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The Supreme Sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur
The Supreme Sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur

Sikh Missionary Society: Publications: The Supreme Sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur:

 Travels to the East

Travels to the East

"My Father Guru set out for the East;
and visited various places of pilgrimage."
(Bachittar Natak Guru Gobind Singh ji)
Soon after His investiture, Guru Tegh Bahadur ji decided to visit Amritsar along with His followers. Amritsar for the Sikhs is what Vatican or Jerusalem is for the Christians, or Mecca for the Muslims. Moreover, Amritsar was also the birthplace and the ancestral Home of the Great Guru. On reaching Amritsar the Guru's party went straight to the Golden Temple. A Temple whose construction was started by Guru Tegh Bahadur ji's great-grandfather, Guru Ramdas ji, and which was completed by his grandfather, Guru Arjan Dev ji. Opposite this was the Akal Takhat where His great Father, Guru Hargobind ji used to sit majestically on a dias with His two swords of "Miri" and "Piri" glittering on either side of Him.

On reaching the precincts of the Golden Temple, the party found that the doors were suddenly shut and they were refused admittance. The reason was that the greedy "masands" (bishops) of Amritsar had acknowledged Guru Arjan Dev ji's elder brother Prithi Chand to be their guru. It was under the instructions of Harji, the impostor (Mina) guru of that time, that the doors of the Golden Temple were closed to Guru Tegh Bahadur ji. The Guru waited nearby for a little while. This place is now known as "Tham Sahib" - the Pillar of Patience. But when the doors were not opened, Guru ji went away and stayed in a nearby village of Wala in the humble dwelling of a peasant couple. Later, the women of Amritsar came out and repented for the shameful behaviour of the masands of Amritsar. Highly pleased at the sincere devotion and courage of the women of Amritsar, Guru Tegh Bahadur ji said, "Ever blessed by God be the women of Amritsar."

Guru ji soon returned to Bakala, the village where He had meditated on the Name of the Timeless Almighty for the last twenty-six years. But He was not to stay there for long. It was essential for Guru Tegh Bahadur ji to leave for Kiratpur Sahib, which had been the headquarters of the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Sikh Gurus.

When the party was packing to leave Bakala for good; Guru ji ordained that they should not take anything that belonged to Dhirmal and that all property belonging to Dhirmal should be left at Bakala. Everything was left, except the original copy of the Guru Granth Sahib (the holy book of the Sikhs) compiled by Guru Arjan Dev ji. When the party had travelled some distance from Bakala, Guru ji, who was on horseback, noticed that one of the Sikhs was carrying the original copy of the Guru Granth Sahib that bad been earlier stolen by Dhirmal from Guru Hargobind ji. Guru Tegh Bahadur ji at once stopped and wished to know who had disobeyed His orders? It was Makhan Shah again. He said with folded hands, "O True King! the original copy of the Guru Granth Sahib belongs to all the Sikhs and not to an apostate like Dhirmal. It was with this intention that I had brought it with me, Lord." Guru ji at once ordered that the sacred volume should be deposited in the waters of River Beas, which they happened to be crossing on their way to Kiratpur Sahib, and a message be sent to Dhirmal to come and collect it from there. Both M. A. Macauliffe and Raja Sri Daljit Singh have written in their books that Dhirmal found the sacred volume intact. They say that the watermarks appear on the margins of this volume, but the written portion remained unharmed even after the sacred volume had remained under the waters of Beas for several days. This sacred volume of the mankind's unique heritage - the Guru Granth Sahib - is still in the possession of the Sodhis of Kartarpur, District Jullundur.

On reaching Kiratpur Sahib, Guru Tegh Bahadur ji held a Darbar. Among the distinguished visitors, who came to pay homage to the Master was Rani Jalal Devi, wife of the late Raja Deep Chand of Bilaspur. She was deeply moved by the charming personality of Guru Tegh Bahadur ji. Guruji bought the village of Makhowal (which was about six miles away from Kiratpur Sahib) from the Rani of Bilaspur. Guru Tegh Bahadur ji ordained that a city be constructed there, and He named this city Anandpur -"the city of Joy." This was to be the new Residence of Guru Tegh Bahadur ji, and this place was to witness on the morning of 30th March, 1699 A.D., the creation of the Khalsa by His son, the Great Guru Gobind Singh ji.

Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib did not, however, stay at Kiratpur Sahib or in the newly purchased village of Anandpur for long. He left most of its construction to be done during His absence. He had received a Divine call from God Almighty to visit the East of India and to preach the Gospel of Truth. This was the call which Guru Nanak had received earlier and this was the Mission for which He had visited all parts of India, Ceylon, Tibet, Middle East including Mecca, Medina and Baghdad. One reason for Guru Tegh Bahadur ji's travels to the East was that He wished to pay a pilgrimage to various places that were associated with the name of Guru Nanak. The basic reason for such personal contacts was to create confidence and to infuse enthusiasm in the people; to give them moral and spiritual courage. Also the mission was to unfold the curtain of superstitions that had blinded the Hindus of India for ages. And what could have been a better place than Banaras or Allahabad (the very centre of Hinduism) to start this mission.

Leaving Anandpur, the Ninth Guru blessing various villages and towns, reached Kurukshetra. An eclipse of the Sun was due and there was a fair and a large gathering. The Guru took advantage of the occasion and went there. The Brahmans and some other people suggested to the Guru that He should bathe in the sacred tank and thus be purified. The Guru smiled and said, "My friends, one cannot be purified simply by washing one's body since the polluted mind cannot be washed with water. It is only the True Name of Almighty God that can wash away all sins and emancipate the soul." This teaching of the Guru went straight to their hearts and many people became Sikhs.


From Kurukshetra Guru ji went to Agra. There He met a person, who expressed a desire to leave his home and become a Yogi. The Guru asked him if he had any family. The man replied that he had a wife and three small children. Guru ji asked the man the ultimate object for which he wished to become a yogi. The man replied that he was going away in search of God. Guru ji then said to him that God had entrusted him with four dependants and he would be proving unfaithful to his Master for leaving his duties undone. Guru ji then recited the following hymn:-
"Why goest thou to search Him in the forest?
He dwelleth in all and also is apart from all
As in flowers there is odour and in a mirror reflection,
So God dwelleth continually in thy heart: search Him there.
O Brother; Know Him to be the same without and within,
This is the knowledge that Guru hath given; Nanak, without knowing thyself the scum of delusion shall not be removed."
(Dhanasri Moh:9)
This indeed is the essence of Sikh philosophy. i.e. to earn one's living by honest means and hard labour; to share it with the needy and the destitute and to contemplate on the True name of The Timeless One. This is the triple formula, which Guru Nanak Sahib has given us. Anyone who follows it, automatically becomes a good citizen of the World and also purifies his soul and attains salvation.


Guru Tegh Bahadur ji, the king of kings, now reached the sacred Hindu city of Prayag. This city is also referred to as Triveni since three rivers i.e. Ganga, Jamuna and the legendary Saraswati become one here. Guru Ji stayed here for several days and blessed the people with all the bounties. People of Prayag were much impressed with the simple mission and the charming personality of the Great Guru.


Banaras or Varanasi is another holy place of the Hindus. east of Prayag and on the banks of river Ganges. On reaching here the melodious Kirtan of Asa-di-Var was performed by the Sikh musicians in the ambrosial hours of the morning. After the prayers had ended, a poor cripple staggered into the Holy presence of Guru Tegh Bahadur ji. He told the Master that he was very poor; so much so that he did not even have a hut to hide himself in during the rainy season and since had no limbs, he could hardly move about. On occasions some kind hearted travellers fed him; otherwise he had to go without food for days and weeks. He wished that the True Guru should emancipate his sufferings. On hearing this the Guru recited the following hymn:-
"The name of God bestoweth comfort.
By reciting it Ajamal was saved and Ganka obtained salvation.
Daropadi at the royal assemblage thought of God's name,
The Lord of compassion removed her agony and enhanced His renown.
The Ocean of Mercy comes to the rescue of those, who sing His praises.
Sayeth Nanak. that is my reliance - I take His refuge,"
(Maru Moh:9)
After the hymn had ended, Guru ji said to the cripple that it was the Name of Almighty God that was the remedy to all miseries. Therefore, Guru ji asked him to repeat the Nam with full sincerity and the concentration of mind. After he had repeated the Name "Wonderful Lord" five times, he got up and at once kowtowed in reverence to the Guru. The whole congregation was amazed and uttered, "Great is Guru Nanak"; Great is Guru Tegh Bahadur. Then Guru ji gave him enough money to put up a hut of his own and to have some subsistence to fall back upon.

