image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE and The Gurdwara Sees Ganj in Delhi in the memory of Guru Tegh Bahadur

Life & Unique Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji

* Need for ongoing research of Guru Ithaas

     As the Sikhs worldwide honour the memory of Guru Tegh Bahadur ji (Gurpurab date was 24 November), there are a number facts about the life and martyrdom of Guru ji which we need to research further.

     Some of these were confirmed from contemporary sources like the Bhat Vahis by my own study as requested by the Sikh Missionary Society UK about two years ago. It became clear that Guru Hargobind ji decided the strategy to be followed by successor Guru Sahiban after him. The Nirmal Panth founded by Guru Nanak Sahib began to emerge as the Khalsa Panth. The expression Khalsa was used by Guru Hargobind in his Hukamnamas (e.g. Purab di Sangat Guru da Khalsa hoay..).

His youngest son (Guru) Tegh Bahadur ji spent the first 23 years of his life in the company with his beloved father and was fully briefed about his mission before he was sent to Bakala with his mother, Mata Nanaki ji, and his wife, Gujri ji. Guru Tegh Bahadur, a great saint-warrior, remained active before and after Guruship. His bravery in the battle of Kartarpur at the age of 14 years earned him the title Tegh Bahadur from his father Guru.

Even after starting his life at Bakala, he remained constantly in touch with the Guru Family at Kiratpur and undertook parchaar tours from 1656 and became the most travelled Guru after Guru Nanak Sahib. In accordance with the grand strategy he was named as the Baba of Bakala by Guru Har Krishan before his demise and, contrary to accounts, the Guruship was passed on to Tegh Bahadur at an open well-attended ceremony on at Bakala on 11 August 1664, before Makhan Shah came to Bakala to serve Guru ji for a prolonged period.

It is little known that Guru ji was arrested or detained three times when, finally, Aurangzeb himself ordered his execution at Delhi. Contrary to traditional stories, Delhi Sikhs played a daring and well-planned part following Guru ji&rsquos execution.

The Guru stood against zealous proselytization and bigotry. It was in that sense that in the history of great martyrdoms for worthy causes, the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur was described as unique by Guru Gobind Singh ji. Tilak janju Rakha Prabh tanka (Guru Gobind Singh) should be read in the sense that it was a consequence of the egalitarian Sikh ideology. Even the highly biased NCERT historian realised this when, otherwise, he wrote a highly distorted account about the reason for the shaheedi of Guru ji. The universal objective of Guru Nanak&rsquos mission was to secure the human rights of all. Religious freedom is one of those rights. 

    In Guru Tegh Bahadur, the Sikhs have a most remarkable story to tell the world torn apart by religious conflict. It is the missionary duty of every Sikh to read and disseminate this story as widely as possible.

(Note: In April last year, I completed the first study of the life and supreme sacrifice Guru Tegh Bahadur ji: printed by the Panjab Times UK and available from the Sikh Missionary Society UK. (


Gurmukh Singh OBE