Sikh Gurus made ‘Assertion of the Basic Human Right’ to follow one’s Dharma a Hallowed Tradition in Sikhism. The 5th Guru Sahib, Guru Arjan Dev (1563 -1606), accepted death penalty at the hands of Emperor Jahangir, but he refused to convert to Islam. His son, the 6th Guru Sahib, Guru Har Gobind (1595 -1644), told Jahangir that it was the Right of the 52 innocent Hindu Princes to be released from the Fort of Gwalior. Guru Har Gobind’s son, the 9th Guru Sahib, Guru Teg Bahadur (1621-1675), supported the Right of the Kashmiri Pandits who requested his intercession when Emperor Aurangzeb wanted to convert them to Islam. For his principled stand, he preferred to sacrifice his life.
Guru Gobind Singh’s Departure from Fort Anandgarh (1704)
Emperor Aurangzeb had laid a prolonged siege around Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Guru Sahib, and his family who were in the Anandgarh Fort. He promised under oath to provide them safe passage if they left the Fort. However, his huge Moghul army attacked Guru Sahib’s entourage when they were crossing the swollen Sirsa river on the night of 19th December 1704. Hundreds of Sikh soldiers died fighting while many were swept away by strong current of the river. Ultimately, accompanied by only 40 Sikh soldiers, five devotees (Panj Pyarey) and his two elder sons, Ajit Singh (17) and Jujhar Singh (14), Guru Sahib moved on to Chamkaur Sahib. His two younger sons, Zorawar Singh (9) and Fateh Singh (7), left with their grandmother, Mata Gujri Ji, and a cook, Gangu, got separated in the darkness of the night. They spent the next night with Kumma Mashki, a devotee. Mata Sundri and Mata Sahib Kaur joined Bhai Mani Singh to Delhi.
Martyrdom of Elder Sahibzadas at Chamkaur
The powerful Moghul army was accompanied by the forces of their allies from the hills, and six Generals including Nahar Khan, the brother of Nawab of Malerkotla. They engaged the much smaller army of Guru Gobind Singh at Chamkaur Sahib in a fierce battle. The two sons of Guru Sahib fought valiantly and killed a very large number of their opponents. When outnumbered, they attained martyrdom in the battlefield on 22nd of December 1704. Three of the brave Panj Pyarey, Bhai Mohkam Singh, Bhai Himmat Singh and Bhai Sahib Singh, and the two sons of Bhai Mani Singh, were also killed in this battle.
Guru Sahib, though seriously injured, was determined to fight to the finish. However, the Sikhs prevailed upon him and he was taken to a safe place by his devotees, Ghani Khan, and Nabi Khan. The younger sons and their grandmother were offered shelter by their cook at his house (in village Saheri). However, his intentions were bad. He stole the gold coins (Mohars) from them at night and informed Wazir Khan, the Moghul governor of the area, about their presence in his house, for a reward. On the 23rd of December, Wazir Khan arrested the two Sahibzadas and their grandmother, and imprisoned them at Morinda.
Martyrdom of Younger Sahibzadas at Sirhind
Next day, they were jailed in a cold tower (Thanda Burj) at Sirhind. Moti Ram, a devotee of Guru Sahib, supplied milk to them secretly. When this became known, Moti Ram and his family members were put to death. The Sahibzadas were brought to the court of Wazir Khan on December 25 and 26 and were told to convert to Islam. The brave lads refused bluntly and spurned all allurements. Though his brother Nahar Khan was killed in the battle of Chamkaur, the Nawab of Malerkotla refused to take revenge. He and many others advised against any cruelty to them. Ignoring them, Wazir Khan bricked the two innocent Sahibzadas alive on the 27th of December 1704.
Fortitude of Grandmother and Father of the Sahibzadas
Their grandmother thanked God for giving them such great courage and breathed her last. When Wazir Khan refused to give any land for cremation of the dead bodies of the three martyrs, a devotee Todar Mal bought the required space by paying for it in gold coins spread on the area. (A memorial, called Gurdwara Jyoti Swarup, was built at this place later). When a devotee, Noora Mahi, informed Guru Gobind Singh about the martyrdom of his two younger sons, he expressed gratitude to God and satisfaction that all his four brave sons had fearlessly laid down their lives to ‘Protect their Dharma ‘ but had not accepted defeat.
Zafar-Nama, An Epistle of Victory !
Guru Gobind Singh predicted the ‘End of the unjust Moghul Empire’ of Aurangzeb after the martyrdom of the four Sahibzadas. He considered the Fight for Protection of Dharma, as his Victory and sent Zafar-Nama, (An Epistle of Victory, composed in Persian), to Aurangzeb, castigating him for his bigotry, hypocrisy and perfidy. Aurangzeb died in 1707, as a dejected, sad, and repentant person. Baba Banda Singh Bahadur killed Wazir Khan in 1710 and set up the first Sikh kingdom. An Annual Congregation is held at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib, the place of execution of the two younger Sahibzadas in Sirhind, to honor their unique sacrifice, unparalleled in human history.
Dr Surjit Singh Bhatti, Formerly, Professor-Head & Dean Sciences,Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar,
( email@example.com) drssbhatti.ca