The War of Anandpur 162 : Guru Gobind Singh Ji

When the Emperor learnt how the imperial army had fared, he was inhigh rage. He called upon his fugitive troops to account for theircowardice. They said that they had been waylaid by the Sikhs andattacked unawares. This softened him a bit. He then asked what sortof person the Guru was and how much army he possessed. One of thesoldiers spoke very highly of the Guru’s beauty, sanctity, and powers.

He said. “He is a handsome youngman, a living saint, the father ofhis people, and, in the battlefield, he matches one lakh of soldiers.”

Aurangzeb was enraged to hear this. He ordered that the panegyristof the Guru be driven out of his presence and excommunicated. Hiswrath against the Guru was aroused to the highest pitch. He said thatsuch open and daring opposition could not be, and Would not be,tolerated any more. It must be crushed at once and for good. The courtQazi, however, advised that the Guru should be brought to the Emperor’scourt by some stratagem; for, if he could be won over, he would bean excellent and trustworthy ally. Accordingly, the Emperor sent himthe following message, “There is only one Emperor. Thy religion andmine are the same. Come to see me by all means, otherwise I shall beangry and go to thee. If thou come, thou shalt be treated as holy menare treated by monarchs. I have obtained this sovereignty from God.

Be well advised, and thwrat not my wishes.” 1

The Guru did not want any political alliance; for he had no ambitionto carve out a kingdom for himself. There could be no compromise withthe arch sopporter of the evil system. Hence he sent back the followingreply, “My brother, the Sovereign who hath make thee emperor hath sentme into the world to do justice. He hath commissioned thee also to dojustice, but thou hast forgotten. His mandate and practisest hypocrisy. Inpersecuting the non-Muslims with hate and bigotry, thou art acting mostunjustly, flagrantly violating God’s mandate, and in a manner most1. Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion, Vol., p. 165.

unbecoming a true believer in God. Until thou desistest from ill-treatingGod’s children, I cannot meet or see thee, or seek friendship withthee.”While dispatching this reply to the Emperor, the Guru conferreda robe of honour on the Emperor’s envoy.

The news quickly spread among the Sikhs of all places that, underthe instigation of the Hill-Chiefs, Emperor Aurangzeb was about towage war against the Guru. The Sikhs from all places, particularly fromthe Majha and Malwa districts, thronged to the Guru in great numbers.

He began to train them in the art and science of war, so as to makethem ready to meet the coming challenge.

Now, Raja Ajmer Chand of Kehlur was deeply distressed on seeingthe power and glory of the Sikhs increase, day by day. He incited theother Hill-Chiefs against the Guru and persuaded them to join him insending another petition to the Emperor, entreating him to despatch astrong army against the Guru and expel him from the hilly region.

Accordingly, a joint petition was drafted. In it they stressedtheir own loyalty and obedience to the Emperor, and representedthe Guru as a mortal foe of the Mughal rule, of all loyal supportersof the Mughal rule, and of Islam and the Hindu religion. “The Gurucompels us”, said they, “to renounce our religion in favour of hisown, to give up our loyalty to Your Majesty, and to join him in hisfight against Your Majesty’s forces. We have tried our combinedstrength against him with the assistance of the Nawab of Sarhindas well. But we have failed to defeat him. The imperial army alonecan exterminate this dangerous common enemy of us all.”

Aurangzeb was, at the time, in the Deccan. Ajmer Chand

proceeded thither in person to present the petition of the Hill-Chiefsto him. On reading this petition and hearing the hue and cry of theHill-Cheif, Aurangzeb felt that the Guru was becoming a real andpotent danger for the Mughal rule. He was also uneasy about thestate of unrest prevailing in the Panjab. So he ordered that allavailable troops under the Nawabs of Delhi, Sarhind and Lahoreshould be despatched against the Guru. He also called upon theHill-Chiefs to assist the imperial army in every way. At the sametime, he ordered that, at the conclusion of the campaign, the Gurushould be captured and brought before him.

Oh his way back, Raja Ajmer Chand met the Viceroy of Delhi andmade him a special request for the despatch of army from Delhi. But hereplied that the defence and safety of the capital were of greaterimportance; hence he had no army to spare for being sent to the Panjab.

In accordance with the orders of the Emperor, Wazir Khan, Viceroyof Sarhind, marched towards Anandpur at the head of all his availabletroops; Zabardast Khan, Viceroy of Lahore, also came at the head ofan equally large and formidable army. This was in the beginning of1761 Bk. The two armies met near Ropar. The armies of the Hill-Chiefsalso joined them at that place. The chief among them were : RajaAjmer Chand of Bilaspur, Ghumand Chand of Kangra, Bir Singh ofJaspal and the Rajas of Kullu, Kainthal, Mandi, Jammu, Nurpur, Chamba,Guler, Srinagar, Bhijarwal, Darauli, and Dadhwal. The Ranghars andGujjars also joined them. These, by themselves, formed a formidablehost. But the army which Wazir Khan brought into the field, was doubletheir number; Zabardast Khan of Lahore had also come at the head ofan equally large and formidable army.

