First Martyr for Human RIghts? Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji
(CHAKRA) Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur is a religious observance for the Sikhism followers. Sikhism followers remember the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur on November 24. He was beheaded as he refused to be forced to accept Islam as his religion and now stands as an example of freedom of choosing each one’s religion. Guru Tegh Bahdur Martyrdom Day is one of the ten most important festivals observed by all Sikhs. Like in the other festivals it is custom for all Sikhs in a community to organize a procession, a Prabhat Pherys, where the Panj Pyares lead the procession and are followed by musicians, dancers and gatka teams performing martial arts.
Guru Tegh Bahadur became the 9th Guru of Sikhi on 20 March 1665 , following in the footsteps of his grand-nephew, Guru Har Krishan. Guru Tegh Bahadur was executed on the orders of Islamic Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi
In 1675, some Kashmiris sought Guru Tegh Bahadur’s help. The Mughal emperor was forcibly converting them to Islam under the threat of torturous death. Even though the Guru followed a different faith than many other Kashmiris, he believed in everyone’s right to practice one’s own religion freely, a core principle of his Sikh faith. The same principle is now espoused in the First Amendment (1791) to the U. S. Constitution, allowing free exercise of religion.
The Guru advised theKashmiris to tell the emperor that they would embrace Islam if the Guru did so. He also encouraged people of all faiths to stand up to oppression and practice their faiths freely without fear. One of the Guru’s hymns says: Neither frighten anyone, nor be frightened (translated from Siri Guru Granth Sahib).
As anticipated, the Guru was arrested. When lavish incentives and extreme threats failed to sway the Guru and his companion Sikhs, the Sikhs were burnt alive, boiled alive and sawed alive in front of the Guru by Muslims. On still refusing to waver from his principle, the Guru himself was martyred.