Source: An encounter that may have changed history While trawling the web looking for something else a few days ago, I stumbled on an account of a meeting between Swami Samarth Ramdas and Guru Har Gobind ji that took place in Kashmir almost 400* years ago. This was an unexpected discovery. I was not aware that such a meeting had taken place…and I wondered whether the encounter had a role to play in Samarth Ramdas’ later life when he came in contact with Shivaji Maharaj. Unfortunately there was not much I could find about the meeting, except a few links. Below are some excerpts that may help piece together the details of this encounter that may have changed history… From an account of Guru Har Gobind and his travels: Guru Hargobind now undertook extensive travels. The Guru founded the town of Kiratpur in 1626 where the land had been gifted to the Guru by one of the princes who had been freed from Gwalior by the Guru. While visiting Srinagar the Guru had a discourse with Swami Ramdas Samrath a great spiritual teacher who would later go on to instruct Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha empire. Swami Ramdas asked the Guru “You are on the spiritual throne of Guru Nanak, a great Saint. You are wearing arms and maintain troops and horses. You allow yourself to be addressed as Sachcha Padsah, the True King. What sort of saint are you?” Guru Hargobind replied, “I display royalty only from the outside; inwardly, I’m detached like a hermit. Guru Nanak had not renounced the world. He had only renounced maya (illusion and ego).” The Swami answered that this idea appealed to him and thus he thereafter changed his teachings of hindu renunciation. But where was/is this Srinagar? Is it the same Srinagar that we know today (in Jammu & Kashmir) or is(was) it another town/city? This link mention that the meeting took place at “Srinagar in Garhval” but has no further details. The most complete description I found was in a posting on the a sikh philosophy forum: During his rambles in Northern India, Samarth Ramdas met Guru Hargobind at Srinagar in about 1634. Fully armed and riding a horse, the Guru had just returned from an excursion. “I had heard that you occupied the Gaddi of Guru Nanak”, said Swami Ramdas. “Guru Nanak was a Tyagi sadhu – a saint who had renounced the world. You are wearing arms and keeping an army and horses. You allow yourself to be addressed as Sacha Patshah, the True King. What sort of a sadhu are you?” asked the Maratha saint. Guru Hargobind replied, “Internally i am a hermit, and externally i am a prince. Arms mean protection to the poor and destruction of the tyrant. Baba Nanak had not renounced the world but had renounced Maya, i.e. self and ego: “batan faquiri, zahir amiri shastar garib ki rakhya, jarwan ki bhakhiya Baba Nanak sansar nahi tyagya, Maya tyagi thi.” These words of Guru Hargobind found a ready response in the heart of Samartha Swami Ramdas who, as quoted in Pothi Panjak Sakhian, spontaneously said, “this appealeth to my mind – Yeh hamare man bhavti hai” After reading these accounts, I have little doubt that the meeting took place …Unfortunately no detailed account(s) appear to exist. The historic encounter must have left an impact on Samarth Ramdas and it may have encouraged him to consider armed resistance against an oppressive, tyrrannical rule. We know that in his later years he did emphasise on exercises and physical training and highlighted warrior’s role in society: He established temples of Hanuman in towns and villages to convey importance of exercise to youth and taught them to get together and fight the enemy. Samarth Ramdas was of course not the only one to be influenced by the teachings of the Sikh Gurus. Writing about the “Udasi Sampardaya“, Jasbir Kaur Ahuja mentions: …the most illustrious Chela of the Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda often uttered and introduced into his writings the Sikh mystic formula, Vaheguru…In the same manner, Swami Vrihanand, the founder of Arya Samaj was influenced by the Sikh philosophy of the Name, which is the true essence of Veda…” This was very interesting but incomplete. I did some digging but could not unearth any more details…If any reader is aware of other source(s)/references on Swami Vivekananda’s exposure to Sikhism and/or his thoughts on the Sikh Guru-jis, I would be very keen to hear of that. In addition, I would love to hear/read first-hand accounts of the relationship between Sikhism and Hinduism especially from Hindu-Punjabi readers who have a Sikh in the family. Thank you. * Thanks to Rishabh for pointing out the typo (I’d mistakenly mentioned 40 years).