Timeline of Sikhism

Sikhism is a religion founded in late 15th century which believes in monotheism. This religion is followed by 2.5 crores individuals across globe (roughly). Most of the male Sikhs do wear turbans which make them unique and recognizable.

This religion was founded by Guru Nanak and he is considered to be one of the ten masters in Sikhism.

Here is the complete timeline of Sikhism. We will learn the entire main history of this religion.

Wahe Guru ji ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru ji ki fateh!

Birth and life of the founder: Guru Nanak Dev

An artistic image of Guru Nanak

In 1469, ‘Guru Nanak Dev’ also referred as ‘Baba Nanak’ was born on April 15 in Nankana Sahib, Pakistan. His father ‘Kalu Mehta’ was a local patwari (accountant) who wanted his son to acquire a good position in his career like many other fathers but Guru Nanak ji’s vision was really different. He was acknowledged to have a really sweet voice. There are some stories of him doing in miracles too.

In 1475, the elder sister of Nanak ji, ‘Bebe Nanaki’ married to Jai Ram in Sultanpur. Nanak Ji was quite attached with his sister, hence, he decided to leave his house and shift to Sultanpur Lodhi (in India) to live with his sister.

There was a water body near their house where Nanak Ji used to bath and meditate on the banks everyday in the morning. He was known for his social work and kind nature among the villagers.

In 1487, Nanak married to Mata Sulakhni in Batala, India. They were then shifted back to Sultanpur Lodhi.

In 1494, their son, ‘Sri Chand’ was born in Sultanpur Lodhi itself.

In 1496, the villagers witnessed a complete transformation in Nanak Ji as he gained enlightenment due to his dedication and meditation. He continued to preach his teachings and engaged in social work.

In 1497, Nanak Ji’s daughter, ‘Lakshmi Das’ was born in Sultanpur Lodhi, India.

He travelled extensively during his lifetime. It is believed that he travelled across India, Pakistan, China (specifically Tibet), Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia and so on. Some accounts say that he covered about 28,000 kilometres of distance over foot. The main motive of his travelling was to preach as many people as possible. He wanted to increase the reach of his message.

In 1500, the religion, summing up the teachings and work, ‘Sikhism’ was founded by Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur, Pakistan

In 1521, world’s first ever gurudwara (Sikh temple), ‘Gurdwara Darbar Sahib’ was built in Kartarpur, Pakistan by Guru Nanak Ji himself with the help of believers and labourers.

Later, he continued to preach and spread his network of teachings among the visitors and people.

Around 1530, Bhai Lehna met Guru Nanak for the first time. Lehna was a Hindu before who worshipped ‘Kaali Mata’ (a goddess in Hinduism) but after meeting Nanak Ji, he was really impressed by his teachings and way of life. Hence, he dedicated his life to serve for him and grasp more knowledge. Converting to Sikhism, he tried to prove his loyalty, capability and zeal in front of Guru Nanak Ji for about 7 years.

In 1539, Guru Nanak Ji renamed ‘Bhai Lehna’ as ‘Angad’ (translation of name: ‘my own limb’ or ‘of my own body’) and declared him as the second master in Sikhism.

In 1539, it is believed that Nanak Ji jumped into the water of Ravi River (located in Kartarpur, Pakistan). To his companion, Mardana’s horror he didn’t see Nanak Ji on the surface of the water. He called his friends and villagers in search of him but none could find under water. It was later expected that he drowned. It is believed that Guru Nanak Dev Ji left his body on September 22, 1539 while he always remain alive in the believers’ heart.

After his death, Angad Ji left the Kartarpur to meditate and reconcile Nanak Ji’s ideology.

Appointment of the second master: Guru Angad

Guru Angad

In 1540, Angad Ji returned to Kartarpur and became the successor of the organisation. Many believers didn’t consider him as there was an ongoing dispute between Angad Ji and the two children of Nanak Ji (Sri Chand and Lakshmi Das) over the seat and becoming the next master.

He later got support and love from many and successfully served for the community. He often encouraged social work. He also declared ‘Guru Amar Das’ as the third master.

In 1552, he died in Amritsar, India on March 29.

Appointment of the third master: Guru Amar Das

Guru Amar Das

In 1552, after the heartbreaking death of Angad Ji, ‘Guru Amar Das’ succeeded him and became the third master on April 5. It is noted that Guru Amar Das was a Hindu before who visited various pilgrims and later converted to Sikhism.

He founded ‘Sikh Manji’ which is a Sikh religious administrative.

