Sikh ideals in the context of the social fabric of India. Source Sikh Information Guru Nanak Gobind Singh The aspect which has received almost exclusive emphasis of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s personality is that of the liberator, the crusader against tyranny and oppression. This, no doubt, is the most striking quality and it has appealed to millions who have sought inspiration for their lives. He is thought of as a warrior, the hero with a resplendent knightly figure fighting against tyranny and evil-doers. The descriptive names by which he is known are indicative also of glory and heroism, for example Lord of the Plume, Lord of the Hawk, protector of the faith . His figure is conceived of as the rider of the Charger, shooting gold-tipped arrows and destroying in single combat tigers and other wild beasts. He is ever heroic in the thick of battle, fighting without hate or rancour, merciful even to the foe. In suffering he is always unruffled, bearing misfortune with equanimity of spirit as destined by the Timeless Creator. This faith buoys him up even in the midst of the greatest of sufferings which a mortal can be called upon to bear – the loss of his entire dear and near ones, his mother, his children, and the death in battle of his bravest followers, dearer then the children of his flesh. In this picture of hero, crusader and liberator the element that tends to somewhat get obscured in that of the saint, the man of God who lived every moment of his life in contemplation of the eternal. Concentrated in the personality of Guru Ji were the faith and the spiritual vision evolved by his predecessors, from the founder Guru Nanak Dev Ji onwards, who had reiterated among the people the faith in the one Uncreated Being, formless, Unbounded by attributes yet the source and concentrated sum of all Attributes – the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer – the cherisher of righteousness. This made Guru Gobind Singh Ji the mighty liberator, the creator of the chivalrous order of the Khalsa charged with the task of waging relentless war on the tyrants and oppressors. The history of India during the later Mughal period, particularly the reign of Aurangzeb, is a record of religious intolerance, fanaticism and oppression let loose on a mass of people who had been in servitude for hundreds of years. In the earlier days of the Mughal Emperors something like a countrywide peace was in existence if only superficially. The Hindus still suffered the indignity of aliens in a soil which was by rights theirs, things did somehow continue for centuries without flaring up into a religious war. Although efforts have been made on many fronts to present Aurangzeb as a religious and tolerant ruler, the truth is that his imposition of the Jizya, the demolition of Hindu places of worship, the imposition of restrictions of erecting new temples, on teaching the Hindu faith, even down to the banning of Hindus to ride horses and the banning of music and singing roused the spirit of vengeance among the victims and a movement began which would ultimately destroy the fabric of Mughal rule. Even though it is much often overlooked by historians, in this resistance the Sikh religious movement played a pivotal role. As a matter of fact, while resistance was sporadic in other parts of the land, or dynastic and feudal, as in the case of some Rajput clans, the Sikh resistance was inspired with a high sense of mission. Hence it was that this movement acquired certain unique features. First, it had a continuity and stamina which enabled it to carry on one of the grimmest struggles in the history of man against the most savage of tyranny. Secondly, it was in the true sense a peoples movement, in which the leaders were thrown up by the masses of peasants and other classes ranking low in the Hindu caste classification. All these leaders were not only men of ability and character but owed their leader ship primarily to their being men of religion and piety, who held uncompromisingly - even in the face of horrible torture and death – to the mission which they felt they had been charged by Guru Gobind Singh Ji to fulfil. It was these features that turned Sikhs not only into steadfast, hardy warriors and martyrs , and established among themselves something akin to a democracy , but also made the entire Sikh people to aspire to an idea of a nation at a time when in India people had not yet developed the idea of nation hood. The germs of heroism and armed resistance were present in the original ideals of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s preaching, however there was a change in emphasis. Although Sikhism stressed purity and integrity in the individual life, it has always moved away from the life of a recluse. The Gurus were themselves householders and encouraged their followers to follow suit. Religion was to be the inspiring spirit in a man’s daily life, and not an influence which might wean him away from social responsibilities. Guru Nanak Dev Ji to Guru Gobind Singh Ji have all been critical of the austerities and ritualistic practices which obscure from man the need for a life of purity and virtue. The man of God is to live in this world, to practise righteousness and truth, but not to be part of it. He must bear in his heart ‘Bhairag’ or renunciation, but on no account retreat from the scene. His renunciation must consist in his refusal to immerse himself in the pleasures of life, which are the source of selfishness, ego and sin. Guru Granth Sahib Ji states “ This earth is the home of the True Lord, and the Lord has His abode in it.”, hence the injunction against renunciation. There had been a change in emphasis from the saint to the soldier, particularly after the martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev Ji, fifth in line. This outrage convinced the growing faith of peaceful, religiously minded people of the need to add the sword to the rosary as the symbolic equipment of their faith. Thus, Guru Hargobind Ji, son of the martyred Guru Arjun Dev Ji on occupying the of Guru ship replaced the traditional rosary with two swords, symbolising spiritual and temporal power. The seat now became a “throne” and named the Akal Takhat , facing the Harmandir Sahib at Amritsar. Guru Hargobind Sahib fought four battles with the Mughal troupes, routing them each time. His son, Tegh Bahadur would become ninth in line and would hand over the guruship to nine year old Gobind Rai who later created the Khalsa which was to leave such an imprint on the history of India.