Guru Teghbahadar Sahib’s life and legacy is unparalleled in the annals of world history. He proclaimed: “Be very clear in your mind, the insightful person is the one who doesn’t fear anyone nor frightens anyone.”
1. Born as Tiag-Mall (Renunciator-Master), eventual Nanak IX became Tegh-Bahadar (Sword-Warrior) for bravely shining at the battle of Kartarpur against Mughal Imperialism along with his father Guru Hargobind Sahib who defeated Emperor Shah Jahan’s general Painde Khan.
2. Amidst leadership confusion, Baba Makhan Shah Lubana discovered the Guru via his personal relationship and declared to the world: “I found the Guru” at Baba Bakala when imposter Gurus were confusing and preying on the masses.
3. Contributed 116 sabads in 15 rags to Guru Granth Sahib and Salok Mahla 9 which Sikhs lovingly recite; all revelations are in Braj language inscribed in Gurmukhi script.
4. Masands with state patronage didn’t allow NIX to enter Harimandar Sahib Complex and installed a parallel leadership; Sikh women of Amritsar showed solidarity with the Guru. Dhirmal hired a hitman Shihan to murder the Guru; the Guru’s shoulder graced the bullet.
5. Traveled extensively beyond Panjab, including to Assam where the Guru forged peace between warring forces of Raja Ram Singh of Amber aligned with Emperor Aurangzeb and Raja Chakardwaj of Ahom.
6. Bought the land around Makhowal to establish an alternative to masand-infested Amritsar, named the city Chakk Nanaki which became the inaugural site of the Khalsa and renamed Anandpur Sahib.
7. Confronted Iftikhar Khan of Kashmir who was forcefully converting Hindu Pandits with ISIS-adopted Takfiri and Jizya doctrines; the Guru in dialogue with his pre-teen son Nanak X took on the religious and political hegemony. Beyond Voltaire and the European Enlightenment for the Guru lived: Even in dissent, I will die protecting your rights to live the way you want to live.
8. State tortured and martyred three companions of the Guru: Bhais Mati, Sati, and Dayal were sawed, burned and boiled, respectively. Aurangzeb ordered Guru’s beheading, nature responded, clouds moved over Chandani Chowk, dust storm brewed, rain followed. The Guru “gave his head, but not his conviction.”
9. State paraded the headless body in Delhi, wouldn’t allow cremation. Bhai Lakhi Shah brought the body to his mansion and offered it to the fire in memory of the Guru – this is Gurduara Rakab Ganj, Delhi. Bhai Jaita brought the head to the Guru Gobind Singh, for the head belongs to the Guru. It was offered to Panjab’s five elements – this is Gurduara Sis Ganj, Anandpur Sahib.
10. Guru is “srishat di chadar” (Protector of Humanity) as per Sainapati’s recordings in Sri Gur Sobha (court-poet of Guru Gobind Singh). Beware of revisionism: Hind-di-chadar and dharam-di-chadar reduce the Guru’s domain from global to local, political-spiritual to merely religious.
Daily Sikh ardas (collective supplication): Recalling [Guru] Teghbahadar’s life and legacy equals possessing the nine treasures of the world!
Harinder Singh is an activist-educator who currently serves as CEO of SikhRI.