It is always believed that whenever the Righteousness vanishes from this world and the Falsehood takes its place, there has been a call from the Heaven to restore peace and justice on earth.
Sayad Mohammad Latif (a Muslim writer) writes in his history of the Punjab (India), “Great jealousy and hatred existed in those days between the Hindus and the Mohammadans and the whole non-Muslim population was subject to persecution by the Mohammadan rulers.” Bhai Gurdas, a Sikh scholar writes, “The Qazi (Muslim priest) who occupies the seat of justice, accepts bribe and then passes unjust orders.” Guru Nanak describes the situation during the fifteen century as:
“Kings are butchers
Cruelty their knife, and
Sense of duty and responsibility have taken wings and vanished.”
(Slok Mohalla 1, p-145 Guru Granth Sahib)
When the hour is the darkest, the coming of a Prophet is imminent. Out of the dark clouds of falsehood, hypocrisy, injustice, cruelty and bigotry, there came a ray of sunshine from the Heaven as described by Bhai Gurdas, a Sikh Apostle:
“Heaven at last heard the prayers of the people,
Guru Nanak was sent to the world.
The disciples met and drank the nectar of his Lotus feet,
And realized the Divine in this age of materialism.
Guru Nanak re-established Dharma,
All castes he merged into one race of man.
The rich and the poor he brought on one level,
From the Founder of Humanity a new race of love goes forth;
In humility they bow down to each other.”
(Bhai Gurdas, Var 1- pauri 23)
Heaven at last heard the cries and prayers of the oppressed and there appeared the Savior of Humanity, Prophet of Peace, Fountain of Heavenly Love and Ocean of Virtue in the name of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh Religion.
Sikh Religion was founded by Guru Nanak in the form of ten Gurus (1469-1708) in India. The tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh ended the personal Guruship and proclaimed Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Holy Scripture) as the last Guru for ever.
Guru Granth Sahib was written and compiled by the Gurus themselves and hence it is authentic. Nobody is allowed to change even a comma or a period in it (1430 pages).
Guru Granth Sahib does not narrate the life story of the Gurus but it is wholly dedicated to the Glory of the Almighty God only. Sikhism is not a blend or reproduction of earlier religions but it is a New Revelation altogether. The teachings that the Gurus gave to this world, came DIRECT to them from God which the Gurus
“This Word comes from Him Who hath created the world.”
(Slok Mohalla 4, p-306 Guru Granth Sahib)
To attain salvation, Sikhism rejects all fasts, rites and rituals. It rejects the claims of Yoga, mortification of body, self-torture, penances and renunciation. Sikhism does not believe in the worship of gods and goddesses, stones, statues, idols, pictures, tombs or crematoriums. Only One God, The Formless, is to be Glorified.
The Gurus preached Sikh Religion strictly as monotheistic requiring belief in none other than One Supreme Being only.
GURU - THE DIVINE LIGHT:
The word ‘Guru’ is so popular in India that in order to understand the fundamental concept of ‘guru’ in Sikhism, one must first completely drive out of one’s mind the prevalent popular notion of a guru. The popular term ‘guru’ often used for a Brahmin, a yogic teacher or a guide or even a school teacher, has made the Guruship so cheap that a scholar describes these gurus as ‘wicks which smell foul after the lamps are extinguished.’
The term ‘Guru’ in Sikhism is not used for a teacher or guide or an expert or even a human body. The word ‘Guru’ is composed of two terms:
GU - means darkness, and
RU - means light
In Sikhism the word ‘Guru’ is, therefore, defined as the Light that dispels all darkness, and that is called JOT (Divine Light).
God was sitting alone in an Absolute trance before the world was created and Sikhism refers to Him as the Guru:
“How shall I utter the Glory of the Guru,
For, the Guru is Ever-awake Spring of Truth
In prime and beginning of the ages and all the ages through
He is the Perfect Lord God.”
(Asa Mohalla 5, p- 397, Guru Granth Sahib)
(All quotations are from Guru Granth Sahib (GGS) unless it is noted otherwise.)
The Guru is the Divine Light of the three worlds:
“The Guru is the Beneficent, the Sanctuary of Peace,
The Light of the three worlds.”
(Slok Moh. 1, p-137)
What are the three worlds? One world is what is above us to infinity, the second world is what is below us to infinity and the third world is what is at our level to infinity. The Divine Light (Guru) which is all-pervading and shines over all the three worlds, caused Himself to be called, ‘Guru Nanak’:
“Guru, the Embodiment of Divine Light has caused
Himself to be called Guru Nanak”:
(Swayai Moh. 5, p-1408)
Guru Nanak was, therefore, the Embodiment of Divine Light. HE WAS BORN GURU:
“Guru Nanak is embodiment of the Light of God.”
(Basant Moh. 5, p-1192)
Thus Guru in Sikhism is a perfect Prophet or Messenger of God in whom the Light of God shines fully, visibly and completely. Guru is in union with the Divine. Thus he ushers the devotees, the seekers of Truth into a spiritual birth. Through him the Glory of the Lord is transmitted to humanity. On account of his Divine prerogatives, the Guru, though human in form, is Divine in spirit.
When Guru Nanak conferred Guruship on Bhai Lehna (his devotee later called Guru Angad Dev), the Jot was passed on and Guru Angad Dev too became the embodiment of Divine Light. After conferring Guruship, Guru Nanak himself bowed before Guru Angad Dev. He did not bow to the body of Guru Angad Dev but he bowed before the Divine Light (Guru) which he passed on by his Divine Power. In the same way all the nine Gurus were the embodiments of Gur Nanak Jot (Divine Light). The tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh ended personal Guruship and then conferred Guruship on the Adi Granth (Sikh Holy Scripture), which too became the embodiment of Divine Light and was called Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh then bowed before Guru Granth Sahib and asked his Sikhs to do so. He did not bow before a book (or Granth) but he bowed before the Divine Light (Guru) which he passed on to the Adi Granth by his Divine Power. Gur Nanak Jot is, therefore, enshrined and preserved in Guru Granth Sahib, and it is the Living Guru for ever (present as well as future). For the Sikhs, the Guru Granth is the manifestation of the Guru’s Spirit and through it , Guru Nanak lives on in the Sikh Faith.
Guru Nanak never said to anyone that he could go to heaven or get salvation only if he had become his disciple. Being embodiment of Divine Light, and as the Divine Light knows no boundaries and does not belong to any particular sect or religion, so he stood guarantee to the entire humanity that whosoever one may be irrespective of caste, creed, race, sex, color, religion or nationality, ‘Whosoever meditates upon One God, the Formless, will get salvation’:
“He shall become pure whosoever repeateth His Name
With devotion, affection and heartfelt love.”
(Gauri Sukhmani Moh. 5, p-290)
GURU NANAK DEV (1469-1539 A.D)
Guru Nanak was born in 1469 at Rai Bhoeki Talwandi now known
as Nankana Sahib situated in Punjab province of Pakistan. This place is about
55 miles north-west of Lahore. His father, Mehta Kalu was a Patwari- an
accountant of land revenue in the government. Guru's mother was Mata Tripta
and he had one older sister, Bibi Nanki. From the very childhood, Bibi Nanki saw
in him the Light of God but she did not reveal this secret to anyone. She is known
as the first disciple of Guru Nanak.
At the age of seven, Guru Nanak was sent to school, which was run by a teacher,
Pandit Gopal Das, at his village. As usual the teacher started the lesson with an
alphabet but the teacher was wonder-struck when the Guru asked him to explain the meanings of the letters of the alphabet. However at the helplessness of his teacher,
the Guru wrote the meanings of each and every letter of the alphabet. This was the
first Divine Message delivered by Guru Nanak. This was an explanation of
deeper truth about human beings and God and the way to realize God in
terms of the alphabet. The teacher stood abashed before the Divine Master and
bowed to him. He then took him back to his father and said, "Mehtaji, your son
is an Avtar (prophet) and has come to redeem the victims of Kalyug (the age of Falsehood). He is destined to be a world Teacher, there is nothing that I can teach him."
(The above Divine Message is included in Guru Granth Sahib at page 432 as Raag Asa Mohalla 1, Pati Likhi).
COBRA SERVES THE DIVINE MASTER:
As usually is the case in villages, the father sent his son to graze the buffaloes
in the pastures who fell asleep under the shade of a tree. As the sun rose higher,
the shadow moved away. A big cobra came out of its den and provided shadow
with its hood over the face of the Divine Master. Rai Bular, an officer-in-charge
of the area, happened to pass by that side with his attendants. When he saw this
strange scene, he was convinced that the boy was a man of God. Upon seeing the
people, the Cobra retreated to its den and Rai Bular touched Guru's feet in
great reverence and thus became Guru's disciple.
In order to bring him around the worldly affairs, the next step came the marriage.
The marriage date is given different in different Janamsakhis (biographies), and it is presumed that he was between 14 to 18 years of age when he got married. His wife,
Sulakhni, was the daughter of Bhai Mula, a resident of Batala in Gurdaspur district.
She gave birth to two sons, Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das.
His father soon found out that even the married life did not divest him of his pre-occupation with matters pertaining to his Divine mission. As a matter of fact, his
concept of duty was not to serve himself and his family rather to transcend it so that
the self might participate in the divine scheme of things and spiritualize the whole world
around him. Humanity was his family and serving the humanity was the service of the Lord. Bhai Gurdas writes that the Guru saw the whole world in flames; flames of
falsehood, tyranny, hypocrisy and bigotry. He had to go and extinguish that fire with eternal love, truth and dedication. He had the divine mission to teach to humanity, the lesson of the brotherhood of mankind and the fatherhood of God. "The Primal Being
created the Light; all men are the creation of Providence: all human beings have sprung from one Light. Who, then, is bad and who is good?" (Parbhati-Kabir, p-1349-50)
TRAVELS OF GURU NANAK:
Guru Nanak Dev saw the world suffering out of hatred, fanaticism, falsehood and hypocrisy. The world had sunk in wickedness and sin. So he set out for the
regeneration of humanity on this earth. He carried the torch of truth, heavenly love,
peace and joy for mankind. He embarked on his Divine Mission and went towards east, west, north and south and visited various centers of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jainis, Sufis, Yogis and Sidhas. He met people of different religions, tribes, cultures and races. He traveled on foot for 14 years with his Muslim companion named Mardana, a
minstrel. His travels are called Udasis.
In his first Udasi (travel), Guru Nanak covered east and south of India and returned home after spending a little more than eight years. He started from Sultanpur in August, 1507 and went to his village Talwandi to meet and inform his parents about his long journey. The old parents wanted comfort and protection from their young son in their
old age and so they asked him not to go. But there were thousands and thousands others waiting for the Divine Master for comfort, love and salvation. The Guru, therefore, told
his parents, “There is a call from Heaven, I must go whither He directs me to go."
FIRST STOP AT EMINABAD:
Accompanied by Mardana, the Guru embarked on his mission and left his family behind. He made his first stop at Saidpur, now known as Eminabad, and there he met
a poor carpenter named Lalo. The Master looked at poor Lalo graciously and he was blessed with Divine love and lo, he was a blessed man. The Guru chose to stay
with Lalo for sometimes as a guest. The news reached Malik Bhago, the chief of the
town, that a holy person was staying with Lalo. Malik Bhago was a corrupt man
and he had amassed wealth through unfair means. He held a big gathering and invited
all holy men including the Guru. The Guru, however, did not accept his
invitation. Malik then made a special arrangement for the Guru and
requested him to come and eat at his residence. At last the Guru went there
and Malik Bhago said, "O holy man, I have prepared so many dishes for you,
but you are staying with a poor carpenter and eating his dry bread. Please stay
with me." The Guru replied, “I cannot eat your food because your bread is
earned by dishonest means while Lalo's bread is made from the hard-earned money."
This made Malik Bhago very mad and he asked the Guru to prove his point. The
Guru then sent for a loaf of bread from Lalo's house. In one hand the Guru held
Lalo's bread and in the other that of Malik Bhago's, and when he squeezed both,
milk came out from Lalo's bread and blood dripped from Malik Bhago's bread.
Malik Bhago was completely shaken by his guilt and asked for forgiveness.
The Guru asked him to distribute his ill-gotten wealth among the poor and
henceforth live a honest life. Malik Bhago was re-born with the Guru's blessing.
He then went towards the east and reached Assam Province beyond Calcutta.
He visited various famous Hindu Pilgrimage places and Temples like Hardwar, Gorakhmata, Banaras, Gaya and Kamrup.
The Guru preached against superstitions and rituals, worship
of gods and goddesses, penances and renunciation. He stressed that only One
God, the Formless, was to be glorified. In this way he showed the path of
truth and enlightenment.
GURU TO SANGLADEEP (CEYLON - SRI LANKA):
Guru went towards south and after visiting the famous
Temple of Jagan Nath Puri, he reached Matiakalam (now known as
Matalai) which was the capital of Sangladeep under Raja Shiv Nabh.
Bhai Mansukh, a trader from Punjab and a disciple of the Guru,
had been to Sangladeep in connection with his business long before
the Guru's visit to the island. By reason of his trade, Bhai
Mansukh had access to Raja Shiv Nabh and thus he had told the Raja
all about Guru Nanak. The Raja asked how he could meet the Guru.
Mansukh told him, “Rise early in the morning and recite Moolmantar.
(see in Appendix under Glossary). If you earnestly pray, the Guru will
respond to your prayers."
Every morning Raja Shiv Nabh meditated and prayed for the
holy sight (darshan) of the Guru. Time passed on but the Guru did
not appear. Many persons came and claimed to be the Guru but all
were found to be the fake claimants. One day news was brought to
the Raja that a holy man, with a rare glory beaming on his face
(spiritual aura), had arrived in the old neglected garden, and as
soon as he set his foot in the garden, the withered trees sprouted
into green foliage.
Due to the previous fake claimants, the Raja devised a plan
to test the visitors before he could bow his head to any one of
them. The Raja, therefore, sent beautiful girls to seduce the new-
comer with their beauty and charm. The report was sent to the Raja
that the girls not only failed to seduce the visitor, but they
themselves had been transformed under his spell. Hearing this, the
Raja hurriedly came to see the holy Master. Spontaneously he fell
at the feet of the Guru. The Guru placed his hand on his head and
blessed him. Who could describe the ecstatic joy that had dawned
The whole city rushed to the garden to have holy sight of the
Master. A dharamsala, a religious common place, was built where the
Guru held daily religious congregations and preached his divine
doctrine. People were enlightened with God's Name and they became
GURU TO KAILASH PARBAT:
After coming from the South, the Guru went towards North and entered
into Tibet and then proceeded to the Mansarovar Lake and Kailash Parbat
(also called Sumeir Parbat). There he met many renowned Sidhas. They
asked the Guru about the conditions prevailing in India. The Guru informed
them that falsehood overshadowed the land and the moon of truth was
completely enshrouded in the darkness of ignorance. The kings were
butchers and justice had taken wings and flown away. Then he
further said,"Nathji, when the Sidhas (Yogis) are hiding themselves
in mountain enclaves, who is left over there to lead the people in
the right direction?"
The Sidhas wanted the young Guru to wear their garb and become a
yogi, but they could not succeed. They had the supernatural powers
which they tried upon the Guru. They asked him to bring water from
the nearby spring. The Guru took a bowl and went to bring water.
By their miraculous powers, the Sidhas turned the water into jewels
and diamonds. They had thought that the Guru would be overwhelmed
with the wealth. But he did not care about the jewels and came back
with empty bowl. They still tried many more tricks but failed to
succeed. At last they acknowledged the super-powers of the Guru and
sat around him in submission and the discussion ensued. The Guru
convinced them that instead of wearing empty forms and doing hard
penances, they should exert themselves in the service of mankind.
(The discussion with Sidhas is given in Guru Granth Sahib as ‘Sidh Gost’
starting on page 938).
The Guru then proceeded to Multan, Uch, Sakhar and reached
Lakhpat, where a Gurdwara stands marking the memory of the Guru.
Then he reached Kuriani where a tank is called after Guru's name.
He visited Miani, about fifty miles west of city of Karachi and
visited the temples of Hindus and the Muslims in the area. Near
Hinglaj, there is a Dharmsala preserving the memory of the Guru's
visit to this place. From there he boarded a ship for Arabia.
GURU NANAK AT MECCA:
He disguised himself in the blue dress of a Mohammadan
pilgrim, took a faqir's staff in his hand and a collection of his
hymns called 'Pothi' under his arm. He also carried with him like
a Muslim devotee, a cup for his ablutions and a rug whereon to
pray. Like a pilgrim he went inside the great mosque where the
pilgrims were engaged in their devotions. When he lay down to sleep
at night, he turned his feet towards the Kaaba. Jiwan, a priest,
kicked him and said, “Who is this infidel sleeping with his feet
towards the House of God?" The Guru replied, “Turn my feet in the
direction in which God is not." Upon this Jiwan seized the Guru's
feet and dragged them in the opposite direction. Whereupon, it is
said, the Kaaba (temple) turned around, and followed the revolution
of Guru's body. Those who witnessed this miracle were astonished
and saluted the Guru as a supernatural being. (Jiwan came in the morning
to sweep the floor of the mosque).
Then the Qazis and the Mullas crowded around the Guru and asked
whether he was a Muslim or a Hindu? The Guru replied that he was
neither of the two. Then they asked, “Who is the superior of the
two, the Hindu or the Muslim?" The Guru replied, “Without good
deeds, both will repent. The superiority lies in deeds and not in
The chief priest was a seeker of the Truth and he asked for
Guru's blessings. The Guru preached the doctrine of Nam. He then
gave instructions to the priest in the art of true living, to
practice to live in His presence day and night and to glorify the
Lord and thereby to rub out the dirt of sins from the tablet of the
GURU AT MEDINA:
In due time the Guru proceeded to Medina, another holy city
of the Muslims where their Prophet Mohammad lived for many years
and breathed his last. He reached at nightfall and stopped
outside the town. It happened to be a place where lepers were
segregated and no provision was made for their comfort or
treatment. History states that the Guru healed them all and as a
result, the people came in crowds to have holy glimpse of the Guru.
After that he journeyed to Baghdad through Basra. (visit to Baghdad is
described in later chapters).
LIVING BY HONEST MEANS:
Emphasis were laid on honest hard labor for living. Asceticism
was explicitly rejected and instead a disciplined worldliness and
family life was set forth as the proper course. Earnest living through
honest hard labor and then out of that hard earned money, giving
in the name of the Lord, was the moral way to bring up the family.
The Guru himself set up this example by working with his hands in
the fields for the remaining about 18 to 20 years of his life at Kartarpur.
He emphasized this course in the following Sabad:
"Men without divine knowledge sing hymns.
The Hungry Mulla maketh a home of his mosque.
One who earneth nothing slitteth his ears;
Another becometh a beggar and loseth his caste.
Touch not at all the feet of those
Who call themselves gurus and pirs, and go begging.
They who eat the fruit of their labor and bestow something
in the name of Lord,
O Nanak, recognize the right way."
(Sarang ki Var, Slok Mohalla 1, p-1245)
As the time of Guru's departure (from the world) was drawing
near, it was becoming clear to Mataji (Guru's wife) that there
would be succession to Guruship. As is the custom in the world, she
always thought that her sons should be the heir of their father's
property, the Guruship. One day she said to the Guru, “My Lord, keep
my sons in mind." This meant that the Guruship should be passed on to
one of her sons. The Guru said, “Bring your sons." Both the sons were
brought before the Guru. He then threw a bowl in a tank of muddy
water, and asked his eldest son, Sri Chand, to go and recover the
bowl from the tank. Sri Chand replied, “Why did you throw the bowl,
if it had to be brought back?" So he refused to do the job. In the
same way the younger son declined to act. Then the Guru turned to
his devotee Bhai Lehna and said,"Lehnaji, go and bring the bowl."
Bhai Lehna said,"Sat bachan (Yes Sir)." Bhai Lehna went and recovered
the bowl without caring for his clothes getting soiled with mud. There
were a few more tests like this between his sons and Bhai Lehna.
The moral as the Guru enunciated here is that a Sikh must make
a total unconditional surrender before the Guru. He must have total
obedience for the Guru's order, then and only then the Sikh reaches
his goal i.e becomes one with Him. The Guru's sons questioned him
at every step, while Bhai Lehna submitted willfully without
uttering even one word. The result being that Bhai Lehna was
blessed with Guruship and became the embodiment of Divine Light.
According to Guru's mandate and code of conduct, a Sikh must lead
spiritual and moral life while conducting every day's business to
earn Guru's blessing. The Guru's mandate is clear:
"By obeying His order, man is acceptable
And shall then reach the Lord's court."
(Asa di Var- pauri 15, p-471)
ASCENSION OF GURU NANAK:
On September 2, 1539 (2 Asu, 1596 Asu vadi 5) Guru Nanak
placed five Paise (Indian currency) before Bhai Lehna and bowed to
him in token of his succession to the Guruship. He placed the
umbrella of Spiritual Sovereignty over Bhai Lehna's head. Thus, he
created another Guru Nanak and called him GURU ANGAD DEV.
"Jot uha jugat sai seih kaya feir paltiai."
(Ramkali ki Var- Rai Balwand, p-966)
'Divine Light is the same
The Way and Mode are the same
The Master has merely changed the body.'
(Translation of the above)
When Guruship was passed on to Guru Angad, people realized
that Guru Nanak was soon to depart bodily from the world (As a
Divine Light and Spirit, the Guru is always present). The Sikhs,
the Hindus and the Muslims came from all over to have holy glimpse
of Guru Nanak.
Guru's Muslim devotees wanted to bury him after his death. His
Hindu followers desired to cremate his body. When the Guru was
asked for his decision, he replied, “Let the Hindus place flowers
on my right and the Muslims on my left. Those whose flowers are
found fresh in the morning, may have the disposal rights of my
The Guru drew a sheet over him. When the sheet was removed
next morning, body was not found underneath, but the flowers on
both sides were afresh. The light blended with Light and the spirit
went back and merged with the Master Spirit. It confirms that the
Guru was not a body but it was the Divine Light.
The Hindus and the Muslims removed their respective flowers
and cut the sheet into two. The former cremated the sheet and the
latter buried it. It happened at Kartarpur on September 22, 1539
(23rd day of Asu, Vadi 10, Sambat 1596). He was about seventy and
a half years of age.
The Sikhs built a Gurdwara and the Muslims a tomb in his honor
on the bank of river Ravi. Both had since been washed away by the
river, perhaps by a super act, so as to avoid idolatrous worship of
the Guru's last resting place.
Rituals and superstitions earned the sanctions of old times.
Religion had degenerated into ceremonial acts only. The life and
teachings of Guru Nanak offer consistent evidence of fruitlessness
of rituals. He exposed their hollowness and exhorted human beings
to rise above such customs. Guru Nanak's religion excluded all
senseless dogmas and meaningless rituals. With no sword nor stick but
armed with Divine Word, he preached that only Impersonal Absolute
is to be worshiped. Any religion which does not guard its values,
indicates a lower level of development and is deemed to disappear
in the long run.
GURU ANGAD DEV
(1504-1552, Guruship, 1539-1552)
GURU AMAR DAS
(1479-1574, Guruship, 1552-1574 )
GURU RAM DAS
( 1534-1581, Guruship, 1574-1581 )
GURU ARJAN DEV
(1563-1606, Guruship 1581-1606 )
Guru Arjan was born in Goindwal, a small town in Amritsar
district, on April 15, 1563. He was the youngest son of Guru Ram
Das and Bibi Bhani. As a child, one day he found his way to the bed
of Guru Amar Das who was then resting. His mother ran to fetch the
child before he could disturb the Guru, but he had already awakened
the Guru, who revealed, “Let him come to me; 'yeh mera dohita bani
ka bohita howega'- this grandson of mine shall be a ship to take
mankind across the ocean of the world."
COMPLETION OF CONSTRUCTION WORK:
Mian Mir, a famous Muslim saint, was a friend and a devotee
of the Guru. The Guru asked Mian Mir to lay the foundation stone
of Hari Mandar which is now called Golden Temple, Amritsar (India).
When the construction of the tank and the temple was
completed, Guru Arjan uttered the following Sabad in joy and
gratitude to the Almighty:
"The Creator stood in the midst of the work,
And not a hair of any man's head was touched.
The Guru maketh my ablution successful……………………”
(Sorath Mohalla 5, p-623)
COMPILATION OF THE ADI GRANTH:
Guru Arjan felt the need to lay down rules to guide his followers
in their daily religious duties. He made plans for the compilation of
Adi Granth. For that purpose he chose a secluded spot outside the city of Amritsar
which is now called Ramsar. He got a tank excavated there. Tents were
erected for the accommodation. Guru Arjan took abode near the tank and
dictated hymns to Bhai Gurdas who wrote them down. The verses were
arranged according to Raags or musical measures. The hymns of the first Guru
came first then those of the second Guru and so on. After the
Bani of the Gurus, came the verses of the Bhagats or the Indian
saints. (see below about Bhagats under Bhakti Movement and also about Bhats).
A Muslim might never like to read a hymn of a Hindu saint, and
by the same token a Hindu might not like to hear the religious
verse of a Muslim saint. The Hindus did not allow a Hindu saint born in
low caste family, to enter the Hindu temple. Such was the religious
fanaticism prevailing at that time. Guru Arjan, therefore, created
an ocean in which all rivers and rivulets could fall and assume the
appearance of the ocean itself. The composition of such an ocean
was completed on Bhadon Vadi 1, Sambat 1661 ( August 15, 1604 A.D.)
and was called the Adi Granth. It was by no means a bible for the Sikhs alone,
but it is universal in character. It contained no life story of the
Gurus but only the Eternal Truth, each and every word of which
was dedicated to the Glory of the Almighty God only.
On Bhadon Sudi first, Sambat 1661 (August 30, 1604), Adi Granth was
installed in the Hari Mandar (Golden Temple, Amritsar) and Bhai Buddha was
appointed as the first Granthi (priest). Guru Granth Sahib is opened at random
and first passage is read from top of left-hand side page and it is considered as the
Divine Order of the day. The following Order came on that day:
"God Himself has come to Fulfill the Task of His Saints;
He Himself has Come to Do our Tasks.
And, now Blessed is the Pool of the earth and the (God's) Nectar
with which it is filled………………………….”
