GURU GOBIND SINGH
( 1666-1708, Guruship 1675-1708 )
It may not be out of the way to say here that throughout the annals of human history, there was no other individual who could be of more inspiring personality than Guru Gobind Singh. At its climax the tenth Nanak infused the spirit of both the saintlihood and the undauntedness in the minds and hearts of his followers to fight oppression in order to restore justice, righteousness (Dharma) and to uplift the down-trodden people in this world. It is said that after the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the tenth Master declared that he would create such a Panth (nation) which would not be cowed down by tyrant rulers but it would rather challenge the oppressor in every walk of life to restore justice, equality and peace for mankind. He further resolved that he would feel worthy to be called Gobind Singh only when any single member of his Khalsa Panth would successfully and undauntedly challenge the army of one hundred and twenty-five thousand opponents in the field. This point was rightfully proven at Chamkaur Sahib when Sahibzada Ajit Singh (Guru’s about 18 years old eldest son) challenged the Mughal forces and their allies, the hilly Rajas.
“The Divine Guru hath sent me for religion’s sake
On this account, I have come into the world;
Extend the faith everywhere Seize and destroy the evil and sinful.
Understand this, ye holymen, in your minds
I assumed birth for the purpose of spreading the faith,
saving the saints and extirpating all tyrants.”
(Guru Gobind Singh- Chaupai, Bachitar Natak)
Guru Tegh Bahadur’s martyrdom symbolized in itself the resistance to the tyranny of Muslim rule in favor of a new society. When evil is holding its head high, should a holy man knuckle under it or take up arms to combat and destroy it? The young Guru, Gobind Rai, decided in favor of the latter course i.e. to combat evil and uphold righteousness. He thus enjoined upon his followers to make use of the sword if all other means failed to liquidate the wicked and his wickedness. In order to achieve this mission, he issued ‘Hukamnamas’ (circular letters of authority) to his followers to present to him arms of different designs. The Guru’s orders were obeyed with great zeal and devotion. He himself wore uniform and bore arms and induced others to practise archery and musket-shooting. He encouraged various muscle-developing and strenuous sports as part of the program of physical culture. Many followers with martial instincts whose forefathers had served the Guru’s father and his grandfather, flocked to him. His principal companions at that time were his aunt Bibi Viro’s (Guru Har Gobind’s daughter) five sons, Sango Shah, Jit Mal, Gopal Chand, Ganga Ram, Mohri Chand; his uncle Suraj Mal’s two sons- Gulab Rai and Sham Das; his maternal uncle Kirpal Chand; Bhai Daya Ram, the friend from his youth; and Bhai Nand Chand, a favorite masand.
The Guru instructed his followers to lead a well-meaning and disciplined life. He according to the customs of his predecessors, used to rise early in the morning and perform his devotions. He was particularly delighted to listen to Asa di Var. After day-break, he gave divine instructions to his Sikhs and then practised martial exercises. In the afternoon, he received his followers, went shooting or raced horses; and ended the evening by performing the divine service of ‘Rehras’.
The Guru’s handsome exterior was much admired both by men and women. A person called Bhikhia from Lahore came to visit him. Seeing the handsome young Guru, Bhai Bhikhia offered the alliance of his daughter Jito to him. The proposal was accepted and there were great rejoicing at Anandpur on the occasion of the betrothal ceremony. The twenty-third of Har, Sambat 1734 (1677 A.D.) was fixed for the marriage. The Guru sent orders in all directions for this occasion and the Sikhs thronged from various places including Lahore. A place was set up near Anandpur, which was called Guru ki Lahore where the marriage ceremony took place.1
VISIT OF DUNI CHAND AND RAJA RATTAN RAI :
Surging crowds of people with their hearts filled with love and devotion to the Master, thronged to see him. Some came from Kabul, Qandhar, Gazni, Balkh and Bukhara. They brought several priceless gifts - rugs, carpets, shawls and other valuables when they came to pay homage to their Lord. Duni Chand, one of the devotees, visited Anandpur in 1681 and presented to the Guru a woolen tent, ‘Shamiana’ or a royal canopy which surpassed in excellence. It was embroidered in gold and silver studded with pearls. It is said that its splendor surpassed that of the Emperor’s canopy.
Through the grace of Guru Tegh Bahadur, Raja Ram of Assam was blessed with a son, Rattan Rai. Raja wanted to take his son to the Guru but he died soon and could not visit Anandpur. His last injunction to his Rani (wife) was that the prince should be brought up as a devout Sikh. The Rani faithfully carried out the behests of her husband and imparted the knowledge of the lives and teachings of the Gurus to the growing prince. When Rattan Rai, the prince, attained the age of twelve, he felt an inclination to see the Guru. Accordingly he with his mother and several of his ministers proceeded to Anandpur. He brought with him an offering of five horses with golden trappings, a very small elephant, and a weapon out of which five sorts of arms could be made, a pistol, a sword, a lance, a dagger, and a club. The Raja was accorded a great reception. He offered his presents and prayed to the Guru to grant him the Sikh faith. He was granted all his desires. The Raja exhibited the traits of his presents. He caused the elephant to wipe Guru’s shoes and placed them in order for him. At the word of command the animal took a chauri and waved it over the Guru. The Raja requested the Guru never to let the elephant out of his possession.
The prince and his party remained at Anandpur for five months and during this time, he enjoyed kirtan and felt uplifted by the Guru’s sermons. At the time of departure, the Guru accompanied them to some distance and then bade them good-bye. They were sent off with presents. Besides these tangible gifts, the Guru gave Rattan Rai a RATTAN - a jewel of Nam, which was the ultimate gift of life :
“Nam is the priceless Jewel that the perfect Guru hath ;
If one dedicates oneself in love to the True Guru,
He lights in one’s heart the Light of Wisdom, and Nam is then revealed.
Blessed is the fortunate one who goeth to meet the Guru.”
(Sri Rag Mohalla 4, p-40)
RANJIT NAGARA :
The Guru’s army was swelling day by day and he was now set for the construction of a big beating drum which was deemed necessary to enthuse his army and without which he considered his equipment was incomplete. The work of the drum was entrusted to his Dewan, Nand Chand. In those days, only an independent chieftain was to use such a drum within the limits of his territory. The beating of the drum within the bounds of another chief’s domain was an hostile act and meant an open invitation of war. The completion of the big drum which was called Ranjit Nagara, or victorious drum on the battlefield, was celebrated with prayers and the distribution of Parshad (sacred food). When it was beaten, the men and women of the city came to behold it and there were great rejoicing.
The Guru and his men went for hunting the same day and when they reached near Bilaspur, the capital of Kahlur, the drum was beaten and it sounded like a thunder to the hillmen who became apprehensive of some danger. Raja Bhim Chand of Kahlur consulted his prime minister who advised him that it was the Guru’s drum who was worthy of worship, secondly, he maintained a large army and was greatly feared; and thirdly the Guru was brave, and such men were sometimes useful as allies. On hearing this Raja Bhim Chand desired to meet the Guru and despatched his prime minister to arrange for an interview which was granted. The Raja accordingly went with his courtiers to Anandpur.
RAJA BHIM CHAND AND THE GURU :
Raja Bhim Chand was received in Guru’s darbar (court) with great honor. He prayed to the Guru to let him see the gifts from the Raja of Assam. He was shown all the presents. Bhim Chand was astonished at the magnificence of the Kabuli tent. He was told that it was the offering of a pious Sikh from Kabul. During this conversation when the beautifully decorated elephant was let forward, Bhim Chand stood spellbound and expressed his unbounded admiration of all that he had seen. On his homeward journey his mind burned with jealousy of the Guru’s state and wealth and he made up his mind to take possession of at least the elephant.
On his return to the capital, Bhim Chand disclosed his designs to his courtiers. It was decided that a message should be sent to the Guru that Raja Fateh Chand of Garhwal’s party was coming with the object of betrothing his daughter to Bhim Chand’s son, and Bhim Chand desired to borrow the elephant so as to make a display of his wealth to his guests. When the message was delivered to the Guru, he knew that it was only a trick to obtain permanent possession of the animal. He sent the reply to Bhim Chand, “ The Raja who presented the elephant, requested me not to let the animal go out of my possession. It is the principle of Guru’s house to comply with such requests.” It is said that the Raja sent his emissaries thrice, the last one being Kesari Chand, the Raja of Jaswal, but the Guru did not yield and therefore, Bhim Chand’s demand was not met. So he got angry and wanted to take revenge.
Majority of the masands felt agitated at the Guru’s warlike preparations and they represented to his mother to dissuade him from such activities lest it should bring some trouble to him. When his mother talked to him about it, he replied, “Dear mother, I have been sent by the Immortal God. He who worshippeth Him shall be happy; but he who acteth dishonestly and worshippeth stones shall receive well-merited retribution. This is my commission from God. If today I give Raja Bhim Chand the elephant, I shall have to pay him tribute tomorrow.” Nand Chand then joined the conversation and said, “Mother, hath a lion ever feared jackals? Hath any one ever seen the light of the firefly in bright sunshine? What availeth a drop of water in comparison with the ocean ? The Guru is a tiger brave and splendid as the sun. Shall he fear Bhim Chand?” The Master ended the discussion by saying,“Dear mother, heed not the evil advice of the masands. They have become cowards by eating the offerings of the Sikhs.”
The Guru and his troops continued to practise archery and devoted themselves to the chase. The Sikhs kept visiting continually and make offering of arms. Those who came for military service, were readily received and were taught the profession of arms. In this way the Guru collected a considerable army.
GURU LEAVES FOR PAUNTA SAHIB :
In the meantime the Raja Medani Parkash of Nahan, invited the Guru to visit him. The invitation was accepted and he left for Nahan. Gulab Rai and Sham Das were made incharge for the defence of Anandpur. The Raja came to greet and welcome the Guru and then took him to his palace. One day the Raja took him on hunting excursion and complained that Raja Fateh Shah of Garhwal had often quarrelled with him over the ground on which they were then standing. He suggested that he would be very pleased if a fort were to be constructed on the spot for protection against the enemy.
The Guru erected a tent on that spot and held a darbar. He laid down foundation stone of the fort. With the help of the Raja’s army and with the zeal and energy of the workmen, the fort was completed within a short time. The Guru named it Paunta, and started to live there and continued to increase his army.
Raja Fateh Shah of Garhwal arrived at the conclusion that since the Guru started living near his territory, it would, therefore, be politic to be on good terms with him and accordingly he decided to pay a visit to the Guru. He was received with great honor in the Guru’s darbar (court). During his visit the Guru sent his uncle Kirpal to him to suggest that it would be well if he and the Raja of Nahan were on good terms. Raja Fateh Shah gave his consent immediately. The Guru then sent for the Raja of Nahan. He brought the two Rajas together in the open court, caused them to embrace and form a friendship.
In the meantime a hillman came with tidings of a fierce tiger which was destroying cattle in the neighborhood. He requested the Guru to free the country from the wild animal. He took the two Rajas and others to the place where the tiger was said to be residing. On hearing the huntsmen’s foot steps, the tiger sat on his haunches looking at his pursuers. The Guru called on any one who could engage the tiger with sword and shield. No one came forward. He then took his sword and shield and challenged the tiger. The tiger rose with a roar and sprang at the Guru, who received him on his shield and striking him on the flank with his sword, cut him in two. The Rajas and the hunting party were astonished and delighted at his strength and bravery.
RAM RAI’S RECLAMATION :
Ram Rai, the eldest son of Guru Har Rai, when sent to Delhi on behalf of the Guru, distorted the holy words of Guru Nanak in the court of Aurangzeb in order to please the Emperor. Upon this the Guru disowned him and excommunicated him from the Sikh faith. The Emperor gave him an estate where he founded the town of Dehra Dun and continued to live there. Ram Rai claimed himself as the real Guru. Being a willing tool in the hands of the Mughal Emperor, he continually tried to harm the cause of the Sikhs. Now since Guru Gobind Singh had come to Paunta, which was only thirty miles from Dehra Dun, Ram Rai became afraid of him and could not muster courage to face him. A discussion started in Ram Rai’s assembly about all this. Hearing on Ram Rai’s anxiety, the Guru sent Nand Chand and Daya Ram to reassure him that no harm would be done to him. Ram Rai on receiving the Guru’s message, was very much delighted. He gave robes of honor to Nand Chand and Daya Ram and decided to be on friendly terms with the Guru.
It is said that a meeting between the Guru and Ram Rai took place in a ferry in the middle of the stream. Ram Rai touched the Guru’s feet in obeisance and said,“I am fortunate to have obtained a sight of thee. When I am gone, protect my family........my father Guru Har Rai used to say that someone would be born from our family who would restore and refit the vessel for the safe conveyance of the souls.” He asked for forgiveness. Ram Rai while he was in trance, was cremated by his masands in defiance of the entreaties and prayers of his wife, Punjab Kaur. The Guru then responded to the request of Punjab Kaur and meted out strict punishment to the guilty masands and rewarded those who had remained faithful to her.
PIR BUDHU SHAH :
Pir Budhu Shah was a Muslim saint who lived at Sadhaura, about ten or fifteen miles from Paunta Sahib. He was well known for his piety and had a large number of followers. He had heard of Guru Nanak and his mission. He had also learned that Guru Nanak’s throne was then occupied by Guru Gobind Singh who was staying in the neighborhood. Ultimately he decided to visit him. The Guru seated the Pir near him who beseeched, “Pray! tell us how one meets God Almighty.” During the discussion the Pir humbly submitted to the Master. There was a glow in the eyes of the Guru which radiated Divine Light and the Pir exclaimed with sudden joy, “Allah-hu-Akbar!” - Great is God Almighty. After a while the Pir confessed, “Master, I was spiritually blind and you have shown me the Light.” Blessed are the souls on whom the Guru bestows the divine grace.
THE BATTLE OF BHANGANI :
One day the Guru received an invitation from Fateh Shah of Garhwal to his daughter’s marriage with the son of Raja Bhim Chand of Kahlur who nursed enmity with the Guru. He decided not to attend the ceremony himself but sent his Dewan, Nand Chand and Daya Ram with costly gifts for the princess.
The shortest route for the marriage party was through Paunta Sahib; the Guru refused to give them the passage because he had no faith in Bhim Chand who was accompanied by a large number of soldiers. After a lot of negotiations, the Guru permitted the bridegroom and a small number of his companions to cross the ferry near Paunta Sahib. The rest of the party including Bhim Chand had to follow a circuitous route to Srinagar, the capital of Garhwal state. This happening made Bhim Chand very mad and he began to look forward to the opportunity to give vent to his anger. He became still more enraged when he learnt that Guru’s envoy was present at the bride’s place to attend the marriage. Thus he refused to accept Fateh Shah’s daughter for his son, if he continued his friendship with the Guru. Bhim Chand, therefore, asked Fateh Shah to choose between himself and the Guru. Fateh Shah was obliged to yield. Nand Chand and Daya Ram had to bring their presents back as a result. On their way back Nand Chand and party were attacked by Bhim Chand’s troops but they were able to return safe and sound. After the marriage was over, Bhim Chand held a conference with Fateh Shah and other hilly Rajas- Kirpal of Katoch, Gopal of Guler, Hari Chand of Hadur and the Raja of Jaswal who were present there. They all decided to attack the Guru on their way back. The hilly Rajas ordered their troops to march upon Paunta Sahib. The news of the impending attack came fast before the army could move and so the Guru was not taken by surprise attack.
