The very little that seems to be known as to the views of ths early Sikh teachers, coupled with the decided opinion put forth by Dr. Trumpp, has made it necessary to give here a longer article on Sikhism than its importance with respect to lslam would have otherwise warranted; because it was neccesary to establish the relationship which actually existed between the two faiths. It will be seen that the information given in this article is chiefly taken from original Panjabi books, and from manuscripts in (the India Office Library; and it is supported by the authority of the Adi Granth, which is the sacred canon of the Sikhs.
The Janam-Sakhis, or biographical sketches of Nanak and his associates, contain a profusion of curious traditions which throw considerable light on the origin and development of the Sikh religion. From these old books we learn that, in early life, Nanak, although a Hindu by birth, came under Sufi influence, and was strangeLy attracted by the saintly demeanour of the faqirs who were thickly scattered over Northern India and swarmed in the Panjab. Now, Sufiism is not, as Dr. Trumpp supposes, due to Hindu pantheism; for it arose in the very earliest days of Islam, and is almost certainly due to the influence of Persian, Zoroastrianism on the rude faith of Arab Islamism. Persia has ever been the stronghold of Sufiistic doctrine; and the leading writers who have illustrated that form of Islam have been the Persian poets Firdusi, Nizami, Sa’di, Jalälu ‘d-Din, Hafiz, and Jami.
Hafiz, the prince of Sufi poets, boldly declares: “I am a disciple of the old Magian: be not angry with me, O Shaikh! ‘For thou gavest me a promise; he hath brought me the reality.” Although this stanza alludes directly to two persons known to Hafiz, its almost obvious meaning is: “I, a Persian adhere to the faith of my ancestors. Do not blame me, O Arab, conqueror! that my faith is more sublime than thine.” That Hafiz meant his readers to take his words in a general sense, may be inferred from the stanza in which he says: “I am the servant of the old man of the tavern (i.e. the Magian); because his beneficence is lasting: on the other hand, the beneficence of the Shaikh and of the Saiyid at times is, and at times is not.” Indeed, Hafiz was fully conscious of the fact that Sufiism was due to the influence of the faith of his ancestors; for, in another ode, he plainly says: “Make fresh again the essence of the creed of’ Zoroaster, now that the tulip has kindled the fire of Nimrod.” And Nizami, also, was aware that his ideas were perilously akin to heterodoxy; for, he says in his Khusru’ wa Shirin: “See not in me the guide to the temple of the Fire-worshippers; see only the hidden meaning which cleaveth to the allegory.” These citations, which could be indefinitely multiplied, sufficiently indicated the Zoroastrian origin of the refined spirituality of the Sufis. The sublimity of the Persian faith lay in its conception of the unity of
Eternal Spirit, and the intimate association of the Divine with all that is manifest. Arab Muslims believe in the unity of, a personal God; but mankind and the world were, to them, mere objects upon which the will of God was exercised. The Sufis approached nearer to the Christian sentiment embodied in the phrase, “Christ in us.”
The Persian conquerors of Hindustan carried with them the mysticism and spirituality of the Islamo-Magian creed. It was through Persia that India received its flood of Islam, and the mysticism and asceticism of the Persian form of Islam found congenial soil for development among the speculative ascetics of northern India. It is, therefore, only reasonable to suppose that any Hindu affected by Islam would show some traces of Sufi influence. Ag a fact, we find that the doctrines preached by the Sikh Gurus were distinctly Sufiistic and, indeed, the early Gurus openly assumed the manners and dress of faqirs, thus plainly announcing their connection with the Sufiistic side of Islam. In pictures they are represented, with small rosaries in their hands, quite in Muslim fashion, as though ready to perform zikr. Guru Arjun, who was fifth in succession from Nanak, was the first to lay aside the dress of a faqir. ‘The doctrines, however, still held their position; for we find the last Guru dying while making an open confession of Sufiism His words are “The Smritis, the S’astras, and the Vedas, all speak in various ways I do not acknowledge one (of them) O possessor of happiness, bestow thy mercy (on me). I do not say, ‘I,’ I recognise all as ‘Thee ‘” — (Sikhan de Raj di Vithi’a, p. 81.) Here we have not only the ideas, but the very language of Sufis implying a pantheistic denial of all else than Deity, The same manner of expression is found in the Adi Granth itself, e.g. “‘Thou art I; I am thou.” Of what kind is the difference?” (Translation, p 130), and again, “In all the One dwells, the One is contained” (p 41) Indeed, throughout the whole Adi Granth, a favourite name for Deity is the “True One,” that is, that which is truly one — the Absolute Unity. It is hardly possible to find a more complete correspondence of ideas than that furnished by the following sentences, one taken from the Yusuf wa Zulaika of Jami, the Persian Sufi; and the others, from the Jap-ji and the Adi Granth. Jami says:-
“Dismiss every vain fancy, and abandon every doubt;
Blend into one every spirit, and form and place;
See One — know One — speak of One — Desire, One—chant of One — and seek One.”
In the Jap-ji, a formula familiar to every Sikh household, we find: —
“The Guru is Isar (Siva), the Guru is Garakh (Vishnu), Brahma, the Guru is the mother Parbati.
If I should know, would I not tell? The story cannot be told.
O Guru, let me know the One; that the One liberal patron of all living beings may not be forgotten by me”
In the Adi Granth, we read:—
“Thou recitest the One; thou placest the One in (thy) mind; thou recogizest the One.
The One (is) in eye, in word, in mouth; thou knowest, the One In both places (i.e. worlds).
In sleeping, the One; in waking, the One; in the One thou art absorbed;” (India Office MS, No 2484, lot 568)
It is not only with respect to the idea of the unity of God that this identity of expression is discernible, for other technical terms of Sufiism are, also, reproduced in Sikhism. Thus the Sufi Faridu ‘d-Din Shakrgani calls ‘Deity “the light of life,” and JaIilu’ d-Din speaks of “flashes of His love,” while Jami represents the “light” of the Lord of Angels as animating all parts of the universe’; amid Nizami exclaims, “Then fell a light, as of a lamp, into the garden (of-my heart)” when he feels that a ray of the Divine has entered into his soul. It is not difficult to collect many such instances from the works of Persian Sufis. . Turning to Sikhism, we, find that the Adi Granth is full of similar expressions. It is enough to cite the following exclamation ot Nanak himself “In all (is) light. He (is) light. From His light, there is light in all.” (India Office MS, No 2484, lot 85.) And in another place he says “The Luminous One is the mingler of light (with himself)” (fol. 186.), On fol. 51 we find : “There death enters not; light is absorbed in the Luminous One.”
