We have all heard the story of how Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib traveled from Anandpur Sahib to Delhi to sacrifice his life for freedom of religion and the right of Hindus to practice their faith. However, the aftermath of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s Shahidi and how Bhai Jaita took Guru Sahib’s sees (head) back to Anandpur Sahib is not well known. It is an amazing story that is worth sharing.
Bhai Jaita jee, later known as Bhai Jeevan Singh, was born in 1649 to a Sikh family once of the scavenger caste. Bhai Jaita and his brother Bhag Chand were Sikhs of Guru Har Rai Sahib. They began to live in Ramdas with Bhai Gurditta jee a very respected Gursikh who was a descendant of Baba Buddha jee. Bhai Gurditta jee was with Guru Harkrishan at the time of Guru jee’s leaving this world and was later the one who performed the Guruship ceremony of Guru Tegh Bahadur. Before Guru Tegh Bahadur left for Delhi, he was called once again to perform the ceremony for Guru Gobind Rai jee. After Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib set out to court arrest, Bhai Gurditta jee also left for Delhi. Bhai Jaita followed him. At Delhi, Bhai Gurditta jee saw the brutal martyrdoms of the three Sikhs, one after another. So did Bhai Jaita. The day of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s martyrdom was now approaching. Bhai Jaita and Bhai Gurditta did not sleep the entire night. They prepared themselves for the sight they were about to see. Their beloved Satguru would be beheaded before them but they could not let their tears escape or utter any cry. They would have to be silent lest they be discovered and not be able to perform seva of Guru Sahib’s body. They did Ardaas to Guru Tegh Bahadur that they be able to bear the sight of the horror that was to come and not utter a sound.
Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s Shahidi.
The morning of November 11 1675 dawned. Guru Tegh Bahadur’s small cage was brought to Chandani Chownk. There was a large tree that stood in the middle of the Chownk. The Chownk was a terrifying place this day. There were still the marks of the horrific tortures and Shahidis of Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das and Bhai Dayala. Amongst the crowd assembled to see the execution was Bhai Jaita, hiding himself so no one could recognize that a Sikh of the Guru was present.It was mid-day now. There stood the Kazi, Abdul Wahabb and the executioner, Jalaludin. Jalaludin came forward and opened Guru Tegh Bahadur’s cage. Satguru jee stepped out. The Kazi said to Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, “There is still time. Embrace Islam and you will be saved. Or you may show us a miracle and you will be rewarded with a great position. If neither of these are acceptable to you then you may choose death.” Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib replied, “I want that which my Sikhs wanted. If my Sikhs did not falter then can you expect anything different from me?”Guru Tegh Bahadur was asked his final wish. Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib replied that he should be allowed to do ishnaan. Guru Tegh Bahadur was allowed to bathe with water from a nearby well. He dressed in fresh clothes and sat under the large tree at the centre of the Chownk. Satguru jee closed his eyes and began to recite Sri Japji Sahib in a loud voice. Clouds began to form and it began to grow darker. The sky had a reddish glow now. As Guru Sahib recited Japji Sahib in his sweet voice, with every word, the Sikhs in the crowd realized the moment of his Shahidi was drawing closer. Satguru jee recited the final Salok and bowed his head before Akaal Purakh. There was an instant of silence and then Jalaludin, with both hid hands clenching the sharp sword, swung and cut Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s head from his body.Streams of blood flowed on to the ground and the sky too was now blood red. A ferocious wind began to blow and the storm broke. As the heavy rain fell and strong wind blew, the crowd dispersed.
The Sikhs Gather
The Sikhs who witnessed the Shahidi of Guru Tegh Bahadur gathered at house of Bhai Nainoo. Their grief knew no end. Bhai Tulsi insisted that they could not allow Satuguru Tegh Bahadur’s body to simply lie in Chandani Chownk. They decided to ask Bhai Lakhi Das, a powerful trader for help. They went ot Bhai Lakhi Das’s home where he had just returned from a trip to Narnaul to get lime and sand. The caravan carrying the goods Bhai Lakhi Das had purhcased was to arrive in Delhi that night and the Sikhs decided that they would hide in this caravan and take Guru jee's body from the Chownk.
