Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism


From the early youth Joga Singh was living at the Guru's Darbar and was a great devotee. One day Guru's eye caught him and he asked what his name was. He replied," O true king, my name is Joga Singh." The Guru asked," Whose Joga you are?" (Joga means for whose service he is fit or simply for whom he is?) "I am Guru Joga (I am in the service of the Guru)," replied Joga Singh. Upon this the Guru promised," If you are Guru Joga, then Guru is tere Joga ( then the Guru is for you)."

After sometimes Joga Singh went to his home in Peshawar for his marriage. When the marriage ceremony was half-way through, a man arrived with an urgent message from the Guru to him to proceed to Anandpur without delay. Joga Singh read the command and instantly left for Anandpur without completing the marriage ceremony. He obeyed Guru's order over everything else. Indeed the path of the devotees is sharper than the edge of a razor blade, and it is even narrower than the hair-breadth on which they have to tread.

Joga Singh continued his journey to Anandpur as fast as he could. After passing through Lahore and Amritsar, he reached a resting spot at Hoshiarpur. On his way his ego got inflated and he thought," Who could have acted like me? Certainly very few Sikhs would carry out the Guru's order like me." This sense of pride brought his fall. At night he was overwhelmed by evil-passion and he started towards the house of a prostitute. Joga Singh was wearing Guru's uniform- a turban and beard. On his way to the prostitute, Joga Singh talked to himself," If some one sees me going into the house of a prostitute, it will bring disgrace to the Guru. Outwardly I am in Guru's attire. So nobody should see me entering the prostitute's house."

As soon as he reached near the house of the prostitute, a watchman appeared saying aloud," Be aware fellows!" Joga Singh could not enter the house and he walked on to the next street. Looking around and thinking that the watchman might have left, he hurried towards the house of the prostitute again. To his amazement the watchman reappeared shouting," Be aware fellows!" Joga Singh could not afford to be seen by anybody going into the house of the prostitute, knowing in his heart that it would bring slur to Guru's name since he was in Guru's uniform. Finally he quit his evil act after trying a few times without success.

Next morning he started his journey and reached Anandpur. Joga Singh stood mute before the Guru with his head down. The Guru asked him about the well-being of himself and his family but Joga Singh stood mute. The divine Master then addressed him," Joga Singh, do you remember when you said that you were Guru Joga, and the Guru had promised, if you were Guru Joga, then Guru tere Joga." Upon this the Guru further explained,"In the garb of a watchman I guarded you in the streets of Hoshiarpur last night, against the sinful deeds and thus saved you from disgrace." Joga Singh fell on Guru's feet and asked for forgiveness.

Such are the ways of the Master. Once we put our complete faith in him, he does not abandon us. The Guru confirms:

"As long as the Khalsa remain distinct and intact, I shall bless them in every way; When they detract

from the prescribed path, I detest them for ever."

(Guru Gobind Singh)



The hill Rajas including the Raja of Kahlur came to visit the Guru and had a good deal of discussion about the pros and cons of the Khalsa. He advised them to embrace the Khalsa religion in order to elevate the fallen condition of their country. The hill Rajas took their departure without accepting the Guru's proposal to accept Khalsa creed.

The immediate effect of the creation of the Khalsa was the anxiety of the hill Rajas who considered the Guru's activities as a potent threat to their own religion and state power. The Guru asked his Sikhs, wherever they resided, to come to Anandpur and accept baptism, thus, become members of the Khalsa. They started coming in large numbers to pay homage to him and get baptized. This growing number of the baptized Sikhs, surcharged with their spirit of equality, and disengaged from the orthodox way of living, who seemed to be always ready to combat evil, alarmed the hill Rajas who considered it a direct challenge to their feudal order and their orthodox way of living.

One day the Guru went on a hunting excursion in the Dun when Balia Chand and Alim Chand, two hill chiefs made a surprise attack on his party. There were only a few Sikhs with the Guru. Both sides fought desperately. Alim Chand aimed a blow of his sword at Alim Singh, who received it on his shield and then with his return blow struck off Alim Chand's right arm. He managed to escape and left Balia Chand in sole command of the troops. However Balia Chand was soon shot dead by Ude Singh. The hill troops, having found one of their chiefs dead and the other having fled, abandoned the battle field leaving the Guru's party victorious.



Guru Gobind Singh with Panj Pyaras.

After this defeat, the hill Rajas thought it highly dangerous to allow the Sikhs to increase in power and number. They therefore, decided collectively to complain to the Delhi government against the Sikhs. Aurangzeb was still busy in the south. The viceroy of Delhi sent General Din Beg and General Painde Khan each with five thousand men to resist the Guru's encroachments on the rights of the hill Rajas. When the imperial forces reached Rupar, they were joined by hill Rajas.

