Murder Of the Innocents 185 : Guru Gobind Singh Ji

With eyes melting into tears and a voice choked with sobs of agony,Mahi related the following story :-

In the confusion which followed the fight near the Sirsa, MataGujri, with her eight and six years old grandsons, and a faithful attendant,got separated from the Guru and the Sikhs. In the biting winter windof early dawn, she travelled through a thick jungle as chance directedher. Her aged limbs and the tender bodies of her little ones werebenumbed with cold, and her heart was sunk in grief and anxiety aboutthe fate of her scattered family. Some way off, she was accosted byher family cook, Gangu Brahmin. His village Kheri’ was near by. Heoffered to give her shelter and protection in his house which was quitenear.

He lodged them in the hinder-most room of his house. A strawmat spread on the floor was all that the little princes and the old ladyhad for beds. She would place their heads in her lap and put them tosleep. As for herself, sleep had refused to visit her eyes. Day and night,the three remained concealed in that dark room. One day, the boys feltweary and entreated their grandmother to take them to the top of thehouse She consented. Their attendant had gone to gather news aboutthe Guru. Gangu. who had been all along waiting for such an opportunity,crept in to the room and stole away Mata Gujri’s pack of gold andjewellery, which he had coveted ever since the moment of his meetingthe old lady. When she returned to the room and found the pack missing,she called Gungu and said, “A pack was lying here but appears tohave been removed. If you have removed it to a place of safety, welland good, otherwise steps should be taken to trace it. I wonder whocould have come into the room.”

The Brahmin feigned indignation. “This, then, is the return.”

thundered he in rage, “that you propose to make me for my having1. This village, Kheri, is at a distance of about a mile and a half from Morinda. Itwas destroyed by Baba Banda Singh in 1767 Bk, when Gangu was punished.

saved you from certain death. O Lord ! I exposed myself to grave risksin housing these homeless relatives of a rebel, and they falsely accuseme of theft ! Ungrateful lady, this gratuitous insult to a pious Brahminwill be soon and amply avenged.” Mata Gujri tried to calm him, buthe would not listen to what she had to say, he went to the MuhammadanChaudhari of the village and informed him how they could both earna handsome reward by delivering to the authorities the Guru’s motherand son. The Chaudhari went and informed the official of Morinda.”Thelater soon arrived with a posse of soldiers, arrested the three, and tookthem away to Sarhind as prisoners This happened on Poh 10,1761 Bk/December 24.1704 A.D.

The Nawab of Sarhind confined them in a tower of his fort. Withthe cold, hard, bare floor as their bed, and without any beddingwhatsoever, they had to shiver and lie awake the whole night long.

Next day, that is, on December 25, the Sahibzadas were summonedbefore Wazir Khan, Governor of Sarhind. Mother Gujri was loth topart with them. The soldiers assured her solemnly that no harm wasintended. The Governor wanted only to see the sons of the Guru. Theywould surely be restored to her. The princes themselves, afraid ofnaught, urged their grandmother to let them go. She could not butagree. When they took leave of her, she exhorted them to be true tothe ideals of their father and grandfather, and to do or say nothingwhich might tarnish the lustrous name of the Gurus. She felt that shehad seen the last of them, but she did not let her heart droop in theleast

ii. 0° reaching the court, they shouted in one voce,”Wahi Guru jiKa Khalsa, Sri Wahiguru ji ki Fateh”. Their slim and handsome persons,their fearless mien, and their calm, bright faces, which shone with thespiritual majesty of their father, drew forth involuntary acclamationsof wonder and admiration from all who were sitting in the Governor’scourt. He himself was perturbed. A Hindu Minister of his, Sucha Nandby name, advised the little princes to bow before the great Nawab.

“Not we,” replied Zorawar Singh, the elder of the two. “We havebeen taught to bow to none but God and Guru.We acknowledge notthe authority of these ephemeral, temporal lordings.”

