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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:

 The Hindu Religion seeks Protection

The Hindu Religion seeks Protection

Guru ji left Jagannath Puri in Orissa to return to the newly constructed town of Anandpur Sahib in the Punjab and asked his family to join him. Guru Tegh Bahadur ji met for the first time His only Son Gobind Rai, when He was already four to five years old. This point is worth emphasizing, for at the time of the Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur ji, (Guru) Gobind Rai ji was barely nine years of age, which means that He was in the company of His Father for only four or five years. According to Dr. Trilochan Singh, Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib reached Anandpur Sahib in February 1671 A.D., and His family either accompanied Him from Patna, or joined Him soon afterwards.

Aurangzeb, the King of Delhi had come to the throne by imprisoning his father Shah Jehan, and by killing all his three brothers Dara Shikoh, Murad and Shujah by deceit. There is no doubt that Aurangzeb had become very unpopular amongst his Muslim subjects, especially since Dara Shikoh was loved and respected by all. Therefore, he decided to cover his crimes with a coat of religion. He claimed that his father and Dara were infidels, whereas he was true to the teachings of Prophet Mohammed and led the life of a staunch muslim. He shipped the wealth of India to Mecca and Medina to win the hearts of the "Qazis" and "Mullahs." In short, Aurangzeb became a Muslim fanatic for he thought it politically expedient to be so, otherwise in the words of Guru Gobind Singh ji, he was neither true to Mohammed nor to Allah (God).

Every policy that was instrumented at Delhi, was certain to be designed against the interests of Hindus. In the words of Dr. Trilochan Singh, "Although Aurangzeb had a lot of Hindu blood in him, he hated the Hindus everywhere, except in the army where the might of the Rajput warriors was indispensable, and in the harem where the beauty and loyalty of the Hindu princesses enchanted even his puritan and ascetic mind to the point of romantic madness. His principal queen, Nawab Bai, the mother of his successor, Bahadur Shah, was a Hindu princess of Kashmir. So also was his favourite Hira Bai, with whom he fell head over heels in love, before he became the Emperor."

If there had ever been a dark age in the history of the 5000 years old Hindu religion, it was during the reign of Aurangzeb. It would not be an exaggeration to say that they were just "existing and not living." The plight of the Hindus under Aurangzeb can be compared with that of the Jews under Hitler or the kulaks under Stalin. The privileges of riding a horse; flying a flag; growing a moustache, chewing a bectle leaf or tying a turban were reserved only for the muslim members of the Indian society.

Aurangzeb had started a campaign of converting Hindus to Islam en masse, with the ultimate objective of converting Dar-al-Harb (land of infidelity) into Dar-Al-Islam (land of faith). He had been advised by the Qazis to convert the Brahman priests into Islam, for the rest of the Hindus would automatically follow their example; owing to the respect that the Brahman priests enjoyed in the Hindu society. One further point to note is that by a mass conversion of the Brahmans, Aurangzeb had aimed at uprooting Hinduism root and branch, for under the traditional Hindu society, knowledge was the confine of the Brahmans, and if they were converted, then no one could read the ancient scriptures that were written in Sanskrit. Anyone, who did not wish to embrace Islam, had to pay a tax called "Jazia" (substitute money for the price of indulgence). Another instrument of the policy of putting economic pressure on "non-believers" was the granting of rewards to the converts, and the offering of posts in the public service, release from prison, or succession to disputed property, as a reward for accepting Islam. The temples of the Hindus were desecrated and destroyed and mosques were constructed on their foundations. The cows that are so sacred to the Hindus were slaughtered in their temples and their flesh thrown into the wells, from which Hindus were ordered to drink water. Therefore, it would be no exaggeration to say that Hinduism was on the verge of extinction.

An admirer and a flatterer of the Emperor writes, "On Thursday, the 8th April 1669, occurred an eclipse. The Lord Cherisher of Faith (Aurangzeb) learnt that in the provinces of Tatta, Multan, and especially Banaras, the Brahman misbelievers would teach their false books in their established schools and misguide men. His Majesty, eager to establish Islam, issued orders to the governors of all the provinces to demolish the schools and temples of the infidels, and with the utmost urgency put down the teaching and the public practice of the religion of the misbelievers."

