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The present study aims at presenting an objective account of Guru Gobind Singh's life, his response to the contemporary spiritual, political, social and economic conditions, his contribution to metaphysics, social engineering and polity, his attitude towards Muslims as well as Hindu orthodoxy—the former was nourished, promoted and made hegemonic by Ulemas of Naqshabandi sect and other varieties and the Mughal state, while the latter was nurtured, and spearheaded by Brahmins, the Hindu priestly class hand in glove with the Rajput Hindu rulers, especially of Shivalik and Kumaon Hills, his proactive role to save Sikhism and Sikh society from internal erosions caused by dissentient sects and Masands and taking concrete and positive steps to bring about social compactness among the Sikhs, his resetting of the goals at all levels and in all fields of activities and his formulating of fresh structures and strategies to promote the cause of Sikhism even amidst varied serious challenges, his floating of the Order of Khalsa, a new model of man as well as of society, his providing of fresh insights and fresh stimuli to make the people dynamic, forward-looking and transcendental in their approach and out-look, ever yearning and striving for a global fraternity, built on social equality, mutual respect, non-exploitation and superseding caste system and the principle of fixity and discrimination inheriting it, his urgings and his polemics for multi-culturalism, universalism, and religious pluralism, his special accent on the principle of struggle as the means to ensure and promote welfare of the people, his understanding of Pursh and Parakriti nexus, his engendering of the spirit of ascending higher and higher, his heralding of new era of enlightenment, righteousness, equitable justice and freedom from fear, restrictions on speech, expression and worship.

True, a number of studies have already broached this subject but their findings were sketchy or tinged with prejudice. Kavi Santokh Singh's Magnum Opus Gurpartap Suraj Parkash is more a book of devotional poetry than of history. The author's approach is not analytical; it is primarily theological. Whatever information is embedded in his work, is not objective and reveals that he was more after the adoration of characters than the evaluation of events which form matrix of history—so much so that at times, he prunes the facts to suit his predetermined themes. At places, the events are so much soaked in mythology that they lose their identities.

M.A. Macauliffe wrote on the life of Guru Gobind Singh but he, too, failed to do justice in spite of being an erudite scholar and a zealot researcher. His writing, at best, was a record of events as they were presented to him by his hired Punjabi assistants.

Gurbilas by Sukha Singh and Gurbilas Koer Singh are far away from objective historiography. Their accounts are more marked for the adulation of their characters than for presenting analytical study. Not only this, they, at places, had given currency to the views which were clearly contrary to the teachings of the Guru.

A Short History of the Sikhs by Teja Singh and Ganda Singh gave too meagre information; although in style and objectivity, it can be ranked quite high. Strangely enough, very few pages are devoted to Guru Gobind Singh's life which was fabulously rich in terms of his landmark achievements.

Even some recent biographies, especially the one written by Professor Kartar Singh and the other by Bhagat Lakshman Singh fell short of the requisite standard. They were neither fully documented, nor were they objective. The intrinsic history of the Guru's life had been left untouched due to lack of a sound historical methodology.

Giani Gian Singh, the celebrated author of Tavarikh Guru Khalsa and Panth Parkash, worked hard to write a detailed history of the Gurus including Guru Gobind Singh. But his drawn portrayals suffer from two snags : one, it did not take into reckoning the socio-economic forces operating during the Guru period, and second, his inclination towards rhetoric made his study lop-sided and tainted.

In the recent past, late Dr. Indubhushan Banerjee wrote Evolution of the Khalsa with detailed account of the Sikh Gurus. Even this work could not provide the whole information. Probably, the scope of the book was limited and the study was confined only to find out details in regard to the visible and the manifest, not comprehending that the manifest and the unmanifest, both are needed to grasp the whole truth. After the annexation of the Punjab by the British the Western scholars developed keen interest in the history of the Sikhs. Broadly, we come across three categories of books written by them. In the first category, are all those works written mainly to acquaint the British administration with the habit, customs and varied reactions of the people to different challenges. In the second category come those which were produced with a view to bolstering up racial pride among the Jats so that they might become ego-centric enough to deny the good influence of Sikhism on them. Through this device, the British had designs to weaken the Sikh unity. The works comprising both the aforesaid categories obviously could not be assumed as the real history of the Gurus.

In the works comprising the third category, the authors tried to write down objective history, as exemplified by Cunningham's History of the Sikhs. Even then, majority of the authors of this category could not think above racial prejudices and conqueror's complex.

In view of all this, I decided to rewrite the biography of the Guru, and soon I embarked upon the errand with a view to collect requisite facts on the project. In the course of my work, I was faced with innumerable difficulties. The appropriate original material was not available. There was Bachitter Natak (Wondrous Drama) written by the Guru himself, but that dealt with a very few events of his life. Sainapat and Bhai Nand Lai, the two court poets of the Guru, had written Sri Gurusobha and Zindgi Nama respectively, but these were not sufficient and did not narrate all important events and aspects of the Guru's life. Bhai Nand Lai's accounts intended to eulogize the Guru than to put forth a true biography. Sri Gurusobha is scrappy and its narratives were, self-concieved and partly legendary. Guru Kian Sakhian by Swarup Singh Kaushish, Bhat Vahis,

Khafi Khan’s Muntkhab-ul-Lubab, Bahadur Shah Nama, Amur Nama, Ahkam-i-Alamgiri, Maasar-i-Alamgiri, Hukamname were also scrutinised but these sources too provided very little information. Akhbarat-i-Durbar-i-Mualla did make a mention of about one or two incidents relating to the last phase of Guru Gobind Singh's life, and that too from the Imperial point of view. We have also gone through the poetic works of numerous court poets of the Guru, especially those mentioned by Devinder Singh Vidyarthi in his book Guru Gobind Singh Abhinandan as well as in Darbari Ratan by Piara Singh Padam. Almost all of them have underlined that Guru Gobind Singh was a protector of the Hindus and he fought relentlessly against the Mughals whom he regarded as oppressors, unrighteous and tyrants, thus projecting the Guru as a champion of the Hindus and a determined foe of the ruling Mughal class. This inference is not true because the mission of Guru Gobind Singh was world-wide. Persian sources, although meagre in quantity, also failed to assess appropriately the work of Guru Gobind Singh. Most of the Muslims were under the influence of Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi, the spiritual guide of the Naqshbandi the Muslim sect who continuously nourished the thought that Islam alone could save humankind from being swallowed by Satanic forces. They were not ready to study Guru Gobind Singh's attitude and mission in right perspective. Therefore their inferences smacked of partiality.

Notwithstanding these difficulties, I continued to collect facts. I also screened traditions, legends and myths regarding Guru's life. I went through the mythic poetic works of the contemporaries, especially those contained in Dasam Granth. This exercise was done to know the mind of the Guru. My approach was that facts unfold the outer life while myths and legends reveal the state of consciousness. Therefore both are useful while constructing history, although care has been taken that non-historical and imaginary facts do not affect the conclusions.

I was aware that history is not a linear series of events but has depth as well as surface. An event is an abstraction from the matrix of history and has significance only in its concerns. Guru Gobind Singh fought the Battle of Bhangani on 18th September, 1688 against the Hindu Rajas of Shivalik hills and won it. This is only a narration denoting his temporal uprising. It is the political and ideological conflict leading to the facts that make a history.

In the present work, attempt has been made to treat all the facts pertaining to the life of the Guru, as they took place, and indeed, it has been a matter of great satisfaction.

In the main narratives of the book, I have followed the synthetic method of history while in the comments I have followed the analytical method, thus combining the two. The intrinsic history of the Guru's life has been revealed as much importance as the external history.

Dealing with a stupendous work like the present one in the hands of the reader, the author makes no pretension to have gone whole hog by himself. Help and guidance were sought with humility and gratitude from many individuals as well as organisations.

First and the foremost, I would like to place on record my debt of gratitude to Dr. Kirpal Singh a doyen of history of the Punjab, who was kind enough to share with me the product of his investigative research. I can never forget Prof. Prithipal Singh Kapur, Editor, Encyclopedia of Sikhism, for seeding the idea in my mind of taking up the present study.

My special thanks are due to S. Manjit Singh 'Calcutta' (Former Cabinet Minister, Higher Education and Languages Punjab) himself an eminent scholar of Sikh History and theology, his comments proved of immense inspirational value for motivating me to break fresh grounds and make in depth study of hitherto untrodden labyrinths.

Equally grateful I am to Dr. Jodh Singh and Dr. Dharam Singh who allowed me to use their researches on the subject. I am beholden to Dr. Kharak Singh, Former Secretary, Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh for his stimulating cooperation, to Dr. Harnam Singh Shan for providing a lot of relevant material especially from Persian sources besides his blessings which he showered on me so liberally. I can't forget the names of Dr. Ranbir Singh, Prof. Surinder Pal Singh of Mastuana, Dr. Charanjit Singh Udari, Dr. Gurnam Kaur and Dr. Balwant Singh Dhillon for keeping me on the track in ways more than one.

I am failing in my duty if I do not express my heart full gratitude to Col. Devinder Singh (Retd.), who very keenly, went through the whole manuscript, improved its diction and made useful suggestions which I readily and gladly incorporated in the present study.

The work of both word-processing and preparation of the type-script was carried out most conscientiously by my aide Mr. Gurcharn Singh 'Premi'. He also prepared a General Index in a short time. For all this he can legitimately lay claim to my thanks.

My wife Daljit Kaur also deserves my thanks. Her positive outlook has always been reassuring.

My mind will not lighten of its burden without expressing my sincerest thanks to my publishers, Singh Brothers, Amritsar, especially S. Gursagar Singh, a brilliant young man, for evincing his keen interest in the publication of the book. No social organization or government agency has financed this project. Only, my sons Navneet Singh and Gurmit Singh have rendered their help.