Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur quotes

From SikhiWiki
Jump to navigationJump to search
Guru Tegh Bahadar with the Kashmiri Pandits

Sourced from [1]

Jagat Jalanda Rakh Lai

Apni Kirpa Dhaar
Jit Duaray Ubhrey
Tite Laihu Ubaar

Sri Guru Granth Sahib (853)

This is Sri Guru Amar Das Ji’s prayer to the Lord for the deliverence of the world and means:

“O Lord, the world is on fire, save it by showering your grace. Save it by whichever way it can be saved.”

Guru means Enlightener and Jagat Guru means Enlightener of the world, so whenever an Enlightener of the world incarnates, his purpose is two-fold, to establish the Glory of God and to restore the Glory of Man.

Jagat Guru prays for the redemption of the whole of mankind. His prayer is not confined to a single community, a nation or a country. It knows no man-made barriers of colour, caste, and creed and geographical limitations. It is universal and all-embracing.

Sri Guru Arjan, Humility Incarnate, compiles a Holy Scripture, eternally aglow with all Celestial Harmonies and totally free from all Cruel Diversities, for Universal Redemption.

The Third Nanak, Sri Guru Amar Das Ji beseeches the Almighty to save the World on Fire. Then the Fifth Nanak, in the Form of Guru Arjan Sits On Fire And Through His Grace Saves The World.

Then again arose a holy demand of a supreme sacrifice by a great Maha Purash. And the Divine Child (Guru Gobind Singh) the Tenth Nanak says:

There is no Greater Maha Purash Than Guru Tegh Bahadur

And so Guru Tegh Bahadur sets out for the Greatest “Balidaan” of All Times.

When the Almighty manifests himself in human form, he takes the whole human race in His loving Embrace. This God like warmth of the Divine Incarnate flows out to the whole creation and yearns for universal welfare and redemption. This Nectar of Grace and Love flowed from the Beneficient, All Loving Guru Tegh Bahadur (Guru Nanak - The Ninth) to 500 Pandits of Kashmir and through them to a whole religion, a whole nation.

Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's sacrifice for the pandits of Kashmir has to be viewed in this background and context. He, being the Jagat Guru, belongs to all, the whole universe. The love and mercy of a Prophet, a Messiah, a Jagat Guru is impartial, it knows no difference. It showers like rain on all alike. When Pandits of Kashmir, subjected to untold persecution and tyranny, approached Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib for protection, the most compassionate Sri Guru had shown an unexampled mercy characteristic of the House of Guru Nanak.

Jo Saran Awey Tis Kanth Lawey, Eh Birad Swamy Sanda

Sri Guru Granth Sahib (544)

This is Sri Guru Amar Das Ji’s prayer to the Lord for the deliverence of the world and means:

“Whosoever seeks the shelter of the Lord, Lord clasps him to his bosom. That is the unique way, the great attribute of the Lord.”

Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib at that time said, “Supreme Sacrifice by a `Mahan Pursh’ was the need of the hour”. The Divine Child (Guru Gobind Singh) had then said, “There is no greater `Mahan Pursh’ than Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib.”

It is out of compassion, out of love for suffering humanity that God Himself incarnates in the world. The intensity of this compassion, the uniqueness of this Love-force flowing from the Saviour to His suffering children, was witnessed, with awe and reverence, by suffering humanity, in the form of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib.

Satguru is love personified - an ocean of mercy and compassion and whosoever enters into His Holy presence for protection and shelter, into the orbit of His grace, never returns empty handed or disappointed. No sooner does a yearning soul take one step towards the Lotus Feet of the Saviour Satguru than the all Merciful Satguru takes crores of compassionate steps to protect and save it. The All Merciful Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib provided a healing touch to suffering humanity, but in what a soul-stirring, unique and splendid manner. ‘Daya’ (mercy or compassion) is one of the greatest attributes of God and Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib demonstrated that attribute compatible with the Eternal Glory of Guru Nanak.

Real feeling of love means total sacrifice for the sake of the beloved. Love of God expresses itself in taking upon him self the sufferings of His Children, His Creation. God is love and Love is God. He is altogether compassionate and Merciful. It is in this context that the great sacrifice of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib surpasses all imagination. With regard to the martyrdom of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Sahib says that such a wondrous feat has never been performed by anyone.

Tegh Bahadur Si Kirya Kari Na Kinhoo Aan

A worldly mother takes upon herself all the sufferings and inconveniences to make her children comfortable. God is loved as father and mother and is addressed in many holy hymns as such. All beings are His children. The Ninth Guru Nanak, a true manifestation of God, demonstrates the divine climax of God’s love for His children. For God there is no discrimination between His children on the basis of faith, belief or religion. With equity, the Great Guru accepts all of them and saves them. He had incarnated for the sake of love for the children of God. And He alleviates these sufferings and redeems them with such a grandiose and exemplary excellence.

In the House of Guru Nanak, the whole of the global community constitutes one family and all members of this family are lovable children of the one and only lovable God.

