Guru Gobind Singh Ji was born into the house of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji and Mata Gujri Ji in Patna, Bihar on Poh Sudi 7, 1723B i.e. 1st January, 1666 AD. Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was not in Patna at the time Guru Gobind Singh Ji was born as they were on travels towards East India to spread the message of Sikhi. Mata Gujri Ji kept their son’s name Gobind Rai. Guru Gobind Singh Ji had three wives named Mata Jeeto Ji, Mata Sundri Ji and Mata Sahib Devan Ji. With Mata Jeeto Ji, Guru Ji had three sons, Baba Juhjar Singh Ji, Baba Zorawar Singh Ji, Baba Fateh Singh Ji. Guru Ji had one son, Baba Ajit Singh Ji with Mata Sundri Ji. Guru Ji did not have any children with Mata Sahib Devan Ji as she was a “kuara dola” (chaste spouse). Guru Ji said to Mata Sahib Devan Ji that your child is the Collective Khalsa Panth.
From a young age, Gobind Rai Ji embodied Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s teachings. When famous Muslim Pir (saint) Bikhan Shah was curious to see whether baby Gobind Rai preferred Hindus or Muslims, he kept a pot of milk, reprsententing Hindus, and a pot of water, representing Muslims, in front of Gobind Rai Ji. Immediately, Gobind Rai Ji placed his hands on both pots simultaneously, showing the Pir that Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s teachings of equality and respect for everyone would continue under Gobind Rai Ji. The birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh Ji is called Takht Sri Harmandir Ji (not to be confused with Sri Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar) at Patna Sahib, Bihar. This is the place where Guru Ji spent most of their childhood. Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji moved their family back to Chakk Nanaki (now known as Anandpur Sahib), the town which Guru Ji started. There, Gobind Rai Ji began learning different languages that included Braj, Sanskrit, Hindi and Persian and most importantly, Punjabi, the language of the Gurus.
Gurgaddi (Guruship) and Shaheedi of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji
Guru Gobind Singh Ji became the Guru on Maghar Sudi 3, 1732 B ie. 17th December, 1675 AD at Anandpur Sahib at the age of 10 years 11 months and 16 days after the Shaheedi of their father, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. Aurangzeb and Bahadur Shah were the rulers during the time of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Aurangzeb was a cruel ruler and forcefully converted Hindus to Muslims. So, Guru Gobind Singh Ji suggested their father, the ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji to sacrifice their life to save the Hindu Religion.
Paonta Sahib and Battle of Bhangani
Guru Gobind Singh Ji established a city called Paonta Sahib on the banks of the River Yamuna when they were 18-years-old in 1684 AD. This town now lies in Himachal Pradesh. Guru Ji continued to practice horseback riding, swimming, archery and several other types of physical exercises. Guru Ji also encouraged other Sikhs to stay fit and strong. Increasing physical and army strength caused fear amongst neighboring hill rulers and they collaborated to attack Guru Ji in Bhangani, around 10 kilometers away from Paonta Sahib. During their stay in Paonta Sahib, Guru Ji became close with Pir Budhu Shah, a Muslim saint. The Pir would come and visit Guru Ji often. He quickly fell in love with Guru Ji’s mission to uplift the poor and protect the oppressed. Pir Budhu Shah gathered 500 Pathans, Afghanistani natives, who had been dismissed by Aurangzeb’s army for being Shi’a Muslims and enrolled them in Guru Ji’s army. Prior to launching the Battle of Bhangani, the kings convinced 400 of the Pathans to join their royal army. Pir Budhu Shah was enraged to hear this and brought his 700 followers, four sons and two brothers to join Guru Ji’s army. In the intense Battle of Bhangani, two of Pir Budhu Shah’s sons attained Shaheedi (martyrdom). Nonetheless, the Guru’s army prevailed and the hill rulers were defeated. After the Battle, Pir Budhu Shah went to say goodbye to Guru Ji and return to his town Sadhaura. Guru Ji was so pleased with him that they asked him to ask for anything. Pir Ji asked Guru Ji for the comb that Guru Ji was using at that moment. When Aurganzeb later discovered that the Pir had helped Guru Ji win the Battle of Bhangani, he had him captured. Pir Budhu Shah, a devout Sevak (selfless servant) of the Guru, was buried alive for helping Guru Ji.
When Aurangzeb ordered the closure of all institutions teaching Sanskrit, Guru Ji invited Sanskrit scholars to come to Anandpur. However, Pandit Raghu Nath refused to teach the Sikhs Sanskrit since he believed it could only be taught to high-caste Hindus who could then read the holy books. Guru Gobind Singh Ji, however, believed it was important for Sikhs.
