The Stillness of Sri Teg Bahadur

This is a story about a young man who some people thought spent too much time by himself....

Do you ever feel sad because no one understands you? Do you ever feel that there is something wrong with the world and there is nothing you can do about it? Do you ever feel there is no reason for you to be here? Remember to listen to this story if you ever feel like that! This story is about a young man who also didn’t relate to the world… or better we should say the world didn’t understand him.  

His name was Teg Bahadur. He was a spiritual prince from the house of the Guru and he believed, "Everything in this world is false, it is all just maya..." 

He had four older brothers and one older sister. His father was the 6th Guru, Guru Hargobind and his mother was Mata Nanki. Mata Nanki always saw how Sri Teg Bahadur didn’t have any friends, he spent most of his time alone in his room, "Life is like a dream, none of it goes with us when we die…"
Whatever was happening, he didn’t care. His mother, Mata Nanki, was concerned for him, "When visitors come the other brothers are hospitable and introduce the Guru’s house to them. They behave like proper princes… But my son Teg Bahadur… he doesn’t do anything… hmphhh… he just wanders around alone…."

As his mother, she wanted him to be a leader like his eldest brother, "Baba Gurditta just takes care of everything. Not only is he so spiritual, like a beautiful saint, he is also a great warrior. He will surely be the next Guru and will sit on the throne of Nanak, I am so proud of him!"

However Baba Gurditta left his body before he would have become the next Guru. That is when the Guru’s wife started worrying more, “Now that Gurditta ji is gone the next son is Suraj Mal. He also knows a lot, he takes care of our house, everyone likes him. Then is Ani Rai who has always been super joyful.”

The next brother was Baba Atal and you already know how he left the world as a saint, "I just wish that the youngest son Teg Bahadur could make me proud like the other brothers do. It seems like he doesn’t like anything in the whole world… and he doesn’t give love to anyone..."

But there was something that even a spiritual woman like her didn’t understand. She didn’t see how deep her son really was. Did he simply hate the world, or did he recognize a greater spiritual reality?

"Everything in the world is temporary, except for the glory of the naam and the sadhana of the saints, these last forever… and so does the Guru of the world..."

Mata Nanki ji didn’t understand why her husband, the Guru, would give respect to her younger son. For example sometimes Sri Teg Bahadur would very quietly come near the Guru. He wouldn’t speak, and he wouldn’t look up. He would just put his hands together and look at the feet of the Guru. While some might think it looked awkward, Guru Hargobind would treat him with affection, "Ah! Teg Bahadur my son! Sit here next to me!"

Sometimes Teg Bahadur would be standing there, not looking up, and Guru Sahib would grab his arms and pull him close, "Oh my beloved son, come here. Sit on my lap!"

This confused Mata Nanki who thought, "Guru ji gives even more respect to him than the other brothers…. I don’t get it… Next time I get the chance I will ask why..."

This was when Sri Teg Bahadur was about 18 years old. The young man, who was now very tall, quietly came in to have darshan of his father. He kept his eyes low and never looked up. Guru pulled him close with affection. Mata Nanki thought, "This is just the kind of thing I don’t understand…"

Some people, even if they are very nice people, don’t see who you truly are. Actually only a master can see how truly beautiful you are. We are about to see how Guru Hargobind, the great master, saw his quiet son. When Teg Bahadur left the room Mata Nanki ji finally asked the Guru, "Oh master, please help me to understand. My youngest son… well he’s very simple. You have other sons who are more aware of what’s going on, they take care of everything. The ministers meet them with honor... but no one knows who my youngest son even is, he's always quiet and alone."

Guru ji was amused by her question. She continued, "Why do you show the most affection.. to him? Have you noticed good qualities in him? I can’t figure this out. Please bless me to know the truth, what is the secret of why you give him this special treatment?"

First Guru Hargobind reflected her thoughts back to her, "You think he is simple minded, but it is your thinking that is simple. How do you come to think like this?"

Then Guru ji addressed her different stories she made about her son to herself. He revealed the truth that no one could see, "You think he knows nothing. He knows everything. And even though he knows everything, he stays silent because his heart is full of patience."

Mata Nanki was surprised, she never thought about him this way… 

Guru ji continued, "You think he doesn’t have good qualities. He has every good quality. There is no one in the world like Teg Bahadur. It is because he is full of virtues that he deserves great respect."