He compiled various teachings and hymns written by him and his predecessors coming up with the first ever Sikh religious text, ‘Adi Granth’ (also known as ‘Guru Granth Sahib’).

He established various Sikh rituals, festivals, weddings, funerals and so on. He also picked the location for the construction of ‘Golden Temple’ located in Amritsar, India.

In 1574, he died on September 1 due to natural causes.

Appointment of the fourth master: Guru Ram Das

Guru Ram Das

In 1574, After the death of Guru Amar Das, his son-in-law, ‘Guru Ram Das’ became the fourth master who married a daughter of ‘Guru Amar Das’ (the third master).

In 1574, he founded the city, Amritsar which is presently located in Punjab, India. He also declared the city as one of the most holy cities for Sikhs.

He had three sons and he chose the youngest one, ‘Guru Arjan’ as his successor.

In 1581, Guru Ram Das died at the age of 46 in Goindwal Sahib, Punjab, India.

Appointment of the fifth master: Guru Arjan

Guru Arjan

In 1581, ‘Guru Arjan’ became the fourth master after the sad demise of his father.

In 1581, he came up with the project of one of the most beautiful religious place on Earth, ‘Golden Temple’ located in Amritsar, India.

The choice of Guru Ram Das of choosing Guru Arjan as the successor resulted in a lot of conflicts and disputes. The stories about this master is quite controversial and there is some inconsistent information regarding the disputes under this authority.

In 1604, ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ (also called ‘Adi Granth’) was completed and officially approved by Guru Arjan as the first edition of the book. It was referred as the sacred scripture for Sikh religion. It is the only official sacred scripture in Sikhism as it contains all the teachings, hymns, stories and events related to the religion.

In 1604, construction of ‘Golden Temple’ was completed and it was referred as one of the most important Sikh pilgrimage. He also installed the first edition of ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ in the same gurudwara (Sikh temple) itself.

In 1606, Guru Arjan rejected all the fake blames on him. He also stood with the Sikh community. Later, he was brutally tortured in Lahore, Pakistan by the Mughal Emperor, ‘Jahangir’ which led to his sad demise. This was a heartbreaking incident caused intentionally by Jahangir and his politics. He martyrdom is considered a watershed event in the history of not only Sikhism but for everyone.

Appointment of the sixth master: Guru Hargobind

Guru Hargobind

In 1606, after the heartbreaking demise of Guru Arjan, his son, ‘Guru Hargobind’ became the sixth master as he was chosen by his father (the previous master) only just 5 days before his demise. He always respected his father and understood his duty really well.

From 1607, as commanded by his father, he organised a military group to protect Sikhism and residents of Punjab. He was good in martial arts and advised everyone to maintain physical health.

Since start, he stood against Jahangir and Shah Jahan to protect Punjab from this rule. Still, he maintained good relations with Jahangir.

In 1627, Jahangir died due to illness. After his death, his son, Shah Jahan took the seat and became the new emperor. Unfortunately, Shah Jahan was worse than Jahangir which made the relations with Punjabis worse and more deadly.

In 1634, he with his army defeated Shah Jahan under the war, ‘Battle of Amritsar’. Not only one war, he won many wars.

In 1644, he decided his grandson, ‘Guru Har Rai’ to be the next master in the reign or Sikhism.

In 1664, Guru Hargobind died in Kiratpur Sahib, India.

Appointment of the seventh master: Guru Har Rai

Guru Har Rai

In 1644, ‘Guru Har Rai’ got the position of seventh master becoming the successor of Guru Hargobind. He was only 14 year old then.

Since 1650, he started several public singing and scripture recital traditions in Sikhism. He is credited to add sabad kirtan (a specific singing tradition) and akhand kirtan (continuous scripture singing).

In 1660, Aurangzeb summoned him to discuss about their relations, political issues and so on.

In 1661, he chose his 5 year old son, Har Krishan as the his successor. He passed away on 16th October in Kiratpur Sahib. The cause of his death is still unclear.

Appointment of the eight master: Guru Har Krishan

Guru Har Krishan

In 1661, after the death of seventh guru, Guru Har Krishan took the seat and became the master. He was only five years old then and he is considered to be the youngest master in Sikhism.

Since 1661, he was known for teaching social values, singing hymns and reciting Guru Granth Sahib.

In 1664, he was supposed to meet Aurangzeb in Delhi, India to replace him with another master as he was too young according to Aurangzeb but he could not meet him as he fell sick as soon as he reached Delhi contracting small pox disease. His condition became really critical making him lie on death bed.

It is reported that before dying, his last words were, “Baba Bakale!”. The Sikhs decoded this line and found out that the next master was to be chosen from Bakale village (presently an Indian town called Baba Bakala Sahib). The community found Guru Tegh Bahadur as there next master.

Appointment of the ninth master: Guru Tegh Bahadur

Guru Tegh Bahadur

In 1664, Guru Tegh Bahadur took over the seat becoming the ninth master after the sad demise of Guru Har Krishan.

Guru Tegh Bahadur, born in Amritsar, India who was named as ‘Tyag Mal’ before he got his new name from Guru Hargobind (the sixth master) for showing his valour in a battle against Mughal Rule. He was the son of Guru Hargobind.

Since 1665, he contributed various hymns in Guru Granth Sahib. It is noted that he described how a human being should be in the sacred book. He also constructed number of Sikh temples around Punjab.

In 1665, he founded the city, Anandpur Sahib and built Sikh temples.

In 1675, a group of Kashmiri Hindus came to Guru Tegh Bahadur to seek support and protection form Aurangzeb’s rule in which he was forcing the Kashmiri Non-Muslims to convert to Islam. Aurangzeb did this due to the political reasons and expansion of his rule. He bravely fought for the rights of Kashmiris and helped many. In the war, unfortunately Aurangzeb’s army caught and jailed him in Sirhind, India. Later, he was transferred to Delhi, India.

In 1675, he was beheaded under Aurangzeb’s rule in Delhi, India for not converting to Islam. This was all dirty politics played by Aurangzeb.

Appointment of the ninth master: Guru Gobind Singh

Guru Gobind Singh

In 1675, the son of Guru Tegh Bahadur named as ‘Guru Gobind Singh’ took over the seat at the age of 9 after the sad murder of the previous master.

Since 1686, he and his army fought various battles like “Battle of Bhangani’, ‘Battle of Guler’, ‘Battle of Anandpur’ and so on.

In 1688, he wrote a book named as ‘Chandi Di Vaar’ in Punjabi about a mythological war between good and evil based on Hinduism.

Khalsa community

In 1699, he founded ‘Khalsa’ which is a Sikh warrior community and introduced ‘The Five K(s)’ which are the five items commanded by him to Khalsa community to wear at all times. These five items included:

The Five K(s)
  1. Kesh (referring to uncut hair of any part of the body)
  2. Kangha (referring to a comb to comb the hair)
  3. Kara (referring to a specific iron bracelet worn by Sikhs)
  4. Kachera (referring to a lower-body undergarment which should be made of cotton)
  5. Kirpan (referring to a small sword or a dagger)

In 1703, his two youngest sons were jailed by Wazir Khan (a Mughal Governor) until death. Later, they were killed in 1704.

In 1704, his two eldest sons, ‘Ajit Singh’ and ‘Jujhar Singh’ were killed in ‘Battle of Chamkaur’ held in Chamkaur Sahib, India.

Apart from this, he is also credited to find the final symbol for Sikhism known as ‘Khanda’. In the same year, he wrote ‘Jaap Sahib’ which is the morning prayer in Sikhism. He wrote numerous books, stories and prayers which may or may not be present in Guru Granth Sahib.

In 1708, he declared that there will be no eleventh master (any master/guru after him). He considered ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ (the sacred scripture of Sikhism) to be the successor.

In 1708, two Afghan individuals were hired to assassinate the master. Unfortunately, they succeeded in their bad mission by stabbing below the heart of master. It is reported that he still attacked those assassins back killing the main assassin while the companion of that assassion was killed by the Sikh Army. All of this took place in Nanded, Maharashtra (a city in India).

The identity of the mastermind behind this murder is still controversial. Some scholars say that it was planned by the Mughal Empire but some blame it solely on Wazir Khan (a governor in Mughal Empire).

Sadly, he passed away on October 7 due to the wounds.

Current demographics

  • Sikhs are majorly found in India, United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada and Australia.
  • Learning about the history, we find that Sikhs originated from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan as well as Bangladesh.
  • According to Census 2011 (India), there are about 1.72% Sikhs who reside in India.
  • According to Canadian Demographics, there are about 1.4% Sikhs in Canada.
  • There are more than 2.5 crores individuals in the world who consider themselves as Sikhs.
  • About 83% of Sikhs worldwide live in India.
  • There is no country in the world declared as a Sikh Republic or who follows Sikhism as state religion.

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