Concept of Guru and Guru Ship
“Guru” a Sanskrit word referred to a Teacher, a Saint, and Esteemed Person or a Religious Preacher. But in Sikhism, a Guru means the enlightened one, the Messenger of God who speaks the words of the Almighty to impart knowledge of truth & life. In Sikhism Guru is composed of two words GU and RU.
GU means darkness and RU means Light i.e. Light that dispels all Darkness is called JOT OR DIVINE LIGHT. All Sikhs are disciples of the Guru ( Spiritual Guide)
The Sikh Gurus established Sikhism over the centuries beginning in the year 1469 Guru Nanak Dev ji was the first Guru, and subsequently, each Guru, in succession, was referred to as “Nanak”, and as Light”. All the Gurus themselves also used the name “ Nanak “ while penning down their spiritual verses.
The Ten Sikh Gurus ( brief Guru Ship History)
First Guru “Guru Nanak Dev Ji”- Guru from 1469 to 1539
The first of the Gurus and the founder of the Sikhism religion was Guru Nanak Dev ji. He was born at Talwandi ( now known as Nankana Sahib in Pakistan ) on October 20, 1469.
Guruji mastered Punjabi, Sanskrit and Persian at an early age and in childhood revolted against ritualism, caste, prejudices hypocrisy and idolatry.
He regarded Hindus and Muslims as equals and referred to himself as neither Hindu nor Muslim but as a brother to all those who believed in God and Truth.
He made FOUR GREAT JOURNEYS TRAVELLING TO ALL PARTS OF INDIA, AND INTO ARABIA AND PERSIA, VISITING MECCA AND BAGHDAD. He spoke before Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Parsees, and Muslims. He spoke in the temples and Mosques, and at various pilgrimage sites. Wherever he went, he spoke out against empty religious rituals, pilgrimages, the caste system, the sacrifice of widows, of depending on books to learn the true religion, and of all the other tenets that were to define his teachings. Never did he ask his listeners to follow him.
Second Guru “ Guru Angad Dev Ji ” – Guru from 1539 to 1552
Guru Angad Devi Ji was born in 1504. He invented and introduced the Gurmukhi Script ( written form of Punjabi) and made it known to all the Sikhs.
The scripture of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is written in Gurmukhi, base of (Punjab Language). It became the script of the masses very soon. Guru Angad Dev ji was a model of self-less service to his Sikhs and showed them the way to devotional prayers. He took great interest in the education of the children by opening many schools where spiritual exercises were held. He collected the facts about Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s life from Bhai Bala Ji and wrote the first biography of Guru Nanak Dev Ji He also wrote 63 saloks ( Stanazas), these were included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji.
Third Guru “ Guru Amar Das Ji- Guru from 1552 to 15
Guru Amar Das ji was born in 1479. He took up cudgels of spiritually to fight against caste restrictions, Caste prejudices and the curse of untouchability.
He strengthened the tradition of the free kitchen, “Guru ka Langar” initially started by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and made his disciples, whether rich or poor. Whether high born or low born ( according to the Hindu Caste system), have their meals together sitting in one place.
He thus established social equality amongst the people. Guru Amar Das Ji introduced the Anand Kaaraj marriage Ceremony for the Sikhs, replacing the Hindu form.
He also completely abolished , the custom of Sati-Pratha, in which a married woman was forced to burn herself to death in the funeral pyre of her husband.
Fourth Guru “Guru Ram Das Ji – Guru from 1574 to 1581
Guru Ram Das Ji was born in 1534. Guru Ji founded the city of Amritsar and started the construction of the famous Golden Temple (Sri Harmandir Sahib) at Amritsar, the holy city of the Sikhs. He requested the, Muslim Sufi, Mian Mir to lay the Foundation Stone of Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji ( Golden Temple), The temple remains open on all sides and at all times to everyone. This indicates that the Sikhs believe in one God who has no partiality for any particular place, direction or time.
The standard Sikh marriage ceremony known as the Anand Kaaraj is centered around the Laawan, a four stanzas Hymns composed by Guru Ram Das Ji. The marriage couple circumscribes the Guru Granth Sahib Ji as each stanza is read. The first round is the Divine consent for commencing the householder’s life through marriage. The second round state 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 God in the company of saints. In the fourth round, the feelings of the couple that they have obtained their heart’s desire and are being congratulated is described.
