Guru Tegh Bahadur (11 November 1675 – 1 April 1621) was the ninth of ten Gurus who founded the Sikh religion. From 1665 till his execution in 1675, he led the Sikh community. He was the youngest son of the sixth Sikh guru, Guru Hargobind, and was born in 1621 in Amritsar, Punjab, India. He was a well-known spiritual scholar and poet whose 115 poems are included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the central text of Sikhism. He was regarded as a brave and principled warrior.

Guru Tegh Bahadur’s early life 

Guru Tegh Bahadur was the youngest son of Guru Hargobind, the sixth guru, who had one daughter, Bibi Viro, and five sons: Baba Gurditta, Suraj Mal, Ani Rai, Atal Rai, and Tyaga Mal. Tyaga Mal was born in Amritsar in the early hours of 1 April 1621. He was given the name Tegh Bahadur (Mighty of the Sword) by Guru Hargobind after he had demonstrated his heroism in a battle against the Mughals.

Amritsar was the Sikh faith's centre at the time. As the seat of the Sikh Gurus, and with links to Sikhs throughout the country via Masands or missionaries, it had taken on the qualities of a state capital. Guru Tegh Bahadur was brought up in the Sikh tradition and had training in archery and riding horses as he was growing up. He was also taught old classics such as the Vedas, Upanishads, and Puranas. Guru Tegh Bahadur married Mata Gujri on February 3, 1632.

His stay at Bakala

Guru Hargobind and his wife Nanaki, along with Guru Tegh Bahadur and Mata Gujri, relocated to his ancestral village of Bakala in the Amritsar district in the 1640s, as he neared death. Gurbilas Dasvin Patshahi claims that during that historical period, the town of Bakala was prosperous and home to a great number of  ponds, wells, and baolis. Guru Tegh Bahadur remained to reside at Bakala with his wife and mother after Guru Hargobind's death.

Anointment of Guru Tegh Bahadur as the ninth Guru

Guru Har Krishan, the eighth Sikh guru, contracted smallpox in March 1664. His followers had asked him who would lead them once he was gone, and he responded by saying, "Baba Bakala," meaning that his successor could be found in Bakala. Many others placed themselves in Bakala and asserted that they were the new Guru by taking advantage of the ambiguity in the comments made by Guru Har Krishan. The Sikhs were confused by the numerous assertions that were made.

There is a tale in the Sikh tradition about how Guru Tegh Bahadur was chosen as the ninth guru. Baba Makhan Shah Labana, a wealthy trader, reportedly prayed for his life and vowed to give the Sikh Guru 500 gold coins if he lived. He had come here in search of the ninth Guru. He proceeded from one claimant to the next and gave two gold coins to each guru, doing so under the assumption that the right guru would be aware of his vow to give 500 coins as a covert payment for his protection. Every so-called "guru" he encountered thanked him for the two gold coins he offered and bid him farewell.

He then learnt that Guru Tegh Bahadur was also a resident of Bakala. Guru Tegh Bahadur received the standard offering of two gold coins from Labana. He blessed him and pointed out that his donation fell well short of the promised five hundred. After quickly making amends, Makhan Shah Labana dashed to the upper floor. He started yelling from the roof of the building, "Guru ladho re, Guru ladho re" meaning "I have discovered the Guru, I have found the Guru". 

A Sikh sangat landed at Bakala in August 1664 and appointed Guru Tegh Bahadur as the ninth guru of the Sikhs. Diwan Durga Mal, Guru Tegh Bahadur's eldest brother, led the sangat and conferred Guruship on Him.

His works 

Guru Tegh Bahadur added numerous hymns to the Guru Granth Sahib, including the Shloks, or couplets, located at the end of the text. He travelled throughout the Mughal Empire and was commissioned by Gobind Sahali to build multiple Sikh temples in Mahali. His works consist of 116 shabads and 15 ragas, and his bhagats are credited with 782 Sikhism-related bani compositions.

In addition, his compositions are contained within the Guru Granth Sahib (pages 219–1427). They include the nature of God, human relationships, the body, the mind, sorrow, dignity, service, death, and deliverance.

His voyages 

Guru Tegh Bahadur travelled widely throughout India, especially to Dhaka and Assam, to spread the teachings of the first Sikh guru, Nanak. The locations where he travelled and stayed are now Sikh temples.  During his travels, Guru Tegh Bahadur disseminated Sikh doctrine and initiated community water wells and langars (community kitchen charity for the poor). 

The Guru made three visits to Kiratpur in succession. Guru Tegh Bahadur travelled there on 21 August 1664 to console Bibi Roop upon the passing of her father, Guru Har Rai, the seventh Sikh guru, and his brother, Guru Har Krishan. The second visit occurred on 15 October 1664, following the death of Bassi, the mother of Guru Har Rai, on 29 September 1664. 

A very long excursion over the northwest Indian subcontinent ended with a third visit. Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, was born in Patna in 1666, when he was away in Dhubri, Assam, where the Gurdwara Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib now stands. There, he assisted in ending the conflict between Bengal's Raja Ram Singh and Ahom's Raja Chakardaj (later Assam). He travelled to Mathura, Agra, Allahabad, and Varanasi. 

After his travels through Assam, Bengal, and Bihar, Guru Ji paid a visit to Rani Champa of Bilaspur, who offered to give him property in her realm. He paid 500 rupees for the property. Guru Tegh Bahadur founded Anandpur Sahib somewhere in the foothills of the Himalayas. As the persecution of non-Muslims reached unprecedented heights in 1672,  he journeyed through Kashmir and the North-West Frontier to address the masses.

The sad tale of his execution

The Bachittar Natak, a memoir written by Guru Gobind Singh, Guru Tegh Bahadur's son,  dated between the late 1680s and the late 1690s, constitutes the foundation of Sikh narratives. More Sikh accounts of Tegh Bahadur's execution, each claiming to be based on the "testimony of reliable Sikhs," did not emerge until the late eighteenth century and are therefore frequently contradictory. 

During his travels in southern Punjab between 1672 and 1673, according to chronicler Sohan Lal Suri, the Guru attracted tens of thousands of soldiers and riders as disciples and offered refuge to those who opposed the Mughals. Aurangzeb was cautioned about this conduct, which was a matter of concern because it could lead to rebellion. 

Guru Tegh Bahadur’s Shahidi Diwas 

Every year on November 24, people commemorate Guru Tegh Bahadur's martyrdom. He was publicly executed by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi on this day in 1675 for rejecting Aurangzeb's rule. In Delhi, the locations of his death and cremation have been transformed into holy places, now known as Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib and Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Sahib, respectively. Along with his contributions to Guru Granth Sahib, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji also made contributions to sustain the Indian community's pride before the Mughals. 

Memorials that carry forward his legacy 

Guru Tegh Bahadur is known for his gallantry and bravery in battles against Mughal forces. He built Anandpur Sahib and was responsible for the rescue of a group of Kashmiri Pandits who were being oppressed by the Mughals.

Following Guru Tegh Bahadur's execution by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, a number of Sikh shrines were built in his and his associates' honour. The Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib at Delhi's Chandni Chowk was built on the site of his beheading. Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib, located in Delhi, is built on the location of his disciple’s residence, which was burned down to cremate Guru Tegh Bahadur's body.

Guru Tegh Bahadur, together with Bhai Mati Dass, Bhai Sati Das, and Bhai Dayala, were martyred. The execution strengthened Sikhs' commitment to fight against Muslim rule and persecution. Pashaura Singh believes that while the sacrifice of Guru Arjan had helped bring the Sikh Panth together, Guru Tegh Bahadur's martyrdom helped to make the preservation of human rights core to its Sikh identity. 

The attempt to forcibly convert the ninth Guru to an externalised, impersonal Islam clearly made an indelible impression on the martyr's nine-year-old son, Guru Gobind Singh, who reacted slowly but deliberately by eventually organising the Sikh group into a distinct, formal, symbol-patterned community and finally established the Khalsa identity. 

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