The Guru was thus faced with heavy odds. But he was fightingfor no earthly end. His was a fight against evil and its votaries. Onsuch occasions, the hero never weighs the chances of defeat or victory.

He is urged on to do his best, and, if need be, to fall in defence of hisrighteous cause; so that, though he may go, yet the cause may live andprosper.

The Sikhs had full confidence in the Master. To die fighting forhis cause, which was the cause of humanity and elementary humanrights, was for them the unfailing means of gaining eternal bliss. Thebattle raged long and fierce. The two Viceroys were greatly astonishedto behold the slaughter of their armies at the hands of the Sikhs. Theyhad counted on an easy victory. Nine hundred Muslims and an equallylarge number of the hill people lay dead on the field as a result of thefirst day’s engagement. The allied armies fared still worse on thefollowing day. The Guru was ever in the hottest part of the battle.

Every effort was made to kill him, but he was, as he said, ‘wearingthe armour of the Immortal Lord’. Bullets whistled past his ears butdid not hurt him. Fierce fighting went on for a long time. Both sidessuffered heavy losses; but the Guru’s enemies were the worse sufferers.

It began to look impossible for the combined armies to defeat the Sikhsin the open bettle-field. Still the fighting went on.

At the conclusion of one day’s fighting, a few Sikhs com-

plained to the Guru that a Sikh called Kanhaiya had gone about thefield of battle, giving aid and water to the wounded Turks and Sikhsalike. They accused him of helping their enemies. The Guru called theman into his presence and enquired if he had done what the Sikhs wereascribing to him. ‘Yes and no, my Lord. It is true that I gave water topersons who are called Turks quite as freely as to those called Sikhs. ButI served no Turk or Sikh. Thou hast so enlightened my eyes that I beheldthee in every human body which I saw lying wounded on the field, pantingfor water. So, I gave water to none but thee, O Master.’ The Guru waspleased with the spirit of all-embracing love and sendee shown by Kanhaiya,and blessed him with the gift of His Name and Service. 2

Whan Wazir Khan and Zabardast Khan found their soldiers beingslaughtered in great numbers, they got despaired of defeating the Sikhsin the open battle-field. They, therefore, decided to besiege and blockadethe city, cut off all supplies, and thereby force the Sikhs to capitulate.

The siege of Anandpur began in the summer of 1704 A.D.

‘Wazir Khan and Zabardast Khan, who commanded the Emperor’s

army employed at this period against Guru Gobind Singh, deputed atthe commencement of the siege, an envoy to the Sikh leader, with thefollowing message :- “This army is not one belonging to Rajas andRanas: it is that of the great Aurangzeb Show, therefore, thy respect,and embrace the true faith,” The envoy proceeded, in the execution of1. Bhai Kanhaiya was a resident of village Sodra in the district of Gujjranwala(Pakistan). He was a devout, peace-loving Sikh, with a tender and compassionateheart. Because of his love for peace and service, and his tender-hearted disposition,he was averse to becoming a soldier and engaging in bloodshed. Therefore, hehad not joined the Guru’s army of Saint- soldiers by taking Amrit. But he wasfar from being a coward or drone. He learnt the art of rendering first-aid to thewounded. He also gathered around him a band of persons eager to engage insuch service, and organized them into an ambulance corps. Whenever fightingtook place, he would take his ambulance band into the battle-field, and go aboutserving water and giving other help to the wounded, dressing their wounds, andcarrying them to his camp for further service and treatment. “His followers,called Sewapanthis, form an orthodox and honourable sub-sect of Sikhs who liveby honest labour and accept no alms or offerings of any description. The Sewapanthisare also called Adanshahis from Adanshah, a rich banker who devoted his wealthand his leisure to the propagation of their doctrines.”

Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion, V.p.174.

2. That Guru Gobind Singh and his Sikhs were not ‘the irreconcilable and inveterateenemies of every Mohammadon’ as alleged by S.M. Latif, or even of any man, isconfirmed by Munshi Sujan Rai, who in 1697 A.D., wrote about Sikhs as follow:’Most of them have cleaned their hearts of the pollution arising from worldly connexionand have torn as under the screen of worldly strife and wrangle from their bosoms.

Relatives and strangers, friends and foes, are all one to them. They treat them alike.

With friends they live harmoniously, and with their foes they live at peace.’

his mission, with all the pride of those he represented, “Listen,” said he,from himself to Guru Gobind [Singh], “to the words of the Nawabs Leaveoff contending with us, and playing the infidel, for it is evident you nevercan reap advantage from such an unequal war.” He was stopped by AjitSingh, the son of [Guru] Gobind [Singh] from saying more. That youth,seizing his scimetar, exclaimed, “If you utter another word, I will humbleyour pride; I will smite your head from your body, and cut you to pieces,for daring to speak such insolent words before our chief.” The blood ofthe envoy boiled with rage, and he returned with this answer’. 1 Stricterorders were issued for a complete blockade of the city.