In November 1665, Guru Tegh Bahadur
decided to visit the holy city of Amritsar and his birthplace. He was accompanied by his mother and wife, and Bhai Makhan Shah, along with other followers. But when they reached the Hari Mandir (the Golden
Temple), they found the temple gates closed.
The priests of the holy temple were afraid that Guru Tegh Bahadur would lay his control on the temple, and thus deprive them of the earnings. And so, they quietly closed the doors, and slipped away to an unknown place. Guru Tegh Bahadur waited for some time under a tree near the Akal Takht, When Makhan Shah requested the Guru to let him open the door forcibly, Guruji refused saying that the priests will be destroyed by their own weaknesses, and lust for wealth. Then the Guru went to a place outside the city, and stopped for some time at ‘Tharha Saheb When the citizens of Amritsar heard of it, they were furious with the priests of the temple, and went to see the Guru. They entreated him to curse the priests, but Guru Tegh Bahadur refused. Some of his followers reached the temple, and angrily asked the priests to open the gates. Harji Sodhi, the selfproclaimed chief priest of the temple, got scared on seeing the excited crowd, and quickly had the gates opened.
Meanwhile, the Sikhs from the closeby village of Balle came to pay their homage to the Guru, and asked him to visit their village.
The Guru immediately went with them to Balle, and preached to the people there. He told them about the significance of the divine Name, the repetition of which brought about deliverance.
After fulfilling the wish of his followers in Balle, he retired to Bakala. There his followers welcomed him warmly, and made offerings to him in cash and kind. His popularity increased day by day, and people from all over came to seek his darshan and listen to his prayers. All this caused jealousy amongst the Sodhis of Bakala, Dhir Mai and others.
One day, a message arrived from Kiratpur saying that the Sodhi-Sangat wanted to have his darshan. Guruji readily agreed to comply with the request, and left for Kiratpur immediately with Makhan Shah, Bhai Mati Das and Dayal Das. They crossed the river in boats, and were met on the other side by the people of Kartarpur who had come there to catch a glimpse of their Guru. The Guru addressed the excited crowd of thousands, and blessed them. At night everyone had food from the Guru’s langar, and said their prayers together. From there they reached Ropar, and after having stayed there for a short period they proceeded to Kiratpur.
On reaching there, they were welcomed by a huge multitude whom the Guru blessed.
One day. Guru Tegh Bahadur decided to build a new place to stay which would not only be his residence but also a religious centre. And so a piece of land was purchased in a village called Makhowal, just five miles from Kiratpur. This was first known as Nanaki Chak. Later, it became famous as “Anandpur”
and is now a big center of Sikhism.
After a while Guruji decided to follow the footsteps of Guru Nanak, and tour the country to spread the gospel, of love, joy and most important of all, the name of God. He wanted to establish centers of worship all over the country just as Guru Nanak had done.
And so, he decided to tour the east.
Guruji believed that even a married or worldly man could be pious and religious. He did not believe in renunciation of family life for religious life. In the year 1665, Guru Tegh Bahadur left Anandpur with his mother and wife. He was accompanied by Bhai Dayal Das, Diwan Mati Das, Sati Das and his brother-inlaw, Eirpal Chand.
Starting from Ropar, he went to Saifabad and then to Kurukshetra, which was a famous place of worship. A large crowd awaited him on that day of solar eclipse. Here, Guru Tegh Bahadur preached to them about the futility of rituals. The people were, however, surprised to see a Guru travelling with his family, riding on horseback and carrying a sword. Guruji explained to them that salvation can be achieved not by shunning or running away from the world or its affairs, but by being immersed in it, and still remembering the name. V/hen some people asked him to take a dip in the holy tank, he refused saying that only pure deeds purify the mind and body. The simple and lucid teaching of Guruji left a lasting impression on the minds of the people there, when he left.
From Kurukshetra, he reached Bani
Badarpur where he donated a lot of money for the construction of a well. The people were grateful to Guruji as they could now get water easily.
Guruji’s fame spread far and wide, and thousands of people from all over used to gather around him and listen to his words of wisdom. They were finally seeing light after a long dark tunnel.
When Guruji reached Delhi, he was
received with great enthusiasm by the people.
Then he resumed his travels once again. After stopping for sometime at Mathura, he reached Agra. There a man came to him, and asked Guruji for permission to leave his family and home to become a sanyasL Guruji then told him to fulfil the responsibility of family and home that God had entrusted on him, and said that as long as he earned his livelihood honestly, fed his family properly, and gave charity to the needy and poor he was serving God as best as anyone could. The man realised the wisdom of the divine words, and he went back to his wife and children.
From Agra Guruji reached Allahabad,
after stopping at Etawah, Kanpur and Fatehpur for short intervals. Here in Allahabad, he gave many sermons to the masses at various places. His stay here was very important for the Guru’s family. It was here that the spirit and light of Guru Gobind Singh took shape in his wife’s womb. Guru Tegh Bahadur was forty-five years of age and Mata Gujari was about forty-three when the saviour of humanity was conceived.
They stayed at Allahabad for a month, and then went to Banaras, which was an
important place of pilgrimage. There he was welcomed with hymns of Guru Nanak, and devotees thronged in thousands to seek his blessings. The place where he stayed in Banaras was named Shab0d Ka Kotha
(mansion of the word). Here, the Guru opened a free kitchen for all, and distributed food and clothing to the needy. He taught the people that reciting the name of God was just as holy as the Ganges.
From Banaras he reached Sasaram, where one of his ardent devotees named Phagu had built a mansion for him. People often made fun of his high hopes that Guruji would visit him from such a far-off place as Punjab. But one day, when Guruji actually entered his vast mansion riding a horse, his joy knew no bounds.
From Sasaram he reached Gaya, the holy place of Lord Buddha. There many learned pandits came to meet Guruji, and asked him , to perform various ceremonies. But Guruji declined any such performance, and said that every man was himself responsible for all his actions and no ritual could undo it. He was against any offerings to the dead, and insisted, instead, on charity to the poor and needy. He said that a man could become perfect by his own deeds. Whatever he said went straight into the people’s heart, and they were at peace in the light of his guidance.
Guruji stayed at Gaya for a fortnight and in May 1666, he left for Patna. Thousands of people came to visit him there, and his devotees constructed a magnificent building for him to stay, known as Hari Mandir. He blessed them all with Namdan.
While Guruji was staying in Patna there were many upheavals taking place in the country. Aurangzeb, who was now the
Mughal Emperor, was spreading his reign of terror and bloodshed in the country. He had imprisoned Shivaji by treacherous means on May 95I666, but he managed to escape on August 19. There was great rejoicing among the Marathas and in the Guru’s camp, at the news of his escape. It was around this time that Guru Tegh Bahadur received a humble request from the Dacca Sangat to visit Bengal, and spread the name in that part. So he left his mother, Nanaki, and his wife, Gujari, in Patna under the care of Bhai Kirpal Chand, and left for Bengal along with Bhai Bulaki Das from Dacca, and Raja Ram Rai of Kamrup, in August 1666. They reached Munger in Bihar, which was a big and prosperous town on the banks of river Ganges.. Here, he gave religious instructions to the people, and asked them to worship only the Immortal One. He also wrote letters to the people of Patna and Banaras, from here. He held kirtans and delivered sermons daily at Munger. He was the only Guru to have come this far to teach His name.
Prom Munger they passed through
Bhagalpur, Sahibganj and Kantnagar, and finally, reached Dacca in October 1666.