Guru Gobind Singh

From New World Encyclopedia
Guru Gobind Singh
Guru Gobind Singh meets Guru Nanak Dev.jpg
Guru Gobind Singh (with falcon) encounters Guru Nanak Dev. An eighteenth century painting of an imaginary meeting.
BornGobind Rai[1]
December 22, 1666
Patna, Bihar, India
DiedOctober 7 1708 (aged 42)
Nanded, Maharashtra, India
Cause of deathAssassinated
Other names
Guru of Sikhs
PredecessorHis father, Guru Tegh Bahadur
SuccessorGuru Granth Sahib
Spouse(s)Mata Sahib Dewan, Mata Jito a.k.a. Mata Sundari
ChildrenAjit Singh
Jujhar Singh
Zorawar Singh
Fateh Singh
ParentsGuru Teg Bahadur, Mata Gujri

Guru Gobind Singh (Punjabi: ਗੁਰੂ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਸਿੰਘ ) (1666-1708) was the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs. He was born in Patna, India, son of the ninth Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur. Guru Gobind Singh became the spiritual and temporal leader of the Sikhs on November 11, 1675, at the young age of nine years. He was renowned as a warrior, a poet, and a prophet. His establishment of the Khalsa (society of soldier-saints) is considered to be one of the most important events in the history of Sikhism.

He is fondly remembered by Sikhs as a defender of the faith and a champion of equality and justice. He is also known as the last human Sikh Guru who wrote the Dasam Granth, and declared that hence forth the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Holy Book) would become the next permanent Sikh Guru.


Early life

Details on Guru Gobind SIngh's life can be derived from the Bichitra Natak, which is considered to be Guru Gobind Singh's autobiography. The Bichitra Natak (Resplendent Drama) is a part of the Dasam Granth, (the Dasam Granthand) a literary collection attributed to Guru Gobind Singh.

Guru Gobind Singh was born as Gobind Rai in Patna, Bihar, to the ninth Sikh Guru Teg Bahadur and his wife Mata Gujri. Gobind Rai spent the first five years of his life in Patna. His father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, had founded the city of Anandpur in the year 1665, on the land purchased from the ruler of Bilaspur (Kahlur); land that would later be in dispute. After his tour of eastern parts of India ended, he asked his family to come to Anandpur. Gobind Rai reached Anandpur (then known as Chakk Nanaki), on the foothills of the Sivalik Hills, in March 1672.

Gobind Rai's early education included study of Punjabi, Braj, Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic languages, and training as a soldier. He had started studying Hindi and Sanskrit while at Patna. In Anandpur, he started studying Punjabi under Sahib Chand, and Persian under Qazi Pir Mohammad. A Rajput warrior was employed to train him in military skills and horse riding.

In 1675, some Kashmiri Pandits led by Pandit Kirpa Ram of Matton visited Anandpur to seek Guru Tegh Bahadur's assistance against persecution from the Islamic Mughal rulers. Guru Tegh Bahadur proceeded to the Mughal capital Delhi, to discuss the emperor Aurangzeb's policy towards the non-Muslims. However, he was beheaded on November 11, 1675 at Chandani Chowk, after refusing to convert to Islam. His head was put on the public square to deter the public from objecting to Aurangzeb's policies. The beheading of Guru Teg Bahadur frightened many of his disciples, some of whom even refused to acknowledge themselves as his followers, in order to avoid persecution. A disciple called Bhai Jaita (later Bhai Jivan Singh) brought Guru Tegh Bahadur's head to Anandpur.

Military spirit

After hearing of what had happened in Delhi, Guru Gobind decided to inculcate the martial spirit among his followers. Guru Tegh Bahadur had ordained his son as the next guru, before his departure to Delhi. Gobind Rai was formally installed as the Guru on November 11, 1675, at the age of nine.[2]

Guru Gobind Singh engaged 52 poets to translate the heroic Sanskrit epics into contemporary languages. He selected the warlike theme in many of his compositions to infuse martial spirit among his followers. He also wrote several compositions preaching love, equality and the worship of one God, deprecating idolatry and superstition.

Guru Gobind Singh's increasing influence and power worried Raja Bhim Chand of Bilaspur (Kahlur), in whose territory Anandpur was located. Meanwhile, the Guru ordered construction of a war drum (nagara) called Ranjit Nagara to enthuse his soldiers. The use of such a war drum was limited to the chieftains, within their territory, and the Raja considered the use of Ranjit Nagara a hostile act. On his Prime Minister's advice, he arranged a meeting with the Guru in Anandpur. He was received with honor in the Guru's court, where his eyes fell at the valuable gifts presented to the Guru by the devotees. Later, Bhim Chand sent a message to the Guru, asking him to lend an elephant called Prasadi (a gift from a devotee) to him. The Guru suspected that Bhim Chand wanted to gain permanent possession of the elephant, and declined his demand. He stated that the devotee who had presented the elephant, did not want it to be given away to anybody else. The Raja was perturbed by the Guru's refusal to give away the elephant, his growing influence, and his interest in military exercises. An atmosphere of confrontation developed between the two on small issues.[3]

