Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji
Guru Har Gobind was born to Guru Arjan on June 19, 1595 at Wadali, a village near Amritsar. The period of Guru’s early life is alluded to in the previous chapter. After the Martyrdom of his father (Guru Arjan), the Guru caused the Adi Granth to be read by Baba Buddha and the musicians of the temple sang the Gurus’ hymns. This lasted for ten days. When the final rites were over, Baba Buddha started the ceremony of Guruship. It should be remembered here that when Guru Arjan’s wife went to Baba Buddha for boon of a son, she had prepared the meals with her own hands, and she took bread with onions. Baba Buddha while eating had said, “The Guru is the owner of the storehouse, but I have received an order to open it. As you have given me food to my heart’s content, so shall you have a son to your heart’s content. He shall be very handsome and brave, possess spiritual and temporal power, become a mighty hunter, ride on royal steeds, wear two swords, be puissant in battle, and trample on the Mughals. As I crush these onions you have brought to me, so shall your son crush the heads of his enemies, and be at once a great warrior and exalted Guru.” As usual Baba Buddha placed before the Guru a seli (a woolen cord worn as a necklace or twisted round the head by the former Gurus) and a turban, as appurtenances of his calling. The Guru ordered the seli to be placed in the treasury and reminding him about his prophecy said to Baba Buddha, “My endeavors shall be to fulfil thy prophecy. My seli shall be a swordbelt, and I shall wear my turban with a royal aigrette. Give me a sword to wear instead of seli.” The sword was brought. The Guru said, “Bring another one, I shall wear two swords.” He wore two swords which were emblems of Spiritual and Temporal authority- Piri and Miri- the combination of ‘Bhagti and Shakti’.
The martyrdom of Guru Arjan was an unparallel act in the history of mankind. The Guru went through all that torture to show to the world how in all thick and thin one should cheerfully submit to the sweet Will of God. As a matter of fact, the contents of the Adi Granth were not meant for the Yogis, Sidhas and Sanyasis or the Muslim Suffis only, who sit in seclusion in the caves of the Himalayas and worship the Almighty by denouncing the world. Instead the teachings of the Adi Granth were meant for the family men. Leading the family life, the Gurus gave practical examples as how to live according to Guru’s Word. The cruel and tortuous execution of Guru Arjan aroused a very strong wave of angry feelings among the masses. The enlightened, but not passive, sufferings of the Guru instilled a new spirit and life into the people and they resolved to exert and sacrifice themselves for the sake of righteousness. For centuries, countless people had fallen under the aggressor’s sword and this did not soften the stone hearts of their oppressors; but rather they had become more cruel and brutal. Sometimes it might be possible to reform the evil doer by opposing untruth and injustice through non-violent methods. The silent resistance and suffering for righteous cause might sometimes enable the tyrant to see his evil actions and he might be improved. History stands witness that no amount of non- violence can succeed against a tyrant who is hardened and steeped in criminal oppressive ways and who pays no heed to basic values of moral and civilized conduct. Against such men, non-violence is only another name of disgraceful cowardice in their dictionary. Such power drunk men must be faced bravely with a stick bigger than theirs. After the inauguration, some Masands represented to the Guru’s mother that the preceding five Gurus never handled arms; if Emperor Jahangir heard about this, he would be angry and where would they (Sikhs) hide? She spoke the young Guru on the subject.
The Guru issued an order to the Masands that he would be pleased with those who brought offerings of arms and horses instead of money. He laid down the foundation of Akal Takht (Timeless Throne) in 1606 (the fifth day of light half of month of Harh, Sambat 1663) just in front of Harmandar, and it was completed in 1609. Akal Takht was built of solid bricks on a raised platform of about ten feet in height and looked like a throne. The Guru took his seat on it. He built Akal Takht a few yards in front of Harmandar with a view that a Sikh at Akal Takht should not forget that spiritual elevation was as essential as his social obligations. As a matter of fact, the Guru wanted his followers to be ‘saint-soldiers’, extremely cultured, highly moral with spiritual height and be ever-ready to measure swords with demonic forces. “In the Guru’s house religion and worldly enjoyment shall be combined- the caldron to supply the poor and the needy, and the scimitar to smite the oppressors.” (This should be noted by those Sikhs who say that worldly and practical affairs should be kept separate from religion in our Gurdwaras). Several warriors and wrestlers came to the Guru for service. He enrolled fifty-two heroes as his body-guard and this formed the nucleus of his future army. About five hundred young persons came from all over the Punjab to enlist in his service. He made Bhai Bidhi Chand, Bhai Jetha, Bhai Piara, Bhai Langaha, and Bhai Pirana, each captain of a troop of one hundred horse. People began to wonder how the Guru could continue to maintain such an army. The Guru quoted:
“God provideth every one with his daily food; why, O man, art thou immersed planning;
He putteth their food even before the insects which He created in rocks and stones.”
(Gujri Mohalla 5, p-495)
Akal Takht grew into an institution which symbolized in itself the idea that the use of sword for the protection of righteousness and for self-defence was called for. Here the Guru sitting on his throne, would watch wrestling bouts and military feats of his disciples performed in the open arena in front of the Akal Takht. As all intricate cases and disputes were finally decided here by the Guru, the Akal Takht served the purpose of a Supreme Court for the Sikhs. Besides throne, the Guru adopted all other emblems of royalty- the umbrella, the swords, the crest and the hawk, and thus the Sikhs called him a true king or ‘Sacha Padshah’- a king in all appearance but in deeds and in purity as holy and great as previous Gurus. People looked towards Akal Takht for guidance in their secular affairs. This custom became so significant that the decision once taken at Akal Takht was followed by the Sikhs enthusiastically and this was the reason that they were always able to overcome every peril. The development of this custom contributed a lot towards the consolidation of the Sikh Movement. Some writers charge that lure of politics and glamour of arms led the Guru away from the true path of a religious and spiritual leader. Their judgement is altogether unfounded. There was no political motive of Guru Har Gobind to begin with and the time proved none whatsoever. Secondly his daily routine was to go to Harmandar, listen Asa di Var and then give religious instructions to his followers. He took keen interest in propagation of his religion and appointed preachers in the various regions of the country. He himself undertook tours to various places in Punjab to propagate his faith. However the policy of the Guru symbolized in itself the response to the challenge of the time. Bhai Gurdas explains the Guru’s policy under peculiar circumstances:
“Just as one has to tie pail’s neck while taking out water,
Just as to get ‘Mani’, snake is to be killed;
Just as to get Kasturi from deer’s neck, deer is to be killed;
Just as to get oil, oil seeds are to be crushed;
To get kernel, pomegranate is to be broken;
Similarly to correct senseless people, sword has to be taken up.”