This daring reply astonished all. The Nawab felt slighted, but evenhe could not exclude from his heart a feeling, however faint andsuppressed, of admiration for the little heroes. Still, he controlled hisfeelings and, in a feigned swt. t voice, told them that their father andtwo elder brothers had been killed a few days back. “They wereinfidels.” added he,”and merited death. Good luck has brought you toan Islamic darbar. Your souls will be washed of infidelity and madefit for paradise in the life to come. In this world you will be given allcomfort and luxury which honour, rank and wealth can bring. Whenyou grow up, we shall marry you to beautiful princesses of royaldescent. And from this earthly paradise you will, in due course, beushered by angels to that genuine paradise where Hazrat Muhammadsits deputy to the Mighty Allah. If you say ‘not’ to my proposal, youwill be treated as kafirs are treated.”

Zorawar singh turned to his younger brother, Fateh Singh, and,in a low voice, asked him what answer he would make. Fateh Singhhad seen but six winters, yet in his veins ran the blood of Guru Arjan,Guru Hargobind, Guru Tegh Bahadur, and Guru Gobind Singh. So hereplied, “Brother, no pleasure of palate or sense, no fear of death ortorture, should induce us to forsake the true faith. We should rememberthe parting advice of our grandmother. We should never think of cloudingthe fair name of our brave and holy ancestors. What is there so preciousin life that we should hug it at the cost of our souls ? What is thereso ugly or abhorrent in death that we should shun it, though it mayeven be coming as a deliverer from the snares of this world ? I amprepared to die.”

There was dead silence in the court. So, the words of the twobrothers, though uttered in undertones, were heard by quite a largenumber. All who heard them were filled with awe and admiration atthe fate which awaited them. Zorawar Singh said in a clear, loud, andsteady voice, “You say that our father has been killed. We can neverbelieve it. He has yet a good deal of work to do in this world. He isalive and we are sure of that. Know that we are sons of him who, atmy age, voluntarily sent his father to risk his life in an attempt to cureyour Emperor of blind bigotry. You know what happened. How canyou ever think of our renouncing the faith which has been preservedand developed at such dear costs ? We spurn your worldly pleasures.

We would not live as renegades. Sweet, life giving death is far betterto us. Our choice is made.”

The words in themselves were enough to inflame the haughtyNawab. But Sucha Nand (also called Kuljas) poured oil over the fire.

“Look here gentlemen” said he,”this is their behaviour in

childhood. What will it be when they grow up ? Their father alone hasgiven the Government a lot of trouble. What will be the result whenthese two grow up and take his place ? This progeny of a cobra hadbetter be smothered in time.”

The Nawab whispered to him. “That is true, of course. But if theymay somehow be persuaded to embrace Islam, they will constitutevaluable addition to the community. There need be no hurry. Theycannot run away. We shall try again tomorrow, with threats andtemptations, to make them yield.”

Then in a loud and thundering voice he said to them,”I give youtime to think over. Be wise and accept my advice; otherwise, you willbe tortured thus that your cries will be heard far and wide. Thereafter,you will be hacked to pieces.”

They were taken back to the tower. Next day, that is on December26, 1704 A.D., they were taken to the Nawab’s darbar again under aheavy guard. Before they left, their grandmother again exhorted themto adhere to their faith, come what might. They assured her that theywould act in a way worthy of them.

In the Nawab ‘s court the same scene was enacted as on the previousday. The offer of Islam or death was repeated, and, on their refusal toyield, they were again given time to think over, and taken back to thetower.

Next day, that is on Poh 13, 1761 Bk/December 27,1704 A.D.,the two brother were again taken to the Nawab’s court, where thesame offer was made again and rejected. When the Nawab wasconvinced that the Sahibzadas would not yield, he announced thatthey should be bricked alive and then beheaded. On hearing this,the Qazis and mean people like Sucha Nand cried aloud, “That isright”; but most people sat with their heads bent, and their eyesfixed in the ground. At last Sher Muhammad, Nawab of Malerkotla,spoke out that the Quran did not permit slaughter of tender-aged,innocent, helpless children; they were too young to commit anyoffence meriting death; moreover, it was not just to punish them for theirfather’s acts. So, he urged that they should be allowed to go unharmed.

But the Qazis said,”What do you know of the holy law ? How canyou pretend to know more of it than we ? The holy law gives themchoice between Islam and death. Let them choose as they like.”TheNawab turned to two Pathan brothers and said,”You know that your fatherwas killed by the fattier of these boys. You may avenge his death now.”

“We beg your pardon, Sir”, said they.”Our father was killedon a field of battle. If these boys were grown-up men, with swordsin their hands, it would be fit and honourable to fight with themand kill them. We cannot strike at these innocent children. We would,rather, die than commit this murder.”

There could, however, be no lack of executioners for kefirs in aMahammadan court. A part of the outer wall of the fort was dismantled andthe children were made to stand in the gap. An executioner, with a drawnsword on his shoulder, and with frowning looks, was standing nearby;Qazis with copies of the Quran in their hands also stood nearby. An officialfrom the Nawab’s court was also there to see that the Nawab’s ordersgiven under the Muslim religious law were duly executed. Masons wereordered to erect a wall round the two children, taking good care thatthe bricks pressed well against their bodies. After each layer, the Qazisurged them to save their lives by accepting Islam. But they stoodunperturbed, reciting and meditating on the Word of the Master. Whenthey were buried in the wall up to their shoulders, the Nawab himselfcame there, and urged them to accept Islam. But they calmly shooktheir heads. Thereupon, at a nod from the Nawab, Baba Zorawar Singhhead was severed from the body. Then Baba Fateh Singh was urgedto accept Islam, or he would suffer the same fate as his elder brotherhad done. He replied : “Be quick, despatch me after my brother, sothat we may together go unto the lap of our grandfather and into thepresence of the Almighty Father.” He was also beheaded.

This tragic event took place on Poh 13, 1761 Bk/ December 27,1704 A.D. 1

A rich Sikh of Sarhind, named Todar Mai, on hearing what washappening to the Guru’s sons and what was likely to happen to them1. S.M. Latif tries to exonerate the Nawab of Sarhind of the blame attaching tothis foul murder. He says that the Nawab, ‘being an orthodox Mohammadan,spared their lives, in accordance with the Mohammadan law, which forbidsslaughter of unbelievers who are minors or belong to the female sex. But Kuljas,his Hindu Dewan, instigated the murder by telling the Nawab that “they werethe offspring of one who was the inverterate foe of the Mohammadans, etc.” Butthe Nawab would not agree; for he would, on no account violate the rules of hisreligion, which prescribed’ that a son must not suffer for the wrongs done by hisfather and that every one was responsible for his own actions. One day, as thetwo sons of the Guru were sitting in the Governor’s darbar, he was much pleasedwith their graceful appearance and seemingly good looks, and said to them withkindness, “Boys ! What would you do if we were to give you your liberty ?”

The boys answered, “We would collect our Sikhs, supply them with implementsof war, fight with you, and put you to death.” The Governor said, “If you weredefeated in the fight, what would you do then ?” The boys replied, “We would collectour armies again and either kill you or be killed.” The Governor was enraged at thisintrepid and haughty reply, and ordered Kuljas to remove the boys from his presenceand to despatch them at his home. The boys were accordingly put to death by Kuljas.’

In a footnote to page 268 the same writer complains that the Sikh authors’deliberately ignore the fact that the instigator of the crime was a Hindu, Kuljas,who bore a personal grudge against the Guru.’

at the Nawab ‘s court, hastened towards the court with the intention ofransoming them and their grandmother. But the two innocents had beenalready murdered by the time he reached there. He visited the sitewhere they had been bricked and beheaded and paid homage to themartyrs. Then he reported to Mata Gujri in the tower, With eyes meltinginto tears and a voice choked with sobs, he told her of her grandsons’

martyrdom.

Oh hearing this, she said, “Well ? Have my darlings already goneto their grandfather in the lap of God ? I had taken upon myself theduty of looking after them. They have gone. What have I to do herenow ? O my soul, fly after them to their Divine Abode.”

Saying this, she closed her eyes, began to repeat,” Wahi Guru”

(Lord Sublime), and was soon gone to His bosom, where her dear littlecharges had already gone.

Todar Mai sought permission to cremate the three bodies. He wastold that he could have the jequisite piece of land by paying as manygold mohars as placed closely together, would completely cover it up.

Todar Mai made the payment readily and cremated the three there. 1The treacherous Brajimin could not long enjoy his ill-gotten gains.

When the Muham madan officials heard that he had acquired great(contd. from page 189)

Now, even according to Latif’s own admission, the Hindu’s instigation failed toshake the Nawab in his resolve to spare the lives of the two childern in accordancewith the Muhammadan law. Still, the order for their execution was given by theNawab in a fit of rage which had been aroused by the intrepid and courageous replyof the boys. So, the responsibility for the crime must rest on him. His regard forthe rules of his religion, which Latif has tried to make so much of, seems to havebeen less than skin deep; for it melted away at the slightest provocation. The boys’

words would have procured a far different response from a really brave and generous1 foe. Did the Muhammadan law permit the murder of ‘unbelievers who were minors’,’when the instigation for the murder came from an unbeliever’, or when the ‘orthodoxMohammadan’ got enraged at the fearless replies of the victims? And did the faultmerit death ?

By the way, Latif does not state what personal grudge Kuljas had against theGum. More probable is the view that the Hindu Dewan was a servile, unscrupulouscreature, and all that he did was done in the hope of winning.his master’s favour.

Forster, whom Latif has no grounds to disbelieve and whom he cites as authorityin another connection, supports the version of the ‘Sikh writers’. On page 264 hewrites : — ‘Wazir Khan, the Governor of Sarhind sullied the reputation he hadacquired in his service (that of persecuting the Guru), by putting to death, in coldblood, the two younger sons of [Guru] Govind Singh.’

1. On the spot where the bodies were cremated was later erected a Gurdwara(Shrine) called Joti Sarup. At the place where the two Sahibzadas were bricked andbeheaded stands the shrine called Fatehgarh Sahib. Nearby, at the site of the towerin which the three were imprisoned and where Mata Gujri breathed her last, standsa shrine called Mata Gujri’s Burj (Tower).

wealth, they arrested him, deprived him of his treasure, and, in the end,beat him to death.

All the time that Mahi was narrating his painful story, Rai Kalhaand the rest of the audience kept weeping copiously. The Guru satunmoved. With the tip of his arrow he was, in apparent indifference,digging at the root of a shrub. At the close of this painful narrative,the Guru closed his eyes. His hand ceased moving. After some secretcommunion with the Eternal Lord, He said, ‘My sons are not dead.

They refused to barter their religion. They have become immortal. Theyshall live for ever. They have returned to their Eternal Home. Theyhave infused new life into the dead bones of the people. They havelifted the downtrodden, and shown them the way to liberty and independence. They are not dead. The rule of the Turks has been uprootedlike this shrub here. The town of Sarhind, where none raised a voiceof protest against the cowardly murder, has invited its own doom. TheNawab of Malerkoda, who tried to dissuade the Viceroy from thisatrocious homicide, has perpetuated his dynasty. So not weep, my sons.

Four are gone, forty are gone, hundreds and thousands are gone, butweep not for them. Rejoice that they conquered death and becameimmortal. Rajoice that my son, the Khalsa, yet lives and will for everlive.’

‘Master’, said Rai Kalha.’being ever in tune with the Infinite,thou canst bear all this unmoved. We cannot. We cannot help weepingat murder of the innocent, helpless children. But master, thou hast saidthat the rule of the Turks has been uprooted. I am also one of them.

Save me, my Lord; don’t include me among the doomed.’

‘Have no fears’, said the Guru,’ You have loved and helped me.

You have deeply felt the inhuman murder of my innocents. Thereby,you have saved yourself. Take this sword and preserve it in memoryof me. As long as you and your successors honour it, your family shallgrow and flourish.

It is recorded that Kalha’s grandson disregarded the Guru’s injunction and employed the sword in the chase. In an attempt to kill adeer he wounded himself and died of the wound. Bhai Santokh Singh,the author of the Suraj Parkash, writes that this actually happenedwhen he was a boy. 1

1. This sword is now preserved in the Gurdwara at Nabha called Siropao.