HISTORY OF SIKHISM

The history of Sikhism is closely associated with the history of Punjab and the socio-political situation in the north-west of the Indian subcontinent in the 16th century. From the rule of India by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir (r. 1605–1627), Sikhism came into conflict with Mughal laws, because they were affecting political successions of Mughals while cherishing saints from Islam.

 

Mughal rulers killed many prominent Sikhs for refusing to obey their orders, and for opposing the persecution of Sikhs. Of total 10 Sikh gurus, two gurus themselves were tortured and executed (Guru Arjan Dev and Guru Tegh Bahadur), and close kin of several gurus brutally killed (such as the seven and nine-year old sons of Guru Gobind Singh), along with numerous other main revered figures of Sikhism were tortured and killed (such as Banda Bahadur (1716), Bhai Mati DasBhai Sati Das and Bhai Dayala), by Mughal rulers for refusing their orders, and for opposing the persecution of Sikhs and Hindus

 

Sikhism was coined by Guru Gobind Singh Ji. He was the tenth Guru of the 17 century in the Punjab region in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. The Faith practices were formalised by Guru Gobind Singh Ji on 13 April 1699. The latter baptised five Sikh people from different parts of India and had different social backgrounds to form Khalsa (ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ). The first five, Pure Ones, then baptised Gobind Singh ji into the Khalsa fold. This gives the order of Khalsa, a history of around 300 years.

 

So subsequently, Sikhism militarised itself to oppose Mughal hegemony. The emergence of the Sikh Confederacy under the misls and Sikh Empire under the reign of the Maharajah Ranjit Singh (r. 1792–1839) was characterised by religious tolerance and pluralism with Christians, Muslims and Hindus in positions of power.

 

The establishment of the Sikh Empire in 1799 is commonly considered the zenith of Sikhism in the political sphere, during its existence (from 1799 to 1849) the Sikh Empire came to include KashmirLadakh, and Peshawar. A number of Muslim and Hindu peasants converted to Sikhism.[15] Hari Singh Nalwa, the Commander-in-chief of the Sikh army along the northwest Frontier from 1825 to 1837, took the boundary of the Sikh Empire to the very mouth of the Khyber Pass. The Sikh Empire's secular administration integrated innovative military, economic and governmental reforms.

Sikh in Punjabi means “learner,” and those who joined the Sikh community, or Panth (“Path”), were people who sought spiritual guidance. Sikhs claim that their tradition has always been separate from Hinduism. Nevertheless, many Western scholars argue that in its earliest stage Sikhism was a movement within the Hindu tradition; Nanak, they point out, was raised a Hindu and eventually belonged to the Sant tradition of northern India, a movement associated with the great poet and mystic Kabir (1440–1518). The Sants, most of whom were poor, dispossessed, and illiterate, composed hymns of great beauty expressing their experience of the divine, which they saw in all things. Their tradition drew heavily on the Vaishnava bhakti (the devotional movement within the Hindu tradition that worships the god Vishnu), though there were important differences between the two. Like the followers of bhakti, the Sants believed that devotion to God is essential to liberation from the cycle of rebirth in which all human beings are trapped; unlike the followers of bhakti, however, the Sants maintained that God is nirgun (“without form”) and not sagun (“with form”). For the Sants, God can be neither incarnated nor represented in concrete terms.

Certain lesser influences also operated on the Sant movement. Chief among them was the Nath tradition, which comprised a cluster of sects, all claiming descent from the semilegendary teacher Gorakhnath and all promoting Hatha Yoga as the means of spiritual liberation. Although the Sants rejected the physical aspects of Hatha Yoga in favour of meditation techniques, they accepted the Naths’ concept of spiritual ascent to ultimate bliss. Some scholars have argued that the Sants were influenced by Islam through their contact with the Mughal rulers of India from the early 16th century, but there is in fact little indication of this, though Sufism (Islamic mysticism) may have had a marginal effect.

Sikh Gurus:

1.     Guru Nanak Dev

2.     Guru Angad Dev

3.     Guru Amar Das

4.     Guru Ram Das

5.     Guru Arjan Dev

6.     Guru HarGobind Sahib

7.     Guru Har Rai

8.     Guru Har Krishan

9.     Guru Tegh Bahadur

10.   Guru Gobind Singh

11.   Guru Granth Sahib