Guru Govind



19. Poem ‘Guru Govind’ of the book Katha (Legends) written in 1888. [Courtesy – THE SIKH REVIEW – August 2001 issue]

Translator’s note: Guru Govind Singh was the last and 10th Guru of the Sikhs. The first one Guru Nanak was born in 1469. He preached the doctrines of equality of all human beings. However, culmination of the religious and social liberalism initiated by Nanak took place only under Guru Govind Singh in the 17th Century. In parallel, the Sikhs have a glorious history of struggle against the Mughol’s inhuman torture over centuries which gained momentum mainly from Guru Govind’s inspiration. When he was only 14 years of age, his father Teg Bahadur, the 9th Guru, had his martyrdom during the reign of Aurengzeb, for revenge of which Govind took oath. To quote from Tagore’s dissertations- “But nothing can be achieved in a hurry for which right time must be patiently awaited and determination built up on ceaseless deliberation. Those who do not have patience, want to achieve results by gimmicks. But they are not great men, neither their work lasts. They may spare a short time for their country, but not their whole life, to earn credit of the great. Govind was not that type. About 20years he spent in the solitude at the bank of Yamuna to learn Persian language and various scriptures to solidify his determination and plans while awaiting the right opportunity for action.” The poem is on this stage of Guru Govind’s life. (History records that it was Guru Govind’s father Teg Bahadur who was on exile for 20 years. Guru Govinds exile was for a much shorter period as I gather from some authorities on Sikh history. However, this factual error should not stand on the way of the inspiration the Poet wants to evoke based on Govind’s life.)

“Friends, go back home“
Still you have to wait much”“
On the Yamuna shore at dawn,
Hillocks and woods around the vast lawn,
To his six followers
Quoth Guru Govind such“

“Go Ramdas, Lehari, Sahu,
Go back all of you
Tempt me not to take dive
Into the busy stream of life
Let still remain far
All human fervour.

“I’ve turned face, plugged my ear
In the wilderness to take shelter
The distant human sea vast wanton
There the billows roar of their passion,
Here in solitude all my attention
Will be on my secret mission.

Calls me human heart
From the distant habitat
Amidst my slumber at night
For my response does incite

My body and soul pine
To fall in the turbulent line
At your sight
My heart longs a flight
The blood fire in many a flame
Snakes up, the restless sword encased, clanks to blame.

Ah! What a delight I’d find
To leave this solitude behind
Taking up the trumpet in hand,
Rush amidst the mass to stand
The king and empire
To smash and re-build there,
The monstrous torture
To knife sharp and overpower.

Blind is the fate,
Aiming that to negate
The rein to hold in my hand
All hazards that on my way stand,
To overcome those, the destiny to force
To come to my course
Those who confront
Will daunt,
Else have defeat
The beguiled fenders to split
Footprints furrow behind,
The sky in disastrous smoke blind.

Hundred of times across death
To the shore of life I cometh
The star blinkless at a height
Guides in the dark of night
On both sides soar
The foaming human streams in uproar.

At times the night is pitch dark,
Or the scorching sun blazing stark
Else all over the sky
The thunderous clouds vie
On the head breaks
The storm merciless.

“Come on all”
Is everybody’s call“
Their rush none to douse
Doors break open at every house
For the enormous human outpour
All bondages they tore
No more they pine
For happiness, fortune or fondness fine.
The five rivers in the ocean fall
So the hearts of my devotees all
To meet mine all through Punjab
Their wild frenzy to bustle up.

“O coward! Where will you hide?”
Thus will them my voice chide
In the morning at my call
Workmen to forget their task all
At night their drowsy spell
The cruelty to quell.

Ahead as I go
More crowds follow
Their pride and prejudices
Fall to pieces
Laying down their lives at ease,
Brahmins’ dignity does cease
That marked them superiors
To the Jats and others.

But let alone this dream,
Time does not yet for it seem
Long sleepless night
Is still my plight
To count hours blink less
Rise of the crimson sun to witness.
Fancy still these are,
My capital in the wood here,
Only silent intent,
Passive dedication patient
Day and night to sit on
For my supreme perception.

So, along Yamuna shore
Alone I go for the lore
Amidst the rugged terrain
My manhood to train
Tunes of my lyric
To resonate Nature’s music
My mind to flower on its own
For competence in my mission.
Thus passed twelve years
More to go it appears“
The death to conquer
Drop by drop I’ve to gather
Immortality from all around
Till within me my wholeness found
When I can say
Without dismay,
I’ve known the ultimate,
No more do hesitate
To follow me you all
It is your Guru’s call“
My life is for your sake
At my call let the country awake.

No more suspense or fear.
Retreat or ahead no more to veer,
There is the Truth, the final path lay,
The whole earth to give way,
Life and death to lose relevance
As our noblest mission will commence.
In my heart sounds the oracular diction
‘Stand up in self-illumination.’

Look ahead from far
Millions rush to you for surrender.
Listen there, their streaming heart
You keep steady and alert
Like the lamp not to laze
At this night if you daze
Go back they will,
Their grief never to heal.

Look at the horizon does surge
A ruthless calamity looming large
Soon to lash us a hurricane
To spell the deadly bane.

So in the temple of my heart
I’ll light up a lamp ever girt
Any storm to baffle
To torch mankind its flame eternal.

So Sahu, Ramdas and all,
Go back friends to await my call
Now as we break up
May our faith we harp
Let’s all say, “To Guruji
All his glory be!”
Let be cry of our rebellion
“Alakha Niranjan!” (=The Holy Spotless)