Many Sikhs like to draw differences between Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Guru Gobind Singh, citing that Nanak was peaceful, while Gobind was violent. In the first place, there was nothing violent about Guru Gobind Singh Ji – he was a warrior that fought without anger (that begets violence). How can a Guru, who was the 10th Nanak, go back on his own word on kroadh (anger)? He fought with determination, not anger, to conquer the tyrant rule of the Mughals. But today’s Sikhs still argue on the facts of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Khalsa Rehat – Khande-Di-Pahul, maintaining unshorn tresses, and the way of the warrior. Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Guru Gobind Singh Ji was the same, let there be no doubt about that. There was no contradiction between the message of Guru Nanak and the action of Guru Gobind Singh. If we study deeper into Shabad Gurbani (Guru Granth Sahib Ji) and our history, we will discover that it is indeed true that Guru Nanak’s spirit passed from one Guru to another and now resting in Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The bodies of the Gurus were mortal, but the spirit (of God’s Word and Message) was the same and ascending from Guru to Guru, until Guru Gobind Singh Ji sealed the final image of Nanak’s Sikh – in the form of the Khalsa. Now, Guru Nanak’s Sikh (student) was complete – both in Bani (Guru Granth Sahib Ji) and Bana (Khalsa roop).
Firstly, Ganjnama declares that fact that Guru Gobind Singh Ji was indeed the 10th Nanak. Ganjnama, composed by Bhai Nand Lal Goya (one of the 52 poets in the court of Guru Gobind Singh Ji) renders homage to the Sikh Gurus whom the poet recalls in his deep personal devotion and veneration. The poet calls Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the supreme dervish and all his successors being One with him in spirit, embodying the same message. Bhai Nand Lal Goya’s poetry was blessed with the supreme status of having been instructed to Sikhs by Guru Gobind Singh Ji that it could be sung along with the compositions of Bhai Gurdas Ji as with the Shabads of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. In that respect, Bhai Nand Lal Goya’s writtings are considered as true as Gurbani and accepted that if he vouched that fact of the spirit of Nanak being the same in all the successor Gurus, then it is our loss if we do not believe his word as it was approved by Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
One of the greatest confusions many Sikhs have is about the changing image of Guru Nanak (and yet the message remained the same), one of which was the warrior image of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Before Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Nanak had already manifested as a warrior, in the image of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, the master of Miri-Piri. In fact, Guru Har Rai Ji continued in the warrior traditions of his grand-father, Guru Har Gobind Sahib Ji. Although, Guru Har Rai was a man of peace, he never disbanded the armed Sikh Warriors (Saint Soldiers), who earlier were maintained by his grandfather, Guru Hargobind. He always boosted the military spirit of the Sikhs, but he never himself indulged in any direct political and armed controversy with the contemporary Mughal Empire.
For Guru Gobind Singh Ji to be a warrior Guru was not of his own choice, it was a destiny determined by the House of Nanak. As much as all the Sikh Gurus were saints, three of them were soldiers as well because of the conditions of the rule of the land during their times. Because tyranny was never going to relent, Guru Gobind Singh Ji sealed the soldier image of the Sikh while the Saint image was immeresed in Guru Granth Sahib Ji’s teachings.
When Guru Gobind Singh Ji demanded a head as a sacrifice to the Guru, he merely put to action what Guru Nanak had already proclaimed the same in Shabad.
jo tho praem khaelan kaa chaao
If you desire to play this game of love with Me,
sir dhhar thalee galee maeree aao
then step onto My Path with your head in hand.
eith maarag pair dhhareejai
When you place your feet on this Path,
sir dheejai kaan n keejai
give Me your head, and do not pay any attention to public opinion.
-Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 1412
Time had come to now to put the Sikhs of Nanak to the ultimate test by asking for a physical sacrifice to the Guru. Earlier, Guru Arjan Dev Ji has instructed the same of his Sikhs – to first accept death, and give up all hope of life before anyone could approach him (teaching humility and love for the Guru). So when Guru Gobind Singh Ji unsheathed his sword, and voiced the demand, he was only testing his Sikhs whether they still obeyed Guru Nanak when he asked for a head. In essence, Guru Nanak Dev Ji had already laid the foundation of the Khalsa Panth and of the image of the Warrior-Saint.
Guru Har Gobind Sahib, Guru Har Rai Sahib and Guru Gobind Singh Ji all adorned themselves with weapon, and that’s because Guru Nanak has instructed them so in his Shabad:
jaa thudhh bhaavai thaeg vagaavehi sir mu(n)ddee katt jaavehi
When it pleases You, we wield the sword, and cut off the heads of our enemies.
-Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 144
Guru Nanak was a warrior within and a saint as well. If the image of Guru Har Gobind Sahib Ji, Guru Har Rai Ji and Guru Gobind Singh Ji was that of Warrior-Saints, then Guru Nanak was also a Warrior-Saint too. Nanak’s very Shabads were revolutionary – the foundation of the warrior was already set by him. Through the image portrayed by the Sikh Gurus, they all walked in the message of Nanak and never once did they step out of it. Everything the Sikh Gurus did was dictated by the Shabad of Nanak. If we make a close analysis of all the 10 Gurus of the Sikhs, we will find that everything they did conformed to the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
When Guru Amar Das Ji proclaimed Gurbani as Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji put that in practice and sealed the image of the Sikh. Upon completion of the mission of Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th and final Nanak, bestowed the Guru Gaddi to Guru Granth Sahib Ji. No wonder Guru Gobind Singh Ji did not include a single verse of his own writting into the Guru Granth Sahib Ji – he was the servant of Akaal Purakh Waheguru, having come to complete the mission as directed by Akaal Purakh through Guru Nanak.
baanee guroo guroo hai baanee vich baanee a(n)mrith saarae
The Word, the Bani is Guru, and Guru is the Bani. Within the Bani, the Ambrosial Nectar is contained.
-Guru Ram Das Ji, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 982
And why did Guru Gobind Singh Ji instruct his Sikhs to partake in Khande-Di-Pahul? It was the instruction from the house of Nanak, an initiation as Guru Nanak Dev Ji always referred to Naam as the Ambrosial Amrit. Without Naam, life is wasted and without Khande-Di-Pahul, the Sikh is incomplete. Why would Guru Gobind Singh ask for something from his Sikh that he himself wouldn’t need? That is why he first prepared the Khalsa and then he asked for the gift of becoming a Singh by beseeching the Punj Pyare to make him a Khalsa as well. What wonderful ways of the Sikh Gurus! They are both Guru and disciple at the same time! Guru Gobind Singh Ji completed the image of the Sikh through Khande-Di-Pahul and bestowing Guruship to Guru Granth Sahib Ji and he himself became Amritdhari and bowed to Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
There was never one like Nanak, and there never will be another. It took the House of Nanak over two centuries to complete the mission of Akaal Purakh – the fomation of the Khalsa. There was never one like Gobind Singh, and there never will be another. Inbetween Nanak and Gobind, was there any and never will there be another who maintained the original mission of Nanak and build on it to the point we now have Guru Granth Sahib as our Guru. Never before was the Word of the Guru bestowed the Throne of Guru (God) and neither is there another that proclaims the Word of God as Guru. It’s is only in the House of Nanak that such an honour was bestowed upon the Sikhs – that their very Word is God Himself and that the Guru themselves were the disciples. I am at a loss for words to explain any further, just how great our Gurus were and just how blessed we all are to be what they were – Saints as well as Soldiers.