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- Anand Karaj: Sikh marriage ceremony
- Laavan 363 |
- Historical revisionism, reconstruction and disputes
- Samarth Ramdas and Guru Hargobind 367 |
- Relations with Jahangir and wars with Mughals
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was married to Mata Mansa Devi and they had four children - two sons named Bhai
Mohan and Bhai Mohri and two daughters named Bibi Dani and younger daughter
named Bibi Bhani. Bibi Bhani later married Bhai Jetha who became the fourth Sikh
Guru, Guru Ram Das. Before becoming a Sikh, Amardas was a very religious
Vaishanavite Hindu. One day, he heard some hymns of Guru Nanak Dev being sung by
Bibi Amro, daughter of Guru Angad Dev. She was married to Amardas's brother
nephew Bhai Jasso. Amardas was impressed and moved by the hymns and decided to
go and see Guru Angad Dev at Khadur Sahib. Amardas was 62 years old at that time.
Upon meeting Guru Angad Dev, Amardas was touched by the Guru's message
and became a devout Sikh. He started living there and became involved in service to
the Guru and the community. He adopted Guru as his spiritual guide. He was very
dedicated in the service to the Guru and had completely extinguished pride and was
totally lost in this commitment that he was considered an old man who had no interest in
life, he was dubbed Amru, and generally forsaken.
As a result of Amardas's commitment to Sikhi principles, dedicated service and
devotion to the Sikh cause, Guru Angad Dev appointed Guru Amar Das as the third
Guru Nanak in March 1552 at the age of 73. He established his headquarters at the
newly built town of Goindwal, which Guru Angad Dev had established. Guru
strengthened the Langar community kitchen system. Guru Amar Das started the Manji
and Piri system by appointing 94 men as Manji and 52 women as Piris for the spread of
Sikhism. The word Manji (wooden cot) and Piri (very small wooden cot) are taken as the
cot/seat of authority in this context from which the Sikh Manji's (male Sikh preachers)
and Piris (female Sikh preachers) as the holders of seat of religious authority would
teach Sikhism to other men and women respectively. Later, Manji was significantly
enhanced by the 7th Sikh Guru har Rai by establishing additional 360 Manjis. The Guru
had a cordial relationship with Emperor Akbar, who compared to other Muslim rulers
was relatively less intolerant. Guru influenced Akbar to stop the persecution of Hindus
and Sikhs by removing Islamic Jizya toll taxes on non-Muslims for crossing Yamuna
and Ganges rivers. Guru prohibited Sikhs from visiting and paying obeisance to
Muslims religious places.
Das died at the age of 95 on 1 September 1574. Before his death, he called for
Sikh congregation headed by Baba Buddha that was also attended by Guru's two sons
Mohan and Mohri. He appointed his son-in-law Jetha as successor and renamed him
Guru Ram Das.
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As a Guru, one of his main contributions to Sikhism was organizing the structure
of Sikh society. Additionally, he was the author of Laava, the four hymns of the Sikh
Marriage Rites. He was planner and creator of the township of Ramdaspur which
became the Sikh holy city of Amritsar. He founded it in 1574 on land he bought for 700
rupees from the owners of the village of Tung. Earlier Guru Ram Das had begun
building Santokhsar Sarovar, near the village of Sultanwind in 1564 (according to one
source in 1570). It could not be completed before 1588. In 1574, Guru Ram Das built
his residence and moved to the new place. At that time, it was known as Guru Da
Chakk. (Later, it came to be known as Chakk Ram Das). In Amritsar, he designed the
gurdwara Harmandir Sahib, which translates as "The Abode of God" also known as the
There are 688 Hymns by Guru Ram Das which have various teachings for
one of which can be found on page 305 as follows
One who calls himself a Sikh of the True Guru shall get up early morning
and meditate on the Lord's Name. Make effort regularly to cleanse, bathe and dip
in the ambrosial pool. Upon Guru's instructions, chant Har, Har singing which, all
misdeeds, sins and pains shall go away.
