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Guru Gobind Singh

In the early hours before dawn on 22 December 1666, a son was born to Mata Gujri, wife of Guru TegBahadur, at Patna. At about the same time, in a village near Karnal, Syed Shah Bhikh---- a Muslim divine ---looked at the sky and bowed his head towards the east. His disciples questioned him ---why, contrary to Muslim custom, had he bowed in the direction of the rising sun? He answered that there had been born in that azimuth a soul who would re-establish morality and destroy evil in this land. 


He travelled to Patna to see the newborn. When he saw him, the Syed placed before him two handis (clay vessels) ----one containing milk and the other water. The infant touched both. The assembled Sikhs asked him the purpose of the offering and the significance of the Child’s gesture. He replied that his touching both vessels meant that the boy would be impartial towards both Muslims and Hindus.


Named Gobind Das at birth. Guru Gobind Singh grew up to be a study youth with a natural inclination for an outdoor life: riding, hunting, archery, swimming, and athletics. At the same time, his intellectual acumen made him a brilliant student who rapidly acquired mastery in later, also in Arabic. He assiduously studied the Sikh scriptures, Hindu sacred writings and epics in Sanskrit, and the classics in Persian. Apparently he was deeply impressed by them, particularly those describing contests between the forces of righteousness and evil. He succeeded his father before he was nine years old.


Concrete form was given to the concept (of a direct link) in a dramatic manner on the first day of Baisakh in 1699. People from far and near had gathered on this day, as had become customary since the time of Guru Amar Das, to pay homage to the guru. Since in the previous year Sikhs had been directed to disregard the masands, larger numbers had congregated. Sikhs had been asked to come, as far as possible, carrying arms and on horseback.


A massive assembly took place at Keshgarh. While the morning service was in progress, the Guru appeared with an unsheathed sword in his hand, a look of intense gravity on his face. He announced to the husband assemblage that his sword thirsted for blood. Would one of his true Sikhs volunteer to offer his head? There was consternation amongst who heard the Guru’s words. Then a stunned silence. The Guru spoke again but no one stirred. At his third call, Daya Ram, a kshatriya, came forward and offered himself to the Guru’s will.
He was led to a tent pitched nearby. A few minutes later, the Guru reappeared before the assembly, his sword dripping with blood. He demanded another volunteer willing to sacrifice his life. Many began to leave. Some went to apprise the Guru’s mother of his capricious behavior. However, a second Sikh----Dharam Das, a jat, ( a cultivator caste)----came forward. He, too, was led to the same tent from which, after a brief lapse of time, the Guru returned with his sword bloodstained.


He made a third, then a fourth and finally a fifth call for a volunteer willing to sacrifice his life. Mohkam Chand, a calico printer, Himmat, a fisherman, and Sahib Chand a barber, successively came forward in response to the Guru’s calls. Each was led into the same tent. The congregation was left nonplussed. Those still remaining waited in trepidation.


A littlelater, Guru Gobind Singh appeared from the tent leading the five Sikhs who had volunteered to offer themselves to the Guru’s sword. They were attired uniformly in saffron colored robes and turbans of the same color, each wearing a sword on a belt. The congregation, now much reduced in numbers, stared in disbelief and amazement.


The Guru announced that they were the PanjPiarey (Five Beloved) who was the culmination of Guru Nanak’s revelation. They would form the nucleus of the faith, which he christened Khalsa---`The pure` or God’s Own; a selfless, casteless, marital fraternity. He proceeded next to administer Khande da Pabul or amrit (Nectar) to them. The five, from different castes, had partaken of Amrit from the same bowl and been renamed Daya Singh, Dharam Singh, Mohkam Singh, Himmat Singh and Sahib Singh. Caste distinctions had been obliterated and all were given the same suffix `Singh` (Lion) to their names, signifying that they were now brothers.


They were required henceforth to wear the five symbols of the Khalsa---Kesh (unshorn hair), kirpan (sword), Kacch (knee-length drawers), Kanga (a small comb) and kara(a steel bangle). They were enjoined also to worship and have faith in only one God, to protect and help the weak, resist the oppressor, and to consider all human beings as equal regardless of caste or religion. Other articles of faith were also stipulated. Women were admitted to the initiation and given the name suffix `Kaur` (Prince). The initiation ceremony completed, the Guru stood before the five and, with folded hands requested to administer amrit to him in the same manner. Having been thus indicated, his name was changed from Gobind Das to Gobind Singh.