On His way to Gaya from Banaras, Guru Tegh Bahadur ji stopped at a place known as Sasram, where lived a devoted Sikh by the name of "Uncle Phaggu." He had constructed a room in which he had made a special seat for the Guru and was remembering Him day and night. But when he told the people that his Guru will come one day, he was laughed at, since they knew that the Guru lived in the Punjab and there was little chance of His coming that way. But Phaggu, however, was so devout that he did not listen to what the people said. He would go into the room every morning and clean the place himself; and offer prayers imagining the Guru's presence before his eyes. The Great Guru heard Bhai Phaggu's call that was coming from within his heart and one fine morning Guru Tegh Bahadur was actually there in Bhai Phaggu's hut and blessed him for ever. On hearing the Guru's benevolence the people of the vicinity flocked around Him for sermon. Guru Tegh Bahadur ji recited the following hymn for their benefit:-

"Keep the Indestructible Lord ever in thy heart;
And abandon all attachment to worldly goods.
There is nothing better than Him.
He alone is within and without all.
He sees, He knows; He is deep all-wise.
He is the Unconditioned One, the Overlord the Nourisher; the Ocean of compassion,
Merciful and forgiving. May I fall at the feet of the holy ones.
Sayeth Nanak that is my yearning."
(Sukhmani 1-16)
Peace prevailed and all the devotees were blessed.


Gaya, another important place of Hindu pilgrimage, was then blessed by the Holy Feet of Guru Tegh Bahadur ji. There the Pandas (Hindu priests) told the Guru to perform a ceremony whereby the Guru's ancestors will attain salvation. Guru Tegh Bahadur ji preached them that their past actions cannot be destroyed without the Holy Nam given by Guru Nanak out of Grace. The Name can destroy all the past actions as a particle of fire would destroy hundreds of tons of logs put together. The Guru explained to them that they were living in a place that reminded them of death and they should, therefore, not waste their time in useless pursuits but contemplate on the Nam. Blessing all, the Guru departed for Patna.


Patna, or Patliputra as it was known in the ancient times, was the capital of Ohandragupta Maurya and his descendants, including Ashoka the Great. It became the centre of Buddhism during Ashoka's reign. Many a holy men have set foot on this sacred place including Budha, Guru Nanak ji and Guru Tegh Bahadur ji. This city is particularly blessed, for here was born on December 22, 1666, the Creator of the Khalsa, Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Patna is now one of the Five Takhats (seats of authority) of the Khalsa Panth. The birth-place of Guru Gobind Singh Ji is known as Sri Harimandir and is a magnificent building. There are also many other Gurdwaras associated with the names of Guru Nanak, Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh.

One day Raja Ram Singh of Jaipur came to pay his homage to the Great Guru. He had travelled from Delhi with all his army. On enquiring the purpose of his visit, it was known that the Raja had been sent by the Emperor of Delhi to conquer Kamrup (Assam). The Emperor had succeeded in merging all princely states into his empire, except Kamrup. He had attempted once, but failed and his Commander-in-Chief Mir Jumla simply perished. Now the Raja of Jaipur, who was chief amongst the Rajput princes of Rajputana, had been sent by the Emperor on this difficult mission. The Emperor, being cunning, had thought that if Raja Ram Singh succeeds in his mission, well and good; and if he does not, and perishes, he would have got rid of another Hindu Rajput Prince. The Emperor only wanted an excuse to take over the State of Jaipur.

