Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was a thinker, warrior, traveller and spiritual person. He carried forward the light and divinity of Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji and subsequent Sikh gurus.
The martyrdom of Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji has no parallel in human history.
It was truly a supreme sacrifice which he made for the sake of motherland, religion, and people’s rights and hence can never be forgotten come what may! His sacrifices not only saved an ancient civilization and culture premised on the principle of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam’ from extinction but also served as a watershed moment in our collective pursuits to emerge as a determined and inclusive nation. Therefore, he has been rightly crowned with the sobriquet of ‘Hind Di Chadar!’
He founded the town of Chak Nanki in Punjab, later enlarged by the 10th Nanak, Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji into the city of Shri Anandpur Sahib. In order to understand the significance of the sacrifice of Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji and its timelessness for the welfare of humanity, we need to dive deep into the then grim social realities. Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji was a witness to the Mughal Empire being founded by Babar after he defeated Ibrahim Lodhi. Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji founded Sikhism at a time when our society was in the grip of caste-based atrocities, exclusion, discrimination and untouchability. Several social evils like superstition were quite rampant. Forceful conversions were in the vogue. Sikhism was, thus, a great attempt to keep the people aligned to their own religions.
Foundation of Sikhism was not an ordinary development in human history but one which became the shield for Hinduism against Islam. It was and is still a great tradition which 9th Sikh Guru Shri Guru Teg Bahadur Ji not only preserved and strengthened people’s resolve to protect their religion but also took Sikhism to the next level of glory. No one will ever forget the way he helped Kashmiri Pandits, who were under life threatening pressure from Iftikar Khan, Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s cruel Governor for Kashmir, to convert to Islam or be ready to be killed or abandoned in the dense forest. The rest is glorious history!
Left with no option, a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits went to meet Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji at today’s Shri Anandpur Sahib, also known as Chakk Nanaki. After giving a patient hearing to them, he asked them to tell Aurangzeb or his men that they will change their religion only if their Guru does so. The subsequent gory acts of Aurangzeb were so horrible that even today one shivers to recall. Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji along with his three devotees – Bhai Sati Das, Bhai Mati Das and Bhai Dayala were made captive!
The sublime trio were executed in front of their Guru when they refused to convert to Islam. They made the supreme sacrifice for the sake of dharma. Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was unfazed and embraced martyrdom in the year 1675. Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib in Chandani Chowk, Old Delhi, epitomizes the ultimate saga of ‘tyaag’ and ‘balidaan’ with no match in known human history. Bhai Jaita Singh took the holy ‘sis’ of Shri Guru Teg Bahadur Ji to Shri Anandpur Sahib, one of the holiest places for Sikhs in the world.
There is a Shloka in the Gita – Shreyan-swadharmo Vigunah Pardharma-taswanushtitat/Swadharme Nidhanam Shreyah Pardhamo Bhayawah! The gist of the grand message here is that one should die embracing his dharma! Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji left behind for humanity a great legacy, which remained the guiding principle even for his son and 10th Sikh Guru – Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, also a great warrior, poet and philosopher.
Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji knew that his devotees paid the price for the sake of religion without any remorse. They rejected all allurements, bore all pains and hardships meted out to them but they did not shed even a drop of tear. Their commitment and faith in the cause of religion was unwavering. The life of Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur is one of sacrifices for the sake of dharma and humanity. He was also harassed but in vain. His answer to every question was – I am a Sikh and will remain a Sikh! Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji did not give in to the cruelty of Aurangzeb.
The lessons we need to derive from the teachings and sacrifice of Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji are many and multifaceted, which hold immense significance and relevance in today’s time too when the whole world is engaged in the build back process after the very existence of humanity was threatened by Covid-19, claiming millions of lives globally and pushing a huge population on the brink of hunger.
Today the world is looking towards India with hope. There is a global acceptance to the fact that as a nation we have enough resilience to bounce back and surmount any crisis. It has been possible only because of our great legacies which we are blessed to have in the form of great words and vision of Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, who lived, suffered and sacrificed his life for others. He stood up as a wall between tyrannical Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, his evil designs and those who were not ready to convert to Islam.
The sacrifice of Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, his belief in truth, non-violence and a benevolent approach towards all are so inspiring for us even today. He fought against superstitions, caste-based discrimination and untouchability so that every human being should lead a life of his choice. Religion is a duty for all. A true religion teaches us to be good to all and serve society and people in the best possible manner.
Teachings of Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji are a rare heritage, foundation for us to build a strong and vibrant India which is firmed up on the pillars of equality, justice, fraternity and liberty. Let us work hard by setting aside parochialism in all respects to ensure unity, sovereignty and prosperity of Mother India, which will be our true homage to Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji.
By- Bandaru Dattatraya (Governor of Haryana)