Another favourite metaphor of Sufis for the Deity is “the Beloved”; for’ example, when Hafiz says “Be thankful that the Assembly is lighted up by the presence of the Beloved.” This term is well recognized in Sikhism, thus in the Adi Granth, “It thou call thyself the servant of the Beloved, do not speak despitefully (of Him). (India Office MS, No 2484, fol. 564) “Love to the Beloved naturally puts joy into the heart. I long to meet the Lord (Prabu); therefore why should I be slothful.” (India Office MS, 2484, fol. 177) Also, “In my soul and body are excessive pangs of separation, how shall the Beloved come to my house and meet (with me)?” And again “The Beloved has become my physician” (India Office MS., No. 1728, fol. 87.) The words used in the Panjabi texts are piri’a, pritam and piri, “a lover,” or” beloved one.”
Another remarkable proof of Persian influence is found in the form of the Adi Granth itself. It consists of a collection of short poems, in many of which all the verses composing the poem rhyme together, in singular conformity with the principle regulating the construction of the Persian ghazal. This resemblance is rendered more striking by the fact that the name of Nanak is worked into the composition of the last line of each of the poems. This last characteristic is too persistent to be considered the result of accident, and while it is altogether foreign to the practice of Hindu verse, it is in precise accord with the rule for the correct composition of the ghazal.
The foregoing facts seem conclusive as to time influence of Persian Sikhism on the origin of the Sikh religion Dr. Trumpp, when discussing the philosophy of the Adi Granth, admits the intimate connection between Sikhism and Sufiism in the following words:-
“We can distinguish in the Granth a grosser and a finer kind of Pantheism…. In this finer shade of Pantheism, creation assumes the form of emanation from the Supreme (as in the system of the Sufis); the atomic matter is either likewise considered co-eternal with the Absolute and immanent in it, becoming moulded into various, distinct forms by the energizing vigour of the absolute joti (light) or, the reality of matter is more or less denied (as by the Sufis, who call it the عدم. so that the Divine joti is the only real essence in all.”—(Introduction to Translation of the Adi Granth, pp c. ci)
Any doubt that may remain on the question seems to be set at rest by the express statement in the life of Guru Arjun, who was urged by his followers to reduce to writing the genuine utterances of Nanak, because by reciting the numerous verses and speeches uttered by other Sufis, which have received the name of Baba Nanak, pride and worldly wisdom are springing up in the hearts of men.” (Sikhan de Raj di Vithia, p 29) And in the Adi Granth itself, we find the following remarkable verses ascribed to Nanak:-
“A ball of intoxication, of delusion, is given by the Giver.
The intoxicated forget death, they enjoy themselves four days.
The True One is found by the Sufis, who keep fast his, Court.”
(Translation, p. 23.)
Here we have not only a plain claim of kinship with the Sufis, but the incorporation of several of their favourite terms.
The traditions of Nanak preserved in the Janam-Sakhi, are full of evidences of his alliance with Islam. He was a Hindu by birth, of the Vedi Khattri caste ; and was the son of the patwari, or village. accountant, of the place now called Nankana, in the neighbourhood of Lahore. In his very early days, he sought the society of faqirs, and used both fair and unfair means of doing them service, more especially in the bestowal of alms. At fifteen years of age, he misappropriated the money which his father had given him for trade, and this induced his parents to send him to a relative at Sultanpur, in order that he might be, weaned from his affection for faqirs (India Office MS No 1728, fol. 29). His first act in his new home was to join the service of a Muslim Nawab, named Daulat Khan Lodi; and, while serving him, he continued to give to faqirs all his salary, except the bare maintenance he reserved for himself. While in the service of this Muslim, Nanak received the ecstatic exaltation which be felt to be Divine inspiration. It is stated in the tradition of his life that Nanak went to the river to perform his ablutions, and that whilst so engaged, he was translated bodily to the gates of Paradise. “Then a goblet of amrita (the water of life) was given (to him) by command (of God) The command was ‘This amrita is the goblet of my name; drink thou it.’ Then the Guru Nanak made salutation, and drank the goblet. The Lord (Sahib) had mercy (and said) Nanak, I am with thee, I have made thee happy, and whoever shall take thy name they all shall be rendered happy by me. Go thou, repeat my name, and cause other people to repeat it. Remain uncontaminated from the World. Continue (steadfast) in the name, in alms-giving, in ablutions, in service, and, in the remembrance (of me). I have given to thee my own name: do thou this work.'” (fol. 33.) Here we have notions closely akin to those of the Sufis, who lay much stress on the repetition of the name of God, which they term ZIKR [q.v.], on religious ablutions [WAZU’, q.v.) and on meditating on the unity of God [WAHDANIYAH, q.v.] No sooner had Nanak recovered from his trance than he uttered the key-note of his future system in the celebrated phrase, “There is no Hindu, and there Is no Musalman” (fol 36) The Janam-Sakhi then goes on to say that, “The people went to the Khan (his former employer) and said, ‘Baba Nanak is saying, There is no Hindu, there is no Musalman. The Khan replied, ‘Do not regard his statement, he is a faqir.’ A Qazi sitting near said’ ‘O Khan! it is surprising that he is saying there is no Hindu and no Musalman.’ The Khan then told an attendant to call Nanak, but the Guru Nanak said ‘What have I to do with the Khan?’ Thou the people said ‘This stupid is become mad.’… Then the Baba (Nanak) was silent. When he said anything, he repeated only this statement ‘There is no Hindu, there is no Musalman.’ The Qazi then said ‘Khan, is it right that he should say, There is no Hindu, there is no Musalman ‘ Then the Khan said ‘Go, fetch him’ The attendant went, and said ‘Sir, the Khan is calling (you) The Khan says: For God’s sake give me an inter-view [Panj aj bara Khuda, i de tan,i = Persian az bara,i Khuda, I want to see thee’ The Guru Nanak arose and went, saying ‘Now the summons of my Lord (Sahib) us come, I will go’ He placed a staff upon his neck and went The Khan said ‘Nanak, for God’s sake take the staff from off thy neck, gird up thy waist, thou art a good faqir’ Then Guru Nanak took the staff from off (his) neck, and girded up has loins. The Khan said ‘O Nanak, it is a misfortune to me that a steward such as thou shouldst become a faqir.’ Then the Khan seated the Guru Nanak near himself and said ‘Qazi, if thou desirest to ask anything, ask now; otherwise this one will not again utter a word.’ The Qazi becoming friendly, smiled and said: ‘Nanak what dost thou mean by saying ‘There is no Hindu, there is no Musalman?’ Nanak replied:. ‘To be caIled a Mussalman is difficult; when one (becomes it) thou he may be called a Musalman. First of all, having made religion (din) sweet, he clears away Musalman wealth. Having become firm مسلمin religion (din) in this way brings, to an end the revolution of dying and, living.’— (I.O., MS., 2484, fol. 84.) When Nanak had uttered this verse, the Qazi became amazed. The Khan said: ‘O Qazi, is not the questioning of him a mistake?’ The time of the afternoon prayer had come. All arose and went (to the mosque) to prayers, and the Baba (Nanak) also went with them.” Nanak then demonstrated his supernatural power by reading the thoughts of the Qazi. “Then the Qazi came and fell down at his feet, exclaiming, ‘Wonderful, wonderful! on this one is the favour of God.’ Then the Qazi believed; and Nanak uttered. this stanza: ‘A (real) Musalman clears away self; (he possesses) sincerity, patience, purity of speech’: (what is) erect he does not annoy: (what) lies (dead) he does not eat. O Nanak.! that Musalman goes to heaven (bihisiht).’ When the Baba had uttered this stanza, the Saiyids, the sons of the Shaikhs, the Qazi, the Mufti, the Khan the chiefs and leaders were amazed. The Khan said: ‘Qazi Nanak has reached the truth’; the additional questioning is a mistake.’ Wherever the Baba looked, there all were saluting him. And the Baba had recited a few stanzas, the Khan came, and fell-down at his feet. Then the people, Hindus and Musulmans, began to say to the Khan that God (Khuda) was speaking in Nanak.” (India Office MS 1728, fol. 36-4l)
The foregoing anecdotes are taken from the India Office MS., No. 1728; but the ordinary Janam Sakhis current in the Panjab vary the account somewhat by saying that when the Khan reproved Nanak for not coming to him when sent for, the latter replied: “Hear, O Nawab, when I was thy servant I came before thee; now I am not thy servant; now I am become the servant of Khuda (God).’ The Nawab said: “Sir, (if) you have become such, then come with me and say prayers (niwaj = nimaz, see PRAYER). It is Friday, Nanak said: ‘Go, ‘Sir.’ The Nawab, with, the Qazi and Nanak, and a great concourse of people, went unto the Jami’ Masjid and stood there. All the people who came into the Masjid began to say, ‘To-day Nanak has entered this sect.’ There was a commotion among the respectable Hindus in ‘Sultanpur; and Jairam, being much grieved, returned home. Nanak, perceiving that her husband came home dejected, rose up and said, ‘Why is it that you are to-day so grieved?’ Jairam replied, ‘Listen, O servant of Paramesur (God), what has thy brother Nanak done! He has gone, with the Nawab, into the Jamu Masjid to pray, and, in the city, there is an outcry among the Hindus and Musalmans that Nanak has become a Turk (Muslim) to-day. (India Office MS, No. 2865, fol. 89.)