The House of Guru Nanak had very special relationships with the Rajput Chiefs. Guru Tegh Bahadur ji's Father Guru Hargobind Ji had earlier rescued 52 Rajput Princes from the fort of Gwallor where they had been imprisoned by the then Mughal Emperor Jahangir. It was, therefore, natural for all Rajput Princes to have a great respect for the successors of Guru Hargobind Sahib. Guru Harkrishen ji, our Eighth Guru, was once the guest of Raja Jai Singh, the father of Raja Ram Singh and during His visit to Delhi had stayed in one of Raja Jai Singh's bungalows at Raisina. Raja Ram Singh remembered the occasion. Both Raja Jai Singh and Raja Ram Singh regarded it a privilege to be referred to as the Sikhs of the Guru. With this history in mind the Raja had come to the Holy Feet of Guru Tegh Bahadur ji. Kamarup is known to be the land of magic to this day. It was believed amongst the nobles of the Emperor that the Raja of Kamarup and his Ministers were great magicians and Raja Ram Singh was rather apprehensive at the thought of facing such powers. He knew that with the assistance and blessings of Guru Tegh Bahadur ji, no magic could harm him. Therefore, he begged Guru ji to accompany him to Assam. Guru Tegh Bahadur ji agreed, but on the condition that Raja Ram Singh would not conquer Kamarup. Since Guru ji thought that the King of Kamarup was innocent, He did not wish to be an agent in annexing his territory simply to satisfy the greed of the Emperor. Guru ji suggested to the Raja that He would act as an intermediary in bringing about a peaceful settlement between the two Hindu Rajas; thus avoiding the need for bloodshed. It would be worth noting here that if there had been a War between the two Rajas, the casualties would have been all Hindu Rajputs, whereas. any gain would have accrued to a Turk muslim ruler.

Soon afterwards Guru ji left Patna and went with Raja Ram Singh to Kamarup through Bengal. Guru ji instructed Mata Gujri and Mata Nanaki to stay at Patna and He asked His brother-in-law Kripal Chand to look after them. Before leaving Guru ji told His mother Mata Nanaki that she would be blessed with a grandson whom she should name Gobind Rai.


Guru ji travelled through Bengal. There are many Gurdwaras associated with His name especially in Dacca (now the capital of Bangladesh, where He had many devout Sikhs. Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, accompanied by the Raja of Jaipur and his Army, reached the right bank of river Brahmputra and encamped at a place called Rangmati. The King of Assam, Chakradhwaj Singh came to know that the Mughal Army had come to attack him and annex his territory. He at once became furious and was deter- mined to annihilate the Raja and his Army; he put his magicians at work. This had not been the first attempt on the part of the Moghuls to conquer Assam. According to Max. Arthur Macauliffc, Mirza Raja Man Singh, the grandfather of Raja Ram Singh, had also tried under the orders of Akbar the Great to annex Assam, and was killed by the ancestors of Chakradhwaj Singh. Another attempt by Aurangzeb under the command of Mir Jumla had also miserably failed.

This time, however, none of the magic's could do any harm to the Army of the Raja of Jaipur. Seeing this, Chakradhwaj Singh knew that there must be a spiritual person amongst the Raja's company. When all efforts had failed, he made arrangements to divert a tributary of the great river Brahmputra and turn it on Raja Ram Singh's Army. Guru ji, however, had advised the Raja in good time to move his Armies away from that spot, thus avoiding any major casualties. Some Muslim soldiers, who did not heed the advice of the Guru were swept away by the tributary according to the plan of the King of Kamarup. Then the King of Kamarup went to the temple of his family goddess Kamakashi and worshipped the goddess and sought her aid to overcome the enemy and save the country from falling into the hands of the aggressor. After the King had finished his prayers, the goddess is stated to have appeared and said to Chakradhwaj Singh. "O King, Baba Nanak hath taken birth in this age. On His Throne is now seated the Ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur. He is here with Raja Ram Singh, who hath become a disciple of His. Nowadays the Guru is Sovereign. No one hath strength to oppose Him. Go make obeisance to Him and ask pardon for thy sins and thy rule shall be everlasting; otherwise it shall perish."

The King then arranged an interview with the Guru and made his prostrations before Him. He told the Guru how the goddess had appeared and what she had said. He said to Guru Tegh Bahadur ji that his kingdom was at His mercy and he wished that as a "Defender of the Hindus." He would not let it be annexed by a ruthless Moghal Emperor. The Guru advised him to have no fears as the Raja of Jaipur was a very religious man and a Sikh of the Guru. The King then invited Guru ji and Raja Ram Singh and other Rajput Chiefs to come to Dhubri and discuss the matter with him peacefully. But he did not wish any Muslim to enter his territory nor did he want to negotiate with them.

Guru Tegh Bahadur Stopping conlictOn entering Dhubri the Guru made Chakradhwaj Singh and Ram Singh to sit on either side of Him. Guru ji, then said to them, "Both of you are Kshatrya princes and it is your duty to fight for the cause of righteousness. But a Kshatrya should never fight for it selfish motive. If you, Raja Ram Singh, attack Kamarup, it is certainly the duty of the King to defend his country from aggression. But your action, O Raja Ram Singh, would neither be justified nor could it be called righteous. You will be fighting for the Emperor of Delhi, whom you know would be as pleased if you were killed in the battle, as if you were to conquer Kamarup. Therefore. settle your differences peacefully and not by waging a War." The Guru, then brought about a reconciliation between the two. Guru ji drove His dagger into the earth and said. "Let all the land on one side of the dagger belong to the King of Kamarup and that on the other belong to the Emperor of Delhi. Both the Princes were impressed by the statesmanship of Guru Tegh Bahadur ji and bowed to Him in reverence.

Guru Tegh Bahadur ji, then visited the place where Guru Nanak once sat at Dhubri. The Guru then asked Raja Ram Singh to instruct his soldiers to bring five shields full of earth each to raise a mound on the spot. The congregation, then performed the Asa-Di-Var on that mound and the King of Kamrup promised to erect a temple there in the memory of the Great Guru Nanak and the present visit of Guru Tegh Bahadur ji.

When Guru ji was about to leave Assam, both the King and the Queen came to thank Him and reluctantly said that they had no heir to the throne. Guru ji at once said that a son will be born and, touching His ring on the forehead of the King, said that the child shall also have a similar birthmark on his forehead. Later, a son was born to the queen. When the child grew up, he was tying his turban one day when he noticed a strange mark on his forehead. On enquiring from his mother, he came to know of the full story. This was the famous Raja Ratan Rai of Assam, who presented Guru Gobind Singh ji with a unique elephant known as "Prashadi." It is said that this elephant was white in colour and had a black stripe running right across his body - from trunk to tail. He had brought many other precious presents as well, when he came to visit Guru Gobind Singh ji at Anandpur Sahib. It was the refusal of Guru Gobind Singh ji to give away these items to Raja Bhim Chand that led to the battles of Bhangani in which the Guru defeated the Shivalik Rajas several times and came out victorious "with the Grace of the Almighty."

It was in Dhubri that Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib got the news that a Son had been born to Him at Patna. Raja Ram Singh was the first to come and congratulate the Guru. Guru ji bowed towards Palla and said, "The Saviour of the oppressed has now come. He shall uplift the downtrodden and uproot tyranny for all times." Alms were distributed to the poor and prayers of thanks-giving were offered.


Puri is another sacred place of the Hindus. From Kamarup Guru Tegh Bahadur ji travelled south via Bengal to Jagannath Puri. which now lies in the Indian state of Orissa. Puri being the centre of Hinduism, it was natural for the Brahmins to question the faith of Guru Tegh Bahadur. They asked the same question, which the yogis had asked Guru Nanak when he visited Rhishi- kesh. They wished to know how a householder burdened with a load of worldly responsibilities could be a holy man. Guru ji cleared this misconception of the Brahmans and said, "God dwells in heart. Therefore. anyone who goes to find God in jungles is forgetting Him, for He has been with Him all the time. Moreover, from a worldly point of view such a man is weak, since he is escaping the hardships of this World." Guru Tegh Bahadur ji visited the shrine of Guru Nanak at Puri, where He had come to show the people that the "Arti" of the Almighty was being sung and performed by the whole Universe. According to Dr. Trilochan Singh. Guru Tegh Bahadur ji was planning to re-visit all the places connected with the name of Guru Nanak in the Southern parts of India and Ceylon. But He had to cut short His visit, for the time had come for Him to return to the Punjab and perform a "supremely heroic act" at Delhi.
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