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Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji

‘Baba Bakale’ was the only clue given by Guru Hari Krishan for his successor. Many impostors, distant blood-relations of the Master including Baba Dhir Mal, the grandson of Guru Har Gobind, proclaimed themselves the new Nanak. But the trained disciples well knew the fragrance of the soul that comes from the true beloved. Makhan Shah Labana of Jehlem district was a trade merchant. When his vessel full of merchandise was sinking, he had invoked Guru Nanak and had vowed to offer five hundred gold mohars (Coins) if the vessel reached the shore safely. Makan Shah came to the village of Bakala to pay his offering to the Guru. He was surprised to find that twenty two Sodhis had installed themselves as Gurus. In that state of confusion and uncertainty, he resolved to try the pretenders. He visited all the 22 impostors and made each of them offering of two gold mohars, but none of them asked for the balance. He then inquired if there was any one else in Bakala. Someone informed him about Guru Tegh Bahadur. Makhan Shah went and as usual made his offering of two gold mohars. Upon this Guru Tegh Bahadur asked , “Where are the balance of five hundred gold mohars you had promised when your ship was sinking?” Makhan Shah was delighted and prostrated himself before the Guru. He then went to the roof of the house and screamed, “Guru Ladho! Guru Ladho!” I have found the Guru!.

Guru Tegh Bahadur was the fifth and the youngest son of Guru Har Gobind and was born in 1621 to Mata Nanki at Amritsar. He was married to Mata Gujari, daughter of Lal Chand of Kartarpur in Jullundur district. After Guru Har Gobind, he with his mother, Mata Nanki and his wife to live in Bakala. The seat of the Master had shifted to Kiratpur. The disciples also departed thither and only priests remained behind. Amritsar fell already in the hands of impostors, priests who saw the money to be got by priest-craft at Hari Mandir. When Guru Tegh Bahadur paid a visit to Hari Mandir. The priests shut the doors of the temple against the Master, and he said, “The priests of Amritsar are men of blind heart that burn in their own lust of greed.” But, as the news spread, all Amritsar come out to pour their soul at his feet. The women of the Holy City welcomed him with the Master’s song, and went singing all the way with him to the village Walla, where he stayed in the lowly abode of a devoted disciple. Leaving Amritsar the Guru passed through the Majha and Malwa regions before reaching Kiratpur sometimes in May, 1665. He attended the last rites of Raja Dip Singh of Bilaspur and expressed his desire to build a new settlement near Kiratpur and also showed his inclination to buy a suitable land for that purpose. The Rani of Bilaspur offered to donate the site of Makhowal. The offer was accepted, a token price of about Five Hundred Rupees was paid. The foundation stone of new settlement, Chak Nanaki was laid in June, 1665, after the revered name of Guru’s mother. In the course of time, a beautiful town called Anandpur grew up around it. Guru Tegh Bahadur could not stay in one place, for the accumulating sorrows of the people grew to be more than he could bear. He was perpetually on tour, meeting his disciples in villages and in lonely jungle-huts. He travelled as far as Dacca and Kamrup in Eastern India burning lamps of human hearts in memory of Guru Nanak, wherever the Master had been before him. At Dhubri, Tegh Bahadur raised a mound. He organized a Sangat in Assam and illuminated many a family with the light of his face.

During his travels towards the East, in which his mother and his wife accompanied him, his son Gobind was born. Tegh Bahadur had to leave his wife at Patna when he went to Assam. Gobind, the Bala Pritam, the Child-Beloved, was born in 1666 at Patna in the absence of his father. When the latter returned from his tour in Assam, he lived at Patna for some time; but left them again there, when he with his five disciples journeyed on to Anandpur in the Punjab. He did not wish the mother to travel till her baby had grown old enough to bear the journey to the Punjab. Tegh Bahadur was at Anandpur, and his family were at Patna, where Gobind spent his childhood and part of his boyhood. The parting from Tegh Bahadur was always poignant for his mother and wife and now for his child also. “But such is the call of Heaven”, he used to tell them as he left. The whole of Patna was Gobind’s. He was the shining spot where people saw God. Gladness came to them when they saw him, conversed with him, touched him or were playfully teased by him. Tegh Bahadur had but a brief time at Anandpur, where his family from Patna had now joined him. Gobind was about eight years old. During this brief sojourn, he made Anandpur the city of the disciples. It was already their natural fortress when they needed shelter. The hymns of Tegh Bahadur were composed to infuse the spirit of fearlessness into disciples, as there were times coming when the Sikhs would be called on to embrace death as a bride. Guru Tegh Bahadur’s resolve to die for the cause inspired every Sikh man, woman and child, once more with willingness to die.

