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Guru Nanak founded Sikhism. Guru Angad, Guru Amardas, Guru Ramdas, Guru Arjun Dev, Guru Har Gobind, Guru Har Rai, Guru Har Kishan, Guru Tej Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh were the successors to Guru Nanak.

Guru Angad organised the Sikhs as a sect. He organized and maintained a Langar (public kitchen) on a very extensive scale. It was open to all creeds and classes. He made it a rule that whoever came to see him must dine in his Langar or free kitchen and thus disregard caste restrictions. Brahmins, Khatris (Kshatriyas), Vaishyas and Sudras took food in the same Pangat (line) with no distinction whatever.

Ramdas, the fourth Guru, felt the need for a central place for the Sikhs to assemble from time to time. He restored at Ramdaspur an old tank which he named as ''Amritsar" or the tank of nectar or immortality. In its centre he built a magnificent golden temple. He changed the name of the town from Ramdaspur to Arnritsar, after the name of the tank. The Golden Temple became the headquarters of the Sikhs. Now a distinct community of Sikhs was formed.

Guru Arjun, the fifth Guru and the son of Gum Ramdas, compiled the sacred book of the Sikhs' theGranth Sahib-the Bible and the Gita of the Sikhs-and installed it in the Golden Temple at Arnritsar. He played the most prominent part in disseminating the faith of the Sikh Gurus. He organized the Sikhs into a community.

Guru Arjun became inimical to Jahangir. He was charged with sedition and was tortured to death in 1606 A.D.

Guru Arjun installed his son Har Gobind on the Gaddi Har Gobind, the sixth Guru, was put in jail for twelve years by Jahangir. Har Rai became the seventh Guru. Har Kishan, the eighth Guru, died when he was young.

Tej Bahadur became the ninth Guru. He was the son of Guru HarRai. He founded a new city named Anandpur. Guru Gobind Singh was the only son of Tej Bahadur. He was born at Patna in 1666 A.D.

When he was a mere child, Gobind Rai used to play the commander. His playmates acted as soldiers. Gobind "s toys were imitation bows, arrows and other arms. His favourite games were sham fights, military exercises, etc. He organized regular troops of boys. The boys took Gobind Rai as their leader. He divided the boys into two contesting parties to test their strength, endurance and skill.

Guru Gobind's qualities

Guru Gobind Singh was a warrior-saint. He was endowed with Saurya (prowess, valour) and Dhairya' (courage). He flooded the Punjab with heroic impulses. He instilled the military spirit in the Sikhs. His words that sounded like the booming of cannons and the clashing of steel infused a martial spirit in man. The weak-hearted became heroes when they were in the presence of this great hero of Punjab. Guru Gobind was a wonderful saintly general. In his words you could feel the breath of the Goddess of Power or Mother Sakti. Guru Gobind Singh laid the solid foundation of the Khalsa brotherhood. He taught people to sacrifice their lives and die in service with a smile on their lips.

Guru Gobind Singh was a towering personality. He was a super human. He made small men really great. He made others like himself. Weakness was transmuted into invulnerable strength in his mighty presence. His flashing sword instilled terror in the minds of the unjust and unrighteous. Guru Gobind was a passionate lover of death. He knew that the inner soul was immortal.

Guru Gobind Singh's disciples were saints who lived in God while fighting. They were not in need of sitting poses like Padmasan or Siddhasan for mediation on the Divine, but they were in Samadhi when fighting for the oppressed and the helpless.

Guru Gobind Singh was not only a patriot, but also a poet, philosopher and prophet. At an early age Gobind began to show signs of a lofty spirit and sublime aims. When less than nine years old, he suggested to his father to sacrifice his head for the sake of truth and righteousness. The Pundits of Kashmir approached Tej Bahadur for advice and help. They said to him that their religion must be saved at any cost.

The Pundits were asked by the Viceroy of Aurangazeb to choose between Islam and death. Guru Tej Bahadur thought that if a pure and holy person sacrificed his life, Hinduism might be saved and the bigoted Emperor might come to his senses soon. He thought that there were holier men than he. He was sad. His face expressed anxiety. His little son enquired of his father the cause of his sadness and anxiety. The young boy solved the problem saying, "Beloved father! Who is greater and holier than yourself in this land?". The soothing and wise answer given by the son made Tej Bahadur's decision firm.

