The sixth guru, Guru Hargobind Ji has a distinguish place in Sikh history because, after Guru Arjun Dev’s martyrdom, he gave a new direction to Sikhs. Along with spiritual authority, he exercised temporal authority too by expounding the concept of Miri and Piri (the temporal and the spiritual). In Indian history, the advent of Sikhism and the establishing of Mughal Empire took place at the same time.
Guru Nanak was not against Islam, in fact Guru Nanak’s first words pointed to the needlessness of Hinduism and the Muslim religions being at odds; Their is no Muslim, there is no Hindu. Guru Nanak and the subsequent four Gurus expounded the concept of peace, equality and freedom for all.
After the death of Guru Arjun Dev, a defensive military stance was required to counter the injustice, oppression and exploitation by the Mughal rulers. Caste division, religious discrimination and superstitions were affecting the life of common people. The oppressors and the oppressed were both Muslims and Hindus. Guru Hargobind used the power of worship and the sword to fight against injustice.
Guru Arjun Dev and and Mata Ganga did not have a child for a long time after their marriage, until Mata Ganga sought the blessings of Baba Budha for an offspring. Baba Budha gave her the blessings that she would give birth to an extraordinary brave son. Thereafter, Guru Hargobind was born.
Guru Hargobind was born at village Guru Ki Wadali (district Amritsar) on Harh Vadi 7th (21 Harh), Samvat 1652 (June 19, 1595).
He was extremely handsome and the only son of Guru Arjun Sahib and Mata Ganga. He had one daughter Bibi Viro
and five sons: Baba Gurditta , Suraj Mal , Ani Rai , Atal Rai and (Guru) Tegh Bahadur.
He was educated in sciences, sports, Horse riding, warfare, administration and spirituality by Baba Buddha.
At the time of Guruship, Guru Hargobind requested Baba Budha to discard the earlier tradition of donning Guru with the Seli of Guru Nanak. He preferred to be adorned with sword, contrary to the prevalent Hindu and Muslim traditions, where only the ruler was donned with a sword. (A symbol of his role as the ruler of the state) Guru requested to be donned with two swords, explaining that one signified his temporal power and the other his spiritual power. His purpose was not to mix religion with politics, but to take up the cause of the exploited people and to defend them against the oppression of the rulers.
Soon after the Guruship, he constructed a platform in front of the golden temple, called the Akal Takht (God’s throne) as the seat of temporal power. This place continues to the present day as the centre of every sociopolitical deliberation and power of the Sikh community.
At Akal Takhat, he raised aloft two flags representing temporal and spiritual power. He told his followers, “My rosary shall be my sword belt and on my turban I shall wear the emblem of royalty.”
Akal Takhat became the seat of preaching and praying in due course of time. Guru started giving sermons to the Sikhs at Akal Takhat and used this place to conduct discussions on the problems faced by the Sikhs. In this way, the Sikhs were encouraged to settle their own disputes. Some martial sports were also performed in the open courtyard in front of the Akal Takhat. These activities helped in consolidation of the Sikhs. Sikhs started calling Guru Sahib as ‘Sachcha Patshah’ (True Emperor) and they sincerely followed the judgments and decisions given at the Akal Takht.
The Guru gave instructions to the Masands and the Sikhs that they should make offerings in the form of horses and weapons instead of money. Guru Hargobind encouraged Sikhs in the physical activity and weapons training along with prayers. Soon an army of one thousand horses was raised. At the same time, the spiritual side was not neglected. The Sikhs were already engaged in the trade of horses and the Guru advised every Sikh to keep a sword and to maintain a horse.
He started recruiting a regular army. He had a personal bodyguard of 57 horsemen and kept 700 horses, 60 gunmen and 500 infantry men. The Sikhs at that time had formed a separate and independent identity that had nothing to do with the government agencies of the day.
The reasons for Guru Hargobind to arm his followers were many. External and internal situations were changing therefore; the policy of the Guru had to be adjusted to the new environment. The development of Sikhism had taken place during the tolerant period of Akbar who never interfered with them. On the contrary, he often helped the Gurus. The execution of Guru Arjun by Jahangir and imprisonment of Hargobind showed that difficult days were expected to come and the policy of the peaceful Sikh organization no longer sufficed. Guru Hargobind could foresee that it would not be possible to protect common people without the use of arms.
In due course of time, Guru erected a wall around Amritsar city and constructed a small fort named ‘Lohgarh’ on the out skirts of the city.
He had his own flag
and war-drum which was beaten twice a day.
Guru Har Gobind did not neglect the work of preaching and spreading the Sikhism. He sent his Sikhs to distant places like Bengal and Bihar to preach Sikhism. Guru Har Gobind allowed Udasis to preach Sikhism but did not admit them to Sikhism. Bhai Gurdas mentions in his var 2 the names of Nawal and Nihala, two sabharwal khatris, who established their business in Bihar. Number of local people adopted Sikhism under their influence. In his private life, Guru Har Gobind never abandoned the true character of Guru Nanak.
His uncle, Prithi Chand, who was brother of Guru Arjun continued his intrigues against Guru Har Gobind.Prithi Chand had unsuccessfully tried to kill Guru Har Gobind, when the guru was a child, by unleashing a deadly snake upon him. Prithi Mal continued to complain against him to Emperor Jehangir.
Alarmed by the rapid growth of the Sikhs under the guidance of Guru Hargobind Ji, those who wished ill upon the growing Sikh community, joined hands with the rulers of Lahore and went to Delhi to voice their complains against Guru Har Gobind to Jahangir. Jehangir summoned the Guru to Delhi to assess his character and intentions. But instead of confrontation and arrest of the Guru, both the Emperor and his powerful wife were impressed by the grace of the Guru. They developed friendship and mutual respect. Guru Har Gobind, would even hunt with the Emperor on his grand Shikars (hunting was a life long passion of the Guru).
On one occasion, the young Guru saved the life of the Emperor by jumping between a Lion and the Mughal ruler.
Chandu Shah used an illness of Jahangir against the Guru. He gave incentives to the court astrologers to predict that a Holy man praying at a shrine at Gwalior Fort, for a long time, would lead to the Emperor’s recovery. Jahangir requested the Guru to pray for his health at Gwalior Fort. Guru agreed and accompanied by an escort of five Sikhs left for the fort.
Jahangir had imprisoned a number of princes who lived in deplorable conditions at Gwalior Fort. Guru Hargobind uplifted their spirits with daily prayers and distributed much of his rations to them. Chandu Shah even tried unsuccessfully to have the Guru poisoned at the Gwalior Fort.
The famous muslim pir Hazrat Mian Mir was among those who reminded Jahangir (who had long since gotten over his illness and seemingly forgotten about the Guru’s confinement in the Fort) to release the Guru. The Guru’s immediate release was ordered, but the Guru refused to leave the fort unless the fifty two Princes who were also under confinement at the fort were released as well.
Jahangir cleverly agreed that the Guru could take as many of the princes to freedom, as could hold onto his clothing. The Guru asked his tailor to stitch a cloak with 52 ribbons (trails) and left the fort with the fifty two rulers trailing behind him, each holding onto a piece of the Guru’s coat. That is why the Guru is referred to as the Liberator (Data Bandi Chhor) in history. Bandi Chhor Diwas is celebrated in honor of that day. After reaching Delhi, Guru Hargobind informed the emperor about the ill intensions of Chandu Shah. Jehangir handed over Chandu to Guru Hargobind to avenge the death of his father Guru Arjun. Guru Hargobind handed over Chandu Shah to his Sikhs, who took him to Lahore where Chandu Shah was killed by a Sikh who had seen the torture of Guru Arjun Dev earlier. On hearing this news, Guru Hargobind asked God to pardon Chandu Shah’s sins. Thereafter, the attitude of Jahangir towards the Guru changed considerably and remained favorable and friendly till the death of the Emperor.
When Guru reached Amritsar, his Sikhs lit lamps to welcome him. His arrival coincided with the traditional Indian festival of Diwali (festival of lamps). Since then, the festival of Diwali is celebrated as Bandi Chhor Diwas by the Sikhs.
After some time, Guru Hargobind went to Lahore. A devout Sikh from Kabul called Sujan brought a high breed horse as a gift to the Guru. The horse was seized by a Muslim Qazi, who refused to return it unless a large ransom was paid in lieu of the horse. The devotees sincerely prayed that the gift of the Guru should reach him . The horse stopped eating grass and its health deteriorated to an extent that the Qazi decided to sell the horse to the Guru at a nominal price. But, the horse regained its health and Guru Hargobind started riding it regularly. The Qazi got angry and felt that he was cheated. He complained to the local authorities, but no action was taken against the Guru. Meanwhile, the Qazi’s daughter ran away from her father’s tyranny and sought refuge with the Guru at Amritsar. Thereafter, she lived as a devout Sikh and Guru Hargobind got a tank known as Kaulsar dug up in her memory.
Guru Sahib undertook religious preaching tours to spread Sikhism. He started from Amritsar and covered many thousand miles in India. In Punjab he visited Kartarpur and made it as headquarter of Sikh Nation in Doaba.
