Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded in public in Chandani Chowk, Delhi, on 11th November, 1675, under orders of emperor Aurangzeb. Earlier three of his devoted followers Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Dyal Das and Bhai Sati Das had been done to death by cruel and torturous methods.
A dictionary meaning of martyr is one who suffers greatly for any cause. What was the cause before Guru Tegh Bahadur? His son Guru Gobind Singh has recorded this in Bachitra Natak (Unique Drama):
He protected their “tilak” and “janeu”;
In this Kali age, he performed a grand deed;
He made the supreme sacrifice for the sake of
the men of faith
He gave his head,
but uttered not a groan.
This martyrdom he endured to uphold righteousness.
This martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur for righteousness also serves as a strong bond between Hindus and Sikhs. Tradition has it that the Guru offered his life at the instance of Brahmins from Kashmir who came to seek his help against forcible conversions. According to Koer Singh’s “Gurubilas Patshahi 10”, a poetical work written in 1751, they told him that they suffered great atrocities. Janeus (sacred threads) were forcibly taken off their persons and kins were killed. Other similar works produced later also corroborated this story. But these were poetical works, not linear history, although they contained a kernel of factual information. No contemporary record had been discovered to substantiate this tradition.
Such a record has now been presented by Professor Harbans Singh in his book on Guru Tegh Bahadur. A contemporary entry in Bhat Vahi (diary of the purohit) of Talauda in Jind Pargana, records:
Kirpa Ram, son of Aru Ram, grandson of Narain Das, great—grandson of Brahm Das, of the house of Thakar Das of Matan, pargana Srinagar, Kashmir, came to Chakk Nanaki, Pargana Kahlur, on Jeth Sudi Ikadasi 1732 / 25May 1675, bringing with him sixteen leading Brahmans of Kashmir. Guru Tegh Bahadur, the Ninth Guru consoled them.
Harbans Singh’s book, with its genuine search for fact ranks as a landmark in Sikh historiography. He has also quoted from P.N.K. Bamzi’s book A History of Kashmir to describe the event.
Iftikhar Khan…….was using force to convert the Pandits in Kashmir to Islam. Some pious men among the Pandits then met and decided to go to Amarnath and invoke the mercy of Lord Siva there for deliverance from the tyrannies of the bigot. At the Amarnath cave, one of the pandits saw in a dream Lord Siva, who told him to go to Tegh Bahadur, the Ninth Sikh Guru, in the Punjab and ask for his help to save the Hindu religion. He spoke to his companions about the revelation. About 500 proceeded to Anandpur where Guru Tegh Bahadur was living.
Guru Tegh Bahadur made up his mind to “seize their hands” as they had requested and to lay down his life to uphold the right of the people to their belief. He asked his visitors to go and tell the emperor that if he (Guru Tegh Bahadur) was converted, they would all voluntarily accept Islam. The Guru knew that he had thrown a challenge to the powers that be, which could cost him his life. He prepared himself for this eventuality. He had his son Gobind Singh consecrated Guru and successor on 8th July 1675, and then left Anandpur for Delhi. It seems orders for his arrest had been issued by emperor Aurangzeb as soon as he received reports of his declared intention, because he was arrested four days later. An entry in Bhatt Vahi Multani Sindhi reads:
Guru Tegh Bahadur, the Ninth Guru,…..was taken into custody by Nur Muhammad Khan Miraza of Ropar Police post, on Savan 12,1732 /12th July 1675, at Malikpur Ranghran, Pargana Ghanaula, and sent to Sirhind. Along with him were arrested Diwan Mati Das and Sati Das, sons of Hira Nand Chhibbar, and Dyal Das, son of Mai Das. They were kept in custody at Bassi Pathana for four months. The pitiless captors imposed much atrocity on the Guru. The Guru abided by God’s will.
For over three months he was kept in jail and given the harshest treatment. He was then cast into an iron cage and taken to Delhi, where he arrived on 4th Nov. 1675.
Guru Tegh Bahadur himself was no wearer of Janeu. Guru Nanak had said before him that for a Janeu the yarn should be made of contentment from the cotton of compassion. It should have knots of continence and the twist of truth. This meant that without these virtues in the wearer, the Janeu itself was of no use. Yet Guru Tegh Bahadur defended this and other symbols at the cost of his life.
To quote from Bhai Santokh Singh’s “Sri Guru Partap Suraj Granth”:
Who like him there ever was in the world,
Who sacrificed his head for others sake?
|The Martyrdom Anniversary|
of Guru Tegh Bahadur
falls on 16th December
|C/o communication Center|
Punjab Agricultural University.