Sikhism was well established by the time of Sri Guru Arjan Sahib Ji, the fifth Guru.
Guru Arjan completed the establishment of Amritsar as the capital of the Sikh world, and compiled the first authorised book of Sikh scripture, the Adi Granth.
However, during Arjan's time Sikhism was seen as a threat by the state. Sikhism was seen as too popular with the masses and the message of equality, truth, honest living and charity was not in keeping with muslim and hindu views. Guru Arjan was therefore tortured and eventually executed for his faith in 1606.
During his captivity, when the Saintly and peaceful Guru Arjan was under the severest torture, he concentrated and relied on God for guidance to save the nascent Sikh Sangat from annihilation. The only solution revealed to him was to guard it through the use of arms. He pondered over the problem again and again and finally concluded that the militarisation of Sikhism had become a necessity. Hence he sent a Sikh disciple to his young son, the eleven year old Hargobind, nominating him as the Guru of the Sikhs (his devotees), giving him Guru Arjan's last injunction; "Let him sit fully armed on his throne and maintain an army to the best of his capacity".
Thus the sixth Guru, Hargobind, started to militarise the community so that they would be able to resist oppression and tyranny. The Sikhs fought a number of battles to preserve their faith.
The Sikhs then lived in relative peace with the political rulers until the time of the Moghal Emperor, Aurangzeb, who used force to make his subjects accept Islam.
Aurangzeb had the ninth Guru, Tegh Bahadur, arrested and executed in 1675.
The tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, recreated the Sikhs as a military group of men and women called the Khalsa in 1699, with the intention that the Sikhs should forever be able to defend their faith against oppression and tyranny.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji established the Sikh rite of initiation (called khandey di pahul) and the 5 Ks which give Sikhs their unique appearance.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji was the last human Guru. Sikhs now treat their scriptures as their Guru.
The first military leader of the Sikhs to follow the Gurus was Banda Singh Bahadur, he was appointed by Guru Gobind Singh Ji while the Guru was alive.
In the middle of the century the Sikhs rose up again, and over the next 50 years took over more and more territory.
In 1799 Ranjit Singh captured Lahore, and in 1801 established the Punjab as an independent state, with himself as Maharaja.
The following accounts of Sikh battles are truly amazing. The Sikhs were always outnumbered but showed themselves to be the bravest and fiercest warriors in the world;
Gurmat Gyan (Knowledge)
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