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Dharm Yudh


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Could this article be made a sticky please:

Without the element of Dharm, Yudh, as any other action, is futile.


Dharam Yudh - Righteous Warfare

The term Dharam Yudh literally translates into waging war for the sake of righteousness, it is a very crucial part of the Khalsa psyche. Dharam is a word with various layers of meaning and therefore, there are many dimensions to which the concept of Dharam Yudh exists within the Khalsa. The word yudh literally means war. Dharam Yudh can be internal or external, physical or mental, personal or collective.

In the Krishanavtar, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji writes;

'They are great in this world who meditate on Vaheguru with their mouth

and contemplate Dharam Yudh within their mind.'

(Dasam Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1133)

An individual who strives to practice spiritual truth is known as Dharmi. The need arises for one to be able to discriminate between that which true and that which is false. This strive for pure intellect leads to the concept of bibek and abibek. Sri Guru Gobind Singh tells the story of the two brothers bibek (knowledge) and abibek (ignorance) who were both created by Vaheguru and soon raised armies to fight one another. This represents the battle between vice and virtue.

There was a king named Parasnath who had conquered the whole world and subdued many kings, he had great pride and considered himself as the greatest all sovereigns. Upon asking a great sage named Matsyendra what king was left for him to conquer, the sage replied;

'Listen sovereign, you are the greatest on earth, you have conquered all the kings,

but there is one you have not conquered. His name is Abibek and he dwells in your heart.'

(Dasam Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1310)

Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji then narrates the deep dialogue between the king and the sage on the nature of bibek and abibek. The various warriors in each army are described. The army of abibek consists of warriors such as Shaturta (enmity), Aalas (laziness), Garav (false pride) etc. The sage then asks;

'Is there such a warrior who will keep steadfast and confront him (abibek)?

He will abduct the glory of all in an instant. In this way, the day his tyrannical warriors come holding weapons, listen, on that day only one with endurance will survive.'

(Dasam Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1313)

The only warrior who will not be destroyed or ruined on the day of war is Sheel (gentleness). How does one of the Sikh path conquer Abibek? Via the Guru, the very term Guru means from darkness to light; it is used for that being or entity who can impart knowledge and dispel ignorance. Thus, the Khalsa use the weapon of Gurbani, their sacred scriptures, Shabad Guru.

The Bani (words) of the primal Lord has come and it has eradicated all anxieties.

(Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 627)

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The worship of Shabad Guru and Shastar Peer. Adi Guru Durbar, Dasam Guru Durbar and Sarbloh Guru Durbar. Nihang Singh read from their sacred scriptures and wave flying whisks over their Guru, a symbol of royalty. The Guru is also surrounded by various shastars (weapons) which are deemed to be the peer (divine guide) of the Khalsa.

The 18th Century text 'Guru Kian Sakhian' written by Bhatt Saroop Singh states that one of the teachings Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave the Khalsa was:

We have seen how internal abibek can be combated through the weapon of Gian (gained through Gurbani) However, at times these dusht (enemies) and dokhian (one that harm others) take physical form. Instead of challenging one internal dharam they attack the very universal principle of dharami. Examples of such dusht include the demons Sumbh and Nisumbh who destroyed the rule of the devtas (dharam inclined deities) and were eventually destroyed by Chandi in order to restore dharam. An example of a dokhian (one who brings about suffering upon others) is Kans, the tyrannical king who was to be killed by his nephew Krishna, the avtar of the Dvapur Yug.

When the dusht materialise into physical threat, then the weapon used is Bhagauti- the sword. Sri Guru Gobind Singh makes it clear in his Zaffarnama, the letter which he wrote to Emperor Aurangzeb, that the sword is only to be deployed as a very last resort when all other means to pursue peace and stability have been exhausted. One who adorns weapons and defends dharam from dusht evil ones and dokhian (those who bring harm to others) adorns the very form of Mahakaal - the Great Timeless Lord.

'You (Vaheguru) are the wearer of the sword and armour, You cause dusht (evil ones) to blaze and you tread on the forces of the enemy, you remove all dukh (suffering).'

(Dasam Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 83)

In the same manner that Bani is praised in the Sikh tradition as being divine, one also finds many verses dedicated to bhagauti in the Dasam Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, hence why the Khalsa warriors revere it so greatly. There are many verses and entire compositions such as the Shastar Naam Mala which devoted to the praise of weapons. Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji begins their own autobiography, the Sri Bachitter Natak, by invoking the blessings of sword;

'I salute the supreme sword with all my affection and concentration.'

(Dasam Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 94)

In the same way that Gurbani aides us in our internal Dharam Yudh, it is Bhagauti that provides the required tools for external aspects. It is for this reason there is also great praise of Sarbloh, all steel-pure iron, which is the original substance from which Bhagauti derives. Bibeki Nihang Singhs are those who eat and drink that which has been prepared and served in pure iron (Sarbloh) vessels. The extensive praise Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave to Sarbloh and Bhagauti suggests that the bhagauti can be considered a physical manifestation of the divine power as highlighted in the below stanza where various weapons are mentioned;

'As, Kirpan, Khanda Kharag,, Tupak, Tabar, Teer, Saif, Sarohi and Saithi; these are our peer (revered guides). You (Vaheguru) are the Teer, you are the Saithi, you are the tabar and Tulwar. Who so ever chants your name cross over the fearful ocean of the world.'

(Dasam Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1357)

Various weapons symmetrically placed at a shrine in Nander (Maharastra)

dedicated to Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Back to the great war, one of the warriors of abibek named Lobh (greed) took to the battle field, all that ran were saved and the rest were destroyed. Warriors such as Vidiya (knowledge of science), Pooja (worship), Tapasya (penance) etc had been dealt great blows by Lobh. Only one warrior was able to attack Lobh:

'Then the warrior named Daan (compassionate or charitable one),

taking the arrows of Gyan (knowledge) in his hand, performed worship and gave offerings.

With the mantra of Dhyan (great concentration), he fell upon that young man (Lobh).'

(Dasam Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1336)

Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji goes on to further describe the various battles and skirmishes between various warriors; teaching the reader what various vices need to be eradicated and what virtues one should practices in their life. This battle described is an ever on going yudh;

The whole world fought and fell on trying to kill those warriors, but it could not know their end;

these dreadful warriors are greatly persistent, greatly heroic and greatly terrible.'

(Dasam Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1339)

These teachings of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji are an expansion on earlier teachings by the Sikh Gurus relating to the what they term the Panj Chor, or five thieves which are; kaam (lust or desires), krodh (anger), lobh (greed), moh (attachment) and hankar egotism). The mentality of the Nihang Singhs is very much geared towards both internal and external war. For Sikhs who do not associate so much with the warrior traditions of the Gurus, the similar concept of also exists but is arguably not seen so much within a combative perspective as is the case with Nihang Singhs. However, it is the same tool of Gurbani that is used, Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji writes;

'Through the power of the Gurus Shabad (divine hymns) the five thieves of desire are conquered.' (Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 904)

It is unfortunate that many people fail to realise the important significance of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji's writings. The knowledge of the tenth Gurus writings is being increasingly ignored by Sikhs, with many having never heard of them. Despite the Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji being considered the embodiment of shant ras (peace giving) as opposed to the Dasam Gur Darbar being predominately bir ras (giver of warrior spirit), one finds mention of both internal and external Dharam Yudh in the Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji writes;

He who is imbued with the colours of the Lord love in this era, he alone is known as a warrior.' (Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 679)

Bhagat Kabir Ji writes;

'Recognise him as a warrior who fights for the defence of religion*.'

(Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1105)

*the word used here is deen and can also mean the poor or weak, i.e. those in need of protection

Using knowledge gained through Gurbani and Bhagauti one manages to conquer internal and external abibek. Knowledge can be the warrior's best friend or his worst enemy. It aides the warrior against his enemies but fortifies the defences of his greatest challenge that he must face; ego. Like abibek, bibek is also a warrior of the mind that needs to be over come.

'These two great warriors (bibek and abibek) are very mighty,

he who is victorous over them will be victorious over the whole world.'

(Dasam Guru Darbar, 1342).

Jathedar Baba Santa Singh 96 Krori states that;

"A Gursikh has three spiritual guides; Shastar (weapons) can be considered the

form of Vaheguru and so too can Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. And third,

the Vaheguru mantr itself is the form of Vaheguru."

(Oral Recording, April 1995)

It is necessary to conquer ego, which is done by surrendering to Vaheguru. The only weapon which is available to for this is Gurprasdi (blessing of the Guru). One must abandon their Sehas Sianap (perceived intelligence) and recognise their fallibility before Akal Purakh and merge into a state of Sehaj Avastha ( state of celestially poised bliss). This can be achieved when by the grace of the Guru when practices bhakti. Thus in the battle between bibek and abibek we again see the need for importance of balance between Shiv and Shakti. Within Akali Nihang Singh philosophy, the first two layers of Dharam Yudh involves challenging negativity and its personifications of dusht and dokhian. The third dimension, requires an individual to overcome pride and duality and merge his Atma (soul) into Parmatma (the prime soul) Sri Guru Arjun Dev Ji describes the path by which one is able to merge with Vaheguru;

'They do not have to see hell, if they remember the Lord in meditation. The Righteous Judge of Dharma applauds them, and the Messenger of Death runs away from them. Dharmic faith, patience, peace and poise are obtained by vibrating upon the Lord in the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy. Showering His Blessings, He saves those who renounce all attachments and egotism. The Lord embraces us; the Guru unites us with Him. Meditating on the Lord of the Universe, we are satisfied. Prays Nanak, remembering the Lord and Master in meditation,

all hopes are fulfilled.' (Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 460)

Sodhi Teja Singh writes the story of one Nihang Singh who achieved such an avastha, the story having been narrated to him by the great Sant Amir Singh and Sant Kirpal Singh of Satogali Taksal. The story is as follows;

'One day a Nihang Singh in Gurdwara Pak Patan Sahib was preparing Sukhnidhan (treasure of peace - cannabis laced drink used within the Khalsa). Having made the drink twice we witnessed him twice preparing the nugda (left over pulp) and running with it up to the Gurdwara gate while shouting great abuse, he would then throw the nugda and went back to prepare the drink again. We could not see anything or anyone there that he was throwing the nugda or swearing at. So we asked him after he had drank the sukhnidhan, "Nihang Singh Ji, what was that incident about? Who were you running and swearing at?" The Nihang Singh replied, "The black faced one (Jamdoot - messenger of death) is coming to get me, I was telling him that I was not going with him, seeing my Salotar (heavy wooden club used as a weapon and to grind ingredients to make Sukhnidhan) he would run away. I am the Sikh of the Guru, I do not go with the one with the black face, the Guru will send one of his servants and I will go with them." The Nihang Singh spoke like this and then poised himself and sat in a meditative pose. He began uttering the Japji Sahib (opening prayer of the Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji written by Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji), upon finishing he looked forward, folded his two hands together and uttered, "The Khalsa is tyar bur tyar (ready upon ready), just allow me to tie my dumalla (Nihang turban style )." Having tied his dumalla The Nihang Singh took a blanket over himself, lay down departed from his body and set off to the abode of the Guru. This is the story of those who meditate on the name of Vaheguru and enshrine it within their heart.' (Katha Sagar Japji Sahib, p271)

Two Nihang Singhs prepare Sukhnidhan also known as

Shaheedi Degh (drink of the martyrs) with a heavy salotar.

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