7 October 1708
Death of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru.
On 7 October 1708, Guru Gobind Singh died of wounds inflicted when an assassin stabbed him. He was the last Sikh Guru.
Guru Gobind Singh
- Born Gobind Rai, Guru Gobind Singh was installed as the Sikh Guru aged nine when his father and the ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded on the orders of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb for refusing to embrace Islam.
- His notable contribution to Sikhism is the establishment of the Khalsa in 1699.
- The only son of Guru Tegh Bahadur, Guru Gobind Singh was born in Patna in December 1666.
- He was educated in reading, writing, and also martial arts, archery and horse riding.
- Not only was he a brave warrior, but he was also a great poet and philosopher.
- His literary contributions include the Jaap Sahib, Benti Chaupai, Amrit Savaiye, etc.
- He took part in many battles, particularly against the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb.
- In the Battle of Anandpur (1704), the Guru lost his mother and two minor sons who were executed. His eldest sons also died in battle.
- The Khalsa: Guru Gobind Singh’s most significant contribution was the institutionalising of the Khalsa, which was a warrior community. An initiation ceremony called Amrit Pehul was created and rules were formulated for the Khalsa. A male Khalsa was given the title ‘Singh’ and a female was given the title ‘Kaur’. This code solidified the martial spirit of the Sikh community.
- Guru Gobind Singh started the tradition of the Five K’s for the Khalsa. The Five K’s are kesh (uncut hair), kanga (wooden comb), kara (iron or steel bracelet), kirpan (dagger) and kacchera (short breeches). These were the five articles of faith that a Khalsa must always adorn. The tradition is still followed.
- The Guru also laid down many other rules for the Khalsa warriors to follow like abstaining from tobacco, alcohol, halal meat, etc. The Khalsa warrior was also duty-bound to protect innocent people from persecution. Everyone was treated equally and caste was abolished.
- The Khalsa tradition was responsible for converting the Sikhs into a strong and disciplined fighting group. This also paved the way for the establishment of the Sikh Empire under Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1799.
- Another significant contribution of Guru Gobind Singh was the enshrining the Sikh scripture Granth Sahib as the eternal Guru of Sikhism. Thus, after his death, there were no more Gurus in human form.
- Guru Gobind Singh also wrote the Zafarnama which was a letter to the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb is believed to have agreed to a meeting with the Guru but died before that.
- The Guru along with his troops was stationed in the Deccan when two Afghan assassins commissioned by Wazir Khan gained access to the camp. One of the assassins stabbed the Guru at Nanded. The assassin was killed by the Guru while his accomplice was killed by Sikh guards. Guru Gobind Singh died of wounds a few days later on 7 October 1708 aged 42.
- After the Guru’s death, there ensued a long and bitter war between the Sikhs and the Mughals.
Also on this day
1950: Missionaries of Charity started in Calcutta by Mother Teresa. 2000: The first Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Conservation Award given to WWF-India.
See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.