Guru Hargobind Sahib ji
Shri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji
|Other names||The Sixth Master|
The Master of Miri Piri
|Born||19 June 1595|
|Died||3 March 1644 (aged 48)|
|Children||Baba Gurdita ji, Baba Suraj Mal ji, Baba Ani Rai ji, Baba Atal Rai ji, Guru Tegh Bahadur ji, and Bibi Veero ji|
|Parents||Guru Arjun Dev ji and Mata Ganga ji|
|Other names||The Sixth Master|
The Master of Miri Piri
|Predecessor||Guru Arjan Dev ji|
|Successor||Guru Har Rai ji|
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Guru Hargobind Sahib ji ([gʊɾuː ɦəɾgoːbɪn̯d̯ᵊ] 19 June 1595 - 3 March 1644), revered as the sixth Nanak, was the sixth of ten Gurus of the Sikh religion. He had become Guru at the young age of eleven, after the execution of his father, Guru Arjan, by the Mughal emperor Jahangir.
Guru Hargobind ji introduced the process of militarization to Sikhism, to defend against oppression and to protect the humanity. He symbolized it by wearing two swords, representing the dual concept of miri and piri (temporal power and spiritual authority). In front of the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, Guru Hargobind ji constructed the Akal Takht (the throne of the timeless one), as a court for consideration of temporal issues and administration of justice. The Akal Takht represents the highest seat of earthly authority of the Khalsa (the collective body of the Sikhs) today. Guru Hargobind had the longest tenure as Guru, lasting 37 years, 9 months and 3 days.
Guru Hargobind Sahib ji was born in 1595 in Wadali Guru, a village 7 km west of Amritsar, the only son of Guru Arjun Dev ji, the fifth Sikh Guru. He suffered from smallpox as a child and survived a poisoning attempt by an pandit, as well as another attempt on his life, when a cobra was thrown at him. He studied religious texts with Bhai Gurdas ji and trained in swordsmanship and archery with Baba Budda ji (not to be confused with the Buddha).
On 25 May 1606 Guru Arjan dev ji selected Guru Hargobind Sahib as his successor and instructed his son to start a military tradition to protect people and always keep himself surrounded by armed Sikhs for protection. Shortly afterwards, Guru Arjun Dev ji was arrested, tortured and martyred by order of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, Guru Hargobind's succession ceremony took place on 24 June 1606. He put on two swords: one indicated his spiritual authority (piri) and the other, his temporal authority (miri). He followed his martyred father's advice and always kept himself surrounded by armed Sikhs for protection. The number fifty two was special in his life, and his retinue consisted of fifty two armed men. He thus founded the military tradition in the Sikh faith.
Guru Hargobind ji had three wives: Damodari, Nanaki and Mahadevi. He had children from all three wives. Two of his eldest sons from the first wife died during his lifetime. Guru Tegh Bahadur ji his son from Mata Nanaki ji, became the ninth Sikh Guru.
The Guru was a martial artist (shastarvidya), an avid hunter and, according to Persian records, unlike earlier Gurus, he and the Sikh Gurus that followed him were meat eaters. Guru Hargobind encouraged people to maintain physical fitness and keep their bodies ready for physical combat. He had his own Darbar (court). 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 musketeers.
He nominated his grandson to succeed him as the seventh Guru Har Rai ji. He died in 1644 at Kiratpur Sahib, a town situated on the banks of river Sutlej, and was cremated on the banks of River Sutlej, where now stands Gurdwara Patalpuri Sahib.
Relations with Mughal rulers
Guru Hargobind ji led the Sikh response against Mughal power after Guru Arjan Dev ji's execution.He resisted the Islamic persecution, fighting four wars against Shah Jahan's armies. His attempts to transform the Sikh community brought him in conflict with the Mughal authority.
Because of the oppressions by Mughal Emperors, Guru Hargobind ji from the very start was a dedicated enemy of the Mughal rule. He advised Sikhs to arm and fight the Mughals. 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.
Jahangir responded by jailing the 17 year old Guru Hargobind at Gwalior Fort in 1612, on the pretext that the fine imposed on Guru Arjun Dev ji had not been paid by the Sikhs and Guru Hargobind Sahib. It is not clear as to how much time he spent as a prisoner. The year of his release appears to have been either 1614 or 1615, when Guru Hargobind was about 16 years old. Persian records, such as Dabistan i Mazahib suggest he was kept in jail for twelve years, including over 1617-1619 in Gwalior, after which he and his camp were kept under Muslim army's surveillance by Jahangir.
It is unclear why he was released. Scholars suggest that Jahangir had more or less reverted to tolerant policies of Akbar by about 1611 after he felt secure about his throne, and the Sunnis and Naqshbandhi court officials at the Mughal court had fallen out of his favour. Another theory states that Jahangir discovered the circumstances and felt Guru Hargobind ji was harmless, so he ordered his release.
According to Surjit Singh Gandhi, 52 Rajas who were imprisoned in the fort as hostages for "millions of rupees" and for opposing the Mughal empire were dismayed as they were losing a spiritual mentor. Guru Hargobind ji said Jehangir to let these Rajas be freed along with him and he stood surety for their loyal behaviour. Jahangir accepted this but ordered the release of only as many as could hold onto the hem of his cloak when he walked out. So Guru Hargobind ji got an especially large cloak made and wore it the day of his release. As Guru Hargobind ji left the fort, the other 52 captive rajas held the hem of this cloak and thus were permitted to came out along with him.
After his release, Guru Hargobind ji more discreetly strengthened the Sikh army and reconsolidated the Sikh community. His relations with Jahangir remained mostly friendly. He accompanied Jahangir to Kashmir and Rajputana and subdued Tara Chand of Nalagarh, who had continued for a long time in open rebellion and all efforts to subdue him had failed. During Jahangir's reign, Guru Hargobind fought a battle against the Mughals at Rohilla. The battle was in response to the militarisation of the Sikhs. The Mughals who were led by Governor Abdul Khan were defeated by the Sikhs.
During the reign of Shah Jahan that started in 1627, relations became bitter again. Shah Jahan was intolerant. He destroyed the Sikh baoli at Lahore.  In 1628, Sikhs plundered Baaz(Falcon) of mughals, which triggered the first armed conflict.
Sikh army fought battles with the Mughal armies of Shah Jahan at Amritsar, Kartarpur and elsewhere. Guru Hargobind ji defeated the Mughal troops near Amritsar in the Battle of Amritsar in 1634. The Guru was again attacked by a provincial detachment of Mughals, but the attackers were routed and their leaders slain. Guru Hargobind ji also led his armies against the provincial Muslim governors. The Guru anticipated the return of a larger Mughal force, so retreated into Shivalik Hills to strengthen his defenses and army, with a base in Kiratpur where he continued to stay till his death.
Painde Khan was appointed leader of the provincial troops by Shah Jahan and marched upon the Guru. Guru Hargobind ji was attacked, but he won this battle as well. Guru Hargobind also fought the Battle of Kartarpur.
Shah Jahan attempted political means to undermine the Sikh tradition, by dividing and influencing the succession. The Mughal ruler gave land grants to Dhir Mal, living in Kartarpur, and attempted to encourage Sikhs to recognise Dhir Mal as the rightful successor to Guru Hargobind ji. Dhir Mal issued statements in favour of the Mughal state, and critical of his grandfather. Guru Hargobind ji died at Kiratpur Rupnagar, Punjab, on 19 March 1644, but before his death he rejected Dhir Mal and nominated Guru Har Rai ji instead to succeed him as the Guru.
Samarth Ramdas and Guru Hargobind Ji
According to Sikh tradition based on an old Punjabi manuscript Panjah Sakhian, Samarth Ramdas met Guru Hargobind ji (1595-1644) at Srinagar in the Garhval hills. The meeting, corroborated in a Marathi source, Ramdas Swami's Bakhar, by Hanumant Swami, written in 1793, probably took place in the early 1630s during Samarth Ramdas's pilgrimage travels in the north and Guru Hargobind ji's journey to Nanakmata in the east. It is said that as they came face to face with each other, Guru Hargobind ji had just returned from a hunting excursion. He was fully armed and rode a horse. "I had heard that you occupied the Gaddi of Guru Nanak", said the Maratha saint Ramdas, and asked what sort of sadhu was he. Guru Hargobind replied, "Internally a hermit, and externally a prince. Arms mean protection to the poor and destruction of the tyrant. Baba Nanak had not renounced the world but had renounced Maya".
Battles and skirmishes
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| Sikh Guru
25 May 1606 - 3 March 1644
Guru Har Rai