GURU TEGH BAHADUR (1621 - 1675) offered strong resistance to the bigoted religious policies of the rulers of the time and stood by the oppressed and the persecuted in the cause of their belief and faith. Though his profoundly moving religious compositions established a close rapport with the people.
Couched in simple and chaste language and free from rancour, his hymns are essentially the outpouring of the man of God. His verses in various ragas, brimful of deep devotion to God and of the complete surrender of the Self to His Will, are written in Braj Panjabi, the lingua franca of North India during the Guru's times. His poetry is indeed an invaluable contribution to the great Indian literature.
DR. MOHINDER PAL KOHLI, a scholar, critic and journalist in Punjabi and English was formerly Professor-Director, Correspondence Courses, at the Punjabi University, at the University, Patiala. He has written extensively in English and Punjabi and contributed critical articles to prestigious journals. His publications include The Influence of West on Punjabi Literature [in English] and Punjabi Sahit da Itihas - Adhunik kaal, besides the Punjabi translation of Bertrand Russell's New Hopes for Shakespeare's Othello.
Guru Tegh Bahadur is one of the immortals of history. He was a saint. prophet and poet. My aim has been to project him not only as a poet. but to present him as a testimony of conscience.
I have attempted to describe. perhaps more than is required in such a study, his travels in the country. It is in fact, through his missionary itineraries, that in the best tradition of our land, he established a rapport with the people and preached among them the need of the eradication of superstitions and other social evils. He created the spirit of self-help and social service, taught them the virtues of hygiene and cleanliness, helped the villagers sink their own deep wells for pure drinking water and stressed the need of temperance. He endeavoured to unite the masses of India against tyranny. In a way, like Francis of Assisi, he taught while he walked.
Quite a number of brilliant translations of his bani are available. The best is yet to come. I have tried my bit to remain faithful to the text. But to convey the spirit of the hymns is beyond the competence of any translator because in poetry all the words have to be substituted.
I am thankful to Dr. G.S Anand for his illuminating discussion on the travels of Guru Teg Bahadur. Dr. Anand has probably visited all the places where the Guru had gone during this travels.
I am also thankful to Shri Des Raj Narang for providing me the full account of the researches he has made in respect of the date of birth of Guru Gobin Singh. His investigations have questioned and altered the conventional historicity of the events concerning Guru Tegh Bahadur and the tenth Guru presented so far by the scholars.
My debts are large to Sardar kartar Singh Duggal eminent writer and thinker who prompted me to attempt the monograph on one of the greatest sons of India.
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