(Bhai Gurdas, Var-34, pauri 13)
Guru Har Gobind appears to have been the first Guru who systematically turned his attention to the chase. His daily routine at Amritsar was:- He rose before day-break, bathed, dressed in full armor, and then went to Harmandar to worship. There he heard Japji and Asa di Var being recited. He then preached to his Sikhs. After the concluding prayer, breakfast was served without discrimination to the Guru’s troops and followers as they sat in rows for the purpose. After that he would rest for some time and then would go to the chase, accompanied by an army of forest beaters, hounds, tamed leopards and hawks of every variety. Late in the afternoon he sat on his throne and give audience to his visitors and followers. Minstrels sang the Guru’s hymns and at twilight the ‘Sodar’ was read. At the conclusion of the service musical instruments of many sorts were played. After that all adjourned for their evening repast. A sacred concert was afterwards held in which hymns were sung. Next followed the minstrel Abdulla’s martial songs to inspire the Sikhs with love of heroic deeds and dispel feelings unworthy of warriors. The Sohila was then read after which the Guru retired to his private apartment.
BANDI CHHORH- THE GREAT DELIVERER:
Chandu was fearful that the Guru might avenge his father. His daughter was still unmarried and he wrote to the Guru for her alliance which was again refused. He, therefore, once again represented to Emperor Jahangir against the Guru. Upon this Jahangir summoned the Guru to Delhi through Wazir Khan. After careful consideration the Guru agreed to go to Delhi and assigned the secular duties of the Harmandar to Baba Buddha and its spiritual duties to Bhai Gurdas. He instructed, “The Har Mandar is specially devoted to God’s service, wherefore it should ever be respected. It should never be defiled with any impurity of the human body. Sikhs, holy men, guests, strangers, the poor and the friendless should ever receive hospitality from Sikhs. My people should ever be humble, repeat God’s Name, promote their faith, meditate on Guru’s words, and keep all his commandments.” The Guru then went to Delhi. Through the good offices of Wazir Khan, the Emperor received the Guru with great apparent respect. Seeing him very young and already installed as Guru, the Emperor had a good deal of spiritual discussion in order to test his knowledge of divinity. The Emperor having heard that the Guru loved the chase requested him to accompany him one day on a hunting excursion. In the forest a tiger rushed towards the Emperor. Elephants and horses took fright, bullets and arrows were discharged towards the tiger but in vain. The Emperor was completely paralysed with fear and called upon the Guru to save him who alighted from his horse, and taking his sword and shield ran between the tiger and the Emperor. As the tiger sprang, he dealt him a blow with his sword and the tiger fell lifeless on the ground. The Emperor thanked his God that he was saved by the Guru through his heroic endeavor. It was time for the Emperor to visit Agra and he invited the Guru to accompany him. He, after repeated invitations, consented to go. When they both arrived in Agra, the Guru was received with great rejoicing by the people. Seeing increasing friendship between the Emperor and the Guru, Chandu said to himself, “The Guru will take revenge on me whenever he finds an opportunity. I shall only be safe if by some means I succeed in having broken this friendship or having him imprisoned, and thus I should apply all efforts to that end.” The Emperor fell ill and he sent for his astrologer to check upon his stars and find the remedy. Chandu took advantage of the situation and bribed the astrologer heavily to sever connection between the Guru and the Emperor. The astrologer accordingly suggested that a holy man of God should go to the Fort of Gwalior and pray for the Emperor’s recovery there. Chandu on the other hand advised the Emperor that Guru Har Gobind was the holiest of men and thus played double role. Jahangir requested the Guru to go to Gwalior, the latter accepted it without hesitation as another mission awaited him there. There was a joy in the Fort when it was known that the Guru was coming. There were fifty-two Indian princes (Rajas) imprisoned in the Gwalior Fort who were spending their days in lamentation and misery. They believed that they would be released by the Guru’s intercession. Hari Das, the governor of the Fort, was happy too, since he had been longing to have ‘darshan’ (holy sight) of the Guru. He went forth to receive the Guru and prostrated before the Master. The Guru met the princes, comforted them and gave them peace, making them happy even in adversity. Chandu wrote couple of letters to the governor of the Fort, urging him to poison the Guru and put an end to him. Hari Das, however, put all letters before the Guru as he received them; since he had become his devotee. The Guru recited the following Sabad at that time:
“The slanderer shall crumble down
Like a wall of Kallar; hear, ye brethren, thus shall be known.
The slanderer is glad when he seeth a fault; on seeing anything good he is filled with grief.
He meditateth evil all day long, but it befalleth not; the evil-minded man dieth meditating evil.
The slanderer forgetteth God, and when death approacheth, quarrelleth with God’s saint.
The Lord Himself preserveth Nanak, what can wretched man do?”
