The Teachings of Guru Teg Bahadur

The Teachings of Guru Teg Bahadur By Dr L D Mohan

gur teg bahadur


  Guru Teg Bahadur was the ninth among the sikh gurus. He was born to the sixth guru, Har Gobind at Amritsar on the 11 Nov 1621 AD. He received education under the supervision of his father, who induced in him not only spiritual love but also the art of warfare. In the Kartar pur battle, he gave such a good account of his training in the use of weapons that his father greeted him with the words, “ you have now become in reality Guru Teg Bahadur ie a brave swords man.” But still his real love was devotion to God and his fame rests on it rather on his exploits in war. In fact he kept aloof from contemporary politics and spent all his time in singing the praise of God. He was essentially a man of peace. But unfortunately because of the intrigues of Dhirmal, who coveted the Guru Gaddi he had to suffer unbearable tortures. Guru Teg Bahadur, however kept his balance and continued to enjoin for bearance to his followers. His charisma was attracting over increasing number of devotees. Soon the rulers of land became apprehensive of his rapidly growing influence. Aurunjeb suspected that he was organizing hindus with the object of toppling his Islamic empire. The Guru had no doubt become an obstacle to Aurungjeb’s proselytizing activities. He was summoned along with his numerous devotees to Delhi and was put behind bars. He and his followers were given choice of embracing islam or suffer a painful death. His followers were tortured to death one by one before his eyes, in order to break downbn his resistance. Most famous of those who suffered martyrdom on this occasion was his Brahmin devotee Bhai Mati Dass Chhibber, who allowed to himself to be sawed down from head to foot but refused to forsake his religion. Eventually the Guru himself was done to death after being subjected to inhuman tortures. On 11 November 1625. Guru teg Bahadurs Bani contains 59 sabads and 57 salokas. The upnishadic thought is clearly reflected in his banis which in the Adi Granth is designated as Mahala 9” to distinguish it from the banis of other gurus. In fact the teachings of all the gurus seem to be premeated with Upanishad thought Not only the upanishdic theories are reflected in the Adi Granth in general and Guru Teg Bahdurs Bani in particular, but we also notice a surprising community of phraseology.
‘Attributes of God. Om kara is a synonym of Pramatma or God in the Adi Granth. The mula mantra describes his attributes in the words.

ओंकार सतिनाम करता पुरखु निरभउ निर्वैरु अकाल मूर्ती अर्जुनी सैभं गुर प्रसादी !


ओंकार सतिनाम करता पुरखु नर्भू निरवैरू अकाल मूरति अजुनि सैभं गुरप्रसाद

The Adi Granth contains Banis or songs composed by the first none gurus. But all these songs in praise of God are offered in the name of Nanak, the first Guru. However each Gurus bani is distinguished by the term mahala which is numbered according toi the number of Guru. In the succession list.

Onkara is one is true ie is the creator purusha, is free from fear and enemity, is being beyond time and birth is self existent. He can be realized with the grace of Guru.

The same attributes of God are described at numerous places in upnishadas:-

यत तद अद्रेश्यम अग्राह्यम् अगोत्रम

अवर्णम्अचक्षु श्रोत्रम् तद अपाणिपादम्

नित्यं विभुं सर्वगतं सुसूक्ष्म तद्व्ययम्

तद भूतयोनिं परीपश्यन्ति धीरा

यथा सत: पुरुषात केशलोमनि

तथा अक्षरात संभवतीह विश्वम


Om or akshara Brahma is described in details in similar terms in other contexts too in the Mundaka.

In the Mandulkya Om or Akshara is described in the words:-


एवं सर्वेश्वर एवं सवेघ्यम अशो अंतयषयेष् योनि सवेस्य प्रभवाप्यायो  ही भूतानाम

Sop also in the Aitraya Upanishada:-

   आत्मा व इदमेक ऐवाग्र आसीत !

   स इमांललोकन असिरजत !!

Following are the teachings of the preceding Gurus, Tegbhadur too verified the philosophic theories propounded in the Upanishads to wit God’s omni presence. And immanence desirability of his devotion (Bhakti) means of attaining release from the cycle of rebirth (Moksha) steadiness of mind, contradiction of false beliefs, Unreal nature of the world etc

अगखनत अपार अलख निरंजन जिह सब जग भरमईओ

अपनी माया आप पसरी आपही देखन हरा

नाना रूप धरे बहुरंगी सब ते रहे निअरा

सर्व निवासी सदा अलेपा तोहि संग समाई

पुहप मधि जिउ बस बसत है मुकर माहि जिमि छाई

तैसे हे हरी बसै निरन्तरि घट ही खोजो भाई

बाहर भीतर अको जानहु यह गुरु गियानु बताई

जन नानक बिन अप चिन्हे मिटे न भरम की काई

प्रीतम जान लेहो मन मांही.        