The Brahmans of Kashmir, the ancestors of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandi, suffered a particularly bad blow at the hands of Governor Iftikhar Khan - a fanatic Muslim. It is said that he had tyrannised the Brahams to such an extent that he sent to the Emperor bundles of sacred threads of Brahmans, he had either converted or forcibly killed. It is popularly believed amongst the Hindus and the Sikhs that the Emperor converted so many Hindus every day that their sacred threads, forcibly removed on conversion, weighed a "Maund and a quarter'' (approximately 47kg). When it is considered that one sacred thread weighs less than a quarter of an ounce, the extent of the tyranny can well be imagined. Literally, hundreds of thousands of Hindus were being forcibly converted to Islam. Seeing  the destruction of their religion - the religion of the

Vedas and the religion of Rama and Krishna; the Brahmans took a delegation to Amarnath to pray to Lord Shiva for protection. Macaliffe has described this situation thus, "They (the Brahmans) cried, 'O God. protect our honour since the sovereign of the Turks is destroying our religion and converting all Brahmans and Hindus to the Mussalman faith.' We have come to thy protection" After eight days of such prayers and supplications, invoking Shiva by his thousand names, and doing painful fasting, they decided it was better to die than to embrace Islam. The Pandits heard that Guru Tegh Bahadur was then at Anandpur on the bank of the Sutlej, and thither they proceeded in desperation to seek his help. On their way they stayed at Amritsar, where they bathed in the sacred tank of Guru Ramdas.

Kashmiri Brahmins come for the Help of the GuruA contingent of 500 Brahmans led by Pandit Kirpa Ram and Trilok Nath Raina reached Anandpur Sahib. On reaching Anandpur Sahib a few of their leaders presented themselves before the Guru's court. They were nine in number including Trilok Nath Raina* of Raina-wari near Hari Parbat Kashmir. After the completion of the Kirtan. Pandit Kirpa Ram told Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji their sorrowful tale. He told Guru ji how the Emperor was forcibly converting thousands of Brahmans every day, and those that had so far been spared were leading a condemned life. Pandit Kirpa Ram then told Guru ji that on seeing the destruction of their religion, they had approached Lord Shiva at Amarnath. But he had told them that in this age of "Kalijug," Guru Nanak is the Sovereign, and that it was not in his power to protect the Hindu religion. It was with this introduction from Lord Shiva that they were now approaching the Ninth Sovereign on the Throne of Guru Nanak.
*The well known Sikh, Singh Sahib Akali Kaur Singh Nihang came from the family of the above Trilok Nath Raina.

Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, on hearing the sorrowful tale of the Brahmans, prescribed a unique prescription to put an end to the miseries of the Brahmans and the Hindus. He said to the delegates of the Hindu religion that a holy man will have to sacrifice his life for the sake of Hindu religion. Suddenly, Prince Gobind Rai appeared from one corner. He had never seen such a tense atmosphere in the House of Guru Nanak. for this was the House of happiness. Seeing strange faces in the Guru's Court. He asked: "O Father, who are these men?" and "what do they want?" The Guru told His nine-year-old Son that they were the representatives of the Hindu religion; their faith was at stake, and they had come to The House of Guru Nanak to seek protection. Guru ji told His Son that the only way in which their religion could be saved was that a holy man should come forward and sacrifice his life for the cause of Hinduism. To this. Gobind Rai ji replied: "O Gurudev, who is holier than you in this age of ignorance? They have come to seek protection at your feet. Therefore. you must protect them. even though in doing so you may have to sacrifice your life." The Guru was pleased with the reply of His Son. He knew that the Saviour of the downtrodden would now be succeeding Him -The Throne of Guru Nanak. Guru Tegh Bahadur ji could visualise that His Sacrifice at Delhi would be the first of a chain of sacrifices that would follow. He could see that His Son would create The Order of the Khalsa. a group of holy men that would always come to the rescue of the downtrodden and the helpless.

Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib told Pandit Kirpa Ram and other delegates of the Hindu faith to go and inform the Emperor of Delhi that they have chosen Him to be their leader and that He lived at Anandpur Sahib in the Punjab. If Guru Tegh Bahadur ji accepts Islam, then all Hindus shall also embrace Islam as their faith. But until such time as negotiations were going on between the Emperor and the Guru. the Emperor should stop his crusade of forcible conversions. They acted accordingly. and the Emperor was tempted and readily agreed. He thought that his job had been simplified. All he had to do was to convert one man - Guru Tegh Bahadur ji. and the whole of India would be Muslim. But the foolish Emperor did not know that the True Prophets of God stay unmoved on their ground and that the sacl1ifice of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib would cause the destruction of the mighty Mughal empire.

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