Guru Tegh Bahadur - The Ninth Sikh Guru

The year 2021 marked the 400th birth anniversary of the ninth Sikh Guru, Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. Guru Tegh Bahadur was a great teacher as well as a renowned fighter, thinker, and poet who penned thorough explanations of the nature of God, mind, body, and bodily attachments, among other things spiritual.

In this article, we will learn about the life history of Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur. This topic falls under the GS Paper-1, History of the UPSC CSE and will be relevant for the upcoming UPSC Prelims 2022.

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About Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur

Early Life:

  • Guru Tegh Bahadur was born at Guru Ke Mahal, Amritsar on April 1, 1621, to Guru Hargobind, the sixth Guru of the Sikhs and Mata Nanaki. 
  • He was the fifth and the youngest son of Guru Hargobind and was given the name Tyaga Mal at birth. 
  • Guru Tegh Bahadur was trained in martial arts, swordsmanship, and horseback riding as a kid. 
  • Despite being a capable soldier with his father in several battles, he seems to have chosen a life of renunciation and meditation.
  • In 1633, he married Gujari, later called Mata Gujari.
  • In 1656, they relocated to Bakala, where Tegh Bahadur would spend most of his time in reflection and meditation.
  • He became the ninth Guru after succeeding Guru Har Krishan and was followed by the tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh.
  • His term as Guru ran from 1665 to 1675.

Contributions:

  • Sikhs revered Guru Tegh Bahadur as the ‘Protector of Humanity’ (Srisht-di-Chadar).
  • He was a great thinker and poet who provided thorough explanations of the nature of God, body, mind and bodily attachments, among other spiritual matters. In the form of 116 poetic hymns called Salokas and Couplets, his compositions are enshrined in the sacred scripture, ‘Guru Granth Sahib’.
  • He is said to have travelled widely to spread Nanak’s teachings. 
  • Everywhere he went, he built up communal kitchens and wells for the locals.
  • He created the settlement of Chak-Nanki in Punjab, which eventually became a part of Anandpur Sahib, a well-known holy city and popular tourist destination in the Himalayan foothills.
  • During Aurangzeb’s reign, he opposed forcible conversions of non-Muslims to Islam.
  • He is also known as a great teacher and an excellent warrior.

Martyrdom:

  • There are various versions that explain why Guru Tegh Bahadur was executed under Aurangzeb’s command.
  • He fought for the rights of Kashmiri Pandits who approached him against Aurangzeb’s religious persecution.
  • At the command of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, he was publicly executed in Delhi in 1675 for refusing to submit to Mughal authorities and opposing them.
  • In Delhi, the Gurudwaras Sis Ganj Sahib and Rakab Ganj Sahib commemorate the locations of his execution and cremation.
  • According to the Nanakshahi calendar published by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in 2003, the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur is commemorated every year on November 24 as the Shaheedi Divas.
  • The execution strengthened Sikhs’ commitment to oppose religious injustice and persecution.
  • His martyrdom aided the Sikh Panth in uniting to make human rights protection vital to Sikh identity.
  • Inspired by him, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, finally formed the Sikh group into a separate, formal, symbol-patterned society that became known as Khalsa (Martial).

Learn more about the journey of Guru Tegh Bahadur by visiting the link, This day in History.

About Sikhism – In Brief

  • Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the 15th century in the Punjab province of then-undivided India and Pakistan. The development of Sikhism was influenced by the Bhakti movement and Vaishnavism.
  • Sikh means ‘learner’ in Punjabi, and people who joined the Sikh community, or Panth (path), were spiritual seekers.
  • Guru Nanak Dev is revered as the first Sikh Guru, subsequently led by a succession of nine other Gurus. Guru Gobind Singh, who founded Kalsa is the tenth Sikh Guru.
  • Guru Gobind Singh declared that the lessons contained in the Guru Granth Sahib will remain the spiritual guidance of the Sikhs after his death, hence it holds the rank of a Guru. Therefore, Sikhs regard Guru Granth Sahib, also known as the Adi Granth, as a living Guru.

Read comprehensively about Sikhism in the linked article.

Beliefs:

  • Sikhs believe in a single God (Ek Onkar). They remember God in everything that they do. This is known as Simran.
  • Gurmat (Punjabi for “the Way of the Guru”) is the name given to the Sikh faith.
  • It teaches that persons of various races, faiths, or genders are all equal in God’s eyes.
  • Sikhism rejects blind rituals such as fasting, pilgrimage, superstitions, worship of the dead, idol worship, and so forth.
  • The Khalsa emphasises the greatest Sikh characteristics of devotion, commitment, and social awareness.
    • The Khalsa are men and women who have undergone Sikh baptism and adhere to the Sikh Code of Conduct and Conventions.
    • They wear the faith’s authorised physical articles (5Ks: Kara (an iron bracelet), Kesh (uncut hair), Kachera (cotton underpants), Kangha (a wooden comb) and Kirpan (an iron dagger).

Read more on Guru Nanak and the Sikh religion in the linked post.

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