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IMPORTANCE OF VAISAKHI FOR THE SIKHS

Prof. Devinder Singh Chahal, PhD

INTRODUCTION

Vaisakhi is a very important day for the Sikhs because on this day the New Year starts for the Punjabis and they have harvested their wheat crops. On this day Guru Gobind Singh invested the political power to the Five Elects.

Guru Nanak laid the foundation of a scientifically and logically sound religion, Sikhism, during the 15th century. It was nurtured by the next nine Gurus to the beginning of the 18th century. During this period of about 239 years the whole Sikh philosophy was developed to create a New Nation free from rituals, superstitions, and ancient philosophy. It is based on a new philosophy of self-disciplined life, to realize the Almighty, to lead a truthful life by honest earning and sharing wealth of knowledge and material with other human beings of the world to create a universal fellowship with equal opportunity for progress and development without any discrimination of caste, creed, color, and social or political status. During this period the Sikh Gurus especially Guru Arjun and Guru Teg Bahadur also infused the spirit of nonviolence and sacrificing the life for maintaining the human rights and the right of freedom for everyone.

The Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, finally put the finishing touches to the evolution of the New Nation when he introduced an entirely new political system, not existing in the Indian subcontinent before. He called a big gathering at Anandpur Sahib on the Vaisakhi-day (it usually falls on April 13 every year) of 1699 CE. He gave a call five times to elect the five Sikhs who could sacrifice their lives for the welfare of the New Nation. Guru Gobind Singh initiated them into a new system, the Panj Pyaras (Five Elects). Then he requested them to be initiated himself into the new system.

After this ceremony he declared that from now onward the sovereignty of the Sikh Nation is in the hands of these Five Elects, even he put himself under their command. By doing this he gave a practical shape to the philosophy of Guru Nanak: "Aapey Gurchela" (Guru as well as follower). On this day the democracy was introduced in the Indian subcontinent by handing over the political power in the hands of the Five Elects. He being the Guru also ordained that from now onward he would abide their orders.

Sikhism is one of the recent religions of the world, unfortunately, it is the most misunderstood and the most misrepresented religion of the world. A couple of misrepresentations about the Vaisakhi issue are given as follows:

It is a general notion that the New Nation was created by Guru Gobind Singh on the Vaisakhi of 1699 CE. In fact the New Nation, The Sikhs, was created by Guru Nanak in 1469 CE, but it was Guru Gobind Singh, who invested the political power to the Five Elects on the Vaisakhi of 1699. On that day he also ended Guruship of living Guru when Guru Gobind Singh submitted himself to the Five Elects. Nevertheless, the Guruship was already bestowed to the revealed words (Gurbani) of the Sikh Gurus by Guru Nanak and when the Gurbani was incorporated into a Granth, Aad Guru Granth Sahib, by Guru Arjun in 1604 CE, by that very fact, the Granth became the Guru of the Sikhs. In 1708 CE when Guru Gobind Singh was leaving for heavenly abode, he reiterated the Guruship to the Granth, the Aad Guru Granth Sahib.

Reproduced from:

  1. This paper was presented at the "Nagar Kirtan of Vaisakhi" on May18, 1997 on the behalf of the Sikh Community of Greater Montreal.
  2.