A tragedy occurs and as Guru Nanak witnesses it, he shows us a path of awareness by layering his instruction underneath the importance of the Creator’s intrinsic ordinance. His insight, which he has passed on to us through the description of the tragedy, hits the deep-rooted lust of people for pleasures. The Guru, a resolute believer of the Creator’s ordinance, reminds us how do people actually make atrocious tragedies inevitable by falling for pleasures that sow the seeds of lethargic and irresponsible behavior in them. The Guru’s observation as an eyewitness is so keen that as we read his composition, we can visualize the tragic moments in our memory.
The tragic moments became a part of Indian History of that time when the Afghans (Ibrahim Lodhi) were the rulers, and a descendant of the Turkic conqueror Timur (Tamerlane) named Babur, also known as a Mughal (Mongol), attacked western part of India hoping to establish his empire in 1526 AD. The Guru witnessed the tragic human slaughtering when he was present in Saidpur. He describes in his shabda how the Afghans took a pathetic stance by going for black magic and failing to anticipate and prepare for Babur’s invasion. As we go through it, on 417/18, SGGS, we will see his picturesque description about the fall of the Afghans that ended up in a calamity.
ਆਸਾ ਮਹਲਾ ੧ ॥
ਕਹਾ ਸੁ ਖੇਲ ਤਬੇਲਾ ਘੋੜੇ ਕਹਾ ਭੇਰੀ ਸਹਨਾਈ ॥
ਕਹਾ ਸੁ ਤੇਗਬੰਦ ਗਾਡੇਰੜਿ ਕਹਾ ਸੁ ਲਾਲ ਕਵਾਈ ॥
ਕਹਾ ਸੁ ਆਰਸੀਆ ਮੁਹ ਬੰਕੇ ਐਥੈ ਦਿਸਹਿ ਨਾਹੀ ॥੧॥
Āsā mėhlā 1.
Kahā so kẖel ṯabelā gẖoṛe kahā bẖerī sėhnā-ī.
Kahā so ṯegbanḏ gāderaṛ kahā so lāl kavā-ī.
Kahā so ārsī-ā muh banke aithai ḏisėh nāhī. ||1||
Raag Asa, the bani of First Nanak.
In essence: Where are those stables, sports of horses, and the sounds of drums and bugles? Where are those woolen sword-belts and red uniforms? Where are those mirrors in which beautiful faces were seen? They are not seen here in Saidpur.
Looking at the destruction, the Guru tells us how once beautiful palaces with influential looks and its residents living a luxurious way of life were ruined. They were all vanished because of Babur’s brutal attack. Then he reminds the power of Ekankar, who creates and destroys. Turning to the Creator, he accepts His will humbly:
ਇਹੁ ਜਗੁ ਤੇਰਾ ਤੂ ਗੋਸਾਈ ॥
ਏਕ ਘੜੀ ਮਹਿ ਥਾਪਿ ਉਥਾਪੇ ਜਰੁ ਵੰਡਿ ਦੇਵੈ ਭਾਂਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Ih jag ṯerā ṯū gosā-ī.
Ėk gẖaṛī mėh thāp uthāpe jar vand ḏevai bẖāŉ-ī. ||1|| Rahā-o.
Oh Ekankar! This world is yours and you are its Master. In a moment, you create and destroy it, and in a moment, you distribute the wealth (gathered) among others. Pause.
ਕਹਾਂ ਸੁ ਘਰ ਦਰ ਮੰਡਪ ਮਹਲਾ ਕਹਾ ਸੁ ਬੰਕ ਸਰਾਈ ॥
ਕਹਾਂ ਸੁ ਸੇਜ ਸੁਖਾਲੀ ਕਾਮਣਿ ਜਿਸੁ ਵੇਖਿ ਨੀਦ ਨ ਪਾਈ ॥
ਕਹਾ ਸੁ ਪਾਨ ਤੰਬੋਲੀ ਹਰਮਾ ਹੋਈਆ ਛਾਈ ਮਾਈ ॥੨॥
Kahāŉ so gẖar ḏar mandap mėhlā kahā so bank sarā-ī.
Kahāŉ so sej sukẖālī kāmaṇ jis vekẖ nīḏ na pā-ī.
Kahā so pān ṯambolī harmā ho-ī-ā cẖẖā-ī mā-ī. ||2||
Where are those houses, palaces, tents, and beautiful caravansaries? Where is that comfortable coach along with a beautiful woman by seeing whom it was hard to go to sleep? Where are the betel-leaves and betel-leaves sellers? They are vanished like a shadow.
