Sikh Gurus

Sikh GurusThe term guru comes from the Sanskrit gurū, meaning teacher, guide or mentor. The traditions and philosophy of Sikhism were established by ten specific gurus from 1499 to 1708. Each guru added to and reinforced the message taught by the previous, resulting in the creation of the Sikh religion. Nanak was the first guru and appointed a disciple as successor. Gobind Singh was the final guru in human form. Before his death, Gobind Singh decreed that the Gurū Granth Sāhib would be the final and perpetual guru of the Sikhs. The Sikhs believe that the spirit of Nanak was passed from one guru to the next, " just as the light of one lamp, which lights another and does not diminish ", and is also mentioned in their holy book.
1. Nanak Dev 15 April 1469 to 22 September 1539
2. Angad Dev 31 March 1504 to 29 March 1552
3. Amar Das 5 May 1479 to 1 September 1574
4. Ram Das 24 September to 1 September 1581
5. Arjan Dev 15 April 1563 to 30 May 1606
6. Har Gobind 19 June 1595 to 28 February 1644
7. Har Rai 16 January 1630 to 6 October 1661
8. Har Krishan 7 July 1656 to 30 March 1664
9. Tegh Bahadur 1 April 1621 to 11 November 1675
10. Gobind Singh 22 December to 7 October 1708

After Nanak's passing, the most important phase in the development of Sikhism came with the third successor, Amar Das. Nanak's teachings emphasised the pursuit of salvation; Amar Das began building a cohesive community of followers with initiatives such as sanctioning distinctive ceremonies for birth, marriage and death.
Amar Das's successor and son-in-law Ram Das founded the city of Amritsar, which is home of the Harimandir Sahib and regarded the holiest city for all Sikhs. When Ram Das's youngest son Arjan Dev succeeded him, the line of male gurus from the Sodhi Khatri family was established. All succeeding gurus were direct descendants of this line. Arjan Dev was responsible for compiling the Sikh scriptures. Arjan Dev was captured by Mughal authorities who were suspicious and hostile to the religious order he was developing. His persecution and death inspired his successors to promote a military and political organization of Sikh communities to defend themselves against the attacks of Mughal forces.
The Sikh gurus established a mechanism which allowed the Sikh religion to react as a community to changing circumstances. The sixth guru, Har Gobind, was responsible for the creation of the Akal Takht (throne of the timeless one) which serves as the supreme decision-making centre of Sikhdom and sits opposite the Harimandir Sahib. A representative portion of the Khalsa Panth known as the ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ historically gathers at the Akal Takht on special festivals such as Vaisakhi or Diwali and when there is a need to discuss matters that affect the entire Sikh nation.

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