Daulat Rai's preface to his book on Guru Gobind Singh
The following is an English translation of Daulat Rai's preface to his book on Guru Gobind Singh. Written in 1901. This page is based on the translation by Prof. Surinderjit Singh.
ਹਮ ਇਹ ਕਾਜ ਜਗਤ ਮੋ ਆਝ ॥ I have come to this world for this purpose,
ਧਰਮ ਹੇਤ ਗਰਦੇਵਿ ਪਠਾਝ ॥ The Supreme Lord has sent me for the protection of Righteousness:
ਜਹਾਂ ਤਹਾਂ ਤਮ ਧਰਮ ਬਿਥਾਰੋ ॥ You should propagate righteousness everywhere;
ਦਸਟ ਦੋਖੀਅਨਿ ਪਕਰਿ ਪਛਾਰੋ ॥੪੨॥ Seize and destroy the sinful and the wicked.
ਯਾਹੀ ਕਾਜ ਧਰਾ ਹਮ ਜਨਮੰ ॥ ਸਮਝ ਲੇਹ ਸਾਧੂ ਸਭ ਮਨਮੰ ॥ I have taken birth for this purpose, let the holy men understand this in their minds.
ਧਰਮ ਚਲਾਵਨ ਸੰਤ ਉਬਾਰਨ ॥ ਦਸਟ ਸਭਨ ਕੋ ਮੂਲ ਉਪਾਰਨ ॥੪੩॥ I have come for spreading Divine Religion and for protection of saints; and for annihilating all the tyrants. (42-43/6)
- (Guru Gobind Singh "Vichitar Natak")
Daulat Rai, an Arya Samajist, was bothered so much, by the publishing of books by some Hindu activists writing books that maligned the Sikh Gurus that he was forced to pick up the pen to author: “Sahib-i-Kamal” - (Par Excellent Master, Guru Gobind Singh). In this book he reminded Punjabi Hindus of the humiliation and degradation to which their ancestors were subjected under Muslim rule before the Khalsa liberated them. Quoting various historical sources, he wrote:
- Not only did Muslim invaders kill Hindus by the thousands, looted their properties and carried away men and women as slaves in the thousands, but also under some Muslim rulers Hindus were not allowed even the comforts of life like -- good clothes, good food, ride horses, wear turbans or keep good homes or valuables or even beautiful children or wives. They were allowed to have minimum possessions for mere survival. Often they were given two alternatives: either conversion to Islam or pay Jizya (The jizya was a (ed. so called 'protection tax' often said to be 60%) inflicted upon non-believers).
Though I was conscious of my incompetence to deal effectively with the subject, two factors prompted me to write this book.
- First of all, no such comprehensive book on Guru Gobind Singh had been written which dwelt at some length on the mission of this unique patriot and courageous fighter. Many Janam Sakhis written, earlier and now, by over zealous devotees are available. Carried away by their devotion and zeal these writers have written such things as strain credence and the readers find it difficult to shift the factual from the fanciful. Such writings fail to depict a true picture of the persons under study and such do them grave injustice.
- Secondly, the majority of the people know so little about this great hero that many unscrupulous people have tried to gain their selfish ends by saying many wrong and undesirable things about the Guru, his life and teaching.
I was taken aback by a book in which the writer, out of sheer ignorance or coloured by his personal views and prejudices, had tried to belittle and denigrate the mission of the Guru by misinterpreting his words and sayings. Feeling the need of consulting some Khalsa Sikhs regarding these, I was all the more surprised to learn that most of them were poorly informed, nay quite ignorant about their Guru’s real views. There were some whose thoughts were not only wrong but also divergent and contradictory.
I am deeply indebted to my friend Lala Jawala Das, A teacher of High School, Dera Ghazi Khan, for his ungrudging and valuable help. I am conscious of the fact that this book is neither perfect nor comprehensive. It is a humble endeavour to correct the prevailing misconceptions about the life, work and mission of the versatile genius, Guru Gobind Singh. May it inspire someday a better equipped person to touch the theme with greater felicity.
23rd January 1901, Daulat Rai
Sahib-i-Kamal - Guru Gobind Singh
It is imperative to describe the plight of the Hindus and the origin of the Sikh religion before moving on to the life of Guru Gobind Singh. Guru Nanak founded Sikhism in Babar’s time. Hindu India had then been under Muslim rule for 350 years. Muslims were tempted to invade India because of disunity among Hindus caused by political, religious and social considerations. The concept of nationalism was missing. Hindus were divided in numerous religious sects following diverse and sometimes diametrically opposite rites, rituals and beliefs.
Their modes of worship were different and often they were at war with one another. Starting with worship of gods and demigods, Hinduism had degenerated into animal worship. The social fabric was in shreds. The caste system had become rigid, the Brahmins in their hey-day had introduced it to keep themselves in power and in plenty. Shudras, the lowest castes, were condemned to eternal slavery and damnation. The old Vedic religion in the hands of the Brahmins had become savage and cruel. If a religion stands for peace (inward and outward), goodness and righteous living, the Hindus then were bereft of the blessings of a religion.
