Have You Heard About the Guru Who Refused to Perform a Miracle?

The Guru Who Refused to Perform a Miracle
A historical account of a Guru who became the epitome of valor...
17th Century, India - It was the time when the Mughal dynasty was at its zenith. Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal Emperor, had a vision of Pan-Islamic India. In 1679, he reimposed the practice of jizya - a form of tax which minorities had to pay, so that they could be granted certain rights, like the right to practice their faith, and protection from foreign aggression. People who objected to his practices were imprisoned, or executed. It wasn't just the minorities who were at the receiving end of Aurangzeb's brutality. He even incarcerated his father Shah Jahan; and had his three brothers Dara Shikoh, Shah Shuja, and Murad Baksh executed. Aurangzeb was intolerant of other religions, and at one point, started the practice of forced conversions. Minorities had two choices: accept Aurangzeb's diktat, and shun their religion; or prepare themselves for execution.
It was in this miasma of terror and panic, that a group of Kashmiri Hindus decided to meet Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, the ninth Guru of Sikhs. After listening to their plight, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji pondered that it will take a great leader to stop this tyranny. Guru's nine-year old son, Gobind Rai Ji, who was also present, asked his father, "Who would be better than you to defend the poor Brahmins?" The Guru, on hearing this, made one of the most unprecedented decisions in history: he decided to step in to protect the honor and dignity of a religion whose orthodox practices had been the very reason behind the foundation of Sikhism. He told them to go to Emperor Aurangzeb with the following proposal.

"If Guru Tegh Bahadur, ninth Sikh Guru of Sikhs, submits to the will of Aurangzeb, then all people, including ourselves, will shun our religion and convert to the faith of the Emperor".
When Aurangzeb's acolytes reported the proposal to him, he was livid. In a fit of rage, he ordered the Governor of Lahore to arrest Guru Tegh Bahadur. It was on the 12th of July, 1675 that the Guru, along with his companions, was arrested at Malikpur Rangharan in Ropar. He was first kept in custody for three months at Sarhind; and then taken to another prison in Delhi. At this prison, he was yoked in an iron cage to await the next orders from the Emperor. As a lot was at stake, his captors decided to force Guru Tegh Bahadur in submitting to their whims. They summoned the royal Qazi to preach to him. When this didn't work, they started torturing him cruelly. It is being said that Guru's companions were grotesquely murdered in front of him, in the hope that fear will cower him. Bhai Mati Das was crushed with a saw while being tied to two pillars. Bhai Dayal Das was boiled to death, and Bhai Sati Das was roasted alive in oil. But, amidst this ferity, Guru Tegh Bahadur remained unperturbed. This pestered his oppressors, and they sent across a word to Aurangzeb that the Guru wouldn't give up.

Aurangzeb, on receiving the message, is believed to have told his chieftains, "Tell him that if he claims to be a Guru, he should be able to perform some miracles. If he fails to prove that he, indeed, is a Guru; he would have to either accept Islam, or face execution". When the order was read out to Guru Tegh Bahadur, he said, "True men of God never perform miracles in order to save themselves from suffering or hardship. They do not perform miracles to prove their greatness, either. I will not show any miracles."

Orders were received to carry out the execution of Guru Tegh Bahadur. On the 24th of November, 1675, he was taken out from his iron cage, and placed under a banyan tree. As he was about to be executed, he tied a note on a string around his neck. The huge crowd that had gathered to watch the execution, expected a miracle. Many thought that he would miraculously escape the execution, while some were convinced that it was his last attempt at making peace with Aurangzeb. However, there was no miracle, and the forceful swing of the executioner's axe took Guru's head off. When the note was taken off from his severed head, it read, "I gave up my head without giving up my faith, is this not a miracle?"
Note: Throughout history, there have been great men who have sacrificed their life to uphold the honor of their country, community, or family. But, to lay down one's life for the sake of another community is, indeed, an act of highest honor. Though, he was executed mercilessly, Guru Tegh Bahadur holds a special place in history for standing up for the cause of free spirit.
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