Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
It was here, back in 1675, that Guru Tegh Bahadur and his disciples, Bhai Matidas, Bhai Satidas and Bhai Dyal Singh, were killed on the orders Mughal emperor Aurangzeb on November 24. One of the nine old and historical gurudwaras in Delhi, Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib, located in Chandni Chowk, was thus built in the memory of the ninth Sikh guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur in 1783. However, the present structure came up in 1930 and has been nicely maintained ever since.
In 1658, Aurangzeb ascended to the Mughal throne and 11 years later, in 1669, he passed an order that all non-Muslims should either convert to Islam or face death. Following the orders, Pandit Kripa Ram from Kashmir met Guru Tegh Bahadar at Chak Nanki in Anandpur Sahib (then called Kahlur) with a delegation of his people. Panditji explained the emperor’s orders to the Guru (Gurudwara Manji Sahib stands at meeting site today).
After knowing their plight, Guru Tegh Bahadur told Pandit Kripa Ram that he should tell Aurangzeb that if he can convert him (Guru Tegh Bahadar) to Islam, they will all convert. Otherwise, he should leave them alone. The Pandits were delighted that a solution to their problem was found and duly informed Emperor Aurangzeb of the decision. Aurangzeb was very happy. He thought he could easily convert Guru Tegh Bahadur and hence summoned his officers to arrest Guru Tegh Bahadur.
Along with his companions, Guru Tegh Bahadur was brought to Delhi in 1675 and asked to convert to Islam or face death. He was also asked to perform a miracle. Guru Tegh Bahadur refused to convert or perform any miracle. He and his companions were then tortured brutally. The guru was chained and imprisoned in a cage and was tortured in the most inhuman manner for five days. Three of his disciples met the same fate. Bhai Mati Das was sawn alive, Bhai Dyal Das was thrown in a cauldron of boiling oil and Bhai Sati Das was roasted alive before the Guru, but Guru Tegh Bahadur still refused to convert to Islam. An angry Aurangzeb then ordered his beheading. The Guru was beheaded in broad daylight in the middle of a public square at Chandni Chowk on the charge that he was a stumbling block in the spread of Islam in the Indian subcontinent.
The sacrifice roused the Hindus from their passive silence and gave them the fortitude to understand the power that comes from self-respect and sacrifice. Guruji was beheaded by executioner Jalal-ud-din, who belonged to the Samana town in Haryana, under a Banyan tree. The spot was later discovered by Baba Baghel Singh, a devotee of Guru Tegh Bahadur, leading to the construction of Gurudwara Sis Ganj in 1783. Baba Baghel Singh, celebrated in Sikh history as the vanquisher of Mughal Delhi, is credited with construction of not just Sis Ganj Gurudwara but six more gurudwaras viz Gurudwara Mata Sundari, Gurudwara Bangla Saheb, Gurudwara Bala Saheb, Gurudwara Rakab Ganj, Gurudwara Moti Bagh and Gurudwara Majnu Ka Tila.
A painting showing Guru Tegh Bahadur just before he was beheaded
History tells us that when Guruji was martyred, no one had the courage even to pick up his body. But then it suddenly started raining, thus giving his disciples time to run away with his body and head. The head was taken to Chakk Nanaki in Anandpur Sahib while the body was taken to the place where the Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Sahib stands today.
The well where Guru Tegh Bahadur used to have bath
The main structure of the Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib is a huge open and spacious hall with a bronze canopy in the middle under which the holy book, Guru Granth Sahib is kept, well covered in a red cloth and marigold garlands. A little below is a jail in which the Guruji was kept imprisoned. On one corner of the hall is kept a huge trunk of the Banyan tree under which the Guruji was martyred. The well where Guru ji took bath while in imprisonment, though not in use, is well-maintained and considered sacred by the Sikhs.
When you visit Sis Ganj, you must also visit the museum right opposite it. The entire history of its establishment is described through models. It also has a good collection of writings on Sikh history.