From the late 15th century to the beginning of the 18th century, ten successive Gurus consciously channeled and acknowledged the power of the Shabad Guru. These Gurus lived, travelled and taught in what is now India and Pakistan. Their lives spanned a period of 239 years. They revolutionized the spiritual, social, economic and political life of their time.
All ten of the Sikh Gurus clearly stated that they were human beings and were simply blessed with the capacity to hear, channel and share the Sound of that Universal Teacher for others to hear.
“Sikh” means “Seeker of Truth.” During the time of the Sikh Gurus, the community of believers was diverse, multi-cultural and interreligious. It was only later that the term “Sikh” began to refer to a specific group of people. At its origin, Sikh Dharma meant “the spiritual practice of one who is looking for truth.”
500 years ago, these ten Sikh Gurus taught the equality of men and women. They taught that no group of human beings was higher than any other group. And they claimed that the common brotherhood and sisterhood of the human race was the highest reality. Their teachings empowered people to break the caste system, to overcome social habits that harmed women, to become economically self-sufficient, and to create a tolerant society based on the common humanity of all people.
Guru Nanak had nine human successors. Nine different men (including one very young boy) to each of whom the same divine light of Truth was transmitted, giving them the ability to inspire and guide their followers to experience the Truth (of God) within themselves as Nanak had done.
Guru Nanak’s human successors were from many different walks of life, setting examples to show that everyone has the potential to live as a saint, whether rich or poor, young or old, married or single. Each of the ten Gurus in human form personified certain virtues, and in manifesting these special qualities they became living examples for people in all walks of life to realize they also can experience for themselves the God within themselves.
Here are the main features for which each Guru is remembered:
Guru Nanak – humility
Guru Angad – obedience
Guru Amar Das – equality
Guru Ram Das – service
Guru Arjan – self-sacrifice
Guru Hargobind – justice
Guru Har Rai – mercy
Guru Harkrishan – purity
Guru Teg Bahadur – tranquility
Guru Gobind Singh – royal courage
~ This information was originally shared by Sikh Dharma International (https://www.sikhdharma.org/sikh-history/ten-sikh-gurus/) and in the book Heroes, Saints and Yogis (2012) by Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa and Guruka Singh Khalsa.