To Paonta

In April 1685, Guru Gobind Rai shifted his residence to Paonta in Sirmur state at the invitation of Raja Mat Prakash of Sirmur. The reasons for the shift are not clear.[3] The author of Bichitra Natak does not mention any reason for shifting his residence to Paonta: "Then I left my home and went to place named Paonta."[4] According to the Gazetteer of the Sirmur state, the Guru was compelled to leave Anadpur due to differences with Bhim Chand, and went to Toka. From Toka, he was brought to Nahan (the capital of Sirmur) by Mat Prakash. From Nahan, he proceeded to Paonta.[5] Mat Prakash invited the Guru to his kingdom in order to strengthen his position against Raja Fateh Shah of Garhwal Kingdom.[3] At the request of Raja Mat Prakash, the Guru constructed a fort at Paonta with help of his followers, in a short time. He continued to increase his army. Raja Fateh Shah also paid a visit to the Guru, and was received with honor in his court. The Guru established a peace treaty between the two Rajas. He then remained at Paonta for approximately three years, and composed several texts.

First major battle

The hostility between Bhim Chand and the Guru continued to increase during the latter's stay at Paonta, ultimately resulting in the Battle of Bhangani near Paonta. Bhim Chand was supported by other hill Rajas, including Fateh Shah of Garhwal Kingdom, Kirpal of Katoch, Gopal of Guler (or Guleria), Hari Chand of Hadur and the Raja of Jaswal. Bhim Chand was also aided by some defected Pathans employed by the Guru. The Guru's army consisted of his disciples, some Udasis, some Pathans, and around 700 followers of Pir Budhu Shah of Sadhaura. According to Bichitra Natak, the Battle of Bhangani resulted in Guru Gobind Singh's victory.

Sometime after the Battle of Bhangani, the Guru decided to return to Anandpur. On his way back to Anandpur, he camped at Sadhaura and Laharpur for a few days. After leaving the Sirmur state, he entered Ramgarh state and stayed at Tabra for more than a week. He then visited Raipur at the invitation of the local Rani. After leaving Raipur, he continued his journey to Anandpur, passing through Toda, Nada, Dhakoli, Kotla, Ghanaula, Bunga, and Kiratpur. He reached Anandpur, and established peace with Raja Bhim Chand.

In the 1680s, to meet the expenses of his campaigns in Deccan, the Mughal emperor Aurangazeb ordered recovery of annual tributes from the rulers of hill states, who had been defaulting on the payment for three consecutive years.[6] The duty of collecting tributes from Kangra and adjoining principalities was assigned to Alif Khan (or Alaf Khan).[2] Two of the hill Rajas, Raja Kirpal Chand of Kangra and Raja Dayal of Bijarwal, agreed to meet Alif Khan's demands. However, Raja Bhim Chand of Bilaspur (Kahlur) refused to pay the tribute, and formed an alliance of the local rulers opposed to the Mughals. Guru Gobind Singh also agreed to support him. In the Battle of Nadaun, the armies of Alif Khan and his aides were defeated by the allied forces of Bhim Chand, Guru Gobind Singh and other hill Rajas. Different authors give the date of the battle variously as 1687,[7][8] 1689,[9][10] 1690,[11] and March 20, 1691.[6]

According to Bichitra Natak, Guru Gobind Singh remained at Nadaun, on the banks of the River Beas, for eight days, and visited the places of all the chiefs.[4] Later, both the parties made an agreement and peace was established.[4]

In 1694, Dilawar Khan, the Mughal chief of Punjab, sent his son with an army of one thousand men to Anandpur, to check the rising power of the Guru. As Khanzada crossed the Satluj river, Guru's scout Alam Chand (aka Alam Singh) alerted the Guru's forces. The Ranjit Nagara was beaten, and the Guru's men quickly marched to the river, forcing the Mughal army to retreat back.

The failure of Khanzada to check Guru's power provoked Dilawar Khan to plan a bigger attack on the Guru and other hill Rajas. He sent two thousand men under Hussain to subdue them. Hussain defeated the Raja of Dadhwal and plundered Doon. Raja Kirpal (Katoch) of Kangra and Raja Bhim Chand of Kahlur accepted his suzerainty. Raja Gopal of Guler and Raja Ram Singh tried to negotiate with Hussain, but the talks failed. Hussain besieged Guler, and demanded ten thousand rupees from Raja Gopal. Gopal sent his envoy to Guru Gobind Singh, asking him to negotiate a peace treaty between Hussain and the Raja. The Guru sent his agent, Sangtia, with an escort of seven troopers. However, an agreement could not be reached, resulting in a battle (dated between 1695 to 1698). Kirpal and Bhim Chand fought on Hussain's side, while Raja Ram Singh and the Guru's men fought on Raja Gopal's side. The battle resulted in the deaths of Hussain, Kirpal and all of the Guru's men. Raja Bhim Chand's forces fled from the battlefield, thus resulting in the victory of Raja Gopal. Raja Gopal went to the Guru, thanked him, and offered him gifts. The battle is described in the Chapter 11 of Bichitra Natak.[4]

After Hussain's death, Dilawar Khan sent his men Jujhar Singh and Chandel Rai to Sivalik Hills. However, they were defeated by Gaj Singh of Jaswal. The developments in the hill area caused anxiety to the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, who sent forces under the command of his son, to restore Mughal authority in the region.

