This poem was written by OngKar Kaur Khalsa on March 17, 2013, where she imagines her experience being at the first Baisakhi in 1699.
Our Beloved Guru put out the call
The Sangat should attend Baisakhi – a spring time renewal for all.
Disciples from all over were excited and happy to comply
A chance to be with our beautiful Guru and Sangat was the reason why.
To be in the presence of the Guru and bow our heads was not taken lightly
–It was the highest blessing from the Almighty.
Thousands of devotees heralded from villages far and wide
Much seva to do, long lost friends to see and new ones to betide.
A sea of tents was created which was miles long
Such a festive spirit amongst the throng.
The auspicious day arrived on Baisakhi 1699
For a sight of the Guru we all did pine.
The crowd buzzed with excitement and anticipation
What was the purpose of the Guru gathering such a large congregation?
There were many rumors that murmured around about the Mughal king
That he had spies everywhere and a nasty plan that would sting.
He was a mean and unruly emperor
Many said we had yet to experience his full reign of terror.
There was a sudden rumble in the crowd
The Guru had suddenly appeared, brilliant, radiant and proud
A hush came over the Sangat, waiting for his address
His eyes pierced right thru us – there was no doubt the conviction he possessed.
His arm was raised high in the air
A long, sharp sword accompanied his intense stare.
His voice rang out loud and crystal clear:
“I need a head! I need it now!”
There was no uncertainty that he was sincere.
His strong words and what they meant swirled through my head
Surely, he wasn’t speaking to me. It must be my neighbor instead.
What about my husband, my community, my son
They still needed me; surely I wasn’t yet done.
At first, I admit, my heart did pound
But suddenly I felt my mind separate from the world around.
As I fully entered this out of body experience
I felt detached and relaxed and had a talk with myself that was quite serious.
I was devoted to my Guru completely,
and had always prayed to him so sweetly.
Or so I thought…
Has my life to this point been a sham, am I a fake?
Is my devotion to the Guru so easy to break?
When I bow my head am I doing so conditionally and artificially?
Or am I giving my love and devotion implicitly?
What is my life anyway without bowing, nay, giving my head?
If I’m not willing to give my life to my Guru, I may as well be dead.
Ha!! I tell myself—how funny this is—what a predicament —
“If I’m not willing to die for my Guru, I might as well be dead?”
And here my Guru is ASKING me for my head.
How magnificent is that!
I must give it. I must not wait!
I do not doubt it, the Guru IS my soul mate!
It is so true….
I feel a blissful peace come over me -Thank God this is the conclusion that I drew!
As my mind slowly comes back to the earthly plane
I become aware once more of the panic around me and of people’s pain.
I want to reach out to them and tell them it’s OK, no actually, it’s great!
I want to tell them this is their chance to choose their destiny, not their fate.
I look at the stage again to find my Guru.
He has 5 Sikhs around him, all radiant and beautiful.
Suddenly, the Guru put his hand up for silence. Once again he spoke loud & clear.
He said, these are my Beloved Ones – they have only love, no fear.
They are the Khalsa. Their hearts are pure.
Their love of their Guru was completely sure.
Many of you do not understand my request.
I know that what has occurred today is hard for you to digest.
However, the times we face in our future are sure to be difficult.
To maintain your strength and grace, you must be vigilant.
Your love and devotion will be tested beyond your belief
For many, death will be your only relief.
You must be strong.
To be prepared, your commitment must be steady.
The enemy will have no empathy – you must be ready…
To live your destiny…. or be vulnerable to your fate.
Today was my effort, for your destiny to create.
It is your true self who must decide.
You must be willing to die –
for truth and righteousness.
There will be no other justice.
Then the Guru oversaw the making of nectar that he concocted
By stirring water with a sword and adding in sweets – “Amrit” was the word for this that was adopted.
The Guru then baptized the 5 Beloved Ones and asked them to do to him the same.
Then thousands of us bowed our heads in understanding – the Guru’s actions and words, our souls did inflame
The desire to commit to our Guru, come what may.
We begged the Guru to give us the nectar too – we were here to stay.
He saw our devotion and love shine through.
Our spirits had been renewed.
We chose our destiny, not our fate.
The rest is our history, which is GREAT!