Guru Hargobind

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Guru Hargobind
ਗੁਰੂ ਹਰਿਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਜੀ
Guru Har Gobind.jpg
Born July 5, 1595 (1595-07-05)
Guru Ki Wadali, Amritsar, Punjab, India
Died March 19, 1644 (1644-03-20) (aged 48)
Kiratpur Sahib, India
Other names The Sixth Master
Known for Building the Akal Takhat, First Guru to engage in warfare and advising the Sikhs to take part in the military training and martial arts, establishing Miri Piri.
Predecessor Guru Arjun Dev
Successor Guru Har Rai
Spouse(s) Mata Nanaki, Mata Mahadevi, and Mata Damodari
Children Baba Gurdita, Baba Suraj Mal, Baba Ani Rai, Baba Atal Rai, Guru Tegh Bahadur, and Bibi Biro
Parent(s) Guru Arjan Dev & Mata Ganga

Guru Har Gobind, ([ɡʊru həɾɡobɪnd sɑhɪb]) also Saccha Padshah ("True Emperor") (5 July 1595 – 19 March 1644 [1]). According to another tradition, he was born on 5 July 1595. He was the sixth of the Sikh gurus and became Guru on 25 May 1606 following in the footsteps of his father Guru Arjan Dev. He was not, perhaps, more than eleven at his father's execution.[2] Before ascension, he nominated Guru Har Rai, his grandson as the next Guru of the Sikhs.

Early years[edit]

He put on two swords: one indicated his spiritual authority and the other, his temporal authority.[3] ('miri' symbolizing temporal power and 'piri' symbolizing spiritual power).He built the Akal Takht, the Throne of the Almighty.[3] Guru Har Gobind excelled in matters of state, and his Darbar (court) was noted for its splendour. The arming and training of some of his devoted followers began, the Guru came to possess seven hundred horses, and his Risaldari (army) grew to three hundred horsemen and sixty gunners in the due course of time. Additionally, five hundred men from the Majha area of the Punjab were recruited as infantry. Guru Har Gobind built a fortress at Amritsar called Lohgarh "Fortress of steel". He had his own flag and war-drum which was beaten twice a day.


The Guru was a brilliant martial artist (shastarvidya)[4] and an avid hunter.[5] Guru Hargobind encouraged people to maintain physical fitness and keep their bodies ready for physical combat.

Relations with Jahangir and wars with Mughals[edit]

Guru Hargobind is released from Gwalior Fort by Jahangir's order

The reasons for Guru Hargobind to arm his followers were many. Both externally and internally, the situation was changing. The Guru had to adjust his policy to the demands of the new environment. Sikhism had developed its organisation mostly during the tolerant days of Akbar. Akbar had never interfered with the development of Sikhism. He had even helped the Gurus in various ways. But the execution of Guru Arjan at the hands of Jahangir and imprisonment of Guru Hargobind definitely showed that sterner days were ahead. The policy of mere peaceful organisation no longer sufficed. Both Guru Arjan had foreseen and Guru Hargobind also saw that protecting the Sikh community without the aid of arms was no longer possible.[3] The death of his father at the hands of Jahangir prompted him to emphasize the military dimension of the Sikh community. He symbolically wore two swords, which represented miri and piri (temporal power and spiritual authority). He built a fort to defend Ramdaspur and created a formal court, Akal Takht.[6]

These aggressive moves prompted Jahangir to jail Hargobind at Gwalior Fort. It is not clear as to how much time he spent as a prisoner. The year of his release appears to have been either 1611 or 1612. By that time, Jahangir had more or less reverted to tolerant policies of Akbar and the conservatives at the Mughal court had fell out of his favor. After finding Hargobind innocent and harmless ordered his release.[6][7][8] According to Sikh tradition, 52 Rajas who were imprisoned in the fort as hostages for opposing the Mughal empire were dismayed as they were losing a spiritual mentor. Guru Hargobind requested the Rajas to be freed along with him as well and stood surety for their loyal behavior. Jahangir ordered their release as well. Hargobind got a special gown stitched which had 52 hems. As Hargobind left the fort, the captive kings caught the hems of the cloak and came out along with him.[9]

War with Shah Jahan[edit]

During the reign of Shah Jahan, relations became bitter again. The quarrels between Mughal officials and the Sikhs originally started over hawks or horses, but subsequently led to risings on a large scale and were responsible for the deaths of thousands of persons on both sides.[3] Battles were fought at Amritsar, Kartarpur and elsewhere. Guru Hargobind defeated the Mughal troops near Amritsar. The Guru was again attacked by a provincial detachment of Mughals, but the attackers were routed and their leaders slain.[10] Guru Hargobind grasped a sword and marched with his soldiers among the troops of the empire, or boldly led them to oppose and overcome the provincial Muslim governors or personal enemies.[11]

A childhood friend of Guru Hargobind, Painde Khan, whose mother had been the nurse of the Guru, had become his enemy. The cause given, in some accounts, was a valuable hawk of a follower of the Guru which was taken by Khan, and when asked for, was resented by him. Other accounts note Khan's vanity and his pride. This opportunity was used by Mughal officials, who saw Guru Hargobind as an ever-present danger. Painde Khan was appointed leader of the provincial troops and marched upon the Guru. Guru Hargobind was attacked, but the warlike apostle slew the friend of his youth, with his own hand, and proved again a victor.[10]

He died at Kiratpur Rupnagar, Punjab, on 19 March 1644.


