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Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib was the ninth guru of the Sikhs.
One of the tenets of Sikhism is the universal brotherhood of man
which was espoused by the founder if the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak Dev Ji. His
was a vision that transcended all barriers of caste, creed, race, religion and
gender to bring all humanity under a single umbrella of common brotherhood. All
successive Sikh Gurus practiced, preached and protected this moral ideal.
Guru Tegh Bahadur was a pious man whose life was a living
example of humility, piety and compassion and whose sublime poetry embodies
worldly detachment and is incorporated in the Sikh holy scripture, The Guru
Granth Sahib. Guruji is often referred to as Hind Ki Chadar, meaning The Shielder
of the Hindus.
During the time of Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib, India was ruled by the Mughals under the fanatic and cruel Emperor Aurangzeb. He with single minded determination headed a relentless campaign of forcible conversions of Hindus to Islam, starting in North India, in Kashmir and Punjab. His sole motive was to turn India into an Islamic state.
Aurangzeb was a tyrant and was absolutely ruthless. He was a terror in his own family as well. He had imprisoned his father (Emperor Shah Jahan) and got his brothers murdered all for the sake of power that he would get by becoming the emperor. Because of such atrocities he was disliked even by the Muslims.
In Kashmir, the Brahmins or Pandits, the Hindu religious scholars, were being forcibly stripped of their Tilak and janeu (janeu is a sacred thread worn by Hindus), They were tortured and asked to convert to Islam or face death. Many Hindus had been executed by then. There was a reign of terror and fear and clouds of darkness hung all over.
In this hour of darkness, the Kashmiri Pandits saw a beacon of hope in Guru Teg Bahadur sahib whom all Hindus held in high esteem. They felt Guruji could find a way out to end their misery and despair. With this motive in mind, a delegation of 500 Kashimi Pandits led by Pandit Kirpa Ram, reached Anandpur Sahib, the place where Guruji resided. Pandit Kirpa Ram then narrated the atrocities being committed on the Hindus and the dilemma they were in as Aurangzeb had given them a deadline to accept Islam or be prepared for execution. They pleaded for help.
Hearing this Guruji became silent and pensive. When his son Gobind Rai enquired about the reason for being in thought, Guruji related all that the Kashmiri Pandits had transpired and then added that a great soul needs to sacrifice his life, to stop this oppression. The young Gobind Rai who was just 9 years of age at the time responded by saying who could be more worthy of this cause than his father himself.
Guruji realized that Gobind Rai was now capable to take on the responsibilities of Guruship. He asked the delegation to go and tell Aurangzeb that if the Emperor is able to convert Guruji to Islam, the Hindus would follow suit willingly.
Susequently, Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib was arrested and presented before Aurangzeb. On Guruji’s refusal to accept Islam as well as his refusal to perform miracles to prove his divinity, Guruji and his followers who had accompanied him were subjected to various types of physical torture for 5 days.
Following this, and in order to bring Guruji to submission, one of his followers, Bhai Mati Das was sawn alive, the second Bhai Dyala was boiled live in a cauldron while the third Bhai Sati Das was burnt alive before Guruji.