Guru Tegh Bahadur

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Guru Tegh Bahadur
ਗੁਰੂ ਤੇਗ਼ ਬਹਾਦਰ
Guru teg bahadur.jpg
Born Tyag Mal
1 April 1621 (1621-04)
Amritsar, India
Died 11 November 1675 (1675-11-12) (aged 54)
Delhi, India
Other names The Shield of India, Mighty of the Sword, The Ninth Master, The True King
Years active 1664–1675
Known for Martyrdom for protecting Hinduism, Founder of Anandpur Sahib , Founder of Patiala
Predecessor Guru Har Krishan
Successor Guru Gobind Singh
Spouse(s) Mata Gujri
Children Guru Gobind Singh
Parent(s) Guru Hargobind, Nanaki

Guru Tegh Bahadur (Punjabi: ਗੁਰੂ ਤੇਗ਼ ਬਹਾਦਰ, Punjabi pronunciation: [ɡʊru teɣ bəhɑdʊɾ]; 1 April 1621 – 11 November 1675,[1][2]), also known as Hind-di-Chaadar (Protector of India) for protecting Hindus against forced conversion in the hands of Muslims under Aurangzeb, became the 9th Guru of Sikhs on 16 April 1664, a position earlier occupied by his grand-nephew, Guru Har Krishan. Guru Tegh Bahadur was executed on the orders of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi[3] for resisting the forced conversions of Hindus in Kashmir.[4]

Early life[edit]

Guru Tegh Bahadur was born in a Sodhi Family.[5] The Sixth guru, Guru Hargobind had one daughter Bibi Viro and five sons: Baba Gurditta, Suraj Mal, Ani Rai, Atal Rai and Tyaga Mal Khatri.[6] Tyaga Mal Khatri was born in Amritsar in the early hours of 1 April 1621. The name Tegh Bahadur (Mighty Of The Sword), was given to him by Guru Hargobind after he had shown his valour in a battle against the Mughals.

Amritsar at that time was the centre of Sikh faith. Under Guru Hargobind, it had become even more renowned. By virtue of being the seat of the Guru, and with its connection to Sikhs in far flung areas of the country through the chains of Masands or missionaries, it had developed the characteristics of a state capital. Guru Tegh Bahadur Singh was brought up steeped in Sikh culture. He was trained in the martial-arts of archery and horsemanship, and was also taught the old classics. Prolonged spells of seclusion and contemplation are said to have given him a deep mystical temperament. Tegh Bahadur was married on 3 February 1631, to Mata Gujri.

Stay at Bakala[edit]

In the 1640s, nearing his end, Guru Hargobind said to his wife Nanaki, to move to his ancestral village of Bakala in Amritsar district, together with Guru Tegh Bahadur Singh and Mata Gujri. Bakala, as described in Gurbilas Dasvin Patishahi, was then a properous town with many beautiful pools, wells and baolis.

Guru Tegh Bahadur meditated at Bakala for about twenty years (1644-1664) and lived there with his wife and mother. He lived a strict and holy life and spent most of his time in meditation. Yet, he was not a recluse and attended to family responsibilities. He went out riding and he followed the chase. He made visits outside Bakala and also visited the eighth Sikh guru Guru Har Krishan, when the latter was in Delhi.


During his stay in Delhi, Guru Har Krishan was seized with smallpox. When asked by his followers as to who would lead them after him, he replied Baba Bakale, meaning his successor was to be found in Bakala. Taking the advantage of the ambiguity in the words of the dying Guru, many people installed themselves as the new Guru. There were about 22 pretenders who called themselves as the ninth Sikh guru. The most influential of them was the nephew of Guru Tegh Bahadur, Dhir Mall. Sikhs were puzzled to see so many claimants and could not make out who the real Guru was.

A wealthy trader Baba Makhan Shah Labana arrived in search of the Guru. He went from one claimant to the next making his obeisance and offering two gold coins to each Guru, while before he had promised to offer 500 coins for his safety in a storm. Then he discovered that Guru Tegh Bahadur, who made no claims about himself, also lived at Bakala. Labana went straight to the house of Tegh Bahadur. There he made the usual offering of two gold coins. Tegh Bahadur gave him his blessings and remarked that his offering was considerably short of the promised five hundred. Makhan Shah forthwith made good the difference and ran upstairs. He began shouting from the rooftop, Guru ladho re, Guru ladho re meaing I have found the Guru, I have found the Guru.

The responsibility of instructing and guiding the Sikh community was now of Guru Tegh Bahadur. He was the focal point of veneration of the Sikhs. They came singly and in batches to seek spiritual solace and inspiration. And by his teachings and practice, he moulded their religious and social conscience.

