Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji
Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji (Gurmukhi: ਗੁਰੂ ਤੇਗ਼ ਬਹਾਦੁਰ) (Wednesday, April 18, 1621 - Wednesday, November 24, 1675) was the ninth of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism, becoming Guru on Saturday, 16 April 1664 following in the footsteps of his grand-nephew, Guru Harkrishan.
Guru Har Rai Sahib was the Son of Baba Gurdita and Mata Nihal Kaur (also known as Mata Ananti Ji). Baba Gurdita was son of the Sixth Guru Guru Hargobind Sahib. Guru Har Rai Sahib married Mata Kishan Kaur (sometimes also referred to as Sulakhni) the daughter of Sri Daya Ram . Guru Har Rai had and two sons: Baba Ram Rai and Guru Harkrishan.
The following is a summary of the main highlights of Guru Ji's life:
• He built the city that his son would enlarge and rename Anandpur Sahib.
• He travelled extensively throughout India.
• He sacrificed his own life, facing down EmperorAurangzeb on behalf of the Kashmiri Hindus, ending Aurangzeb's threat to either convert to Islam or be executed.
• He contributed 115 hymns to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, all of them Sloks.
• His Saloks (Mahal 9) near the end of the Guru Granth Sahib are extremely popular.
Guru Ji whose original name was Tyag Mal spent his childhood at Amritsar. In his early years he learned Gurmukhi, Hindi, Sanskrit and Indian religious philosophy from Bhai Gurdas, and archery and horsemanship from Baba Budha while his father Guru Hargobind Ji, Master of Miri and Piri taught him swordsmanship. Only 13 years old, he asked his father to accompany him into battle as his village was attack by Painde Khan and the Mughals in a battle over Shah Jahan's hawk. During the battle he had weighed into the enemies with abandon, slashing his sword right and left.
After the battle was won, (the Battle of Kartarpur) the victorious Sikhs returning home honored their new hero with a new 'warriors' name. And so Tyag Mal Ji was renamed Tegh Bahadur Ji (lit. Brave sword wielder or Best sword wielder).(Tegh = wielder of the sword. Bahadur (originally meaning brave was by that time being also used as a superlative meaning better or best). The young Tegh Bahadur soon showed a bent in the direction of the earlier Sikhs Gurus who had passed the 'seli' of Nanak (the sacred headgear of renunciation) to each new Guru. He was married to Mata Gujri Ji at Kartarpur in 1632.
In the 1640s, nearing his end, Guru Hargobind said to his wife Nanaki, to move to his ancestral village of Bakala, together with Tegh Bahadur and Gujri.
Bakala, as described in Gurbilas Dasvin Patishahi, was then a properous town with many beautiful pools, wells and baolis. Tegh Bahadur meditated at Bakala for about twenty years (1644-1664) and lived there with his wife and mother. He lived a strict and holy life and spent most of his time in meditation. Yet, he was not a recluse and attended to family responsibilities. He went out riding and he followed the chase. He made visits outside Bakala and also visited the eighth Sikh guru Guru Harkrishan, when the latter was in Delhi.
During his stay in Delhi, Guru Harkrishan was seized with smallpox. When asked by his followers as to who would lead them after him, he replied Baba Bakale, meaning his successor was to be found in Bakala.
Some pretenders took advantage of the ambiguity in the words of the dying Guru and installed themselves as the Guru of Sikhs. There were about 22 pretenders who called themselves as the ninth Sikh guru. The most influential of them was the nephew of Tegh Bahadur, Dhir Mall. The Sikhs were puzzled to see so many claimants and could not make out who the real Guru was. Some time earlier, a wealthy Sikh trader Baba Makhan Shah Labana whose ship was caught in a violent storm prayed to God that if his ship reached port safely he would give 500 golden Mohurs to his Guru Harkrishan.
The ship landed safely and proving to be a Sikh of great integrity he headed to Delhi where the young Guru had travelled at the command of Aurangzeb. Along the way he learned of Guru Harkrishan's passing and of his mentioning that the next Guru was in the village of Bakala. He arrived in Bakala to find 22 members of the Sodhi dynasty styling themselves as the Guru and taking donations from the Sikhs. He decided to give each Guru 2 gold pieces and each Guru was pleased and blessed him.