Bani of Guru Ram Das Guruf on Sadhu People and Pilgrimage Bath.
Guru's Bani is also part of Nanakshahi calendar and Kirtan Sohila, the daily
prayers of Sikhs.
Anand Karaj: Sikh marriage ceremony
The standard Sikh marriage ceremony known as the Anand Karaj is centered
around a four-stanza hymn composed by Guru Ram Das. During the marriage
ceremony the couple circumscribe the Guru Granth Sahib as each stanza of the Lawan
is read. The first round is the Divine consent for commencing the householders life
through marriage. The second round states that the union of the couple has been
brought about by God. In the third round the couple is described as the most fortunate
as they have sung the praises of the Lord in the company of saints. In the fourth round
the feeling of the couple that they have obtained their hearts' desire and are being
congratulated is described.
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Guru Ram Das composed a beautiful bani called Laavan about the meaning of
marriage to a Sikh couple. Effectively, the Guru defines a Sikh marriage as a spiritual
union in these two lines: "They are not said to be husband and wife who merely sit
together. Rather they alone are called husband and wife, who have one soul in two
Guru Ram Das died on 1 September 1581, in the city of Amritsar, Punjab.
Guru Arjan was the son of Guru Ram Das, the fourth Guru in Sikhism. Arjan had
two elder brothers: Prithi Chand (Prithia) and Mahadev. The eldest brother Prithia
wanted to be the fifth Guru, but Guru Arjan was designated as the fifth Guru, by Guru
Ram Das. Bhai Gurdas, a noted 17th-century Sikh chronicler, knew all three brothers
from childhood. Prithia, stated Bhai Gurdas in his chronicles, attempted several times to
falsely claim and assume the title of being the rightful Sikh Guru while Guru Arjan was
alive, and after Guru Arjan's death, including by using the pseudonym of Nanak in
hymns he composed, but the Sikh tradition has recognised Guru Arjan as the fifth Guru,
and Hargobind as the sixth Guru.
Arjan became the fifth Guru in 1581 CE inheriting the title from his father, and
after his execution by the Mughal officials, his son Hargobind became the sixth Guru in
Continuing the efforts of Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan established Amritsar as a
primary Sikh pilgrimage destination. He wrote a voluminous amount of Sikh scripture
including the popular Sukhmani Sahib.
Compiling the Adi Granth, Guru Arjan gave Sikhs an example of religious and
moral conduct, as well as a rich body of sacred poetry. His starting of collection of
offerings by way of Masand system, in a systematic way, accustomed them to a regular
government. He traded in horses, though not extensively, and encouraged his followers
to follow his example, to be as zealous in trade as they were in their faith. Guru Arjan
became famous among his pious devotees and his biographers dwell on the number of
Saints and Holy men who were edified by his instructions. He was equally heeded by
men in high positions. During his time, the teaching and philosophy of Guru Nanak took
a firm hold on the minds of his followers.
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The economic well-being of the country is closely linked with the monsoon. With
a view to alleviating the sufferings of the peasants, Guru Arjan helped the villagers in
digging six-channel Persian wheel (Chhehrta) wells, which irrigated their fields.
Chheharta is a living monument of his efforts in this direction.
During the period of Guru Arjan, the Sikh Panth steadily extended its influence in
Punjab, notably among the rural population and Jats. The Mughal rulers of Punjab were
alarmed at the growth of the Panth. The Mughal emperor Jahangir wrote in his
autobiography Tuzk-e-Jahangiri (Jahangirnama) that too many people were becoming
persuaded by Guru Arjan's teachings and if Guru Arjan did not become a Muslim the
Sikh Panth had to be extinguished. Jahangir believed that Guru Arjan was a Hindu who
pretended to be a saint, and that he had been thinking of forcing Guru Arjan to convert
to Islam or to execute him, for a long time.
There was a Hindu named Arjan in Gobindwal on the banks of the Beas River.
