Sikhism Gurus and Historical Figures

Gurus, Martyrs, Warriors, Villains and Other Famous People of Sikh History

A succession of ten gurus developed and established the tenets of Sikhism. The famous people and important leaders of Sikh history include influential women, fearless warriors, and countless brave and heroic martyrs who stood fast for their faith when confronted with infamous tyrannical villains.

1
The Ten Gurus of Sikh History

A rare Tanjore style painting (*Tanjore Oviyam) bumboifrom the late 19th century depicting the ten Sikh Gurus and Bhai Bala and Bhai Mardana.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Ten spiritual masters and founders of Sikhism developed the tenets of Sikh beliefs, establishing principles and precepts of faith over a period of three centuries:

  • First Guru Nanak Dev
  • Second Guru Angad Dev
  • Third Guru Amar Das
  • Fourth Guru Raam Das
  • Fifth Guru Arjun Dev
  • Sixth Guru Har Govind
  • Seventh Guru Har Rai
  • Eighth Guru Har Krishan
  • Ninth Guru Teg Bahadar
  • Tenth Guru Gobind Singh

The tenth guru bequeathed his throne to, and named as his everlasting successor, Sikhism's holy scripture:

  • Siri Guru Granth Sahib.

Read more:
All About The Guru Granth, Sikhism's Holy Scripture

2
Authors of Guru Granth Sahib

The primary scripture of Sikhs
A Guru Granth Sahib page. (jasleen_kaur/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0)

Written in raag of the Indian classical music system, the collective works of 43 authors compile the 1430 page poetic scripture of Guru Granth Sahib including that of:

  • Four devout Sikhs
  • Seven of the ten Gurus
  • Fifteen Bhagats, holy men of Islam and Hinduism
  • Seventeen Bhatts, minstrels of the Gurus' court

Read more:
What is the Significance of Raag in Gurbani?
Raag, Melodious Hue

3
Influential Women in Sikh History

The Infant Guru Nanak
The Infant Guru Nanak. (Angel Originals)

Sisters, wives, daughters, and mothers of the Gurus are among the women who played important and influential roles in helping to develop Sikhism, establish and protect its honored traditions:

  • Bibi Nanaki
  • Mata Khivi
  • Bibi Bhani
  • Mata Gujri
  • Mata Sahib Kaur
  • Warrior Princess Mai Bhago

4
Famous Men in the History of Sikhism

A Sikh devotee
A Sikh devotee at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Delhi. (Wikimedia Commons/CC ASA 4.0)

Important historical figures and famous men in the history of Sikhism include supporters of the gurus and the growing Sikh faith, scholars, scribes, mystics, and heroic warriors who fought bravely in battle against overwhelming odds:

  • Rai Bular Bhatti
  • Mardana (1459 - 1534)
  • Kirpal Chand
  • Bhai Bidhi Chand Chhina
  • Makhan Shah the Sea Merchant (1619 - 1647)
  • Bhai Kanhaiya (1648 - 1718)
  • Joga Singh of Peshawar

5
Panj Pyare the Five Beloved of Sikh History

Artistic Impression of Panj Pyare Preparing Amrit
Artistic Impression of Panj Pyare Preparing Amrit. (Angel Originals)

Five volunteers gave their heads in response to a call made by Tenth Guru Gobind Singh during the first Khalsa initiation. They became known as the five beloved administrators of the immortal nectar amrit:

  • Bhai Daya Singh (1661 - 1708)
  • Bahi Dharam Singh (1699 - 1708)
  • Bhai Himmat Singh (1661 - 1705)
  • Bhai Muhkam Singh (1663 - 1705)
  • Bhai Sahib Singh (1662 - 1705)

Read more:
The Sikh Initiation Ceremony Illustrated
The History of Sikh Baptism

6
Shaheed Martyrs of Sikh History

Sikh painting
Baba Moti Ram Mehra ji, Fatehgarh sahib serving milk to Mata Gujri ji and Chote sahebzade - Baba Zorawar singh ji & Baba Fateh singh ji. (Pushpinder Rangru/Wikimedia Commons/CC ASA 4.0)

Countless courageous shaheed martyrs who held fast to their beliefs and never faltered even when subjected to the most merciless torture at the hands of their enemies include gurus, their families, Khalsa warriors, Sikh men, Sikh women, even Sikh children and infants:

  • Shaheed Martyr Guru Arjun Dev (1606)
  • Shaheed Martyr Guru Teg Bahadar (1675)
  • Four Martyred Sons of Guru Gobind Singh (1705)
  • Martyr Mata Gujri, Mother of Guru Gobind Singh (1705)
  • Shaheed Martyr Banda Singh Bahadar (1716)
  • Shaheed Martyr Bhai Mani Singh (1737)
  • Shaheed Martyr Bhai Taru Singh (1745)
  • Shaheedi Mothers, Martyrs of Lahore (1752)
  • Shaheed Martyr Baba Deep Singh (1757)
  • Martyrs of Lesser and Greater Sikh Holocausts (1746 & 1762)
  • Shaheed Martyr Gurbakhsh Singh (1688 - 1764)
  • Saka Nankana Mahant Massacre Martyrs (1921)
  • Panja Sahib Shaheed, Train Station Martyrs (1922)
  • Darbar Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) Massacre (1984)
  • Delhi Massacre Martyrs(1984)

7
Villains of Sikh History

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in front of a mural
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 300th Shaheedi Samagam of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur in New Delhi. (Narendra Modi/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0)

Tricksters, imposters, occult masters, warlords, religious leaders, and government officials are among the traitorous, treacherous tyrannical villains who opposed, imprisoned, terrorized, tortured and martyred the gurus and Sikhs. Inspired by the gurus, some repentant miscreants mended their ways, but others continually harassed and brutalized innocent Sikhs.

Repentant Converts

Among those mischief makers who altered their lives to join the guru's service are:

Historic Enemies of 10 Gurus and Sikhism

Jealousy motivated schemes and plots by family members who hoped to become guru and were passed over in favor of a more spiritual candidate:

Members of the Mughal dynasty and other Islamic rulers conspired to annihilate Sikhs including:

Anti-Sikh Indian Government Officials

Twentieth-century Indian government officials who terrorized Sikhs include:

Read more:
Baba Bakala and the 22 Impostors
The Great Sikh Holocaust
Delhi Massacre Memorial