Sikhi Comes Alive Through History- A Glimpse Into Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji’s Life

This past weekend at the Toronto Sikh Retreat a workshop was offered on Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. I personally think its great when we are given the opportunity to delve into the lives of our Gurus. We get to see Sikhi come alive through history. Our Gurus become real as we learn about Sikh principles through their life experiences. No longer are they just pictures on the walls or names to memorize, but perfect humans who overcame personal and communal challenges. Their strong convictions and stead-fast adherence to the values of humility, patience, justice, and equality during difficult times highlights the strength of Sikhi as a practical religion than just a philosophy. I hope more conferences and retreats will take this approach.

During the retreat Guru Tegh Bahadur Jis life and bani was discussed by participants. As a young boy he was taught by Bhai Buddha Ji and Bhai Gurdas Ji. The former taught him archery and horsemanship, while the latter focused on ancient classics. Thus, Guruji was both a fighter and intellectual that had a deep appreciation for music along with the sword. The Mahima Prakash says: “Sri Tegh Bahadur was the summit of knowledge. He was a recluse at heart, a king in demour. His patience was unmatched, so was his generosity.”

The readings form the workshop said that Guru Tegh Bahadur Jis bani includes 59 shabads and 57 sloks distributed over 15 rags (i.e. musical measures). His bani is one sustained mediation on the human state, which focuses on discerning reality from illusion. It is this illusion, caused by ego, lust, anger, attachment, and greed, that prevents us from reaching a higher spiritual state of Truth. We become controlled by these vices rather than reigning them. Written in Braj, an early language in Punjab, the bani is smooth and easy in sound. Guruji focuses on the importance of taking the opportunity to mediate on nam because life is short. However, this meditation on Waheguru begins by looking within your own heart where the fragrance of love resides.

Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji says in Raag Dhanaasree on Pannaa 684 of the Guru Granth Sahib (Sorry, the Gurumukhi version is not included because I couldn’t get the font to appear correctly!):

puhap madhh jio baas basath hai mukar maahi jaisae shhaaee ||
Like the fragrance which remains in the flower, and like the reflection in the mirror,

thaisae hee har basae nira(n)thar ghatt hee khojahu bhaaee ||1||
the Lord dwells deep within; search for Him within your own heart, O Siblings of Destiny. ||1||

It is this love that carries Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji into martyrdom for not only Sikhs, but also Hindus. As Mughal rulers instituted forced conversions into Islam, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji gave his life to protect the God-given right of all humans to freely practice their religion. Hello way before the American Constitution in 1787 or the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms!

Any thoughts?

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One Response to “Sikhi Comes Alive Through History- A Glimpse Into Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji’s Life”

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