Sikhism: Ten Gurus

Sikhism was established and developed by ten Gurus from 1469 to 1708. Sikhs regard them as enlightened teachers through whom God revealed his will but not as divine themselves.

  1. Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539) The founder of Sikhism
  2. Guru Angad Dev (1504-52) Developed Gurmukhi, the script used for the Punjab language and composed 62 hymns that were later included in the Guru Granth Sahib.
  3. Guru Amar Das (1479-1574) Became Guru at the age of 73. Organised three annual gatherings for Sikhs, set up the first pilgrimage site at Goindval Sahib and introduced Sikh rituals for birth and death. His most famous hymn Anand Sahib is part of Sikh daily ritual.
  4. Guru Ram Das (1534-1581) Founded Amritsar, the holy city of Sikhism. His followers dug the pool that became the holy lake surrounding the Golden Temple. He composed the Lavan marriage hymn, still used in Sikh marriages.
  5. Guru Arjan Dev (1563-1606) Collected the hymns of previous Gurus and added 2616 of his own to form the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhism. He also built the Golden Temple.
  6. Guru Hargobind (1595-1644) The son of Guru Arjan, proclaimed that the Guru is a military as well as a spiritual leader; this lead to conflict with the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.
  7. Guru Har Rai (1630-1661) Grandson of Guru Hargobind.
  8. Guru Har Krishan (1656-1664) Younger son of Guru Har Rai, became guru at the age of 5 and died of smallpox at 8. He is the only Guru depicted in art without a beard.
  9. Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-75) Great-uncle of Guru Har Krishan, was barred from Amritsar by Sikh rivals and so founded the Sikh centre of Anandpur. He was beheaded in Delhi by Muslims for helping Brahmins avoid forcible conversion to Islam.
  10. Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708) Son of Guru Tegh Bahadur, is second only to Guru Nanak in importance.  He is often shown prominently next to Nanak in Sikh art. He resisted oppression by Muhgal and Hindu authorities, exemplifying the Sikh ideal of the heroic saint-soldier. He founded the Khalsa and Sikh baptism, composed many poems and nominated the Sikh sacred text, the Sri Guru Granth as the final and enduring Guru.

Partly taken from

January 2007  KC I/07

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