Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji was born in June 1595 in the household of Mata Ganga Ji and Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the fifth Guru of the Sikhs. It was during the reign Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji that the Sikhs began to militarise leading to the Akalis, who were the predecessors of the contemporary Nihangs.
He put on two swords: one indicated his spiritual authority and the other, his temporal authority. He built the Akal Takht, the Throne of the Almighty Guru Hargobind ji excelled in matters of state, and his Darbar (court) was noted for its splendour. The arming and training of some of his devoted followers began, the Guru came to possess seven hundred horses, and his Risaldari (army) grew to three hundred horsemen and sixty gunners in the due course of time. Additionally, five hundred men from the Majha area of the Punjab were recruited as infantry. Guru Hargobind built a fortress at Amritsar called Lohgarh “Fortress of steel”. He had his own flag and war-drum which was beaten twice a day.
Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji ensured that their son received a thorough education in traditional arts and sciences of India, including the art of warfare. The trusted Sikhs Baba Budha Ji and Bhai Gurdas Ji, who was the paternal uncle of the fifth Guru, were responsible for the education of the young prince. Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji was also trained in the art of Shastarvidiya by Baba Budha Ji who had received its knowledge from Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. S.J.S Pall writes that;
‘The Guru had received considerable martial training from Baba Budha Ji, the most venerated Sikh during the period of first six Gurus.’ (The Beloved Forces of the Guru, page 25)
The following is a summary of the main highlights of Guru Ji’s life:
1. Introduced martial arts and weapons training and created a standing Military force for the defence of the masses from tyrant rule.
2. Carried 2 swords of Miri and Piri : “Temporal Power” and “Spiritual Power”.
3. Built Sri Akal Takht Sahib (in front of Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar) in 1608 – which is now one of five Takhats (Seats of Power) of the Sikh Religion. Akal Takhat (Punjabi: ਅਕਾਲ ਤਖ਼ਤ, Akāl Taḵẖt) means the Throne of the Immortal and is the highest political institution of the Sikhs.
4. Founded the city of Kiratpur in District Rupnagar, (old name Ropar), Punjab
5. Held in the fort of Gwalior for one year, obstensibly to pray for the recovery of the ill Emperor Jahangir (the Guru had willingly gone to the fort), when released he refused to leave unless 52 imprisoned Hindu Rajas were freed as well. Guru Sahib earned their freedom by turning the Emperor’s own words against him. To mark this occasion the Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chorr Divas and Deepa wali to celebrate his return to Amritsar.
6. First Sikh Guru (after 5 predecessors) to engage in warfare, fighting and winning 4 defensive battles with Mughal forces.