Guru Tegh Bahadur
|Guru Tegh Bahadur|
1 April 1621
Amritsar, Panjab, Mughal Empire (Present day India)
24 November 1675 (aged 54)|
Delhi, Mughal Empire (Present day India)
|Cause of death||Beheading|
|Children||Guru Gobind Singh|
|Parents||Guru Hargobind and Mata Nanaki|
|Period in office||1664–1675|
|Predecessor||Guru Har Krishan|
|Successor||Guru Gobind Singh|
|Part of a series on|
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Guru Tegh Bahadur (Punjabi pronunciation: [ɡʊru teɣ bəhɑdʊɾ]; 1 April 1621 – 24 November 1675,) was the ninth of ten Gurus of the Sikh religion. Tegh Bahadur continued in the spirit of the first guru, Nanak; his 116 poetic hymns are registered in Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Tegh Bahadur resisted the forced conversions of Kashmiri Pandits and non-Muslims to Islam, and was publicly beheaded in 1675 on the orders of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi for himself refusing to convert to Islam. Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib and Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib in Delhi mark the places of execution and cremation of the Guru's body. The martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur is remembered as the Shaheedi Divas of Guru Tegh Bahadur every year on 24 November, according to the Nanakshahi calendar released by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in 2003.
Guru Tegh Bahadur was born in a Sodhi Khatri Family. The Sixth guru, Guru Hargobind had one daughter Bibi Viro and five sons: Baba Gurditta, Suraj Mal, Ani Rai, Atal Rai and Tyaga Mal. Tyaga Mal was born in Amritsar in the early hours of 1 April 1621, who came to be known by the name Tegh Bahadur (Mighty Of The Sword), given to him by Guru Hargobind after he had shown his valour in a battle against the Mughals.
Amritsar at that time was the centre of Sikh faith. As the seat of the Sikh Gurus, 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. Guru Tegh Bahadur was brought up in Sikh culture and trained in archery and horsemanship. He was also taught the old classics such as the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Puranas. He preferred prolonged spells of seclusion and contemplation. Tegh Bahadur was married on 3 February 1633, to Mata Gujri.
Stay at Bakala
In the 1640s, nearing his death, Guru Hargobind and his wife Nanaki moved to his ancestral village of Bakala in Amritsar district, together with Tegh Bahadur and Mata Gujri. Bakala, as described in Gurbilas Dasvin Patishahi, was then a prosperous town with many beautiful pools, wells and baolis. After Guru Hargobind's death, Tegh Bahadur continued to live in Bakala with his wife and mother. He spent most of his time in meditation, but was not a recluse, and attended to family responsibilities. He made visits outside Bakala, and visited the eighth Sikh guru Guru Har Krishan, when the latter was in Delhi.
In March 1664 Guru Har Krishan contracted smallpox. When asked by his followers who would lead them after him, he replied Baba Bakala, meaning his successor was to be found in Bakala. Taking the advantage of the ambiguity in the words of the dying Guru, many installed themselves in Bakala, claiming themselves as the new Guru. Sikhs were puzzled to see so many claimants.
Sikh tradition has a myth concerning the manner in which Tegh Bahadur was selected the ninth guru. A wealthy trader, Baba Makhan Shah Labana, had once prayed for his life and had promised to gift 500 gold coins to the Sikh Guru if he survived. He arrived in search of the ninth Guru. He went from one claimant to the next making his obeisance and offering two gold coins to each Guru, believing that the right guru would know that his silent promise was to gift 500 coins for his safety. Every "guru" he met accepted the 2 gold coins and bid him farewell. Then he discovered that Tegh Bahadur also lived at Bakala. Labana gifted Tegh Bahadur 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 Labana forthwith made good the difference and ran upstairs. He began shouting from the rooftop, "Guru ladho re, Guru ladho re" meaning "I have found the Guru, I have found the Guru".
In August 1664 a Sikh Sangat arrived in Bakala and anointed Tegh Bahadur as the ninth guru of Sikhs. The Sangat was led by Diwan Durga Mal, and a formal "Tikka ceremony" was performed by Bhai Gurditta on Tegh Bahadur conferring Guruship on him.
