|Name||Sri Guru Gobind Singh Sahib Ji |
(10th Sikh Guru)
|Born||22 December 1666 Patna, India|
|Joti Jot||(Rejoining with God) 7 October 1708 (aged 41) Nanded, India|
|Father||Guru Tegh Bahadur|
|Spouse(s)||Mata Sundri Kaur|
|Children||Sahibzada Ajit Singh, Sahibzada Jujhar Singh, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh, Sahibzada Fateh Singh|
|Predecessor||Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji|
|Successor||Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji|
|Gurbani||Unknown in Guru Granth, possibly added one sloka to the ones of Guru Tegh Bahadur|
|Known for||Founding of the Khalsa, 5 K’s|
Guru Gobind Singh Ji (Punjabi: ਗੁਰੂ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਸਿੰਘ,; 22 December 1666 – 7 October 1708) was the tenth of the ten Sikh Gurus, the eleventh guru being the living perpetual Guru, Guru Granth Sahib (the sacred text of Sikhism). He was a Warrior, Poet and Philosopher. He succeeded his father Guru Tegh Bahadur as the Leader of Sikhs at the young age of nine. He contributed much to Sikhism; notable was his contribution to the continual formalisation of the faith which the first Guru Guru Nanak had founded, as a religion, in the 15th century. Guru Gobind Singh, the last of the living Sikh Gurus, initiated the Sikh Khalsa in 1699, passing the Guruship of the Sikhs to the Eleventh and Eternal Guru of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib.
Guru Gobind Singh molded the Sikh religion into its present shape, with the formation of the Khalsa fraternity and completion of the Guru Granth Sahib as we find it today, which some will say was his greatest act.
“If we consider the work which (Guru) Gobind (Singh) accomplished, both in reforming his religion and instituting a new code of law for his followers, his personal bravery under all circumstances; his persevering endurance amidst difficulties, which would have disheartened others and overwhelmed them in inextricable distress, and lastly his final victory over his powerful enemies by the very men who had previously forsaken him, we need not be surprised that the Sikhs venerate his memory. He was undoubtedly a great man.” (W, L. McGregor)
The tenth Guru (teacher) of the Sikh faith, was born Gobind Rai. It would not be out of context to say that throughout the chronicles of human history, there was no other individual who could be of more inspiring personality than Guru Gobind Singh.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji infused the spirit of both sainthood and soldier in the minds and hearts of his followers to fight oppression in order to restore justice, peace, righteousness (Dharma) and to uplift the down-trodden people in this world.
It is said that after the martyrdom of his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, the tenth Master declared that he would create such a Panth (community/society), which would challenge the tyrant rulers in every walk of life to restore justice, equality and peace for all of mankind. As a prophet, the Guru is unique.
His teachings are very scientific and most suitable for all times. Unlike many other prophets he never called himself God or ‘the only son of God.’ Instead he called all people the sons of God sharing His Kingdom equally. For himself he used the word ‘slave’ or servant of God.
“Those who call me God, will fall into the deep pit of hell. Regard me as one of his slaves and have no doubt whatever about it. I am a servant of the Supreme Being; and have come to behold the wonderful drama of life.”
Extracts from Guru Gobind Singh’s writings;
“God has no marks, no colour, no caste, and no ancestors, No form, no complexion, no outline, no costume and is indescribable.
He is fearless, luminous and measureless in might. He is the king of kings, the Lord of the prophets.
He is the sovereign of the universe, gods, men and demons. The woods and dales sing the indescribable.
O Lord, none can tell Thy names. The wise count your blessings to coin your names.” (Jaap Sahib)
A splendid Divine Light shone in the darkness of the night. Pir Bhikan Shah a Muslim mystic performed his prayers in that Easterly direction (instead of towards the West, contrary to his daily practice), and guided by this Divine Light, he travelled with a group of his followers until he reached Patna Sahib in Bihar.
It was here that Gobind Rai was born to Mata Gujri in 1666. It is said that Pir Bhikan Shah approached the child and offered two bowls of milk and water, signifying both the great religions of Hinduism and Islam. The child smiled and placed his hands on both bowls. The Pir bowed in utter humility and reverence to the new Prophet of all humanity.
Guru Gobind Singh was born as Gobind Rai in Patna, Bihar in India. His father Guru Tegh Bahadur, was the ninth Sikh Guru. His mother’s name was Mata Gujri. He was born while his father was on a tour of the neighbouring state of Assam, spreading God’s word.
After his tour of eastern parts of India ended, he asked his family to come to Anandpur. Gobind Rai reached Anandpur (then known as Chakk Nanaki), on the foothills of the Sivalik Hills, in March 1672.
Gobind Rai’s early education included study of languages and training as a Soldier. He had started studying Hindi and Sanskrit while at Patna. At Anandpur Sahib, he started studying Punjabi under Sahib Chand, and Persian under Qazi Pir Mohammad.
Guru Gobind Singh married to Mata Sundari (also known as Mata Jito) and they had four sons Sahibzada Ajit Singh, Zorawar Singh, Jujhar Singh and Fateh Singh. Guru Tegh Bahadur had founded the city of Anandpur Sahib in 1665, on land purchased from the ruler of Bilaspur (Kahlur).
Kashmiri Brahmins come to Anandpur
Early in 1675, a group of Kashmiri brahmins under the leadership of Pandit Kirpa Ram, mad in desperation by the religious fanaticism of the Mughals General, Iftikar Khan, (he had threatened them with forced conversion to Islam) visited Anandpur to seek Guru Tegh Bahadur’s advice. Aurangzeb had ordered the forced conversion of all Hindus and thought that if the respected Kashmiri brahmans accepted Islam, others in the country would be easily converted. They had been given six months to decide or suffer the consequences. Time was running out!
As the Guru sat reflecting what to do, young Gobind Rai, arriving there in company with his playmates, asked why he looked so preoccupied. The father, as records Kuir Singh in his Gurbilas Patshahi 10, replied, “Grave are the burdens the earth bears. She will be redeemed only if a truly worthy person comes forward to lay down his head. Distress will then be expunged and happiness ushered in.”
“None could be worthier than you to make such a sacrifice,” remarked Gobind Rai in his innocent manner.
Guru Tegh Bahadur advised the brahmins to return to their village and tell the authorities that they would accept Islam if Guru Tegh Bahadur could first be persuaded to do so.
Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur
Soon afterwards the Guru Tegh Bahadur with a few followers proceeded to the imperial capital, Delhi. After watching the torture and execution of three of his followers, Guru Tegh Bahadur, after refusing to convert to islam, was beheaded on November 11, 1675. The 9 year old Gobind Rai, ordained as the next Guru before his father departed Anandpur, was formally installed as Guru Gobind Singh on the Baisakhi day of March 1676. In the midst of his engagement with the concerns of the community, he gave attention to the mastery of physical skills and literary accomplishment. He had grown into a comely youth spare, lithe of limb and energetic.
He had a natural genius for poetic composition and his early years were assiduously given to this pursuit. The Var Sri Bhagauti Ji Ki, popularly called Chandi di Var. written in 1684, was his first composition and his only major work in the Punjabi language. The poem depicted the legendary contest between the gods and the demons as described in the Markandeya Purana. The choice of a warlike theme for this and a number of his later compositions such as the two Chandi Charitras, mostly in Braj, was made to infuse martial spirit among his followers to prepare them to stand up against injustice and tyranny.
For the first 20 years or so of his life, Guru Gobind Singh lived peacefully at Anandpur practicing arms and exercises to complete his training as a soldier. He also studied Persian and Sanskrit and engaged 52 poets to translate the Hindu epics. Stories of ancient heroes were translated into Punjabi in order to create the martial spirit among the Sikhs. The Guru also wrote several compositions including Jaap Sahib, Akal Ustat and Sawayas during this period. He also established a Gurdwara at Paonta Sahib on the banks of the river Jamna.
Stay at Paonta Sahib
Much of Guru Gobind Singh’s creative literary work was done at Paonta (in Sirmaur state) he had founded on the banks of the River Yamuna. This was the site Guru Gobind Singh temporarily shifted to in April 1685 at the invitation of Raja Mat Prakash of Sirmaur. According to the gazetteer of the Sirmur State, the Guru was compelled to quit Anandpur Sahib due to differences with Bhim Chand, and went to Toka. From Toka, he was invited to Nahan, the capital of Sirmaur by Mat Prakash. From Nahan, he proceeded to Paonta. Mat Prakash invited the Guru to his kingdom in order to strengthen his position against Raja Fateh Shah of Garhwal. At the request of Raja Mat Prakash, the Guru constructed a fort at Paonta with help of his followers, in a short time. The Guru remained at Paonta for around three years, and composed several texts. Poetry as such was, however, not his aim. For him it was a means of revealing the divine principle, the Jap Sahib, Swayas and the composition known as Akal Ustat were composed in this tenor.
Through his poetry Guru Gobind Singh preached love and equality and a strictly ethical and moral code of conduct. He preached the worship of the One Supreme Being, deprecating idolatry and superstitious beliefs and observances. The glorification of the sword itself which he eulogized as Bhagauti was to secure fulfilment of God’s justice. The sword was never meant as a symbol of aggression, and it was never to be used for self-aggrandizement. It was the emblem of manliness and self-respect and was to be used only in self-defence, as a last resort. For Guru Gobind Singh said in a Persian couplet in his Zafarnamah:
“When all other means have failed, It is but lawful to take to the sword.”
During his stay at Paonta, Guru Gobind Singh availed himself of his spare time to practice different forms of manly exercises, such as riding, swimming and archery. His increasing influence among the people and the martial exercises of his men excited the jealousy of the neighbouring Rajput hill rulers who led by Raja Fateh Chand of Garhwal collected a host to attack him.
The hindus were defeated in an action at Bhangam, about 10 km north-east of Paonta, in September 1688. Soon thereafter Guru Gobind Singh left Paonta Sahib and returned to Anandpur. The Guru and his Sikhs were involved in a battle with a mughal commander, Alif Khan, at Nadaur on the left bank of the Beas, about 30 km south-east of Kangra, in March 1691.
Describing the battle in stirring verse in Bachitar Natak, it is said that Alif Khan fled in utter disarray “without being able to give any attention to his camp.” Among several other battles that occurred was the Husain battle (20 February 1696) fought against Husain Khan, an imperial general, which resulted in a decisive victory for the Sikhs.
Following the appointment in 1694 of the liberal Prince Muazzam (later Emperor Bahadur Shah) as viceroy of north-western region including Punjab, there was however a brief respite from pressure from the ruling authority.
Battle of Bhangani
Guru Gobind Singh admonished the hill Rajas including Raja Bhim Chand for giving their daughters to the Moghuls as tribute for holding their positions. His efforts at winning their support against Aurangzeb bore no fruit. On the contrary, the hill Rajas conspired with the Moghul armies to put down the power of Guru Gobind Singh. They however faced defeat several times at the hands of the comparatively small Sikh Army.
Guru Gobind Singh received various complaints against priests, masands who robbed the poor Sikhs and misappropriated the collections. In Sambat 1756 (1699 A.D), Guru Sahib abolished the masand order and severly punished the miscreants. Guru Gobind Singh issued directions to Sikh sangats or communities in different parts not to acknowledge masands, the local ministers, against whom he had heard complaints. Thereafter, the faithful were to bring their offerings directly to the Guru at the time of the annual Vaisakhi fair.
Sikhs, he instructed, should come to Anandpur straight without any intermediaries. The Guru thus established direct relationship with his Sikhs. The institution of the Khalsa was given concrete form on 30 March 1699 when Sikhs had gathered at Anandpur in large numbers for the annual festival of Vaisakhi.
Creation of the Khalsa
In 1699, the Guru sent hukmanamas (letters of authority) to his followers, requesting them to congregate at an open air diwan at Anandpur on 13 April 1699, the day of Vaisakhi (the annual harvest festival).
Guru Ji addressed the congregation from the entryway of a small tent pitched on a hill (now called Kesgarh Sahib). He first asked everyone who he was for them? Everyone answered – “You are our Guru.” He then asked them who were they, to which everyone replied – “We are your Sikhs.” Having reminded them of this relationship, He then said that today the Guru needs something from his Sikhs. Everyone said, “Hukum Karo, Sache Patshah” (Order us, True Lord).
The Guru drew his sword and in a thundering voice said, “I want one head, is there any one who can offer me there’s?” This most unusual call caused some terror in the gathering. The people were stunned! There was dead silence.
The Guru made a second call. Again, he asked for a volunteer who was willing to sacrifice his head. No one answered his first call, nor the second call, there was still more silence.
On the third invitation, Daya Ram, a khatri of Lahore said, “O true king, my head is at your service.” (later known as Bhai Daya Singh) and came forward offering his head to the Guru.
The Guru took Daya Ram by the arm and led him inside a 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 else who can offer me there’s?”
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 the volunteer inside the tent. The Guru returned to the crowd with more blood dripping from his sword. He then demanded another head.
Upon this some people in the assembly remarked that the Guru had lost all reason and went to his mother to complain.
Mohkam Chand, a calico priner/tailor 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 in disbelief. 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 were heard.
The last time he stayed longer in the tent. People began to breathe with relief. They thought may be the Guru has realised “his mistake” and has now stopped.
After some time, amazingly, the five volunteers came out of the tent in new clothing, completely unharmed.
The Panj Pyare and Amrit Sanchar
The Guru now clad his five volunteers in splendid garments. They had 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, Charan Pauhal had been the 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 (Khande di Pauhal) by asking the five faithful Sikhs to stand up.
Guru Gobind Singh then poured clear water into an iron bowl and adding Patashas (Punjabi sweeteners) into it, he stirred it with double-edged sword accompanied with recitations from Adi Granth. He called this mixture of sweetened water and iron as Amrit (“nectar”) and administered it to the five men. These five, who willingly volunteered to sacrifice their lives for their Guru, were given the title of the Panj Pyare (“the five beloved ones”) by their Guru. They were the first (baptized) Sikhs of the Khalsa:
1. Daya Ram (Bhai Daya Singh),
2. Dharam Das (Bhai Dharam Singh),
3. Himmat Rai (Bhai Himmat Singh),
4. Mohkam Chand (Bhai Mohkam Singh),
5. Sahib Chand (Bhai Sahib Singh).
Guru Gobind Singh then recited a line which has been the rallying-cry of the Khalsa since then: ‘Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh‘ (The pure belong to the Wonderful Lord; Victory is the wonderful Lord’s).
Guru Gobind Singh then gave them all the name “Singh” (lion), and designated them collectively as the Khalsa, the body of baptized Sikhs.
The Guru then astounded the five and the whole assembly as he knelt and asked them to in turn initiate him as a member, on an equal footing with them in the Khalsa, thus becoming the sixth member of the new order. His name became Gobind Singh.
Today members of the Khalsa consider Guru Gobind as their father, and Mata Sahib Kaur as their mother. The Panj Piare were thus the first baptised Sikhs, and became the first members of the Khalsa brotherhood. Women were also initiated into the Khalsa, and given the title of “Kaur” (“Princess”). Guru Gobind Singh then addressed the audience –
“From now on, you have become casteless.
No ritual, either Hindu or Muslim, will you perform.
Nor will you believe in superstition of any kind but only in one God who is the master and protector of all, the only creator and destroyer.
In your new order, the lowest will rank with the highest and each will be to the other a bhai (brother).
No pilgrimages for you any more, nor austerities but the pure life of the household, which you should be ready to sacrifice at the call of Dharma.
Women shall be equal of men in every way.
No purdah (veil) for them anymore, nor the burning alive of a widow on the pyre of her spouse (sati).
He who kills his daughter, the Khalsa shall not deal with him.”