Taking Guru Sahib’s Body
It was now well into the night and the storm over Delhi was still raging. Bhai Nainoo, Bhai Ageya, Bhai Jaita and Bhai Udda traveled with the caravan carrying Bhai Lakhi Das’s goods. As the strong wind and heavy rain continued, the Sikhs passed by the Red Fort and then the Kotwali and finally reached Chandani Chownk. Bhai Jaita jee, using the darkness and the cover of the storm, lifted up Guru Tegh Bahadur jee’s head and covered it with a white scarf. Bhai Lakhi Das and his son Bhai Nagahiya were following in the caravan and as it slowly passed through the Chownk, they took the body of Guru Tegh Bahadur and placed it in a cart and kept moving. Bhai Lakhi Das thought the most inconspicuous way to cremate Guru Sahib’s body would be to place it within his home and light the entire home on fire so know one would suspect what really was happening. This is what he did. As he and the other Sikhs stood outside, the flames from Bhai Lakhi Das’s home lept into the sky and Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s body was cremated.The next day, Bhai Gurditta jee also left this world, following his master Guru Tegh Bahadur. He was cremated by the banks of the Jamuna. Bhai Lakhi Das remained in Delhi for some days and managed through the help of the town crier to take away the bodies of the Shahid Sikhs and cremate them at the same place Bhai Gurditta was cremated. Bhai Jaita meanwhile was escaping with Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s head. He decided that Guru Gobind Rai and the Sikhs would be waiting to have the final darshan and so he began to make his way towards Anandpur Sahib. Bhai Jaita grasped Satguru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s head to his chest and did an Ardaas that he be blessed with the strength to return to Anandpur Sahib. The Mughals would be searching for the head and so he could not travel on the common roads. He would have to travel through the forests and jungles so he would not be detected.
The First Night
Bhai Jaita left Delhi and in his first night, covered 40 kilometers. He arrived in the town of Baghpat.The morning of November 12th was beginning to dawn and Bhai Jaita arrived near the Dargah of a Sufi saint, Sheikh Wahuddin. Wahuddin asked “Who are you?” Bhai Jaita declared, “I am a Sikh of Guru Tegh Bahadur.” Wahuddin asked, “Where is your Guru now?” Bhai Jaita with tears in his eyes told the Sufi of Guru Sahib’s martyrdom and revealed that he was carrying Guru Sahib’s head back to Anandpur Sahib. Wahuddin was an admirer of Guru Tegh Bahadur and said he would help Bhai Jaita. He led Bhai Sahib to the house of Bhai Krishan Pal. Bhai Jaita had been running without stop all night and finally rested at Bhai Krishan Pal’s home. Bhai Jaita jee tenderly uncovered Guru Sahib’s head and saw that the cloth was covered in blood and so he took a fresh cloth and covered the head once again.
The Second Day: Meeting a Devoted Sikh
After a brief rest, Bhai Jaita left Baghpat and ran all day, arriving by nightfall at Taravari. Bhai Jaita was exhausted and wanted to rest for a few hours so he could once again set out at amrit vela. There was a large fort in the town and beside it a pond. The people would come there to wash their clothes and on side of the pond was a dense forest. Bhai Jaita decided to rest in the forest. As he trudged through the trees, a washerman who was still at the pond called out, “Who’s there?!” Bhai Jaita heard the voice and something in him said that this voice sounded like that of a Sikh. He decided he would trusted it. Bhai Jaita replied, “I am a Sikh of Guru Tegh Bahadur”. The washerman exclaimed, “You are a Sikh and this town too has the home of a Sikh so why should you spend the night lying in the forest? Come with me beloved Sikh of the Satguru! I am a poor man with very little, but whatever I have you are welcome to share.”Bhai Jaita stepped out from the trees, clutching Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s head to his chest and began to walk with the washerman who introduced himself as Bhai Deva Ram. Bhai Deva Ram had picked up the clothes he had been washing and asked, “Is there any news of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib?” Bhai Jaita jee heard the question and kept walking silently. Bhai Deva Ram and Bhai Jaita arrived home and once again Bhai Deva Ram asked, “What news is there of Satguru jee?” It was dark now and Bhai Deva Ram lit some candles and asked his wife to prepare some food. He saw the bundle in Bhai Jaita’s arms and asked, “What is in your bundle?” Bhai Jaita replied, “It is my treasure that I would not trade even for my life.” Bhai Deva Ram offered, “give your bundle to us and rest. We shall take care of it till morning…” Bhai Jaita remained silent. Bhai Deva Ram saw the silence and decided to ask Bhai Jaita something else. He said, “When you meet Guru Tegh Bahadur please tell him that his poor Sikh, Deva Ram has sewn some clothing for him. May he bless us by stopping here some time to accept our offering.”It was as if even after leaving his body, that Guru Tegh Bahadur was accepting the ardaas of his Sikhs. Bhai Jaita took the candle from Bhai Deva Ram and layer by layer began to uncover his bundle. The final fold had some blood on it and when he pulled it back, Bhai Deva Ram’s eyes fell on Guru Tegh Bahadur jee’s head. Bhai Jaita could not speak and sat to one side on the ground as Guru Sahib’s head rested on the bed. Bhai Deva Ram began to weep and thought that he had asked for Guru Sahib’s darshan but who knew it would come in this form? Bhai Jaita could eat very little. He told Bhia Deva Ram all that had happened. Bhai Deva Ram asked Bhai Jaita to rest and said he would do the seva of Guru Sahib’s head. Bhai Deva Ram lovingly covered Guru Sahib’s head in the new scarf he had prepared for Guru Sahib and wass going to offer. He took the rest of the clothes he had sewn and began to whisk them over Guru Sahib’s head as a chaur. All night, Bhai Deva Ram did chaur of Guru Sahib’s head and did not sleep for even an instant.
At amrit vela, Bhai Jaita did ishnaan and then took up Guru Sahib’s head. He saw that Bhai Deva Ram had covered it in the scarf he had said he wanted to offer. Tears formed in Bhai Sahib’s eyes and he thought, “Guru Sahib, even now you take me where your Sikhs wait for your darshan…”It was now November 13th. Traveling through the jungles over rocks and thorns, Bhai Jaita arrived at sunset near the town of Ambala. There was a river flowing there and Bhai Jaita rested under a tree. Bhai Jaita asked a passerby if there was the home of a Sikh anywhere. He was told to go to nearby Kainth Majri. At Kainth Majri, Bhai Jaita met Bhai Ramdev. He told Bhai Ramdev that he was a Sikh and asked if he might rest somewhere. Bhai Ramdev took Bhai Jaita to his home. Once there, he asked Bhai Jaita what was in the bundle he was carrying. Once again, in the candlelight, Bhai Jaita uncovered Guru Sahib’s head and Bhai Ramdev too fell to the ground. While Guru Sahib’s head rested on the bed, Bhai Jaita and Bhai Ramdev remained the entire night on the ground.