Guru Tegh Bahadur contributed many hymns to Granth Sahib including the Saloks, or couplets near the end of the Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Tegh Bahadur toured various parts of Mughal Empire and was asked by Gobind Sahali to construct several Sikh temples in Mahali. His works include 116 shabads, 15 ragas and his bhagats are credited with 782 compositions that are part of bani in Sikhism.
His works are included in the Guru Granth Sahib (pages 219-1427). They cover a wide range of topics, such as the nature of God, human attachments, body, mind, sorrow, dignity, service, death and deliverance. For example, in Sorath rag, Guru Tegh Bahadur describes what an ideal human being is like,
jo nar dukh mein dukh nahin manney, sukh snehh ar phey nahi ja kai, kanchan maati manney na nindya nehn usttat ja kai lobh moh abhimana harakh sog tey rahey niaro nahen maan apmana, aasa mansa sagal tyagey jagg tey rahey nirasa, kaam krodh jeh parsai nahin the ghatt brahma niwasa
One who is not perturbed by misfortune, who is beyond comfort, attachment and fear, who considers gold as dust. He neither speaks ill of others nor feels elated by praise and shuns greed, attachments and arrogance. He is indifferent to ecstasy and tragedy, is not affected by honors or humiliations. He renounces expectations, greed. He is neither attached to the worldliness, nor lets senses and anger affect him. In such a person resides God.</poem>— Guru Tegh Bahadur, Sorath 633 (Translated by Gopal Singh), 
Guru Tegh Bahadur travelled extensively in different parts of the country, including Dhaka and Assam, to preach the teachings of Nanak, the first Sikh guru. The places he visited and stayed in, became sites of Sikh temples.
The Guru made three successive visits to Kiratpur. On 21 August 1664, Guru went there to console with Bibi Rup upon the death of her father, Guru Har Rai, the seventh Sikh guru, and of her brother, Guru Har Krishan. The second visit was on 15 October 1664, at the death on 29 September 1664, of Bassi, the mother of Guru Har Rai. A third visit concluded a fairly extensive journey through northwest Indian subcontinent. His son Guru Gobind Singh, who would be the tenth Sikh guru, was born in Patna, while he was away in Dhubri, Assam in 1666, where stands the Gurdwara Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib. He there helped end the war between Raja Ram Singh of Bengal and Raja Chakardwaj of Ahom state (later Assam). He visited the towns of Mathura, Agra, Allahabad and Varanasi.
After his visit to Assam, Bengal and Bihar, the Guru visited Rani Champa of Bilaspur who offered to give the Guru a piece of land in her state. The Guru bought the site for 500 rupees. There, Guru Tegh Bahadur founded the city of Anandpur Sahib in the foothills of Himalayas. In 1672, Tegh Bahadur traveled through Kashmir and the North-West Frontier, to meet the masses, as the persecution of non-Muslims reached new heights.
Execution by Aurangzeb
In 1675 Guru Tegh Bahadur was executed in Delhi on 11 November under the orders of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. According to J.S. Grewal – a scholar of Sikh history, Guru Tegh Bahadur decided to confront the religious persecution of Kashmiri Brahmins by the Mughal officials. He did so after appointing his son the successor-Guru, leaving his base of Makhowal and entering Ropar where he was promptly arrested. According to Purnima Dhavan – a scholar of South Asian history and Mughal Empire, the Mughal administration kept a close watch on his activities. Guru Tegh Bahadur was kept in jail for four months in Sarhind, then transferred to Delhi in November 1675. There he was asked to perform a miracle to prove his nearness to his God. The Guru questioned the idea that "occult powers were a proof of one's nearness to God", states Grewal. After his "failure to perform a miracle", he was asked to convert to Islam. He refused. Three of his colleagues, who had been arrested with him, were then put to death in front of him. He continued his refusal to convert to Islam. Thereafter, states Grewal, he was publicly beheaded in Chandni Chauk, a market square close to the Red Fort.