Foundation of Khalsa Panth

In 1699, the Guru sent hukmanamas (letters of authority) to his followers, requesting them to congregate at Anandpur on April 13, 1699, the day of Baisakhi marking the first day of the year (the annual harvest festival):

He addressed the congregation from the entryway of a small tent pitched on a small hill (now called Kesgarh Sahib). He first asked everyone who He was for them? Everyone answered - "You are our Guru." He then asked as to whom were they, to which everyone replied - "We are your Sikhs." Having reminded them of this relationship, He then said that today the Guru needs something from His Sikhs. Everyone said, "Hukum Karo, Sache Patshah" (Just give us the order, O Lord). Then drawing His sword He asked for a volunteer who was willing to sacrifice his head. No one answered his first call, nor the second call, but on the third invitation, a person called Daya Ram (later known as Bhai Daya Singh) came forward and offered his head to the Guru. Guru Gobind Rai took the volunteer inside the tent, and emerged shortly, with blood dripping from his sword. He then demanded another head. One more volunteer came forward, and entered the tent with him. Guru again emerged with blood on his sword. This happened three more times. Then the five volunteers came out of the tent unharmed. These five, who were willing to sacrifice their lives for their Guru, were called Panj Piare ("the five beloved ones").[12]

These five volunteers were the first Khalsa (baptized) Sikhs: Daya Ram (Bhai Daya Singh), Dharam Das (Bhai Dharam Singh), Himmat Rai (Bhai Himmat Singh), Mohkam Chand (Bhai Mohkam Singh), and Sahib Chand (Bhai Sahib Singh).

Gobind Rai then poured clear water into an iron bowl and adding sugar into it, he stirred it with double-edged sword accompanied with recitations from Adi Granth. He called this mixture of sweetened water and iron as Amrit ("nectar") and administered it to the Panj piare (beloved five). Guru Gobind Singh then recited a line which has been the rallying-cry of the Khalsa since then: Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji Ki Fateh (Khalsa belongs to God; victory belongs to him). He gave them all the name "Singh" (lion), and designated them collectively as Khalsa, the body of baptized Sikhs. The members of the Khalsa consider Guru Gobind as their father, and Mata Sahib Kaur as their mother.[12] The Panj Piare were thus the first baptised Sikhs, and became the first members of the Khalsa brotherhood. Women were also initiated into the Khalsa, and the initiates were called kaur ("princess").[12]

The Guru then received baptism from the Khalsa and changed his name to Gobind Singh from Gobind Rai.

Guru Gobind Singh then addressed the audience:

"From now on, you have become casteless. No ritual, either Hindu or Muslim, will you perform and believe in superstition of no kind, but only in one God who is the master and protector of all, the only creator and destroyer. In your new order, the lowest will rank with the highest and each will be to the other a bhai (brother). No pilgrimages for you any more, nor austerities but the pure life of the household, which you should be ready to sacrifice at the call of Dharma. Women shall be equal of men in every way. No purdah (veil) for them anymore, nor the burning alive of a widow on the pyre of her spouse (sati). He who kills his daughter, the Khalsa shall not deal with him. Five K's you will observe as a pledge of your dedication to my ideal. You will wear your hair unshorn like the ancient sages of Kashtriyas, a comb to keep it clean, a steel bracelet to denote universal God, an underwear to denote chastity and a steel dagger for your defense. Smoking being an unclean and injurious habit, you will forswear. You will love the weapon of war, be excellent horsemen, marksmen and wielders of the sword, the discus and the spear. Physical prowess will be as sacred to you as spiritual sensitivity. And, between the Hindus and Muslims, you will act as a bridge, and serve the poor without distinction of caste, color, country or creed. My Khalsa shall always defend the poor, and Deg (community kitchen) will be as much an essential part of your order as Teg (the sword). And, from now onwards Sikh males will call themselves 'Singh' and women 'Kaur' and greet each other with Waheguruji ka Khalsa, Waheguruji ki fateh (The Khalsa belongs to the God; victory belongs to Him)[13]

According to some contemporary writings, Guru Gobind Singh had also ordained a Keski, turban worn over Keshas (sacred hair). He had, sometime earlier, abolished the institution of Masands (representatives of Guru) and ordered Sikhs to come directly to him.

The formation of the military order Khalsa alerted the Rajas of the Sivalik Hills. They united to evict the Guru from the region, but their expeditions during 1700-1704 proved futile.

Trouble from hill tribes

Balia Chand and Alim Chand, two hill chiefs, made a surprise attack on the Guru, while he was on a hunting expedition.[14] In the ensuing combat, Alim Chand managed to escape, while Balia Chand was killed by Guru's aide Ude Singh.

After several failed attempts to check the rising power of the Guru, the hill chiefs petitioned the Mughal rulers to help them subdue the Guru. In response, the Mughal viceroy of Delhi sent his generals Din Beg and Painda Khan, each with an army of five thousand men.[15] The Mughal forces were joined by the armies of the hill chiefs. However, they failed to defeat the Guru's forces, and Painda Khan was killed in the First Battle of Anandpur (1701).

