Sri Guru Hargobind Ji
Guru Har Gobind was born to Guru Arjan Dev in 1595 at Wadali, a village near Amritsar. After the Martyrdom of his father (Guru Arjan), the Guru caused the Adi Granth to be read by Bhai Buddha and the musicians of the temple sang the Guru’s hymns. This lasted for ten days. When the final rites were over, Bhai Buddha started the ceremony of Guruship. As of old, Bhai Buddha, the hoary-headed saint, placed before Har Gobind the Saili or ribbon of Renunciation that Nanak wore and gave it to Angad, who gave it to Amardas, who gave it to Ram Das, who gave it to Arjan Dev. Har Gobind said to Bhai Buddha, “No, give me two swords to wear instead.” He saluted the Saili and put it by. He wore two swords which were emblems of Spiritual and Temporal authority- Piri and Miri- the combination of ‘Bhakti and Shakti.’ The Master ordered all his men to wear swords, to keep horses, and to make arms; determining to take his disciples through blood and fire, since they wished it. When the command went forth, the disciples were already prepared; and they began bringing offerings of arms - arrows and swords and shields and bows to the Guru.
The Guru issued an order to the Masands that he would be pleased with those who brought offerings of arms and horses instead of money. He laid down the foundation of Akal Takhat (Timeless Throne) in 1606 A.D. just in front of Hari Mandir and it was completed in 1609 A.D. Akal Takhat was built of solid bricks on a raised platform of about ten feet in height and looked like a throne. The Guru took his seat on it. He built Akal Takhat a few yards in front of Harimandir with a view that a Sikh at Akal Takhat should not forget that spiritual height and was essential as his social obligations. As a matter of fact, the Guru wanted his followers to be ‘Saint-Soldiers’, extremely cultured, highly moral with spiritual height and be ready to measure swords with demonic forces. Bhai Buddha on seeing the Guru in military harness, mildly remonstrated with him. Instead the Guru replied, “In the Guru’s house religion and worldly enjoyment shall be combined - the caldron to supply the poor and the needy, and the scimitar to smite the oppressors.” Several warriors and wrestlers came to the Guru for service. He enrolled fifty-two heroes as his body-guard and this formed the nucleus of his future.
News of those doings soon reached the Emperor Jahangir. Chandu, the arch-enemy of the Sacred House, was still busy. There was now a good deal of evidence for a charge against Har Gobind, of rebellion. The refusal by Arjan Dev to pay the fine imposed on him, was remembered. Guru Har Gobind was at last summoned by the Emperor to Delhi. After careful consideration the Guru agreed to go to Delhi and assigned the secular duties of the Harimandir to Bhai Buddha and its spiritual duties to Bhai Gurdas. He instructed, “The Harimandir is specially devoted to God’s service, wherefore it should ever be respected. It should never be defiled with any impurity of the human body. No gambling, wine-drinking, light behavior with women, or slander, should be allowed therein. He came, and saw, and conquered Delhi by dint of his natural majesty. He began living in Delhi as the Emperor’s guest. Whenever Jahangir went out into camp, there was a separate tent and camping ground for the Guru Ji. It was time for the Emperor to visit Agra and he invited the Guru to accompany him. He, after repeated invitations, consented to go. When they both arrived in Agra, the Guru was received with great rejoicing by the people. Seeing increasing friendship between the Emperor and the Guru, Chandu said to himself, “The Guru will take revenge on me whenever he finds an opportunity. I shall only be safe if by some means I succeed in having broken this friendship or having him imprisoned, and thus I should apply all efforts to that end.”