The Emperor Aurangzeb had adopted a cruel policy of extermination against the Sikhs, whom he considered to be grave political danger to his centralized Empire. He persecuted the non-Muslim constantly dreaming of a Muslim Empire in India. However, the Hindu shrines were thrown down in cities like Banaras and Brindaban in broad daylight and mosques raised instead. The official sword put to death all those who refused to accept Aurangzeb’s political religion. To kill a Hindu, “a Kafir” was represented as a religious duty. The whole country rose, with one cry, one prayer and one curse against the blind tyranny. The experiment of wholesale conversion was first tried in Kashmir. It was thought that if Kashmiri Pandits were converted, the inhabitants of Hindustan would readily follow their example. Thus, in pursuance of the Emperor’s order, Sher Afghan Khan, the Emperor’s viceroy in Kashmir, set about converting Kashmiri Brahmins by sword and massacred those who persisted in their adherence to the faith of their forefathers. Ultimately, about 500 Brahmins, under the leadership of Kirpa Ram, proceeded to Anandpur where Guru Tegh Bahadur was then residing. They were hopeful of Guru Tegh Bahadur coming to their rescue. He would surely save dharma from extinction. Their honour and faith could be protected by Guru Tegh Bahadur only and he alone could mould their destinies in this hour of trial. The Brahmins at first went to Amritsar where they took bath in the holy tank.

When the delegation arrived at Anandpur the Guru was holding his Darbar, which by now had become a daily routine. He had just finished his sermon when Kirpa Ram, along with others, appeared on the scene. He addressed the Guru: “Osaviour, please save us! save us!” Tears rolled down the eyes of Kirpa Ram. He told the Guru of the atrocities committed on fellow Brahmins by Aurangzeb’s Governor, Iftikhar Khan, in Kashmir. The Guru was deeply touched on hearing the pathetic story and plunged into deep thought. He knew well that the ruthless campaign launched by the Emperor would exterminate Hinduism. Something tangible was needed to arouse the conscience of the Emperor. He patted the Brahmins and consoled them. The Guru said that some priestly and noble should had to lay down his life in order to save dharma and honour of the depressed people. A very holy person was required immediately to sacrifice his life in defense of the freedom of worship and freedom of conscience. The Guru was seized of some problem. The Guru’s son, Gobind hardly of nine years reacted to this and said, “Dear father, why is your ever bright and gleaming face drawn in agony. May I know the reason, Gurudev?” The Guru replied: “Bad days are ahead, my dear son! The rulers have turned hostile to their own subjects. They are adopting cruel methods to spread their religion. They are resorting to the use of force which is not permitted even in their own religion. The only way out is that of the purest and the holiest persons in the land to throw themselves before these thirsty wolves and save the religion from destruction.” The child listened to him quietly and patiently without uttering a single word. The Guru continued “Where to find such a holy and pure person?” The child said: This is a very simple proposition, Gurudev, you are holiest of holy. Who else can be holier than you.” The Guru was thrilled on hearing the proposal of the child, hardly nine years of age. The depth of his thought surprised the Guru.

There was a glow on the face of the Guru. He replied: “I have absolutely no hesitation in giving my head but I am grieving that you are still a child and who would take care of you.” Guru Tegh Bahadur was pleased to hear the courageous word from his worthy son and then advised the Pandits to go to Aurangzeb and tell him that they, together with all the Brahmins of Kashmir, were ready to embrace Islam if Tegh Bahadur who was their Guru was first converted. The Pandits then went to Zalim Khan, the then Governor of Lahore, and presented him their petition to Aurangzeb. The Emperor was highly gratified to read it and called the Qazis and maulvis in a darbar and joyfully announced to them the contents of the petition. The Emperor told the Pandits that he accepted their condition for conversion to Islam.

