November 22, 2013
Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji (1 April 1621 – 11 November 1675) became the 9th Guru of Sikhs on 20 March 1665, following in the footsteps of his grand-nephew, Guru Har Krishan. Guru Tegh Bahadur was executed on the orders of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi.
Tegh Bahadur was the youngest of the five sons of Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh guru, and his wife Nanaki. He was born as Tyaga Mal Khatri in Amritsar in the early hours of 1 April 1621. The name Tegh Bahadur (Mighty Of The Sword), was given to him by Hargobind after he had shown his valour in a battle against the Mughals.
Amritsar at that time was the centre of Sikh faith. Under Hargobind, it had become even more renowned. By virtue of being the seat of the Guru, and with its connection to Sikhs in far flung areas of the country through the chains of Masands or missionaries, it had developed the characteristics of a state capital.
Tegh Bahadur was brought up steeped in Sikh culture. He was trained in the martial-arts of archery and horsemanship, and was also taught the old classics. Prolonged spells of seclusion and contemplation are said to have given him a deep mystical temperament. Tegh Bahadur was married on 3 February 1631, to Mata Gujri.
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 Har Krishan, when the latter was in Delhi.
During his stay in Delhi, Guru Har Krishan 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.
A wealthy trader Baba Makhan Shah Labana arrived in search of the Guru. He went from one claimant to the next making his obeisance and offering two gold coins to each Guru, while before he had promised to offer 500 coins for his safety in a storm. Then he discovered that Tegh Bahadur, who made no claims about himself, also lived at Bakala.
Makhan Shah Labana went straight to the house of Tegh Bahadur. There he made the usual offering of two gold coins. Tegh Bahadur gave him his blessings and remarked that his offering was considerably short of the promised five hundred. Makhan Shah forthwith made good the difference and ran upstairs. He began shouting from the rooftop:
“ Guru ladho re, Guru ladho re)
(I have found the Guru, I have found the Guru). ”
The responsibility of instructing and guiding the Sikh community was now of Tegh Bahadur. 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 Har Gobind, 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.
Tegh Bahadur travelled in different parts of the country, including Dhaka and Assam, to preach the teachings of Guru Nanak, the first Sikh guru. His son Guru Gobind Singh, who would be the tenth Sikh guru, was born in Patna, while he was away in Dhubri, Assam, where stands the Gurdwara Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib.
The Guru made three successive visits to Kiratpur. On 21 August 1664, Tegh Bahadur went there to console with Bibi Rup Kaur upon the death of her father, Guru Har Rai, the seventh Sikh guru, and of her brother, Har Krishan. The second visit was on 15 October 1664, at the death on 29 September 1664, of Bassi, the mother of Har Rai. A third visit concluded a fairly extensive journey through Majha, Malwa and Bangar districts of the Punjab. Crossing the Beas and Sutlej rivers, 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 Tegh Bahadur up to Dhamdhan, near Jind, from where he returned to Kiratpur. The Dowager Rani Champa of Bilaspur offered to give the Guru a piece of land in her state. The Guru bought the site on payment of Rs 500. The land consisted of the villages of Lodhipur, Mianpur and Sahota. Here on the mound of Makhowal, Tegh Bahadur raised a new city.
Tegh Bahadur was given the title Bahadur by his father Guru Hargobind (sixth Guru of the Sikhs) as he displayed such bravery with the sword in battle. Later upon return to eastern Punjab, he settled at Anandpur, where his followers began to refer to him as the Sacha Badshah (True King). Mughal officials such as Nur Muhammad Khan of Rupnagar, Dilawar Khan the Faujdar of Sirhind and Wazir Khan had him arrested. He was taken to Delhi and put to death by Aurangzeb in 1675. However, 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.