The queen, Nur Jahan, took a deep interest in the Guru, and had many interviews with him. During these days, Jahangir fell ill; and, following the barbarous advice of his Hindu ministers, he invited his astrologers to tell him of his evil stars that brought illness on him. These astrologers were heavily bribed by Chandu, who was always seeking to detach the Emperor from Guru Har Gobind. The astrologers accordingly, prophesied that a holy man of God should go to the Fort of Gwalior and pray for his recovery from there. Chandu then advised the Emperor that Guru Har Gobind was the holiest of men and should be sent to Gwalior. Jahangir requested Har Gobind to go; and though he saw through the plot of his enemies, he left for Gwalior immediately. While Har Gobind was at Gwalior, great was the distress of his Sikhs in Delhi and at Amritsar, who suspected foul play at the part of Chandu. In fact, Chandu did write to Hari Das, the commander of Gwalior fort, urging him to poison the Guru or kill him in any way - and promising a large reward. Hari Das was by that time devoted to the Master; so he laid all these letters before him, who smiled and said nothing. The Guru met many other Rajas who were prisoners in this Fort, and made them happy. When Jahangir at length recovered, he thought of Har Gobind again. Undoubtedly, Nur Jahan, who evinced a disciple - like devotion to the Master, had something to do with his recall from Gwalior. However, the Guru would not go unless the Emperor agreed to set all the fifty two Princes in the fort at liberty. The Emperor at last gave way; and, on the personal security of the Guru, all the fifty-two Princes were released. The Guru was hailed at Gwalior as Bandi Chhor - the great deliverer who cuts fetters off the prisoners’ feet and sets them free. There remains, in the historic fort at Gwalior, a shrine of the Bandi Chhor Pir, worshipped by Hindus and Muslims alike.
Mian Mir brought home to the Emperor the innocence of Guru Arjan and how under his cruel orders, the great divine Master had been tortured to death. The Emperor, however, washed his hands clean of this sin and held Chandu entirely responsible for this crime, who was then arrested by the Emperor’s order and taken to Lahore to be executed there. He was paraded through the streets of Lahore, people threw filth on him, and cursed him. A grain-parcher struck him on the head with an iron ladle and Chandu died. When the Emperor heard Chandu’s death, he remarked that he richly deserved this fate. The Guru however, prayed that as Chandu had suffered torment for his sins in this life, God would pardon him hereafter. The Kazi of Muzang had a beautiful daughter, Kaulan who was a disciple of Mian Mir. From her childhood she had occupied her mind praising God’s Name and remembering Him in the company of the saints. Through the holy company of Mian Mir, she had heard praised of Guru Har Gobind and she praised the Master, and sang of his beauty and his saving love. Finally, she was condemned to death. But her inner gaze was fixed on her Master, and she knew he would come. Guru Har Gobind made a daring response to seek her at night, took her from a window of the Kazi’s house, with his own hands, and (like an intrepid lover) carried her off to Amritsar.
Kaulan began her life at Amritsar under the protection of the Guru. She was given separate building to reside. Quite a bit of time passed in this manner until one day she took all her jewels and placed them before the Guru and said, “O friend of the poor, please apply the price of these jewels to some religious object by which my name may be remembered in the world for sometime.” The Guru got a tank a tank excavated in her name with that money in 1621. The tank is still famous as Kaulsar in the city of Amritsar. Guru Har Gobind also constructed another tank called Babeksar commemorating the deliverance of his spiritual address on that spot to his followers. There are now five sacred tanks in Amritsar in the vicinity of Golden Temple : Santokhsar, Amritsar, Ramsar, Kaulsar and Babeksar. Through the kind offices of Nur Jahan, Mian Mir, Wazir Khan and others, Jahangir was induced to cause no injury to Guru Har Gobind or his Sikhs, in spite of the efforts of Chandu’s party. Jahangir died suddenly in Kashmir, and Shah Jahan became Emperor of India. Shah Jahan must fight with the Guru, as the Guru had already openly challenged him. The various engagements between the Imperial forces and the disciples of the Guru, cover the whole life-time of Guru Har Gobind. The Sikhs always fought with a superhuman courage, and the Emperor’s armies were worsted in all these affrays. The Guru finally left Amritsar and went to Kartarpur, and after giving battle there, retired to the submontane parts of the north-eastern Punjab, where his son had already founded a town called Kiratpur.
Engaged in warfare with the Emperor of India, and liable always to be attacked unawares, Guru Har Gobind was never at a loss, never in haste, never afraid of results. The date of the wedding of his daughter, Bibi Viro, coincided with first battle of Amritsar between the Guru and the Emperor. While the rest of the Guru’s family escaped in time, his daughter Viro inadvertently remained on the upper floor of the house, which by nightfall was besieged by the Emperor’s troops. Bibi Viro stayed alone undaunted in the house, and kept silent. When she saw a rescue party of the Sikhs coming, she refused to accompany them till they showed her father’s rosary. She was then safely conveyed to the place where the rest of the family had taken refuge. While this turmoil was on, the Guru ordered that the wedding of his daughter should be duly celebrated that very night in a village at a distance of about seven miles from Amritsar, which was accordingly done, amid great rejoicings. Guru’s message to his daughter is full of the tenderest feeling of a father towards his daughter. Thus he was, almost simultaneously, celebrating his daughter’s marriage and busied with the grim business of fighting a hard battle and running to the rescue of his wounded disciples. Of this very time, it is related that two of his disciples were lying in blood and that he went to them, wiped their faces, gave them water to drink, and caressed them, crying like a father.