On the recommendation of Pir Budhu Shah, 500 Pathans were enlisted in the Guru’s army under the command of five chieftains-Kale Khan, Bhikan Khan, Nijabat Khan, Hyat Khan, and Umar Khan. The Pathans became apprehensive of the scanty resources at the disposal of the Guru and they all except Kale Khan with one hundred men, deserted the Guru at the eleventh hour, and joined the hill Rajas. The Udasi Sadhus except their chief Mahant Kirpal, also took to their heels. The Guru informed Budhu Shah of the misconduct of the Pathan soldiers. Pir Budhu Shah looked upon their behavior as a personal disgrace. In order to compensate this loss, Budhu Shah accordingly placed himself, his brother, his four sons and seven hundred disciples at the Guru’s disposal.
The Guru stationed his troops at an eminent place near Bhangani village about six miles from Paunta Sahib. The five sons of Bibi Viro- Sango Shah, Jit Mal, Gopal Chand, Ganga Ram and Mohri Chand organized the attack for the Guru’s forces. They were ably backed by Bhai Daya Ram, Dewan Nand Chand, Guru’s uncle Kirpal and Mahant Kirpal. While repeating his orders the Guru buckled on his sword, slung his quiver over his shoulders, took his bow in his hand, mounted his steed, and shouting ‘Sat Sri Akal’ in his loudest voice, proceeded to confront his enemies. It is recorded that the hoofs of the Guru’s horse in their quick movement raised clouds of dust which obscured the sun, and that the cheers of his men resembled thunder in the stormy and rainy season. As mentioned Guru’s forces were also joined by Pir Budhu Shah’s troops and one hundred Pathans under the command of Kale Khan.
The enemy forces were led by Raja Fateh Shah who was joined by Raja Hari Chand of Hadur, Raja Gopal of Guler, Raja of Chandel, Rajas of Dadhwal and Jaswal, and four hundred Pathans who had deserted the Guru’s side. A severe and bloody battle was raged. Many brave soldiers were killed on both sides. Although the opposite army far outnumbered the Guru’s men, but they did not have the same spirit of sacrifice, nor did they have the same devotion to their leaders, as the Sikhs had.
Mahant Kirpal hit Hayat Khan, Pathan chief, and killed the deserter. Jit Mal and Raja Hari Chand engaged in a single combat. The arrows lodged in their horses’ foreheads and both horses fell. After a short breath when their swords clashed, Hari Chand fell fainting to the ground and Jit Mal dropped down dead. Sango Shah, another cousin of the Guru, and Pathan chief Nijabat Khan were engaged and both fell dead. Upon this the Guru mounted his charger and rode into the thick of the combat. He discharged an arrow at Pathan leader Bhikan Khan. It missed him but killed his horse, and Bhikan Khan fled away. Upon this Nand Chand and Daya Ram launched a fierce attack on the demoralized Pathans which resulted in great slaughter of the treacherous Pathans. When the hillmen saw the defeat of the Pathans, they began fleeing from the battle field. By this time Hari Chand regained his conscious and reappeared on the scene and shot many brave men with his arrows. On seeing this the Guru confronted Hari Chand and he describes the combat in Bachitar Natak :
“Hari Chand, one of the hill chiefs, in his rage drew forth the arrows. He struck my steed with one and then discharged another at me, but God preserved me and it only grazed my ears in its flight. His third arrow penetrated the buckle of my waist and touched my body, but wounded me not. It is only God Who protected me, His servant. When I felt the touch of the arrow, my spirit was kindled. I took up my bow and taking aim killed the young chief Hari Chand with my very first shot.
I discharged arrows in abundance. Upon this my adversaries began to flee. The chief of Korari was also seized by death.
Upon this the hill men fled in consternation and I, through the favor of God Almighty, gained the victory........”
The Guru went to the site where lay the dead bodies of Sangho Shah, Jit Mal and other brave Sikhs. Two sons of Budhu Shah were also killed. The Guru ordered the slain on both sides be disposed of with great honor. The bodies of the Sikhs were cremated, of the Hindus thrown into the river and of the Muslims buried with all solemnity. Pir Budhu Shah presented himself and his two surviving sons to the Guru. At that time the Guru was combing his hair. Budhu Shah begged of him to give him the comb with his loose hair as a sacred souvenir. The Guru gave him the turban, the comb with hair and a small sword. The greatest gift of all, the Guru blessed him with Nam.
Significance of the battle of Bhangani :
The victory in the battle of Bhangani was of far reaching importance. It uplifted the spirit and strengthened the moral of the Sikhs. Since the Guru did not acquire even an inch of the territory or gained any material advantage, the cause he championed, received added strength. His fame spread far and wide with the result that the supply of arms and horses to the Guru increased abundantly and hundreds and hundreds of persons offered themselves to be enlisted in his army. The Guru’s victory also did not go without causing concern to the Mughal rule at Delhi.
The hilly Rajas also viewed the whole issue afresh. Although the Rajas and the Guru were poles apart in ideology, yet the Rajas being goaded by their self-interest of thwarting the Mughals over lordship and thus to be relieved of the burdens of payment of annual tributes to the Mughal Emperor, wanted cordial relations with the Guru. Therefore, their leader Raja Bhim Chand entered into agreement with him.
RETURN TO ANANDPUR :
The Guru remained about three years at Paunta Sahib and his fame attracted poets, singers and learned people to his court. During this period he composed Jap Sahib, Swayas and Akal Ustat.
He ordered his army to return to Anandpur and he came back via Sadhaura and then encamped at Laharpur for a few days. Raja of Nahan sent his envoy to convey his desire to meet the Guru but he never did. Leaving Nahan the Guru entered Ramgarh state and stayed at Tabra for more than a week. He then went to Raipur 2 in response to the invitation of the Rani of that place. She showed him the greatest hospitality and presented him a beautiful horse with costly trappings, and a purse of Rupees as an offering. He gave her son a sword and shield. After this he continued his journey to Anandpur and passing through Toda, Nada, Dhakoli, Kotla, Ghanaula, Bunga, he reached Kiratpur. From there he reached Anandpur in October, 1687. The eldest son, Ajit Singh was born on the fourth day of bright half of Magh, Sambat 1743 (1687 A.D.).
EXPEDITION OF ALIF KHAN :
The south India was up in the arms. Emperor Aurangzeb, therefore, remained busy many years in suppressing the revolt in southern India. All the expenditure of such a long war was met by levying heavy tribute on the northern and eastern provinces of the country. At that time Mian Khan was a viceroy of Jammu. He sent his commander-in-chief, Alif Khan to levy tribute on the hill Rajas. First he addressed Raja Kirpal of Kangra, “Either pay me the tribute or contend with me in arms.” Raja Kirpal gave him certain presents and then told him that Raja Bhim Chand of Kahlur was the greatest of all the Rajas. If he pays the tribute first, all the rest will follow him. If Bhim Chand refused to pay, he (Kirpal) would support him. Raja Dayal of Bijarwal was persuaded by Kirpal to meet Alif Khan’s demands.
Alif Khan adopted Raja Kirpal’s suggestion and proceeded towards the capital of Bhim Chand’s state. He halted at Nadaun and sent his envoy to Bhim Chand with his demands. Bhim Chand replied that he would defend himself rather pay the tribute. However his prime minister advised Bhim Chand that if he desired victory, it would be assured only if he had obtained Guru’s assistance. Upon this Bhim Chand sent his prime minister to the Guru to seek his active support. The Guru agreed to support the movement of non payment of tributes which symbolized the spirit of defiance against the Mughal imperialism. The Guru came in person as the head of a strong contingent. The Rajas of Jaswal, Dadhwal and Jasrot also came to participate in the impending war.
Bhim Chand opened the attack with sharp arrows but the shots could not make any impact on the enemy because of their position and they struck only the wooden rafters of the fortress. The troops of Bhim Chand began to grow indifferent. At this critical juncture the Guru played his part most effectively. He took his gun and aimed at Raja Dayal. Fighting bravely the Raja fell to the ground. The Guru shot arrows one after the other on the enemy. Arrows and bullets flew in abundance and the battle turned in their favor. Alif Khan and his men fled and Bhim Chand won the victory. He remained at Nadaun for sometimes where he reached an understanding with Alif Khan through Kirpal who acted as intermediary.
The Guru after staying about a week there, returned to Anandpur. His son, Jujhar Singh was born on the seventh day of month of Chet, Sambat 1747 (1691 A.D.).
DILAWAR KHAN’S ATTEMPT TO WEAKEN GURU’S POWER :
Dilawar Khan who attained power in Punjab while Aurangzeb was in the Daccan (south), became jealous about Guru’s fame and success. He sent his son Khanzada with a force of one thousand men to curb the power of the Guru at Anandpur. Khanzada crossed the river Satluj under the cover of the darkness at about midnight when Guru’s scout, Alam Khan hastened to give information to him about the approach of a hostile force. The drum (Ranjit Nigara) was immediately beaten and Guru’s men at once marched to the river. The quick formation of the Sikhs bewildered the enemy and the guns which began discharging volleys of shots, terrified Khanzada’s men so much that they were constrained to reel back. However they plundered the village of Barwa on their way back. Khanzada through shame, could not answer to his father when he censored him for his cowardice. This happened at the end of 1694.
HUSSAIN KHAN’S EXPEDITION :
Dilawar Khan had a slave called Hussain who boasted that if he were given a command, he would sack the Guru’s city of Anandpur and exact tribute from Bhim Chand and other hilly Rajas. The failure of Khanzada provoked Dilawar Khan to plan for a bigger attack on the Guru. So he sent Hussain Khan with a force of two thousand men. Hussain brought the Raja of Dadhwal to his knees and plundered Dun. Raja Kirpal of Kangra joined him. Bhim Chand too cast his lot with Hussain. He then with the help of Kirpal and Bhim Chand, planned to proceed to Anandpur. The Guru kept his troops ready for any eminent attack.
When Hussain was preparing to march towards Anandpur, Raja Gopal of Guler sent his envoy to make peace with him. Hussain replied that he would be glad to meet with Raja Gopal if he gave him a subsidy as other Rajas had done. Gopal went with some money but Hussain was not pleased with his contribution. Hussain’s terms were payment of ten thousand rupees or he would put Gopal and his troops to death. Gopal pleaded his inability to pay that large sum of money and thus came back. At this point Gopal sent his envoy to the Guru to pray to him for a negotiated settlement with Hussain. The Guru sent his agent, Sangtia with an escort of seven troopers to negotiate a peace settlement between Gopal and Hussain. Two parties could not reach any settlement with the result that a battle ensued between Hussain, Kirpal and Bhim Chand on one side and Raja Gopal and Raja Ram Singh on the other. Having fought very bravely Hussain perished in the battle field. Raja Kirpal of Kangra was also slain. Himmat and Kimmat, two officers of Hussain Khan were also killed. On the other side the Guru’s envoy Sangtia and his seven troopers were all killed. On seeing this Bhim Chand fled with his army. After his victory Raja Gopal went to the Guru with large offerings and thanked him for his grace which made him successful in the battle field.
A third son, Zorawar Singh was born to the Guru on Sunday, the first day of the second half of the month of Magh, Sambat 1753 (1697 A.D.).
The defeat irked Dilawar Khan and he then sent Jujhar Singh and Chandel Rai to Jaswan but they could not achieve the purpose. They, however, captured Bhalan, a strategic place in that state. Before they could proceed further, Gaj Singh of Jaswal fell upon them. Jujhar Singh and Chandel Rai both fought like lions but Jujhar Singh was killed and Chandel Rai fled from the field.
The defeat of the imperial forces caused anxiety to Aurangzeb and he sent his son Prince Muazzam, later known as Bahadur Shah, for restoration of order in the hills. The Prince took charge in August, 1696 and deputed Mirza Beg to teach lesson to hill Rajas. He inflicted defeat after defeat, set up villages on fire, plundered the territory. After Mirza Beg, the Prince sent four more officers who, side by side, chastised the hill Rajas, plundered the homes of the apostates who had escaped destruction at the hands of Mirza Beg. In due time a fourth son, Fateh Singh was born to the Guru on wednesday, the eleventh day of Phagan, Sambat 1755 (1699 A.D.).
In the state of seclusion and tranquility of the mountains, the Guru translated Sanskrit works in Sambat 1755 ( 1698 A.D.). It was on the 14th of June of that year that the Guru according to his own version, completed his translation of the Ram Avtar from Sanskrit into Hindi. Most of the compositions that are said to be of the tenth Guru, are not his. Macauliffe writes :
“What is called the Granth of the tenth Guru (Dasam Granth) is only partially his composition. The greater portion of it was written by bards in his employ. The two works entitled Chandi Charitar and the Bhagauti ki Var found in it are abridged translations by different hands (any one even moderately acquainted with Hindi can tell from inner evidence of style that these translations have been done by different persons) of the Durga Sapt Shatti, or seven hundred sloks on the subject of Durga, an episode in the ‘Markandeya Puran’ on the contests of the goddess Durga with demons who had made war on the gods.”
There were fifty-two 3 bards in the court of Guru Gobind Singh to translate the Mahabharat, the Ramayan, and the gallant achievements of Rama, Krishna, Chandi, and others. It does not follow from this that the Guru worshipped those whose acts were thus celebrated; this was only done for the purpose of inciting bravery and dispelling cowardice, and filling the hearts of his troops with valor to defend their faith. This the Guru himself declares in his translation of the tenth canto of the Bhagwat, “I have rendered in the vulgar dialect the tenth chapter of the Bhagwat with no other object than to inspire ardour for religious warfare.”
The Guru never put faith or worshipped anyone other than the One Immortal God. In Akal Ustat he writes :
“Without Thee (God) I worship none
Whatever boon I want, get from Thee.”
The Guru makes the above point clear in his thirty-three Swayas :
“Some fasten an idol firmly to their breasts; some say that
Shiv is God;
Some say that God is in the temple of the Hindus; others
believe that He is in the mosque of the Musalmans;
Some say that Rama is God; some say Krishna; some in their hearts accept the incarnations as God;
But I have forgotten all vain religion and know in my heart
that the Creator is the only God.”
“Why call Shiv God, and why speak of Brahma as God ?
God is not Ram Chander, Krishan, or Vishnu whom
ye suppose to be the lords of the world.
Sukhdev, Prasar, and Vyas erred in abandoning the One God and worshipping many gods.
All have set up false religions; I in every way believe that
there is but One God.”
(Swaya- XV, Guru Gobind Singh)
CREATION OF THE KHALSA :
The Guru sent Hukamnamas to his followers all over the country to visit Anandpur at the Baisakhi festival to be held in Sambat 1756 (1699 A.D.). It seemed as if the whole of Punjab was on the move; and they came from all parts of the country.
A small tent was pitched on a small hill now called Kesgarh Sahib at Anandpur and an open air dewan (assembly) was held. The Guru drew his sword and in a thundering voice said, “I want one head, is there any one who can offer me?” This most unusual call caused some terror in the gathering and the people were stunned. There was dead silence. The Guru made a second call. Nobody came forward. There was still more silence. On the third call there rose Daya Ram, a khatri of Lahore who said, “ O true king, my head is at thy service.” The Guru took Daya Ram by the arm and led him inside the tent. A blow and thud were heard. Then the Guru, with his sword dripping with blood, came out and said, “I want another head, is there anyone who can offer?”