Pretending to be a spiritual guide, he had won over as devotees many simple minded
Indians and even some ignorant, stupid Muslims by broadcasting his claims to be a
saint. They called him guru. Many fools from all around had recourse to him and
believed in him implicitly. For three or four generations they had been pedaling this
same stuff. For a long time I had been thinking that either this false trade should be
eliminated or that he should be brought into the embrace of Islam. At length, when
Khusraw passed by there, this inconsequential little fellow wished to pay homage to
Khusraw. When Khusraw stopped at his residence, [Arjan] came out and had an
interview with [Khusraw]. Giving him some elementary spiritual precepts picked up here
and there, he made a mark with saffron on his forehead, which is called qashqa in the
idiom of the Hindus and which they consider lucky. When this was reported to me, I
realized how perfectly false he was and ordered him brought to me. I awarded his [Guru
Arjan's] houses and dwellings and those of his children to Murtaza Khan, and I ordered
his possessions and goods confiscated and him executed [siyasat o yasa rasanand].
Emperor Jahangir's Memoirs, Jahangirnama 27b-28a, (Translator: Wheeler M.
In 1606 CE, the Guru was imprisoned in Lahore Fort, where he was tortured and
executed. Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, after the punishment and execution of Guru Arjun by
Shaykh Farid Bukhari (Murtaza Khan) under the orders of Jahagir, as follows,
These days the accursed infidel of Gobindwal was very fortunately killed. It is a
cause of great defeat for the reprobate Hindus. With whatever intention and purpose
they are killed
the humiliation of infidels is for Muslims, life itself. Before this Kafir
(Infidel) was killed, I had seen in a dream that the Emperor of the day had destroyed the
crown of the head of Shirk or infidelity. It is true that this infidel [Guru Arjun] was the
chief of the infidels and a leader of the Kafirs. The object of levying Jizya (tax on non-
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Muslims) on them is to humiliate and insult the Kafirs, and Jihad against them and
hostility towards them are the necessities of the Mohammedan faith.
Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, Letter to Murtaza Khan, On the execution of Guru
According to Sikh tradition, before his execution, Guru Arjan instructed his son
and successor Hargobind to take up arms. His execution led the Sikh Panth to become
armed and pursue resistance to persecution under the Islamic rule.
Some scholars state that the evidence is unclear whether his death was due to
execution, torture or forced drowning in the Ravi river. J.S. Grewal notes that Sikh
sources from the seventeenth and eighteenth century contain contradictory reports of
Guru Arjan's death.
J. F. Richard states that Jahangir was persistently hostile to popularly venerated
non-Islamic religious figures, not just Sikhism.
Bhai Gurdas was a contemporary of Guru Arjan and is a noted 17th-century Sikh
chronicler. His eyewitness account recorded Guru Arjan life, and the order by Emperor
Jahangir to torture the Guru to death.
A contemporary Jesuit account, written by Spanish Jesuit missionary Jerome
1617), who was in Lahore at the time, records that the Sikhs tried to get
Jahangir to substitute the torture and death sentence to a heavy fine, but this attempt
failed. Dabistan-i Mazahib Mobad states Jahangir tortured Guru Arjan in the hopes of
extracting the money and public repudiation of his spiritual convictions, but the Guru
refused and was executed. Jerome Xavier, the Jesuit missionary in India in the early
17th century, in appreciation of the courage of Guru Arjun, wrote back to Lisbon, the
In that way, their good Pope died, overwhelmed by the sufferings, torments and
Jerome Xavier, Letter to Gasper Fernandes in Lisbon, On the execution of
Michael Barnes states that the resolve and death of Guru Arjun strengthened the
conviction among Sikhs that, "personal piety must have a core of moral strength. A
virtuous soul must be a courageous soul. Willingness to suffer trial for one's convictions
was a religious imperative".
There are several stories and versions about how, where and why Guru Arjan
died. Recent scholarship has questioned many of these, calling them as fictional
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interpretation, reflecting an agenda, or "exaggerating fragmentary traces of
documentary evidence in historical analysis". The alternate versions include stories
about the role of Guru Arjan in a conflict between the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and his
son who Jahangir suspected of trying to organize a patricidal coup, or alternatively a
Hindu minister of Jahangir named Chandu Shah, who in one version takes revenge on
Guru Arjan for not marrying his son Hargobind to Chandu Shah's daughter, and in
another Lahore version where Chandu Shah actually prevents Guru Arjan from suffering
torture and death by Muslims by paying 200,000 rupees (100,000 crusados) to
Jahangir, but then keeps him and emotionally torments him to death in his house. All
these versions and meta-narratives became popular in 19th century British colonial
literature, such as those of Max Arthur Macauliffe. Several alternative versions of the
story try to absolve Jahangir and the Mughal empire of any responsibility, but have no
trace or support in the documentary evidence from early 17th century, such as the
records of Jesuit priest Jerome Xavier and the memoirs of Jahangir.
Guru Hargobind was born in 1595 in Vadali Guru, a village 7 km west of
Amritsar. His father, Guru Arjan, the fifth Guru of the Sikh faith, had been arrested,
tortured and killed by order of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. On 25 May 1606 Guru
Arjan had nominated Hargobind as his successor and, after his execution on 30 May,
the succession ceremony took place on 24 June 1606. Guru Hargobind had been
advised by his father to start a military tradition to protect the Sikh people. and at the
time of his ascension, he put on two swords: one indicated his spiritual authority (piri)
and the other, his temporal authority (miri). He thus founded the military tradition in the
Sikh faith. Guru Hargobind had three wives: Mata Damodari, Mata Nanaki and
Mata Maha Devi.
Guru Hargobind 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. Additionally, five hundred men
from the Majha area of the Punjab were recruited as infantry. Guru Hargobind built a
fortress at Amritsar called Lohgarh "Fortress of iron". He had his own flag and war-drum
which was beaten twice a day.
The Guru was a brilliant martial artist (shastarvidya) and an avid hunter. Guru
Hargobind encouraged people to maintain physical fitness and keep their bodies ready
for physical combat.
Samarth Ramdas and Guru Hargobind
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According to Sikh tradition based on an old Punjabi manuscript Panjah Sakhian,
Samarth Ramdas met Guru Hargobind (1595-1644) at Srinagar in the Garhval hills. The
meeting, corroborated in a Marathi source, Ramdas Swami`s Bakhar, by Hanumant
Swami, written in 1793, probably took place in the early 1630`s during Samarth
Ramdas's pilgrimage travels in the north and Guru Hargobind`s journey to Nanakmata
in the east. It is said that as they came face to face with each other, Guru Hargobind
had just returned from a hunting excursion. He was fully armed and rode a horse.
"I had heard that you occupied the Gaddi of Guru Nanak", said Swami Ramdas.
"Guru Nanak was a Tyagi sadhu - a saint who had renounced the world. You are
wearing arms and keeping an army and horses. You allow yourself to be addressed as
Sacha Patshah, the True King. What sort of a sadhu are you?" asked the Maratha saint.
Guru Hargobind replied, "Internally a hermit, and externally a prince. Arms mean
protection to the poor and destruction of the tyrant. Baba Nanak had not renounced the
world but had renounced Maya, i.e. self and ego:
"batan faquiri, zahir amiri, shastar garib ki rakhya, jarwan ki bhakhiya, Baba
Nanak sansar nahi tyagya, Maya tyagi thi."
These words of Guru Hargobind found a ready response in the heart of
Samartha Swami Ramdas who, as quoted in Pothi Panjak Sakhian, spontaneously said,
"this appealeth to my mind - Yeh hamare man bhavti hai"
Relations with Jahangir and wars with Mughals
The reasons for Guru Hargobind to arm his followers were many. Both externally
and internally, the situation was changing. The Guru had to adjust his policy to the
demands of the new environment. Sikhism had developed its organisation mostly during
the tolerant days of Akbar. Akbar had never interfered with the development of Sikhism.
