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11 Gurus

There are 11 Gurus of Sikhism including 10 Nanaks ("They shared the one light", Ang 966) and the Shri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) which is our eternal living Guru.

1.  Nanak, 1469 -1539, 70 years as Guru

The founder of Sikhism. He composed 974 hymns including the Japji Sahib. He was a pioneer of a casteless social order. His lasting legacy is the creation of the Langar or community kitchen. 

2.  Angad, 1539 – 1552, 13 years as Guru

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He was chosen by Nanak. Angad composed the Gurmukhi, the script used for the Punjabi language, as well as 62 hymns. He helped Sikhism to take its roots.

3.  Amar Das, 1552 – 1574, 22 years as Guru

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He became Guru at the age of 73. He introduced the Sikh rituals for birth and death. His most famous hymn is Anand Sahib.

4.  Ram Das, 1574 – 1581, 7 years as Guru

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He founded Amritsar, the most sacred city for Sikhs. His marriage hymn is used in Sikh weddings.

5.  Arjan, 1581 – 1606, 25 years as Guru

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He was the son of Guru Ram Das. He built the Golden Temple. He was the first Sikh martyr. He was tortured and killed for refusing to convert to Islam. He wrote 2,216 hymns, which was the largest contribution to the “Shri Guru Granth Sahib” (SGGS) which he compiled. The Sukhmani Sahib composition is his.

6.  Hargobind, 1606 – 1644, 38 years as Guru

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He was the son of Guru Arjan. Based on his father’s last injunctions, he taught Sikhs that the Guru had to be a military leader as well as a spiritual leader. He trained soldiers and built a fortress in Amritsar.

7.  Har Rai, 1644 – 1661, 17 years as Guru

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He was the grandson of Guru Hargobind. Known to be a very compassionate and kind person, he was concerned not only about the welfare of human beings, but also that of the animals. In fact he was so soft hearted that he even helped to heal the son of Shah Jahan from an almost fatal illness despite the hostility the Mughals had shown to the guru’s predecessors.

8.  Har Krishan, 1661 – 1664, 3 years as Guru

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He was the son of Guru Har Rai. He became Guru only 5 years old. He died at the age of 8. He died of smallpox. His last words were “Baba Bakala”. The next Guru would be from the village of Bakala which was the case.

9.  Tegh Bahadur, 1665 – 1675, 10 years as Guru

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Tegh Bahadur means “hero of the sword”. He was the son of Guru Hargobind. He founded the Sikh centre of Anandpur. He was also a poet and composed over 50 hymns. He became a martyr in order to protect religious freedom. He was tortured and beheaded in Delhi by the Mughals.

10.  Gobind Singh, 1675 – 1708, 33 years as Guru

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He was the son of Guru Tegh Bahadur and was known for his leadership, bravery, and personal sacrifices. He initiated the Five K’s of the Khalsa that define Sikhs to date. The Dasam Granth is a collection of poems written by Gobind Singh. Bulleh Shah hailed him as the ‘protector’ of religious freedom and said “Had Gobind Singh not been there, They would all be under Islamic sway.”

11.  Shri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), 1708 – Forever

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The SGGS is often described as the “Parliament of Religions”, a model for interfaith harmony. It is the only religious script in the world that contains views and ideology of people of other religions, caste and creed. 

Guru’s light (Jote) lives in the SGGS. Guru Gobind Ji described the SGGS as the “King of Kings, Sun of suns” and as “God of Gods and above and beyond Praise” in the Jaapji Sahib in the Dasam Granth.

 

It is a reverential work containing 39 chapters across 1430 Angs (pages) with 5864 verses and 31 Raags (music melody with a relationship to human moods). It contains 937 hymns of 36 Hindu saints, Muslim Sufis and bards. These include the Sufi saints Baba Farid (134), and Bhikhan (2) and Bhakti saint Namdev (61), Kabeer (292) (also a Sufi). 

Sikhs are not supposed to have anything against any religion, only against injustice and religious persecution. The Gurus lives set this example.

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