The air was thick with rumours that the Nawab of Sarhind was marching,or was about to march, in pursuit of the Guru. Considering that if thefighting took place anywhere near the village, the inhabitants wouldbe involved in unnecessary troubles, the Guru decided to move oninto the fastness of the jungles where defence would also be easier.
He, therefore, moved on from Dina. Wherever he went, the peopleflocked to listen to the word of the Master. Several took the baptismalNectar and enlisted in the selfless army of the Khalsa. The Guru alsoengaged brave warriors as paid soldiers, and collected ammunition andweapons of war.
After passing through Jalal, Bhagat, and several other villages, hearrived near Kot Kapura (Kapura’s Fortress). This place was situatedon a promontory in a big pond and was admirable suited to stand asiege or attack. When Kapura, the Master of the fortress, came to payhomage to the Master of the Khalsa, the letter said: ‘Let me occupyyour fortress and give battle to the Turks from there.’ But Kapurarefused, saying that the Turks might hang him if he agreed to let himin. The Guru smiled and said, ‘Your weakness of heart will be yourdeath and ruin.’ Kapura went away in anger and the Guru moved onto Dhihvan. There, Kaula, a descendant of Pirtbi Chand, presentedwhite robes 10 the Guru and begged him to put off the blue garments.
They were torn and thrown into the fire, bit by bit. All the time, theGuru was saying that he was burning the Mughal Empire, shred byshred. A piece of the blue dress did not fall into the fire. With theGuru’s permission, Bhai Man Singh took it up and wrapped it roundhis head. Thus arose the sect of Nihangs with the blue dress.
Kapura soon repented of having displeased the Master. He hastenedto beg his pardon. The Master asked him to shake off all fear andbecome a Khalsa. Kapura begged him to let his sons and grandsonsdrink the Nectar and become ‘Singhs.’ His wish was granted.
From Dhilwan the Master moved on to Jaito. Here informationwas brought to him that Wazir Khan, Nawab of Sarhind, was comingwith over five thousand soldiers, and would reach there in four or fivedays. The Guru asked Kapura for a trusty guide who could show himthe way to the large, natural tank of Khidrana. This was provided. TheGuru moved on, collecting men and material of war as he went.
As stated already, hundreds of Sikhs had deserted the Guru atAnandpur. Some of them were killed on the way but others reachedtheir homes alive. When the deeds and sufferings of the Guru becameknown in the Majha, such of the deserters as belonged to that tract ofgallant warriors repented of their weakness and folly. They had beenshamed by their own women who would not let them enter their homesand said to them, ‘Either go back and make amends for your cowardly,effeminate behaviour, or exchange your dress with ours, stay at home,and act as housewives in our place. Dressed in your clothes, we willgo, fight for the Guru, lay down our lives for him, and wash awaywith our blood the shame which you have brought on us all, nay onthe whole Majha itself.’
No wonder.then, that they resolved to return to the Master anddie fighting for him. A band of forty fully armed Saint soldiers fromthe Majha started towards the Guru under the leadership of Mai Bhagoof Jhabal and Bhai Mahan Singh of Sursingh, district Amritsar. As theywended their way together, or more probably, in small groups, theymade known the object of their journey to the Sikhs living in thevillages by which they passed or where they halted for rest. As aconsequence, bands of fully armed Sikhs from various villages startedin the same direction, with the same object, as the original forty. Somewise men from Lahore who had, or thought they had, some influenceat the Mughal darbar also joined them on the way.
The party met the Master between Ramiana and Khidrana. Thedeserters begged his pardon and recommended the new comers to hisgrace. The wise men then advised him to give up fighting and makepeace with the Emperor. They offered to act as negotiators.
With a smile, the Guru replied, ‘Friends, you come to advise me,thinking yourselves to be wiser than I. But I am not inclined to acceptyour advice. You have not rightly apprehended the real spirit of Sikhism.
If you had, you would not be advising me, but seeking my advice andcarrying out my orders. If you had understood my ideal of life, youwould have never thought of making peace between me and the tyrants.
Rather, you would have joined my army and fought against them. Youadvise me to give up fighting and seek peace with the cruel, bigotedtyrants. I cannot do that. Know ye not that I have no quarrel with, orpersonal grudge against any man ? People are groaning under tyrannyand oppression. It is to rescue them that I have taken up aims. Mysword strikes at tyrants, not at men. It defends the weak against thestrong. Come and join with me in this holy task of liberating the people.
Your policy of co-operation and meek submission has only tightenedthe chains. What could you, or people like you, do when Guru Arjanand Guru Tegh Bahadur were put to inhuman tortures and death ? Theonly sorrow that I feel springs from beholding my countrymen disunitedand in chains. The only desire that sits ever alert in my heart is forthe unification and liberation of the downtrodden people. If you aremy Sikhs, follow my advice. I am sorry I cannot concur with you oraccept you as my instructors and counsellors in this matter.”
The wise men from Lahore shook their heads and were quiet. TheMaster moved on to Khidrana. When he was gone, Bhai Mahan Singhdrew a line on the ground and said, ‘Let those who want to die fightingfor the Master step forth to this side.’ Very few could resist the appeal.
They had come all that distance for no other purpose. Of course, thepeace maker returned to their homes.
On reaching Khidrana, they found the tank almost dry. The Masterhad, for that reason, moved on from the place. Bhai Mahan Singhproposed to engage the enemy there, and thus allow time to the Guruto reach a place of safety. Big white sheets of khaddar were spread onthe shrubs, so that the enemy might think that the Sikhs were encampingthere in great numbers. Soon, the Muhammadan army came up. Kapurawas their guide.
Long and bloody was the battle which ensued there that day 21stof Baisakh, 1762 of May8,1705. The Sikhs from Majha under MaiBhago, and Bhai Mahan Singh were in the vangaurd of the Guru’ssoldiers. They bore the brunt of the Mughal army’s onslaught. All theSikhs soldiers fought with their usual courage and power. Mai Bhagowas seen fighting in the foremost rank. The Guru had reached aneminence about two miles away from Khidrana by the time that thebattle began. From there he directed a rain of his gold tipped arrowsat the most prominent officers and soldiers of the enemy. The Muhammadan army rushed forward several times to overpower the Sikhs andto dislodge them from their places, but had to retire in dismay eachtime. At last, their bullets and arrows having been all used up, theSikhs were obliged to have recourse to spear and the sword. Smallbands advanced, engaged the enemies in hand to hand fights, killedseveral times their number.until they were ultimately themselves hewnto piecsr They were not fighting for victory. They had no thoughts ofsaving their lives. Their only wish was to win the Master’s pleasureby checking, as long as possible, the advance of the enemy againsthim. In time, all of them lay on the ground. About three thousand ofthe Turks lay with them on the same bloody bed.
Wazir Khan advanced to take possession of the tank. To his dismay,it was quite dry. Feeling that he would be amply compensated for histroubles if the Guru’s body were found among the dead, Wazir Khanordered his men to make a minute and thorough search. Here again hewas disappointed.
It was the month of Baisakh. His army was crying for water. Onhis enquiry, Kapura told him that water could be had at a distance ofthirty miles in front, and ten miles in the rear. He further advised himto turn back and save the surviving army. Abandoning the dead andthe wounded where they lay, the Mohammadan army hurried backwards.
After they had gone, the Guru visited the scene of battle, and,with a fatherly affection, went about lifting the heads of the martyrsinto his lap, wiping their faces, and blessing them, one by one. Whenit was the turn of Bhai Mahan Singh to be thus caressed and blessed,the Master found that there was still some life in him. After a whileBhai Mahan Singh opened his eyes, and found himself in the lap ofthe Master. He was filled with supreme joy. The Guru asked him if hehad any desire to be fulfilled. Bhai Mahan Singh said, ‘No, Father! Ihave seen thee. What else or more could I desire? But if thou hasttaken compassion on us here, then tear off our disclaimer, and let thebroken ties be re-united.’ The Guru was highly pleased. He blessedhim and said, ‘You have done a great deed. You have saved the rootof Sikhism in the Majha. You and your companions, all forty of you.areMuktas or the Saved Ones, delivered from the round of births anddeaths for ever.’ Saying this, he took out the disclaimer from under hisbelt, tore it into tiny bits, and threw them all away, Bhai Mahan Singhsaw this, felt immensely relieved, took a long breath, and closed hiseyes for ever.
Then the Guru went to the place where Mai Bhago was lyingsenseless. She had not been severely wounded but had fallen downfrom utter exhaustion. A little aid revived her. She told the Master whathad occurred after he had left the party. He, in tum, told her of thelast saving deed of Bhai Mahan Singh, and added, ‘he asked nothingfor himself. He has done a great deed. He has re-united the broken tiesand has saved the honour of the Majha Sikhs. He has saved andpreserved the root of Sikhism in the Majha.
The Guru was greatly pleased with Mai Bhagp for what she haddone. He got her removed from the battlefield, and got her woundstreated and healed. When she was all right, he baptized her and shebecame Mai Bhago Kaur. 1
The Guru gave orders to his Brar soldiers to gather dry woodfrom the jungle all round and prepare a pyre with it. The bodies ofBhai Mahan Singh and other martyrs were placed on the pyre andcremated.
The tank of Khidrana was renamed by the Master as Mukatsaror the Tank of salvation. Every year, on the first of Magh, Sikhs gatherthere from all parts of the country to commemorate the heroism of themartyrs and to have a dip in the sacred tank.
1 . Mai Bhag Kaur, dressed in male attire, remained with and served the Guru tothe end. Along with ten Sikhs she used to guard the Guru’s bed. When the Gurudied, she went to Bidar and lived there to the end of her days.