Sikhism was established and developed by ten Gurus during the period 1469 to 1708. Sikhs regard the ten Gurus not as divine, but as enlightened teachers through whom God revealed his will. Each Guru appointed his successor. Guru Nanak Dev was the first Guru and Guru Gobind Singh the final Guru in human form. Guru Gobind Singh designated the Sri Guru Granth Sahib the ultimate and final Sikh Guru.
The ten Gurus are:
- Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539). The founder of Sikhism (see above).
- Guru Angad Dev (1504-52). Developed Gurmukhi, the script used for the Punjab language and composed 62 hymns that were later included in the Guru Granth Sahib.
- Guru Amar Das (1479-1574). Became Guru at the age of 73. Organized three annual gatherings for Sikhs, set up the first pilgrimage site at Goindval Sahib and introduced Sikh rituals for birth and death. His most famous hymn, Anand Sahib, is part of Sikh daily ritual.
- Guru Ram Das (1534-1581). Founded Amritsar, the holy city of Sikhism. His followers dug the pool that became the holy lake surrounding the Golden Temple. Composed the Lavan marriage hymn, still used in Sikh marriages.
- Guru Arjan Dev (1563-1606). Collected the hymns of previous Gurus and added 2616 of his own to form the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhism. He also built the Golden Temple.
- Guru Hargobind (1595-1644). The son of Guru Arjan. Proclaimed that the Guru is a military leader as well as spiritual leader, leading to conflict with the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.
- Guru Har Rai (1630-1661). Grandson of Guru Hargobind.
- Guru Har Krishan (1656-1664). Younger son of Guru Har Rai. Became guru at the age of 5 and died of smallpox at the age of 8. He is the only Guru depicted in art without a beard.
- Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-75). Great-uncle of Guru Har Krishan. Was barred from Amritsar by Sikh rivals, so founded the Sikh center of Anandpur. Was beheaded in Delhi by Muslims for helping Brahmins avoid forcible conversion to Islam.
- Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708). Son of Guru Tegh Bahadur. Second only to Guru Nanak in importance, he is often shown prominently next to Nanak in Sikh art. Resisted oppression by Muhgal and Hindu authorities, exemplifying the Sikh ideal of the heroic saint-soldier. Founded the Khalsa and Sikh baptism, composed many poems, and nominated the Sikh sacred text as the final and enduring Guru.