Tegh Bahadur became the Guru of the Sikhs at a time when the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb's policy of religious intolerance and persecution had antagonised a vast section of his subjects. The Satnamis rebelled in the Punjab. These rebellions were mercilessly crushed. But in the Deccan, Shivaji's power continued to be in the ascendent and in 1674, he proclaimed himself king. This made Aurangzeb all the more ruthless in his religious persecution. Denied the freedom to follow their faith, the Hindus of Kashmir approached Guru Tegh Bahadur for help and guidance. The Guru carried the conviction - more than four hundred years ago, when religious intolerance and persecution were common all over the world- that every individual must have the freedom to worship the faith of his or her choice. He wrote to the Emperor, reminding him that the Holy Koran does not sanction forcible conversion. He expressed his willingness to hold discussions on the subject with the Emperor and his advisers on matters of religion and added, " If they succeed in converting me to their opinion, I will embrace your Islam and all the Hindus too might do the same. If, on the contrary, they do not succeed in converting me to their opinion, then I request that henceforth all religious persecution should be stopped." Great ingenuity was used in devising new kinds of torture for the Guru and his closest disciples, but Aurangzeb failed to crush their spirit. Thus for a great principle which today is cherished by people in most parts of the world, the Guru laid down his life. Even to this day, he is remembered as Hind-di-chadar , (literally, the coverlet of India), protector of India's honour.