Guru Hargobind Ji: The Master of ‘Miri-Piri’

Inderjeet S. Bhatia ‘Prince’

Guru Hargobind Ji, revered as the 6th Nanak, was the 6th of the ten gurus of the Sikh religion. Guru Ji was born on June 19, 1595 in Guru Ki Wadali village in the house of Guru Arjan Dev Ji and Bibi Bhaniji. He had become a guru at the age of 11 after the execution of his father, Guru Arjan Dev Ji, by order of Mughal Emperor Jehangir in Lahore (now Pakistan). Guru Hargobind Ji, also known as the master of Miri-Piri, introduced the process of militarization of Sikhism. This was seen as his response to the execution of his father Guru Arjan Dev by the Mughal Empire and also to protect the Sikh community. Guru Ji symbolized it by carrying two swords representing the dual concept of ‘Miri’ and ‘Piri’ (temporal power and spiritual authority) Guru Ji had ‘Akal Takht’ (The throne of the timeless) built in front of the Temple of ‘Now, Amritsar. The ‘Akal Takht’ represents the highest seat of the earthly authority of the ‘Khalsa’. Guru Ji used to hold his’ darbar ‘(court) in front of’ Akal-Takht). Guru Ji encouraged his disciples to maintain their physical shape. It is believed that only 5 days before his execution, Guru Arjan Dev Ji had chosen his son Guru Hargobind Ji as the next guru of Sikhism. Guru Arjan Dev Ji asked his son to create a military tradition to protect people and always stand around armed Sikhs for protection. Guru Ji, following his father’s advice, kept himself surrounded by armed Sikhs. Number 52 was special in her life and her retinue consisted of 52 gunmen. Over time, Guru Ji had 700 horses and his ‘Risaldari’ (army) reached 300 horsemen and 60 musketeers. Guru Ji built a fort near Amritsar and called it “Lohgarh”. Skillfully, Guru Ji instilled the will to fight and built high morale among his followers. Mughal Emperor Jehangir viewed the build-up of Sikh power as a threat and imprisoned young Guru Ji in Gwalior for a period of time. Some historians believe that Guru Ji voluntarily went to Gwalior Fort, ostensibly to pray for the recovery of the ailing Emperor Jehangir. When Jehangir recovered, he ordered the release of Guru Hargobind Ji. Guru Ji, however, refused to leave unless 52 hill rajas, mostly Hindus, were also released. The 52 Rajas were held as prisoners in Gwalior Fort as hostages for millions of rupees and also for opposing the Mughal Empire. Jehangir accepted Guru Ji’s request to release the hill rajas on condition that only kings be released who could get their hands on Guru Ji’s robe upon leaving the fort. It is said that Guru Ji had a special dress sewn that had 52 hems. As Guru Ji left the fort, the 52 captive kings grabbed the hems of the cloak and walked out of Gwalior’s fort with Guru Ji. Guru Ji has reached the holy city of Amritsar. It was the auspicious day of ‘Diwali’. To mark the occasion, Sikhs celebrated ‘Diwali’ as ‘Bandi-Chhor Diwas’ Guru Ji, thus, was the first Sikh guru to engage in war, fighting and winning 4 defensive battles with Mughal forces . Guru Ji himself was a skilled swordsman, wrestler and horseman as he had received training in military warfare and martial arts. Guru Hargobind Ji studied religious texts with Bhai Gurdas Ji and trained in martial arts with Baba Budha Ji. According to historians, Guru Ji’s relations with Jehangir have remained mostly friendly. Guru Ji, as a friend, accompanied Jehangir to Kashmir and Rajputana and subdued Tarachand de Nalagarh, who had continued in open rebellion for a long time and all efforts to subdue him had failed. During Jehangir’s reign, Guru Hargobind Ji fought against the Mughals in Rohilla. This battle was in response to the militarization of the Sikhs. The Mughals were ruled by Governor Abdul Khan and were defeated by the Sikhs. After Jehangir’s death, Shahjahan became emperor. During Shahjahan’s reign, which began in 1627, Sikhs’ relations with the Mughal Empire turned bitter again. Shah Jahan was intolerant and began to persecute the Sikh community. He forced people to convert to Islam. According to historians, the emperor was also unsure of the growing influence and power of the Sikhs, a fact which the wicked took advantage of with their plots to incite Shahjahan against the Sikhs, especially Guru Hargobind Ji. In 1628, Shahjahan’s hunting party looted part of Guru Ji’s property, which sparked Guru Ji’s first armed conflict with Mughal forces. Guru Hargobind Ji confronted Shahjahan and his strong Mughal army and defeated them four times in his life. Shahjahan’s defeat at the hands of the Sikhs was a blow to the military might of the Mughal Empire. On March 3, 1644, Guru Hargobind Ji called his disciples and passed the Guruship on to his grandson Guru Har Rai Ji to continue the legacy of Guru Nanak Dev Ji ‘. Guru Ji left for his heavenly abode the same day. In the words of JD Cunningham, a British historian “Unlike other Sikh gurus, fondly remembered for their spiritual ideas, Guru Hargobind Ji, the 6th Sikh guru is also credited with having spearheaded the militarization of the Sikh community. Guru Hargobind Ji, thus became both a spiritual master and a military leader. ” Guru Hargobind Ji did not neglect the work of preaching and spreading the Sikh faith. He sent his disciples to remote places like Bihar and Bengal to preach Sikhism. Guru Ji allowed Udasis to preach Sikhism. Guru Hargobind Ji never gave up the true character of Guru Nanak Dev Ji whose teachings he must have spread in this world. At that time, when the scourge of caste division, religious discrimination and superstition made life hell for the ordinary person. At that time, Guru Hargobind Ji used the power of worship and the power of the sword to combat this oppression.

About Harold Hartman

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