Guru Gobind Singh was 10th Guru of Sikhs who was responsible for militarization of his followers, effectively derailing the message of Guru Nanank, the founder of Sikhism. Gobind basically built on philosophy that for the survival of religion, sword is unavoidable, declaring weapons, marshal arts, and even his armies as sacred. There are prayers in sikhism paying ode to weapons. Problem is that Gobind’s line of thought became so contradictory with what was already recorded from previous gurus, that even Sikhism followers had to debate it. The transition from Nanak to Gobind was like from ice to fire.
Some sikhs argue that it was “call of the time” that Gobind had to weaponize for defense of humanity. Well, what they are missing is that even during Nanak’s time, Mughal armies were in full advent for their conquest of India. Nanak himself had to go to jail under Babar’s direct command. He didn’t start answering violence with violence. So, Gobind lost the way and further lead highly controversial life:
1- He is called to be a “sarbans dani”- the one who sacrificed his family- his sons, his mother, his father. So, one wonders why he himself was not martyred on battlefield. Instead he is defended by fanatics (for each time he fled away), that Gobind was bound to follow Gurmatta, where he was asked by Sikhs to leave. Simple truth is that as a warrior, he should have stood his ground by his armies and family.
2- He had to negotiate the peace multiple times with Mughals. At time of surrender of Anandpur at 1704, its clear that the defense was poorly planned. From the starting itself, there was no scope for military strategy to showcase even remote chance of success. After loss of much lives, resources, and of course dignity, Gobind realized this and accepted Mughal’s offer to leave the fort. Even when his two younger sons and mother were captured, he continued with his escape!
3- Some Persian accounts point out that Sikh panth was divided into sects with different loyalties at Gobind’s time. There were people who must have questioned such a drastic transition of their peaceful religion and rightly tried to remain true to their actual roots.
4- Battle of Anandpur (1701): Here’s extract from Louis Fenech’s research:
“Gobind’s wars with kings of the Himalayan kingdoms was likely triggered by the growing army of Sikhs, which then raided and plundered villages in nearby mountainous kingdoms for supplies; the Hindu kings joined forces and blockaded Anandpur.”
So he had stared raiding to pay up for lavish life-style and upkeep of his armies. Strangely, no one in Sikh religion seems to question why animosty with mountain kings was born. A little research will show that there was lots of atrocities being conducted by Gobind’s armies, and its not just a simple case of “fear of new power”.
5- Battle of Chamkaur (1704): While his two elder sons fought and died in the battle, Gobind again eloped. Why will you not stand with your sons and the army that you inspired? Why you will not demostrate the power of will yourself? By eloping and dying at hands of some random assassin, wouldn’t it have given Sikhism a better inspiration?
6- So much for the “victories” in the battle. But he seems to have none of humbleness either. Instead of remembering the sacrifices of his army and family, he wrote rather arrogantly in letter to Mughal emporer:
“But still when the lamp of daylight (sun) set and the queen of night (moon) came up, then my protector (God) gave me passage and I escaped safely, not even a hair on my body was harmed”
Really? Why God didn’t save him later when assassins attacked? Or for that matter were those fighting in his name- his armies, his sons- any lesser beings for God to ignore?
7- And then as with other maniacs in religions, he seems to fluctuate rather wildly in the context of same letter named zaffarnama, praising Aurangzeb, the Mughal emperor:
“The Zafarnama letter also includes text towards the end that praises Aurangzeb as a human being by calling him as a charitable one with “brilliant conscience, handsome body and the king of kings”, and then seeks a personal meeting between the Guru and the Emperor for a reconciliatory dialogue.”
Seeking word after all that bravado and sacrifices is a sheer waste of man’s self-respect.
Having four wives, living like kings, building armies, introducing orthodox approach, diverting away almost every word of his predecessors is what Gobind achieved. There is an even account of him flaying masands (those are humans, thats all you need to know) alive in boiling oil. In the end, he died from wounds given by an assassin.
Perhaps he would have done lot of good by staying on the path of his father.