Guru Teg Bahadur, of the Sodhi lineage, spent several years touring the region of Assam and Bengal with his family to share the message of Sikhism. During that time his wife Gujri became pregnant. The Guru chose to settle with his wife in Patna during her confinement. This is a story of the birth of their son Gobind Rai, a Sodhi prince, who would one day become Gobind Singh, 10th guru of the Sikhs.
The Guru Departs from Patna
1666 A.D. PatnaGuru Teg Bahadur had received an urgent call to settle a dispute of territorial rivalry. The journey would require him to be away from Patna for some time. Travel would be too difficult for his wife Gujri in her condition, the Guru reasoned. It would be best for her to stay her in Patna with his mother. The local Raja, Fateh Chand Maim, had built lodging for the Guru’s family on the cool banks of the Ganga (Ganges) in Patna where the women folk and the child to come would be well looked after. Gujri's brother, Kirpal Chand, would take charge of them until the Guru returned.
Both women expressed reluctance at the Guru's departure fearing that he would be unable to be present for the birth of the child. Quieting their protests, Teg Bahadur consoled his mother, and then murmured a last farewell to Gujri. The Guru bade his brother in-law, take good care of them both during his absence.
Turning away from his family, the Guru made his departure. He journeyed east towards Assam with Raja Ram Singh, an envoy from Rajputana who had entreated his intervention in an impending clash of kingdoms. Many months might pass before he would meet again with loved ones. Such sacrifice had to be made for the good of the people who needed his encouragement and leadership to settle strife and enable them to break free from tyrannical oppression.
The Birth of a Prince
December 22, 1666 C.E. Patna
Gujri labored through the night, the arrival of her firstborn eminent. Thirty four years had passed since her marriage to the Guru. Moonlight shone through the courtyard window illuminating her damp brow. A birthing pang rivaled that of her heart, "Teg Bahadur, my Guru, you are about to be a father." She gave one last push. Three hours before the dawning of day, in the winter of her forty second year, Gujri became the mother of a prince.
Marveling at the majestic bearing of one so small, Mata Nankee delivered her newborn grandson proudly to his mother's outstretched arms.
At his post outside the room, Kirpal Chand heard the infant take his first breath, "Wahe." Mata Nankee opened the door and nodded. Immediately, he turned to dispatch courier who stood by awaiting the signal to seek out the Guru and deliver the news of his son's birth. Kirpal realized he had been holding his breath and let it out in a rush. "Guru," he made an unspoken promise, "I shall do my utmost to be worthy of the responsibility that you have given to my charge."
Holding the babe close to suckle, Gujri gave him the name his father had chosen for him before his departure, Gobind Rai. Sorely missing the Guru she mused, "Young Prince Gobind, you are a Sodhi, and that means duty and honor before desire. You and I shall have to make do without your father's presence for some time yet I fear." The infant gazed at her with wise understanding eyes. The room seemed to fill with their light. She swaddled him tightly before handing him back to his grandmother.
Crooning delightedly, the older woman rocked the newborn in her lap rhythmically patting and pressing his cheeks.
A Spiritual Sovereign
December 22, 1666 C.E.(Julian Calendar) Village Gharam, District Ambala, India
Bhikhan Shah rose for morning prayers and joined his disciples. They rolled their prayer mats out towards the west and knelt piously. He began the preparations to perform his ablution. An unusual glow emanating from the Eastern sky caught his attention. His disciples watched in astonishment as he bowed towards it. Bewildered, they demanded an explanation for his mysterious action. "Muhammadans do not worship towards the East as do the Hindus," they protested.
"A great being has entered the world," he avowed. "The light from the East signifies that a spiritual sovereign has come to eradicate evil and guide his followers to enlightenment. Arrange provisions for a journey. Let us hasten to make obeisance."
The New Sodhi Heir
Early 1667 A.D. Assam
The courier from Patna bowed reverently at Guru Teg Bahadur's feet to announce the successful advent of his newborn son. Congratulating the Guru, Raja Ram Singh called for musicians. In celebration, he directed an immediate salute of arms and instructed that gifts of alms be distributed generously among the poor.
The Guru had become a father for at forty five years of age. His thoughts turned towards his family and their future. During his separation from them he had settled disputes between rivaling kings. He had prevented bloodshed and managed to keep the peace for the people, but for how long? Much would depend on diplomacy and his ability to strengthen alliances for the son who would one day take his place. He could begin by introducing Raja Ram Singh to the new Sodhi heir. The time had come for father to meet son, "Raja, let us go and greet the prince."