From the foregoing it is perfectly clear that the immediate successors of Nanak believed that he went very close, to Islam; and we can scarcely doubt the accuracy of their view of the matter, when we consider the almost contemporaneous character of the record, from which extracts have been given, and the numerous confirmatory evidences contained in the religion itself. It is particularly worthy of remark that a “cup of amrita” (immortality) is considered the symbol of inspiration; just as Hafiz exclaims, “Art thou searching, O Hafiz, to find the waters of eternal life?” ‘And the same poet expresses his own ecstasy in a way almost identical with the reception accorded to Nanak at the gate of Paradise. His words are: “Then he gave into my hand a cup which flashed back the splendour of Heaven so gloriously, that Zuhrah broke out into dancing and the lute-player exclaimed ‘Drink!'” The staff (muttaka) that is mentioned is, also, that of a faqir, on which a devotee supports himself while in meditation. Another significant fact is that when Nanak speaks of himself as the servant of God, he employs the word Khuda, ‘a Persian Muslim term, but when his brother-in-law Jairam speaks of God, he uses the Hindu word. Paramesur. It will, also, be noticed that Muslims are affected by the logic and piety of Nanak, and to them be shows himself so partial that he openly accompanies them to the mosque, and thereby causes his Hindu neighbours and friends to believe that he is actually converted to the faith of Islam. But, of course, the most remarkable expression of all is the emphatic and repeated announcement that “There is no Hindu, there. is no Musalman.” This can mean nothing else than that it was Nanak’s settled intention to do away with the differences between those two forms of belief, by instituting a third course which should supersede, both of them.
Nanak’s whilom employer, in consequence of the foregoing manifestations of wisdom, became his devoted admirer. After this, Nanak undertook a missionary tour; and it is noticeable that the first person he went to and converted was Shaikh Sajan ساجن, who showed himself to be a pious Muslim, Nanak then proceeded to Panipat, and wad met by a certain Shaikh Tatihar, who .accosted him with the Muslim greeting, “Peace be on thee, O Darvesh!” (Salam-‘aleka Darves); to which Nanak immediately replied, “And upon you be peace, O servant of the Pir! (aleka us-salamu, ho Pir ke dasta-pes).” (India Office MS., No. 1728, fol. 48) Here we find Nanak both receiving and giving the Muslim salutation; and also acknowledgment that he was recognized as a darvesh. The Panjabi form of the Arabic salutation is given lest it might be thought that the special character of the words is due to the translation. The disciple then called his master, the Pir Shaikh Sharaf, who repeated the salutation of peace, and after a long conversation acknowledged the divine mission of Nanak, kissed his hands and feet, and left him. (fol. 52.) After the departure of this Pir, the Guru Nanak wandered on to Dehli, where he was introduced to Sultan Ibrahim Lodi, who also culled him a darvesh. The previous conversations and acts, are found to have awakened the curiosity of Nanak’s attendant Mardana, who asked in surprise: “is God, then, one?” To which Nanak firmly replied “God (Khuda) is one” (fol. 55) This was intended to satisfy Mardana that there is no difference between the Muslim and the Hindu God.
Nanak is next said to have proceeded to the holy city of Benares, and there he met with a Pandit named Satrudas The MS. 1728 (fol. 56) says “He came to this Nanak, and cried, ‘Ram! Ram!’ Seeing his (Nanak’s) disguise (bhekhu), he sat down, and said to him, ‘O devotee (bhagat), thou hast no gram; no necklace of tulsi; no rosary; no tika of white clay, and thou callest (thyself) a devotee’ What devotion hast thou obtained?'” In other words, the Pandit is made to challenge his piety, because he has none of the marks of a Hindu upon him Nanak explains his peculiar position and views; and is reported to have converted the Hindu Pandit to his own way of thinking. This anecdote, also, shows that the immediate successors of Nanak were aware that their great Guru occupied an intermediate position between Islam and Hinduism; for we see that he is made to convert Muslims on the one hand and Hindus on the other. After this primary attack on Hinduism, Nanak is said to have converted some Jogis, Khattris, Thags, necromancers, witches, and even the personified Kaliyug, or present age of the world. These conquests over imaginary Hindus are obviously allegorical, though they clearly point to a well recognized distinction between the teaching of Nanak and that of orthodox Hinduism.
The most significant associate which Nanak found was, undoubtedly, Shaikh Farid. He was a famous Muslim Pir, and a strict Sufi, who attracted much attention by his piety, and formed a school of devotees of his own. Shaikh Farid must have gained considerable notoriety in his day for his special disciples are still to be found in the Panjab, who go by the name of Shaikh Farid’s faqir. This strict Muslim became the confidential friend and companion of Nanak; and if all other traditions bad failed, this alone would have been enough to establish the eclectic character of early Sikhism The first greeting of these famous men is significant enough, Shaikh Farid exclaimed, “Allah, Allah, O Darvesh”, to which Nanak replied, “Allah Is the object of my efforts, O Farid! Come, Shaikh Farid Allah, Allah (only) is over my object” The words in the original being Allah, Farid, juhdi; hamesa au, Sekh Farid, juhdi Allah Allah (India Office MS, No 1728; fol. 86.) The use of the Arabic term juhdi implies the energy of the purpose with which he sought for Allah; and the whole phrase is forcibly Muslim in tone.