Alarmed at the Guru's rising influence, the Rajas of several hill states assembled at Bilaspur to discuss the situation. The son of Bhim Chand, Raja Ajmer Chand of Kahlur, suggested forming an alliance to curb the Guru's rising power. Accordingly, the Rajas formed an alliance, and marched towards Anandpur. They sent a letter to the Guru, asking him to pay the arrears of rent for Anandpur (which lied in Ajmer Chand's territory), and leave the place. The Guru insisted that the land was bought by his father, and is therefore, his own property. A battle, dated from 1701 to 1704, followed. The hill Rajas were joined by a large number of Jatts and Gujjars, under the command of Jagatullah. Duni Chand led five hundred men from Majha region to assist the Guru. Reinforcements from other areas also arrived to help the Guru. The conflict, known as the Second Battle of Anandpur, resulted in retreat of the hill Rajas.[16]

Later, the hill Rajas negotiated a peace agreement with the Guru, asking him to leave Anandpur temporarily. Accordingly, the Guru left for Nirmoh village.[17] Seeing that Nirmoh was not fortified, Raja Ajmer Chand and the Raja of Kangra launched an attack on the Guru's camp. However, they were not able to defeat the Guru. Meanwhile, Raja Ajmer Chand had sent his envoys to the Mughal viceroys in Sirhind and Delhi, seeking their help against the Guru. The army of Sirhind viceroy Wazir Khan arrived to assist the hill Rajas. The assault by Wazir Khan's army forced the Guru to retreat to Basoli, whose Raja was on good terms with the Guru.

After staying for a few days at Basoli, the Guru marched back to Anandpur, and the hill Rajas decided to make peace with him. However, after two years of peace, the hostilities between the Rajas and the Guru reappeared due to Guru's rising power, and clashes between the Rajas' men and the Sikhs. Raja Ajmer Chand allied with the Rajas of Hindur, Chamba and Fatehpur, and attacked Anandpur in 1703-1704. They failed to oust the Guru in the Third Battle of Anandpur, and retreated back.

Mughal attack

After repeated pleas for assistance from the hill Rajas, the Mughal emperor sent a large army under Saiyad Khan's command, to check the Guru's power. Saiyad Khan was a brother-in-law of Pir Budhu Shah, and defected to the Guru's side, after the Pir spoke highly of him. Ramzan Khan then took the command of the imperial army, and allied with the hill Rajas to attack Anandpur in March 1704. It was the crop-cutting time of the year, and the majority of the Guru's followers had dispersed to their homes. Although the Guru was assisted by two of his Muslim admirers, Maimun Khan and Saiyad Beg, his men were outnumbered and he decided to vacate Anandpur.[2] The Mughal army plundered the city, and then proceeded to Sirhind. On their way back, they were caught in a surprise attack by the Guru's forces, who recovered the booty captured from Anandpur. The Guru then returned to Anandpur.

The hill chiefs then decided to approach the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb, through his Governor in Punjab, Wazir Khan, to help them subdue the Guru. Their memorandum spoke of his establishing the new order of Khalsa "which is contrary to all our cherished beliefs and customs. He (Gobind Singh) wants us to join hands with him to fight our Emperor against whom he harbours profound grudge. This we refused to do, much to his annoyance and discomfiture. He is now gathering men and arms from all over the country to challenge the Mughal Empire. We cannot restrain him, but as loyal subjects of your Majesty, we seek your assistence to drive him out of Anandpur and not allow grass to grow beneath your feet. Otherwise, he would become a formidable challenge to the whole empire, as his intentions are to march upon Delhi itself." [18][19]

Seige of Anandpur

At the plea of Raja Ajmer Chand, the Mughal emperor ordered the viceroys of Sirhind, Lahore and Kashmir to proceed against the Guru. The Mughal forces were joined by the armies of the hill Rajas, the Ranghars and the Gurjars of the area. The Guru also made preparations for the battle, and his followers from Majha, Malwa, Doaba and other areas assembled at Anandpur.

The imperial forces attacked Anandpur in 1705, and laid a siege around the city. After a few days of the commencement of the siege, Raja Ajmer Chand sent his envoy to the Guru, offering withdrawal of the siege, in return for Guru's evacuation from Anandpur. The Guru refused to accept the offer, but many of his followers, suffering from lack of food and other supplies, asked him to accept the proposal. As more and more followers pressurized the Guru to accept Ajmer Chand's offer, he sent a message to Ajmer Chand offering to evacuate Anandpur, if the allied forces would first allow his treasury and other property to be taken outside the city. The allied forces accepted the proposal. The Guru, in order to test their sincerity, sent a caravan of loaded bullocks outside the fort. However, the allied forces attacked the caravan to loot the treasure. To their disappointment, they found out that the caravan had no treasure, just some rubbish articles. The Guru then decided not to vacate Anandpur, and refused to accept any further proposals from the allied forces.

Finally, the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb sent a signed letter to the Guru, swearing in name of Qur'an, that the Guru and his followers would be allowed a safe passage if he decided to evacuate Anandpur. The Guru, hard pressed by his followers and his family, accepted the offer, and evacuated Anandpur on December 20-21, 1705.

