24th November marks the Shaheedi Diwas (martyrdom day) of Dhan Guru Tegh Bahadar Sahib jee and his great Sikhs - Bhai Mati Daas jee, Bhai Dayal Daas jee and Bhai Sati Daas jee, who gave Shaheedi at Chandni Chownk standing up for justice for not just Sikhs, but for all of humanity.
A GLIMPSE AT THE MARTYDOM OF GURU TEGH BAHADAR SAHIB JEE
The Cries of Oppression
Emperor Aurangzeb was a barbaric ruler of the Mughal Dynasty who came to power in 1658 and ruled for 49 painful years until his death in 1707. When he came to power in 1658, he killed all his three brothers and imprisoned his father and forcibly converted 100,000 Hindus to Islam.
In early 1675, the Kashmiri Pandits (the elite scholars and most revered sages of India) approached Guru Tegh Bahadar Sahib jee to seek his assistance in their hour of need. Pandit Kripa Ram with his delegation of 50 Brahman Pandits met Guru Sahib at Sri Anandpur Sahib. The Brahmans cried and desperately described their pity state of being looted, oppressed, killed, taxed extra, their daughters being kidnapped and their temples being destroyed. They begged Guru Sahib for his mercy to save them as they heard that anyone who comes to the House of Guru Nanak never goes empty and that the Great Guru will give them shelter and support.
Need of Supreme Sacrifice
The young 9-year-old Sri Gobind Rai (Guru Gobind Singh Sahib jee) asked his father what was happening and why everyone was sad. Hearing the distressing plight of the Brahmans Guru jee said to this father, "Some well-known Great Soul will have to make a sacrifice to stop this butchery. We have to find a supreme soul who will die so as to awaken the sleeping consciousness of humanity... who is greater than you father to fulfil this task".
Guru Tegh Bahadar Sahib jee addressed the Pandits, "Go and tell Aurangzeb that if he can convert the Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadar, to Islam, they will all convert. Otherwise he should leave them alone." The Pandits were delighted that a solution was found and immediately informed Emperor Aurangzeb of the decision. Aurangzeb was overjoyed that by converting one person, he would without any further delay have the conversion of many thousands to Islam. Accordingly he summoned his officers to arrest Guru Sahib.
Arrest & Torture
Guru Sahib with the five Sikhs made their way towards Delhi and was arrested on the journey. Aurangzeb asked Guru Sahib that he thought he was a Man of God then he should perform miracles like the Prophets of Islam. Guru Sahib replied that miracles are a cheap way of pleasing others and that he is only interested in pleasing God. One should live and accept the Will of God.
Guru Sahib was then asked to convert to Islam. Guru Sahib refused. When the allurement of greed and fear of death failed to move the Guru, the 3 Sikhs of the Guru that remained with the Guru were barbarically tortured one by one so that the Guru will succumb and plead for mercy. The Guru began smiling when the Sikh's were sawn alive, boiled alive, and burnt alive. Aurangzeb asked, "O Guru of the Sikhs, why are smiling? What is there to be happy about?" Guru Sahib replied, "Today is the great test of my Sikhs. They enrolled in the school of Sikhi and today they have passed their test and graduated in the Guru's School - they have lived Sikhi till their last breath and hair on their body. For this reason I am smiling in joy."
Martyrdom of Guru Sahib
Finally, the Guru himself was beheaded, under imperial warrant, in broad daylight, in the middle of a public square, the most prominent public place in India, called Chandni Chownk, of Delhi, on the charge that he was a stumbling block preventing the spread of Islam in the Indian subcontinent. Guru Sahib's martyrdom made the world realise that one should live in dignity and die with honour, which infused new hope, inspiration and courage into the people of India. Guru Tegh Bahadar Sahib jee earned the affectionate title of "Dharam-di-Chaadar" or the Shield of Righteousness.
Guru Sahib didn’t die for the Hindus. Guru Sahib sacrificed himself for the principle that ‘Even if I disagree with you, I believe in your right to LIVE PEACEFULLY’.
Cremation of the Body and Head
Khushwaqt Rai who was employed as an intelligencer in the Punjab was asked by Colonel Ochterlony to collect information on the history of the Sikhs, wrote The Tawarikh-i-Sikhan. His account was completed in 1811-12 CE at Batala in the upper Bari Doab. According to him Bhai Jaita jee caught the Guru's head in his lap the moment it fell from the body. Running day and night he carried the head to Guru Gobind Singh Sahib jee at Anandpur Sahib. It was cremated with fragrant wood.
The sky suddenly became dark and cloudy and none dared remove the body of Guru Tegh Bahadar Sahib jee from the Chandni Chownk for cremation without explicit orders from the Emperor. A Vanjaara follower of Guru Nanak, who was bringing his grain-laden bullocks from that side, put the body of Guru Sahib in a sack, took it out of the city and respectfully cremated it.
Guruship Passed On
The Tenth Guru received Bhai Jaita jee who had travelled all the way from Delhi to Anandpur Sahib with Guru Sahib's severed head. The Tenth Guru embraced him and said, "Rangretta Guru Ka Betta". Bhai Jaita told the young Guru and his family how Guru Tegh Bahadar Sahib jee had said that his son was the next Guru and bowed to his son, infusing the Guru-Jyot (Divine Light) into the Tenth Master. Sri Gobind Rai jee (Guru Gobind Singh jee) became the Tenth and final Guru in human form.
The Guru by this act has set a yardstick by which the Sikh must gauge their devotion to their religion. It is now not acceptable to say that: "I believe in the right of others to live in peace and dignity" - this does not even get near the level of awareness required for the followers of Gurmat. Guru Sahib has by his example taught Sikhs to maintain a high level of morality and always pray and act towards "Sarbat Da Bhalaa," the goodness and betterment of all humanity.