Sri Guru Tegh Bhadur Sahib Ji
‘Baba Bakale’, was the only clue given by Guru Har Kishen for his successor. As this word reached the village Bakala, twenty-two Sodhis including Baba Dhir Mal, the grandson of Guru Har Gobind, set up their shops and claimed themselves as the ninth Guru. The Sikhs were in great confusion as they could not know who the real Guru was. Makhan Shah Labana of Jehlem district was a trade merchant. When his vessel full of merchandise was sinking, he had invoked Guru Nanak and had vowed to offer five hundred gold mohars (coins) if the vessel reached the shore safely (some say that he vowed 101 gold mohars). Makhan Shah came to the village of Bakala to pay his offering to the Guru. He was surprised to find that twenty-two Sodhis had installed themselves as Gurus. In that state of confusion and uncertainty, he resolved to try the Pretenders. He thought to put two mohars before each impostor and the real Guru being the searcher of hearts, would ask for the balance of his promised offering. He visited all the 22 impostors and made each of them offering of two gold mohars, but none of them asked for the balance.
He then inquired if there was any one else in Bakala. Someone informed him about Guru Tegh Bahadur. Makhan Shah went and as usual made his offering of two gold mohars. Upon this Guru Tegh Bahadur asked, How now, O Sikh, thou art trying to wheedle the Guru by presenting him with only two gold mohars? Where are the balance of five hundred gold mohars you had promised when your ship was sinking? Mukhan Shah was delighted and prostrated himself before the Guru. He then went to the roof of the house and screamed, Guru Ladho! Guru Ladho! ‘I have found the Guru! I have found the Guru!’
Guru Tegh Bahadur was the fifth and the youngest son of Guru Har Gobind and was born on first of April, 1621 to Mata Nanaki at Amritsar, Guru ke Mahal. He was married to Mata Gujri, daughter of Lal Chand of Kartarpur in Jullundhur district. After Guru Har Gobind, he with his mother, Mata Nanaki and his wife went to live in Bakala.
Makhan Shah’s discovery of the genuine Guru put an end to the pretensions of the false Gurus. Dhir Mal could not reconcile with the situation and was determined to snatch the Guruship by force. One day he communicated his feelings to his masand, Sihan who promised to put an end to his enemy (Guru). Accordingly the masand, along with a score of people, set forth to kill the Guru. He fired and the bullet struck Guru’s shoulder without serious wound who remained calm and full of composure. The other men plundered the property of the Guru and went away. When Makhan Shah heard of this incident, he proceeded with a body of Sikhs to Dhir Mal’s residence. Dhir Mal closed his doors but they burst it open and seized him and his accomplices, tied his masand’s hands at his back and brought them before the Guru. They brought back all the property of the Guru and they also took Dhir Mal’s property. They brought back the original copy of the Adi Granth which was in the possession of Dhir Mal and placed it before the Guru. The masand Sihan fell at the feet of the Guru and asked for forgiveness for his sins. The Guru pardoned the masand and ordered Makhan Shah to return all the property of Dhir Mal including the Adi Granth. He preached Makhan Shah and his other Sikhs that the holy Guru Nanak gave them the wealth of Nam which was sufficient for all their wants.
When Guru Har Gobind shifted his headquarters to Kiratpur, most of his disciples had also moved to that place with him and the Golden Temple at Amritsar fell ultimately into the hands of the impostors like Harji Minas. In November 1664, Guru Tegh Bahadur went to Amritsar. He bathed in the sacred tank but the Pujaris (or the ministrants) closed the doors of the Har Mandar against him. He saluted it and remarked that it was they who were rotten within, who through greed of offerings, had entered the temple. When the news spread, the people of Amritsar went in a body and poured their souls at his feet. The women of the city took the lead, welcome him with the Guru’s hymns and went with him singing all the way to the village Wadala (or Walla) where he stayed in the humble abode of a devout disciple. The Master blessed the women of Amritsar and Amritsar itself. On seeing their devotion he blessed them with these words,God’s love and devotion shall ever abide among you.
Leaving Amritsar the Guru passed through the Majha and Malwa regions before reaching Kiratpur sometimes in May, 1665. He attended the last rites of Raja Dip Singh of Bilaspur and expressed his desire to build a new settlement near Kiratpur and also showed his inclination to buy a suitable land fo that purpose. The Rani of Bilaspur offered to donate the site of Makhowal. The offer was accepted, a token price of about five hundred rupees was paid. The foundation stone of new settlement, Chak Nanaki was laid in June, 1665, after the revered name of Guru’s mother. In the course of time, a beautiful town called Anandpur grew up around it.
