Sikh means one who continued to learn, disciple, or student derived from the Sanskrit root word (Sishya). They have 10 (Gurus, they call Guru Prath) and learned from them and their learning ends with the 10th Guru. Especially during this period, many strangers came along with their religion and culture. Especially Muslims, and because of outsiders there was mess up and conflict in politics and social life, and this situation "Guru Nanak was born in 1469" (Davies, 198). "this first major period of Sikh history-from about CE 1500 when Nanak active ministry began until roughly 1600 when the Muslim Empire passed from Akbar, the friend of the Sikh, to his evil successor Jahangir-was not devoid of worldly and political interest" (Davies, 199). Each Guru has contributed something special when conflict broke between Muslims and Sikhs.
Guru Nanak holds the agenda of no Hindu or no Muslim which gives a separate identity to Sikhs. "Guru Nanak Deo, the first of the Sikh Gurus is venerated as the founder of the Sikh religion" (Singh, 312). He began to influence by (Sufi) music, one god and harmoniums living. After having an encounter with God, he renounces and became (a sanyasi) and begin to preach that in the sight of God no Hindu, no Muslim. He preached about the oneness of god and opposed idolatry. His main contribution was communal harmony, living in peace and unity of all people. He stood against religious bigotry, the caste system, (sati) and child marriages. He opposed the ideas of Hindu rituals. Because by that time worshipping god was quite expensive. Even, he preached against blind faith and superstition.
After the return of (Macca); he appointed his disciple Angad to be his successor and the next Guru. "Guru Angad (1539-1552) was a zealous preacher and had the necessary talent to organize and strengthen the community of disciples" (Singh, 315). His main contribution was to make the Gurumukhi script famous and separate Sikh from Hindu. He was very much fond of physical fitness. He panned sports among his followers. "These activities were not aimed at military training, but when such training became necessary; they were seen to have prepared the way for it" (Davies, 199).
Another Guru Amar Das was appointed by Guru Angad to be his successor. "He was third Guru and appointed to this office at the age of seventy-three" (Singh, 315). He too tried to organize the community by this time it was spread throughout Punjab. Being a social reformer he opposed woman veiling. He raised his voice against [sati] and the sacrifice of widows on their husbands died, even though he modify funeral marriage practices. Moreover, "he builds the famous baoli (well) at Goindwal on the Bias River and installed a langer (free kitchen) there" (Singh, 316). This period was a great revolt against Hindu rituals, caste system and beliefs.
Guru Ram Das was the son-in-law of Amar Das and the fourth Guru who introduced "the tradition of succession remaining within the family" (Singh, 316). He established Ramdaspur as Holy City which is known as Amritsar. It is a religious centre for Sikhs.
Guru Arjan seems to be the most influential personality and brought a turning point in Sikh history. "He builds the renowned (Hari Mandir), the Golden Temple, at Amritsar, which became the centre of Sikh religious and national life" (Davies, 199). It was a turning point in Sikh history where they openly expressed their faith and place of worship. He was a scholar of literature and compiled (Adi Granth) and placed in a holy sanctuary. When Jahangir, the Mughal Emperor observed that many people are moving to Guru; he arrested Guru Arjan and tortured him badly in prison he died and became the first martyr of Sikhism.
When the situation was tough and uncertain, Guru Hargobind succeeded Guru Arjan who was his father. He stood firm against the Mughals and took up arms to fight against them. He transformed Sikhism into a militant force based on assuming spiritual (Piri) and physical (Miri) authority. "The seventh Guru, Guru Har Rai raised a militia of horseman. He zealously continued the spread of the Sikh faith" (Singh, 316). Guru Har Krishan who was a son of Guru Har Rai became the eighth Sikh Guru at the early age of five and died soon because of Emperor Shah Jahan's plot at Delhi. Even Guru Tegh Bahadur who was the ninth Guru executed by Emperor Aurangzeb and his body was cut into four pieces. He persecuted badly to Kashmiri Hindus.
Eventually, the transformation happened in Sikhism to a larger extent when Guru Gobind Singh succeeded his father Guru Tegh Bahadur and became the tenth Guru of Sikh. He organized once again Sikhism into militant solidarity which is called (Khalsa) meaning the pure. He leads Sikhs against Muslim authority and succeeded. Moreover, "he welded together an active community with a profound sense of its calling to preserve its religious tradition intact" (Davies, 201). It is his efforts to bring the Sikh community together and give them a new identity as a whole.
The Sikh community also became degenerated by the end of the 18th century. There was corruption in the Gurudwaras and among the priestly class. The kings and rich men who were converted to Sikhism donated land, money and gold to Gurudwara. The Prabandhaks who were the keeper of Gurudwara became very rich. They also began to misuse the riches of the Gurudwaras. Sikhism was against idolatry but many Hindu idols were established in the Gurudwara. Many devout Sikhs, especially youth, became distressed by this state of affairs in the community and they came up to reform and remove the corrupted Prabandhaks. Thus the Singh Sabha began.
When the Singh Sabha began, the first thing they made clear is that the Sikhs are not a section of Hinduism. This is because; many began to claim that Sikhs are Hindus. "The pioneers of the Singh Sabha were a band of Sikh Sardars who met under the leadership of Thakur Singh Sandhanwalia in Amritsar in 1873" (Singh, 331). They got hold of two major principles when they founded this Sabha: they will not speak against any religion and no discussion on government matters. Their main objectives to begin Singh Sabha was to bring Sikhism into its original stage, to record historical and religious books for the Sikhs and to propagate the Punjabi language. By 1889 there were many Singh Sabhas all over the Punjab and nearby provinces. It was a marvellous growth which opens the door of Gurudwara to everyone. Moreover, this movement helps many thinkers who know Adi Granth to produce scholars and focus on education. Many Sikhs participated in the Gurudwara reform movement and removed all idols from the Golden Temple and "after prolonged agitation in 1925, the control of all Sikh religious centres was made the responsibility of an elected body which came to be known as the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee with the main office at Amritsar"(Singh, 332). Moreover, Akal Dal was formed to keep an eye on religious and social matters. Because of this movement, Gurudwara comes to its original purity and corruption stopped and the Sikhs became aware of their faith.
Singh. G. R. "The Sikh Religious Tradition."Religious Traditions of India. Delhi: ISPCK, 2006. 312- 338. Print.