MARTYRDOM OF GURU TEGH BAHADUR SAHIB Article by: Inderjeet Singh from Nottingham, UK

Martyrdom and Siyar-ul-Mutakhirin

Non-Sikh historians have relied heavily on Siyar-ul-Mutakhirin, written by Sayyid Ghulam Husain in 1782, almost 107 years after the martyrdom. Even Satish Chandra used this source for the NCERT history book taught is schools across India.

Sayyid Ghulam Husain was native of Lucknow and wrote that Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib and Hafiz Adam, a disciple of Shaikh Ahmad Sarhindi (contemporary of Jahangir, in one of his letter he had expressed great delight at the execution of ‘Kafir of Goindwal’, Guru Arjan Dev) had collected a large body of men. They moved about in countryside and seized money and material by force. It was feared they might revolt against the government!

HR Gupta has given an apt explanation. About this time the Sikhs had become supreme in Northern India. In June, 1781, Najaf Khan, the prime minister of the Mughal Empire, had confirmed the Sikh’s right to Rakhi at 12.5 per cent of the standard land revenue in Haryana and the upper Ganga Doab (western Uttar Pradesh). The Sikhs often extracted ‘Rakhi’ tax from the territory of the Nawab of Oudh across the Ganga (Central Uttar Pradesh). Needless to say Ghulam Husain did not had, a good word to say for the Sikhs and their Guru.

In addition to baseless allegations, Ghulam Husain made a grave error here by bracketing Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib with Hafiz Adam. Hafiz Adam was banished by Shah Jahan in 1642, thirty-three years earlier. Hafiz went on a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina where he died in 1643. Dr Ganda Singh in 1977 quoted several works (with page numbers) to prove the discrepancy of the year by Ghulam Husain and fallacy of his allegations.

Kamal-ud-din Ahsan, Rauzat-ul-Qayumia, 178

Nazir Ahmad, Tazkirat-ul-Abidin, 124-25

Mirat-e-Jahan Nama 606

Ghulam Nabi, Mirat-ul-Qwanin, 417

Mirza Muhammad Akhtari. Tazkirah-e-Hind-o-Pakistan, 401

Sayyid Ghulam Husain had charged Guru Ji with plundering people. HR Gupta rightly says that on the very face of it this accusation appears false and baseless. Hafiz Ahmed was no way associated with Guru Teg Bahadur. It was a figment of his imagination.

Sikh throws bricks at Aurangzeb

Saqi Must-id-Khan, a contemporary writer who wrote Masir-e-Alamgiri (translation by Sir Jadunath Sarkar, page 94) mentions an interesting incident “When he (Aurangzeb) alighted the boat and was about to get on the movable throne (Takhte-Rawan) an ill-fated disciple of Guru Tegh Bahadur threw two bricks on the Emperor, one of which hit the throne.”

Obviously people were unhappy with the execution of Guru Tegh Bahadur and he was seen as a martyr by the people.

Martyrdom & Persian accounts

There are number of Persian accounts which mention the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib. The tone of the account ranges from neutral to negative. Readers have to bear in mind that any slightest critique of the Mughal Emperor would have resulted in death penalty for the author. Consequently some of them try to give justification for the execution. As a sample, I am producing three Persian accounts written few years after the martyrdom. They were initially translated by Dr Ganda Singh during his illustrious career but I have used a more recent translation from the book Sikh History from Persian Sources.

Khulasat-ut-Tawarikh (1695)

Sujan Rai Bhandari’s Khulasat-ut-Tawarikh, completed in 1695, is a history of India. The main account of the Sikhs and their history is given in the chapter on the province of Lahore. He mentions the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur without going into much detail lest he would have incurred the wrath of the Mughal ruler. He writes

“Then Tegh Bahadur, the younger son of Guru Hargobind, occupied the seat for fifteen years. In the end, he was imprisoned under Imperial officers, and in I081 A. H. (1670- 71AD), corresponding to the 17th regnal year of Alamgir (1673-74AD), he was executed at Shahjahanabad (Delhi) in accordance with Alamgir’s orders. At the time of writing this book, Guru Gobind Rai, the son of Guru Tegh Bahadur, has been in occupation of the sacred seat for twenty-two years.”

Nuskha-i Dilkusha (1709)

Another Persian account is Bhimsen’s Nuskha-i Dilkusha (1709), is a history of Aurangzeb’s reign, written largely in the form of memoirs. Bhimsen was an officer of Dalpat Rao Bundela, who died at the battle of Jajau in June 1707, Bhimsen not only gives an account of that battle, at which he was present. He refers to Guru Gobind Singh’s meeting with Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah, successor of Aurangzeb in 1708. In relation to Guru Tegh Bahadur, he writes “Some of his descendants (of Guru Nanak) have been masters of mystic attainments and have adopted the way of poverty and humility. Many took to the path of rebellion, such as Tegh Bahadur, by name, who lived in the mountains near Sirhind: he got himself called King (Padshah), and a large body of people gathered around him. When the news was conveyed to His Majesty Emperor Alamgir (Aurangzeb), it was ordered that he should be brought to the Court. When he came to the Court, he was executed.”

Ibratnama (1719)

Muhammad Qasim in his Ibratnama (1719) refers to Guru Tegh Bahadur having come under the wrath of Aurangzeb to be condemned to death. He writes “the Emperor (Aurangzeb) had regard for royal power but he also associated with religious men. Some of the mystics aligned with him of their own accord. Others, like Sarmad, tasted martyrdom. Guru Tegh Bahadur was in the latter category. He was condemned not only for religious reasons but also because he lived in great splendour and his followers claimed sovereignty for him. In fact, a large number of people had begun to follow Guru Har Rai (who is wrongly mentioned as Guru Tegh Bahadur’s father), and to glorify him.”


Other non-contemporary Persian accounts which mention the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur are Buddh Singh Arora’s Risala Dar-Ahwal-a-Nanak Shah Darvesh (1783); Bakhat Mal’s Khalsanama; Ganesh Dass Wadhera’s Charbagh-a-Punjab; Khushwaqat Rai’s Twarikh-a Sikhan-wa Mulk-i-Punjab-wa-Malwa (1840), Ghulam Mohiuddin Buteshah’s Tarikh-e-Punjab, Shardha Ram Philori’s, Sikhan-De-Raj-Di-Vithia (1867) and Kanahiya Lal’s Tarikha- Punjab.

I have quotes number of non-Sikh & Persian sources to disapprove Siyar-ul-Mutakhirin. The original work was done by Dr Ganda Singh and Dr Hari Ram Gupta among others which have been in the public domain for at least 40 years now. If someone continues to quote Sayyid Ghulam Husain’s account written 107 years after Guru Tegh Bahadur’s martyrdom and ignores the above accounts then either they need a lesson in history or they have a specific agenda.


Sikh History from Persian Sources by JS Grewal & Irfan Habib, Published by Tulika, 2001

Later Mughals by William Irvine, edited by Sir Jadunath Sarkar, Calcutta, 1911

History of the Sikhs Vol 1 by Hari Ram Gupta, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, Delhi, 2nd edition, 1984

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