NOTE : Most of the writers including many Sikh writers, state that the Guru had concealed five goats inside the tent on the previous night without letting anybody know. Therefore, when he took Daya Ram inside the tent, he cut off goat’s head instead of Daya Ram’s. It is difficult for these writers to perceive Guru’s supernatural acts. They cannot comprehend that the Guru could behead Daya Ram, and then bring him back alive from the tent. They need to understand that the Guru was a Divine Jot, sitting on the Divine throne of Guru Nanak. They are showing complete disrespect to the Guru by implying that he was incapable of performing supernatural acts. With these types of thoughts, these writers are committing sacrilege upon the Guruship. The Guru had the power to raise the dead. The Divine Word confirms :
“Satgur mera mar jiwalei.”
(Bhairon Mohalla 5, p-1142)
‘My lord can raise the dead to life.’
(Translation of the above)
This was not an ordinary feat, this was the most unparallel and supernatural act which was performed through the direct Will of God. The Guru himself authenticates this act :
“Khalsa is the army of God
Khalsa is created with the Will of God.”
(Guru Gobind Singh- Sarbloh Granth)
Again on third call Dharam Das, a Jat from Delhi came forward and said, “O true king! My head is at thy disposal.” The Guru took Dharam Das inside the tent, again a blow and thud were heard, and he came out with his sword dripping with blood and repeated,“I want another head, is there any beloved Sikh who can offer it?”
Upon this some people in the assembly remarked that the Guru had lost all reason and went to his mother to complain. Mohkam Chand,4 a washerman of Dwarka (west coast of India) offered himself as a sacrifice. The Guru took him inside the tent and went through the same process. When he came out, he made a call for the fourth head. The Sikhs began to think that he was going to kill all of them. Some of them ran away and the others hung their heads down.
Himmat Chand, a cook of Jagan Nath Puri, offered himself as a fourth sacrifice. Then the Guru made a fifth and the last call for a fifth head. Sahib Chand, a barber of Bidar (in central India), came forward and the Guru took him inside the tent. A blow and thud were heard.
The last time he stayed longer in the tent. People began to breath with relief. The Guru clad them in splendid garments. They offered their heads to the Guru, and the Guru had now given them himself and his glory. When they were brought outside, they were in the most radiant form. There were exclamations of wonder and the sighs of regret on all sides. Now people were sorry for not offering their heads.
Since the time of Guru Nanak, Charanpauhal had been customary form of initiation. People were to drink the holy water which had been touched or washed by the Guru’s toe or feet. The Guru proceeded to initiate them to his new order by asking five faithful Sikhs to stand up. He put pure water into an iron vessel or Bowl (Batta of Sarbloh) and stirred it with a Khanda (two edged small sword). While stirring the water with Khanda, he recited Gurbani or Divine Word ( Five Banis- Japji, Jap Sahib, Anand Sahib, Swayas, and Chaupai). Sugar crystals called ‘Patasas’ which incidently the Guru’s wife, Mata Sahib Kaur, had brought at that moment, were mixed in the water.
The Guru then stood up with the sacred Amrit ( nectar) prepared in the steel bowl. Each of the five faithfuls, by turn, each kneeling upon his left knee, looked up to the Master to receive his Eternal Light. He gave five palmfuls of Amrit to each of them to drink and sprinkled it five times in the eyes, asking them to repeat aloud with each sprinkle, “Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh.” (This meant: Khalsa belongs to God and all triumph be to His Name) Then he anointed with five sprinkles in the hair. In this way Amrit was administered to the five faithfuls from the same bowl. After that he asked them to sip Amrit from the same bowl to signify their initiation into the casteless fraternity of the Khalsa. All the five faithfuls were baptized in this way by the Guru who then called them ‘PANJ PYARE’ or Five Beloved Ones. He gave them the appellation of SINGHS or lions and they were named from Daya Ram to Daya Singh, Dharam Das to Dharam Singh, Mohkam Chand to Mohkam Singh, Himmat Chand to Himmat Singh, and Sahib Chand to Sahib Singh. The Guru then addressed them as the supreme, the liberated ones, pure ones and he called them THE KHALSA.
He then ordained them to do the following :
I. First they must wear the following articles whose names begin
with ‘K’ :
1. Kes- unshorn hair (uncut hair). This represents the natural
appearance of saintlihood. This is the first token of Sikh faith.
2. Kanga- A comb to clean the hair.
3. Kachha- An underwear to denote chastity.
4. Kara- A steel bracelet on the wrist, a symbol of dedication
to the Divine Bridegroom.
5. Kirpan- A sword for self-defence and a symbol of dignity,
power and unconquerable spirit.
II. They must observe the following guidelines :
1. Not to remove hair from the body.
2. Not to use Tobacco or other intoxicants.
3. Not to eat ‘Kutha’, a meat of an animal slaughtered by slow
degrees as done by the Muslims.
4. Not to commit adultery- ‘Par nari ki sej, bhul supne hun na
jayo’ (never enjoy, even in dream, the bed of a woman other
than your own wife)
(A supplementary ordinance was issued that any one who did not observe any of the four directives, must be re-baptized, pay a fine, and promise not to offend any more ; or he must be excommunicated from the Khalsa).
III. They must rise at dawn, bathe, meditate on Gurmantar-‘Waheguru’, Moolmantar- the preamble of Japji, and recite five banis- Japji, Jap Sahib and Swayas in the morning; Rehras in the evening; and Sohela at bed time at night.
IV. They must not have matrimonial relations with smokers, with persons who killed their daughters, with the descendants or followers of Prithi Chand, Dhir Mal, Ram Rai, or masands who had strayed away from the tenets and principles of Guru Nanak.
V. They must not worship idols, cemeteries, or cremation grounds, and must believe only in One Immortal God.
The Guru further spelled out that they should practise arms, and never show their backs to the foe in the battle field. They should always be ready to help the poor and protect those who sought their protection. They were to consider their previous castes erased, and deem themselves all brothers of one family. Sikhs were to intermarry among themselves.
THE MASTER BECOMES THE DISCIPLE :
After the Guru had administered Amrit to his Five Beloved Ones, he stood up in supplication and with folded hands, begged them to baptize him in the same way as he had baptized them. This was the height of this remarkable episode setting up unparallel example in the world that first as Guru, he created the Khalsa blessing them with power, supremacy and glory, and then he himself became their disciple- Wonderful is Guru Gobind Singh, himself the Master and himself the disciple. In the annals of human history a disciple could become a Guru but never a Guru became a disciple. The Five Beloved Ones were astonished at such a proposal, and represented their own unworthiness, and the greatness of the Guru, whom they deemed God’s Vicar upon earth. They asked him why he made such a request and why he stood in a supplicant posture before them. He replied,” I am the son of the Immortal God. It is by His order I have been born and have established this form of baptism. They who accept it shall henceforth be known as the KHALSA. The Khalsa is the Guru and the Guru is the Khalsa. There is no difference between you and me. As Guru Nanak seated Guru Angad on the throne, so have I made you also a Guru. Wherefore administer the baptismal nectar to me without any hesitation.”
Accordingly the Five Beloved Ones baptized the Guru with the same ceremonies and injunctions he himself had employed. The Guru was then named Gobind Singh instead of Gobind Rai.
Guru Gobind Singh was the first one to take Amrit from the Khalsa, the Five Beloved Ones. About 80,000 men and women were baptized within a few days at Anandpur.
By creating the Khalsa, the Guru embedded two qualities in one person. A Khalsa is a Saint-Soldier. A Sikh is a saint because he worships the All-Pervading Divine Spirit and in whom that Spirit shines day and night like a full moon. A Sikh is a soldier because he is ever ready to take up the arms to uphold righteousness.
The Guru promised the Five Beloved Ones (The Khalsa) that whenever they called upon him, he would agree to their proposal. This was the establishment of democratic Khalsa. The Guru fulfilled this promise by submitting to the demand of the Five Beloved Ones at the battle of Chamkaur and left the Garhi.
The Guru himself gives the definition of his beloved Khalsa :
“He who constantly keeps in mind
Intent upon Ever Awake Living Light of Consciousness
And never swerves from the thought of One God ;
And he who is adorned with full faith in Him
And is wholly steeped in the Love of the Lord,
And even by mistake never puts his faith in fasting
Or in worship of tombs, sepulchre or crematoriums,
Caring not for pilgrimages, alms, charities,
Penances or austerities ;
Or anything else but devotion to One God ;
And in whose heart and soul the Divine Light
Shines forth as the full moon
He is known as Khalsa, the purest of the pure.”
(Guru Gobind Singh- Swayas)
The Persian historian Gulam-ul-din, the newswriter of that period, sent Emperor Aurangzeb a copy of the Guru’s address to his Sikhs on the first of Baisakh, Sambat 1756 (1699 A.D.) which reads as follows:
“Let all embrace one creed and obliterate differences of religion. Let the four Hindu castes who have different rules for their guidance abandon them all, adopt the one form of adoration, and become brothers. Let no one deem himself superior to another. Let none pay heed to the Ganges, and other places of pilgrimage which are spoken of with reverence in the Shastras, or adore incarnations such as Rama, Krishna, Brahma, and Durga, but believe in Guru Nanak and the other Sikh Gurus. Let men of the four castes receive my baptism, eat out of one dish, and feel no disgust or contempt for one another.”
When the Guru addressed the gathering, several Brahmans and Khatris stood up and accepted the religion of Guru Nanak while others insisted that they would never accept any religion which was opposed to the teachings of the Vedas and Shastras.
So far the leadership had remained in the hands of non-militant urban Khatris from whom the majority of the masands were drawn, but now the situation had completely changed. Peasantry and other classes of rural areas formed the bulk of the converts. Even those people who had been considered the dregs of humanity were changed like a magic into something rich and super. The sweepers, the barbers and confectioners who had never touched a sword and whose whole generations had lived as slaves of the higher castes, became doughty warriors under the stimulating leadership of the Guru.
Ideologically, the Khalsa was created to be aimed at a balanced combination of the ideals of Bhakti and Shakti, of moral and spiritual excellence and militant valor or heroism of the highest order; or in other words the Khalsa was to be a brotherhood in faith and brotherhood in arms at one and the same time. The Khalsa symbolized in itself the determination to complete the social and religious revolution inaugurated by Guru Nanak. The code of conduct prescribed for the newly created Khalsa was so devised as to impose a strict discipline on the Sikhs to ensure firm coherence and commitment on their part to the holy and lofty ideals of Sikhism.
With the creation of the Khalsa, some new doctrines were also established. The first doctrine of the Khalsa was the doctrine of the theocratic democracy by his selected, not elected, five representatives of the people from amongst the thousands of the devotees from all over the country while second was the doctrine of collective responsibility by authorizing the Five Beloved Ones only, in the presence of the holy Guru Granth Sahib to assume authority implicitly to be obeyed by the whole nation.
The Guru set the souls of the Khalsa free and filled their hearts with a lofty longing for religious and social freedom and national ascendancy. The Khalsa, therefore, accepted the challenge to combat terror inspired by tyranny of the powerful Mughal empire and embarked upon a national struggle of liberation.
BHAI NAND LAL :
Bhai Nand Lal Goya, born at Ghazni in Afghanistan in 1643, was an accomplished persian scholar who composed verses in praise of God and Guru Gobind Singh. He was hardly nineteen when his parents passed away and after that he moved to the city of Multan. The Nawab of Multan being impressed with his scholastic talents and personality, appointed him as his ‘Mir Munshi’ (Revenue officer). At the age of 45 Nand Lal left the service and set out in pursuit of peace. At last he reached Anandpur. Nand Lal wanted to test the Guru before he could accept him. He took a small house and started living quietly in that and made up his mind that he would go to the Guru only when the Guru beckoned him. The Guru did not call for sometimes. During this period Nand Lal became very restless which he recorded :
“How long shall I patiently wait ?
My heart is restless for a vision of thee,
My tearful eyes, says Goya,
Have become flooding streams of love
Flowing in a passionate affection towards thee.”
(Nand Lal- Translated)
At last the Guru called Nand Lal. When he reached there for his holy sight, the Guru was sitting in a trance with his eyes closed. As Nand Lal saw the Master, he was wonder-struck and he recorded :
“My life and faith are held in bondage,
By His sweet and angelic face;
The glory of Heaven and earth, Is hardly worth,
A hair of His golden looks.
O! How can I bear the light,
Shed by the piercing glance of His love,
To ennoble and enlighten life,
A glimpse of the Beloved is enough.”
(Bhai Nand Lal)
After a short while the Master opened his eyes and smiled as he looked towards Nand Lal. By mere opening of his eyes, he enabled Nand Lal to see the Divine. His one glance of Grace opened the spiritual eyes of Nand Lal. He bowed down saying,“Lord, my doubts are dispelled. I have known the Truth. The doors of my heart are opened and I have attained peace.”
Nand Lal, thus, continued to live at Anandpur in the service and love of the Master. One day the Guru commanded him,“You left the home and renounced the world; such a renunciation is not acceptable to me. Go back and live in the world, work for your living and serve the humanity; but remain unattached to Maya (materialism), keeping God alive in thy mind.” Nand Lal asked,“Whither should I go, O Master?” The Guru replied,” To whichever direction your feet carry thee.”
Bhai Nand Lal bowed and left Anandpur and after sometimes he reached Agra, the city of Taj Mahal where Prince Bahadur Shah was holding his court. There were some poets, scholars and artists patronized by the prince. Nand Lal was soon recognized at Agra as a great scholar which earned him a high office and emoluments from the prince. It is said that Emperor Aurangzeb had to send a letter to the King of Persia and Nand Lal’s draft of that letter was deemed as the most suitable. Upon this Aurangzeb sent for Nand Lal, and after an interview he remarked to his courtiers that it was a pity that such a learned man should remain a Hindu. Aurangzeb told Prince Bahadur Shah to convert Nand Lal to Islam by persuasion if possible, and by force otherwise. This news leaked out and Bhai Nand Lal with the help of Ghiasuddin, a Muslim admirer and follower of him, escaped from Agra one night, and fled to Anandpur, the only place where such refugees could find safe asylum.
Enjoying the blissful life at the Master’s feet at Anandpur, Bhai Nand Lal then settled down to a routine of a devoted disciple. He presented to the Guru a Persian work called Bandagi Nama in praise of God, a title which the Guru changed to Zindagi Nama, or ‘Bestower of Eternal life’. The following few extracts are from that work :
“Both worlds, here and hereafter, are filled with God’s light ; The sun and moon are merely servants who hold His torches.
They who search for God are ever civil ..........
