Guru Nanak Dev Ji
The first of the Gurus and the founder of the Sikh religion was Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born at Talwandi (now known as Nankana Sahib in Pakistan) on October 20, 1469.
Guru Ji mastered Punjabi, Sanskrit and Persian at an early age and in childhood revolted against ritualism, caste, prejudices, hypocrisy and idolatry.Guru Ji regarded Hindus and Muslims as equals and referred to himself as neither Hindu nor Muslim but as a brother to all those who believed in God and truth.
Guru Ji made four great journeys, traveling to all parts of India, and into Arabia and Persia; visiting Mecca and Baghdad. He spoke before Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Parsees, and Muslims. He spoke in the temples and mosques, and at various pilgrimage sites. Wherever he went, Guru Nanak spoke out against empty religious rituals, pilgrimages, the caste system, the sacrifice of widows, of depending on books to learn the true religion, and of all the other tenets that were to define his teachings. Never did he ask his listeners to follow him. He asked the Muslims to be true Muslims and the Hindus to be true Hindus.
Guru Amar Das Ji
Shri Guru Amar Das Ji was born in 1479. Shri Guru Amardas Ji took up cudgels of spirituality to fight against caste restrictions, caste prejudices and the curse of untouchability.
Guru Ji strengthened the tradition of the free kitchen, Guru Ka Langar (started by Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji), and made his disciples, whether rich or poor, whether high born or low born (according to the Hindu caste system), have their meals together sitting in one place.
Guru Ji thus established social equality amongst the people. Guru Ji introduced the Anand Karaj marriage ceremony for the Sikhs, replacing the Hindu form.
Guru Ji also completely abolished amongst the Sikhs, the custom of Sati, in which a married woman was forced to burn herself and die with the funeral of her husband. The custom of Paradah, in which a woman covered her face with a veil, was also done away with.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji
Shri Guru Arjan Dev Ji was born in 1563. He was the third son of Guru Ram Das ji. Guru Arjan was a saint and scholar of the highest quality and repute.
He compiled the Adi Granth, the scriptures of the Sikhs, and wrote the Sukhmani Sahib. To make it a universal teaching, Guru ji included in it hymns of Muslim saints as well those of low-caste pariah saints who were never permitted to enter various temples.
Shri Guru Arjan Dev built Shri Darbar Sahib also known as Golden Temple in Amritsar.
Sri Darbar Sahib welcomes all without discrimination, which is symbolised by the four doors that are open in four directions. Guru ji became the first great martyr in Sikh history when Emperor Jahangir ordered execution.
Guru Har Rai Ji
Shri Guru Har Rai Ji born in 1630, spent most of his life in devotional meditation and preaching the teachings of Guru Nanak.
Although, Guru Ji was a man of peace, he never disbanded the armed Sikh Warriors (Saint Soldiers), who earlier were maintained by his grandfather, Guru Hargobind. He always boosted the military spirit of the Sikhs, but he never himself indulged in any direct political and armed controversy with the contemporary Mughal Empire. Guru Ji cautiously avoided conflict with Emperor Aurangzeb and devoted his efforts to missionary work.
Guru Ji also continued the grand task of nation building initiated by Guru Hargobind Ji.
Guru Teg Bahadur Ji
Shri Guru Teg Bahadur Ji born in 1621 in Amritsar.
Guru Ji established the town of Anandpur. Guru Ji laid down his life for the protection of Hindus, their Tilak (devotional mark painted on the forehead) and their sacred thread. He was a firm believer in the right of people to the freedom of worship.
It was for this cause that he faced martyrdom for the defence of the down-trodden Hindus. So pathetic was the torture of Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur that his body had to be cremated clandestinely at Delhi while his head was taken four hundred kilometers away to Anandpur Sahib for cremation.
Guru Angad Dev Ji
Guru Angad Dev Ji was born in 1504. Guru Angad Dev Ji invented and introduced the Gurmukhi (written form of Punjabi) script and made it known to all Sikhs.
The scripture of Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is written in Gurmukhi. This scripture is also the basis of Punjabi language.Shri Guru Angad Dev Ji was a model of self-less service to his Sikhs and showed them the way to devotional prayers. It become the script of the masses very soon. Guru Ji took great interest in the education of the children by opening many schools for their instruction and thus increased the number of literates.
For the youth he started the tradition of Mall Akhara, where physical as well as spiritual exercises were held. Guru Ji collected the facts about Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji ‘s life from Bhai Bala Ji and wrote the first biography of Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. (Bhai Bale Wali Janamsakhi available now a days in not the same that Guru Angad Sahib had compiled.) Guru Ji wrote 63 Saloks (stanzas), these were included in Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Gugu Ji popularized and expanded the institution of ‘Guru ka Langar’ started by Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji earlier .
Guru Ram Das Ji
Shri Guru Ram Das Ji was born in 1534. Guru ji founded the city of Amritsar and started the construction of the famous Golden Temple at Amritsar, the holy city of the Sikhs.
The temple remains open on all sides and at all times to every one. This indicates that the Sikhs believe in One God who has no partiality for any particular place, direction or time.
The standard Sikh marriage ceremony known as the Anand Karaj is centered around the Lawan, a four stanza hymn composed by Shri Guru Ram Das ji. The marriage couple circumscribe the Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as each stanza is read. The first round is the Divine consent for commencing the householders life through marriage. The second round states that the union of the couple has been brought about by God. In the third round the couple is described as the most fortunate as they have sung the praises of the Lord in the company of saints.
Guru Har Gobind Ji
Shri Guru Har Gobind Ji was born in 1595. Guru ji was the son of Shri Guru Arjan Dev and was known as a “soldier saint,” Guru Hargobind ji organised a small army, explaining that extreme non-violence and pacifism would only encourage evil and so the principles of Miri-Piri were established.
Guru ji taught that it was necessary to take up the sword in order to protect the weak and the oppressed. Guru ji was first among Gurus to take up arms to defend the faith. At that time it was only emperors who were allowed to sit on a raised platform, called a takhat or throne.
At the age of 13, Guru Hargobind erected Sri Akal Takhat Sahib, ten feet above the ground and adorned two swords, Miri and Piri, representing temporal and spiritual power.
Guru Har Krishan Ji
Shri Guru Har Krishan Ji was born in 1656. Shri Guru Har Krishan Ji was the youngest of the Gurus. Installed as Guru at the age of five, Guru Ji astonished the Brahmin Pundits with his knowledge and spiritual powers.
To the Sikhs he proved to be the symbols of service, purity and truth. Guru Ji gave his life while serving and healing the epidemic-stricken people in Delhi.Guru Ji began to attend the sufferers irrespective of cast and creed. Particularly, the local Muslim population was much impressed with the purely humanitarian deeds of the Guru Sahib and nicknamed him Bala Pir (child prophet).
Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji born in 1666 and became Guru after the martyrdom of his father Shri Guru Teg Bahadur Ji.
Gruru Ji created the Khalsa (The Pure Ones) in 1699, changing the Sikhs into a saint-soldier order with special symbols and sacraments for protecting themselves. After the Guru had administered Amrit to his Five Beloved Ones, Guru Ji stood up in supplication and with folded hands, begged them to baptize him in the same way as he had baptized them. Guru Ji himself became their disciple (Wonderful is Guru Gobind Singh, himself the Master and himself the disciple). The Five Beloved Ones were astonished at such a proposal, and represented their own unworthiness, and the greatness of the Guru, whom they deemed God’s representative upon earth.
Mata Nanaki Foundation is a UK based Charitable Organisation. It is sister organisation Mata Nanaki Foundation Society is a Registered Charity in India. Registration No. 06142573. It was founded by late Mrs. Bibi Balwant Kaur Soor MBE.