So, Guru Ji sent five Sikhs disguised as Nirmala Saints to Kanshi to learn Sanskrit. These Sikhs later came back to teach the rest of the Sangat (Sikh community) what they had learned. Brahmins could not pretend to have superiority anymore. Bhai Nand Lal, along with 51 other poets, came to Guru Ji in Anandpur Sahib. Guru Ji wanted to instill courage in the Sikhs and encouraged these poets to write ballads in Punjabi. Guru Sahib also wrote many compositions which are now compiled and known as Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Ji. Guru Sahib always had at least 52 Kavis (poets) in Their court.
Vaisakhi 1699: Creation of Khalsa
On the first day of the Nanakshahi month Vaisakh in 1699 AD, Guru Gobind Singh Ji asked the congregation of hundreds of thousands of Sikhs “Is there any child of a Sikh, who is willing to give their head?” In asking this, Guru Sahib tested the devotion, humility and love of the Sikhs. After some hesitation, a Sikh agreed to Guru Ji’s request. Guru Sahib took him inside a tent, and some time later, emerged with blood on the sword. One-by-one, Guru Sahib asked for five Sikhs who would give their head to the Guru. Just as the congregation started to disperse, fearing their Guru had gone rogue, Guru Sahib emerged with these five Singhs who were now known as the Panj Pyare (five beloved ones). They all were originally from different castes, but now stood together as the Guru’s true Sikhs. Guru Sahib had offered them Amrit (ambrosial nectar) inside the tent, and in doing so, had made them Jeevan Mukt—liberated from the cycle of birth and death during one’s lifetime. After blessing the Panj Pyare (the five beloved ones) with Amrit, Guru Ji asked for Amrit as well. After having Amrit, Guru Ji also changed their name from Gobing Rai to Gobind Singh. The Panj Pyare are the leadership of the Khalsa—the Guru’s army of the immaculate. Guru Gobind Singh Ji explains that anywhere you have the Khalsa’s presence, you have Guru Ji’s presence too in the Tuk (Gurbani words) —
ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ਮੇਰੋ ਰੂਪ ਹੈ ਖ਼ਾਸ ॥ ਖ਼ਾਲਸੇ ਮਹਿ ਹੌ ਕਰੌ ਨਿਵਾਸ ॥
Khalsa is my true form. Within the Khalsa, I abide
The mission of the Khalsa is to work towards “degh tegh fateh” or “food freedom victory” for everyone, regardless of gender, faith, caste or race. Through the Vaisakhi of 1699 and creation of the Khalsa, Guru Gobind Singh Ji solidified the Sikhi ideal of Sant-Sipahi (saint-soldier).
Khalsa as The Sant (The Saint):
The Panj Pyare’s names represent the five mental qualities that a Guru’s Khalsa or follower should have—Daya (compassion), Dharam (faithful living), Himmat (a courageous spirit), Mokham (strong leader), and Sahib (mastery).
Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave all Khalsa men the last name “Singh,” which means lion. Guru Sahib gave Khalsa women the last name “Kaur,” which means princess. In doing so, Guru Sahib removed the caste-based inequality associated with particular last names. Amritdhaari Sikhs are supposed to recite Naam (Vaheguru’s name) and do Paath (Sikh prayers) daily. The Khalsa is meant to get drenched in the love of Gurbani (Guru’s words). Guru Gobind Singh Ji describes in the bani Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Ji —
ਜਾਗਤ ਜੋਤਿ ਜਪੈ ਨਿਸ ਬਾਸੁਰ ਏਕੁ ਬਿਨਾ ਮਨਿ ਨੈਕ ਨ ਆਨੈ ॥
Khalsa as the Sapahi: Justice Soldier
On Vaisakhi, Guru Gobind Singh Ji also gave Sikhs the Hukam (order) to keep unshorn hair and wear five Kakkars (symbols of faith):
- Kesh (uncut hair from head to toe): Preserves a direct connection to Vaheguru by keeping his gift of the body intact
- Kangha (a small wooden comb): Symbolizes cleanliness and maintaining grace
- Kara (iron bangle): Reminds the Khalsa of Vaheguru and to act in line with the teachings of Gurus
- Kirpan (sword): Demonstrates the Khalsa’s motivation to justice and freedom
- Kachchera (long cotton briefs): Reminds the Khalsa to prioritize modesty and break away from Kaam (lust)
These articles of faith remind Sikhs of their connection to Vaheguru and their duty as members of the Khalsa. Sikhs’ turbans and their distinct appearances help people to quickly identify members of the Khalsa in moments of need.
Anandpur Qila and Martyrdom of the Sahibzaade
Following the creation of the Khalsa, the nearby Hill rulers continued to be alarmed over the increasing strength of Guru Ji and Their army. The kings were desperate to evict Guru Ji and decided to side with Aurangzeb to fight off Guru Ji. In 1705, the hill chiefs attacked the Anandpur Sahib fort. But, they lost at the hands of Guru Sahib’s skilled army. Frustrated, they decided to surround Anandpur for six months and wait. They blocked all food and supplies, but still, the Sikhs would not surrender. The hill kings were losing hope. They decided to ask Aurangzeb for military support. The Mughal army laid a siege to the Anandpur fort in May 1705. For months, the Sikhs tolerated a shortage of food and repeated assaults by the Mughal army. Aurangzeb realized that he would not be able to capture Anandpur while the Sikhs were inside the fort. So, on the oath of the Quran, Aurangzeb promised the Sikhs a safe exit from Anandpur if they left the fort. Guru ji, in respect of the religious oaths, started to leave Anandpur on December 5-6th of 1705. However, as soon as Guru Ji left the fort, the Mughal Army and Hill Chiefs went back on their promise of safe exit and started to attack Guru Ji and his Sikhs. Many Sikhs died in the chaos and several manuscripts got lost. In the well-known Parivar Vichora (family separation) at Sirsa River, Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s family was divided into three parts. Guru Ji’s younger two sons Sahibzaada Zoravar Singh Ji and Sahibzaada Fateh Singh Ji went with Guru Ji’s mother Mata Gujri Ji. Guru Ji’s wives, Mata Sahib Devan Ji and Mata Sundari Ji went with some Sikhs towards Delhi. Guru Ji made it to Chamkaur with 40 other Sikhs and Their two elder sons Sahibzaada Ajit Singh Ji and Sahibzaada Jujhar Singh Ji. While Guru Ji sought refuge in a fort in Chamkaur, the Mughal army which followed Guru Ji once again began to attack. Sahibzaada Ajit Singh Ji and Sahibzaada Jujhar Singh Ji were both killed in this battle.
Guru Ji’s two younger sons, who were in Sirhind, attained Shehadi (martyrdom) by being bricked alive at the ages of 6 and 9. They had spent several days appearing in Wazir Khan’s court and were offered the opportunity to live and endless luxuries if they converted to Islam. But the younger Sahibzaade were untouched by worldly possessions. Guru Ji’s mother, Mata Gujri Ji, gave Sahibzaada Zoravar Singh Ji and Sahibzada Fateh Singh Ji the confidence they needed to embrace Sikhi, and as a result, death. Guru Ji battled against the Mughals and won every battle.
Writing the Zafarnama
In 1707 AD, Guru Ji wrote the Zafarnama, Letter of Victory, to Aurangzeb in Persian. Guru Ji chastised Aurangzeb for breaking his oath and emphasized the importance of morality. Guru Ji sent Bhai Daya Singh and Bhai Dharam Singh to deliver the letter to Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb was deeply shaken by this letter and the Truth of the letter resulted in his demise. When Aurangzeb’s sons were fighting for the throne, Guru Ji supported Prince Muazzam, who as emperor was known as Bahadur Shah. Guru Ji met Bahadur Shah in July of 1707.
While Guru Ji was in Nanded in 1708 AD, Sirhind’s Nawab Wizir Khan told two of his men to go kill Guru Ji. While Guru Ji was resting after the Rehras Sahib prayer, one of the men stabbed Guru Ji. Before he could deliver another blow, Guru Ji quickly blew a strike with a sword placed by His bedside pillow. The other man was killed by Guru Ji’s Sikhs. Bahadur Shah sent the best surgeon to help Guru Ji recover. The wound was stitched and Guru Ji was on the road to recovery. However, when Guru Ji applied lots of pressure to pull a stiff bow, the wound ruptured and bled.
Previously at Sri Damdama Sahib, Guru Gobind Singh Ji recited the whole of Guru Granth Sahib Ji, while Bhai Mani Singh Ji wrote them and Baba Deep Singh Ji prepared the ink and paper for the cause. Guru Sahib also did Katha (discourse) of the whole of Guru Granth Sahib Ji to 48 Singhs at Damdama Sahib. The process took a total of 9 months 9 days to complete. It was through Their blessings that the establishment of Damdami Taksal was born. At Hazoor Sahib, Nanded, in line with the previous tradition of passing the Gurgaddi (Guruship), Guru Ji placed five pice and a coconut in front of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Guru Ji told the Sangat that from now on, there will be no living Guru. Instead, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji would be the eternal Guru they could turn to for guidance. Guru Ji’s was Joti Jot on (immersed into the Eternal Light) on Kattak Sudi 2, 1765 B ie 19th November 1708 at Hazoor Sahib, Nanded. In 42 short years, Guru Ji challenged injustice, wrote lots of Gurbani, created the Khalsa and established three towns—Anandpur Sahib, Nanded, and Paonta Sahib
Guru Ji’s Bani (Guru’s writing) is written in the Sri Dasam Granth Sahib. Their connection to Vaheguru was extremely strong, and Guru Ji raised their family to have the same love—Guru Ji’s mother, father and four sons were all Shaheeds (martyrs). Guru Gobind Singh truly lived life as a Sant-Sipahi (saint-soldier).
To learn more about Guru Gobind Singh Ji, watch
Note: All recorded dates of Sikh history are in Bikrami Calendar. Bikrami Calendar is 57 years ahead of the standard Gregorian Calendar. To learn more about the Bikrami Calendar, watch