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The Saint - Soldier (Guru Gobind Singh)
The Saint - Soldier (Guru Gobind Singh)

Sikh Missionary Society: Publications: The Saint - Soldier (Guru Gobind Singh):

A Disaster

A Disaster

"If you wish to display love and devotion
Come to me ready to sacrifice yourself."
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib)
Anandpur, the Guru's town of bliss, was hard pressed by the Mughal armies but the Guru and the Sikhs were determined to hold on. After many months of siege the Mughal Commanders offered peace on condition that the Guru should leave Anandpur. The Guru knew fully well that the enemy could not be trusted. Many of the Sikhs thought that the peace plan and safe conduct offered to them should be given a trial. It was a testing time for them all. The Guru decided to test the enemy's sincerity. He ordered live cartloads to move out of the town in the early morning. The enemy attacked them in spite of their promises of safe conduct. To their great surprise, the Mughal Commanders found only old rags, broken pots and old shoes in the carts.

After this the Mughal Commanders felt ashamed and sent apologies for what had happened. The Guru had proved his point to the Sikhs that the enemy was not trustworthy. He inspired them to continue their fight to ensure peaceful life in Anandpur. Then came a time, when forty Sikhs came to the Guru and said, "O Guru, we are fighting a losing battle. We are nearly starving. There is no food left and we have even eaten the leaves of the trees. The enemy is making it impossible to survive. How long can we go on like this? Why don't we leave the fort and make peace with our powerful enemy?"

"My dear Sikhs," said Guru Gobind Singh, "You are mistaken It's a fight for principles. We can't leave it half won or half lost. Wait patiently and the Khalsa is sure to win. I know that it is a long and tough struggle. But you must see it as I see it. It is a struggle against tyranny, oppression and injustice. It is essential if we are to establish religion securely. As your Guru I must show you the right way to end all evil. We all want goodness to triumph over evil. But such a victory does not come of its own accord. It has to be fought for and won with blood and sacrifices. Come what may, the Khalsa shall always be optimistic and win the war."

The forty Sikhs refused to agree. They told the Guru that they were going to leave Anandpur at once. The Guru said, "Well, my friends, if you can't stay any longer, write down your disclaimer (Bedawa) saying that from now on you are no longer my Sikhs." The Sikhs misled by their instinct, wrote the denial, signed it and handed it over to the Guru. The next night the forty Sikhs left Anandpur in the darkness and hurried to their homes.

The Guru and the rest of the Sikhs held on, till the enemy was weary of this long and fruitless fight. At last the Mughal Commanders tried once more to reassure the Guru. They sent two Ambassadors, one a Hindu and the other a Muslim. The Muslim came with a copy of the Holy Quran, and the Hindu brought with him the image of a cow. They both promised perfectly safe conduct to the Guru if he decided to leave Anandpur. They also apologized for what had happened some months before, when the Mughal soldiers had attacked the five cartloads of rubbish.

Then an emissary brought a letter giving a promise of peace and conciliation from Emperor Aurangzeb. The letter read -

"I have sworn on the Holy Quran not to harm you. If I do, may I not find a place in God's court. Stop fighting and come to me. If you are afraid of coming, leave Anandpur and let me know where I can come and see you in person. I am told that you are a holy man and I have every regard for holy men. Bear no malice towards the hill chiefs. They have assured me by swearing on their cows that they will never trick another fight with you and your Sikhs. I shall personally ask you to pardon their excesses against your."
This time the Emperor seemed quite sincere. Hard pressed by the Sikhs and his family, Guru Gobind Singh decided to leave Anandpur. After due preparations, the Guru's party moved out of the town and marched towards the plains of the Punjab. Next night they camped on the river Sirsa. Everything seemed all right. Everyone thought that the Mughal commanders would keep their word of honour. The Sikhs and the Guru, as usual, held the evening Diwan and said their prayers. As it grew dark, the Sikh guards sensed something wrong in the distance. Soon they began to hear the sounds of the movements of cavalry and occasional war cries of the Mughal armies. The message went round the camp and everybody was on the alert. The Mughal army attacked. The Sikhs drove them back with great losses. But then another wave of Mughal soldiers moved forward. The Guru ordered some of the Sikhs to fight resolutely, and hold the enemy. Guru Gobind Singh and the Khalsa cross the river SirsaMeanwhile he and the rest of his army would cross the river. A fierce battle followed in which Bhai Sahib Singh, one of the five Beloved Ones, fought daringly and died. A Muslim follower of the Guru, Mian Khan held the enemy until the Guru and his family with a few of his followers, safely crossed the river. In the darkness and confusion people ran in all directions to save their lives. Thousands were killed and many valuable manuscripts were lost. The Guru's mother and his two younger sons were separated from him. Mata Sundri, the Guru's wife, lost her way and a faithful Sikh escorted her to Delhi. When he could wait for them no longer the Guru and his two elder sons and about forty Sikhs hurried on while the Mughal army chased them hotly. After a few skirmishes on the way, they spent the second night in an old brick kiln in Ropar. Next morning they continued their journey closely pursued by the Mughal army. At last they reached the village of Chamkaur, where they were able to lodge themselves in a two-storey building. They quickly converted it into a small fortress. Chamkaur is a village in the district of Ropar about 50 miles from Ludhiana. It was there that a shining example of gallantry was demonstrated by the young sons of Guru Gobind Singh.
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