Tegh Bahadur, the eighth successor of (Guru) Nanak became a man of authority with a large number of followers. (In fact) Several thousand persons used to accompany him as he moved from place to place. His contemporary Hafiz Adam, a faqir belonging to the group of Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi's followers, had also come to have a large number of murids and followers. Both these men (Guru Tegh Bahadur and Hafiz Adam) used to move about in Punjab, adopting a habit of coercion and extortion. Tegh Bahadur used to collect money from Hindus and Hafiz Adam from Muslims. The royal waqia navis (news reporter and intelligence agent) wrote to the Emperor Alamgir [Aurangzeb] of their manner of activity, added that if their authority increased they could become even refractory.— Ghulam Husain, Mughal Empire records, 
Satish Chandra cautions that this was the "official justification", which historically can be expected to be full of evasion and distortion to justify official action. According to Surjit Gandhi, the account by Ghulam Husain suffers from serious inaccuracies and is historically wrong, as Hafiz Adam had left India and died at Medina in 1643.
Another Muslim scholar, Ghulam Muhiuddin Bute Shah, wrote his Tarikh-i-Punjab in 1842, over a century and half after the death of Guru Tegh Bahadur, saying that there was ongoing hostility from Ram Rai, the elder brother of Guru Har Kishan, against Tegh Bahadur. Ghulam Muhiuddin Bute Shah said that "Ram Rai represented to the Emperor that Guru Tegh Bahadur was very proud of his spiritual greatness and that he would not realise his fault unless he was punished. Ram Rai also suggested that Guru Tegh Bahadur is asked to appear before the Emperor to work a miracle; if he failed, he could be put to death." Satish Chandra and others say that this account is also doubtful as to the circumstances or cause of Guru Tegh Bahadur's execution.
Sikh historians record that Guru Tegh Bahadur had become a socio-political challenge to the Muslim rule and Aurangzeb. The Sikh movement was rapidly growing in the rural Malwa region of Punjab, and the Guru was openly encouraging Sikhs to, "be fearless in their pursuit of just society: he who holds none in fear, nor is afraid of anyone, is acknowledged as a man of true wisdom", a statement recorded in the Guru Granth Sahib p. 1427. While Guru Tegh Bahadur influence was rising, Aurangzeb had imposed Islamic laws, demolished infidel schools and temples, and enforced new taxes on non-Muslims.
The main substantive record, however, comes from Guru Tegh Bahadur's son, Guru Gobind Singh, in his composition Bachittar Natak. This composition is recited in every Sikh place of worship on the occasion of the Guru's martyrdom. According to records written by his son Guru Gobind Singh, the Guru had resisted persecution, and had adopted and promised to protect Kashmiri Hindus. The Guru was summoned to Delhi by Aurangzeb on a pretext, but when he arrived, he was offered, "to abandon his faith, and convert to Islam". Guru Tegh Bahadur refused, and he and his associates were arrested. He was executed on 11 November 1675 in public in Chandni Chowk, Delhi.
William Irvine states that Guru Tegh Bahadur was tortured for many weeks while being asked to abandon his faith and convert to Islam; he stood by his convictions and refused; he was then executed.
The associates of the Guru were also tortured for refusing to convert: Bhai Mati Das was sawn into pieces and Bhai Dayal Das was thrown into a cauldron of boiling water, and Bhai Sati Das was burned alive, while Guru Tegh Bahadur was held inside a cage to watch his colleagues suffer. The Guru himself was beheaded in public.
Impact of execution
Legacy and memorials
Guru Har Gobind was Guru Tegh Bahadur's father. He was originally named Tyag Mal (Punjabi: ਤਿਆਗ ਮਲ) but was later renamed Tegh Bahadur after his gallantry and bravery in the wars against the Mughal forces. He built the city of Anandpur Sahib, and was responsible for saving the Kashmiri Pandits, who were being persecuted by the Mughals.
After the execution of Tegh Bahadar by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, a number of Sikh temples were built in his and his associates' memory. The Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib in Chandni Chowk, Delhi, was built over where he was beheaded. Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib, also in Delhi, is built on the site of the residence of a disciple of Teg Bahadur, who burned his house to cremate his master's body.
