Tegh Bahādur

▪ Sikh Gurū
born 1621?, Amritsar, Punjab, India
died Nov. 11, 1675, Delhi

      ninth Sikh Guru and second Sikh (Sikhism) martyr, who gave his life for a religion not his own. He was also the father of the tenth Guru, Gobind Singh.

      After the eighth Guru, Hari Krishen, the “child Guru,” told his followers that his successor would be found in the village of Bakāla, a deputation went there and found 22 claimants. Bhai Makhan Shah, a wealthy Sikh merchant, sought out Tegh Bahādur, who, he realized, displayed none of the greed and self-aggrandizement of the other pretenders. Thereupon he proclaimed Tegh Bahādur ninth Guru.

      Tegh Bahādur ran afoul of the Mughal authorities by giving aid and shelter to some Hindu holy men from Kashmir who had sought his help after they were ordered by the emperor Aurangzeb to accept Islam. Encouraged by his son, Tegh Bahādur told the Hindus to inform the emperor that they would accept Islam if the Guru became a Muslim. With no intention of converting to Islam, Tegh Bahādur then left for Delhi to defend the Hindus before Aurangzeb and was arrested at the emperor's order along the way. He was escorted with five Sikhs to Delhi and confined to the fortress in the city. While in prison he was given the opportunity to accept Islam or be tortured; he refused to convert.

      Aurangzeb, his patience at an end, ordered the Guru to embrace Islam or perform a miracle. The emperor promised great rewards if Tegh Bahādur did either, but death if the Guru refused. Rejecting earthly honours and maintaining he did not fear death, Tegh Bahādur refused both options. Accepting the death sentence, the Guru recited the "Japjī " (the most important Sikh scripture) and was decapitated in one blow by the executioner. A loyal Sikh took the Guru's head back to Anandpur. According to tradition, another loyal Sikh took the body back to his home, which he burned in order to cremate the body; a Sikh shrine, Gurdwārā Rakābgunj, marks the spot of the cremation.

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Universalium. 2010.

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