Grace emanates and radiates out to all alike from God and from His true manifestations. Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib filled the sinking hearts of the people with nectar of this Grace and delivered them.

What a unique and marvellous way to restore the ‘Glory of Man’ in all its manifold aspects.

Whenever the Divine dwells in a human form, He manifests the Eternal Glory of God and the Agony of Man. Sri Guru Arjan Sahib and Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib demonstrated this twin aspect in a most glorious, soul-stirring, and over-whelming manner. They gave supreme sacrifice to neutralize the suffering and agony of man.

Glory of God and Glory of Man are two aspects of His divine Sport. He indulges in this sport in every age. Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib was rejoicing in His own sacred game. It was His very nature to scatter heavenly and celestial essence and joy. In his life here he played the most dreadful game of human agony and glorified and divinised the whole phenomenon of human suffering. All this for the deliverence and future peace of the children of God.

Jagat Guru - The World Teacher and Enlightener - Himself sets the highest precedent of feeling blissful in agony, of rapturous samadhi in most painful postures, of the Cross, while seated on fire with cruel showers of burning sand pouring on Head, while being brutally beheaded in public. The World Teacher trod this unique path to cast new moulds and set new standards for true aspirants to follow. The Jagat Guru Himself leads and guides on this golden path to the Beloved Lord. Such is the Doctrine and Concept of True Divine Love, of ‘Prema’, in the House of Guru Nanak.

Having blazed examples of supreme sacrifice they blessed their most beloved disciples with the boon of suffering. With their own illustrious examples they drove home the point that seeking Divinity is not a rosy path. They taught their loved ones to exult in treading bare footed upon the sharp blade of swords, led them to a spiritual state of mind in which the most dreadful suffering begins to introxicate a devotee; to a stage that opens up the vistas of His Ethereal Glory and to a sublime death which bestows eternal life.

“True Realisation of the actual nature of this material world, its perishable, transitory and illusory aspects best dawns on a person in suffering”

said Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib

His beloved devotees - Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das and Bhai Dyala spurned all lucrative offers of wealth, power and status and sacrificed everything worldly for the pleasure of their Beloved Satguru Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib. They embraced martyrdom one after the other, radiating the divine glory of Guru Nanak which is bestowed upon a chosen few, blessed few. Love of a true devotee with his beloved Satguru, when sublimated, purified and perfected goes out to the Satguru in miraculous ways.

Divine lovers of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib were martyred in the very holy presence of their beloved Satguru. These love-smitten Sikhs of the Guru sailed in an ocean of Bliss despite being brutally tortured to death, because for them one spark of Love and Grace from the Loving and Holy glance of their beloved Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib was more precious than all the Kingdoms of the earth and heaven.


Aurengazeb the 'Puritan King' whose life is a sharp contrast to that of his predecessors/ancestors lost no time after as­cending the throne in Delhi in 1658 to convert whole of India to Islam. To fulfil this desire of his he had no hesitation in using and wielding sword. The fundamentalist emperor threw to winds the seemingly secular policy of his forefathers re­placing it by one of religious harassment and persecution. He re-imposed "Jazia" (poll tax). While the entire Indian people shuddered at his manner of building an Islamic state, he implemented a well calculated plan according to which he started with liquidating Hindu scholars in India in general and the Kashmiri Pandits in particular. Not surprising he did not spare his own father. According to him elimination of Hindu scholars was a pre-requisite for the spread of Islam India.

Since Kashmir has from times immemorial remained a prominent center for learning, Aurangzeb appointed 14 atrocious subedars as administrators and governors of Kashmir for its Islamization. Notable among them was Iftekhar Khan who during his regime (1617-75) unleashed his pack of hounds of cruelties of all sorts to leave the Kashmiri Hindus no alternative but to embrace Islam on pain of death. During his rule of five years of hair raising cruelty and tyranny Iftekhar Khan drove it home to Pandits that then future in their land of birth was assured only if they kissed Islam, failing which they must quit their homeland forthwith; there was no third option.

In consequence of this dire threat, thousands of Kashmiri Pandits succumbed to his policy of duress and treacherous religious bigotry of the vicious subeder and thus got converted to Islam. Thousands who could manage to withstand the tremendous pressure bade good bye to their homes and hearths and sought refuge in neighbouring regions to keep alive themselves and their faith that was so dear to them.

It is during the rule of Emperor Shah Jehan and Aurangzeb that Kashmiri Pandits driven out of Kashmir reached Delhi and settled down in Bazar Sitaram. Two prominent castes namely Zutshis and Shangloos reached there after a great ­struggle, difficulties and hardships. These castes over a period of generations had changed into Pehlvis (poets) and Topawallas, said one of the descendants of KPs living in Bazar Sitaram Shri Gulzar Pahlvi. There is a temple of ancient KPs now internally displaced communities in India believe in. It is said that Pandit Nehru's marriage procession had come all along from Allahabad to Bazar Sitaram where his marriage was solemnized. Their present priest is Iqbal Krishen Revoo.