The Guru appointed the Five Beloved Ones as generals of his army. The Sikh chronicler states that, when the engagement began at Anandpur, the Turks were roasted by the continuous and deadly fire of the Sikhs. General Painde Khan seeing determined resistance of the Sikhs, shouted to his men to fight to the death against the infidels. He came forward to engage in a single combat with the Guru and invited him to strike the first blow. The Guru refused the role of an aggressor and claimed that he had vowed never to strike except in self-defence. Upon this Painde Khan discharged an arrow which whizzed past Guru's ear. He charged another arrow which also missed the mark. The whole of Painde Khan's body except his ears was encased in armour. Knowing this the Guru then discharged an arrow at his ear with such an unerring aim that he fell off his horse on the ground and never rose again. This, however, did not end the battle. Din Beg assumed sole command of the troops. Maddened by Painde Khan's death they fought with great desperation but could not make any impression on the firm hold of the Sikhs. On the other hand, however, the Sikhs caused a great havoc upon the enemy. The hill chiefs left the field. In the meantime Din Beg was wounded and he beat a retreat but was pursued by the Sikhs as far as Rupar (upto the village of Khidrabad near Chandigarh where there is a Gurdwara in that memory). This battle was fought in the beginning of 1701.



The Rajas of Jammu, Nurpur, Mandi, Bhutan, Kullu, Kionthal, Guler, Chamba, Srinagar, Dadhwal, Handur and others, assembled at Bilaspur to discuss the newly created situation. Raja Ajmer Chand of Kahlur (son of late Raja Bhim Chand) addressed them that if they overlooked the growing power of the Guru, he would one day drive them out from their territories. On the other hand if they were to seek assistance from Delhi again and again, they might be taken over by the Mughal empire for ever. It was, therefore, decided that they must defend themselves. If all the hill Rajas contributed reasonable contingents, they could muster a large army which would be sufficient to annihilate the Guru and his Sikhs. Thus a simple and feasible measure was thought out to invest the Guru's capital, Anandpur, and starve its occupants into submission.

Accordingly all the Rajas brought their contingents and marched towards Anandpur. On arriving near thecity they dispatched a letter to the Guru in which they wrote," The land of Anandpur is ours, we allowed your father to dwell on it and he never paid any rent. Now you have originated a new religion which is opposed to our religious system. We have endured all this up to the present, we can no longer overlook it. You should pay the arrears of rent for the occupation of our land and promise to pay it regularly for the future. If you fail to accept these terms, then prepare your departure from Anandpur or be ready for the consequences." The Guru replied," My father had purchased this land and he paid for it. If you deprive me of Anandpur, you shall have it with bullets added thereto. Seek my protection, and you will be happy in both worlds. Also seek the protection of the Khalsa and abandon pride. Now is the time for a settlement. I shall act as a mediator between the Khalsa and you. You may then rule your states without apprehension."

It was now clear to the Rajas that the Guru would not surrender. Next morning they beat the drum of war.As anticipated a large number of Ranghars and Gujars under the command of Jagatullah flocked to the side of the hill Rajas.

Five hundred men from the Majha area arrived under the command of Duni Chand to join the Guru's forces, and ther reinforcements from other quarters also arrived at that juncture. There were two main forts, Lohgarh and Fatehgarh. The Guru ordered his forces not to advance beyond the city but remain as far as possible on the defensive. Sher Singh and Nahar Singh were appointed as chiefs to guard Lohgarh, and Fatehgarh was entrusted to Ude Singh. Sahibzada Ajit Singh, Guru's eldest son, asked his father's permission to join hands with Ude Singh.

The hill Rajas opened fire with large guns on the Guru's fortress. Several brave Sikhs made a determined stand against the enemy and forced them to retreat. The allied chiefs then held a brief council of war in which it was decided to despatch Raja Kesari Chand, the haughty chief of Jaswal, to attack the right flank and Jagatullah the left flank of the Guru's position while Ajmer Chand himself and his troops made a front attack on Anandpur. Jagatullah was shot dead by Sahib Singh and the Sikhs did not retreat to allow the enemy to remove his body. Raja Ghumand Chand of Kangra rallied his troops but failed to cause the Sikhs to retreat. The hill chiefs were in great dismay at the result of the battle and held a council of war during the night. Raja Ajmer Chand advised the council for peace with the Guru saying that the Guru occupied Guru Nanak's spiritual throne and there would be no indignity in appealing to him as supplicants. Many Rajas agreed to the proposal but Kesari Chand of Jaswal opposed the reconciliation and promised to fight with more determination the next day in order to oust the Guru from Anandpur.

The severed head of Guru Teg Bahadur, after his martyrdom in Delhi, being brought to Anandpur Sahib

Next morning the allied forces contented themselves with concentrating their attack on one particular part of the city but the Sikhs again offered valiant resistance. The allied forces rallied many times but could not overcome the brave Sikhs and so they decided to siege the city which lasted for a few weeks. As the blockade prolonged successfully, Raja Kesari Chand prepared to intoxicate an elephant and direct him against the city. Whole body of the elephant was encased in steel. A strong spear projected from his forehead for the purpose of assault. The intoxicated elephant was directed towards the gate of Lohgarh fort and the allied army followed him. The Guru blessed his Sikh, Vichitar Singh to combat the elephant. Vichitar Singh took a lance to meet the furious animal. He raised his lance and drove it through the elephant's head armor. On this the animal turned around on the hill soldiers, and killed several of them. Meanwhile Ude Singh continued to advance against Kesari Chand, challenged him, and then with one blow cut off his head. Mohkam Singh, one of the Five Beloved Ones, cut off the mad elephant's trunk with one blow of his sword. What remained of the hill army now fled. In the retreat the Raja of Handur was severely wounded by Sahib Singh.

