Guru Teg Bahadar Sodhi, born in Amritsar, was the youngest son of Nanakee and her husband Sixth GuruHar Govind, who named the infant Tyag Mal at birth. From the age of four and a half, the child began receiving all manner of instruction from pious Sikhs such as Bhai Budha and Bhai Gur Das. His religious education included not only the Sikh philosophy, but a study of the Vedic and Islamic scriptures. The lad traveled to places like Goindwal along with his parents as a part of his father’s ministry. A contemplative soul, Tyag Mal often slipped into meditative trances from the tender age of five years and on.
Tyag Mal was married at the age of 11 to Gujri, the daughter of Lal Chand, a Sikh who had settled in Kartar Pur. Gujri’s famiy were of the Subhikhi Khatri clan. Gujri had two brothers. The elder, Mehar Chand, remained in the family holdings in Lakhnaur, close to Ambala. The younger brother, Kirpal Chand, stayed on with his father in Kartar Pur. He was often with Gujri and developed a close relationship with her husband.
Ferocious in Battle:
Tyag Mal’s schooling included martial training with Guru Har Gobind’s, men at arms. At about age 13 or 14, Tyag Mal joined his father the Guru and his Sikhs in a battle which took place in Kartar Pur. His family had been attacked by Mughal forces. Tyag Mal whose name meant, “Mastery of renunciation,” battled the enemy with ferocious vigor, showing such valorous courage with the sword when fighting his adversaries, that his family gave him a new name, Teg Bahadar, meaning “Champion with the sword.”
Teg Bahadar’s father, Guru Har Govind, appointed his grandson Har Rai as his successor, Guru Har Govind advised Teg Bahadar to take his wife Gurjri, and mother, Nanakee, to live in Bakala. After his father’s death, Teg Bahadar resided in Bakala for about 20 years where it is commonly believed he immersed himself in meditation for 17 years. Kirpal Chand joined Guru Har Rai’s forces. He visited Gujri and Teg Bahadar a couple times yearly and kept them appraised of goings on in the Guru’s court. Teg Bahadar traveled between 1657 A.D. and 1661 A.D. concluding his journey in Kirat Pur to mourn the passing of Guru Har Rai.
Guru Hari Rai appointed his youngest son,Har Krishan (Kishan), to succeed him. Teg Bahadar, his wife and mother gave obeisance to Guru Har Krishan and then returned to Bakala. Teg Bahadar once again secluded himself in meditation. Upon his death, with the words “Baba Bakale,” Guru Har Krishan indicated that his disciple, Diwan Durga Mal, take the tokens of inauguration to Bakala with instructions that Teg Bahadar Sodhi succeed him as ninth guru. Dhir Mal, and other Sodhis saw the opportunity to usurp the title of guru. In all 22 impostors set up courts around Bakala hoping to establish themselves as guru.
Inauguration Ceremony Performed:
A delegation led by Diwan Durga Mal performed an inauguration ceremony for Guru Teg Bahadar on August 11, 1664. It was attended by a number of prominent Sikhs as well as the mother of the late Guru Har Krishan. After a period of 10 days, Guru Teg Bahadar accompanied her to visit the late Guru’s sister, Sarup Kaur. The next day they held funeral services and immersed Guru Har Krishan’s ashes in the river, Sutlej. Despite the inauguration proceedings held for Guru Teg Bahadar, the pretenders maintained their facade. The impostors stayed in Bakala and kept up the farce of their pretense in hopes of attracting followers.
Makhan Shah Denounces the Imposters:
Makhan Shah, a trader, had been at Sea along the Northern coast of India when a great storm nearly sank his ship. He prayed fervently promising an offering of several hundred Gold Mohars to the Guru should his life and ship be spared. When he reached Bakala, he found 22 pretenders posing as Gurus. He let it be known that he had come with a gift of gold for the true Guru. He visited each of the impostors by turn offering only two gold Mohars. When he came before Teg Bahadar, the Guru reminded him of his promise and requested the entire sum. Makhan Shah then exposed all of the pretenders and put an end to their fraud.
Guru Teg Bahadar departed from the Punjab and went on tour in Assam and Bengal for several years accompanied by his family. His wife Gujri, mother Nankee, and brother-in-law Kirpal Chand settled in Patna, under the protection of the local Raja. Using Patna as his base, the guru ministered to his Sikhs and settled disputes between rival kingdoms. He visited Dhamdhan to celebrate the birth of First Guru Nanak around the time of Diwali festival, however imperial Mughal troupes led by Alam Khan Rohilla arrested the guru and several disciples. Dhirmal and Ram Rai conspired together resulting in the guru being taken to Delhi for interrogation. Raja Ram Singh interceded and arranged for the guru’s release. Guru Teg Bahadar continued his ministry, and while on tour holding peace negotiations, his son and successor, Gobind Rai, who would one day become Guru Gobind Singh, was born.
Persecution by Aurangzeb:
The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb began a systematic persecution of Hindus, Sikhs, and even Muslim minorities such as Shias and Sufis, which included razing of temples and gurdwaras, Jizia taxation, extortion and forced conversion. Gur Teg Bahadar had taken up residence in Anand Pur. A delegation of 16 Brahmans by led by Kirpa Ram, whose father was Arhu Ram, appealed to the Guru for help. Gobind Rai attended the counsel and asked his father what could be done. The Guru indicated that it would take the sacrifice of a great man to put matters right. The boy responded saying that his father was the greatest of men.
Arrest, Imprisonment and Martrydom:
Teg Bahadar named Gobind Rai as his successor and departed for the Mughal court with Mati Das, Sati Das and Dayal Das. They were arrested by Mirza Nur Mohammad Khan and imprisoned in Fort Sirhind. After four months they were move to Delhi where they were tortured for eight days in an effort to forcibly convert them to Islam. His captors demanded that the guru perform a miracle to save his life. Mati Das was sawn into pieces. Sati Das was wrapped in cotton, and burnt. Dayal Das was boiled in a pot. Lastly Guru Teg Bahadur was beheaded. He left Aurangzeb a note stating that a miracle had occurred when he gave up his head rather than giving up his faith.
Guru Teg Bahadar composed 514 lines of verse, much of it written while in prison. His compositions were added later by his son to the Guru Granth .
Important Dates and Corresponding Events:
Dates correspond to the Nanakshahi calendar unless otherwise indicated with A.D. representing the Gregorian calendar, C.E. the Common Era, or SV the ancient Vikram Samvat calendar.
- Birth: Amritsar – April 18 1621 A.D. (Four hours before dawn, Vadi fifth day of waning moon, month of Vaisakhk, 1679 SV, – April 1, 1621, Julian calendar). Teg Bahadar is born to mother Nankee and named Tayg Mal at birth by father, Guru Har Gobind Sodhi.
- Marriage: Kartar Pur – February 4, 1631 A.D. Tayg Mal is married to Gujari, daughter of Lal Chand.
- Battle: Kartar Pur – April 26, 1635 A.D. Tayg Mal is named Teg Bahadar for bravery in battle.
- Early Tours: Mid 1657 C.E. – March 1644 C.E. Guru Teg Bahadar tours Kiratpur, Prayag, Benares, Patna and lastly Delhi where he meets with Guru Har Krishanbefore returning to Bakala. The child guru succumbs to small pox and names “Baba Bakala” his successor.
- Inauguration as Guru: Bakala – April 16, 1664. Teg Bahadar is named ninth guru upon the death of Guru Har Krishan. A delegation reaches Bakala and formally inaugurates Guru Teg Bahadur August 11, 1664 A.D. (Nanakshahi commemoration date fluctuates.) Makanshah arrives in Bakala and sets out to expose the imposters and declare Guru Teg Bahadar the true guru.
- Founds Anandpur: June 19, 1665 C.E. Guru Teg Bahadar establishes Anandpur.
- Eastern Tours: 1666 – 70 C.E. Guru Teg Bahadur tours Eastern India, Bengal, and Assam.
- First Arrest & Release:Guru Tegh Bahadar, Sati Das, Mati Das and Gawal Das are arrested four days prior to Diwali and released December 13, 1665 C.E. (Poh 1, 1722 S.V.).
- Birth of Son: Patna – January 5, 1666. Gobind Rai is born while Guru Teg Bahadar is on tour.
- Petition: Anandpur – May 25, 1675 A.D. Kashmiri Brahmans request Guru Teg Bahadar’s intervention with Mughals.
- Succession: Anandpur – July 8, 1675 A.D. Guru Teg Bahadar appoints Gobind Rai 10th guru.
- Imprisonment: Malikpur – July 12, A.D. 1675 Delhi – November 4 1675 A.D.
- Martyrdom and Death: Delhi – November 24, 1675. Guru Teg Bahadar is beheaded at the order of Aurangzeb.