Baba Makhan Shah was about to leave the village when a child told him of yet another holy man meditating nearby who made no claims about himself. Again Baba Makhan Shah bowed and gave 2 gold pieces and turned to leave. Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji said: "Why have you broken your promise? When you prayed to God to save you and your ship from the terrible storm you promised 500 gold pieces to the Guru". Makhan Shah was overjoyed, he gave the rest of the gold as promised and ran to the roof shouting "The True Guru has been found, O Sikhs come seek his blessing". The false Gurus all ran away.
Guru Tegh Bahadur
The responsibility of instructing and guiding the Sikh community was now of Guru Tegh Bahadur's. He was the focal point of veneration of the Sikhs. They came singly and in batches to seek spiritual solace and inspiration. And by his teachings and practise, he moulded their religious and social conscience.
As had been the custom since Guru Hargobind, Guru Tegh Bahadur kept a splendid lifestyle. He had his armed attendance and other marks of royalty. But he himself lived austerely. Sikh or other documents make no mention of any clash with the ruling power having occurred during his time.
Visit to Harmandar Sahib
Soon after the public announcement by Makhan Shah, the Guru with a party of Sikhs travelled to Amritsar to pay obeisance at the Harmandar Sahib. However on his arrival at this sacred shrine, the Guru was rebuffed by the Sodhi family Sardars who then had control of the Gurdwara and he was not allowed to enter the main section of the complex but went as far as the Thara Sahib - see Structure of Harmandar Sahib.
The party found that the doors of this premier Sikh shrine were suddenly shut and they were refused admittance. The reason for this action was that the greedy "masands" (bishops) of Amritsar had acknowledged Guru Arjan Dev ji's elder brother Prithi Chand to be their guru. It was under the instructions of Harji, the impostor (Mina) guru of that time, that the doors of the Golden Temple were closed to Guru Tegh Bahadur ji.
The Guru waited nearby for a little while. This place is now known as "Thara Sahib" - the Pillar of Patience. But when the doors were not opened, Guru ji went away and stayed in a nearby village of Wala in the humble dwelling of a peasant couple. Later, the women of Amritsar came out and repented for the shameful behaviour of the masands of Amritsar. Highly pleased at the sincere devotion and courage of the women of Amritsar, Guru Tegh Bahadur ji said, "Ever blessed by God be the women of Amritsar."
Mission Starts in Punjab
The Guru made three successive visits to Kiratpur. On 21 August 1664, Guru Tegh Bahadur went there to console with Bibi Rup Kaur upon the passing away of her father, Guru Har Rai, and of her brother, Guru Harkrishan. The second visit was on 15 October 1664, at the death on 29 September 1664, of Mata Bassi, mother of Guru Har Rai. A third visit concluded a fairly extensive journey through Majha, Malwa region in Punjab and Bangar districts of the Punjab.
Crossing the Beas] and Sutlej] rivers, Guru Tegh Bahadur arrived in the Malwa. He visited Zira, and Moga and reached Darauli. He then sojourned in the Lakhi Jungle, a desolate and sandy tract comprising mainly present-day districts of Bhatinda and Faridkot.
According to the Guru kian Sakhian, Baisakhi of 1665 was celebrated at Sabo-ki Talwandi, now known as Damdama Sahib. This journey took Guru Tegh Bahadur up to Dhamdhan, near Jind, from where he returned to Kiratpur. The Dowager Rani Champa of Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh offered to give the Guru a piece of land in her state.
The Guru bought the site (which was about six miles away from Kiratpur Sahib) on payment of Rs 500. The land consisted of the villages of Lodhipur, Mianpur and Sahota. Here on the mound of Makhowal, Guru Tegh Bahadur ordained that a city be constructed. The original name of the city was Chakk Nanaki. However, later he would rename the city Anandpur - the City of Bliss and this was where the Khalsa was born.
However, the Guru did not stay at Anandpur or Kiratpur for long; he left most of its construction to be done during his absence.
Mission to the East
Soon after, during about late 1665 and 1666, the Guru undertook travels to the region east of Punjab and to Easter India to different parts of this region to preach the teachings of Guru Nanak. His places of visit included Uttar Pardesh, Bihar, Assam, Bengal and present-day Bangladesh. One reason for Guru Tegh Bahadur ji's travels to the East was his wish to visit and pay homage to various places that were associated with the previous visit by Guru Nanak.
These visits to places where core Sikh sangats (communities) existed created confidence and infuse renewed enthusiasm in the people; gave them moral and spiritual courage and a better and deeper understanding of Guru Nanak mission.