On the following day Ghumand Chand of Kangra directed the efforts of his troops against the city. Ghumand Chand's horse was killed by a bullet from the musket of Alim Singh. The battle lasted with varying success until evening, when Ghumand Chand, as he was proceeding to his tent in the evening, was mortally wounded by a chance bullet. All the hill chiefs now became disheartened and demoralized. Raja Ajmer Chand was the last to leave Anandpur and marched home in the dead of night. This battle was fought in 1701.


Ajmer Chand in spite of the defeat of the allied forces, determined to oust the Guru. He sent an envoy to the Emperor's viceroy in Sirhind and another envoy to the viceroy of Delhi to complain against the Sikhs and sought their help to assist the hill chiefs in destroying the Guru's power and expelling him from Anandpur. Accordingly the imperial forces were directed to assist the hill chiefs.

At the same time to save their faces, the hill chiefs pro posed to the Guru through Pamma Brahman, thatthey would be friends with him for ever only if he left Anandpur for a while and come back later. The Guru agreed to the proposal and left for Nirmoh, a village situated about a mile from Kiratpur. After he reached Nirmoh, Raja Ajmer Chand and Raja of Kangra both thought that since he was now in the open and he had no fort around him for protection, it would be better to launch an attack. They attacked the Guru's army without even waiting for the arrival of the imperial army. A fierce battle ensued in which the Sikhs were ultimately victorious. One afternoon as the Guru was sitting in his open court, the hill chiefs engaged a Mohammadan gunner to kill him for an adequate remuneration. The gunner fired a cannon ball which missed the Guru but took away the life of Sikh who was fanning im. The Guru picked up his bow and shot an arrow which killed the gunner and with another arrow killed his brother ho was assisting him. On seeing this the hill men quit fighting. The two Mohammadans were buried on the spot called Siyah Tibbi or the black hill and a Gurdwara was erected by the Sikhs to commemorate Guru's escape from the bullet.

The army of Wazir Khan, the viceroy of Sirhind, arrived in due time. The Guru found himself in a verydangerous position between the hill Rajas on one hand, and the imperial army on the other. But he resolved to defend himself in whatever way it was and his Sikhs stood faithfully and valiantly by him. Wazir Khan gave an order to his troops to make a sudden rush and seize the Guru. The Guru was successfully protected by his son Ajit Singh and his other brave warriors. They stopped the advance of the imperial forces and cut them down in rows. The carnage continued until night. Next day the imperial army and the hill chiefs made a furious assault when the Guru decided on retiring to Basoli whose Raja had frequently invited him to his capital. Until the Guru's army reached the river Satluj, fierce fighting continued in which brave Sahib Singh was slain. Bitting his thumb Wazir Khan admitted that he had never before witnessed such desperate fighting. The Guru with his troops crossed over the river and reached Basoli. The hill chiefs were overjoyed and presented elephants to Wazir Khan and departed to their homes. Wazir Khan returned to Sirhind. This battle was fought at the end of 1701.

Daya Singh and Ude Singh requested the Guru to return to Anandpur. After staying a few days at Basoli, he marched back to Anandpur and the inhabitants of the city were delighted to see him again among them.Finding the uru again firmly established at Anandpur, Raja Ajmer Chand thought it most wise to pursue for peace. The Guru told Ajmer Chand that he was willing to come to terms with him, but he would punish him if he were again found guilty of treachery. Ajmer Chand was glad to find peace with the Guru and he sent his family priest with presents to him. The other hill Rajas also followed Ajmer Chand's example and made good relations with the Guru.

After this the Guru went to Malwa for the propagation of his mission. In January 1703 he went to a fair held at Kurukshetra on the occasion of a solar eclipse in order to purchase horses to replace those which were killed or stolen in previous warfare. The custom of sale and barter of horses and other animals at religious fairs was prevalent even during the time of the Guru.

Two Mohammadan generals, Saiyad Beg and Alif Khan, were on their way from Lahore to Delhi. Raja Ajmer Chand who also went to Kurukshetra along with other hill chiefs, thought to secure their assistance. He promised the generals large remuneration if they attacked the Guru. Instead on hearing favorable accounts of the Guru, Saiyad Beg withdrew his army, and when the battle ensued at Chamkaur between the Guru's and Alif Khan's troops, he joined the Guru's forces. Upon this Alif Khan retired from the contest thinking that he had no chance for victory. The Guru returned to Anandpur. Saiyad Beg threw his lot with him and accompanied him to Anandpur, and remained with him as a trustworthy and powerful ally.

After two years of peace, the old hostilities reappeared. The reasons being, the increasing prestige of the Guru and the clashes as a result between the hill Rajas and the Sikhs.



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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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