6th GURU: GURU HAR GOBIND JI

Guru Har Gobind

Guru Har Gobind(1595 to 1644)
Full Name : Har Gobind
Personal Details
Birth : Saturday, 5 July 1595, Guru ki Vadali in Dist. Amritsar
Guruship : Wednesday, 11 June 1606
Joti Jot : Tuesday, 19 March 1644
Family
Parents : Guru Arjan Dev & Mata Ganga
Brother/Sisters : -N.A-
Spouse : Mata Nanaki, Mata Mahadevi,Mata Damodari
Children : Sons – Baba Gurditta, Baba Suraj Mal, Baba Ani Rai, Baba Atal Rai & Guru Tegh Bahadur
Daughter – Bibi Biro
Other Details
Bani in GGS: {{{Bani in GGS}}}
Other Info: Built the Akal Takhat, First Guru to engage in warfare, Main battles fought: Amritsar, Sri Hargobindpur, Guru Sar Marajh and Kartarpur

Guru Har Gobind ji (Gurmukhi: ਗੁਰੂ ਹਰਿ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ) (Saturday, 5 July 1595Tuesday, 19 March 1644) was the sixth of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism. He became Guru on 11 June 1606 following in the footsteps of his father Guru Arjan Dev ji. While the ceremonial rites were being performed by Baba Buddha ji, Guru Hargobind ji asked Baba Buddha to adorn him with a sword rather than the Seli of Nanak which had been used previously by the earlier Gurus.

Guru Hargobind then put on not one but two swords; one on his left side and the other on his right. He declared that the two swords signified “Miri” and “Piri“, “Temporal Power” and “Spiritual Power”, one which would smite the oppressor and the other which would protect the innocent. He told his followers: “In the guru’s house spiritual and mundane powers shall be combined”. “My rosary shall be the sword-belt and on my turban I shall wear a Kalgi” (an ornament for the turban, which was then worn by Mughal and Hindu rulers).

Guru Hargobind carried the same light of Guru Nanak; but he added to it the lustre of the sword. Guru Hargobind sahib ji was also the inventor of the Taus. Guru ji watched a peacock singing one day, and wished to make a instrument to mimic the same sound as the peacock, thus came the Taus.

While Guru Arjan was in captivity and under severest torture, he concentrated and relied on God for guidance to save the nascent Sikhi from annihilation. The only solution revealed to him was to guard it with the use of arms. He pondered over it again and again and concluded that the militarisation of Sikhism had become a necessity. Hence he sent to his young son and successor, eleven year old Har Gobind, and nominated him as the Guru of Sikhs giving his last injunction through a Sikh disciple; “Let him sit fully armed on his throne and maintain an army to the best of his capacity”.

Recruiting troops

Guru Hargobind ji excelled in matters of state and his Darbar (Court) was noted for its splendour. Arming and training some of his devoted followers, he came to possess seven hundered horses, three hundred horsemen and sixty gunners in the due course of time. Additionaly five hundred men from ‘Majha area of Punjab’ were recruited as infantry. He built a fortess at Amritsar called ‘Lohgarh’ (Fortess of steel). He had his own flag and war-drum which was beaten twice a day. Those who had worked to have Guru Arjan destroyed now turned their attention and efforts to alarming Jahangir that the fort, the Akal Takhat and the risaldari were all aimed at Guru Hargobind revenging his fathers unjust death.

Akal Takht

Guru Hargobind constructed the Akal Takht (God’s throne) in front of Harmandir in 1606. There he sat on a raised platform of twelve feet, attired in princely clothes. Harmandir Sahib was the seat of his spiritual authority and Akal Takht the seat of his temporal authority. This marked the beginning of Sikh militarisation. To the symbols of sainthood were added marks of sovereignty, including the umbrella and the Kalgi. Guru Har Gobind administered justice like a King and awarded honours and punishment. Akal Takht was the first Takht in history of the Sikhs. According to Cunningham: “The genial disposition of the martial apostle led him to rejoice in the companionship of a camp, in the dangers of war, and in the excitements of the chase”.

State within a state

The Sikhs had formed a separate and independant identity that had nothing to do with the government agencies of the day. Thus the Sikh entity came to occupy a sort of separate state within the Mughal Empire.