(Bhai Nand Lal- Translated)
Here is very important note : Some people are saying that Bhai Nand Lal and Bhai Ghanaya did not take ‘amrit’ from the Five Beloved Ones and so there is no need taking ‘amrit’ or become Amritdhari Sikh (baptised sikh). They are wrong. Taking ‘amrit’ from Five Beloved Ones (Panj Payarey) is now the only form of baptism (Guru dharan karna) in Sikhism. Without that, one cannot enter the fold of the Guru or cannot become ‘Guruwala’ (of the Guru). From first to tenth Gurus, the ceremony of baptism was performed by the Gurus themselves and only after such ceremony a person could become ‘Guruwala’ (belonging to the Guru). Both Bhai Nand Lal and Bhai Ghanaya were baptized by the Guru before Five Beloved Ones were created in 1699. Once baptised, you don’t have to get baptised again unless you commit ‘kurehat’ (sin). In order to become Guru’s sikh, one has to get baptised. After the Gurus, ‘amrit’ by Five Beloved Ones is the only form of baptism in Sikh Religion. Five Beloved Ones will give Naam. Meditation on Naam will give salvation. Nobody else than Panj Payarey can give Naam in Sikhism. This authority of giving Naam is only vested in Panj Payarey by the Guru. Without Naam one cannot get salvation and one cannot get Naam without Guru :
“In all the four ages, the Glory is through the God’s Name, And he, who dedicates himself to the Name, is emancipated, (but) Without the Guru, no one receives the (True) Name.”
(Ramkali Moh. 3, p-880)
Without baptism one cannot climb the steps of spiritual ladder to reach the stage of ultimate bliss.
BHAI JOGA SINGH :
From the early youth Joga Singh was living at the Guru’s Darbar and was a great devotee. One day Guru’s eye caught him and he asked what his name was. He replied,“O true king, my name is Joga Singh.” The Guru asked,“Whose Joga you are?” (Joga means for whose service he is fit or simply for whom he is?) “I am Guru Joga (I am in the service of the Guru),” replied Joga Singh. Upon this the Guru promised, “If you are Guru Joga, then Guru is tere Joga ( then the Guru is for you).”
After sometimes Joga Singh went to his home in Peshawar for his marriage. When the marriage ceremony was half-way through, a man arrived with an urgent message from the Guru to him to proceed to Anandpur without delay. Joga Singh read the command and instantly left for Anandpur without completing the marriage ceremony. He obeyed Guru’s order over everything else. Indeed the path of the devotees is sharper than the edge of a razor blade, and it is even narrower than the hair-breadth on which they have to tread.
Joga Singh continued his journey to Anandpur as fast as he could. After passing through Lahore and Amritsar, he reached a resting spot at Hoshiarpur. On his way his ego got inflated and he thought, “Who could have acted like me? Certainly very few Sikhs would carry out the Guru’s order like me.” This sense of pride brought his fall. At night he was overwhelmed by evil-passion and he started towards the house of a prostitute. Joga Singh was wearing Guru’s uniform- a turban and beard. On his way to the prostitute, Joga Singh talked to himself, “If some one sees me going into the house of a prostitute, it will bring disgrace to the Guru. Outwardly I am in Guru’s attire. So nobody should see me entering the prostitute’s house.”
As soon as he reached near the house of the prostitute, a watchman appeared saying aloud, “Be aware fellows!” Joga Singh could not enter the house and he walked on to the next street. Looking around and thinking that the watchman might have left, he hurried towards the house of the prostitute again. To his amazement the watchman reappeared shouting, “Be aware fellows!” Joga Singh could not afford to be seen by anybody going into the house of the prostitute, knowing in his heart that it would bring slur to Guru’s name since he was in Guru’s uniform. Finally he quit his evil act after trying a few times without success.
Next morning he started his journey and reached Anandpur. Joga Singh stood mute before the Guru with his head down. The Guru asked him about the well-being of himself and his family but Joga Singh stood mute. The divine Master then addressed him, “Joga Singh, do you remember when you said that you were Guru Joga, and the Guru had promised, if you were Guru Joga, then Guru tere Joga.” Upon this the Guru further explained, “In the garb of a watchman I guarded you in the streets of Hoshiarpur last night, against the sinful deeds and thus saved you from disgrace.” Joga Singh fell on Guru’s feet and asked for forgiveness.
Such are the ways of the Master. Once we put our complete faith in him, he does not abandon us. The Guru confirms :
“As long as the Khalsa remain distinct and intact,
I shall bless them in every way;
When they detract from the prescribed path,
I detest them for ever.”
(Guru Gobind Singh)
POST-KHALSA PERIOD ACTIVITIES :
The hill Rajas including the Raja of Kahlur came to visit the Guru and had a good deal of discussion about the pros and cons of the Khalsa. He advised them to embrace the Khalsa religion in order to elevate the fallen condition of their country. The hill Rajas took their departure without accepting the Guru’s proposal to accept Khalsa creed.
The immediate effect of the creation of the Khalsa was the anxiety of the hill Rajas who considered the Guru’s activities as a potent threat to their own religion and state power. The Guru asked his Sikhs, wherever they resided, to come to Anandpur and accept baptism, thus, become members of the Khalsa. They started coming in large numbers to pay homage to him and get baptized. This growing number of the baptized Sikhs, surcharged with their spirit of equality, and disengaged from the orthodox way of living, who seemed to be always ready to combat evil, alarmed the hill Rajas who considered it a direct challenge to their feudal order and their orthodox way of living.
One day the Guru went on a hunting excursion in the Dun when Balia Chand and Alim Chand, two hill chiefs made a surprise attack on his party. There were only a few Sikhs with the Guru. Both sides fought desperately. Alim Chand aimed a blow of his sword at Alim Singh, who received it on his shield and then with his return blow struck off Alim Chand’s right arm. He managed to escape and left Balia Chand in sole command of the troops. However Balia Chand was soon shot dead by Ude Singh. The hill troops, having found one of their chiefs dead and the other having fled, abandoned the battle field leaving the Guru’s party victorious.
FIRST BATTLE OF ANANDPUR :
After this defeat, the hill Rajas thought it highly dangerous to allow the Sikhs to increase in power and number. They therefore, decided collectively to complain to the Delhi government against the Sikhs. Aurangzeb was still busy in the south. The viceroy of Delhi sent General Din Beg and General Painde Khan each with five thousand men to resist the Guru’s encroachments on the rights of the hill Rajas. When the imperial forces reached Rupar, they were joined by hill Rajas.
The Guru appointed the Five Beloved Ones as generals of his army. The Sikh chronicler states that, when the engagement began at Anandpur, the Turks were roasted by the continuous and deadly fire of the Sikhs. General Painde Khan seeing determined resistance of the Sikhs, shouted to his men to fight to the death against the infidels. He came forward to engage in a single combat with the Guru and invited him to strike the first blow. The Guru refused the role of an aggressor and claimed that he had vowed never to strike except in self-defence. Upon this Painde Khan discharged an arrow which whizzed past Guru’s ear. He charged another arrow which also missed the mark. The whole of Painde Khan’s body except his ears was encased in armour. Knowing this the Guru then discharged an arrow at his ear with such an unerring aim that he fell off his horse on the ground and never rose again. This, however, did not end the battle. Din Beg assumed sole command of the troops. Maddened by Painde Khan’s death they fought with great desperation but could not make any impression on the firm hold of the Sikhs. On the other hand, however, the Sikhs caused a great havoc upon the enemy. The hill chiefs left the field. In the meantime Din Beg was wounded and he beat a retreat but was pursued by the Sikhs as far as Rupar (upto the village of Khidrabad near Chandigarh where there is a Gurdwara in that memory). This battle was fought in the beginning of 1701.
SECOND BATTLE OF ANANDPUR :
The Rajas of Jammu, Nurpur, Mandi, Bhutan, Kullu, Kionthal, Guler, Chamba, Srinagar, Dadhwal, Handur and others, assembled at Bilaspur to discuss the newly created situation. Raja Ajmer Chand of Kahlur (son of late Raja Bhim Chand) addressed them that if they overlooked the growing power of the Guru, he would one day drive them out from their territories. On the other hand if they were to seek assistance from Delhi again and again, they might be taken over by the Mughal empire for ever. It was, therefore, decided that they must defend themselves. If all the hill Rajas contributed reasonable contingents, they could muster a large army which would be sufficient to annihilate the Guru and his Sikhs. Thus a simple and feasible measure was thought out to invest the Guru’s capital, Anandpur, and starve its occupants into submission.
Accordingly all the Rajas brought their contingents and marched towards Anandpur. On arriving near the city they dispatched a letter to the Guru in which they wrote, “The land of Anandpur is ours, we allowed your father to dwell on it and he never paid any rent. Now you have originated a new religion which is opposed to our religious system. We have endured all this up to the present, we can no longer overlook it. You should pay the arrears of rent for the occupation of our land and promise to pay it regularly for the future. If you fail to accept these terms, then prepare your departure from Anandpur or be ready for the consequences.” The Guru replied, “My father had purchased this land and he paid for it. If you deprive me of Anandpur, you shall have it with bullets added thereto. Seek my protection, and you will be happy in both worlds. Also seek the protection of the Khalsa and abandon pride. Now is the time for a settlement. I shall act as a mediator between the Khalsa and you. You may then rule your states without apprehension.”
It was now clear to the Rajas that the Guru would not surrender. Next morning they beat the drum of war. As anticipated a large number of Ranghars and Gujars under the command of Jagatullah flocked to the side of the hill Rajas.
Five hundred men from the Majha area arrived under the command of Duni Chand to join the Guru’s forces, and other reinforcements from other quarters also arrived at that juncture. There were two main forts,5 Lohgarh and Fatehgarh. The Guru ordered his forces not to advance beyond the city but remain as far as possible on the defensive. Sher Singh and Nahar Singh were appointed as chiefs to guard Lohgarh, and Fatehgarh was entrusted to Ude Singh. Sahibzada Ajit Singh, Guru’s eldest son, asked his father’s permission to join hands with Ude Singh.
The hill Rajas opened fire with large guns on the Guru’s fortress. Several brave Sikhs made a determined stand against the enemy and forced them to retreat. The allied chiefs then held a brief council of war in which it was decided to despatch Raja Kesari Chand, the haughty chief of Jaswal, to attack the right flank and Jagatullah the left flank of the Guru’s position while Ajmer Chand himself and his troops made a front attack on Anandpur.
Jagatullah was shot dead by Sahib Singh and the Sikhs did not retreat to allow the enemy to remove his body. Raja Ghumand Chand of Kangra rallied his troops but failed to cause the Sikhs to retreat. The hill chiefs were in great dismay at the result of the battle and held a council of war during the night. Raja Ajmer Chand advised the council for peace with the Guru saying that the Guru occupied Guru Nanak’s spiritual throne and there would be no indignity in appealing to him as supplicants. Many Rajas agreed to the proposal but Kesari Chand of Jaswal opposed the reconciliation and promised to fight with more determination the next day in order to oust the Guru from Anandpur.
Next morning the allied forces contented themselves with concentrating their attack on one particular part of the city but the Sikhs again offered valiant resistance. The allied forces rallied many times but could not overcome the brave Sikhs and so they decided to siege the city which lasted for a few weeks. As the blockade prolonged successfully, Raja Kesari Chand prepared to intoxicate an elephant and direct him against the city. Whole body of the elephant was encased in steel. A strong spear projected from his forehead for the purpose of assault. The intoxicated elephant was directed towards the gate of Lohgarh fort and the allied army followed him. The Guru blessed his Sikh, Vichitar Singh to combat the elephant. Vichitar Singh took a lance to meet the furious animal. He raised his lance 6 and drove it through the elephant’s head armor. On this the animal turned around on the hill soldiers, and killed several of them. Meanwhile Ude Singh continued to advance against Kesari Chand, challenged him, and then with one blow cut off his head. Mohkam Singh, one of the Five Beloved Ones, cut off the mad elephant’s trunk with one blow of his sword. What remained of the hill army now fled. In the retreat the Raja of Handur was severely wounded by Sahib Singh.
On the following day Ghumand Chand of Kangra directed the efforts of his troops against the city. Ghumand Chand’s horse was killed by a bullet from the musket of Alim Singh. The battle lasted with varying success until evening, when Ghumand Chand, as he was proceeding to his tent in the evening, was mortally wounded by a chance bullet. All the hill chiefs now became disheartened and demoralized. Raja Ajmer Chand was the last to leave Anandpur and marched home in the dead of night. This battle was fought in 1701.
BATTLE OF NIRMOH :
Ajmer Chand in spite of the defeat of the allied forces, determined to oust the Guru. He sent an envoy to the Emperor’s viceroy in Sirhind and another envoy to the viceroy of Delhi to complain against the Sikhs and sought their help to assist the hill chiefs in destroying the Guru’s power and expelling him from Anandpur. Accordingly the imperial forces were directed to assist the hill chiefs.
At the same time to save their faces, the hill chiefs proposed to the Guru through Pamma Brahman, that they would be friends with him for ever only if he left Anandpur for a while and come back later. The Guru agreed to the proposal and left for Nirmoh, a village situated about a mile from Kiratpur. After he reached Nirmoh, Raja Ajmer Chand and Raja of Kangra both thought that since he was now in the open and he had no fort around him for protection, it would be better to launch an attack. They attacked the Guru’s army without even waiting for the arrival of the imperial army. A fierce battle ensued in which the Sikhs were ultimately victorious. One afternoon as the Guru was sitting in his open court, the hill chiefs engaged a Mohammadan gunner to kill him for an adequate remuneration. The gunner fired a cannon ball which missed the Guru but took away the life of Sikh who was fanning him. The Guru picked up his bow and shot an arrow which killed the gunner and with another arrow killed his brother who was assisting him. On seeing this the hill men quit fighting. The two Mohammadans were buried on the spot called Siyah Tibbi or the black hill and a Gurdwara was erected by the Sikhs to commemorate Guru’s escape from the bullet.
The army of Wazir Khan, the viceroy of Sirhind, arrived in due time. The Guru found himself in a very dangerous position between the hill Rajas on one hand, and the imperial army on the other. But he resolved to defend himself in whatever way it was and his Sikhs stood faithfully and valiantly by him. Wazir Khan gave an order to his troops to make a sudden rush and seize the Guru. The Guru was successfully protected by his son Ajit Singh and his other brave warriors. They stopped the advance of the imperial forces and cut them down in rows. The carnage continued until night. Next day the imperial army and the hill chiefs made a furious assault when the Guru decided on retiring to Basoli whose Raja had frequently invited him to his capital. Until the Guru’s army reached the river Satluj, fierce fighting continued in which brave Sahib Singh was slain. Bitting his thumb Wazir Khan admitted that he had never before witnessed such desperate fighting. The Guru with his troops crossed over the river and reached Basoli. The hill chiefs were overjoyed and presented elephants to Wazir Khan and departed to their homes. Wazir Khan returned to Sirhind. This battle was fought at the end of 1701.
Daya Singh and Ude Singh requested the Guru to return to Anandpur. After staying a few days at Basoli, he marched back to Anandpur and the inhabitants of the city were delighted to see him again among them. Finding the Guru again firmly established at Anandpur, Raja Ajmer Chand thought it most wise to pursue for peace. The Guru told Ajmer Chand that he was willing to come to terms with him, but he would punish him if he were again found guilty of treachery. Ajmer Chand was glad to find peace with the Guru and he sent his family priest with presents to him. The other hill Rajas also followed Ajmer Chand’s example and made good relations with the Guru.
After this the Guru went to Malwa for the propagation of his mission. In January 1703 he went to a fair held at Kurukshetra on the occasion of a solar eclipse in order to purchase horses to replace those which were killed or stolen in previous warfare. The custom of sale and barter of horses and other animals at religious fairs was prevalent even during the time of the Guru.
