Dec 10, 2016

My Mitr – An Eternal Friend

Sarabjeet D. Natesan

Mittar Pyare Nu Haal Mureedan Da Kehna
Tudh Bin Rog Rajaian Da Odhan
Nag Nivasan De Rehna
Sul Surahi Khanjar Pyala
Bing Kasaian Da Sehna
Yaarare Da Sanu Sathar Changa
Bhath Kherean Da Rehna

Born on December 22nd, 1666, Guru Gobind, the tenth guru of the Sikhs inspires awe, gratitude, love, affection and deep respect. He was a warrior, poet, philosopher, friend and a loving father. He saw his four sons embrace martyrdom, two in battle and two younger ones walled alive by Aurangzeb. He wrote this shabad at the Machhivara forest, where he beseeches the lord to understand the anguish of separation.

It was my mother’s favourite and she taught it to me, I must have been hardly three or four. The first word ‘Mitr- my friend’ has a special meaning; it refers to the divine, deep and evocative, it treats the spiritual being as a friend as not somebody one has to please or be fearful of. It places the responsibility of friendship on the benevolent one. And it supplicates the invincible one to recognize that. It compares the indifference of the friend to that of a venomous snake; the friend’s unresponsiveness akin to drinking poison, his abandonment as painful as being butchered like an animal at the hands of an unfeeling one. It talks of separation at two levels, physical, loss of his four sons and metaphorical, even more grievous, to separation from the great divine itself.

Please tell the dear friend – the Lord – the plight of his disciples.
Without You, rich blankets wrap me like disease and the comfort of the house is like living with snakes.
Our water pitchers are like stakes of torture and our cups have edges like daggers.
Your neglect is like the suffering of animals at the hands of butchers. Our Beloved Lord’s straw bed is more pleasing to us than living in costly furnace-like mansions.

A deeply spiritual leader, he wrote a letter now known as The Zafarnama (written in Persian) in which he called out Aurangzeb’s lack of morality in governance and war and laid out his beliefs about the dispensation of justice and dignity without fear. It came to be called the ‘Epistle of Victory’. Severely rebuking and indicting Aurangzeb, the Guru pointed out his weaknesses as a human being and admonished him for excesses as a leader and for being a cruel and distorted inhuman being. Guru Gobind reminded Aurangzeb how he had broken an oath taken on the holy Koran and how he could not be trusted.

Guru Gobind carried forth the message of power and righteousness by enshrining it in another shabad. Here he extolled the lord to give him the strength to ‘be prepared at all times to willingly and consistently behave in the most impartial and just manner and to always undertake to carry out righteous acts; to never have any fear or show even the slightest hesitation when taking such actions; to never flinch from stepping in front of the enemy to protect the poor, weak and needy of the world – to never have any apprehension or anxiety from the virtuous fight ahead’.

Deh Shiva bar mohe-i-hai
(Grant me this boon O God)
shubh karman tey kabhu na taroo
(May I never refrain from the righteous acts;)
Na daroo ar siyoo jab jah laroon
(May I fight without fear all foes in life’s battles)
Nischai kar apni jeet koroo
(With confident courage claiming the victory)
Ar Sikh hao apne hi man ko
(May thy glory be grained in my mind)
Eh lalch hou goon tau uchroo
(and my highest ambition be singing thy praises)
Jab aav ki audh nidhann banay
(When this mortal life comes to end)
Aut he rann me tab joojh maroo
(May I die fighting with limitless courage)

The world needs another Guru Gobind today, a worthy leader and a true friend.

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