GURU GOBIND SINGH JI
At the most daring, dauntless and unexampled martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur Ji, the thorny throne of Guruship was ordained on Gobind Rai, who was merely nine years of age at that time. He was the 10th Guru in succession. Rather than being overwhelmed by the tragic loss of the 9th Guru in a most heinous, cruel and barbaric manner, Guru Gobind Singh Ji was in a bold and defiant mood. He inflexibly resolved to fight the bigotry and destructive forces of evil. He became a personification not only of appeal but also of promise. Thus the final transformation of the Sikhs into a fighting force came with the last of the ten Gurus, Guru Gobind Singh.
Unparalleled in courage and confidence, Guru Gobind Singh Ji was a Prometheus of a rare ability and dignity. Besides being a saint-soldier, he was a poet of epic dimension. The goal was now clear: no power, howsoever, mighty could exploit the Sikhs. Because of the Guruís apt and intelligent handling, there was no dearth of men and money. Through his sagacity and shrewdness, the Guru expanded his area of influence. He developed friendship with the Raja of Nahan and raised a fort that is known as Paonta Sahib. Being a profound scholar in Sanskrit and Persian, he found time for research, literary activities and poetic symposia too at Paonta-a clear break with the tradition of his predecessors. His writings are replete with images of war and warriors from mythology and folklore.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji succeeded Guru Teg Bahadur Ji at the tender age of nine. He spent his boyhood studying Persian and Sanskrit and in learning the art of war. His mission was to uphold right in every place and destroy sin and evil. He realized that to raise a fighting force from the peaceful followers of Guru Nanak Dev Ji , he had not only to teach them the use of arms but also to convince them of the morality of the use of force. He set about earnestly to "teach the sparrow how to hunt the hawk and one man have courage to fight a regiment".
The Guru psychologically infused a new life in the Sikhs. In the morning of 29th March 1699, a great multitude of Sikhs had thronged to Anandpur Sahib in response to the wishes of the Guru. The gathering of the Sikhs was held at Takhat Sri Kesh Garh Sahib. After the morning service, Guru Ji came to address the gathering. He drew out his Double-Edged Sword and thundered: "I want Five Sikhs who would sacrifice their lives for the sake of Dharma and ready to offer their heads to me, here and now." There was pin drop silence. Everyone appeared to have frozen. Guru Ji repeated the call. It is said that people were much awe-stricken in confusion. The Guru went on repeating his demand. At last Five Sikhs came forth, one after the other and offered themselves to the Guru. The five Sikhs in order of their submission to the Guru were:
(1) Daya Ram, a Khatri from Lahore of about 30 years of age;
(2) Dharam Chand, a Jat from Haryana;
(3) Mokham Chand, a Sikh from far-offf Dwarka;
(4) Himat Rai, from Jagannath Puri in Orissa; and
(5) Sahib Chand, from Bidar in Karnatka.
The Guru then explained to the Sikh gathering the significance of offering of oneís head to the Guru. He said that if the Sikhs wanted to lead an honourable life and freedom from tyrant rulers, it would be necessary for them to maintain purity of character, rising above their egocentrism and selfishness. That the true offering could only be offering of oneís own self as a sacrifice and the conquest of oneís self.
Baisakhi was to be celebrated the next day i.e. 30th March 1699. As per the instructions of the Guru, the Five Sikhs who had offered their heads the previous day before the congregation had their bath and hair wash. They then assembled at the Takhat Sri Kesh Garh Sahib. The Guru got a steel bowl and poured some water and sugar into it, and took the Five Sikhs aside. The Guru began stirring the contents of the bowl with his Double-Edged sword by reciting the holy composition of Japji Sahib of Guru Nanak Dev Ji , Jaap Sahib, Amrit Swaiyas and Chaupai, and Anand Sahib of Guru Amar Das Ji and thus prepared the Amrit (Nectar) for the Five Sikhs. Each of the Five Sikhs was administered Amrit by the Guru himself. A handful of Amrit was given for five times in the cupped hands of each Sikh to drink.
After drinking Amrit the Sikh was required to utter Wahe Guru Ji ka Khalsa-Wahe Guru ji ki Fateh (The Khalsa are the chosen of God-Victory be to God). Few drops of Amrit were then sprinkled into the eyes of each Sikh for five times and each time the Sikh uttering Wahe Guru Ji ka Khalsa-Wahe Guru ji Ki Fateh. The Guru then poured few drops of Amrit into the tress-knot of the hair of the scalp of each Sikh for five times, and the Sikh each time uttering Wahe Guru ji ka Khalsa-Wahe Guru ji ki Fateh. The left over Amrit in the bowl was sipped from the bowl by each of the Sikhs one after the other. They were made to sip the Amrit again from the bowl in the reverse order. This was to eliminate all caste distinctions in the Sikhs. As per the Mughal news-reporter, the Guru then addressed the Five Sikhs and the congregation as under:
I wish you all to embrace one creed and follow one Path, rising above all differences of the religion as now practised. Let the Four Hindu castes who have different Dharmas laid down for them in Shastras, having initiation of "Varanashram Dharma", abandon them altogether, and adopt the way of mutual help and cooperation and mix-freely with one another. Do not follow the old scriptures. Let none pay homage to the river Ganga, other places of pilgrimage, which are considered to be holy in the Hindu religion, or worship of Hindu deities, such as Rama, Krishna, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Chandi, etc. All should cherish faith in the teaching of Guru Nanak and the successor Gurus. Let men of four castes receive my Baptism of the double-edged Sword, eat out of the same vessel and feel no aloofness from or contempt for one another."
The Guru further said that henceforth the Sikhs would be called the "Khalsa"-The Pure Ones. It also means as Godís own. He also changed the names of the Sikhs. The word "Singh"-lion-was to be suffixed with the name of each male Khalsa. The word "Kaur"-princess-was to be suffixed with each female member of the Khalsa fraternity. The Guru renamed the Five Beloved Ones as Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Dharam Singh, Bhai Himat Singh, Bhai Sahib Singh and Bhai Mokham Singh. Out of the Five Beloved Ones, one was Khatri of high caste, one was Jat and the remaining three were of low castes.
The Guru made them take an oath to observe the five Ks, namely to wear the hair and beard unshorn (kesh); to carry a comb (kangha) in the hair; to wear a pair of shorts (kuchha); to wear a steel bangle (kara) on the right wrist; and always to carry a saber (kirpan) on their person.
The Khalsa were also enjoined to observe four rules of conduct: not to cut any hair on their body-(this was a repetition of an earlier oath); not to eat meat slaughtered in the halal fashion when an animal was bled to death, but only jhatka meat of an animal killed outright with one blow; not to smoke or eat tobacco or consume alcoholic beverage; and to refrain from adultery even with women of the enemy-so that while fighting the Mughal armies Sikhs would respect the person of their enemyís womenfolk.
The most moving and touching scene of the ceremony was, when Guru Gobind Rai bowed before the Five Selected Khalsa. The Guru then asked the Five Beloved Ones with all humility to initiate him as a member of the Khalsa Brotherhood. The Five Beloved Ones and whole of the congregation assembled there were wonderstruck to see the Great Guru standing there with folded hands and making such a request. After being baptised by the Five Beloved Ones, Guru Ji himself became the Sixth Member of the Khalsa Brotherhood. The Guruís name was then changed to GURU GOBIND SINGH JI. It is, therefore, said that the Tenth Master was the "Guru" and the "Chela" or the Sikh, at the same time. At the end of the ceremony they hailed each other with the new greeting-ĎWahe Guru Ji ka Khalsa-Wahe Guru ji ki Fatehí.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji created the Cumulative Guruship of the Five, and hailed them as his very self and even his own Master. The institution of Cumulative Guruship of the Five selected was for all times to come.
The distinctive outward features of the Khalsa religion are the unshorn hair and the beard. Wearing the hair and beard has been a tradition among Indian ascetics. By making this obligatory, Guru Gobind Singh Ji intended to emphasize the ideal of saintliness and to raise an army of soldier-saints. It is also likely that, by making his followers easily recognizable by virtue of their turbans and beards, Guru Ji wanted to raise a body of men who would not be able to deny their faith when in danger. Their external appearance that invites persecution would in turn breed courage to resist it. The other symbols are largely complementary and an essential part of a soldierís equipment.
Determined to exterminate the religious oppression of the Mughal Emperor, Guru Gobind Singh Ji concentrated against the cruel government and not against Islam. Guru Ji was an embodiment of love and affection for all. Hindus and Muslims loved him both. In the battle of Anandpur in 1702 Mir Beg and Mamum Khan commanded Guruís forces in fighting against the Mughal troops. At the same place in 1704 General Sayyid Khan of the Mughal army considered it improper and unjust to wage a war against the Guru. He deserted his post and joined the Guru. Nabi Khan and Ghani Khan saved him from capture by the Mughal army. Qazi Pir Muhammad did not confirm the Guruís identity, while Rai Kalha entertained him generously.