An intimacy at once sprang up between these two remarkable men; and Shaikh Farid accompanied Nanak in all his wanderings for the next twelve years. The intended compromise between Hinduism and Islam is shown not only in the fact of this friendship but in the important circumstance that no less than 142 stanzas composed by Shaikh Farid are admitted into the Adi Granth itself. An examination of these verses still further proves the mingling of the two religions which Nanak effected. They are distinctly Sufiistic in tone, containing such lines as, “Youth is passing, I am not afraid, if love to the Beloved does not pass”, and still more pointedly, “Full of sins I wander about, the world calls me a Darvesh”, while, between these declarations of steady adherence to Islam, comes the remarkable Hindu line: “As by fire the metal becomes purified, so the fear of Hari removes the filth of folly” The fact that the compositions of a genuine Sufi should have been admitted into the canonical book of the Sikhs, and that they should contain such a clear admixture of Hindu and Muslim ideas, is conclusive evidence that Nanak, and his immediate successors, saw no incongruity in the mixture.
As soon as Nanak and his friend Shaikh Farid begin to travel in company, it is related that they reached a place called Bisi ar, where the people applied cow-dung to every spot on which they had stood, as soon as they departed (I.O MS. ,No 1728, fol. 94) The obvious meaning of this is, that orthodox Hindus considered every spot polluted which Nanak and his companion had visited. This could never have been related of Nanak had he remained a Hindu by religion.
‘In his next journey Nanak is said to have visited Patan, and there he met with Shaikh Ibrahim, who saluted him us a Muslim, and had a conversation with him on the Unity of God. Nanak expressed his views in the following openly Sufiiitic manner “Thou thyself (art) the wooden tablet, thou (art) the pen, thou (art) also the writing upon (it). O Nanak, why should the One be called a second?” (India Office MS. 1728, fol 117) The Pir asks an explanation of this verse in these words “Thou sayest, ‘There is One, why a second?’ but there is one Lord (Sahib), and two traditions. Which shall I accept, and which reject? Thou sayest, ‘The only One, he alone is one’, but the Hindus are saving that in (their) faith there is certainty; and the Musalmans are saying that only in (their) faith as there certainty. Tell me, in which of them as the truth, and in which is there falsity?” Nanak replied, “There is only one Lord (Sahib), and only one tradition.”” (fol. 119) This anecdote serves still further to illustrate the Intermediate position between the two religions ascribed to Nanak by his immediate followers.
Shortly after the foregoing episode, Nanak was captured among the prisoners taken by the Emperor Babar, who seems to have been attracted by the Guru’s piety, and to have shown him some attentions. The chronicler informs us that “all the people, both Hindus and Musalmans, began to salute (Nanak).” (fol. 137) After his release, Nanak recommended his missionary work, and is described as meeting a Muslim named Miyan Mitha, who called upon him for the Kalimah [see KALIMAH] or Muslim confession of faith (fol. 143); which leads to a long conversation, in which Nanak lays emphasis on the Sufi doctrine of the Unity of God. In this conversation Nanak is made to say, “The book of the Qur’an should be practised.”. (fol. 144.) He also acknowledged that “justice is the Qur’an.” (fol. 148.) When the Miyan asked him what is the one great name, Nanak took him aside and whispered it his ear, “Allah” [GOD]. Immediately the great name is uttered, Miyan Mitha is consumed to ashes; but a celestial voice again utters the word Allah!” and the Miyan regains life, and falls at the feet of Nanak. (fol. 147.)
Nanak then proceeded to convert some Jains, and even a Rakshasas, or Hindu demon; and next went to Multan, where be converted the famous Pir, Maakdum Bahau-d-Din. In Kashmir he met with a Hindu Pandit who recognized him as a sadhu, or virtuous person, but asked him why he had abandoned caste usages why ho wore skins, and ate meat and fish,. The Pandit’s scruples having been satisfied, he flung away his idols, and became a devoted believer in Nanak’s doctrines. This anecdote again furnishes us with distinct evidence that Nanak took up an intermediate position between Islam and Hinduism, and sought to bring both under one common system.
In precise conformity with this deduction is the tradition of Nanak’s pilgrimage to Mekkah. The particulars of his visit to that holy place are fully given, in all accounts of Nanak’s life, and although, as Dr. Trumpp reasonably concludes, the whole story is a fabrication, yet the mere invention of the tale is enough to prove that those who most intimately know Nanak considered his relationship to Islam sufficiently close to warrant the belief in such a pilgrimage in the course of his , teaching in Makkah, Nanak is made to. say: “Though men, they are like women, who do not obey the Sunnat, and Divine commandment, nor the order of the book (i.e. the Qur’an).”. (I.O. MS. No. 1728, fol. 212.) He also admitted the intercession of Muhammad, denounced the drinking of bhang, wine, &c., acknowledged the existence of hell, the punishment of the wicked, and the resurrection of mankind; in fact, the words here ascribed to Nanak contain a full confession of Islam. These tenets, are, of course, due to the narrator of the tale , and are only useful as showing how far Nanak’s followers thought it possible for him to go.
A curious incident is next related to the to the effect that Makhdum Baha’ u ‘d-Din, the Pir of Multan, felling his end approaching, said to his disciples, “O friends, from this time the faith of no one will remain firm; all will become faithless (be-iman).” His disciples asked for an explanation; and in reply he delivered himself of an oracular statement: “O friends, when one Hindu shall come to Heaven (bihisht), there will be brilliancy (ujala) In Heaven.” ‘To this strange announcement his disciples replied: “Learned people’ say that Heaven is not decreed for the Hindus; what is this that you have said?” (I.O. MS. 1728, fol. 224.) The Pir told them that he was alluding to Nanak; and sent one of his disciples to ask Nanak if he, also, had received an intimation of his approaching death.
In this anecdote we hive the extraordinary admission from a Muslim that Nanak would succeed in breaking up the faith of Islam. It is in consequence of a Hindu’s having conquered Heaven itself, and vindicated his right to a place in the paradise of Muhammad, that those who were then in the faith of the Prophet would lose confidence in his teaching. . Here again, the words employed are useful; for the Pir is made to say that Muslirns will become be-iman, the Arabic term specially applicable to the “faith” of Islam; and Heaven is called in the Panjabi story bhisat, that is bihisht, the Paradise of Muslims [see PARADISE]; for had the Hindu heaven been intended, some such word as swarg, or paralok, or Brahmalok would have been used.
The final incident in the life of this enlightened teacher is in precise accord with all that has been said of his former career. Nanak came to the bank of the Ravi to die — in conformity with Hindu custom — by the side of a natural stream of water. It is expressly said that both Hindus and Muslims accompanied him. He then seated himself at the foot of a Sarib tree, and his Assembly of the faithful (Sanqat) stood around him. His sons asked him what their position was to be; and he told them to subordinate themselves to the Guru Angad whom he had appointed as his successor. They were to succeed to no power or dignity merely on the ground of relationship; no hereditary claim was to be recognized; on the contrary, the sons were frankly told to consider themselves non-entities. The words are: “Sons even the dogs of the Guru are not in want; bread and clothes will be plentiful; and should you mutter ‘Guru! ‘Guru!’ (your) life will be (properly) adjusted (I.O. MS. 1728,fol. 238.) The anecdote, then proceeds in the following remarkable manner: “Then the Hindus and Musulmans who were firm in the name (of God), began to express themselves (thus) the Musalmans said, ‘We will bury (him)’; and the Hindus said, ‘We will burn (him).’ Then, the Baba said, ‘Place flowers on both sides; on the right side those of the Hindus, on the left side those of the Musalmans, (that we may perceive) whose will continue green tomorrow. If those of the Hindus keep green, then bury (me).’ The Baba ordered the Assembly to repeat the praises (of God); and the Assembly began to repeat the praises accordingly. [After a few verses had bee recited] he laid down his head. When the sheet (which, had been stretched over him) was raised, there was nothing (under it): and the flowers of both (sides) remained green. The Hindus took away theirs; and the Musalmans took away theirs. The entire Assembly fell to their feet.” (I.O. MS. 1728, fol. 239, 240.)
The mixture of Hinduism and Muhammadamism is evident in this tradition. It is obviously intended to summarize the life of Nanak and the object of his teaching. He is not represented as an outcaste and a failure; on the other hand, his purposes are held to have been fully accomplished. The great triumph was the establishment of a common basis of religious truth for both Muslim and Hindu; and this he is shown to have accomplished with such dexterity that at his death no one could say whether he was more inclined to Hinduism or to Islam. His friends stood around him at the last moment quite uncertain as to whether they should dispose of his remains as those of’ a Muslim, or as those of a Hindu. And Nanak is represented as taking care that the ‘matter should ever remain a moot point; The final miraculous disappearance of the corpse is obviously intended to convey the idea that Nanak belonged specially neither to one party nor to the other; while the green and flourishing appearance of the flowers of both parties conveys the lesson that it was his wish that both should live together in harmony and union. The narrator of the life clearly wishes his history to substantiate the prophetic statement recorded at the commencement of his book (I.O. MS. 1728, fol. 7) that, at Nanak’s birth, “The Hindus’ said, “The manifestation of some God (Devata) has been produced’;’ and the Musalmans said, ‘Some holy man (sadiq) of God (Khuda) has been born.”
The most potent cause of. the uncertainty as to Nanak’s true position in the religious world, arises from the initial fact that he was born a Hindu, and necessarily brought up in that form of belief. He was a perfectly uneducated man, there being no reason to suppose that he could either read or write, or perform any other literary feat, beyond the composition of contemporaneous verses in his mother tongue. Guru Arjun, the fourth successor of Nanak, appears to have been the first chieftain of the fraternity who could read and write. The necessary result of Nanak’s early associations was that all his ideas throughout life were substantially Hindu, his mode of thought and. expression was Hindu, his illustrations were taken from Hindu sources, and his system was based on Hindu models. It must be borne in mind that Nanak never openly seceded from the pale of Hinduism, or ever contemplated doing so. Thus in the Sakhi of Miyan Mitha it is related that towards the end on Nanak’s life a Muslim named Shah ‘Adbu ‘r-Rahman acknowledged the great advantages he had derived from the teacher of Nanak, and sent his friend Miyan Mitha to the Guru so that he might derive similar benefit. “The Miyan Mitha said, ‘What is his name? Is he a Hindu, or is he a Musalman?’ Shah ‘Abdu ‘r-Rahman replied, ‘He is a Hindu and his name is Nanak”- (Sikhan de Raj di Vithi’a p. 258.) He struck a heavy blow at Hunduism by his rejection of caste distinction.; and on this point there can be no doubt, for his very words, preserved in the Adi Granth, are: “Thou (O Lord) acknowledgest the Light (the ray of the Divine, in man). and dost not ask after caste. in the other world where is no caste.”—(Translation of the Adi Granth, p. 494.) In consequence of the opinion Nanak admitted to his fraternity men of all castes; his constant companions being spoken of as Saiyids and Sikhs, that is, Muslim and Hindu pupils. Sikhs have ever before thorn the intermediate character of their religion by the stanza (21) of the Jap-Ji, which says, “Pandits do not know that time, though written in a Purana; Qazis do not know that time, though written iii the Qur’an.” Hindu scholars are told in the Adi Granth that they miss the true meaning of their religion through delusion. “Reading and reading the Pandit explains the Veda, (but) the infatuation of Maya (delusion personified) lulls him to sleep. By reason of dual affection the name of Hari , (i.e., God). is ‘forgotten.” (Translation, p. 117.) In the same way Nanak turns to the Musalman and says,—
“Thou must die, O Mulla! thou must die! remain in the fear of the Creator!
Then thou art a MulIa, then thou art a Qazi, if thou knowest the name of God (Khuda).
None, though he be very learned, will remain, he hurries onwards.
He is a Qazi by whom his own self is abandoned, and the One Name is made his support.
He is, and will be, He will not be destroyed, true is the Creator.
Five times he prays (niwaj gujarhi), he reads the book of the Qur’an.” (Translation, p. 37.)
Nanak does not seem to have been fastidious as to the name under. which he recognized the Deity; he was more concerned with impressing on his companions, a correct understanding of what Deity was. The names Hari, Ram, Govind, Brahma, Parames’war, Khuda, Allah, &c., are used with perfect freedom, and are even mixed up in the same poem. The most common name for God in the Adi Granth is certainly Hari; but that does not seem to have shocked the Muslim friends of Nanak. Thus, in a poem addressed to Hari as “the invisible, inaccessible, and infinite,” we are told that “Pirs, prophets, saliks, sadiqs, martyrs, shaikhs, mullas, and darveshes; a great blessing has come upon Them, who continually recite his salvation.” – (Translation, p. 75.)
The chief point of Nanak’s teaching was unquestionably the Unity of God. He set himself firmly against the idea of associating any other being with the absolute Supreme. This exalted idea of Divine Majesty enabled Nanak to treat with indifference the crowd of Hindu deities. To such a mind as that of Nanak it would have been sheer waste time to argue, with any earnestness, about the attributes, powers, or jurisdictions, of a class of beings, the whole of whom were subordinate to one great, almighty, and incomprehensible Ruler. Without any overt attack on the Hindu pantheon, he caused the whole cluster of deities to subside into a condition similar to that of angels in modern Christianity; whose existence and operations may be the subject of conversation, but the whole of whom sink into utter insignificance compared with the central, idea of the Divine Majesty. The One God, in Nanak’s opinion (and, it may be added, in the opinion of all Sufis), was the creator of plurality of form, not the creator of matter out of nothing. The phenomenal world is the manifestation of Deity, and it is owing to pure deception that the idea of severalty exists. In the Adi Granth we read:-
“The cause of causes is the Creator.
In His hand are the order and reflection.
As He looks upon, so it becomes.
He Himself, Himself is the Lord.
Whatever is made, (is) according to His own pleasure.
He is far from all, and with all.
He comprehends, sees, and makes discrimination.
He Himself is One, and He Himself is many.
He does not die nor perish, He neither comes nor goes.
Nanak says: He is always contained (in all).” (Translation, p. 400.)
Notwithstanding this conception that the Supreme One comprehends both spirit and matter, and therefore is what is; He is nevertheless spoken of as in some way different from the creatures He has formed, and has been endowed with moral and intellectual qualities. Thus we find in the Adi Granth –
“Whose body the universe is, He is not in it, the Creator is not in it.
Who is putting (the things) together, He is always aloof (from them), in what He be said (to be contained)?” (Translation, p. 414.)
The soul of man is held to be a ray of light from the Light Divine; and it necessarily follows that, in its natural state, the soul of man is sinless. The impurity, which is only too apparent in man, is accounted for by the operation of what is called Maya, or Delusion; and it is this Maya which deludes creatures into egotism and duality, that is, into consciousness or conceit, and into the idea that there can be existence apart from the Divine. This delusion prevents the pure soul from freeing itself from matter, and hence the spirit passes from one combination of matter to another, in a long chain of births and deaths, until the delusion is removed, and the untrammeled ray returns to the Divine Light whence it originally emanated. The belief in metempsychosis is thus seen to be the necessary complement of pantheism; and it is essential to the creed of a Hindu, a Buddhist, and a Sufi.
In Sikhism, as in Buddhism; the prime object of attainment is not Paradise, but the total cessation of individual existence, The method by which this release from transmigration is to be accomplished is by the perfect recognition of identity with the Supreme. When the soul fully realizes what is summed up in the formula so ham, “I am that,” i.e. “I am one with that which was, and is, and will be,” then emancipation from the bondage of existence is secured. This is declared by Nanak himself fn the Adi Granth in these words—
“Should one know his own self as the so ham, he believes in the esoteric mystery.
Should the disciple (Gur-mukhi) know his own self, that more can he do or cause, to be done ?”– (I.O. MS. 2484, fol. 63.)
The principles of early, Sikhism given above are obviously too recondite for acceptance among masses of men; accordingly we find that the pantheistic idea of Absolute Substance became gradually changed into the more readily apprehended notion of a self-conscious Supreme Being, the Creator and Governor of the universe. Here Dr Trumpp himself admits the influence of Islam, when he says: “It is not improbable that the Islam had a great share in working silently those changes, which are directly opposed to the teaching of the Gurus.”— (Introduction to Translation of the Adi Granth, p. cxii.) The teaching of Nanak was, however, very practical. His followers are daily reminded in the Jap-Ji that; “Without the practice of virtue there can be no worship.”
In all that has preceeded we have confined ourselves strictly to the intimate relationship subsisting between early Sikhism and the Muslim religion. It is, however, needful to allude to the tact that certain surviving relics of Buddhism had no small share in moulding the thoughts of the Founder of the Sikh religion. A full examination of this part of the subject would be out of place in the present work. It must suffice to say that Buddhism held its position the Panjab long after it had disappeared from other parts of Northern India, and the abundance of Buddhistic relics, which are continually being un-earthed in the district, prove the wide-spread and long-continued influence of the tenets of the gentle-hearted Buddha. Indications of this influence on early Sikhism are seen in its freedom from caste, in the respect for animal life, the special form of metempsychosis accepted, the importance ascribed to meditation, the profuse charity, the reverence paid to the seat of the Guru (like the Buddhistic worship of the throne), Nanak’s respect for the lotos, his missionary tours, and the curious union subsisting between the Guru and his Sangat. In the Travels of Guru Tegh Bahadur, translated from the original Gurmukhi by an excellent scholar, Sirdar Atar Singh, we find the following remarkable sentence: “The Guru and his Sangat are like the warp and woof in cloth, — there is no difference between them” (p. 37). In the Adi Granth, there is an entire Sukhmani, or poem, by Guru Arjun, wholly devoted to a recitation of the advantages of “the society of the pious,” the term employed being, however, in this case, sadh kai sang. (I.O. MS. 2484, fol. 134.) In addition to those points of resemblance, there is found in early Sikhism a curious veneration for trees, offerings to which were sometimes made, as will be seen by reference to pp. 67, 70, and 83, of the Travels of Guru Tegh Bahadur, just cited. In precise conformity with the tradition that Buddha died under a Sal tree, we have seen that Nanak purposely breathed his last under a, Sarih tree. Anyone familiar with Buddhism will readily recognize the remarkable coincidences stated above; but the most conclusive of all is the positive inculcation of views identical with the crowning doctrine of Buddhism — the Nirvana itself. The following is what Dr. Trumpp says on the subject : —
“If there could be any doubt on the pantheistic character of the tenets of the Sikh Gurus regarding the Supreme, it would be dissolved by their doctrine of the Nirban. Where no personal God is taught or believed in, man cannot aspire to a final personal communion with him, his aim can only be absorption in the Absolute Substance, is individual annihilation. We find, therefore, no allusion to the joys of a future life in the Granth, as heaven or paradise, though supposed to exist, is not considered a desirable object. The immortality of the soul is only taught so far as the doctrine of transmigration requires it, but when: the soul has reached its highest object, it is no more mentioned, because it no longer exists as individual soul.
“The Nirban, as is well known, is the grand object which Buddha in his preaching held out to the poor people. From his atheistic point of view, he would look out for nothing else; personal existence, with all, the concomitant evils of this life, which are not counterbalanced by corresponding pleasures, necessarily appeared to him as the greatest evil. His whole aim was, therefore, to counteract the troubles and pain of this existence by a stoical indifference to pleasure and pain, and stop individual consciousness to its utmost limit, in order to escape at the point of death from the dreaded transmigration, which he also, even on his atheistic ground, had not ventured to reject. Buddhism is, therefore, in reality, like Sikhism, nothing but unrestricted Pessimism, unable to hold out to man any solace, except that of annihilation.
“In progress of time, Buddhism has been expelled from India, but the restored Brahmanism, with its confused cosmological legends, and gorgeous mythology of the Puranas, was equally unable to satisfy the thinking minds. It is, therefore, very remarkable, that Buddhism in its highest object, the Nirban soon emerges again in the popular teachings of the mediaeval reformatory movements Namdev, Triloehan, Kabir, Ravdas &c, and after these Nanak, take upon themselves to show the way to the Nirban, as Buddha in his time had promised, and find eager listeners; the difference is only in the means which these Bhagats [saints] propose for obtaining the desired end.” (Introduction to Translation of the Adi Granth, p cvi.)
Such, then, was the Sikh religion as founded by Guru Nanak. It is based on Hinduism, modified.. by Buddhism, and stirred into new life by Sufiism. There seems to, be superabundant evidence that Nanak laboured earnestly to reconcile Hinduism with Islam, by insisting strongly on the tenets on which both parties could agree, and by subordinating the points of difference. It is impossible to deny that Nanak in his lifetime actually did effect a large amount of reconciliation and left behind him a system designed. to carry on the good work. The circumstances which led to the entire reversal of the project, and produced between Muslims and Sikhs the deadliest of feuds, does not come within the purview of the present article. It is enough to state that the process was gradual, and was as much due to political causes as to a steady departure from the teachings of the Founder of Sikhism.
The Sikhs acknowledge ten Gurus, whose names, with the year in which each died, are given in the following list:-
Name. Date of Death
of Guruship Years.
Guru Har-Kisan ……………….1664
Guru Govind Singh……………..1708
It is thus seen that the Sikh fraternity was under the guidance of personal Gurus from A.D. 1504, when Nanak received the spiritual impulse which gave birth to the new sect, until A.D. 1708, a total period of 204 years. After the death of Guru Govind Singh, the Adi Granth itself was taken to be the ever-existing impersonal guide.
The first successor of Nanak was appointed on account of his devotion to the cause. Shortly after the supposed visit to Makkah, Nanak met with a devotee named Lahana, whose faith and earnestness were so fully demonstrated that Nanak named him, in preference to either of his sons, as his successor in the leadership of the new sect. His name was also changed from Lahana to Angad (=anga-da, “body-giving”), implying that he was willing to give his body to the cause of God. He was a poor and ignorant man, and maintained himself by rope- making. He is said to have heard the whole account of Nanak’s; life from Bha,i Bala, who had long been with the Founder. It is related that all the counsel which Nanak had given, to the Sikhs was sedulously inculcated by him. (Sikhan de Raj di Vithi’a, p. 19.) Like his predecessor, the Founder, he also named as his successor a devoted servant; although he had sons whom he might have appointed.
Amar-Das, the third Guru, was a simpleminded and inoffensive man, who was as unlearned as his two predecessors; nevertheless, he composed several verses incorporated in the Adi Granth. It was in his time that we hear of the first differences between the Sikhs and the Muslims. The gentle disposition of Amar-Das was unsuited. to the position of ruler among the strong-willed people of the Panjab; accordingly, when a difference occurred, he was quite incapable of settling the matter. It is related that Amar-Das was completely absorbed in the service of Paramesur (God). (Sikhan de Raj di Vithi,a, p. 25.) The use of this word indicates a marked inclination towards the Hindu side of Sikhism; and we may suppose that such an inclination would be resented by the firmer adherents to Islam; for we find that the Muslims began to annoy the Guru’s disciples by trivial acts of aggression. The disciples asked their Guru what they had better do; and he’ suggested various temporising expedients, which only emboldened the aggressors. When again appealed to, he desired his disciples to endure the wrong, as it was more meritorious to submit than to resent an insult. The weak conduct of this Guru left a legacy of ill-will for his successors to deal with Amar-Das nominated his son-in-law as his successor; an example which initiated the hereditary Guru-ship which followed.
Ram-Das was a poor lad, who got a scanty living by selling boiled grain. He was taken into the family of Amar-Das, and married his daughter. He had acquired the elements of education, and was a peaceful and non-aggressive man. On attaining the Guru-ship, he set himself industriously to the acquisition of disciples; and took large contributions from them in the shape of voluntary offerings. This wealth placed him above his brothers in the faith; and conferred upon him the elements of a royal state. He restored an old tank in magnificent style, for the purpose of religious ablution, and called it Amritsar, or the lake of the water of life. This tank enabled the Sikhs to perform their ablutions in a luxurious manner, and necessarily attracted many to the spot. In the course of time, a town grew up round the tank, which gradually increased in importance, and is now one of the most important places in the Panjab. This assumption of dignity and increasing wealth in all probability awakened the anxiety of the Muslim governors of the country; and the gradual drifting into common Hinduism accentuated the feeling. It is clear that the Muslims who had fought so desperately to overturn the ancient Hindu kingdoms, could not view with indifference the up-growth of a Hindu sovereignty in their very midst. Ram-Das named his son as his successor in the Guru-ship — an act which sealed the fate of the Sikh attempt at compromise in religious matters; for every Muslim felt his position as a citizen threatened by the establishment of a rallying-point for disaffected Hindus.
Guru, Arjun, the fifth Guru, was an active and ambitious man. He laid aside the dress of a faqir, which had been worn by all his predecessors, and converted the voluntary offerings of his disciples into a tax. This raised him to some importance, and enabled him to take men into his pay, a proceeding which conferred additional dignity upon him, and, at the same time, intensified the jealousy of his Muslim neighbours. As an additional means of uniting his community into one compact body, he collected the words of Nanak, and those of other saintly personages, into a book, which he called Granth, i.e. “the book;” and strictly enjoined his followers to accept no speech as authoritative which was not contained in” the book.” The spark which lit the torch was, however, a distinct interference in political affairs, which provoked the resentment of the Muslim ruler at Delhi, and. occasioned the arrest and, ultimately, the death of the Guru. It is not clear whether the Emperor actually executed him, or whether the Guru committed suicide; but his death was brought about by the ruler of Delhi, and this was enough to inflame the passions of the Sikhs who were eager to revenge his death.
Har-Govind succeeded his father in the Guru-ship; and at once proceeded to arm his followers, and slay those who had been personally concerned in procuring the death of the late Guru. This did not, however, prevent him from entering the service of the Emperors Jahangir and Shah-Jahan in a military capacity; but his turbulence got, him into much trouble, and he spent a predatory, rather than a religious, life. Under his Guru-ship the Sikhs were changed from faqirs into soldiers; and were freely recruited from the warlike Jat population, who eagerly availed themselves of any opportunity for securing plunder. It, is evident that the actions of this Guru must have led him into frequent contests with the Muslim authorities, and provoked the efforts afterwards made to break up that the rulers must have felt to be a dangerous confederation.
Har-Ra i was the grandson of the last Guru; and was chosen as successor because Har-Govind distrusted the fitness of his sons for the office.. Har-Ra i fought against Aurangzib in the interest of Dara-Shikoh; and when the latter was defeated he made his submission to the Emperor, and was pardoned.
Har-Kishan was the younger son of the preceding. Nothing eventful occurred during his short tenure of power. He was called to Delhi by the Emperor Aurangzib, and was there attacked by small-pox, of which disease he died. The succession to the Guru-ship was broken by his death; for he was too weak to appoint a successor, and merely indicated that the next Guru would he found in Bakala, a village near Anand-pur.