On the first night after they left Anandpur, the Guru's contingent was attacked by the imperial forces. Following a few skirmishes, the Guru and his followers reached the banks of Sirsa river. The group could not keep together while crossing the flooded Sirsa (or Sarsa) river. The Guru's mother, and his two younger sons, Fateh Singh and Zorawar Singh, strayed away from the main group. Guru's old servant, Gangu, escorted them to his village, Kheri. His wife Mata Jito, was in another group that also included Mata Sahib Kaur; this group was escorted to Delhi by Jawahar Singh. The flood in the river resulted in several of the Guru's followers getting drowned, and there was heavy loss of property and literature.

The Guru, with his two sons, and some other Sikhs, managed to cross the river and reached the Ghanaula village on the other side of the river. He instructed a band of hundred followers under Bachitar Singh to march to Rupar. The Guru, with the remaining followers, marched towards Kotla Nihang near Rupar, to stay with his trusted acquaintance Pathan Nihang Khan. From there, he proceeded to Machhiwara and Raikot, halting at Bur Majra. He was informed that a large body of troops from Sirhind was chasing him. He decided to face the enemy troops at the fortress of Chamkaur.

Battle of Chamkaur

The imperial troops besieged the fortress at Chamkaur in December 1705, leading to the battle of Chamkaur. The two elder sons of Guru Gobind Singh, Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh, fell in the battle. The Guru asked the remaining disciples to get ready for the final charge, and die fighting. However, his disciples insisted that his survival was necessary for the survival of the Khalsa, and planned his escape from Chamkaur. It was decided that Sant Singh and Sangat Singh will stay in the fortress, while Daya Singh, Dharam Singh, and Man Singh will accompany the Guru out of Chamkaur. The Guru gave his kalghi (plume used to decorate headgear) and his armor to Bhai Sant Singh, a Sikh who resembled him. Sant Singh was seated in the upper room where Guru was stationed. The Guru marched out of Chamkaur in the night, along with some followers. Next day, the Mughal army, which still believed that the Guru was inside the fortress, attacked the fortress, and killed all the Sikhs inside the fortress.

The Guru separated from his companions, and reached Machhiwara, after passing through Jandsar and Behlolpur. There, his three companions, Daya Singh, Dharam Singh and Man Singh rejoined him. Gulaba, an old masand of Machhiwara, gave them shelter, but feared for his own safety. Two Pathan horse merchants, Nabi Khan and Ghani Khan, decided to help him. The Khans, who were old acquaintances of the Guru, disguised him as the Pir (Sufi saint) of Uchh village, and carried him to safety, in a palanquin. At Alam Gir, Nand Lal, a zamindar decided to help the Guru. From Alam Gir, the Guru proceeded to Raikot. At Silaoni, Rai Kalla, the chief of Raikot, received him warmly. The Guru stayed there for some time.

Meanwhile, Guru's mother Mata Gujri and his two younger sons were captured by Wazir Khan, the governor of Sirhind. The two boys were killed after refusing to convert to Islam, and Mata Gujri died soon after hearing of her grandsons' death.

Realizing that Rai Kot was not a suitable place to stage resistance against the Mughals, Guru Gobind Singh left Raikot, and spent two days at Hehar with Mahant Kirpal Das (who had earlier participated in the Battle of Bhangani). He then marched to Lamma Jatpura, where his companion Rai Kalla took leave. The Guru moved southwards, accompanied by three Sikhs. On the way he passed through the villages of Manuke, Mehdiana Chakkar, Takhatpur and Madhen, and finally reached Dina (now in Ferozepur district) in Malwa (Punjab). The people had heard that the Guru had been killed at Chamkaur, but the truth began to be known when he reached Dina. He was received warmly at Dina by Shamira, Lakhmira and Takht Mal, the three grandsons of Rai Jodh, a devotee of Guru Har Gobind.[20]

While at Dina, the Guru received a concialatory letter from Aurangzeb, asking him to come to Deccan to discuss the situation. The Guru was wary of Aurangzeb, who had beheaded his father, and whose army attacked him at Anandpur in spite of an oath in the name of Qur'an. The Guru rejected the emperor's offer, and wrote a long letter in Persian, titled Zafarnamah ("the Epistle of Victory"). In the letter, the Guru reminded Aurangzeb of his misdeeds, and condemned the treacherous acts of the Mughals. He sent a group of Sikhs, consisting of Daya Singh, Dharam Singh, and some guards, to dispatch the letter to Aurangzeb, who was camping in Ahmednagar.

Guru Gobind Singh moved onto Talwandi and was at a place called Rohi when a group of 40 Sikhs from Majha area of Punjab region accompanied by Mata Bhag Kaur, also known as Mai Bhago, visited him. They had come to offer their condolences over the death of his four sons and his mother, and also offered to effect a compromise between the Guru and Mughal authorities. The Guru narrated to them the atrocities of Mughals from the time of martyrdom of Guru Arjan to the laying of the siege of Anandpur. He rebuked them for their behavior and put them to shame for talking like that. One of the leaders of the group, Bhag Singh Jabhalia, said that it was not in their means to have more faith in the Guru. The Guru said that he had not called for them and they should write a disclaimer, which was signed by Bhag Singh Jabhalia and another four. The remaining thirty five did not sign the disclaimer.[21]

The Guru at the moment got the information of advancing Mughal forces led by Wazir Khan. He along with those accompanying him moved on to take positions by the side of a mound, which incidentally was also the only water source in the area.