(Bilawal Mohalla 5, p-823)
Jahangir recovered from his illness. The Guru was still in the Gwalior Fort. When the Emperor heard Wazir Khan’s pleading on behalf of the Guru (some say, also the pleading of Mian Mir), he ordered that the Guru should be presented to him. On hearing this the imprisoned Rajas were very much distressed. The Guru would not leave the Fort unless all the Rajas were also released. The Emperor conceded to his wish and released all the fifty-two princes. From this the Guru is still remembered in Gwalior as Bandi Chhorh- the Great Deliverer, the holy man who freed the prisoners. There still stands a shrine ‘Bandi Chhorh’ in the historic Fort of Gwalior. Mian Mir brought home to the Emperor the innocence of Guru Arjan and how under his cruel orders, the great divine Master had been tortured to death. The Emperor, however, washed his hands clean of this sin and held Chandu entirely responsible for this crime, who was then arrested by the Emperor’s order and taken to Lahore to be executed there. He was paraded through the streets of Lahore, people threw filth on him, and cursed him. A grain-parcher struck him on the head with an iron ladle and Chandu died. When the Emperor heard Chandu’s death, he remarked that he richly deserved this fate. The Guru, however, prayed that as Chandu had suffered torment for his sins in this life, God would pardon him hereafter.
MUGHAL FORCES AND THE FIRST BATTLE OF AMRITSAR
Emperor Jahangir had died in Kashmir and his son Shah Jahan became the Emperor of India. When Prithia’s son, Meharban heard Chandu’s death, he was greatly distressed. Meharban said to himself, “Sulhi Khan died when he set himself against the Guru. My father died as he was against the Guru. Now Chandu has died. What magic the Guru possesseth that no one may withstand him ?” Meharban exchanged turban with Karam Chand, Chandu’s son, in token of life-long friendship, and then discussed ways with him how to bring about the Guru’s ruin. They started poisoning Shah Jahan’s mind against the Guru. Guru Har Gobind sent his revered Sikhs to Meharban to dissuade him from his hostile and evil designs. He also went himself to Meharban to strike a conciliatory note but in vain. Shah Jahan pursued a different religious policy. He served to orthodox, and religious fanaticism was at a considerable height during his reign. He took keen interest in the welfare of new converts to Islam. If any Muslim gave up his religion, he was severely dealt with. Some temples under construction in Punjab were demolished and mosques were raised in their places. His mind was poisoned against the Guru by his enemies and soon the ties of cordial relations as they had been since 1611, were snapped and a period of open hostility started towards the Sikhs. On his way to Pilibhit, the Guru visited Kartarpur where he met some Pathans of village Wadamir, equipped with swords and shields who offered their services to him. With them was a tall and powerful youth, Painde Khan. His parents were dead and he was living with his uncle. The Guru enlisted Painde Khan on his personal staff. He could, without the aid of a rope or bridle, arrest a horse running at full speed. No wrestler would engage with him. The Guru practised all martial exercises and collected arms of every description. Preparations were made for the marriage of the Guru’s daughter, Bibi Viro. Emperor Shah Jahan went hunting from Lahore towards Amritsar. The Guru also went in the same direction. A clash took place between the Sikhs and the royal soldiers over the issue of a royal hawk. One of the royal hawks who was flying after a victim, strayed away and fell in the hands of the Sikhs. The royal soldiers came to recover the hawk but because of their arrogance and abusive language, the Sikhs refused to hand over the hawk and this started the trouble. The royal soldiers were driven away with a slaughter. They hastened back and reported to the Emperor about the seizer of the hawk and the violence of the Sikhs. The enemies of the Guru found a good opportunity to revive the charges against him and to remind the Emperor of Guru’s alleged misdeeds. The Emperor sent Mukhlis Khan, one of his trusted generals with seven thousand soldiers to punish the Sikhs. The Sikhs of Lahore hearing of the military expedition against the Guru, sent immediately a messenger to Amritsar to apprise the Guru of the attack. There were great rejoicing going on at the palace of the Guru on account of his daughter’s marriage. The Guru’s family was immediately removed to a house near Ramsar. Early next day it was decided to send the family to Goindwal. It so happened that the coming day was fixed for Viro’s marriage. Thus the Guru ordered that his family and all the non-combatants of the city should halt at Jhabal, a town about seven miles south-west of Amritsar and the marriage should be celebrated there before going to Goindwal. Two Sikhs were sent to stop the bridegroom’s procession, lest it should fall in the hands of the enemy. There was a small fortress, Lohgarh, outside the city. It was a kind of raised platform (serving as a tower) where the Guru used to hold his court in the afternoon and it was surrounded by high walls. Twenty-five Sikhs were posted there in an anticipation of the attack. The Guru went to the temple and prayed for the victory. He repeated the following verse on the occasion:
“Wicked men and enemies are all destroyed by Thee, O Lord, and Thy glory is manifested.
Thou didst immediately destroy those who annoyed Thy saints.”
(Dhanasri Mohalla 5, p-681)
The Sikh detachment at Lohgarh though courageous were too few to stop the Mughal army. After destroying hundreds of the enemy soldiers, they fell martyrs to the Guru’s cause. The enemy soldiers proceeded to the Guru’s palace in search of him but became furious finding the palace empty. They searched the house and took care of the sweets. With the day break, began the conflict, the clashing of swords and the hissing of the bullets. Brave men fell and died, blood flowed in profusion, corpses were piled over one another, heads, bodies, arms, and legs were separated and horses without riders careered around the city. Bhai Bhanu was the commander-in-chief of the Guru’s army and Shams Khan was one of the chiefs of the imperial army. Shams Khan’s horse was killed. Bhai Bhanu then dismounted, and he and Shams Khan engaged in a single combat. Bhai Bhanu told Shams Khan, “I will not allow you to escape now.” Shams Khan replied, “Defend yourself, I am going to strike.” Bhai Bhanu received the sword on his shield, and putting forward all his force, beheaded Shams Khan with one blow. The Mohammadans seeing their commander slain, rushed to Bhai Bhanu and surrounded him from all sides. He cut down the enemy as if they were radishes. At last he was struck by two bullets which passed through his body and the brave commander of the Guru’s army was martyred. Bhai Bidhi Chand, Painde Khan and Bhai Jati Mal had been committing great havoc among the Mohammadan army. They, lifting their lances, made their enemies’ horses riderless. The Guru himself fought so bravely that no one when struck by him, asked for water again. Painde Khan was equally successful in the combat. He made Didar Ali, the last survivor of Mukhlis Khan’s personal staff, bite the dust. Mukhlis Khan, now left alone, thought nothing remained for him but to engage the Guru himself. He said, “Let you and me now decide the fight by single combat, and none else approach.” In order to please him, the Guru warned his own men to stand aside. He then discharged an arrow which killed Mukhlis Khan’s horse. The Guru dismounted and said, “Show thy skill and strike the first blow.” Mukhlis Khan aimed a blow which the Guru avoided by a swift movement. The next blow fell on the Guru’s shield. The Guru then warned, “You have made two strokes which I have parried. Now it is my turn.” The Guru then lifting his powerful arm dealt Mukhlis Khan such a blow that his head was cut off in two. Painde Khan, Bhai Bidhi Chand and Bhai Jati Mal killed the enemy soldiers who held the ground but the majority of them fled without looking behind. After that the Guru’s victory was complete and the drums of victory were joyously sounded. This battle was fought in 1628 (some date it as 1634). The battle was extended to a distance of about four miles to the south of Amritsar and a dharmsal called the Sangrana was erected to commemorate the Guru’s victory. A fair is held every year on this spot. After completing the last rites of his brave soldiers, the Guru went to Jhabal and performed the marriage ceremony of his daughter.