What she didn’t know is that Teg Bahadur could also hear what was being said. He was outside the window getting on his horse at this very moment. Guru ji could see him and smiled at him, "That is but one reason I give him affection. Now listen to the second reason I give him respect: One day he will be the father of a son who is the greatest warrior, he will be blazing with light and he will destroy the enemies. He will fight many battles and will grind the tyrants to dust. He will spread the greatness of the name of Sri Nanak, the Guru of the world."

Mata was thrilled to hear the one day she would have such a promising grandson. She was so happy, this was more than she could have hoped to hear. And there was more Guru shared about the future, "You will have a grandson who will be a super being. He will be an incredible dynamo who will make deg and teg, charity and martial arts. He will spread the light and glory of all the Gurus and he will bring relief to every corner of the earth."

Mata Nanki was beaming with excitement now. Teg Bahadur had actually been a supreme master in a previous life, he was such a cosmic being it’s hard for us to understand or describe. But in this young life it was the first he had heard this prediction about himself. He kept listening as his beloved Guru father continued to give his blessing:

"Your son Teg Bahadur will not only sit on the throne of Nanak. He will be the Guru’s Guru. Because of who he, and his strong, devotional wife, will birth in to this world... he is more respected than all humans and all angels. He is the greatest of the great. That is why I hold him so high. That is why I speak to him with the utmost sweetness."

Mata Nanki was deeply humbled. She folded her hands together as she pictured her future grandson as a great warrior. She saw now that her son had a treasure of virtue that he will pass on to her grandson.

The heavens were also listening as Guru ji spoke. They knew Sri Teg Bahadur very well, they meditated with him all the time so they weren’t surprised by any of this, but they were joyful that the truth was being spoken. Guru ji said one more thing to bless the ears of Mata Nanki and Siri Teg Bahadur who were listening with full attention:

"May he be blessed with such a great warrior, that everyone will praise him. Bless Sri Teg Bahadur that within this house there will be great wealth, royalty and estates that will go to my grandson."

Mata Nanki was beside herself, she couldn’t have imagined a greater destiny. And she couldn’t wait for her grandson to be born. Teg Bahadur heard all of this and then rode off to his favorite meditation spot to relax there. He was totally at peace.

Stillness of Teg Bahadur contemplation gold logo.jpg

Of course everything Guru Sahib said came true sooner or later.

Remember when I asked if you ever feel there’s no reason for you to be in this world? Listen carefully to this: If you didn’t have a reason... your soul wouldn’t have been born! But you DO have a destiny and the Guru knows what it is. Even if right now it feels like you don’t have a purpose, remember that Teg Bahadur continued to not be noticed by the world for almost another 20 years.

He and his wife spent most of the rest of his life meditating before he ever became Guru. They did very difficult meditations together.

For the next almost 20 years they worked hard on themselves every day, they were preparing for their destiny. Later he did become the Guru himself and taught others to also use their life wisely, "Friends! Do not waste your precious life, use your time to meditate and vibrate on the Divine!"

Maybe no one would expect this quiet young man would one day be followed by great devotees, by wealthy and rich people, and by warriors.

Maybe they wouldn’t see that one day he would be able to inspire the hearts of even people who used black magic!

No one would have expected that he would make history that would be remembered forever, and his son would do even more. 

You see we all have a destiny. When we don’t know what to do, it’s time to meditate, time to work on ourselves, time to become friends with our own soul. You absolutely have a destiny, so be patient and keep connected with Guru Teg Bahadur. He understands you. He knows you. He knows your heart even better than you do, and he sees your greatness. Use your time well and become his friend.

"Beloveds, get to know the One who is always with you!"

When you feel your devotion to God, he will be right with you. Remember the story of Makkan Shah? Well, in the same way that Guru Teg Bahadur carried his ship through the terrible storm, Guru ji can carry you through this life and deliver you to your destiny. So grab his feet and don’t let them go! 

The Guru says,

ਘਟ ਘਟ ਮੈ ਹਰਿ ਜੂ ਬਸੈ ਸੰਤਨ ਕਹਿਓ ਪੁਕਾਰਿ ॥

ghat ghat mai har ju basai santan kahio pukaar. 

The dear Lord lives in each and every heart, the saints have spoken this truth. 
ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਿਹ ਭਜੁ ਮਨਾ ਭਉ ਨਿਧਿ ਉਤਰਹਿ ਪਾਰਿ ॥12॥

kahu naanak tih bhaj manaa bhou nidh otreh paar

Says Nanak meditate and vibrate upon God and you shall be taken across the terrible world ocean.

Editor's note: This story is thanks to the invaluable help of Nihang Gurbaaj Singh in translating historic texts.  
Storyteller:  Guruka Singh Khalsa
Age ranges:  1 - 6, 13 - 17