Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Guru Teg Bahadur Shaheedi

This weekend at the Gurdwara Sahib we are remembering the Shaheedi of Guru Teg Bahadur Ji. 

Guru Teg Bahadur Ji was born April 18, 1621 to parents Guru Har Gobind Ji and Mata Nanaki. He became our 9th Guru on April 16, 1664. Emperor Aurangzeb ordered the destruction of Hindu temples and Gurdwaras, fired Hindus from their jobs and imposed taxes on them. The Brahmin Pandits of Kashmir were threatened that if they did not convert to Islam they would be executed. Their daughters were raped. They came in desperation, asking for help from Guru Ji to protect them from Aurangzeb. Guru Ji’s son, Gobind Rai, was a mere 9 years old at the time and asked what was happening. Upon hearing that this would require the sacrifice of a great person, Gobind Rai replied that there would be no one else better suited to defending the Brahmins than his own father. Guru Teg Bahadur Ji told the Pandits to tell Aurangzeb if he could convert Guru Ji to Islam, then they would as well. Gobind Rai was made Guru on July 8, 1675. Guru Teg Bahadur Ji set out for Delhi with Bhai Sati Das, Bhai Mati Das and Bhai Dayal Das. They were then arrested. Guru Ji was transported to Delhi in an iron cage on the back of an elephant. On the way, he composed the following: “Dohraa: My strength is exhausted, and I am in bondage; I cannot do anything at all. Says Nanak, now, the Lord is my Support; He will help me, as He did the elephant. ||53||” and the reply to himself “My strength has been restored, and my bonds have been broken; now, I can do everything. Nanak: everything is in Your hands, Lord; You are my Helper and Support. ||54||” (page 1429 Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji).

Guru Ji and his followers were tortured. Bhai Mati Das, Sati Das and Dyal Das were martyred in front of Guru Ji. Bhai Mati Das Ji was sawed in half. When Bhai Dyal Das Ji was then asked to convert to Islam, he replied “My misguided friends, do you think that you have killed my brother, Bhai Mati Das? If so you are mistaken. You have not killed him. You have given him ever lasting life. He has become immortal. He will live forever in the hearts of men. He will be source of inspiration to others. Many like him will rise and follow his example. A time will come when you and your emperor will be no more, but Bhai Mati Das will be yet alive. I will not give up my faith. The pleasures which you offer have no charm for me. The tortures with which you have threatened me, have no terrors for me. Be quick and send me to where my brother, Bhai Mati Das, has gone to live forever in the lap of the Lord.”  He was then made to sit in a pot of boiling water. Bhai Sati Das Ji was martyred by being wrapped in cotton and burned alive. Guru Ji was in deep meditation while witnessing these horrific events. He chanted: “Give up your head, but forsake not those whom you have undertaken to protect. Says Tegh Bahadur, sacrifice your life, but relinquish not your faith.” Guru Ji was beheaded Nov 24, 1675 at Chandni Chauk for refusal to convert to Islam. (Gurdwara Sis Ganj has been created at this site). There was a big storm right after the execution. Bhai Jaita Ji took Guru Ji’s severed head to Anandpur Sahib for cremation, and Bhai Lakhi Shah took Guru Ji’s body, setting his house on fire in order to cremate Guru Ji’s body. 

This was a huge moment in history. It set the scene for the fall of the Mughal empire and the rise of the Khalsa under the guidance of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Guru Teg Bahadur Ji taught us the body can be tortured but the soul is one with God. Guru Ji sacrificed his life for the rights of Hindus to practice their religion. This teaches us that as Sikhs we need to stand up for human rights as a whole, giving our lives if necessary. Guru Gobind Singh Ji wrote, "Sis Diya Par Sir Na Diya" of Guru Teg Bahadur Ji, meaning "He laid down his head but not his principles." May we all be inspired by the sacrifice of these Shaheeds to build our faith so strong that it cannot be destroyed by any challenge in life, that we remain in Chardi Kala no matter what, and to stand up for the rights of those who cannot protect themselves. 


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