The Sixth guru, Guru Hargobind had one daughter Bibi Viro and five sons: Baba Gurditta, Suraj Mal, Ani Rai, Atal Rai and Tyaga Mal. Tyaga Mal was born in Amritsar in the early hours of 1 April 1621, who came to be known by the name Tegh Bahadur (Mighty Of The Sword), given to him by Guru Hargobind after he had shown his valour in a battle against the Mughals.
Amritsar at that time was the centre of Sikh faith. As the seat of the Sikh Gurus, and with its connection to Sikhs in far-flung areas of the country through the chains of Masands or missionaries, it had developed the characteristics of a state capital. Guru Tegh Bahadur was brought up in Sikh culture and trained in archery and horsemanship. He was also taught the old classics such as the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Puranas. He preferred prolonged spells of seclusion and contemplation. Tegh Bahadur was married on 3 February 1633, to Mata Gujri.
Stay at Bakala
In the 1640s, nearing his death, Guru Hargobind and his wife Nanaki moved to his ancestral village of Bakala in Amritsar district, together with Tegh Bahadur and Mata Gujri. Bakala, as described in Gurbilas Dasvin Patishahi, was then a prosperous town with many beautiful pools, wells and baolis. After Guru Hargobind's death, Tegh Bahadur continued to live in Bakala with his wife and mother. He spent most of his time in meditation, but was not a recluse, and attended to family responsibilities. He made visits outside Bakala, and visited the eighth Sikh guru Guru Har Krishan, when the latter was in Delhi.
In March 1664 Guru Har Krishan contracted smallpox. When asked by his followers who would lead them after him, he replied Baba Bakala, meaning his successor was to be found in Bakala. Taking advantage of the ambiguity in the words of the dying Guru, many installed themselves in Bakala, claiming themselves as the new Guru. Sikhs were puzzled to see so many claimants.
Sikh tradition has a myth concerning the manner in which Tegh Bahadur was selected as the ninth guru. A wealthy trader, Baba Makhan Shah Labana, had once prayed for his life and had promised to gift 500 gold coins to the Sikh Guru if he survived. He arrived in search of the ninth Guru. He went from one claimant to the next making his obeisance and offering two gold coins to each Guru, believing that the right guru would know that his silent promise was to gift 500 coins for his safety. Every "guru" he met accepted the 2 gold coins and bid him farewell. Then he discovered that Tegh Bahadur also lived at Bakala. Labana gifted Tegh Bahadur the usual offering of two gold coins. Tegh Bahadur gave him his blessings and remarked that his offering was considerably short of the promised five hundred. Makhan Shah Labana forthwith made good the difference and ran upstairs. He began shouting from the rooftop, "Guru ladho re, Guru ladho re" meaning "I have found the Guru, I have found the Guru".
In August 1664 a Sikh Sangat arrived in Bakala and anointed Tegh Bahadur as the ninth guru of Sikhs. The Sangat was led by Diwan Durga Mal, and a formal "Tikka ceremony" was performed by Bhai Gurditta on Tegh Bahadur conferring Guruship on him.
As had been the custom among Sikhs after the execution of Guru Arjan by Mughal Emperor Jahangir, Guru Tegh Bahadur was surrounded by armed bodyguards. He himself lived an austere life.