(Suhi Moh. 5, p-783)
Guru Arjan Dev compiled Sikh Scripture which included besides the compositions of the Gurus, the hymns of 15 Hindu and Muslim saints with their 778 verses. (The fifteen Bhagats in chronological order were Bhagat Sheikh Farid, Jai Dev, Trilochan, Nam Dev, Sadhna, Ramanand, Ravi Das, Sain, Kabir, Dhana, Pipa, Surdas, Bhikhan, Parmanand and Bhagat Beni). While including those hymns he applied certain norms. He incorporated only those hymns of these saints which were in agreement and in accordance with those of the Gurus in their meaning and Divine status. These Bhagats or saints believed in God because they felt oneness with Him emotionally and had faith and conviction in His existence rather than seeking any rational or intellectual explanation. They had deep devotion and immense love for the Divine. All the Bhagats were enlightened people. They spread the Divine message in different parts of India during twelfth to sixteenth centuries. Their hymns were soaked in pious morality with spiritual color and were filled with glorious praises of the Lord’s Name. The devotional hymns of these saints along with their dedication and loyalty to the Lord, gave rise to Bhakti movement. This movement became means of providing spiritual and intellectual strength to people in medieval India. Bhakti movement was at its peak during fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Devotees of God who belonged by birth to poor and low class families, were in spiritual height. Because of their intoxication for the Divine ideal, the hymns of these saints from the lower and poor status of the society earned space in Sikh Scripture. Bhakti is the yearning of the soul for union with the Divine in which separation from the Eternal amounts to torment of the inner-self. It is the emotional absorption into God which comes through ceaseless remembrance of the Name and rejoicing in His Glory. Their hymns were so saturated with love of God that by including them in Sikh Scripture, Guru Arjan Dev gave them a status of Bani (Word) thus providing them a place of respect in Sikh Faith. By doing so Sikhism crossed the barriers of region and religion. Those were disturbed times. Pages of history suggest that some of these saints not only themselves suffered cruelties and humiliation from the Muslim invaders and kings of those times but encouraged common people to bravely face pain and suffering to gain justice. Their compositions played great role in saving masses of people from moral and physical breakdown under the rule of Muslim tyrants. They guided the lives of the people of their times into fruitful spiritual channels and gave them moral anchor and support. They tried to undo oppressive and exploitative actions of the Muslim rulers. Such an endeavor on the part of these saints was the need of the time when India was in an era of political upheaval and social turmoil. The social structure based on the caste system was neither challenged before nor was the exploitation of the lower castes by the higher ones condemned. Bhagat Kabir and Bhagat Namdev severely criticized Brahmins for their insistence on ritualism and for their intolerance of any one who dared to find fault with their methods. Bhagat Kabir had been the most revolutionary of all the saints of Bhakti movement.
Bhats or Minstrels:
Bhats were a group of eleven Brahmins by caste and were closely related to each other. They were Bhat Kal Sahar, Gayand, Bhikha, Kirat, Mathura, Jalap, Salh, Bhalh, Balh, Harbans and Bhat Nath. History traces back their origin to Kaushik Rishi. They were mentally enlightened, intelligent and literary people. Since they were intellectual men, they composed their own ballads and would sing them to amuse themselves. From their writings it is evident that they wandered from place to place in search of a spiritual preceptor who could guide them towards the divine path. They were virtuous and righteous class of men and had an appetite for the divine. Cutting across the boundaries of mind and intellect these Bhats wanted to achieve celestial happiness. Intellectual pursuit did not interest them. Rather they wanted to have inner peace and comfort for their souls. During their journey while looking for a holy guide, they met a lot of hypocrites in the garb of saints. But found that their prayers, fasts and pilgrimages were designed to earn them money and not to save their souls. Those were just mechanical acts serving no spiritual purpose. They observed hypocrisy in the priesthood. On their way the Bhats met some true and sincere religious people also. But due to imperfections inherent in human beings these religious individuals could not attain the same mental stage as that of a true Guru, thereby giving dissatisfaction to the Bhats. These religious people were neither pure nor faultless. None could lead their souls to the Timeless Absolute One.
It was during their search that these Bhats reached Goindwal (Place in Punjab province in India) where Guru Arjan Dev was seated on the Divine Throne of Guru Nanak. They met Guru Arjan Dev around 1581 A.D. Meeting the Guru, their spiritual thirst was quenched . They found peace of mind in Guru Arjan’s court. In the holy company of the Guru, they reached a step upwards on spiritual ladder which prompted them to write the glory of the Divine. The writings of the eleven Bhats matched with the ideal of Adi Granth and thus Guru Arjan Dev included them in the Sikh Scripture. Their compositions are called Swaiyas, a poetic form in which with deep respect and devotion they lauded the Gurus as the embodiment of Divine Light in very rich terms. They have written 121 Swaiyas in praise of the first five Gurus which are incorporated in Guru Granth Sahib along with other Bhagats’ verses. Meeting with Guru Arjan, Bhat Bhika expressed his mental stage in one of his Swaiyas. He states that he wandered for full one year before he met Guru Arjan but could not find the righteous path. Bhats called the Gurus- Divine incarnations, holy preceptors and the physical manifestations of the Lord. In their verses the Bhats have mentioned that the spiritual light of Guru Nanak continued to be transferred to the other Gurus as one candle were to lit from another. All Gurus though different in body, were one in spirit. They saw image of God in the Gurus and felt blessed. Their minds and souls settled in peace and all their pains were annulled. Through Swaiyas they thanked the Lord for enabling them to reach that state of mind. They sang admirations of the divine light pervading in the Gurus and thus attained perfect bliss. In their Swaiyas they wrote whatever they saw and experienced in Guru Arjan Dev. They showed their enthusiasm and devotion in beautiful language and sang their own compositions with soul touching sentiments. With emotions saturated with love and adorations they praised the Gurus in terms of Divine Light.
Some of the lines of their Swaiyas are recited in Harimandar Sahib at Amritsar by the devotees as Guru Granth Sahib is installed in the early hours of every morning. Thus the entire congregation pays tribute to the Guru in a unique manner. Some scholars believe that in the same way Bhats used to sing those laudatory compositions before Guru Arjan as the Adi Granth was placed in Harimandar Sahib each morning. After the Bhats had gone, their descendants used to sing those verses. Now the Sikhs pay their tribute to the Guru by singing those hymns. It is recorded in history that these Bhats had their own Bahis (registers) in which they had listed their daily events and writings. All the contributors of Guru Granth Sahib have immortalized themselves through their compositions as their hymns were blessed with the status of Bani (Word) by Guru Arjan Dev..
MARTYRDOM OF GURU ARJAN:
During the spiritual reign of Guru Arjan, crowds embraced Sikhism in
Punjab and in various other parts of India and even in the neighboring
countries. Many hilly Rajas became Guru’s Sikhs. Guru’s fame and
and influence was widely spread.
The following events lead to Guru’s martyrdom:
The fourth Guru gave Guruship to his youngest son and upon
this the eldest son (Prithi Chand) became very angry. Prithi Chand
opposed his brother (Guru Arjan) throughout his life and tried to harm
him at every step.
Chandu lal was a financial advisor to the Emperor of India.
He had a daughter who was of marriageable age. He sent his family
priest and barber to find a match for the girl. They searched and searched
and ultimately found Guru Arjan’s son (Har Gobind) as an excellent
match for the girl. They reported and gave Chandu their analysis on the
excellence of Har Gobind and the enormous respect that his father (Guru)
was commanding in the city of Amritsar. Chandu was not pleased hearing
the praises of the Guru, so he used some derogatory remarks distinguishing
himself and the Guru. Somehow the news of Chandu’s ill remarks reached
the Sikhs. The whole Sikh congregation decided and requested the Guru not
to accept the alliance of haughty head like Chandu. The Guru had to accept
the decision of the Sikh congregation and respectfully denied the relation
of Chandu. He got very angry and became an ally of Prithi Chand
to harm the Guru.
The Mughal Emperor Akbar had nominated his grandson Khusro
in supersession of his son Jahangir. However Jahangir became the
Emperor after Akbar’s death. Khusro claimed the provinces of Punjab and
Afghanistan. Jahangir unwilling to concede to this demand, ordered
Khusro’s arrest. Khusro escaped and fled towards Afghanistan. On the
way he visited the Guru and begged the Guru for financial assistance. In
Guru’s house a friend or foe is treated equally. Prithi Chand & company
concocted a story of Khusro being favored by the Guru to rouse the
ire of Emperor Jahangir which added fuel to the blazing fire.
Guru’s increasing influence to convert crowds of Hindus and Muslims
to Sikhism, created a stir in the minds of the Pundits (Hindu Brahmins) and
Qazis (Muslim priests). The compilation of the Adi Granth was considered
a serious blow to other religions. Through all these circumstances Guru Arjan
fell a victim to the bigotry and inhumanity of the Mughal Emperor.
Finally Jahangir ordered the Guru to pay two lakhs of rupees
(two hundred thousand rupees) as fine, and also to erase the hymns in his
Granth which were opposed to the Hindu and Muslim religions.
The Guru replied, "Whatever money I have is for the poor, the friendless
and the stranger. If you ask for money, you may take whatever I have; but
if you ask for it by way of fine I shall not give you even a penny,
because a fine is imposed on the wicked worldly persons and not on
priests and saints. As regarding the erasure of hymns in the Adi
Granth, I cannot erase or alter an iota. I am a worshipper of the
Immortal God. There is no monarch save Him; and what He revealed
to the Gurus, from Guru Nanak to Guru Ram Das, and afterwards to
myself, is written in the holy Granth. The hymns contained in the
Adi Granth are not disrespectful to any Hindu incarnation or any
Mohammadan prophet. It is certainly stated that prophets, priests,
and incarnations are the handiwork of the Immortal God, Whose limit
none can find. My main object is to spread the truth and the
destruction of falsehood; and if, in pursuance to this objective,
this perishable body is to depart, I shall account it great good fortune."