During the era of Guru Hargobind, the Sikhs increased greatly in number, and the fiscal policy of Guru Arjan and the armed system of Guru Har Gobind had already formed the Sikhs into a kind of separate entity within the empire. The Guru was not unconscious of his latent influence, but in his private life never forgot his genuine character, and always styled himself Nanak, in deference to the firm belief of his Sikhs, that the soul of their great teacher was alive in each of his successors.[12]

Guru Hargobind had no regard for idol worship. One of his followers cut off the nose of an idol; on complaints from various neighboring chiefs, he summoned the Sikh to his presence; the culprit denied the act, but added, ironically, that if the idol bore witness against him, he would accept punishment willingly. "O fool," replied the chiefs, "how will the idol speak?" Replied the Sikh, "If he can't save his head, then how will he avail you?"[12]


The following is a summary of the main highlights of Guru Har Gobind's life:

  • Transformed the Sikh fraternity by introducing martial arts and weapons for the defence of the masses.
  • Carried two swords of Miri and Piri.
  • Built the Akal Takht in 1608 – which is now one of five Takhts (Seats of Power) of the Sikhs.
  • Founded the city of Kiratpur in District Jalandhar, Punjab.
  • He was imprisoned in the fort of Gwalior for one year and on release insisted that 52 fellow prisoners be freed as well. To mark this occasion, the Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas.
  • The first Guru to engage in warfare.
  • Fought four battles against the Mughal rulers.
  • The city Hargobindpur, in Majha region of Punjab, is named after him, which he won over from Mughals after defeating them in a battle.


  1. ^ Guru Har Gobind Ji, the true emperor
  2. ^ Joseph Davey Cunningham (1853). A History Of The Sikhs. John Murray,London. 
  3. ^ a b c d V. D. Mahajan (1970). Muslim Rule In India. S. Chand, New Delhi, p.223. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Grewal, J.S. Sikh History from Persian Sources: Translations of Major Texts ISBN 978-8185229171 "Many person became his disciples. Nanak believed in the Oneness of God and in the way that it is asserted in Muhammadan theology. He also believed in transmigration of souls. Holding wine and pork to be unlawful, he had [himself] abandoned eating meat. He decreed avoidance of causing harm to animals. It was after his time that meat-eating spread amongst his followers. Guru Arjan Dev, who was one of his lineal successors, found this to be evil. He prohibited people from eating meat, saying, 'This is not in accordance with Nanak's wishes'. Later, Guru Hargobind, son of Guru Arjan, ate meat and took to hunting. Most of their [the Guru's] followers adopted his practice.
  6. ^ a b Phyllis G. Jestice (2004). Holy People of the World: A Cross-cultural Encyclopedia, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 345, 346. ISBN 9781576073551. 
  7. ^ Arvind-Pal Singh Mandair (2013). Sikhism: A Guide for the Perplexed. A & C Black. p. 48. ISBN 9781441117083. 
  8. ^ Raj Pal Singh (2004). The Sikhs : Their Journey Of Five Hundred Years. Pentagon Press. p. 22, 23. ISBN 9788186505465. 
  9. ^ Surjit Singh Gandhi (2007). History of Sikh Gurus Retold: 1606-1708 C.E. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 52. ISBN 9788126908585. 
  10. ^ a b Cunningham, Joseph Davey. A History Of The Sikhs (1853 ed.). London: John Murray. p. 55. 
  11. ^ Cunningham, Joseph Davey. A History Of The Sikhs (1853 ed.). London: John Murray. p. 53. 
  12. ^ a b Cunningham, Joseph Davey. A History Of The Sikhs (1853 ed.). London: John Murray. p. 57. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgeer (2005), Sikh Twareekh Vich Akal Takht Sahib Da Role, Sikh University Press.
  • Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgeer (2011), Akal Takht Sahib (Concept & Role), Sikh University Press.
  • Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgeer (2008), Sikh Twareekh (5 volumes), Sikh University Press.
  • Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgeer (2012), SIKH HISTORY in 10 volumes, Sikh University Press.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Guru Arjan
Sikh Guru
25 May 1606 - 3 March 1644
Succeeded by
Guru Har Rai