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Guru Har Gobind

Har Gobind was installed guru on 25 May 1606, twelve days after his father’s martyrdom, when he was not quite eleven years old. Baba Buddha, who had anointed the previous four gurus, placed the tilak (auspicious mark) on his forehead. Masands had brought a seli (a black cord worn over the headdress by some holy men) to be placed around his headgear. He declined to let it be put on; declaring that the time for selis was over, it was now the age to carry weapons. Then he said that his seli would be the sword-belt and that, on his turban, he would wear an aigrette – the symbol of royalty. He asked for two swords to wear; one to symbolize piri (spiritual authority) and the other miri (temporal authority).


Reports of the changed style of the sixth guru came as a surprise to the emperor. He had thought that with torture and execution of Guru Arjan, the Sikhs would have been subdued. Instead they were becoming stronger and more daring. The guru was dispensing justice amongst his followers, collecting taxes, maintaining armed retainers; like a prince he went hunting and hawking. His followers addressed him as sachchabadshah (true king). In short he was acquiring and displaying all the attributes of a political entity; an embryonic state. Emperor Jahangir therefore summoned him to Delhi. On the charge that the fines imposed on his father had not been paid, he was sentenced to imprisonment and incarcerated in the fort at Gwalior where he remained for some months between 1617 and 1619. The guru has as fellow prisoners several minor princes and chieftains from various parts of the country. When the time came for his release, he declined to come out unless the other prisoners were simultaneously released. It was agreed that as many as could hold on to his chola (a loose ankle length garment) could come out of prison with him. There were fifty-two other prisoners to gain their freedom with him.


Emperor Jahangir’s attitude towards Guru HarGobind saw a change; he became friendlier which enabled guru to propagate the faith further afield. Of Guru HarGobind’s five sons, four of them died in his lifetime. The youngest TegBahadur (Mighty of the Sword) had played an important role during the fight at Kartarpur and other conflicts. The guru later asked his wife to take their son and live in Bakala, a village near Amritsar. When his time approached, Guru HarGobind chose his grandson, HarRai to succeed him.