Guru Nanak’s messages were carried forward by his nine successors. Their names are:
- Guru Angad (1504-52)- Popularised Punjabi language and script.
- Guru Amardas (1479-1574)- “Outlawed” ‘Pardah’ and ‘Satti’ among Sikhs.
- Guru Ramdas (1534-81)- Founded the present city of Amritsar.
- Guru Arjan (1563-1606)- Compiled ‘Adi Granth’, the first ‘Martyr Guru’.1
- Guru Hargobind (1595-1644)- Introduced two swords of ‘Meeri’ and ‘Peeri’.2
- Guru Har-Rai (1630-61)- The promoter of the Sikh Faith.
- Guru Har-Kishan (1656-64)- The Child Guru.
- Guru Teg-Bahadur (1621-75)- The protector of the Hindu Faith; the second ‘Martyr Guru’.3
- Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708)- The founder of the Khalsa; the Saint and Soldier.
1 The First Martyr Guru – The great Mogul Emperor Akbar was a kind and tolerant ruler. When he died in 1606, he was succeeded by his son Jahangeer, whose attitude towards Sikhs was much different. Soon he found an excuse to punish Guru Arjan because even some Muslims were attracted to his teachings. The Emperor Jahangeer himself wrote in his memoirs – “I issued orders that he should be converted to Islam, or be imprisoned, tortured and executed under some political pretext.” Thus on May 30th, 1606 Guru Arjan was summoned to the King’s court to explain his conduct. Then, after some questioning, he was made to sit on a red hot iron plate while burning sand was poured over from the top, thus roasting him to death.
2 ‘Meeri’ stands for temporal power and ‘Peeri’ for spiritual authority.
3 The Second Martyr Guru – The year was 1675. This was the time when Aurangzeb was the emperor at Delhi. He was a fanatic and deeply committed to the promotion of Islam even by forcible conversations. When some Hindu brahmans from Kashmir approached the Guru Teg Bahadur to intervene, he went to Delhi to discuss the matter with the emperor. But the emperor, rather than listening to Guru’s pleading, gave him two choices- either to accept Islam or face death. He was publicly beheaded in an open square called Chandni Chowk in Delhi. Now there stands a magnificent Gurdwara called ‘Sees-Ganj’ at this historic square where the Guru gave his life so that a nation could live.
A few miles away close to the Parliament House in New Delhi stands another proud landmark of the Sikhs, a Gurdwara called ‘Rikaab Ganj’ where Guru’s body was cremated.