THE BATTLE OF BHANGANI
One day the Guru received an invitation from Fateh Shah of Garhwal to his daughter's marriage with the son of Raja Bhim Chand of Kahlur who nursed enmity with the Guru. He decided not to attend the ceremony himself but sent his Dewan, Nand Chand and Daya Ram with costly gifts for the princess.
The Guru riding out with his army tto battle the
evil forces of the Mughal Empire
The shortest route for the marriage party was through Paunta Sahib; the Guru refused to give them the passage because he had no faith in Bhim Chand who was accompanied by a large number of soldiers. After a lot of negotiations, the Guru permitted the bridegroom and a small number of his companions to cross the ferry near Paunta Sahib. The rest of the party including Bhim Chand had to follow a circuitous route to Srinagar, the capital of Garhwal state. This happening made Bhim Chand very mad and he began to look forward to the opportunity to give vent to his anger. He became still more enraged when he learnt that Guru's envoy was present at the bride's place to attend the marriage. Thus he refused to accept Fateh Shah's daughter for his son, if he continued his friendship with the Guru. Bhim Chand, therefore, asked Fateh Shah to choose between himself and the Guru. Fateh Shah was obliged to yield. Nand Chand and Daya Ram had to bring their presents back as a result. On their way back Nand Chand and party were attacked by Bhim Chand's troops but they were able to return safe and sound. After the marriage was over, Bhim Chand held a conference with Fateh Shah and other hilly Rajas- Kirpal of Katoch, Gopal of Guler, Hari Chand of Hadur and the Raja of Jaswal who were present there. They all decided to attack the Guru on their way back.
The hilly Rajas ordered their troops to march upon Paunta Sahib. The news of the impending attack came fast before the army could move and so the Guru was not taken by surprise attack.
On the recommendation of Pir Budhu Shah, 500 Pathans were enlisted in the Guru's army under the command of five chieftains- Kale Khan, Bhikan Khan, Nijabat Khan, Hyat Khan, and Umar Khan. The Pathans became apprehensive of the scanty resources at the disposal of the Guru and they all except Kale Khan with one hundred men, deserted the Guru at the eleventh hour, and joined the hill Rajas. The Udasi Sadhus except their chief Mahant Kirpal, also took to their heels. The Guru informed Budhu Shah of the misconduct of the Pathan soldiers. Pir Budhu Shah looked upon their behavior as a personal disgrace. In order to compensate this loss, Budhu Shah accordingly placed himself, his brother, his four sons and seven hundred disciples at the Guru's disposal.
The Guru stationed his troops at an eminent place near Bhangani village about six miles from Paunta Sahib. The five sons of Bibi Viro- Sango Shah, Jit Mal, Gopal Chand, Ganga Ram and Mohri Chand organized the attack for the Guru's forces. They were ably backed by Bhai Daya Ram, Dewan Nand Chand, Guru's uncle Kirpal and Mahant Kirpal. While repeating his orders the Guru buckled on his sword, slung his quiver over his shoulders, took his bow in his hand, mounted his steed, and shouting 'Sat Sri Akal' in his loudest voice, proceeded to confront his enemies. It is recorded that the hoofs of the Guru's horse in their quick movement raised clouds of dust which obscured the sun, and that the cheers of his men resembled thunder in the stormy and rainy season. As mentioned Guru's forces were also joined by Pir Budhu Shah's troops and one hundred Pathans under the command of Kale Khan.
Sayyed Pir Buddhu Shah presenting his sons to
Guru Gobind Singh Ji, prior the battle of Bhangani.
