Sikh history is an interesting one that had its roots in India with the birth of its founder prophet, Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the year 1469. The tenth and the last guru’s demise in 1708 was the golden era. During this period the religion under the guidance of different prophets, spread itself out across the length and breadth of the country. The principal tenets preached by Guru Nanak were against the caste system, animal sacrifice, fasting, but favored service to humanity. Each of the gurus had several outstanding tasks to his credit. Guru Angad Dev Ji developed the Gurmukhi script, while Guru Gobind Singh Ji insisted that all Sikhs be baptized (Khalsa). All the gurus wrote hymns that were compiled into a holy book of Sikh religion – Adi Granth. Guru Gobind Singh Ji declared that from that time onwards the Granth Sahib was to be considered the eternal guru and was to be venerated as one. The Sikh history is replete with stories of the gurus’ teachings and the way they wanted the disciples to live.
Sikh history tells of the rising of the Sikhs against some of the Mughal emperors who slew hundreds of the Sikhs and Hindus. The militarization of the Sikhs was responsible for their adaptation to the circumstances. It was at this time that they were encouraged to maintain the five K’s – kesh, kara, kirpan, kashera and kanga with profound reasons to maintain their identity. The ten gurus in succession were Guru Nanak, Guru Angad, Guru Amardas, Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan, Guru Har Gobind, Guru Har Rai, Guru Har Krishan, Guru Tegh Bahadur, and Gobind Singh Ji. Each of the holy men contributed towards making the Sikh history come live with distinct religious fervour and missionary zeal.
The Sikh empire formed in retaliation of Muslim tyranny, prospered under Maharaja Ranjit Singh and is considered to be the best era for Sikhism. The Sikh history witnessed innovative military strategies, economic prosperity, and governmental reforms at this time. Conflicts between Sikhs and Muslims continued till Partition in 1947 and later, the Sikhs demanded a separate state based on linguistics. Tension prevailed between Sikhs and Hindus till the time the state of Punjab was formed after having lost some of the important regions to other states. The rest of history is filled with communal riots, attack on the Golden Temple, and assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguard. The Sikhs still feel slighted by the discrimination in many of the administrative bodies in India. Today Sikhism is the 5th largest religion, having over 26 million followers worldwide.