FOUNDATION OF THE CITY OF SRI HAR GOBINDPUR AND SECOND BATTLE:
On hearing the death of Mukhlis Khan and the defeat of his army, Shah Jahan called a council of his chiefs at which it was decided that the Guru should be captured or killed lest he should seize the reins of the empire. Wazir Khan, a follower of the Guru, defended him and said, “Sir, the Guru is not a rebel and has no designs on thine empire. Had he ever got such a design, he would have followed his victory, seized some fortress, taken some territory or plundered some of thy treasuries. Is it not a miracle that with only seven hundred men he destroyed the army of seven thousand?” These and many such arguments of Wazir Khan were supported by the friends of the Guru at the court. The Emperor was convinced and agreed to forget the past. After the conflict the Guru went to Kartarpur. Painde Khan soon became a concern to the Guru as he began to boast, “It is I who conquered the countless hosts opposed to the Guru at Amritsar. With my arrow I skewered them like trussed fowl. Had I not been there, no one would have had the courage to oppose them. The Guru’s Sikhs would have all fled.” The Guru heard this. Painde Khan who used to wait on the Guru whole day and go to his quarters just to sleep, was ordered by the Guru to remain at his home and visit him only occasionally. This was Guru’s reprimand for Painde Khan’s boasting. It was a rainy season and the Guru after crossing the river Beas, went to the right side of the bank which was lofty. He observed that the land dwellings were only in one direction and the rest of the land was unoccupied. He considered it a good site to found a city. The people received the Guru with open arms but the landlord and Chaudhry, Bhagwan Das Gherar was not in favor of him. Gherar started the hostilities towards the Guru. At some point Gherar used abusive language against the Guru. Upon this a clash broke between the Sikhs and Gherar’s men in which Gherar was killed. Having secured the goodwill of the people, the Guru made preparations for the city. He cut the first sod himself and summoned masons and laborers from the neighboring villages. The city subsequently was called Sri Har Gobindpur in honor of the Guru. Rattan Chand, son of Gherar, vowed to avenge the death of his father. He went to Karam Chand, Chandu’s son, and urged him to join him against the common oppressor (Guru). They both then went to Abdulla Khan, the Subedar of Jullundhur. Rattan Chand poured his grievances and represented how pleased the Emperor would be if the Guru were put into his hands and what high promotion the Subedar would receive. The Subedar and his advisors were convinced by Rattan Chand’s arguments and an immediate expedition was planned and organized against the Guru. When the Guru heard about the expedition, he simply said, ” What pleaseth God is best.” The Subedar had an army of ten thousand men. He disposed his forces into eight divisions, five for his generals, two for his sons and one for himself. The Guru gave his command to Bhai Jattu, Bhai Bidhi Chand, Bhai Jati Mal, Bhai Mathura, Bhai Jaganath, Bhai Nano and others. Under the favoring glance of the Guru, the Sikhs who had formerly been weak as hares now became strong as lions. No matter what their birth or previous calling, they all proved themselves as gallant heroes in the field. After all the generals of Abdulla fell in the battle field, he resolved to conquer or die. Karam Chand, Rattan Chand and Abdulla Khan all three came on the Guru. The Guru asked Karam Chand and Rattan Chand, “Avenge your fathers. Retreat not like cowards. Be brave and stand before me; otherwise go where your fathers have gone.” The Guru struck Karam Chand with his shield and made him stagger and fall. Rattan Chand ran to his aid. The Guru drew a pistol and shot him. Abdulla struck few blows which the Guru received on his shield. Then gathering his strength he drew his falchion on the Subedar, and severed his head from his body. By this time Karam Chand recovered his consciousness and rushed towards the Guru. There ensued a sword- play between the two until the sword of the latter was broken. The Guru as a holy man desiring to take no mean advantage of his adversary, put his own sword into his scabbard, and engaged with him in a wrestling combat. At last the Guru, seizing Karam Chand by both arms, swung him around and dashed his head to the ground. The Subedar and all his generals were slain and his army had fled, the battle ended and victory kissed the feet of the Guru.
