It is after the martyrdom of Guru Arjan that the Sikhs, became famous for readily taking to arms, to bravely defend the faith.
When Sri Hargobind heard about the martyrdom of his father Guru Arjan, he was barely 11 years of age.
Guru Arjan had forbidden his son to grieve over his (Guru Arjan’s) death.
Guru Hargobind therefore remained composed and heard the Guru’s hymns and readings from the Guru Granth.
Guru Hargobind refused to wear the ‘seli’ (a woolen cord worn round the neck)
The seli was the symbol of the fact that they occupied the position of the next guru.
Instead, Guru Hargobind opted to wear the sword as he believed that the faith had to be defended at all costs.
Many eager Sikhs enrolled in the army of the military and Spiritual leader.
The enemies of the guru were jealous of the growing popularity of the young guru.
They were also afraid of his growing power.
The enemies convinced Emperor Jehangir that the young Guru was more dangerous than his father, Guru Arjan.
Jehangir invited Guru Hargobind on a hunting spree where the young Guru saved the life of the Emperor.
For a while the Guru and Jehangir spent a lot of time together.
The enemies of the Guru connived again.
This time they brought a corrupt astrologer to Jehangir . The astrologer urged the Emperor to send a holy person to the fort of Gwalior to do penance as the latter would prove beneficial to the emperor.
In the fort, there were kings which had been detained after having been stripped of their kingdoms. They were not given sufficient food. Neither did they have clean clothes to wear. Guru Hargobind refused to eat any food himself, and distributed what he had amongst the prisoners.
The Guru refused to leave the prison until the kings were freed as well.
Also the Emperor had fearful visions, so he had no choice but to comply with the Guru’s wishes.
A few years later, the Mughal Army attacked the Guru.
Painde Khan, a young brave lad, fought bravely.
Because everyone praised Painde, for his bravery, he soon became very proud.
Because of Painde Khan’s subsequent misconduct, he was asked to leave the court.
Painde Khan’s ego was hurt beyond repair.
As he left, he swore revenge on the guru.
In a battle initiated by Painde Khan, the latter was killed by the Guru.
Guru Hargobind’s heart was filled with sadness as the Guru remembered the time when he had loved Painde like a son.
The Guru prayed for the soul of Painde Khan.
Guru Hargobind was a warrior as well as a highly Spiritual soul.
Once the guru humbly stated that though he was internally a hermit, outwardly he was a prince. The arms that he wore, were for the protection of the poor, and to destroy the oppressor.
Guru Hargobind believed, like Guru Nanak that he truly renounces, who renounces the ego.
Guru Hargobind’s son’s name was Baba Atal. Though barely nine years old, he had miraculous powers.
Once he brought his young friend back to life.
Guru Hargobind was not happy with his son’s powers, as the guru felt that God’s will must be accepted.
However when the young boy departed from the world, his father built a nine storied Gurdwara in his son’s memory, where free food was distributed.
It is believed that when Guru Hargobind left his body, soft singing was heard from unseen sources.
The great Guru urged his followers not to mourn his departure, but to rejoice, his entering his final abode.
I believe that a life well spent is an occasion for celebration!
GURU HAR RAI
Guru Har Rai was 13 years old when he ascended the gaddi.
He was the son of Baba Guruditta, Hargobind’s elder son.
He was both strong and compassionate.
Guru Har Rai lived during the reign of the Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan.
Shah Jahan had two sons: Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb
While Dara was the heir apparent. Aurangzeb wanted to be his father’s successor, hence Aurangzeb poisoned Dara.
Dara did not recuperate, despite all efforts.
It came to the Emperor’s notice that Guru Har Rai had certain medicines which could cure Dara.
The Guru provided the medicines, despite the fact that his father had been treated so unfairly by the Moghul Emperor.
The above throws light on the tremendous compassion of Guru Har Rai.
The Guru would not distinguish between rich and poor.
There was an old lady who regularly baked bread with her own hands, with the hope that the Guru would partake of the food. She bought the wheat with the money that she made by spinning.
The Guru came to know about the desire of the old lady. He went to her and ate with relish the humble meal.
Bhai Gonda was a devout disciple. Once he had gone on a mission.
Bhai Gonda went into deep meditation. In that he pictured himself holding the Guru’s feet in a tight clasp.
Guru Har Rai not only sensed the intense devotion of his disciple , but felt his feet bound.
The Guru sat in his seat for hours, forgetting to partake his meals.
It is only when Bhai Gonda loosened the hold, (in his meditation) that the Guru was able to get up and go about his normal routine.
Guru Har Rai was succeeded by his son Harkrishan.
The reason why Guru Har Rai did not give the gaddi to his elder son, Sri Ram Rai is interesting.
Sri Ram Rai explained the Guru Granth Sahib to Emperor Aurangzeb in a different manner from what it meant, in order to not annoy the emperor.
When Guru Harkrishan succeeded to the gaddi in 1661, he was 5 years old.
A proud Brahmin felt annoyed at the fact , the guru shared the same name with Lord Krishna.
The Brahmin wished to test the Guru on the teachings of the Bhagvad Geeta.
The Guru humbly told the Brahmin that any Sikh, even though he may not be lettered, could do that.
The Brahmin brought an ignorant villager , called Chhaju to the court.
The Guru placed a wand on Chhaju’s head and requested him to discuss the meaning of the Bhagvad Geeta with the Brahmin.
It was obvious that the Guru had transmitted his powers to the humble villager as Chhaju gave reply after learned reply.
Even though Guru Harkrishan was invited to attend the Emperor’s Court the 7 year old Guru declined. Guru Harkrishan said that he was under his father’s instruction to concentrate on only preaching the Lord’s name . His brother could take charge of the affairs of the court. The Emperor could not help but be impressed at the above reply.
Guru Harkrishan miraculously cured people suffering from the plague.
At one point the young Guru was put to the test.
The growing popularity of the young Guru irked his elder brother Ram Rai.
The son of the Emperor was sent to speak to the Guru to inform him that the Emperor believed that the Guruship should have gone to the elder brother Ram Rai.
The Guru calmly replied that the Guruship should go to the deserving. He cited examples of the previous Gurus. Some of them had rejected their own sons, for the more deserving.
Raja Jai Singh tested the Guru by asking him to recognize the queen, as she stood dressed like a maid servant surrounded by them. The Guru recognized her immediately.
The young Guru died in 1664, after he suffered an attack of small pox.
Before the Guru died, he said “Baba Bakale” which implied that the next Guru would be from Bakala.
Guru Tegh Bahadur
Guru Tegh Bahadur was the son of Guru Hargobind.
He did not succeed his father as he left for Bakala at a very young age. He practiced penance by entering a sand cave, where he stayed for 26 years. Guru Harkrishan had died saying that the next guru would be from Bakala.
Hence a lot of fake gurus emerged claiming to be the successor of Guru Harkrishan.
The above created confusion, especially in the mind of a rich Sikh trader called Makkan Singh.
While being ship-wrecked the rich trader had promised to give 500 gold coins to the guru, if he were to survive the disaster.
Survive he did, however he was not sure who to offer the 500 coins to, as many Sikhs from Bakala claimed to b the rightful guru.
So he decided to give 2 gold coins to each man who posed as the guru.
None of them knew that Makkan Singh had promised 500 coins.
Only Guru Tegh Bahadur asked the rich merchant where the 500 coins were, which he had promised when the trader feared for his life. Makkan Singh shouted excitedly that he had found the real guru.
All the Sikhs joyfully accepted Tegh Bahadur as the rightful successor. However, jealous Dhir Mal the eldest son of Guruditta plotted against the life of Tegh Bahadur.
When wounded by the shot, the compassionate guru forgave the culprit.
The main aim of Guru Tegh Bahadur was to spread Guru Nanak’s teachings which he did by traveling far and wide.
His mother Nanki and wife Gujari assisted him in his divine endeavor.
Aurngzeb the Moghul emperor had spread terror of the worst kind because he was desirous of converting non-muslims.
Tegh Bahadur knew that someone had to make a sacrifice to save the honor of the Hindus, but who? His eight year old son told the astonished and proud father, that who could be more worthy than Guru Tegh Bahadur himself to undertake the above task?
Guru Tegh Bahadur sent a message to the Governor that all the Brahmins would embrace Islam, if Guru Tegh Bahadur is the first to do so.
Guru Tegh Bahadur was arrested and chained.
It is believed that the Great Guru composed most of the hymns while held captive in the iron cage.
Many Sikhs were tortured and killed in front of the Guru’s eyes.
Guru Tegh Bahadur composed a hymn stating that all companions had deserted him.
To the above the Guru’s son sent a reply to his father stating that the latter was strong and had all the means to be free as (they have faith in) Guru Nanak, who is all powerful.
When Tegh Bahadur received the above reply from his son, he knew that without a doubt, the latter was to be the worthy successor.
Guru Tegh Bahadur refused to give up his faith.
The Great Guru was martyred on November 11, 1675.
The Guru had a bath, recited the Japji under a banyan tree.
He requested that his head be struck, when he bowed, when the prayer concluded.
The place where Tegh Bahadur was beheaded is called ‘Sis Ganj’ and is in Delhi.
A daring Sikh called Bhai Jatta carried the head to Anandpur, where Guru GobindSingh the worthy son of Guru Tegh Bahadur performed the last rites.
The place where the cremation took place is called ‘Sis Ganj Anandpur’
Lubma Singh respectfully cremated the headless body of the guru by setting fire to his own house. That spot is called Rakab Ganj.
Guru Gobind Singh was the last Guru of the Sikhs.
He was active, cheerful, fearless and a born leader.
Hindus and Muslims were equally dear to him.He also believed that for a ruler all his subjects should be considered like his own children.
To him true worship meant doing ones duty to the best of ones capacity.
The Guru believed that sinners should mend their ways, by helping the needy.
The above would also free them from the fear of life after death.
After the festivals of the Gudi Padwa, the Cheti Chand, Ramnaomi, commemorating the birth of Shree Ram, the northern Indians herald the harvesting season known as Baisaakhi.
It was on this day of the Baisaakhi, that Guru GobindSingh , the 10th Guru of the Sikhs, assembled his Sikhs at Anandpur, and constituted the ‘Khalsa’ order.
He called the Sikhs ‘Khalsas’ the pure ones.
He also gave them a new surname ‘Singh’ (Lion) which was to follow their first name.
No Sikh prayer is complete without remembering the 5 pyaaras. These 5 demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that they were not afraid of death.
It was a practice for the Gurus to hold annual conferences on Baishaakhi day. In one such meeting in the year 1699, Guru Gobind Singh asked for 5 volunteers who would be willing to give their life for a just cause. He took the volunteer to a nearby tent and returned with a sword dripping with blood. He repeated the same process with 4 more volunteers, much to the consternation of the congregation. Then, Guru Gobind Singh surprised the multitude, by returning with the five volunteers alive and well. These ‘five’ were honored by being conferred the title of ‘5 Pyaaras’ meaning ‘The 5 loved ones’ He gave them a new surname ‘Singh’ (Lion) to be connected to their name. Kaur (Princess) was the suffix to be added to the girls’ names as they grew up.
Guru GobindSingh stood for national unity and fearlessness in the face of adversity.
He tried to create a casteless society, bound by the principle of ‘Love for One God’
The Guru gave the final form to Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
The disciples and family of the Guru were inconsolable, when his end seemed near.
They asked who would now guide them to their salvation.
The Great Guru replied that he would infuse his mental and body spirit into the Guru Granth Sahib.
Then he opened the Guru Granth and placed 5 coins and coconut before it.
Then he bowed to it as his successor.
The Guru Granth Sahib has since then, been regarded as the Living Guru.
Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism. The followers of Guru Nanak and the 9 succeeding gurus came to be known as ‘Sikhs’.
Sikhs means those who learned or followed the teaching of the Gurus.
Sikhism is appealed to the masses because of its simplicity. Sikhism propagates the message of Universal Brotherhood. It asks its community members to serve: (Seva) , share their meals: (Pangat) and Pray together: (Sangat)
Guru GobindSingh prayed: “ …Shubh karman te kabahoon na daroon” (Grant me the boon that I am never afraid of performing good deeds)”
Let us then pray together, under the Benign Grace of the Gurus, to do everything in our power to uplift the physical, emotional and spiritual state of all, irrespective of caste, creed or race.