The Sikh Review 69 (5):12-21 (2021)

Authors
Devinder Pal Singh
Center for Understanding Sikhism
Abstract
Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur, ninth Sikh Guru, fell as a martyr to the freedom of consciousness and belief [1]. The Guru's great sacrifice was to vindicate the people's right to profess and practice their faith. It meant the assertion of the principle of justice for which the ruling Mughal rulers of the day had very scant regard. For this reason, the life, career, and teachings of Guru Tegh Bahadur are of immense significance even in contemporary times, when the forces of hate, fanaticism, and tyranny are still very dominant and assertive. Guru Tegh Bahadur, a multifaceted genius, Guru and martyr, was also a great poet. He authored 57 Salokas, and 59 other compositions (Shabads). These hymns, written in 15 Raagas (measures) are enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) [2-4], the sacred scripture of the Sikhs. In his hymns, though he articulates [5] on the unreality of human passions and possessions, yet his hymns have been a source of spiritual succour and solace to millions of people in their hours of personal grief and affliction. Through his hymns, he brightens our awareness of the transience of the material phenomena. However, instead of creating a sense of despair and depression, he elevates the human mind and imbues it with hope. Thereby he makes it possible for us to rise above the irritants of the immediate problems of existence and keep our attention focused on the everlasting and eternal. Guru Tegh Bahadur [1-18] inherited his vision or worldview from his predecessor Gurus. He stood [1] for the same system of moral, social, and spiritual values as emphasized by the previous Gurus. Still, his compositions have an identity of their own. As a whole, his hymns present a central, unifying theme: a coherent and dynamic vision of humans, their predicament as a part of nature, the way out of this predicament, and the resultant awareness of the unique spiritual nature that is within them. In this way, the Guru helps humans redefine their relationship with the world and grow spiritually. Guru Tegh Bahadur's poetry seeks to redeem life from meaninglessness and fear, to enlarge and enliven humans' consciousness, and to open their inward eye to the glory of all-redeeming, ever-existent Truth. In this article, a few of his views on the various aspects of life are being reported.
Keywords Sikhs  Sikh Studies  Origin of Sikhism  Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur  Punjab Studies  Punjab/Sikh Studies  Sikh Theology  Sikh Doctrines  Gurbani  Gurmat  Renunciation
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