He had even helped the Gurus in various ways. But the execution of Guru Arjan at the
hands of Jahangir and imprisonment of Guru Hargobind definitely showed that sterner
days were ahead. The policy of mere peaceful organisation no longer sufficed. Both
Guru Arjan and Guru Hargobind had foreseen that protecting the Sikh community
without the aid of arms was no longer possible. The death of his father at the hands of
Jahangir prompted him to emphasize the military dimension of the Sikh community. He
symbolically wore two swords, which represented miri and piri (temporal power and
spiritual authority). He built a fort to defend Ramdaspur and created a formal court, Akal
These aggressive moves prompted Jahangir to jail Hargobind at Gwalior Fort. It
is not clear as to how much time he spent as a prisoner. The year of his release
appears to have been either 1611 or 1612. By that time, Jahangir had more or less
reverted to tolerant policies of Akbar and the conservatives at the Mughal court had
fallen out of his favor. After finding Hargobind innocent and harmless, he ordered his
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release. According to Sikh tradition, 52 Rajas who were imprisoned in the fort as
hostages for opposing the Mughal empire were dismayed as they were losing a spiritual
mentor. Guru Hargobind requested the Rajas to be freed along with him as well and
stood surety for their loyal behavior. Jahangir ordered their release as well. Hargobind
got a special gown stitched which had 52 hems. As Hargobind left the fort, the captive
kings caught the hems of the cloak and came out along with him. During Jahangir's
reign, he fought a battle against the Mughals at Rohilla. The battle was in response to
the militarisation of the Sikhs. The Mughals who were led by Governor Abdul Khan were
defeated by the Sikhs.
After his release, his relations with Jahangir remained mostly friendly and he held
a position in the administration during his rule. He accompanied Jahangir to Kashmir
and Rajputana and subdued Tara Chand of Nalagarh, who had continued for a long
time in open rebellion and all efforts to subdue him had failed.
War with Shah Jahan
During the reign of Shah Jahan, relations became bitter again. Shah Jahan was
intolerant. He destroyed the Sikh baoli at Lahore. The quarrels between Mughal officials
and the Sikhs originally started over hawks or horses, but subsequently led to risings on
a large scale and were responsible for the deaths of thousands of persons on both
sides. Battles were fought at Amritsar, Kartarpur and elsewhere. Guru Hargobind
defeated the Mughal troops near Amritsar in the Battle of Amritsar in 1634. The Guru
was again attacked by a provincial detachment of Mughals, but the attackers were
routed and their leaders slain. Guru Hargobind grasped a sword and marched with his
soldiers among the troops of the empire, or boldly led them to oppose and overcome
the provincial Muslim governors or personal enemies.
A childhood friend of Guru Hargobind, Painde Khan, whose mother had been the
nurse of the Guru, had become his enemy. The cause given, in some accounts, was a
valuable hawk of a follower of the Guru which was taken by Khan, and when asked for,
was resented by him. Other accounts note Khan's vanity and his pride. This opportunity
was used by Mughal officials, who saw Guru Hargobind as an ever-present danger.
Painde Khan was appointed leader of the provincial troops and marched upon the Guru.
Guru Hargobind was attacked, but the warlike apostle slew the friend of his youth, with
his own hand, and proved again a victor. Guru Hargobind also fought the Battle of
Kartarpur. He died at Kiratpur Rupnagar, Punjab, on 19 March 1644.
During the era of Guru Hargobind, the Sikhs increased greatly in number, and
the fiscal policy of Guru Arjan and the armed system of Guru Har Gobind had already
formed the Sikhs into a kind of separate entity within the empire. The Guru was not
unconscious of his latent influence, but in his private life never forgot his genuine
character, and always styled himself Nanak, in deference to the firm belief of his Sikhs,
that the soul of their great teacher was alive in each of his successors.
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