He laid the foundation stone of Sri Hagobindpur town (the original name of this town was Gobindpura) near the river Beas in 1621.
Guru Sahib also covered various villages in Punjab. Guru Sahib visited village Dand,
Due to this visit of the Guru, the entire Malwa region embraced Sikhism.
On the invitation of Sikhs of Central India, he travelled to that area and got Gurdwara Nanak Mata completed.
While visiting Srinagar in Utrakhand, the Guru had a discourse with Swami Ramdas Samrath a great spiritual teacher. The discussion with the Guru appealed to the Swami and thereafter, he adopted the idea of using weapon for self defense and to stop suffering of the poor. As a result, he instructed his disciple Shivaji in such a way that he turned out to be the founder of the Maratha Empire. On the way to Utrakhand, he visited the following places:-
He also visited Kashmir and converted many followers at that place.
Guru Sahib returned home via Baramula. He also visited the following places in Jammu and Kashmir:-
He proceeded further to Gujarat (Pakistan) where he met Saint Shah Daulla who appreciated Guru ’s spiritual knowledge and his mode of living with splendor.
Guru Sahib also visited Rai Bhoe-di-Talwandi (the birth place of Guru Nanak Sahib). He also visited the following places in Pakistan:-
Guru Hargobind went to Ramdas in 1631 to meet Baba Budha before the death of the later and cremated the body of the great Sikh with full honour.
Before the death of Guru Nanak’s son Baba Sri Chand, he requested Guru Hargobind to gift one of his sons as the former had no child. To give due respect to Baba Chand, Guru Hargobind offered him his eldest son, Baba Gurditta. Baba Sri Chand chose Baba Gurditta as his successor.
The son of Guru Hargobind, Atal Rai started displaying his supernatural powers by performing miracles and revived a dead playmate. When Guru Hargobind came to know about this incident, he reprimanded his son. Atal Rai took Guru’s reprimand seriously and passed away.
Guru Hargobind constructed a nine storey structure called the Bunga of Baba Atal at Amritsar to commemorate the nine short years of his son’s life.
During the reign of Shah Jahan, relations got strained as the Emperor was intolerant towards other religions.
He demolished the Sikh Baoli at Lahore.
The tussle between Sikhs and Royal forces started with the lifting of a royal hawk by the Sikhs, who were incidentally hunting in the same territory around Gumtala Village near Amritsar. This led to a small violent conflict between the two parties.
This incident annoyed the emperor, Shah Jahan. He deputed Mukhils Khan with, 7,000 soldiers to take revenge of the earlier incedent. The mini fortress of Lohgarh was attacked. Sikhs though small in number, gave a stiff resistance. Guru Sahib and his family had to hurriedly move to Chabal, to solemnize the marriage of Bibi Veero (the daughter of Guru Hargobind). The attackers had an upper hand over the Sikhs on the first day of the battle. They looted and plundered the property and holy residence of the Guru. On the next morning, Sikhs consolidated, retaliated and made a vigorous attack on the sleeping Mughal forces. Mukhlis Khan, the commander and most of his leading lieutenants were killed. Sikhs also suffered a heavy loss of life and property. This was the first armed clash between the Mughals and the Sikhs.
After the battle Guru Hargobind left Amritsar for ever. Guru shifted to Kartarpur and started building the city of Hargobindpur on the banks of the river Beas. The local villagers, who were members of the Gherar tribe were excited, but the headman of the tribe Bhagwan Das did not want Guru to settle at that place. Bhagwan Das, who was friendly with the mughal authorities, made a derogatory remark against the Guru, Sikhs got angry and in the ensuing scuffle, Bhagwan Das was killed. His son Ratan Chand went to Abdullah Khan, the Subedar of Jullundur and convinced him to attack the Guru. Abdullah Khan attacked Hargobindpur with a force of 10,000 troops.
In this fierce battle Gurus force was almost half of the invading mughals. Karam Chand, the son of Chandu Shah joined Rattan Chand the son of Bhagwan Das to take revenge of his father’s death. In the ensuing battle, Subedar Abdullah Khan as well his was killed along with his two sons. Rattan Chand was also killed while Karam Chand was captured by Bidhi Chand. Guru Hargobind ordered Karam Chand to be released but he soon returned to fight with Guru. Guru Hargobind challenged Karam Chand to fight single hand to hand combat without any weapon with the Guru and killed him with his bare hands. Mughal forces were completely defeated. After the battle, the construction of a Gurdwara at Hargobindpur started. Guru ordered that a mosque should also be built for the Muslims.
After this battle, Guru Hargobind Sahib retired to the semi desert wastelands of Bhatinda. Soonafter, a tussle between Guru Sahib and Subedar of Lahore began over the two horses, which were forcibly snatched and taken into custody by the Mughal officials from the devotees of Guru Sahib, at Lahore. Bhai Bidhi Chand, a daring disciple of the Guru gained the confidence of the keeper of the royal stable at Lahore disguised as a grass cutter. He rescued one horse and presented it to the Guru. Subsequently, he disguised as a magician and was able to sprint away with the second horse. This dare devil act was considered as an open thereat to the authority of the Mughal Empire. The imperial forces (22000 troops) were dispatched towards the Lakhi Jungle under the command of Qammar Beg and Lalla Beg. Guru Hargobind Sahib had only three to four thousand warriors. The Sikh forces under the command of Rai Jodh and Kirt Bhatt camped near a water reservoir. The interception took place near Mehraj and Lahira villages. Sikhs waged a guerilla attack on Mughal forces at night, which resulted heavy causalities in the Mughal camp. Guru Sahib lost 1200 Saint Soldiers including Kirt Bhatt and Bhai Jetha. On Mughal side, Sameer Beg and his two sons Shams Beg and Qasim Beg were killed. The Mughal forces fled to Lahore leaving behind the dead and wounded. The Sikhs did not intercept the fleecing enemy.
Guru Sahib built a tank called Gurusar commemorating the victory. Near a village Nathane, Guru Sahib faced another encounter with the Mughal forces but, remained victorious.
A childhood friend of Hargobind, Painde Khan, whose mother had been the nurse of the Guru, had become his enemy. The cause was a valuable hawk of a follower of the Guru which was taken by Khan. Painde Khan was asked by the Guru to return the hawk, which was resented by him. This opportunity was used by Mughal officials. Fifty thousand troops under the command of Kale Khan and supported by Painda Khan were dispatched to attack the Sikhs at Kartarpur. Painda Khan engaged Guru Hargobind in battle. Guru Hargobind had raised Painda Khan from a young age and loved him like his son; therefore he refused to strike the first blow. Painda Khan unsuccessfully tried twice to strike the Guru. He continued to taunt and insult the Guru until finally Guru Hargobind killed him with his sword. Teg Bahadar (Guru), Baba Gurditta, Bhai Bidhi Chand and Sikhs having a nominal strength fought with rare courage and velour. Kala Khan was also killed. Guru’s force got victory in this battle.
After the battle of Kartarpur, Guru Sahib moved to Kiratpur Sahib, which was under the rule of Raja Tara Chand (a hill state chief). Once again, Guru Sahib’s entourage was suddenly ambushed by a contingent of royal forces under the command of Ahmed Khan in the village Palahi near Phagwara town. It caused considerable loss on the Guru’s force. Bhai Dasa and Bhai Sohela (sons of Ballu Bhat, and grandsons of Mula Bhat) sacrificed their lives in this battle.Guru Sahib spent the last decade of his life (from 1635 to 1644) at Kiratpur Sahib, which is situated in the hill state of Hadur (Nalagarh). Kiratpur was founded by Baba Gurditta Ji (Guru’s son). Raja Tara Chand had donated the land for this purpose. At Kiratpur Sahib, Guru devoted his time in reorganizing the Sikhs and updating the preaching centres by establishing a new system called Dhunas.
Guru Nanak had promised to visit a Muslim devotee Budhan Shah. He was near death and eagerly waiting to meet Guru Nanak before his death. Guru Hargobind fulfilled his wish and blessed him before his death.
Guru’s eldest son Baba Gurditta passed away at age 24. He passed away in similar manner as Atal Rai, having taken to heart the reprimand of the Guru for reanimating a dead cow of a farmer, which he had accidentally killed while out hunting.
Dhir Mal, elder son of Baba Gurditta had ealier refused to move to Kiratpur. He remained at Kartarpur with possession of the original copy of the Granth Sahib. Dhir Mal had aspirations of succeeding Guru Hargobind as the next Guru thinking that he had the possession of Holy Granth. Guru Hargobind approached his grandson Dhir Mal to come for his fathers last rites. Dhir Mal refused to come even on such a solemn occasion. Guru Hargobind started training his grandson Har Rai, the other son of Baba Gurditta as his successor. The Gurus own sons; Gurditta had passed away, Suraj Mal and Ani Rai were too worldly while Tegh Bahadur preferred solitude and meditation. Har Rai was a pious young man and Guru Hargobind started training him in use of arms as well as the spirituality aspects. At the age of fourteen, Har Rai was nominated by Guru Hargobind as the seventh Sikh Guru. Guru Hargobind breathed his last, at Kiratpr, Ropar on 2 March 1644.