No more en­e­mies

The Sunday Guardian - - & Comment Analysis - By Davin­der P.S. Sandhu

In 1704 AD, the Mughal army reached a mil­i­tary al­liance with Ra­jas of Shiva­lik hill king­doms around the Anandgarh Fort. As a pre­lude to the later bat­tles to come, smaller skir­mishes be­tween the Mughals and the Sikhs soon com­menced. A tall man car­ry­ing a mashak (a goatskin pouch) ap­peared and started serv­ing wa­ter to the in­jured. He was ob­vi­ously a Sikh, but to every­body’s sur­prise, he served all the in­jured, whether Mughal or Sikh, with­out any dis­crim­i­na­tion.

The bat­tle­field at­ten­dant was Bhai Kan­haiya. He was born near Sialkot (Pak­istan), and gave up a wealthy her­itage in favour of a life of ser­vice to hu­man­ity. He was a dis­ci­ple of the ninth guru Sri Guru Teg Ba­hadur, and es­tab­lished an open house in At­tock (Pak­istan). He then founded the Se­vap­an­thi or­der (broth­ers in ser­vice of hu­man­ity), and preached the Guru’s word. He was on a visit to Anand­pur in 1704 AD, when he was found on the bat­tle­field, serv­ing friend and foe alike.

The Sikh army com­plained that a Sikh was serv­ing the Mughal sol­diers too. The Guru smiled and said that Bhai Kan­haiya will give his own ex­pla­na­tion, who re­sponded with this com­po­si­tion from Sri Guru Granth Sahib: The sense of dif­fer­ence be­tween self and oth­ers has left me, Ever since I found the com­pany of the Holy. Now, there is no en­emy, and no one is a stranger, all are friends. The One God per­vades all, be­hold­ing Him, Nanak blos­soms forth in hap­pi­ness.

Sri Guru Gobind Singh asked Bhai Kan­haiya to con­tinue his self­less ser­vice, and also equipped him with medicine and ban­dages, to tend to the in­jured. Dur­ing the en­tire bat­tle of Anandgarh, from 1704 to 1705, Bhai Kan­haiya at­tended to both Mughal and Sikh armies, with wa­ter and medicine.

The In­ter­na­tional Red Cross was founded much later in 1853, but its foun­da­tions in South Asia had been laid by Bhai Kan­haiya in 1704.

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