Guru Sahib has given the Aagiya to his Gursikhs to adopt Gristh Jeevan. All our Guru Sahibaan with the exception of Siri Guru Harkishan Sahib jee were Grihsthi i.e. they were householders. They were married and had children. Siri Guru Harkishan Sahib was not married because He left this world at the tender age of 8.
Major Brahmgyani Gurmukhs of Guru Sahib's times were married e.g., Baba Buddha jee, Bhai Mardana jee, Bhai Bhagtu jee, Bhai Mani Singh jee etc. In the modern era, many Mahapurakhs were Gristhee e.g. Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh jee, Baba Attar Singh Reru Sahib wale, Sant Gurbachan Singh Bhindranwale etc. This proves that their Gristhee Jeevan was not an obstacle to their high spiritual life.
If we look at prophets of the Semitic tradition, we see that most prophets e.g. Moosa (Moses), Ibrahim (Abraham), Noah, Muhammad etc were married. The only exception seems to be Isa Masih (Jesus).
The old Rishi Munis of the Vedic civilization were all married and householders. First of all, the three deities of the Vedic or Hindu religion Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh had consorts. None of the prominent deities or Devtas and Rishis were without wives. The 7 foremost Rishis namely Kashyap (married to Aditi and father of the Devtas), Atri (married to Anusuya and father of famous Yogi Dattatreya), Vishishtha, Jamdagini (father of Parshuraam), Gautama (husband of Ahaliya), Bhardawaj, and Vishvamitra (one of his consorts was the famous beauty Menaka) were all married with children. The only major Rishi or Deity in Vedic tradition, who did not get married seems to be Dattatreya. Rama and Siri Krishna were all married and with children.
In olden days (not ancient times), spiritual aspirants of many traditions gave up their householders life to achieve their spiritual goals. It seems that the tradition of not getting married got very popular with Gautama Sidhhartha (later on Buddha) renouncing his wife Yashodhra and son Rahul and going out in search of solution to sorrow and way to find salvation. When he became the Buddha, he started the tradition of unmarried monks and later on monks of Hindu tradition too took up celibate life e.g. Shankracharya, Ramanuj, Madhvacharya and others of this tradition.
At the time of our Guru Sahibaan, the tradition of celibate monks was very popular but Guru Sahib did not adopt this way and discouraged His Sikhs from going this route. We hear all these horror stories of Catholic priests committing despicable acts of sexual abuse against their children and women. The reason behind this seems to be the fact that they try to swim against the current by not getting married. They don't have Naam and Gurbani that can help them control Kaam and they try to fight Kaam with their will power and it doesn't work. In olden days, the abodes that housed female nuns, and the infamous devadasi tradition resulted in massive sexual abuse of these poor women. They would have been much better off spiritually, had they been married.
In Gurmat, while Grishthee Jeevan is encouraged but it is not mandatory. In Gurmat such persons who have totally controlled Bikaars are allowed go the route of not getting married. Otherwise, it is wise to get married. In Gurmat, Gristhee jeevan is not considered an impediment to spiritual advancment. Actually, if one gets a good Gursikh partner, Gristhee jeevan can actually increase ones pace towards the spiritual goals. The house of a Gursikh householder becomes a Dharamshaala (Gurdwara Sahib) where two times in day, Sangat is done. Let's look at what Guru Sahib and Bhai Gurdaas jee has to say about Gristhee Jeevan:
ਮ: 5 ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਭੇਟਿਐ ਪੂਰੀ ਹੋਵੈ ਜੁਗਤਿ ॥
ਹਸੰਦਿਆ ਖੇਲੰਦਿਆ ਪੈਨੰਦਿਆ ਖਾਵੰਦਿਆ ਵਿਚੇ ਹੋਵੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ॥2॥
Siri Guru jee says that when the Jeev meets the Satguru, he obtains from him the way of salvation. While laughing, playing, wearing clothes and eating food (reasonably good food), he obtains liberation or salvation. This Salok actually refers to the Gristhee life of a Gursikh and how he obtains liberation while living a householder's life. Why would one lead a life of an ascetic when one can be liberated as a Gristhee?
ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਕੇਵਲ ਬਖ੍ਹਾਨੁ ॥
ਗ੍ਰਿਹਸਤ ਮਹਿ ਸੋਈ ਨਿਰਬਾਨੁ ॥
Such householder who is always engaged in Kirtan and uttering Gurbani (and Naam), attains the Nirbaan (supreme spiritual goal) while being a householder.
