The following speech was given by Kunal Singh Khurana, a Khalsa school teen, during the afternoon Diwan celebrating Vaisakhi
Samooh saad sangat jee noo vasaakhi di lakh lakh vadhaayi hovey!
Vaisakhi 1699 was the most dramatic and unique event in human civilization. Sikhs all over the world celebrate this momentous and historic day, a day that marked the beginning of the Khalsa, with a tremendous amount of happiness and festivity.
But to truly understand the significance of Vasaakhi, we need to go back to 1699. The late seventeenth century was an extremely turbulent time in Indian history. It was a time of considerable oppression, bigotry, and hatred under the brutal rule of the Mughal empire. The rights of the common man were trampled on. The price of life was cheap. And misery was everywhere.
By this time, the Sikh panth had long been established. The 9 Gurus had already sown the seeds of seva, devotion and simran. And it was under these circumstances, in 1699 that Guru Gobind Singh ji created the “Khalsa”, or the community of pure saint soldiers.
The idea was to establish a strong fearless community that would be prepared to face the challenges ahead in a fair and even-handed way and rise to help the weak and the downtrodden. The result would be the birth of “Akaal purakh ki fauj,” a community of strong-spirited, righteous, and proud individuals devoted to the fundamental premise of “pehlaan maran kabool.”
The greatest fear of all is the fear of death. And it was this fear that Guru Sahib wanted to eliminate in his Sikhs. Thus, on April 13th, 1699, Guru sahib addressed a congregation of hundreds and thousands of Sikhs from all over India at Anandpur sahib and demanded from them the ultimate sacrifice – a head.
Saad sangat jee, I urge you to take a moment and envision yourselves sitting in that very tent that day. Can any of us even remotely conceive of what Daya Singh ji might have been thinking as he made his way behind the tent.
When Guruji returned to the congregation with a sword dripping with blood, when immediate death became certain, and Guru sahib asked for another head, Bhai Dharam Singh Ji still got up. In his mind, he had no other inclination but to sacrifice his life for the guru.I find this absolutely remarkable.
By instituting the Khalsa, not only did Guru sahib raise the morale of sikhs, but also abolished the distinction between Guru and disciple. He, himself, asked for amrit from the panj pyaaras and thus removed all hierarchy and inequality. Never before in the history of mankind had such an event been ever witnessed.The dramatic specatacle that was unfolding at that moment was unparalleled.
Waah waah Gobind Singh aape Gur chela
I believe that the values that Guru Gobind Singh ji tried to instill in us are every bit as relevant today as they were in 1699. After all, how different is the world that we live in today? There is still turmoil, bigotry, hatred, terrorism, unrest, discrimination and oppression. Throughout the years we have witnessed our sikh brothers and sisters valiantly display these values and provide similar sacrifices not for themselves but for the idea of sarbat da bhalla, or universal good.
It was these very qualities that drove the president of the Oak Creek gurdwara Satwant Singh Kaleka to disregard his own life in the effort to protect the other members of the gurdwara when he used his kirpan to attack the guman Wade Page. The ability to see beyond oneself, to fight for a greater cause, and to stand firm in the face of death were precisely the values that Guru sahib tried to instill in us on that Vaisakhi day.
But many do not understand that those values and The virtue of fearlessness is inherently tied to the Sikh identity. Unshorn hair and beard covered by a turban how a Sikh is recognized in the world. That is how he is spotted in a crowd and is therefore unable to hide, deny his Guru’s teachings or shirk his responsibility. It is this identity that has elevated the sikh psyche. It is this identity that has changed the course of indian and world history. It is this identity that offered hope to the downtrodden, divided and caste ridden society of India. It is this identity for 300 years was feared by the corrupt and divisive socio-political system in India. And unfortunately it is this identity, saad sangat jee, that is now under threat not only here in the United States but in the very birthplace of Sikhi. Today, half of India’s Sikh men forgo the turban compared to just ten percent decades earlier. We have reached a critical time, saad sangat jee. A time when if we, as a community, don’t strive to protect this identity, we will have lost the very essence of our being.
Vasaakhi should be a time to reflect and introspect on where we are and where we are headed. Today as we celebrate Vasaakhi, we must remind ourselves of the high moral character that Khalsa represents and the truthful way of living that it embodies. Guru Gobind Singh sacrificed everything to give us this identity. Let us value what we have inherited. Let us cherish our identity and may waheguru give us the strength and wisdom to truly inculcate these values into our daily lives.
Jab Lag Khalsa rahey nyaara
Tab lag tej deyoon main saara
Jab eh gayey bipran ki reet
Main naa karoon inki parteet
Waheguru ji ka khalsa, Waheguru ji ki fateh!