Guru Gobind Singh

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By Swami Harshananda

Gobind Singh, Guru (A. D. 1666-1708)

Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and the last, of the Sikh Gurus, has carved out for himself a permanent place in the history of Sikhism and Hinduism. He infused the kṣattriya (or martial) spirit into the docile Sikh community and transformed them into the heroic race. They fought and gave supreme sacrifices for the Guru.

He was the son of the illustrious ninth Guru, Tegh Bahadur (A. D. 1620- 1675). He succeeded him as the tenth Guru in A. D. 1675, at the age of nine. He received an extensive education and became a noted writer in course of time. In A. D. 1699 he started the nucleus of the khālsā,[1] at the Keshgarh Sāhib, the most important shrine in Anandpur Sāhib of Punjab. He did this by baptising five heroes who had come forward to sacrifice their lives at the Guru’s feet, by giving them the ‘amṛt’[2] as tīrtha or holy water.

Later, he himself was baptised by them. These five heroes became famous as the ‘Pañj Piyārās,’ the ‘five beloved ones’. On the same day 20,000 Sikhs were baptised in this manner. In this way the new militant order for the protection of the Sikhs were born.

Each member of the khālsā was expected to wear five k’s. They are:

  1. Keś - uncut hair
  2. Kaṅghā - comb
  3. Karā - iron bangle
  4. Kācā - loin-cloth
  5. Kirpān - dagger or sword

The Khālsās were believed as saint soldiers and worshipers of one God. At the same time they were fighters against injustice and oppression.

Guru Gobind Singh fought many battles against the Muslim kings and Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Though he won many battles, he also had to suffer terribly. All his four sons sacrificed their lives for the sake of their religion and the last two were brutally killed by the Moghuls. He was assassinated in A. D. 1708 by a hired Afghan fanatic.

Guru Gobind Singh declared that the line of the Sikh Gurus ended with him and the Ādi Granth compiled by Guru Arjan (A. D. 1563-1607) should be treated as the Guru and honored accordingly. Henceforward, the book came to be known as Guru Granth Sāhib.

Guru Gobind Singh knew three languages in which he wrote extensively. These languages are:

  1. Braja
  2. Persian
  3. Punjābi

The writings included translations and summaries of ancient scriptures and also an autobiography. It is available into 1300 large-size pages are now available under the title Śri Daśam Granth or the book of the Tenth Guru. By any standards, Guru Gobind Singh was an extraordinary personality who left an indelible mark on Indian history.

References

  1. Khālsā is known as ‘the pure’, ‘the Lord’s own’.
  2. Amṛt is water in an iron bowl, mixed by a dagger with some sugar cubes.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore