“The Palace of the Lord God is so beautiful. Within it, there are gems, rubies, pearls and flawless diamonds. A fortress of gold surrounds this Source of Nectar. How can I climb up to the Fortress without a ladder? By meditating on the Lord, through the Guru, I am blessed and exalted. The Guru is the Ladder, the Guru is the Boat, and the Guru is the Raft to take me to the Lord’s Name. The Guru is the Boat to carry me across the world-ocean; the Guru is the Sacred Shrine of Pilgrimage, the Guru is the Holy River. If it pleases Him, I bathe in the Pool of Truth, and become radiant and pure.” (Guru Nanak, Sri Rag, pg. 17)
The word ‘Guru’ in Sanskrit means teacher, honoured person, religious person or saint. Sikhism though has a very specific definition of the word ‘Guru’. It means the descent of divine guidance to mankind provided through ten Enlightened Masters. This honour of being called a Sikh Guru applies only to the ten Gurus who founded the religion starting with Guru Nanak in 1469 and ending with Guru Gobind Singh in 1708; thereafter it refers to the Sikh Holy Scriptures the Guru Granth Sahib. The divine spirit was passed from one Guru to the next as “The light of a lamp which lights another does not abate. Similarly a spiritual leader and his disciple become equal, Nanak says the truth.”
Nanak was an extra-ordinary and different child in many ways. God provided him with contemplative mind and rational thinking. At the age of seven, he learnt Hindi and Sanskrit. He surprised his teachers with the sublimity of his extra-ordinary knowledge about divine things. At the age of thirteen, he learned Persian and Sanskrit and at the age of 16, he was the most learned young man in the region. He was married to Mata Sulakhni ji, who gave birth to two sons: Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das. In November 1504, Guru Nanak’s elder sister Nanaki ji took him to Sultanpurlodhi where her husband Jai Ram ji got him the Job of storekeeper in the Modikhana of the local Nawab, Daulat Khan Lodhi.
At the age of 38, in August 1507, Guru Nanak Sahib heard God ‘s call to dedicate himself to the service of humanity after bathing in “Vain Nadi” (a small river) Near Sultanpur Lodhi. The very first sentence which he ‘ uttered then was, ” There is no Hindu, no Musalman”. He now undertook long travels to preach his unique and divine doctrine (Sikhism). After visiting different places in Punjab, he decided to proceed on four long tours covering different religious places in India and abroad. These tours are called Char Udasis of Guru Nanak Sahib.
During the four journeys, Guru Nanak Sahib visited different religious places preaching Sikhism. He went to Kurukshetra, Haridwar, Joshi Math, Ratha Sahib, Gorakh Matta (Nanak Matta), Audhya, Prayag, Varanasi, Gaya, Patna, Dhubri and Gauhati in Assam, Dacca, Puri, Cuttock, Rameshwaram, Ceylon, Bidar, Baroach, Somnath, Dwarka, Janagarh, Ujjain, Ajmer, Mathura, Pakpattan, Talwandi, Lahore, Sultanpur, Bilaspur, Rawalsar, Jawalaji, Spiti Vally, Tibet, Ladakh, Kargil, Amarnath, Srinagar and Baramula. Guru Nanak Sahib also paid visit to Muslim holy places. In this regard he went to Mecca, Medina, Beghdad via Multan, Peshawar Sakhar, Son Miani, Hinglaj etc. Some accounts say that Guru Sahib reached Mecca by sea-route. Guru Sahib also visited Syra, Turkey and Tehran (the present capital of Iran). From Tehran Guru Sahib set out on the caravan route and covered Kabul, Kandhar and Jalalabad. The real aim of the tour was awakening the people to realise the truth about God and to introduce Sikhism. He established a network of preaching centres of Sikhism which were called “Manjis”. He appointed able and committed followers as its head (preacher of Sikhism). The basic tenents of Sikhism were wilfully conceived by the people from all walks of life. The seeds of Sikhism were sown all over India and abroad in well-planned manner.
In the year 1520, Babar attacked India. His troops slaughtered thousands of innocent civilians of all walks of life. Women and children were made captives and all their property looted at Amiabad. Guru Nanak Sahib challenged this act of barbarity in strong words. He was arrested and released, shortly after making Babar realising his blunder. All the prisoners were also released.
Guru Nanak Sahib settled down at Kartarpur city (now in Pakistan) which was founded by him in 1522 and spent the rest of his life there (1522-1539). There was daily Kirtan and the institution of Langar (free kitchen) was introduced. Knowing that the end was drawing near, Guru Nanak Sahib, after testing his two sons and some followers, installed Bhai Lehna ji (Guru Angad Sahib) as the Second Nanak in 1539, and after a few days passed into Sachkhand on 22nd September, 1539.
Thus ended the wordly journey of this god-gifted Master (Guru) of mankind. He rejected the path of renunciation Tyaga or Yoga, the authority of the Vedas and the Hindu caste system. Guru Nanak Sahib emphasised the leading of householder’s life (Grista), unattached to gross materialism. The services of mankind Sewa, Kirtan, Satsang and faith in ‘One’ Omnipotent God are the basic concepts of Sikhism established by Guru Nanak Sahib. Thus he laid the foundations of Sikhism. He preached new idea of God as Supreme, Universal, All-powerful and truthful. God is Formless (Nirankar), the Sole, the Creator, the self-existent, the Incomprehensible and the Ever-lasting and the creator of all things (Karta Purakh). God is infinite, All knowing, True, All-giver, Nirvair, and Omnipotent. He is Satnam, the Eternal and Absolute Truth.
As a social reformer Guru Nanak Sahib upheld the cause of women, downtrodden and the poors. He attacked the citadel of caste system of Hindus and theocracy of Muslim rulers. He was a born poet. He wrote 974 hyms comprising Japji Sahib, Asa-Di-Var, Bara-Mah, Sidh-Gosht, Onkar (Dakhani) and these were included in Guru Granth Sahib by Guru Arjan Sahib. He was also a perfect musician. He with the company of Bhai Mardana compsed such tunes in various Indian classical Ragas that charmed and tawed wild creatures like Babar, subdued saging kings, raved bigots and tyrants, made thugs and robbers saints. He was a reformer as well as a revolutionary. God had endowed him with a contemplative mind and pious disposition. Guru Arjan Sahib called him “the image of God, nay, God Himself”. .
Under the influence of his mother Bhai Lehna ji began to worship Durga (A Hindu mythological Goddess). He used to lead a batch of worshippers to Jawalamukhi Temple every year. He was married to Mata Khivi ji in Jaunary 1520 and had two sons (Dasu ji and Datu ji) and two daughters (Amro ji and Anokhi ji). The whole family of Pheru ji had to leave their ancestral village because of the ransacking by the Mughal and Baloch militia who had come with Babur. After this the family settelled at village Khadur Sahib beside the Beas river, near Tarn Taran Sahib (A small town about 25 kmt.away from Amritsar City).
Once Bhai Lehna ji heard the recitation of a hymn of Guru Nanak Sahib from Bhai Jodha ji (a sikh of Guru Nanak Sahib) and was thrilled and decided to proceed through Kartarpur to have a glimpse of Guru Nanak Sahib at the time of yearly pilgrimage to Jwalamukhi Temple. His very first meeting with Guru Nanak Sahib completely transformed him. He renounced the worship of Hindu Goddess, dedicated himself to the service of Guru Nanak Sahib, became his Sikh and began to live at Kartarpur, His devotion to Guru Nanak Sahib and his holy mission was so great that he was installed as the Second Nanak in September 7, 1539 by Guru Nanak Sahib himself. Earlier Guru Nanak Sahib tested him in various ways and found an embodiment of obedience and service in him. Guru Nanak Sahib gave him a new name Angad (Guru Angad Sahib). He spent six or seven years in the service of Guru Nanak Sahib at Kartarpur.
After the death of Guru Nanak Sahib on September 22, 1539, Guru Angad Sahib left Kartarpur for Khadur Sahib Village (near Goindwal Sahib). He carried forward the thought of Guru Nanak Sahib both in letter and spirit. Yogis and Saints of different sects visited him and held detailed discussions about Sikhism with him .
Guru Angad Sahib introduced a new alphabet known as Gurmukhi Script, modifying the old Punjabi Script ‘s characters. It become the script of the masses very soon. He took great interest in the education of the children by opening many schools for their instruction and thus increased the number of literates. For the youth he started the tradition of Mall Akhara, where physical as well as spiritual exercises were held. He collected the facts about Guru Nanak Sahib ‘s life from Bhai Bala ji and wrote the first biography of Guru Nanak Sahib. (Bhai Bale Wali Janamsakhi available now a days in not the same that Guru Angad Sahib had compiled.) He also wrote 63 Saloks (stanzas), these were included in Guru Granth Sahib. He popularized and expanded the institution of ‘Guru ka Langar’ started by Guru Nanak Sahib earlier .
Guru Angad Sahib visited all important places and centres established by Guru Nanak Sahib for preaching Sikhism. He also established hundreds of new Sangats (Sikh religious Institutions) and thus strengthened the base of Sikhism. The period of his Guruship was the most crucial one. The Sikh community being infant, had to face a number of dangers. It was not difficult for Hinduism to swallow the newly born Sikhism in due course of time. Moreover Sri Chand’s Udasis sect community and the activities of Jogies had not yet abated. At this hour of juncture he lived Guru Nanak Sahib’s tenents in true spirit and there were manifest signs of drifting it (Sikhism) away from the Hinduism. Sikhism established its own separate religious identity.
Guru Angad Sahib, by following the example of Guru Nanak Sahib, nominated Amar Das Sahib as his successor (The Third Nanak) before his death. He presented all the holy scripts including those he received from Guru Nanak Sahib, to Guru Amar Das Sahib. He breathed his last on March 29, 1552 at the age of forty-eight. It is said that he started to build a new town, at Goindwal near Khadur Sahib and Guru Amar Das Sahib was appointed to supervise its construction. It is also said that Himayun, when defeated by Sher Shah Suri, came to obtain blessings of Guru Angad Sahib in regaining the throne of Delhi.
(Guru) Ramdas Sahib was married to Bibi Bhani Ji (daughter of Guru Amardas Sahib). She bore him three sons: Prithi Chand Ji, Mahadev Ji and Arjan Sahib (Guru) Ji. After the marriage he stayed with his father-in-law and deeply associated himself with the Guru Ghar activities (Sikhism). He commanded full confidence of Guru Amardas Sahib and often accompanied him when the latter went on long missionary tours to different parts of India.
(Guru) Ramdas Sahib was a man of considerable merit. He became famous for his piety, devotion, energy and eloquence. Guru Amardas Sahib found him capable in every respect and worthy of the office of Guruship and installed him as Fourth Nanak on september 1, 1574. Guru Ramdas Sahib laid the foundation stone of Chak Ramdas or Ramdas Pur, which is now called Amritsar. For this purpose he purchased land from the zamindars of the villages: Tung, Gilwali and Gumtala, and began digging of Santokhsar Sarover. Later on he suspended the work on Santokhsar and concentrated his attention on digging Amritsar Sarovar. Bhai Sahlo Ji and Baba Budha Ji, the two devoted Sikhs were assigned the supervising work.
The new city (Chak Ramdas Pur) flourished soon as it was situated at the centre of international trade routes. It grew into an important center of trade in Punjab after Lahore. Guru Ramdas Sahib himself invited many merchants and artisans from the different walks of life and trades. Later on, it proved to be step of far-reaching importance. It provided a common place of worship to the Sikhs and paved the way for the future guidelines for the Sikhism as a different religion. Guru Ramdas Sahib introduced Masand system in place of Manji system and this step played a great role in the consolidation of Sikhism.
Guru Ramdas Sahib strengthened the Sikhism a step further by composing Four Lawans and advised the Sikhs to recite them in order to solemnize the marriages of their children. Thus he introduced a new matrimonial system based upon Sikhism instead of Hindu’s Vedi system. Thus this distinct marriage code for the Sikhs separated them from the orthodox and traditional Hindu system. also made rapprochement with different sects of Udasis through Baba Shri Chand Ji. He, like his predecessors carried forward the tradition of Guru ka Langer. Superstitions, caste system and pilgrimages were strongly decried.
He wrote 638 hymns in 30 ragas, these include 246 Padei 138 Saloks, 31 Ashtpadis and 8 Vars and are a part of Guru Granth Sahib. He nominated his youngest son (Guru) Arjan Sahib as Fifth Nanak. After this he left Amritsar and retired to Goindwal Sahib. There, after a few days he passed away for heaven on Bhadon Sudi 3rd (2nd Assu) Samvat 1638 (September 1, 1581).
Guru Arjan Sahib founded the town of Tarn Taran Sahib near Goindwal Sahib and also created a large tank and Gurdwara there. A house for lepers was also built. He also laid the foundation stone of the town Kartarpur in Doaba region (near Jalandhar city). He constructed a Baoli in Dabbi-Bazar of Lahore. (Once Shah Jahan destroyed the Baoli and erected a mosque there. But later on Maharaja Ranjit Singh re-excavated the Baoli. Again, after the partition of India in 1947, it was demolished by the Musilm mob). Guru Sahib also established another town, Hargobindpur on the river Bias and sunk a big well for irrigation at Chheharta, a few miles away from Amritsar.
Guru Arjan Sahib was very energetic and aspiring personality. In order to strengthen the cult of Sikhism he toured far and wide about five years throughout India. He also stayed sometime at Wadali (now it is called Guru-Di-Wadali near Amritsar city). To consolidate and extend Sikhism, Guru Arjan Sahib done a great and monumental work. After collecting the hymns of first four Guru Sahibs and several other Hindu and Muslim Saints, and compiled Guru Granth Sahib (written by Bhai Gurdas Ji). Guru Sahib himself contributed about 2000 verses for it, installed it at Sri Harmandir Sahib on Bhadon Sudi 1st Samvat 1661 (August/September 1604), and made Baba Budha Ji as the first Granthi. Sri Guru Granth Sahib proved a great landmark in the history of Sikh Nation. It created a sensor of religious separation from the Hindus and the Muslims. Now the Sikhism began to develop as a different religion. Once the emperor Akbar was mislead about the contents of Guru Granth Sahib by the enemies of Guru Arjan Sahib. But finding nothing objectionable, the emperor Akbar assessed Guru Granth Sahib as “The greatest Granth of synthesis, worthy of reverence”.
During the period of Guru Arjan Sahib the Amritsar city became the central institution where all the Sikhs used to gather annually on Baisakhi and the Massands began to deposit the collected offerings from the different parts of India in Guru Sahib’s treasury.
The tradition of Daswandh and Masand system was also institutionalized. This institution spread the Sikhism to the provinces far distant from the Punjab and attracted a large number of followers. (But the Masand system became rotten with the passage of time Guru Gobind Singh Sahib abolished it in 1698).
For the first time the Sikhs began to call Guru Arjan Sahib as “Sacha Patshah”. The number of Sikhs began to increase day by day and this made the orthodox Hindus and princely Muslim class more jealous towards Guru Ghar (Sikh Nation). Guru’s elder brother, Prithi Chand made an alliance with Sulhi Khan (a revenue officer), and planned to harm and harass Guru Sahib. But Sulhi Khan died by his sudden fall in a live brick-klins. The orthodox Hindus and the fundamentalist Muslims (Shekh Ahmed Sirhandi, Birbal and Chandu) were some of the most jealous of Sikh community and Guru Arjan Sahib. After the death of Akbar in 1605 both Hindu and Muslim fundamentalists move the new head of state emperor Jahangir against Guru Sahib. Jahangir himself was also jealous about Guru’s propagation of Sikhism. He promptly obliged the enemies of Guru Sahib. Many baseless allegations were leveled against Guru Sahib, one of those was helping the rebellious Khusro. Guru Arjan Sahib was arrested and brought to Lahore where he was charge-sheeted and implicated in the false cases. The Governor of Lahore was assigned the task of the execution. He handed over Guru Sahib over to Chandu, a petty businessman and an orthodox Hindu of Lahore city. He tortured Guru Sahib about three days in a manner unknown in the history of mankind. It is said that Mian Mir (a Muslim Sufi Saint and friend of Guru Sahib) tried to intercede on behalf of Guru Sahib but the later forbade him. During the torturing period, Guru Sahib was made to sit on the hot iron plates and burning sand was poured over his naked body. When his body was blistered, he was chained and thrown into the river Ravi. Thus Guru Sahib embraced martyrdom on Jeth Sudi 4th (1st Harh) Samvat 1663, (May 30, 1606) Jahangir in his autobiography acknowledges that he personally ordered the execution of Guru Arjan Sahib. The martyrdom of Guru Sahib changed the entire character of Sikhism radically. The Sikh Nation naturally looked upon this as the bigotry and cruelty of the theist Muslim state and the orthodox Hindus towards the newly born, peace loving Sikhism.
Guru Hargobind Sahib wore two swords, one of Spiritual Power – Piri and the other of Military Power – Miri. Now the Sikh became “Saint-Soldier.” Guru Sahib issued various letters advising the Sikhs to take part in the military training and martial arts. A Chronicler states that Guru Sahib kept seven hundred Cavaliers and sixty artillerymen. There was a band of Pathan mercenaries and Painda Khan Pathan was made its chief. Riding, hunting, wrestling and many others martial sports were introduced. And on the other hand the martial songs like ‘Vars’ were daily sung by the Dhadd-players in the court of Guru Sahib to inspire the Sikhs of heroic deeds. Abdul and Natha Mal were given the task in this respect. The Guru Sahib himself was healthy and strong in body and mind. He himself learnt the use of different weapons, besides riding wrestling and hunting.