Before the onslaught of Islam, Buddhism had already made inroads in Hindu India. Buddhism, besides being simple, had rejected the caste system. The lower castes embraced it in great numbers and overnight gained equality with high castes. Buddhism gained eminence over Brahminism, until it was overthrown by the might of the Rajputs (Agni Dynasty) adding fire to the intellectual gun of Shankaracharya and his followers. These Rajputs were mainly Brahmins (ed. they were actually Kshatrias) who exerted themselves extensively to restore the supremacy of the Brahmin, tighten the strangle hold of the invidious caste system and keep the common man ignorant and illiterate. But idol worship introduced by Buddhism had its roots grown to deep to be uprooted. The philosophy of Shankaracharya that “all is God” (Sabh Brahm he hai) failed to cut any ice against the caste system and thus bring Hindus into one fold. Shankaracharya was a follower of Shiva, his main disciple Ramanuja was a votary of Vishnu, who preached the worship of his god. He was instrumental in creating more off-shoots of Hinduism like Madhavi, Vishnu Swami, Vallabhachari, etc. Thus instead of intergration further ramification took place to make things worse for Hinduism. People were attracted to these new fountains of clear reasoning but found instead, filth of many kinds in their depths.
India was weak, divided into inimical, political, social and religious camps. The Indians had become ease-loving, pleasure-seekers. Their physical well-being and gratification of sensual pleasures became the main purpose of their life. The devotees of Krishna were largely responsible for this moral degeneration. The Brahmins reassumed the role of gurus who engrained in the psyche of the common man the indispensability of idol-worship and rites and rituals for spiritual uplift.
The Brahmin's gurudom came to stay and cannot be shaken off even now. Escaping the 'wheel of reincarnation' is the destined end of human life. In order to cheat the common man of his worldly goods and money, the Brahmin advocated that this world of phenomena and worldly goods, was only illusion and the only true entity is the Brahmin. So the common man should offer his worldly possessions to the Brahmin priests, while they considered themselves untrue and worthless; he would, after all, look after their spiritual welfare in return.
The votaries of Shakti had become, cruel and unchaste, moral lepers. The Shaivities had taken to drugs, ie; Afeem (Opium), Charas, Ganja (Marijuana) and Alcohol. Such was the sad plight of the Hindus. They were groping in the dark, shrouded by superstitions. They were no match for the fierce followers of Islam, united in their love of Allah, while the Hindus were stuck in a 'swamp of polytheism and human worship'. They were at logger heads with one another. The welfare of others was farthest from their minds. They were not united in anything. Hindu India, and stories of gold laden temples to plunder, looked like easy prey to the Mohammedans who turned their faces towards it and over-ran it at their will. They destroyed the last vestiges of Hindu power and completely enslaved the people. They tried their level best to belittle the Hindus, rob them of their wealth and women, reducing them to a servile and spineless people. In short they came to own Hindus as thoroughly as a man owns his cattle. The Hindus could not withstand the relentless ramming of their citadels by the Mohammedans. Large numbers of the two lowest castes of the Hindus embraced Islam, either under duress or willingly, to escape the stigma of untouchability and slavery. (ed. while under Huduism the untouchables and their children could only hope to escape slavery by dying; under Islam they might still be slaves, but with conversion a slave (if male at least) was usually freed. While they might not be the equal of their Muslim overlords, they were now elevated to a status above most Hindus.)
The higher caste Hindus were not greatly perturbed by this, but rather felt relieved that the 'rotten, lower limbs of the body of Hinduism' had fallen away. “Good riddance,” they mused. These high caste, but purblind Hindus couldn’t envisage that those lower 'limbs' were going to be rejuvenated and turn into their masters. These neo-converts were even more zealous than the invading Muslims and had no little hand in inflicting unspeakable horrors on their former erstwhile masters and co-religionists. The idol worship of Hindus invited the wrath of Muslims who considered it a holy duty to destroy the temples, along with the 'idol worshipping infidels' and bring them under the banner of Islam. Their proselytism assumed gigantic and horrendous proportions.
Hindu idols were broken, their costly gems, embedded therein, were taken away as 'booty'. Hindu women in their thousands were not only molested and taken into individual harems but were auctioned for the petty consideration of two dinars in the markets of Ghazni and other cities. The Hindus that were not forced to convert looked down upon Muslims, as the Muslims looked down on them, there was hardly any meeting ground between them. (Every village had separate wells, as they would not even drink each others water.) The tyranny of the victorious muslims was boundless. In all walks of life the Hindus were treated like dirt. They were butchered in thousands, their idols broken in pieces, which were set into the door steps of mosques where Muslims placed their shoes before entering. They were asked to keep food, clothes and bare necessties of life needed for a period of six months only and hand over the rest to Muslims. The chronicles of Muslim rule were filled with the accounts of the death and decimation of Hindus; the desecration and destruction of their temples; the denigration of their Murtis; the rape of their women and denial of all their rights. A Hindu was forbidden to keep a horse, house or his women, he coudn't even ride a horse or wear a turban.The Muslim rulers exerted themselves assiduously to obliterate even the Hindu word for victory, its concept, its very thought from the Hindu psyche. Whenever a Hindu chess player emerged triumphant over his Muslim adversary, he was ordered to embrace Islam or be beheaded. If a Hindu wrestler bested his Mohammedan opponent in the arena, he had to covert to Islam in order to save his skin. It was a devilish and sustained scheme to emasculate the Hindus. The good things of life were not for them. It was considered magnanimity on the part of their victorious rulers to allow them to breathe and lead a life at sub-human level.
The pride, glory and manhood of the Rajputs, who were once considered the finest flower of Hindu chivalry, was ground to such fine dust that their Rajas vied with each other to offer their daughter in marriage to the Muslim princes and nobles. Thus the Hindu nation had touched the nadir. (Only one branch of the Rajputs, moved further into the, 'Region of of Death' and continued to live free of Mughal rule.) Any Hindu who looked askance at the Rajputs for this, was treated with scorn by them. But even they had to pay jizya for continuing as Hindus, and those who could not afford to pay had to become Muslims. Hindus could not keep doors of toilets towards the west thus desecrating Kaaba.Those Brahmins who embraced Islam were flatteringly called SAYYEDS.
The raft of Hinduism was about to be sunk when it was steered clear of the dangerous shallows of sloth, superstition, ritualism and utter despondency by an able seaman, no less than Guru Nanak. He preached the oneness of man and the oneness of GOD and denounced the caste system and its off-shoots of untouchability, Idol worship and crankerous ritualism. He preached that AKAL(God) is outside of birth and death. With disarming sweetness he used honeyed words which had the cutting edge of highly honed steel. The Brahmins felt the truth of his words but were powerless to fulminate against him. Guru Nanak assuaged to some extent the rancour between the Muslims and the Hindus.
The Hindus had lost their country and were on the verge of losing their faith and identity. They had got some respite in the reign of Akbar, that lessened under Jahangir and Shah Jahan, but under Aurangzeb, Islamic proselytism reached its pinnacle. The earlier Muslim rulers were prompted by holy considerations in all their acts of cruelty and conversion, but Aurangzeb earnestly endeavored to obliterate the last traces of Hinduism from the soil of Hindustan (as India was called by the Mughals). In his youth he had dealt fiendishly with his half-brothers to gain the Mughal throne, but nearing death, he sought to absolve himself of their murders and his inhumane treatment of his father Shah Jahan, before being called to account in the grave and so it was, that he turned to the annihilation of the Hindus. Aurangzeb had celebrated his victories by weighing heaps of the sacred threads of the Hindus, killed in battle; the heavier the weight, the greater the victory. Now, as he turned his attention to the South to conquer the last great kingdom of the Hindus, he turned his minions loose to deal with the Hindus of the northern India by a clever plan to convert the Pandits of Kashmir.
The days of the Lunar Dynasty were over. The Yadav kings were a thing of the past. The scions of the remnants of the Solar Dynasty like the king of Mewar were hiding in the fastness of jungles, deserts and hills.
The raft of Hindu Dharma was about to founder. It was rudderles, without a helmsman, far away from the shores with no hope ever of making it back. In this predicament, piercing the mists of despondency there emerged a figure of hope. This personage took the Hindu boat out of the clutches of the ravaging tempest and steered it to the safety of the shore. He was like a beneficial rain for the withred and drooping garden of Hindu Dharma. Like a true Friend he alleviated the suffering of the Hindus. Who was he? Non other than Guru Gobind Singh, known the world over. The sapling which had been planted by Guru Nanak and watered by the blood of Guru Arjan Dev and Guru Hargobind Rai and was fertilised by their bones. Guru Tegh Bahadur quickened its growth by injecting into its veins the vital fluid flowing out of his beheaded body. His son Guru Gobind Singh helped it mature into a full-fledged tree with the blood of his five beloved sikhs, four sons and thousands of following sikhs. At last this tree bore fruit. Its fruit was NATIONALISM, BROTHERHOOD and MONOTHEISM.
I am endeavoring to portray in the following pages the life of such a fine religious preceptor, great benefactor, peerless fighter, patriot and nation builder for the perusal of readers. If it finds favour I shall be immensely beholden to them.
25th January 1901. Daulat Rai
1. Daulat Rai. “Sahib-e-Kamal” Guru Gobind Singh (English). Amritsar: Gurmat Sahit Charitable Trust, Fifth Edition, July 2000.
Translated into english by Prof. Surinderjit Singh