|Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji|
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh
Sat Nam Readers!
Today’s post will share what I have learned about our ninth Guru – Guru Tegh Bahadur. Please forgive any mistakes that I make.
Guru Tegh Bahadur was born as Tyag Mal Khatri on April 1st, 1621 at Amritsar in India. He was the son of Guru Hargobind Ji and his wife Nanaki. He was given the name Tegh Bahadur by his father after showing bravery with a sword in a battle against the Mughals. He would also become shaheed.
Guruji ascended to the guruship after the death of his great-nephew of smallpox.
Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji married Mata Gujri and had one son, Gobind Rai.
The death of Guru Har Krishan Ji created a great deal of confusion and turmoil. Many sought to take advantage of the vagueness of Guruji’s statement as to who would succeed him. As many as 22 different individuals tried to set themselves up as Guru This included Dhir Mal. Sikhs had no idea where to turn and who would lead them.
A wealthy trader named Baba Makhan Shah Labana arrived in Bakala, where Guru Hargobind and his wife had moved. Having been saved from a storm earlier, he promised to give 500 coins to the Guru of the Sikhs. He went from house to house, speaking to the people who claimed the guruship and offering them each 2 coins. On entering the house where Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was staying, he offered the same 2 coins. Guruji told the trader that he had previously offered 500 coins. The trader then went to the roof to shout “I have found the Guru!” and indeed, he had. Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji ascended to the guruship on April 16th, 1664.
Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji’s time as Guru was a relatively peaceful one until near the end of his life. The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb wanted to convert all of India to Islam, to rid the whole of the land of infidels. He was repressive and brutal in that goal, tearing down Hindi temples and replacing them with mosques and making harsh decrees to make life miserable and dangerous for Hindus and other non-Muslims. A few conversions happened peacefully in the Kashmir region but most were conversions by force. A group of pandits from Kashmir approached Guru Tegh Bahadur for help. They returned and told the Mughal authorities that they would willingly embrace the Islamic faith if the Sikh Guru also converted voluntarily.
Aurangzeb ordered the arrest of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. He was arrested near Anandpur on his way to Delhi. Before he left Anandpur, he declared that his son, Gobind Rai would be the next Guru. It seems that Guru Tegh Bahadur knew clearly what would happen in Delhi. He was arrested in July 1675 and kept in custody at Bassi Pathana for three months before being put in an iron cage and taken to Delhi in November.
It was ordered that the Guru be chained and tortured until he would accept Islam. He could not be persuaded even by torture to abandon his faith so he was asked to perform miracles to prove his divinity. He refused to do so, saying that such performances were for charlatans and are merely designed to fool the people. He was beheaded at Chandi Chowk on November 11th, 1675.
The Mughals also executed the followers who left Anandpur with him – Bhai Mati Dass, Bhai Sati Dass and Bhai Dayalaa, while Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was made to watch each of their brutal executions. He became known as Hin Di Chadar, or the Shield of India because he gave his life to protect the Hindus of India from forced conversion, preserving religious freedom for Hindus and other non-Muslims under the Mughals.
His body and head were smuggled away under cover of darkness. Bhai Lakhi Shah cremated the body by burning down his own house, as a public funeral would be too dangerous. His head was brought back to Anandpur. Against the orders of the Mughal authorities who left the Guru to rot where he fell, his head was cremated in November of 1695.
Never in history has the spiritual leader of one faith laid down his own life to save the freedom of other religions. His sacrifice for the principles of equality and freedom of religion was Guru Tegh Bahadur’s greatest gift to us.
To learn more of the life of Tegh Bahadur, about Sikhs or about Sikhi, I recommend the Basics of Sikhi YouTube Channel and “A History of the Sikhs” by Khushwant Singh.
Until next time, Sat Nam!