We have all heard the story of how Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib traveled from Anandpur Sahib to Delhi to sacrifice his life for freedom of religion and the right of Hindus to practice their faith. However, the aftermath of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s Shaheedi and how Bhai Jaita took Guru Sahib’s sees (head) back to Anandpur Sahib is not well known. It is an amazing story that is worth sharing.
Early Life of Bhai Jaita
Bhai Jaita jee, later known as Bhai Jeevan Singh, was born in 1649 to a Sikh family once of the scavenger caste. Bhai Jaita and his brother Bhag Chand were Sikhs of Guru Har Rai Sahib. They began to live in Ramdas with Bhai Gurditta jee, a very respected Gursikh who was a descendant of Baba Buddha jee. Bhai Gurditta jee was with Guru Harkrishan at the time of Guru jee’s leaving this world and was later the one who performed the Guruship ceremony of Guru Tegh Bahadur. Before Guru Tegh Bahadur left for Delhi, he was called once again to perform the ceremony for Guru Gobind Rai jee.
After Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib set out to court arrest, Bhai Gurditta jee also left for Delhi. Bhai Jaita followed him. At Delhi, Bhai Gurditta jee saw the brutal martyrdoms of the three Sikhs, one after another. So did Bhai Jaita. The day of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s martyrdom was now approaching. Bhai Jaita and Bhai Gurditta did not sleep the entire night. They prepared themselves for the sight they were about to see. Their beloved Satguru would be beheaded before them but they could not let their tears escape or utter any cry. They would have to be silent lest they be discovered and not be able to perform seva of Guru Sahib’s body. They did Ardaas to Guru Tegh Bahadur that they be able to bear the sight of the horror that was to come and not utter a sound.
Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s Shaheedi
The morning of November 11 1675 dawned. Guru Tegh Bahadur’s small cage was brought to Chandani Chownk. There was a large tree that stood in the middle of the Chownk. The Chownk was a terrifying place this day. There were still the marks of the horrific tortures and Shaheedis of Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das and Bhai Dayala. Amongst the crowd assembled to see the execution was Bhai Jaita, hiding himself so no one could recognize that a Sikh of the Guru was present.
It was mid-day now. There stood the Kazi, Abdul Wahabb and the executioner, Jalaludin. Jalaludin came forward and opened Guru Tegh Bahadur’s cage. Satguru jee stepped out. The Kazi said to Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, “There is still time, embrace Islam and you will be saved. Or you may show us a miracle and you will be rewarded with a great position. If neither of these are acceptable to you then you may choose death.”
Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib replied, “I want that which my Sikhs wanted. If my Sikhs did not falter then can you expect anything different from me?”
Guru Tegh Bahadur was asked his final wish. Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib replied that he should be allowed to do ishnaan. Guru Tegh Bahadur was allowed to bathe with water from a nearby well. He dressed in fresh clothes and sat under the large tree at the centre of the Chownk. Satguru jee closed his eyes and began to recite Sri Japji Sahib in a loud voice. Clouds began to form and it began to grow darker. The sky had a reddish glow now. As Guru Sahib recited Japji Sahib in his sweet voice, with every word, the Sikhs in the crowd realized the moment of his Shaheedi was drawing closer. Satguru jee recited the final Salok and bowed his head before Akaal Purakh. There was an instant of silence and then Jalaludin, with both hid hands clenching the sharp sword, swung and cut Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s head from his body.
Streams of blood flowed on to the ground and the sky too was now blood red. A ferocious wind began to blow and the storm broke. As the heavy rain fell and strong wind blew, the crowd dispersed.
The Sikhs Gather
The Sikhs who witnessed the Shaheedi of Guru Tegh Bahadur gathered at house of Bhai Nainoo. Their grief knew no end. Bhai Tulsi insisted that they could not allow Satuguru Tegh Bahadur’s body to simply lie in Chandani Chownk. They decided to ask Bhai Lakhi Das, a powerful trader for help. They went ot Bhai Lakhi Das’s home where he had just returned from a trip to Narnaul to get lime and sand. The caravan carrying the goods Bhai Lakhi Das had purhcased was to arrive in Delhi that night and the Sikhs decided that they would hide in this caravan and take Guru jee’s body from the Chownk.
Taking Guru Sahib’s Body
It was now well into the night and the storm over Delhi was still raging. Bhai Nainoo, Bhai Ageya, Bhai Jaita and Bhai Udda traveled with the caravan carrying Bhai Lakhi Das’s goods. As the strong wind and heavy rain continued, the Sikhs passed by the Red Fort and then the Kotwali and finally reached Chandani Chownk. Bhai Jaita jee, using the darkness and the cover of the storm, lifted up Guru Tegh Bahadur jee’s head and covered it with a white scarf.
Bhai Lakhi Das and his son Bhai Nagahiya were following in the caravan and as it slowly passed through the Chownk, they took the body of Guru Tegh Bahadur and placed it in a cart and kept moving. Bhai Lakhi Das thought the most inconspicuous way to cremate Guru Sahib’s body would be to place it within his home and light the entire home on fire so know one would suspect what really was happening. This is what he did. As he and the other Sikhs stood outside, the flames from Bhai Lakhi Das’s home lept into the sky and Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s body was cremated.
The next day, Bhai Gurditta jee also left this world, following his master Guru Tegh Bahadur. He was cremated by the banks of the Jamuna. Bhai Lakhi Das remained in Delhi for some days and managed through the help of the town crier to take away the bodies of the Shaheed Sikhs and cremate them at the same place Bhai Gurditta was cremated.
Bhai Jaita meanwhile was escaping with Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s head. He decided that Guru Gobind Rai and the Sikhs would be waiting to have the final darshan and so he began to make his way towards Anandpur Sahib. Bhai Jaita grasped Satguru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s head to his chest and did an Ardaas that he be blessed with the strength to return to Anandpur Sahib. The Mughals would be searching for the head and so he could not travel on the common roads. He would have to travel through the forests and jungles so he would not be detected.
(Based on “Guru Kian Sakhian” of Bhatt Svarup Singh Kaushish and Katha by Giani Pinderpal Singh)