On a dark and stormy night in December 1705, Guru Gobind Singh Ji and the people of Anandpur Sahib left the city to escape the siege of the brutal Mogul Empire. They left with the promise of safe passage, but were cruelly betrayed and attacked from the rear as they crossed the river Sarsa. During the fighting and confusion, the Guru was separated from his family and all of his blessed sons were martyred.
The spiritual heritage of the Sikhs of Punjab has survived through out the years since that night, enduring hardship and oppression against all odds. On December 7, 1998, the sangat again gathered from all over the Punjab to Anandpur Sahib to remember that decisive night in 1705. By the thousands they came, mostly by foot, with energy so high, and a light so bright that it blinded the sky.
The morning of the gurpurb, several thousand people gathered at the Anandgarh Fort, to receive the blessing of Ardas and Hukam. The air was misty and heavy with smoke and slices of early morning sun cast a ghostly light. “Bole so nihal! Sat siri akal!”, echoed everywhere off the walls of the fort against the rhythmic chanting of Sat Nam Wahe Guru in the background. There was a flowing river of people, with tributaries joining it from every direction. Yet even though the crowd was immense, there was care and concern for women and young children as they made their way. Warmth emanated from the crowd that can only come from people of spiritual depth.
Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji arrived with a large group of Khalsa from America, and walked up the broad stairs to the Fort. The crowd recognized him as he moved through the masses and they responded with love and respect. The Sikhs parted to make way for him and folded their hands when he passed. As he walked to the stage to address the sangat, tears were streaming down his face into his long silver beard. Even as he stood at the microphone and looked over the sangat, the tears did not stop and he choked with a sob as he started to speak.
“When I was asked to speak today,” he said to the crowd, “they told me to speak about the time when Guru Gobind Singh left the fort. Left… Left… The word “left” echoed through my being, bouncing off my bones. If my Guru left, then what is left? What could ever be right?
“But as I walked through the sangat this morning, I heard the answer and I saw a vision of tremendous proportion. Tens of millions of people were coming to Anandghar in ultimate reverence and grace. With these eyes I saw people on every step and every roof… in every doorway and every alley. Millions of people had come from the four corners of the earth to Anandpur Sahib to touch this holy ground. Think of it! What kind of man can this be! One man leaves and millions upon millions return – this of the power and glory of Guru Gobind Singh!
“You may think it spontaneous that you have come here today. Actually you have come after lifetimes of effort and it is a momentous event, rare and wonderful. Our future is set and already written in the wind. It is a future that is worthy of the greatness of Guru Gobind Singh. He would have it no other way.”