“Only when all other means have failed is it then righteous to take up the sword.” ~ Guru Gobind Singh
Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Guru, was an outstanding example of the Sikh ideal of the “Soldier-Saint.” A courageous warrior, he was also an inspired poet, and a prolific writer. He is remembered as a valiant defender of the poor, the meek and the oppressed masses of India. In times of battle, Guru Gobind Singh always shot arrows with solid gold tips. That way, if an enemy was killed, the man’s family would be able to pay for a good funeral and take care of themselves, and if the enemy soldier was injured, that gold could be used to pay for medicine for him and food to feed his family.
Gobind Rai, the young son of Guru Teg Bahadur, became the Tenth Guru on November 11, 1675, at the age of 13. He was the last of the Sikh Gurus in human form, because before his death, with his Khalsa name of Guru Gobind Singh, he installed the Siri Guru Granth Sahib as the next and perpetual Guru forever.
The Tenth Guru molded Sikh Dharma into its present form with the formation of the Khalsa in 1699, and finished compiling the Guru Granth Sahib, which some consider his greatest achievement. It is said that after the martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur, Gobind Rai declared that he would create such a spiritual family (Panth) that it would challenge the tyrant rulers in every walk of life to restore justice, equality, and peace for all of mankind. As a prophet, Guru Gobind Singh is unique. His teachings are very scientific and timeless. Unlike some other prophets, he never called himself God or the only son of God or the messenger of God. Instead he said that all people are the sons and daughters of God, sharing His Kingdom equally. For himself he used the word “slave” (banda), which means servant of God.
“Those who call me God will fall into the deep pit of hell. Regard me as one of His slaves and have no doubt whatever about it. I am a servant of the Supreme Being; and I have come to behold the wonderful drama of life.”
By the orders of the Mughal Emperor, Nawab Wazir Khan, in 1705, Guru Gobind Singh’s two youngest sons, Baba Zorawar Singh ji and Baba Fateh Singh Ji, were martyred by being sealed alive in a brick wall. His two eldest sons, Baba Ajit Singh and Baba Jujar Singh were killed during the prolonged siege of Anandpur that same year. Guru Gobind Singh himself was assassinated three years later by Wazir Khan.
Guru Gobind Singh understood that he had to be the last in the line of the human Gurus, and that henceforth, the light of the Guruship would be invested in the sacred volume known as the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. From then on, no Sikh would bow before any man as Guru, but bow only to the Word of God, as embodied in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. Thus, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib became once and for all time the revered living Guru of all Sikhs, beyond all personality and human identity.
The Tenth Guru consciously broke the ancient tradition of title by lineage and instituted the reality of legacy.
On October 20, 1708, Guru Gobind Singh, having consciously witnessed the sacrifice of the lives of all his four sons, handed over the sacred legacy of the Guruship to the Shabd Guru, embodied in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib.
When he last spoke to his assembled Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh said,“As ordained by the One Eternal, a new way of life is promoted. All the Sikhs are asked to accept the Holy Granth as the Guru. Guru Granth should be accepted as the living Guru. Those who wish to meet God, will find Him in the Word.”
The unique beauty of this is that the Siri Guru Granth Granth Sahib can neither be altered nor can it be changed in any way. It is a touchstone for all humanity that exists beyond the limitations of time and space, now and in the future.
Queen Victoria and the Pipal Tree Prophesy
Guru Gobind Singh traveled extensively. Fortunately, a written record of his travels was kept in a small book called Sakhi Pothi. A man named Attar Singh made a translation of this historic manuscript, and presented it to Queen Victoria at a ceremony that was held to solemnize her sovereignty over Punjab.
This Sakhi Pothi tells the story of the finding of a very significant Pipal Tree (fig tree). It happened in the year 1704 and was recorded in 1714 or 1715. It is said that when Queen Victoria read the story, two paragraphs in particular caught her attention.
The story she read goes like this: Guru Gobind Singh was traveling through a district of East Punjab. He decided to camp for a night near a village called Soheva. Next to Guru Gobind Singh’s tent was a large Jand tree (Banyan). He told one of his Sikhs to climb up to the top of the big tree and look for a Pipal tree. The man reported back that he saw no Pipal tree in the area. The Guru told him to go look again, and to look more closely this time. This time, nestled within the giant gnarled roots of the old Jand tree, the soldier found a tiny Pipal tree sapling growing.
Guru Gobind Singh said, “Though it does not normally grow in desert areas, this particular Pipal tree will grow into a very large tree. It will grow as big as the Jand tree itself. In fact, it will actually tower over the whole Jand tree. When this happens my Khalsa will spread into the four corners of the world and the sovereignty of Delhi will be the first prize that will fall into their laps.
When the Pipal tree will spread over the Jand tree, then the spirit of the order of the Khalsa, which I have enshrined under the command of God Almighty, shall start to work to set up a world-society, which will last for five thousand years. That divine society will enjoy peace and affluence.”
When Queen Victoria read these words, knowing there was something mystical behind the invincibility of the Sikh soldiers, she wrote to the Governor General at Calcutta, “Please go and find the village called Soheva, and see if there is a Pipal tree growing in a Jand tree there. Please report back to me the size of Pipal and Jand trees.” It took a couple of months, but finally the reply came back: “Yes, it is there. It is now about four and half yards lower than the Jand tree.”
Then she referred the matter to the Royal Botanical Professor, who told her, “Your Majesty, the Pipal tree grows very slowly and it will take the Pipal tree at least one hundred years to grow to the same height as the Jand tree.” This put Queen Victoria’s mind at rest, and she slept peacefully that night—because as far as she was concerned, the slow rate of growth of the Pipal tree guaranteed one hundred years of uninterrupted British rule in India! The late Kapur Singh, who passed away in 1986, wrote:
“During those days I was a British Officer in one of the districts of the Punjab—about sixty miles from Soheva. I was aware of this story, and the official report sent from India in 1858. In 1942, I made arrangements to travel on horseback to see this tree. It was about two and half yards lower than the highest pinnacle of the Jand tree.“ Since 1942 I have not been there, but now I am told that the Sikhs who were expelled from Pakistan areas (during the partition of India in 1946) have settled in those arid areas and have built a magnificent Gurdwara in that place.”
A student of folklore, who visited the location in August, 1990 writes:
“I stayed there for two nights. It is very difficult to see any visible Jand tree at all within the outgrown Pipal tree. During my discussion with a sadhu, I found out a number of interesting things. He told me, ‘A small branch of the Jand tree still exists, and it is only about nine inches in size. It will be completely eaten up by the Pipal tree by the turn of the century (the year 2001.)’”
NOTE: The information about the Pipal Tree was extracted and adapted from Sikh Predictions by Surindar Singh Kohli.
NOTE: Sakhi Pothi was written by an Udasee yogi (a disciple of Baba Siri Chand, the ascetic yogi son of Guru Nanak). Not much else is known about the writer.
~ This information was originally published in the book Heroes, Saints and Yogis (2012) by Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa and Guruka Singh Khalsa.