GURU TEG BAHADUR JI
Born in 1621 in Amritsar, Guru Teg Bahadur ji became the ninth Sikh Guru when he was 43 years old. He was the youngest child of the sixth Guru, Guru Har Gobind ji. His birth name was Tyag Mal. He was only 15 years old when he fought a battle with his father against the Mogul rulers and performed extraordinary acts of velour. His father, Guru Har Gobind ji, was very much impressed and conferred upon him the title of 'Teg Bahadur', meaning the hero of sword. After that, he came to be known by the name of Teg Bahadur.
Guru Har Krishan ji, before passing away, hinted at Teg Bahadur ji to be the next Guru by saying the words "Baba Bakala". However, several members of the Sodhi Family, especially Guru Teg Bahadur ji's nephew Dhir Mal, disputed that and they set up shop in Bakala, each pretending to be the ninth Guru (all Gurus after Guru Amar Das ji belonged to Sodhi family). A Sikh named Makhan Shah Lubhana, who was a rich merchant, when caught in a storm in his ship, prayed to the Guru to save him, vowing in his heart that he will make an offering of 101 gold coins to the Guru by way of giving thanks. His ship was saved and he came to Bakala to fulfill his vow. Finding a multitude of Gurus in Bakala, he went on offering two gold coins to everyone. He was deeply disappointed with all the pretenders as none demanded the full amount of his vow. Last of all, he was directed to Guru Teg Bahadur ji, who was meditating in an underground cell. Makhan Shah laid down two coins in front of Guru Teg Bahadur ji. Guru ji closed his eyes for a moment and said: brother, your vow was for 101 and not for two coins. Makhan Shah immediately fell at the Guru's feet and ran outside shouting "Guru ladho re, Guru ladho re", meaning "I found the Guru, I found the Guru". Below is a very short summary of Guru Teg Bahadur Ji's life and his contributions:
Guru Teg Bahadur ji traveled extensively to preach Sikh teachings. He visited Agra, Allahabad, and Banaras in U.P., and then he went to Patna in Bihar, where he left his family and proceeded to West Bengal and East Bengal. He toured Assam, where he negotiated a piece agreement between the King of Assam and the Mogul forces. His son, Gobind Rai (who later became the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh ji), was born in Patna while Guru Teg Bahadur ji was in Dacca (East Bengal).
During this time, India was ruled by Mogul Emperor Auragzeb, who was an orthodox Muslim and an arrogant and ruthless ruler. The social and political conditions in Punjab were getting bad to worse under his rule. Hindus were being forcibly converted to Islam in large numbers. Guru ji came back to Anandpur to infuse courage in people to face injustice and tyranny. He toured Malwa area and urged people to resist oppression with calmness and moral courage. He declared: "Fear not and frighten not". He told people to give up their cast prejudices and taboos and work together to resist oppression. He made them realize that they had an inherent right to practice their faith and to refuse any coercion to change their ways of worship. His missionary tours awakened the masses to their religious identity and dignity.
Emperor Aurangzeb wanted to make India a purely Muslim country. He ordered to demolish Hindu temples and convert them to mosques. Large numbers of Hindus were being forcibly converted to Islam every day. He ordered his governor of Kashmir, Iftikar Khan, to convert all Hindu Brahmins to Islam with the hope that if the Brahmins embraced Islam, the rest of the population would follow their example. The very existence of Brahmins was at stake. The Brahmins decided to go to Guru Teg Bahadur ji for protection. A deputation of 15 Kashmiri Brahmins, under the leadership of Pandit Kirpa Ram, arrived at Anandpur Sahib in 1675, where Guru Teg Badur ji was residing. They told Guru ji about the atrocities being committed on them by the Mogul rulers. Guru ji's heart melted at their tale of woe and he became restless and sad. At this time, Guru ji's son, 8 years old Gobind Rai, came there. He innocently asked the cause of sadness of the Guru and the visitors. Guru Teg Bahadur ji replied that the nation required a holy man to sacrifice his life. Gobind Rai spontaneously remarked that there could be no holier person than the Guru himself. On hearing this, Guru Teg Bahadur ji felt assured that his son was ready to shoulder the responsibilities of Guruship. He told the Brahmins to go and tell the governor to convert Guru Teg Bahadur first, and they will follow his example.
The Brahmins went back and told their decision to the governor, who conveyed to Aurangzeb. The Emperor was already prejudiced against Guru Teg Bahadur ji and his popularity among the masses. He hated the word "sacha patshah" (meaning the true king), used by the Sikhs for the Guru. To him this implied that the Guru was the true king and the Emperor was the false king. He was deeply offended by the Guru's support of the Brahmins. He issued orders for Guru ji's arrest. Guru Teg Bahadur ji nominated his son, Gobind Rai, to be the next Guru and proceeded on his missionary tour towards Delhi. Guru ji and his three companions, Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das, and Bhai Dayal Das, were arrested while Guru ji was in Ropar area in Punjab. They were kept in jail in Sirhand for four months, and then brought to Delhi, where Aurangzeb tried to coerce Guru ji to embrace Islam. The emperor asked Guru ji to show miracles if he was a true Guru or convert to Islam. Guru ji replied that showing a miracle was to interfere in the work of God, which was wholly improper. As to embracing Islam, Guru ji said that he considered his own religion as good as Islam, therefore, the change of religion was not necessary. The emperor ordered that the Guru be put to severest torture and death.
Guru Teg Bahadur ji and his three companions were brought to an open space in Chandni Chawk in Delhi. First Bhai Mati Das was asked to become a Muslim. When he refused, he was tied between two posts and his body was sawed from center of his head to legs, in front of Guru ji's eyes. Next Bhai Sati Das was asked to convert to Islam. He refused and he was tied up with iron chains and thrown into a tank of boiling oil. Then Bhai Dayal Das was asked to embrace Islam. He refused and he was hacked to pieces limb by limb. These Sikhs faced death in such composure, calmness, and tranquility that even the killers were amazed. We remember these martyrs every day in our Ardas.
The three Sikhs were brutally tortured in front of Guru Teg Bahadur ji in an effort to break his will and to force him into converting to Islam. But Guru ji stood firm in his resolve and remained calm. On 11th November, 1675, Guru Teg Bahadur ji was brought to the Chandni Chawk in Delhi and was executed by chopping off his head with a sword in front of thousands of spectators. Aurangzeb had ordered that parts of Guru ji's body be amputated and hung about the city. Two Sikhs from Delhi made a resolve that they will not let this happen. A Sikh named Jaita secretly picked up Guru ji's head from the Kotwali (police station) and headed towards Anandpur, where Guru Gobind Singh ji was residing. Another Sikh named Lakhi picked up Guru ji's body and rushed to his home in village Rakab Ganj, where he cremated the body by putting his own house on fire with Guru ji's body inside to avoid detection by the mogul police. Gurudwara Rakab Ganj now stands at this spot in Delhi. Gurudwara Sis Ganj now stands at the spot where Guru Teg Bahadur ji was executed in Chandni Chawk.
Guru Teg Bahadur ji's martyrdom was a sacrifice made for the cause of the oppressed and for upholding religious freedom. His supreme sacrifice gave rise to a new nation of heroes, the nation of Khalsa, the Sikh warriors whose heroic deeds were to fill the pages of history later on.