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 followers, 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 Sahib succeeded Guru Arjan Dev Ji on 25 May 1606, at the age of eleven years. After the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, it was the most crucial time for the Sikhs. Now for the first time, the Sikhs began to think seriously to counter the high-handedness of the mighty and theist Muslim Empire. The circumstances forced the Sikh Nation that brought change in their character. Dialectically speaking, it was the need of the hour. At this juncture, the Sikh nation adopts both spiritual and political ways simultaneously. This policy suited well to all the social and economic segments of the Sikhs.
Guru Hargobind Sahib wore two swords, one of Spiritual Power - Piri and the other of Military Power - Miri. Now the Sikh became "a Saint-Soldier." Guru Ji issued various letters advising the Sikhs to take part in the military training and marshal arts. A Chronicler states that Guru Ji kept seven hundred Cavaliers and sixty artillery men. There was a band of Pathan mercenaries and Painda Khan Pathan was made its chief. Riding, hunting, wrestling and many other martial sports were introduced by the Guru. In addition, the martial songs like 'Vars' of heroic deeds were sung daily by the Dhadd-players in the court of Guru Ji to inspire the Sikhs. Abdul and Natha Mal were given the task in this respect. Guru Ji himself was healthy and strong in body and mind. He himself learnt the use of different weapons, besides riding, wrestling, hunting and preaching the Sikh way of life.
In due course of action, Guru Ji errected a wall around Amritsar city and constructed a small fort named 'Lohgarh' on the out skirts of the city. Guru Ji built a stage ( throan) out of mud and brick where he would sit and conduct daily discussions and would deliver justice. This place became the seat of preaching and praying in due course of time. At this place, Guru Ji used to gave sermons to the Sikhs and discussions were held on the problems faced by the Sikh nation. In this way the Sikhs were encouraged to settle their own disputes themselves, some martial sports were also performed in the open courtyard before this mud and brick based throne. This development further consolidated the Sikh nation. The Sikhs called Guru Ji 'Sachcha Patshah', "True Emperor". This throne built just in front of Sri Darbar Sahib, now known as Golden Temple, came to be known as Akal Bunga under the Udasies, many years after Guru Ji had moved out to Keerat Pur and later passed away. At present, it is called Akal Takhat and the Sikh Nation follows the judgments or decisions taken on Sri Akal Takht. How it was named as Akal Takhat is separate topic and will not be discussed here.
The emperor Jahangir did not tolerate this new policy of Guru Ji and subsequently ordered to imprison him in the Gwalior Fort. Though the various reasons are also ascribed for the detention of Guru Ji but the most suitable one seems to be that the Emperor Jahangir was falsely alarmed (about the military preparations by the Guru Ji and Sikhs) by the same elements; the enemies of the Sikh Nation, who were earlier responsible for the execution of Guru Arjan Dev Ji. After receiving summons from Emperor Jahangir, Guru Ji proceeded towards Delhi before making serious consultations about the arrest, with all the leading Sikh personalities including Mata Ganga Ji, Baba Budha Ji, Bhai Gurdas Ji, Bhai Jetha Ji and Bhai Sahlo Ji. Guru Ji appeared before the Emperor Jahangir and was received by the latter with due respect. A debate on Sikh religion and Sikh doctrines was held between Guru Ji and Jahangir whose mind had been pre-tempered against Guru Ji by his fanatic advisors and thus remained unimpressed. The Emperor ordered for the imprisonment of Guru Ji at Gwalior Fort. Guru Ji was detained in the fort upto three years i.e. from 1609 to 1612. (There are divergent views regarding the detention period of Guru Sahib in the Gwalior Fort prison, but the most acceptable one seems to be three years from 1609 to 1612.)
Sain Mian Mir, Wazir Khan (Governor of Lahore), Baba Budha Ji and Bhai Gurdas Ji approached Emperor Jahangir, own behalf of Guru Ji and secured the releasing orders for the Guru. When Guru Ji met Jahangir immediately before his release, he insisted upon Jahangir for the release of other fifty-two Hindu Princes on his personal surety. These Princes were said to be the rebellious ones. The request was obliged and all the prisoners were released in 1612. The title of "Bandi Chhor Baba" was given to Guru Ji for this good deed. Guru Ji is remembered by this name until now. Guru Ji reached Amritsar in February. This was a big occasion for the Sikhs. It is said that Baba Budha Ji littered the earthen lamps throughout the Amritsar city. The Sikhs celebrated this occasion enthusiastically. From this day on, the Sikh Nation began to celebrate Dewali festival as " Bandi Chhor Diwas ".
Now the attitude of Jahangir and his empire towards Guru Sahib changed considerably and remained favorable and friendly till the death of Jahangir. It was the outcome of the noble interceding by the religious, secular and political personalities like Sain Mian Mir Ji, Nizam-ud-Din and the Governor of Lahore, Wazir Khan. Shortly after the release of Guru Sahib, the angry Sikhs overtook Chandu Shah (the main brain behind the execution of Guru Arjan Dev Ji). They preceded him through the streets of Lahore. Chandu, like a mad dog, was pelted with stones, filth, and abuses thus put to death. A chronicler further states that "Death came to him as a relief and his body was thrown into the river Ravi."
Shortly after the release from the Gwalior Fort and having cordial relations with the state, Guru Ji started to re-consolidate the Sikh Nation.. He tried his best to dissuade Meharban (son of Pirthi Chand) from harbouring hostile designs against the Sikhs and Sikhism.
Guru Sahib undertook Dharam Parchar tours to spead Sikhism. He started from Amritsar and covered thousand miles in India. In Punjab he visited Kartarpur and made it as headquarter of Sikh Nation in Doaba. He also visited several adjoining villages like Bara Pir, Mukerian and laid the foundation stone of Sri Hagobindpur town (the original name of this town was Gobindpura) near the river Beas in 1621. Guru Sahib also covered the 'Malwa' region of Punjab where the cult of Hindu Goddess and "Sakhi Sarwar" was fascination of the lowly and downtrodden simple living people. Guru Sahib admitted the people of the villages: Darauli, Mehraj, Damru, Dabwali, Sidhwan, Sidhar, Lopo, Zeera, Katra and Gillan in the Sikhism. In other words the entire Malwa region embraced Sikhism and went a long way in integrating the Sikh Nation. This was a major achievement of Guru Hargobind Ji.
Guru Hargobind sahib ji was also the inventor of the Taus. Guru ji watched a peacock singing one day, and wished to make an instrument to mimic the same sound as the peacock, thus came the Taus, a musical instrument.
Guru Hargobind visited an old Sikh religious parching centre, Nanakmata (Gorakhmata) in the present Pili Bhit district of U.P. Guru Nanak Dev Ji established it. It is said that some Hindu Yogis ousted Almast Ji, (a pious Sikh preacher, deputed by Guru Hargobind Sahib to spread Sikhism) from the gurdwara and desecrated the place by cutting the historical Peepal tree, under which Guru Nanak Dev Ji, earlier held discussions with the different sects of Jogis.
Guru Ji reached Nanakmata along with some saint-soldiers. Seeing the Guru on the scene, the Yogis fled away and never came back or interfered in the religious affairs of Almast Ji. Guru Ji returned to Amritsar via Darauli. Guru Ji also held a detailed discussion with a Maratha Saint Ram Das Samrath, on the spiritual and religious issues in a very cordial atmosphere at Srinagar (Garhwal).
Guru Ji visited Kashmir in 1620. Some chronicles state that Guru Sahib went there at the invitation of emperor Jahangir, who was there at his personal physician's advice for a natural climate and atmospheric change. It is also stated that Jahangir and his party paid a visit to Goindwal Sahib and reached Amritsar via Taran Taran. The emperor offered some financial assistance for construction work around Darbar Sahib but Guru Ji declined the offer politely.
On the other hand, some Sikh source term the visit to Kashmir as a part of Guru Ji's preaching campaign. Guru Hargobind Ji patronized one Sewa Das for preaching Sikhism. He and his mother Bhag Bhari served Guru Ji with much zeal and devotion. Guru Ji held a short meeting with many devoted Sikhs and also a preacher, Kattu Shah (a converted Mohammedan). Guru Ji visited Sialkot, Wazirabad, Mirpur, Bhimbar Rehran, Baramula, Uri and Muzafrabad. He appointed Bhai Garhia Ji to preach the Sikhism. The large number of Kashmiris, both Hindus and Muslims embraced Sikhism due to the devoted and committed preaching by Guru Ji.
Guru Ji returned home via Baramula and proceeded further to Gujrat where he met Saint Shah Daulla who appreciated GuruJi's spiritual status and mode of living with splendor. Guru Ji also visited Rai Bhoe-di-Talwandi, the birth place of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Mange and Madai in Lahore district. He also visted Kurukshetra and established there a Sikh preaching centre, now in Haryana State of India.
Guru Ji spent the last decade of his life (from 1635 to 1644) at Kiratpur Sahib, which is situated in the hill state of Hadur (Nalagarh), founded by Baba Gurditta Ji, Guru's son. It is said that Raja Tara Chand donated land for this purpose. Guru Ji devoted much of his time in reorganizing the Sikh Nation and updating the preaching centres by establishing a new system. Baba Gurditta Ji was made the incharge of religious affairs and he further appointed four head preachers by area: Almast Ji, Phaul Ji, Gonda Ji and Baba Hansa Ji. Baba Sri Chand Ji visited Guru Ji and Guru Ji made reconciliation with Udasi sect headed by Baba Sri Chand Ji. Guru Ji's religious tours and preachings made the Sikhism more popular in different parts of India.
On the other hand Guru Ji did not abandoned the mission of militarizing the Sikhs. Now for the first time in the Indian history since the invasion of Muslims, the Sikh Nation, under the supreme command of Guru Hargobind Sahib, prepared for the armed resistance. The tyranny and injustice of the Muslim theocratic state was opposed. This was only an imperative measure of defense. Guru Sahib converted the peaceful sect into a warlike community, ready to defend their interests with the swords and it was the need of the hour.
After the death of emperor Jahangir the policy matter of the new young emperor, Shah Jahan changed considerably. The emperor took notice of new converts to Sikhism from the Muslims. He ordered to destroy all the temples and Gurdwaras, which were under construction. The sacred Baoli of Guru Arjan Dev Ji in Dabbi Babar, Lahore (now in Pakistan) was desecrated and converted into a mosque. Later Maharaja RanJit Singh re-excavated and re-established this Baoli, which was again destroyed in 1947, by the unruly and fanatic Muslims mob.
When Shah Jahan succeeded the throne after the death of his father Jahangir, Qazi Rustam Khan lodged a complaint with the new emperor, who was incensed earlier by the fanatic Muslims and Hindus against the Sikh Nation and Guru Ji. He obliged the complaint and revised his policy matter; earlier adopted by his father Jahangir towards Guru Ji.The possible conflict out of charged circumstances was inevitable. Guru Ji fought five battles during the regime of emperor Shah Jahan, and all were won. A small conflict of Rohilla near Sri Hargobindpur was fought on 3 Oct 1621. It was the first armed clash between the Faujdar of Jalandhar and Hargobind Sahib.
Near the site of new town Hargobindpur, Bhagwan Das, a Khatri 'Kirar' contemplated his right of ownership on the land and with the help of some hired ruffians, forcibly tried to dislodge the Sikhs, who were engaged in developing the new township. In the ensuing small clash, Bhagwan Das and his most hired ruffians were killed. After this incident, Rattan Chand, son of Bhagwan Das and Karam Chand, son of Chandu Mal incensed the Faujdar of Jalandhar against Guru Ji. Abdulla Khan, the Faujdar of Jalandhar dispatched ten thousand soldiers. They were intercepted by the mighty and devoted Sikh Saint-Soldiers at Rohilla Ghat on the bank of the river Beas. The Mughal army met a crushing defeat in the hands of the Sikhs, where as, there was an immense loss of lives and material on the both sides. Besides Rattan Chand and Karam Chand, the Faujdar of Jalandhar, Abdullah Khan and his two sons and five commanders were killed. Guru Ji sacrificed Saint Soldiers like Mathura Bhat Ji,son of Baba Bhikha Ji, Bhai Nanu Ji, Bhai Saktu Ji, Bhai Jattu Ji, Bhai Pirana Ji, Bhai Paras Ram Ji, Bhai Jagannath Ji and Bhai Kalyana Ji.
The second and the most serious conflict between Guru Ji and the Mughal forces was fought in April 1634. It started with the lifting of a Royal hawk of the imperial army of Shah Jahan by the Sikhs, who incidentally were also hunting in the same territory aroud Gumtala Village near Amritsar. This led to a small violent conflict between the two parties. Guru Hargobind Ji was not directly involved in his clash.
This incident enraged the emperor, Shah Jahan, who deputed Mukhils Khan with 7,000 soldiers "to teach a lesson" to Guru Hargobind Sahib. The mini fortress of Lohgarh was attacked. The Sikhs though small in number, gave a stiff resistance. Guru Sahib and his whole family had to hurriedly move to Chabal, to solemnize the marriage of Bibi Veero Ji, the daughter of Guru Hargobind Sahib. The attackers had an upper hand over the Sikhs on the first day of the battle. They looted and plundered all the property and holy residence of Guru Ji. On the next morning, the Sikhs, after consolidating their position, retaliated and made a vigorous attack on the sleeping Mughal forces. Mukhlis Khan, the commander and most of his leading lieutenants were killed. Guru Ji's side also suffered a heavy loss of life and property. This was the second armed clash between the Mughals and the Sikhs.
After this battle, Guru Hargobind Sahib retired to the semi desert wastelands of Bhatinda. While leaving Amritsar for the Malwa region, Guru Sahib took Guru Granth Sahib with him but after meeting a halt for sometimes at Daroli, he sent Guru Granth Sahib to Kartarpur along with his family. Soon after this, a tussle between Guru Ji and Subedar of Lahore began over the two horses, which were forcibly snatched and taken into custody by the Mughal officials from the two devotees of Guru Ji, at Lahore. Guru Ji was informed about this incident. Bhai Bidhi Chand a daring disciple recovered the horses one by one from the royal stable. This dare devil act was considered an open thereat to the authority of the Mughal Empire. The imperial forces consisting 22000 troops were dispatched towards the Lakhi Jungle under the command of Qammar Beg and Lalla Beg. Guru Hargobind Sahib had only three to four thousand warriors. The Sikh forces under the command of Rai Jodh and Kirt Bhatt camped near a water reservoir. The interception took place near Mehraj and Lahira villages. According to a chronicle, on 16th December 1634, the Sikhs waged a guerilla attack on Mughal forces at night, which resulted heavy causalities in the Mughal camp. The Sikhs routed and defeated the enemy. Guru Ji lost 1200 Saint Soldiers including Kirt Bhatt Ji and Bhai Jetha Ji. On the other side, Sameer Beg and his two sons Shamas Beg and Qasim Beg were also killed. The Mughal forces fled to Lahore leaving behind the dead and wounded. The Sikhs did not intercept the fleecing enemy. Guru Ji built a tank called Gurusar, commemorating the victory.
Near a village Nathane, Guru Ji faced another encounter with the Mughal forces but remained victorious.
After these successful encounters Guru Ji retired at Kartarpur, Jalandhar, along with his warriors. Painda Khan Pathan a commander in Guru's army and childhood friend, deserted Guru Ji and joined the Mughal camp after some altercation with the Sikhs and Guru Ji on some petty issues. He and Kala Khan, brother of slain Mukhlis Khan, along with imperial army made an attack on Guru Ji at Kartarpur on 26th April 1635. The Sikhs having a nominal strength of 5000, fought with rare courage and velour to win this battle. Teg Mal, later named GuruTeg Bahadar Ji, Baba Gurditta Ji and Bhai Bidhi Chand Ji showed great feasts of bravery. Painda Khan and Kala Khan were killed. Several Sikh Saint Soldiers were also martyred.
After the battle of Kartarpur, Guru Ji moved onwards to Kiratpur Sahib, which was under the rule of Raja Tara Chand, a hill state chief. Again Guru Ji's entourage was suddenly ambushed by a contingent of Royal forces under the command of Ahmed Khan in the village Palahi near Phagwara town on 29th April 1635. Though Guru Ji won this battale, but it caused considerable loss on Guru's soldiers. Bhai Dasa Ji and Bhai Sohela Ji, sons of Ballu Bhat, and grandsons of Mula Bhat sacrificed their lives. Guru Ji crossed the Sutlej River and reached Kiratpur Sahib where he established another spiritual and preaching center of the Sikh Nation. Guru Ji spent ten years of his life here.
As per the previous tradition, set by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, before his death, Guru Ji nominated his grandson Har Rai Sahib, the second son of Baba Gurditta Ji as his successor and the Seventh Nanak. Guru Ji breathed his last on 28th February 1644, some chronicles record the date as 3rd March, 1644.
It is said that when Guru's body was placed on fire, and as the flames rose high, a large number of Sikhs tried to burn themselves on the funeral pier. Though Guru Har Rai Sahib had dissuaded them, but two had jumped earlier into the pier and were consumed by the fire. .
1. What do we learn from this short narative about the life and works of Guru Hargobind Ji?
2. When was young Hargobind born and what education he received?
3. Who was ruling in India at that time?
4. Why was Guru Hargobind jailed and what was the name of the place where he was jailed?
5. Why Hargobind was chosen to be the Guru after Guru Arjan Dev Ji's martyrdom?
6. At what age was he married and how he chose to marry Mata Nanaki Ji?
7. Who and how many were the people for whom Guru Hargobind secured release from the jail when Guru was released from the jail of Gwalior?