When the Sikhs of Lahore came to know about the fine of two lakhs
of rupees, they decided to raise the money to discharge the Guru's
obligation of fine. The Guru issued a stern warning to his Sikhs
that whosoever contributed to pay the fine imposed on him, would
not be his Sikh. It was a matter of principle as mentioned in the
Guru's reply above, and not a matter of two lakhs of rupees. The Qazis and
Brahmins offered alternatives to the Guru to exchange death for expunging
the alleged objectionable passages in Adi Granth and inserting the praises
of Mohammad and of the Hindu deities. The Guru did not budge from
Chandu was incharge and he made Guru Arjan sit on the red hot iron
pan and burning sand was poured over his bare body. Guru's body was
burning and was full of blisters.
His friend and devotee, Mian Mir, a Muslim saint, rushed to
see him. When Mian Mir saw the ghastly scene, he cried out and
said,"O Master! I cannot bear to see these horrors inflicted on
thee. If you permit me, I would demolish this tyrant rule (Mian
Mir is said to have felt supernatural powers at that time)."
The Guru smiled and asked Mian Mir to look towards the skies.
It is said that Mian Mir saw Angels begging the Guru's permission
to destroy the wicked and the proud.
The Guru addressed Mian Mir, “Mian Mir, you are perturbed too
soon. This is the Will of my Master (God), and I cheerfully submit
and surrender to His Sweet Will." The Guru repeated and exemplified
in action the meaning of this verse:
"Tera kia meetha lagei
Har Nam padarath Nanak mangei."
(Asa Mohalla 5, p-394)
'Sweet be Thy Will, my Lord
Nanak beseecheth the gift of Nam.'
(Translation of the above)
The Guru bore all this torture with equanimity and never
uttered a sigh or a groan.
The Guru was unruffled!
The Guru remained calm and unperturbed like a sea!
The Guru was in Absolute Bliss!
This was the wonder of the Lord- an unparallel example in the
history of mankind.
Mian Mir asked, why was he enduring the suffering at the hands
of his vile sinners when he possesseth superpowers? The Guru
replied, “I bear all this torture to set an example to the Teachers
of True Name, that they may not lose patience or rail at God in
affliction. The true test of faith is the hour of misery. Without
examples to guide them, ordinary persons' minds quail in the midst
of suffering." Upon this Mian Mir departed commending the Guru's
fortitude and singing his praises.
The Guru asked for a bath in Ravi river which flowed embracing the
walls of Lahore city. Chandu reveled at the thought that the Guru's body
full of blisters, would undergo greater pain when dipped in cold water and he
permitted him to bathe in the river. The soldiers were sent to escort the Guru.
The Master's disciples saw him leaving. He looked at them still forbidding
any action. He said, “Such is the Will of my God, submit to the Divine Will,
move not, stand calm against all woes."
Crowds watched the Master standing in water and having a dip.
Lo! The light blended with Light and the body was found nowhere.
Hail to the Master! Thou art Wonderful- Martyr, the greatest. Thou
art the Greatest!
WE SALUTE THE MIGHTY KING!
This was the fourth day of the light half of the month of
Jeth, Sambat 1663 (May 30, 1606 A.D.).
The doctrine of Bhana is the acceptance of the Will of God
which is the core of Sikh faith. An enlightened mind lives according
to inner dictates of His Hukam (order). It is a dedicated submission
and infinite patience to accept His Will. Guru Arjan sowed the seed
of martyrdom which largely flourished after him and became the
heritage of the Sikhs.
GURU HAR GOBIND
( 1595-1644, Guruship 1606-1644 )
The martyrdom of Guru Arjan was an unparallel act in the
history of mankind. The Guru had all the superpowers. He could
have averted the situation in any way he liked, but he went
through all that torture to show to the world how in all thick
and thin one should cheerfully submit to the sweet Will of God.
As a matter of fact, the contents of the Adi Granth were not
meant for the Yogis, Sidhas, Sanyasis nor for the Muslim Suffis
only, who sit in seclusion in the caves of the Himalayas and
worship the Almighty by denouncing the world. Instead the
teachings of the Adi Granth were meant for the family men.
By leading the family life, the Gurus gave practical examples as
how to live according to Guru's Word.
The cruel and torturous execution of Guru Arjan aroused a
very strong wave of angry feelings among the masses. The
enlightened, but not passive, sufferings of the Guru instilled
a new spirit and life into the people and they resolved to exert
and sacrifice themselves for the sake of righteousness. For
centuries, countless Hindu men, women and children had fallen
under the Muslim sword and this did not soften the stone hearts
of their oppressors; but rather they had become more cruel and
brutal. Sometimes it is possible to reform the evil doer
by opposing untruth and injustice through non-violent methods.
The silent resistance and suffering for righteous cause might
sometimes enable the tyrant to see his evil actions and he can
be improved. But history stands witness that no amount of non-
violence can succeed against a tyrant who is hardened and
steeped in criminal oppressive ways and who pays no heed to
basic values of moral and civilized conduct. Against such men,
non-violence is only another name of disgraceful cowardice in
their dictionary. Such power drunk men must be faced bravely
with a stick bigger than theirs.
The Guru issued an order to the Masands (leaders of his followers)
that he would be pleased with those who brought offerings of arms
and horses instead of money. He laid down the foundation of Akal Takhat
(Timeless Throne) in 1606 (the fifth day of light half of month
of Har, Sambat 1663) just in front of Hari Mandar, and it was
completed in 1609. Akal Takhat was built of solid bricks on a
raised platform of about ten feet in height and looked like a
throne. The Guru took his seat on it. He built Akal Takhat a few
yards in front of Hari Mandar with a view that a Sikh at Akal
Takhat should not forget that spiritual elevation was as
essential as his social obligations. As a matter of fact, the
Guru wanted his followers to be 'saint-soldiers', extremely
cultured, highly moral with spiritual height and be ever-ready
to measure swords with demoniac forces.
Akal Takhat grew into an institution which symbolized in
itself the idea that the use of sword for the protection of
righteousness and for self-defense was called for. Here the Guru
sitting on his throne, would watch wrestling bouts and military
feats of his disciples performed in the open arena opposite to
the Akal Takhat. As all intricate cases and disputes were
finally decided here by the Guru, the Akal Takhat served the
purpose of a Supreme Court for the Sikhs. Besides throne, the
Guru adopted all other emblems of royalty- the umbrella, the
swords, the crest and the hawk, and thus the Sikhs called him
a true king or 'Sacha Padshah'- a king in all appearance but in
deeds and in purity as holy and great as previous Gurus. People
looked towards Akal Takhat for guidance in their secular
affairs. This custom became so significant that the decision
once taken at Akal Takhat was followed by the Sikhs
enthusiastically and this was the reason that they were always
able to overcome every peril. The development of this custom
contributed a lot towards the consolidation of the Sikh
Movement. Akal Takhat is the highest seat of Sikh Religion
GURU HAR RAI
( 1630-1661, Guruship 1644-1661 )
GURU HAR KRISHEN
( 1656-1664, Guruship 1661-1664 )
GURU TEGH BAHADUR
( 1621-1675, Guruship 1664-1675 )
MARTYRDOM OF GURU TEGH BAHADUR:
As Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb ascended the throne of India
by imprisoning his father and murdering his brothers, he decided to
enlist the sympathies of the fanatical section of his co-religionists. His
idea was to exterminate the idolatrous Hindus and to convert the
whole of India to Islam. In order to achieve this objective he first
tried peaceful overtures; secondly he offered money; thirdly he threatened
punishment and lastly he tried to cause dissention among them. When all
these measures failed, he resorted to forcible conversion. Orders were
issued to the governors of all the provinces that they should destroy the
schools and temples of the infidels and thereby put an end to
educational activities as well as the practices of the religion of the
Kafirs (non-Muslims meant Hindus).
The proselytizing zeal of the officials, with their
campaign of religious persecution and their conversion at the
point of the sword, had sent the wave of terror throughout the
country. Sher Afghan Khan, the Emperor's viceroy in Kashmir, set
about converting the Kashmiri Hindus by force and massacred
those who opposed to embrace Islam. Even the Mohammadans who in
any way assisted the Hindus, were mercilessly put to death. In
extreme agony of too much slaughter, the Brahmin priests of
Kashmir prayed to their gods. It is said that the Kashmiri
Brahmins heard a supernatural voice who told them," Guru Nanak
is the spiritual king in this age. Guru Tegh Bahadur is now
seated on his throne. Go to him, he will protect your honor and
A deputation of Kashmiri Pandits (Brahmins) led by Pandit
Kirpa Ram came to Anandpur and among tears of agony, they
narrated their tales of woe and suffering to the Master. The Guru's
eight years old son (Gobind Rai) appeared on the scene and asked his father why
those people had tears in their eyes. He replied," The Emperor of
India is converting the Hindus to Islam at the point of the sword and
thus there is no end to the misery of these people."
"What is the remedy, father?" asked the son.
The Guru replied," This requires sacrifice- sacrifice of a holy
and supreme soul." His son responded," O dear father, who is
more holy than you in this age? Go and offer yourself and save
these people and their religion." On hearing this the Guru asked
the Kashmiri Brahmins to go to the Emperor and make the
following representation to him," Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth
Sikh Guru is now seated on the throne of the great Guru Nanak,
who is the protector of faith and religion. First make him
a Musalman and then all the people, including ourselves, will
of our own accord adopt the faith of Islam."
