The Rise of Sikhism
The 17th century was a period of great turmoil in North India. The Muslim were the rulers and they reduced the Hindus to a second class status. the Jizzia tax was imposed and mass scale conversions by the sword and abduction of Hindu girls was rampant.
The 9th Guru Teg Bahadur was beheaded by Aurangzeb the Muslim Mogul Emperor. His purpose was to overawe the non Muslims so that they converted to Islam. This was a period of great despondency in the Punjab and the 10th Guru Gobind Singh took upon himself the task of rejuvenating the scared Hindu and Sikh masses. In 1699 he held a massive congregation at Anandpur sahib.
Birth of the Khalsa
At this congregation the Guru appeared on stage resplendent in flowing robe and naked sword that glistened in the sunlight. He addressed the congregation and asked for a volunteer who was ready to sacrifice his life for the Panth( religion). One man got up and the Guru took him behind the stage and appeared before the congregation holding his sword dripping with blood. To all it was apparent that the man had been beheaded. The Guru asked for 4 more volunteers and history records that such was the faith in the guru that the volunteers were easily available. Each of the volunteers was led behind the stage and the Guru returned with his sword dripping in blood.
After the 5 th man was taken, the Guru returned with all the 5 men. He had not killed anyone but only beheaded a goat. These 5 men are known in Sikh history as the Punj Payara or 5 loved ones. On this day the Guru created the Sikh Khalsa to fight the Muslims . The creation of the Khalsa galvanized the Sikhs and the battle was joined in earnest against the Muslims.
The Sikh Empire
History records that the Guru’s 4 sons were all martyred in battle and 2 were interred alive by the Muslims, but he never gave up. His last testimony was appointing the legendary Banda Singh Bahadur to lead the Sikhs. He also announced the end of guru ship and ordained hence forth the Adi Granth would be regarded as the Guru.
The Guru’s action and the rise of Banda led to a revival in the Punjab. The Muslims were defeated and Ranjit Singh set up the Sikh empire in 1798. The rise of Sikh power can be traced to that fate full day in 1699 when Guru Gobind created the Khalsa in response to the Muslim bigotry and intolerance