GURU HARGOBIND JI
Born in 1592 at a place called Wadali in Punjab, Guru Hargobind ji became the sixth Sikh Guru when he was only eleven years old. His father, Guru Arjan Dev ji was executed by the Mogul rulers. The violence and cruelty of the rulers could not be endured any further. There was a need for modifying the Sikh way of life. At the time of his succession to Guruship, he donned two swords, one symbolizing spiritual strength (called Piri) and the other symbolizing physical strength and secular leadership (called Miri). Below is a very short summary of Guru Hargobind Ji’s life and his contributions:
- He prepared the Sikhs to stand firm against injustice and to defend their rights and their honor. He started recruiting an army and invited the offerings of arms and horses from his followers. He built a fort at Lohgarh for the defense of Amritsar. He also established Akal Takhat, within the Harmandir Saheb complex, for discussing political and organizational matters affecting the Sikhs.
- He introduced a new concept of the ideal Sikh, ‘Sant-Sipahi’ or the ‘Saint-Soldier’, who was a compassionate devotee and also a brave soldier. The daily routine at Harmandir Saheb included both worship and martial training. Heroic poems were sung in the congregations to inspire courage and fearlessness.
- He was the first Sikh Guru who resorted to arms to fight against oppression. He made it clear to everybody that fighting against the wrongs was not against the spirit of the religion but it was an essential part of a practical religion. He allowed meat diet and hunting among Sikhs. He was a fine hunter himself.
- Guru Hargobind ji fought four defensive battles with the Mogul forces. He did not want any territory or power. The battles were forced upon him, because the rulers wanted to crush the Sikh movement. He won all four battles. This strengthened the qualities of courage, heroism, and fearlessness among the Sikhs.
- When the political situation in Punjab was not favorable to propagation of Sikhism, Guru Hargobind ji sent his Sikhs to the northern hills and to the far off provinces of Bihar and Bengal to spread Sikhism. The hilly region was ruled by numerous Rajput princes. A large number of Hindus and Muslims became Sikhs here. One Muslim historian, Mohsin Fani writes “in those hills, upto the borders of Tibet, the name of Musalman had disappeared”.
- He fought against aggression, and at the same time, looked after the spiritual development of the Sikh community. He disliked miracles and spent a lot of time in meditation. He was also a military genius and a great warrior. During the 38 years of his leadership, he turned saints into saint-soldiers and Sikhs became known for heroism, moral courage, and spirit of sacrifice.
This is a good opportunity to memorize Gurbani, one Pauri at a time. You can concentrate better and enjoy more if you recite bani without looking at the gutka.
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DID YOU KNOW
In Sikhism, we have five seats of authority, called TAKHATS. Takhat literally means ‘throne’. The five Seats of Authority (Takhats) are:
1. Akal Takhat
Akal Takhat (the throne of timeless God) is situated in front of the Harmandar Sahib in the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, Punjab. It was established by Guru Hargobind Ji (the 6th Guru) in 1609. The Guru did not consider it appropriate to discuss the political and military matters inside the Golden Temple itself, which is meant purely for worship of God. So, he established a separate place, within the complex, to discuss those matters. Even today, the political matters and other issues are discussed here by the Sikh leadership and Hukamnamaas (orders for the Sikh masses) are issued by the Jathedaar (head priest) of Akal Takhat.
2. Takhat Sri Patna Saheb
The second seat of authority is called ‘Takhat Sri Patna Saheb’. It is located in the city of Patna in Bihar state in India. Guru Teg Bahdur ji lived here in 1665 and Guru Gobind Singh ji was born here and spent his childhood here. Some of Guru Gobind Singh ji’s relics, including his weapons and proclamations, are preserved here.
3. Takhat Sri Kesgarh Saheb
The third seat of authority is known as Sri Kesgarh Saheb, where Guru Gobind Singh ji created the Khalsa on the Vaisakhi day of 1699. The historic double edged sword, called Khanda, with which the Guru stirred the Amrit (baptism water) that auspicious day, is kept here along with a number of other weapons of Guru Gobind Singh ji. Kesgarh Saheb is located in the township of Anandpur in Punjab. This town was founded by the ninth Guru, Guru Teg Bahadur ji in 1665.
4. Takhat Sri Hazur Saheb
The fourth seat of authority is Takhat Sri Hazur Saheb. It is situated in the city of Nader in Maharashtra State in India. It is the place where Guru Gobind Singh ji passed away in 1708 and gave Guruship to Guru Granth Saheb (the Adi Granth). Maharaja Ranjit Singh renovated the temple and provided gold plated dome. Some of Guru Gobind Singh ji’s weapons and other relics are kept here and are put on display for visitors.
5. Takhat Sri Damdama Saheb
The fifth seat of authority is Damdama Saheb. This place owes its importance to the literary work done by Guru Gobind Singh ji during his stay here in 1706. Here, the tenth Guru prepared the authentic edition of the Aadi Granth, to which he gave the Guruship at the time of his passing away. Most of Guru Gobind Singh ji’s own writings were also prepared at this location.