In due course of action, Guru Sahib errected a wall around Amritsar city and constructed a small fort named ‘Lohgarh’ on the out skirts of the city. Guru Sahib revealed Sri Akal Takht Sahib also known as Akal Bunga (Tuineless Throned) just in front of Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in 1609. This place became the seat of preaching and praying in due course of time. At this place, Guru Sahib used to gave sermons to the Sikhs and discussions were held on the problems faced by the Sikh nation. In this way the Sikhs were encouraged to settle their own disputes themselves, some martial sports were also performed in the open courtyard before the Akal Takht. This development further consolidated the Sikh nation. The Sikhs call Guru Sahib ‘Sachcha Patshah’ (True Emperor) and the Sikh Nation followed the judgments or decisions taken on Sri Akal Takht Sahib enthusiastically.
The emperor Jahangir did not tolerated this new policy of Guru Sahib and subsequently ordered to imprison him in the Gwalior Fort. Though the various reasons are also ascribed for the detention of Guru Sahib but the most suitable one seems to be that the Emperor Jahangir was falsely alarmed (about the military preparations by the Guru Sahib and Sikhs) by the same elements; enemies of the Sikh Nation, who were earlier responsible for the execution of Guru Arjan Sahib. After receiving summons from Emperor Jahangir, Guru Sahib proceeded towards Delhi before making serious consultations about rest, with all the leading Sikh personalities including Mata Ganga Ji, Baba Budha Ji, Bhai Gurdas Ji, Bhai Jetha Ji and Bhai Sahlo Ji. Guru Sahib appeared before the Emperor Jahangir and was received by the latter with due respect. A debate on Sikh religion and Sikh doctrines held between Guru Sahib and Jahangir (having pre-tempered mind against Guru Sahib) but the emperor remained unimpressed and ordered for the imprisonment of Guru Sahib at Gwalior Fort. Guru Sahib was detained in the fort upto three years i.e. from 1609 to 1612. (There are divergent views regarding the detention period of Guru Sahib in the Gwalior Fort prison, but the most acceptable one seems to be three years from 1609 to 1612.)
Sain Mian Mir and Wazir Khan (Governor of Lahore) approached Emperor Jahangir on behalf of Guru Sahib and secured the releasing orders. When Guru Sahib met Jahangir immediately after his release, he insisted upon Jahangir for the release of other fifty-two Hindu Princes on his personal surety (These Princes were said to be the rebellious ones). The request was obliged and all the prisoners were released in 1612. Then the title of “Bandi Chhor Baba” was given to Guru Sahib and is still remembered by this name. Guru Sahib reached Amritsar on the occasion of Diwali. This was a big occasion for the Sikhs. It is said that Baba Budha Ji littered the earthen lamps throughout the Amritsar city. The Sikhs celebrated this occasion enthusiastically. From this day the Sikh Nation began to celebrate Dewali festival as ” Bandi Chhor Diwas ” also.
Now the attitude of Jahangir and his empire towards Guru Sahib changed considerably and remained favorable and friendly till the death of Jahangir. It was the outcome of the noble interceding by the religious, secular and political personalities like Sain Mian Mir Ji, Nizam-ud-Din and the Governor of Lahore, Wazir Khan. Shortly after the release of Guru Sahib, the angry Sikhs overtook Chandu Shah (the main brain behind the execution of Guru Arjan Sahib). They preceded him through the streets of Lahore. Chandu, like a mad dog, was pelted with stones, filth, and abuses thus put to death. A chronicle further states that “Death came to him as a relief and his body was thrown into the river Ravi.”
Shortly after the release from the Gwalior Fort and having cordial relations with the state, Guru sahib started to re-consolidate the Sikh Nation. He modified the concept of Charanamrit, (system of initiating people into the fold of Sikhism, which was being exploited by the selfish and corrupt Masands according to their own interests, when Guru Sahib was in Gwalior prison). He tried his best to dissuade Meharban (son of Pirthi Chand) from harbouring hostile designs against Sikhs and Sikhism.
Guru Sahib undertook Dharam Parchar tours to spead Sikhism. He started from Amritsar and covered thousand miles in India. In Punjab he visited Kartarpur and made it as headquarter of Sikh Nation in Doaba. He also visited several adjoining villages like Bara Pir, Mukerian and laid the foundation stone of Sri Hagobindpur town (the original name of this town was Gobindpura) near the river Beas in 1621. Guru Sahib also covered the ‘Malwa’ region of Punjab where the cult of Hindu Goddess and “Sakhi Sarwar” was fascination the lowly and downtrodden simple living people. Guru Sahib admitted the people of the villages: Darauli, Mehraj, Damru, Dabwali, Sidhwan, Sidhar, Lopo, Zeera, Katra and Gillan in the Sikhism. In other words the entire Malwa region embraced Sikhism and went a long way in integrating the Sikh Nation. This was a major achievement by Guru Hargobind Sahib.
Guru Hargobind Sahib visited an old Sikh religious parching centre Nanakmata (Gorakhmata) in the present Pili Bhit district of U.P. Guru Nanak Sahib established it. It is said that some Hindu Yogis ousted Almast Ji, (a pious Sikh preacher, deputed by Guru Hargobind Sahib to spread Sikhism) from the gurdwara and desecrated the place by cutting the holy and historical Peepal tree, under which earlier Guru Nanak Sahib held discussions with the different sects of Jogis.
Guru Sahib reached Nanakmata along with some saint-soldiers. Seeing Guru Sahib on the scene, the Yogis fled away and never came back or interfered in the religious affairs of Almast Ji. Guru Sahib returned Amritsar via Darauli. Guru Sahib also held a detailed discussion on the spiritual and relious with a marathe Saint Ram Das Samrath, on the spiritual and religious issues in a very cordial atmosphere at Srinagar (Garhwal).
Guru Sahib visited Kashmir in 1620. Some chronicles state that Guru Sahib went there at the invitation of emperor Jahangir, because his personal physician’s advice for a natural climate and atmospheric change. It is also stated that Jahangir and his party paid a visit to Goindwal Sahib and reached Amritsar via Taran Taran. The emperor offered financial assistance for the construction of Sri Akal Takht Sahib, but Guru Sahib declined the offer politely.
On the other hand some Sikh source term the visit to Kashmir as a part of Guru Sahib’s preaching campaign. Guru Hargobind Sahib patronized one Sewa Das for preaching Sikhism. He and his mother Bhag Bhari served Guru Sahib with much zeal and devotion. Guru Sahib held a short meeting with his many devoted Sikhs and a preacher Kattu Shah (a converted Mohammedan). Guru Sahib visited Sialkot, Wazirabad, Mirpur, Bhimbar Rehran, Baramula, Uri and Muzafrabad. He appointed Bhai Garhia Ji to preach the Sikh religion. The large number of Kashmiris, both Hindus and Muslims embraced Sikhism due to the devoted and committed preaching by Guru Sahib. He married Bibi Marwahi Ji (Mata Mahadevi Ji), the daughter of a devoted Sikh couple Daya Ram Ji and Bhagan Ji at village Mandiali.
Guru Sahib returned home via Baramula and proceeded further to Gujarat where he met Saint Shah Daulla who appreciated Guru Sahib spiritual status and mode of living with splendor. Guru Sahib also visited Rai Bhoe-di-Talwandi (the birth place of Guru Nanak Sahib), Mange and Madai in Lahore district. He also visted Kurukshetra and established there a Sikh preaching centre (Now in Haryana State).
Guru Sahib spent the last decade of his life (from 1635 to 1644) at Kiratpur Sahib, which is situated in the hill state of Hadur (Nalagarh), founded by Baba Gurditta Ji (Guru’s son). It is said that Raja Tara Chand donated land for this purpose. Guru Sahib devoted his much time in reorganizing the Sikh Nation and updating the preaching centres by establishing a new system called Dhunas. Baba Gurditta Ji was made the incharge of religious affairs and he further appointed four head preachers area vice: Almast Ji, Phaul Ji, Gonda Ji and Baba Hansa Ji. Guru Sahib made reconciliation with Udasi sect headed by Baba Sri Chand Ji. Guru Sahib’s religious tours and preaching made the Sikhism more popular in different parts of India.
On the other hand Guru Sahib did not abandoned the mission of militarizing the Sikhs. Now for the first time in the Indian history since the invasion of Muslims, the Sikh Nation, under the supreme command of Guru Hargobind Sahib, prepared for the armed resistance. The tyranny and injustice of the Muslim theocratic state was opposed. This was only an imperative measure of defense. Guru Sahib converted the peaceful sect into a warlike community, ready to defend their interests with the swords and it was the need of the hour.
After the death of emperor Jahangir the policy matter of the new young emperor Shah Jahan changed considerably. The emperor took the notice of new converts to Sikhism from the Muslims. He ordered to destroy all the temples and Gurdwaras, which were under construction. The sacred Baoli of Guru Arjan Sahib in Dabbi Babar, Lahore (now in Pakistan) was desecrated and converted into a mosque. (Later Maharaja RanJit Singh re-excavated and re-established this Baoli. Again it was destroyed in 1947, by the unruly and fanatic Muslims mob). On the other hand the influence of Naqashbandis (a radical and fundamentalist order of the Muslim’s clergy).
In 1629 Mukhlis Khan was made the Governor to Lahore. He and Qazi Rustam Khan were best friends. According to some historical accounts Kaulan(Mata), a Hindu lady , as it is also signified to by the name Kaulan, was forcibly abducted by the Qazi Rustam Khan in her childhood and was made a maid servant . She was treated like a slave .At the young age; she came under the influence of the teachings of Sain Mian Mir Ji. She also began to take part in the religious sittings of Guru Sahib and became an ardent and pious follower of Guru Sahib.
On noticing this attitude of Kaulan Ji, Qazi became harsher towards her .How a Qazi, an extreme fanatic personality; tolerate her deep and devotional interest in Sikh religion? Because of Qazi’s harsh treatment she sought the help of Mian Mir Ji, who deputed his disciple Abdullah (Abdul Yar Khan) to escort Kaulan Ji safely to Amritsar, Where she was treated kindly by Guru Sahib and provided her a safe and separate lodging near a pond, (later it was converted into a tank by Guru Sahib and named it Kaulsar, after the name of Kaulan Ji). She was a pious disciple of Guru Sahib and an ardent follower of Sikhism. She began to arrange religious congregations on Sikhism and Gurbani, at her residence. Within a short span of time she became much popular among the Sikh masses. Thus she won the sympathy of the Sikhs who began to address her as Mata Kaulan Ji. She breathed her last on 4th July 1629 at Kartarpur (Jalandhar) while serving for the Sikh nation.
When Shah Jahan succeeded the throne after the death of his father Jahangir, Qazi Rustam Khan lodged a complaint with the new emperor, who was incensed earlier by the fanatic Muslims and Hindus against the Sikh Nation and Guru Sahib. He obliged the complaint and revised his policy matter; earlier adopted by his father Jahangir towards Guru Sahib.The possible conflict out of charged circumstances was inevitable. Guru Sahib fought five battles during the regime of emperor Shah Jahan, and all were won. A small conflict of Rohilla near Sri Hargobindpur was fought in 1621. It was the first armed clash between the Faujdar of Jalandhar and Hargobind Sahib.
Near the site of new town Hargobindpur, Bhagwan Das, a Khatri ‘Kirar’ contemplated his right of ownership on the land and with the help of some hired ruffians forcibly tried to dislodge the Sikhs, who were engaged in developing the new township. In the ensuing small clash Bhagwan Das and his most hired ruffians were killed. After this incident, Rattan Chand (son of Bhagwan Das) and Karam Chand (son of Chandu Mal) incensed the Faujdar of Jalandhar against Guru Sahib. Abdulla Khan the Faujdar of Jalandhar dispatched ten thousand soldiers. They were intercepted by the mighty and devoted Sikh Saint-Soldiers at Rohilla Ghat on the bank of the river Beas. The Mughal army met a crushing defeat by the hands of, but there was an immense loss of lives and material on the both sides. Besides Rattan Chand and Karam Chand, the Faujdar of Jalandhar, Abdullah Khan his two sons and five commanders were killed. Guru Sahib sacrificed Saint Soldiers like Mathura Bhat Ji (son of Baba Bhikha Ji), Bhai Nanu Ji, Bhai Saktu Ji, Bhai Jattu Ji, Bhai Pirana Ji, Bhai Paras Ram Ji, Bhai Jagannath Ji and Bhai Kalyana Ji.
The second and the most serious conflict between Guru Sahib and the Mughal forces were fought in April 1634. It started with the lifting of a royal hawk of the imperial army of Shah Jahan by the Sikhs, who incidentally were also hunting in the same territory aroud Gumtala Village near Amritsar. This led to a small violent conflict between the two parties. Guru Hargobind Sahib was not directly involved in his clash.
This incident enraged the emperor, Shah Jahan. He deputed Mukhils Khan with, 7,000 soldiers “to teach the lesson” to Guru Hargobind Sahib. The mini fortress of Lohgarh was attacked. The Sikhs though small in number, gave a stiff resistance. Guru Sahib and the whole family had to hurriedly move to Chabal, to solemnize the marriage of Bibi Veero Ji (the daughter of Guru Hargobind Sahib). The attackers had an upper hand over the Sikhs on the first day of the battle. They looted and plundered all the property and holy residence of Guru Sahib. On the next morning the Sikhs, after consolidating their position, retaliated and made a vigorous attack on the sleeping Mughal forces. Mukhlis Khan, the commander and most of his leading lieutenants were killed. Guru Sahib also suffered a heavy loss of life and property. This was the first armed clash between the Mughals and the Sikhs.
After this battle, Guru Hargobind Sahib retired to the semi desert wastelands of Bhatinda. (While leaving Amritsar for the Malwa region, Guru Sahib took Guru Granth Sahib with him but after meeting a halt for sometimes at Daroli he sent Guru Granth Sahib to Kartarpur along with the family). Soon after this, a tussle between Guru Sahib and Subedar of Lahore began over the two horses, which were forcibly snatched and taken into custody by the Mughal officials from the two devotees of Guru Sahib, at Lahore. This incident was informed to Guru Sahib. Bhai Bidhi Chand a daring disciple recovered the horses one by one from the royal stable. This dare devil act was considered an open thereat to the authority of the Mughal Empire. The imperial forces (22000 troops) were dispatched towards the Lakhi Jungle under the command of Qammar Beg and Lalla Beg. Guru Hargobind Sahib had only three to four thousand warriors. The Sikh forces under the command of Rai Jodh and Kirt Bhatt camped near a water reservoir. The interception took place near Mehraj and Lahira villages. According to some chronicle (on 16th December 1634) the Sikhs waged a guerilla attack on Mughal forces at night, which resulted heavy causalities in the Mughal camp. The Sikhs routed and defeated the enemy. Guru Sahib lost 1200 Saint Soldiers including Kirt Bhatt Ji and Bhai Jetha Ji. On the other side Sameer Beg and his two sons Shams Beg and Qasim Beg were also killed. The Mughal forces fled to Lahore leaving behind the dead and wounded. The Sikhs did not intercept the fleecing enemy. Guru Sahib built a tank called Gurusar commemorating the victory. Near a village Nathane Guru Sahib faced another encounter with the Mughal forces but remained victorious.
After these successful encounters Guru Sahib retired at Kartarpur (Jalandhar) along with his warriors. Painda Khan Pathan a commander in Guru’s army and childhood friend, deserted him later and joined the Mughal camp after some altercation with the Sikhs and Guru Sahib on some petty issues. He and Kala Khan (brother of slain Mukhlis Khan), along with imperial army made an attack on Guru Sahib at Kartarpur on 26th April 1635. The Sikhs having a nominal strength of 5000, fought with rare courage and velour. Teg Bahadar Ji (Guru), Baba Gurditta Ji and Bhai Bidhi Chand Ji showed great feasts of bravery. Painda Khan and Kala Khan were killed. Several Sikh Saint Soldiers were also martyred.
After the battle of Kartarpur, Guru Sahib moved onwards Kiratpur Sahib, which was under the rule of Raja Tara Chand (a hill state chief). Again Guru Sahib’s entourage was suddenly ambushed by a contingent of royal forces under the command of Ahmed Khan in the village Palahi near Phagwara town on 29th April 1635. It caused considerable loss on the Guru’s soldiers. Bhai Dasa Ji and Bhai Sohela Ji (sons of Ballu Bhat, and grandsons of Mula Bhat) sacrificed their lives. Guru Sahib crossed the Sutlej River and reached Kiratpur Sahib where he established another spiritual and preaching center of the Sikh Nation. Here, Guru Sahib spent ten years of his life and breathed his last on Chet Sudhi 5th (6th Chet Samvat 1701) 28th February 1644 (some chronicle record the date as 3rd March, 1644). It is said that when Guru’s body was placed on fire, and as the flames rose high, a large number of Sikhs tried to burn themselves on the funeral pier. Har Rai Sahib (Guru) dissuaded them, but earlier two had jumped into the pier and were consumed by the fire. Before his death Guru Sahib nominated his grandson Har Rai Sahib (The second son of Baba Gurditta Ji) as his successor (Seventh Nanak).
Once Guru Sahib was coming back from the tour of Malwa and Doaba regions, Mohamad Yarbeg Khan, (son of Mukhlis Khan, who was killed by Guru Hargobind Sahib in a battle) attacked the kafla of Guru Sahib with the force of one thousand armed men. The unwarranted attack was repulsed by a few hundred Saint Soliders of Guru Sahib with great courge and bravery. The enemy suffered a heavy loss of life and fled the scene. This self-defense measure, (a befitting reply to the unwarranted armed attack of the privileged muslims), was an example for those who professed the theory of so called non-violence or “Ahimsa Parmo Dharma”. Guru Sahib often awarded various Sikh warriors with gallantry awards.
Guru Sahib also established an Aurvedic herbal medicine hospital and a research centre at Kiratpur Sahib. There, he maintained a zoo also. Once Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Shah Jahan fell seriously ill by some unknown disease. The best physicians available in the country and abroad were consulted, but there was no improvement. At last the emperor made a humble request to Guru Sahib for the treatment of his son. Guru Sahib accepting the request, handed over some rare and suitable medicines to the messenger of the emperor. The life of Dara Shikoh was saved from the cruel jaws of death. The emperor, whole heartily thanked and wanted to grant some “Jagir”, but Guru Sahib never accepted.
Guru Har Rai Sahib also visited Lahore, Sialkot, Pathankot, Samba, Ramgarh and many places of Jammu and Kashmir region. He established 360 Sikh missionary seats (ManJis). He also tried to improve the old corrupt Masand system and appointed pious and committed personalities like Suthre Shah, Sahiba, Sangtia, Mian Sahib, Bhagat Bhagwan, Bahagat Mal and Jeet Mal Bhagat (also known as Bairagi), as the heads of ManJis.
Guru Har Rai Sahib faced some serious difficulties during the period of his guruship. The corrupt massands, Dhir Mals and Minas always tried to preclude the advancement of Sikh religion. After the death of Shah Jahan, the attitude of the state headed by Aurangzeb towards the non-muslims, turned hostile.
The emperor Aurangzeb made an excuse for the help rendered to prince Dara Shakoh by Guru Sahib during the war of succession and framed false charges against Guru Sahib and was summoned to Delhi. Ram Rai Ji appeard on behalf of Guru Sahib in the court. He tried to clarify some mis-understandings regarding Guru Ghar and Sikh faith, created by Dhirmals and Minas. Yet another trap, which he could not escape, was to clarify the meaning of the verse “The Ashes of the Mohammadan fall into the potter’s clot, It is molded into pots and bricks, and they cry out as they burn”.
Ram Rai, in order to please the emperor and gain more sympathy replied that the text had been needlessly corrupted by some ignorant person and inserted the word Musleman instead of word Beiman (dishonest). (The actual meaning of the verse is that the human soul is not bound to the physical structure or the body of a person. The physical material of the bodies of both Hindus and Muselmans face the same fate and it is a universal truth. The soul leaves the body immediately after the death and it does not remain in the grave waiting for doom’s day. And the earth consumes the body-material in due course of time) It is a rational and scientific view of Sikhism.
When Guru Har Rai Sahib was informed about this incident, he immediately excommunicated Ram Rai Ji from the Sikh Panth and never met him, through the later pleaded repeatedly for forgiveness. Thus Guru Sahib established a strict property for the Sikhs against any alteration of original verse in Guru Granth Sahib and the basic conventions set up by Guru Nanak Sahib.
Knowing that the end was near, Guru Har Rai Sahib installed his younger son Har Krishan as the Eighth Nanak and passed away on Kartik Vadi 9 (5 Kartik), Bikrami Samvat 1718, (6th October, 1661) at Kiratpur Sahib.
When Guru Sahib reached Delhi, he was greeted with great fervor and full honors by Raja Jai Singh and the Sikhs of Delhi. Guru Sahib was lodged in the palace of Raja Jai Singh. The people from all walks of life flocked the palace to have a glimpse (Darshan) of Guru Harkrishan Sahib. Some chronicles mention that prince Muzzam also paid a visit.
In order to test the Guru’s intelligence, of which everyone spoke very highly, Raja Jai Singh requested the Guru Sahib to identify the real queen out of the equally and well dressed ladies surrounding Guru Sahib. The Guru at once went to a lady dressed as a maidservant and sat in her lap. This lady was the real queen. There are also many different stories we find in some other Sikh accounts relating to Guru Sahib’s mental ability.
Within a short span of time Guru Harkrishan Sahib through his fraternization with the common masses gained more and more adherents in the capital. At the time, a swear epidemic of cholera and smallpox broke out in Delhi. The young Guru began to attend the sufferers irrespective of cast and creed. Particularly, the local Muslim population was much impressed with the purely humanitarian deeds of the Guru Sahib and nicknamed him Bala Pir (child prophet). Even Aurangzeb did not tried to disturb Guru Harkrishan Sahib sensing the tone of the situation but on the other hand never dismissed the claim of Ram Rai also.
While serving the suffering people from the epidemic day and night, Guru Sahib himself was seized with high fever. The swear attack of smallpox confined him to bed for several days. When his condition became serious, he called his mother and told her that his end was drawing near. When asked to name his successor, he merely exclaimed ‘Baba Bakala’. These words were only meant for the future (Guru) Teg Bahadur Sahib, who was residing at village Bakala near river Beas in Punjab province.
In the last moment Guru Harkrishan Sahib wished that nobody should mourn him after his death and instructed to sing the hyms of Gurbani. Thus the ‘Bala Pir’ passed away on Chet Sudi 14,(3rd Vaisakh), Bikrami Samvat 1721, (30th March, 1664) slowly reciting the word “Waheguru” till the end. Tenth Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh Sahib paying tribute to Guru Harkrishan Sahib stated in “Var Sri Bhagoti Ji Ki”… “Let us think of the holy Harkrishan, Whose sight dispels all sorrows…”.
From the very childhood Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib used to sit inside the house and spend most of his time in meditation. He seldom played with other boys of his age. Due to the rich religious atmosphere at home he developed a distinct philosophical bent of mind. Naturally he developed inspirations towards a life of selfless service and sacrifice.
Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib had a regular schooling from the age of six. Where he also learnt classical, vocal and instrumental music. Bhai Gurdas Ji also taught him Gurbani and Hindu Mythology. Apart from the schooling he was also given the military training like horsemanship, swordsmanship, javelin throwing and shooting. He had witnessed and even participated in the battles of Amritsar and Kartarpur. But inspite of all this, he developed an extra ordinary mystic nature in due course of time.
Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib was married to Gujri Ji (Mata), daughter of Sh.Lal Chand & Bishan Kaur of Kartarpur at an early age on 15 Assu, Samvat 1689 (September 14, 1632). A son (Guru) Gobind Singh (Sahib) was born on Poh Sudi Saptmi Samvat 1723 (December 22,1666). Gujri (Mata) was also a religious lady. She was disciplined in behaviour and modest in temprament. Her father was a noble and rich man.
Soon after the death of Guru Hargobind Sahib, Mata Nanki Ji, the mother of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib took him and his wife (Gujri) to her natal village (Baba) Bakala near the river Beas. Some Chronicles state that Bhai Mehra, who was a devout Sikh of Guru Hargobind Sahib, got constructed a house for (Guru) Tegh Bahadur Sahib where he lived in complete peace and led a normal life for the next twenty years (from 1644 to 1666).
It is a totally wrong conception (as some historian point out) that Guru Sahib got constructed a solitary cell in his house where he often used to meditate God. Actually, it is seen that the meditation for self-purification and self-attainment of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib is wrongly mis-understood. Guru Nanak’s spiritual traditions hold that after attaining the divine light, one has to lift others from darkness to liberate the world. In JapJi sahib, Guru Nanak Sahib says: ” There can be no love of God without active service.” Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s long spell of silent meditation perfected his will. Through meditation Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib archived the torch of Guru Nanak creative vision. He developed aspirations towards a life of selfless service and sacrifice, with a moral and spiritual courage to abide by the will of God. When Guru Hargobind Sahib invested Har Rai Sahib with Guruship, Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib was the first to bow to Guru Har Rai Sahib. He never contested the will of his father (Guru).
During the stay at Baba Bakala, Guru Tegh Bahadur paid visits to many holy and historical places like Goindwal, Kiratpur Sahib, Haridwar, Prayag, Mathura, Agra, Kashi (Banaras) and Gaya. A devoted Sikh of Guru Hargobind Sahib, Bhai Jetha Ji took Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib to Patna. Here he heard the news of the passing away of Guru Har Rai Sahib (6th Oct, 1661) and decided to return to Kiratpur Sahib. On the way back he reached Delhi on March, 21,1664, where he learnt the arrival of Guru Harkrishan Sahib at the residence of Raja Jai Singh. He alongwith his mother and other Sikhs paid visit to Guru Harkrishan Sahib and after expressing profound sense of sorrow and sympathy towards Guru Sahib and his mother Mata Krishan Kaur Ji, he left for Baba Bakala (Punjab).
After some days, Guru Harkrishan Sahib (on the eve of his death), prophetically uttered only two words “Baba Bakala” meaning that his successor would be found at (Baba) Bakala. Now with this announcement near about twenty-two posers and self-appointed successors sprung up in the small village Bakala. The most prominent among them was Dhir Mal who was the only direct descendant of the eldest son Baba Gurditta Ji and it was he who possessed the first copy of Guru Granth Sahib prepared by Guru Arjan Sahib.
This situation puzzled the innocent Sikh devotees for a few months. Then in the month of August 1664, Sikh Sangat headed by some prominent Sikhs from Delhi, arrived at village Bakala and acknowledged Baba Tegh Bahadur Ji as the Ninth Nanak, but the atmosphere remained same at Village Baba Bakala. Guru Tegh Bahadur accepted the spiritual succession but never liked to be dragged into the mire of competition with the imposters. He kept aloof from them. An incident, which changed the whole scene deciding the dispute forever, occurred one day.
Makhan Shah Lubana, a rich trader and a devout Sikh from Tanda district Jehlam (now in Pakistan), came to pay his obeisance and 500 gold coins as offerings to the Guru Sahib, at village Bakala. It is said that earlier his ship full of merchandise was caught in a storm. But due to his prayer to the Guru Sahib, his ship was saved. He made up his mind to offer 500 gold coins in lieu of the safety. Reaching village Bakala he had to encounter so many ‘Gurus’. Everyone contested to be the real ‘Guru’. He offered everyone only two coins and non-of them challenged. The imposters were glad to accept only two coins. But he was disappointed as he sensed something wrong.
One day he learned from some villagers that there was also another Guru named Tegh Bahadur Ji. He went to see the Guru who was meditating in a lone house. When he offered two coins to Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, the later questioned that why Makhan Shah was breaking his own promise offering only two coins instead of five hundred. At this Makhan Shah could not contain himself with joy. He immediately climbed to the roof of the same house and cried loudly that he had discoverd the true Guru (Guru Ladho Re…Guru Ladho Re…). On hearing this a large number of Sikh devotees assembled there and paid their homage to the true Guru.
This incident ravaged Dhir Mal and he with the hired ruffians, attacked Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib. A bullet hit Guru Sahib and when the Sikhs learnt about this attack, they retaliated and took possession of (Guru) Granth Sahib lying with Dhir Mal. But Guru Sahib returned it to Dhir Mal while forgiving him.
Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib with his entire family reached Amritsar (about November, 1664) to pay obeisance at Harmandir Sahib, but the ministers of the holy place shut its doors against him and he was not allowed to enter. Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib did not pressed or forced his entry but returned calmly and reached Kiratpur Sahib via Vallah, Khandur Sahib, Goindwal Sahib, Tarn Taran Sahib, Khem karan. Before reaching Kiratpur, he also visited Talwandi Saboke, Banger and Dhandaur. It is to be noted that wherever Guru Sahib went, there he established new Manjis (preaching centres of Sikhism). Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib reached Kiratpur Sahib in May 1665.
In June 1665 Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib bought some land from Raja of Bilaspur near Makhowal village on the bank of River Satlej and founded a new town Chak-Nanki after revered name of his mother Nanki. Later this town was renamed as Sri Anandpur Sahib.
After a brief stay at new founded town, Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib set out for a long journey towards the east in order to strengthen the Sikh nation by setting up new preaching centers and renewing the old ones. It was his second missionary tour. He left Anandpur Sahib in August, 1665 alongwith many staunch sikhs such as Bhai Mati Das Ji, Bhai Sati Das Ji, Bhai Sangtia Ji, Bhai Dayal Das Ji and Bhai Jetha Ji apart from his close family members. It was like a long-march for the sake of suffering humanity. This mission raved the othodox regime of the Mughals, because large crowds began to attend the gatherings and sought the Guru’s blessings. When Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib was coming at Dhamdhan in the Banger area in December 1665 a Mughal enforcement officer Alam Khan Rohella arrested him alongwith Bhai Sati Das Ji, Bhai Moti Das Ji, Bhai Dayal Das Ji and some other Sikh followers under the imperial orders from Delhi. All these were produced before the court of the empror Aurangzeb, who orderd to hand-over them to Kanwar Ram Singh Kachhwaha, son of Raja Jai Singh Mirza. The entire family of Raja Jai Singh was a staunch follower of Guru Sahib and hence they treated him not like prisoner but endorsed great respect and also secured the releasing orders from the imperial court. Guru Sahib was released after about two months. Resuming his mission further, Guru Sahib reached Mathura and then Agra and from here he reached Allahabad via Etawah, Kanpur and Fatehpur. He also visited Benaras and Sasaram and then reached Patna in the month of May 1666.
Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib proceeded further towards Dacca via Mongair, Calicut (now Kolkata), Sahibganj and Kant Nagar in October 1666. But before leaving for these places he made necessary arrangements under the supervision of a devout Sikh lady known as Mata Paidi for the safe stay of his family members at Patna during the rainy season. Then Mata Gujri Ji was expecting a child. At all the places Guru Sahib halted, Satsangat and Kirtan (recitations of Verses from Guru Granth Sahib) were held daily and religious sermons were delivered. Many prominent Sikhs like Bhai Mati Dass Ji, Bhai Sati Dass Ji, Bhai Dayal Das Ji and Baba Gurditta Ji, supported Guru Sahib in religious sittings during these tours.
At Dacca Guru Sahib established a big Sangat (Hazuri Sangat) with the help of ardent followers like Almast Ji and Natha Sahib. A Gurdwara Sangat Tola now marks the place where Guru Sahib used to deliver holy sermons to the audience. It was here that Guru Sahib heard the news of the birth of his son, (Guru Gobind Singh Sahib) who was born on Poh Sudi Saptami (23 Poh) Bikrami Samvat 1723, (December, 22,1666) at Patna.From Dacca, Guru Sahib proceeded towards Jatia Hills and Sylhet where he established a preaching Centre for Sikh Sangat and reached Chittagong via Agartala.
Guru Sahib returned Dacca in 1668. At this time Raja Ram Singh son of Late Raja Jai Singh who was already present at Dacca in order to make arrangements for his expedition to Assam, met Guru Sahib and sought blessings. (Some Chronicles state that Raja Ram Singh met Guru Sahib at Gaya). As Guru Sahib was already touring the Far East places, Raja Ram Singh requested Guru Sahib to accompany him during the expedition. Guru Sahib did so. During this tour Guru Sahib meditated on the banks of river Brahmaputra at Dhubri in Assam where stands a Gurdwara known as Sri Damdama Sahib. Earlier Guru Nanak Sahib also sanctified this place. It is said that by the grace of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, there was a peaceful settlement instead of bloody conformation between the ruler of Kamrup and Raja Ram Singh. Guru Sahib left Assam in April-May, 1670 and returned Patna.
A reign of terror was let loose on the Hindus in India by the Muslim theistic state. The prosecution of Hindus was the most outrageous feature of his reign. Augranzeb made up his mind to rout out Hinduism from India by hook or crook, and introduced many Islamic fundamentalist programs like special taxes for the Hindu traders, religious tax (Zazia) for non-Muslims. Celebration of Diwali and Holi was forbidden. He demolished many important and sacred Hindu Temples, and erected mosques in place of them. Chronicles state that some Sikh Gurudwaras were also demolished.
Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib heard of these black deeds of Aurangzeb and moved towards Punjab. In the way, Guru Sahib was arrested at Agra along with many of his prominent Sikhs in June 1670. They were produced before an imperial court at Delhi but released shortly. Guru Sahib returned Anandpur Sahib in February 1671. He spent about two years there peacefully preaching Sikhism. Here he identified himself with the sorrows and sufferings of the common masses.
In 1672, Guru Sahib set out for another religious journey towards Malwa region in Punjab. Socially and economically this area was backward and almost neglected, but the people were hard working and poor. They were also deprived of basic amenities like fresh drinking water, milk and even simple food. Guru Sahib toured this area about one and half year.
He helped villagers in many ways. Guru Sahib and Sikh Sangat assisted them in planting trees on barren stretches of land. They were also advised to start dairy farming and in this respect many cattle heads were also distributed free of cost among the poor and landless farmers. To cope with the scarcity of water many community wells were dug on the behest of Guru Sahib by performing Kar-Sewa (free service). Thus Guru Sahib identified himself with the common masses. At this stage many followers of Sakhi Sarver (a muslim outfit) entered into the fold of Sikhism. On the other hand Guru Sahib established many new preaching centres of Sikhism at these places. The main and important halts of Guru Sahib were Patiala (Dukhniwaran Sahib), Samaon, Bhiki, Tahla Sahib, and Talwandi in Bhatinda, Gobindpura, Makrora, Bangar and Dhamdhan. Guru Sahib toured these areas about one and a half years and returned Anandpur Sahib in 1675.
These preaching tours and social works irked the Muslim fundamentalists and created a fear-psyche among the upper privileged classes. On the other hand the secret news-writers of the Mughal Empire dispatched exaggerated and subjective reports regarding the religious activities of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib.
As it is mentioned earlier that the Muslim theistic state executed forceful conversions in order to make India, Dar-ul-Islam and to achieve this goal as soon as possible, the Hindu Pandits and Brahmins (the preaching class) of Kashi, Prayag, Kurukshetra, Haridwar and Kashmir were identified for this purpose. All types of atrocities were let loose on them. They were given an ultimatum either to embrace Islam or to be prepared for death. It is regretted that all this was done under the very nose of many so-called brave Hindu and Rajput kings and chiefs who were also subordinate to the imperial state of Delhi. They were only silent spectators aiming at their own ends. They even did not raise a minor voice of protest against the nefarious acts of Aurangzeb. There was a wave of mass conversion in India and Sher Afgan Khan an imperial viceroy first tried this practice in Kashmir. Thousands of Kahmiri Pandits were massacred and their property was looted.
