SUNSET WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 23: Martyrs can be found in nearly every faith, but it’s an unprecedented sacrifice that’s remembered today in Sikhism: Guru Tegh Bahadur gave up his life for the religious freedom of all. (Details are at Sikh-History.com.) More specifically, it was on this day in 1675 that Sikhism’s ninth guru, Tegh Bahadur, publicly opposed the religious persecution going on in India, thereby calling all future Sikhs to not only accept other religions but to be ready to die for them.
Guru Tegh Bahadur was born the youngest of five sons of the eighth Sikh guru, Guru Hargobind; it’s said that upon his birth, Tegh Bahadur was pronounced by his father to be the one who would become the next guru. Guru Hargobind named him Tegh Bahadur, or “Mighty of Sword,” although he predicted quite the opposite: one who would “protect the weak and relieve their distress.” Throughout his life, Guru Bahadur indeed would teach—and demonstrate—that strength is gained through truth, sacrifice and knowledge. (Learn more from SikhiWiki.)
According to Sikh tradition: Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb forced Islam upon India in 1669, and it was Guru Tegh Bahadur who stepped out against the unjust taxing of Hindus and the burning of Hindu temples. This guru was beheaded in 1675, and the site of his execution was later turned into a Sikh gurdwara, or place of worship.