“The foolish stubbornness of my mind is gone; God’s will has become sweet to me.”
– Guru Arjun Dev ji (Guru Granth Sahib, 387)
Auranzeb’s army attacked the haveli in Battle of Chamkaur, where Guru Gobind Singh ji (tenth Guru of Sikhs) had taken refuge from his previous assaults. A grim battle took place, which resulted in the death of almost all of Guru Sahib’s men, including his two older sons Sahibzada Ajit Singh and Sahibzada Jujhar Singh. His younger sons and mother had been lost on the way to Chamkaur due to harsh weather conditions.
After resisting the onslaught of the tyrannical governement, Guru Gobind Singh ji slipped into the forests of Machhiwara. It is said that Guru Sahib was still in the highest of spirits, in chardi kala, even after losing all his loved ones and devotees. He rested in this forest overnight, and while Auranzeb’s army searched for him, he was rescued by his Muslim devotees in the morning. They disguised him as their pir, Sufi master, and lead him away from the hostile environment.
Painting Guru Gobind Singh ji in Machhiwara
After laying out the initial idea, in the speedpainting of Machhiwara, I could not think of a way to portray what Guru Gobind Singh ji suffered. He had just seen two of his sons and all of his men getting slaughtered in a gruesome battle. How could this man continue to fight even after he had sacrificed so much? I found the answer soon enough.
After getting lots of encouragement and support from friends and family, I was able to start working on it. I eventually started to see things in my painting that I did not see before. It is said of artists that they “paint from their memory”, rather their attention to their canvas and to the world, their meditation, essentially, develops the painting. This was certainly the case with Machhiwara. I began to see ways to representing things. The shadows the leaves, the muted colours, the withered leaves and the cloudy sky represent the nature of the situation Guru Gobind Singh ji was in.
Yet Guru Gobind Singh ji was in chardi kala, highest of spirits, unaffected by the torment; a state every Sikh yearns to reach. How would I show this? Interestingly the negativity showed me how I could go about it. He was covered in shadows but his face glowed bright. The leaves were withering yet a bud grew from within. The sky was cloudy but it made way for the faint glow of the stars.
That was the power of meditation, that Guru Gobind Singh ji had harnessed as an ideal for the warrior-poet, saint-soldier he has always been. Just like Guru Gobind Singh ji, Machhiwara reminds me to be strong when faced with immense impediments. It reminds me to be ready to sacrifice everything I hold close to me for a noble cause greater than myself. Perhaps, more importantly, which gives one the strength to do so, it reminds me to meditate.
Rav Sohi –
I’ve been meaning to send you a pic of the print which I managed to get stretched. I found a local retired picture framer who managed to get it framed for me. I’ve attached a pic.
The result is a very peaceful room now (my study) which I really enjoy spending time in. The serene and calm picture brings a feeling of solidarity and comfort. Not forgetting an appreciation for what our Guru went through for us. Especially so with this scene in Macchiwara as the image depicts the Guru Ji in a moment of solace given he has learnt the tragic news of his young sons.
I am currently selling our apartment and people who come to view it are always impressed by the print of Guru Gobind Singh in Macchiwara in my study room.
Ramie Bains –
Just recived the amazing print. Thank you soo much Bhagat I love it!!
KP Singh Khalsa –
Thank you Veer Ji for your prompt service, we have received the photo and have had it framed.
Thank you… It is beautiful !!
Gurcharn Dang –
Some in our community say that we should not depict the image of our Gurus, but many like me need a catalyst to help us get in the mood of understanding the true meaning and feeling the peace, tranquility depth of inner self that Guru Nanak Devji brought to our lives. Bhagatji has captured that medium thru the expression of Wahe guru that just helps me as an individual focused on the materialism and rigors of life.
Barinder Kaur Dosanjh –
Just writing to thank you for my beautiful paintings. I can’t wait to hang them up in my new home. They are so intricately detailed and remind me of the stories we were told of the Gurus from a young age (Guru Nanak and his travels with Bhai Mardaana), not many artists manage to capture these stories in their paintings, which makes your work all the more special.
Keith Muir –