Guru Tegh Bahadur: The Shield of Nation by Col. Dr. Dalvinder Singh Grewal Group Director & Principal, GTBK Institute of Engg. & Technology Malout, Muktsar Punjab The period of later Mughals in India was of great turmoil and turbulence. The religious fanaticism of Aurangzeb had .started a reign of terror over the Hindus. As the physical subjugation of the Indians to the foreign invaders was complete; the psychological subjugation was the next step which had started with Islamisation of India. This process was adopted by Aurangzeb with greater zeal without caring for the feelings of the poor public. He wanted India to be Dar-ul-Islam. In April 1669, he had 'ordered the governors of all provinces to demolish all the schools and temples of the infidels and strongly put down their teachings and religious practices.' (Maasar-I-Alamgiri, 81). 'Every idol-house built during the last 10-12 years, whether with brick or clay, should be demolished without delay, and the Governor should not allow the cursed Hindus and the despicable infidels to repair their old temples.' (Muraqa'at-I-Abul-Hassan, 202), He appointed officers in all sub-divisions and the cities to the Empire to enforce the order on destruction of Hindu temples this being their main duty. The number of the officers was so large that a director-general was appointed to guide their activity. Side by side with destruction of temples, Aurangzeb was busy converting Hindus to Islam. (Sarkar J.N., History of Aurangzeb, 267). No one could afford to speak out as his mouth was sure to be shut and tongue cut off. None dared to point out to the atrocities of the invaders, thus these activities of conversions of Hindus in to Islam not only went on unchecked but increased progressively. This algebraic increase was sure to convert the entire Hindu community of India into Islam within the next few years. This was certainly a cause of worry for those who loved Hinduism from their core of hearts. However there was no one to lead them. It was this situation in which Guru Tegh Bahadur (1921-1675) not only offered to give voice to the feelings of the Hindus but also accepted to lead them to stop this carnage and conversion regime. Born on 1 April 1621 in Punjab, at Amritsar, in Guru ke Mahal, to Mata Nanaki, Tegh Bahadur was more inclined to meditation from the very childhood. However when desired by his father of Sri Guru Hargobind, the sixth Guru of Sikhs, he took up sword and showed his mental in the battlefield of Kartarpur and mowed down the Mughal attackers. He was declared ninth Guru of Sikhs at Baba Bakala in March 1965. This declaration has an interesting background. Makhan Shah Lubana (Vanjara), a trader had a serious problem when his ship got stuck in sea. He prayed to the Guru that if his ship got saved with Guru's blessings he would offer 1000/- Gold coins to the Guru. Just before on 30 March 1664, Guru Harkishen had left for heavenly abode and had uttered the word 'Baba Bakale' indicating that his successor was his grand elder in lineage stationed at Bakala. As Makhan Shah's ship got saved he reached Bakala to pray and pay the prayed amount to the Guru. Tegh Bahadur was not declared Guru till then and number of Guru Harkishan's relatives claimed themselves as Guru. Not sure as to who was Guru, he offered a gold coin each in front all one by one. As he offered the gold coin to Tegh Bahadur, pat came the question, "Is your ship safe?" Makhan Shah was quick to realise. He declared openly, "Guru ladho re" (The guru has been found.) Tegh Bahadur was then installed as the ninth Guru by the sangat. Guru Tegh Bahadur, established village Makhowal on the land donated by Raja Bhim Singh the King of Kahloor who was his devoted follower. There after he left for preaching the word of God in Malwa and later moved to UP, Bihar, Bengal and Assam. He found the people being oppressed and victimised by the ruling class. He raised voice against the oppression through his writings and declared that he was not afraid of anyone. "Bhai kahu ko det(i) nah(i), nah(i) bhai manat aan(i)". (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p.1427) "Neither I cause fear unto others nor I accept any fear." He traveled wide to convey the true message of the Lord. Wherever he went, he instilled confidence in the Public. He also helped in stopping the expansion of the Mughals and subjugation of Hindus by helping Raja Ram Singh the General of Aurangzeb and the King of Assam to come to terms and enter into a respectable treaty where the latter's kingdom was not to be disturbed. He had provided a leading light to the flickering hope of the Indians who found a hope in him as their saviour at this crucial juncture when either their annihilation or conversion was sure. Iftikhar Khan (1671-1675), the Governor of Kashmir (Bamzai, PNK, History of Kashmir, p.371) had taken the orders of Aurangzeb very seriously. He tortured the pandiits of Kashmir and attempted forcible conversion. The leading pundits of Kashmir under Pundit Kirpa Ram of Mutton, came to Guru Tegh Bahadur with a delegation of 16 Pandits, explaining him the terrorised conversions of Hindus by the ruler of Kashmir.