Still yonder at Kartarpur, on the river Beas, where she had been removed for safety, Kaulan lay ill. Her burning soul of love could not stay on earth in separation from her Master. Separated from him, she fell dangerously ill. Har Gobind found time to pay her a visit and, as he sat by the bedside of his heroic disciple, she passed away. Singing in the soft music of her closing eyes, the prayer of thankfulness, she fell asleep in the very arms of God. There was yet another great soul waiting for him at his village, Ramsar, near Amritsar : Bhai Buddha who was preparing to leave this earth. Guru Har Gobind hastened to his side. Bhai Budha’s whole soul leapt with joy on beholding the Master before beginning his last journey. The Guru said, “Bhai Buddha, thou hast seen the last five Gurus and lived with them, and thy realization is great. Please give me some instructions.” The Bhai replied, “Thou art the sun and I am only a fire-fly. Thou hast, out of thy infinite mercy, come to see me and to help me swim across the Sea of Illusion. Touch me, touch me with thy hands, and bless me. Sustain me, and let me pass Death’s door without suffering. Sustain my son Bhana, too, when I am gone and keep him at thy feet. “Thou hast already entered the Realms of Immortals, brother!” said the Master, as he placed his hand on the forehead of his old disciple; and Bhai Buddha passed on.
Guru Har Gobind, though hunted by the Imperial hordes and continually liable to sudden dangers from them, was always calm and collected. When Painde Khan, once the trusted general of Har Gobind, whom the latter had brought up from boyhood as his pet cavalier, turned against him, went over to the side of Shah Jahan, and reappeared as leader of a hostile army, the Guru rose early as usual, and sang Japji and Anand songs. As he was chanting hymns and praying, his Sikh generals came in hot haste to inform him of the approach of the Mughal forces. The Guru said, “Be calm. There is nothing to be afraid of. All comes as our creator wills.” Once Painde Khan engaged in a pitched duel with Har Gobind. The ungrateful Painde Khan uttered profane words to the Master, who replied, “Painde Khan, why use such words when the sword is in thy hand, and I give thee full leave to strike first?” Painde Khan, bending low, aimed a sword-blow at the Master, who avoided it. Again Painde Khan struck with similar result. Gobind was trying to play with his old and beloved servant, and, if possible, to swaken in him his original sense of fealty. But Painde Khan grew more and more angry and desperate; his attack became deadly and Guru Ji dealt a blow under which he fell. From this blow he regained his old sense of discipleship; and as he lay dying, the Master took him in his arms, thereby readmitting him to grace. The death of Painde Khan is one of the most pathetic scenes in the life of Har Gobind.
Guru Har Gobind fought and won four battles. Since his purpose had always been defensive, he did not acquire even an inch of territory as a result of these victories. The Master was looked upon by the Sikhs not only a divine messenger but as an accomplished swordsman, a hero and thorough master of the war. Har Rai, his grandson, always wore a heavy gown and once as he was passing through Har Gobind’s garden, the forlds of his flowing gown struck a flower, which fell down, torn from its branch. The Master saw this and said to Har Rai, “My son! always go about with due care, lest you disturb the slumber of union of some blessed ones, and tear them away from God as thou hast torn this flower from its branch.” Har Rai thenceforward, all his life, gathered the folds of his gown in his hand whenever he went. Har Gobind found in Har Rai the spirit of Nanak; this time in a more subtle and mystic form, and it was at Kiratpur that the Master gave his throne to him and left for his heavenly abode. The Master, before giving up his body, said, “Mourn not; rejoice in that I am returning to my Home. He who obeys my word is ever dear to me and in the Guru’s word is his beatitude. Fill yourselves, O disciples! With the song of His Name, and live immersed in its ever-increasing inebriation divine.”