Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib is a Sikh temple in New Delhi that is nestled between a church and a masjid. It may not be the most well-known gurdwara to the general public, but it is extremely important to the Sikh community and deserves to be visited.
Rakab Ganj Sahib is the final resting place of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth and final guru of Sikhism. Guru Tegh Bahadur’s dismembered body was cremated here almost 300 years ago, in this exact location, according to historical records.
The circumstances surrounding Guru Tegh Bahadur’s death are numerous, but almost all agree that his sacrifice was one of a kind because he died in the service of his religion, which was Hinduism. As a member of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), which has its headquarters at Rakab Ganj Sahib, puts it, “it is perhaps not imprudent to call him the greatest humanitarian this world has ever seen.” “No one else has given up his life for the sake of people of a different religion.”
On November 24, 1675, Guru Tegh Bahadur passed away.
The martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur
Towards the end of the 17th century, Mughal emperor Aurangzeb imposed Sharia law throughout his empire, as well as an additional jizya tax on those who were not Muslims. It is also believed that he converted a large number of people to Islam by force.
It is said that some Kashmiri Pandits fled the conversions and sought refuge with Guru Tegh Bahadur, according to Sikh tradition. Upon the insistence of his son, who would later become known as Guru Gobind Singh, the ninth guru traveled to Delhi in order to dissuade Aurangzeb from imposing this religious diktat on the people.
Some believe Aurangzeb summoned him to perform a miracle, which he refused to do and as a result, the emperor beheaded him, while others believe Aurangzeb summoned the Hindus to bring forth someone willing to sacrifice himself for their religion, and Guru Tegh offered himself as a volunteer to do so.
On the 24th of November, 1675, Aurangzeb beheaded Guru Tegh Bahadur in front of a large gathering of people. The site of his execution is commemorated by the Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib in Chandni Chowk.
According to historian Haroon Khalid, Aurangzeb forbade anyone from moving Guru Tegh Bahadur’s decapitated head, but two of his followers defied his orders and moved it themselves.
According to gurdwara records, Bhai Jaita Ji took the Guru’s head and buried it in Anandpur, the city founded by the Guru, while Bhai Lakhi Shah Vanjara Ji took the body to his village of Rakab Ganj and cremated it by setting his own house on fire to avoid arousing the suspicion of Mughal soldiers passing through.
This is how the Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib came to be known as such.
The contribution of Guru Tegh Bahadur to humanity and Sikhism
During Aurangzeb’s reign, Guru Tegh Bahadur opposed forced conversions of non-Muslims to Islam. On the orders of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, he was publicly executed in Delhi in 1675. His execution and cremation took place in Delhi at Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib and Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Sahib, respectively.
Guru Tegh Bahadur served as Guru from 1665 to 1675. He has one hundred and fifteen hymns in the Guru Granth Sahib. He will be remembered for his selfless service to others. He traveled across the country carrying Guru Nanak’s – the first Sikh Guru’s – teachings.
Wherever Guru Tegh Bahadur went, he established community kitchens and wells for the locals. Guru Tegh Bahadur founded Anandpur Sahib, a well-known holy city and popular tourist destination in the Himalayan foothills.
According to a popular legend about Guru Tegh Bahadur’s discovery, a wealthy trader named Baba Makhan Shah Labana prayed for his entire life and pledged to give 500 gold coins to the next guru if he survived. He went around meeting people and handing out two gold coins to each of them, hoping that the true guru would have received his silent promise. Only Guru Tegh Bahadur reminded the trader of his promise, and thus the 9th guru was discovered.