Two Mohammadan generals, Saiyad Beg and Alif Khan, were on their way from Lahore to Delhi. Raja Ajmer Chand who also went to Kurukshetra along with other hill chiefs, thought to secure their assistance. He promised the generals large remuneration if they attacked the Guru. Instead on hearing favorable accounts of the Guru, Saiyad Beg withdrew his army, and when the battle ensued at Chamkaur between the Guru’s and Alif Khan’s troops, he joined the Guru’s forces. Upon this Alif Khan retired from the contest thinking that he had no chance for victory. The Guru returned to Anandpur. Saiyad Beg threw his lot with him and accompanied him to Anandpur, and remained with him as a trustworthy and powerfully.
After two years of peace, the old hostilities reappeared. The reasons being, the increasing prestige of the Guru and the clashes as a result between the hill Rajas and the Sikhs.
THIRD BATTLE OF ANANDPUR :
At that time there were only 800 Sikhs in the Guru’s army at Anandpur. Raja Ajmer Chand summoned his allies, Rajas of Handur, Chamba and Fatehpur with the object of chastising the Guru. They all expressed themselves in favor of immediate measures and attacked the Guru’s forces at Anandpur. In the previous battles of Anandpur the Sikhs had mostly remained behind their battlements but they met the enemy this time in the open field outside Anandpur. The Sikhs fought with their usual courage and determination. The hill chiefs could not achieve any success and retired from the battle in despair. This battle was fought in 1703.
FOURTH BATTLE OF ANANDPUR :
Owing to the repeated representations of the hill chiefs, the Emperor sent a large army under the command of General Saiyad Khan to subdue the Guru. Saiyad Khan was a brother-in-law of Pir Budhu Shah of Sadhaura who fought on the side of the Guru at the battle of Bhangani. On his way to Anandpur Saiyad Khan met Pir Budhu Shah and heard all favorable accounts of the Guru and, thus, had a wish to behold him.
It was the end of March, 1704 and was a crop-cutting time of the year, so the majority of the Guru’s Sikhs had dispersed to their homes. There were only five hundred strong troops left at Anandpur at that time. The Guru had to make best defence with the present force. Maimun Khan, a faithful Mohammadan who had attached himself to the Guru, asked his permission to show his bravery. The brave and faithful Saiyad Beg also came forward to render his services. Both Musalmans fought like tigers in the battle, and were followed by the Sikhs.
The Sikhs advanced boldly against the enemy. Saiyad Beg entered into a single combat with Raja Hari Chand. After they had repeatedly missed each other, Saiyad Beg at last struck off the hill chief’s head. On seeing this Din Beg of the imperial army rushed at Saiyad Beg and mortally wounded him. Maimun Khan from horseback charged in every direction and committed great havoc among the imperial troops. The Guru knew what was passing in General Saiyad Khan’s mind, and advanced ostensibly to challenge him. Saiyad Khan on obtaining the wish of his heart to behold the Guru, dismounted and fell at his feet. The Guru conferred on him the true Name. After Saiyad Khan’s defection, Ramzan Khan took command and fought with great bravery against the Sikhs. The Guru shot an arrow which killed Ramzan Khan’s horse. The Sikhs rallied and presented a bold front to the enemy but being too few in number were overpowered by them. When the Guru saw that there was no chance of retrieving his position, he decided to evacuate Anandpur. The Mohammadan army plundered the city. After obtaining this booty they proceeded back to Sirhind. When the imperial army was resting at night, the Sikhs made a sudden attack, which created great confusion in the enemy camp. The Turks who turned to oppose the Sikhs, were killed and only those who fled, escaped the vengeance of the Guru’s pursuing army. The Sikhs also deprived them of all the booty they had captured at Anandpur. After this the Guru returned and took possession of Anandpur.
FIFTH BATTLE OF ANANDPUR :
The Emperor called on his troops to account for their cowardice. They pleaded that the Sikhs had taken an unfair advantage of their position in the battle field. At one point the Emperor asked what sort of person the Guru was and what force he possessed. A Mohammadan soldier gave highly colored accounts of the Guru’s beauty, sanctity and prowess. He described him as a young handsome man, a living saint, the father of his people and in war equal to one hundred twenty-five thousand men. The Emperor was much displeased on hearing this elaborate praise of the Guru and ordered that he should be brought to his presence. In the meantime Raja Ajmer Chand made a strong representation to the Emperor for assistance to bring the Guru to submission. Accordingly the viceroys of Sirhind, Lahore and Kashmir were ordered to proceed against the Guru.
Some faithful Sikhs informed the Guru of war preparations as a result of Raja Ajmer Chand’s representation to the Emperor. The Guru made arrangements accordingly and sent for his followers. The Sikhs of Majha, Malwa and Doaba and other places thronged to Anandpur. They were delighted at the prospect of battle, and congratulated themselves on their good fortune in being allowed to die for their Guru and their faith. The Guru affirmed that the death in the battle-field in the name of religion was equal to the fruits of many years’ devotion, and ensured honor and glory in the next world.
The noteworthy point in this whole episode is that the Guru having won battle after battle, never captured an inch of territory, never nurtured enmity, and never attacked anybody as an aggressor. By the creation of the Khalsa he established equality and brotherhood of mankind. The down-trodden segments of the society which were ever ridiculed by the so called high caste Brahmans and Khatris, had now become undaunted saint-soldiers after being baptized by the Guru and joining the brotherhood of the Khalsa. The Brahmans and the hill chiefs considered all this a threat to their very existence. They were, therefore, waging a constant war against the Guru and his Sikhs.
The hill chiefs who arrayed themselves against the Guru were Raja Ajmer Chand of Kahlur, Rajas of Kangra, Kullu, Kionthal, Mandi, Jammu, Nurpur, Chamba, Guler, Garhwal, Bijharwal, Darauli and Dadhwal. They were joined by the Gujars and the Ranghars of the area, and all of them formed a formidable force. The imperial army of the viceroys’ of Sirhind, Lahore and Kashmir came in large number. The chronicler judiciously remarks that the Khalsa must be congratulated because, though few in number, having the blessings of their Guru they had confidence in themselves to fight for their religion, and delighted in anticipation of the approaching conflict. It is recorded that there were ten thousand Sikhs at Anandpur while the opposing army came as strong as fifteen to twenty times in number than the Sikhs.
The allied forces fell on Anandpur like locust. On seeing this the Guru ordered his artillery men to discharge their cannon into the hostile army at the thickest spot. The enemy made a charge to seize the artillery, but were quickly restrained by the fatal accuracy with which the Sikhs served their guns. They were supported by the infantry. The city of Anandpur was on a little higher elevation and the allied forces were in the open and had no protection, and consequently fell in heaps. A fierce battle was fought for a few days. The Mohammadan gunners were promised large reward if they killed the Guru but they were unsuccessful in their mission because their gun fire was either high or too low and could not hit the target. The allied army finding their guns useless tried hand to hand fight. On seeing this the Guru began to discharge his arrows with marvelous effect. The fearful carnage continued, horses fell on horses, men on men. The allied forces rallied a strong effort to conquer, but was so vigorously and successfully repulsed that they were obliged to suspend hostilities at the end of each day of warfare.
The Mohammadans and the hill chiefs had different opinions as to the cause of the success of the Sikhs. Some thought that the Guru had supreme miraculous power and the supernatural forces fought on his side. Others maintained that the Guru’s success was owing to the fact that his men were protected behind their ramparts. While this discussion was going on, the Mohammadan viceroys decided to storm the fortress where the Guru was stationed. On seeing this the Sikhs put their two guns called Baghan (tigress) and Bijai-ghosh (sound of victory) in position. The aims were taken at the enemy. The tents were blown away and great havoc was caused. On seeing this the Mohammadan viceroys retreated and the hill armies fled. That evening the Guru offered thanksgiving, and beat the drum of victory.
Having failed through direct assault, the allied army planned a siege of the city of Anandpur in such a way that all entrances and exits for both goods and persons were completely closed. They completely besieged the city, and the Guru’s supplies were failing. Food position became extremely serious and the Sikhs were driven to undertake some dangerous expeditions. They went out at night to snatch provisions from the besiegers. After some time the allies collected their stores at one place and guarded them day and night.
When the enemy learnt about the distressful situation of the Sikhs, they planned a different strategy to induce the Guru to leave Anandpur. Raja Ajmer Chand sent his envoy to him saying that if he left Anandpur, their armies would withdraw and he could afterwards return whenever he pleased. The Guru did not pay any heed to this proposal. The offer was repeated several times, but the Guru did not accept it. Having suffered extreme hardships, the Sikhs besought the Guru to evacuate the fort, but the Guru counselled them patience for some time more. The Sikhs who heard enemy’s proposal, went to the Guru’s mother to use her influence on him. She pleaded with him but in vain. The Guru told her that the enemy’s proposal was hypocritical since they planned to draw out the Sikhs from within the shelter of the city and attack them. Some of the Masands and the Sikhs who were influenced by the hill chiefs, insisted that the proposal of the enemy be accepted and the city be abandoned. Some Sikhs became impatient and disheartened. The Guru asked them to declare their allegiance. Forty of them signed a disclaimer saying that he was not their Guru and they were not his Sikhs. After they signed the disclaimer, they were allowed by the Guru to go away. He then brought out a scheme to expose the hypocrisy of the enemy.
The Guru sent for Raja Ajmer Chand’s envoy and told him that he would evacuate Anandpur if the allied armies would first allow the removal of his treasure and property. The Hindus swore on the Salgram (their idol) and the Mohammadans on the holy Quran, that they would not deceive or molest his servants departing with his property. The Guru then immediately ordered a number of cartloads of useless articles. To the bullocks’ horns were attached torches and at the dead of night, the caravan of bullocks with their loads, started along with some Sikhs accompanying them. When the caravan reached the enemy lines they forgot all their pledges and fell upon the small company of the Sikhs to loot the treasure. Their disappointment was great when they found out that the treasure was made up of rubbish articles. In this way the Guru exposed the treachery of the enemy and told his Sikhs that everything they had endured had been by the Will of God, and he quoted Guru Nanak - “Happiness is a disease, the remedy for which is unhappiness”.
At last came an autographed letter from the Emperor to the Guru - “I have sworn on the Quran not to harm you. If I do, may I not find a place in God’s court hereafter! Cease warfare and come to me. If you do not desire to come hither, then go whithersoever you please.” The Emperor’s envoy added that the Emperor promised that he would not harm the Guru. The hill Rajas also swore by the cow and called their idols to witness, that they would allow safe passage to the Guru. The Guru told the enemy, “You are all liars, and therefore all your empire and your glory shall depart. You all took oaths before and then perjured yourselves.”
The Sikhs went again to the Guru’s mother to complain of his refusal to listen to reason. He, however, felt that their pleading was not reasonable but it was not appropriate to accept the terms of the enemy and leave the fort. The Sikhs stricken with hunger, supported the envoy’s representation. The Guru comforted them, “My brethren, waver not, I only desire your welfare. You know not that these people are deceivers and design to do us evil. If you hold a little longer, you shall have food to your heart’s content.” When the Sikhs refused to wait any longer, he asked them to wait only a few days more when the great God would send them relief.7 The Sikhs, however, refused to wait even for a day. The Guru repeated his request saying that the enemy would then retire and they would all be happy. He also warned the Sikhs, “O dear Khalsa, you are rushing to your destruction, while I am endeavoring to save you.”
The Sikhs were so much hunger stricken that they refused to stay even for a day. The Guru’s mother was also in favor of evacuating the fort. The allied armies sent a Saiyid (a Mohammadan priest) and a Brahman, both of whom were to swear, on behalf of the allied armies, solemn oaths of safe conduct for the Guru should he evacuate Anandpur. On seeing this the Sikhs began to waver in their allegiance to the Guru, and in the end only forty Sikhs decided to remain with him and share his fortunes. He told them that they too might desert him. They refused and said that they would either remain within the fort or force their way out as the Guru directed. He knew that the seed of his religion would flourish. He then finally decided to leave Anandpur and gave orders to his men that they all were to march at night. Anandpur was finally evacuated on 6-7 Poh, Sambat 1762 (20-21 December, 1705).
Bhai Daya Singh and Ude Singh walked in front of the Guru, Mohkam Singh and Sahib Singh on his right, the second batch of baptized Sikhs on his left. His sons Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh followed with bows and arrows. Then came Bhai Himmat Singh carrying ammunition and matchlocks. Gulab Rai, Sham Singh and other Sikhs and relations accompanied him. The rest of the followers brought up the rear, about five hundred in all.8
The moment the enemy got the news of Guru’s departure, they again forgot all about their pledges and set out in hot pursuit immediately. Skirmishes started from Kiratpur onwards. Realizing the impending danger the Guru charged Ude Singh with the responsibility to check the advance of the enemy. Bhai Ude Singh fought a bloody battle at Shahi Tibbi. The enemy surrounded and killed the dauntless and the bravest of the Guru’s brave warriors, Ude Singh. When the battle of Shahi Tibbi was in progress, the Guru had reached the bank of Sarsa river. At that time a news came that a contingent of enemy troops was fast approaching. Bhai Jiwan Singh,9 a Rangretta Sikh, was given a band of one hundred warriors to encounter the pursuers. With the rest of his people the Guru plunged into the flooded waters of the Sarsa river. The flood was so strong that many were drowned and many were scattered in different directions including the Guru’s mother with two younger sons, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh. Besides, there was a heavy loss of valuable literature and property. The Guru accompanying his two eldest sons and some veteran Sikhs reached the village Ghanaula on the other side of Sarsa river. Apprehending that the route ahead might be beset with danger, the Guru gave Bhai Bachitar Singh a band of one hundred Sikhs and instructed him to march by the direct route to Rupar, whereas he with some veteran Sikhs preferred to take a longer route and reached Kotla Nihang near Rupar to stay with Pathan Nihang Khan who was an old and sincere devotee of the Sikh Gurus. Bhai Bachitar Singh and his men had to fight their way through a cordon of the Ranghars of Malikpur, a village near Rupar, and the Pathans of Rupar. During the fierce fighting that took place on this occasion, majority of the Sikhs fell dead and Bachitar Singh was mortally wounded.
The Guru did not stay long at Kotla Nihang. It seems that he was to proceed to Machhiwara and Rai Kot. Accompanied by his two eldest sons and forty Sikhs, the Guru halted at Bur Majra after Kotla Nihang. A news was received that a large body of Sirhind troops was chasing them. Immediately the Guru decided to face the enemy from within the Garhi of Chamkaur and he hurried towards it. He was well aware of the importance of this Garhi (mud fortress) as he had, on a previous occasion, fought a battle at this place.