THIRD BATTLE AT MEHRAJ
Two Masands, Bakhat Mal and Tara Chand had been deputed to Kabul to collect funds for the Guru. They returned with a company of Sikhs who brought the offering and two horses of supreme beauty and speed, named Dil Bagh and Gul Bagh. Both of the horses were seized by the Emperor’s officials who presented them to the Emperor. The Sikhs were much dismayed to see that they were robbed of the horses which they had bought for the Guru. Bhai Bidhi Chand before entering the services of Guru Arjan, had been a notorious highwayman and robber and several of his exploits in that capacity were recorded. Afterwards he became Guru’s follower. The Sikhs thought that as there were no horses like Dil Bagh and Gul Bagh in the world, so there was no one like Bidhi Chand who could secure possession of the horses. Ultimately Bidhi Chand decided to do the job. He got ready, uttered a prayer and went to Lahore to recover the horses. There lived a Sikh carpenter, Jiwan in Lahore and he stayed with him. Bidhi Chand started the work of a ghasiara (grass-cutter). He cut beautiful soft grass, made a bundle and took it to the market. The grass was beautiful and Bidhi Chand was demanding very high price for that. Ultimately he reached Sondha Khan, the royal stable- keeper who on seeing the grass remarked that he had never seen such grass before. It was fit for Dil Bagh and Gul Bagh, and he ordered his men to adjust the price and buy it for the horses. Sondha Khan took Bidhi Chand with grass on his head to where the horses were tethered. The horses ate to their heart’s content as if they had been fasting for a whole day. He continued this practice for several days before he was appointed grass-cutter for the Emperor’s famous steeds for one rupee a day. He worked so hard and showed so much civility and sweetness in his words that Sondha Khan entrusted him with bridling and unbridling of the horses. The Emperor once came to see the horses and was very much pleased to observe their excellent condition and he admired Bidhi Chand for that. One day one of his fellow-servants told him that he was drawing more money than any one of them but he never celebrated. Bidhi Chand agreed to their demand. He went to the market and bought the most potent liquor. A dinner was arranged. He served so much and so strong a liquor to his friends that they were disposed of for the night and Bidhi Chand was free for his action. He mounted on Dil Bagh and applying the whip he faced him towards the fort-wall over which he wanted the horse to leap. The horse which was never touched before, on receiving a cut with whip roused at unusual summons, gathered his strength and cleared without hesitation the high battlement with a bound, and plunged with his rider into the river (river was flowing by the side of the stable). Bidhi Chand, well skilled in horsemanship, steadied the horse in the water and reached safely to shore. He reached Bhai Rupa, a village where the Guru was staying. The Sikhs noticed that Dil Bagh did not eat his corn well and he was missing his mate Gul Bagh. So Bidhi Chand set out to recover Gul Bagh too. When he reached Lahore, he heard that a reward was posted for the finder of Dil Bagh. Bidhi Chand changed his appearance and dress, reaching at the gate of the fort he claimed, “I am an experienced tracker and astrologer, and can trace anything that has been lost.” Bidhi Chand under the pseudo name of Ganak, when presented before the Emperor, convinced him that he had the skill to interpret omens, discover tracks and read the stars and planets. The Emperor promised him lakhs of rupees if he pointed out where the stolen horse was. Bidhi Chand replied to the Emperor, “I know where the horse is, but I want to have a look at the place whence he was stolen, and then I will give all the information.” Upon this the Emperor along with his attendants took him to the stable. Some tried to dissuade the Emperor from trusting the stranger but the advice was disregarded. Upon Bidhi Chand’s advice all the horses were saddled in the stable, perfect solitude and tranquility was ordered and an embargo was put on the ingress and egress of the inhabitants of the fort. All this was done to make possible for Bidhi Chand to sit in perfect tranquility and make calculation. Macauliffe records Bhai Bidhi Chand’s address to the Emperor, “Hear everything, consider not the thief a person to be forgotten. Thy father, by the power of his army, formerly took possession of an excellent horse intended for the holy and worshipful Guru Har Gobind, whose fame is like that of the sun, and thou hast now imitation of thy unjust father seized these steeds specially intended by the pious Sikhs for their beloved Guru. I have made reprisal and taken the first horse by my ingenuity. My name is Bidhi Chand; I am the Guru’s servant. It was I who took home Dil Bagh, the horse thou art in search of. On account of separation from his mate, he wept copiously on his arrival, and we could only induce him to eat and drink with difficulty. Wherefore, in the guise of a tracker and with a love for dumb animals, I have come to take his companion to join him. I am the thief, the true King is my Master. Thou hast now given me Gul Bagh ready saddled. I have thoroughly gauged the wisdom of thy court. I will tell where the horse is, and in doing so remove all blame from myself. The Guru hath pitched his tent in the new village of Bhai Rupa. Know that Dil Bagh is standing there. Gul Bagh shall now go to join him.” Upon this Bidhi Chand undid the ropes that tethered the horse to the peg and galloped it to Bhai Rupa where the Guru had encamped. Dil Bagh’s name was changed to Jan Bhai (as dear as life) and Gul Bagh was called Suhela (companion). At this the Emperor got inflamed and he asked, “Is there any brave man who will undertake an expedition against the Guru?” Up rose Lala Beg, a high officer of the imperial army and said that he would lead the expedition against the Guru, and produce the stolen horses before the Emperor in a few days. Lala Beg’s brother Qamar Beg with his two sons, Qasim Beg and Shams Beg, and his nephew Kabuli Beg also volunteered. Lala Beg and his companions were put in command of an army of thirty-five thousand horse and foot. The imperial army marched to Bhai Rupa and not finding the Guru there proceeded to his new headquarters, Lehra which was a few miles away from Bhai Rupa. The Guru chose this site because it was not connected with any city to provide rations and other requirements of war to the enemy and it had one well of drinking water which was firmly guarded by the Guru’s army. The Guru’s army was commanded by Bhai Bidhi Chand, Bhai Jetha, Bhai Jati Mal, and Bhai Rai Jodh and there were about four thousand soldiers. Rai Jodh with a thousand men went to oppose Qamar Beg. Showers of bullets thinned the ranks of the imperial army. They used their swords and guns. The Guru’s troops caused great havoc upon the enemy. Rai Jodh finding an opportunity pierced Qamar Beg with his lance who fell and soon after died. After seeing his chiefs slain and his army disheartened, Lala Beg himself hurried to oppose Bhai Jati Mal, and discharged an arrow which struck Jati Mal on the breast and made him fall fainting to the ground. The Guru seeing Jati Mal fall, entered the battle field and invited Lala Beg to measure his strength with his. He shot Lala Beg’s horse which fell with its rider. The Guru, on seeing the chief on the ground, dismounted so as not to take an unfair advantage of his adversary. Lala Beg assumed the offensive and aimed several blows of his sword at the Guru, who avoided them all. The Guru then putting forward his strength, struck the chief a blow which completely severed his head from his body. Kabuli Beg, the chief’s nephew was the only one of imperial commanders remained in the field. On seeing Lala Beg fall down, Kabuli Beg jumped on the Guru. He slashed again and again at the Guru but every blow was evaded. The Guru then warned him, “It is now my turn, be on thy guard.” He then dealt him such a blow that his head was cut off. This ended the battle. The surviving imperial army soldiers fled for their lives. Twelve hundred soldiers of the Guru’s army were slain or wounded. The battle which had begun at midnight, lasted for eighteen hours on the 16th of Maghar, Sambat 1688 or 1631 CE (some date this battle in 1634). The Guru admired the bravery shown by Bhai Bidhi Chand, Bhai Jati Mal and Bhai Rai Jodh. In order to commemorate the victory, a tank called Guru Sar was built on the spot.
