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LEADERSHIP THROUGH LITERATURE

INTRODUCTION

Guru Gobind Singh ji (Friday, January 5, 16661, in Patna, Bihar, India - Thursday, 21
October, 1708) was the tenth and last of the Ten human form Gurus of Sikhism. He became
Guru on November 24, 1675 at the age of nine, following in the footsteps of his father Guru Teg
Bahadur ji.

Before Guru ji left his mortal body for his heavenly abode, he nominated Sri Guru Granth
Sahib ji (SGGS) as the next perpetual Guru of the Sikhs. Guru Gobind Singh moulded the Sikh
religion into its present, with the formation of the Khalsa fraternity and completion of the Guru
Granth Sahib as we find it today, which some will say was his greatest act.

"If we consider the work which (Guru) Gobind (Singh) accomplished, both in reforming his
religion and instituting a new code of law for his followers, his personal bravery under all
circumstances; his persevering endurance amidst difficulties, which would have disheartened
others and overwhelmed them in inextricable distress, and lastly his final victory over his
powerful enemies by the very men who had previously forsaken him, we need not be surprised
that the Sikhs venerate his memory. He was undoubtedly a great man." (W, L. McGregor)

The tenth Guru (teacher) of the Sikh faith, was born Gobind Rai. It may not be out of
context to say here that throughout the chronicles of human history, there was no other individual
who could be of more inspiring personality than Guru Gobind Singh.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji infused the spirit of both sainthood and soldier in the minds and
hearts of his followers to fight oppression in order to restore justice, peace, righteousness
(Dharma) and to uplift the down-trodden people in this world.

It is said that after the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the tenth Master declared that
he would create such a Panth (Sect) which would challenge the tyrant rulers in every walk of life
to restore justice, equality and peace for all of mankind. As a prophet, the Guru is unique. His
teachings are very scientific and most suitable for all times. Unlike many other prophets he never
called himself God or 'the only son of God.' Instead he called all people the sons of God sharing
His Kingdom equally. For himself he used the word 'slave' or servant of God.
LEADERSHIP THROUGH LITERATURE

GURU GOBIND SINGH

AS A LEADER…

Guru Gobind Singh Ji was first and foremost the spiritual leader of the Sikhs, but here I have
analyzed Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s role as a military commander.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji had realised from his childhood that war has ceased to be a pursuit
of regular professional armies. Guru Ji knew that one cannot realise oneself if he is without
strength and fortitude, hence there was a definite need of raising the whole community fit for
combat where each individual, in addition to leading himself or a body of troops into battle, has
also to function as a leader of the community. Therefore, in addition to military virtues of
soldiers based upon very sound moral, ethical code, each individual was to be trained to
understand the society in which he lived in, nationalism, flexibility of mind and spiritual
advancement.

Creation of the Khalsa:

Guru Sahib Ji considered the best soldiers were those who were physically strong,
mentally and morally sound and also who were ready to lay down their lives smilingly without
hesitation or second thought. Guru Ji instilled in them that war was for the privileged and
martyrdom in combat the ultimate honour. The culmination of this was when Guru Gobind Singh
Ji staged a most extraordinary feat on Vaisakhi 1699 in order to create the nucleus of his army by
creating the Panj Piyaray and the Khalsa panth.

Being a Leader of Khalsa Army:

The myth of martial and non-martial races need not be given much credence as three of
his baptised Panj.

Pyairay were from low and untouchable classes of society. Guru Sahib Ji slashed down
the age old traditions of society that war was the prerogative of the Kahatris alone. Any one, who
was sincere, puritan by heart could be a soldier in the Guru’s army. To Guru Gobind Singh Ji all
races could fight equally well if and when provided with a just cause and good leadership.
LEADERSHIP THROUGH LITERATURE

Guru Ji symbolised war as Dharam Yudh which was a war of righteousness in which,
participants were proclaimed as God’s warriors, fighting battles under God’s protection and
gained victories in His name. The sword became a substitute for the rosary with which God was
to be saluted and worshipped. It was to strike terror into the hearts of the oppressor and infuse
courage and confidence in the hearts of his Khalsa soldiers.

At this occasion Guru Ji blessed the Khalsa with the battle cry of “Bole so nihal Sat siri
Akaal” – The one who believes in the truth of God is immortal; which ever has been shouted has
unnerved and nonplussed the enemy in the battle field. In the eyes of General Wavell “Never met
a despondent Sikh in the front line, in a hospital, in the rear, he may moan over a small wound
but in a fight, he will go on to his last breath and die laughing at the thought of paradise with the
battle cry of Bole so nihal Sat siri Akaal as he falls.”

To begin with, one out of four Sikhs in a family was required to enlist as a regular soldier
in the Guru’s army. If a family found it difficult to spare a member, it then bore the expense of
employing a soldier. This had to be resorted to because the common masses dreaded the very
thought of fighting the Mughals who had established themselves in all spheres of life. But
gradually the people began to realise that in order to alleviate their sufferings, despondency and
frustration a third community under the leadership of Guru Gobind Singh Ji was the only
solution.

Within a short time, in response to Guru Ji’s call, large bands of Sikhs from the villages
far and near Anandpur Sahib volunteered to join Guru Ji’s army. In fact Guru Ji’s message was
so deep rooted and strong that Sikh boys, before they learnt to tie their turbans learnt the use of
arms, and white bearded men wanted to join up. The Khalsa was fed on the divine words of
chivalry and fearlessness.

BROAD – MINDED THINKING

OF GURU GOBIND SINGH


LEADERSHIP THROUGH LITERATURE

Guru Gobind Singh Ji had realized that equally important to the knowledge of use of
arms and weapons for the success of his programme was the building up of the right type of
psyche in the minds of the soldier.

Therefore certain methods were used to Psychologically prepare every sikh fit for war:

1. Although the term Sikh had started in the times of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, everyone in the
community was called a Sikh, one who has had Sikhia or learning. Thus each individual by
virtue of his association with the community was to consider himself Guru’s soldier.
2. The name of Singh was given to each individual to remind him of all times to be brave,
nimble and powerful as a lion.
3. Names were to be set on terms of valour, bravery, victory and heroism. Examplary in this
regard are the name of Guru ji’s sons: Ajit Singh – Invincible lion, Jujhar Singh - Lion expert
in hand to hand combat, Zorawar Singh – powerful lion and Fateh Singh – victorious lion.
4. Each soldier was considered equivalent to one and a quarter lakh soldiers – sava lakh. It was
the psychological training which was meant to enable a soldier to be mentally prepared to
face a vastly superior in numbers enemy.
5. Old scriptures confirm that strength and vigour received by the human body from food gives
impetus to the same thought process which the person had while eating his food and
consequently moulds the actions of the man consciously and unconsciously. Therefore, Guru
Gobind Singh Ji’s war drum, known as Ranjit Nagara, was sounded unabated while his
soldiers had their food in the langar.
6. Guru Sahib Ji issued hukams/orders forbidding all and sundry from giving Jayziya (a tax
levied by Aurangzeb on non –muslims) , bowing to the muslims with folded hands and
assisting the agents of the emperor in realising jaziya. So for the new community Guru Ji
changed the old ideal of humility and surrender into a new one of self assertion and self
reliance. The aim partly being that his soldiers did not undergo such psychological human
subjugation under any Moghals.
7. Each individual was characterised by the possession of Kesh, Kanga, Kara, Kuchha and
Kirpan at all times, to remind him that without these he was incomplete and to bring war like
change to his entire attitude and personality. The five items all had military bearing and
significance and were designed to give uniformity to the Khalsa in character.
LEADERSHIP THROUGH LITERATURE

8. Guru Ji infused the idea in his Sikhs that fear from any mortal was a myth and to be fearless
in combat is God’s rare virtue, which every Sikh must possess in order to be near Him. Thus
Guru Ji twined religion with sacrifice and martyrdom.
9. In Asa-di-vaar, an integral part of the prayer itself is a vow which every Sikh took religiously
every morning. This reminded him that his sole mission in life was to do or die at the
command of his leader, Guru Gobind Singh.
10. Guru Ji gave blue colour to the uniform of the Khalsa army which was symbolic then to only
the contemporary Moghal forces in order to defy the Moghals from the very beginning.
11. Symbolised victory through every salutation ie Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki
Fateh to that the concept of impersonal victory grows deep in the psyche of every individual
at all levels of society. It was a revolutionary sociopolitical- religious thought given to the
masses for the first time in the history of India. The concept of impersonal victory basically
ensured that his Khalsa never became complacent about his success and remained away from
the deadly clutches of vanity and pride.

QUALITIES OF
GURU GOBIND SINGH

1. Sacrifice:
LEADERSHIP THROUGH LITERATURE

In any other religion you don't hear how the Prophet or leader sleeps. However, in Sikhi
we remember in our history how our Tenth Father slept in the Machheewala Jungle. Despite
losing his father, mother, four sons, home, wealth and followers, the Guru slept as if nothing had
happened. A Dervish mocked the Guru and said “guroo rehgiaa kalaa kalaa” (the Guru remains
alone, alone). The Guru replied: “nehee, guroo de naal allaah allaah” (No, with the Guru there
is Allah, Allah). Guru Sahib exemplified the attitude and psyche of always remaining positivistic
and in Chardi Kalaa (high spirits).

2. Inauguration of Khalsa (sovereign) – Vaisakhi 1699:

Through creating the Khalsa the Guru rested leadership with the community. Guru Sahib
carried on the tradition of Amrit from Guru Nanak Sahib jee, which was whereby the follower is
spiritually reborn and commits himself or herself to a new life with a distinct lifestyle, morals
and principles. Through Amrit, Guru Gobind Singh Sahib jee eradicated stereotypes of who
comes into the idealistic community.

3. Forgiveness:

40 Sikhs deserted Guru Gobind Singh Sahib jee and wrote a letter of disownment saying,
“We are not your Sikhs, and you are not our Guru.” However, realising they were wrong
through speaking to their wives, the 40 Sikhs returned and fought defending the Guru in battle.
As a last wish, the leader of the 40 Sikhs asked the Guru to tear up the letter of disownment.
Guru Gobind Singh Sahib jee forgave them. This shows that the relationship with the Guru is
most important and that Guru will always give us another chance and forgive our past.

4. Developing Others:

Meeting Guru Guru Gobind Singh Sahib jee, Madho Daas, a misguided spiritual mystic,
was transformed to Gurbaksh Singh, a Saint-Warrior. He was a role of leadership and decision-
making to establish Khalsa Raaj. He ruled in accordance to the Guru’s teachings of leadership
resting in the ‘Khalsa Panchayat’, which is a board of 5 spiritually wise and practicing Sikhs,
with the chief executive officer (the Jathedaar) being the executor of decisions.
LEADERSHIP THROUGH LITERATURE

5. Quick Decision:

Guru Ji’s action on the battlefield repeatedly shows quick decision, rapid cavalry man
oeuvres and flexibility of mind. Incidentally these three characteristics quick decision, rapid an
oeuvres and flexibility in an ever changing situation rank the most prominent ones in modern
warfare.

6. Proactive Nature:

A careful analysis of Guru Ji’s battles indicates that Guru Gobind Singh Ji never risked
the security of the main defenses in a bid to achieve mere surprise. Thinning out the main
defenses for creating various combat groups, aimed to hit the enemies rear and exposed flanks
were well balanced and at no time were the main defenses rendered insecure.

7. Optimum Utilization of Resources:

Resources, both in men and material, available to his command, although meager
compared to those of his adversaries, were always utilized to maximum advantage. Needless to
emphasize that leadership ability is measured by the degree of effectiveness with which each
leader employs those assets available to him.

8. Caring:

Guru Gobind Singh Ji as a general never once remained away from the battlefield giving
a pretext of directing the operation. Guru ji always directed and fought at the same time with the
forward most rank and file of the Khalsa army. Despite mental and physical stress of day long
battles, Guru Ji attended to minor details. After day long battles Guru Sahib Ji personally
attended to the wounded and solemnized last rites who had touched artyrdom as his command.

9. Discipline:

The discipline of Guru ji’s army was not based upon fear or punishment but on mental
awareness and realization of their moral and patriotic duty which always exhorted the Khalsa
soldier to stand at the beck and call of their leader with a will to do or die.

10. Self-controlling:
LEADERSHIP THROUGH LITERATURE

Guru Ji’s army strictly observed the Khalsa Code as given by their Guru. There were
numerous occasions when the Khalsa army, after victory in the battle field, could have wiped out
the enemy by pursuing them, but did not resort to it as it was not approved by their leader. It
speaks of excellent self control realised through a very high standard of discipline.

11. Other Qualities:

Basic principles of objective, offensive, simplicity, unity of command, economy of force,


surprise and security, morale, maneuverability, flexibility and so forth were always integral
ingredients in Guru Ji’s plans.
LEADERSHIP THROUGH LITERATURE

CONCLUSION

Guru Gobind Singh was a great leader who was having lots of good qualities being a
leader to fight against injustice in the world. And because of this he is 10th guru of Sikhism the
inevitable came to pass when Guru Gobind Singh declared the Guru Granth Sahib as his
successor. It was only through the Word that the Guruship could be made everlasting. The Word
as contained in the Guru Granth Sahib was henceforth, and for all time to come to be the Guru
for the Sikhs.

Bhai Nand Lal Singh Ji writes in his poetry that if one word could describe and
summarise Guru Gobind Singh Sahib jee's life, that word be "COURAGE." Guru Sahib not only
showed courage in his psyche, personality and life however instilled courage into his followers
to always remain victorious as victory always belongs to Vaheguru.