Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Guru Gobind Singh Ji Life Story
Children : Zorawar Singh, Ajit Singh, Jujhar Singh, Fateh Singh
Guru Gobind Singh ji (Gurmukhi: ਗੁਰੂ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਸਿੰਘ) (Friday, January 5, 16661, in Patna, Bihar, India - Thursday, 21 October, 1708) was the tenth and last of the Ten human form Gurus of Sikhism. He became Guru on November 24, 1675 at the age of nine, following in the footsteps of his father Guru Teg Bahadur ji.
Before Guru ji left his mortal body for his heavenly abode, he nominated Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji (SGGS) as the next perpetual Guru of the Sikhs. Guru Gobind Singh moulded the Sikh religion into its present, 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 may not be out of context to say here 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 Guru Tegh Bahadur, the tenth Master declared that he would create such a Panth (Sect) 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)
Gobind Rai was born with a holy mission of which he tells us in his autobiography “Bachitar Natak” (Wonderous Drama). In it Guru Ji tells us how and for what purpose he was sent into this world by God. He states that before he came into this world , as a free spirit he was engaged in meditation in the seven peaked Hemkunt mountain. Having merged with God and having become One with the Unmanifest and the Infinite, God commanded him:
“I have cherished thee as my Son, and created thee to establish a religion and restrain the world from senseless acts. I stood up, folded my hands, bowed my head and replied,‘Thy religion will prevail in all the world, when it has Thy support’.”
Guru Ji describes the purpose of his coming to this world and why he emerged from the Supreme Reality in human form to carry out his Creator’s command :
“For this purpose was I born, let all virtuous people understand. I was born to advance righteousness, to emancipate the good, and to destroy all evil-doers root and branch.”
Gobind Rai's father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, the Ninth Guru, was then travelling across Bengal and Assam. Returning to Patna in 1670, he directed his family to return to the Punjab. On the site of the house at Patna in which Gobind Rai was born and where he spent his early childhood now stands a sacred shrine, Sri Patna Sahib Gurdwara, Bihar.
Gobind Rai was escorted to Anandpur (then known as Chakk Nanaki) on the foothills of the Sivaliks where he reached in March 1672 and where his early education included reading and writing of Punjabi, Braj, Sanskrit and Persian. He was barely nine years of age when a sudden turn came in his life as well as in the life of the community he was destined to lead.
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.
Father Guru's martyrdom
Soon afterwards the Guru with a few followers proceeded to the imperial capital, Delhi. After watching the tortured deaths of three of his followers he, as well, refused to convert and was beheaded on November 11, 1675. The 13 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.
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.
Through his poetry he 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. 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."
Creation of the Khalsa
The Amrit Sanskar CeremonyAn open air diwan was held in Kesgarh Sahib at Anandpur. The Guru drew his sword and in a thundering voice said, "I want one head, is there any one who can offer me?"
This most unusual call caused some terror in the gathering and the people were stunned. There was dead silence. The Guru made a second call. Nobody came forward. There was still more silence. On the third call there raised Daya Ram, a khatri of Lahore who said, "O true king, my head is at your service."
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 who can offer?" Again 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 Dharam Das inside the tent, again a blow and thud were heard, and he came out with his sword dripping with blood and repeated, "I want another head, is there any beloved Sikh who can offer it?"
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.
The panj pyare
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.
He put pure water into an iron vessel or Bowl (Batta of Sarbloh) and stirred it with a Khanda (two edged small sword). While stirring the water with Khanda, he recited Gurbani (Five Banis- Japji, Jaap Sahib, Anand Sahib, Swayas, and Chaupai). Sugar crystals called 'Patasas' which incidently the Guru's wife, Mata Sahib Kaur, had brought at that moment, were mixed in the water.
The Guru then stood up with the sacred Amrit (nectar) prepared in the iron bowl. Each of the five faithful, by turn, each kneeling upon his left knee, looked up to the Master to receive the divine amrit. He gave five palmfuls of Amrit to each of them to drink and sprinkled it five times in the eyes, asking them to repeat aloud with each sprinkle, "Waheguru Ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh." (This means: Khalsa belongs to God and all triumph be to His Name) Then he anointed with five sprinkles in the hair.
In this way Amrit was administered to the five faithful from the same bowl. After that he asked them to sip Amrit from the same bowl to signify their initiation into the casteless fraternity of the Khalsa. All the five faithful were baptized in this way by the Guru who then called them the 'PANJ PYARE' or Five Beloved Ones.
He gave them the appellation of SINGHS (Lions) and they were named from Daya Ram to Daya Singh, Dharam Das to Dharam Singh, Mohkam Chand to Mohkam Singh, Himmat Chand to Himmat Singh, and Sahib Chand to Sahib Singh. The Guru then addressed them as the supreme, the liberated ones, pure ones and he called them THE KHALSA.
Guru asks for Amrit
After the Guru had administered Amrit to his Five Beloved Ones, he stood up in supplication and with folded hands, begged them to baptize him in the same way as he had baptized them. He himself became their disciple (Wonderful is Guru Gobind Singh, himself the Master and himself the disciple).
The Five Beloved Ones were astonished at such a proposal, and represented their own unworthiness, and the greatness of the Guru, whom they deemed God's Vicar upon earth. They asked him why he made such a request and why he stood in a supplicant posture before them. He replied," I am the son of the Immortal God. It is by His order I have been born and have established this form of baptism. They who accept it shall henceforth be known as the KHALSA.
The Khalsa is the Guru and the Guru is the Khalsa. There is no difference between you and me. As Guru Nanak seated Guru Angad on the throne, so have I made you also a Guru. Wherefore administer the baptismal nectar to me without any hesitation." Accordingly the Five Beloved Ones baptized the Guru with the same ceremonies and injunctions he himself had employed.
The rise of the Khalsa
The Guru was then named Gobind Singh instead of Gobind Rai. Guru Gobind Singh was the first one to take Amrit from the Khalsa, the Five Beloved Ones. 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, 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." (Miss Pearl, S. Buck)
Siege of Anandpur
They hence 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 the hill Rajas. They at last petitioned Emperor Aurangzeb for 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. At this stage the besiegers offered, on Oath (promise) of the Qur'an, safe exit to the Sikhs if they quit Anandpur. 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 set upon them in full fury.
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, was 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. There the imperial army, following closely on his heels, caught up with him. His two sons, Ajit Singh (born. 1687) and Jujhar Singh (born. 1691) 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 Malva, two of his Muslim devotees, Gani Khan and Nabi Khan, helping 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, to the faujdar of Sirhind, who had the young children executed on 13 December 1705. Their grandmother died the same day.
Guru Gobind Singh reached Dina in the heart of the Malva. 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, then in camp in that town. 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 Lakkhi 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 Sikh Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, 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 (A city of northeast-central India).
Zafarnamah bears result
The Zafarnamah sent by Guru Gobind Singh from Dina seems to have touched the heart of Emperor Aurungzeb. He forthwith invited him for a meeting. According to history, the Emperor had a letter written to the deputy governor of Lahore, Munim Khan, to conciliate the Guru and make the required arrangements for his journey to the Deccan.
Guru Gobind Singh had, however, already left for the South on 30 October 1706. He was in the neighbourhood of Baghor, in Rajasthan, when the news arrived of the death of the Emperor at Ahmadnagar on 20 February 1707. The Guru there upon decided to return to the Punjab, via Shahjahanabad (Delhi). That was the time when the sons of the deceased Emperor were preparing to contest succession.
Guru helps Bahadur Shah
Guru Gobind Singh despatched for the help of the eldest claimant, the liberal Prince Muazzam, a token contingent of Sikhs which took part in the battle of Jajau (8 June 1707), decisively won by the Prince who ascended the throne with the title of Bahadur Shah. The new Emperor invited Guru Gobind Singh for a meeting which took place at Agra on 23 July 1707.
While Bahadur Shah proceeded further South, Guru Gobind Singh decided to stay awhile at Nanded. Here he met a Bairagi (a person who withdraws from the world), Madho Das, whom he blessed into a Sikh with the vows of the Khalsa, renaming him Gurbakhsh Singh (popular name Banda Singh). Guru Gobind Singh gave Banda Singh five arrows from his own quiver and an escort, including five of his chosen Sikhs, and directed him to go to the Punjab and carry on the campaign against the tyranny of the provincial overlords.
Plan to assassinate the Guru
Nawab Wazir Khan of Sirhind had felt concerned at the Emperor's conciliatory treatment of Guru Gobind Singh. Their marching together to the South made him jealous, and he ordered two of his trusted men with murdering the Guru before his increasing friendship with the Emperor resulted in any harm to him.
These two pathans Jamshed Khan and Wasil Beg are the names given in the Guru Kian Sakhian pursued the Guru secretly and overtook him at Nanded, where, according to Sri Gur Sobha by Senapati, a contemporary writer, one of them stabbed the Guru in the left side below the heart as he lay one evening in his chamber resting after the Rahras prayer. Before he could deal another blow, Guru Gobind Singh struck him down with his sabre, while his fleeing companion fell under the swords of Sikhs who had rushed in on hearing the noise. As the news reached Bahadar Shah's camp, he sent expert surgeons, to attend to the Guru.
Guru recovers but mission is at an end
The Guru's wound was immediately stitched by the Emperor's European surgeon and within a few days it appeared to have been healed. The injury had been contained and the Guru had made a good recovery. However, several days later, when the Guru tugged at a hard strong bow, the imperfectly healed wound burst open and caused profuse bleeding. It was again treated but it was now clear to the Guru that the call of the Father from Heaven had come. He prepared the sangat for his departure; instruction were given to the immediate main Sewadars and finally he gave his last and enduring message of his mission to the assembly of the Khalsa.
He then opened the Granth Sahib, placed five paise and solemnly bowed to it as his successor, GURU GRANTH SAHIB. Saying 'Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh', he walked around the Guru Granth Sahib and proclaimed, "O beloved Khalsa, let him who desireth to behold me, behold the Guru Granth. Obey the Granth Sahib. It is the visible body of the Gurus. And let him who desires to meet me, search me in the hymns."
He then sang his self-composed hymn: "Agya bhai Akal ki tabhi chalayo Panth Sabh Sikhan ko hukam hai Guru manyo 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 its opponents will be no more, Those separated will unite and all the devotees shall be saved."
Guru Granth Sahib becomes Guru
He, in grateful acknowledgement of the spiritual benefactions of the founder of his religion, uttered a Persian distich, the translation of which is:
"Gobind Singh obtained from Guru Nanak Hospitality, the sword, victory, and prompt assistance."
(These lines were impressed on a seal made by the Sikhs after the Guru left for his heavenly abode, and were adopted by Ranjit Singh for his coinage after he had assumed the title of Maharaja in the Punjab)
The Guru then left for his heavenly abode. 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.
Wherefore for such a Guru who had departed bodily to Heaven, there ought to be no mourning. The Word as contained in the Guru Granth Sahib was henceforth, and for all time to come to be the Guru for the Sikhs