Thursday, August 26, 2010

Vindication for Bhai Bala - 3

Now I come to some other random points collected under the heading: Most scholars and Gursikhs now agree there is no proof for his existence. Most historians agree that “Bhai Bala Janamsakhi” is the work of Hindalias (also known as Niranjanias), who were the bitter enemies of Sikhs. There are several flaws in his version of Janam Sakhi about Sri Guru Nakan Dev Ji which he claims that Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji asked him to write.

1. Bhai Bala never existed. He was a fictitious character pushed into our history to destroy us.

No, if that was so he could not have written such a foundational and inclusive Janamsakhi which was to become the basis for many later epic works as explained earlier. Rather the reverse will be more true. Bhai Bala was a real character, companion of Baba Nanak from childhood, accompanied Baba Nanak on most of his journeys, and last but not the least a highly graced and intelligent person who produced such a beautiful life story (Janamsakhi) of Baba Nanak that the Minas and others opposed to Gurus could not stomach its obviously favourable influence on Sikhs and left no stone unturned to mutilate it, still it proved so soulful that they could never kill its essential spirit, its essential beauty which almost matched Nanak's divinity. Sometimes such authentic men do not like to come into the public eye and that may have been one of the reasons Bhai Gurdas forgot about him and as I wrote before, he may have never been known if Guru Angad Ji had not shown the foresight to get the Janamsakhi written by him via or without his friend Paira Mokha.

In a nutshell those opposed to Gurus did their best to fictionalise Bhai Bala's real character to confuse the followers of the Gurus, Sikhs, and thus not to let them grow roots through his almost divine work next only to their main Granths such as Sri Guru Granth Sahib and Dasam Granth.

I can still remember how mesmerised our whole family will become when I will read to them stories or sakhis of Guru Nanak's life from the Janamsakhi of Bhai Bala in my childhood in 1954-55, when otherwise none of us barring perhaps my father could either listen so frequently or understand any of the Granths. I am sure the first stirrings of spirituality in many Sikhs rather began with reading or listening to Bhai Bala's Janamsakhi.

2. The name of Bhai Bala is not mentioned in other Janamsakhis (biographies).

It is not uncommon for the later writers specially those not present at the site of the event when it actually happened to try to camouflage their resources to give at least an original look to their work if not to altogether save themselves from the charge of plagiarism.

3. In his Janam Sakhi, he claims that Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji was a great Hindu, but lower in spirituality than Bhagat Kabir and Baba Hundal. Also he tries to prove that Guru Nanak Dev Ji did not come to the world to liberate the world, but because of his own karma and liberate himself. There are countless other anti-gurmat sakhis and things written in his janam sakhi that are hard to believe.

Before Sikhism came into being Nanak could only be called either a great Hindu or a great Muslim. One should rather not overlook the word "great" used by him with these names; its use certainly does not show that he wanted to lower Nanak's esteem in people's eyes.

We have already read about the spiritual superiority of Bhagat Kabir and Baba Hundal in a previous post. Noting some jealous people's murmurings on this count Nanak himself may have supported such a notion of those people in a good-hearted way and may have told Bhai Bala of the same, for it would not have affected Nanak in the same way as it affects us ego-bound people. Like the Zen masters, for Nanak who said "Dhar tarazu tolie nivein so gyora hoe (Weighed by a weighing scale that which goes lower is actually higher or more)," superior may be inferior and inferior may be superior if at all.

So this question of inferiority or superiority may only be for us people who yet need to go beyond such mind/reason/ego created dichotomies to the level where such dichotomies do not exist, or at least do not affect us. Bhai Bala may have innocently obeyed the words of Baba Nanak. And of course then there is always the possibility of the mutilation of the sakhi by others later as I said before. It may well be their work.

Now we come to an even more interesting point, that Bhai Bala tried to downgrade Baba Nanak by saying that he did not come to liberate the world but he himself because of his past karma.

So what? We have always heard wise saying that it is better to teach people how to do something on their own than to do it for them ourselves. Which would mean in our present context that it is better to teach people how to liberate themselves on their own than to do it for them. Next, we have also heard wise saying that it is better to teach by example than to teach by mere words. So it may be as per Ek Oankar's (One God's) grand scheme of things that Baba Nanak came to liberate the world by way of his own example of liberating himself. Shouldn't we rather like the Nanak more who fought every inch of his battle of liberation right from childhood over supposedly the one who may have merely sermonised from a pedestal?

How Nanak would have looked if sitting in the cool breeze of his own garden or Ashram adjoining his house and surrounded by his family he would have merely exhorted people to rise above emotional attachments to their families or the like to achieve liberation, rather than by his own rising above those emotional attachments himself by leaving his family for about 25 years to go on long journeys for the benefit of the spiritually downtrodden?

And following Nanak, how would Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, have looked likewise surrounded by his family if he had merely exhorted people to sacrifice their near and dear ones for some just cause rather than to sacrifice his own sons for the same and thus show how to liberate oneself from emotional attachments by example? Isn't liberating oneself from emotional attachments by sacificing even one's own sons if need be a far higher and effective way of preparing others and eventually the world for the same? Isn't Nanak and Guru Gobind still trying to liberate the world through you and me who are reading and writing this by their never-to-be-forgotten examples*?

We have nothing to lose, to sacrifice by just talking, by just theorising this way or that of liberation, of liberating the world lest someone turns and asks us to rather liberate ourselves which will evidently be far more difficult. As Nanak said in one of his hymns: "Gali asi changian aachari buriaan...(we are good at talking, bad at walking the talk)." We are good at asking others to liberate the world but try to possess it for ourselves or our kith and kin. Perhaps this is our way of liberating the world which Nanak certainly did not follow!

*From rising above emotional attachments some people may get the wrong impression that the said Gurus were against any kind of emotional attachments. That is not the case. By rising above emotional attachments while one will keep and respect all emotional attachments one will not allow oneself to be deflected by them from any just cause one may have chosen as worth pursuing. That is all. That is to be the master of the same emotions or emotional attachments than being slaves to them as most people otherwise are.

**The second photo depicts the two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh being asked by the islamic officials to either accept Islam as their religion or be prepared for getting bricked alive. They willingly chose the later option.

Even though the blog is about Baba Nanak I cannot resist giving a few lines from a poem in Punjabi (sorry have forgotten poet's name) I used to shout out loud in my school days regarding the above sacrifice of Sahibzadas or rather their question answer session with the Islamic Governor before their execution by being bricked alive. I will give only one paragraph from each party and will translate the same below:

Islamic Governor:

Aakhda sooba kahnu bande O baal oye
Kookda jaape sees dohaan de kaal oye
Sharah di kati pharke kar daoon halaal oye
Manno pharmaan mera gusa charraoh na
Vela je aje samajh lao jaan gavao na,
Vela je aje samajh lao....
(Don't be innocent O children, says the Governor
Death seems to be hovering over your head
I will surely kill you with the sword of Islamic Shariat
Bow to my orders - of converting to Islam - don't enrage me
It is still time you understand, don't lose your life
It is still time....

Sanun tegaan ki dikhlavein
Marna das das dhamkavein?
Eh baal naheen, eh baal nahin
Daraaian jehre mann lain ge
Oye tere hathan ute
khoon de nishaan rehan ge
Oye tere hathan ute...
(Don't show us swords
Threatening us with the fear of death?
These are not the children, surely not the children
Who will agree 'cause of any fear
Rest assured your bloody deeds will never be forgotten
Rest assured...

To be continued...

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