We can see through his words how an established city with well-known buildings, beautiful people, and powerful rulers met their end in a terrorizing and cruelty driven looting spree. A complete lively scene was converted into a full-scale destruction.
ਇਸੁ ਜਰ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਘਣੀ ਵਿਗੁਤੀ ਇਨਿ ਜਰ ਘਣੀ ਖੁਆਈ ॥
ਪਾਪਾ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਮੁਇਆ ਸਾਥਿ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥
ਜਿਸ ਨੋ ਆਪਿ ਖੁਆਏ ਕਰਤਾ ਖੁਸਿ ਲਏ ਚੰਗਿਆਈ ॥੩॥
Is jar kāraṇ gẖaṇī viguṯī in jar gẖaṇī kẖu-ā-ī.
Pāpā bājẖahu hovai nāhī mu-i-ā sāth na jā-ī.
Jis no āp kẖu-ā-e karṯā kẖus la-e cẖangi-ā-ī. ||3||
Because of this wealth, the world goes bad; this wealth becomes a cause of disgrace. It is not gathered without sins, but the irony of this is that it doesn’t go with the mortals as they depart from here. The Creator takes away the virtues of that person to whom He causes to go astray.
The Guru deems the purpose of this destruction as petty and insignificant. It was like whirl wind that leaves nothing behind deeming itself as purposeless; however, those who become its victims fail because of their irresponsible behavior:
The shabda continues on page 417-418
ਕੋਟੀ ਹੂ ਪੀਰ ਵਰਜਿ ਰਹਾਏ ਜਾ ਮੀਰੁ ਸੁਣਿਆ ਧਾਇਆ ॥
ਥਾਨ ਮੁਕਾਮ ਜਲੇ ਬਿਜ ਮੰਦਰ ਮੁਛਿ ਮੁਛਿ ਕੁਇਰ ਰੁਲਾਇਆ ॥
ਕੋਈ ਮੁਗਲੁ ਨ ਹੋਆ ਅੰਧਾ ਕਿਨੈ ਨ ਪਰਚਾ ਲਾਇਆ ॥੪॥
Kotī hū pīr varaj rahā-e jā mīr suṇi-ā ḏẖā-i-ā.
Thān mukām jale bij manḏar mucẖẖ mucẖẖ ku-ir rulā-i-ā.
Ko-ī mugal na ho-ā anḏẖā kinai na parcẖā lā-i-ā. ||4||
On hearing of the invasion of Mir Babur, Pathan rulers summoned religious leaders to halt him with magic tricks, but all their strongly built places and mansions were burnt down and the princes were cut into pieces. Because of the magic, no Mughal got blinded (as the men of miracle claimed) and no miracle occurred (in this regard).
What did the Afghan rulers do? They took refuge in the miracles of Peers instead of realizing their due duty beforehand. Black magic was placed in force. Their acts were pitiable and laughable. The History of India was changed once for all, because they didn’t remain aware of any outside threat. Tenth Nanak obviously was inspired by First Nanak to create Khalsa so that the followers could also learn how to face any cruel suppression like this without giving in helplessly.
ਮੁਗਲ ਪਠਾਣਾ ਭਈ ਲੜਾਈ ਰਣ ਮਹਿ ਤੇਗ ਵਗਾਈ ॥
ਓਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਹੀ ਤੁਪਕ ਤਾਣਿ ਚਲਾਈ ਓਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਹੀ ਹਸਤਿ ਚਿੜਾਈ ॥
ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਹ ਕੀ ਚੀਰੀ ਦਰਗਹ ਪਾਟੀ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਹਾ ਮਰਣਾ ਭਾਈ ॥੫॥
Mugal paṯẖāṇā bẖa-ī laṛā-ī raṇ mėh ṯeg vagā-ī.
Onĥī ṯupak ṯāṇ cẖalā-ī onĥī hasaṯ cẖiṛā-ī.
Jinĥ kī cẖīrī ḏargėh pātī ṯinĥā marṇā bẖā-ī. ||5||
A battle raged between the Mugals and the Pathanas and both sides clashed their swords in the battle. The Mugals aimed and fired their guns and the Pathanas attacked with elephants. Oh my brother! They who are destined to die must die.
A picture of the battle is expressed showing relentless fighting of the both sides. As we face the storm, we do our best, but because of our unpreparedness, we often fail in negating its destructive force. In the same, Afghans’ defeat swallowed them even though they put up a big fight.
ਇਕ ਹਿੰਦਵਾਣੀ ਅਵਰ ਤੁਰਕਾਣੀ ਭਟਿਆਣੀ ਠਕੁਰਾਣੀ ॥
ਇਕਨਹ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਪੇਰਣ ਸਿਰ ਖੁਰ ਪਾਟੇ ਇਕਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਹਾ ਵਾਸੁ ਮਸਾਣੀ ॥
ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਹ ਕੇ ਬੰਕੇ ਘਰੀ ਨ ਆਇਆ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਹ ਕਿਉ ਰੈਣਿ ਵਿਹਾਣੀ ॥੬॥
Ik hinḏvāṇī avar ṯurkāṇī bẖati-āṇī ṯẖakurāṇī.
Iknĥā peraṇ sir kẖur pāte iknĥā vās masāṇī.
Jinĥ ke banke gẖarī na ā-i-ā ṯinĥ ki-o raiṇ vihāṇī. ||6||
There were the Hindu women and the Muslim women; the robes of some of them were torn from head to feet and some were killed. How those women whose handsome husbands didn’t return home would have spent their night?
ਆਪੇ ਕਰੇ ਕਰਾਏ ਕਰਤਾ ਕਿਸ ਨੋ ਆਖਿ ਸੁਣਾਈਐ ॥
ਦੁਖੁ ਸੁਖੁ ਤੇਰੈ ਭਾਣੈ ਹੋਵੈ ਕਿਸ ਥੈ ਜਾਇ ਰੂਆਈਐ ॥
ਹੁਕਮੀ ਹੁਕਮਿ ਚਲਾਏ ਵਿਗਸੈ ਨਾਨਕ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਪਾਈਐ ॥੭॥੧੨॥
Āpe kare karā-e karṯā kis no ākẖ suṇā-ī-ai.
Ḏukẖ sukẖ ṯerai bẖāṇai hovai kis thai jā-e rū-ā-ī-ai.
Hukmī hukam cẖalā-e vigsai Nānak likẖi-ā pā-ī-ai. ||7||12||
Only the Creator does all and causes others to act; to whom this tragic story can be told? Oh Akalpurakh! All pains and comforts come as per your ordinance and there is none before whom one can go and cry about it. Oh Nanak! The mortals obtain for what they are destined; Akalpurakh runs the world as per His “will” and He is pleased with it.
The Guru expresses the environment created by the Babur’s attack, which was filled with negativity. His insight makes us think why ever no lesson was learned even after that? Why positivity has been struggling with negativity over centuries to date? The answer is the same: the duality littered in unawareness plays a vital role to take away one’s virtues. It divides people; it leads to pleasurable pursuits, and it pushes a sense of responsibility to the back of one’s priorities. What ever is the time, or place, or situation, a sense of responsibility should always be kept glowing. The Sikh Gurus introduced to the Sikhs a sense of responsibility well above the selfishness and discrimination. Sixth Nanak first time taught the Sikhs how to take on the lawlessness and to survive it. One cannot practice one’s faith if one remains unaware of the negative environments brewing around, because the threat of “being eliminated” remains unchecked. Tenth Nanak completes the job to take over the responsibility of keeping the freedom intact at all cost; however, in this approach if selfishness and discrimination gain the ground, heart piercing tragedies can become inevitable. First Nanak condenses his instruction in the following line of this shabda:
ਜਿਸ ਨੋ ਆਪਿ ਖੁਆਏ ਕਰਤਾ ਖੁਸਿ ਲਏ ਚੰਗਿਆਈ ॥੩॥
Jis no āp kẖu-ā-e karṯā kẖus la-e cẖangi-ā-ī. ||3||
If one remains ardently aware of the consequences of losing one’s virtues, one never let it happen at any cost. Tragedy after tragedy occurred in the History, but no efforts were done to negate its origin. This is the way, we faulted in the past, and if we don’t foresee its possibility occurring in the future, how can we blame our Creator, who has blessed us with so much intellect and virtues. Let us understand it with a lesson. The clouds start gathering and overcasting the sky; the cool winds start signaling toward heavy and torrential rain and even then if we don’t bring in our scattered things all over outside, the would be result becomes crystal clear. The ordinance of the Creator drags us sometimes into dangerous water if we remain unaware of it. A well set up stage of nature is before us for our learning; therefore, it is our duty to learn from it and to foresee what is hidden in the future. The Creator has blessed us with keen intellect and boundless sources; we should utilize them wisely. The Guru has expressed the Saidpur tragedy for us to learn from it in such a detail that we must not ignore it. If we do, we will be considered very unfortunate.