Gobind Rai was installed in the office of Guru when he was nine years old. When the question of Jenen or the Brahminical thread was referred to him, he said that the sword was to serve him as the sacred thread and that his mission was to punish and exterminate the oppressors.

Guru Gobind Singh was a great scholar in Gurmukhi, Sanskrit and Persian. He patronized poets and cultured men. He engaged many poets to render into Hindi poetry the inspiring stories of Lord Rama, Lord Krishna and Arjuna. He himself wrote Hindi poetry which remains unsurpassed even to this day.

Guru Gobind Singh fought with a tiger and killed it with a sword.

Guru Gobind's marriage

Gobind Rai had three wives-Jito, Sundri and Sahit Devi. He had four sons. The eldest Ajit Singh was born through Sundri. Three sons were born to Jito. They were Zarawar Singh, Jughar Singh and Fatih Singh. Sahit Devi asked for issue. Guru Gobind Singh said that the whole Khalsa nation would be her children. Therefore she was called the Mother of the Khalsa.

Presents to the Guru

Duni Chand of Kabul, a Sikh, presented to the Guru a magnificent tent on which beautiful scenes were embroidered in gold and silver. Raja Rattan Rai of Assam came on a pilgrimage to Anandpur to pay his respects to his Gum. He presented five horses, a wonderful weapon, a Panchkalla or a combination of five arms (viz., club, lance, sword, dagger and pistol) and a wonderful elephant, with a whitish streak from his forehead to the tail, called Parsadi which was well instructed in serving his master in a variety of ways. The elephant waved a fan or Chauri over the Guru, kept a jug of water in its trunk when the feet of Guru Gobind Singh were being washed, wiped his feet with a towel, laced his shoes in order and brought back the arrows shot by him. Raja Rattan Rai also presented a precious throne from which puppets came out and played on pressing a spring.

Fight with Bhimchand

Guru Gobind Singh increased the number of his troops. He built a fortress on the bank of the Yamuna river and named it Paunta.

The glory of the Guru increased. He made his followers saint-soldiers. He introduced a new form of drill. A new war-drum was introduced. Everyday new recruits were enlisted in the Guru's army. Numerous presents of arms and horses began to pour in. Brave and courageous combatants who were in any way oppressed by the Emperor Aurangazeb began to flock round Guru Gobind Singh. They were equipped and drilled in military discipline.

The hill chiefs observed the prosperity and progress of the Guru. Raja Bhirnchand of Bilaspur, in whose territory the Guru was then residing, became jealous. He made many treacherous attempts to get possession of the elephant called Parsadi.

All the efforts of the Raja proved futile. The Raja sent a message to the Guru to send the elephant to him, in default of which the latter was liable to expulsion from his territory. The Raja objected to the beating of the Guru's war-drum. He took it as a challenge to his authority. The Guru said to the Raja, "Nobody can command me except the one Creator who is immortal. I do not live in your territory. I live in a city which my father purchased with gold. I cannot give Parsadi to you. lam always ready to wage war with you. I am not afraid of your threat of war". This enraged the Raja. Raja Bhirnchand attacked the Guru in 1682 A.D., but was defeated. Many of the Raja's soldiers died in the battlefield.

Battle of Bhangani On another occasion, the hill chiefs attacked the forces of the Guru. Bhirnchand was the chief among them. A fierce battle was fought at Bhangani. Many died on both sides. The chiefs fled. The Guru's army got victory.

Battle of Cham Kaur

Aurangazeb ordered Wazir Khan, the Governor of Sirhind, to besiege Anandpur and bring the Guru to his court. Many of the Sikhs deserted the Guru. The Guru fought with the imperial forces with the aid of the few faithful left with him.

At Cham Kaur, there was afierce battle. TheGuru's two elder sons Sahib Ajit Singh and Sahib ZarawarSingh thrilled the enemy and embraced death. His last two sons, with their grandmother, escaped.

Ganga Ram, an old Brahmin cook of the Guru, took the two sons Jughar Singh and Fatih Singh, aged eight and six respectively, and the Guru's mother to his own house after theSarsa river disaster. Finding an opportunity, he stole the money and the jewels which they had in the room with them. The Guru's mother reproached Ganga Ram for his misbehaviour. Then the traitor turned them out of his house. He pro-arranged with the police authorities for their arrest. They were taken to Wazir Khan, the Governor of Sirhind, who asked them to embrace Islam. The boys declined to embrace Islam. They were buried alive between the stone walls of Sirhind.

