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The Ten Sikh Gurus - Guru Teg Bahadur (1621-1675)

Painting by Nirmal Kaur KhalsaGuru Teg Bahadur is the ninth Master in Sikh Dharma. He was born in Amritsar, India and breathed his last in Delhi, India. He was the youngest son of Guru Hargobind. His mother was Mata Nanki Ji. His wife was Mata Gujri Ji. He was the grandson of Guru Arjan Dev and his son was Gobind Rai who later became Guru Gobind Singh.

From the time of his youth, Guru Teg Bahadur had a deeply meditative nature. He spent many years before becoming the Guru in meditation. His wife participated with him in his rigorous meditative practices. Like the first five Sikh Gurus, Guru Teg Bahadur had mystical experiences of the Shabad and shared his experiences through song. Like Guru Nanak, he travelled far and wide - establishing new communities and nurturing existing communities that hadn't been visited by any of the Sikh Gurus since the time of Guru Nanak.

The end of his life was a tremendous testament to the Sikh commitment of inter-faith tolerance and the right of each individual to follow his or her own religious path freely. The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb had begun a vicious campaign of conversion - where the Hindu leaders were asked to accept Islam or suffer inhumane torture and death. A group of Hindu leaders came to Guru Teg Bahadur and asked them to intercede on their behalf with Aurangzeb. Knowing it meant his own death, Guru Teg Bahadur agreed. He made an offer to the Emperor - that if the Emperor could convert him, all of the Hindu leaders would accept Islam. But if the Emperor could not convert him, then the Hindus would be left in peace.

Guru Teg Bahadur, along with three of his Sikhs - Bhai Matti Das, Bhai Sati Das and Bhai Dayala, willingly allowed themselves to be locked in Aurangzeb's prison, and subjected to truly horrific torture. The three Sikhs died. Guru Teg Bahadur's torture, however, continued. The Emperor would ask the Guru for some sign that he was a holy many - some miracle. But Guru Teg Bahadur refused to perform any miracles and refused to convert. Instead, he would ask his torturers, "Why are we spending our time together this way? We could be meditating and praying together, instead." Eventually, the Emperor realized that his prisoner would not convert. Rather than freeing Guru Teg Bahadur, he ordered the Guru's head to be chopped off.

Before agreeing to go to prison, Guru Teg Bahadur had written a note to the Emperor to be delivered to the Emperor after the Guru's death. When the note was delivered, Guru Teg Bahadur had written very simply. "This, then, is the greatest miracle. That I gave my head, but not my faith."

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