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Guru Tegbahadur preferred death to forsaking his faith  

guru tegbahadur story

‘The Marathas and Sikhs were the spearheads of the Hindu revival. And the Mughal empire was finally overthrown by them, not by the British’

[p-365, 370-‘Glimpses of world history]

The cause of what Nehru said above in his famous book had been the cruelty of Mughal rulers born out of religious intolerance. If we look into the historical account of Sikhs, they were initially devotees loving to be kept themselves absorbed in the way of Bhakti shown by Guru Nanak dev, the founder of Sikhism.  But when first Arjundev, and more so Guru Tegbahdur were slayed by Mughals their way of thinking transformed.

What happened when the atrocities on Kashmiri Hindus under the rule of Aurangzeb, the most rabidly truculent of Mughal kings, to force them to embrace Islam reached beyond the tolerable limits? They formed a delegation to be led by Shri Kriparamji and approached Guru Tegbahadur to tell them their woes. On hearing their heart-rending tale of woes in the Sikha-Sabha of Anandpur, Guru Tegbahadur got to be dumbstruck, sinking into deep thought.

Seeing the condition of the father, his son drew near him and asked, ‘Why don’t you speak, father?’

‘Now you are young and unaware of the hard realities’, said father, after a little pause; ‘Turks are perpetrating harrowing atrocities on the people everywhere. ‘But, not one brave heart is there in sight to come forward to risk his life for their liberation from this hell’.

‘Why! – Who could be more able for this supreme sacred service than you, father?’, pleaded the son, Govindrai[ later to be popularly known as Guru Govind Singh, the last of the Sikh Gurus] Hearing the things of his own heart from the son, Guru Tegbahadur decided to help the Kashmiri Hindus, telling the delegation,

‘You send the message to Aurangzeb that the ninth Guru consecrated on the seat of his holiness Guru Nanakdev is your Dharma -Rakshak[the defender of Dharma]. First, convert him into Islam then you would follow the suit.’

Kashmiri Hindus did the same, sending an emissary with the message of Guru to Aurangzeb. As was obvious, the content of the message put insolent Aurangzeb into a violent rage. It was a challenge to his lordship; so far he never encountered the audacity of such kind from anybody in his kingdom.

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Fuming, the Mughal king soon arrested Guru along with the other five Sikhs- Shri Matidas, Shri Gurudittji, Shri Udaji, Shri Chimaji, and Shri Dayalji. He laid the two options before them- choose either Islam or death.

But, caring not the threat looming large in their lives, they rejected the offer of living in the alien’s religion. Consequently, first Guru’s followers were put to brutal death; and, then, Guru’s head was chopped off.

However, the martyrdom of Guru Tegbahadur and his devoted followers went not in vain. It proved instrumental in transforming the very ethos of Sikh- philosophy. This tragic episode made Sikhs well realize that the counting of the beads and muttering of mantras [hymns] redeem them spiritually, but to survive in the mundane world, especially in the prevailing situation being governed by the barbaric mentality of intransigent Turks they would have to wield the arms in the hands. Thus, the sect which was peaceful and religiously devotional gradually assumed martial character, which found its peak with Khalsa Panth initiated by Guru Govind Singh as he succeeded Guru Tegbahadur to the highest seat of  Sikhism.

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When a time came, emulating the ideals of Guru Govind Singh, it was Maharaja Ranjit Singh who gave crushing defeats to  Pathans and Mughals in mostly whatever battles he fought, and extended his empire well inside the threshold of Kabul, not letting the martyrdom of Guru Tegbahadur and all those followed him in vain.

By- Er. Rajesh Pathak

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  • Pallav Jain is co-founder of Ground Report and an independent journalist and visual storyteller based in Madhya Pradesh. He did his PG Diploma in Radio and TV journalism from IIMC 2015-16.

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