Bhai Kanhaiya ji
Bhai Kanhaiya (1648-1718), was a Sikh of Guru Tegh Bahadur and was the founder of the Sevapanthi or Addanshahi samparday (brotherly orders) of the Sikhs. He was born in a Dhamman Khatri family of Sodhara near Wazirabad in Sialkot district (now in Pakistan) and even though his father was a wealthy trader, he was of such a strong religious bent of mind that he left home when still very young and roamed about with saddhus and ascetics in search of spiritual peace.
His quest ended when he met Guru Tegh Bahadur and accepted initiation as a Sikh at his hands. Kanhaiya established a Dharmshala at Kavha village in the present Attock district of Pakistan which he turned into a preaching centre. His special mission was selfless service of humanity with no distinction of nationality, caste or creed. In 1704/5, he was on a visit to Anandpur when the city was attacked by a combination of Rajput hill troops and their Mughal allies.
During the frequent sallies and skirmishes between the Sikhs and the enemy around Anandpur, Bhai Kanhaiya was often seen carrying a mashak (a goatskin water pouch), serving water to anyone who was thirsty, quenching the thirst of the dying and wounded soldiers. He did this sewa (selfless service) with love and affection without any discrimination, giving water to both friends and foe. His acts of compassion stirred up stern criticism amongst his fellow Sikhs, who complained to Guru Gobind Singh Ji, pointing out that Bhai Kanhaiya Ji was even serving the fallen Hindu and Mughal attackers. They were especially annoyed because the city had been surrounded, stopping the supply of food and water, and here was Bhai Kanhaiya sharing what little water they had. They had tried to stop him many a time, but he would not pay them any heed.
Bhai Kanhaiya's benevolent actions eventually led to a summons by Guru Ji who explained that he had received a complaint about his actions on the battlefield.
Guruji said, “These brave Sikhs are saying that you go and feed water to the enemy and they recover to fight them again – Is this true?”
Bhai Kanhaiya Ji replied "Yes, my Guru, what they say is true. But Maharaj, I saw no Mughal or Sikh on the battlefield. I only saw human beings. And, ... Guru Ji, .. they all have the same God’s Spirit? – Guru Ji, have you not taught us to treat all God's people as the same?"
The Guru was very pleased with the reply. Bhai Kanhaiya Ji had understood the deep message of Gurbani correctly. Guru ji smiled and blessed Bhai Kanhaiya. Guru Ji said, "Bhai Kanhaiya Ji, you are right, you have understood the true message of Gurbani". He then told the Sikhs who had complained that Bhai Kanhaiya had understood the deeper message of the Gurus' teachings correctly and that they all would have to strive to learn lessons from the priceless words of Gurbani.
Guru also gave Bhai Kanhaiya Ji some medical balm and said, “From now on, You should also put this balm on the wounds of all who need it”'
Then turning to the sangat Guru Ji said, Saadh sangat ji, Bhai Kanhaiya is a God-fearing saintly soul. His impartial and non-biased behaviour towards others has led him to achieve Sehaj-avastha. Let him carry on with his mission. Many more will follow in his footsteps in the years to come and keep the tradition of Nishkam sewa alive."
The Kanhaiya Principles
This Sakhi has a deep message for the Sikhs. In times of Human Suffering, a Sikh must adhere to the following guidelines as promoted by their Tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh:
1.SERVE SELFLESSLY: The Sakhi tells us that we should serve Humanity selflessly (Nishkam) and with complete dedication; To open our minds to see divinity in all beings
2.TREAT ALL EQUALLY: To Serve All of Humanity Equally without discrimination; provide help and assistance to everybody without prejudice or indifference; make on distinction between friend or foe;
3.SERVE WITH COMPASSION & LOVE: It tells us how we should treat even our fallen enemies (when they do not have their swords drawn) with respect, compassion, humility and Love.
4.THE FIVE WEAPONS: The Five Weapons to destroy the five internal Thieves - Deep level of Compassion (Daya), Complete compliance to Truth (Sat), Inner Contentment (Santokh), Overflowing Humility (Nimrata) and Total Love (Pyar). The Sakhi puts into practise the 5 major virtues promoted by Gurbani
5.SHARE WITH OTHERS: To Share ones wealth with the people who are suffering to reduce their suffering and pain. Remembering the Three Pillars of Sikhism – Naam Japo; Kirat Karni and Wand kay Shako.
6.SEWA: To carry out whatever Sewa that we are able to, to help make life more comfortable for anyone who is hurt, in pain, is suffering or otherwise in a bad way. This is part of Sikhism's Two Pronged Dedication to God of Simran and Sewa.