Articles: Sikh Martyrs:
Sardarni Sharnagat Kaur
Sardarni Sharnagat Kaur
The sakhi of this great Sikh woman starts from the very
day of her marriage. She was born in a Hindu family in the Pathan
country on the west of the Punjab. The area was under the Sikh Raj
and ruled by General Hari Singh Nalwa.
After a happy marriage, she was going along with her groom
and the marriage party to the village of her in-laws. On their way,
dacoits ambushed them. Waving their arms, the dacoits ordered all
the people to surrender their cash and valuables. The helpless party
gave everything to the robbers to save their lives. The dacoits,
however, also demanded the newly married bride and took her with them.
The poor groom went straight to General Nalwa, the governor
of the Pathan province. While the general sitting in his court was
listening to the complaint of the groom, he observed two persons behaving
suspiciously near the door. He suspected them to be friends of the
dacoits. After the man had completed the story of the marriage party
being waylaid by the dacoits and the loss of his wife, the general ordered
aloud to be heard by those suspects, "Put this man in prison. He
did not care to protect a helpless woman, who was his own wife."
The two suspects were actually the associates of the dacoits
and had come there to know the reactions of the general. Both were
pleased to hear the orders. Having been relieved of the fear of any
policemen going out in search of the dacoits to catch them, they could
not conceal their happiness. The vigilant eyes of the general observed
the smiles on the faces of the suspects when they heard his decision.
This assured the general of their complicity in looting the marriage party
and carrying away the bride. The general secretly ordered ten Sikh
horsemen to take the husband of the abducted woman with them and follow
Having been satisfied that the general was angry with
the cowardly behavior of the groom, the associates of the dacoits assumed
that the whole episode was over and forgotten. Therefore, they decided
to go to the dacoits immediately and tell them the good news of the decision
of the general. When they reached the house where the dacoits held
the bride, they told them about the reactions of the general. They
were talking joyfully when the horsemen surrounded the dacoits and ordered
them to put their hands up. The dacoits wondered about the smart
move of the general.
When the bride was brought before Sardar Nalwa he asked
her, "What is your name?" She replied, "I am nobody. I would have
been dead had you not saved my life. Now I am under your 'sharan'
(protection). The word 'sharan' voluntarily coming out of the
mouth of a helpless, scared woman gave her the popular name Sharanagat
When everything including the robbed ornaments was restored
to them, the general asked the bride and groom to go home. Both begged
the Sardar to admit them to the Khalsa Panth. They wanted to enjoy
the honor of living as Sikhs and dying as Sikhs. On their very firm
resolve to become members of the Khalsa Panth, they were given Amrit and
allowed to stay there.
Once Hari Singh Nalwa was visiting Jamrod Fort.
He fell seriously ill there. The area was surrounded with the Pathan
population unfriendly towards him. Knowing that the general was sick
and not physically in condition to engage himself in battle, they all rebelled
against his rule. To send the message that he was hale and hearty,
the general went up to the upper story of the fort from where he could
be seen by all the people outside the fort. Seeing him moving about
on the fort, the rebels retreated quickly. However, one of them aimed
his gun at him and shot him. Unfortunately, the general was hit and
died of the bullet wound.
The situation in the fort became very tense and everyone
was depressed finding their general dead, and with no one there to replace
him. Bibi Sharanagat Kaur kept her composure, thought for some time
and said, "This is not the time to feel worried or to get scared.
Let us face this critical moment with courage and confidence. I have
a plan to save the situation. You drop me behind the fort by a long
rope. I, disguised as a Pathan woman, will reach Peshawar as soon
as possible and inform the army there''.
She had to travel through a hilly route that covered twenty
miles, swarming with Pathan rebels. There were wild animals in the
forest through which she had to walk at night, and she could easily become
their prey. It was a very risky journey. It looked impossible
for a woman to reach Peshawar alive under those conditions and give the
sad news to the army and request their help.
The brave, daring young woman did reach there by walking
and running through dense forest the whole night. Without losing
any time, she asked the best horsemen to get ready quickly and ride their
horses. Sikh soldiers under the guidance of Bibi Sharanagat Kaur
traveled as fast as they could to reach Lahore. They covered their
long arduous journey quickly and reported the episode to Maharaja Ranjeet
After hearing of the death of a great general who raised
the honor of the Khalsa army to the skies, he felt very sad. Assessing
the situation to be critical, he himself left for Peshawar. Knowing
that the Maharaja had personally come to punish the rebels, the Pathans
immediately surrendered without fighting and promised to remain friendly
The Khalsa Raj of Punjab, founded with the statesmanship
of a woman, Sardarni Sada Kaur, was thus saved from being dismembered,
by the bravery of another woman, Bibi Sharanagat Kaur. She was honored
by the Khalsa Panth with the title of "Brave daughter of the Punjab."
Sikh women can successfully face all kinds of critical
and risky situations, like any good general and statesman.