Upon this the Brahmins went to Delhi and conveyed
Guru’s message to the Emperor who sent for the Guru. The
Guru reached Delhi after long journey. There were three Sikhs,
Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Dayala and Bhai Sati Das with the Guru
(Some writers account for five Sikhs- Mati Das, Gurditta, Uda,
Chima and Dayala).
The Emperor explained that God appeared to him in a vision
and told him to convert the whole world to Islam. Those who were
to embrace Islam, would be rewarded with wealth, appointments,
land revenue grants and lands. The Emperor tried to lure him,"
In this way you will have many disciples, and you will become
a great priest of Islam. Therefore accept my religion- Islam,
and you will receive from me whatever your heart may desire."
Guru showed the Emperor that instead of reducing the two religions
to one, God wishes to make three religions out of two. So there shall
be three religions- Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism in the future.
Upon this it was ordered that the Guru be imprisoned with
sufficient guards around him. Again he was sent for and
was told that if he embraced Islam, every service would be
performed for him otherwise he would be severely tortured. He
replied that he would never embrace Islam and thus, remained in
Delhi jail for eight days. He was given three choices: firstly
to embrace Islam; secondly to perform a miracle; and thirdly to
prepare himself to court death. The Guru responded that to show
a miracle was against the Will of God and thus he would not
consent to the Emperor's proposals and the Emperor might act as
he pleased. He was then put to extreme tortures.
Bhai Mati Das was bound between two pillars when the
executioners put saw on his head, he began to recite Japji
(the first Bani in Guru Granth Sahib)1. It is said that when his body
was cut into two, he continued reciting Japji and he was silent only
when the recitation of Japji was complete This was a wonder of
Guru's Grace. Bhai Dayala was boiled to death in a cauldron of hot
water. It is said that the third companion Bhai Sati Das was roasted
alive with cotton wrapped round his body. The authorities thought that
these tortures of his Sikhs might shake the Guru. Nothing could and
nothing can shake the Divine Light (the Guru).
The final message was given to the Guru," You are to accept
the religion of Islam or show a miracle. If you work a miracle,
you may remain a Guru. If you accept Islam, then you will be
advanced to an exalted position. If you fail to accept these
offers, you shall be put to death. This is the final decision."
The Guru emphasized," I will never abandon my faith. I want
no honor in this life; I want honor hereafter. The threat of
death possesses no terrors for me. For death I am prepared and
I cheerfully accept it."
Hearing this reply it was ordered that the Guru should be
executed. Saiyid Adam Shah accompanied by courtiers and Muslim
priests came with a warrant for his execution. Many
people turned out to witness the execution. He was then taken
out of his cage and allowed to perform his ablutions. He sat
under the banyan-tree where he recited Japji. The executioner,
Jalal-ud-din of Samana (some say it was Adam Shah) took his
sword and in a split of second, severed Guru's head from his
body. This happened on the afternoon of Thursday, the fifth day
of the month of Maghar in Sambat 1732 (November 11, 1675) at
Chandni Chowk, Delhi where now stands Gurdwara Sis Ganj in his
memory. History has recorded that a furious storm raged immediately
after this brutal deed which filled every one's eyes with dust. Bhai Jaita
dashed out of the crowd and instantaneously took away the holy head
of the Guru to Anandpur (Punjab). He reached Kiratpur on the 15th of
November, 1675. From there the Guru's head was taken to Anandpur
with full honor and on the 16th of November, 1675, it was cremated
with full ceremonies There is a Gurdwara called Sis Ganj at Anandpur
where the hallowed head of the Guru was cremated.
Lakhi Shah Labana was a famous contractor in Delhi and he
was also a follower of the Guru. He emptied his carts laden with
lime near the Red Fort, taking advantage of the darkness and the
carelessness of the Mughal sentries, and with the help of his
sons, Nagahiya, Hema, Harhi and his friend Dhuma, whisked away
the sacred body of the Guru, in one of their carts. Apprehensive
of the government reprisal, Lakhi Shah and his sons then built
up a pyre inside their own house and set fire to it. When the
body was duly reduced to ashes, they cried out that their house
had caught fire and called upon their neighbors to assist them
in extinguishing it. Next day they collected the Guru's remains
and buried them in a copper vessel called 'gaggar' in the earth
under his funeral pyre. On this spot there stands a Gurdwara,
Rakab Ganj, near Parliament House in New Delhi.
"Having broken his potsherd on the head of the king of
Delhi, he departed for Paradise;
No one else coming into the world acted like Tegh Bahadur.
The world was in mourning for the departure of Tegh Bahadur;
There was weeping for him in the whole world, but rejoicing
(Guru Gobind Singh- Bachitar Natak)
1. Japji is the first composition starting from page one of Guru Granth Sahib
comprising of 38 pauris (stanzas) and a slok
GURU GOBIND SINGH
( 1666-1708, Guruship 1675-1708 )
It may not be out of the way to say here that throughout the
annals of human history, there was no other individual who could
be of more inspiring personality than Guru Gobind Singh. At its
climax the tenth Gur Nanak infused the spirit of both the saintlihood
and the undauntedness in the minds and hearts of his followers to
fight oppression in order to restore justice, righteousness
(Dharma) and to uplift the down-trodden people in this world. It
is said that after the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the tenth
Master declared that he would create such a Panth (nation) which
would not be cowed down by tyrant rulers but it would rather
challenge the oppressor in every walk of life to restore justice,
equality and peace for mankind. He further resolved that he would
feel worthy to be called Gobind Singh only when any single member
of his Khalsa Panth would successfully and undauntedly challenge
the army of one hundred and twenty-five thousand opponents in the
field. This point was rightfully proven at Chamkaur Sahib when
Sahibzada Ajit Singh (Guru's about 18 years old eldest son)
challenged the Mughal forces and their allies, the hilly Rajas.
"The Divine Guru hath sent me for religion's sake
On this account, I have come into the world;
Extend the faith everywhere
Seize and destroy the evil and sinful.
Understand this, ye holymen, in your minds
I assumed birth for the purpose of spreading the faith,
saving the saints and extirpating all tyrants."
(Guru Gobind Singh- Chaupai, Bachitar Natak)
Guru Tegh Bahadur's martyrdom symbolized in itself the
resistance to the tyranny of Muslim rule in favor of a new society.
When evil is holding its head high, should a holy man knuckle under
it or take up arms to combat and destroy it? The young Guru, Gobind
Rai, decided in favor of the latter course i.e. to combat evil and
uphold righteousness. He thus enjoined upon his followers to make
use of the sword if all other means failed to liquidate the wicked
and his wickedness. In order to achieve this mission, he issued
'Hukamnamas' (circular letters of authority) to his followers to
present to him arms of different designs. The Guru's orders were
obeyed with great zeal and devotion. He himself wore uniform and
bore arms and induced others to practise archery and musket-
shooting. He encouraged various muscle-developing and strenuous
sports as part of the program of physical culture.
CREATION OF THE KHALSA:
The Guru sent Hukamnamas to his followers all over the country
to visit Anandpur at the Baisakhi festival to be held in Sambat
1756 (13th April, 1699 A.D.). It seemed as if the whole of Punjab was on the
move; and they came from all parts of the country.
A small tent was pitched on a small hill now called Kesgarh
Sahib at Anandpur and an open air dewan (assembly) was held. The
Guru drew his sword and in a thundering voice said," I want one
head, is there any one who can offer me?" This most unusual call
caused some terror in the gathering and the people were stunned.
There was dead silence. The Guru made a second call. Nobody came
forward. There was still more silence. On the third call there rose
Daya Ram, a khatri of Lahore who said," O true king, my head is at
thy service." The Guru took Daya Ram by the arm and led him inside
the tent. A blow and thud were heard. Then the Guru, with his sword
dripping with blood, came out and said," I want another head, is
there anyone who can offer?"
Again on third call Dharam Das, a Jat from Delhi came forward and
said," O true king! My head is at thy disposal." The Guru took
Dharam Das inside the tent, again a blow and thud were heard, and
he came out with his sword dripping with blood and repeated," I
want another head, is there any beloved Sikh who can offer it?"
Upon this some people in the assembly remarked that the Guru
had lost all reason and they went to his mother to complain. Mohkam
Chand, a washerman of Dwarka (west coast of India) offered himself
as a sacrifice. The Guru took him inside the tent and went through
the same process. When he came out, he made a call for the fourth
head. The Sikhs began to think that he was going to kill all of
them. Some of them ran away and the others hung their heads down.
Himmat Chand, a cook of Jagan Nath Puri, offered himself as a
fourth sacrifice. Then the Guru made a fifth and the last call for
a fifth head. Sahib Chand, a barber of Bidar (in central India),
came forward and the Guru took him inside the tent. A blow and thud
The last time he stayed longer in the tent. People outside began to
breath with relief. Inside the tent the Guru dressed them in splendid garments. They
offered their heads to the Guru, and the Guru had now given them
himself and his glory. When they were brought outside, they were
in the most radiant form. There were exclamations of wonder and the
sighs of regret on all sides. Now people were sorry for not
offering their heads.