Loss of the Forty

At this stage Mata Bhag Kaur criticized the 40 Sikhs for deserting Guru Gobind Singh at such a crucial stage. Her challenge made the 40 to face the oncoming Mughal force led by Wazir Khan. In the action that occurred on 30 poh 1972 (December 29, 1705), beside the 40 Sikhs and Mata Bhag Kaur from Majha, Guru Gobind Singh and those accompanying him also participated. After a showdown with arrows and bullets, the fight came down to close combat with swords and spears. By sunset all 40 were dead or seriously injured and the Mughal forces retreated. Of the 40, only three Sikhs (Rai Singh, Sunder Singh and Mahan Singh) were in their last breath, while Bhag Kaur lay seriously injured. At their request Guru Gobind Singh tore the disclaimer and blessed them as Muktas (emanicipated). He also changed the name of the place, Ishar sar or Khidrana, to Muktsar in their honor.

Illuminated Adi Granth folio with nisan of Guru Gobind Singh (first book of Sikh scripture) 1604.

From Mukatsar, the Guru moved to Rupana, Bhander, Gurusar, Thehri Bambiha, Rohila, Jangiana and Bhai Ka Kot. At Chatiana, the Brars who had fought for him at Muktsar, threatened to block his march as the Guru had failed to disburse pay arrears to them. A Sikh from the neighborhood area brought enough money, which enabled the Guru to pay off all the arrears. However, the leader of the Brars, Chaudhri Dana apologized to the Guru on behalf of his people, and refused to accept any payment for himself. At his request, the Guru visited his native place Mehma Swai. The Guru continued his travel, passing through Lakhi Jungle (Lakhisar). From Lakhi, he visited nearby areas and initiated large number of people into Khalsa.

A landowner called Chaudhari Dalla welcomed the Guru to his estate, and took him to Talwandi Sabo (aka Talwandi Sabo Ki). On his way he passed through Chatiana, Kot Sahib Chand, Kot Bhai, Giddarbaha, Rohila, Jangirana, Bambiha, Bajak, Kaljhirani, Jassi Bagwali, Pakka Kalan and Chak Hira Singh. Guru Gobind Singh arrived at Talwandi Sabo on January 20, 1706, and stayed there for several months. The place is now called Damdama Sahib (the resting place). The Guru made a tour of the neighboring villages, and initiated several people into the Khalsa.

When Wazir Khan learned that the Guru was at Sabo Ki Talwandi, he sent a letter to Chaudhri Dalla asking him to hand over Guru Gobind Singh to him. However, the Chaudhari refused to hand over the Guru, in spite of Wazir Khan's threats and promises of reward. Wazir Khan complained to the Emperor, who was in the Deccan. The Emperor received Dalla's letter written to Wazir Khan and also the Guru's Zafarnamah at about the same time. He ordered Wazir Khan to remove all restrictions imposed on the Guru and stop harassing him.

The Guru's literature had been destroyed as he crossed the river after evacuating Anandpur. He dictated the Guru Granth Sahib to Bhai Mani Singh. A number of poets and scholars gathered around the Guru at Talwandi Sabo, and the place came to be known as Guru's Kashi (Varanasi). The Guru's wife, who had separated from him at Anandpur, also reunited with him at Damdama Sahib. The Guru also reorganized his forces at this place, and took many Dogras and Brars into his service.

In response to the Guru's Zafarnamah, Aurangzeb expressed his wish for a personal meeting with the Guru. The Guru left for Deccan in October 1706 to meet Aurangzeb. He passed through what is now Rajasthan, on his way to Ahmednagar, where the Emperor was encamped. At Baghaur (or Baghor), he received the news of Aurangzeb's death in March 1707, and decided to return to Punjab, via Shahjahanabad.

Succession of the Mughal Throne

After the emperor's death, a war of succession broke out between his sons. The third son, Mohammad Azam (or Azim), declared himself the Emperor. The second son Muazzam (later Emperor Bahadur Shah) set out from Peshawar to claim the throne. The Guru's follower Bhai Nand Lal (who had earlier served in the Muazzam 's court) brought him a letter written by Muazzam. Muazzam had sought Guru's help in securing the throne, and had promised to pursue a policy of religious tolerance towards the non-Muslims. The Guru sent a band of his followers under the command of Bhai Dharam Singh, to help Muazzam. Muazzam's forces defeated Azam Shah's forces in the Battle of Jajau on June 12, 1707.

Muazzam ascended the throne as Bahadur Shah. He invited Guru Gobind Singh for a meeting which took place at Agra on July 23, 1707. The Guru was received with honor and was given the title of Hind Ka Pir (the Pir of India). The Guru stayed with the Emperor in Agra till November 1707. He made Dholpur a center of his missionary activities, and toured nearby areas for many days, before proceeding to Deccan. In November 1707, the Emperor had to march into Rajputana against the rebel Kachwahas. He requested the Guru to accompany him. From Rajputana, the emperor marched to the Deccan to suppress the rebellion of his brother Kam Bakhsh, and the Guru accompanied him.

