Sarbans Danee : Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji

Dr Amrit Kaur | January 08, 2021 06:12 AM
Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib, Punjab, India
Dr Amrit Kaur

Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji (1666-1708) the Tenth Master of the Sikhs, reverently

known as 'Sarbans Danee' i.e. a person who sacrificed his 'sarbans' (whole family) for

helping the oppressed and protecting a person's right to profess the religion of his own

choice. He was born the only son of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib and Mata Gujri Ji on

Poh Sudi 7 (23 Poh) Saturday, 1723 Bikrimi i.e. 22 December 1666 at Patna Sahib,

Bihar. At this site now stands the sacred shrine Takht Sri Harimandir Sahib which is one

of the Five Takhts, the most honoured seats close to the hearts of Sikhs. Every incident

of his life reveals his love for humanity, help of the down-trodden and upholding a

person's freedom to follow a religion of his own choice.

 In April, 1685 Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji went to Paonta Sahib in Himachal

Pradesh, a city which he had established on the bank of river Yamuna. At this place he

did creative writings in which he preached goodwill and equality. He preached to

worship 'One Supreme God', discard idolatry and superstitions. The caste-ridden

Rajput chiefs of Shivalik hills felt threatened by his increasing power and decided to join

hands and help the Muslim ruler in combating his activities. 

 In 1675, when he was barely nine years of age his tender heart had to bear

the pressure of a helpless group of 500 Kashmiri Pandits who approached his father Sri

Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, the Ninth Master of the Sikhs to save them from forcible

conversion to Islam by the then emperor Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb had issued very strong

orders to his faujdars to spread Islam in all nooks and corners of his territory even at the

cost of severe physical torture to those who resisted it. For this purpose, he had

established an independent Department under a Director-General. A large number of

persons who refused to accept Islam were killed every day. Aurangzeb would not eat

any meal until janeoos, the sacred thread worn by Brahmins, weighing one and a

quarter maund were presented to him, meaning thereby that 2000-2500 Brahmins were

being converted to Islam before he ate any meal.

 When this movement of conversion of Hindus to Islam reached its peak in

Kashmir, after knocking at many doors, a group of 500 Brahmins under the leadership

of Pandit Kirpa Ram Ji reached Anandpur Sahib, District Ropar, Punjab to seek help

from Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib. These Brahmins narrated to him all of their woeful

tales and told him that more than half of the Kashmiri Brahmins had already been

forcibly converted to Islam. A Kashmiri writer P.N.K. Bamzai in his book History of

Kashmir has given details about this incident of the 500 Pandits asking Sri Guru Tegh

Bahadur Sahib for help. After carefully listening to the cruelties meted out to Brahmins

in Kashmir, while Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib was sitting in a reflective mood his

young barely nine-year old son Gobind Rai Ji asked him as to what was the reason for

his pensive mood. His father told him about the whole problem and as reported by Kuir

Singh in his book Gurbilas Patshahi 10 told him that 'Grave are the burdens the earth

bears. She will be redeemed only if a truly worthy person comes forward to lay down his head. Distress will then be expunged and happiness ushered in'. The young son

innocently and promptly remarked that none could be worthier than his father to make

such a sacrifice. The Ninth Master felt happy at the brave answer given by his young

son because this answer had, in a way, supported the decision that he had already

taken in his mind i.e. to sacrifice himself to save the Hindu community from extinction

and provide freedom to everyone to profess the religion of one's own choice. Thus, at

an age of barely nine years by asking his father to save a community from extinction by

sacrificing his life and to uphold human values he (Gobind Rai Ji) evinced the seeds of


 The Ninth Master asked the Kashmiri Brahmins to go back and tell the suba of

their area that he should try to convert him i.e. the Ninth Master to Islam and if he is successful all of you will also accept that religion. Thus, at the inspiration of his son

Gobind Rai Ji, the Ninth Master decided to sacrifice his life for upholding a person's right

to profess the religion of one's own choice. Under the orders of Aurangzeb, Sri Guru

Tegh Bahadur Sahib was arrested at Sikandra, District Agra, U.P. and subjected to

tortures. Finally, he was beheaded in public view in Chandni Chowk, Delhi on 11

November 1675. At the sacred site of his sacrifice now stands Gurudwara Sisganj

Sahib. After his martyrdom, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji who became the Tenth Guru

decided to take up cudgels against Aurangzeb who was bent upon killng all those

persons who stood in his way of Islamikaran. Thus, Aurangzeb considered him as his

chief enemy because he was following the foot-steps of his father to save Hindus from

conversion to Islam.

