Guru Tegh Bahadur
ਗੁਰੂ ਤੇਗ਼ ਬਹਾਦਰ
1 April 1621
|Died||11 November 1675 (aged 54)|
|Cause of death||Execution by decapitation|
|Children||Guru Gobind Singh|
|Parent(s)||Guru Hargobind and Mata Nanaki|
|Other names||Ninth Master|
Srisht-di-Chadar ("Shield of Humanity")
Dharam-di-Chadar ("Shield of Dharma")
Hind-di-Chadar ("Shield of India")
|Battles/wars||Early Mughal-Sikh Wars|
Battle of Kartarpur (1635) Skirmish Of Dhubri (1669)
|Period in office||1664–1675|
|Predecessor||Guru Har Krishan|
|Successor||Guru Gobind Singh|
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Guru Tegh Bahadur (Punjabi: ਗੁਰੂ ਤੇਗ਼ ਬਹਾਦਰ (Gurmukhi); Punjabi pronunciation: [gʊɾuː t̯eːɣ bəɦaːd̯ʊɾᵊ]; 11 April 1621 – 11 November 1675) was the ninth of ten gurus who founded the Sikh religion and was the leader of Sikhs from 1665 until his beheading in 1675. He was born in Amritsar, Punjab, India in 1621 and was the youngest son of Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh guru. Considered a principled and fearless warrior, he was a learned spiritual scholar and a poet whose 115 hymns are included in the Guru Granth Sahib, which is the main text of Sikhism.
Guru Tegh Bahadur was executed on the orders of Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal emperor, in Delhi, India. Sikh holy premises Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib and Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib in Delhi mark the places of execution and cremation of Guru Tegh Bahadur. His martyrdom is remembered as the Shaheedi Divas of Guru Tegh Bahadur every year on 24 November.
Guru Tegh Bahadur was born Tyag Mal (Tīāg Mal) (Punjabi: ਤਿਆਗ ਮਲ) in Amritsar on 1 April 1621. He was the youngest son of Guru Hargobind, the sixth guru. Guru Hargobind had one daughter, Bibi Viro, and five sons: Baba Gurditta, Suraj Mal, Ani Rai, Atal Rai, and Tyag Mal. He gave Tyag Mal the name Tegh Bahadur (Brave Sword) after Tyag Mal showed valor in the Battle of Kartarpur against the Mughals.
Tegh Bahadur was brought up in the 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 was married on 3 February 1632 to Mata Gujri.
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 Patshahi, 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.
In March 1664, Guru Har Krishan contracted smallpox. When his followers asked who would lead them after him, he said, "Baba Bakala", meaning his successor was to be found in Bakala. Taking advantage of the ambiguity in the words of the dying guru, many installed themselves in Bakala, claiming to be the new guru. Sikhs were puzzled to see so many claimants.
Sikh tradition has a myth about how Tegh Bahadur was selected as the ninth guru. A wealthy trader named Baba Makhan Shah Labana had once prayed for his life and promised to give 500 gold coins to the Sikh Guru if he survived. He came to Bakala in search of the ninth guru. He met each claimant he could find, making his obeisance and offering them two gold coins in the belief that the right guru would know of his silent promise to give them 500 coins. Every "guru" he met accepted the two gold coins and bid him farewell. Then he discovered that Tegh Bahadur also lived at Bakala. Makhan Shah gave Tegh Bahadur the usual offering of two gold coins. Tegh Bahadur blessed him and remarked that his offering was short of the promised five hundred. Makhan Shah 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 sangat (assembly of Sikhs working for the community) led by Tegh Bahadur's older brother Diwan Durga Mal arrived in Bakala and appointed Tegh Bahadur as the ninth guru of Sikhs.
As had been the custom among Sikhs after the execution of Guru Arjan by Mughal Emperor Jahangir, Guru Tegh Bahadur was surrounded by armed bodyguards, but he otherwise lived an austere life.
Guru Tegh Bahadur composed 116 hymns in 15 ragas (musical measures), and these were included in the Guru Granth Sahib (pages 219–1427) by his son, Guru Gobind Singh. They cover a wide range of spiritual topics, including human attachments, the body, the mind, sorrow, dignity, service, death, and deliverance.
Guru Tegh Bahadur traveled 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. During his travels, he started a number of community water wells and langars (community kitchens for the poor).
The Guru made three successive visits to Kiratpur. On 21 August 1664, Guru Tegh Bahadur went there to console Bibi Roop upon the death of her father, Guru Har Rai, the seventh Sikh guru, and of his brother, Guru Har Krishan. The second visit was on 15 October 1664, after Bassi, the mother of Guru Har Rai, died on 29 September 1664. A third visit concluded a fairly extensive journey through the northwest Indian subcontinent.
