Excerpt from "Guru Gobind Singh’s Ideal of Khalsa Commonwealth: A continuum of basic Philosophy" by Khushwant Singh First published in The Sikh Review: April 1981. First and foremost, we must never forget that Guru Gobind Singh did not change the religion preached by the preceding nine Gurus. On the contrary, his faith was in every way the logical development of the teachings and the traditions initiated by his predecessors. In Guru Gobind Singh’s teaching is found Guru Nanak’s fervent belief in the One God, who though beyond human comprehension can be experienced through love and practice of naam - the Name. In Guru’s teaching is also the second Guru, Angad’s exhortation to seva, the service of mankind; the third Guru Amar Das’s emphasis on mental and physical health. In Guru Gobind Singh we have the fourth Guru Ram Das’s creative ability. In him too we have the fifth Guru Arjun’s gentleness, his love of the Hindus and the Mussalman, his literary genius and his spirit of martyrdom. We also have (quite obviously) the sixth Guru Hargobind’s spirit of valour. And in Guru Gobind Singh’s writing there is his father Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru’s conviction that ‘once you extend a helping hand to raise the down-trodden, you must never let go that hand even though it cost you your life.’ Guru Gobind Singh had all that his predecessors Gurus had and something more - the power to change mice into men, to mould those men into a nation and then fire that nation with an ideal, the ideal of the Khalsa Commonwealth. Is it, then, very surprising that within a few days of the Guru’s death one of the Guru’s disciples, Banda, unfurled the Sikh flag within bow shot of the Mughal capital, Delhi, and within six years virtually destroyed the Mughal hegemony in Punjab? Is it, then, very surprising that the peasant fraternity of the Khalsa Misls was able to harass the greatest conquerors of the time, the Persian Nadir Shah, and the Afghan, Ahmed Shah Durrani, even check the northward upsurge of the Marathas and extend the sway of their arms from the Indus in the North - west to the Ganga in the East, from Himalayas in the North to the deserts of Sindh in the South? Is it, then, surprising that, for the first time in the history of India, it was the armies of the Sikh ruler, Ranjit Singh - and let me make it clear for the benefit of those constantly harp on the hatred between the Sikh and the Muslim - these were Muslim armies carrying a Sikh flag, that swept the tide of invasion back into the home-lands of the invaders - the Pathans, Bilochis and Afghans. And across the Himalayas into Tibet and China. Indeed is it very surprising? And, let it never be forgotten that these were the achievement of a people who formed less than one percent of the population of the country - a people who numbered less than one in one hundred - moulded the destinies of our vast sub-continent! What happened to us? Where did that breed of crusaders vanish? Why today have we fallen so low? What happened to us was that we let the spartan traditions of Guru Gobind Singh decay. We became rich and decadent and corrupt. We chose as leaders men who were rich and decadent and corrupt - men like Raja Lal Singh and Raja Tej Singh. These Brahmin Rajas sold us to our enemies. We should have learnt this lesson in 1849 when we lost our kingdom. We should have learnt all that we had - our valour in battle, our spirit of enterprise, our lust for living - we owed to this one man - Guru Gobind Singh. Drunk with power, we Sikhs abandoned the purity implicit in the Khalsa tradition. From crusaders we became mercenaries. We now face the same dilemma our forefathers did a hundred and fifty years ago. We have gone further away from the traditions of Guru Gobind Singh. And we have been betrayed by our leaders. Must we continue to sit back and suffer the process of dissolution to go on under our very noses? These are some of the questions that we may, with profit, ponder on the birth anniversary of the man we call our Guru, our Teacher.