BATTLE OF CHAMKAUR 10 :
The imperial army which was in hot pursuit, besieged the fortress. They were joined by the hill chiefs and the Ranghars and the Gujars. The Guru appointed eight men to guard each of the four walls. Two Sikhs held the door and other two were appointed sentinels. The Guru himself, his two sons; and Daya Singh and Sant Singh went on the top storey. The Sikhs held the fortress for a long time against the heavy odds. Nahar Khan and Ghairat Khan, the two imperial officers, attempted to scale the little fort, but were shot down by the Guru. After that none of the Mohammadan officers dared to attempt the fatal ascent. Five Sikhs went forth to contend with the enemy. After fighting with great bravery, they were killed. They continued in batches of five. Guru’s eldest son, Ajit Singh (about 18 years old) asked permission to go forth and fight the enemy. The Guru approved the proposal and Ajit Singh went with five Sikh heroes. He performed prodigies of valor and ultimately fell, fighting bravely along with his companions. On seeing his brother’s fate, Jujhar Singh (14 years old) could not restrain himself and asked his father’s permission. Like his elder brother, Jujhar Singh went in the battle field, but after a little while he turned back and asked for water. The Guru shouted, “Go back, there is no more water left for you on this earth. See yonder, Ajit Singh is holding the cup of nectar for you.” Jujhar Singh went back and created havoc upon the enemy and fell fighting valiantly. Upon this the Guru’s face was jubilant. His expression of mental composure showed glow of divinity upon the glorious end of his sons. After the sons had achieved their splendid mission, the Guru then got ready to go out and fight. The remaining few Sikhs fell on their knees before him and entreated him not to go. At that moment their victory lay in saving the Guru. If he lived, they argued, he would create millions like them. They therefore, persuaded the Guru to leave the place but he would not listen to them. At that point Bhai Daya Singh who was the first of the Five Beloved Ones, recalled that at the time of creation of the Khalsa, the Guru had promised that the mandate of the Five Beloved Sikhs would be binding even upon the Guru. Upon this Bhai Daya Singh took four other Sikhs and formed an assembly which passed a ‘Gurmata’ (resolution) and said, “O true king, the Khalsa now orders you to leave this place.” As promised at the time of administering Amrit to the Five Beloved Ones, the wonderful supreme lord Guru Gobind Singh submitted before the Khalsa and accepted their verdict to leave the Garhi (fortress).
Sant Singh and Sangat Singh offered to remain in the fort while Daya Singh, Dharam Singh, and Man Singh were determined to accompany the Guru.11 It is said that Sant Singh very much resembled the Guru. Therefore he gave his plume to Sant Singh, clothed him in his armor and seated him in the upper room where Guru was stationed. He and three of his companions escaped during the night. He told them that if per chance they were separated from him, they were to go in the direction of a particular star which he showed to them. It was a cold night of December and the allied armies were resting in their tents. The Guru decided to awaken the enemy, lest they should think that he absconded. He discharged two arrows on the Turkish sentries. The arrows first struck torches which they held in their hands and then they passed through their bodies. In the darkness which followed the extinction of the torches, the Guru and his three companions escaped. A little far outside, he clapped his hands and shouted aloud that he was leaving if any one wanted to capture him, should try.12
When he was escaping, he bade his men to stand firm. The Sikhs who were left behind, inflicted great loss on the enemy. The Mohammadans at last were able to scale the building and they believed that they were going to capture the Guru. They were greatly disappointed to subsequently learn that the person who was wearing plume and armor, was not the Guru but he was Sant Singh, and that the Guru had escaped. The allied armies retreated to their respectable places. Wazir Khan sent orders in all directions of his areas that any one who offered aid to the Guru, would be severely punished, and the one who captured him or gave his whereabouts would be greatly rewarded.
After leaving the Garhi, he proceeded barefooted on his journey alone and after passing through Jandsar and Behlolpur, he reached the thorny wilds of Machhiwara, a place between Rupar and Ludhiana. Thirst, hunger and fatigue overtook him. His feet were blistered. When he reached a garden he rested his head on a heap of earth and slept. While he was resting in the garden, his three companions, Daya Singh, Dharam Singh and Man Singh reached and rejoined him. The situation was very grave because the enemy was in hot pursuit of the Guru. Gulaba, an old Masand of Machhiwara, took him and his three companions to his home, but soon he got frightened and feared for his own safety if the Guru stayed with him. At this juncture two Pathan horse merchants, Nabi Khan and Ghani Khan, who were old acquaintances of the Guru, came and chose to risk their lives for the service of the Guru. There lived a Sikh woman in the village who had spun and weaved a cloth for the Guru and had vowed to keep it until his arrival in the village. The Guru had the cloth dyed blue and a robe was made from it in imitation of the attire of Mohammadan pilgrims. He wore the blue robe and then departed from Gulaba’s village. He was carried in a litter by Nabi Khan and Ghani Khan in front, and Dharam Singh and Man Singh in rear, while Daya Singh waved a chauri13 over him. They told all inquirers that they were escorting Uch da Pir14 or a high priest. Since Nabi Khan and Ghani Khan were very famous horse merchants in the area, people believed them.
From there they reached Ghangharali village and then Lal. At the village Lal which is about five miles from Doraha in Ludhiana district, a military officer had some doubts and he made searching inquiries. Pir Mohammad of Nurpur who was known to the Guru, was asked to identify the occupant of the litter. He confirmed that he was really Uch da Pir, upon which the officer let the Guru go. From Lal he visited Katana and then Kanoch where masand Fateh put him off with excuses and did not let him stay. From there he reached Alam Gir. Here Nand Lal, a Zamindar presented a horse to the Guru,15 thereby enabling him to change from litter to horse. The situation became easier and the Guru asked Nabi Khan and Ghani Khan to return home, after giving them a letter of appreciation (Hukam Nama) recommending them for the consideration of the faithful. Pir Mohammad was also honored with such a letter of appreciation. From Alam Gir he advanced on horse back in the direction of Rai Kot. At Silaoni the chief of Rai Kot, Rai Kalla who was Guru’s devotee and a close relative of Nihang Khan of Kotla Nihang, waited upon him and took him to Rai Kot. Here Nura Mahi brought the news from Sirhind about Guru’s younger sons.
INNOCENT CHILDREN MARTYRED :
During the catastrophe that befell in crossing the flooded Sarsa river, the companions of the Guru and his family were scattered in different directions. Mata Jit Kaur, Mata Sahib Kaur and their two female attendants, Bhai Mani Singh, Dhana Singh and Jawahar Singh, were all together in one group. Jawahar Singh who was an inhabitant of Delhi, took this whole group to his house in Delhi. Guru’s old mother and his two younger sons, went with Gangu Brahman to his village Saheri near Morinda. Gangu worked in Guru’s kitchen for twenty-one years. Guru’s mother, Mata Gujri was carrying money in a bag. Seeing Mata’s money, Gangu got tempted forgetting that he ate Guru’s salt for twenty-one years. As Mata Gujri was half-asleep, Gangu stole the money and shouted, “Thief, thief,” to create the impression that some thief stole the money. Mataji encountered Gangu and told him that she did not see anybody else entering the house. Upon this he tried to defend himself by saying that he was being blamed because he had given shelter to the homeless and the outlawed. Instead of admitting his guilt, he ordered them to leave his house. Gangu finally handed them over to the police officer of Morinda who in turn took them to Wazir Khan, the viceroy of Sirhind. They were imprisoned in a tower.
Next morning the two children, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, were presented in the court of the viceroy. Wazir Khan reflected that if the children became Mohammadans, it would be a glory to his faith- Islam. He, therefore, told them that if they accepted Islam, he would grant them an estate, would marry them to the princesses and they would be happy and be honored by the Emperor. The nine years old Zorawar Singh replied, “Our grandfather, Guru Tegh Bahadur, parted with his head but not with his religion and he ordered us to follow his example. It is best that we should give our lives to save the Sikh religion and bring down God’s vengeance on the Turks,” continued Zorawar Singh, “O viceroy, I spurn your religion and will not part with my own. It has become the custom of our family to forfeit life rather than faith. Why do you seek to tempt us with worldly ambitions? We shall not be led astray by the false advantages of your offer.”
Wazir Khan could not endure such an outspokenness and got very angry. He decided that he must put these children to death. Sucha Nand, a Hindu minister supported Wazir Khan by implying that their arrogant words were uncalled for. He ignited Wazir Khan’s anger by saying that when these children grew up, they would follow their father’s foot steps and would destroy enemies. Therefore, this progeny of a cobra must be smothered in time. At that time, outspoke Nawab Sher Mohammad Khan of Maler Kotla, “O viceroy, these children are still drinking milk in the nursery, and are too young to commit an offence and know not good from evil. The holy Quran does not allow the slaughter of innocent and helpless children. Therefore be pleased to release them.” In spite of his appeal, the Qazi confirmed that the holy law would give the infidels the choice between Islam and death.
It is said that in order to bring the children to submission to Islam, they were made to enter, next day, through a very small door while the Quran was displayed on the other side. The idea was that as the children would enter the door with their heads down, they would then be told that they had bowed to the holy Quran and thereby to Islam. When the children saw that trap, the seven years old Sahibzada Fateh Singh threw his feet first instead of his head while entering through the small door. Throwing the feet towards the Quran meant an insult to Islam. Wazir Khan, therefore, could not conquer the nine and seven years old children of Guru Gobind Singh. When every effort failed to convert the children to Islam, it was finally ordered that they should be bricked alive in the wall. A wall was, therefore, built step by step on their tender limbs until it came up to the shoulders of Sahibzada Fateh Singh. The executioner advanced with his sword, and asked whose head he should chop off first? Upon this Sahibzada Fateh Singh said, “Listen O executioner, since the wall has reached my shoulders first, therefore cut off my head first.” Sahibzada Zorawar Singh exhorted, “No, you cannot cut off his head till you do mine, because I am the eldest and therefore, I have the right to go first. Cut off my head first.” Hearing such a strange debate, the whole assembly of Wazir Khan’s court was stunned. The small children were ridiculing the angel of death. The chronicler states that Sahibzada Fateh Singh’s head was cut off first. Therefore, that place is called Fatehgarh Sahib to commemorate the memory of the young children. When this news was delivered to Mata Gujri in the tower, where she was waiting for them, she breathed her last on the spot. This treacherous event took place on the 13th Poh, Sambat 1762 (27th of December, 1705). A rich Sikh called Todar Mal came forward for the cremation of the bodies. Wazir Khan said to Todar Mal, “If you want to cremate the bodies, you have to buy the land. Whatever the size of the lot you want, you have to spread gold coins over that space and only then you can have that lot for the purpose.” Todar Mal purchased the lot by spreading gold coins on the ground and was, thus, able to cremate16 the bodies of the Guru’s mother and her grandsons. A Gurdwara stands to symbolize their memory.
As Nura Mahi narrated the tale of woes, Rai Kalla and other listeners were torn with grief and wept bitterly. The Guru was unruffled and remained as composed as ever. When Mahi finished his distressing story, the Guru thanked God for the glorious and triumphant end of his sons. He then addressed to the Almighty, “O God, Thou gavest me father, mother, and four sons. They were all Thy trust to me. Today I have been successful and happy in restoring that entire trust back to Thee.” While the Guru was listening to Mahi’s story, he was digging up a shrub. He then
pronounced,“As I dig up this shrub by the roots, so shall the Turks be extirpated.17” The Guru also remarked, “No, my sons are not dead. They have returned to their Eternal Home. It is Sirhind that shall die.18”
The Guru resumed his march to Hehar where he spent two days with Mahant Kirpal Das, a hero of the battle of Bhangani. The next stop was Lamma Jatpura. It was here that Rai Kalla who was accompanying him, took leave. Realizing that the territory around Rai Kot was not suitable place for meeting the enemy’s challenge, the Guru directed his Sikhs towards the Jungle Desh, the land of Brars. On the way he passed through the villages of Manuke, Mehdiana Chakkar, Takhatpur and Madhen and reached Dina, in Ferozepur district.
At Dina a devoted Sikh, Rama presented the Guru with an excellent horse which he accepted for himself and gave his former horse to Bhai Daya Singh. His arrival soon became known to the people of the area and they began to rally around him. Some of the influential people who met the Guru at Dina were Shamira, Lakhmira and Takhat Mal, grandsons of Jodha Rai who had rendered material assistance to Guru Har Gobind in the battle of Gurusar. Param Singh and Dharam Singh, grandsons of Bhai Rup Chand, also came to him. The viceroy of Sirhind heard that the Guru was entertained by Shamira and his brothers. He wrote to Shamira on the subject and ordered him to arrest and surrender the Guru. Shamira replied that he was only entertaining his priest, who was merely visiting his Sikhs and harming none. Shamira however, feared that the viceroy would send his troops and arrest the Guru, so he sent a spy to obtain information of the viceroy’s movements and proceedings.
The Guru stayed at Dina for some days. It was here that he wrote his celebrated ‘Zafarnama’19, or Persian epistle to Emperor Aurangzeb. It was in fact an exquisite reply to the letters of the invitation to the Guru which he had received from the Emperor. The letter is characteristic of the sublimity of the Guru and each line is pregnant with stimulating truths and righteous indignation. He wrote to the Emperor that he had no faith in his solemn promises in the name of God and oaths on the Quran. The fact remained that he, the Emperor, on all occasions violated his sacred promises and proved false, mean and treacherous. The Guru wrote, “......What though my four sons were killed, I remain behind like a coiled snake. What bravery is it to quench a few sparks of life? Thou art merely exciting a raging fire the more...........As thou didst forget thy word on that day, so will God forget thee. God will grant thee the fruit of the evil deed thou didst design......Thou art proud of thine empire, While I am proud of the kingdom of the Immortal God........When God is a friend, what can an enemy do even though he multiply himself a hundred times? If an enemy practice enmity a thousand times, he cannot, as long as God is a friend, injure even a hair of one’s head.”
The letter was sent through Bhai Daya Singh and Dharam Singh to the Emperor and they delivered it to him in Daccan. This letter awakened the Emperor’s dormant conscience and evoked in him a sense of true repentance. It cast such a miracle effect on him that he began to pine and soon confined to bed. Aurangzeb dictated this letter to his son when death was at hand, in which he acknowledged his defeat in the life that he led :
“......Whatever good or bad I have done, I am taking it as a load upon my head to the Great Unseen............I am totally in the dark about the destiny that awaits me. But what I know is that I have committed enormous sins. Canst tell what grim punishment is in the store for me..........”
While staying at Dina, the Guru visited a few places in the neighborhood. In the meantime he came to know that his whereabouts became known to the viceroy of Sirhind and he was, therefore, anxious to find a suitable place where he could best meet the challenge of the enemy. So he left Dina and visited many places such as Bander, Bargarh, Baihbal and Saravan etc. At Saravan the Guru gave his people a little practice in arrow shooting. Next he proceeded to Jaito, Kotla Maluk Das, Lambhawali and then reached Kot Kapura. Realizing that the pursuing enemy had come too near, the Guru asked Chaudhri Kapura, a Brar Jat, to lend the use of his fort to him for a few days. Fearing the wrath of the Mughals, he refused to oblige him. From there the Guru reached Dhilwan Sodhian where one of his relatives received him with great warmth and cordiality. It was here, as the tradition goes, that one of the Prithi Chand’s descendants, Kaul visited the Guru and presented him clothes. The Guru took off his blue robe which he had been wearing since he left Machhiwara, and tearing it piece by piece burned it in fire. The historic words that he is said to have uttered on his occasion are memorable :
“I have torn the blue clothes which I wore, and with that the rule of the Turks and Pathans is at an end.”
Chaudhry Kapura being repentant of his disgraceful act, came to see the Guru and asked for his forgiveness which the Guru did. Then he provided him with a good guide, Chaudhry Khana with whom the Guru marched westward in the direction of Dhab Khidrana. On the way he passed through Ramina, Mallan, Gauri Sanghar and Kaoni.