The emissaries of Aurangzeb came to Anandpur to summon the Master to Delhi; but he would not go with them, he promised to follow. He had yet to go to see disciples who were thirsting for him, those that lived on his way to Delhi. He took his own time and his own road; it lay through the midst of his disciples, and it lay covered with their flower-offerings. At Agra the Master with five chosen disciples delivered himself to the Emperor’s men there awaiting him - he had taken so long in coming that they doubted his promise. He was then taken to Delhi. The Master and his companions were kept in Kotwali lock-up at Chandani Chowk in Delhi and tortured there, under the orders of Aurangzeb. But all torture was to him as a mud spray against a mountain wall. Guru Tegh Bahadur never for a moment took his mind out of the Dhyanam of Reality. He maintained a peace of mind that the dissolution of three worlds could not have disturbed. The Guru and his companions were summoned again to the Emperor’s darbar in an effort to persuade them to accept Islam. It was the last meeting between the Emperor and the Guru. He could not change the Guru’s mind. The Guru advised the Emperor: “You should treat all your subjects equally. The lives of all the people are valuable. It is no use eliminating men of other faiths.” The Emperor did not listen to him and firmly declared that either Guru Tegh Bahadur must accept Islam or show some miracle. If he did not show the Karamat (miracle), he would have to face execution. The Emperor asked for Karamat again and again but the Guru refused to perform any miracle. He replied: “It is against my religion to perform any miracles, but you will see a miracle the day I am executed. I do not believe in performing miracles for saving my life. When my brother performed Karamat, my father disapproved of it and my brother had to sacrifice his own life. Our religion does not permit showing magical powers. I hope one day you will realize the futility of your policy and let live all people in peace. All is in the hands of God. He is the Supreme Creator. Everybody will have to answer the Almighty for his deeds.”

The Guru was put in an iron cage now. The Emperor suspected that the Guru might escape. Aurangzeb immediately passed orders for the execution of Mati Das. The orders were conveyed to him in the presence of the Guru. He was give a choice between embracing Islam and death. On hearing this, Mati Das’ face beamed with joy. He bowed his head at the Guru’s feet and said: “O True King, bless me. I am glad I have been given this exalted position of dying before my Great Master. The day is not far off when the rule of tyranny and injustice will be no more in this land. With your benign grace, I shall be able to swim the ocean of death cheerfully.” Mati Das handed himself over to the executioner. At the same time, Bhai Dayala and Bhai Sati Das were asked to embrace Islam or face death. They bluntly brushed aside any such suggestion. Finally, Guru Tegh Bahadur embraced them, kissed their foreheads and blessed them “Your act of bravery will be written in golden words in the history of the country. I bless all of you. I am proud of you. I am full of joy for your devotion. May God bless you.” Then, in the presence of Guru Tegh Bahadur, Bhai Mati Das was bound between two pillars and his body cut in twain with a saw. When the executioner began to apply the saw to his body, he started repeating Japji. It is said that even as his body was cut into two, he continued to repeat the great morning prayer and became silent only when its repetition was complete. Bhai Mati Das’ body was mercilessly cut into pieces. It was a heroic death. Bahi Dayala feet and hand were tied and he was thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil. Not a cry of pain was uttered by him. He died with the Name of God on his lips.

Bhai Sati Dass who was wrapped in cotton, was set afire and burnt alive under the watchful eyes of his Guru and thousands of spectators. While many of spectators were sobbing, some Muslims were deriving pleasure out of these most barbarous acts of execution employed by their co-religionist rulers. Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib, sitting in the cage showered his blessings on his three Sikhs who had faced brutal executions with unflinching faith and courage. The other Sikhs left for Anandpur with his messages, his poems, and the offerings of a coconut and five paise to Guru Gobind Singh.

Then the fateful day came. It was 11 November 1675. Qazi Abdul Wahhab Borah came with warrants of the Guru’s execution. He was accompanied by several priests and Qazis. By this time, a large number of people had gathered in front of the Kotwali to see the greatest Karamat to be performed by the Guru in the history of mankind. The Guru was taken out of the iron cage. He was allowed to perform his ablutions at a well nearby. After that, the Guru sat under a banyan tree and started reciting Japji. The Guru was then brought to the open space where the executioner, Jalaludin of Samana, stood with a drawn sword, ready to perform the act at his master’s orders. The vast multitude of people stood motionless with irate feelings. The Guru blessed them and raising his hands, consoled them. It was an awful sight. The approaching tragedy had a deep effect on the people’s mind. Tears welled up in their eyes and they closed their eyes to avoid seeing the terrible sight. Their grief was suppressed. A few moments passed. The Guru meditated. The executioner waved his sword and cut the Guru’s head which flew into a devotee’s lap, whose name was Jaita, a Ranghreta, a low caste. Dark clouds hovered over the sky. It is said that a great storm blew in the city and filled everybody’s eyes with dust. There was a virtual pandemonium at the site. In this confusion, Jaita took the Guru’s head to Anandpur, as fast as he could.

Thus the Guru fell a victim to the religious bigotry of the then ruler of the land and sacrificed his life for protecting the sacred marks of the Hindus for freedom of conscience and worship and for the sake of dharma, righteousness. On the site where Guru Tegh Bahadur was martyred now stands Gurdwara Sis Ganj.