Guru Tegh Bahadur Martyrdom Day is observed every year on 24 November. He is the ninth guru in the lineage of Sikh saints. He is also called Hind ki Chadar, or Shield of India. He laid down his life for the rights of a community of people who were not even of his religion. He was beheaded in 1675 at the orders of the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb. He was martyred in Delhi, at Chandni Chowk.
Aurangzeb aimed to convert the Hindu population in India to Islam at the risk of execution if they rebelled against his diktat. A delegation of Kashmir Pandits sought help from Guru Tegh Bahadur to prevent the conversions. Guru Tegh Bahadur proclaimed that if the emperor successfully converted him to Islam, the others would be ready to convert too. He was then arrested and presented in front of the emperor. Upon refusing to convert to Islam, he was imprisoned for 4 months. Following his refusal to perform a miracle to prove his closeness to God, three of his followers were killed in front of him. Still refusing to be converted, Guru Tegh Bahadur was ordered to be beheaded by the emperor. His beheading was carried out in front of the public in Chandni Chowk, a market square near the Red Fort in Delhi. The execution was on 11 November 1675. Today, a gurudwara stands at the spot where the Guru was martyred called the Gurudwara Sis Ganj.
Guru Tegh Bahadur was born on 1 April 1621 and died on 11 November 1675. He was ordained as a guru on 16 April 1664. He was killed on the orders of the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb because he resisted the forced conversions into Islam of non-Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits. The Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib marks his place of execution, while the Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Sahib marks his place of execution. He was beheaded in Chandni Chowk on the orders of the Mughal emperor.
Honouring Guru Tegh Bahadur
Every year on the Martyrdom Day of Guru Tegh Bahadur, Sikh places of worship reverberate with the sounds of chanting the composition Bachittar Natak, which recounts his life and was recorded by his son, Guru Gobind Singh.
Several Sikh temples have been built in honour of Guru Tegh Bahadur. The Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib in Chandi Chowk was constructed on the site of his execution. A disciple of his, Teg Bahadur, burnt down his house to make space for the cremation of Guru’s body, and on that spot rose another gurudwara, the Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Sahib, in Delhi. The Gurudwara Sisganj Sahib in Punjab was built on the site where the head of the Guru was brought from Delhi, in defiance of Aurangzeb’s orders, and cremated. The execution of the Guru led to the fortification of the Khalsa identity, initiated by his son, who was at that time just 9 years old.
Numerous hospitals, schools, universities, and institutes of technology have been constructed and named in honour of Guru Tegh Bahadur.
Legacy of Guru Tegh Bahadur
Guru Tegh Bahadur contributed to the holy text of the Granth Sahib in the form of hymns and couplets, including the Saloks, towards the end. More than 700 of his compositions are part of the ”bani” in Sikhism. His writings include a wide range of topics that range from God to the human body, death to deliverance.
During his lifetime, he journeyed through several parts of India and constructed many Sikh temples at the behest of Gobind Sahali in Manali. The places that he visited later became the sites of Sikh temples that are revered to this day. He had also travelled to parts of Assam, Bihar, Bengal, Dhaka, and Kashmir. He also founded a city at the foothills of the Himalayas, which he named Anandpur Sahib. Guru Tegh Bahadur fought against the religious persecution of Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike. His life and teachings to this day are an inspiration to the Sikh community to continue living his ideals of religious harmony.