Leaving Anandpur, the Ninth Guru blessing various villages and towns, reached Kurukshetra. An eclipse of the Sun was due and there was a fair and a large gathering. The Guru took advantage of the occasion and went there. The Brahmans and some other people suggested to the Guru that he should bathe in the sacred tank and thus be purified.
The Guru smiled and said, "My friends, one cannot be purified simply by washing one's body since the polluted mind cannot be washed with water. It is only the True Name of Almighty God that can wash away all sins and emancipate the soul." By these means, the Guru imparted the message of Guru Nanak and dispelled superstition and empty ritualistic behaviour.
Birth of Gobind Rai
During 1666 the Guru was travelling east of Patna to the regions of Bihar, Assam and present-day Bangladesh after leaving his wife, family members and Sikh sangat at Patna, Bihar.
At this time Mata Gujri was expecting a baby as so found it difficult to travel. Thirty four years had passed since her marriage to the Guru Tegh Bahadur. Three hours before the dawning of day, in the winter of her forty second year, on Friday, January 5, 1666, Mata Gujri ji became the mother of a prince. Marvelling at the majestic bearing of one so small, Mata Nankee delivered her newborn grandson proudly to his mother's outstretched arms.
At his post outside the room, Kirpal Chand heard the infant take his first breath and immediately, he turned to dispatch the courier who stood by awaiting the signal to seek out the Guru and deliver the news of his son's birth. Thus Gobind Rai was born in the city of Patna in Bihar, East India.
Return to Punjab
Returning to Patna in 1670, the Guru directed his family to return to the Punjab. On the site of the house at Patna in which Gobind Rai was born and where he spent his early childhood now stands a sacred shrine, Sri Patna Sahib Gurdwara, Bihar.
Gobind Rai was escorted to Anandpur (then known as Chakk Nanaki) on the foothills of the Sivaliks where he reached in March 1672 and where his early education included reading and writing of Punjabi, Braj, Sanskrit and Persian. He was barely nine years of age when a sudden turn came in his life as well as in the life of the community he was destined to lead.
Oppression by the Mughals
But soon oppression and intolerance would again rear its ugly head. The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb ordered Hindu temples to be destroyed and that idol worship was to be stopped. He had a temple converted into a Mosque and slaughtered a cow inside it. He also had Hindus sacked from their government jobs and employed Muslims instead. Aurangzeb also ordered Gurdwaras to be destroyed, and he expelled many missionaries from the main cities. Despite some resistance after many years of persecution, people were being forced to take up Islam.
P.N.K. Bamzi’s book, A History of Kashmir describes the events:
Iftikhar Khan… …was using force to convert the Pandits in Kashmir to Islam. Some pious men among the Pandits then met and decided to go to Amarnath and invoke the mercy of Lord Siva (at their sacred cave:editor) for deliverance from the tyrannies of the bigot. At the Amarnath cave, one of the pandits saw in a dream Lord Siva, who told him to go to Tegh Bahadur, the Ninth Sikh Guru, in the Punjab and ask for his help to save the Hindu religion. He spoke to his companions about the revelation. About 500 proceeded to Anandpur where Guru Tegh Bahadur was living.
Kashmiri Pandits and Guru Tegh Bahadur
The Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb cherished the ambition of converting India into an Islamic country. Aurangzeb decided if he could convert the revered Brahmin Pandits of Kashmir that millions of followers would then easily be converted.
A minority of the conversions in Kashmir happened peacefully. Yet, the Emperor's experiment was carried out in Kashmir. The viceroy of Kashmir, Iftikhar Khan (1671–1675) carried out the policy vigorously and set about converting non-Muslims by force.
Threatened with conversion or death, the Pandits overcome by panic, came in a delegation to Chakk Nanaki, Pargana Kahlur (from a contemporary entry in the Bhat Vahi (diary) of the purohit of Talauda in Jind Pargana) and requested Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji’s help.
Hearing the serious nature of the conversation, Guru Ji’s 9 year old son Gobind Rai Ji told his father what the problem was. The Guru told his son of the Pandits dilemma and said that it would take a holy man literally laying down his life to intercede. Gobind Rai responded "Who would be better than you to defend the poor Brahmins". Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji decided to stand up for the right of freedom of worship and told the delegation to tell Aurangzeb that if he could convert Guru Tegh Bahadur they would gladly convert. Then, on the advice of the Guru, the Pandits told the Mughal authorities that they would willingly embrace Islam if Tegh Bahadur did the same.
