Hargobind Sahib Ji Maharaj (1595 -1644)
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Akali Guru Arjan Dev was succeeded by his eleven year
old, and only son Akali Guru Hargobind.
Akali Guru Hargobind Sahib
The great Guru declared "My emblem will be a sword belt and
I shall wear
my turban with a royal aigrette" (taken from Sikh Religion,
Vol 4, Pa. 2, M.A. Macauliffe)
In his own life time, Akali Guru Arjan Dev had realised
that along side spiritual knowledge, martial knowledge would be
required by his son to defend his Sanatan Sikh spiritual heritage.
From a young age, Guru Arjan Dev had instructed the great Baba
Budha Ji, a Sikh from times of Akali Guru Nanak Dev, to
teach Akali Guru Hargobind the military battle arts (Shastar
Vidiya, see www.shastarvidiya.org).
Akali Baba Budha Ji
A fresco from a Gurudwara at Narangabad, Punjab that
depicts the great 'Sidkhi' (proven) Sikh Akali Baba Budha Ji
As Akali Guru Hargobind was installed as Guru in
1606, Baba Budha Ji lead the Sikhs to build the 'Akal Bunga',
the immortal fort of Akal (immortal God). From that day the Akal
Bunga also known as 'Akal Takht', and has since
represented the highest temporal seat of Sikhism.
The Akalis Tower
A watercolour of the Akal Bunga by William Carpenter, 1854
In time Baba Budha Ji, who orthodox
Akali Nihang traditions holds got his martial knowledge from Akali
Guru Nanak himself, trained an army of twenty two hundred horsemen.
These horsemen having their base at the Akal Takht became known
as the 'Akalis'. The Akalis were the police force
of Sikhism, had the duty was to safeguard and defend Sanatan Sikh
Dharma, Sikh Guru’s, Sikh institutions, Sikhs, and all those
who sought protection from tyranny.
An engraving depicting an Akali adorned with a huge arsenal of weapons
such as 'teghas' (swords), 'chakars' (quoits), 'toradar'(musket),
'katars' (punch daggers)
In his lifetime Akali Guru Hargobind had four successful
clashes with the Moghal state. All of Guru’s battles were
fought purely in self-defence.
The 'Akal Sena' (immortal army of
God) as it was also known, consisted of Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims.
Alongside being a mighty warrior, Guru Hargobind, continued the
mission of his predecessors to spread the philosophy of oneness
of Nirankar God and mankind. A famous saying of Guru Hargobind is
evidence of this fact:
‘Wealth is for sustenance only, women are one's honour,
sons one's mark on this earth and religion is of the holy man.
So what is [the need for] distinction of Hindu or Muslim?.’
In his life Akali Guru Hargobind alongside Sikh shrines
built both Mandhirs (Hindu centers of worship)
and Masjids (Muslim temples) for his Hindu and
Muslim followers respectively. One such Masjid was 'Guru ki Maseet'
that was recently handed over to Muslims by the Akali Nihang Singh
Khalsa custodians (click here
for more information).
In the paradoxical Sanatan Sikh world, an individual
could be a Sikh (the learner of truth) and still
be a Muslim, Hindu, Christian,