Since the Guru was surrounded by foes all around, he had to fight many a battle and in each battle the enemy had to lick the dust. The great Generals of Aurangzeb had to surrender to the Guru. Not satisfied with the way the war was being fought the Emperor eventually entrusted the supreme command to Wazir Khan, a ruthless soldier. Such odds the Sikhs had never encountered before. After a heroic fight and the loss of many a brave soldiers, the Guru withdrew to the town of Anandpur.
The Mughal armies laid siege to Anandpur from all sides in collaboration with the hill chiefs. It was a relentless fight. The siege lasted three long years. Water supply to the town was cut off. The ration stores became empty. The Sikhs faced starvation and certain death. Yet bravely they suffered and endured every misery that sickness and famine could bring upon a besieged place. Guru Ji, moved at seeing the immense affliction and hardship being confronted by his valiant soldiers, ordered them to leave the fort at midnight. Guru Gobind Singh Ji himself along with 40 of his gallant and valorous soldiers left the place and arrived at Chamkaur Sahib. With just forty soldiers and two of his elder sons, the Guru fought one of the severest battles of his life. Both of his sons Prince Ajit Singh and Prince Jujhar Singh fought valorously but were eventually overpowered by the mammoth forces of the enemy and the young princes were torn to pieces before the very eyes of the Guru.
In the most shameful and heinous crime that took place on 12th December 1705, Nawab Wazir Khan, the Governor of Sirhind killed the two innocent children of Guru Ji, Zorawar nine years old and Fateh Singh just seven years by burying them alive in the Sirhind wall. The valiant Guru Gobind Singh Ji lost all his four sons, both the parents and innumerable brave Sikhs in his struggle against the oppression of the Mughal rulers. He who lived like a king with royal splendour was rendered homeless. The enemy madly chased him from town to town, wilderness to wilderness. Yet the Guru was not demoralized. While in village Dina Guru Ji wrote Zafar Nama-the Epistle of Victory-to Aurangzeb.
Meanwhile, the Guru started contacting his Sikhs and made preparations afresh for the defense. He received overwhelming response from everywhere. He camped near Khidrana where one command was under dynamic and brave Mai Bhago and then Talwandi Sabo now known as Damdama Sahib.
Aurangzeb did not live long after the receipt of the Zafar Nama. He died in 1707, an utterly desperate, disillusioned and frustrated man. Bahadur Shah Zafar succeeded him. The new King was fond of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. He persuaded the Guru to accompany him to the South. The Guru agreed. On his sojourn the Guru met Madho Das whom he renamed Banda Singh Bahadur after his baptism.
Meanwhile Wazir Khan, Governor of Sirhind, feared Bahadur Shahís growing friendship with the Guru. He sent a party of assassins to put an end to the Guruís life before the King was acquainted of the horrendous crimes committed by Wazir Khan. The assassins came one afternoon in a disguised form. Guru Ji was resting. They attacked him unawares. Although both the assassins were killed by the Guru and his bodyguard, but they inflicted a deep wound to the Guru that eventually proved fatal. The end of the Guru came on the 7th October 1708.
But before Guru Gobind Singh Ji breathed his last, he gave the final form to the Sikh faith. He declared the institution of personal Guruship closed. He declared that after him the Sikhs were to look upon the holy Sri Guru Granth Sahib as their guide as the authentic representative of all the ten Gurus.
Although Guru Gobind Singh Ji was a prolific writer and an illustrious poet, he did not insert any of his composition in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. His own writings are a part of the Dasam Granth-the book of the 10th Guru-and though read with reverence by all Sikhs. The unparalleled saga of valiance and bravery brimming with unexampled and unsurpassed sacrifice of Guru Gobind Singh Ji is unique and unequaled in the annals of history.
Name: Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Date of Birth: 12/1666
Place of Birth: Patna Sahib (Bihar)
Fatherís Name: Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji
Motherís Name: Mata Gujri
Mahal (Wife): Mata Jito, Mata Sundari, Mata Sahib
DevanSons: Baba Ajit Singh (Mata Sundari Ji), Baba Jujhar Singh (Mata Jito Ji), Baba Zorawar Singh (Mata Jito Ji), Baba Fateh Singh (Mata Jito Ji)
Date of Guru Gaddi: Nov 11, 1675
Date of Eternal Rest: Oct 7, 1708
Place of Eternal Rest: Nanded (Hazur Sahib - Maharashtra)
Age: 41 years, 9 months and 15 days
Special contribution:Created Khalsa on March 29, 1699 by initiating Amrit toPanj Payaras. Author of Dasem Granth. Gave gift of five Kakaís and Sikh code of conduct. Guru Gobind Singh Ji ordained the Sikhs in 1708 to recognize Guru Granth Sahib as the manifest Guru. He founded the city of Paonta Sahib.