First Guru 1469 - 1539
Guru Nanak at KartarpurThis painting of Guru Nanak at Kartarpur is an artistic attempt to express the divine light manifested by Guru ji in his old age when he attracted many followers to sit alongside him in the wheat fields of Kartarpur. Looking at this art piece, we dwell upon the last days of Guru ji on this earth as he planted the core tenants of Sikhism in the hearts of a community of the faithful who gathered about him. He casts a royal blue shadow, which takes the shape of a warrior wearing a Dastaar and Kalgi. This foreshadows the transformation of their jyot into Guru Gobind Singh ji who would create the Khalsa panth, born out of the soil of Punjab from the seeds Guru Nanak planted generations before. To the left of Guru Nanak, we see the field of golden wheat but to the right it subtly transforms into a landscape of arrows and fire. This is an analogy for the turbulent and transformative times ahead for the land of Punjab, hardships which would engender the spiritual and bodily transformation of the Sikh community into the Khalsa panth. The tree is a metaphor for this community; it grew from the body of the Gurus into five powerful trunks (the panj pyare) and then beyond into countless more spirit born souls, stretching into the eternity of boundless time and the infinite cosmos.
Guru Amar Das JiGuru Amar Das ji the third in the line of Guru Nanak. Though he was an old man when he encountered the Guru, casting aside the burdens of age, Guru Amar Das Sahib dedicated the latter years of his life to the Sikh Panth. He spent most of his time in service in the free kitchen, or Langar, of Guru Angad Sahib. He did this service without expectation of reward. After twelve years, when he was 72 years old, Guru Angad Sahib chose him as the next Guru, the next to carry the light of Nanak. Guru Amar Das Sahib is famous for having built the bustling town of Goindwal Sahib and for organizing and centralizing the Sikh Panth. He divided the Panth into 22 sections and appointed a Sikh to head each one. A champion of gender equity, Guru Amar Das Sahib appointed women alongside men in these administrative positions.
Guru Angad Dev JiGuru Angad Sahib the second in the line of Guru Nanak, prepares to write the Gurmukhi alphabet.
Before he left his body, Guru Nanak Sahib passed on the Guruship of the Sikh Panth to Bhai Lehna. Lehna, through a series of tests, had proven his worth as the successor to Guru Nanak. Guru Nanak gave a new name to Lehna, naming him Guru Angad Sahib. Angad means “of my body”. Guru Nanak Sahib wanted the Sikh Panth to understand that though the Guru has changed his body, the light of the Shabad, the Divine light of the Guru, was the same. Guru Angad Sahib was simply the new Nanak. As the new Nanak, Guru Angad Sahib continued the work of his mentor. Guru Nanak had built a strong foundation, and Guru Angad developed the Sikh Panth from that base. Primarily, Guru Angad is remembered for is his refinement and standardization of the Gurmukhi script. This is the script of the Sikhs and is one of the two standards alphabets used for the Punjabi language today.
Guru Gobind Singh – The Siege of ChamkaurThe Battle of Chamkaur took place in 1705. Guru Gobind Singh ji, his two elder sons, Baba Ajit Singh and Baba Jujhar Singh alongside a small band of loyal Sikhs, defended the small fort of Chamkaur against a large Mughal force pursuing them. After a long day of Battle, in which many Sikhs including the elder Sahibzadey were martyred, the remaining Sikhs issued Guru Sahib with a Hukam (command) to leave the fort. Guru Sahib did not leave quietly. Instead he stood on high ground and clapped his hands three times, saying, ‘Peer-e-Hind-rwad’ (The ‘Peer’ of India is leaving’).
Mata Sahib Kaur - Mother of the KhalsaJust as Guru Gobind Singh Sahib is considered the father of the Sikh nation, Mata Sahib Devan Kaur is considered its mother. A remarkable young woman, Mata Sahib Kaur was a born leader who took her role as symbolic mother of the Sikhs very seriously. When a Sikh takes Amrit from the 5 Beloved, they are born into the royal house of Nanak. To create an egalitarian society, all Sikhs consider Anandpur Sahib their birthplace and Mata Sahib Kaur their mother.
Pillar of PeaceThe Harimandir Sahib is the heart of the Sikh Panth. It was conceived by Guru Ram Das ji when he built the sarovar on the site of a holy pool of water in the city of Amritsar, which he also founded. The next master, Guru Arjun completed the Harimandir sahib and installed the Adi Granth, the primal Sikh scriptures, within its walls. Harimandir sahib, in the time of the Gurus was not yet covered in gold but was already revered as the centre of Sikh spiritual life and the seat of the Gurus. Guru Hargobind would have looked across at its’ wondrous forms as he built the Akal Takhat to give Sikhs a place to settle all political and temporal affairs. Later Guru Teg Bahadur ji would sit upon the opposite edge of the sarovar and looked upon its’ four entrances with a pilgrim‘s longing when he was denied entry by the disloyal mahants. Nonetheless, the Sikh sangat of Amritsar still embraced their Guru within its’ view and today a small shrine marks that place on the sarovar in remembrance of their faith. Harimandir sahib has and will forever remain a vision of sanctity and peace within the hearts of every Sikh who lays eyes upon it.
Guru Ram Das JiGuru Ram Das Sahib the fourth in the line of Guru Nanak, came from humble beginnings. He was born Bhai Jetha, and was an orphan who sold food on the street as a child to make ends meet. As a young man he met Guru Amar Das and began to live with the Guru. He quickly became famous in the Sikh Panth for his kind and loving attitude and his devotion to selfless service. Guru Amar Das Sahib’s daughter, Bibi Bhani, was married to Bhai Jetha. The two were sent by Guru Amar Das Sahib to start the new city of Amritsar. Later, the Guruship was passed to Bhai Jetha, who was given the name Guru Ram Das. Amritsar was open to all, where anyone, regardless of caste or background, could start a new life. The city was built around a Sarovar called Amritsar; a pool of water that Guru Ram Das had built. It was within this pool that the next Guru would build the heart of the Sikh Panth, Harmandir Sahib.