On his 350th birth anniversary, we bring to you 10 amazing facts about Guru Gobind Singh:
January 16 is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, one of the ten preachers of the Sikh religion. Guruji was born as Gobind Rai on December 22 in 1666, according to the Julian Calendar. However, according to the lunar calendar, the day of January 16 is considered as the birth date of Guru Gobind Singh and the day is celebrated accordingly.
Guru Gobind Singh was The Tenth Nanak or the last of the Sikh preachers to live. His teachings have inspired the Sikh community and others for generations. The Sikh community celebrates this day offering prayers at gurudwaras and remembering Guruji’s words of wisdom.
1. A LEADER AMONG US
Gobind Rai, who would later be named as Guru Gobind Singh, was born to the ninth Guru of Sikhism, Guru Teg Bahadur and Mata Gujri at Patna Sahib or Takht Sri Patna Sahib (now in Patna).
2. SON OF A MARTYR
He was only nine when he became the Tenth Sikh Guru. He ascended after his father Guru Teg Bahadur accepted martyrdom in the hands of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb to protect the Kashmiri Hindus.
3. SCHOLAR AND WARRIOR
As a child, Guru Gobindh Singh learned many languages including Sanskrit, Urdu, Hindi, Braj, Gurmukhi and Persian. He also learned martial arts to become adept in combat.
4. TO THE HILLS
Guru Gobindji’s hometown was the city of Anandpur Sahib in the present Rupnagar disrict in Punjab. He left the town due to a scuffle with Bhim Chand and proceeded to Nahan, a place in the hills of Himachal Pradesh, following an invitation of Mat Prakash, the king of Sirmur.
5. PREACHING IN HILLS
From Nahan, Guru Gobind Singh proceeded to Paonta, a town beside the river Yamuna in South Sirmur, Himachal Pradesh. There, he founded the Paonta Sahib Gurudwara and preached about the Sikh principles. Paonta Sahib remains an important pilgrim site for Sikhs. Guru Gobindji also wrote texts and had a substantial number of followers within three years, the time he spent there.
6. A FIGHTER
In September 1688, at the age of 19, Guru Gobind Singh fought the Battle of Bhangani against an allied force of Bhim Chand, Garwal king Fateh Khan and other local kings of the Sivalik Hills. The battle lasted for a day and thousands of lives were lost. The Guru came out victorious. A description of the battle can be found in Bichitra Natak or Bachittar Natak, a part of the Dasham Granth, which is a religious text attributed to Guru Gobind Singh.
7. RETURN TO HOME
In November 1688, Guru Gobind returned to Anandpur, which became known as Chak Nanaki, agreeing upon an invitation from the dowager queen of Bilaspur.
8. FOUNDER OF KHALSA
On March 30 in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh gathered his followers to his home in Anadpur. He asked for a volunteer to sacrifice his head for his brothers. Daya Ram offered his head and the Guru took him inside a tent and later emerged with a bloody sword. He again asked for a volunteer and repeated the feat. This went on for three more times. At last, Guru emerged from the tent with the five volunteers and five headless goats were found in the tent. These five Sikh volunteers were named as Panj Pyaare or ‘five beloved ones’ by the Guru.
The five volunteers were Daya Ram, also known as Bhai Daya Singh; Dharam Das, also known as Bhai Dharam Singh; Himmat Rai, also known as Bhai Himmat Singh; Mohkam Chand, also known as Bhai Mohkam Singh; and Sahib Chand, also known as Bhai Sahib Singh. They were the first Sikhs.
9. KHALSA, THE WAY OF LIFE
At the gathering of 1699, Guru Gobind SIngh founded the Khalsa Vani – “Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki fateh”. He named all his followers with the title Singh, meaning lion. He also founded the principles of Khalsa or the Five ‘K’s.
The five ‘K’s are the five principles of life that are to be followed by a Khalsa. These include Kesh or hair, which means to leave the hair uncut to show acceptance to the form God intended humans to be; Kangha or wooden comb, as a symbol of cleanliness; Kara or iron bracelet, as a mark to remind a Khalsa of self-restraint; Kacchera or knee-length shorts, to be worn by a Khalsa for being always ready to go into battle on horseback; and Kirpan, a sword to defend oneself and the poor, the weak and the oppressed from all religions, castes and creeds.
10. FIGHTING THE MUGHALS
After repeated conflicts with Garwali and Mughal leaders, Guru Gobind Singh wrote a letter to Aurangzeb in Persian, which was later famously named as Zafarnama or the Epistle of Victory, reminding him of the misdeed the Mughals had done to the Sikhs. He fought against the Mughals later in battle of Muktsar in 1705.
11. PASSING THE LEGACY
After Aurangzeb’s death, Guru Gobind Singh no longer remained an adversary to the Mughals. The next Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah was friendly with Guru Gobind at first. He even named the Guru as Hind Ka Pir or the Saint of India. But later on, Bahadur Shah was influenced by Wazir Khan, Nawab of Sirhind, to attack the Sikh community. Wazir Khan sent two Pathan assassins Jamshed Khan and Wasil Beg to attack the Guru during his sleep at Nanded, the Guru’s resting place. They stabbed Guru Gobind Singh in his sleep. The Guru killed Jamshed, the attacker, with his sword, while other Sikh brothers killed Beg.
Guru Gobind Singh named Guru Granth Sahib, the religious text of the Khalsas and the Sikhs, as the next Guru of the two communities. He left his bodily form and on October 7 in 1708.