Fifth Guru “ Guru Arjan Dev Ji – Guru from 1581 to 1606
Guru Arjan Dev Ji was born in 1563. He was the third son of Guru Ram Das Ji. Guru Arjan Dev Ji was a saint and scholar of the highest quality and repute.
He compiled the “ Adi Granth” the scriptures of the Sikhs, and wrote the Sukhmani Sahib. To make it a universal teaching, Guru Arjan Dev Ji completed construction of Sri Darbar Sahib also known as Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Sri Darbar Sahib welcomes all without discrimination, which is symbolized by the Four Doors that are open in four directions. Guru Ji became the First Great Martyr in Sikh History when Emperor Jahangir ordered his Execution.
Sixth Guru “Guru Har Gobind Sahib Ji –Guru from 1606 to 1644
Guru Har Gobind Sahib Ji was born in 1595. He was the son of Guru Arjan Dev Ji was known as a “ Soldier Saint,” “ Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji organized a small army, explaining that extreme non-violence and pacifism would only encourage evil and so the principles of Miri Piri were established.
Guru Ji taught that it was necessary to take up the Sword in order to protect the weak and the oppressed. Guru Ji was first of the Gurus to take up arms to defend the faith at that time it was only emperors who were allowed to sit on a raised platform, called a Takhat or Throne.
Seventh Guru “ Guru Har Rai Sahib Ji – Guru from 1644 to 1661
Guru Har Rai Sahib Ji was born in 1630, spent most of his life in devotional meditation and preaching the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
Although, Guru Har Rai Sahib Ji was a man of peace, He never disbanded the armed Sikh Warriors ( Saint Soldiers), who earlier were maintained by his grandfather, Guru Hargobind Sahib ji. He always boosted the military spirit of the Sikhs. But he never himself indulged in any direct political and armed controversy with the Mughal Empire. Guru Ji cautiously avoided conflict with Emperor Aurangzeb and devoted his efforts to missionary work.
He also continued the grand task of nation building initiated by Guru Har Gobind Sahib Ji.
Eighth Guru “ Guru Har Krishan Sahib Ji – Guru from 1661 to 1664
Guru Har Krishan Sahib Ji was born in 1656. He was the youngest of the Gurus at the age of five, Guru Ji astonished the Brahmin Pundits with his knowledge and spiritual powers.
To the Sikhs he proved to be the very symbol of service, purity and truth. The Guru gave his life while serving and healing the epidemic striken people in Delhi. The young Guru began to attend the sufferers irrespective of cast and creed. Particularly, the local Muslim Population was much impressed with the purely humanitarian deeds of the Guru Sahib and nicknamed him Bala Peer ( Child Prophet) also known as Bala Preetam.
Anyone who invokes Guru Har Krishan Sahib ji with a pure heart has no difficulties whatsoever in their life.
Ninth Guru “ Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji”- Guru from 1665 to 1675
Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji was born in 1621 in Amritsar. He established the town of Anandpur Sahib. The Guru laid down his life for the protection of the Hindu religion, their Tilak ( devotional forehead markings) and their sacred “Janeau” thread. He was a firm believer in the right of people to the freedom of worship.
It was for this cause that he faced martyrdom for the defense of the Hindu Brahmins. So pathetic was the torture of Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib Ji that his body had to be cremated clandestinely (a follower burned down his own home to cremated the Guru’s body) at Delhi while his severed head was secretly taken four hundred kilometers away to Anandpur Sahib for cremation. Because of his refusal to convert to Islam a threatened forced conversion of the Hindus of Kashmir was thwarted.
Tenth Guru “Guru Gobind Singh ji”- Guru from 1675 to 1708
Guru Gobind Singh Ji was born in 1666 and became Guru after Martyrdom of his father Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib Ji.
He created the Khalsa (The Pure Ones) in 1699, changing the Sikhs into a saint-soldier order with Special Symbols for protecting themselves. After the Guru had administered Amrit to his Five Beloved Ones, he stood up in supplication and with folded hands, begged them to Baptize him in the same way as he had Baptized them. He himself became their Disciple (Wonderful is Guru Gobind Singh ji, himself the Master and himself the disciple also). The Five Beloved Ones were astonished at such a proposal and represented their own unworthiness, and the greatness of the Guru, whom they deemed God’s representative upon earth. He gave he Sikhs the name Singh (Lion) and Kaur (Princess).
Thus the tree whose seed was planted by Guru Nanak, came to fruition when Guru Gobind Singh ji created the Khalsa, and on 20 October 1708, appointed Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji as the Guru. He commanded: Let all bow before my successor, Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji.