Many times we hear people associating the philosophy revolving around Sikhism with the people belonging from Punjab. This might occur as a misconception, as the teachings of this religion are applicable to every human being on this planet. The term “Sikh” in itself is proof of this, as it refers to a “Learner”. The youngest of many religions, Sikhism came into existence with the emergence of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and continued to propagate and expand for centuries ahead. Up until Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the religion was guided by the presence of the ten Gurus. But with the demise of Guru Gobind Singh, the command was handed over to Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The teachings and philosophy of the ten Guru continue to inspire and teach the society in the form of verses present in the holy text.
Guru Gobind Singh was the only son of the ninth Sikh guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur. His mother’s name was Mata Gujri. He was born on December 22, 1666, in Patna, Bihar India. His original name was Gobind Rai. Guru Gobind Singh was a spiritual leader, philosopher, a great warrior, a port, and was the tenth and the last Sikh Guru.
His father Tej Bahadur was the ninth Sikh Guru and was a very courageous man. Aurangazeb was known for his cruelty and devotion towards Islam, so much so that he had taken the wrong foot of converting people into Islam by force. This was the case in the late 17th century when the Mughal emperor introduced the Sharia law throughout his empire. He also imposed an additional jizya tax on the non-muslim people. One factor that threatened the integrity and belief of the people was his forceful conversion to Islam. As a result of this, history explains that the Kashmiri Pandits had sought shelter under the guidance of Guru Tegh Bahadur Singh ji. During this time, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was carrying out his usual routine teaching his followers, when the Pandits had come barging in to ask for help from the cruel reign of Aurangazeb. As a solution to their problems, the Guru had advised them to challenge Aurangazeb into converting one renowned great man into Islam, and if he was successful in achieving it, the others would follow as well. It was quite evident at this point that if one goes against the orders of the Mughal empire, he would be put to death. As so, the pandits were faced with another dilemma as to whom they should ask for this great sacrifice. This was the moment when the deep insight and maturity of the little Guru Gobind Singh, only 11 at the time, would come before the world. In his eyes, his father was the “great man” capable of such a sacrifice, as no other person could match the greatness of his beloved father. So, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji would go along with the Pandits to Delhi and meet the Mughal king. He would refuse to convert to Islam despite constant pressure as a result of which he was put to death. In 1675, he was beheaded publically by the orders of the fifth Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb as he refused to convert to Islam. This incident led Guru Gobind Singh to form a Sikh warrior community called the Khalsa which is considered to be a significant event in the history of Sikhism. The five articles which are famous as the Five Ks were also introduced by him and he also commanded the Khalsa Sikh to wear it all the time. Guru Gobind Singh Ji has contributed the most to the Sikh community but the most important contributions include writing the important texts of Sikhism and holding Guru Granth Sahib, the religious scripture of Sikhism, as the eternal living Guru of the Sikhs.
About Guru Gobind Singh
Guru Gobind Singh was born on January 5, 1666, in Patna Sahib, Bihar, India. He was born in the family of Sodhi Khatri and his father was Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh guru and his mother’s name was Mata Gujri.
In 1670 Guru Gobind Singh returned back to Punjab with his family and later relocated with his family to Chakk Nanaki near Shivani hills in March 1672 where he completed his schooling. In 1675, the Kashmir Pandits asked Guru Tegh Bahadur to protect them from the oppression of Iftikar Khan, the governor under the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb. Tegh Bahadur accepted to protect the Pandits so he revolted against the cruelty of Aurangzeb. He was summoned to Delhi by Aurangzeb and on arrival, Tegh Bahadur was asked to convert to Islam. Tegh Bahadur refused to do so and he was arrested along with his companions and was beheaded publicly on November 11, 1675, at Delhi.
The sudden death of his father only made Guru Gobind Singh strong as he and the Sikh community got determined to fight against the cruelty shown by Aurangzeb. This fight was done to safeguard their basic human rights and the pride of the Sikh community.
The death of his father made the Sikhs make Guru Gobind Singh the tenth Sikh Guru on March 29, 1676, on Vaisakhi. Guru Gobind Singh was only nine years old when he took his father’s position as the Sikh guru. Little did the world know that this nine-year-old child with determination in his eyes was about to change the whole world.
Till 1685 Guru Gobind Singh stayed in Paonta where he continued his education and also was learning the basic skills required to defend oneself during a battle such as Horse riding, archery, and other martial arts.
Personal Life of Guru Gobind Singh
Guru Gobind Singh had three wives. He married Mata Jito on June 21, 1677, at Basanthgarh. Together they had three sons, namely Jujhar Singh, Zorawar Singh, and Fateh Singh. On April 4, 1684, he married his second wife, Mata Sundari with whom he had a son called Ajit Singh. On April 15, 1700, he married his third wife, Mata Sahib Devan. She played an important role in promoting Sikhism and was proclaimed as Mother of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh.
Guru Gobind Singh and the Khalsa
In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa which is considered to be his greatest achievement. One morning after meditation d Guru Gobind Singh asked the Sikhs to assemble at Anandpur on Vaisakhi. The guru with a sword in his hand called for volunteers who are ready to sacrifice their life. One Sikh named Daya Ram came forward on the third call. Guru Gobind Singh took him in a tent and after a few minutes returned alone with blood dripping from his sword. He continued this process with four more volunteers but after the fifth volunteer went inside the tent, Guru Gobind Singh Ji came out with all the five volunteers who were unharmed. Guru Gobind Singh Ji blessed the five volunteers and called them the Panj Pyare or the five beloved ones and announced them as the first Khalsa in the Sikh tradition. He did this to test the faith of the people. Guru Gobind Singh then prepared Amrit(nectar ) for the volunteers. The five volunteers then received the nectar from Guru Gobind Singh after reciting the Adi Granth. The surname of Singh was given to them by Guru Gobind Singh.
Guru Gobind Singh and the Five K’s
Guru Gobind Singh commanded the Sikh to wear five items all the time which include Kesh, Kangha, Kara, Kachera, and Kirpan. The Khalsa warriors had to follow a code of discipline that was introduced by Guru Gobind Singh. The oath towards the five Ks symbolizes the person’s complete and undivided dedication and devotion to the Supreme.
He prohibited them from doing adultery, fornication, eating tobacco, and the consumption of halal meat.
Each of these five k’s has a definite function particular to themselves. For instance, The kanga is utilized to comb the long hair, the most commonly identifiable trait of a Sikh. Another such example is that of the kirpan, used by the Sikhs to protect the oppressed.
But, on a much deeper note, these five k’s also go on to perform a much more symbolic function. For instance, the uncut hair, symbolized by the kanga, points towards the natural state of human beings. Whereas, the kirpan symbolizes one’s complete surrender of the ego to his/her Guru. It is said to be the sword of knowledge that cuts the deep roots of the person’s ego by his/her complete submission to the One. Kara, on the other hand, suggests the renouncing of falsehood and practicing universal love. The circular geometry of the kara also symbolizes the eternal nature of God.
Guru Gobind Singh and the Sikh Scriptures
The fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan compiled Sikh scripture by the name of Adi Granth. It contained the hymns of the previous Gurus and many saints. Adi Granth was later expanded as Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh in 1706 released a second edition of the religious scripture with the addition of one salok, dohra mahala nine ang, and all the 115 hymns of his father Guru Tegh Bahadur. The rendition was now called Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib was composed by all the previous Gurus and also contained the traditions and the teachings of Indian saints like Kabir etc.
Guru Gobind Singh’s Death
After the second battle of Anandpur in 1704, Guru Gobind Singh and his followers stayed at different places. After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, the official successor to the Mughal empire, Bahadur Shah wanted to meet Guru Gobind Singh in person and reconcile with him near the Deccan area of India. Guru Gobind Singh camped on the banks of the Godavari river where two afghans by the name of Jamshed Khan and Wasil Beg enter the camp and Jamshed Khan stabbed Guru Gobind Singh. The Guru retaliated and killed Jamshed Khan while Wasil Beg was killed by the Sikh guards. On October 7, 1708, Guru Gobind Singh passed away as the last Sikh Guru.