Friday, 27 May 2011
Darbar Sahib Miracle - April 30, 1877
For those of us who've been to Sree Darbaar Sahib Amritsar, we may have noticed a sign outside on the Darshani Deori that reads,
"It is for the knowledge of all tha tin Harimandir Sahib on April 30, 1877 at 4.30 in the morning, a strange thing happened. There were about four hundred devotees enjoying spiritual peace of celestial music in Harimandir Sahib when suddently a flash of lighting was seen which in the form of a big resplendence entered throught the door on the moutain-side and exploded exactly like a ball in front of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and illuminating everything went out, becoming a streak of light through the southern door--though at the time of its exploding there was a dreadful and forceful sound, no harm of any kind occured to any devotee sitting inside and no harm to the building or anything else in the precinct. All the people described this supernatural scene as the wondrful doing of Sri Guru Ram Das himself" (translation based on one in Strange but True in Sikhism by SS Kohli p.11)
This miracle transformed the Panth and brought it back from the brink of oblivion.
After the fall of the Sikh Kingdom in 1849, the Sikhs were in very serious trouble. The Gurdvaras were in control of Mahants who had installed Hindu Idols and barred "low castes" from entering. British observers wrote that Amrit Sinchaars almost never took place. Sikh women lost their distinct appearance and no longer followed rehit or took amrit. The British even began to photograph Sikhs as they believed this "fading sect" ought to be recorded in history and one day shown in museums as a part of India's history.
The British also started a heavy mission of conversion amongst the Sikhs. Many notable Sikhs left the faith at this time. Raja Ranjit Singh's general, Jowand Sikh Mokhal's family embraced Islam, Beharwala Sardar Isher Singh became Muslim under the influence of a prostitute, Harnam Singh of the Kapurthala Royal family became Christian, Dayal Singh Majithia became a Brahmo Samajist and gave over the Daily Tribune, Dayal Singh College and a Library to the sect.
Big Sikh landlords Mangal Singh Virk and ChRat Singh of Barhar became Muslims for Muslim women as well. In 1873 4 Sikh boys Aya Singh, Attar Singh, Sadhu Singh and Satnokh Singh announced they were converting ot Christianity and prepared to cut their hair. Later they were convinced not to do this.
Sree Harmandir Sahib was under the control of the British Government and they had appointed a Sikh manager, Mangal Singh to look after the site for them. The British had nefarious designs for the Sikhs. They intended to make Sree Darbaar Sahib the main Diocese for the Christian Church and convert the complex into a giant church. Crucifixes were even put near the entrance of Sree Darbaar Sahib near the foot-wash area.
Sardar Mangal Singh heard these rumours and despite being pro-British, felt very upset. He met with PUnjab's Lt. Governor to ask about this issue and he did not give any reassurance but asked him to speak with the Viceroy.
The Viceroy was at this time in Gobind Garh fort in Amritsar. Sardar Mangal Singh went to meet him and was told that the British were lawfully entitled to own, manage and dispose of all property owned earlier by the Sikh regime. They could do as they wish in the future.
The Sikhs came out very dejected and sat in a Gurdvara trying to understand what to do. They decided to hold and Akhand Path Sahib in Darbaar Sahib and do Ardaas that the most precious place of the Sikhs would be saved.
The next day, the sangat gathered at Harmandir Sahib and Asa Dee Vaar began. An intelligence officer sent by the Viceroy was also present to watch over the gathering. At 4.30AM, the ball of light entered and stopped in front of Guru Granth Sahib jee and then did as was described above. The Sangat began to repeat "Dhan Guru Ram Das!".
News of this event went all over Punjab. The hundreds of witnesses all gave their names as proof of this great miracle. The intelligence officer too was stunned and advised the British Government that any attempt to take over Sree Darbaar Sahib would be wrong.
This incident was Guru Ram Das himself blessing the Sikhs. It showed the Sikhs that Guru was not far, but always watching over his Panth. At a time where amritdhari Singhs were almost extinct and Hindu ritual had taken hold in the Gurdvaras and Sikhs were converting away en masse, Guru Ram Das enacted this miracle and revived and awakened the Sikhs. The Gurdvara Reform Movement gathered steam, Singh Sabha Movement threw out the Hindu influences and again the Panth began to emerge and grow. The entire Panth rose up to save Sikhi. The Sikhs were saved from the brink of extinction.