It is during the Aurangzeb-Iftekhar Khan combine that reduced the Kashmiri Pandits as low as dust, nay they made them lick the dust. They trampled the Pandit psyche by subverting all the achievements of this advanced and learned community in social, economic and religious fields during the pseudo-secular stance of the earlier Mughals. Aurangzeb followed Islamic law with fervor showing no regard for normal laws of Hindus.

When the religious persecution and cruelties perpetrated by Iftekhar Khan and approved by Aurangzeb made life unbearable for Pandits in Kashmir, the latter decided to ap­proach the immortal national hero Shri Guru Tegh Bahadar at Anandpur Sahib for rescuing the Kashmiri Hindus from Islamic onslaught by his personal intervention. A delegation of 500 KPs (Kashmiri Pandits) led by Pandit Kirpa Ram learned person, called on the Guru and narrated their harrowing and woeful expe­riences of the diabolical misrule of Iftikhar Khan patronized by Aurangzeb whose wickedness had no parallel. These fundamentalists thrust Islam by hook or by crook. They converted by atrocities, by polluting the KPs by banning the wearing of sacred thread and tilak, by sexual harassment and forcible abductions of the daughters of Hindus and other satanic misdeeds. The delegations appealed to Guru Tegh Bahadar to deliver them from their religion of the land.

The great Saint whose face radiated Cecelia light was pain­fully moved on hearing the woeful tales narrated by the Kashmir Pandit suppliants. This great man from Punjab went to Delhi for the redressal of the grievances of the KPs and got killed by the cunning Aurangzeb. The Guru was asked to embrace Islam but he preferred death to change his Dharma which was most dear to him. Furious Muslim zealot Aurangzeb ordered the execution of Guru Tegh Bahadar. His head was slit by one Jalal-ud-din Jalad (Executioner). In this way the Guru attained martyrdom for the sacred cause of saving Hindu Dharma. Shat Shat Pranam. Guru Maharaja's sacrifice sent a shiver down the spine of Aurangzeb and it marked the beginning of the fall of Mughal empire in India.

Despite the supreme sacrifice for the preservation of Hindu religion and Kashmiri ethos, the state terrorism remained unabated for sometime more. The desecration of temples and the killings of KPs continued and the process of exodus also continued.

A griping and inspiring and graphic account of this national issue and the unforgettable sacrifice and martyrdom of Guru along with his three disciples has been given by Giani Gian Singh in his book 'Shri Guru Granth Prakash' and another book 'Shri Guru Pratap Suraj' which are strongly recommended to the readers.

By Professor. K. L. Bhan

Sword of Truth

Guru Tegh Bahadar


Aurangzeb decided to Islamize India as fast as possible, starting with Kashmir. He had a devil's brain and he devised all kinds of artifices to get his way. Writes Sir Jadu Nath Sarkar in his renowned five volume History of Aurangzeb: "In Kashmir, Hindus and Muslims used to intermarry, and the wife, whatever might have been her father's creed, was cremated or buried as her husband happened to be a Hindu or Islamite. But in October, 1634, Shah Jahan forbade the custom and ordered that every Hindu who had taken a Muslim wife must either embrace Islam and be married anew to her, or he must give her up to be wedded to a Muslim. This order was rigorously enforced."

The ruse was to turn the Hindus into Muslims by virtue of political power. In any event, it was still a 'slow' process from Aurangzeb's point of view. He wanted to turn the world into a Koranic world of Muslims only and those who still did not opt for Islam, had no place in the kingdom.

'Aurangzeb ordered that every Hindu must become a Muslim under pain of death. The Hindus wanted a period of six months to consider the proposal, which was granted. Aurangzeb also issued a fiat that those who refused to be Mohammedans would be put to the sword and a wholesale order was issued to kill the Brahmins and collect their janoys or sacred threads, as proof of the slaughter. Aurangzeb demanded that enough Kashmiri Pandits were to be slaughtered every day, so that their sacred threads weigh at least 1.25 maunds (46 kgs).

The weight of a single thread is very small and on calculation, it was found out that at least 25,000 Kashmiri pandits had to be killed every day in order to fulfill the requirement of the 1.25 maunds of thread. Naturally, there was panic among the Pandits. They met Guru Tegh Bahadur at Anandpur Sahib on May 25, 1675. They prayed to the Guru and said: "Our lot has become unbearable. You are rightly known as Hind ki Chader or Champion of the Hindus. We have been given six months' time in which to make our choice between Islam and death. That period is about to end...We have come to you for help, guidance and protection. O Champion of the Hindus!"

Naturally, the Guru was plunged into deep thought. He noticed the sad faces of the Brahmins. His young eight-year-old son, Govind Rai (the future Guru Gobind Singh) asked his father why these good men looked so worried? What has happened!


The Enticement

What followed during imprisonment were alternations between a variety of enticements for the Guru and torture and death to members of his retinue. Unable to shake the faith even of his followers, the Guru was asked to perform a miracle the way he had done earlier to save the life of Bhai Makhan Shah Lubana. Unwilling, the Guru offered to write a slip to be tied around his neck. This, he said, will not break even with the hardest stroke of a sword. When struck, his head lay separated from the body. Surprised, the perpetrators of his death opened the slip only to find written:

Sis diya par Sirar na diya

I gave up my life, but not my secret or faith

Thus Guru Tegh Bahadur attained martyrdom and in the process also saved the Hindu faith from being decimated at the hands of a zealot Emperor.

The Martyrdom

Guru Gobind Singh recorded his father's martyrdom as under:

Theekar fore dilees sir, Prabh par kiyo payan,

Tegh Bahadur si kriya, Kari na kinhoo aan. Tegh Bahadur ke chalat, Bhayo jagat main sog. Hai hai hai sab jag bhayo, Jai jai jai sur log.

He burst the bonds of mortal clay And went on to the abode of God. No one ever performed an act as noble As did Tegh Bahadur.

With the departure of Tegh Bahadur The world was stricken with sorrow. A wail of horror rent the earth, A victor's welcome by the dwellers of heaven.

Bichitra Natak

The Shrines

Although there are several shrines and historical places associated with the memory of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the two most prominent are in Delhi. These are Gurdwara Sis Ganj, the place of his martyrdom and Gurdwara Rakab Ganj near the Parliament House the place where his body was cremated. Other prominent places include Sri Sis Ganj at Anandpur Sahib, Gurdwara Dookh Niwaran in Patiala, Gurdwara Sri Damdama Sahib in Dhubri, Assam and Gurudwara Sangat Tola in Dhaka.

The Symbol of Sacrifice

For many it is hard to imagine that a person with martial skills could also become a symbol of supreme sacrifice in defending someone else's faith. Yet, this is what Guru Tegh Bahadur displayed in life and death. About his death Guru Gobind Singh wrote:

Tilak janjoo rakha prabh taaka

Kino bado kaloo main saka.

To protect your right to wear the caste mark ('Tilak') and the sacred thread,
He performed the supreme sacrifice in the dark ages of Kalyug

Kashmir Sentinel

A panel from the Harimandir Sahib, depicting Guru Tegh Bahadur counselling a group of Pandits led by Kirpa Ram

from: Kashmir Sentinel


This historic moment of tercentenary is an occasion for exiled Kashmiri Pandits to rededicate themselves to the ideals of Sikh gurus and express their gratitude for saving their faith. Only those communities who remember their saviours, survive in history.

In 1669, the bigoted Mughal ruler Aurangzeb unleashed a policy of religious persecution against non-Muslims. This caused large-scale demoralisation and fear among the people. Seeing all this Guru Tegh Bahadur, the prophet of reassurance felt the need to rekindle their crest fallen spirits. During 1673 and 1674 Guru Tegh Bahadur undertook intensive work in the Malwa and Bangar areas, inspiring people with confidence and encouraging them to face all odds and difficulties. This was his silent but sure protest against Aurangzeb's aggressive policy of persecution. Thousands of them came to have his holy darshan and to receive his message of courage and hope embodied in the dictum, 'Fear not, nor give fear to others'. The people of Northern India, particularly the Hindus, found their natural saviour in the person of Guru Tegh, Bahadur. He became the symbol of India's civilisational resistance at that time. After reawakening the people's spirits, Guru finally retired to his headquarters, Chak Nanaki, presently called Anandpur Sahib.

On May 25, 1675 a band of sixteen Chief Brahmins of Kashmir, under the leadership of Pandit Kripa Ram Dutt reached Anandpur Sahib to seek his intervention. The Mughal Governor Iftikhar Khan had ordered them to covert or face death. It was in Gurudwara Manji Sahib that Guru heard their tale of woe and went into pensive mood. Deeply moved by their appeal, the Guru pondered a while and then announced his decision that he would even sacrifice his life for the protection of their faith. The Guru had been keenly watching the grave situation enveloping the country in the wake of Aurangzeb's policy of religious persecution. He was convinced that only his martyrdom can stem this tide.

Why Kashmiri Pandits sought the intervention of only Guru Tegh Bahadur has remained a subject of much curiosity. Though the impact of religious persecution was felt all over India but only on the issue of Kashmiri Pandits' persecution Guru decided to undertake the supreme sacrifice. This has also aroused much interest among serious students of Indian civilisation.

Though it must be admitted that Kashmiri Pandits approached Guru Tegh

Bahadur for immediate succuour, but its implications were far reaching. Much before Pandit Kripa Ram's mission to Anandpur Sahib, Pandit spiritual leaders and the Sikh Gurus had been in intimate contact and shared their ideas in the spiritual realm. Pandit Kripa Ram was no stranger to the Durbar of Sikh Gurus. He was a descendent of Pandit Brahm Das, who had met Guru Nanak in Mattan. Kripa Ram had known the Ninth Guru and also taught Sanskrit classics to the young Gobind Rai. During the reign of Jehangir, Guru Hargobind came to Srinagar and met Kashmiri saintess Mata Bagh Bari, who lived at Rainawari. It is interesting that Mata Bagya Bari's spiritual interaction with the sixth Sikh Guru is so well-preserved in the Sikh religious tradition. In Pandit tradition Mata Bagya Bari is a reference model for the highest attainment of spiritual merit. In their daily discourse, Pandits often refer, 'Zan Chhak Bagya Bhad' Translated into English, it means 'As if you are Bagya Bari'. Why Kashmiri Pandits approached Guru Tegh Bahadur can be explained by the fact that they were in desperate search for a centre of resistance, which would recognise the civilisational challenges overtaking the country then.

