On the 24th of November 1675 my fate was set. Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji laid down his life for the Hindu faith and was beheaded due to his belief that each individual should be able to practise a religion of their choice and not be forced to convert or give up their views.
ਤਿਲਕ ਜੰਵੂ ਰਾਖਾ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਤਾ ਕਾ ॥ ਕੀਨੋ ਬਡੋ ਕਲੂ ਮਹਿ ਸਾਕਾ ॥
ਸਾਧਨ ਹੇਤਿ ਇਤੀ ਜਿਨਿ ਕਰੀ ॥ ਸੀਸ ਦੀਆ ਪਰ ਸੀ ਨ ਉਚਰੀ ॥੧੩॥
He protected the janeu and tilak of the Hindus, It was a great event in the modern ages. For the sake of humankind, he sacrificed himself. He laid down his head but not his creed
—– Bachittar Natak
250 years later in 1925 in Rawalpindi when Jeevan Das, a Hindu businessman, was told his first child was a son he declared ‘to repay the debt to Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, my son will grow up as a Sikh and I name him Ram Singh.’ Throughout Ram Singhs life he had 6 brothers and 6 sisters who were all brought up as Hindus but Ram Singh was not. He wore a dastar, was taken to the Gurdwara and was taught about the courage and the respect of Sikhs and what they stand for.
During the India Pakistan partition in 1946 Ram Singh was given the responsibility of taking his family across the border into India and was to look after them until his father returned. Unfortunately his father didn’t return and Ram Singh was left to man the house.
Ram Singh came to England with his family and grew up as a Sikh in 1960s England. Unlike his friends, he didn’t remove his dastar and cut his hair to try and fit in and get employed. He was taught his dastar was his crown and should be worn with pride and with his head held high. Ram Singh struggled to be accepted as Sikhs wearing turbans weren’t a ‘normal’ sight for English folk in the 1960s. He had two sons and three daughters. He brought his children up to be proud of their identity and taught the boys to wear their dastar with pride. In turn his children had children and the teachings and lessons of being proud to be a Sikh were passed on to Ram Singhs grandchildren. I am one of those grandchildren.
I have been asked on many occasions what made you become a Sikh? Why did you decide to wear a dastar? The only answer I have: because of the sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji I am a Sikh today and for that I am so grateful. If it wasn’t for Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji giving his life for the Hindu faith so they had the freedom to live as Hindus, my great-grandfather would not have brought my grandfather up as a Sikh and in turn my Father would not have been a Sikh.
Each and every day, I look in the mirror as I tie my Dastar and I thank Guru Tegh Bahadur for his sacrifice, as being a Sikh has helped me so much in my life. Not only have I learnt compassion, humility, determination and working hard, but I have a family that will be with me in good times and bad, a family that will support me and help me – the sangat of Gursikhs.
Thank you maharaj!