Austere Life[edit]

As had been the custom since Guru Hargobind, Guru Tegh Bahadur kept a splendid lifestyle. He had his armed attendance and other marks of royalty. But he himself lived austerely. Sikh or other documents make no mention of any clash with the ruling power having occurred during his time but he was actively persecuted and executed by the Muslim ruler of Delhi Aurangzeb.


He contributed many hymns to the Guru Granth Sahib including the Saloks, or couplets near the end of the Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Tegh Bahadur toured various parts of India, and was requested by Gobind Sahali to construct several domes (Gurudwara) in Mahali.


Guru travelled in different parts of the country, including Dhaka and Assam, to preach the teachings of Guru Nanak, the first Sikh guru. His son Guru Gobind Singh, who would be the tenth Sikh guru, was born in Patna, while he was away in Dhubri, Assam, where stands the Gurdwara Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib. The Guru made three successive visits to Kiratpur. On 21 August 1664, Guru went there to console with Bibi Rup Kaur upon the death of her father, Guru Har Rai, the seventh Sikh guru, and of her brother, Guru Har Krishan. The second visit was on 15 October 1664, at the death on 29 September 1664, of Bassi, the mother of Har Rai. A third visit concluded a fairly extensive journey through Majha, Malwa and Bangar districts of the Punjab. Crossing the Beas and Sutlej rivers, Tegh Bahadur arrived in the Malwa. He visited Zira and Moga and reached Darauli. He then sojourned in the Lakhi Jungle, a desolate and sandy tract comprising mainly present-day districts of Bhatinda and Faridkot. According to the Guru Kian Sakhian, Baisakhi of 1665 was celebrated at Sabo-ki Talwandi, now known as Damdama Sahib. This journey took Guru Tegh Bahadur up to Dhamtan, near Jind, from where he returned to Kiratpur. The Dowager Rani Champa of Bilaspur offered to give the Guru a piece of land in her state. The Guru bought the site on payment of Rs 500. The land consisted of the villages of Lodhipur, Mianpur and Sahota. Here on the mound of Makhowal, Tegh Bahadur raised a new city.

Execution of Guru by Aurangzeb[edit]

In 1675, Guru Tegh Bahadur was arrested in Bihar, brought to Delhi and executed. Several contradictory reasons are provided for his execution. Official Mughal records hold that the Guru, along with Hafiz Adam, were wreaking havoc in the lands of Punjab.[7]

According to some Sikh traditions of the time, Ram Rai, the brother of Guru Har Krishan, who had been with the Mughal court since Aurangzeb took over, wanted to be the next guru. Ghulam Muhiuddin Bute Shah writes, in his Tarikh-e-Punjabi, that Guru Tegh Bahadur was called to Delhi by Ram Rai, and it was he who instigated Aurangzeb to punish the Guru, by feeding the Mughal Emperor with false information regarding his haughty character, and that he deserved to be taught a lesson. Other accounts don't implicate Ram Rai, but some other nobles of the court. Another version says that the Guru was punished for raising his voice against the persecution of Kashmiri Hindus by its Muslim governor, or because of the fact that the guru had converted many Muslims to his faith.[8] The allegations against the Kashmiri governor Saif Khan seem to be false because he was famous for his religious tolerance, and even though his successor after 1671, Iftekhar Khan, was known for his anti-Shiite leanings, there are no references to anti-Hindu persecutions in this time period, including in the history written by Narayan Kaul in 1710.[9]

Orders of the arrest of the Guru were issued by Aurangzeb, who was in the present-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of Pakistan subduing Pushtun rebellion. The Guru was arrested at a place called Malikhpur near Anandpur after he had departed from Anandpur for Delhi. Before departing he nominated his son, Gobind Rai (Guru Gobind Singh) as the next Sikh Guru.

He was arrested, along with some of his followers, Bhai Dayala, Bhai Mati Das and Bhai Sati Das by Nur Muhammad Khan of the Rupnagar police post at the village Malikhpur Rangharan, in Ghanaula Parganah, and sent to Sirhind the following day. The Faujdar (Governor) of Sirhind, Dilawar Khan, ordered him to be detained in Bassi Pathana and reported the news to Delhi. His arrest was made in July 1675 and he was kept in custody for over three months. He was then put in an iron cage and taken to Delhi in November 1675.

Some reports hold that the Guru was put in chains and ordered to be tortured until he would accept Islam, and when he could not be persuaded to abandon his faith, he was asked to perform some miracles to prove his divinity, although this is doubted by certain scholars.[10] Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded at Chandni Chowk on 11 November 1675. Guru Tegh Bahadur is popularly known as "Hind Di Chadar" i.e. "The Shield of India", in reference to his popular image as sacrificing his life for the protection of Hindus and religious freedom in India.

Historian Satish Chandra writes in his book Medieval India:[11]

Notable events leading to execution[edit]

Guru Har Gobind was Guru Tegh Bahadur's father. He was originally named Tyag Mal(Punjabi: ਤਿਆਗ ਮਲ) but was later renamed Tegh Bahadur after his gallant displays of sword fighting in the wars against the Mughal forces. He built the city of Anandpur Sahib, and was responsible for saving the Kashmiri Pandits, who were being persecuted by the Mughals.

Guru Tegh Bahadar ji was executed in Delhi by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. The Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib in Chandni Chowk, Delhi, was built over where the Guru Teg Bahadar ji was beheaded, and Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib, also in Delhi, is built on the site of the residence of Lakhi Shah Vanjara, a disciple of the guru ji, who burnt his house in order to cremate the guru teg Bahadar ji's body. Another Gurudwara by the same name, Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib at Ambala City where that man halt for a Night with guru ji's head after that he went for Anandpur Sahib in Punjab where is another Gurudwara by the name of Gurudwara Sisganj Sahib, marks the site where in November 1675, the head of the martyred Guru Teg Bahadar ji which was brought by Bhai Jaita (renamed Bhai Jivan Singh according to Sikh rites) in defiance of the Mughal authority of Aurangzeb was cremated here.

Criticism of execution[edit]

Mughal accounts of the Guru Tegh Bahadur's execution[edit]

Tegh Bahadur was given the title Bahadur by his father Guru Hargobind (sixth Guru of the Sikhs) as he displayed such bravery with the sword in battle. Later upon return to eastern Punjab, he settled at Anandpur, where his followers began to refer to him as the Sacha Badshah (True King). Mughal court was uncomfortable with the growing fame and following. Mughal officials such as Nur Muhammad Khan of Rupnagar, Dilawar Khan the Faujdar of Sirhind and Wazir Khan had him arrested on account of his opposition to forced conversions of Hindu Brahmins of Kashmir to Islam. For resisting forced conversions of Hindus to Islam, he was taken to Delhi and put to death by Aurangzeb in 1675. However, when Aurangzeb was questioned by a group of Qadis regarding the reasons for the execution, the Mughal Emperor could not clearly explain the causes for the order of the penalty.[12]

It was recognised that Guru Tegh Bahadur gave his life for freedom of religion, ensuring that Hindus and other non-Muslims in India were able to follow and practice their beliefs without fear of persecution and forced conversions by Muslims. Guru Tegh Bahadur was martyred, along with fellow devotees Bhai Mati Dass, Bhai Sati Das and Bhai Dayala.

Places named after Guru Teg Bahadur[edit]

A number of places are named after the ninth guru of Sikhs, Guru Teg Bahadur.

  • Guru Teg Bahadur Charitable Hospital, Ludhiana
  • Guru Teg Bahadur Public School, Patran (District Patiala)
  • Gurudwara Sahib, Sri Guru Teg bahadur Nagar, Jalandhar (Punjab)


  • Shri Guru Teg Bahadur Education Society Patli Dabar, Sirsa' (Haryana)
  • <<Guru Tegh Bahadur; Commemorative Volume. Editor: Satbir Singh. Publisher: Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Tercentenary Martyrdom Gurpurab Committee. Govt. of India.1975
  • Gokalchand Narang; Transformation of Sikhism
  • Puran Singh; The book of Ten Masters
  • N.K Sinha; Rise of Sikh Panth
  • Teja Singh Ganda Singh; A Short History of the Sikhs.


  1. ^ W. H. McLeod (1984). Textual Sources for the Study of Sikhism. Manchester University Press. pp. 31–33. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "The Ninth Master Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621 - 1675)". Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  3. ^ A Gateway to Sikhism | Sri Guru Tegh Bhadur Sahib - A Gateway to Sikhism
  4. ^ Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Forced Conversion, Imperialism, and Slavery - By M. A. Khan, page 199
  5. ^ Nabha, Kahan. Mahan Kosh. 
  6. ^ Guru Gobind
  7. ^ Chandra, Satish. "Guru Tegh Bahadur's martyrdom". The Hindu. 
  8. ^ Chandra, Satish. "Guru Tegh Bahadur's martyrdom". The Hindu. 
  9. ^ Chandra, Satish. "Communalization of Education : Text of the deletions made from the NCERT text books". 
  10. ^ Chandra, Satish. "Guru Tegh Bahadur's martyrdom". The Hindu. 
  11. ^ Chandra, Satish. "Communalization of Education : Text of the deletions made from the NCERT text books". 
  12. ^

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Guru Har Krishan
Sikh Guru
20 March 1665 - 11 November 1675
Succeeded by
Guru Gobind Singh