Guru Har Govind (1595 – 1644)
Birth and Childhood:
Har Govind (Hargobind), the only son of Mata Ganga and Guru Arjun Dev Sodhi was born and grew up in Amritsar. His mother had difficulty conceiving and appealed to Baba Buddha to bless her and the guru with a son. As an infant and toddler, several attempts were made on his life by his paternal uncle Prithi Chand (Prithi Mal) who hoping to become fifth Guru had tried to thwart his younger brother Arjun Dev, and continued by plotting plots and scheming against his child Har Govind with the goal to eventually succeed as sixth guru.
Sixth Guru and Family:
Har Govind (Hargobind), the only son of Mata Ganga and Guru Arjun Dev Sodhi was born and grew up in Amritsar. Guru Arjun refused an offer of marriage for the boy to the daughter of Chandu, a Mughal noble. At about age 10, Har Govind wed Damodari, the daughter of Narain Das, and was betrothed to Nankee, daughter of Hari Chand, both Sikhs. In the boy’s 11th year his father became the first Sikh martyr following an act of revenge set in motion by Chandu. Har Govind succeeded his father as sixth guru. Guru Har Govind wed his betrothed Nankee, and later wed Maha Devi, the daughter of Dwara of Mandali. He fathered five sons and a daughter.
Spiritual and Secuar Authority:
Guru Har Govind mustered an army, trained his Sikhs in military maneuvers, and provided them with horses and weapons. He wore two swords known to Sikhs as Piri – spiritual, and Miri – secular, the two aspects of the Guru’s authority. The swords are components of the Khanda, or Sikh coat of arms. In defiance of Mughal authority, Har Govind adorned his turban with a Kalgi, a symbol of royalty. To assert his position and establish the Sikhs as a sovereign nation, Har Govind had a throne erected in front of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. This seat of authority is known today as the Akal Takhat.
At the behest of Chandu, Guru Har Govind was imprisoned in Fort Gwalior. After about two years, he negotiated his release and that of other captive princes, who were political prisoners detained in the fort during his imprisonment. He arranged to be able to walk out with whoever could grasp the hem of his robe.
Over his lifespan, Guru Har Govind conducted parchar preaching tours to proclaim and propagate the Sikh faith throughout eastern and northern Punjab:
- Darauli nearby Moga, modern day District of Faridkot.
- Malva and Lahira nearby Mehraj, modern day District of Bathinda.
- Nanakmata and Srinagar of Garhval.
- Barmula, Uri, Punchh and Kashmir.
While on his various mission tours, at times his enemies engaged the guru in skirmishes and battles.
The infuriated Chandu vengefully continued to cause trouble for Guru Har Govind and his Sikhs subjecting them to years of harassment. The Guru engaged in a number of battles with the Mughals. Eventually he gained the confidence of the Mogul emperor, Jahangir, who delivered Chandu and his land to the Sikhs. In retaliation, Chandu’s son, Karam Chand instigated an attack followed by several other battles. Guru Har Govind founded Kiratpur and established the religious center Sri Hargobindpur where also he built a mosque on the forfeit lands. Eventually the Guru vanquished his enemies and lived out his remaining years in peace. He named his grandson, Har Rai, to succeed him as seventh guru.
Important Dates and Corresponding Events:
Spouses and Progeny – Dating approximations influenced by conversion from Vikram Samvat (SV) to Julian Common Era (C.E.) and Gregorian calendars (A.D.) and obscure sequencing of various historians.
Damodari: About January of 1605 A.D. or 1661 SV, month of Magh, day seven, during the waxing of the moon – Har Govind weds Damodari, the daughter of Narain Das of Dalla who is the grandson of Pero. Damodari’s sister Ramo is the wife of Sain Das.
- Guru Ditta – Daroli Bhai, Firozpur, November 15, 1613 – 1638 A.D
- Bibi Viro – Amritsar, born July 11, 1615 A.D.
Nankee: About January of 1605 A.D. or 1661 SV, month of Magh, day seven, during the waxing of the moon – Har Govind is betrothed to Nankee (1598 – 1678 A.D.), the daughter of Hari Chand of Bakala. About 1610 – 1613 A.D. Amritsar – Hari Chand requests Guru Har Govind to honor his betrothal and wed Nankee on Vaisakh, the New Year, (mid April).
- Ani Rai – 1675 SV, month of Maghar, day 16.
- Atal Rai – October 23, 1619 – July 23, 1727 or September 13, 1628 A.D. or 1677SV, month of Kartak.
- Teg Bahadar – Amritsar, (April 18 – November 24, 1675 A.D. Nanakshahi) April 1, 1621 A.D. or 1679 SV, month of Vaisakh, day five, during the waning moon.
Maha Devi (Marwahi): About 1613 – 1618 A.D. Mandali (aka Jandiyali, Shekhupura) – Guru Har Govind weds Maha Devi (aka Marwahi) after accepting wedding gifts from her father, Dwara (aka Daya Ram Marwah) and his wife Bhagan.
- Suraj Mal – Amritsar, June 9 1617 – 1645 A.D. or born 1674 SV, month of Har.
Chronology of Life – Dates correspond to the Nanakshahi calendar.
- Birth: Amritsar – July 5, 1595. Born to mother, Ganga, and father, Guru Arjun Dev Sodhi.
- Inauguration as Guru: Amritsar – June 11 1606, Guru Arjun appoints his only son, Har Govind (Hargobind) age 11, successor.
- Akal Takhat: July 2, 1606. Guru Har Govind erects the Akal Takhat, temporal seat of authority to face the Golden Temple Harmandir, religious seat of authority, in Amritsar, India.
- Imprisoned: Fort Gwalior – 1617 – 1618, (*1609-1612) Released during Diwali festival.
- Battles (Dates in accordance with Encyclopaedia of Sikhism by Harbans Singh):
- Ruhela – September 28, 1621, and October 4, 1621.
- Amritsar – April 14, 1634.
- Lahira near Mehraj, modern day Bathinda – December 16, 1634.
- Kartar Pur – April 26 – 27, 1635.
- Founding of Kirat Pur: May 1, 1626.
- Death: Kirat Pur – March 19, 1644. Guru Har Govind appoints Har Rai his successor.
(*According to History of Sikh Gurus Retold by historian Surjit Singh Gandhi)