The Guru remained unmoved when he heard this sad news. He said, "It is Sirhind that shall perish and not my sons".

Battle of Mukatsar

At Mukatsar, the Guru had fierce battle with the forces of the Emperor who came to capture him. The deserters repented and joined the Guru again. The Guru became victorious. Aurangazeb asked the Guru for a personal meeting and gave him assurances. The Guru wrote an epistle Zafarnama to Aurangazeb. He accused him of treachery and double-dealing and said that he would not believe in his professions of religion. The letter touched the heart of the Emperor. Soon after he died in 1707.

Birth of the Khalsa

Guru Gobind Singh said in an assembly: "I want the heads of five Sikhs'. The whole assembly was struck with wonder. Bhai Daya Ram, a Khatri Sikh of Lahore, came forward and said, "0 Guru! I offer my head to Thee, 0 True Lord!". The Guru took him inside a big Shamiana (tent). The blow of a sword was heard and streams of blood came gushing out of the tent. Thereupon, the Guru came out and took his seat with the blood-stained sword in hand. He then cried out for another victim. Then Dhanna, a Jat, came forward and offered his head. He too was taken inside and dealt with like Daya Ram. Then Himnah, a water-carrier, came forward and offered his head. Afterwards Sahib Ram, a barber, and Mohkam Chand, a cloth printer, came forward and offered their heads.

Then the Guru came out with five persons equipped like himself. Only five goats, which were concealed inside, were killed. Guru Gobind Singh then explained the true principles of life to the selected five persons. The chosen five were arrayed in white clothes with short breeches, sword in hand. They stood before the Guru, repeating the Name of the Lord: "Vahe Guru". The Guru then took some fresh river water in an iron basin. He put some Batashas (hollow lumps of sugar) in it, stirred the mixture with a double-edged sword, repeating certain hymns in deep meditation and declared that he had prepared the Arnrit-nectar or water of life. He sprinkled it on the five men around him and gave it to each of them to drink. He proclaimed them as the Khalsa, the pure, and commanded them to add to their names the epithet of 'Singh\ the Lion. Those were the first initiated disciples.

Those chosen five were called as "The Five Piaras" or "The Five Beloved". They enjoyed the foremost place among the Khalsa and served as the Guru's apostles for the propagation of righteousness.

Amrita or Baptism of the Khalsa

The mere keeping of long hair does not make one a Khalsa. A Khalsa must be initiated with Amrita (nectar) in order to infuse both moral and spiritual strength in him.

The initiate girds himself with a sword. He stands in front of the Holy Scripture and repeats the Name of "Vahe Guru" all the time. He should have long hair {Kesh), short breeches {Kachha), a comb {Kangah), an iron bracelet (Kara) r911d a double-edged sword (Kirpan).

Fresh water from the river is brought. The iron basin should be scrupulously clean. Batashas are put in the basin. The basin is filled with water. The Batashas are rubbed by the double-edged sword with repetition of Vahe Guru. Hymns such as Japji are recited. The members who prepare the Arnrita must be orthodox Singhs, of irure life. They are five in number.

Five handfuls of Arnrita are sprinkled over the eyes and face. Five handfuls are poured into the hair of the head of the initiate. After the initiation ceremony is over, the initiate is made to understand himself to have been reborn, with Guru Gobind Singh as his spiritual father and Mata Shib Kaur as his spiritual mother.

The initiate enters into a new life, a new birth. The initiates are given Karah Parshad (Halwa made of flour. Ghee and sugar).

Guru Gobind's last days The Guru stayed at Talwandi Sahib for nine months and made it a seat of learning and gave to it the name of "Guru's Kashi". Here was reproduced orally Adi Granth Sahib and verses of Guru Tej Bahadur were added to it.

Guru Gobind Singh travelled to the South and established himself at Nanded in the Nizam's State. He madeNanded another Anandpur.

At Nanded the Guru was one day stabbed by an Afghan when he was alone and asleep in his tent. He at once rose and killed the Afghan with his sword. The Guru himself died after a few days in 1708 A.D. in the forty-second year of his life.

The Guru's last words were: "I entrust my Khalsa to the bosom of the everlasting Divine. The spiritual guide for you all will be the holy scripture, the Granth Sahib. Under the permission of the Immortal Being, the Khalsa Panth was started. All the Sikhs are enjoined to recognize the Granth as their Guru".



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