Meanwhile a large number of followers had rallied around him. The forty Sikhs who had deserted him at Anandpur and had given a disclaimer to him, were taunted by their wives who would not let them enter into their own homes. They came back to reinforce the Guru’s small army. One brave lady, Mai Bhago brought them to the aid of the Guru along with a large contingent of other Majha Sikhs. He had taken up his position on a sandy hillock at Khidrana in the district of Ferozepur. The Mughal army advanced towards his camp, but before they could attack him, they had to encounter a contingent under Mai Bhago and Jathedar Mahan Singh. A fierce fighting ensued. They were all overpowered but not before they had shown their mettle as the toughest fighters whom the experienced Mughal commander had ever known in his life. The Guru from his position of high altitude about two miles from the place of the battle, discharged arrows with fatal effect against the Mohammadans who could not see from what quarter destruction was raining on them. As the tank at Khidrana was dry, Mohammadan army was in great state of distress for want of drinking water, thus, Wazir Khan decided to return without striking a blow on the main body of the Khalsa with Guru Gobind Singh. The Guru became victorious.
After the departure of the Mohammadan army, the Guru decided to see the battle field and went about wiping the faces of both dead and wounded, and praising their unsurpassed valor. He found out that forty Sikhs including their leader Mahan Singh, who had given him disclaimer at Anandpur, all but Mahan Singh, died fighting bravely. Mahan Singh was still alive but was on his last breath when the Guru told him to open his eyes and said, “Mahan Singh, ask for any boon you desire from an empire to salvation.”
After opening his eyes, Mahan Singh was delighted to see the Guru and replied, “O true king! We are sinners because we disclaimed you at the time of need at Anandpur. The doors of Heaven are closed for those of us who had departed ahead of me. O Lord, grant us your Grace and disregard that disclaimer.” It is recorded that the gracious Master took out that disclaiming document, which he carried on his vest during all these times, tore it up as a sign of forgiveness and reconciliation. Mahan Singh saw this with his own eyes and then breathed his last as happy, forgiven and emancipated soul. The souls of forty were also emancipated. Those forty Sikhs are called Forty Mukte-the Saved Ones or Emancipated Ones and are remembered in our daily prayers as Forty Muktas. Khidrana has since that time been called Mukatsar or the tank of salvation. The Guru then found Mai Bhago who inspired these forty Sikhs. A little aid revived her and she was blessed by the Master.
From Mukatsar the Guru moved to Rupana, Bhander, Gurusar, Thehri Bambiha, Rohila, Jangiana and Bhai ka Kot. Then he proceeded to Sahib Chand and to Chatiana where Brars who had fought for him demanded the arrears of their pay under threat of blocking his onwards march. By the grace of God it so happened that a Sikh from the neighborhood brought enough money about the same time which enabled the Guru to pay off all the arrears. However the leader of the Brars, Chaudhri Dana was extremely sorry for the arrogant behavior of his people and refused to accept any payment for himself. On the request of Chaudhri Dana, the Guru then went to his native place Mehma Swai. Reaching there he encamped at a place which is now called Lakhisar. From there he visited other places in the vicinity. On the request of Chaudhry Dalla, the Guru then decided to move to Talwandi Sabo. On his way he passed through Chatiana, Kot Sahib Chand, Kot Bhai, Giddarbaha, Rohila, Jangirana, Bambiha, Bajak, Kaljhirani, Jassi Bagwali, Pakka Kalan and Chak Hira Singh, and reached Talwandi Sabo now called Damdama Sahib or Takhat Damdama Sahib. This place appealed to the Guru so much that he assumed a permanent residence there and lived at this place for nine months and nine days.
GURU AT DAMDAMA SAHIB :
By this time all restrictions against the Guru by the Mughal government had been removed. On receipt of Zafarnama, the governors had been ordered by Aurangzeb to cease all molesting activities against him.
It was here that the Guru’s wife joined him. When she arrived, he was seated in a big gathering of his disciples. Addressing the Master, she asked,
“Where are my four sons?”
The Master replied,
“What then if thy four are gone?
They yet live, and shall ever live- the Khalsa,
Millions of our dear brave sons.”
The peaceful period at Damdama Sahib was put to best possible use by the Guru. He laid abiding foundations of Sikhism in the Malwa tract. Large crowds came from far and near and presented a spectacle of New Anandpur. The Guru extensively visited the neighboring areas. Many old and hereditary Sikhs were baptized and brought more thoroughly into the Khalsa. Dalla, the chief of Talwandi; Tiloka, the ancestor of Nabha State; and Rama, the ancestor of Patiala State, are outstanding examples. Besides new converts were also made in large numbers.
The Master sent for the Adi Granth from Kartarpur, near Beas, in order to incorporate Guru Tegh Bahadur’s hymns in it. The original copy was with the Dhirmalias and they refused to part with it and rather remarked that if Guru Gobind Singh was the Guru, he should make one himself. It was, therefore, here that Guru Gobind Singh dictated the whole of Granth Sahib as it stands today, to Bhai Mani Singh. The sacred volume concludes with ‘Rag Mala’ (1430 pages). It appears that ‘Rag Mala’ does not form an essential part of Guru Granth Sahib. The heading of every Sabad (Stanza) in Guru Granth Sahib tells us about its author but the heading of ‘Rag Mala’ does not give any clue who its author is. Max Arthur Macauliffe (author of Sikh Religion - 6 volumes published in 1909) writes,
“A Mohammadan poet called Alim in A.H. 991 (1583 A.D.)
wrote a work in 353 stanzas generally from four to six lines each,
called ‘Madhava Nal Sangit’, which purports to be an account
of the love of Madhava Nal and a lady called Kam Kandala. The
Rag Mala, which forms the conclusion of Guru Granth Sahib and
contains a list of rags and raginis and their subdivisions, is a
portion of Alim’s work extending from sixty-third to seventy-
second stanzas. It is not understood how it was included in
the sacred volume. The rags mentioned in it do not correspond
with the rags of the Granth Sahib.”
This sacred volume is called ‘Damdama Sahib di Bir’20. This Bir was installed at Hari Mandar Sahib but it is not available NOW. It is not known whether it has been destroyed or taken away by Ahmed Shah Abdali when he plundered the town of Amritsar during one of his raids.
The order of the Nirmala Sikhs was also created here with a view of giving the Sikhs a band of the Sikhs exclusively devoted to the study and preaching of the Sikh faith. The Guru’s Darbar here was as splendid as it used to be at Anandpur. Quite a large number of poets and scholars gathered around in his court. Due to all of this, Damdama Sahib became a famous educational center.
The Guru also reorganized his forces. His strength had increased considerably. Besides regular followers, he had also taken some Dogras and Brars into his service.21
GURU PROCEEDS TO THE SOUTH TO SEE AURANGZEB :
In response to the Guru’s letter called ‘Zafarnama’, it was here that he received imperial messengers who had come to convey to him the Emperor’s wish for a personal meeting. In the Ahkam-i-Alamgiri (Aurangzeb’s writing), the receipt of a letter from Guru Gobind Singh is acknowledged by the Emperor and it contains the orders which he issued to Munim Khan of Lahore to reconcile with the Guru and also to make satisfactory arrangements for his travel towards the south. It is also evident from Ahkam-i-Alamgiri that Aurangzeb was anxious to meet the Guru. May be the Emperor wanted to secure peace in the Punjab so that he could concentrate on his schemes to bring the Marahtas to their knees in the south. It was, therefore, on the 30th of October, 1706 (some say it was 20th of October) that the Guru decided to proceed to the south to see Aurangzeb.
He set out in the direction of Rajasthan enroute to Ahmednagar where the Emperor was encamped. From Damdama passing through Kewal, Jhora, he reached Sarsa. Then he proceeded to Nohar, Bhadra, Sahewa, Madhu Singhana and then to Pushkar, a place of pilgrimage sacred to Brahma. From there he moved to Narainpur, generally known as Dadudwara where saint Dadu had lived and his sect flourished. The Guru paid a visit to the shrine and held a discussion with Mahant Jait Ram. Here the Guru was censured by his Sikhs for lowering his arrow in salutation to Dadu’s cemetery. Man Singh quoted the Guru’s own written instruction, “Worship not even by mistake Mohammadan or Hindu cemeteries or places of cremation.” The Guru explained that he saluted the shrine to test his Sikhs’ devotion and their recollection of his instructions. He, however, admitted that he had technically rendered himself to a fine and he cheerfully paid one hundred and twenty-five rupees. Here he met Bhai Daya Singh and Dharam Singh who returned from their official mission with Aurangzeb. Then he reached Baghaur where he received the news of Aurangzeb’s death and that the war of succession had broken out among his sons. There was no point now in proceeding any further and he remained there for some time.
Bahadur Shah who was the eldest son of Aurangzeb, hurried back from Peshawar to oppose his younger brother, Azim, who had proclaimed himself as Emperor. Bhai Nand Lal had served prince Bahadur Shah before he permanently moved to the Guru’s court. Bahadur Shah, therefore, sought the Guru’s help through the good offices of Bhai Nand Lal22 and in doing so he promised the Guru that he would be fair and just to the Hindus and Muslims alike and undo all the wrongs that his father had done to them. So the Guru helped him with a detachment of his men in the battle of Jaju in which Bahadur Shah became victorious. In grateful regards for the Guru’s timely help, Bahadur Shah invited him to Agra where he was being crowned. A royal robe of honor was conferred upon the Guru on July 24, 1707.
During his stay in Agra, the Guru made Dholpur, a place about 25 to 30 miles from Agra, a center of his missionary activities. He carried his missionary tours in the areas of Mathura, Aligarh, Agra, and also in the states of Bharatpur and Alwar for many months before proceeding to Daccan. Many people became Guru’s followers. It is said that the Guru had talks with Emperor Bahadur Shah, but these talks were still inconclusive when the Emperor had to leave for Rajasthan to suppress the revolts of some Rajput chiefs. He requested the Guru to accompany him. By now the news reached Bahadur Shah that his younger brother, Kam Bakhsh, in the Daccan had proclaimed himself the Emperor of India. Bahadur Shah proceeded towards Daccan via Chittorgarh. From there he left for Burhanpur and the Guru accompanied him enroute to Hyderabad. The Guru stayed there for many days and met Jogi Jiwan Das. He also met Mahant Jait Ram of Dadudwara who happened to be there. Both of them told the Guru about one Bairagi Madho Das and his great occult power. He decided to meet with Bairagi Madho Das. In the meantime the Guru was not satisfied with Bahadur Shah’s evasive replies in making clear decision against Wazir Khan, the viceroy of Sirhind, and other officers about their atrocities in the Punjab. The Emperor avoided to give a firm reply under one pretext or the other. Accordingly the Guru parted company with the Emperor at Hingoli and moved to Nader where he reached July, 1708.
Some writers like Bute Shah and Malcolm, say that the Guru went to the Daccan because he despaired at the terrible reverses and bereavement which had been his lot and wanted a change. Others say that he joined the Mughal service. Cunningham says that the Guru received a military command in the valley of Godavari.
All these accounts are untrue and irresponsible and show gross irreverence to Sikh faith. It seems that majority of these writers are ignorant of the Sikh fundamentals. It should be pointed out to all these writers that the whole ideology of the Guru (all of Sikh Gurus) is based on:
“Tera kia meetha lagai, Har Nam padarath Nanak Mangai.”
(Asa Mohalla 5, p-394)
‘Sweet be by Thy Will, my Lord
Nanak beseecheth the gift of Nam.’
(Translation of the above)
At the age of nine, Guru Gobind Singh sacrificed his father to save Hinduism and stood face to face with formidable Mughal Empire at its zenith. When his wife asked him where her four sons had gone, he replied,
“What then if thy four are gone ?
They yet live, and shall ever live- the Khalsa,
Millions of our brave sons.”
In Zafarnama he openly threatened the Emperor when he wrote,
“What though my four sons have been killed, when lives the Khalsa, all my sons! What bravery is it to quench a few sparks of life? Thou art merely exciting a raging fire the more...”
There is no trace of grief or despair in these lines. Therefore, in the presence of such unimpeachable evidence, it is absurd to put faith in the dejection theory.
‘Service Theory’ can also be rejected in the light of the ideology and the ideals of the Guru. What for he had to have a service under the Mughal government? He was called a ‘true king’ by his followers and he was actually a true king sitting on the throne of Guru Nanak. As a true king he had vast wealth and true following. Even if for a moment, we listen to these writers- the memory of the wrongs that had been inflicted on him and his followers was too fresh in him to reconcile joining the army of oppression. Nor can this service theory be adjusted with the Guru’s commission of Banda Bahadur to the leadership of the Punjab Khalsa. The whole argument is baseless and it rather seems a mud-slinging on the part of these writers to say that the Guru joined the Mughal service.
GURU AT NADER :
At Nader the Guru selected a lovely spot on the bank of the river Godavri. Two reasons are generally given for his choice of this place. Firstly he wanted to see Banda Bairagi and secondly there were eight Ashrams of different religious sects. The Guru wanted to enter into a dialogue with the leaders of the holy camps to show them the true path and to convert them to his own viewpoint. It was perhaps because of this that he immediately started addressing congregations. Crowds of people seeking spiritual light flocked to him. Soon it was indeed a model of ‘Anandpur’ reproduced in the Daccan.
A news reached here that the Emperor’s army had ransacked Sadhaura and treated Pir Budhu Shah as a rebel, for having faith in Guru Gobind Singh whom they considered as a ‘Kafir’ or infidel.
One day the Guru went to the place of Bairagi Madho Das, a hermit. Finding the Bairagi absent, and on hearing that he possessed supernatural powers who could overthrow any one who sat on his couch, the Guru took comfort in sitting on it. The Guru’s followers killed a goat and had cooked it in the forbidden square of the Bairagi. A disciple went to inform the Bairagi of the Guru’s actions. It was a sacrilege to kill an animal at the Bairagi’s place and another sacrilege to take possession of the couch which served him as a throne. Bairagi was mad with anger and violently moved headlong towards the Guru. He tried all his powers to hurt him but in vain. When he found himself helpless, he asked the Guru who he was. The Guru replied that he was Gobind Singh. Bairagi was pacified and his anger suddenly transformed into worship. The Divine Light from the Guru’s eyes dispelled all darkness from the mind of the Bairagi who immediately knelt before the Master and in total submission admitted that he was his (Guru’s) Banda- a slave.
The Master then instructed him on the tenets of Sikh religion and baptized him. He was named Gurbakhsh Singh but continued to be known as Banda or Banda Singh. He had heard from the Sikhs the atrocities of the Muslim rulers in the Punjab including the massacre of Guru’s innocent children, thus, became ready for any service he could perform for the Master. Upon this the Guru instructed him to proceed to the Punjab and fight oppression of the rulers upon the Khalsa. Saying this he presented him with his bow and five arrows and addressed, “As long as thou remainest continent, thy glory shall increase. He who is content, turneth not away from the combat, his opponents cannot withstand him. Once thou forsakest the Khalsa principles and associate unlawfully with woman, thy courage shall depart.” The Guru despatched some Sikhs to assist him in this enterprise. Banda took the oath, bowed and departed. This was an outstanding example of Guru Gobind Singh’s power to make sparrow to hunt the hawk and make one Sikh fight with one hundred twenty five thousand. Banda Bahadur who was a hermit wedded to the creed of non-violence, was made into the greatest general of the time by the Guru’s power.