Since the time of Guru Nanak, Charanpauhal (baptism) had been customary
form of initiation. People were to drink the holy water which had
been touched or washed by the Guru's toe or feet. The Guru
proceeded to initiate them to his new order by asking five faithful
Sikhs to stand up. He put pure water into an iron vessel or Bowl
(Batta of Sarbloh) and stirred it with a Khanda (two edged small
sword). While stirring the water with Khanda, he recited Gurbani
or Divine Word ( Five Banis- Japji, Jap Sahib, Anand Sahib, Swayas,
and Chaupai). Sugar crystals called 'Patasas' which incidentally the
Guru's wife, Mata Sahib Kaur, had brought at that moment, were
mixed in the water.
The Guru then stood up with the sacred Amrit ( nectar)
prepared in the steel bowl. Each of the five faithfuls, by turn,
kneeling upon his left knee, looked up to the Master to
receive his Eternal Light. He gave five palmfuls of Amrit to each
of them to drink and sprinkled it five times in the eyes, asking
them to repeat aloud with each sprinkle, "Waheguru ji ka Khalsa,
Waheguru ji ki Fateh." (This meant: Khalsa belongs to God and all
triumph be to His Name) Then he anointed them with five sprinkles in their
head. In this way Amrit was administered to the five faithfuls from
the same bowl. After that he asked them to sip Amrit from the same
bowl to signify their initiation into the casteless fraternity of
the Khalsa. All the five faithfuls were baptized in this way by the
Guru who then called them 'PANJ PYARAY' or Five Beloved Ones. He
gave them the appellation of SINGHS or lions and they were named
from Daya Ram to Daya Singh, Dharam Das to Dharam Singh, Mohkam
Chand to Mohkam Singh, Himmat Chand to Himmat Singh, and Sahib
Chand to Sahib Singh. The Guru then addressed them as the supreme,
the liberated ones, pure ones and he called them THE KHALSA.
He then ordained them to do the following:
I. First they must wear the following articles whose names begin
1. Kes- not to cut hair(unshorn hair). This represents the natural appearance
of saintlihood. This is the first token of Sikh faith.
2. Kanga- A comb to clean the hair.
3. Kachha- An underwear to denote chastity (a warrior’s shorts).
4. Kara- A steel bracelet on the wrist, a symbol of dedication
to the Guru.
5. Kirpan- A sword for self-defense and a symbol of dignity,
power and unconquerable spirit.
II. They must observe the following guidelines:
1. Not to remove hair from the body.
2. Not to use Tobacco or other intoxicants.
3. Not to eat 'Kutha', a meat of an animal slaughtered by slow
degrees as done by the Muslims.
4. Not to commit adultery- 'Par nari ki sej, bhul supne hun
(never enjoy, even in dream, the bed
of a woman other than your own wife)
(A supplementary ordinance was issued that any one who
did not observe any of the four directives, must be re-
baptized, pay a fine, and promise not to offend any more;
or he must be excommunicated from the Khalsa).
III. They must rise at dawn, bathe, meditate on Gurmantar-
'Waheguru', Moolmantar- the preamble of Japji, and recite five
banis- Japji, Jap Sahib and Swayas in the morning; Rehras in
the evening; and Sohela at bed time at night.
IV. They must not have matrimonial relations with smokers, with
persons who killed their daughters, with the descendants or
followers of Prithi Chand, Dhir Mal, Ram Rai, or masands who
had strayed away from the tenets and principles of Guru Nanak.
V. They must not worship idols, cemeteries, or cremation grounds,
and must believe only in One Immortal God.
The Guru further spelled out that they should practice arms,
and never show their backs to the foe in the battle field. They
should always be ready to help the poor and protect those who
sought their protection. They were to consider their previous
castes erased, and deem themselves all brothers of one family.
Sikhs were to intermarry among themselves.
THE MASTER BECOMES THE DISCIPLE:
After the Guru had administered Amrit to his Five Beloved
Ones, he stood up in supplication and with folded hands, begged
them to baptize him in the same way as he had baptized them. This
was the height of this remarkable episode setting up unparallel
example in the world that first as Guru, he created the Khalsa
blessing them with power, supremacy and glory, and then he himself
became their disciple- Wonderful is Guru Gobind Singh, himself the
Master and himself the disciple. In the annals of human history a
disciple could become a Guru but never a Guru became a disciple.
The Five Beloved Ones were astonished at such a proposal, and
represented their own unworthiness, and the greatness of the Guru,
whom they deemed God's Vicar upon earth.
Accordingly the Five Beloved Ones baptized the Guru with the
same ceremonies and injunctions he himself had employed. The Guru
was then named Gobind Singh instead of Gobind Rai.
Guru Gobind Singh was the first one to take Amrit from the
Khalsa, the Five Beloved Ones. About 80,000 men and women were
baptized within a few days at Anandpur.
By creating the Khalsa, the Guru embedded two qualities in one
person. A Khalsa is a Saint-Soldier. A Sikh is a saint because he
worships the All-Pervading Divine Spirit and in whom that Spirit
shines day and night like a full moon. A Sikh is a soldier because
he is ever ready to take up the arms to uphold righteousness.
With the creation of the Khalsa, some new doctrines were also
established. The first doctrine of the Khalsa was the doctrine of
the theocratic democracy by his selected, not elected, five
representatives of the people from amongst the thousands of the
devotees from all over the country while second was the doctrine
of collective responsibility by authorizing the Five Beloved Ones
only, in the presence of the holy Guru Granth Sahib to assume
authority implicitly to be obeyed by the whole nation.
The Guru set the souls of the Khalsa free and filled their
hearts with a lofty longing for religious and social freedom and
national ascendancy. The Khalsa, therefore, accepted the challenge
to combat terror inspired by tyranny of the powerful Mughal empire
and embarked upon a national struggle of liberation.
After the creation of the Khalsa the hilly Rajas were alarmed
at the Guru’s increasing influence to convert crowds of Hindus and
Muslims to join the ranks of the Khalsa. Some of the hilly Rajas
approached the Emperor for protection and security of their rule.
Apart from small skirmishes between the Khalsa army and the hilly
Rajas, there were at least five major battles between
the armies of the Guru and that of hilly Rajas and the Emperor.
Ultimately the Emperor requested the Guru to leave Anandpur and
promised safe passage.
At last the Guru left Anandpur on December 20-21, 1705.
The moment the enemy got the news of Guru’s departure, they again
forgot all about their pledges and set out in hot pursuit immediately.
After crossing the overflowing Sarsa river, Guru’s family was
scattered. At the famous battle of Chamkaur, Guru’s two eldest
sons (18 years and 14 years old) fell fighting the imperial army and
the armies of hilly Rajas and others. Guru’s two younger sons
(7 years and 9 years old) were executed while bricking them alive
in the wall at Sirhind by the Imperial Governor.
The Guru stayed at Dina for some days. It was here that he
wrote his celebrated 'Zafarnama', or Persian epistle to Emperor
Aurangzeb. It was in fact an exquisite reply to the letters of the
invitation to the Guru which he had received from the Emperor. The
letter is characteristic of the sublimity of the Guru and each line
is pregnant with stimulating truths and righteous indignation. He
wrote to the Emperor that he had no faith in his solemn
promises in the name of God and oaths on the Quran. The fact
remained that he, the Emperor, on all occasions violated his sacred
promises and proved false, mean and treacherous. The Guru
wrote,"......What though my four sons were killed, I remain behind
like a coiled snake. What bravery is it to quench a few sparks of
life? Thou art merely exciting a raging fire the more...........As
thou didst forget thy word on that day, so will God forget thee.
God will grant thee the fruit of the evil deed thou didst
design......Thou art proud of thine empire, While I am proud of the
kingdom of the Immortal God........When God is a friend, what can
an enemy do even though he multiply himself a hundred times? If an
enemy practice enmity a thousand times, he cannot, as long as God
is a friend, injure even a hair of one's head."
The letter was sent through Bhai Daya Singh and Dharam Singh
to the Emperor and they delivered it to him in Daccan. This letter
awakened the Emperor's dormant conscience and evoked in him a sense
of true repentance. It cast such a miracle effect on him that he
began to pine and soon confined to bed. Aurangzeb dictated this
letter to his son when death was at hand, in which he acknowledged
his defeat in the life that he led:
"......Whatever good or bad I have done, I am taking it as a
load upon my head to the Great Unseen............I am totally in
the dark about the destiny that awaits me. But what I know is that
I have committed enormous sins. Canst tell what grim punishment is
in the store for me.........."
GURU AT DAMDAMA SAHIB:
By this time all restrictions against the Guru by the Mughal
government had been removed. On receipt of Zafarnama, the governors
had been ordered by Aurangzeb to cease all molesting activities
It was here that the Guru's wife joined him. When she arrived,
he was seated in a big gathering of his disciples. Addressing
the Master, she asked,
"Where are my four sons?"
The Master replied,
"What then if thy four are gone?
They yet live, and shall ever live- the Khalsa,
Millions of our dear brave sons."
The Master sent for the Adi Granth from Kartarpur, near Beas,
in order to incorporate Guru Tegh Bahadur's hymns in it. The
original copy was with the Dhirmalias and they refused to part with
it and rather remarked that if Guru Gobind Singh was the Guru, he
should make one himself. It was here that Guru Gobind
Singh dictated the whole of Granth Sahib as it stands today, to
Bhai Mani Singh.