Gurdwara Sisganj Sahib in Punjab marks the site where in November 1675, the head of the martyred Guru Teg Bahadar which was brought by Bhai Jaita (renamed Bhai Jivan Singh according to Sikh rites) in defiance of the Mughal authority of Aurangzeb was cremated here.
Tegh Bahadur has been remembered for giving up his life for freedom of religion, reminding Sikhs and non-Muslims in India to follow and practice their beliefs without fear of persecution and forced conversions by Muslims. Guru Tegh Bahadur was martyred, along with fellow devotees Bhai Mati Dass, Bhai Sati Das and Bhai Dayala. 24 November, the date of his martyrdom, is observed in certain parts of India as a public holiday.
Effect on Sikhs
The execution hardened the resolve of Sikhs against Muslim rule and the persecution. Pashaura Singh states that, "if the martyrdom of Guru Arjan had helped bring the Sikh Panth together, Guru Tegh Bahadur's martyrdom helped to make the protection of human rights central to its Sikh identity". Wilfred Smith stated "the attempt to forcibly convert the ninth Guru to an externalized, impersonal Islam clearly made an indelible impression on the martyr's nine year old son, Gobind, who reacted slowly but deliberately by eventually organizing the Sikh group into a distinct, formal, symbol-patterned community". It inaugurated the Khalsa identity.
Places named after Guru Teg Bahadur
A number of places are named after the ninth guru of the Sikhs, Guru Teg Bahadur.
- Guru Teg Bahadur Khalsa Institute of Engineering & Technology, Chhapianwali, Malout, Punjab
- Shri Guru Teg Bahadur Senior Secondary School, Patli Dabar, Sirsa (Haryana)
- Gurdwara Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, Assam.
- Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, Delhi
- Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Institute of Technology
- Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Integration Chair, Punjabi University, Patiala
- Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Railway Station, Mumbai (G.T.B. Nagar)
- Guru Teg Bahadur Public School, Durgapur
- Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Malout
- Gurudwara Sri Guru Tegh Bahadar Langar Saheb, Aurangabad, Maharashtra
- Sri Guru Tegh Bahadar English High School, Aurangabad, Maharashtra
- Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Khalsa College (SGTB Khalsa College), University of Delhi
- Guru Tegh Bahadur 3rd centenary public school, New Delhi
- Guru Teg Bahadur Charitable Hospital, Ludhiana
- Guru Teg Bahadur Public School, Patran (District Patiala)
- Guru Teg Bahadur Public School, Saharanpur(Uttar Pradesh)
- Gurudwara Sahib, Sri Guru Teg bahadur Nagar, Jalandhar (Punjab)
- One who is not perturbed by misfortune, who is beyond comfort, attachment and fear, who considers gold as dust. He neither speaks ill of others nor feels elated by praise and shuns greed, attachments and arrogance. He is indifferent to ecstasy and tragedy, is not affected by honors or humiliations. He renounces expectations, greed. He is neither attached to the worldliness, nor lets senses and anger affect him. In such a person resides God.
- Guru Tegh Bahadur, Sorath 633 (Translated by Gopal Singh), Tegh Bahadur (Translated by Gopal Singh) (2005). Mahalla nawan: compositions of Guru Tegh Bahādur-the ninth guru (from Sri Guru Granth Sahib): Bāṇī Gurū Tega Bahādara. Allied Publishers. pp. xxviii–xxxiii, 15–27. ISBN 978-81-7764-897-3.
Quotes about Guru Tegh Bahadur
- [Aurangzeb] summoned the ninth Sikh Guru, Tegh Bahadur (1664-1675 A.D.), to the imperial seat at Delhi and martyred him in cold blood on his refusal to embrace Islam. Some followers of the Guru who had accompanied him were subjected to inhuman torture and torn to pieces. This was as it were a final signal that there was something very hard at the heart of Islamóa heart which the Gurus had tried to soften with their teachings of humanism and universalism. Sikhism had to accept the challenge and pick up the sword in defence of its very existence.
