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'When the sun rises the moon leaves sight. When true knowledge illuminates ignorance is eradicated.' - Sri Guru Nanak Dev Jee - Ang 791 SGGS

(Bikrami/Nanakshahee calendar debate)

Amar Shaheed Bhai Sahib Bhai Mani Singh Jee

Bhai Mani Singh Jee was one of the original 48 Singhs who took Santhya and learnt the arth of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee at Damdama Sahib. They were the scribe for writing the saroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee known as the Damdami Bir whilst Sahib Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee dictated Gurbani through their divine memory. Bhai Mani Singh Jee agreed to give 5000 Rupees to then Governor of Lahore, Zakhreeyaa Khaan so that the Panth could celebrate the jorh mela of Bandi Chhorrh Diwas (Diwali) at Sri Amritsar Sahib. However after sending out letters to summon the Sikhs to come to Sri Amritsar Sahib Bhai Sahib learnt of the betrayal planned by the treacherous Mughals to massacre the Sikhs at this gathering. Bhai Sahib then refused to the pay the tax and was consequently executed by cutting every limb of their body. The question arises that Bhai Sahib was the scribe of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee’s Saroop after hearing the dictation by the Tenth Master himself, they had listened to the complete katha of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee at Damdama Sahib from the voice of the Tenth Master and then had been appointed by Guru Sahib as the Head Granthi of Sri Harmandir Sahib; did they not know the above pangthee? Why was it so important to them that Sikhs celebrated the Puratan Gurpurb of Bandi-Chorrh on Bandi Chorrh?

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Bhai Daya Singh Jee was the first of the Panj Pyaare, he remained celibate throughout his life and was one of the closest Sikhs to Satguru Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee. Here is what they have to say on celebrating the Gurpurbs of Vaisakhi and Holla Mahalla:

dhasamee aadh guroo dhin jaethae purab samaan kehae hai(n) thaethae || thin mae(n) kashh parasaadh banaavai kar karraah khhaalasae khuaavai ||

When a recognised Gurpurab day comes One should make the sacred Parshaad and give it to fellow Sikhs.
Rehatnama Bhai Desa Singh

There are countless examples of contemporary and Puratan Gursikhs who have done everything they could to be able to celebrate Gurpurbs on the appropriate dates. After the Indo-Pak partition of 1947 one simple Gursikh known by the name of Preetham Singh (of Vill. Ambey Majra near Gobindgarh) yearned to go to Sri Nankana Sahib on the Gurpurb of Kathak Pooranmashhee just as he had done every year throughout his life. In order to do this Bhai Preetham Singh Jee would have to cross the border and enter what now was foreign territory (Pakistan) as an illegal immigrant. That year with great skill and the protecting hand of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Jee, Preetham Singh got through the border and fulfilled his desire to have darshan of Sri Nanakana Sahib. When the local Muslims of that area found out, they arrested him and charged him as an agent or spy of the Government of India. The courts had not been set up properly and justice was mainly carried out by the maulvees of mosques. Finally he was sentenced to the death penalty. When the young Preetham Singh Jee found out he laughed and the Maulvees were startled at his lack of concern. They finally realized that Sikhs of the tenth Guru do not fear death; instead the angels of death fear them. They thought of what way to prosecute young Preetham Singh and finally they reached a consensus that an even more ghastly technique should be applied: they cut his unshorn hair.

When Preetham Singh found out he became worried and the time arrived when they were about to execute their punishment. When the scissors of the Maulvee came near the unshorn hair of Preetham Singh he prayed to Maharaj to protect his Sikhi and suddenly his hair turned into steel wires that could not be cut. This is how Maharaj protects his true ‘Naam-Centric’ Sikhs. Did Preetham Singh not know that it wasn’t important to celebrate Gurpurbs on the dates on which they are? Baba Preetham Singh Jee Ambey Majra Waley are still alive and currently over 112 years of age and spend their whole day listening to keertan in their native village.

A more renowned example of this devotion in Satguru Sahib Jee would be Bhai Sahib Bhai Randhir Singh Jee (the founder of Akhand Kirtani Jatha). Without going into immense detail one only needs to visit the texts of Jyoth Bigaas and look at the lengths Bhai Sahib Jee went to in jail just to celebrate the Gurupurb of Poh Sudi Saptmi (Avtar Purb Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee). In the below poster Bhai Sahib states clearly the Gurpurb of the Avtar Purb of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee in the Bikrami Samvat Did Bhai Sahib Bhai Randhir Singh Jee not know that it was not important to celebrate gurpurbs on the dates on which they are? Below is an advert from the Narangwal Programme:

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There are countless examples of Sikhs modern and old that have given even Shaheedi for maintaining the sanctity and privilege of celebrating Gurpurbs. For the last three hundred years the Panth has followed the Bikrami Calendar, everyone has been united in at least one aspect of Gursikhi. All the Sampardas, Taksals, Nihang Singh Jathebandheeya, Missionary colleges and Akhand Kirtani Jatha would unite at Gurpurbs. Adressing the original question the answer is clear: the dates of Gurpurbs are important because if they are not kept accurate then in essence we are celebrating mimicry and this is why scholars and Gursikhs of the Past have held the original dates close to their hearts. Guru Sahib came on this earth when the world was crying, screaming for help; they came for the sake of humanity – the least we can do is commemorate their Gurpurbs promptly. A Sikh does not worship bodies; he is a disciple of the Shabad. This fact is clear in Gurbani but the body through which the shabad came through to humanity is also of great importance for us Sikhs and we will continue to worship the dates surrounding those immaculate beings we regard as our Guru-Sahibaan. This is why we have the word Mahalla in Gurbani – It stems from the Arabic word of descent – It means the body through which the descent of Gurbani from Akal Purakh Vaheguru occured. So Mahalla 5 literally translates descent (of Gurbani) from the fifth form of Nanak. Going by the original logic of all days being blessed and equal; Gurbani teaches us that all places are equally as blessed and holy then why do we ask for unrestricted access to our Gurdhaams in Pakistan (Nankaanaa Sahib, Panja Sahib te Hor Gurdware Gurdham). Surely just as we can make our own dates, we can make our own Nanakana Sahib and Panja Sahib in India. Why do we ask for darshan-deedare of Sri Harmandir Sahib when we could create our own Harmandir Sahib in London (for example). The point is clear, why should we lose our history, our heritage just for the sake of convenience? Why should we conform to the Christian calendar when we have always had our own?

A Brief Description of the Three Calendars:

The Purewal Calendar (2003)
Enforced in the Jathedarship of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, 2003. Paal Singh Purewal is an individual who lives permanently in Canada. Before the enforcement of the calendar he was a relatively unknown personality. His credentials as a scholar, calendar expert or even as a Gursikh are relatively unknown. The proponents of this Nanakshahee calendar argued that the Muslims have the Hijri, the Hindus have the Vikram Samvat (Bikrami) and the Christians have their own Gregorian calendar therefore to identify Sikhs as a separate nation we must have our own calendar: The Nanakshahee. The second point which they raised was that in some years (Gregorgian: Jan – December) we have the Gurpurb of Poh Sudi Saptmee twice and in others it does not appear at all therefore we should have a coherent Calendar to the 21st Century.

The Reformed Nanakshahee Calendar (2010)
The Sant Samaj (shortened for Gurmat Sidhant Pracharak Sant Samaj) kept lobbying against the Purewal Calendar in favour of the original Bikrami Calendar that had been used since the time of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Jee. Amongst the Sant Samaj there were recognized scholars such as Sant Hari Singh Randhawe Wale who gave the main argument that it was a great sin to stand before the Guru and perform an Ardhaas for a particular Gurpurb or Sangrand when it wasn’t even that date, in essence it constitutes as lying to the Guru. This argument carried weight and in 2010 a compromise was declared through the Sandesh of The Akal Takth Jathedar (Giani Gurbachan Singh) that the Gurpurbs of the birth of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Jee, the Shaheedi of Sri Guru Arjan Dev Jee and the Sachkhand Gaman and Parkash of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee would be celebrated as per the original Bikrami Dates.

The Bikrami Calendar

This has been the accepted Calendar for the north of India for many centuries. It must be noted that although critics argue that the Vikram or Bikram Samvat Calendar is the calendar for India this is false because the national calendar of India is the Saka Samvat. For this reason the Bikrami Calendar can be called a Punjabi Calendar and to date it is used in other countries like Nepal as well. In the Gurbani of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee it is made clear that Sri Guru Nanak Dev Jee used the Bikrami Calendar:

Calendars are here to add order to the world and not create confusion. The world has seen no bigger revolutionaries than the Sikh Gurus. It was Sri Guru Amardas Jee who abolished the traditions of Sati (wife burning), Guru Gobind Singh Jee destroyed caste system with the gift of Amrit 1699. How many instances can be cited of the revolutionary nature of Guru Sahib? At the time of Sri Guru Amardas Jee the Bikram Samvat was the only system being used and in regards to it they wrote that Akal Purakh Vaheguru through his divine will had established the systems of Years, Months, days, etc i.e. the calendar system to create order and direction to the world:

Screen shot 2013-02-03 at 00.55.46

Explanation of the dates.

The year of Vikram Samvat Starts in Cheth and the month changes according to the Suns movement into a new zodiac belt (known as a rashi). Sudi and Vadhi are based on the lunar phases of the Moon. The phase going from the full moon (pooranmashee) towards the New Moon (Massya) is known as Sudi and the phase which begins then to the next full moon is known as Vadhee. So Poh Sudhee Saptmee, the Gurpurb marking the birth of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee translates to Seven days following the New Moon/ Massya of the month of Poh. So this year the Gurpurb was celebrated on the 18th January 2013 this is because the New moon or Massya was the 11th January and Sudhee Saptmee i.e. seven days later falls on the 18th January.

The calendar can be found on the above menu bar.