And by appealing to the Sikh Guru, they were subtly conveying to the countrymen that this was the only credible and competent institution, which could overtake this gigantic task. Secondly, Kashmir Pandits had been feeling natural affinity with the Sikh Gurus. They empathised with the egalitarian ideas of Sikh Gurus and maintained regular contact with them right since the times of Guru Nanak. Kashmiri Hindu society had rejected the caste rigidity that characterised the Indian society. Long sway of Buddhism and the non-dualistic Shaivism had totally undermined the caste system and made Kashmir a casteless society Ideas of Sikh Gurus thus looked so natural to them.

[[Guru Tegh Bahadur] recognised the importance of preserving the civilisational centre in Kashmir. Its collapse, he felt would have grave impact on the future of civilisation struggle in rest of India. Kashmiri Hindus had provided intellectual and spiritual leadership to Hindus of India. Benaras Brahmins to whom Aurangzeb had approached first for conversion told him that they could take a decision only if Kashmir Brahmins accepted it. Seeking intervention of Guru Tegh Bahadur by Kashmiri Pandits and Gurus supreme sacrifice-the real impact of these two events in the evolution of Khalsa has yet to be fathomed.

About this, the renowned Sikh scholar, Fauja Singh writes, 'the appeal of the Kashmiri Pandits for help, coming towards the end, played a decesive role in so far as it helped the Guru in making his final resolve on the issue. However, from the manner in which the circumstances shaped themselves and finally led to the crucial point, it may be clear that the issues involved were wider and deeper than the compassion for a few woe-stricken Brahmins of a disant area'. Guru Gobind Singh's statement in his famous composition, Bachitar Natak, on the martyrdom of his father reads as follows--

The Lord (Guru Tegh Bahadur) protected their paste-mark and sacred thread,

And performed a mighty deed in the Kali Age. To protect the holy he spared no pains; Gave his head but uttered not a groan. For the protection of dharma He did this noble deed; Gave up his head but not his ideal. Guru Tegh Bahadur's martyrdom for protecting the faith of Pandits made him a messiah for Pandit Kripa Ram and his other companions. They settled down In Anandpur Sahib for good. Pandit Kripa Ram was later baptised by Guru Govind Singh. He gave his life heroically fighting the treacherous Mughal forces at Chamkaur along with Guru Gobind Singh's two elder sons.Later, in another battle at Muktsar, Keshav Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit was one among those forty Brahmins, who fought alongside Guru Govind Singh and achieved martyrdom.

Guru was so moved by their heroism that he named them MUKTAS and himsel performed their last rites. Much of the information about the events of these times have been chronicled by immigrant Kashmiri Pandits. Their accounts called as Bhatta Vahis (Pandits' accounts) have been carried from generation to generation by Punjab's balladeers until these were recorded in the last century.


Guru Tegh Bahadur's martyrdom had far-reaching political effects. The Mughals had, not long after, to face stiff resistance from the Sikhs. Sikh opposition contributed significantly to the collapse of the Mughal empire. After the martyrdom of his father, Guru Gobind Singh, took several concrete steps to give a new orientation to the Sikh community. As a true soldier of the people and conscious of the role he had to play in the aftermath of ninth Guru's martyrdom, Guru Gobind Singh did not get overwhelmed by his tragic loss. Guru's public execution had outraged the Indians. From near and far they moved to Anandpur Sahib to be with the young Guru. They looked to him as the promised saviour and the man of the hour.

All About Sikhs

from All About Sikhs

1675 Guru Tegh Bahadhur left Anadpur Sahib for Delhi to help save Hindu dharma from total extinction.

Kashmiri Pandits, led by Kirpa Das of Mattan (Martand), reached Chak Nanki, Kahlur (old name of Anandpur Sahib). He appealed to Guru Tegh Bahadar for his help in against the prosecution of Kashmiri Pandits by Aurangzeb's forces and resulting extinction of hindu dharma. After appointing Gobind Rai as the next Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadhur left for Delhi on July 11, 1675. After Guruji's martyrdom, Pandit Kirpa Das stayed back and became Kirpa Singh after taking amort in 1699 and died fighting at Chamkaut along with the two elder sahibjadas of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

When Guru Tegh Bahadhur sacrificed himself to save the Kashmiri Pandits from extinction in 1675, Guru Gobind Singh put his stamp on this truth by proclaiming "The Lord (Guru Tegh Bahadhur) protected the sacred thread and the frontal mark of the Hindus: He performed a great deed in the age of Kalyug." However, it is strange that the Kashmiri Pandits did not build any memorial in honour of Guruji. On the other hand the present generation had started doubting the veracity of this event.


That man who in the midst of grief is free from grieving, And free from fear, and free from the snare of delight, Nor is covetous of gold that he knows to be dust, Who is neither a backbiter nor a flatterer, Nor has greed in his heart, nor vdnity, nor any worldly attachment, Who remains at his centre unmoved by good and ill fortune, Who indifferent to the world's praise and blame And discards every wishful fantasy Accepting his lot in the disinterested fashion, Not worked upon by lust or by wrath, In such a man God dwelleth. The man on vjhom the Grace of the Guru alights Understands the way of conduct: His soul, 0 Nanak, is mingled with the Lord As water mingles with water!

In the galaxy of immortal martyrs who laid down their precious lives to keep ablaze the flame of faith and freedom, the name of the Ninth Master, Guru Tegh Bahadur stands out radiantly prominent. Doubtless, there have been prophets who sacrificed themselves at the altar of their own religion, but the uniqueness of the Ninth Master's martyrdom lies in the fact that he courted death in defending the religion of the persecuted Hindus who had sought his shelter when they were forced to choose between death and Islam. Guru Tegh Bahadur, the second martyr Guru, who was born at Amritsar in 1621, was the youngest son of Guru Hargobind Sahib, the Sixth Master (1595-1645). Guru Har Rai, the Seventh Master (1630-61), and Guru Hari Krishna, the Eight Master (1656-1964): however, preceded him as Gurus. He adorned the sacred throne of Guru Nanak from 1664 to 1675. His installation as Guru enraged Dhirmal and the masands, who were the most contentious claimants to the Guruship.

Guru Tegh Bahadur toured the Punjab, particularly the Malwa region, and Eastern India, to preach Sikhism. He also went to Assam with Raja Ram Singh and stayed with him for nearly two years. The Guru's family accompanied him on this trip, but, while proceeding to Assam, he left his familly at Patna. It was here that his only son Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708) was born. While leaving Assam for the Punjab, Guru Tegh Bahadur broke his journey at Patna for a short time and then returned to the Punjab. He purchased land from the Raja of Kahloor at Makhowal (Anandpur) and settled down there. From here he set out on extensive missionary tours and attracted amongst others, several Muslims to his faith.

The main theme of Guru Tegh Bahadur's sacred hymns is Nam Simran (concentration on the Divine Name) and Guru Bhakti (adoration of the Guru). One hundred and fifteen hymns of Guru Tegh Bahadur are incorporated in the Adi Granth.

He has clearly set forth his own definition of Giani (or the enlightened one). In these compositions he has laid special stress on vairag or detachment for the realisation of the lofty ideals that distinguish the life of a BrahmGiani.

During Guru Tegh Bahadur's ministry, Emperor Aurangzeb intensified his fanatical plans for forcibly converting the Hindus to Islam. This move had serious repercussions in Kashmir, and, the learned Pandits of Kashmir came to Guru Tegh Bahadur to seek refuge. The Guru advised them to go and tell Aurangzeb that if he could persuade Guru Tegh Bahadur to embrace Islam, they would all willingly become Muslims. This proposal appealed to Aurangzeb, who had already hatched plans to bring to an end Guru Tegh Bahadur's missionary activities, so, he at once issued orders for his arrest.

The Guru, along with some of his companions was finally brought to Delhi and asked to convert to Islam or else face the penalty of death. The Master averred that he would sacrifice his life rather than give up his faith and his freedom of belief. Thus, under Aurangzeb's orders, he was beheaded at the place now called Sis Ganj in Delhi. His martyrdom was yet another challenge to the Sikh conscience. It was realized then that there could be no understanding between an insensate power imbrued with blood and a proud people wedded to a life of peace with honour. The sacrifice roused the devitalized Hindus from their supine somnolence and gave them a hint of the power that comes from self-respect and sacrifice. Guru Tegh Bahadur thus earned the enduring sobriquet title of Hind-di-Chadar or the Shield of India.

-Ref. "Guru Granth Ratnavali," (pp. 70) by Dr. D.S. Mani, Sardar Bakhshish Singh, and Dr. Gurdit Singh



Born in Amritsar, Guru Tegh Bahadur was the ninth of the ten Gurus who founded Sikhism.He's honoured and remembered as the man who championed the rights for all religious freedom.

Contributions He taught liberation from attachment, fear and dependence. Strength should be gained through truth, worship, sacrifice and knowledge.During the reign of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, Islam was imposed on the people. Hindu temples were demolished and turned into mosques, higher taxes were charged to non-Muslims and the Emperor persecuted those who would not conform to Islamic law.Guru Tegh Bahadur spoke out amid this persecution. He refused to convert to Islam and in 1675, he was beheaded in Delhi. The site of his execution was later turned into an important Gurdwara.

He's also remembered for his poetry, much of which is included in the Guru Granth Sahib.

He married Bibi Gujjari and they had one son, the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh.

He founded the city of Anandpur which later became a centre of Sikhism.

If you are strong, torture not the weak,

And thus lay not the axe to thy empire. (109)


Sikh Review

from: Sikh Review

His grandson and the Ninth Nanak, Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-1675 A.D.), too, laid down his life as a martyr on 11th of November 1675 at Delhi under orders of Jahangir’s grandson, Aurangzeb (1618-1707 a.D.), "whose efforts", according to Sayad Muhammad Latif, "were directed to converting the whole world to the Mahomedan faith" and 13 who had unsuccessfully "urged the Sikh Guru to embrace Mahomedanism". The Guru did so valiantly at the altar of Dharma for raising a forceful voice against the Emperor’s religious fanaticism, communal bigotry, persecutory zeal, repressive policies and tyrranical measures, adopted on a comprehensive scale to annihilate all traces of diversity among various culture-groups and communities and eliminate Hindusim altogether, in a deliberate effort to change thereby the entire face of the Indian Subcontinent into a Muslim State. Guru Tegh Bahadur himself volunteered to sacrifice his life in order to defend the fundamental rights of the people; to protect their faith and belief; and to vindicate, by his heroic action, the freedom of conscience and worship being denied to them. He embodied in himself the undaunted spirit of supreme sacrifice in the pursuit of such lofty ideals and eternal values by which humanity must always live.

Every effort was made by the greatest empire of the day to dissuade him from the programme or to distract him from his path; and also a prevail upon him to renounce his faith and embrace Islam. Neither deterred nor shaken from his faith and ideal, Guru Tegh Bahadur pursued it with unqualified commitment and unflinching courage, proving him-self true, both in principal and practice, to his well known motto:

Bhai kahun ko deit nehn Nehn bhai manat aan.

i.e. Fear not and Frighten no.

Barbaric Rule: Consequently, he was chained and imprisoned in a cage and was tortured in the cruelest and the most inhuman ways for five long days. In order to terrorise him further into submission, one of his distinguished devotees (viz. Bhai Mati Das) was sawn alive, another (viz. Bhai Dayal Das) was boiled in the cauldron and the third (viz. Bhai Sati Das) was roasted alive in his very sight. Finally, he himself was beheaded, under imperial warrant, in broad daylight, in the middle of a public square, the most prominent public place in India, called Chandni Chowk, of Delhi, on the charge that he was a stumbling block preventing the spread of Islam in the Indian subcontinent. 15

While in Zoroastrianism a martyr is "one who lays down his life in the cause of his religion or faith", in Judaism it is he who suffers death "for the propagation of his Holy Scripture". In Christianity martyrs are those "who have actually laid down their lives for Christ" or those "who undergo penalty of death for persistence in the Christian faith" 16. In Islam a martyr is "one who has either been slain in a religious war or has been killed unjustly" 17. In these historical religions such noble persons have been honored as Shahid-e-Kamil, i.e. perfect martyrs or martyrs par excellence.

In Sikhism, however, the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur embodies in itself some unique features of martyrdom, particularly in the sense that he passed through a tortuous ordeal and courted a voluntary death not for the salvation of his own self, or for the protection of his own family and followers, or for the propagation of his own faith and convictions, but for the faith of others and for upholding convictions in which he did not believe himself either on doctrinal or on credal basis.

Valour & Dharma: A large number of saintly and valorous persons, throughout the world, have sacrificed themselves, from time to time, before and after him, in defence of their respective faiths or for the vindication of their own convictions or for the protection of their own country and community. But none, excepting Guru Tegh Bahadur, is known to have offered himself for sacrifice for the vindication of an all-embracing ideal, the ideal pertaining to the freedom of conscience, conviction and worship – not only for himself, his country and community but also for the entire human fraternity for all times to come. He actually laid down his life for the cause of justice and Dharma (righteousness), in defence of the convictions of others in order to champion the cause of religious freedom for one and all, and to protect the religious principles and practices which one did not himself follow. Guru Tegh Bahadur alone came forward in order to uphold the dignity of man and to protest against the policy of conversion, through force and oppression, by the rulers of the ruled. By his supreme sacrifice, he attempted thus to usher in a new social order and to promote thereby the spirit of republicanism in religion. He alone ventured at a highly critical and decisive juncture, to announce publicly that if he would not be able to change the mind of the mighty Mughal monarch with moral, spiritual and rational arguments he would himself offer to die for the protection of the faith of the oppressed for the preservation of a religion other than his own and for the freedom of worship for one and all. Among all prophet-teachers, he alone is believed to have under-taken, of his own free will, a historic march of passive resistance for the vindication and assertion of human rights at the cost of his own life. He, thereby, espoused the cause of the oppressed, exhorting them to cast away their fears and face the situation with courage and fortitude.

On reaching Delhi and failing in his honest efforts to persuade imperial authorities to give up their policy of coercion, repression and forcible conversion, Guru Tegh Bahadur gladly offered himself for the supreme sacrifice in the cause of truth, tolerance, justice and righteousness; for equality and liberty in matters of faith and idealogical belief of all mankind.

By doing so, according to the autobiography of his son, Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708 A.D.), 18 the Tenth Nanak, he "performed a heroic deed and made the supreme sacrifice in the dark age for the protection of their (i.e. Hindus’) right to wear sacred threads and the frontal caste-marks. He spared no pains and went to the utmost limit in helping and protecting the good and the men of faith. Without a groan, he gave up his head but neither his ideals nor determination. He suffered martyrdom for the sake of religion and righteousness, as a whole. He refused to perform miracles to escape a violent death, pronouncing these as a juggler’s tricks and unworthy act which fill true men of God with utter shame. Breaking the pitcher of his mortal frame over the head of the Emperor of Delhi, he departed to the Realm of God. No one else has ever performed such a noble, mighty and glorious deed,* signifying thereby a great and heroic martyrdom which stands till today unparalleled in the history of the world.

Guru Tegh Bahadur’s sacrifice was a mightly challenge to the mightiest empire of the age and this challenge was given to the Emperor himself in the capital of his empire itself. As the subsequent event proved, it turned out in the course of time as "a declaration of war" by accepting "a challenge to meet force by force", 19 acting upon the ideal expressed in the following words of his own son, Guru Gobind Singh:

Chun kar az hama hilate dar-guzasht, Halal ast burdan ba shamshir dast:

i.e. When all avenues have been explored, and the affair has passed all remedies, It is rightful to draw the sword, and wield it with your hand.

Triumph of Spirit: If it is true that "the martyrs of a religion usually arise from persecution" 21 and that the "blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church", then the Sikh religion is a classic case for study. "Perhaps the most striking example in India of a the effect of a cruel persecution in consolidating and defining the religious life of a country", according to Dr. A. S. Geden, "is that of the Sikhs… who found themselves brought into conflict with the dominant power of the Mughal emperors and were forced, in self-defence, to take up arms and maintain their existence and religious liberty…. They were confronted with the alternative of acceptance of the formula and creed of the ruling faith - or destruction. They refused to submit to either, but endeavoured rather to maintain their freedom and rights with the sword. The persecution which ensured had the effect of welding a community and organization in its origin purely religious, into a militant order and nation of soldiers, tenancies of military might and norms no less than of creed and faith."22

Just as the martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev, seventy years before, had given impetus to the Sikh Movement and produced, in the time of his son and successor, Guru Har Gobind (1595-1644 A.D.) 23, the doctrine of Miri (i.e. political sovereignty) and Piri (i.e. spiritual sovereignty), leading towards the evolution of the Sikh people into a militant church; the martyrdom of the latter’s youngest son, Guru Tegh Bahadur, enthused his own illustrious son and successor, Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708 A.D.), to the extent that he completely and marvelously transformed the whole community and produced in 1699 A.D. the semi-military Brotherhood of the Khalsa endowed with special virtues, symbols and sacraments. 24 "tenacious of military might and norms no less than of creed and faith", exemplifying thereby in letter and spirit the last prophetic words of the great martyr himself:

Nam reho, sadhu reho Reho Guru Gobind.

i.e. When Guru Gobind is there to uphold the Dharma; God’s Name and His devotees shall flourish and endure eternally.25 Guru Tegh Bahadur’s unique martyrdom animated not only his young and only son to sacrifice his all, even his entire family, including his four young sons, for the protection of Dharma, assertion of religious freedom and promotion of the aforesaid causes, but also instilled such an invincible spirit of self-confidence and self-sacrifice in the oppressed and the downtrodden of such a magnitude that it gave rise, in its turn, to a very long line of martyrs and a strong tradition of martyrdom-matchless, perhaps, in the annals of the world, in its length, strength and steadfastness; in ts intensity, sanctity and continuity, until now.

Comemoration: The site of his martyrdom, the sacred spot where his holy head had fallen on the ground, is marked by the famous Gurdwara Sis-Ganj which, in the memorable words of the first National Professor of Free India, Dr. Suniti Kumar Chatterji, "commemorates the final triumph of a great life and a living faith, and of the truth that a Man lives in God when he gives up his life for the benefit and service of Man. It also reminds us of the silent soul-elevating message of the Gurus". It remains till today a highly popular and holy place of pilgrimage; and people from far and near visit it daily in their thousands to pay homage and to seek Guru’s blessings for peace and prosperity. "Whenever I have occasion to go to Delhi", added Professor Chatterji in 1975, "and spare a little time for it, I never feel happy unless I can visit the Gurdwara Sis-Ganj at Chandni Chowk and spend half-an-hour there. For me this Gurdwara is a holy place and a historical place, and it is a symbol of the highest ideals and achievements of the Sikhs and consequently of the Hindus and of all other people whose minds are attuned to the spirit of understanding and toleration, and of dedication to the love and service of Man and God. Here took place, exactly 300 years ago, the greatest and most glorious martyrdom of history."26

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.