The Reason behind Chandi Di Vaar ....
The story of Durga (Chandi) appears to have fascinated Guru Gobind Singh Ji, as symbolising the might of the Divine Arm in chastising and castigating evil doers. Sikhism recognised the inevitable necessity of a bitter struggle involving deep suffering and martyrdom for God’s saints in the war against evil. Sikhism gave poignant reality by the martyrdom of two Gurus and the tribulations faced by Guru Gobind Singh Ji and countless Sikhs to the idea of Dharam-vir or the Crusade for the faith. Guru Ji was conceived to be the divinely-inspired hero, fighting for a higher ideal and not for a worldly objective. The Durga legend had in it all the elements which , as Guru Ji perceived, could serve as an allegory of the situation into which the people of India were thrown for centuries under the heels of arrogant and ruthless invaders. To destroy tyranny the Sword must be unsheathed – the Sword as the might of India, to strike against the dark demons of these later times. Unless the soul of India could be aroused to burn this oppression there could be no end to her ills. By arousing this spirit alone could Guru Sahib Ji fulfil the Lord’s mandate delivered as stated in the Bachittar Natak -
The Reason behind Chandi Di Vaar
“to destroy the wicked root and branch.”
On looking deeper into this legend of Durga, in the context of the social upheaval of the times, its deeper significance becomes all the more apparent and powerfully appealing.
The creative genius of Guru Gobind Singh Ji lay in clearly reading the symbolic meanings in the legends of Durga, Sri Ram Chandar Ji, Bhagwan Krishan Ji and others. The demons were not rampant in the past but were here and now in the guise of the bigoted oppressors that were making life a misery to countless millions of Hindus. Guru Ji saw and wished the people to realise that the evil forces were there and performing their evil deeds, the Rakashas were not only in the past but were in the form of every marauder who held the reins of power.
Three versions of Chandi are composed within Sri Dasam Granth Ji. Two are in Braj and one in Punjabi. To the Guru, Chandi in a symbol, an abstraction – the spirit of aroused heriosm, the Sword, Divine Might. He is no believer in the historical goddess who has been carved and moulded into figures and to whom temples have been erected. Guru Ji has in diverse places distinctly disavowed any association with avatar-worship and has in a hundred ways affirmed his total faith in the One Eternal Lord.
The Punjabi version is shorter than the two in Braj and narrates the fight of Durga-Chandi with the only 'dhent', Mahikhasur, the buffalo demon. He is the bravest of the brave calling forth no end of mighty effort on Durga’s part to defeat the destroy him. Guru Ji himself as narrator, is not interested in impressing the Durga-cult or chandi worship. The primary and main interest lies in making the story the vehicle to arouse the dormant spirit of crusading for faith and honour amongst the Indian people, through graphic narratives and vivid imagery. While the story of Ram Chandra Ji’s war with Ravana is equally illustrative of the struggle between right and wrong, it is overlaid with extra intrigue which to a certain extent obscures the core theme of heroism. But the Durga story is a story of the battle for the protection of Right in its most basic form. Durga is the embodiment of righteous Might battling eternally with evil. From his divine compositions Guru Sahib Ji’s interpretation of the Durga-symbol is unambiguously clear. It stands for the Eternal, Timeless Creator. Thus in one swaiya or verse in the Bachittar Natak, Guru Ji offers adoration to the Lord by mentioning the destruction of the Rakhsahs or demons that are traditionally described as destroyed by Durga.
Millions of demons, such as Sumbha, Nisumbha, He has destroyed in an instant;
Dhumar-Lochana, Chanda, Munda, and Mahikhasur He has defeated in a moment;
Demons like Chamara, Rana-chichhura, Raktichhana He has slaughtered at a stroke
With such a Master to protect him, why need this servant fear anything?
In Guru ji’s accounts, he calls the Lord by the name of Maha-kalika Kalika (The Eternal Divine Might) which also is a nobler form of the name of Durga. Many people with little knowledge have mistakenly taken this as Durga puja, but it is intended, like Ram and Hari and other deity-names, to be a name which the Eternal is designated. Bhagauti meaning “Mistress of all prosperity” which sometimes is also associated with Durga, is constantly used by Guru Ji in many compositions as one of the synonyms of the Lord as symbolised in the might of the Sword of Righteousness, which is drawn to protect faith and truth against evil.
Thus, with no theological preoccupations in the mind of Guru Sahib Ji, the sole aspect of the story of Durga was to rouse the spirit. The composition in Punjabi opens with the adoration of the Sword or Divine might by the name of Bhagauti. After offering worship to the Supreme Lord follows the adoration of the nine Gurus who were Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s predecessors. This sequence is significant, in as much as the Gurus are and can only be put after God Himself. The omission of the tenth, himself is because of the humility and modesty characteristics of Guru’s mind and is a clear indication that these compositions can be from the pen of none other then Guru Sahib Ji.
After narrating briefly the danger from the power of the demons and how Indra the king of the gods seeks Durgas assistance the story moves to the battle scenes. There are several most capable demons who are brave and capable of duplicating themselves rapidly every time their blood is split. This is a fine allergy of the inexhaustible power of evil in the universe which the goodness is constantly warring without quite fully destroying it. The demons put up a most brave fight which is described on the pattern of the classical art of war in ancient India, as war with the well known four wings of the army – foot, horse, elephant and chariots. All manner of ancient weapons of war are brought into use. The sound effects are eloquent, and in places the descriptions touch great height of poetic art. The battle rages with indecisive results at various stages. The demons are succeeded by others, Madhu, Kaitabh, the whole unending race comes to do battle with Durga, and all are utterly defeated.
Durga the queen grasped her sword evoking mighty blessing on it;
And striking Sumbha the chief it drank his precious life-blood;
Sumbha fell from his saddle.
The sword issuing from his wound dyed in blood,
As is a princess wearing robes of red.
Thus ends this heroic tale, whose power is great to annul his transmigration who chants it.