 In April, 1685 Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji went to Paonta Sahib in Himachal

Pradesh, a city which he had established on the bank of river Yamuna. At this place, he

did creative writings in which he preached goodwill and equality. He preached to

worship 'One Supreme God', discard idolatry and superstitions. The caste-ridden

Rajput chiefs of Shivalik hills felt threatened by his increasing power and decided to join

hands and help the Muslim ruler in combating his activities. It was here that on

September 18, 1688 under the leadership of Raja Fateh Chand of Garhval, U.P. the

hilly monarchs attacked him at Bhangani 10 kms north-east of Paonta Sahib but were

badly worsted. After this, in view of the repressive policies of Mughals and antagonism

of the hilly Rajas he returned to Anandpur Sahib and fortified it. During this period, he

had to get involved in many battles which include the battles at Nadaun which took

place on March 20, 1691 and at Hussainiwala which took place on February 20, 1696.

 In the meantime, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji instituted 'Khalsa' to which he gave

a concrete form on the Baisakhi day of 1699 through the initiation of Panj Piaras (five

beloved ones) at Anandpur Sahib, District Ropar, Punjab. In addition to maintaining five

kakaars, the Sikhs were instructed to (i) avoid adultery (ii) not to eat halaal (the meat of

the animal killed in the Muslim way) (iii) avoid tobacco, and (iv) not to have any

relationship with those who consume tobacco or indulge in female foeticide. The

institution of Khalsa by Guru Sahib further infuriated the hilly chiefs who under the

leadership of Raja of Bilaspur in whose territory fell Anandpur Sahib became very active

to forcibly evict Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji from his hilly citadel. During 1700-1704 they

raided Anandpur Sahib many times but yielded no fruit. Having been frustrated by their

failures they requested Aurangzeb for help to which he readily agreed. In May 1705, in

collaboration with the contingents sent under imperial orders by the governor of Lahore

and those of the faujdar of Sirhind they invaded Anandpur Sahib and laid a siege to the

fort. In spite of the scarcity of ammunition and food caused by a prolonged battle Guru Sahib and his Sikhs gave a firm fight to these successive assaults. The attackers feeling

helpless cunningly gave an offer on solemn oath to Guru Sahib to provide safe exit to

him if he agreed to quit Anandpur Sahib. Guru Sahib accepted the offer. But during the

night of 5-6 December, 1705 as soon as Guru Sahib along with his four sons - Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji, Sahibzada Jujhar Singh Ji, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh Ji and

Sahibzada Fateh Singh Ji aged 18 years, 14 years, 9 years, and 7 years respectively,

his mother Mata Gujri Ji and the Sikhs started coming out of the town the hilly chiefs

and their Mughal allies started attacking them furiously. While crossing the rivulet Sirsa,

a tributary of river Sutlej on horseback, the two younger sons of Guru Sahib Sahibzadas Zorawar Singh Ji and Fateh Singh Ji along with Mata Gujri Ji got separated from the

rest of the family. At the place where they all got separated from each other, which is 12

kms south of Ropar now stands Gurdwara Parivar Vichhora Sahib. Gangu, an old cook

of the family promised to take them safely to his village Kheri, now known as Saheri

near Morinda in Ropar District of Punjab. But in the hope of a huge reward from the

Mughals he betrayed them and on the morning of December 7, 1705 handed them over

to Jani Khan and Mani Khan Ranghar, the officials of Morinda.

 In the meantime, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji along with about forty Sikhs and his

two elder sons Sahibzadas Ajit Singh Ji and Jujhar Singh Ji had reached Chamkaur

Sahib which is 40 kms south-west of Anandpur Sahib. The imperial army and the army

of hilly monarchs had followed him closely. In Chamkaur Sahib, Guru Sahib established

his head-quarters in a garhi (a protected place) now known as Chamkaur Di Garhi

where now stands Gurdwara Garhi Sahib. From this place Guru Sahib sent the forces

under the command of his elder sons Sahibzadas Ajit Singh Ji and Jujhar Singh Ji to

fight with the imperial army and the army of hilly monarchs. In the furious battle which

ensued on 7 December 1705 at a nearby place both the elder sons of Guru Sahib

Sahibzadas Ajit Singh Ji and Jujhar Singh Ji attained martyrdom. To commemorate their

martyrdom Gurdwara Qatalgarh Sahib has been constructed at this sacred site.

