Guru Hargobind

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Guru Hargobind
ਗੁਰੂ ਹਰਿਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਜੀ
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
Parents 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] Though he waged war against Muslims atrocities all his life, he died peacefully at the age of 48. Most of the historians of Mughal India look at it simplistically from a political angle but the war by several Sikh Gurus against Mughals and their killing by Muslims is a long series of widespread systematic religious persecutions that Hindus and Sikhs suffered at the hands of Muslims[3] 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.[4] ('miri' symbolizing temporal power and 'piri' symbolizing spiritual power).He built the Akal Takht, the Throne of the Almighty.[4] Guru Har Gobind ji 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)[5] and an avid hunter.[6] Guru Hargobind encouraged people to maintain physical fitness and keep their bodies ready for physical combat.

Relations with Jahangir and wars with Mughals[edit]

The reasons for Guru Har Gobind 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.[4] Guru Hargobind accumulated a stable of eight hundred horses and three hundred mounted followers constantly attended to him. A guard of fifty-six matchlock-men secured his safety in person.

War with Muslims: Imprisonment by Jahangir[edit]

Muslim ruler of Delhi, Jahangir could not tolerate the armed policy of Guru Hargobind and consequently imprisoned him.

The main reason for leaving him after years was that there were a lot of reports from across the length and width of the country that people were against the throne due to the popularity of the guru, as well as the unjustified martyrdom of the fifth guru. A lot of people were following Sikhism, and there was a possibility of a coup if the Guru was not released at the earliest. As it is, there were 52 Hindu kings in the Gwalior prison at that moment, the policies of Jahangir against the local majority people were oppressive in nature. Therefore, the situation compelled him to order release of Guru Hargobind and save the throne.

War with Shah Jahan[edit]

During the reign of Shah Jahan, relations became bitter again. Shah Jahan was intolerant. He destroyed the Sikh baoli at Lahore. 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.[4] Battles were fought at Amritsar, Kartarpur and elsewhere. Guru Hargobind defeated the Muslim Imperial troops near Amritsar. The Guru was again attacked by a provincial detachment of Muslims, but the attackers were routed and their Muslim leaders slain.[7] Guru Hargobind grasped a sword and marched with his devoted soldiers among the troops of the empire, or boldly led them to oppose and overcome the provincial Muslim governors or personal enemies.[8]

:Guru Har Gobind is released from Gwalior Fort by Jahangir's order

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.[7]

Though Guru Har Gobind waged wars against Muslim rule all his life, he finally breathed his last, peacefully, 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.[9]

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?"[9]


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. ^ [Understanding the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev - by Pashora Singh, University of Michigan, Journal of Philosophical Studies]
  4. ^ a b c d V. D. Mahajan (1970). Muslim Rule In India. S. Chand, New Delhi, p.223. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b Cunningham, Joseph Davey. A History Of The Sikhs (1853 ed.). London: John Murray. p. 55. 
  8. ^ Cunningham, Joseph Davey. A History Of The Sikhs (1853 ed.). London: John Murray. p. 53. 
  9. ^ 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 Dev
(15 April 1563 – 30 May 1606)
Guru Har Gobind Followed by:
Guru Har Rai
(26 February 1630 – 30 May 1661)