FOURTH AND LAST BATTLE AT KARTARPUR:
The Guru went for a repose at Kangar and soon returned to Kartarpur. After a while a war broke between the Sikhs and the Mughals. This time the cause was Painde Khan. He went to Subedar of Jullundhur, Qutab Khan, and then both of them went to the Emperor and induced him to despatch a strong force against the Guru. Kale Khan, the brother of Mukhlis Khan, was given a command of fifty thousand men. Qutab Khan, Painde Khan, Anwar Khan and Asman Khan were commissioned to fight under Kale Khan. Bhai Bidhi Chand, Bhai Jati Mal, Bhai Lakhu, and Bhai Rai Jodh ranged their troops on the four sides of Kartarpur. The imperial army chiefs advanced against them. The Pathans were, however, powerless against the brave Sikhs who were fighting for their religion and their Guru. Bidhi Chand engaged with Kale Khan, and Baba Gurditta, Guru’s eldest son, with Asman Khan. Even Tegh Bahadur (later on the ninth Guru) who was only fourteen years old, had shown feats of valor in the field. Painde Khan with drawn sword confronted the Guru and used profane words for the Master. In the words of Mohsin Fani, a Muslim historian of that time, the Guru addressed him, “Painde Khan, why use such words when the sword is in your hand. Brave as you are my boy, come I give you full leave to strike first. I have no grudge against you. But you are full of wrath. You can wreak your rage by striking the first blow.” Painde Khan aimed a heavy blow at the Guru but it was parried off. He was allowed again to strike but in vain. Infuriated with his double failure, he gave a third blow but the Guru was able to avoid it. The Master then urged him, “Come, my boy, I will teach you how to strike. Not your way but this…” Saying this he gave him such strong blow that Painde Khan fell on the ground mortally wounded. From this blow he seemed to have regained his old sense of discipleship. The Guru told him, “Thou art a Musalman. Now is the time to repeat your kalma (creed).” Painde Khan replied, “O Guru, your sword is my kalma and my source of salvation.” The Guru on seeing him dying was filled with pity, and putting his shield over his face so as to shade it from the sun, he said, “Painde Khan though men spoke ill of you, I forgot all your failings but the evil destiny misled you so much that you brought an army against me. It is your own acts of ingratitude and insolence that have led to your death at my hands. Though you have been ungrateful and untrue to your salt, I pray the Almighty to grant you forgiveness.” After all his chiefs were slain, Kale Khan confronted the Guru. He discharged an arrow which whizzed past him. A second arrow grazed the Guru’s forehead, and drops of blood bespattered his face. The Guru remarked, “Kale Khan, I have seen your science. Now see mine.” At this he discharged an arrow which killed Kale Khan’s horse. The Guru thought it a point of honor also to dismount and offer his adversary a choice of arms. Sparks of fire issued from clash of sword to sword. The Guru parried all his strokes and commented, “Not thus, this is the way to fence.” He then dealt Kale Khan a blow with his two-edged scimitar which severed his head from his body. On this the imperial soldiers fled for their lives. Bidhi Chand and Jati Mal shouted slogans of victory. It is said that several thousand Mohammadans were killed while only seven hundred of the Guru’s brave Sikhs lost their lives in this battle. It ended on the 24th day of Harh, Sambat 1691 (1634 CE). Guru Har Gobind fought and won four battles. Since the Guru’s purpose had always been defensive, he did not acquire even an inch of territory as a result of these victories. However this effected a great change in the character of the Sikhs who, side by side of their rosaries, girded up their loins and buckled on their swords in defence of their faith. A new spirit of heroism was risen in the land to resist the mighty and unjust power of the Mughal government who had embarked upon the policy of religious discrimination against non-Muslim subject. The Guru was looked upon by the Sikhs not only a divine messenger but as an accomplished swordsman, a hero and thorough master of the war.