The enemy forces were led by Raja Fateh Shah who was joined by Raja Hari Chand of Hadur, Raja Gopal of Guler, Raja of Chandel, Rajas of Dadhwal and Jaswal, and four hundred Pathans who had deserted the Guru's side. A severe and bloody battle was raged. Many brave soldiers were killed on both sides. Although the opposite army far outnumbered the Guru's men, but they did not have the same spirit of sacrifice, nor did they have the same devotion to their leaders, as the Sikhs had. Mahant Kirpal hit Hayat Khan, Pathan chief, and killed the deserter. Jit Mal and Raja Hari Chand engaged in a single combat. The arrows lodged in their horses' foreheads and both horses fell. After a short breath when their swords clashed, Hari Chand fell fainting to the ground and Jit Mal dropped down dead. Sango Shah, another cousin of the Guru, and Pathan chief Nijabat Khan were engaged and both fell dead. Upon this the Guru mounted his charger and rode into the thick of the combat. He discharged an arrow at Pathan leader Bhikan Khan. It missed him but killed his horse, and Bhikan Khan fled away. Upon this Nand Chand and Daya Ram launched a fierce attack on the demoralized Pathans which resulted in great slaughter of the treacherous Pathans. When the hillmen saw the defeat of the Pathans, they began fleeing from the battle field. By this time Hari Chand regained his conscious and reappeared on the scene and shot many brave men with his arrows. On seeing this the Guru confronted Hari Chand and he describes the combat in Bachitar Natak:
"Hari Chand, one of the hill chiefs, in his rage drew forth the arrows. He struck my steed with one and
then discharged another at me, but God preserved me and it only grazed my ears in its flight. His third
Who protected me, His servant. When I felt the touch of the arrow, my spirit was kindled. I took up
my bow and taking aim killed the young chief Hari Chand with my very first shot. I discharged arrows
in abundance. Upon this my adversaries began to flee. The chief of Korari was also seized by death.
Upon this the hill men fled in consternation and I, through the favor of God Almighty, gained the
The Guru went to the site where lay the dead bodies of Sangho Shah, Jit Mal and other brave Sikhs. Two sons of Budhu Shah were also killed. The Guru ordered the slain on both sides be disposed of with great honor. The bodies of the Sikhs were cremated, of the Hindus thrown into the river and of the Muslims buried with all solemnity. Pir Budhu Shah presented himself and his two surviving sons to the Guru. At that time the Guru was combing his hair. Budhu Shah begged of him to give him the comb with his loose hair as a sacred souvenir. The Guru gave him the turban, the comb with hair and a small sword. The greatest gift of all, the Guru blessed him with Nam.
Significance of the battle of Bhangani:
The victory in the battle of Bhangani was of far reaching importance. It uplifted the spirit and strengthened the moral of the Sikhs. Since the Guru did not acquire even an inch of the territory or gained any material advantage, the cause he championed, received added strength. His fame spread far and wide with the result that the supply of arms and horses to the Guru increased abundantly and hundreds and hundreds of persons offered themselves to be enlisted in his army. The Guru's victory also did not go without causing concern to the Mughal rule at Delhi. The hilly Rajas also viewed the whole issue afresh. Although the Rajas and the Guru were poles apart in ideology, yet the Rajas being goaded by their self-interest of thwarting the Mughals over lordship and thus to be relieved of the burdens of payment of annual tributes to the Mughal Emperor, wanted cordial relations with the Guru. Therefore, their leader Raja Bhim Chand entered into agreement with him.
RETURN TO ANANDPUR:
The Guru remained about three years at Paunta Sahib and his fame attracted poets, singers and learned people to his court. During this period he composed Jap Sahib, Swayas and Akal Ustat. He ordered his army to return to Anandpur and he came back via Sadhaura and th en encamped at Laharpurfor a few days. Raja of Nahan sent his envoy to convey his desire to meet the Guru but he never did. Leaving Nahan the Guru entered Ramgarh state and stayed at Tabra for more than a week. He then went to Raipur in response to the invitation of the Rani of that place. She showed him the greatest hospitality and presented him a beautiful horse with costly trappings, and a purse of Rupees as an offering. He gave her son a sword and shield. After this he continued his journey to Anandpur and passing through Toda, Nada, Dhakoli, Kotla, Ghanaula, Bunga, he reached Kiratpur. From there he reached Anandpur in October, 1687. The eldest son, Ajit Singh was born on the fourth day of bright half of Magh, Sambat 1743 (1687 A.D.).
EXPEDITION OF ALIF KHAN:
The south India was up in the arms. Emperor Aurangzeb, therefore, remained busy many years in suppressing the revolt in southern India. All the expenditure of such a long war was met by levying heavy tribute on the northern and eastern provinces of the country. At that time Mian Khan was a viceroy of Jammu. He sent his commander-in-chief, Alif Khan to levy tribute on the hill Rajas. First he addressed Raja Kirpal of Kangra," Either pay me the tribute or contend with me in arms." Raja Kirpal gave him certain presents and then told him that Raja Bhim Chand of Kahlur was the greatest of all the Rajas. If he pays the tribute first, all the rest will follow him. If Bhim Chand refused to pay, he (Kirpal) would support him. Raja Dayal of Bijarwal was persuaded by Kirpal to meet Alif Khan's demands.
