|Doctrines|| ||Though there is no deviation in belief between the Gurus there is significant elaboration, expansion and development. Guru Tegh Bahadur believed that life was short and that time past away without individuals seizing the opportunities given to them. He reiterated the idea of liberation in life by saying that there should be engagement but without entanglement. This ideal led to his teaching that this was only possible by conquering the fear of death. As Sikhs were becoming warriors this was seen as of paramount importance. Guru Tegh Bahadur, like the early Gurus, also refuted the belief that occult powers were a sign of one's spiritual achievement. |
The terminology of the Gurus also changes in time. This is most evident with the tenth Guru Gobind Singh, who called Akal Purakh, Sarab Loh 'All Steel'. Gobind believed that God commissions particular individuals to fight evil, and that he had been chosen to defend his people and fight against Mughal and Afghan persecution. Thus he developed his Grandfather Hargobind's teaching in the unity of the socio-political and the religious realms (miri-piri) into the Saint-Soldier (sant-sipahi) who fights only for righteousness (dharam) at Akal's calling. The affairs of the temporal world and the spiritual world are believed to be coterminous. Gobind believed that it is righteous to pick up arms when all other means fail, providing it is the will of Akal Purakh/Sarab Loh. The warrior Singhs abided by a code of conduct (rahit) given to them by Gobind. Before Guru Gobind died he sanctified the scripture as the next Guru, thus the Adi Granth became the textual Guru Granth Sahib for the Khalsa Singh. And with the inauguration of the Khalsa the Sikh Panth were transformed into the Guru Panth. Now decisions made in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib by the Guru Panth were (and are today) seen with equal authority as that of the Gurus' decisions amongst his Sikhs and Singhs in the past. This logically followed from the previous Gurus' equation of the Word (sabad) with the true Guru (satiguru). (See Foundation and Evolution of the Sikh Panth entries).
|History|| ||Guru Hargobind (1595-1644) wore two swords at the time of his succession; one representing temporal power (miri) and the other spiritual power (piri). To accompany the Harimandir Sahib's (Golden Temple's) religious and spiritual focus, he built the Akal Takht (the Throne of God) opposite it to represent a temporal and political focus. He went hunting and trained his Sikhs to fight. As expected, Hargobind engaged in four skirmishes with the Mughal Army. He withdrew his army to Kirtapur at the edge of the Shivalik Hills outside of Mughal territory. Hargobind had three wives and had five sons and one daughter. Hargobind's eldest son was Gurditta. Gurditta's younger son Har Rai was chosen as the next Guru. This omitted Gurditta's eldest son Dhir Mal who started his own group (see Dhir Malias entry).|
Guru Har Rai (1630-61) withdrew, after his grandfather's death, even further back into the Shivalik Hills to avoid further conflict and settled in the territory of Sirmur. His time was spent teaching and this he did sometimes beyond Sirmur on the plains. Har Rai's elder son Ram Rai sought to ingratiate himself with the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb by changing a word in a hymn of the Adi Granth that was offensive to Muslims (see Ram Raiyas). Displeased with Ram Rai, Guru Har Rai appointed his younger son Har Krishan at the age of five to succeed him.
Guru Har Krishan (1656-64) was summoned by Aurangzeb to Delhi. The Guru contracted smallpox there and before he died, tradition says, he uttered the words 'Babba Bakale'. This referred to the next Guru, who is a Baba (elderly man, grandfather) in the village of Bakala. This evidently meant Baba Tegh Bahadur, son of Guru Hargobind.
Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-75) was schooled in languages and religious knowledge by Bhai Gurdas and trained as a warrior by Baba Buddha (the first reader of the Granth in the Golden temple). After the death of his father Hargobind, he settled in Bakala, near Amritsar and concentrated on meditation. Many rivals descended in Bakala hoping to become the next Guru. But none succeeded despite exercising considerable influence at this time. Tegh Bahadur fought for the right of religious freedom. In 1669 Emperor Aurangzeb issued a general order that all non-Muslim schools and shrines should be destroyed. The Mughal persecution and forcible conversions of the Hindus became intolerable to the Guru. He decided to stand up for their rights and became a martyr for the cause of religious freedom. He was executed in Delhi by Aurangzeb. Before leaving for Delhi he appointed his son Gobind Das (later Gobind Singh) as his successor.
Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708) educated in Sanskrit and Persian poetry also learned marital arts. Like his father he enjoyed hunting and engaged in battle with the Hill Chieftains. He created and inaugurated the Khalsa (baptised Sikhs) in 1699 on the first day of the Indian year. This was done to provide the Sikhs with a distinctively visible identity which would transform Sikhs (disciples, learners) into Singhs (lions, warriors). This would enable them as Singhs to fight for their religious rights against Mughal and Afghan persecution. Furthermore to have a united Panth meant that the divisions occurring to the now corrupted Masands (representatives of the Guru) had to be remedied. The Guru therefore abolished the Masands and called all to unite in his newly created Khalsa (see Khalsa Singhs entry). Many battles were fought. The Guru lost all his sons. As tradition has it, he therefore, appointed the Adi Granth as the Guru Granth, thus ending the line of human Gurus. He prepared the final version of the Adi Granth including his father's (Tegh Bahadur's) hymns. He did not include his own hymns which were later collected by Bhai Mani Singh (see Sanatan Singh Sabha entry). In 1708 Guru Gobind Singh was assassinated.
|Symbols|| ||Scripture became symbolic of the living Gurus, especially Guru Nanak, and is today treated as though it was his living embodiment. The sword became symbolic of spiritual power representing the might of the Supreme Being (especially in the form of the Goddess Durga) and the temporal power of political and religious justice. Gobind invoked the popular Goddess Kali/Durga (bhaguati) as a powerful symbolic enactment of the righteous war legend, and to infuse a warrior's spirit in his Sikhs. Temple was balanced with Takht, symbolising the coincidence of the spiritual and temporal powers respectively.|
|Adherents|| ||There are no official numbers for this time. However in the 1891 census 78,952 Hindus and 859,138 Sikhs returned themselves as 'Guru Gobind Singhi'; and 129 Hindus and 3,621 Sikhs returned as 'Khalsa'. (Census of India, 1891, Vol.XX, and vol.XXI. The Punjab and its Feudatories, by E.D. Maclagan, Part II and III, Calcutta, 1892, pp.826-9 and pp.572-3.) (See also the note at the end of the Explanatory Introduction).|
| ||Most of the activity took place in the Panjab, which still remains the centre of Sikhism. Hargobind constructed the Akal Takht 'the Immortal Throne' and a Fort called Lohgarh for the purpose of defence. Guru Tegh Bahadur founded the city of Anandpur, and it is also where Guru Gobind Singh inaugurated the Khalsa. Today Keshgarh Gurdwara in Anandpur Sahib is one of the five Takhts (Throne of temporal affairs). The second most important Sikh centre. |