Guru Gobind Singh Ji was the 10th Sikh Guru of Nanak. He was born at Patna, Bihar, India, on December 22, 1666. His birthday sometimes falls either in December or January or even both months in the Gregorian calendar. The annual celebration of the Guru’s birthday is based on the Nanakshahi calendar. In January o f2018, there is not any observance of Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti.
Guru Gobind Singh was the son of Guru Tegh Bahadur, who gave his life to protect religious freedom. He succeeded his father when he became a Guru at nine years of age. Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s teachings have a big impact on Sikhs. In his lifetime, he stood against the Mughal Rulers and fought against injustice. In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh Ji took five men from the lower caste of society and baptized them as His Five Beloveds, endowing them with great courage and a devotion to God. It was his dedication to God, his fearlessness and his desire to protect the people from being oppressed that led Guru Gobind Singh Ji to establish the Khalsa, a military force of saint-soldiers which he baptized.
Under Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s guidance and inspiration, the Khalsa followed a strict moral code and spiritual discipline. It was through his courage that the people rose against the oppression of the Mughal ruler in India at the time. Aside from being a spiritual and a military leader Guru Gobind Singh Ji was also a gifted writer who penned a large body of literary work. Before his death in 1708, he declared the Guru Granth Sahib, which is Sikhism’s Holy Scripture to be the permanent Sikh Guru.
Sikh sources of authority
For Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib is the most important source of authority. It is also known as the Adi Granth.
The Guru Granth Sahib is written in the Gurmukhi script. Guru Arjan collected the sacred writings and teachings of the first four Gurus – Guru Nanak, Guru Angad, Guru Amar Das and Guru Ram Das, while also adding his own. He also included hymns written by Hindu and Muslim poets, a way of teaching Sikhs that it is important to learn from others. The Adi Granth is the term used to describe this ﬁrst scripture. Later, Guru Gobind Singh added the compositions of his father, the ninth Guru, Tegh Bahadur.
Many Sikhs are also guided by the Sikh Rahit Maryada or Code of Conduct. It was based on earlier codes of conduct and was published by the Sikhs‘ highest elected body in 1945. The Rahit Maryada explains how ceremonies should be performed in a gurdwara and how Sikhs should live.
The Guru Granth Sahib is highly respected by all Sikhs, but this shouldn’t be confused with worship. Sikhs believe the word of God is contained in the Guru Granth Sahib therefore it is treated with the same respect as the Ten Gurus.
In the gurdwara, the Guru Granth Sahib is placed on a raised throne and Sikhs sit below it to symbolise their respect and obedience. At important ceremonies the Guru Granth Sahib must be present and there is a continuous, forty-eight hour reading of the entire scripture before a religious festival.
At home, Sikhs must keep the Guru Granth Sahib under a canopy in a separate room. As this is not possible for most Sikhs they may have a Gutka instead. This is a small book that contains extracts from the Guru Granth Sahib for use in daily prayer.
Other important sources of authority: Sikh perspectives
Sikhs believe the Guru Granth Sahib is the word of God. Therefore, it is the most important source of authority.
However, they also learn from the Rahit Maryada and the examples of the Ten Gurus:
- Guru Nanak – taught Sikhs about oneness of God and oneness of humanity.
- Guru Angad – taught Sikhs about being physically healthy.
- Guru Amar Das – taught about the importance of action to support sexual equality.
- Guru Ram Das – taught Sikhs the importance of celebrating together and created a town that later became Amritsar.
- Guru Arjan – taught Sikhs about caring for the less fortunate through setting up a shelter for lepers.
- Guru Hargobind – taught Sikhs by taking up two swords, one of which symbolised spiritual power and the other symbolised material power.
- Guru Har Rai – taught Sikhs the importance of caring for the natural world.
- Guru Har Krishan – taught Sikhs about caring for the suffering through caring for cholera and smallpox victims.
- Guru Tegh Bahadur – taught Sikhs to defend the right of all people to freedom.
- Guru Gobind Singh – taught Sikhs that there is only one human race.
Sikhs can learn many things from the lives of the human Gurus. This includes their emphasis on equality. The Gurus‘ examples are important to Sikhs in their daily lives.
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