At the Master’s Feet : Guru Gobind Singh Ji

The Rani of Raipur, a small state in the present district of Ambala,was a devoted disciple of the Guru. Her ministers advised her to giveup her new faith on political grounds. The Guru was at enmity withthe main body of the Hill-Chiefs, who were her neighbours and whowere, just then, chafing under the crushing defeat which he had inflictedon them. They would surely resent the Rani’s sympathy for their enemy.

They might invade her capital and annex her land. So, discretion andpolicy counselled caution.

The Rani’s heart was not hers. She had offered it at the shrine ofsacred and divine love. Her soul had partaken of the bliss that lies inHis name, and she was living in expectation of a sight of His servantand men’s Master. She felt that her counsellors had, at their hearts, thewelfare of her body, and concern for her worldly possessions. Theywere no friends of her heart and soul. She had to make her choice.

She made it with a heart firm as steel. Millions of kings and queenshad been in the world, renowned in their times for grandeur and might.

Where were they ? They had mingled with the dust. What difference,then, would it make if she were to become a beggar from a queen ?The raj was His gift; beggary would also be His gift and equally dear.

Why should they fear who believe the Lord of the world to be realand for ever true ? She would not give up her faith. She did not waverin her attachment to the Guru. She knew that he was returning toAnandpur. Though her city did not lie on the direct route from Pauntato Anandpur, yet something within her assured her that, if she lovedthe Master’s feet with true faith and unselfish devotion, her love wouldsurely attract him to her city. He would surely come and bless her.

From Paunta Sahib the Guru went to Sadhaura to meet and blessSayyid Budhu Shah and his wife. Thence, passing through Laharpur,he reached near the village named Toka. This place, about eight milesfrom Nahan city, was in the Nahan state. It had a very good situation.

Near it was a dense jungle which abounded in game. The Guru decidedto stay there for a few days and divert himself in chase and hunt. Herea messenger arrived from Medni Parkash with a message that the rajawould be coming to pay his homage at that place. But in reality hewas too afraid of his neighbouring chiefs, on whom the Guru hadinflicted a severe defeat, to show openly his friendship with the Guru.

So he procrastinated. At last, on the advice of his Wazirs, he sent wordto the Guru that he was too busy to come himself, but would send hisminister to pay him respects on his behalf. The Guru knew what thoughtswere working in the Raja’s mind. So he moved on without waiting forthe minister.

On the site of the Guru’s camp near Laharpur and Toka, there isa gurdwara called Toka Sahib. A religious fair is held there each yearon the tenth day of the bright half of Jeth. From this it would appearthat the Guru was at that place on that day in 1746 BK.

The Guru next halted at Tabra in the state of Ramgarh. The Rajaof Ramgarh received and served him with great devotion in andhospitality, and presented suitable offerings. The Guru gave him a swordwith a jewelled handle.

The Rani of Raipur had thrown all her ‘wisemenY counsels tothe winds and had declared, Let go my raj and my wealth, but stay,grow, and prosper, my faith in the Master.’

One day the people of Raipur saw clouds of dust rising andapproaching their city from the direction of Ramgarh State. All werealarmed, thinking that the Raja of Ramgarh had, at the instigation of,and perhaps in conjunction with Bhim Chand and Fateh Shah, cometo ainvade and conquer Raipur. The Rani was called out from her palace.

Soldiers were marshalled. Arms and ammunitions were served out. Fortguns were loaded; their muzzles were directed towards the ‘invaders’.

Generals ran hither and thither, issuing instructions and encouragingthe men to prove their salt and mettle. Childern cried and womensobbed. The general people prostrated before their stone-gods and criedout for help. But the gods showed no signs of life, gave no assurance,and infused no confidence in their votaries.

Amid all this confusion, the Rani felt a strange agitation and acertain elevation as of supreme joy. She felt that the invader had adeeper intention than that of conquering merely the worldly wealth ofher people. He would enslave them with chains which none would beable to see, yet which all would feel, and none would have the powerto break.

The ‘invaders’ were now only a few miles from Raipur. The beatof their drum was audible. With its every beat the Rani’s heart beat awider beat. She told her soldiers to keep quiet until she ordered themto move. A close friend of the Rani, an old lady, who had once beento the Guru’s darbar, assured her that the drum and the clarions werethose of the Guru. So, there was no room for fear, but an occasion forjoy.

‘My sagacious advisers’, said the Rani, ‘we shall surrender to theinvader, body and the soul. Let us all march out to receive him. Mindyou, no adverse remark ! Put down the arms. They are not needed.

Open the gates of the city. Let him come in, friends. Pray that he mayenter.’