Fourth Day: Meeting a Fakir
The Sangat arrived at Kiratpur Sahib, singing Gurbani. Bhai Jaita was still holding Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s head. He saw Guru Gobind Rai and placed the bundle before him and stepped back his eyes cast downwards. Guru Gobind Rai first uncovered Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s head and had its darshan. He then took Mata Nanaki jee by the arm and said, “Grandmother, come and see your son’s head.” Mata jee tenderly kissed Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s forehead, smiled and said, “look, the glow on my beloved one’s face is the same as it always was.”Mata Gujri jee stepped forward, bowed and said, “Lord, you love (for the Divine) endured. May mine endure as well.” Guru Gobind Rai jee called Bhai Jaita. Bhai Jaita, who had traveled for so many days, his body tired and battered by the long and treacherous journey, stepped forward. Guru Gobind Rai took Bhai Jaita in his arms and said “Ranghreta, Guru ka Beta”. Meaning, “Ranghreta (one from the Ranghar tribe) is the Guru’s own son.” Bhai Jaita replied, “Satguru, give me the gift of Sikhi, bless me that I may remain yours. I only ask that the day I die, may I have your blessings.”Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s head was placed in the palki and carried by the Sangat to Anandpur Sahib where Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib stands today. Rosewater was brought and Guru Gobind Rai washed Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s head and asked Bhai Jaita to also join him. They then made the pyre of sandalwood and Guru Gobind Rai gave it the flame.
After the Saskaar
Guru Gobind Rai asked Bhai Jaita to tell him what he had seen and how Guru Tegh Bahadur had embraced martyrdom. After hearing the story, Guru Gobind Rai asked how many Sikhs were in the crowd that saw the martyrdom. Bhai Jaita replied that he did not know as it was hard to recognize them. Guru Gobind Rai declared that he would create such an image for Sikhs that they could be spotted in a crowd of thousands. At the place of Damadama Sahib at Anandpur Sahib, Guru Gobind Rai arranged for the recitation of Guru Granth Sahib jee and Bhai Chaupat Rai (later Bhai Chaupa Singh) lovingly recited the saloks of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib. Food and clothing were then distributed to the poor.
Bhai Jaita to Bhai Jeevan Singh
Bhai Jaita jee began to live at Anandpur Sahib now. In 1691 he marred Bibi Raj Kaur and they had four sons. When Guru Gobind Rai established the Ranjit Nagara, Bhai Jaita jee was the first one given the duty to play it. Bhai Jaita became known as a great warrior and trained other Gursikhs as well.In 1699 when Guru Gobind Singh gave Khande ki Pahul, Bhai Jaita jee became Bhai Jeevan Singh.
Shahidi of Bhai Jeevan Singh
When Guru Gobind Singh and the Sikhs evacuated Anandpur Sahib, Bhai Jeevan Singh too accompanied Guru Sahib. Bhai Sahib’s old mother Mata Prem Kaur was lost in the Sirsa. When Baba Ajeet Singh jee was surrounded by the Mughal army at the banks of the Sirsa, Bhai Jeevan Singh charged forward, his horse’s reins in his mouth and a sword in each hand. With the kirpans in both hands, he cut through the encirclement and made a path for Baba Ajeet Singh to exit. The Bhatt Vehis say that Bhai Jeevan Singh kept traveling with Guru Sahib’s caravan until Kotla Nihang Khan. Here, Bhai Jeevan Singh shot arrow after arrow and wreaked havoc on the Mughals. Finally, a bullet hit Bhai Sahib in the forehead and after bellowing “Sat Sri Akaal!” he fell to the ground and left his body, a beloved Sikh of the Guru till the end.
Aftermath & History
In 1783 Sardar Baghel Singh and the Sikh army conquered Delhi. The Nishan Sahib flew high over the Red Fort. Sardar Bagehl Singh had one desire, that the places associated with Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s be commemorated. He had an announcement made by the beat of a drum that if anyone knew where the exact place of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib’s martyrdom was, they should come to him. The old grand daughter of a water carrier came forward. She told Sardar Baghel Singh that when Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib was beheaded, her grandfather was called to wash the place. She said that she was a little girl but she had seen the martyrdom of the Sikhs and Guru Sahib. They took her to Chandani Chownk and though she was almost blind and walked very slowly, she walked to the spot where Guru Sahib was martyred and said that Guru Sahib’s blood had spilled at this place. Sardar Baghel Singh thanked her profusely and gave her family countless gifts. This is the place that Gurdwara Sis Ganj was established and even today can be seen. In total, with help of old Hindu, Muslim and Sikh residents of Delhi, Sardar Baghel Singh found and established Gurdwaras at seven historical places: