trained in the martial arts of swordsmanship and horse riding as well as religious training by the wise Baba Buddha and Bhai Gurdas. In February 1633 Tegh Bahadur was married to Gujari daughter of Lal Chand and Bishan Kaur. During his young years Tegh Bahadur fought along his fathers side but after Sri Guru Hargobind Ji’s fierce and bloody battle in 1634 at Kartarpur he turned to the path of renunciation and meditation. When Sri Guru Hargobind Ji settled down at Kiratpur to live the rest of his life in peace, Tegh Bahadur spent nine years with his father before settling down at the isolated village of Bakala in 1656 and retired to a life of contemplation. He became known as “Tyag Mal” meaning “the Master of Renunciation”. Here Tegh Bahadur would spend many long years in meditation and prayer.
When Sri Guru Harkrishan Ji had suddenly fallen ill at Delhi in 1664, the Guru had said his successor was “Baba Bakala”. Following the departure of Sri Guru Harkrishan Ji large numbers of Sikhs flocked to the village of Bakala looking for the new Guru. When the Sikhs went in large numbers to Bakala to find the Guru, they were instead confronted by twenty two members of the Sodhi family, each claiming that they were the Guru and successor as named by Sri Guru Harkrishan Ji. The Sikhs were in a quandary as to who was really the true Guru.
Sikhs flocked to see the Guru and presented him with many gifts and offerings. One who was not so happy about the whole affair was the troublesome Dhir Mal, grandson of Sri Guru Hargobind Ji who had wanted people to acclaim him as the Guru since he was in possession of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji written by Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Dhir Mal became so angry that he planned an assassination attempt. He sent Shihan a masand (priest) loyal to him and some men to attack the Guru while he slept. Dhir Mal’s men attacked the house of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, shot the Guru and ransacked his belongings.
Luckily Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was not seriously wounded. In retaliation loyal Sikhs looted and raided Dhir Mal’s house and brought back the original copy of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and presented all of the bounty to the Guru as revenge. Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji believed in forgiveness and ordered all of his property returned, including the original copy of the Guru Granth Sahib.
Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji now accepted the role of leading the Sikhs and set out on a number of missionary journeys. He visited Kiratpur and then made his way to the other great centers of Sikhism, Tarn Taran, Khadur Sahib, Goindwal and Amritsar. At Amritsar Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji bathed in the sacred pool but he was refused entry into the Golden Temple which was under the control of Harji, grandson of that other famous troublemaker to the Gurus, Prithi Chand. Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji then journeyed back to Kiratpur. Here he encountered some Sodhi family jealousy and decided to found a new township. The Guru acquired a tract of land from the raja of Kahlur and founded the town of Chak Nanaki in 1665, named in honour of his mother (later to be known as Anandpur Sahib). The Guru now continued his journeys to spread the messages and teachings of Sikhism among the masses across the land.
Accompanied by his wife and mother Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji traveled across the country. The Guru traveled throughout Punjab, wherever he would stop the Guru would get wells dug for the people and community kitchens set up. Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji continued his tour through Haryana and arrived at Delhi. Here the Guru met the congregations of Delhi who came out in large numbers to see the Guru. The emperor Aurangzeb was away from Delhi at this time. Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji then continued his mission of preaching to the masses, visiting Kurekshetra, Agra, Ittawa and Allahabad. Wherever the Guru stopped he would preach about honest work and charity. The Guru would also give away all the offerings that he would receive from devotees. At Priyag, the Gurus wife Gujri conceived a child. The Guru then traveled onto the holy Hindu city of Banaras and then onto Gaya and Patna.
Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji now arrived at Patna where he stayed for some time. The Guru left his family here, as his wife Mata Gujri was expecting their child and moved onwards with his tour to Dacca and the eastern most parts of India not visited since the time of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Sikh congregations were very jubilant to see their Guru. In December of 1666 while on his eastern tour Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji received the news that he had been blessed with a child, a son named Gobind Rai. This eastern tour would last three years as Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji visited as many people as he could. While in Assam in 1668 Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was able to achieve a peace treaty between the ruler of Ahom and a large force sent by Aurengzeb under the command of Raja Ram Singh of Amber. In 1669-1670 Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji started the journey homeward and traveled to Patna to see his young son Gobind Rai for the first time. Here Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji spent over a year with his family training his son in the Sikh Scriptures, horse riding and swordsmanship. Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji then sent his family onto Punjab while he continued his missionary work. The Guru finally returned home to Anandpur Sahib in 1672-1673. Here thousands of devotees flock to see and hear the Guru.
Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was subjected to many cruelties, he was kept in an iron cage and starved for many days. The Guru was made to watch as Bhai Mati Das the devoted Sikh was tied between two pillars and his body split in two by being sawn alive. Bhai Dyala was boiled alive in a cauldron of boiling water and Bhat Sati Das was wrapped in cotton wool and set on fire. The Guru bore these cruelties without flinching or showing any anger or distress. Finally in 1675 Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was publicly beheaded with the sword of the executioner as he prayed. The Gurus body was left in the dust as no one dared to pick up the body for fear of the emperors reprisal. A severe storm swept through the city and under the cover of darkness a Sikh named Bhai Jaita managed to collect the Guru’s sacred head and carried it off to Anandpur Sahib to the Guru’s son. Another Sikh Bhai Lakhi Shah who had a cart, was able to smuggle the Gurus headless body to his house. Since a public funeral would be too dangerous, Bhai Lakhi Shah cremated the body by setting his house on fire. Meanwhile the head was taken to the grief stricken young Guru Gobind Singh and the widow Mata Gujari. On November 16, 1675 at Anandpur Sahib, a pyre of sandalwood was constructed, sprinkled with roses and the head of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was cremated by young Sri Guru Gobind Rai.
Thus ended the earthly reign of the ninth Nanak, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. Never in history has the religious leader of one religion sacrificed his life to save the freedom of another religion.