Saying this, she marched in the direction of the approaching’conqueror’. The ministers and the Generals were amazed at the Rani’saction, but they obeyed. Soon all doubts were removed. The ‘invader’

was the Conqueror of Hearts, come to make fresh love-conquests. Shebowed to him. The ministers bowed to him. The Generals and theirarmies bowed to him. The whole city bowed to him.

The Gum’s camp was set up in the maidan before the fort. TheRani entertained the Guru and his men with her best. She attended theevening diwan, listened to the chorus of heavenly music, and partookof the immortalizing Word and His Name. Her body, heart, and souldrank deep, now that the Fount of Bliss had been placed at theirdisposal. At the conclusion of the gathering, the Rani begged the Guruto hold the morning diwan within her fort and palace, and also to dinethere.

In the Rani’s household none slept that night. All were busy,arranging and decorating the halls where the Sangat had to sit. Afterthe morning diwan the beloved guests were served with food. The Guruthen expressed his intention to depart. Whatever might have been theyearnings of her heart and soul, she had not the heart to oppose hiswill. She presented to him a beautiful horse with costly trappings andpurse of elven hundred rupees. Every one of his followers receivedtwo rupees. The Guru gave her son a rob of honour, a sword and ashield. To the Rani he gave a priceless gift. It was a book of DivineWord. He blessed her and advised her to let her son’s hair grow itsnatural growth. She was afraid of the ‘Turks’. He told her to have nofears. Her race would endure. The Turks had only a short time moreto rule, he added.

The Guru departed from the city but not from the citadel of herheart and soul. She erected a Gurdwara in each of the places wherethe Guru had held his Name-gatherings.

From ‘here the Guru passed through various villages, like Toda,Nada, Nabha,’ and Dhakauli in all of which he was lovingly served. AtDhakauli he found that the people suffered great inconvenience on accountof scarcity of water. ‘Food to the hungry and water to the thirsty’, hadever been the Guru’s advice to his Sikhs. He ordered the construction ofa baubi, a well with steps going to the level of the water. It exists up tothis day. The Pathans of Kotla near Ropar served him with great zeal anddevotion. He gave them a sword which they treasured as a priceless gift.

At Kiratpur he visited the shrines of his ancestors.

When the Guru had left Anandpur and taken up residence atPaunta, the place had lost much of its bustle and prosperity. The Guru’sprolonged absence would, in itself, have been a cause potent enoughto produce such depletion. To that was added the news that Raja BhimChand was preparing for a show-down with the Guru. It was fearedthat he might attack and ransack the city at any time.

But on hearing the news of the Guru’s victory at Bhangani andhis contemplated return, a large number of those who had gone awayreturned to Anandpur. As the Guru approached the city, all its inhabitantspoured out with enthusiasm and joy to receive and welcome him. Everystreet, every lane, and every hut and house presented a gala-dayappearance. The whole city was illuminated at night.

The Guru returned to Anandpur after absence of about four years.

Now the city was again full of bustle and activity. The deserters hadall returned. Many others had also come to settle there. The Guru tookspecial measures to add to its prosperity and to make it grow in everyway. In order to reassure the people and to ensure the safety of thecity against possible attacks from the Hill-Chiefs, he strengthened itsfortifications. Soon after his return in 1746 BK (1689 A.D.), heconstructed five fortresses, namely, Anandgarh, Lohgarh, Fatehgarh,Keshgarh, and Holgarh. Soon the place grew to be even more populousand prosperous than before.

Anandpur had now grown into a big city. Besides the Sikhs, whoformed the Guru’s standing force and household, several shopkeepershad come and settled there. The fame of the Guru’s victory spread farand wide, and disciples came in large numbers from every part of thecountry. Each day appeared to be a market-day. Anandpur was nowthe city of earthly, as well as immortal bliss.

1. The village Nabha is in Rajpura tehsil, about four miles to the west of Ghaggarrailway station on the Ambala-Kalka line. Outside the village is a Gurddwara at thesite of the Guru’s camp during the visit

After his severe repulse at Bhangani, Raja Bhim Chand thoughtit better to secure peace with the Guru; for he was too afraid ofmaintaining open hostility with one who had completely routed thecombined hill armies. A messenger was despatched to sound the Guru.

The Guru had enmity with no one. He wanted to be a friend of all.

His doors were open to all. His arms were ever in readiness to lift thefallen; they were ever open to receive the repenting sinner; his soulever yearned to console and soothe the inflicted. The messenger wastold that all aggression in the past had been on the Raja’s side, that atthe Guru’s aarbar people met their deserts, and that if the Raja reallyintended peace, he need have no fears on account of the Guru. SoonRaja Bhim Chand came and asked forgiveness for the past. The Guruassured him of his friendship and help if he would behave well.