Guru Har Gobind

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Guru Har Gobind

(1595 to 1644)
Guru hargobind.jpg
Full Name : Har Gobind
Personal Details
Birth : Saturday, 5 July 1595, Guru ki Vadali in Dist. Amritsar
Guruship : Wednesday, 11 June 1606
Joti Jot : Tuesday, 19 March 1644
Parents : Guru Arjan Dev & Mata Ganga
Brother/Sisters : -N.A-
Spouse : Mata Nanaki, Mata Mahadevi,Mata Damodari
Children : Sons - Baba Gurditta, Baba Suraj Mal, Baba Ani Rai, Baba Atal Rai & Guru Tegh Bahadur
Daughter - Bibi Biro
Other Details
Bani in GGS: {{{Bani in GGS}}}
Other Info: Built the Akal Takhat, First Guru to engage in warfare, Main battles fought: Amritsar, Sri Hargobindpur, Guru Sar Marajh and Kartarpur

Guru Har Gobind ji (Gurmukhi: ਗੁਰੂ ਹਰਿ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ) (Saturday, 5 July 1595 - Tuesday, 19 March 1644) was the sixth of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism. He became Guru on 11 June 1606 following in the footsteps of his father Guru Arjan Dev ji. While the ceremonial rites were being performed by Baba Buddha ji, Guru Hargobind ji asked Baba Buddha to adorn him with a sword rather than the Seli of Nanak which had been used previously by the earlier Gurus.

Guru Hargobind then put on not one but two swords; one on his left side and the other on his right. He declared that the two swords signified "Miri" and "Piri", "Temporal Power" and "Spiritual Power", one which would smite the oppressor and the other which would protect the innocent. He told his followers: "In the guru's house spiritual and mundane powers shall be combined". "My rosary shall be the sword-belt and on my turban I shall wear a Kalgi" (an ornament for the turban, which was then worn by Mughal and Hindu rulers).

Guru Hargobind carried the same light of Guru Nanak; but he added to it the lustre of the sword. Guru Hargobind sahib ji was also the inventor of the Taus. Guru ji watched a peacock singing one day, and wished to make a instrument to mimic the same sound as the peacock, thus came the Taus.

Arming and martial training

During his captivity, when the Saintly and peaceful Guru Arjan was under the severest torture, he concentrated and relied on God for guidance to save the nascent Sikh Sangat from annihilation. The only solution revealed to him was to guard it through the use of arms. He pondered over the problem again and again and finally concluded that the militarisation of Sikhism had become a necessity. Hence he sent a Sikh disciple to his young son, the eleven year old Har Gobind, nominating him as the Guru of the Sikhs (his devotees), giving him Guru Arjan's last injunction; "Let him sit fully armed on his throne and maintain an army to the best of his capacity".

Guru Hargobind ji excelled in matters of state and his Darbar (Court) was noted for its splendour. The arming and training of some of his devoted followers began, the Guru came to possess seven hundred horses and his Risaldari (Army) grew to three hundred horsemen and sixty gunners in the due course of time. Additionaly five hundred men from the 'Majha area of Punjab' were recruited as infantry. Guru Har Gobind built a fortess at Amritsar called 'Lohgarh' (Fortess of steel). He had his own flag and war-drum which was beaten twice a day. Those who had worked to have Guru Arjan destroyed now turned their attention and efforts to convincing Jahangir that the fort, the Akal Takhat and the growing Risaldari were all intended to allow Guru Hargobind ji to one day take revenge for his father's unjust death.

Akal Takht

Guru Hargobind constructed the Akal Takht (God's throne) in front of Harmandir in 1606. There he sat on a raised platform of twelve feet, attired in princely clothes. The Harmandir Sahib was the seat of his spiritual authority and the Akal Takht was the seat of his temporal (worldly) authority. This marked the beginning of Sikh militarisation. To the symbols of sainthood were added marks of sovereignty, including the umbrella and the Kalgi. Guru Har Gobind administered justice like a King and awarded honours and meted punishment, as well. The Akal Takht was the first Takht in the history of the Sikhs. According to Cunningham: "The genial disposition of the martial apostle led him to rejoice in the companionship of a camp, in the dangers of war, and in the excitements of the chase".

State within a state

The Sikhs had formed a separate and independent identity that had nothing to do with the government agencies of the day. Thus the Sikh entity came to occupy a sort of separate state within the Mughal Empire.

Congregational prayers

Guru Har Gobind ji established Congregational prayers adding to religious fervour among his Sikhs, but also strengthened their unity and brotherhood. Mohsin Fani, author of 'Dabistan', states that when a Sikh wished for a favour or gift from God, he would come to assembly of Sikhs and request them to pray for him; even the Guru asked the Sikh congregation to pray for him.

People hostile towards young Guru

There were many people who were hostile to Guru Hargobind when he assumed leadership of Sikhs. His uncle, Priti Mal, who was brother of Guru Arjan continued his intrigues against Guru Har Gobind. Prithi Mal had un-successfuly tried to kill Guru Har Gobind, when the guru was a child, by unleasing a deadly snake upon him. Prithi Mal continued to complain against him to Emperor Jehangir.

Chandu Shah who had been foremost in complaining to Jehangir against Guru Arjan Dev ji transferred his hostilities toward Guru Har Gobind.

Shaikh Ahmad Sirhandi too was hostile towards the Sikh Gurus and would have incited the Emperor.

Jehangir was fearful that Guru Har Gobind might seek revenge for his father's arrest, torture and death.

Religious activities

Guru Har Gobind did not neglect the work of preaching and spreading the Sikh religion. He sent his Sikhs to far of places such as 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 bussiness in Bihar. A lot of local people adopted Sikhism under their influence. In his private life Guru Har Gobind never abandoned the true character of Guru Nanak, whose successor he was and whose teachings he had to spread in this world.

A summary

The following is a summary of the main highlights of Guru Ji's life:

  1. Introduced martial arts and weapons training and created a standing Military force for the defence of the masses following his father's martyrdom.
  2. Carried 2 swords of Miri and Piri.
  3. Built the Akal Takhat in 1608 - which is now one of five Takhats (Seats of Power) of the Sikh Religion.
  4. Founded the city of Kiratpur in District Rupnagar, (old name Ropar), Punjab
  5. Was held in the fort of Gwalior for one year, obstensibly to pray for the recovery of the ill Emperor Jahangir (the Guru had willingly gone to the fort). When Jahangir ordered his release, he refused to leave unless 52 imprisoned Hindu Rajas were freed as well. Cleverly he earned their freedom by turning the Emperor's own words against him. To mark this occasion the Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chorr Divas to celebrate his release and Deepa wali to celebrate his return to Amritsar.
  6. First Guru to engage in warfare, fighting and winning 4 defensive battles with Mughal forces.

Detailed Account

The sixth guru, Guru Hargobind Ji occupies a special place in Sikh history because, after Guru Arjan Dev Ji's martyrdom, he gave a new direction to the course of events. Along with his 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, infact Guru Nanak's first words pointed to the needlessness of Hinduism and the Muslim religions being at odds; Their is no Musalman, there is no Hindu. Guru Nanak and the four Gurus that followed expounded peace, equality and freedom for all. It was only after the death of Guru Arjan that it became all to clear that a defensive military stance might be required to bring this about. Injustice, oppression and exploitation were the order of the day. The scourges of caste divisions, religious discrimination and superstitions was making life into a living hell for the ordinary person. The oppressors and the oppressed were both Muslims and Hindus. Guru Hargobind Singh Ji used both the powers of worship and of the sword to fight this oppression.

Several efforts were made on the life of young Hargobind even in his infancy. A snake-charmer was bribed to let loose a poisonous snake, but the young Guru to be overpowered the snake.

Guru Ji was born on 19 June 1595 to Mata Ganga Ji and Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji in village Wadali of district Amritsar. He was merely eleven years old when Guru Arjan Dev Ji was martyred after being jailed, fined and tortured while under arrest by Jehangir's orders.

At the time of his installation as the guru, Guru Ji asked Baba Budha Ji to discard the earlier tradition of donning him with the Seli of Guru Nanak, preferring instead to be adorned with a sword, but contrary to the prevalent Hindu and Muslim traditions, where the new ruler was donned with a sword (as a symbol of his role as the ruler of the state) Guru ji asked to be donned with two swords, explaining that one signified his temporal powers and the other his spiritual power. His purpose was not to mix religion with politics, but to take up the cause of the exploited and defend them against the oppression of the rulers. Thus, Guru Har Gobind clearly separated religion and politics. Religion had always been intermixed with politics in India and as a result the people were subjected to persecution and injustice. Since the tolerant days of Akbar, who had made an effort to fuse the religions of Indias, his son Jahangir had listed to the long neglected Muslim Ulema demanded that Islam control the politics of the Mughal Empire. The religion of the ruling classes oppressed the people, using the shield of religion. That is why the politicians have always entangled religion with politics.

According to the chronicles, Guru Arjan Dev Ji and and Mata Ganga Ji did not have a child for a long time, until Mata Ganga Ji sought the blessings of Baba Budha Ji for an offspring. Budha Ji told her that she would give birth - to an extraordinarily chivalrous son. Shortly after that Guru Hargobind Ji was born.

After his installation as the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind Ji issued many edicts. He set up an army, acquired arms and horses, hoisted the Sikh flag and ordered the building of n exceptionally large and thundering drum called the nagara, which was used to gather the sangat for his announcements. In 1663 he assigned the task of building the Akal Takhat to two of his most trusted devotees, in front of Harimandir Sahib. On this platform, seated with all the regal adornments of a Mugal or Hindu ruler, he would listen to the woes and complaints of the people and issue edicts.

Historical accounts

According to historians, Guru Hargobind Ji was married thrice, but there are those who argue that this account is confusing and probably not accurate, as it is also said that the name of his bride before marriage changed after marriage in the husband's house (as was the custom at the time). Historians say that Guruji's first wife was Mata Damodari, the daughter of Narain Das of village Talla. She gave birth to Baba Gurditta, Bibi Veero and Ani Rai Ji. The second time he was married to Bibi Nanki daughter of Hari Chand of village Bakala. She was the mother of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. His third marriage was to Bibi Mahadevi daughter of Daya Ram of village Jandiyali, district Shekhupura, now part of (Pakistan). She gave birth to Suraj Mall Ji and Baba Atal Ji.

The hand script of Guru Hargobind in a pothi kept at the Amritsar Museum

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 traveled to Delhi to voice their complains against Guru Har Gobind to the power brokers in the Mughalcourt and to Jahangir himself. They told Jehangir that Guru Hargobind Sahib was gathering an army and amassing arms, with the intension of avenging his father's death. They advised him to suppress Guru Ji and the growing Sikh community immediately, but rather than sending an army to attack or arrest him, Jehangir summoned the Guru to Delhi to assess his character and aims, but rather than the hoped for confrontation and arrest of the Guru (that his ill-wishers had hoped for) a surprising thing happened when both the Emperor and his powerful wife were taken by Guru Ji's charm, grace and Godliness. A friendship and mutual respect soon followed, Guru Har Gobind, would even hunt with the Emperor on his grand Shikars (hunting was a life long passion of the Guru). On one remarkable occasion the young Guru saved the life of the Emperor, who he could have easily hated for the death of his father, by jumping beteen a Lion and the Mughal ruler.

Seeing their scheme to harm Guru ji going awry and growing fearful of his developing friendship with the Emperor, Chandu Shah used an illness of Jahangir to have the court astrologers predict that only a Holy man praying at a shrine at Gwalior Fort, for a lengthy time, would lead to the Emperor's recovery. Moved equally by his personal jealousy as well as by superstition and the predictions of his court astrologers, Jehangir ordered the Guru to be imprisoned at the Gwalior fort (other versions have the Guru volunteering to undertake the task).

Though his Sikhs were worried that he would meet the same fate as his father the Guru himself was never worried over his release. The famous muslim pir Hazrat Mian Mir was amoung 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 Guru Ji refused to leave the fort unless the fifty-two Princes who had long languished under confinement, at the fort, were released as well.

Jehangir cleverly agreed that the Guru could take as many of the princes to freedom, as could hold onto the Guru's clothing. Guru ji had his darzi (tailor) prepair a coat with 52 ribands or tails 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 Guru Ji is referred to as the Liberator (Bandi-chor) in history. Bandi Chhorh Divas is celebrated in honor of the day.

When Guru Ji reached Amritsar his Sikhs lit lamps to welcome him. His arrival also consided with the tradional Indian festival of Diwali. Since then the festival of Diwali (lighting of lamps) is celebrated as Bandi-Chor diwas by Sikhs.

From Amritsar he went to Lahore where Kaulan, adopted Hindu daughter of Kazi Rustam Khan and a follower of Saint Mian Mir came into contact with the Guru due to her dire plight. Guruji asked her to move to Amritsar, where she led a pious life. On Guruji's command, Baba Budha Ji had Gurdwara Kaulsar built in Kaulan's memory in 1681 of Bikrami calendar. On the invitation of Sikhs of central India he also travelled there where he had Gurdwara Nanak Matta completed. Later he visited Kashmir and secured many followers there. From Jammu and Kashmir, he returned to Punjab via Gujrat.

Four questions of Jahangir

In reply to the four questions of Jehangir, disciple of Shah Tola, Guru Ji said:

1.The woman is the honour of a man

2. A son is the mark of a man

3. Money is transient

4. A sage is neither a Hindu nor a Muslim

Battles By Guru Har Gobind

Battle of Amritsar || Battle Of Hargobindpur || Battle Of Gurusar || Battle Of Kartarpur || Battle Of Kiratpur

Guru Hargobind Sahib fought four battles in his lifetime. Emperor Jehangir died in 1684 Bikrami and his son Shah Jahan ascended the throne. The ill-wishers renewed their conspiracies and incited him too against Guru Ji. Otherwise also Shah Jahan was insecure about the increasing influence and power of Sikhs.

  • Sikhs while hunting in a Royal preserve trapped a falcon belonging to Shah Jahan and a conflict with imperial forces soon ensued. On the 22 day of Jeth month in Bikrami 1685, Sikhs won this battle. After that victory, the wedding of Bibi Veero, which had been interrupted by the battle, was completed.
  • In 1687 a battle was fought near village Ruhela where Moslem army and Turk chieftains were defeated. Guru Ji renamed this village as Hargobindpur.
  • The third battle started when Bidhi Chand retrieved Guru Ji's stolen horses from Lahore fort; this battle too was won.
  • The fourth battle took place near Kartarpur with Sa'id Khan in Bikrami 1691. Lahore province was on Sa'id Khan's side. Sa'id Khan and his fellow chieftains were killed and the Guru's army won the battle.

In 1701 Bikrami Guru Ji called his followers and passed on the mantle to his grandson Sri Har Rai Ji in their presence. The very same evening he passed away. It was the third day of March in year 1644.

See also

External Links



Preceded by:
Guru Arjan Dev
(Fifth Sikh Guru)
Guru Hargobind Followed by:
Guru Har Rai
(Seventh Sikh Guru)

These are the Ten Gurus of Sikhism

Guru Nanak | Guru Angad Dev | Guru Amar Das | Guru Ram Das | Guru Arjan | Guru Hargobind | Guru Har Rai | Guru Har Krishan | Guru Teg Bahadur | Guru Gobind Singh

Guru HarGobind Singh.jpg