Once the Guru visited Kurukshetra on the occasion of solar eclipse.
He had two objects in view. First, he wanted to dissuade people fromthe senseless, superstitious acts which were usually performed by Hinduson such occasions. Secondly, he wanted to purchase horses for hiscavalry from the horse-fair which was held there. Most of the Hill-Chiefshad also gone there. They came to see and hear the Guru, and renewedtheir promises of genuine peace and faithful friendship.
On hearing the Guru’s discourses, a large number embraced
Sikhism and numerous others renounced their superstitions. Severalscholars and Yogis came to have discussions with him. A leading Yogi,named Madan Nath, who came among them, spoke thus on seeing theGuru’s glorious face:”Yours exterior is that of a lion; but internallyyou are a perfect saint. It is a strange combination.” The Guru explainedto him that he had assumed that exterior in order to strike terror in thehearts of the Turks who had occupied and were misruling the country,and had plunged the people in woes and suferings; and that he aimedat liberating his country from the oppressive, tyrannical rule by bringingabout national awakening and unity among the people.
Although the Hill-Chiefs had just then renewed their promises offriendship and faithfulness, yet their hearts were as evil and maliciousas before. They had seen that the Guru had, at the most, a hundredsoldiers with him. So they decided to waylay, surprise, and capture orkill him on his way back to Anandpur.
Although all, with but a few exceptions, were anxious to utilizethe opportunity, yet some were averse to an open breach of promisesjust then renewed. The question was under hot discussion when newswas brought to them that two Muhammadan generals, Sayyad Beg andAlif Khan, who, with an army to ten thousand, were marching fromSarhind to Lahore, were nearby. It was decided to hire them and sendthem on against the Guru.
The General demanded two thousand rupees a day. The Hill-Chiefsagreed. The Guru was near Chamkaur when the Muhammadan hirelingsfell upon him. He was not the man to lose heart even in face of theheaviest odds. His Sikhs were always joyfully ready to die fighting forhim. They fought for their faith, their Guru, and God. How could hiredmercenaries, guided by low motives and under the influence of ignobleimpulses, stand against such soldiers of God?
The battle was long and severe. The news of the Hill-Chiefs’
intended treachery had reached Anandpur. Consequently, four hundredSikhs arrived from there when the battle was yet raging. The Guru’sfast-pouring and unfailing arrows, and the dauntless fighting put in byhis Sikhs, had already begun to make the enemies waver in their resolve.
This unexpected reinforcement made their hearts sink still further.
One of the Generals, Sayyad Beg, had been a mild admirer ofthe Guru. He had heard much, but he now saw more. He fought for atime; but all the while, he was really busy in taking in the miracle thathe saw before him. After a time, he laid down his arms and watchedthe fight in mute admiration. But his heart would not rest at that. Itwas not enough that he should desist from fighting against the Faqirsoldier of Allah. He should go over to him, kneel to him, accept himas the lord of his body and soul, and aid him actively against theaggressors. What the heart desired, the mind approved, and the bodyaccomplished. Some of his followers, who held the same views,accompanied him. Soon after, he was seen fighting against the Guru’senemy.
Alif Khan had been wounded. The desertion of Sayyed Beg tookaway what little courage he still had. So he ordered a retreat. He washotly pursued by the Sikhs. Sayyed Beg gave his all to the Guru, andremained with him as a faithful disciple and ally. 1
The disaster which overtook the hired army made the Hill-Chiefsvery nervous. They took counsel together and directed a combinedattack on the Guru at Anandpur, but had again to take to their heels.
Thereupon, they sent another representation to Aurangzeb in whichthey informed him that, anxious as they were to please him by killingthe ‘heretical’ Guru and extirpating the turbulent nation founded byhim, yet he was proving too powerful for them. They had repeatedlyfailed in their attempts. The imperial armies from Sarhind sent to theirhelp in the past had fared no better. They had been forced to theconclusion that until the Emperor’s own army took the field, that thornin their bosoms could not be plucked and destroyed.
1. Some historians give Sayyad Beg’s name as Sajda Beg or Sayyid Beg.
Aurangzeb was conscious of the serious effects that the Guru’sactivities and teachings were producing in the Panjab. His empire wasbeing undermined. Now that the Hill-Chiefs, on whom he had so farrelied for getting rid of the Guru, had expressed their inability tosuppress him, it was time for the Emperor to lay aside the old mask,give up the policy of pulling the wires from behind the screen, anddepute his own men to chastise the Guru.
So, at the Emperor’s bidding, Saiyed Khan came at the head ofa large imperial army to conquer and capture the Guru. He was joinedby the Hill-Chiefs with their armies. The huge army at his back gladdenedhis heart, and raised in him hopes of a sure, complete, and speedyvictory.
The Guru had only five hundred regular soldiers to oppese this mightyhost. But they fought far more valiantly and with greater skill and endurancethan Saiyed Khan had imagined. He marvelled at their martial heroism.
He wondered what power could there be in the word of their Guru whichgave them so much strength, such fearless courage, and such unyieldingand unsubduable spirit His wonder was still greater when he saw MaimunKhan, Sayyad Beg and, others, who were his co-religionists, but who hadbought the Guru’s love with their souls, making a huge slaughter of theimperial army.
Saiyed Khan was the brother of Sayyid Bhudhu Shah’s wife. Hehad heard from the pair of the spiritual powers and lofty principles ofthe Master, but had been a little incredulous. He wondered why theGuru, who was reputed to be a perfect faqir, should engage in killinghis fellow-men. On the battle-field, he saw Muslims in the foremostranks of the opposing army. The sight of these and the memory of hissister’s and her husband’s words, were beating against the citadel ofhis heart. But he was not the man to give in so easily. He, a reputedGeneral, had come to conquer. What would the world say if he exhibited’the white feather’ on the field of battle ? The Master smiled and cameforward. Saiyad Khan noticed the smile of love and light, yet he keptsteady. He aimed a shot at the Guru, but missed. He had never missedbefore. There was a tremor in his heart. He advanced and, at theMaster’s invitation, took aim twice. Yet missed again. He was perplexed.
The Guru’s appearance had dazzled him. The love shafts darting fromhis loving eyes were slowly cleansing his heart and mind of enmityand harsh thoughts. Love was begetting love. The Guru advanced.
Saiyad Khan shivered and levelled his gun, but could not pull thetrigger. He stood transfixed on his horse. The Guru said, ‘Come, SaiyadKhan ! Fire thy gun. I am so near thee.’ He, who had come to conquer,was himself conquered. He got down from the horse and begged forthe gift of His Name. He touched the Guru’s stirrup with his head, androse with light in his eyes and love and joy in his heart. He fought nomore against the Master, nor against anyone else. At the Guru’s bidding,he retired to a lonely cave near Kangra and passed his days in Divinemeditation. When the Guru went to the Deccan, later on, Saiyad Khanfollowed him and remained with him to the last.
There were many other Muhammadan soldiers who had, for love’ssake, placed themselves at Guru’s disposal and fought his battles. Theirpresence in the Guru’s army gives a lie direct to the assertions ofpersons like Latif who would have us believe that the Guru was an’irreconcilable any inveterate enemy of every Muhammadan’. He hadno ill-will against any individual of whatever caste or creed. It was theevil system that he wanted to destroy, and it was against its authorsand defenders that his efforts were directed.
When Saiyad Khan entered the path of discipleship and retired fromthe field of battle, the command of the imperial army as taken up byRamzan Khan, who led the charge with renewed vigour and fury. TheSikhs could not long withstand the furious onslaught of the overwhelmingforces of the enemy. So the Guru slowly retired to the fort. The imperialarmy plundered a part of the city, and encamped for the night a few milesoff. The Muhammadans were in high spirits. A good half of the night theyspent in feasting and merry maki ng Then they lay down to sleep. The Sikhshaving been defeated, no need was felt for keeping any night-watches.
So, they slept, totally careless of the enemy.
The Khalsa army, on the other hand, keenly felt their reverse.
They obtained the Guru’s permission to fall upon the imperial army atnight. Prince Ajit Singh was at their head. The Turks were takenunawares. When these ‘soldiers of Islam’ were enjoying sound sleepand dreaming of paradise and its damsels, the Sikhs fell on them. Ascene of wild confusion followed. Hundreds were killed. Others fledin hot haste for their lives in different directions. All the booty whichthey had brought from Anandpur, as also their camp, fell into the handsof the Sikhs.