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Guru Tegh Bahadur – Shaheedi Divas

Context:

November 24 is commemorated as the Shaheedi Divas of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth guru of the Sikhs, who stood up against forcible conversions by the Mughals, and was executed on the orders of Aurangzeb in 1675.

Relevance:

GS I- History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Guru Tegh Bahadur
  2. Run-in with the Mughals
  3. The guru’s martyrdom

About Guru Tegh Bahadur:

  • 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.
  • As a boy, Tegh Bahadur was called Tyag Mal because of his ascetic nature.
  • He spent his early childhood in Amritsar under the tutelage of Bhai Gurdas, who taught him Gurmukhi, Hindi, Sanskrit, and Indian religious philosophy, 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 was the ninth of ten Gurus of the Sikh religion.

The Guru’s times

  • Aurangzeb was the ruling Mughal emperor at the time.
  • Guru Tegh Bahadur who started travelling extensively through Malwa and Majha, first came into conflict with the authorities when he started questioning the tradition of worshipping 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.
Run-in with the Mughals
  • As his message began to spread, a local chieftain at Dhamtan near Jind in present-day Haryana picked him up on fabricated charges of collecting revenue from villagers, and took him to Delhi.
  • But 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 until he convinced Aurangzeb that the guru was a holy man with no political ambitions.
  • Earlier, 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.
Travels beyond Punjab
  • A little more than a year after setting up his headquarters in present-day Anandpur Sahib in 1665, the guru spent four-odd years travelling up to Dhaka in the east, 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 honoured 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

  • Aurangzeb ordered the public execution of the guru on November 11, 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, who was torn asunder, Bhai Sati Das, who was burnt to death, and Bhai Dyala ji, who was put in boiling water. Till the very end they were asked to change their minds, but they remained resolute.
  • In 1784, Gurdwara Sis Ganj was built on the site on which they were executed.
  • Describing his father in Vichitra Natak, Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru who founded the Khalsa, wrote: ‘’Dharam het saka jin kiya, sees diya par sir nahin diya (He sacrificed his life for dharma, he gave up his head but not his honour).”

Source: Indian Express


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