Congregational prayers

Guru Har Gobind ji established Congregational prayers adding to religious fervour among his Sikhs, but also strengthened their unity and brotherhood. Mohsin Fani, author of ‘Dabistan’, states that when a Sikh wished for a favour or gift from God, he would come to assembly of Sikhs and request them to pray for him; even the Guru asked the Sikh congregation to pray for him.

People hostile towards young Guru

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There were many people who were hostile to Guru Hargobind when he assumed leadership of Sikhs. His uncle, Priti Mal, who was brother of Guru Arjan continued his intrigues against Guru Har Gobind. Prithi Mal had un-successfuly tried to kill Guru Har Gobind, when the guru was a child, by unleasing a deadly snake upon him. Prithi Mal continued to complain against him to Emperor Jehangir.

Chandu Shah who had been foremost in complaining to Jehangir against Guru Arjan Dev ji transferred his hostilities toward Guru Har Gobind.

Shaikh Ahmad Sirhandi too was hostile towards Sikh Gurus and would have incited the Emperor.

Jehangir was fearful that Guru Har Gobind might seek revenge for his father’s arrest , torture and death.

Religious activities

Guru Har Gobind did not neglect the work of preaching and spreading the Sikh religion. He sent his Sikhs to far of places such as Bengal and Bihar to preach Sikhism. Guru Har Gobind allowed Udasis to preach Sikhism but did not admit them to Sikhism. Bhai Gurdas mentions in his var 2 the names of Nawal and Nihala, two sabharwal khatris, who established their bussiness in Bihar. A lot of local people adopted Sikhism under their influence. In his private life Guru Har Gobind never abandoned the true character of Guru Nanak, whose successor he was and whose teachings he had to spread in this world.

A summary

The following is a summary of the main highlights of Guru Ji’s life:

  1. Introduced martial arts and weapons training and created a standing Military force for the defence of the masses following his father’s martyrdom.
  2. Carried 2 swords of Miri and Piri.
  3. Built the Akal Takhat in 1608 – which is now one of five Takhats (Seats of Power) of the Sikh Religion.
  4. Founded the city of Kiratpur in District Rupnagar, (old name Ropar), Punjab
  5. Held in the fort of Gwalior for one year, obstensibly to pray for the recovery of the ill Emperor Jahangir (the Guru had willingly gone to the fort), when released he refused to leave unless 52 imprisoned Hindu Rajas were freed as well. Cleverly he earned their freedom by turning the Emperor’s own words against him. To mark this occasion the Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chorr Divas and Deepa wali to celebrate his return to Amritsar.
  6. First Guru to engage in warfare, fighting and winning 4 defensive battles with Mughal forces.

Detailed Account

The sixth guru, Guru Hargobind Ji occupies a special place in Sikh history because, after Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s martyrdom, he gave a new direction to the course of events. Along with his spiritual authority, he exercised temporal authority too by expounding the concept of Miri and Piri (the temporal and the spiritual). In Indian history the advent of Sikhism and the establishing of Mughal Empire took place at the same time. Guru Nanak was not against Islam, infact Guru Nanak’s first words pointed to the needlessness of a separate Hindu and Muslim religion (Their is no Musalman, there is no Hindu. Guru Nanak and the four Gurus that followed expounded peace, equality and freedom for all. It was only after the death of Guru Arjan that it became all to clear that a defensive military stance might be required to bring this about. Injustice, oppression and exploitation were the order of the day. The scourges of caste divisions, religious discrimination and superstitions had made life hell for an ordinary person. The oppressors and the oppressed were both Muslims and Hindus. Guru Hargobind Singh Ji used both the powers of worship and of the sword to fight this oppression.

Several efforts were made on the life of young Hargobind even in his infancy. A snake-charmer was bribed to let loose a poisonous snake, but the young Guru to be overpowered the snake.

Guru Ji was born on 19 June 1595 to Mata Ganga Ji and Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji in village Wadali of district Amritsar. He was merely eleven years old when Guru Arjan Dev Ji was martyred after being jailed, fined and tortured while under arrest by Jehangir‘s orders.

At the time of his installation as the guru, Guru Ji asked Baba Budha Ji to discard the earlier tradition of donning him with the Seli of Guru Nanak preferring instead that he be adorned with a sword. Contrary to prevelant custom, Guru ji put on two swords instead of only one. He explained that one signifies his temporal power and the other his spiritual power. His purpose was not to mix religion with politics, but to take up the cause of the exploited and defend them against the oppression of the rulers. Thus, Guru Har Gobind clearly seperated religion from politics. In India religion was always intermixed with politics and as a result the people were subjected to persecution and injustice. History shows that politics always dominates religion and the ruling classes oppress the people from behind the shield of religion. That is why the politicians have always played the game of entangling religion with politics.

