The founder of Sikhism, Guroo Naanak Dev Jee (1469-1539) was born in village Talwandi (now Nankaanaa Saaheb, Pakistan). Guroo Naanak Dev Jee challenged the fanaticism and intolerance of the Muslims, of his time. He also exposed the meaningless rituals and caste prejudices prevalent among the Hindus. Guroo Naanak Dev Jee propagated the equality of man and treated Hindus and Muslims alike. He opposed the distinctions of caste and called himself a member of the lowest caste.
Guroo Naanak Dev Jee and the nine Guroo's who succeed him set a wonderful example of living spirituality, while taking an active and secular part in the world.
The Tenth and the last Naanak(Guroo), Guroo Gobind Singh Jee (1666-1708 AD) was only nine years old when he was bestowed the Gurooship. He has finalized the Sikhs by KHANDE DEE PAAHUL(AMMRIT) cermony(Sikh Baptism) and thus created the Khaalsaa in 1699 AD i.e., He gave a distinctive identity to the Sikhs. The first Five Baptised Sikhs were named Panj Piyaare (Five Beloved Ones), who in turn baptised the Guroo on his request-an event hither to unknown in the history of mankind. On this day, the Tenth Naanak has told evrybody that every Sikh male's last name would be SINGH and Sikh female's last name would be KAUR. Even Guroo Gobind Singh Jee has changed his name from "Gobind Rai" after getting KHANDE DEE PAAHUL from PANJ PIYAARE.
Shortly before passing away the Guroo Jee ordained that Guroo Granth Saaheb Jee, the Sikh Holy Scripture would be the ultimate spiritual authority for the Sikhs and the temporal authority would vest in the Khaalsaa Panth - The Sikh Commonwealth.
Guroo Granth Saaheb Jee, the Sikh Holy Scripture was compiled and edited by the Fifth Guroo, Guroo Arian Dev Jee in 1604 AD. This is the only scripture in the world which has been compiled by the founders of a faith during their own life time
Guroo Arjan Dev Jee also built the world famous Gurduaaraa - Darbar Sahib, at Amritsar which is the nucleus of Sikhism.
During the eighteenth century the Sikhs were subjected to various suppressions and persecutions by the authorities of the time motivated by communal fanaticism. They had to make supreme sacrifices to protect and preserve their faith and separate entity.
The Mughal Empire was on the verge of disintegration. The Afghans had started invading the country under Ahmed Shah Abdali. The Sikhs availed of this opportunity to establish their own kingdom which they ultimately achieved under Mahaarajaa Ranjit Singh (1780-1839 AD). The Sikh Empire lasted for half a century and was annexed by the English in 1849 AD.
During the freedom struggle of India a large number of Sikhs kissed the hangman's noose, faced all the brutalities and braved the bullets and suffered long term imprisonments in order to liberate the country. **
Sadly, the Sikhs, today, again face these similar challenges, but this time from the very same country they helped liberate.
[Courtesy: Sikh Students Association (SSA), University of Waterloo]