Guru Gobind Singh was not happy with Bahadur Shah's friendly attitude towards Wazir Khan of Sirhind. He parted ways with the Emperor at Hingoli, and reached Nanded in July 1708. At Nanded, the Guru camped on the banks of the river Godavari. Saiyad Khan, the former general of the imperial forces, resigned from his post and came to Nanded from Kangra, to see the Guru.

During a trip, the Guru met a bairagi (hermit) called Madho Das, whom he initiated into Khalsa as Gurbakhsh Singh. Gurbakhsh Singh, popularly known as "Banda Singh" or "Banda Bahadur," soon became his most trusted general.

While in Nanded, the Guru received in a letter from Saiyad Khan's sister Nasiran, the wife of Pir Budhu Shah of Sadhaura. The letter informed him that the Emperor's army had ransacked Sadhaura and hanged Pir Budhu Shah as a rebel, for having faith in Guru Gobind Singh, whom they considered as a Kafir ("infidel").

The Guru assumed that the Emperor had fallen prey to Wazir Khan's propaganda, and was plotting to kill all of his supporters. He sent a letter to the emperor, demanding an explanation for Pir Budhu Shah's death. There was no reply from the emperor. Instead, the Guru heard rumors that the emperor was planning to wage a battle against him. The Guru appointed Banda Singh as the commander of the Khalsa, and asked him to march towards Punjab.


Guru Gobind Singh died in October 1708 at Nanded. On the evening of the same day he died, he was visited by two Pathans. One of the Pathans was commissioned by Wazir Khan to assassinate the Guru. Wazir Khan was afraid of the ongoing talks between Guru Gobind Singh and Bahadur Shah I. One of the Pathans (Bashal Beg) kept a vigil outside while the other Pathan (Jamshed Khan) entered his tent, while he was resting.[22] The assailant stabbed the Guru twice, mortally wounding him. The Guru killed one assailant, while the other Pathan was caught and killed by the Sikhs. The wound was stitched the following day. Guru Gobind Singh, finding his end near, passed on spiritual Guruship to Adi Granth[23] and corporal Guruship to Khalsa[24] shortly before his death.

Known literary works

Several works have been attributed to Guru Gobind Singh. Many of the literary works of him were lost during the evacuation of Anandpur Sahib. The collection of writings attributed to Guru Gobind Singh is known as Dasven Padshah Da Granth meaning Book of the Tenth Emperor.[25] It is popularly referred to as the Dasam Granth. It is a compilation of hymns, philosophical writings, Hindu mythological tales, autobiography of the Guru and many fables.[25] All the compositions which form part of Dasam Granth are not necessarily the work of Guru Gobind Singh himself. Several names of poets such as Sham and Ram occur within the compositions composed by poets of Guruji.

Some scholars have questioned the authorship of some of the parts the Dasam Granth. The authorship debate on the works started in the twentieth century with the Bashaur School of thought followed by some Sikh scholars from the Institute of Sikh Studies. However, the Akal Takht authorities argue that all the works in the Dasam Granth collection are written by Guru Gobind Singh himself.

The underlying message of all the works is 'worship the creator and not the creations'. The following works are included in it:

  • Jaap Sahib (invoking Supreme God)
  • Akal Ustat (praises of God)
  • Bichitra Natak (an autobiography)
  • Chandi Charitar, I and II (the character of Goddess Chandi)
  • Chandi di Var, the character of Goddess Durga including Ardas
  • Gyan Prabodh (the awakening of knowledge)
  • Chaubis Avtar (24 incarnations of Vishnu ordered by Supreme God)
  • Shabad Hazaray (ten shabads which teach that only the Supreme God is to be worshipped)
  • Swayyae (33 stanzas)
  • Sri Mukh Baak Savaiye
  • Khalsa Mehma or Khalse di Mehima (the praises of the Khalsa)
  • Shastar Nam Mala (a list of weapons)
  • Zafarnama a letter to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb
  • Mangal Prakash, a part of Sau Sakhi


