Guru Gobind Singh (1666 – 1708)
Birth and Early Life in Patna:
Guru Gobind Singh, the only child of Guru Teg Bahadur and his wife Gujri, was named Gobind Rai at birth. Guru Teg Bahadur settled his family in Patna under the protection of the local Raja while he toured Assam and Bengal, and was not present at the birth. *A Muslim mystic Saiyid Bhikhan Shah journeyed 800 miles and fasted in a prophetic quest to have darshan, and get a glimpse, of the infant prince.
The Raja’s wife, Maini, had no child of her own and became very fond of Gobind Rai. Every day she prepared chole and poori (spicy chickpea curry and crispy flatbread) for him and his playmates. She later built a gurdwara in her home where she also fed the worshipers chole and poori. This custom still exists today and the gurdwara is now known as Maini Sangat.
Education and Travel in Lakhnaur:
Leaving his family in the care of Kirpal Chand. Guru Teg Bahadar resumed his duties went to Chak Nanki (Anandpur) ahead of his family. In 1670 The Guru sent word requesting Gobind Rai to be brought to Chak Nanki. Gobind Rai was tutored along the way astounding all who taught him with his brilliance. His early education included martial exercise and training.
In 1671, Prince Gobind Rai journeyed with his family through Danapur where the elderly Mai Ji, fed him khichri (khichdi) from herHandiclay kettle. Mai Ji, saved from her own meager stores until she stockpiled enough to feed the guru’s entire family, and all of his entourage. When Mai ji, wished for Gobind Rai to remain with her, he advised her to feed the hungry in his name. Gurdwara Handi Sahib, of Danapur, Bihar, has maintained the khichri tradition ever since.
Prince Gobind Rai reached Lakhnaur on September 13, 1671 C.E. where his formal education of Gurmukhi and Persian began and the Muslim saint **Arif-ud-Din came to meet him. The Pir proclaimed afterwards to his Muhammadan disciples that darshan of the young prince had revealed to him the mysteries of the universe, unveiling the secrets of infinity.
Childhood in Anandpur:
When Gobind Rai was about six years old when, at last, he and his mother joined his father in Anandpur where his education continued. When Gobind Rai was about nine years old, a delegation of Hindu Pundits appealed to Guru Teg Badadar for help resisting in forced conversion to Islam. Gobind Rai entered the council and asked what the meeting was about. His father explained, and the boy asked how a solution could be found. His father told him it would require the sacrifice of a great man. Gobind Rai told his father, that as guru, he was the greatest of men.
Inauguration and Father’s Martyrdom:
Guru Teg Bahadur made arrangements to leave Anandpur in order intervene on behalf of Hindus who were being forcibly converted to Islam at sword point. Guru Teg Bahadar appointed his nine year old son Gobind Rai to be his successor and tenth guru of the Sikhs. Mughal officers acting under the orders of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb arrested and imprisoned the Guru and his companions. The Mughals employed all manner of atrocities and torture in an unsuccessful effort to coerce Guru Teg Bahadar and his companions to convert to Islam. Guru Teg Bahadar and his companions remained true to their faith until their final breath.
Family and Supporters:
Loyal family members surrounded young Guru Gobind Rai. His mother Gujari, and her brother Kirpal Chand watched after him and advised him. Also present were Daya Ram, an early childhood companion of Guru Gobind Rai, and Nand Chand, a trustworthy treasurer (massand). His principal companions who acted as bodyguards were his relations:
- Five sons of Bibi Veero, the late Guru Teg Bahadar’s sister:
- Sango Shah
- Jit Mal
- Gopal Chand
- Ganga Ram
- Mahri Chand
- Two grandsons of Suraj Mal, the late Guru Teg Bahadar’s brother:
- Gulab Rai
- Sham Das
Other relatives, loyal Sikhs, bards and minstrels completed his court.
Marriage and Progeney:
At age 11, Guru Gobind Rai wed *Jito, daughter of Bhikhia from Lahore who with her family came to Anandpur for the marriage. Later his family pressed him to accept *Sundari, daughter of a new Sikh convert, as his wife. He fathered four sons:
- Ajit Singh
- *Zorawar Singh
- *Jujhar Singh
- Fateh Singh
After he founded the Khalsa, the parents of *Sahib Devi of Rohtas publicly promised their daughter to Guru Gobind Singh. He accepted the proposal to protect her honor on condition that theirs be a spiritual union. When she requested that he give her a child, the Guru named her Mata Sahib Kaur, mother of the Khalsa.
Rebirth and Innitiation:
Guru Gobind Rai created the new spiritual order of warriors known as the Khalsa. He assembled thousands of people for the Vaisakhi New Year festival in Anandpur and called for those willing to give their heads. Five volunteers became known as the Panj Pyara, or five beloved:
- Bhai Daya Singh
- Bhai Mukham Singh
- Bhai Sahib Singh
- Bahi Dharam Singh
- Bhai Himmat Singh
He initiated them as Khalsa giving them Amrit or immortal nectar to drink, and then submitted himself for initiation taking the name of Singh. The Khalsa were required to keep five articles of faith, and adhere to a strict code of conduct while avoiding four taboos.
Gobind Rai engaged in martial training from early childhood. He had a child-sized arsenal of weapons. Games with his playmates took the form of mock battles. After his father’s martyrdom, Guru Gobind Rai raised a guard, built a fortress, and practiced military maneuvers. A number of minor conflicts arose with local adversaries over petty jealousies of neighboring kingdoms. After founding the Khalsa order, Guru Gobind Singh fought a series of major battles attempting to protect his Sikhs and Anandpur from assault by Mughal forces. Vastly outnumbered, courageous Khalsa warriors defended their holdings to the last breath.
Guru Gobind Singh wrote prolifically while at Fort Paonta in Sirmur. He completed theGuru Granth, adding the compositions of his father Guru Teg Bahadar, but including only one of his own. His remaining compositions are compiled in the Dasam Granth. Portions of his most important works appear in the five prayers, or Panj Bania, of the Sikhs dailyprayer book, Nitnem and include:
- Jaap Sahib,
- Tev Prasad Swayee
- Akal Ustat
Other important works are:
- Shabad Hazaray, which some Sikhs include with their nitnem.
- Bichitra Natak, considered by many to be his autobiography.
- Chandi di Var, a rousing description of battle.
More Hukams and Hymns of Tenth Guru:
- Khalsa Mahima In Praise of Khalsa
- Code of Conduct Letter To Sikh Sangat of Kabul (1699)
- Letters From Guru Gobind Singh To Aurangzeb Zafar Nama (1705)
- Lakhi Jungle (1705)
- 52 Hukams (1708)
Death and Succession:
Wazir Khan, an official of Sirhind who had ordered the death of Guru Gobind Singh’s youngest two sons, later sent assassins to kill the guru. They found the guru in Nanded and attacked him after his evening prayer, stabbing him beneath his heart. Guru Gobind Singh fought and killed his assailant. Sikhs rushed to his aid and killed the second man. The wound began to heal after but reopened several days later when the guru attempted to use his bow. Realizing his end had come, Guru Gobind Singh assembled his Sikhs and instructed them that the scripture of the Granth should forever be their irreplaceable guru and guide.