Scorching summer rays fell straight on my Guru’s skin, melting him. Sitting on an earthen pot like a piece of meat, open flames below grew, reaching for his limbs, nails, face and hair. Closing his eyes, he meditated on His name, “Waheguru! Waheguru! Waheguru!”
Guru Arjun Devji chose death over feeding ruler Jahangir’s tyrannical appetite and getting forcibly converted to Islam.
Jahangir snickered as his staff made eleven-year-old Hargobind watch his father’s skin roast and bones crackle to ashes. Fifth Guru, Guru Arjun Devji was martyred on that day in 1606.
The next Guru
Days later, as the successor to Guru’s seat, Guru Hargobind resolved to rise against oppression and wear two swords – one for spiritual power, the other for temporal. He started to form his own army and listening to cases in his court called the Akal Takht.
Ill-informed by spies that Guru Hargobind was founding an army to avenge the death of his father, Jahangir had him arrested.
Several years later, and lying on his death bed, Jahangir realized his mistake in jailing the Guru in Gwalior Fort. He ordered Guruji’s release. But Guruji insisted to take 52 Hindu Rajas, who had been illegally detained, prior to his arrival.
Jahangir agreed to Guruji taking all 52 Hindu Rajas on condition that each one of them be able to hold on to Guruji’s dress, or else be returned to prison.
Guru Hargobind Ji hired a seamstress to make him an outfit with 52 strings. Each Raja held on to one of the strings as Guruji delivered the trail of Rajas out of the Gwalior Fort.
Diwali for a Punjabi
When Guruji reached Punjab with a trail of 52 Hindu Rajas, celebrations of the festival of lights, Diwali, were underway. The timing could not have been better.
Diwali reminds me of my logical Guru. I love logical thinking. No wonder I signed up for and aced every logic course offered at my undergraduate college, St. John’s University.
Every Punjabi celebrates Diwali as Bandi Chor divas, the day Guruji delivered the Hindu Rajas to the festival of lights.
As a Sikh, I celebrate my logical Guru, and rejoice in his triumph over evil.