- Swarup, Ram, & Goel, S. R. (1985). Hindu-Sikh relationship. (Introduction by S.R. Goel)
- The Sikh Gurus Tegh Bahadur, beheaded by Aurangzeb in 1675 for refusing to convert, and his son Govind Singh, who founded the military Khalsa order and whose four sons were killed by the Moghul troops, are very popular in Hindutva glorifications of national heroes'. Their pictures are routinely displayed at functions of the RSS and its affiliates, and their holidays celebrated, e.g.: 'Over 650 branches of Bharat Vikas Parishad observe Guru Tegh Bahadur Martyrdom Day'.
- Elst, K. (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. New Delhi: Voice of India. Ch. 8
- Tegh Bahadur’s martyrdom in 1675 was of course in the service of Hinduism, in that it was an act of opposing Aurangzeb’s policy of forcible conversion. An arrest warrant against him had been issued on non-religious and nonpolitical charges, and he was found out after having gone into hiding; Aurangzeb gave him a chance to escape his punishment by converting to Islam. Being a devout Muslim, Aurangzeb calculated that the conversion of this Hindu sect leader would encourage his followers to convert along with him. The Guru was tortured and beheaded when he refused the offer to accept Islam, and one of his companions was sawed in two for having said that Islam should be destroyed.
At any rate, he stood firm as a Hindu, telling Aurangzeb that he loved his Hindu Dharma and that Hindu Dharma would never die,-a statement conveniently overlooked in most neo-Sikh accounts. Tegh Bahadur’s Hindi reply to Aurangzeb is reproduced in full in Kshitish: Storm in Punjab, p.178. In pro-separatist publications, it is strategically omitted, e.g. in D. Greenlees: Gospel of Guru Granth Sahib, p.xcvii. He was not a Sikh defending Hinduism, but a Hindu of the Nanakpanth defending his own Hindu religion. However, even Tegh Bahadur never was a warrior against the Moghul empire; indeed, the birth of his son Govind in the eastern city of Patna was a souvenir of his own enlistment in the party of a Moghul general on a military expedition to Assam.
- Elst, K. (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism.
- Tegh Bahadur’s son and successor, Govind Singh, only fought the Moghul army when he was forced to, and it was hardly to protect Hinduism. His men had been plundering the domains of the semi-independent Hindu Rajas in the hills of northeastern Panjab, who had given him asylum after his father’s execution. Pro-Govind accounts in the Hindutva camp equate Govind’s plundering with the Chauth tax which Shivaji imposed to finance his fight against the Moghuls; they allege that the Rajas were selfishly attached to their wealth while Govind was risking his life for the Hindu cause. The Rajas, after failed attempts to restore law and order, appealed to their Moghul suzerain for help, or at least to the nearest Moghul governor. So, a confrontation ensued, not because Govind Singh had defied the mighty Moghul Empire, but because the Moghul Empire discharged its feudal duties toward its vassals, i.c. to punish what to them was an ungrateful guest turned robber.
Govind was defeated and his two eldest sons killed in battle; many Sikhs left him in anger at his foolhardy tactics. During Govind Singh’s flight, a Brahmin family concealed Govind’s two remaining sons (Hindus protecting Sikhs, not the other way around), but they were found out and the boys were killed. (In the modern anti-Hindu variety of Sikh history, this becomes: “the Guru was forced into resistance by the incessant attacks of jealous Hill Rgjas, who could not tolerate the rise of Sikhism beside them”, according to Duncan Greenlees: Gospel of the Guru-Granth Sahib, p.xcix. (In neo-Sikh historiography, which has a strong anti-Brahmin bias (e.g. systematically concealing the presence of Brahmin officiants at the Gurus’ weddings), the capture of the two boys is explained with the undocumented allegation that these Brahmins who protected them had “betrayed” them)
- Elst, K. (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism.
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- Peer reviewed publications on Guru Tegh Bahadur
- Martyrdom and the Sikh Tradition, Louis E. Fenech, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 117(4): 623-42, (Oct-Dec, 1997)
- Guru Tegh Bahadur Ranbir Singh (1975)
- Non-Canonical Compositions Attributed to the Seventh and Ninth Sikh Gurus, Jeevan Singh Deol, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 121(2): 193-203, (Apr. - Jun., 2001)
- Other links
Guru Har Krishan
20 March 1665 - 11 November 1675
Guru Gobind Singh
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