         संग सुआमी सो जानओ नहीं बन खोजन कउ धाइओ

रतनु राम घट के ही भीतरि ताको ज्ञान न पाइओ

घट ही भीतरि बसे निरंजनु ताको भरम न पाइओ

सुख दुःख रहित सदा निरलेपी जाकउ कहत गोसाईं

सो तुम माँहि बसै निरन्तरि नानक दर्पण निआई

जाकउ जगत खोजत हारे पाइओ नाही तिह पारा

सो सुआमी तुम निकट पछानो रूप रेख ते निआरा

पतित उधारन भै हरन हरी अनाथ के नाथ

खु नानक तिह जानिए सदा बसत तुम साथ

घटी घटी में हरि जू बसै संतन कहियो पुकार

खु नानक तिह भजु मना भउनिधि उतरही पार

The Svetasvatara Upanishad describes Para- Brahma and the method of realizing him in words:-


अको देवाः सवेभूतेषु गूढ़: सर्वेव्यापी सर्वभूतान्तरात्मा

कर्माध्यक्ष सर्वभूताधिवास साक्षी चेतः केवलो निर्गुणश्च

तिलेषु तैलम् दधिनीव सपरिराप: स्रोत स्वरणीषु चाग्निः

एवं आत्मात्मनि ग्रिपलते~सौ सत्येनैनम तपस्या योनुपश्यति


The Brahma is concealed in the inmost regions of every being. He is imminent. He is the soul within every creature. He is the supervisor of all actions. Is the dwelling place of all beings, is the witness to every thing, is the conscious being, is only one and is without attributes.


Just as oil exists inside sesamum seeds, ghee in curd, fire in the fire sticks, so also one realizes him within one self, if one tries by means of truth and penance.

A similar description is found in the Kathoupnishad:-


यथा दर्शे तथा आत्मनि यथा स्वप्ने तथा पित्रलोके

यथा पसू परिव दद्दृश्ये तथा गन्दर्व लोके छाया तपोयोरिव ब्रह्मलोके

Just as one can see one’s face in the mirror, so also one can see God in one self. Just as one sees in dreams so also can one per ceive him in pitraloka. Just as things are seen reflected in water so also he can be seen in Gandharva loka. Like shade and light, he appears in Brahma Loka.

Description of Jivan mukta:- The purpose of human life is attainment of release from the cycle of rebirths 9Moksha) In its persuit after being disillusuioned from the worldly life, the devotee rises above dualities (dvandvas) and attained the state of steadiness.

(Sthitaprajnata) through devotion (bhakti) to God. In Guru bani sthita-prajna is called Brahma-jnani and Mukta 9ie Jeevan Mukta) and is described in almost the same terms as in the sthita=prajna Prakakrana of the Gita;-

             जा नर दुःख में नही माने

सुख स्नेह अरु भय नहीं जाकै कंचन माटी जानै

नंह निंदा नंह उस्तुति जाकै लोभ मोह अभिमाना

हरख सोग ते रहे निआरा नहीं मान अपमाना

आसा मनसा सकल तिआगो जग तै रहे निरासा

काम क्रोध जिह परसै नाह्नी तिह घटि ब्रह्म निवासा

लोभ मोह ममता फिनि बिखयन के सेवा

हरखि सोग परसै जिह नाह्नी सो मूर्ति है देवा

सुरग नरक अमृतु बिखु ऐ सब तिउ कंचन औ पैसा

अस्तुति निंदा ऐ सम जाकै लोभु मोहु फुनि तैसा

सुख दुःख ऐ बाधे जिह नाह्नी तिह तुम जान्यो गीआनी

नानक मुक्ति तह तुम मानउ यह विधि को जो प्राणी

पर निंदा अस्तुति नंह जाकै कंचन लोह समानो

हरख सोग ते रहे अतीता जोगी ताहि बखानो

हरख सोग जेक नंह बैरी मीत समान

खु नानक सुन रे मना मुक्ति तहॉ तुम मान

जिह्वा गन गोविन्द भजहु करण सुनहि हरिनाम कहु नानक सुन रे मना परही न जम के धाम

In the Upanishads Jivan Mukta is described in the words:-

साधुभिः पूज्यमाने स्मिन पीडच माने पि दुर्जनै

समभावो भवेद यस्य स जीवन मुक्त उच्यते

सर्व वसप्या विनिरमुक्त सर्व चिंताविवर्जित:

मृतवत तिष्ठते योगी स मुक्तो नात्र संशय

अपतत्सु यथा कालम सुखदुः रवेशवनारत:

न हर्षयति ग्लायति य: स जीवन मुक्त उच्यते

न परामृशयते योनत: स जीवन मुक्त उच्यते

यता हारो जीत क्रोधो जीत संगो जितेन्द्रिय

निर्द्वन्द्वो निर्हंकारो निराशीर परीग्रह

Translated in English respectively:-

The man who has the same feeling ie is unruffled when honored by a good man or tortured by a wicked person is called a jeevan mukta

The yogi is no doubt Mukta, who is unaffected by conditions Good or Bad, is free from all sort of worries and is un affected by pleasant and un pleasant experiences like a dead person.

The man who is unruffled Un mindful of pleasures and pains as they come ie neither cheers up nor sorrows is called a “Jeevan Mukta”

The devotee attains the place of Brahma, who eats moderately, who has conquered Anger, attachment and senses ie is free from dvandas, Ego, Desires and does not collect wealth.

The Bhagwaat Gita discusses these theories in great details in various contexts. A few brief references are given below:-

विहाय कामान् य: सर्वान् पुमांश्चरति नि:स्पृह:

निर्ममो निरहंकार: स शांतिमधिगछति

एषा ब्राह्मी स्थिति पार्थ नैनं प्राप्य विमुह्यति

स्थितवम् स्याम अंतकालेअपि ब्रह्म निर्वाणं ऋच्छति


सम: शत्रु च मित्रे च तथा मन अपमानयोः

शीतोष्ण सुख दुःखेषु सम: संग विवर्जित:

तुल्य निंदा स्तुति मौनी संतुष्टि येन केनचित

अनिकेत: स्थिर मति भक्तिमान में प्रियो नर:


सम: दुःखसुख: स्वस्थ: सम लोष्टाश्म कांचन:

तुल्य प्रियो प्रियो धीरस्तुल्य निंदा आत्मसंस्तुति

मन अपमान योस्तुल्यस्तुल्यो मित्र आरी पक्षयोः

सर्व आरम्भ परित्यागी गुना अतीत: स उच्यते

Refutation of false beliefs and establishment of transitoriness of the world:-

In this life none can help in attaining Moksha except God. Relatives Wealth Friends etc are all useless in this regard. So are the tirthas, Vrats etc etc .Supreme existence can be attained only through the conquest of the mind.

On these subjects the bani of Guru Teg Bahadur jee and the Mahopanishda have remarkable similarities:-

हरि बिन तेरो कोई न सहाई
काकी मात पिता सूत वनिता को कहु को भाई
धनु धरनी अरु सम्पति सगरी जो मानियो अपनाई
तन छूटे कछु संग न चलै खा ताहै लपटाइ
यह जग मीत न देख्यो कोई
सकल जगतु अपने सुख लगिओ दुःख में संग न होइ
धन दारा सम्पति गेह 

कछु संग न चाले समझूँ लेह

कहा भइओ तीर्थ व्रत किये राम सरनि नहीं आवै

जा अमिन भजन राम को नाहीं

तिह नर जन्म अकारथ खोइआ यह राखहु मन मांही

तीर्थ करे व्रत फुनि रखे नही मनुआ बीएस जाकै

निह फल धर्म ताहि तुम मानो साचु खत मैं या कउ

Compare these ideas with upnishads

न धनान्यूपकुर्वन्ति न मित्राणि न बान्धवाः

न के क्लेश वैधुयें न तीर्थो इतना श्रेयः

केवलम तन्मनोमात्र जयेना साध्यते पदम्

तीर्थे दाने यझे काष्ठे पाषणके सदा

शिवम पश्यति मूढात्मा शिवे देहे प्रतिष्टते

The upanishats lay greater stress on knowledge and search of the Reality. Without attaining knowledge of the real self, Moksha can not be achieved They either totally ignore rituals or oppose it. They accept the path of meditation and knowledge. Kathoupnishad teached renunciation of Karma and passions for the purpose of attaining supreme bliss. Upanishads generally accept Brahma as attributes ie formless. So also does Guru Bani. Jhansi ravi & Some sants & poets of Guru Tegh Bhadurs times had however come under the influence of Puranas and Atharvanic Upanishads such as Ram Rahasya, Rama Purvatapini etc which being purely sectarian had deviated from the tradition of the ancient Upanishads. These influence are also visible at places in the Guru Bani.


हा को नाम सदा सुखदाई

जाऊ सिमर अजमिल उधरयो

गनिकाहू गति पाई

पाली कउ राज सभा में

राम नाम सुधि आई

ता दुःख हरयो करुनामै

अपनी पैज बड़ाइ

Inspite of a few poems reflecting Saguna influence the dominator in Guru Tegbhadurs bani as also in Guru Bani in in general, is in line with the ancient Upanishats.

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