A history of valour and painful sacrifices

Sikh Museum

A history of valour and painful sacrifices

Religion is a fascinating subject, and when it comes to the history of Sikh religion – known for its valour and many sacrifices – you can be sure of being regaled with many interesting stories.

So next time you visit the Sis Ganj Sahib Gurudwara in Chandni Chowk, remember to see the neighbouring Bhai Mati Das Sati Das museum of Sikh history as well. Located next to the landmark Fountain Chowk, where Guru Tegh Bahadur and his disciples were tortured to death by Aurangzeb, this museum is sure to leave you more knowledgable and enlightened.

Spread over an expanse of two floors are more than 100 paintings describing the growth of Sikhism over eight centuries. The museum keeper directs one to start on the left where the first guru - Nanak Dev’s life is portrayed. A snake shields young Nanak from the sun as he sleeps peacefully in a forest. Villagers see this miracle and start revering him. His aura attracts many people to become his disciples and he eventually leaves home to spread the message of Sikhism.

Another interesting story is of Guru Nanak Dev reaching Baghdad. At the outskirt of the city, he starts singing bhajans, and music being banned in the land at that time, many rush in with sticks and stones to beat him. However, on seeing his saintly sight, they stop and start listening to his hymns and sermons.

In order of their accession, the times and contributions of each Guru is described. Guru Angad Dev’s wife Mata Khiviji is said to have started the tradition of langar. Guru Amar Das forbade the practice of Sati among Sikhs at that time and championed the cause of gender equality. Guru Das compiled the teachings of gurus before him into the Guru Granth Sahib and Guru Hargobind rescued 52 kings imprisoned by Jahangir at Gwalior fort with his presence of mind. Guru Gobindji laid the foundation of the Sikh panth by baptising the panj pyaras.

Other than Sikh gurus, the achievements and sacrifices of Sikh devotees, warriors and kings are also depicted. Maharaja Ranjit Singh finds prominence amongst them. Some coins from the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh are on display, besides an antique rabab, some manuscripts and the Chaupai Sahib on rice grains. But paintings are the major feature of this museum.

Balwinder Kaur, the museum keeper informs us, “We mostly get research students and tourists interested in Sikhism. Others bring their children to teach them about Sikhism and the rest just stroll in after visiting the Sis Ganj Gurudwara.”
“But few leave the place without hearts heavy and eyes moist. Such is the history of Sikhism - full of compassion, valour and painful sacrifices.”

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