Guru Gobind Singh then ordained them to do the following:
I. First the Khalsa must wear the following articles whose names begin with ‘K’:
1. Kesh – unshorn hair. This represents the natural appearance of sainthood. This is the first token of Sikh faith.
2. Kanga– A comb to clean the hair.
3. Kachha – An underwear to indicate virtuous character.
4. Kara – A Iron bracelet on the wrist, a symbol of dedication to the Divine Bridegroom.
5. Kirpan – A sword symbolising dignity, power and unconquerable spirit.
II. The Khalsa must observe the following guidelines:
1. Not to remove hair from the body.
2. Not to use Tobacco or other intoxicants (ie. drugs, alcohol, etc).
3. Not to eat or touch Kuttha (Halal or Kosher) meat of an animal.
4. Not to commit adultery- ‘Par nari ki sej, bhul supne hun na jayo’ (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. The Khalsa must rise at dawn, bathe,
1. Meditate on Gurmantar – (repeating) ‘Waheguru’,
2. Recite Mool Mantar – the preamble of Japji,
3. And recite at least five banis daily – Japji, Jap Sahib and Swayas in the morning; Rehras in the evening; and Kirtan Sohila at bed time at night.
IV. The Khalsa 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 only among themselves.
The Rise Of The Khalsa
About 80,000 men and women were baptized within a few days at Anandpur. “The creation of the Khalsa was the greatest work of the Guru. He created a type of superman, without hate, without fear, a universal man of God, casteless and country less. The Guru regarded himself as the servant of the Khalsa. He said, “To serve them pleases me the most; no other service is so dear to my soul.” The Khalsa was the spearhead of resistance against tyranny.”
The creation of the Khalsa created a sense of unity among the Sikhs and their supporters. This unity and the resulting perceived strength in the Sikhs did not go well with the local rulers. The continuous gatherings at Anandpur sahib and the presence of many thousands of the congregation, some armed with fierce weapons caused anguish with the surrounding hill Rajas. These developments most alarmed the caste ridden Rajput chiefs of the Sivalik hills. They perceived the Sikhs as lower caste beings who had posed no danger to their authority. However, the creation of the Khalsa changed that. Firstly, it disturbed their system of discrimination and division; secondly, they could see that the forces of the Guru were becoming dangerous in number and in armaments.
Siege of Anandpur
The treacherous Hill Rajas rallied under the leadership of the Raja of Bilaspur, in whose territory lay Anandpur, to forcibly evict Guru Gobind Singh from his hilly citadel. Their repeated expeditions during 1700-04 however proved abortive. The Khalsa forces were too strong to be dealt with by cowardly hill Rajas. The hill Rajas, with forces outnumbering the Sikhs, petitioned Emperor Aurangzeb for more help. In concert with contingents sent under imperial orders by the governor of Lahore and those of the faujdar of Sirhind, they marched upon Anandpur and laid a siege to the fort in May 1705.
Over the months, the Guru and his Sikhs firmly withstood their successive assaults despite insufficient amounts of food resulting from the prolonged blockade. While the besieged (Sikhs) were reduced to desperate straits, the besiegers (governor of Lahore) too were exhausted at the courage of the Sikhs. Finally, the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb sent a signed letter to the Guru, swearing in name of Quran, that the Guru and his followers would be allowed a safe passage if he decided to evacuate Anandpur. The Guru, hard pressed by his followers and his family, accepted the offer, and evacuated Anandpur on 20–21 December 1705.
At last, the town was evacuated during a night of December 1705. But as the Guru and his Sikhs came out, the hill monarchs and their Mughal allies broke their oath’s set upon the Sikh’s in full fury.
As a direct consquence of these actions some Sikh’s believe hindu’s to be treacherous cowards (who only attack Sikh’s if they outnumber them) and musualmaan (muslims) as treacherous liars.
Sikhs “tricked” by the Mughals
In the ensuing confusion many Sikhs were killed and all of the Guru’s baggage, including most of the precious manuscripts, were lost. The Guru himself was able to make his way to Chamkaur, 40 km southwest of Anandpur, with barely 40 Sikhs and his two elder sons. The imperial troops besieged the fortress at Chamkaur. There the imperial army, following closely on his heels, caught up with him. His two sons, Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh and all but five of the Sikhs fell in the action that took place on 7 December 1705. The five surviving Sikhs commanded the Guru to save himself in order to reconsolidate the Khalsa.
Guru Gobind Singh with three of his Sikhs escaped into the wilderness of the Malwa, two of his devotees, Gani Khan and Nabi Khan, helped him at great personal risk. Guru Gobind Singh’s two younger sons, Zorawar Singh (born. 1696), Fateh Singh (born.1699), and his mother, Mata Gujari Ji, also evacuated Anandpur but were betrayed by their old servant and escort, Gangu. Wazir Khan, the governor of Sirhind executed the two young boys after they refused to convert to Islam, and Mata Gujri died soon after hearing of her grandsons’ death. Rai Kalha’s servant Noora Mahi brought this news to the Guru from Sirhind. Mata Sundari and Mata Sahib kaur escaped towards Delhi escorted by Bhai Mani Singh.
Guru Gobind Singh reached Dina in the heart of the Malwa. There he enlisted a few hundred warriors of the Brar clan, and also composed his famous letter, Zafarnamah (the Epistle of Victory), in Persian verse, addressed to Emperor Aurangzeb. The letter was a severe indictment of the Emperor and his commanders who had broken their oath. They attacked Guru Gobind Singh once he was outside the safety of his fortification at Anandpur. Two of the Sikhs, Daya Singh and Dharam Singh, were despatched with the Zafarnamah to Ahmadnagar in the South to deliver it to Aurangzeb. From Dina, Guru Gobind Singh continued his westward march until, finding the host close upon his heels; he took position beside the water pool of Khidrana to make a last-ditch stand.
Brave Sikh Women Join Fight
The fighting on 29 December 1705 was hard and desperate. In spite of their overwhelming numbers, the Mughal troops failed to capture the Guru and had to retire in defeat. The major part in this battle was played by a group of 40 Sikhs who had deserted the Guru at Anandpur during the long siege, but who, scolded by their wives at home, had come back under the leadership of a brave and devoted woman, Mai Bhago, to redeem themselves. They had fallen fighting desperately to check the enemy’s advance towards the Guru’s position. The Guru blessed the 40 dead as 40 mukte, i.e. the 40 Saved Ones. The site is now marked by a sacred shrine and tank and the town which has grown around them is called Muktsar, the Pool of Liberations.
After spending some time in the Lakhi Jungle country, Guru Gobind Singh arrived at Talvandi Sabo, now called Damdama Sahib, on 20 January 1706. During his stay there of over nine months, a number of Sikhs rejoined him. He prepared a fresh text of the Sikh Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, from memory alone with the celebrated scholar, Bhai Mani Singh, who wrote the Guru’s bani. From the number of scholars who had rallied round Guru Gobind Singh and from the literary activity initiated, the place came to be known as the Guru’s Kashi or seat of learning like Varanasi.
The Zafarnamah sent by Guru Gobind Singh from Dina seems to have touched the heart of Emperor Aurangzeb. In response, Aurangzeb expressed his wish for a personal meeting with the Guru. The Guru left for Deccan in October 1706 to meet Aurangzeb. He passed through what is now Rajasthan, on his way to Ahmednagar, where the Emperor was encamped. At Baghaur (or Baghor), he received the news of Aurangzeb’s death in March 1707, and decided to return to Punjab, via Shahjahanabad.
After the emperor’s death, a war of succession broke out between his sons. The third son, Mohammad Azam (or Azim), declared himself the Emperor. The second son Muazzam (later Emperor Bahadur Shah) set out from Peshawar to claim the throne. The Guru’s follower Bhai Nand Lal (who had earlier served in the Muazzam ‘s court) brought him a letter written by Muazzam. Muazzam had sought Guru’s help in securing the throne, and had promised to pursue a policy of religious tolerance towards the non-Muslims. The Guru sent a band of his followers under the command of Bhai Dharam Singh, to help Muazzam. Muazzam’s forces defeated Azam Shah’s forces in the Battle of Jajau on 12 June 1707.
Muazzam ascended the throne as Bahadur Shah. He invited Guru Gobind Singh for a meeting which took place at Agra on 23 July 1707. The Guru was received with honour and was given the title of Hind Ka Pir (the Saint of India). The Guru stayed with the Emperor in Agra till November 1707. He made Dholpur a center of his missionary activities, and toured nearby areas for many days, before proceeding to Deccan. In November 1707, the Emperor had to march into Rajputana against the rebel Kachwahas. He requested the Guru to accompany him. From Rajputana, the emperor marched to the Deccan to suppress the rebellion of his brother Kam Bakhsh, and the Guru accompanied him.
Guru Gobind Singh was not happy with Bahadur Shah’s friendly attitude towards Wazir Khan of Sirhind. He parted ways with the Emperor at Hingoli, and reached Nanded in July 1708. At Nanded, the Guru camped on the banks of the river Godavari. Saiyad Khan, the former general of the imperial forces, resigned from his post and came to Nanded from Kangra, to see the Guru.
During a trip, the Guru met a bairagi (hermit) called Madho Das, whom he initiated into Khalsa as Gurbakhsh Singh. Gurbakhsh Singh, popularly known as “Banda Singh” or “Banda Bahadur”, soon became his most trusted general.
While in Nanded, the Guru received in a letter from Saiyad Khan’s sister Nasiran, the wife of Pir Budhu Shah of Sadhaura. The letter informed him that the Emperor’s army had ransacked Sadhaura and hanged Pir Budhu Shah as a rebel, for having faith in Guru Gobind Singh, whom they considered as a Kaffir (“infidel”).
The Guru assumed that the Emperor had fallen prey to Wazir Khan’s propaganda, and was plotting to kill all of his supporters. He sent a letter to the emperor, demanding an explanation for Pir Budhu Shah’s death. There was no reply from the emperor. Instead, the Guru heard rumors that the emperor was planning to wage a battle against him. The Guru appointed Banda Singh as the commander of the Khalsa and gave him five arrows from his own quiver and an escort, including five of his chosen Sikhs. Guru Gobind Singh directed Banda Singh to go to the Punjab and carry on the campaign against the tyranny of the provincial overlords.
Plan to assassinate the Guru
Wazir Khan, the Nawab of Sirhind, felt uneasy about any conciliation between Guru Gobind Singh and Bahadur Shah I. He commissioned two Pathans, Jamshed Khan and Wasil Beg, to assassinate the Guru. The two secretly pursued the Guru and attack him at Nanded.
According to Sri Gur Sobha by the contemporary writer Senapati, Jamshed Khan stabbed the Guru in the left side below the heart while he was resting in his chamber after the Rehras prayer. Guru Gobind Singh killed the attacker with his Talwar (curved sword), while the attacker’s companion tried to flee but was killed by Sikhs who had rushed in on hearing the noise.
Guru Granth Sahib Becomes Guru
The European surgeon sent by Bahadur Shah stitched the Guru’s wound. However, the wound re-opened and caused profuse bleeding, as the Guru tugged at a hard strong bow after a few days. Seeing his end was near, the Guru declared the Guru Granth Sahib as the next Guru of the Sikhs. He then sang his self-composed hymn:
“Agya bhai Akal ki tabhi chalayo Panth Sabh Sikhan ko hukam hai Guru Maneyo Granth, Guru Granth Ji manyo pargat Guran ki deh Jo Prabhu ko milbo chahe khoj shabad mein le Raj karega Khalsa aqi rahei na koe Khwar hoe sabh milange bache sharan jo hoe.”
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 Guru. Consider the Guru Granth as embodiment of the Gurus. Those who want to meet God, can find Him in its hymns. The Khalsa shall rule, and impure will be no more, Those separated will unite and all the devotees shall be saved.”
The Guru became joti jot and left the visible body, along with his horse Dilbagh (aka Neela Ghora) on 7 October 1708 at Nanded, before which he had declared the Sri Guru Granth Sahib as his successor.
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, I asked where he was going. He smiled and replied that he was going to the forest.” 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.
Guru Gobind Singh, gave the Sikhs very distinctive symbols — the uncut hair, the dastar (turban), the steel bangle and the sword