Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Saka Chamkaur Sahib - Story of Bravery & Sacrifice

Today is the commemoration day of "Saka Chamkaur," a unique battle that took place, in which Guru Gobind Singh jee's two elder Sahibzaadey (princes) attained shaheedi (martydom) along with 40 other Singhs. I felt inspired to write this after listening to Dr. Gurdeep Singh jee on radio this morning. The Katha (account) which he gave about the episode of Chamkaur Sahib has been written down and translated by Daas.

Evacuation of Anandpur Sahib
Guru Gobind Singh jee and 400 Sikhs left Sri Anandpur Sahib on the bitter cold and rainy night of December 5 1704 after a prolonged siege by the Mughal and Hindu Hill chieftains’ armies. The Mughals and Hindu Hill chieftains had offered Guru Sahib a safe passage to leave Anandpur Sahib on an oath on the Quran by emperor Aurangzeb and an oath on the cow (which Hindus consider as sacred) by the hill chieftains. However, their oaths were meaningless and they betrayed Guru Sahib.

Separation of the Family (Parivaar Vichhoraa)
In the early hours of the morning at the river Sarsa the Guru and his Sikhs were attacked by the Mughal army under the command of Wazir Khan, breaking their oath to of safe conduct. In the confusion, which followed the attack in the cold and darkness, many Sikhs became Shaheed (martyrs). A group of Singhs fought the armies and kept them back while the rest of the Sikhs, Guru Sahib and Guru Sahib’s family crossed the river in the heat of the battle. Many Sikhs perished in crossing the cold river and got swept away by the current of the river. During the confusion in crossing the River Sarsa, Guru Sahib was separated from his family. Guru jee, his two eldest sons and 40 Sikhs were able to cross the river and were united on the other side. Gurdwara Parivaar Vichhora Sahib is built on the spot where the battle occurred and the Gurus family were separated.

Chamkaur Sahib
On 20 December 1704 Guru Sahib and the 40 Singhs camped in an open space in Ropar. Bhai Budhi Chand who owned a Haveli (open house) in the town of Chamkaur visited Guru Sahib and offered his home and family at the Feet of the Guru. Guru Sahib had once visited the mud-house of Bhai Budhi Chand when returning from Kurekshetr. Guru Sahib and the 40 Singhs moved into house of Bhai Budhi Chand situated on a hill, which became a mud-fort of Guru Sahib.

At Amritvela (early hours of the day before sunrise) Guru Sahib woke up Bhai Sangat Jee. “Wake up Sangat Singh, its time for Aasa Di Vaar. Let’s do Keertan,” Guru jee said. What amazing Warrior Guru jee was! An army of 100,000 are pursuing Guru Sahib and planning to attack the place where they are staying, and Guru Sahib is still blissfully continuing his routine Rehat of Nitnem and Aasa Di Vaar Keertan with all Singhs joining in. Nawab Wazir Khan, announced outside the fort of Chamkaur, “Gobind Singh! If you and your Sikhs come out now, you will be spared!” Guru Sahib replied to this with rain of arrows. There was silence now in the cold morning. Clouds filled the sky and thundered and let out lightening. Guru Jee and the Singhs became ready for the battle.

Preparing for Battle
There was a chill in the air and morning had not yet come. A Mughal messenger came to see Guru Sahib to negotiate with Sikhs. However, Guru Sahib told the messenger to go away or face death. Inside the four walls of the mud-house Guru Sahib declares war.

First one Singh comes out and when he is about to become Shaheed (martyr), he roars the Jaikaaraa (slogan) of “Sat Siree Akaal!” As soon as the sound of “Sat Siree Akaal” echoes from the battlefield, the next Singh comes out to fight in the battleground. The Nawab was astonished at what these Singhs were made of. One Sikh equalled Savaa Lakh (125,000).

Baba Ajeet Singh jee Seeks Permission To Fight

Baba Ajeet Singh jee now goes before Guru Sahib. "Dear father, permit me to go and fight on the battleground and grace me with the oppurtunity to make my life fruitful and worthy in your service.” Guru Gobind Singh jee hugged his beloved son and gave him a Shastr (weapon). A beard or moustache has yet not grown on Baba Ajeet Singh jee’s face, showing how young he was. Every father wants to see their child get married, but this is the time of fighting the enemy. Death is waiting and today Baba Ajeet Singh will be marrying death.

The sun is about to come out. Guru jee saw that Nawab Wazir Khan wants to take hold of the fort of Chamkaur in one go. The Nawab surrounded the fort with his armies. At this time the Singhs did a benti (request) to Guru Sahib that there is no means of escaping the siege, please escape with Sahibzaadey. However the Guru Sahib told them that there is no difference between the Singhs and the Sahibzaadey. “You are all mine! We will be victorious and we will all be free.”

Baba Ajeet Singh roars in the Battlefield
Baba Ajeet Singh jee boldly and valiantly comes out of fort, accompanied with 8 other Singh, which includes one of the original Panj Piaare, Bhai Mohkam Singh jee. Guru jee watches the battle scene from the top of the fort. There is silence on all four sides. As they come into the battleground they roar Jaikaare, which sounds everywhere like a roar of a lion. Today the 8 Singhs feel proud that under the leadership of Baba Ajeet Singh jee they have been blessed with an opportunity to fight alongside Baba Ajeet Singh jee. Baba Ajeet Singh jee advances on the battlefield and shows weaponry skills with great courage and bravery. The army surrounds the Sahibzaada on four sides. Baba Ajeet Singh calls out, “Come nearer if you have guts.” Soldiers run away frightened. Now they come back in a large group. They have no guts to individually fight Baba Ajeet Singh jee.a large group. They have no guts to individually fight Baba Ajeet Singh jee.

The Singhs weaponry skill on the battlefield reminds the Mughal soldiers of Allah, as they fear their lives. While fighting, Baba Ajeet Singh jee’s Kirpan (sword) breaks. He then begins to fight with a Nejaa (spear). However, when killing one Mughal chief the Nejaa became stuck in his chest. But Baba Ajeet Singh jee remained in bliss and peace. While fighting, all 8 Singhs become Shaheed (martyrs). One Mughal chief injured Baba jee’s horse. As a result he fought on the ground with his talwaar (sword). With each blow of the sword, he split the enemy into two. When he strikes the enemy twice with his sword, they are cut up into four pieces. Now the army surrounds Baba jee. Guru jee watches. When Baba jee attains Shaheedi, Guru Sahib roars a Jaikaaraa of “Sat Siree Akaal.”

Baba Jujhar Singh ready for Shaheedi

The news of Baba Ajeet Singh jee attaining Shaheedi (martyrdom) spread. Hearing the news of his brother, Baba Jujhar Singh jee now desired to fight in the battlefield. He asked Guru Sahib, “Permit me, dear father, to go where my brother has gone. Don’t say that I am too young. I am your son; I am a Singh, a Lion, of yours. I shall prove worthy of you. I shall die fighting, with my face towards the enemy, with the Naam on my lips and the Guru in my heart.” Guru Gobind Singh jee embraced him and said, "Go my son and wed life-giving bride, Death.” Guru Sahib gave blessings to Baba Jujhar Singh jee; just a father gives blessings to the bride on the day of her marriage. Guru jee added, “I asked my father to give his life for "dharam" (righteousness and justice). Today, what I told my father, I now tell you.” Bhai Himmat Singh jee and Bhai Sahib Singh jee (two of the original Panj Piaare) along with 3 other Singhs accompanied Sahibzaada Baba Jujhar Singh jee. The Mughals were shocked at what they saw. It looked as if Ajeet Singh has come back.
ਐਸੀ ਮਰਨੀ ਜੋ ਮਰੈ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਨ ਮਰਨਾ ਹੋਇ ॥੧॥
aisee marnee jo marai, bahur na marnaa hoe. 1. Whoever dies, let him die such a death, that he does not have to die again. 1. (Ang 555, SGGS)

Fighting Til The Last Breath

Dead bodies laid everywhere. The army assemble to kill Baba Jujhar Singh jee. He is now surrounded and has a Nejaa (spear) in his hand. Wherever the Nejaa hits, the enemy is destroyed. He also used a Khanda (double-sword), with which he killed the enemy as if a farmer is cutting his crop. Guru jee saw that Baba jee is being surrounded and the opportunity to kill the Mughal soldiers is decreasing. So Guru Sahib sprayed arrows in the air. In the army they call this ‘Protection Fire.’ The person providing Protection Fire must be very skilful and precise because if the target is missed, people on the same side can be killed. Guru Sahib gave Protection Fire with arrows, but none of the 5 singhs or Baba jee were hit or injured by the arrows. Baba jee and the 5 Singhs demonstrated the Sikh concept of one equalling “Savaa Lakh” (125,000).