 On December 8, 1705 Jani Khan and Mani Khan Ranghar took the two

younger Sahibzadas - Zorawar Singh Ji and Fateh Singh Ji aged 9 and 7 years

respectively and their paternal grandmother Mata Gujri Ji to Sirhind and handed them

over to Wazir Khan the faujdar of Sirhind who had just returned from the battle of

Chamkaur Sahib full of vengeance. Wazir Khan ordered that these two young sons of

Guru Sahib be sealed alive in a wall if they refused to accept Islam. As per Wazir

Khan's orders on December 9, 1705 Sahibzadas were produced before him. He lured

them with promises of wealth and honour if they adopted Islam. But both of them

rejected the offer bravely and remained firm in their faith. Remaining staunch in his

decision, Wazir Khan ordered that they be sealed alive in a wall. As per his orders, on

December 11, 1705 they were to be paved with bricks standing on the ground at a place

5 kms north of Sirhind, which is now named as Fatehgarh Sahib after the name of the

youngest Sahibzada. However, in constructing the wall around them when the masons

reached above chest height of the younger Sahibzada i. e. Fateh Singh Ji, it crumbled

and they found it impossible to complete it. The next day i. e. on December 12 the two

Sahibzadas were again given the choice to get converted to Islam or embrace death.

They firmly chose death and courageously faced the executioner's sword. On hearing

the death of her grandsons, Guru Sahib's mother Mata Gujri Ji died of shock.

 At the sacred site of the martyrdom of the two Sahibzadas Zorawar Singh Ji

and Fateh Singh Ji, Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib has been established. In the basement

of this Gurdwara the wall which was constructed on December 11, 1705 is still in

existence though with certain changes. The pilgrims who had visited this sacred place

60 years ago tell that at that time the original wall which was made of small Sirhindi

bricks joined with lime mortar was in existence and the crack which had occurred on one

side of wall while the masons were constructing it, was also visible. But now this wall

has been painted with a shining paint which has concealed its original form. Thousands

of devotees visit this holy place every day and have 'darshan' (holy glimpse) of this wall.

During 2004, being the tercentenary year, over one million pilgrims visited this holy

place during December 24-26 who also visited Chamkaur Sahib during December 21-

23 to pay homage to the two elder sons of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji Sahibzadas - Ajit

Singh Ji and Jujhar Singh Ji, who sacrificed their lives in a battle at this place.

 Thus, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji sacrificed his whole family - his father, his

mother, and four sons for preserving human values and throughout his life even in the

face of ordeals continued his struggle against repression.

 After Chamkaur Sahib going westward towards Dina and Kangar he stayed at

village Lamman-Jatpura in District Ludhiana. It was at this place that he learnt about the

sad demises of his two younger Sahibzadas and Mata Gujri Ji. On hearing about these

deaths, he uprooted a dab plant and said that now the roots of Mughals have been

uprooted. Travelling further westward, on 20 January, 1706 Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji

reached Talwandi Sabo, now called Damdama Sahib where he stayed for about nine

months and prepared a fresh recension of the Sikh scripture Sri Guru Granth Sahib with

Bhai Mani Singh Ji as his amanuensis. After this, he decided to travel toward the south

to spread the message of Sikhism. Wazir Khan of Sirhind still full of fury had already

despatched two pathans Jamshed Khan and Wasil Beg to kill him. These two Pathans

followed Guru Sahib secretly and overtook him at Nanded in Maharashtra. One of them

stabbed Guru Sahib on the left side below the heart as he lay resting in his chamber in

the evening. Guru Sahib immediately struck him down with his sabre and killed him. The

second pathan was killed by his devotees. The wound of Guru Sahib was stitched and

seemed to have been healed. But one day as he tried to pull a stiff bow, the wound

broke out which ended up being fatal and on 7 October, 1708 after bestowing Guruship

on Sri Guru Granth Sahib, he left for his heavenly abode. Before he left for his heavenly

abode he instructed the Sikhs (i) to avoid halaal (ii) maintain no relationships with those

who eat halaal or indulge in female foeticide and (iii) keep the langars (community

kitchens) ever open. In addition to his sacrifices, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji will always

be respected for his religious writings including Sri Dasam Granth Sahib, a holy book

written by him consisting of 1428 pages.

 This year on 20 January Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji's 354th Birth Anniversary will be celebrated all over the world by the Sikh community with great pomp and show.

 Dhan Dhan Sri Guru Gobind Singh Sahib!

Dr. Amrit Kaur (Retd. Professor) Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab, India

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