Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur from Persian sources

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Guru Tegh Bahadur with the Kashmiri Pandits

Risala Dar Ahwal-i-Nanak Shah Darvesh


Anxious to witness a miracle, the Emperor called Guru Tegh Bahadur to the Deccan; the Guru insisted that he was a mere devotee of God; he also explained that neither his name Tegh Bahadur nor the epithat sachcha padshah used for him implied temporal aspiration on his part; inferring that the Guru could not work a miracle, the Emperor ordered his execution.



The Emperor demanded a miracle; not to betray God's secret, Guru Tegh Bahadur refused to work a miracle; but he climed that no sword could kill him; Aurangzeb ordered his execution; thus died Guru Tegh Bahadur on Maghar Sudi 5, Sammat 1732, having remained on the gaddi for 10 years, 7 months, and 21 days.

The Khalsanama is an account of the Sikhs by one Bakht Mal. As to source of his writings, Bakht Mal tells us himself:

"The Sikhs have written very little. There is a large number of religious books but books relating to other branches of knowledge are wanting among them. Even their leaders do not possess much scholarship. The Udasis and the nirmalas are an exception but even they have committed very little to writing. In writing the present work the author has not been able to find any manuscript or other source material."

His account of the Sikhs is based on the testimony of trustworthy Sikhs. Thus, what we may expect to find in the Khalsanama on Guru Tegh Bahadur is what Bakht Mal heard from his contemporary Sikhs. What the Khalsanama says about the Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur is the following:

"When Tegh Bahadur became the Guru, the number of his disciples increased very much and his affairs prospered. He used to live in majestic grandeur. He was a person of liberal attitudes. Whatever came by way of offerings from his followers was spent and nothing was stored. The name of his wife was Gujari and his son's name was Gobind Singh who, by the time was 15 years old, had mastered all the branches of knowledge.

When Aurangzeb heard of the reputation of Guru Tegh Bahadur he called him to Delhi. Officials of the government encaged him. The Guru knew of their evil intention but did not pay any heed to them. Unruffled he marched towards Delhi. When he reached Delhi, his disciples welcomed him and offered him large sums of money. The Guru did not care for the riches. When the Emperor heard of the Guru's generosity and his indifference to wealth, he felt perturbed. He asked the Guru to work a miracle. The Guru replied that karamat was a secret between the gnostic and his God. The Guru then added that no sword would be effective against his body. The Emperor was very angry over this and ordered that the Guru should be put to death near the kotwali.

The Sikhs maintain that the executioner did not get the chance to strike the Guru. On Guru Tegh Bahadur's own suggestion, a Sikh who was present there separated the Guru's head from his body. A faqir passed by the body of the Guru and remarked that the Emperor had not done well; a curse would fall and the city of Delhi would be desolate. The Sikhs took the head of Guru Tegh Bahadur to Anandpur. His body was cremated in Rakabganj."

Tawarikh-i-Sikhan-i-Mulk-i-Punjab wa Malwa


The Emperor demanded a miracle; the Guru realised the necessity of sacrificing his life; with a piece of paper tied on his neck, when the sword struck his head was severed from the body; thus died Guru Tegh Bahadur on Maghar Sudi 5, Sammat 1732, having remained on the gaddi for 10 years, 2 months and 21 days.

The Tawarikh-i-Sikhan was written by Khushwaqt Rai who was employed as an intelligencer in the Punjab and asked by Colonel Ochterlony to collect information on the history of the Sikhs. His account was completed in A.D. 1811-12 at Batala in the upper Bari Doab.

Apart from the general statement that writers collect required information from whomsoever they can, Khushwaqt Rai does not say anything about the sources of his information. Nor does he refer to any earlier work. It may be useful, therefore, to compare his account of Guru Tegh Bahadur with the one given by Bakht Mal (Khalsanama). Regarding the Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur:

"Seeing the large number of the Guru's retinue and his prosperity, some of his disciples started talking in terms of his temporal authority. They called him the true king (Sachcha Patshah). Aurangzeb heard of the Guru's pomp and grandeur. He called him to court to test his spiritual powers by asking for a miracle. Guru Tegh Bahadur accepted the inevitability of things and reached Delhi...