(Bhatt Wahi Multani Sindhi, Khata Balaonton ka). He knew that the Islamic zealots will not stop until some special event occurred. Some great personality has to raise his voice against this and accept his own sacrifice as a result. Finding no one else ready to take on this cause where martyrdom was sure, Guru Tegh Bahadur took upon himself to raise the voice against oppressive conversions. He asked the pandits to convey to the Kashmir ruler that if their Guru Tegh Bahadur accepted Islam they would also accept conversion. The message was conveyed and the expected reaction came too fast. Mughals saw this as a fit case for fast conversion. The Emperor sent an order from Hassan Abdal for the arrest of Guru Tegh Bahadur. (Ghulam Hussain, Siar-ul-Mutakharin). Guru Tegh Bahadur was arrested along with his three devoted disciples, Bhai Diala, Bhai Mati Dass and Bhai Sati Dass. and brought them to Delhi for enforcing conversion so that all the Kashmiris could convert thereafter. The courtiers and Qazis tried to convince first and then lure them into conversion. But soon they found that this task of conversion was not so easy as they had thought. The King was regularly informed of the events. Having failed to convince or lure they thought of force and if need be the ultimate elimination. Execution of the Guru would have sent a wrong message to the public, not to yield to the oppression. This in turn would have turned the waves of forcible conversion in the opposite direction. Guru Tegh Bahadur's execution was considered as the last choice. They thought it a better way to torture his disciples and create fear in Guru's mind so that he ultimately yielded to their will. There started the most horrifying tale of torture and the great story of the resistance and fearlessness. The words" Bhai kahu ko det na na bhai manit aan" was actually converted into deeds of great valour and the greatest martyrs of India did what is now being written in golden letters of Indian history. Neither the Guru nor his disciples bowed before the torture. The order, "put Tegh Bahadur to sword and display parts of his body on the gates of the city" was soon received from Aurangzeb. (Ghulam Hussain, Siar-ul- Mutakharin). This history was created on 10 November 1675. First disciple of Guru Tegh Bahadur to be put to the death by torture was Bhai Mati Dass. Bhai Mati Dass was not only the most devoted Sikh of the Guru, but was also the Diwan and the Home-Minister (Gharbari) of the Guru.1 He was to be put to death in front of the Guru by sawing his body into two parts. Bhai Mati Dass was bound between two planks and sawing started from his head. Bhai Mati Dass remained totally calm and started reciting Gurbani facing the Guru, His recitation continued through the entire process of sawing. Even when his body was cut into two pieces the name of the Lord could be heard emerging out of both the parts. (ardho ardh chirai su dara. Paryo pirthi par hoi dofara. Donhun tan te Japuji padai. Horat sabh ke achraj badhai.)2 According to Metcalffe " It is said that even when his body was divided in two, he continued to repeat the great morning-prayer of the Sikhs, and only became silent when its recitation was complete."3 Guru Tegh Bahadur was being asked continuously either to accept Islam to save himself and his disciples or to show any miracle, which the Guru refused blandly. There was silence of graves around at such a fearful occurrence but this silence was broken by Bhai Diala's forceful words. He said, "It is not that you have got a guiltless Sikh sawed into two pieces, but you have sawed the Baber's dynasty."4 Hearing this Qazi and other courtiers became ferocious. Bhai Diala was caught hold, tied with ropes and thrown into the boiling water. Bhai Diala kept cool and recited the Gurbani till he did not breathe his last. The Guru was again asked for accepting Islam or to show miracle which the guru again refused. Then came the turn of Bhai Sati Dass brother of Bhai Mati Dass. Cotton was tied around him and he wads put to fire. Bhai Mati Dass too continued with the morning prayer till his part was detached. The Qazi Abul Wahab Bohra and the courtiers were extremely irritated at the kind of peace on the faces of the martyrs; there being no sign of fear on anyone's face and not caring for punishment but for the recitation of grubbing. Bohra repeatedly asked Guru Tegh Bahadur to accept Islam or show miracle but Guru said, " I can go into the ground but I will not leave my religion." Guru Tegh Bahadur boil, Dhar payeeye dharam na chhodie." The irritated Qazi ordered the Guru to be put to sword. Guru Tegh Bahadur was thus achieved martyrdom saving Hinduism. Guru Tegh Bahadur's body could not be displayed on the gates as it was taken away by his disciples. Lakhi Shah Vanjara along with other disciples brought a convoy of carts on the route where Guru's body was lying and in the dust, he picked up the body from the ground and brought it to his house. Immediately he put the body on pyre inside his house and put his house on fire. Guru's head was taken away by Bhai Jaita to Anandpur Sahib. Guru Tegh Bahdur's sacrifice for saving religion is unparalleled. Guru Gobind Singh later wrote in his verses," tilak janjhu rakha prabh taka. Keeno badu kalu mahi saka. Dharam het saka jin kia. Sees dia par sirar na diya. (He was the protector of Tilak (vermilion) and janjhu (sacred thread). He did a great deed in this Kalyuga. He laid down his life for the religion. He gave his life but did not back away from the word." Soon this news spread around and the true Muslims felt this was a great atrocity done on a religious man. The forcible conversions were soon to stop, as Guru Gobind Singh raised a formidable force of Sikhs to save the nation. Thus Guru Tegh Bahadur became the shield of Hinduism at a crucial juncture. A writer rightly observed, If Guru Tegh Bahadur had not laid his life, 'every Indian would have been circumcised.'