THE MARTYRDOM OF REVERED GURU SRI TEGH BAHADURJI
(ON 16TH DECEMBER 2015)
Truthfully the one who is born here will have to die one day. Nobody is immortal / eternal when it comes to living world. Everybody has to die one day at the time fixed for this final journey yet some through their deeds acquire the status of martyrdom and thus immortalize themselves. Their name and fame in the annals of history is recorded for posterity for us mortals to draw lessons.
The level of sacrifice becomes all the more all-encompassing since it was for protecting the religious sentiments of all other religions. I shall call it a sacrifice unknown in the annals of history – to die for upholding the belief and sanctity of other religions. This sacrifice for others’ causes makes it amply clear that even the thinking of ‘self sacrifice’ is not a normal thinking. It is unpatrolled and unprecedented. It, I am sanguine, comes from our Akalpurakh. This thought is emancipation of consciousness / awareness to a level which catapults a personage (in this case Guru Tegh Bahadurji) to a level of highest spiritualistic ideals, highest moralistic ideals besides taking the religious homogeneity percepts to new heights – meaning all the religions are different pathways to a SINGLE SOURCE. This noble sacrifice is given by only ones who know the true meaning of a religion. Knowing one’s own faith is not a big deal, knowing about the common thread / common bond between different faiths makes all the difference.
To live and practice one’s own religion is done by everybody and is normal practice but there are a few exceptional who tend to protect other’s faiths which is really unique and one of the best examples of setting new moralistic yardstick for others to emulate. Devotion to one’s own religion is not so great as the protection and to give supreme sacrifice for others’ causes is creation of new standards in understanding the meaning of any religion. Guruji’s ideals is based on the precept: : “I believe in the right of others to practice their faith peacefully”
It is pertinent to mention here about the highhandedness with which Aurangzeb ruled this country from 1658 to 1707 for 49 years. He killed his three brothers and even imprisoned his father and came to power. During this rule he wanted to bring true Islamic governance in whole of his empire. Akbar adopted many un-islamic beliefs in his personal life and also on his empire. He visited Hindu temples and let others to follow their religious beliefs without let or hindrance.
Contrarily Aurangzeb had a strong religious convictions with, of course, a very simple lifestyle which he assiduously practiced and followed. He compiled a book of Islamic Laws. The historians tell us about his intolerance and oppression. He is said to have destroyed the religious places of other faiths; the Hindus and the Sikhs and it is an undisputed historical fact. He followed the policy of forceful conversions and those who disagreed were put to death. He even opposed veneration of Sufis.
Amongst other religions, in all his empire, he stressed implementing his dictum ‘convert or be killed’ strictly. Amongst these Kashmiri Pandits (a highly intelligent and regiously awakened community) were also the victims. The Kashmiri Pandits had a highest reverence for Sikh Gurus from Guru Nanak Dev Ji onwards. Pandit Kirpa Ram along with other community members came to Anandpur on 25 May 1675 to take Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji’s succor with a plea to save them from the tyranny of Aurangzeb who had given them the option; either convert to Islam or face a sure death. A decree which made the entire community helpless and thus they have sought the assistance of the Guru.
Guru Tegh Bahadur followed Sikh traditions and did not follow customs of Hindus but helping the hapless and oppressed being the mission of Sikh Gurus, the Guru was in deep thought with concern writ large on his face. Factually, the intolerance perpetrated by Aurangzeb moved the Guru immensely. During the time, revered Guru was in deep thought, meanwhile, his nine years old son (Guru) Gobind entered. Sensing the concern, he asked his father about the whole matter. After having known the predicament that Aurangzeb had issued a decree that all Hindus should be converted to Islam. It is because, according to him, his religion was the only true religion.
It was also made known by the revered Guruji that a sacrifice by a holy man could avert all this. The great son of the greatest Guru replied: who could be holier than you(his father). Having pleased with the pronouncement of his son, subsequently, the Guru unambiguously told Kashmiri Pandits: Go and tell the State Governor that you people were ready to convert Kashmiris provided he was able to convert Tegh Bahadur, The Kashmiri Pandits felt relieved by this pronouncement. The Sadh Sangat present there was really saddened by this but they knew they could do nothing when the decision was finally made.
The message was finally conveyed to the emperor who knew the steadfast beliefs of Guru Tegh Bahadur. These principles being: All religions are pure and only noble deeds count ultimately. The emperor ordered that the Guru ought to be brought to Delhi. Then afterwards the Guru bade his farewell to his wisdom filled son, his wife Mata Nanaki and Sangat after recitation of holy Kirtan on 11 July, 1675.
On reaching Delhi after his visit to other places, he was asked to convert to Islam or face consequences. Guruji, without mincing any words, unequivocally replied that he loved his religion and will not forsake it. It was also told to him that if he refused to convert, his followers would be killed. In this, Bhai Mati Das and Bhai Gayala besides Bhai Sati Das were killed ruthlessly which the Holy Guru saw with utmost serenity because he thought if this was the Will of God then be it. Thence afterwards, Guru was kept in a cage. There too Guruji was absorbed in prayers. Utmost persuasion and persecution could not do any dent on the resolve of Guruji.
Finally, the emperor ordered that our revered Guruji be executed in Chandni Chowk. This order made the sadh sangat saddened/perturbed. On 11th November 1675 Guruji was brought to a selected place and made to sit on a specially made platform. All eyes were on Guruji. Then the orders of the emperor were complied (which I too find difficult to pen down – even now). Thus our revered Guruji attained martyrdom on this day. Such was the barbarity of the ruler. All present there were overwhelmed with this inhuman act. Not only this, even Mother Nature shed tears; a huge thunder storm followed.
Bhai Jaita picked up the severed head of the Guruji who had immortalized himself by his supreme sacrifice for a cause of protecting people of other religion! The head was cremated at Anandpur Sahib where a Gurdwara stands in the fond memory of our Guruji. The body of the Guruji was taken by Bhai Lakhi and his son immediately from the scene to their home most reverently, offered prayers to the memory of departed Guru and subsequently set the house on fire. Factually, an example not found anywhere! Thus, Guruji’s disciples exhibited a supreme courage in saving Guruji’s head and body from being disgraced. Gurdwara Rakab Ganj stands in the memory of the most revered Guruji,
LESSONS FROM THE SUPREME SACRIFICE OF GURU TEGH BAHADURJI
- The Laws of Nature are unalterable.
• Miracle has no place in religion (Guruji told the emperor wehen he was told to exhibit any miracle).
• All religions are pure,
• At the end of all, only noble deeds count,
• Freedom of worship should be allowed without any bias.
• All religions should be treated equally.
• No life is as precious as the principles one stand for, He made supreme sacrifice for upholding those principles only.
Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji’s ideals and principles are more relevant now than ever and therefore ought to be followed by all right thinking persons.