...Guru Tegh Bahadur was summoned by the Emperor and he came to Delhi along with his family. He sent his family to Anandpur but himself stayed in Delhi. One day the Emperor persisted in demanding a miracle from Guru Tegh Bahadur. The Emperor was desirous of converting all the Hindus to Islam. On the other hand Guru Tegh Bahadur used to say that his mission was to uphold his faith which was distinct from the religions of both the Hindus and the Muslims. Knowing that self-sacrifice was unavoidable on account of this, he agreed to perform a miracle : he asserted that no sword would be effective against him. When the sword struck him, his head was severed from his body. A piece of paper was found tied on his neck with the following words : 'the man of God gave up his head but not the secret of God.' The Emperor felt sorry for his unjust death.

It is related that when the Emperor asked Guru Tegh Bahadur to work a miracle, some of his followers forsook him on account of weakness of faith. Some sweepers, who were strong in their faith in the Guru, stuck to him. He had asked one of them not to let his head roll on the ground. Consequently, he caught the Guru's head in his lap the moment it fell from his body. Running day and night he carried the head to Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur. It was cremated with fragrant wood. And then Guru Gobind Singh observed mourning for the death of his father.

None dared remove the body of Guru Tegh Bahadur from the Chandni Chauk for cremation without explicit orders from the Emperor. A banjara follower of Guru Nanak, who was bringing his grain-laden bullocks from that side, put the body of the Guru in a sack, took it out of the city and cremated it. The people of the city felt extremely distressed by this whole episode which turned their days dark like nights.

Guru Tegh Bahadur left his earthly life for the eternal abode on Maghar Sudi 5 in Sammat 1732. His pontificate lasted 10 years, 2 months and 21 days."

Umdat Ut-Tawarikh


Questioned about his name the Guru replied that his correct name was not Tegh but Degh Bahadur; the Emperor then demanded a miracle; the Guru refused to work a miracle, the wrath of God; he was imprisoned; feeling reassured that his son would prove to be a worthy sucessor, Guru Tegh Bahadur decided to sacrifice his life; with a piece of paper tied on his neck when the sword struck his head was severed from the body; thus died Guru Tegh Bahadur on Maghar Sudi 5, Sammat 1732, having remained on the gaddi for 10 years, 7 months and 21 days.

Zikr-i-Guruan Wa Ibtida-i-Singhan



Char Bagh-i-Panjab

Haqiqat-i-Bina Wa Uruj-i-Firqa-i-Sikhan

Siyar Al-Mutakhiran

See also

External Links


  • 13. Latif, Sayad Muhammad, History of the Panjab, Jhang-1889, p.259.
  • 14. Guru Granth Sahib, op. Cit., Slok, M. 9, ho : 16, p.1427.
  • 15. Trilochan Singh, Dr., Guru Tegh Bahadur: Prophet & Martyr, Delhi-1967, pp.311-24; Dr. Harnam Singh Shan’s paper in Guru Tegh Bahadur Commemorative Volume, Amritsar-1975, pp.89-106.
  • 16. Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, op. Cit., Vol. VIII, pp. 55, 60.
  • 17. A dictionary of Islam, op. Cit., pp.327.
  • 18. Gobind Singh, Guru, Dasam Granth Sahib, ‘Bachittar Natak’; Anandpur Sahib-1696, ch.5, st.13-14.
  • 19. Gupta, Dr. Hari Ram, History of the Sikhs, Delhi-1973, p. 144.
  • 20. Dasam Granth Sahib op. Cit., ‘Zafarnamah’, V.22.
  • 21. Rhys Davids, T.W., Persecution of the Buddhists in India in the J.P.T.S., 1896, p.87.
  • 22. Geden, Dr. A. S., in Vol. IX of the Encyclopaedia of Religion, op. Cit. P.764.
  • 23. He took to arms, openly defying the Mughal Government and enjoining active and armed resistence to the violence let loose by the rulers of the day during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan (1592-1658).
  • 24. Cunnigham, Capt. J.D. A History of the Sikhs, from the Origin of the National to Battles of the Sutlej, London-1849, p.84; Macauliffc, Mr. M.A., The Sikh Religion, Vol.VI, London-1909; Rahdakrishnan, Dr. Sir S., in his Introduction to Selections From The Sacred Writings of the Sikhs, London-1960, p.23.
  • 25. Guru Granth Sahib, op. Cit., Slok M.9, no.56, p.1429.
  • 26. Chatterji, Dr. Suniti Kumar in his article published in The Sikh Review, Calcutta – December, 1975, pp. 108-109.