Sikh Guru's and Moghal Emperors

When one delves into the history of the Sikhs one must also read the history of the moghal dynasty, for the two go hand in hand. When one reads the history of the Sikh Guru’s one must read about the moghal emperors for one is an account of an earthly empire and the other of a universal never ending reign.

Strangely the relationship of the Guru’s and the emperors is at best glossed over by many writers and historians, at worst twisted into half truths. Except for a few Sikh historians and Lala Ghanaiya Lal and Daulat Rai, all others are silent at the part played by Guru Gobind Singh Ji in defeating Tara Azam and the ascension of Bahadur Shah to the moghal throne. Most historians gloss over the blessingS bestowed by Guru Nanak Dev Ji to the then Emperor Babur.


While returning from his travels from the West, Guru Nanak Dev Ji paid a visit to Saidpur, now known as Eminabad to meet his devotee Bhai Lalo. Guru Sahib Ji write about these times of upheaval :

The age is like a knife. In the dark night of falsehood I cannot see where the moon of truth is rising.” (Majh ki Var). And again : “Modesty and religion have disappeared because falsehood reigns supreme. The Muslim mullha and the Hindu pandit have resigned their duties, the Devil reads the marriage vows. Praises of murder are sung and people smear themselves with blood instead of saffron.” (Tilang). Guru Ji writes about the Mughal invasions : “They who had beautiful locks with vermilion dyed the parting of their hair, have their tresses shorn with scissors and dust thrown on their heads. They who dwelt in palaces cannot find a place in the streets.” (Asa)


During this period the Emperor Babur attacked Eminabad and captured Guru Ji with his companions and imprisoned them. The captured were given grinding mills and put to grind corn. While grinding the corn Guru Ji went into contemplation and sang the glories of God. While Guru Ji sang about the creator the grinding mill continued to grid without any visible means of power, all who observed bowed their heads for surely they were in the presence of a great soul. This news was carried to the ears of Babur. Babur came down to the dungeons and waited until Guru Ji had finished singing. When his eyes met with the Guru’s he folded his hands and bowed and begged forgiveness.

Babur requested that Guru Ji accompany him to his tent. Guru Ji asked Babur to release all the prisoners as they had committed no crime, and then he accompanied Babur to his tent.

The emperor offered Guru Ji refreshments but Guru Sahib replied “ My cup is full.I have drunk the cup of my Lord’s love which fills me for all time.

“Listen O King, go and survey the scene of destruction that has been caused by your army. Take a warning from those who have defeated others. He who is victorious today may suffer defeat tomorrow. Where are those kings who ruled here yesterday ? Where are those games, those stables, those horses ? Where are those bugles, those clarions ? Where are those who buckled on their swords and were mighty in battle ? Where are those scarlet uniforms ? Where are those mirrors that reflected fair faces ? Where are those houses, those mansions, those palaces ? We see them no longer here. O Lord, this world is Thine. In one moment, Thou create, in another moment, Thou destroy Thy Creation.”

On hearing the words of the Guru, Babur remained in deep thought for a long time and then asked Guru Ji humbly “What can I do for you ?”

“Nothing,” said the Guru “The soul supreme Being has Himself commissioned me to spread His message of Naam, and I enjoy His grace and gifts. Those who forsake Him and attach themselves to others lose all. He makes emperors and kings, and He turns them into dust.”

Babur bowed before Guru Ji and begged for counsel for a better life.

“Be just to all, and never do injustice to anyone,” said Guru Ji. “ Never depart from the path of truth. Be merciful and forgive others as you would wish to be forgiven. Do not covert that which belongs to others. Do not sow the seeds of cruelty. He who is cruel, suffers.”

These words Babur took to heart and from then on endeavored to be a just ruler.

Since the time of Emperor Babur, the imperial dynasty had great respect for the House of Guru Nanak, the belief being that many a calamity could be averted by the blessing of those spiritually enlightened.


When Humayun, the elder son of Babur, was defeated by Sher Shah, he came to seek the blessing of Guru Angad Dev Ji in regaining the throne. When Humayun came to Khadure, Guru Sahib Ji was absorbed in teaching children. Humayun waited for Guru Sahib Ji for a little while but soon grew tired. Feeling offended for not being immediately attended to by the Guru, he put his hand on the hilt of his sword. The all knowing Guru looked up calmly and said “It is unchivalrous for a king to flee from the battlefield and then to vent his wrath upon men of God.”

Hearing these words of wisdom, Humayun realised his folly and begged for forgiveness. Guru Sahib Ji in his compassion forgave him and blessed him saying that though his path will be difficult and long, he would win back the throne.

When after a time, Humayun did win back the throne of Delhi, he wanted to do some favour for Guru Sahib Ji. By this time Guru AmarDas Ji had succeeded to the throne of Guru Nanak. Guru Sahib Ji sent back a reply to the Emperor that the only favour that the Guru asks of him is to be a just ruler for all, irrespective of race, religion, caste or creed.


The Emperor Akbar had great reverence for the House of Guru Nanak. He honoured saints of all religions and paid his homage while touring his empire. Guru AmarDas Ji’s fame had also reached his ears and Akbar went to visit Guru Ji in Gowindwal in 1567. He got of his horse and walked a distance in reverence for the Guru. Seeing the spiritual and non-sectarian atmosphere of Guru Sahib Ji’s sanctuary, Akbar was greatly impressed. On being informed that no one, high or low could gain an audience with the Guru without first partaking food in the langar , Akbar welcomed the idea and sitting in a row with all other common folk he ate langar. Akbar was profoundly impressed by this unique institution where all men, irrespective of caste or religion sat one on level and ate food.
When Akbar came into the presence of the Guru, he was much moved by the sanctity and simplicity of Guru Sahib’s darbar and humbly offered a gift of twenty two revenue- free villages to the House of Guru Nanak. Guru AmarDas Ji respectfully declined saying that the expenses of the langar were met by the daily offerings made by the devotees. He said the the Almighty had given the House of Nanak everything that was needed. But the Emperor persisted that he humbly wanted to make this offering, so he bestowed the jagir (tract of land) on to Guru Sahib Ji’s daughter, Bibi Bhani Ji.
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