Martyrdom in Sikhism
Martyrdom is a fundamental institution of Sikhism. Sikh festivals are largely focused on the lives of the Sikh gurus and Sikh martyrs. Their martyrdoms are regarded as instructional ideals for Sikhs, and have greatly influenced Sikh culture and practices. The Fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev, is generally regarded as the first Sikh martyr.
Martyrdom is a fundamental institution of the Sikh faith. When one calls an individual a shahid, this connotes more than its definition in Arabic vocabulary or Islamic faith, which is death in battle with the infidels. For the Sikh, the perfect martyr or shahid is one who died not just in battle but also one who suffered death by refusing to renounce his faith, tenets and principles. The Sikh experience through the years gave rise to this type of ideal martyrdom.
Bhai Taru Popat was the first Sikh at the time of Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539). Bhai spoke against Babur, the Mughal emperor and he was set on fire by soldiers of Babur. The martyrdom of Guru Arjan in the 17th century is regarded as a key moment in Sikh tradition which has influenced Sikh practices and beliefs, helping define a deliberately-separate and militant Sikh community.
The later martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur, who refused to convert to Islam in an effort to protect Hindu religious practice, is credited with making respect for freedom of conscience a key part of Sikh identity. The emperor tried to convert Guru Teg Bahadur to Islam hoping that it would be easier to convert his followers if he relented. The guru was executed because he refused. Experts stated that these events galvanized the concept of Sikh martyrdom in the sense that Guru Arjan's death brought the Sikh Panth together while Guru Teg Bahadur's execution finally gave Sikh martydom its identity. Guru Teg Bahadur's death provided the impetus for his son, the tenth Guru Gobind Singh, to impose an outward form of Sikh identity as well as pride in his father's martyrdom. To avoid fear and demoralization, he instituted a new Sikh order called Khalsa founded on discipline and loyalty, and martyrdom became one of its foundations. Succeeding Gurus built on this new orientation, establishing a strong, self-governing warrior group.
Prominent Sikh martyrs
- Guru Arjan Dev, the 5th leader of Sikhism, martyred 30 May 1606.
- Guru Teg Bahadur, the 9th guru of sikhism, martyred on 11 November 1675. He is also known as "Hind Di Chadar" i.e. "the shield of India", suggesting that to save Hinduism,The Guru gave his life.
- Bhai Dayala is one of the Sikhs who was martyred at Chandni Chowk at Delhi in November 1675 on account of his refusal to accept Islam.
- Bhai Mati Das is one of the greatest martyrs in Sikh history, martyred at Chandni Chowk at Delhi in November 1675 to save Hindu Brahmins.
- Bhai Sati Das is one of the greatest martyrs in Sikh history, martyred along with Guru Teg Bahadur at Chandni Chowk at Delhi in November 1675 to save kashmiri pandits.
- Sahibzada Ajit Singh(1687–1705) the eldest of Guru Gobind Singh's four sons.
- Sahibzada Jujhar Singh (1691–1705), the second son of Guru Gobind Singh.
- Sahibzada Zorawar Singh was the third of Guru Gobind Singh's four sons.
- Sahibzada Fateh Singh was the youngest of Guru Gobind Singh's four sons.
- Banda Singh Bahadur was the Sikh Military Commander Appointed By Guru Gobind Singh.
- Baba Deep Singh (1682–1757) was avenging the desecration of the Golden Temple by the Afghan army. In 1757, he led an army to defend the Golden Temple.
- Bhai Mani Singh
- Bhai Taru Singh
- Kohli, p. 54.
- Singh, Kharak (1997). "Martyrdom in Sikhism". Sikhism, Its Philosophy & History. Chandigarh: Institute of Sikh Studies: 18.
- Fenech, Louis E. (2001). "Martyrdom and the Execution of Guru Arjan in Early Sikh Sources". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 121 (1): 20–31. doi:10.2307/606726.
- Singh, Pashuara; Fenech, Louis E. "The Miri-Piri Doctrine and the Khalsa". The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Oxford University Press. p. 236. ISBN 9780199699308.
- Singh, Pasaura; Fenech, Louis (2014). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 237. ISBN 9780199699308.
- Singh & Fenech, p. 237.