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Sikh Faith

It was the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji, who compiled the writings of the Gurus that preceded him and added hymns written by other saintly figures (Bhagats), into the Adi Granth, and installed the scripture in Harmandir Sahib (now also known as the Golden Temple at Amritsar).

Guru Arjun was tortured and put to death by the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir for refusing to compromise on the inclusive message of the Sikh faith and for refusing to embrace Islam. The message of the Sikh faith, although peaceful, has a strong undercurrent of justice and human rights running through it. The Gurus, right from Guru Nanak onwards, criticised oppressive regimes, such as the invading Mughals. This criticism became armed defence after the martyrdom of Guru Arjan when his son, the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib, built up an army to defend the rights of the Sikhs themselves and of other oppressed minorities. In a similar vein to Guru Arjan, the ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur was put to death defending the rights of the Kashmiri Brahmins, people of a different faith to his own, to practice their own religion.

The tenth and last human Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, completed the transformation of the Sikh community into one of bold Saint Soldiers who would not shirk from standing up for their own rights and the rights of others.

On Vaisakhi day (traditionally a harvest festival) In 1699 Guru Gobind Singh called together over 80,000 Sikhs to his hilltop city of Anandpur. He appeared before them, holding up an unsheathed sword and asked if anyone was prepared ‘to offer their head for their Guru and faith‘. Initially no one responded until, on the third time of asking, a Daya Ram of Lahore stood up and humbly stated that his head already belonged to the Guru and that he was free to do with it as he wished. The Guru led him into a tent and reappeared some time later with a bloodied sword and demanded yet another head. This was repeated until five Sikhs had offered their heads to their Guru. After some time the Guru reappeared from the tent, with all five men dressed in saffron robes and carrying swords. He then performed the Khalsa initiation ceremony by giving them ‘amrit’ (sweetened water prepared by stirring the water with a double edged sword whilst the five daily prayers of the Sikhs are recited) and proclaimed the five as members of the Khalsa brotherhood. The word Khalsa means ‘the pure‘. He then bowed down in front of the five and requested that they in turn, initiate him. That day many thousands took ‘Amrit’ and joined the Khalsa.

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