ਜੈਸੇ ਸਰਿ ਸਰਿਤਾ ਸਕਲ ਮੈ ਸਮੁੰਦ੍ਰ ਬਡੋ
ਮੇਰ ਮੈ ਸੁਮੇਰ ਬਡੋ ਜਗਤੁ ਬਖਾਨ ਹੈ ॥
ਤਰਵਰ ਬਿਖੈ ਜੈਸੇ ਚੰਦਨ ਬਿਰਖੁ ਬਡੋ
ਧਾਤ ਮੈ ਕਨਕ ਅਤਿ ਉਤਮ ਕੈ ਮਾਨ ਹੈ ॥॥
ਪੰਛੀਅਨ ਮੈ ਹੰਸ ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਰਾਜਨ ਮੈ ਸਾਰਦੂਲ
ਰਾਗਨ ਮੈ ਸਿਰੀਰਾਗੁ ਪਾਰਸ ਪਖਾਨ ਹੈ ॥
ਗਿਆਂਨਨ ਮੈ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਅਰੁ ਧਿਆਨਨ ਮੈ ਧਿਆਨ ਗੁਰ
ਸਕਲ ਧਰਮ ਮੈ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਸਤੁ ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨ ਹੈ ॥376॥
1. Ocean is best out of all rivers and lakes (and other forms of water accumulation) and Meru is best out of all mountains.
2. Chandan is best out of all trees and Gold is considered to be most valuable out of metals.
3. Hans is the best amongst birds; amongst the Cat family Babbar-Sher (lion) is the best; Siri-Raag is best amongst Raags; Paaras is best amongs stones.
4. Out of all knowledges and meditaitons, Satguru's knowledge and mediation is best, same way, out of all Dharma, Gristhee Dharma is best.
In the above Kabit, Bhai Gurdaas jee has very forcefully preached that Gristhee Jeevan is the best out of other forms of Jeevan in the world including renouncing the world and becoming a Saniyaasi or an ascetic.
The Kabit below gives wonderful and very meaningful example of a married woman to explain that the Gristhee Jeevan of a Gursikh does not stain his (or her) spiritual life in any way. Please read it carefully:
ਜੈਸੇ ਪਤਿਬ੍ਰਤਾਕਉ ਪਵਿਤ੍ਰ ਘਰਿ ਵਾਤ ਨਾਤ
ਅਸਨ ਬਸਨ ਧਨ ਧਾਮ ਲੋਗਚਾਰ ਹੈ ॥
ਤਾਤ ਮਾਤ ਭ੍ਰਾਤ ਸੁਤ ਸੁਜਨ ਕੁਟੰਬ ਸਖਾ॥
ਸੇਵਾ ਗੁਰਜਨ ਸੁਖ ਅਭਰਨ ਸਿੰਗਾਰ ਹੈ ॥
ਕਿਰਤ ਬਿਰਤ ਪਰਸੂਤ ਮਲ ਮੂਤ੍ਰਧਾਰੀ॥
ਸਕਲ ਪਵਿਤ੍ਰ ਜੋਈ ਬਿਬਿਧਿ ਅਚਾਰ ਹੈ ॥
ਤੈਸੇ ਗੁਰਸਿਖਨ ਕਉ ਲੇਪੁ ਨ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਸਤ ਮੈ
ਆਨ ਦੇਵ ਸੇਵ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਜਨਮੁ ਸੰਸਾਰ ਹੈ ॥483॥
1. As for a married woman, all her household works and enjoying worldly comforts e.g. bathing, using utensils and wealth of the house, and making use of other things of the house are acceptable.
2. She serves her relatives like mother-in-law, father-in-law, brothers-in-law and also enjoy comforts like wearing jewellery etc. (Same way Gursikhs fulfill their spiritual duties and also enjoy acceptable comforts of Gurmat).
3. While giving birth to a child she goes through rough time and afterwards too is involved in cleaning the excretions of the baby but despite doing all this work (considered to be dirty work) she is considered to be clean and sacred (Pavitter).
4. Same way, Gursikhs who live the life of householder, don't incur the dirt of Maya and cursed is the life of others who live worshipping other deities (other than Vaheguru).
In olden days, the spiritual aspirants used to renounce the world but then they used to come to the Gristhees to get food and shelter. Bhai Sahib has written a beautiful Kabit to condemn the practice of not adopting Gristhee life:
ਜੈਸੇ ਪ੍ਰਾਤ ਸਮੈ ਖਗੇ ਜਾਤ ਉਡਿ ਬਿਰਖ ਸੈ
ਬਹੁਰਿ ਆਇ ਬੈਠਤ ਬਿਰਖ ਹੀ ਮੈ ਆਇਕੈ ॥
ਚੀਟੀ ਚੀਟਾ ਬਿਲ ਸੈ ਨਿਕਸਿ ਧਰ ਗਵਨ ਕੈ
ਬਹੁਰਿਓ ਪੈਸਤ ਜੈਸੇ ਬਿਲ ਹੀ ਮੈ ਜਾਇਕੈ ॥
ਲਰਕੈ ਲਰਿਕਾ ਰੂਠਿ ਜਾਤ ਤਾਤ ਮਾਤ ਸਨ
ਭੂਖ ਲਾਗੈ ਤਿਆਗੈ ਹਠ ਆਵੈ ਪਛੁਤਾਇ ਕੈ ॥
ਤੈਸੇ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਤਿਆਗਿ ਭਾਗਿ ਜਾਤ ਉਦਾਸ ਬਾਸ
ਆਸਰੋ ਤਕਤ ਪੁਨਿ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਸਤ ਕੋ ਧਾਇਕੈ ॥548
1. As, during morning time birds fly away from the trees (they live on) to find food, but at evening time they have to come back on the same trees to rest.
2. As, the ants and other insects, leave their abodes (burrow) in search of food but then have to come back to their burrows at night time.
3. As, boys and girls, get upset and fight with their parent and leave their parent's house but when they get hungry later on, they come back to their parents house.
4. Same way, many people renounce their households and wander around but then they too have to look towards Gristhees (householders) for support (of food, shelter etc.).
The above Kabit proves tha Saniyasi jeevan is inferior to Gristhee jeevan because Saniyaasi jeevan is not self-sufficient but has to be supported by Gristhees. A Gursikh who is a working householder, leads a self-sufficient life.
In the end, it is safe to assume that a Gursikh can reach the highest pinnacles of spirituality while being a householder. While it is not mandatory to be a Gristhee, it is definitely preferred in Gurmat to lead a Gristhee life. Some very famous Gurmukhs like Sant Attar Singh jee Mastuanewale probably had a mandate from Dargah to do Parchaar of Sikhi and be involved in this doing day and night. It is acceptable for such great souls to not get married but most Gursikhs should not risk not getting married according to Gurmat and risking wasting their life if they are unable to swim against the current. Gurmat Gristhee Jeevan is a blessing from Guru Sahib whereby a house becomes a Dharamshaala where Sangat takes place everyday. Such house is like Sachkhand where the whole family gets up at Amritvela and chants the true Naam and then gathers in the evening to do Siri Rehraas Sahib.
Bhai Rama Singh ji on house holder's life
“Bhai Sahib Ji, is it important to live the life of a house-holder?”
“Yes, if an individual is seeking salvation then the family life is important. If one attempts to do meditation without being married, then the mind will remain unstable. This is the Age of Kalyug and the unstable mind continuously runs towards worldly attractions and wasteful life style. It takes many years of simran to stabilise the wandering mind. Even then lust is a great evil force and will continue to trouble the mind. Most of the great avatars (saints and prophets) who came to this world, were married. Of the Ten Gurus nine were married (Sri Har Krishan Ji's Light merged with Waheguru Ji when He was only 8 years old). Sri Ram Chandar Ji, Bhagwan Krishan, Shiv Ji, Mahatma Budh, Brahma and Muhammed Sahib, they all had families. So, it is important to get married. Akal Purakh (Waheguru) established all creation in two parts, for example, man/woman; night/day; birth/death; youth/old age; sunlight/darkness; earth/sky and sorrow/happiness etc. Akal Purakh has established this meaningful system. The day is for working and the night is for resting. Married life is for procreation, so that life may continue. Those saadhus and sants who say that one should not get married are breaking the Divine Law. However, there are other great saints who did not get married because they were sent for preaching religion; they have been sent by Guru Ji Himself. Examples of such holy people are: Sant Baba Atar Singh Ji Mastuanay-waalay, Sant Baba Karam Singh Ji Hoti Mardan, Sant Baba Jwala Singh Ji Harkhowal, Sant Baba Gurmukh Singh Ji Patialay-waalay, Sant Baba Isher Singh Ji Rare-waalay, Sant Baba Bhan Singh Jagraon, Sant Baba Nand Singh Ji Kaleran-waalay and many others; no one can equal their saintliness. They would recite Bani all night and do simran .
It is my own experience how troublesome lust (sexual urge) can be when one engages in Waheguru meditation. I too spent life as a family man for five or six years. I used medicine too to control this distracting force. From the day I was blessed by Guru Ji's darshan , my mind did not waver. This was a gift of Naam . My life changed. For controlling this distracting influence, it is necessary to do simran for 10 to 12 hours a day. Then a stage is reached where lust cannot trouble a devotee. Some Gursikhs ask me, “Being family people, how can we do so many hours of simran ?” The way this can be done is that if two members of a family sit together to do Paatths of Nit Nem and Sukhmani and simran , then it becomes a Sangat and the reward doubles. In the same way while doing daily chores one should keep reciting all the Bani one knows by heart. Proceeding in this way, with Guru Ji's blessing, one achieves spiritual success while living a normal family life.”