This Wikipedia article indicates that he was executed because the ruler wanted to strengthen his grip on power:

According to the official account of the Mughal Empire, written 107 years later by Ghulam Husain of Lucknow in 1782,

Tegh Bahadur, the eighth successor of (Guru) Nanak became a man of authority with a large number of followers. (In fact) several thousand persons used to accompany him as he moved from place to place. His contemporary Hafiz Adam, a faqir belonging to the group of Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi's followers, had also come to have a large number of murids and followers. Both these men (Guru Tegh Bahadur and Hafiz Adam) used to move about in the Punjab, adopting a habit of coercion and extortion. Tegh Bahadur used to collect money from Hindus and Hafiz Adam from Muslims. The royal waqia navis (news reporter and intelligence agent) wrote to the Emperor Alamgir [Aurangzeb] of their manner of activity, added that if their authority increased they could become even refractory. — Ghulam Husain, Mughal Empire records

Tegh Bahadur, according to Mughal Empire records, was collecting money from Hindus (which is kind of treasonous at that time).

This book states he was killed because he didn't convert to Islam.

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Why was he killed?

  • 3
    I'm not an expert on Indian history, but given that one source appears to be (near?) contemporaneous records, and the other a "collection of traditional stories", I know which account I'd give more weight to.
    – T.E.D.
    Nov 1, 2016 at 18:20
  • @T.E.D. His execution day (presumed/claimed) is celebrated as a holiday in some parts of India. Most Indian Hindus and Sikhs (around 80% of Indians are Hindus) seem to accept the second claim. Nov 1, 2016 at 18:37

1 Answer 1


Ghulam Hussain was very much biased towards his own religion and sect (I forget if he was Shia or Sunni) You can find this reference made by company official who translated his book Siar-al-mukhatarin to English. As per all existing historical records Aurangzeb was a bigoted ruler and wanted to convert whole of India to Islam by force (others were successful using peace or by Sufi movement). His policies made many Rajput states from Rajasthan, Sikhs in Punjab and Maratha in Deccan rise in rebellion. So its fair to assume that he punished Teg Bahadur for rising against him and after capture asked him to convert.

It is to be noted that he presented similar choice to captured Maratha King Sambhaji down in Deccan (read : History of Marattha by John Duff)

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