Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Gobind Singh, Guru Teg Bahadur.
These are not just names.
They are symbols, legends, and above all, they are tools of peace and harmony. I frequently hear youngsters of India asking who these so-called Gurus were and what have they done for us.
This article is not a propaganda instrument. It is simply an answer to those uninformed individuals who don’t know what the Gurus of Sikhism have done for humanity. It is a humble attempt to apprise today’s generation of what all they have sacrificed in their short lives and what was that solemn motive that kept them fighting even after getting their body cut in half.
They were not ordinary people and they were not gods. They were what we call true teachers or Gurus in Sikhism. Most of all, they are examples of what a human being can strive to be in this brutal and selfish world.
Guru Nanak Dev
Born in Nankana Sahib in present-day Pakistan, Guru Nanak Dev was an intellectual and spiritual man who changed the very essence of religion in India. He was full of curiosity from the very start and looked at everything with a keen eye. At that young age, he might not have realized that his thoughts and teachings would establish a religion of its own. But one thing is clear from his Janamsakhi or birth lore; that he was destined to become a great man.
As Nanaki da Veer (Brother of Nanaki) grew up, he assembled some followers and spread the word of god all over India. He advocated that there was only one god Waheguru; and in him, all humans should invest their relentless faith. He criticized the persecution of the poor and needy while encouraging religious tolerance. His words spread like wildfire throughout the Indian subcontinent and started a movement that continues to date.
What Baba Nanak did for us was that he took the best out of Hinduism, Islam, and many other Indian religions and conjured up a new belief system that was dedicated to living a pure and noble life while protecting those who can’t fend for themselves. Guru Nanak Dev thus became the first guru of Sikhism. This ideology of his can be seen getting nurtured in every Gurudwara not only in India but across the world.
Guru Teg Bahadur
The ninth guru of the Sikhs, Guru Teg Bahadur was a fearless warrior and a prolific poet. He was the first one to revolt against the tyrannical rule of the Mughals and was instrumental in saving the Hindus from forceful conversions by Muslims. He was also well versed in ancient knowledge of the Indian subcontinent like the Vedas, Puranas, and Upanishads, and was a highly knowledgeable man. More than a hundred hymns written by him are a part of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs.
The Ninth Guru, Guru Teg Bahadur Ji alongside Golden Temple, Amritsar. Golden Temple houses Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the 11th and eternal Guru of the Sikhs.
Guru Teg Bahadur established the city of Anandpur Sahib which remains to date, an important seat of Sikh’s intellect and history including the Virasat-e-Khalsa library. He showed his gallant and bravery by standing up against the persecution of Kashmiri Brahmins by the Mughals. He was seen by the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb as a threat who could challenge his position as the emperor of India. Hence he got Guru Teg Bahadur arrested and tortured inhumanely. Guru was given an ultimatum by Aurangzeb to perform a miracle or convert to Islam. He refused for he could not give up on the ideals of the great Sikh men and women who had come before him. The brave and wise Guru was thus murdered by the brutal and uncultured animals who called themselves Mughals.
Till his last breath, Guru Teg Bahadur remained an exemplary human being and an example of peace and harmony. He didn’t even hate his captors and blessed all of them with good life and wisdom. His thoughts and principles are displayed aptly in his hymns where he urges all of us to think about others instead of indulging in our selfishness.
Guru Gobind Singh
The last guru of Sikhism who existed in a human form, Guru Gobind Singh was a force to be reckoned with. Whether it be liberating Kashmiri Pandits from the oppression of tyrant king Aurangzeb or founding the first Sikh army, he is known for standing up against religious oppression and injustice. Born in Patna Sahib in present-day Bihar he is known throughout the Sikh community as Dashmesh Pita or the tenth father of the Sikhs. He introduced the concept of five Kakkas i.e. the five articles of faith that Sikhs wear at all times.
Dashmesh Pita is highly revered for sacrificing his entire family in the war against Aurangzeb. He believed that all Sikhs are his family and it is his duty to save everyone of them, even if it means losing his real family. Though his subjects treated him like a god, Guru Gobind Singh strictly conveyed the ideals and principles of monotheism propagated by his ancestor Guru Nanak Dev. He maintained that God or Waheguru is only one and all of us including the Gurus are only his vassals.
Guru Gobind Singh’s four sons, also known as the Chaar Sahibjade or the four glorious sons, were martyred in the war against his enemies alongwith his mother. The eldest two were killed in the Battle of Chamkaur in which they volunteered to fight inspite of the requests of Guru’s Sikh followers. The youngest two, Baba Fateh Singh and Sahibjada Zorawar Singh, aged 6 and 8 respectively, were buried alive in a wall by Aurangzeb’s soldiers because they refused to convert to Islam. Such was the teaching of their father that they kept shouting slogans against injustice till the moment they died.
You ask me what Guru Gobind Singh did for you?
I ask you what more could he have done?
Guru Gobind Singh sacrificed his life, his father, his mother, and his four sons but never resented anyone. He set up the Khalsa Panth (the way of the warrior) to train the first army of Sikhs who could defend the poor against injustice. He instructed them to always raise their sword against evil and in protection of humanity. It is his and his predecessors’ teaching that is still reflected in the selfless service of the Gurudwaras and Sikh organizations like Khalsa aid, Sikh Aid, and the world-famous Langar service.
Guru’s Sikhs Live On…
This is the world famous Khalsa Aid organisation which lives by the principles of our ten gurus and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. It frequently helps people in war zones like Syria, Afghanistan, and many others by providing food, shelter, and medicines.
Wherever there is injustice and tyranny, the Sikhs can be seen raising their voice against it and providing hope to the victims. Whether it be Syria, Afghanistan, or the United States they are everywhere, solemnly and faithfully doing what their gurus have taught them. Baba Deep Singh even after getting his neck pierced with a sword kept fighting with his severed head in his hand. Such was the zeal and such was the passion that his Gurus had instilled in him.
What is your excuse?