Guru Har Gobind was the first, after Guru Nanak, who went outside the Punjab to spread Sikh religion. He travelled from place to place and went as far as Kashmir in the north and Nanakmata, Pilibhit in the east. A Sikh, Almast (means enthusiast) who had been preaching Sikh religion at Nanakmata near Pilibhit, had been expelled from his shrine by the Jogis who had also burnt the sacred pipal tree under which Guru Nanak had held debate with the followers of Gorakh Nath. Night and day Almast read the compositions of the Gurus. He used to pray, “O searcher of hearts, true Guru, render us assistance.” Enduring all hardships, Almast waited until the Guru came to repair and take possession of Guru Nanak’s temple. Ramo, the eldest sister of Guru’s wife- Damodri, was married to Sain Das who lived in Daroli in the present district of Ferozepur. Sain Das was ever praying that Guru Har Gobind would visit his village. He built a mansion to receive him and vowed not to allow any one to live in it until the Guru had hallowed it by his presence. Sain Das prepared a beautiful bed, and over the pillow he put up a canopy. Every morning he used to lay flowers in the room and pray that the Guru would come to bless the place. Ramo used to press him to send for the Guru but he would say, “The Guru is omniscient and will come of his own accord.” On account of the troubles of Almast and the devotion of Sain Das, the Guru decided to visit Nanakmata and Daroli and taking with him a troop of his armed retainers. He went to Kartarpur and stayed there for some days. After that when he arrived in Nanakmata, the Jogis, seeing his retinue, thought that some Raja had come. Almast came forth and uttered thanksgiving that his spiritual master had arrived. The Guru constructed a platform and sitting on it recited the Sodar. He sprinkled saffron on the pipal tree which came back to its full bloom. The Jogis came in a body and represented, ” Thou art a family man; we are well-known holy ascetics. Bearing the name of Gorakhnath, this place has been ours. Therefore leave it, and go and abide wherever it pleases you.” The Guru replied, “Whom do you call a holy ascetic? I apply this name only to him who has renounced pride and who has the love of God in his heart. It is he, and not a man who wears an ascetic’s garb, who will obtain salvation.” The Jogis, in order to terrify the Guru, made a show of their supernatural powers, but could produce no effect on the Guru, and thus retreated. Since that date the place is called Nanakmata, and remained in the possession of Udasi Sikhs. The Guru remained there for some time and occupied himself with preaching to his Sikhs, and set up a Sikh service organization under the guidance of Almast. On his return journey the Guru proceeded to Daroli where his mother and wives were waiting for him. Sain Das and his wife Ramo begged for his blessings. The Guru replied, “God at all times assist those whose hearts are pure. With a pure mind meditate on His Name, and accept His Will, then you shall be happy.” The moon was full in the month of Katik, Sambat 1670 (1613 CE) Mata Damodri gave birth to a son who was afterwards named Gurditta. After that the Guru returned to Amritsar. Sewa Das, a Brahman who was residing at Srinagar in Kashmir, had become a Sikh. His mother, Bhagbhari made a beautiful robe to give to the Guru when he would visit her. She continued praying and waited for the Guru who answered her prayer by deciding to proceed to Kashmir to see her. On his way to Kashmir he reached Chaparnala near Sialkot, where he met a Brahman and inquired him where could he find water to drink and bathe in? The Brahman carelessly replied that the soil was stony and therefore, the water was very scant. Upon this the Guru drove a spear into the ground and it is said that a spring of pure water issued forth. The Sikhs constructed a tank at the spring and it was called Gurusar. The Brahman felt ashamed and asked for pardon for not having recognized the Guru’s greatness. The Guru replied, “The sins of those who repent shall be pardoned.” The Guru continued his journey into the mountains of Kashmir. There he met Kattu Shah, a faithful Sikh who had visited him at Amritsar. He spent a night in his house and then proceeded to Srinagar, where Sewa Das was meditating and waiting for him. His mother said that she worshipped the very ground on which the Guru would tread. They received the Guru with great respect and enthusiasm. The Guru asked Sewa Das’s mother to bring the dress she had made for him. He put it on and blessed her. Overwhelmed with devotion for the Guru, she recited the following Sabad:
“Who but Thee, my Beloved, could do such a thing?
Cherisher of the poor, Lord of the world, Thou hast put over my head the umbrella of spiritual sovereignty.”
(Rag Maru, Ravdas, p-1106)
The Guru was paid homage by crowds of Kashmiris both from Srinagar and the surrounding villages and many embraced Sikhism. A company of Sikhs came to behold the Guru from a distant village with an offering of honey. On the way they met Kattu Shah who requested them to let him have some of the honey, but they refused saying that they could not offer to the Guru Kattu Shah’s leavings. When the Sikhs reached the Guru, the honey was found rotten and full of worms. The Guru remarked, “This is the result of not having given to my Sikh in whom is the spirit of the Guru.” He ordered them to return and satisfy Kattu Shah. It is said that the honey became fresh and sweet when they returned to Kattu Shah. ‘Hungry mouth is Guru’s treasure.’ The Guru returned to Punjab through Bara Mula. Then he proceeded to Gujrat in the Punjab where he met Shah Daula, a saint of that city. Shah Daula was astonished to see the Guru with swords hanging on his both sides, aigrette attached to his turban and a hawk perched on his wrist. Shah Daula asked the Guru, “How can you be a religious man when you have wife and children and possess worldly wealth and have arms?” The Guru retorted, “A wife is man’s conscience, his children perpetuate his memory, wealth enables him to live, arms are needed to extirpate the tyrants.” After that he proceeded to Wazirabad and thence to Hafizabad, both in the district of Gujranwala (now in Pakistan). Then he went to a village called Mutto Bhai and he preached the principles of his religion. He spent some time there. The Guru then reached Mandiali, a place about five miles from Lahore. Here Dwarka, a devout Sikh of the Guru married his daughter, Bibi Marwahi to the Guru. While still at Mandiali the Guru was informed by his Sikh Langaha of the sustained efforts of some of imperial officers and the Qazis to poison the Emperor’s mind to destroy the sacred buildings of the Sikhs. The Guru took only a casual notice and proceeded to Talwandi, the birth place of Guru Nanak. He imparted religious instructions to the people who had gathered there in connection with the Namani fair. From there he proceeded to Madai. Next stop was at Manga in Lahore district. From there he returned to Amritsar where as usual great rejoicing were held in his honor. During Shah Jahan’s reign all those persons and groups who had enmity towards the Guru, were constantly on the look-out for some opportunity to strike the Guru and impede the onward march of Sikh movement. Tara Chand, the ruler of Hindur or Kehlur (Nalagarh) had waited upon the Guru and requested him to pay a visit to his state. In view of these circumstances the Guru had an idea of alternative headquarters. He sent his son Baba Gurditta to Tara Chand and promised him to visit his state later on. The Raja offered a piece of land for the Guru’s permanent abode. Some writers say that the land was purchased from him. Baba Gurditta founded the town of Kiratpur on that piece of land. Malwa region was still a vast tract of waste land and its people were still uncommitted to any religion. The Guru, therefore, undertook great tour of this region. He visited Zira, Rode Lande, Gill, Kotra and Hari. After that he visited Marajh, Dabwalli, Bhadaur, Mahal, Ded Maluke, Demru and then reached Darauli. Before his departure, he blessed the people of Darauli and gave them a ‘pothi’ and a small katar (a small sword) as monuments. Thence he visited Bara Ghar, Mado, Lopo, Sidhwan and then reached Sidhar. Rai Jodh, a big landlord of Kangar inspired by his wife Bhagan who was a daughter of Bhag Mal, a devotee of the Guru, waited upon the Guru. He was so much impressed that he desired to enter the Sikh fold. The Guru initiated him, his brother Umar Shah and many others of their families. The people came in flocks and embraced Sikhism specially in Malwa region. For the first time in history of Indian religions, the people were coming across a religious leader who was committed to the ideal of resisting all types of exploitations, injustice and tyranny. In fact the Guru’s close identification with the lower and down-trodden classes and his constant endeavors for their welfare and uplift made him the cynosure of the masses.
