10 Gurus of Sikh: Their Names, Teachings, History

What is Sikhism?

In this article, we will briefly discuss about all the ten Gurus of Sikhism, focusing on their names, teachings, and history. Beginning with Guru Nanak and the founding of Sikhism, we'll discuss their succession, ending with the tenth leader, Guru Gobind Singh. All ten Sikh gurus were born in Hinduism.

What Are the Sikh Gurus?

Founded in the Punjabi region of India over 500 years ago, one would think the Sikh religion would have more than ten Gurus, who are holy leaders and teachers. Sikhism developed in an area where contact between Muslims and Hindus occurred frequently with periods of cooperation and conflict. Sikhism, while sharing some traits with each, is a completely separate religion that follows a single god but believes that all religions follow this god in their own way. Let's look at how each Guru helped shape Sikhism.

Sikhism is classified as an Indian religion along with Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

The basis of Sikhism lies in the teachings of Guru Nanak and his successors. Sikh ethics emphasize the congruence between spiritual development and everyday moral conduct. Its founder Guru Nanak summarized this perspective as: "Truth is the highest virtue, but higher still is truthful living." Sikhism lays emphasis on Ėk nūr te sab jag upjiā, 'From the one light, the entire universe welled up.'[citation needed]

Concept of God

Some sources call Sikhism a monotheistic religion, while others call it a monistic and panentheistic religion. According to Nesbitt (2005), English renderings of Sikhism as a monotheistic religion "tend misleadingly to reinforce a Semitic understanding of monotheism, rather than Guru Nanak's mystical awareness of the one that is expressed through the many. However, what is not in doubt is the emphasis on 'one'."

In Sikhism, the overall concept of God is Waheguru ('wondrous Teacher') considered to be nirankar ('shapeless'), akal ('timeless'), karta purakh ('the creator'), and agam agochar ('incomprehensible and invisible').

God has no gender in Sikhism, though translations may present it as masculine. It is also akaal purkh ('beyond time and space') and nirankar ('without form'). In addition, Nanak wrote that there are many worlds on which it has created life.

The Sikh scripture begins with God as ik onkar (ੴ), the 'formless one', understood in the Sikh tradition as monotheistic unity of God. Ik onkar (sometimes capitalized) is more loosely rendered 'the one supreme reality', 'the one creator', 'the all-pervading spirit', and other ways of expressing a diffused but unified and singular sense of God and creation.

The traditional Mul Mantar goes from ik onkar until Nanak hosee bhee sach.[clarification needed] The opening line of the Guru Granth Sahib and each subsequent raga, mentions ik onkar:

Prakash (Gurmukhi: ਪਰਕਾਸ਼) is a Punjabi word meaning "light, radiance, awakening, enlightenment" and is also the name given to the ceremony for the "act of bringing the Sri Guru Granth Sahib from the Sachkhand to the Darbar hall". This is normally done at about dawn time every day at all Sikh Gurdwaras.

The Guru Granth Sahib is a large volume and usually stored overnight in one location called the Sachkhand and is like a special bedroom. However, during the day, the Guru Granth Sahib is seated on a raised stage (Palki Sahib) as the focal point in a congregation or Gurdwara. When being brought to the open court it is carried on ones head to symbolize that it is above human ego. This is done while chanting of sacred Mantars. The prakash process is completed by taking a hukam.

Joti Jot (Meaning: immersed in the Eternal Light). The Guru's and holy Sikh scriptures teach that if someone is immortal (or attained immortality during the course of their life), when they leave this existence they have not died. They have rejoined with God. As someone who is immortal cannot die. This special condition is given the word Joti Jot.

Khalsa initiation

The 5 Ks date from the creation of the Khalsa Panth by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

The Guru introduced them for several reasons:

  • Adopting these common symbols would identify members of the Khalsa
  • Because all members of the Khalsa wear the 5 Ks the members of the community are more strongly bound together
  • Each K has a particular significance

The meaning of the 5 Ks

A simple, plain circular steel braceletKara - a steel bracelet

The 5 Ks taken together symbolise that the Sikh who wears them has dedicated themselves to a life of devotion and submission to the Guru.

The 5 Ks are 5 physical symbols worn by Sikhs who have been initiated into the Khalsa.

The five Ks are:

  1. Kesh (uncut hair)
  2. Kara (a steel bracelet)
  3. Kanga (a wooden comb)
  4. Kaccha - also spelt, Kachh, Kachera (cotton underwear)
  5. Kirpan (steel sword)

Who Were the Sikh Gurus?

The word guru in Sikhism also refers to Akal Purkh (God), and God and guru can sometimes be synonymous in Gurbani (Sikh writings). Let's cover the Sikh Gurus:

Guru Nanak Dev

Guru Nanak Dev

Date of Birth: 15 April, 1469
Date of Death: 22 September, 1539
Father: Mehta Kalu
Mother: Mata Tripta

Guru Nanak Dev (गुरु नानक देव) was a 1st guru of Sikhism.

Guru Angad Dev

Guru Angad Dev

Date of Birth: 31 March, 1504
Date of Death: 29 March, 1552
Father: Baba Pheru
Mother: Mata Ramo

Guru Angad Dev (गुरू अंगद देव) was a 2nd guru of Sikhism.

Guru Amar Das

Guru Amar Das

Date of Birth: 5 May, 1479
Date of Death: 1 September, 1574
Father: Tej Bhan Bhalla
Mother: Bakht Kaur

Guru Amar Das (गुरु अमर दास) was a 3rd guru of Sikhism.

Guru Ram Das

Guru Ram Das

Date of Birth: 24 September, 1534
Date of Death: 1 September, 1581
Father: Baba Hari Das
Mother: Mata Daya Vati

Guru Ram Das (गुरु राम दास) was a 4th guru of Sikhism.

Guru Arjan Dev

Guru Arjan Dev

Date of Birth: 15 April, 1563
Date of Death: 30 May, 1606
Father: Rām Dās
Mother: Mata Bhani

Guru Arjan Dev (गुरु अर्जन देव) was a 5th guru of Sikhism.

Guru Har Gobind

Guru Har Gobind

Date of Birth: 19 June, 1595
Date of Death: 28 February, 1644
Father: Arjun Dēv
Mother: Mata Ganga

Guru Har Gobind (गुरु हरगोबिंद) was a 6th guru of Sikhism.

Guru Har Rai

Guru Har Rai

Date of Birth: 16 January, 1630
Date of Death: 6 October, 1661
Father: Baba Gurditta
Mother: Mata Nihal Kaur

Guru Har Rai (गुरु हर राय) was a 7th guru of Sikhism.

Guru Har Krishan

Guru Har Krishan

Date of Birth: 7 July, 1656
Date of Death: 30 March, 1664
Father: Hari Rāi
Mother: Mata Krishan Kaur

Guru Har Krishan (गुरु हर किशन) was a 8th guru of Sikhism.

Guru Tegh Bahadur

Guru Tegh Bahadur

Date of Birth: 1 April, 1621
Date of Death: 11 November, 1675
Father: Hari Gōbind
Mother: Mata Nanki

Guru Tegh Bahadur (गुरू तेग़ बहादुर) was a 9th guru of Sikhism.

Guru Gobind Singh

Guru Gobind Singh

Date of Birth: 22 December, 1666
Date of Death: 7 October, 1708
Father: Tēġ Bahādur
Mother: Mata Gujri

Guru Gobind Singh (गुरु गोबिन्द सिंह) was a 10th guru of Sikhism.