Teg(h) Bahādur, Gurū

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Teg(h) Bahādur, Gurū (1621–75 CE). Ninth Sikh Gurū, poet and martyr. Tyāg Mal, youngest son of Gurū Hargobind and Nānakī, was born in Amritsar and earned the name Tegh Bahādur, meaning ‘hero of the sword’.

Since the dying Gurū Har Krishan had indicated that his successor would be an older man from Bakālā, twenty-two local Soḍhīs claimed the succession. According to tradition, Tegh Bahādur's gurūship was discovered and proclaimed by Makhaṇ Shāh Labāṇā, a merchant, who had vowed that if he escaped shipwreck, he would give 500 gold coins to the Gurū. On reaching Bakālā he gave a few coins to each claimant. When finally he met Tegh Bahādur and made a similar offering to him, the latter remonstrated, ‘You promised 500 coins’, so revealing his supernatural insight.

Dhīr Mal, Rām Rāi, and other Soḍhīs and their supporters harassed the Gurū, and the masands refused him admission to the Harimandir, Amritsar. Tegh Bahādur showed no resentment. In 1665 he founded Anaṇḍpur, but, when harassment continued, he travelled eastward through Bengal to Āssām where he achieved a peaceful settlement between Auraṅgzeb's emissary and the rebel king of Kāmrūp.

The Gurū returned to Paṭnā, and then went to the Pañjāb, which was troubled by Auraṅgzeb's persecution of non-Muslims. The Gurū journeyed slowly towards Delhi and was arrested in Āgrā. With five Sikhs he was escorted to Delhi, where he chose torture and death rather than Islam or the performance of miracles. He symbolically appointed the absent Gobind Rāi his successor.

On 11 Nov. 1675 he was beheaded on the site of the present Sīs Gañj gurdwārā.