Orders of the arrest of the Guru were issued by Aurangzeb, who was in the present-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of Pakistan subduing Pushtun rebellion.
Guru Gobind Becomes 10th Sikh Guru
Guru Tegh Bahadur had his son, Gobind Rai consecrated Guru and successor on 8th July 1675. The ceremony that had taken place seven times before was repeated: The Guru place five coins and a coconut before his son as a symbol of the Guru ship passing from him to his son; Gobind Rai was now the Guru of the Sikhs at the age of 9 years.
Guru Tegh Bahadur then left Anandpur for Delhi with 3 other Sikhs who knew as well the danger they were to face, Bhai Sati Das, Bhai Mati Das and Bhai Dayal Das.
Arrest, Torture and Execution - Journey to Martyrdom
It seems orders for his arrest had been issued by Emperor Aurangzeb as soon as he received reports of his declared intention, because he was arrested four days later. An entry in Bhatt Vahi Multani Sindhi reads:
Guru Tegh Bahadur, the Ninth Guru,… …was taken into custody by Nur Muhammad Khan Miraza of Ropar Police post, on Savan 12,1732 /12th July 1675, at Malikpur Ranghran, Pargana Ghanaula, and sent to Sirhind.
Along with him were arrested Diwan Mati Das and Sati Das, sons of Hira Nand Chhibbar, and Dyal Das, son of Mai Das. They were kept in custody at Bassi Pathana for four months. The pitiless captors imposed much atrocity on the Guru. He was then cast into an iron cage and taken to Delhi, where he arrived on 4th Nov. 1675.
The Guru was put in chains and ordered to be tortured until he would accept Islam. When he could not be persuaded to abandon his faith to save himself from persecution, he was asked to perform some miracles to prove his divinity. Refusing to do so, Tegh Bahadur was beheaded in public at Chandni Chowk on 24 November 1675. The Guru is also known as "Hind Di Chadar" i.e. "The Shield of India", suggesting that he gave up his life to protect the religious freedom of non Muslims in Mughal India.
Joti Jot (Merging with God)
Guru Tegh Bahadur was martyred in Delhi on 11 November 1675 by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. The Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib in Chandni Chowk, Delhi, was built over where the Guru was beheaded, and Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib, also in Delhi, is built on the site of the residence of Lakhi Shah Vanjara, a disciple of the Guru, who burnt his house in order to cremate the Guru's body. A severe storm had come up after the execution and Bhai Lakhi Shah carried Guru Ji’s body to his nearby house, which he then set on fire to conceal the cremation of his Guru's body. It is said that Bhai Jaita's own father volunteered to be beheaded to cover the loss of the Guru's body.
There is another gurdwara, Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib at Ambala City where Bhai Jaita (Rechristened Bhai Jivan Singh according to Sikh rites) stopped for the night with Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur's head.
Bhai Jaita continued to Anandpur Sahib where Guru Tegh Bahadur's head was cremated by Guru Gobind Singh. There is another Gurdwara by the name of Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib, that marks the site where in November 1675 the head was cremated.
Many of the Pandits became Sikhs their leader Kirpa Ram was baptised as a Sikh and died fighting the Moghuls with Guru Gobind Singh's older sons.
Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji had a versatile personality, a warrior, family man with social commitment and a preacher of great understanding and vision. His martyrdom broke the myth of Aurangzeb’s religiosity.
The achievements of Guru Tegh Bahadur are remarkable:
• During the last period in Guru Ji’s life, Guru Ji founded a new town called Anandpur Sahib (City of Bliss) and went on missionary tours to UP and Bengal. Guru Ji also initiated welfare projects all over northern Panjab.
• Guru Ji symbolised the triumph of good over evil, Guru Ji’s martyrdom, unique in the history of mankind, inspired many Sikhs to lay down their lives for noble causes and moral values.
• Guru Ji was also a versatile poet and embodied a message of freedom, courage and compassion; "Fear not and frighten not."
When Aurangzeb was questioned by a group of Qadis regarding the reasons for the execution, the Mughal Emperor could not clearly explain the causes for the order of the penalty.
It was recognised that Guru Tegh Bahadur gave his life for freedom of religion, ensuring that Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists were able to follow and practice their beliefs without hindrance. Guru Tegh Bahadur was executed for political reasons, along with fellow devotees Bhai Mati Dass, Bhai Sati Dass and Bhai Dayalaa.