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Akali Guru 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.

The Akali
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, etc.

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