Battle of Chamkaur
The Battle of Chamkaur,’ also known as the Second battle of Chamkaur Sahib’ was a battle fought between the Khalsa, led by Guru Gobind Singh, against the Mughal forces led by Wazir Khan and other Mughal Generals that is believed to have taken place on 21 December 1705 and 22 December 1705.
Guru Gobind Singh makes a reference to this battle in the Zafarnamah. He tells how a huge (Dahlakh) army  attacked his Sikhs who were only forty in number and without food. In spite of their numerical strength, the Mughal soldiers were unable to kill or capture the Guru. The Guru also talks of cowardice of one of the Mughal generals and how he hid himself behind a wall, not having the courage to face the Guru.
Guru Gobind Singh and 400 Sikhs left Sri Anandpur Sahib on the bitter cold and rainy night of December 5, 1705 after a prolonged siege by the Mughal and Hindu hill-chieftains’ armies. The Mughals and Hindu chieftains had offered Guru Sahib a safe passage to leave Anandpur Sahib on an oath sworn on the Quran that had been signed by emperor Aurangzeb and an oath on the cow (which Hindus consider as sacred) by the hill chieftains. However, their oaths were meaningless as they betrayed Guru Sahib.
Maharaj writes in the Zafarnama:
13: Aurangzeb! I have no trust in your oaths anymore. (You have written that) God is one and that He is witness (between us). 14: I don’t have trust equivalent to even a drop (of water) in your generals (who came to me with oaths on Koran that I will be given safe passage out of Anandgarh Fort). They were all telling lies. 15: If anyone trusts (you) on your oath on Koran, that person is bound to be doomed in the end.
In the early hours of the morning at the river Sirsa, the Guru and his Sikhs were attacked by the Mughal army under the command of Wazir Khan, breaking their oath of assuring 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 were swept away by the swift current. During the confusion, the Guru’s mother and his two youngest sons were separated from the Khalsa forces. Of the 400 hundred that had left Anandpur only the Guru, his two eldest sons and 40 Sikhs were able to cross the river and regroup on the other side. Gurdwara Parivar Vichora had been built on the spot where the battle occurred and the Guru’s mother and his two youngest sons became separated from the band of Sikhs.
On 6 December 1705, 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 the services of 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 Kurekshetra. Guru Sahib and the 40 Singhs moved into the house of Bhai Budhi Chand situated on a hill. The Haveli with its high perimeter mud brick wall now became the fort of Guru Sahib.
At the commencement of Amritvela (early hours of the day before sunrise) Guru Sahib woke up Bhai Sangat Singh.
“Wake up Sangat Singh, its time for Asa di Var. Let’s do Kirtan,” Guru ji said.
What an amazing warrior-saint Guru was! An army of around 1000 was pursuing Guru Sahib and planning to attack the place where they were staying, and yet Guru Sahib was still blissfully continuing his daily discipline of meditation, Nitnem and Kirtan, with his Singhs.
Nawab Wazir Khan, yelled over the wall, “Gobind Singh! If you and your Sikhs come out now, you will be spared!” Guru Sahib replied to this with a rain of arrows. There was silence now in the cold morning. Clouds filled the sky followed by thunder and lightening. Guru and the Singhs became ready for the battle.
Preparing for Battle
In the chilly hours before sunrise a Mughal messenger came to negotiate with the Sikhs. However, Guru Sahib told the messenger to go away or face death. Inside the four walls of the mud-house Guru Sahib declared war.
First one Singh came out and when he was about to become Shaheed (martyr), he roared the Jaikara (slogan) of “Sat Siri Akal!” As soon as the sound of “Sat Siri Akal” echoed throughout the battlefield, the next Singh came out to fight in the battleground. The Nawab was astonished at what these Singhs were made of. He remembered the sayings of the Sikhs that “One Sikh equalled Sava Lakh (125,000)” – the bravery of one Sikh is equal to that of 125,000 ordinary men.
Baba Ajit Singh enters the battlefield
With Guru ji’s blessings, six of the Sikhs, Muhar Singh, Kirat Singh, Anand Singh, Lal Singh, Kesar Singh and Amolak Singh went forth to show their worth. Despite the overwhelming odds the Sikhs inflicted tremendous losses on the Mughals but eventually one by one they were fatally wounded and departed to join Waheguru.
Baba Ajit Singh then went before Guru Sahib and said, “Pita ji (dear father), permit me to go and fight on the battleground and grace me with the opportunity to make my life fruitful and worthy in service of the panth.”
Guru Gobind Singh hugged his beloved son and gave him a Shastr (weapon). Little of a beard or moustache had yet appeared on Baba Ajit Singh ‘s face, showing how young he was. Every father wants to see his child get married, but this was the time of fighting the enemy and defending the path of righteousness. But, that day death was waiting and Baba Ajit Singh would be marrying death.
The sun was about to rise. Guru saw that Nawab Wazir Khan intended to seize the fort of Chamkaur in one attempt. The Nawab surrounded the fort with his armies. At this time the Singhs made a benti (request) to Guru Sahib that since there was no means of escaping the siege, he should escape with the Sahibzade. However Guru Sahib told them that there is no difference between the Singhs and the Sahibzade. “You are all my sons! We will be victorious and we will all be free.”
Baba Ajit Singh boldly and valiantly came out of fort, accompanied with 5 other Singhs, which included one of the original Panj Piarey, Bhai Mohkam Singh. Guru watched the battle scene from the top of the fort. There was silence on all four sides. As they came into the battleground they roared, “Jaikarey”, which sounded like the roar of a lion. Today the 5 Singhs felt proud that under the leadership of Baba Ajit Singh , they had been blessed with an opportunity to fight on the side of the truth and the correct path of Guru Nanak. Baba Ajit Singh with the five Sikhs advanced swiftly onto the battlefield displaying his great courage, bravery and skills with weapons.
The enemy was immediately repulsed and many of the soldiers of thetreacherously deceitful Mughal and Hill forces met their deaths. Such was the fury of the Sikh contingent and the dedicated, continuous and precise support from the haveli-fortress that this small Sikh party of 6 bahadurs (brave men) of the Khalsa eliminated hundreds of brave enemy soldiers.
The enemy in one section was completely paralysed and disabled by the enormous strength and sudden impact of the Khalsa unit. With protection fire from the fort, which kept the surrounding army units in check and blocked their involvement in the battle on the ground.
After killing many hundreds of the enemy, the group began to take casualties. Slowly the impact of the unit began to diminished and after almost an hour, the enemy began surrounding the Sahibzada from all four sides.
Baba Ajit Singh called out, “Come nearer if you have courage.” The soldiers ran away frightened. Slowly, they began coming back in a larger group as not a single one of them had the courage to individually fight Baba Ajit Singh ji.
The Singhs’ weaponry skill on the battlefield reminded the Mughal soldiers of Ali their fabled warrior, and they feared for their lives. While fighting, Baba Ajit Singh’s kirpan (sword) broke. He then began to fight with a Neja (spear).
However, while killing one Mughal chief, it became stuck in his chest. Even then, Baba Ajit Singh remained in bliss and peace. While fighting, however, one by one the 5 Singhs were overcome and lost their life and became Shaheed (martyrs) of the Guru. One Mughal chief injured Baba’s horse.
As a result, Baba ji fought from the ground with his talwar (sword). With each blow of his sword, he split the enemy into two. When he struck the enemy twice with his sword, they got cut up into four pieces. Now as the army surrounded the sahibzada, Guru watched with keen interest to see how bravely his son would live his last few minutes of life.
When Baba attained Shaheedi, Guru Sahib roared a Jaikara of “Sat Siri Akal” full of emotions and courage – a salutation to the Almighty for the blessing of such a brave and noble son.
Baba Jujhar Singh also ready
Sahibzada Jujhar Singh watches his brother Ajit Singh in action with their father, Guru Gobind Singh
The news of Baba Ajit Singh attaining Shaheedi (martyrdom) spread. Hearing the news of his brother, Baba Jujhar Singh 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 embraced him and said, “Go my son and wed the life-giving bride, Death. May the Almighty be with you always”
Guru Sahib gave blessings to Baba Jujhar Singh just like a father gives blessings to the bride on the day of her marriage. Guru added, “I asked my father to give his life for “dharam” (righteousness and justice). Today, what I told my father, I now tell you son.”
Bhai Himmat Singh and Bhai Sahib Singh (two of the original Panj Piarey) along with 3 other Singhs accompanied Sahibzada Baba Jujhar Singh . The Mughals were shocked at what they saw. To the enemy, it looked as if Ajit Singh had come back.
“Whoever dies, let him die such a death, that he does not have to die again. (1)” (Ang 555, SGGS)
Dead bodies lay everywhere. Baba Jujhar Singh chose to attack another section of the enemy. He had observed the enemy and chose to attack the section who were showing more aggression against the Sikhs in the mud-fort then the rest of the enemy. Initially, the enemy did not have any courage to formulate an attack against this second unit after the fury of the force displayed by Ajit Singh’s unit.
To them this appeared like a repeat of the same disaster that had befallen them an hour or two ago. They had not even had time to recover from the previous shock and now they had a second wave of the same enormously vibrant energy. This time the enemy was driven even further back; many just took flight as they thought that the Sikh numbers must have increased and so many of the enemy deserted the battlefield. This new force of six Khalsa soldiers killed many hundreds of the enemy; many simply ran away.
The enemy were stunned by the heavy force and thrust of this second attack and had little choice but to retreat back. The Khalsa unit created a huge void in the enemy territory and a small circle of about 35 metres within the enemy ground was under the control of the Sikhs. No one had the courage to enter into this circle of control. Anyone who entered this area of command was immediately challenged and quickly extinguished. The Khalsa unit, with their backs to the centre of this circular area attacked the enemy courageously and with vigour at the perimeter of the controlled region.
The Guru watched this development with pride and gratefulness to the Almighty and he knew that the Sikhs had learned the lessons of warfare well and would soon join the many hundreds of Sikh martyrs who had attained the highest honour of Dharam. The Almighty had indeed blessed the Sahibzade and the Sikhs with true bravery and deepest understanding of the Guru’s message.
Slowly, due to the huge number of the enemy, they eventually assembled around Baba Jujhar Singh. He was now surrounded and had a Neja (spear) in his hand. Wherever the Neja hit, the enemy was destroyed. He also used a Khanda (double-sword), with which he killed the enemy as a farmer mows down his crop. Guru saw that Jujhar Singh was being surrounded and the opportunity to kill the Mughal soldiers was decreasing. For over 2 hours the Khalsa unit had continued to desolated the enemy. They were becoming tired.
Guru Gobind Singh providing protection cover for the Sahibzade
So Guru Sahib fired volleys of arrows in the area around the Sahibzada’s unit giving ‘protection fire’ to the Sikh soldiers. 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 giving rise to ‘casualty from friendly fire’. Guru sahib continued to give protection cover with arrows for almost 30 minutes, but none of the 5 Singhs or Baba were hit or injured by the arrows. Baba ji and the 5 Singhs demonstrated the Sikh concept of one equalling the bravery and courage of “Sava Lakh” (125,000) humans.
Baba Jujhar Singh eventually was able to break the ring of the Mughal army soldiers surrounding him. However, due to the huge number of enemy soldiers, Baba eventually attained Shaheedi but died a hero’s death in the fight against tyranny and falsehood.
“That person alone is known as a spiritual warrior, who fights in defence of religion. They may be cut apart, piece by piece, but they never leave the field of battle. 22.” (Ang 1105, SGGS)
This was truly a sign of a dedicated warrior! By the time Baba Jujhar Singh had attained Shaheedi nightfall had arrived and the moon could be seen in the sky. Guru Sahib wrote in his composition, the Zafarnama:
“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)
At the day’s end, 7 December 1705
After the day’s fighting, by the night, writer Dalip Singh in Life of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji tells us that the following 11 Sikhs remained alive:
1: Bhai Daya Singh
2: Bhai Dharam Singh
3: Bhai Mann Singh
4: Bhai Sangat Singh
5: Bhai Sant Singh
6: Bhai Ram Singh
7: Bhai Kehar Singh
8: Bhai Santokh Singh
9: Bhai Deva Singh
10: Bhai Jiwan Singh
11: Bhai Katha Singh
During the night of 7/8 December 1705, Bhai Daya Singh and Bhai Dharam Singh (two of the original Panj Piarey) along with Bhai Maan Singh and other Singhs remained in the fort of Chamkaur Sahib. There were a total of 11 Singhs left on the evening of December 7 ,1704. Fighting paused at nightfall while the Mughals regrouped but this also gave valuable time to the few remaining Sikhs to hatch a plan.
The 11 Singhs left included Bhai Dharam Singh, Bhai Dharam Singh (the two remaining panj piaare) and Bhai Mann Singh, Bhai Sangat Singh, Bhai Sant Singh and 6 others. These 5 Singh begged Guru Ji to escape, they said “At Kesgarh Sahib we watched you beseeching the five beloved ones to initiate you with Amrit.
You had said then, I am of the Khalsa, and the Khalsa is mine. Today we ask in the capacity of the Khalsa to beseech you to leave Chamkaur and escape to a safer place.” Guru Sahib had no choice but to accept their demands. It was decided that Guru Ji, Mann Singh and the two panj piaare would leave the fort and that they would dress up Sant Singh to look like Guru Ji because he had an uncanny resemblance to Guru Sahib.
Guru Ji killed the few soldiers that were on watch. Then he left in the pitch dark and started to shout “Sat Sri Akal”. The Mughals who couldn’t see where anyone was ended killing several of their own while Guru Ji and the three Sikhs who accompanied him escaped.
They had previously agreed if they had split up to meet on the outskirts of Machhiwara, twenty seven kilometres away. Sant Singh, Sangat Singh and the other Singhs left at the fort inflicted great losses to the enemy at night by causing distraction and confusion.
The end of the Battle
As day broke, the Mughals launched an all out attack on the fortress. There was stiff resistance. They finally entered the fort, after hours of battering the fort, but Bhai Sangat Singh, Bhai Sant Singh and the remaining Sikhs charged out on horseback. They engaged the enemy and killed scores of the enemy before attaining martyrdom. The Mughals thought they had killed Guru Ji but the Guru had already escaped. The Khalsa lived to fight another day.
Guru Sahib had not left quietly. On leaving, Guru Sahib blew his horn and stood on high ground and clapped his hands three times saying “PeerÚ Hind Rahaavat” (“The “Peer” of India is leaving”).
“Blessed is that land, blessed is that father, blessed is the great mother. Whose son has shown the way to live, for centuries to come.”