Life & legend of Guru Tegh Bahadur, who stood up to Mughals

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Life & legend of Guru Tegh Bahadur, who stood up to Mughals

  • To mark the 401st birth anniversary of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh guru, PM to address from the Red Fort.

Guru Tegh Bahadur - Early Life

  • Tegh Bahadur was born in Amritsar on April 21, 1621 to Mata Nanki and Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh guru, who raised an army against the Mughals and introduced the concept of warrior saints.
  • Tegh Bahadur was called Tyag Mal because of his ascetic nature.
  • He spent his early childhood in Amritsar under the tutelage of Bhai Gurdas.
  • He learned Gurmukhi, Hindi, Sanskrit, and Indian religious philosophy from Bhai Gurudas.
  • While Baba Budha trained him in swordsmanship, archery and horse-riding.
  • He was only 13 when he distinguished himself in a battle against a Mughal chieftain.
  • His bravery and swordsmanship in the battle earned him the name of Tegh Bahadur.
  • He was married to Mata Gujri at Kartarpur in 1632, and subsequently left for Bakala near Amritsar.

Guru Tegh Bahadur - The 9th Sikh Guru

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After Guru Ram Das(4th Sikh guru) the guruship became hereditary. When Tegh Bahadur’s elder brother Gurditta died young, the guruship went to his 14-year-old son, Guru Har Rai, in 1644.

  • He remained on the seat until his death at the age of 31 in 1661.
  • Guru Har Rai was succeeded by his five-year-old son Guru Har Krishan, who passed away in Delhi in 1664 before he could reach the age of eight.
  • It is said that when asked about his successor, he took the name of “Baba Bakala”, his grand uncle.
  • Guru Tegh Bahadur had built a ‘bhora’ (basement) in his house at Bakala where he spent most of his time in meditation.
  • In the ancient Indian tradition, ‘bhoras’ were considered ideal for meditation as they were soundproof and had an even temperature.
  • But since Guru Har Krishan hadn’t directly named Guru Tegh Bahadur, many claimants cropped up.
  • Soon after being named as 9th Guru, Tegh Bahadur moved to Kiratpur Sahib.
  • In 1665, on the invitation of Raja Bhim Chand of Kahlur who was his devotee, he bought land at Makhowal village and renamed it Chak Nanki (now Anandpur Sahib) after his mother.

Timeline of the Guru Tegh Bahadur

  • Aurangzeb was the ruling Mughal emperor at the time.
  • There were conversions, either through a government order or through coercion.
  • When people were charged with some crime or misdemeanor, they would be pardoned if they converted.
  • Guru Tegh Bahadur who started traveling extensively through Malwa and Majha, first came into conflict with the authorities.
  • He started questioning the tradition of worshiping at the graves of pirs and faqirs.
  • He preached against this practice, and urged his followers to be ‘nirbhau’ (fearless) and ‘nirvair’ (without envy).
  • His sermons, delivered in a mix of Sadukhri and Braj languages, were widely understood from Sindh to Bengal.
  • The metaphors he used resonated with people across North India.
  • Guru Tegh Bahadur often alluded to Panchali (Draupadi) and Ganika in his preachings and declared that Hindustan could regain its piety if it took refuge in one God.

Disagreements with Mughals

As his message began to spread, a local chieftain at Dhamtan (near Haryana) picked him up on fabricated charges of collecting revenue from villagers, and took him to Delhi.

  • Raja Ram Singh of Amer, whose family was a long-time follower of the gurus, intervened and kept him in his house for around two months.
  • Later he convinced Aurangzeb that the guru was a holy man with no political ambitions.
  • Raja Jai Singh of Amer had donated land for a dharamshala where the gurus could rest while visiting Delhi. The present-day Bangla Sahib gurdwara is built on this site.

Traveled well beyond Punjab

After setting up headquarters in Anandpur Sahib in 1665, the guru spent four-odd years traveling up to Dhaka and going up to Puri in Odisha.

  • He also visited Mathura, Agra, Benares, Allahabad, and Patna, where he left his wife and her brother in the care of the local devotees.
  • Guru Gobind Singh was born in Patna in 1666.
  • While the guru was on the way back from Dhaka, Raja Ram Singh sought his help to broker a truce with the Ahom king.
  • Gurdwara Dhubri Sahib on the banks of the Brahmaputra commemorates this peace accord.
  • The guru was also honored at Guwahati’s Kamakhya temple.
  • According to historians, the guru rushed back to Punjab on learning about the increasing atrocities by the Mughals.

The guru’s martyrdom

In Anandpur Sahib, the guru was approached by Kirpa Ram, a Kashmiri Brahmin who sought his protection with a group from the Valley.

  • Das told Guru Tegh Bahadur that local chieftains had told him to convert or face retribution.
  • The guru assured Das and his group of his protection and told them to tell the Mughals that they should first try to convert the guru.
  • Aurangzeb considered this an open challenge to his authority.
  • The guru himself went to Delhi where he revealed his identity, and was arrested by the Mughals.
  • Aurangzeb ordered the public execution of the guru in 1675 after the guru declined to embrace Islam.
  • He was tortured to death and beheaded at Chandni Chowk along with his three companions.(Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das, Bhai Dyala ji)
  • In 1784, Gurdwara Sis Ganj was built on the site on which they were executed.

Literary Work on Guru Teg Bahadur

  • Who killed Guru Tegh Bahadur: a paper written by historian Sardar Kapur Singh.
  • A biography of Guru Gobind Singh by Kavi Sukha Singh written in 1797: mentioned many instances about Guru Teg Bahadur.

Exam Track

Prelims Takeaway

  • Guru Tegh Bahadur - The 9th Sikh Guru
  • Mughals - During Aurangzeb
  • Anandpur Sahib corridor
  • Guwahati’s Kamakhya temple

Mains Track

Q. Throw light on Guru Teg Bahadur’s role in spreading spiritualism and promoting Sikhism throughout the present India.