Teachings from the Life of Guru Teg Bahadur

Guru Teg Bahadur, the 9th guru or apostle of the Sikh religion, is renowned for the extreme valor with which he advocated for the masses’ right to profess their religion of choice. Even in the face of the enemy’s prowess, he staunchly refused to be coerced into conversion ultimately leading to his own execution. He pioneered community wells and langars which provided food to people of all stations. It served to demolish in one simple act of dining together the oppressive caste system prevalent in India. His hymns were appended in the Guru Granth Sahib and provide humbling insight into human life. 

 Being a man of faith, one recurring theme in his teachings is devotion to God. The transient nature of oneself in contrast to the Almighty is especially highlighted. A human existence ends in the blink of an eye; snuffed out of the spring of life. The one true reality is God who persists even when all else has been destroyed. According to Guru, this revelation is an indispensable one to have. The feeling and eventual understanding of God’s eternal omnipresence in the bones will surely lead to liberation from the cycle of life and attainment of salvation. 

 Humans spend the entirety of their lifetimes in the pursuit of happiness. Whilst some search for the elusive serotonin in wealth and fame, others immerse themselves amongst people. This frantic hunt for external contentment, nevertheless, results in dead ends all too often. Guru Teg Bahadur claimed that this dissatisfaction is caused due to unbridled attachment to material possessions. Impartiality to adulation as well as critiques is of immense importance for the stability of the mind. Blessed is the one who can adopt true fearlessness stemming from non-attachment. The conquest of fear allows for people to live true to their principles in dire situations. 

 Apropos of the way of living, he left us a cornucopia of adages to be the voice of reason for when a dilemma presents itself. People tend to dismiss humility with the steady accretion of socio-economic status. It is then that these aphorisms serve as a reminder to rid ourselves of arrogance and the never-ending lust for more. He stated that indulging in ostentatious acts of fidelity to God amount to nothing. Construction of resplendent shrines or ceremonial baths equates to naught in the long run. A religion is redundant if the mind of the devotee is given free reigns to languish as it pleases. 

 Throughout the course of his life, Guru Teg Bahadur spread the message of Sikhism with the common denominator being leading an austere and chaste life devoted to God. He considered spirituality as a path of freedom from the physical shackles of the human body and eventual salvation. Assuming the role of a mentor, he aided in guiding aimless vagrants to self-actualization and transcendence. Special emphasis was put on a life free from malice, apathy, rancor and focused on self-reflection. Most importantly, Guru Teg Bahadur told us to look into ourselves for God rather than some long-forgotten woods.