Remembering the Warrior-Philosopher Guru Gobind Singh

It was Guru Gobind Singh who formed the Sikh warrior community, ‘Khalsa’. 

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(This story was first published on 22 December 2017 and has been reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti.)

Guru Gobind Singh, the founder of the Khalsa, was born on 22 December 1666 to Mata Gujri and Guru Teg Bahadur Singh, the ninth Sikh guru.

At the tender age of nine, he assumed the title of the tenth Sikh guru, after his father was beheaded on the orders of the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb.

Forming of the Khalsa

In 1699, the guru established the Khalsa. On Baisakhi day, he asked the Sikhs to gather at Anandpur, Punjab and asked if anyone would volunteer to give up their heads. One man stepped forward. The guru took him into the tent, and came out with a bloody sword. This was repeated four more times. After the fifth volunteer, the guru came out, with all the five volunteers alive – five headless goats were found in the tent instead.

These five men were referred to as the Panj Pyaare, thereafter. They were baptised by Guru Gobind Singh in a ceremony called ‘Amrit Sanchar’, and were awarded the title of ‘Singh’ or Lion.

On that day, he also gifted the community with its articles of faith: the five Ks – ‘Kesh’, ‘Kanga’, ‘Kirpan’, ‘Kachera’ and ‘Kara’.

Compilation of Guru Granth Sahib

Guru Gobind Singh formalised the Sikh religion and compiled the final rendition of Guru Granth Sahib.

He secured the future of Sikhism by enshrining Guru Granth Sahib as the eternal Sikh guru.

The guru also coined the phrase, “wahe guru ji ka khalsa, wahe guru ji ki fateh”.

Apart from being a poet and philosopher, he was also a warrior who fought in numerous battles against the Mughals. He had three wives and four sons, all of whom died in the Mughal-Sikh wars. His ‘epistle of victory’ – ‘Zafarnama’ – to Aurangzeb is widely quoted.

It is believed that the guru was assassinated on the orders of Nawab Wazir Khan, against whose army he had fought many battles. Khan commissioned two Afghan men named Jamshed Khan and Wasil Beg to kill the guru. The two gained access to his tent at Nanded in Maharashtra, and stabbed him. He passed away on 7 October 1708.

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