This sacred volume is called 'Damdama Sahib di Bir'. This Bir was
installed at Hari Mandar Sahib but it is not available NOW. It is
not known whether it has been destroyed or taken away by Ahmed Shah
Abdali when he plundered the town of Amritsar during one of his raids.
GURU AT NADER (DECCAN):
When it was clear to him that the call of the Father from Heaven
had come, he gave his last and enduring message of his mission to the assembly
of the Khalsa. On Wednesday, October 6, 1708
( on Budhwar, Katik Chauth, Shukla Pakkh, samvat 1765) at Nander (Deccan),
he asked Bhai Daya Singh to bring Sri Granth Sahib. He then opened the Granth
Sahib, placed five paise and a coco-nut before it and solemnly
bowed to it as his SUCCESSOR, GURU GRANTH SAHIB. Saying 'Waheguru
ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh', he circumambulated the sacred
volume and proclaimed," O beloved Khalsa, let him who desireth to
behold me, behold the Guru Granth. Obey the Granth Sahib. It is the
visible body of the Gurus. And let him who desireth to meet me,
diligently search its hymns." He then sang his self-composed hymn:
"Agya bhai Akal ki tabhi chalayo Panth
Sabh Sikhan ko hukam hai Guru manyo Granth
Guru Granth Ji manyo pargat Guran ki deh
Jo Prabhu ko milbo chahe khoj shabad mein le."
Translation of the above:
"Under orders of the Immortal Being, the Panth was created.
All the Sikhs are enjoined to accept the Granth as their
Consider the Guru Granth as embodiment of the Gurus.
Those who want to meet God, can find Him in its hymns."
The above ceremony is described in Bhatt Vahi Bhadson
Parganah Thanesar (one of the writtings of Bhatts) as:
"Guru Gobind Singhji, mahal daswan, beta Guru Tegh
Bahadurji ka, pota Guru Hargobindji ka, parpota Guru
Arjanji ka, bans Guru Ramdasji ki, Surajbansi, Gosal gotra,
Sodhi Khatri, basi Anandpur, parganah Kahlur, muqam Nander,
tad Godavari, des Dakkhan, sammat satran sai painsath, kartik
mas ki chauth, shukla pakkhe, budhwar ke dihn, Bhai Daya Singh
se bachan hoya, Sri Granth Sahib lai ao, bachan pai Daya Singh
Sri Granth Sahib lai aye; Guruji ne panch paise ek narial aagey
bheta rakha, matha teka, sarbatt sangat se kaha, mera hukam
hai, meri jagah Sri Granthji ko janana, jo sikh janega tis ki
ghal thaen paegi, Guru tis ki bahuri karega, satt kar manana."
Translation of the above:
"Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Master, son of Guru Tegh
Bahdur, 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 Nander, in the Godavari country in Deccan,
asked Bhai Daya Singh, on Wednesday, Katik chauth,
shukla pakkh, samvat 1765 (October 6, 1708) to bring
Sri Granth Sahib. In obedience to his orders, Daya Singh
brought the Granth Sahib. The Guru placed before it five paise
and a coconut and bowed his head before it. He then said to
the sangat (holy gathering), "It is my commandment: Own Sri
Granthji in my place. He who so acknowledges, will obtain
his reward. The Guru will rescue him. Know this as the truth."
He then left for his heavenly abode. The Sikhs made preparations for his
final rites as he had instructed them, the Sohila was chanted and Parsahd
(sacred food) was distributed. While all were mourning the loss, a Sikh
arrived and said," You suppose that the Guru is dead. I met him this very
morning riding his bay horse. After bowing to him when I asked
whither he was going, he smiled and replied that he was going to
the forest on a hunting excursion."
The Sikhs who heard this statement arrived at the conclusion
that it was all the Guru's play, that he dwelt in uninterrupted
bliss, that he showed himself wherever he was remembered. He who
treasures even a grain of the Lord's love in his heart, is the
blessed one and the Guru reveals himself to such a devotee in
mysterious ways. Therefore, for such a Guru who had departed bodily
to Heaven, there ought to be no mourning.
The Master returned to his Eternal Home on the 5th of the
bright half of Katik, Sambat 1765 (7th October, 1708 A.D.). He was
42 years of age.
Before leaving this world, the Guru had ordained," If any one
erects a shrine in my honor, his offspring shall perish."
The Sikh temple at Nader is called Abchalnagar. It was built
by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1832 in defiance of the Guru's
interdiction. After Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the rule of his dynasty,
therefore, came to an end. Guru's prophecy was fulfilled.
GURU GRANTH SAHIB
( 1708 - For Ever )
DIVINE WORD CAME DIRECT FROM GOD:
Guru Granth Sahib does not narrate the life story of Guru
Nanak, but each and every word is dedicated to the Glory of the
Almighty God only. It is not a blend or reproduction of earlier
religions, but the Divine Word (Gurbani) came to the Gurus
direct from God. Guru Nanak stated that it was not his
philosophy neither it was his understanding nor it was his
thinking, but the Word was coming to him direct from God and he
was simply delivering His message to the world. As he confirms:
'O Lalo*, as comes the Divine Word from Lord to me,
So do I narrate it.'
(Tilang Mohalla 1, p-722 Guru Granth Sahib)
(*Lalo was Guru’s disciple).
'I have said what Thou
commandeth me to say.'
(Wadhans Mohalla 1,p-566)
This was repeatedly confirmed and emphasized by all the
The tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh ended the personal
Guruship and conferred Guruship upon the Adi Granth
(the Sikh Holy Scripture- the Divine Word) and then bowed before it declaring it as the
Last Guru for ever (Present as well as future Guru). When the Guruship
was passed on, the Adi Granth was called Guru Granth Sahib which too
became the embodiment of Divine Light. It should, therefore, be
remembered very clearly that bowing before Guru Granth Sahib as
Sikhs do, is not bowing before a book, but it is a bowing
before the Divine Light or JOT (Guru) which was passed on by the Guru
when the Guruship was conferred upon it.
GURU GRANTH SAHIB BEGINS UNIQUELY:
In Hindu mythology the word 'OM' always meant for God as
monotheistic. Then they started interpreting it as more than one
God. Guru Nanak put an integer '1' before it and a kar (a semi-
circle) after it. Thus it becomes 'EK-OM-KAR' and by doing so,
he sealed the position for ever meaning 'There is One and only
One God'. Therefore Guru Granth Sahib uniquely begins with
numeral One ('1'). The One Absolute is the monotheistic
conception of God and is represented by numerical symbol here.
One God does not only mean numerically one but Unique without
a second like Him.
Guru Granth Sahib begins with Mool-Mantar or the Preamble
of Japji which is the Essence of the whole Guru Granth Sahib:
INSERT HERE ORIGINAL PUNJABI TEXT
Ek-Onm-Kaar There is But One God
Sat-Naam He is the Eternal Truth
Karta-Purkh Almighty Creator
Nirbhao-Nirvair Unfearful, Without hate and enmity
Akaal-Murat Immortal Entity
Ajuni, Saibhang Unborn, Self-Existent
Gurparsaad Realized by the Grace of True Guru
The next verse is generally called Sach (True) Mantar:
Jap Meditate upon
Aad Sach Who was True before the Creation
Jugad Sach Who was True in the beginning of
Haibhi Sach Who is True now, and O Nanak
Nanak Hosibhi Sach Who shall be True for ever.
Guru Granth Sahib is the only savior of human beings thrown in the violent sea of this worldly life. It helps a person to live by certain directives or moral codes which are necessary for the achievement of salvation of the soul.
Guru Granth Sahib signifies the importance of Naam (Name of God) by
identifying it with the Guru. Naam releases an individual from all
previous sins, sorrows, suffering and cycle of death and rebirth.
No rituals, no alms, no sacrifices, no fasts and no penances
Guru Granth Sahib initiates a disciple on the path of
spiritual progress and guides him at the various stages of his
journey to God. It is a ship that steers clear a devotee through
the ocean of Maya (Materialism), thus, leading the human soul
to its ultimate destination which is the Absolute Bliss.
Guru Granth Sahib was written and compiled by the Gurus themselves
and thus, is completely authentic and is preserved in its original form.
It is the most valuable possession which Sikhs have received from God
through Guru Nanak and is held in supreme reverence by them.
Guru Granth Sahib is in poetic form composed in 31 Indian Classical
Raagas (musical measures). In addition to 31 Raagas, there are Slokas,
Vars and Swaiyias. There are 36 authors whose Bani (Word)
is incorporated in it. It contains a total of 5,872 Hymns (Sabads or Stanzas) of
which 4,956 Hymns belong to Six Sikh Gurus (first five and the ninth).
The remaining Sabads belong to 15 Bhagats or saints (778 Hymns),
four devout Sikhs (17 Hymns) and 11 Bhats or Minstrels (121 Swaiyias).
These 30 saints belonged from the highest caste Brahmins to the lowest
caste Sudras, and Muslims as well as Hindus. Guru Granth Sahib is indeed
a Universal Bible in the world which contains Divine Message not only
for the Sikhs but for the entire Humanity.