Return to the Eternal Home : Guru Gobind Singh Ji

As said already, Guru Gobind Singh had arrived at Nander in September1708 and had been so charmed by the loveliness of the place* that hehad decided to pass the rest of his earthly life there. A city sprang upround him, and this he called Abchal Nagar, the Eternal city. Therewere the same divine songs, Nam gatherings, and soul-inspiring discourses as at Anandpur. There was a regular flow of God’s word, asform a fount, which gave fresh vigour and life to withered hearts.

Verily, Anandpur was once again reproduced in the Deccan. After sometime, feeling that the time was drawing near when he must return toHis Divine Father’s presence, he prevailed upon the Mother of theKhalsa, Mata Sahib Kaur, who had joined him some time back, toreturn to Delhi and comfort and console Mata Sundri. Bhai Mani Singhwas deputed to accompany her.

There are many conflicting accounts of the Guru’s death. Thewriters who have described the declining years of the Guru’s life asthose^ of dejection and mental derangement, have coined a story insupport of their assertion. This story is given, with slight variations,by most of the writers, and is itself a huge mound raised around agrain of truth. That the Guru was stabbed by a Pathan at Nander orAbchal’ Nagar is the actual truth. These writers have, in accordancewith their own mental inclinations or prejudices, made up stories aboutwho the Pathan was and why he made the murderous attack.

One set of such writers state that the murderer was a grandsonof Painda Khan, whom the grandfather of Guru Gobind Singh, GuruHar Gobind, had slain in battle. The family of Painda Khan is statedto ‘have nourished their anger against the Guru’s house and mediatedrevenge. It was a grandson of Painda Khan that could find an opportunityto square the long standing account by stabbing in bed Guru GobindSingh, a grandson of Guru Har Gobind.

Another set of such writers, including Latif, Malcolm, Cunningham,Mac Gregor, Tagore, and several others, have given currency to thefollowing story, specially concocted and heartily amplified for the setpurpose of vilifying the Guru. It is said that during his wanderingsafter the battle of Chamkaur, the Guru came across a Pathan whomhe owed money on account of horses purchased long ago. The Guruhad no money. So, he asked his creditor to come at some other time.

But the latter insisted on being paid on the spot. The Guru gotenraged at this, and, with a stroke of his sword, several his headfrom his body. 1 But no sooner had he done this, than his heart wasfilled with repentance for what he had done in a fit of anger. As arecompense for the fate of victim, the Guru showed special favoursto the widow, and brought up her son as a father would do. Hetrained the Pathan in the use of various weapons. When the boygrew to manhood, the Guru is said to have told him the story ofhis father’s murder and exhorte him to avenge that murder. Somewriters, like Trumpp, go to the length of saying that the Guru hadbecome disgusted with life and wanted to end it. Hence he gave thePathan boy a dragger and said, “If the murderer of your fatherwere now standing before you, what should you do”? It is writtenthat on one or two occasions the Pathan remained silent ; but theGuru would again and again taunt him for his failure to avengehis father’s murder. At last, the Pathan thrust the dragger into theGuru’s belly. On receiving the fatal thrust, the Guru is said tohave applauded the Pathan boy and said, “You have avenged themurder of your father, and proved yourself to be a worthy son.”

It is further said that the Guru had always felt gloomy over thethought that his father’s death had practically still remained unavenged.” So, he envied the Pathan boy’s luck. 2

Let us examine these stories a bit closely. According to the firstone, the Guru’s murderer was a grandson of Painda Khan who hadbeen killed in a fair fight by Guru Gobind Singh’s grandfather, Guru1. Some say that the horses were purchased at Nander from a Pathan whom theGuru had taken in his employ. “The Guru delayed payment. Impatient with delay,he (the Pathan) used an angry gesture and his mutterings of violence provoked[Guru] Gobind [Singh] to strike him dead.’ (Cunningham). This version is altogetherincredible. At Nander the Guru had no dearth of money. He had ever been liberaland generous in his payments, and prompt in the discharge of his obligations. Hewas not a miser. His ‘contempt for wealth’ is acknowledged and commented uponby even such writers as Latif. The same writer says that at Nander the Guru hadplenty of money or riches. Why, then, should he have delayed paying the dues ofthe merchant or servant ?

2. The words which Guru Gobind Singh wrote in the Vachittar Natak about themartyrdom of his father do not in the last suggest that he harboured any thoughtsof revenge. Here is what he writes :

Hargobind. This story is not at all credible. Guru Hargobind had treatedand loved Painda Khan as a brother. But the latter deserted the Guruat a critical moment, went over to the enemies, and came among themto attack the Guru. He challenged the Guru to a single combat. He wasallowed to try his skill and luck twice before the Guru struck him.

When he fell down dead, the Guru covered his body with his ownsheet and protected it against the sun. He felt deeply grieved at all this.

Now, if any of Painda Khan’s descendants wanted to take revengefor his death by murdering treacherously some descendant of that Guru,surely he could have tried to do so by attacking either the seventh, theeight, or the ninth Guru, or any of other numerous descendants of GuruHar Gobind. If, for any considerations, the attempt had to be made onGuru Gobind Singh’s life, there had been countless occasions in thePunjab when he was alone or accompanied by only a few followers,and anyone bent on murdering him could have fallen upon him withfair hopes of success. Where was the need of waiting for all theseyears, travelling all the way from the Punjab to the Deccan for thepurpose, and then taking the risk of attacking the Guru at a place wherehe had plenty of Sikhs to guard him ? Moreover, surprising murderousattack is not the usual mode among martial people for avenging thedeath of one killed in a fair fight ; and the Pathans are martial race.

The only honourable means of avenging the deaths of persons who fallin the battle has always been a challenged fight. That the murderousattack on the Guru was made after he had met the Emperor, and livedwith him for several months, lends support to the view that the Guru’sseveral months, lends support to the view that the Guru’s friendshipwith the emperor had something to do in the matter.

According to the second story, the Guru had killed a Pathan onthe letter’s demanding the price of the horses which he had sold to the(Contd from pae 233)

“Thus did the Master protect the frontal mark and the sacrificial thread of the Hindus;Thus did he bring about a great event in this dark age;

He did so much for God’s people

He gave his head but uttered hot a groan;

He suffered martyrdom or the sake of religion: —

Having broken his potsherd on the head of the king of Delhi,He departed to the city of God : —

At his departure there was mourning in the world ;

There was grief through the word, but joy in heaven.’

It is altogether wrong, therefore, to say that the Guru was inspired by any feelingsof revenge for his father’s martyrdom. We should remember also that it was hehimself who had suggested that his father should go to Delhi to intercede and diefor the Kashmiri Pandits.

former ; after that he had brought up the deceased’s son, and when hegrew into manhood, exhorted him to avenge the death of his father. Inthe first place, the very starting point — the demand for immediatepayment of the dues — is wrong in fact. A Pathan, who had a certainclaim on the Guru did meet him, but that not only did he make nodemand for the money, but actually refused to do so when remindedof it by the Guru, is shown by the Hukamnama which the Guru grantedto the Pathan for his good and friendly behaviour, and which is stillpreserved by the descendants of the Pathan.

The story falls to the ground as baseless when examined fromanother aspect. Its advocates appear to presume that the Guru’s’wanderings’ after the battle of Chamkaur must have extended oversuch a number of years as could have suffered to bring up the Pathanchild to manhood and to train him in the use of arms. But how manyyears did the Guru actually have ? Now, all these writers say unanimouslythat the Pathan wa? ‘killed’ by the Guru after escaping from Chamkaur.

The Guru, as we have seen, escaped from Chamkaur, towards the endof December 1704. After that he had to wander about from place toplace, being all the time pursued by Mughal armies. Up to Machhiwarahe travelled all alone. From there to Hehar he travelled in the guise ofUchch ka Pir. Then, after a few day’s stay with Rai Kalha, he movedon the Dina. There, too, he did not stay for long ; because news wasbrought to him that Mughal army was coming up. From Dina the Guruwent to Khidrana, pursued by the army. Then occurred the battle ofMuktsar. After Muktsar the Guru moved form place to place till hereached Talwandi Saboo (Damdama Sahib) where he stayed for aboutnine months and a half. Then he started towards the Daccan and reachedNander in September 1708, The murderous attack was made therewithin a month of his arrival.

Just think when and where the Guru got the time to nourish andtrain the Pathan child, and make a man out of that child, when andwhere did the Pathan family meet Guru. Nowhere it is stated that thePathan’s family travelled with the Guru. If, for argument’s sake, weconcede that the Pathan child was taken by the Guru into his keepingafter the battle of Muktsar, then we shall have to take it that the child’sbringing up and training began in May-June of 1705. The murderousattack was made towards the end of September 1708. It means that inabout three years, the Pathan child grew into a young man, fully trainedin the use of arms, capable of attacking the Guru, who was known tobe physically very strong and very skilful in the use of all weapons ofoffence and defence. Either the child must have been an abnormal one.

or the faculties of the authors of the story must have been definitelysubnormal ; for they could not discern the utter untenability of theirconcoction.

As for the the alleged murder by the Guru, it has to be noted thatits inconsistency with the Guru’s ideals and life was so apparent evento the versatile advocates of this vilifying story, that, in order to makeit look more plausible, they were at pains to invert the theory ofdejection and mental derangement. In the last chapter it was shownthat this ‘mental derangement’, existed only in the brains of the writers.

The Guru was in complete and unimpaired possession of his mentaland spiritual faculties. That the Guru, who, even in his battles, hadever desisted from shooting at the soldiers who did not actually engagein the attack, who had never struck any one except in self defence,and who, some time after, pardoned the Pathan murderer of his dearMan Singh, ‘one of the surviving heroes of Chamkaur.’should havekilled a Pathan for no offence but that of demanding his long standingdues, looks, on the face of it, absurd and incredible.

The further statement that so tired had the Guru become of hislife that he actually exhorted the Pathan boy to kill him is still moreabsurd and incredible. Such a strong disgust with life as the Guru issaid to have been afflicted with, prompts people to commit suicide.

With all the weapons that he had on his body, in the rivers and desertsthat he had crossed in his journey, and in the turbulent stream on thebanks of which he had his last abode, suicide would have been notonly quite easy, but also the readiest means of escape from the alleged’unbearable burden of grief and dejection.’ Where was the necessity oftaking so much trouble to bring up the Pathan child in order to usehim for ending his life ? We find that at Chamkaur he sent his twoelder sons to fight the Mughal hosts and saw them falling before hiseyes. That was the time when an ordinary man would have killedhimself. Again, when he heard the story of the murder of his twoyounger sons and the death of his mother, that was the time when, ifhe were so disposed, instead of knocking out a shrub with his arrow,he should have thrust that weapon into his breast. He did nothing ofthe sort. He was not the man to regret the sacrifices which he hadmade for the country’s cause or to commit suicide. He bore all hissufferings placidly ; for they were inevitable consequences of the path,which he had chosen for himself. Moreover, suicide was a sin, whichwas abhorrent to all religious people and altogether against his religiousprinciples. The truth is that not only did he never think of such anirreligious act, but also, even according to these writers, as soon as hegot the wounds, he had then properly sewn and dressed. If the stabshad been self invited, why should have they been so carefully attendedto ?

Furthermore, it may be pointed out here that these writers exhibita very shallow knowledge of historical facts, and their works, unlessthey can be corroborated by those of others showing a better grasp ofthe subject, are not at all worthy to be taken at their face value. Theirbooks are filled with numerous such errors of facts and chronologyas would damn any historian.

Moreover, the accounts of the contemporary and later Muhammadanwriters, on whose writings the English writers have based their books, arevitiated by a strong and implacable hatred against the Guru, and are, evenon that account alone, unreliable as true history. Beside, these writers livedat great distances from the Guru, and had no direct knowledge of hissayings and doings. So, they based their accounts on the necessarilydistorted verisons of the Guru’s doing received through official, semiofficial or, at best, private Muhammdan agencies. And whenever theycame across an incident a true account of which would bring discreditto the Emperor or any other ruler, they concocted a story of theirown, and gave the incident a colouring which would absolve theEmperor and his subordinates of any incriminating responsibility inthe affair. 1

Another version of the story is given by Macauliffe. He writes:’More probable is the account given in one of the recensions of BahadurShah’s History :- The Guru was in the habit of constantly addressingassemblies of worldly persons, religious fanatics, and attended thesemeetings, was sitting listening to him, when certain expressions whichwere disagreeable to the ears of the faithful fell from the Guru’s tongue.

The Afghan was enragaed and, regardless of the Guru’s dignity andimportance, stabbed him twice or thrice with a poniard.’ 2It is a pity that Macauliffe has not given full particulars about thebook which could have enabled one to subject it to close examination.

All the same, it is clear that the story is a concoction of a zealous andloyal Muhammdan. By inventing this story, he had detracted from theGuru’s glory by depicting him as rash and indiscreet in his speech andinimical to Islam ; he has glorified the murderer by representing himas acting in religious wrath aroused by the Guru’s words ; and he hascompletely absolved the Emperor and Wazir Khan of having any handin the affair. Thus he has killed three birds with one stone.

1. See Forster’s note regarding these chronicless, quoted as a footnote to Chapter.392. The Sikh Religion, Vol.V, p. 241.

The truth is that all these versions were set afloat by contemporaryMuhammadan authorities and their agencies in order to explain awaythe Guru’s murder in a way that would sully the Guru’s name andpreclude the possibility of the name of the Emperor, or that of WazirKhan, arch enemy of the Guru, being associated with the foul deed.

Others, not directly interested in the propagation of this false story, butfailing to get at another more plausible and convincing, accepted it,and wrote it down in their books.

The Guru had preached his doctrine of peace, good will, and allbrotherliness throughout his life and among people of all religions. Hehad many Muhammadan admirers and followers. It cannot be imaginedthat a man of his grand cosmopolitan sympathies and his extraordinarycommon sense and inteligence, could have used derogatory words aboutthe prophet and have, thereby, mortally offended his Muslim hearers.

Had he ever done such a thing before?