Tegh Bahadur visited the towns of Mathura, Agra, Allahabad and Varanasi. His son, Guru Gobind Singh, who would be the tenth Sikh guru, was born in Patna in 1666 while he was away in Dhubri, Assam, where the Gurdwara Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib now stands. There he helped end the war between Raja Ram Singh of Bengal and Raja Chakardwaj of Ahom state (later Assam).
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 the Himalayas. In 1672, Tegh Bahadur traveled in and around the Malwa region to meet the masses as the persecution of non-Muslims reached new heights.
Many scholars identify the narrative as follows: A congregation of Hindu Pandits from Kashmir requested help against Aurangzeb's oppressive policies, and Guru Tegh Bahadur decided to protect their rights. According to Trilochan Singh in Guru Tegh Bahadur: Prophet and Martyr, the convoy of Kashmiri Pundits who tearfully pleaded with the Guru at Anandpur were 500 in number and were led by a certain Pundit Kirpa Ram, who recounted tales of religious oppression under the governorship of Iftikhar Khan. The Kashmiri Pandits decided to meet with the Guru after they first sought the assistance of Shiva at the Amarnath shrine, where one of them is said to have had a dream where Shiva instructed the Pandits to seek out the ninth Sikh guru for assistance in their plight and hence a group was formed for carrying out the task. Guru Tegh Bahadur left from his base at Makhowal to confront the persecution of Kashmiri Brahmins by Mughal officials but was arrested at Ropar and put to jail in Sirhind. Four months later, in November 1675, he was transferred to Delhi and asked to perform a miracle to prove his nearness to God or convert to Islam. The Guru declined, and three of his colleagues, who had been arrested with him, were tortured to death in front of him: Bhai Mati Das was sawn into pieces, Bhai Dayal Das was thrown into a cauldron of boiling water, and Bhai Sati Das was burned alive. Thereafter on 11 November, Tegh Bahadur was publicly beheaded in Chandni Chowk, a market square close to the Red Fort.
The primary nucleus of Sikh narratives remains the Bachittar Natak, a memoir of Guru Gobind Singh, Guru Tegh Bahadur's son, dated between late 1680s and late 1690s.[a] Guru Tegh Bahadur's son and successor recalled the Guru's execution:
In this dark age, Tegh Bahadur performed a great act of chivalry (saka) for the sake of the frontal mark and sacred thread. He offered all he had for the holy. He gave up his head, but did not utter a sigh. He suffered martyrdom for the sake of religion. He laid down his head, but not his honor. Real men of God do not perform tricks like showmen. Having broken the pitcher on the head of the king of Delhi, he departed to the world of God. No one has ever performed a deed like him. At his departure, the whole world mourned, while the heavens hailed it as a victory.— Guru Gobind Singh, Bachittar Natak: Apni Katha
More Sikh accounts of Guru Tegh Bahadur's execution, all claiming to be sourced from the "testimony of trustworthy Sikhs", only started emerging in around the late eighteenth century, and are thus, often conflicting.
Persian sources maintain that the Guru was a bandit whose plunder and rapine of Punjab along with his rebellious activities precipitated his execution. The earliest Persian source to chronicle his execution is Siyar-ul-Mutakhkherin by Ghulam Husain Khan c. 1782, where Tegh Bahadur's (alleged) oppression of subjects is held to have incurred Aurangzeb's wrath:
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, adding that if their authority increased they could become even refractory.— Ghulam Husain, Siyar-ul-Mutakhkherin
Satish Chandra cautions against taking Ghulam Husain's argument at face value, as Ghulam Husain was a relative of Alivardi Khan — one of the closest confidantes of Aurangzeb — and might have been providing an "official justification".[b] Also, the Guru's alleged association with Hafiz Adam is anachronistic. Hafiz Adam died in Medina in A.D. 1643, 21 years before Tegh Bahadur attained the status of Guru. Satish Chandra further writes that Ghulam Husain's account places Guru Tegh Bahadur's confinement and execution in Lahore, while Sikh tradition places it in Delhi. The Sikh sakhis (traditional accounts) written during the eighteenth century indirectly support the narrative in the Persian sources, saying that "the Guru was in violent opposition to the Muslim rulers of the country" in response to the dogmatic policies implemented by Aurangzeb. Both Persian and Sikh sources agree that Guru Tegh Bahadur militarily opposed the Mughal state and was therefore targeted for execution in accordance with Aurangzeb's zeal for punishing enemies of the state.
Chronicler Sohan Lal Suri, the court historian of Ranjit Singh, in his magisterial Umdat ut Tawarikh (c. 1805) chose to reiterate Ghulam Husain Khan's argument at large: he states that the Guru gained thousands of followers of soldiers and horsemen during his travels between 1672 and 1673 in southern Punjab, essentially having a nomadic army, and provided shelter to rebels who were resistant to Mughal representatives. Aurangzeb was warned about such activity as a cause of concern that could possibly lead to insurrection or rebellion and to eliminate the threat of the Guru at the earliest opportunity.
In contrast to this dominating theme in Sikh literature, some pre-modern Sikh accounts had laid the blame on an acrimonious succession dispute: Ram Rai, elder brother of Guru Har Krishan, was held to have instigated Aurangzeb against Tegh Bahadur by suggesting that he prove his spiritual greatness by performing miracles at the Court.[c]
Satish Chandra expresses doubt about the authenticity of these meta-narratives, centered on miracles — Aurangzeb was not a believer in them, according to Chandra. He further expresses doubt pertaining to the narrative of the persecution of Hindus in Kashmir within Sikh accounts, remarking that no contemporary sources mentioned the persecution of Hindus there.
Louis E. Fenech refuses to pass any judgement, in light of the paucity of primary sources; however, he notes that these Sikh accounts had coded martyrdom into the events, with an aim to elicit pride rather than trauma in readers. He further argues that Tegh Bahadur sacrificed himself for the sake of his own faith, saying that the janju and tilak mentioned in a passage in the Bachittar Natak refer to Tegh Bahadur's own sacred thread and frontal mark.
Guru Tegh Bahadur built the city of Anandpur Sahib and was responsible for saving a faction of Kashmiri Pandits, who were being persecuted by the Mughals.
After the execution of Tegh Bahadur 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 Tegh 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 Tegh Bahadar, which was brought by Bhai Jaita (renamed Bhai Jiwan Singh according to Sikh rites) in defiance of the Mughal authority of Aurangzeb, was cremated. During his journey to Anandpur Sahib, Bhai Jaita Singh reached a village near Delhi in Sonipat, and the Mughal army also reached that village. Bhai Jaita demanded help from the villagers, and the villagers hid Bhai Jaita with Tegh Bahadur's head. A villager named Kushal Singh Dahiya offered his own head in place of the Guru's head to the Mughal army. After the beheading of Kushal Singh Dahiya, the villagers shuffled the two heads and gave the head of Kushal Singh Dahiya to the Mughal army.
The execution hardened the resolve of Sikhs against Muslim rule and 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 that "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.
In one of his poetic works, the classical Punjabi poet Bulleh Shah, referred to Tegh Bahadur as "Ghazi", an honorific title for a warrior.
In India, November 24 is observed as Guru Tegh Bahadur's Martyrdom Day (Shaheedi Diwas). In certain parts of India, this day of the year is a public holiday. Tegh Bahadur is remembered for giving up his life for the freedom of religion.
Guru Tegh Bahadur, fresco from Qila Mubarak.
Portrait of Guru Tegh Bahadur in the Pahari style.
18th century painting of Guru Tegh Bahadur.
19th century painting depicting Guru Tegh Bahadur.
Guru Tegh Bahadur, Pahari painting. Gouache on paper.
Guru Tegh Bahadur painting from the family workshop of Nainsukh of Guler.
Portrait of Guru Tegh Bahadur from the last quarter of the 19th century.
Take for instance, the description of Guru Teg Bahadar as 'Hind di Chadar' in present-day parlance and 'Dharam di Chadar' some 100 years ago. That appears to be a departure from how he was originally described in contemporaneous poetic texts after his execution in 1675. Chandra Sain Sainapati was a court poet of Guru Gobind Singh, the son of Guru Teg Bahadar. In his composition called Sri Gur Sobha, Sainapati described the martyred Guru as 'Srisht ki Chadar', or the protector of humanity. 'Pargat Bhae Gur Teg Bahadar, Sagal Srisht Pe Dhaapi Chadar,' the poet wrote, meaning 'Guru Tegh Bahadar was revealed, and protected the whole creation.'
Fenech argues that the twentieth-century Tat Khalsa wrongly treated the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur as a sacrifice to save Hinduism. In his view, the tilak and janju in the passage under consideration refer to the frontal mark and the sacred thread of Guru Tegh Bahadur himself. In other words, Guru Tegh Bahadur sacrificed his life for the sake of his own faith.
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