Tegh-Bahadur, who happened to be residing in Bakala, was the son of Har-Govind and had been passed over by his father in favour of Har-Ra i. He was by nature contemplative, and not particularly anxious to assume the delicate position of leader among the bellicose Sikhs. Aurangzib was in the full fury of his Islamizing mania, and was accordingly specially solicitous to suppress the ambitious projects of the Sikhs. The Panjab appears to have been too carefully guarded to be pleasant to Tegh-Bahadur, and he, therefore, began a wandering life over the north of India. An account of his travels has been translated from Panjabi into English by the learned Sirdir Atar Singh; and the story is singularly interesting to the student of Sikh history. We learn from one anecdote that even in the time of this ninth Guru, Muslims could feel a certain respect for the Sikhs. The tale relates that a small party of Hindus and Muslims went to rob the Guru; but at the last moment the Muslims felt remorse, for they said, “he was undoubtedly a prophet.”— (Travels of Guru Tegh Bahadur, p. 24.) On reaching S’ivaram, the Guru met a Saiyid seated under a Sarih tree (the same kind of tree, be it remarked, as that under which Nanak breathed his last); and the Saiyid saluted the Guru with reverence) saying: “I am really happy now, having seen your divine countenance.” — (Travels, p. 46.) Still more marked is the friendly footing shown by the courteous reception which Tegh Bahadur received from Sharafu ‘d-Din, a Muslim gentleman residing near Patiala. This Muslim sent him presents, and then went out to meet him. He conducted him with much ceremony to his own palace, where he entertained him. It is specially mentioned that “the Guru’s eyes fell upon a mosque, and Sharafu ‘d-Din immediately said that that was the house of God.”—(Travels, &c., p. 2.) Not-withstanding this reverential treatment by pious Muslims, it is certain that Tegh-Bahadur spent his life in violent antagonism to the Muslim rulers of the country. The book of Travels, from which we are quoting, gives numerous instances of this, as may be seen by those who care to study the details. in pp. 45, 49, 57,58, 69, 126, 130, 131. Some desperate fights took place, and after a specially severe engagement it is said on p. 58 that from that day the Muslims never ventured to fight with the Guru. However, the Guru appears to have been hunted from place to place, and on many occasions he narrowly escaped capture. The apparent contradiction involved in the reverential attitude of pious Muslims, and the skirmishes with Muslim soldiery, finds its explanation in the supposition that the religious aspect of Sikhism was not antagonistic to Muslim ideas while its political aspect provoked the violence of the Court of Delhi. In the present day much the same state of things is recognizable with respect to the Wahhabis. The English Government would never dream of interfering with the religions opinions of that, or any other, sect; but when their doctrines find expression in the subversion of civil authority, the leaders soon find themselves in the Andaman islands. Tegh-Bahadar was at length arrested, and the Emperor is stated to have endeavoured earnestly to bring bun over to the pure Muslim faith: but when he proved obdurate he was thrown into prison, where long-continued cruelty induced him to command a Sikh, who was with him, to cut off his head.
Govind Singh was the tenth and last Guru, and be succeeded his father Tegh-Bahadur when only 15 years of age. He was brought up under Hindu guidance, and became a staunch devotee of the goddess Durga; and, by his pronounced preference for Hinduism he caused a division in the Sikh community. He introduced several important changes into the constitution of Sikh society. The chief among these was the establishment of the Khalsa, by which he bound his disciples into an army, and conferred upon each of them the name Singh, or lion. He freely admitted all castes to the ranks of his army; and laboured more earnestly over their military than over their religious discipline The nature of the changes which Govind Singh effected in the fraternity is best shown by the fact that the special followers of Nanak personally, separated themselves from him, and formed a community of their own, rejecting the title of Singh. In other words, they preferred the religious to the military idea. This Guru fought against the Muslims with determination; and was so incensed against them that he instituted a fine of 25 rupees for saluting a Muslim tomb, however saintly. Towards the end of his Guru-ship an attempt was made to raise this fine to 5,000 rupees; but it was ultimately fixed at 125 rupees (Travels, &c., pp. 69 and 180.) The spirit of toleration so marked during the life of Nanak was clearly gone, and in yet later times this hostility gave birth to the maxim that “a true Sikh should always be engaged in war with the Mutammadans and slay them, fighting them face to face.” After a turbulent reign, Guru Govind Singh was treacherously slain by the dagger of a Pathan follower. He refused to name a successor, telling his followers that after his death the Granth Sahib, or “the Lord the Book,” was to be their guide in every respect. (Sikhan de Raj di Vitki,a, p. 79.)
The foregoing sketch of the relation of the Sikhs to the Muslims is sufficient to show that the religion of Nanak began in large-hearted tolerance; and that political causes operated to convert its adherents into a narrow-minded sect. The Hinduism which Nanak had disciplined, reasserted its superiority under his successors, and ultimately became predominant. While this change was in progress the religious aspect of the movement became gradually converted into a military and political propaganda. No contrast, indeed, could well be greater than’ that between the inoffensive and gentle-minded Nanak, and the warlike and ambitious Gurus of later times. But while we cannot help being painfully impressed with, the apparently undying feud which still subsists between the Sikhs and the Muslims, it seems perfectly clear that the intention of the Founder was to reconcile the differences between those creeds; and that in this excellent work he attained a large measure of success. His pious object was defeated by political causes, and by the war-like nature of the, people of the Panjab. The name “Muslim,” in the various countries in which it exists, is allowed to cover differences in religious belief quite as great as those between the views of Nanak and those of Muhammad; and in all probability would have done so in this instance also, but for the reasons pointed out. We cannot, however, concern ourselves with probabilities, it is enough for the purposes of this article to have established the fact that Sikhism, in its inception, was intimately associated with Islam; and that it was intended as a means of bridging the gulf which separated the Hindus from the believers in the Prophet.
There are five leading sects of Sikhs, the names of’ which need only be mentioned. They are:-
1. The Udasis, or those who are “indifferent” to the world.
‘ 2. The Suthre, or the” pure.”
8. The Diwine, or “mad” saints.
4. The Nirmale S’adhu, or “spotless saints.”
5. The Akalis, or worshippers of the “Eternal One.”
[The foregoing able review of the connection between Sikhism arid the teachings of Islam has been contributed, specially for the present work, by Mr. Frederic Pincott, M.R.A.S.]
The authorities upon which this article is based are: — Dr. Trumpp’s Translation of the Adi Granth; the text of the Adi Granth, India Office MS. No. 2484; the Janam-Sakhi of Guru Nanak in old Panjabi, I.O. MS. No. 1728; the Janam-Patri of Guru Nanak, I.O. MS. No. 2885; Sikhan de Raj di, Vithi a (an Account of the Rule of the Sikhs, in Panjab); The Travels of Guru Tegh-Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh, translated from the original Gu-mukhi by Sirdar Atar Singh, Chief of Bhadaur; Jap-Ji Sahib, the Panjabi text with commentary in Urdu, by Sirdar Atar Singh; Sri Guru Charitra Prabhakar, by Pandit Gyani Sant Singh; Sri Nanak Prakas, by Bha I Santokh Singh; Sri Granth Gur-Pratan Suraj Rasa, by Bha I Santokh Singh. [FAQIR, ISLAM, SUFI.]
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam