Sikhism was born in the Punjab area of South Asia, which now falls into the present day states of India and Pakistan. The main religions of the area at time were Hinduism and Islam. The Sikh faith began around 1500 century with the birth of Guru Nanak Sahib , when He began teaching a faith that was quite distinct from Hinduism and Islam. His main teachings were:-
1.Ek Onkar- There is one supreme reality that God is one2. Kirt kro vand chhako te naam jpo- means earn honest livelihood, distribute some part of it among the poor and needy.3. Reject five sins- that are kaam, krodh, lobh, moh, hankar.4. universal brotherhood- Consider everyone equal irrespective of their caste, color, creed, gender, status, religion or rank5. Have your hold on five thags which are outcome of ahankar-(Raaj, maal,jaat, jwani and joban )6. Sewa -Selfless Service7. Every Life has purpose to fil it -Do something good so u r remembered even after your death.8. Stand agaist Oppression- always raise your voice agaist the wrong.9. Respect woman- ਸੋ ਕਿਓਂ ਮੰਦਾ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿਤੁ ਜੰਮੇ ਰਾਜਾਨ10. Nam Japo – Remember Him
Guru Angad invented and introduced the Gurmukhi ( Punjabi) . It became the script of the masses very soon. He was a model of self-less service to his Sikhs and showed them the way to devotional prayers. He took great interest in the education of the children by opening many schools for their instruction and thus have great contribution in literacy. For the youth he started the tradition of Mall Akhara where physical as well as spiritual exercises were held. He collected the facts about Guru Nanak Sahib’s life from Bhai Bala Ji and wrote the first biography in history. He also wrote 63 Saloks (stanzas), which were included in Guru Granth Sahib. He popularized and expanded the institution of ‘Guru Ka Langar started by Guru Nanak Sahib earlier
Guru Amardas introduced the Anand Karaj-marriage ceremony for the Sikhs, replacing the Hindu form of marriage. He also completely abolished the custom of Sati in which a married woman was forced to burn herself to death in the funeral pyre of her husband. The custom of Paradah (Purda), was also done away within the Sikh community. .
Guru Ram Das Ji founded the city of Amritsar and started the construction of the Golden Temple at Amritsar, the holy city of the Sikhs. He composed ‘Lawan’a four stanza hymn read during 4 Lawans , known as the Anand Karaj, the Sikh Marrriage Ceremony.
Sikhism was well established by the time of the fifth Guru. Guru Arjan Dev ji. He completed the establishment of Amritsar as the capital of the Sikh world, and compiled the first authorized book of Sikh scripture, the Adi Granth, which later expanded into the Guru Granth Sahib, by adding Gurbani of the ninth Guru ,Guru Teq Bahadar . He also took the task of the completion of the place where Guru Ram Das JI had constructed a clay tank of Nectar (Sarovar). He also built Harmandir Sahib, the present Golden Temple and got it completed in 1604. Guru Arjan Dev Ji invited Mian Mir, a Muslim Saint from Lahore to lay the cornerstone of the foundation of the Harmandir Sahib. He also organised the Sikh Parchar and Pasar in Punjab . With all this ,Guru Arjan Dev ‘s time Sikhism was so much flourished which was taken as a threat to the Moughal Empire . Eventually Mughal Emperor,Jahangir executed Guru Arjan Dev Ji for his faith by giving torture in 1606 with no reason.
After shheedi of Guru Arjan Dev without reason , Guru Hargobind Sahib could understand that being a saint (peer) without (Meeri) power will not work in the present situation of terrorism . So Guru Har Gobind Sahib ji took two swords one of meeri and other of peeri at the time of his Gurgadi , Peeri for the noble cause and Meeri for fighting against atrocities on Hindus to convert them into muslims .He had to fight 4 battles during his time and won but ultimately settled in Keertpur Sahib for Sikhi parchar and parsar.
Guru Har Rai Sahib continued the grand task of nation building initiated by Guru Hargobind Sahib
Guru Har Krishan was the youngest of the Gurus installed on Gurugadi at the age of five. He astonished the Brahmin Pundits with his knowledge and spiritual powers. He proved himself to be the symbol of service, purity and truth. He gave his life while serving and healing the epidemic-stricken people in Delhi. The local muslims population was much impressed with the purely humanitarian deeds of the Guru Sahib and nicknamed him as Bala Pir (child prophet).Even Aurangzeb did not try to disturb Guru Harkrishan Sahib sensing the sensitivity of the situation, though he never dismissed the claim of guru’s brother Ram Rai also.
The Guru laid down his life for the protection of the Hindu religion, their Tilak (devotional forehead markings) and their sacred (janeau) thread though, He never believed and wore Janju or Tilk He was a firm believer in the right of people to the freedom of worship. He faced martyrdom for the defense of the down-trodden Hindus. So pathetic was the torture of Guru Tegh Bahadur that his body had to be cremated clandestinely (a follower burned down his own home to cremate the Guru’s body) at Delhi while his severed head was secretly taken four hundred kilometers away to Anandpur Sahib for cremation. Because of his refusal to convert to Islam a threatened forced conversion of the Hindus of Kashmir was thwarted.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib (also known as the Adi Granth), a scripture of the Sikh thought is considered the Supreme Spiritual Authority and Head of the Sikh religion. It contains , Gurbani of First Five Gurus, Ninth Guru and 15 bhagats from different faiths from Hindu and Muslim relgions. The Granth Sahib was written in Gurmukhi script by Bhai Gurdas Ji which contains the actual words and verses as uttered by the Sikh Gurus. It is considered as a living Guru of the Sikhs, and since that time The Guru Granth is held in great reverence by Sikhs. The greatness of the Guru Granth Sahib lies not only in its being the Holy Scripture of the Sikhs but also in it being a general scripture available to mankind, intended for uplifitng ,down-trodden, everybody and everywherein the world.
Banda Singh Bahadur, The first military leader of the Sikhs, who led a successful campaign against the Mughal Rulers of India until he was captured and executed in 1716. Under the instructions of Guru Sahib, he set out in 1708 to attack the Mughals, conquering large tracts of territory of Punjab such as Samaana, Sonepat, Kethal, Ghurham, Thaskaa, Shahbaad, Kapoori, Sadhoura, and others who were infamous for their atrocites on Hindus. His main target was to punish Wazir Khan of Sirhand, responsible for the execution of Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, two younger children of Guru Gobind ingh Sahib and won the battle in Chhapan Chhiri, 15 miles away from Sirhand.
His pillaging and massacring in the Deccan led the Mughal rulers finally to move against him in force. After an eight-month siege, the fortress town of Gurdas Nangal fell to the Mughals in 1715 after the brave army fought as much as they could . Banda Singh and his men were taken as prisoners to Delhi where they were asked to become Muslim but none yielded and preferred to die heroic death. 700 men including Banda Bahadar, his wife with four- years child were executed brutely.
After Banda Bahadar
The next fifty years of Sikh history were a period of extreme hardship, suffering and religious persecution. At one time between 1740-50, people were offered rewards by the Governors of Lahore and Sirhand for hunting down Sikhs @ ’5 rupees for information, 10 rupees after arrest, 15 rupees for a severed head and 50 rupees for bringing a Sikh alive to the police station.’
These events made the Sikhs even more daring and revengeful. Most of the Sikhs joined the Khalsa armies and camped in forests of the Panjab. According to Malcolm, “The Sikh nation, throughout their early history, has always appeared like a suppressed flame to rise into higher splendor from every attempt to crush them.” The persecutions and executions of most of the Sikh women and children left behind simply increased their hatred for the Mughal Government and made them more determined to resist oppression. They often used to sing,’ ਮਨੂੰ ਸਾਡੀ ਦਾਤਰੀ ਅਸੀਂ ਮਨੂੰ ਦੇ ਸੋਇ ਜਿਓਂ ਜਿਓਂ ਸਾਨੂੰ ਵੱਢਦਾ ਅਸੀਂ ਅਸੀਂ ਦੂਣੇ ਚੋਣੇ ਹੋਏ”l
By the year 1765, the Mughal Empire had lost much of its power and glory. The Afghans’ invasions from the northwest, the Marathas from the south and the British influence from the east, all helped to weaken the strength of the Mughal Empire. This was a good opportunity for the Sikhs, to rise again after almost fifty years in the middle of 18th century and over the next fifty years they took away more and more territory in Punjab. They chased away Ahmed Shah Abdali across the Indus River to Afghanistan and also killed Sarfraz khan, the Governor of Panjab. They then divided themselves into 12 Misals (confederacies) each controlled by a powerful chieftain and re-organized the civil administration granting complete religious freedom, abolishing capital punishment and no discriminations on the bases of caste and creed.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh
Maharaja Ranjit Singh popularly known as Sher-e-Punjab or “Lion of Punjab”, sardar from one of the misal ,was the first Maharaja of the Sikh , who ruled the northwest Indian Subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century .Ranjit Singh captured Lahore, and in 1801 established the Punjab as an independent state. He repeatedly defeated invasions particularly those arriving from Afghanistan, and established friendly relations with the Britishers. He successfully absorbed and united the Sikh Misls as well as other local kingdoms to create the Sikh Empire. Although he was a devout Sikh,he proved an adept ruler of a state in which Sikhs Hindu, Muslims, everybody was contended. His reign introduced reforms, modernization, investment into infrastructure and general prosperity. His army and government included Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and Europeans.
Maharaja Duleep Singh
After Ranjit Singh died in 1839 the Sikh state crumbled, damaged by vicious internal battles for the leadership. After the assassinations of Ranjit Singh’s first three successors, Maharaja Khatak Singh, Kanwar Naunihal Singh and Maharaja Sher Singh, Duleep Singh came to power in September 1843 at the age of 5 and Jind Kaur, the youngest wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh became Regent on her son’s behalf till 1846. She was renowned for her beauty, energy and strength of purpose and was popularly known as Rani Jindan, but her fame is derived chiefly from the fear she engendered in the British in India, who described her as “the Messalina of the Punjab”.
After the Sikhs lost the First Anglo -Sikh War, she was replaced in December 1846 by a Council of Regency, under the control of a British Resident. However, her power and influence continued and, to counter this, the British imprisoned and exiled her. After the second Anglo- Sikh War, in 1849, Punjab was annexed to British India, Maharajah Duleep Singh was removed from the throne, was sent to England and his mother Maharani Jinda fled to Nepal. Over thirteen years passed before she was again permitted to see her son in Calcutta. As she has became old and no mor threat for Britishers , they permitted Duleep Singh to take her to England where she died in 1863.
Annexation of Punjab
After annexation of Punjab the Sikhs and the British discovered they had much in common and built a good relationship. The tradition began of Sikhs serving with great distinction in the British Army in India .The British helped themselves get a favorable religious spin when they took control of the Sikh religious establishment by putting their own choices in control of the Gurdwaras.
Good relations between Sikhs and British came to an end in 1919 with the Amritsar massacre of Jalianwala Bagh. This was a shameful event in the history of British India. In April 1919 British troops commanded by General E H Dyer opened fire without warning on 10,000 people who were holding a protest meeting. The troops killed about 400 people and wounded 1,000 as stated but much more . Dyer felt that he had been obliged to teach a moral lesson to the Punjab. Realizing the damage that had been done, the British rapidly retired Dyer, but not without promoting him first. Some historians regard the Amritsar Massacre as the event that began the decline of the British Raj, by adding enormous strength to the movement for Indian independence. In October 1997, Queen Elizabeth II made the gesture of laying a wreath at the site of the massacre.
The partition of India
The Partition of India was the division of British India in 1947 into two independent Dominions: India (Republic of India) and Pakistan (Islamic Republic of Pakistan). . The birth of India and Pakistan as independent states was a key moment in the history of Britain’s Empire and its army. But the process of partition was attended by mass migration and ethnic violence that has left a bitter legacy till today. The Sikhs felt badly treated and reluctantly chose to join India. The Sikhs were unable to demand their own state, because there were too few of them to resist Pakistan’s claim to the Punjab. Only by siding with India were they able to keep part of the Punjab, although not before appalling loss of life in communal massacres. Sikhs lost many of their privileges, much of their land, and were deeply discontented.
A state of their own
The Khalistan movement, which sought a separate state for Sikhs, was a result of a multitude of social, economic and political factors that had led a growing sense of alienation among Sikhs in India. The failure of the state to address the political and economic problems of the Sikhs facilitated the rise of militancy and the movement for a separate state, widening the chasm between the Sikhs and the Indian state for about a decade before Punjab limped to normalcy in 1992. However, in 1966, after years of Sikh demands, India divided the Punjab into three, recreating Punjab as a state with a Sikh majority.
The invasion of the Golden Temple
This was not enough to stop Sikh anger at what they saw as continuing oppression and the unfair way in which they thought India had set the boundaries of the new state. They continued to demand various concessions from the Indian government which resulted in Operation Blue Star. Operation Blue Star Operation – a military operation carried out by Indian Security Forces between 1 and 10 June 1984 in order to remove Damdami Taksaal leader Jarnail Singh Bhinderwala and his followers from the buildings of the Golden Temple a holy site for Sikhs located in Amritsar , Punjab,India . The decision to launch the operation rested with the erstwhile Mrs Indira Gandhi , who had already authorized military preparation for a confrontation at the temple complex 18 months prior, according to the then-Vice Chief of the Army Staff, S.K.Sinha. On 1 June 1984, after negotiations with the militants failed, Indira Gandhi ordered the army to launch Operation Blue Star, simultaneously attacking scores of Sikh temples across Punjab. Indian troops launched ‘Operation Blue Star’, attacked the Golden Temple Complex, killing many of those inside , militant and the sangat as well and seriously damaging the buildings. Govt. declared 1592 militant and 554 civilian, much lower than independent estimates which ranged from 18,000 to 20,000 people .The military action in the temple complex was highly criticized by Sikhs worldwide, who interpreted it as an assault on the Sikh religion. Many Sikh soldiers in the army deserted their units, several Sikhs resigned from civil administrative office and returned awards received from the Indian Government .
The assassination of Indira Gandhi
Just 5 months after the Blue Star operation, on 31 October 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated in an act of revenge by her two Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh . Public outcry over Gandhi’s death led to a state organized pogrom leading to the killing of more than 3,000-17,000 Sikhs across India, in the ensuing 1984 anti Sikh riots also called 1984 Sikh Massacre which was a series of killing program against Sikhs in India following the assassination of Indira Gandhi . Reason being the invasion of the holiest place of the Sikhs which infuriated many Sikhs, even the non-militant. It was the Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi who had ordered the invasion, as a deliberate persecutor of the Sikh faith and community. In October 1984 The ruling Indian National Congress had been in active complicity with the mob, as to the organization of the riots.
Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Fteh