After founding the new settlement, the Guru did not stay there long. However he entrusted the construction work to his trustworthy followers. It is said that the Guru undertook his missionary tour of the east in response to the invitation of his Sikhs from that area, Bhai Bulaki Das and Bhai Hulas Chand from Dacca and Bhai Darbara and Bhai Chain Sukh from Patna. These Sikhs had met the Guru at Kiratpur and begged him to visit their land in the east with his family. The Guru left Anandpur in August, 1665.
After leaving Anandpur he passed through Ghanauli, Rupar, Dadoomajra and Lung village and then reached Mulowal in Patiala state. The people of Mulowal complained to him that they did not have drinking water nearby and or that purpose they had to travel a long distance. There was a well nearby but its water was brackish and unwholesome. The Guru told them to first repeat God’s Name, then draw water, and they would find it pure and sweet. From that day the well yielded sweet water and it is known Guru’s well.
He then proceeded to Pharwali, Handiaya, Bhandehar, Khiwa and Bhikki. He gave religious instructions wherever he stopped and instructed the people not to worship idols and tombs, but worship only One God, the Formless. He passed through the villages of Dhaleo, Alisheir, Khiala and reached Maur where he was awaited by a great concourse of people to whom he preached true Name. He induced the people to sink a well over there. He then went to Maisarkhana and thence to Sabo ki Talwandi, now known as Damdama Sahib and then travelled to Kot Dharmwala, Bachhoana, Gobindpura, Sangheri, Gurna and reached Dhamdhan in the Bangar tract. The Guru presented the Chaudhri of the village with funds to construct a well and a dharmsala for the reception of the travellers.
The Guru was accompanied by a Sikh, Ramdev, who was totally devoted to his service. He drew water, brought firewood from the forest for the kitchen, and performed all the services for the Guru. He always kept a cushion on his head to lift the burdens and it was continually wet from water and as a consequence his head festered. One day as he put his pitcher of water down, his cushion and turban fell off when maggots were seen from a sore in his head. It was brought to the notice of the Guru who sent for him. Being pleased with his devotion to service, the Guru gave him a robe of honor, named him Bhai Mihan and promised him that he would be a Mahant or a superior of religious order. On the Guru’s instruction he preached Sikh religion. His generation is called today Mihan Shahi or Mihan Dasiay.
The Guru then proceeded to Tekpur and he stayed for a few days in the house of a carpenter who conducted him as far as Kaithal. He reached Barna and preached here against the use of tobacco.
The Guru reached Kurukshetra on the occasion of solar eclipse. He was received with great honor and distinction by all the holy men present there. During his stay he preached the true Name. From there he went to Bani Badarpur where he contributed money for the excavation of a well. Then he crossed the Jamna river and hunted on the way. He shot an animal and hung it to his saddle and reached Kara Manak where a saint called Maluk Das was living. Having heard that the Guru hunted and killed the animals, he refused to see him. It is said that when Maluk Das laid down food before his idol of worship next day, he found it turned into meat. He felt that it was a miracle wrought by the Guru. Then he wanted to see the Guru and bow before him, but he thought that the Guru being the searcher of hearts, should sent for him. The Guru knew what was going on in Maluk Das’s mind, sent his Sikhs and a palki (litter) to fetch him. He went to the Guru, received religious instruction and initiation, and became one of his most devoted followers.
From Kara Manak he proceeded to Mathura and reached Agra. There is a Gurdwara to symbolize his visit. Through Itawa he reached Kanpur where there is a Gurdwara at the bank of the Ganges. Then he reached Priyag (Allahabad). The Guru’s mother told him that her late husband Guru Har Gobind, had promised that a great being would be born in the house of Guru Tegh Bahadur and so she was awaiting for that event. He replied that her desire would soon be fulfilled but she had to meditate continually on Guru Nanak. He stayed about six months at Priyag and to the great joy of his mother, his wife got pregnant. From Priyag he proceeded to Mirzapur where there is a Gurdwara on the bank of the Ganges. He reached Banaras (Kashi) and stayed in Resham Katra where a Gurdwara marks the memory of the Guru. Hundreds of people came to behold him.
He arrived at the village of Sasram where lived a very devout disciple called Chacha Phagoo who had built a mansion and within it placed a superb couch for the Guru. Every morning he used to perfume it and then would close the doors declaring that he would not live in it until the Guru had come, entered and hallowed it with his footsteps. Chacha Phagoo’s desire was fulfilled and he had the happiness to entertain the Guru in that mansion. He he proceeded to Gaya. There the Brahmans met him in a body and explained the virtues of pilgrimage of Gaya. They said if barley rolls were offered to Brahmans at Gaya for the souls of ancestors, they would go to heaven even if they were already in hell. So they pressed the Guru to give money to perform such a ceremony for him. He refused to accept their argument rather exhorted them to meditate on God and instructed them on divine knowledge. The Guru then reached Patna and encamped at first in a garden outside the city. That place is called Guru ka Bag. Bhai Jaita, a devout disciple, took the Guru to his residence. The Master gave religious instructions to the people. One day he told his mother, Mata Nanaki that many Sikhs were waiting for him in a distant land, so he must go to them. He wanted the family to remain at Patna. On their remonstrance the Guru told his wife, The prophecy of my father is now about to be accomplished. A son shall be born to thee, who shall be great and powerful, extend the faith, establish Sikh supremacy, root out the wicked, and destroy the enemies of truth and true religion. You would suffer great hardship in travelling, so be happy here. He offered words of consolation to his mother and wife, thus, entrusting them to his brother-in-law Kirpal Chand, bade farewell and proceeded to Munger, Bhagalpur and Rajmahal.
He arrived at Maldah where he stayed with a Sikh who was a confectioner. From there he went to Murshidabad and next halt was at Dacca. There lived a devout masand, Bulaki Das whose mother had prepared a beautiful couch for the Guru. Knowing about her devotion, the Guru went to her residence. She was overjoyed and fell on his feet. He blessed her for her devotion. The Sikh inhabitants came in crowds to behold the Guru and to receive his instructions and benedictions. He asked them to build a dharamsal (Gurdwara) in their city where God’s praises should be sung.
Raja Ram Singh went to the Guru and said, The inhabitants of Kamrup and Assam became rebels against the rule of Delhi. The Emperor had recently sent Mir Jumla to subdue them but after some success, he died before eaching Dacca on his return journey. The Emperor has now ordered me to go and subdue the Kamrup country. If I conquer that country, it will be an addition to the Emperor’s sovereignty; but if I am killed, the Emperor may annex my whole state of Rajputana. O true King, I have come to seek protection of thy holy feet.
The Guru replied, God’s Name is the medicine for all diseases, so meditate continually on Name. Guru Nanak will assist you and you will conquer Kamrup.
Raja Ram Singh and the Guru left Dacca and reached Dhubri. The Guru encamped there and Raja Ram Singh set out for the city of Rangmati on the right bank of the Brahamputra. Soon after the battle between Raja Ram Singh’s army and the army of the king of Kamrup ensued. The decisive victory for the Raja’s forces was not easy because of difficult mountainous terrain, climate and rainy season.
In addition to the attack, the king of Kamrup also began to make incantations and spells, and sent for all the women of his land who had magical skills, but none succeeded. After that he went to worship at the temple of goddess Kamakhsha. His mother- in-law saw in a vision, the goddess, who said, Guru Nanak has taken birth in this age. On his throne is now seated Guru Tegh Bahadur. Raja Ram Singh has become his disciple. The Guru is sovereign and nobody has the strength to oppose him. Go and make obeisance to him and ask for pardon otherwise your rule will perish.
The king proceeded to the camp of the Guru and after prostration he said that he had come by the order of the goddess to pray for pardon and protection. He begged the Guru not to allow him to fall under the power of the Muslims. The Guru replied that Raja Ram Singh was a very religious person and he should meet with him. He, however, told the king not to fear, his empire would be permanent.
The Guru sent for Raja Ram Singh and both of them were received by the king in a friendly manner. The Guru sat down placing the royal disputants on either side and effected a reconciliation. He putting his dagger in the ground declared, Let the territory on this side belong to the Emperor and the land on the other side belong to the king of Kamrup. Let both monarchs forget the enmity. Both sides agreed to the settlement and serious bloodshed on both sides was avoided.
The Guru informed Raja Ram Singh that Guru Nanak had visited Dhubri and rendered it holy by his footsteps. He further asked that each soldier should bring five shieldfuls of earth to raise a tall mound in the memory of the founder of Sikh religion. A pavilion was erected at the top of the mound. The Guru spent a few more days there. Hearing his fame, the crowds came from far and near to behold him and also to receive religious instructions. Raja Ram of Assam, having heard Guru’s praise, came to pay his homage. The Raja had no offspring and was desirous of a son. He brought his Ranis (queens) with him and after prostration beseeched the Guru, O true king, bring this sinking vessel to the shore. The Guru took off his signet ring and stamped its impression on the Raja’s thigh and then said, The impression of my seal shall be on thy son’s forehead. By this know it is Guru Nanak who hath mercifully granted thee offspring. While in Assam he also visited Cooch Behar, Chander Bhanga, Kishen Ganj and Purnea.