According to the chronicles, Guru Arjan Dev Ji did not have a child for a long time and Mata Ganga Ji sought Baba Budha Ji’s blessings for an offspring. Budha Ji had told her that she would give birth to an extraordinarily chivalrous son. Guru Hargobind Ji was born after that. Guru Hargobind Ji issued many edicts after he was installed as the sixth guru. He set up an army, acquired arms and horses, hoisted the Sikh flag and used large drums nagaras to make announcements. In 1663 he had the Akal Takhat built in front of Harimandir Sahib. Seated here he would listen to the woes and complaints of people and issue edicts.

According to historians, he was married thrice but this concept is confusing and probably not accurate. It is also said that the name of bride before marriage changed after marriage in the husband’s house as was the custom at the time. Historians say that Guruji’s first wife was Mata Damodari daughter of Narain Das of village Talla. She gave birth to Baba Gurditta, Bibi Veero and Ani Rai Ji. The second time he was married to Bibi Nanki daughter of Hari Chand of village Bakala. She was the mother of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. His third marriage was to Bibi Mahadevi daughter of Daya Ram of village Jandiyali, district Shekhupura (Pakistan). She gave birth to Suraj Mall Ji and Baba Atal Ji.

The hand script of Guru Hargobind in a pothi kept at the Amritsar Museum

Alarmed by the spreading glory of Guru Hargobind Ji, all the ill-wishers of the community joined hand with the rulers of Lahore and went to Delhi to complain against him to the Mughal rulers. They told Jehangir that Guru Hargobind Sahib was gathering an army and amassing arms to avenge his father’s death. They advised him that to suppress his efforts at the earliest. Jehangir summoned the Guru to Delhi to assess his character and aims. A surprising thing happened as both the Emperor and his wife were taken by his charm, grace and Godliness, a friendship and mutual respect soon followed. Guru Hargobind would even hunt with the Emperor on his grand Shikars, hunting being a life long passion of the Guru.

Remarkably the young Guru even saved the life of the Emperor, who he could have easily hated for the death of his father, by jumping beteen a Lion and the Mughal ruler.

Seeing their scheme to harm Guru ji going awry and growing fearful of his developing friendship with the Emperor Chandu Shah used an illness of Jahangir to have the court astrologers predict that only a Holy man praying at a shrine at Gwalior Fort could lead to the Emperor’s recovery. Jahangir himself had become jealous of the young Guru. Moved equally by personal jealousy as well as supertition, he ordered the Guru to be imprisoned at the Gwalior fort.

Though his Sikhs were worried that he would meet the same fate as his father the Guru himself was never worried over his release. The famous muslim pir Hazrat Mian Mir was amoung those who reminded Jahangir, who had gotten over his illness and seemingly forgotten about the Guru’s confinement in the Fort, to release the Guru. The Guru’s immediate release was ordered, but Guru Ji refused to leave the fort unless the fifty-two Princes were released as well.

Jehangir cleverly agreed that the Guru could take as many as could hold onto the Guru’s clothing. Guru ji had his darzi (tailor) prepair a coat with 52 ribands or tails and left the fort with the fifty-two rulers trailing behind him. That is why Guru Ji is referred to as the Liberator (Bandi-chor) in history. Bandi-chor Divas is celebrated in honor of the day.

When Guru Ji reached Amritsar his Sikhs lit lamps to welcome him. His arrival also consided with the tradional india festival, Diwali. Since then the festival of Diwali (lighting of lamps) is celebrated as Bandi-Chor diwas by Sikhs.

From Amritsar he went to Lahore where Kaulan, adopted Hindu daughter of Kazi Rustam Khan and a follower of Saint Mian Mir came into contact with the Guru due to her dire plight. Guruji asked her to move to Amritsar, where she led a pious life. On Guruji’s command, Baba Budha Ji had Gurdwara Kaulsar built in Kaulan’s memory in 1681 of Bikrami calendar. On the invitation of Sikhs of central India he also travelled there where he had Gurdwara Nanak Matta completed. Later he visited Kashmir and secured many followers there. He returned to Punjab via Gujrat.

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