  1. Surinder Singh Johar, Guru Gobind Singh: A Study (New Delhi: Marwah Publications, 1979), 23.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Prithi Pal Singh, The History of Sikh Gurus (Lotus Books, 2007, ISBN 978-8183820752), 128-147.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Ajay Singh Rawat, Garhwal Himalaya: a study in historical perspective (Indus Publishing, 2002, ISBN 8173871361), 50-54.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Gobind Singh, Bichitra Natak (Himalayan Inst Press, 1989, ISBN 978-0893891169).
  5. Gazetteer of the Sirmur State (New Delhi: Indus Publishing, 1996, ISBN 978-8173870569), 16.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Avinash Dani, Little-known gurdwara of Nadaun The Tribune (India) November 7, 1999. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  7. Arjan Dass Malik, An Indian guerilla war: the Sikh peoples war, 1699-1768 (New York: Wiley, 1975, ISBN 978-0470565766), 22.
  8. Srinder Singh Johar, The Sikh gurus and their shrines (Vivek Pub. Co., 1976), 87. quote: "A fierce battle was fought at Nadaun in 1687."
  9. Gobind Singh Mansukhani, The Quintessence of Sikhism (Amritsar: Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, 1965), 46.
  10. Sohan Singh Seetal, Prophet of Man, Guru Gobind Singh (Ludhiana: Seetal Pustak Bhandar, 1968), 179. quote "This battle of Nadaun was fought in November, 1689."
  11. Gopal Singh. A History of the Sikh People, 1469-1978 (New Delhi: World Sikh University Press, 1979), 275. quote "This is known as the battle of Nadaun and was fought probably late in 1690"
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Cynthia Keppley Mahmood, Fighting for faith and nation dialogues with Sikh militants (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996, ISBN 978-08122159224, 3-45.
  13. Gopal Singh, A History of the Sikh People, 1469-1978 (New Delhi: World Sikh University Press), (1979), 275.
  14. Rosetta Williams, Sikh Gurus. Educa Books/Har-Anand Publications, 2004, ISBN 978-8124107164) 103.
  15. Indubhusan Banerjee, Evolution of the Khalsa (Calcutta: A. Mukerjee, 1962), 25.
  16. Max Arthur Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus, Sacred Writings, and Authors. (Low Price Publications,1996, ISBN 978-8186142318), 130.
  17. Dalip Singh, Guru Gobind Singh and Khalsa Discipline (Amritsar: Singh Bros., 1992, ISBN 978-8172050719), 256.
  18. Gopal Singh, A history of the Sikh people (Delhi, 1988), 292-293.
  19. Patwant Singh, The Sikhs (Delhi: Rupa & Co., 1999), 59-60.
  20. Surinder Singh Johar, Holy Sikh shrines (New Delhi: M. D. Publications, 1998, ISBN 9788175330733), 63.
  21. Piara Singh Padam and Giani Garja Singh, (eds.) Sawrup Singh, Guru Kian Sakhian, (Patiala, 1986).
  22. Prithi Pal Singh, The History of Sikh Gurus (Lotus Books, 2007, ISBN 978-8183820752), 158.
  23. Chitra Soundar, Gateway to Indian Culture (Asiapac Books) Ltd., 2004, ISBN 9812293272), 59.
  24. Sri Gur Sobha written in 1711.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Dale Hoiberg and Indu Ramchandani, Students' Britannica India (India: Popular Prakashan, 2000, ISBN 0852297602), 23-24.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Banerjee, Indubhusan. Evolution of the Khalsa. Calcutta: A. Mukerjee, 1962. OCLC 5880923
  • Deora, Man Singh. Guru Gobind Singh : a literary survey. New Delhi: Anmol Publications, 1989. ISBN 978-8170411604
  • Gazetteer of the Sirmur State. New Delhi: Indus Publishing, 1996. ISBN 978-8173870569.
  • Hoiberg, Dale, and Indu Ramchandani. Students' Britannica India. India: Popular Prakashan, 2000. ISBN 0852297602
  • Johar, Surinder Singh. Guru Gobind Singh: A Study. New Delhi: Marwah Publications, 1979.
  • Johar, Surinder Singh. Holy Sikh shrines. New Delhi: M. D. Publications, 1998. ISBN 978-8175330733
  • Johar, Srinder Singh. The Sikh gurus and their shrines. Vivek Pub. Co., 1976.
  • Kohli, Surindar Singh. Life and Ideals of Guru Gobind Singh. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1986. ISBN 978-8121500647
  • Macauliffe, Max A. The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus, Sacred Writings, and Authors. Low Price Publications, 1996. ISBN 978-8186142318
  • Mahmood, Cynthia K. Fighting for faith and nation dialogues with Sikh militants. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996. ISBN 978-0812215922
  • Malik, Arjan D. An Indian guerilla war: the Sikh peoples war, 1699-1768. New York: Wiley, 1975. ISBN 978-0470565766
  • Mansukhani, Gobind Singh. The Quintessence of Sikhism. Amritsar: Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, 1965. OCLC 2654849
  • Rawat, Ajay Singh. Garhwal Himalaya: a study in historical perspective. Indus Publishing, 2002. ISBN 8173871361
  • Sainapati, Kavi. Sri Gur Sobha. 1711.
  • Seetal, Sohan Singh. Prophet of Man, Guru Gobind Singh. Ludhiana: Seetal Pustak Bhandar, 1968. OCLC 115772
  • Singh, Dalip. Guru Gobind Singh and Khalsa Discipline. Amritsar: Singh Bros., 1992. ISBN 978-8172050719
  • Singh, Gobind. Bichitra Natak. Himalayan Inst Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0893891169
  • Singh, Gobind, and Jasbir Kaur A. The Zafarnama of guru Gobind Singh. Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1996. OCLC 42966940
  • Singh, Gopal. A History of the Sikh People, 1469-1978. New Delhi: World Sikh University Press, 1979. OCLC 6330455
  • Singh, Patwant. The Sikhs. Delhi: Rupa & Co., 1999.
  • Singh, Prithi P. The History of Sikh Gurus. Lotus Books, 2007. ISBN 978-8183820752
  • Soundar, Chitra. Gateway to Indian Culture. Asiapac Books Ltd., 2004. ISBN 9812293272
  • Talib, Gurbachan Singh. Impact of Guru Gobind Singh on Indian Society: A Socio Ethical Interpretation. South Asia Books, 1999. ISBN 978-8173805646
  • Williams, Rosetta. Sikh Gurus. Educa Books/Har-Anand Publications, 2004. ISBN 978-8124107164


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