Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday underlined the need to propagate the ideology of the ninth Sikh Guru, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, around the world to promote the values of peace, harmony, secularism and co-existence, which he had upheld through his supreme sacrifice.
In his address in the Assembly’s special session to mark the commemoration of 400th Prakash Purb of Guru Tegh Bahadur, he stressed that the Sikh faith is distinguished by the tradition of martyrdom to uphold principles and righteousness given to “us by our great Gurus”.
Noting that the life and message of Guru Tegh Bahadur constitutes the essence of what “we have come to regard as Punjabiyat”, Amarinder Singh that this comprises “our saanjhi tehzeeb, our ma-boli Punjabi, our close ties of amity and fraternity cutting across people, faiths, castes and communities”.
“When we talk of Punjab and Punjabis, Punjabiyat must follow. This Punjabiyat embodied in the life and teachings of the Great Guru need to be understood, appreciated and nurtured carefully,” he said, adding that this has been taken by “our people to all corners of the globe where they have made a special place for themselves through dint of hard work, enterprise and sacrifice”.
“Punjabiyat often is tested by forces that represent a narrow and short-sighted perspective as against the broad all-embracing vision given by our Gurus, therefore, it is our bounden duty as representatives of the people to guard against such inimical forces very consciously and not to allow our competing political interests to ever undermine the strong foundations of this Punjabiyat.”
He also said the 400th Prakash Purb of the ninth Guru should help “us renew our pledge and to show the people the right path as their rightful leaders and representatives”.
History remembers Guru Tegh Bahadur with great pride as ‘Hind Di Chadar’ for making the supreme sacrifice for opposing forced conversion and for protection of religious freedom, he noted.
The ninth Guru attained martyrdom in November 1675 along with his associates Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das and Bhai Dayal Das, who were brutally tortured, to safeguard the religious freedom of Hindus of Kashmir under the reign of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
The Chief Minister also mentioned that Guru Tegh Bahadur’s son Dasmesh Pita Sri Guru Gobind Singh has evocatively described his father’s sacrifice as “sees diya par sirar na diya (I gave my head but not my creed)”.
“Guru Sahib’s ‘sees’ was carried by another associate Bhai Jiwan Singh (known as Jaita ji) to Guru Gobind Singh from Delhi to Sri Anandpur Sahib. On this occasion, let us all pay special tribute to the remarkable bravery and courage of Bhai Jaita ji. History will remember him whenever we speak of this tragic event,” he said.
Outlining the celebrations plans of the state government to mark this mega event, the Chief Minister said the elaborate arrangements were earlier made to commemorate this historic event. “However, the surge of Covid cases from April led us to defer the larger public programmes.”
He said he was happy that the Central government has also decided to observe this historic occasion in a befitting manner.
Punjab Governor Banwari Lal Purohit described the martyrdom of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib as one of the most important turning points in the spiritual, religious and political history of India.
“Guru ji shines among the galaxy of great spiritual Gurus whose message continues to guide the humanity and remains universally relevant at all the times,” he said.
One of the key elements in the teachings of Guru Sahib has been the spirit of ‘sewa’ or selfless service, he said. “This is considered as one of the foremost pious duties that the mankind can perform enriching us with selflessness, humility and gratitude towards God.”
Assembly Speaker Rana K.P. Singh said the unprecedented sacrifice of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur would ever inspire the mankind to imbibe the message of love, harmony and tolerance, thereby rising above the parochial consideration of caste, color, and creed.
In his keynote address, former Chief Justice of India, Justice J.S. Khehar emphasised the importance of ‘ardas’ in the Sikh way of life across the globe and said that “we all are blessed today to celebrate 400th Prakash Purb of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur to remember and contemplate on Guru Sahib”.
He cited the martyrdom of the fifth Sikh guru, Sri Guru Arjan Dev, as the event that changed the course of the Sikh history and started the process of militarisation of the Sikhs who until then were a peaceful community.
“This background must be understood to understand the events that shaped the circumstances in Guru Tegh Bahadur ji’s life,” he said, recounting the life and events of Guru Sahib who didn’t bow before the then Mughal Emperor and instead chose martyrdom to ensure protection of religious rights of all.