Baba Jujhar Singh eventually was enabled to break the ring of the Mughal army surrounding him. Baba jee then attained Shaheedi.
ਸੂਰਾ ਸੋ ਪਹਿਚਾਨੀਐ ਜੁ ਲਰੈ ਦੀਨ ਕੇ ਹੇਤ ॥
sooraa so pahichaanee-ai, jo larai deen ke het.
That person alone is known as a spiritual warrior, who fights in defence of religion.

ਪੁਰਜਾ ਪੁਰਜਾ ਕਟਿ ਮਰੈ ਕਬਹੂ ਨ ਛਾਡੈ ਖੇਤੁ ॥੨॥੨॥

purjaa purjaa katt marai, kabhoo
na chhaadai khet. 22.

They may be cut apart, piece by piece, but they never leave the field of battle. 22.
(Ang 1105, SGGS)
This is the sign of a true warrior! By the time Baba Jujhar Singh jee had attained Shaheedi nightfall had arrived and the moon could be seen in the sky. Guru Sahib writes in his writing, the Zafarnama:
ਚਿ ਕਸਮੇ ਕੁਰਾਂ ਮਨ ਕੁਨਮ ਏਤਬਾਰ ਵਗਰਨਾ ਤੁ ਗੋਈ ਮਨ ਈਂ ਰਾਹਚਿਕਾਰ
che kasm-e kuraa(n), man kunam eitbaar
vagarnaa tu goee, man ee(n) raah chi-kaar
What trust can I have on your oath on Koran?
Otherwise, why should I have taken this path (of taking up the sword)?
(Line 23, Zafarnama)

Leaving Chamkaur Sahib
During the night Bhai Daya Singh jee and Bhai Dharam Singh jee (two of the original Panj Piaare) along with Bhai Maan Singh jee and other singhs remain in the fort of Chamkaur Sahib. There were a total of 10 Singhs left. Now the Guru-roop Panj Piaare (Five Singhs) gave Hukam to Guru Sahib to leave the fort. Guru Sahib accepted the decision of the 'Guru Khalsa'. Before Guru Sahib left the Garhi of Chamkaur, he put his dress and his Kalgee (plume) on Bhai Sangat Singh jee, who looked very much like Guru Sahib. The Mughals thought they were fighting the Guru, while Guru Sahib escaped after challenging them.
Guru Sahib did not leave quietly. On leaving, Guru Sahib blew his horn and stood on high ground and clapped his hands three times saying “Peeré Hind Rahaavat” (“The "Peer" of India is Leaving”).

Guru jee along with the Bhai Daya Singh jee and Bhai Dharam Singh jee left the garhi at night, leaving Bhai Sangat Singh jee and a few others behind. They were told to keep the army engaged the next day when the fighting restarts. In the morning when the army attacked the Sikhs they were ready to defend themselves. Finally when all Sikhs fell fighting, the enemy soldiers entered the Garhi. The Mughal commanders were overjoyed to see the dead body of Bhai Sangat Singh jee because they mistook him for Guru jee. Later, when more people were shown the dead body, they identified it not to be that of Guru Gobind Singh jee. The commanders felt ashamed of their failure to kill or capture Guru Sahib.

Shaheedaa(n) Nu Lakh Lakh Parnaam.

We salute those who died for our today and died fighting for Dharam.

You can download the Zafarnama, written by Guru Gobind Singh jee below:

(note: Guru jee writes about the Battle of Chamkaur Sahib on pg. 7)

Please forgive me for any mistakes made when writing this.


simran chauhan said...

After reading evry single word on this page boosted sum sort of energy inside me. I am proud of being a SIKH

Gurveer Singh said...

There are 10,00,000 Mughals not 1,00,000

Gerald said...

Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

Your article is very well done, a good read.

Anonymous said...

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.

Thank you for taking the time to do this. I will be using this for a presentation I am giving on a Kids Winter Sikhi Camp. This is a great resource.


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