Shahidee Elder Sahibzades – Story of bravery & sacrifice
Every year on December 21, the Sikh community honors the two elder sons of Guru Gobind Singh who on this day in 1705 showed the world how to fight in battle; no matter how young you may be – the duty to Dharam and country comes first; before personal needs, pleasure and comforts.
On 20 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 took up positions in the Haveli; more properly called a Garhi or mini fortress – a two story mud brick house with a high perimeter wall. The Garhi was situated on a hill, which gave the Guru Sahib a good position from which to rain his arrows on any attackers.
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 said.
What an amazing warrior Guru 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 Aas di Var Kirtan 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 have already had experience of their broken promises and 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
There was a chill in the air and morning had not yet come.
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 Sikhs is like 125000 ordinary men.
Baba Ajit Singh Ji enters the battlefield
Baba Ajit Singh now 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 beard or moustache had yet not grown on Baba Ajit Singh ‘s face, showing how young he was. Every father wants to see their child get married, but this was the time of fighting the enemy and defending the path of righteousness. Death was waiting and today Baba Ajit Singh would be marrying death.
The sun was about to rise. Guruji saw that Nawab Wazir Khan wanted to take hold of the fort of Chamkaur in one attempt. The Nawab surrounded the fort with his armies. At this time the Singhs did a benti (request) to Guru Sahib that since there was no means of escaping the siege, he should escape with the Sahibzade(his sons). However Guru Sahib told them that there is no difference between the Singhs and the Sahibzade. “You are all mine! 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 everywhere 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 on to the battlefield displaying weaponry skills, great courage and bravery. The enemy was immediately repulsed back and many of the treacherous and deceitful soldiers in the Mughal and Hill forces were slaughtered. Such was the fury of the Sikh contingent and the dedicated, continuous and precise support from the mud-fort that this small Sikh party of 6 brave bahadurs of the Khalsa force 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 diminish 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 Allah, and they feared for their lives. Baba Ajit Singh even in the middle of the battleground 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 the sword, he split the enemy into two. 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 son.
Baba Jujhar Singh Ji also ready
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(Gods Name) 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. 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)” (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 555)
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 so 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 disserted the battlefield. This new force of six Khalsas 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.
So Guru Sahib fired volleys of arrows in the area around the Sahibzada 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 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.” (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 1105)