At this juncture, the Brahmins especially the Kashmiri Pandits led by Pandit Kirpa Ram Dutt approached Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib at Anandpur Sahib in May 1675. They told their tales of woe to Guru Sahib and requested to protect their honor and faith. Guru Sahib heard their views and agreed to resist the nefarious act of forcible conversions by peaceful means. After long discussions with the prominent Sikhs and Kashmiri Pandits, Guru Sahib made up his mind to sacrifice himself for the cause of “Righteousness” and for the freedom of “Dharma”(Religion)
On the advice of Guru Sahib, the Kashmiri Pandits presented a petition to the Emperor and in lieu of this an imperial court of Delhi, issued summons asking Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib to appear in the said court. But on the other hand, before the imperial summons reach Anandpur Sahib, Guru Sahib started his journey towards Delhi after installing his son (Guru) Gobind Sahib as the Tenth Nanak in July 1675. Bhai Dayal Das Ji, Bhai Moti Das Ji, Bhai Sati Das Ji and many more devoted Sikhs followed Guru Sahib. When Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib reached near village Malikpur Ragharan near Ropar, an imperial armed contingent led by Mirza Nur Mohammad Khan, arrested Guru Sahib and some of his prominent followers. He kept them in a prison at Bassi Pathanan and tortured daily. Now it was the turn of Guru Sahib who remained calm & quite. The authorities offered three alternatives viz : (1) To show miracles, or (2) to embrace Islam, or (3) to prepare himself for death. Guru Sahib accepted the last. On seeing Guru Sahib adamant and immoveable, the authorities ordered the executioner (Jallad) to sever the head from the body. The order was implemented. The historians quote this date as November 11, 1675 AD. (Gurdwara Sis Ganj at Chandni Chowk marks the place where the execution was done.) There was a furious storm after this brutal deed. It caused confusion and havoc in and around the city. Under these circumstances Bhai Jaita Ji, took away the holy head of Guru Sahib, placed it in a basket, covered it carefully and set out of Anandpur Sahib. He reached Kiratpur Sahib, near Anandpur Sahib on 15th November. He was received with great honour by young Guru Gobind Rai and honoured as “Rangretta Guru Ka Beta.” The cremation of head was performed with full honour and proper ceremonies on the next day. (Gurdwara Sis Ganj also marks the place where the head was cremated.) Taking advantage of the same situation the other part of the body of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib was whisked away by a brave Sikh Lakhi Shah Lubana a famous merchant and contractor and he immediately built up a pyre inside his house and set fire to it in the evening. Thus whole house including other valuables were burned and destroyed. It is said that a royal police guard arrived at the scene in search of the body, but returned, finding the house burning and the inmates weeping bitterly. (Now Gurdwara Rakab Ganj in New Delhi, marks the place.)
The martyrdom of Guru Sahib had for reaching consequences and deeply influenced the history of India. It exposed the fundamental theistic nature of the contemporary state, highlighted tyranny and injustice. It made the people of India hate Aurangzeb and his government as never before and turned the Sikh Nation into militant people. It made them feels that they could protect their religion (Dharma) only but the defense of arms. It proposed the way for the final stage in creation of the Khalsa, which played the most important and significant role in the history of India.
Guru Sahib was also a great poet and thinker. For an example we may quote him, as one of his Slokas, he says: Bhai Kahu kau det naih naih bhai manat ann, kahu nanak sunu re mana gaini tahi bakhan. (SGGS 1427) (Sayth Nanak, he who holds none in fear, mor in afraid on anyone, acknowledge his alone as a man of true wisdom) Guru Sahib written Gurbani in fifteen Raagas apart from 57 salokas, got included in Guru Granth Sahib by the 10th master, Guru Gobind Singh Sahib.
Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib ‘Hind di chadar’ sacrified his life for the cause of Dharma, truth and the betterment of humanity.
Much of Guru Gobind Singh’s creative literary work was done at Paonta, he had founded on the banks of the River Yamuna and to which site he had temporarily shifted in April 1685. Poetry as such was, however, not his aim. For him it was a means of revealing the divine principle and concretizing a personal vision of the Supreme Being that had been vouchsafed to him. His Japu and the composition known as Akal Ustati are in this tenor. Through his poetry he preached love and equality and a strictly ethical and moral code of conduct. He preached the worship of the One Supreme Being, deprecating idolatry and superstitious beliefs and observances. The glorification of the sword itself which he eulogized as Bhaguati was to secure fulfilment of God’sjustice. The sword was never meant as a symbol of aggression, and it was never to be used for self-aggrandizement. It was the emblem of manliness and self-respect and was to be used only in self-defence, as a last resort. For Guru Gobind Singh said in a Persian couplet in his Zafarnamah:
When all other means have failed,
It is but lawful to take to the sword.
During his stay at Paonta, Guru Gobind Singh availed himself of his spare time to practise different forms of manly exercises, such as riding, swimming and archery. His increasing influence among the people and the martial exercises of his men excited the jealousy of the neighbouring Rajput hill rulers who led by Raja Fateh Chand of Garhwal collected a host to attack him. But they were worsted in an action at Bhangani, about 10 km northeast of Paonta, on 18 Assu 1745 sk/18 September 1688. Soon there after Guru Gobind Singh left Paonta and returned to Anandpur which he fortified in view of the continuing hostility of the Rajput chiefs as well as of the repressive policy of the imperial government at Delhi. The Guru and his Sikhs were involved in a battle with a Mughal commander, Alif Khan, at Nadaun on the left bank of the Beas, about 30 km southeast of Kangra, on 22 Chet 1747 Bk/20 March 1691. Describing the battle in stirring verse in Bachitra Natak, he said that Alif Khan fled in utter disarray “without being able to give any attention to his camp.” Among several other skirmishes that occurred was the Hussain battle (20 February 1696) fought against Husain Khan, an imperial general, which resulted in a decisive victory for the Sikhs. Following the appointment in 1694 of the liberal Prince Muazzam (later Emperor Bahadur Shah) as viceroy of northwestern region including Punjab, there was however a brief respite from pressure from the ruling authority.
In 1698, Guru Gobind Singh issued directions to Sikh sangats or communities in different parts of India not to acknowledge masands, the local ministers, against whom he had heard complaints. Sikhs, he instructed, should come to Anandpur straight without any intermediaries and bring their offerings personally. The Guru thus established direct relationship with his Sikhs and addressed them as his Khalsa, Persian term used for crown-lands as distinguished from feudal chiefs. The institution of the Khalsa was given concrete form on 30 March 1699 when Sikhs had gathered at Anandpur in large numbers for the annual festival of Baisakhi. Guru Gobind Singh appeared before the assembly dramatically on that day with a naked sword in hand and, to quote Koer Singh, Gurbilas Patshahi 10, spoke: “Is there present a true Sikh who would offer his head to the Guru as a sacrifice?” The words numbed the audience who looked on in awed silence. The Guru repeated the call. At the third call Daya Ram, a Sobti Khatri of Lahore, arose and humbly walked behind the Guru to a tent near by. The Guru returned with his sword dripping blood, and asked for another head. At this Daram Das, a Jatt from Hastinapur, came forward and was taken inside the enclosure. Guru Gobind Singh made three more calls. Muhkam Chand, a washerman from Dvarka, Himmat, a water-carrier from Jagannathpur, and Sahib Chand, a barber from Bidar (Karnataka) responded one after another and advanced to offer their heads. All the five were led back from the tent dressed alike in saffron-coloured raiment topped over with neatly tied turbans similarly dyed, with swords dangling by their sides. Guru Gobind Singh then introduced Khande Di Pahul, i.e. initiation by sweetened water churned with a double-edged broadsword (khanda). Those five Sikhs were the first to be initiated. Guru Gobind Singh called them Panj Piare, the five devoted spirits beloved of the Guru. These five, formed the nucleus of the self-abnegating, martial and casteless fellowship of the Khalsa. All of them surnamed Singh, meaning lion, were required to wear in future the five symbols of the Khalsa, all beginning with the letter K-the kesh or long hair and beard, Kangha, a comb in the kesh to keep it tidy as against the recluses who kept it matted in token of their having renounced the world, Kara, a steel bracelet, Kachch, short breeches, and Kirpan, a sword. They were enjoined to succour the helpless and fight the oppressor, to have faith in one God and to consider all human beings equal, irrespective of caste and creed. Guru Gobind Singh then himself received initiatory rites from five disciples, now invested with authority as Khalsa, and had his name changed from Gobind Rai to Gobind Singh. “Hail,” as the poet subsequently sang, “Gobind Singh who is himself Master as well as disciple.” Further injunctions were laid down for the Sikhs. They must never cut or trim their hair and beards, nor smoke tobacco. A Sikh must not have sexual relationship outside the marital bond, nor eat the flesh of an animal killed slowly in the Muslim way.
These developments alarmed the casteridden Rajput chiefs of the Sivalik hills. They rallied under the leadership of the Raja of Bilaspur, in whose territory lay Anandpur, to forcibly evict Guru Gobind Singh from his hilly citadel. Their repeated expeditions during 1700-04 however proved abortive . They at last petitioned Emperor Aurangzeb for help. In concert with contingents sent under imperial orders by the governor of Lahore and those of the faujdar of Sirhind, they marched upon Anandpur and laid a siege to the fort in Jeth 1762 sk/May 1705. Over the months, the Guru and his Sikhs firmly withstood their successive assaults despite dire scarcity of food resulting from the prolonged blockade. While the besieged were reduced to desperate straits, the besiegers too were chagrined at the tenacity with which the Sikhs held out. At this stagy the besiegers offered, on solemn oaths of Quran, safe exit to the Sikhs if they quit Anandpur. At last, the town was evacuated during the night of Poh suds 1, 1762 sk/5-6 December 1705. But soon, as the Guru and his Sikhs came out, the hill monarchs and their Mughal allies set upon them in full fury. In the ensuing confusion many Sikhs were killed and all of the Guru’s baggage, including most of the precious manuscripts, was lost. The Guru himself was able to make his way to Chamkaur, 40 km southwest of Anandpur, with barely 40 Sikhs and his two elder sons. There the imperial army, following closely on his heels, caught up with him. His two sons, Ajit Singh (b. 1687) and Jujhar Singh (b. 1691) and all but five of the Sikhs fell in the action that took place on 7 December 1705. The five surviving Sikhs bade the Guru to save himself in order to reconsolidate the Khalsa. Guru Gobind Singh with three of his Sikhs escaped into the wilderness of the Malva, two of his Muslim devotees, Gani Khan and Nabi Khan, helping him at great personal risk.
Guru Gobind Singh’s two younger sons, Zorawar Singh (b. 1696) and Fateh Singh (b.1699), and his mother, Mata Gujari, were after the evacuation of Anandpur betrayed by their old servant and escort, Gangu, to the faujdar of Sirhind, who had the young children executed on 13 December 1705. Their grandmother died the same day. Befriended by another Muslim admirer, Rai Kalha of Raikot, Guru Gobind Singh reached Dina in the heart of the Malva. There he enlisted a few hundred warriors of the Brar clan, and also composed his famous letter, Zafarnamah or the Epistle of Victory, in Persian verse, addressed to Emperor Aurangzeb. The letter was a severe indictment of the Emperor and his commanders who had perjured their oath and treacherously attacked him once he was outside the safety of his fortification at Anandpur. It emphatically reiterated the sovereignty of morality in the affairs of State as much as in the conduct of human beings and held the means as important as the end. Two of the Sikhs, Daya Singh and Daram Singh, were despatched with the Zafarnamah to Ahmadnagar in the South to deliver it to Aurangzeb, then in camp in that town.
From Dina, Guru Gobind Singh continued his westward march until, finding the host close upon his heels, he took position astride the water pool of Khidrana to make a last-ditch stand. The fighting on 29 December 1705 was hard and desperate. In spite of their overwhelming numbers, the Mughal troops failed to capture the Guru and had to retire in defeat. The most valorous part in this battle was played by a group of 40 Sikhs who had deserted the Guru at Anandpur during the long siege, but who, chided by their womenfolk at home, had come back under the leadership of a brave and devoted woman, Mai Bhago, to redeem themselves. They had fallen fighting desperately to check the enemy’s advance towards the Guru’s position. The Guru blessed the 40 dead as 40 mukte, i.e. the 40 Saved Ones. The site is now marked by a sacred shrine and tank and the town which has grown around them is called Muktsar, the Pool of liberations.
After spending some time in the Lakkhi Jungle country, Guru Gobind Singh arrived at Talvandi Sabo, now called Damdama Sahib, on 20 January 1706. During his stay there of over nine months, a number of Sikhs rejoined him. He prepared a fresh recension of Sikh Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, with the celebrated scholar, Bhai Mani Singh, as his amanuensis. From the number of scholars who had rallied round Guru Gobind Singh and from the literary activity initiated, the place came to be known as the Guru’s Kashi or seat of learning like Varanasi.
The epistle Zafarnamah sent by Guru Gobind Singh from Dina seems to have touched the heart of Emperor Aurungzeb. He forthwith invited him for a meeting. According to Ahkam-i-Alamgiri, the Emperor had a letter written to the deputy governor of Lahore, Mun’im Khan, to conciliate the Guru and make the required arrangements for his journey to the Deccan. Guru Gobind Singh had, however, already left for the South on 30 October 1706. He was in the neighbourhood of Baghor, in Rajasthan, when the news arrived of the death of the Emperor at Ahmadnagar on 20 February 1707. The Guru there upon decided to return to the Punjab, via Shahjahanabad (Delhi) . That was the time when the sons of the deceased Emperor were preparing to contest succession. Guru Gobind Singh despatched for the help of the eldest claimant, the liberal Prince Muazzam, a token contingent of Sikhs which took part in the battle of Jajau (8 June 1707), decisively won by the Prince who ascended the throne with the title of Bahadur Shah. The new Emperor invited Guru Gobind Singh for a meeting which took place at Agra on 23 July 1707.
Emperor Bahadur Shah had at this time to move against the Kachhvaha Rajputs of Amber (Jaipur) and then to the Deccan where his youngest brother, Kam Baksh, had raised the standard of revolt. The Guru accompanied him and, as says Tarkh-i-Bahadur Shahi, he addressed assemblies of people on the way preaching the word of Guru Nanak. The two camps crossed the River Tapti between 11 and 14 June 1708 and the Ban-Ganga on 14 August, arriving at Nanded, on the Godavari, towards the end of August. While Bahadur Shah proceeded further South, Guru Gobind Singh decided to stay awhile at Nanded. Here he met a Bairagi recluse, Madho Das, whom he converted a Sikh administering to him Khande Di Pahul, renaming him Gurbakhsh Singh (popular name Banda Singh ). Guru Gobind Siligh gave Banda Singh five arrows from his own quiver and an escort, including five of his chosen Sikhs, and directed him to go to the Punjab and carry on the campaign against the tyranny of the provincial overlords.
Nawab Wazir Khan of Sirhind had felt concerned at the Emperor’s conciliatory treatment of Guru Gobind Singh. Their marching together to the South made him jealous, and he charged two of his trusted men with murdering the Guru before his increasing friendship with the Emperor resulted in any harm to him. These two pathans Jamshed Khan and Wasil Beg are the names given in the Guru Kian Sakhian— pursued the Guru secretly and overtook him at Nanded, where, according to Sri Gur Sobha by Senapati, a contemporary writer, one of them stabbed the Guru in the left side below the heart as he lay one evening in his chamber resting after the Rahras prayer. Before he could deal another blow, Guru Gobind Singh struck him down with his sword, while his fleeing companion fell under the swords of Sikhs who had rushed in on hearing the noise. As the news reached Bahadur Shah’s camp, he sent expert surgeons, including an Englishman, Cole by name, to attend on the Guru. The wound was stitched and appeared to have healed quickly but, as the Guru one day applied strength to pull a stiff bow, it broke out again and bled profusely. This weakened the Guru beyond cure and he passed away on Kattak sudi 5, 1765 Bk/7 OC tober 1708. Before the end came, Guru Gobind Singh had asked for the Sacred Volume to be brought forth. To quote Bhatt Vahi Talauda Parganah Jind: “Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Master, son of Guru Teg Bahadur, grandson of Guru Hargobind, great-grandson of Guru Arjan, of the family of Guru Ram Das Surajbansi, Gosal clan, Sodhi Khatri, resident of Anandpur, parganah Kahlur, now at Nanded, in the Godavari country in the Deccan, asked Bhai Daya Singh, on Wednesday, 6 October 1708, to fetch Sri Granth Sahib. In obedience to his orders, Daya Singh brought Sri Granth Sahib. The Guru placed before it five pice and a coconut and bowed his head before it. He said to the sangat, “It is my commandment: Own Sri Granthji in my place. He who so acknowledges it will obtain his reward. The Guru will rescue him. Know this as the truth”.
Guru Gobind Singh thus passed on the succession with due ceremony to the Holy Book, the Guru Granth Sahib, ending the line of personal Gurus. “The Guru’s spirit,” he said, “will henceforth be in the Granth and the Khalsa. Where the Granth is with any five Sikhs representing the Khalsa, there will the Guru be.” The Word enshrined in the Holy Book was always revered by the Gurus as well as by their disciples as of Divine origin. The Guru was the revealer of the Word. One day the Word was to take the place of the Guru. The inevitable came to pass when Guru Gobind Singh declared the Guru Granth Sahib as his successor. It was only through the Word that the Guruship could be made everlasting. The Word as contained in the Guru Granth Sahib was henceforth, and for all time to come to be the Guru for the Sikhs.