Home Sikhism GURUS Guru Gobind Singh Ji: Founding Father of the Khalsa

Guru Gobind Singh Ji: Founding Father of the Khalsa

by: Dr. Sukhdial Singh Dept. of Punjab Historical Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala. 147002.

There is a strong belief among the Sikhs that Guru Gobind Singh directed his followers to denounce the Brahmanical way of living in these words. "As long as the Khalsa keeps intact its distinct entity, I shall bestow full glory on it. But when it goes the way of a Brahman I shall not believe in its actions."

Jab lag Khalsa rahe niara.
Tab lag tej dio mai sara.
Jab eh rahen bipran ki reet.
Maina Karun in ki partit.

The Code of conduct is also based on historical evidence and tradition. Sainapat tells us about these terms which were made obligatory for the Khalsa. According to Sainapat the Khalsa was directed to discard the five kinds of people in their social set up. These were: First the Masands; second those who cut their hair of the head; third, the smokers; fourth, those who do not mix with the Sikh Sangats and fifth, those who oppose the Khalsa way of life. Traditionally, the Minas, the followers of Prirthi Chand; the followers of Dhir Mal, the followers of Ram Rai were also included in these people. Though these names are not mentioned in any of the contemporary or near contemporary accounts yet there is a very strong tradition among the Sikhs not to socially cooperate with these dissenting groups. Thus, the statement of Bute Shah, though not a contemporary but it represents the opinion, the Khalsa had during the period of the writer.

By the creation of the Khalsa, one man leadership of the Sikhs was transformed to the five men and the supremacy of the Sarbat Khalsa was established. Though the supremacy of the Sikh Sangats was recognized in Sikhism right from the beginning, yet, by the creation of the Khalsa, it was established as an institution. The Five Beloved Ones were to be the presidium in place of one-man leadership of the Khalsa. The Guru made any five baptised Sikhs competent to represent the Khalsa and the Sikhs were directed to believe that wherever the Sikhs would assemble under the leadership of Panj Pyaras, the Guru would also be there. This belief made the Five Beloved Ones a sacred institution by which any kind of decision could be taken.

The question of the leadership of the community was left to the community itself. After the death of Guru Gobind Singh the temporal form of the Gurship was merged with the Khalsa while the spiritual Guruship was merged with Guru Granth Sahib. The creation of the Khalsa paved the way for assuming the right for self-determination of the Sikh Society. The Khalsa under the leadership of the Five Beloved Ones and in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib was to be fully competent to take any kind of decision. Every member of the Khalsa assembly had an equal right to express his views. It was a unique kind of democracy.

The leadership, provided by the Guru, in the form of Five Beloved Ones was a wonderful achievement in the social and political scenario of the Indian subcontinent. These Five Beloved Ones belonged to the five different castes and regions of the subcontinent as has also been said earlier. Bhai Daya Singh, a Khatri,was from the Punjab or the northern region. Bhai Dharam Singh, a Jat, from Delhi Saharupur, belonged to the central region. Bhai Himmat Singh, a Jhiver, from Jagannath Puri belonged to the eastern region. Bhai Mohkam Singh, a darji, from Dwarka, belonged to the western region and Bhai Sahib Singh, a nai from Bider, belonged to the southern region. The Guru, thus, in a wonderful way, secured an intercommunal and inter regional unity of the subcontinent. This was an attempt to unite the subcontinental forces into the new Rashtar, (The Khalsa Commonwealth). Corresponding to these five regional representations, the Guru also established five regional seats of authority, the Panj Takhats. Takhat Keshgarh Sahib, Anandpur, Takhat Dandama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, Takhat Patna Sahib (Bihar), Takhat Sri Hazur Sahib, Nanded were made the four regional centres of northern, central, eastern and southern regions respectively. Sri Akal Takhat Sahib, Amritsar, was to be the Central seat of this new Rashter. And the Khalsa was made the custodian of these five centres. Thus wise, Guru Gobind Singh established, in a way, the Khalsa Republic.

By inventing the ceremony of Amrit and by knighting the Sikhs as Singhs, Guru Gobind Singh touched the people with faith and courage. He made one Sikh equal to a host of Sava-Lakh and had hawks killed by sparrows. Ordinary human beings, who had never touched a sword and would have trembled at the sight of blood, were transformed into stouthearted warriors. Cunningham writes that "the last apostle of the Sikhs effectually roused the dormant energies of a vanquished people and filled them with a lofty though fitful longing for social freedom: and national ascendancy."This statement of Cunningham is fully appropriate. After the baptismal ceremony a Sikh adopts a new way of life.

The whole of his social, family and religious background stands eclipsed and he becomes a member of the Khalsa Commonwealth which has no caste or colour consideration. An untouchable Shudra was to be equivalent to a Brahman and Khatri in this commonwealth. This concept of equality and fraternity of Guru Gobind Singh created a stir among the people of higher castes. Some Brahmans and Khatris left the congregation. They did not like the mission of social quality. They were proud of their high social background. But the Guru did not care for them and struck at the very root of the evil by declaring that nobody could call himself a true Sikh until and unless he did not give up the prejudices of caste and regard all his fellow Sikhs as his brothers.

Guru Gobind Singh not only gave the down trodden a status of social equality, he also made their physical appearance alike to the nobility of the courtiers. A turban on the head, the vertical moustaches and a flowing beard on the face, a long sword tied to the waist gave a person of Shudra classes a strong boost and raised him equal to the high class warriors. Thus, the Khalsa saintsoldiers had been given leonine appearance by the external insignia of their faith. The Khalsa was the handsomest and tallest of men cast in huge moulds, picturesque and broadchested. This magic touch of the Guru’s wand transformed the members of the despised classes into efficient soldiers. Thus, the Khalsa was a revolution that provided social equality, moral sanctity and vertical mobility for the lower castes and sections of the society with their self-identities. The Amrit of Guru Gobind Singh not only converted their physical appearance but it also brought a revolutionary transformation in their spirit also.

The enlargement of the soul gradually led to bodily amplitude. They probed themselves as the saint soldiers of the faith ever repeating God’s name in their mouths and meditating on war in their hearts. The world history does not show any example of such a total change in the social set up. Guru Gobind Singh fought many battles successfully against the forces of tyranny with a handful of his followers from these lower classes. Therefore, the statement of Cunningham mentioned above can easily be extended further and it can be said that the Guru not only roused the dormant energies of a vanquished people with a lofty and fitful longing for social freedom but also made himself the master of the imagination of his followers and they came to believe that the Khalsa was under the direct protection of the Lord.

The Khalsa Commonwealth was a State within itself. It owed its allegiance to no earthly power or ruler except its Guru. The Guru is the sovereign within the Khalsa organization. In the words of Rattan Singh Bhangu: the Khalsa is never a satellite to another power. It is either fully sovereign or in a state of war and rebellion. A subservient coexistence they never accept. To be fully sovereign and autonomous is their first and last demand. It developed a national consciousness in the ranks of the Khalsa. It encouraged them to fight collectively against the tyranny and injustice done by government forces of the day.

Ultimately, it paved the way to establish its own empire in the land of the five rivers, i.e. Punjab. It had its own philosophy (Guru Granth),its own script (Gurmukhl), its own force to protect itself, its feelings to struggle against the tyranny and injustice and its aspirations to be an independent community. All these things fulfill the conditions for a nation and the Khalsa was conceived as a liberated people. The evolution of Sikhism was complete. In other words, the Khalsa was the culmination of the Sikh movement. The Sikhism created an ideal person named Gurmukh Guru Gobind Singh converted this person into a Khalsa. It means the Khalsa is a developed form of a person whom the movement of Sikhism created.

Similarly, Guru Nanak established the Sikh Sangats to which the later Gurus organized in Manji and Masand systems. Guru Gobind Singh converted these Sikh Sangats into Khalsa. The Khalsa was invested with the authority of temporal Guruship. Similarly, Guru Arjun Dev built the Golden Temple as the supreme Spiritual Centre for the Sikh community. Guru Hargobind established, besides this, the Akal Takhat as a central place of Sikh temporal power. All these were the different stages of the development of Sikhism.

 

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 Dasvandh or Dasaundh, literally means a "tenth part" and refers to the practice among Sikhs of contributing in the name of the Guru one-tenth of their earnings towards the common resources of the community. This is also referred to in Punjabi as "Daan" literally "giving" or "contributing" in charity. This is a Sikh's religious obligation — a religious requirement or duty; a form of seva or humble service which is highly valued in the Sikh system. The concept of dasvandh was implicit in Guru Nanak’s own Gurbani in the line: "ਘਾਲਿ ਖਾਇ ਕਿਛੁ ਹਥਹੁ ਦੇਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਰਾਹੁ ਪਛਾਣਹਿ ਸੇਇ ॥੧॥ One who works for what he eats, and gives some of what he has - O Nanak, he knows the Path (1)" (SGGS p 1245) The idea of sharing and giving is symbolised by the institutions of langar (community kitchen) for the sangat (holy assembly) that the Guru has established.
(http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Dasvandh)

A Hukamnama refers to a hymn from the Guru Granth Sahib which is given as an order to Sikhs or a historical order given by one of the Guru's of Sikhism.
The Hukamnama also refers to a hymn randomly selected from the Guru Granth Sahib on a daily basis. This is seen as the order of God for that particular day.

Hukamnama - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia