Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji Maharaj (1622 -1675)
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Akali Guru Harkrishan was succeeded by his grand-uncle
Akali Guru Tegh Bahadur. In his early life he was a great swordsman,
hence the name 'Tegh Bahadur' (Brave with sword).
During a battle his childhood friend on the opposing side had died,
and as a result, he became a recluse preferring silence to aid meditation
upon Nirankar God for prolonged periods of time.
Akali Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib
The great warrior Guru spend his early years learning Gurmukhi,
Sanskrit, Hindi, and Indian philosophy from Bhai Gurdas Ji. He was
taught Shastar Vidiya by Baba Budha ji and his father, Akali Guru
Hargobind Sahib Ji
On becoming Guru, he once more became socially active
in expounding Akali Guru Nanak’s philosophy of oneness of
God and all mankind. Raja Ram Singh utilised him to bring peace
between the Moghal empire and the Ahoms of Assam. By now Aurangzeb
had ascended his throne due to his avowed solicitude of Sunni Muslim
In time Aurangzeb began to exhibit the hallmarks of
a true religious bigot and became intolerant to all other faiths
in his Empire. Shia Muslims, Sufi Muslims, Christians, Buddhists,
Jains, Sindhis, and in particular the Hindus began to be persecuted
by him. This occured despite him having Hindu blood in him (NB.
Aurangzeb's own grandmother was a Hindu Rajput and so too was Akbar’s
Aurangzeb first decided to convert the intellectuals
and spiritual leaders of Hinduism in Kashmir. The persecuted Hindu
Pundits knew of Guru Tegh Bahadur's participation in his father’s
successful battles against the Moghals. As as result, they came
and pleaded their case before the Akali Guru, a Kyshatriya
(Warrior), to defend their Sanatan Hindu faith.
The Guru then had the Pundits send a message to Aurangzeb
informing him that the Hindu Pundits of Kashmir considered Guru
Tegh Bahadur as their spiritual leader, and, if Aurangzeb converted
the Guru, then they would follow suite.
Aurangzeb summoned the Guru to Delhi. The aim of the
Guru was to show Aurangzeb that through physical persecution the
Emperor could not convert others to his faith.
At first the Mullahs of Aurangzeb tried to persuaded
the Guru to adopt their brand of Sunni Islam. The Guru pointed out
that if there was meant be only one religion than that would have
been so but it is not the will of God. Nirankar God is too great
to be limited to one form or one mode of expression. This answer
did not please his persecutors and the Guru and his three companions
were greatly tortured.
The Mullahs of Aurangzeb
An early Persian painting of Aurangzeb at his court
After the authorities killed the Guru’s three
companions before his eyes, the Mullahs asked the Guru to perform
a miracle to prove he was a true holy man. Orthodox Sanatan Sikh
accounts suggest that the Guru wrote an inscription on a piece of
paper and hung it around his neck. He said "strike a sword
to my neck and you will see a miracle".
The credulous Mullahs believing the Guru would not
be decapitated had an executioner strike the Guru’s neck with
a sword. As the Guru was decapitated the piece of paper fell open.
"I gave up my head but not my secret".
For sake of the great Hindu faith, Guru Tegh Bahadur,
a Sikh, sacrificed himself. To this day many Sikhs and Hindus in
India refer to Guru Tegh Bahadur as ‘Hind Ki Chadar’,
the blanket (that protected the honour) of Hindu India.