(Banda Bahadur planted the Guru’s flag in a village about thirty-five miles of Delhi. The Sikhs from all over the Punjab gathered under his banner and made such powerful and devastating attacks that within a few months they razed Samana, Shahbad, Sadhaura and Chhat Banur to the ground. Next came Sirhind. Banda Bahadur made so strong and sweeping attack that the enemy could not stand against his army. Wazir Khan and his minister Suchnand were both put to sword. Emperor Bahadur Shah failed to crush him and died in delusion of victory over the Sikhs.)
After Banda’s departure the Guru lived at various places in the neighborhood called Shikar Ghat where he used to go hunting, at Nagina Ghat where a Sikh presented him with a valuable signet ring which he threw into the river. At the Hira Ghat where he disposed of a similar valuable diamond ring, and also at a spot now called Sangat Sahib where he used to give religious instructions to his followers.
The close connections between the Guru and Emperor Bahadur Shah had alarmed Wazir Khan, the viceroy of Sirhind. He had ordered the infant sons of the Guru to be bricked alive in the wall and beheaded. It was he, who was responsible for inflicting most of the atrocities upon the Sikhs in the Punjab. He feared that his life would be in danger if the new Emperor and the Guru came to a compromise. He, therefore, conspired a plot to kill the Guru and he sent two Pathans, Gul Khan alias Jamshed Khan and Ata-ullah, to assassinate him.
All kinds of people started attending the congregations of the Guru at Nader. Soon the two Pathans also started coming to the assembly which was addressed by the Guru. On the third or fourth day, Jamshed Khan found an opportunity and as Guru Gobind Singh retired to his personal apartment after the evening prayer, he entered the apartment and, wounded him with a dagger. The Guru put him to death immediately, though he himself was wounded seriously. His fleeing companion was stabbed to death by a Sikh who rushed to the Guru’s place hearing the noise.
Various views and stories have been expressed with regard to the circumstances of the assassination of the Guru. Cunningham writes that a Pathan merchant who had sold horses to the Guru, came one day and asked for immediate payment. The Guru who was short of funds, asked him to come some other day. The Pathan used an angry gesture, and his uttering of violence provoked the Guru to strike him dead. The body of the Pathan was removed and buried, and his family seemed reconciled to the fate. His sons nursed their revenge, and availed an opportunity of fulfilling it. They succeeded in stealing upon the Guru’s retirement, and stabbed him mortally when asleep and unguarded. (Cunningham- History of Sikhs, p-82)
Other writers such as McGregor (History of Sikhs, vol.1 p-99-100) states that the Guru shortly after, realized his mistake and as a recompense for the fate of the victim, the Guru showed special favor to the widow and brought up her son as a father would do. When the boy grew to manhood, he is said to have been incited by the Guru himself to strike him. The boy did it with fatal results for the Guru. Trumpp also believes in this version and to give a rationale to it, states that the Guru had been disgusted with life and wanted to end it.
These stories are absolutely baseless. These writers should understand who the Guru was. Guru Gobind Singh was sitting on the divine throne of Guru Nanak, therefore, he was the embodiment of Divine Light; the Divine never feels disgusted or dejected. The Guru never uttered any word of grief nor did he show any sign of despair during the unparallel sufferings he went through. It is not recorded any place in his sermons or writings that he had ever expressed a sigh of grief. When Nura Mahi brought the news of the brutal massacre of his younger children, the Guru thanked God, “Father, mother and four sons, all were Thy trust to me. Today I have been successful and happy in restoring that entire trust back to Thee.” One can hardly find such an example in the annals of human history.
In recent years fresh light is thrown by a Hukamnama according to which no demand for immediate payment was put before the Guru. The Pathan actually refused to make any demand when reminded of it by the Guru. This is shown by Hukamnana (letter of appreciation issued by the Guru) which the Guru granted to the Pathan for his good and friendly behavior and which is still preserved by the descendants of that Pathan. (Kartar Singh: Life of Guru Gobind Singh, p-263)
A probe into the historical circumstances leads to the Emperor’s involvement. The Emperor was enraged with the Guru for deputing Banda to Punjab to renew the struggle and kill Wazir Khan. It seems that the Emperor was also afraid that the Guru might join the Marahattas in their battle against the Mughals during the time of his struggle with his brother at Hyderabad. It was perhaps for this reason, he was not leaving the Guru alone. Bahadur Shah had the mistaken belief that the Guru’s death would be a fatal blow to his scheme of renewing the revolution in Punjab, he, therefore, entered into conspiracy with two Pathans deputed by Wazir Khan to put an end to Guru’s life. The following historical facts testify this view :
On October 28, 1708, the Emperor ordered that a dress of mourning be presented to the son of Jamshed Khan Afghan who had been killed by Guru Gobind Singh. The imperial newsletter of Bahadur Shah’s court records reads :
“Keh Guru Gobind Singh Rai Jamshed Khan Afghan ra bajan Kushtah bud khilat-e-Matami bapisar-i-Khan Mazkur Mrahmat shud.”
(Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Mualla, dated 24 Shaba, second year of Bahadur Shah (Oct. 28, 1708) quoted by Dr. Ganda Singh in Makhiz-i-Twarikh-i-Sikhan, p-83)
Jamshed Khan was not a high dignitary upon whom the Emperor had to bestow high honors. He was only a spy of Wazir Khan. Two days later on October 30, 1708, the Emperor ordered for the grant of a robe of mourning to Guru Gobind Singh’s family.
It means that the Emperor treated Jamshed Khan and Guru Gobind Singh on equal footing, thereby confirming that Jamshed Khan enjoyed the patronage of the Emperor.
“On November 11, 1708 it was represented that the deceased Guru left huge property.” The courtiers asked how should it be disposed? It was ordered that such chattels would not replete the imperial treasury. “This was the property of a darvesh (saint). There should be no interference with it,” ordered the Emperor.
The Emperor’s refusal to attach the property of the Guru against the will of his courtiers shows his diplomacy and cunningness. It was purely an eye-wash of his complicity, a pious fraud, writes H.R. Gupta in his ‘A history of Sikh Gurus’, p-240.
The Guru’s wound was immediately stitched by the Emperor’s European surgeon and within a few days it appeared to have been healed. Soon after when the Guru tugged at a hard strong bow, the imperfectly healed wound burst opened and caused profuse bleeding. It was now clear to him that the call of the Father from Heaven had come and he, therefore, gave his last and enduring message of his mission to the assembly of the Khalsa. On Wednesday, October 6, 1708 (on Budhwar, Katik Chauth, Shukla Pakkh, samvat 1765) at Nander (Deccan), he asked Bhai Daya Singh to bring Sri Granth Sahib. He then opened the Granth Sahib, placed five paise and a coco-nut before it and solemnly bowed to it as his SUCCESSOR, GURU GRANTH SAHIB. Saying ‘Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh’, he circumambulated the sacred volume and proclaimed,” O beloved Khalsa, let him who desireth to behold me, behold the Guru Granth. Obey the Granth Sahib. It is the visible body of the Gurus. And let him who desireth to meet me, diligently search its hymns.” He then sang his self-composed hymn23 :
“Agya bhai Akal ki tabhi chalayo Panth
Sabh Sikhan ko hukam hai Guru manyo Granth
Guru Granth Ji manyo pargat Guran ki deh
Jo Prabhu ko milbo chahe khoj shabad mein le.”
Translation of the above :
“Under orders of the Immortal Being, the Panth was created. All the Sikhs are enjoined to accept the Granth as their Guru. Consider the Guru Granth as embodiment of the Gurus. Those who want to meet God, can find Him in its hymns.”
The above ceremony is described in Bhatt Vahi Bhadson
Parganah Thanesar (one of the writtings of Bhatts) as :
“Guru Gobind Singhji, mahal daswan, beta Guru Tegh Bahadurji ka, pota Guru Hargobindji ka, parpota Guru Arjanji ka, bans Guru Ramdasji ki, Surajbansi, Gosal gotra, Sodhi Khatri, basi Anandpur, parganah Kahlur, muqam Nander, tad Godavari, des Dakkhan, sammat satran sai painsath, kartik mas ki chauth, shukla pakkhe, budhwar ke dihn, Bhai Daya Singh se bachan hoya, Sri Granth Sahib lai ao, bachan pai Daya Singh Sri Granth Sahib lai aye; Guruji ne panch paise ek narial aagey bheta rakha, matha teka, sarbatt sangat se kaha, mera hukam hai, meri jagah Sri Granthji ko janana, jo sikh janega tis ki ghal thaen paegi, Guru tis ki bahuri karega, satt kar manana.”
Translation of the above :
“Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Master, son of Guru Tegh Bahdur, grandson of Guru Hargobind, great-grandson of Guru Arjan, of the family of Guru Ram Das, Surajbansi Gosal clan, Sodhi Khatri, resident of Anandpur, parganah Kahlur, now at Nander, in the Godavari country in Deccan, asked Bhai Daya Singh, on Wednesday, Katik chauth, shukla pakkh, samvat 1765 (October 6, 1708) to bring Sri Granth Sahib. In obedience to his orders, Daya Singh brought the Granth Sahib. The Guru placed before it five paise and a coconut and bowed his head before it. He then said to the sangat (holy gathering), “It is my commandment: Own Sri Granthji in my place. He who so acknowledges, will obtain his reward. The Guru will rescue him. Know this as the truth.”
Guru Granth Sahib was then opened randomly and the following passage was read from it (such recitation is called the ‘Hukam’ or Divine Order of the day) :
“My destiny has awakened, the Lord has shown mercy unto me and I sing the Lord’s Praises. My anguish is over, I have found peace and my wanderings have all ceased.
I have now obtained the dignity of Eternal life.
Sheltered in the refuge of the saints I remember only my
Creator-God within my mind (pause).
I have overcome lust, wrath, avarice and attachment
and all adversaries I have over-powered.
My Lord is ever present who keeps me ever in view, He is never far from me.
Through the saints assistance I have obtained happiness
and peace and all my desires are fulfilled.
In an instant, the Lord has purified the sinners
Beyond expression is the Lord’s praise.
I have become fearless and all my fear has departed
under shelter of the Divine Feet.
Nanak, absorbed therein night and day, sings the Praises
of the Lord.”
(Maru Moh. 5, p-1000)
He, in grateful acknowledgement of the spiritual benefactions of the founder of his religion, uttered a Persian distich, the translation of which is :
“Gobind Singh obtained from Guru Nanak
Hospitality, the sword, victory, and prompt assistance.”
(These lines were impressed on a seal made by the Sikhs after the Guru left for his heavenly abode, and were adopted by Ranjit Singh for his coinage after he had assumed the title of Maharaja in the Punjab) He then left for his heavenly abode. The Sikhs made preparations for his final rites as he had instructed them, the Sohila was chanted and Parsahd (sacred food) was distributed.
While all were mourning the loss, a Sikh arrived and said,” You suppose that the Guru is dead. I met him this very morning riding his bay horse. After bowing to him when I asked whither he was going, he smiled and replied that he was going to the forest on a hunting excursion.”
The Sikhs who heard this statement arrived at the conclusion that it was all the Guru’s play, that he dwelt in uninterrupted bliss, that he showed himself wherever he was remembered. He who treasures even a grain of the Lord’s love in his heart, is the blessed one and the Guru reveals himself to such a devotee in mysterious ways. Wherefore for such a Guru who had departed bodily to Heaven, there ought to be no mourning.
The Master returned to his Eternal Home on the 5th of the bright half of Katik, Sambat 1765 (7th October, 1708 A.D.). He was 42 years of age.
Before leaving this world, the Guru had ordained, “If any one erects a shrine in my honor, his offspring shall perish.”
The Sikh temple at Nader is called Abchalnagar. It was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1832 in defiance of the Guru’s interdiction. After Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the rule of his dynasty, therefore, came to an end. Guru’s prophecy was fulfilled.
1. One day a Sikh came and proposed to the Guru to wed his daughter, Sundri. The Guru did not desire the alliance but it was pressed on him by his mother. However it is believed that Sundri which means the beautiful, was an epithet of Jito and not a second wife of the Guru. It is also believed that Jito was the name given by her parents while Sundri was the name given to Mata Jitoji by the Guru’s side. This frequently happens in the society.
2. Raipur is near Ambala. In the fort of Raipur is a Gurdwara on the spot where the Guru dined as the Rani’s guest. There is also a Gurdwara outside the fort on the place where his tent was pitched.
3. Fifty-two bards were permanent in his employ but this number went as high as 94 at some point of time.
4. Some say that Himmat Chand
was the third Sikh to come forward and Mohkam Chand was the fourth.
5. As a matter of fact there were five forts built at Anandpur in 1689. They were Anandgarh, Lohgarh, Fatehgarh, Kesgarh and Holgarh.
6. Vichitar Singh was not a very big person and this lance was weighing about 40 pounds and it is still present inside the fort Anandgarh at Anandpur.
7. The Guru was then expecting reinforcements of the Malwa Sikhs and that was the reason he was asking for delay. In fact the reinforcements did come, but arrived too late for the defence of Anandpur.
8. Some writers say that there were 1500 Sikhs who followed the Guru.
9. Bhai Jaita’s name after
baptism. Bhai Jaita had brought Guru Tegh Bahadur’s head from Delhi to
10. A place about ten miles from Rupar.
11. Some writers say that there were eleven Sikhs left inside the Garhi at that time.
12. There is a Gurdwara called Tari Sahib on this spot where he clapped his hands. At Chamkaur Sahib there are four Gurdwaras. The first one is called Damdama Sahib where he rested before entering the Garhi; then Garhi Sahib which was the fortress; then Katalgarh Sahib where the bodies of Guru’s sons were cremated, and the last one is the Tari Sahib.
13. Chauri- it was a bunch of peacock’s wings which were waved over him as mark of respect.
14. Uch da Pir meant priest (Muslim faqir) of Uch, a town in the south western Punjab. The expression also meant high priest.
15. It is also said that Guru
met the elder brother of Bhai Mani Singh called Nagahia Singh. He and his son
were horse merchants and they offered the horse to the Guru.
16. It is stated in ‘Suraj Parkash’ that Tilok Singh and Ram Singh who were the sons of Baba Phul of Mehraj, cremated their bodies. They happened to be at Sirhind at that time.
17. Guru Nanak had granted a boon to Mughal Emperor Babar for a long rule of his dynasty. Since the Mughal Monarchs resolved to injustice, falsehood, deceit, tyranny and oppression, their rule
needed end. By digging up a shrub the Guru actually dug up the roots of the Mughal rule and it did end after that.
18. Three years after this atrocity, Banda Singh Bahadur razed the whole of Sirhind to the ground and destroyed the enemy root and branch.
Zafarnama- Zafar means victory. It was a letter to the Emperor written in
Persian verse. It is also famous as being a masterpiece of Persian language.
20. Copies were prepared of this Bir later on.
21. Koer Singh- Gur Bilas Patshahi 10: ‘Everyday would the Guru distribute gold and silver coins, countless soldiers were thus attracted to the place.’
22. Some writers say that Bahadur Shah sent other persons to the Guru.
23. Giani Gian Singh, Sri Guru Panth Parkash, page 1719.