It was Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji who planted the seed for sewa in the heart of Bhai Kanhaiya Ji. Later in life this virtue would earn him the blessings of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, and it is here that our story begins.
In 1705, when Bhai Kanhaiya Singh ji was on a visit to Anandpur Sahib, Anandpur was invested by a combination of hill troops and the imperial army. During the frequent sallies and skirmishes, Bhal Kanhaiya was often seen carrying a mashak (a sort of pouch that was used to carry water from one place to another), to serve water to anyone who was thirsty He did this sewa with love and affection without any distinction of friend and foe.
His act of compassion stirred up stern criticism amongst some of his fellow Sikhs, who did not understand his actions and went ahead and complained to Guru Gobind Singh Ji, pointing out that Bhai Kanhaiya Singh Ji was serving water to the wounded soldier’s from the enemy camp. They were especially annoyed because the Mughals had surrounded the city and stopped all their food supplies, and here was Bhai Kanhaiya sharing with them what little water they had.
When confronted by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Bhai Kanhaiya Ji simply replied, “I only see you; I see you in the Sikhs, I see you in the enemy, so then how can I not serve Thyself My Lord ?” (Bhai Kanhaiya Ji saw God manifested in the Guru, and saw the Guru’s reflection in every living being).
Your divine light is shining in everyone.
God you are that divine jot. You are that divine light.
The brightness of that divine light is shining through all.
Through all that divine light is shining.
Shri Guru Granth Sahib ji Page 663)
The Guru, pleased with the reply, blessed him and told the Sikhs that Bhai Kanhaiya had understood the teaching of Gurbani correctly. Guru Gobind Singh Ji, went on to give Bhai Kanhaiya Ji ointment and bandages, so that he could complete his role in delivering medical aid to all the wounded, friends and foes alike. Thus Bhai Kanhaiya Ji became the initiator of delivering first aid and therefore truly the initiator of the present Red Cross movement
I have totally forgotten my jealousy of others, since I found the Saadh Sangat (the holy congregation). ((1))Pause No one is my enemy, and no one is a stranger. I get along with everyone. ((1)) Whatever God does, I accept that as good. This is the sublime wisdom I have obtained from the Holy. ((2)) The One God is pervading in all. Gazing upon Him, beholding Him, Nanak blossoms forth in happiness. ((3)(8))
Shri Guru Granth Sahib ji Page 1299
To have respect for every person is a fundamental pillar of Sikhism and a strong message advanced by the Tenth Guru.