28. The Three Options
During the discussions which the Great Guru had with Aurangzeb, the Emperor told the Guru that it was his uttermost desire to see all Hindustan embrace Islam, and that it was with this intention that he had imposed Jazia on his non-muslim subjects; had ordered the demolition of their temples and destruction of their scriptures (Vedas), and had ordered them to embrace Islam or face death. The Emperor requested the Guru to embrace Islam, for he knew that Guru Nanak's House was equally against idol worship. The Emperor was not unaware of the tenets of Guru Nanak's religion. The Emperor knew not that it was not in the nature of the True Prophets of God like Guru Tegh Bahadur ji to give up their ideology in order to save their life. Such pure souls remain unmoved when made to sit on hot iron plates or when seated on freezing ice-slabs. Moreover, it is clear from the writings of Guru Tegh Bahadur that he regarded the very nature of this world to be transitory. His philosophy can be summarized in a few shlokas (couplets) that were composed by the Guru at Delhi : "He who is unaffected by praise or blame or honour or ignominy, with whom gold and iron are alike; Sayeth Nanak, listen O Mind, he is liberated." "He who is not moved by joy or sorrow, and to whom friend and foe are alike; Sayeth Nanak, listen O Mind, he is liberated." "He who inspireth no fear and who hath no fear of others; Listen O Mind, sayeth Nanak, he is possessed of divine knowledge." "The world is evanescent like a dream or a vision; Sayeth Nanak, there is nothing real in it but God." "As bubbles are constantly formed on the surface of water only to disappear; Sayeth Nanak, O friend, such is the process of world formation." "Rama passed away. Ravan also passed away with his large family; Sayeth Nanak, nothing is permanent, the world is like a dream." "That which is born shall be destroyed today, tomorrow or the day after; Nanak sing the Lord's praises, and give up all entanglement (attachment)." The True Guru who did not inspire fear into anybody nor did he fear anybody, was not in the least bit hesitant of sacrificing his self for the great ideas of Guru Nanak. He merely regarded the world as a dream or a vision in which nothing was real except God, with Whom He was One. It is only egotists who regard this world as permanent and thus fall prey to worldly temptations. Pure souls do not go for material gains, for they regard them as transitory. The Guru told Aurangzeb, the Emperor, that he was committing these crimes and atrocities to satisfy his own selfish ends and that he was covering them up under the cloak of religion. The Guru told him that conversion could not be carried out by force, threats or bribes. Conversion depends on the change of heart. Why did not the uncle of the prophet Mohammed become a convert to the faith of Islam? "You say your religion does not allow idol worship in any form. Then Where is the justification to enjoin the kind of worship to be offered to the black stone of Kaaba?" The Emperor then enquired of the Guru if He had ever had an occasion to show swordsmanship and justify his name Tegh Bahadur (Master of the Sword). Diwan Matidas who was standing by the Guru and who had a good command of the Persian language at once interrupted and said that the Guru and His Father, the Great Warrior-Prophet Guru Hargobind Sahib gave a crushing defeat to the Imperial forces of Jehangir and Shahjehan, not once but four times. The Guru then stopped Matidas and told the Emperor that He shall show such a mastery of the sword, the like of which the Emperor may never have seen before. At the end of these discussions the Emperor looked tired and much confused. He gave the Guru three options :
To embrace Islam as His religion and receive the highest honours in his court. Or
To show Karamaat (miracles) which the Muslims regard as the fundamental characteristic of a true prophet; or
To accept death.
The Guru declined to accept Islam or to show any miracles. It is appropriate to quote a passage from Raja Sir Daljit Singh's book on Guru Tegh Bahadur. He says that the chief guard of the prison came up to Guru ji and said: "I know you are indeed a great spiritual and holy person favoured by God most high. I see miracles taking place every day here in this prison. Why do you not perform some such great deed in the presence of the Emperor so that he may release you and torture you no more?" The Master replied: "My friend, Karamaat means favour or kindness of God. His favour is not for the purpose of show, like a juggler. Such misuse of His blessings brings His wrath." So, Guru Tegh Bahadur ji declined to embrace Islam or to show miracles but willingly accepted the third offer - that of death.