This week, Sikhs around the world commemorate the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru of the Sikhs, who was executed in Delhi, India in 1675 by order of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. The Guru had presented himself to the emperor in order to challenge the state’s oppression and forced conversion of Kashmiri Hindus.
When he became Guru at the age of 43, Guru Tegh Bahadur was already a celebrated soldier and spiritual mystic. The Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh scriptures and Guru of the Sikhs today) contains many of Guru Tegh Bahadur’s hymns, including one he wrote shortly after becoming Guru:
Sorat’h, Ninth Mehla:
That man, who in the midst of pain, does not feel pain,
who is not affected by pleasure, affection or fear, and who looks alike upon gold and dust;||1||Pause||
Who is not swayed by either slander or praise, nor affected by greed, attachment or pride;
who remains unaffected by joy and sorrow, honor and dishonor;||1||
who renounces all hopes and desires and remains desireless in the world;
who is not touched by sexual desire or anger – within his heart, God dwells. ||2||
That man, blessed by Guru’s Grace, understands this way.
O Nanak, he merges with the Lord of the Universe, like water with water. ||3||11|
The legacy of the life of Guru Tegh Bahadur — from childhood, to becoming Guru, to giving his own life to defend the right of others to practice their faith — leaves a wondrous legacy for all Sikhs today.