The Guru had five sons and one daughter. They were:
Baba Gurditta, born to Mata Damodri in 1613.
Bibi Viro, born to Mata Damodri in 1615.
Baba Surj Mal, born to Mata Marwahi in 1617.
Baba Ani Rai, born to Mata Nanaki in 1618.
Baba Atal Rai, born to Mata Nanaki in 1619.
Baba Tegh Bahadur, born to Mata Nanaki in 1621.
Baba Gurditta and his wife Natti continued to reside in Kiratpur. A son was born to them on January 16, 1630 and they called him Har Rai.
Baba Buddha remained in his village of Ramdas intent on his devotions. When he saw his end near, he asked for the Guru to come and fulfil his promise once he made to him. The Guru told him, “Baba Buddha, you have lived long, you have been ever with the Gurus. Give some instruction.” Baba Buddha replied, “Great King, thou art a sun, I am a fire-fly before thee. You have come to save me, and to hear my dying words……..I have been a servant of the six generations of Guru’s house. Succor me in the next world, and allow me not to suffer when I enter death’s door, which I fondly hope is the portal of salvation. Here is my son, Bhana, at your service; take his arm and keep him at your feet.” The Guru replied, “Baba Buddha, you shall assuredly obtain bliss. Your humility is an assurance.” The Guru then put his hand on Baba Buddha’s head and blessed him. He left for his heavenly abode. The Guru and his Sikhs sang congratulations on the event of Baba Buddha’s death after his long, holy and eventful life, and lauded him for the assistance he had given in the propagation and consolidation of Sikh faith. The Guru himself ignited his funeral pyre.
Bhai Gurdas was a contemporary of the fourth, fifth and sixth Gurus and was acquainted with them and their contemporaries, especially Baba Buddha, an aged Sikh who had survived from the time of Guru Nanak. The tenets of Sikh religion are given in Bhai Gurdas’ Vars. There are forty Vars in number and each is divided in varying number of pauries (stanzas) and each pauri contains from five to ten lines. One morning the Guru went to Bhai Gurdas whose end was now approaching. Gurdas begged pardon for any sins he might have committed. The Guru replied, ” I thank thee, Bhai Gurdas, for having assisted in laying out the road of the Sikh faith. Among the Gurus’ Sikhs thy name shall be immortal.” Having heard this Bhai Gurdas meditated on God and drew a sheet over him and closed his eyes in eternal sleep on Friday the fifth day of the light half of Bhadon, Sambat 1686 (1629 CE). After performing Bhai Gurdas’ last rites the Guru returned to Amritsar.
GURU AT KIRATPUR:
The Guru lived in Kiratpur from 1635 to 1644. He chose Kiratpur, a city in the foothill of the Himalayas, which was not so easily accessible during those days of undeveloped and scanty means of transportation and communication, to ward off any further hostility between the Sikhs and the Mughal government after the confrontation of four battles. There were hill Rajas who were great admirers of the Guru because he was instrumental in getting them released from the fort of Gwalior and some of them had developed veneration for Sikhism. These are some of the circumstances in which the Guru seemed to have set up his headquarters at Kiratpur. When the Guru was busy in the battle field, Baba Gurditta was incharge to look after the organizational work. In 1636 the Guru asked Baba Gurditta to appoint four head preachers: Almast, Phul, Gonda and Baba Hasna. Almast was made the chief organizer of the preaching activities in the east. Baba Hasna who was the younger brother of Almast, established himself among the people of Pothohar, Kashmir, Chhachh and Hazara. Similarly Phul and Gonda were assigned the area of Doab to carry on the preaching work. All these four Udasis were founded in their allotted areas, preaching centers which were named as Dhuans or Hearths, to symbolize the flame of Sikhism. Besides this the Guru sent Bidhi Chand to Bengal. He had also sent Bhai Gurdas earlier to Kabul and then to Banaras to enlighten the people on Guru’s gospel and also to encourage trade in horses. A day was appointed for a great assemblage. When all were present, Guru Har Gobind rose, took Har Rai by the hand and seated him on the throne of Guru Nanak. Bhai Bhana, son of Baba Buddha, affixed the mark of guruship to Har Rai’s forehead and decorated him with a necklace of flowers. The Guru putting five paise and a coconut in front of him, bowed before him declaring him the Guru, and addressed the Sikhs, “In Har Rai now recognize me. The spiritual power of Guru Nanak hath entered him.” Upon this the Sikhs shouted congratulations and minstrels began to sing. After this Guru Har Gobind left this world in March, 1644 at Kiratpur. When the last rites were completed, Mata Nanaki and her son Tegh Bahadur set out, according to the Guru’s order, for Bakala, where they both lived until Tegh Bahadur was called upon to shoulder the responsibilities of Guruship.