Alif Khan adopted Raja Kirpal's suggestion and proceeded towards the capital of Bhim Chand's state. He halted at Nadaun and sent his envoy to Bhim Chand with his demands. Bhim Chand replied that he would defend himself rather pay the tribute. However his prime minister advised Bhim Chand that if he desired victory, it would be assured only if he had obtained Guru's assistance. Upon this Bhim Chand sent his prime minister to the Guru to seek his active support. The Guru agreed to support the movement of non- payment of tributes which symbolized the spirit of defiance against the Mughal imperialism. The Guru came in person as the head of a strong contingent. The Rajas of Jaswal, Dadhwal and Jasrot also came to participate in the impending war.
Bhim Chand opened the attack with sharp arrows but the shots could not make any impact on the enemy because of their position and they struck only the wooden rafters of the fortress. The troops of Bhim Chand began to grow indifferent. At this critical juncture the Guru played his part most effectively. He took his gun and aimed at Raja Dayal. Fighting bravely the Raja fell to the ground. The Guru shot arrows one after the other on the enemy. Arrows and bullets flew in abundance and the battle turned in their favor. Alif Khan and his men fled and Bhim Chand won the victory. He remained at Nadaun for sometimes where he reached an understanding with Alif Khan through Kirpal who acted as intermediary.
The Guru after staying about a week there, returned to Anandpur. His son, Jujhar Singh was born on the seventh day of month of Chet, Sambat 1747 (1691 A.D.)
DILAWAR KHAN'S ATTEMPT TO WEAKEN GURU'S POWER:
Dilawar Khan who attained power in Punjab while Aurangzeb was in the Daccan (south), became jealous about Guru's fame and success. He sent his son Khanzada with a force of one thousand men to curb the power of the Guru at Anandpur. Khanzada crossed the river Satluj under the cover of the darkness at about midnight when Guru's scout, Alam Khan hastened to give information to him about the approach of a hostile force. The drum (Ranjit Nigara) was immediately beaten and Guru's men at once marched to the river. The quick formation of the Sikhs bewildered the enemy and the guns which began discharging volleys of shots, terrified Khanzada's men so much that they were constrained to reel back. However they plundered the village of Barwa on their way back. Khanzada through shame, could not answer to his father when he censored him for his cowardice. This happened at the end of 1694.
HUSSAIN KHAN'S EXPEDITION:
Guru Gobind Singh leading his army to battle
Dilawar Khan had a slave called Hussain who boasted that if he were given a command, he would sack the Guru's city of Anandpur and exact tribute from Bhim Chand and other hilly Rajas. The failure of Khanzada provoked Dilawar Khan to plan for a bigger attack on the Guru. So he sent Hussain Khan with a force of two thousand men. Hussain brought the Raja of Dadhwal to his knees and plundered Dun. Raja Kirpal of Kangra joined him. Bhim Chand too cast his lot with Hussain. He then with the help of Kirpal and Bhim Chand, planned to proceed to Anandpur. The Guru kept his troops ready for any eminent attack.
When Hussain was preparing to march towards Anandpur, Raja Gopal of Guler sent his envoy to make peace with him. Hussain replied that he would be glad to meet with Raja Gopal if he gave him a subsidy as other Rajas had done. Gopal went with some money but Hussain was not pleased with his contribution. Hussain's terms were payment of ten thousand rupees or he would put Gopal and his troops to death. Gopal pleaded his inability to pay that large sum of money and thus came back. At this point Gopal sent his envoy to the Guru to pray to him for a negotiated settlement with Hussain. The Guru sent his agent, Sangtia with an escort of seven troopers to negotiate a peace settlement between Gopal and Hussain. Two parties could not reach any settlement with the result that a battle ensued between Hussain, Kirpal and Bhim Chand on one side and Raja Gopal and Raja Ram Singh on the other. Having fought very bravely Hussain perished in the battle field. Raja Kirpal of Kangra was also slain. Himmat and Kimmat, two officers of Hussain Khan were also killed. On the other side the Guru's envoy Sangtia and his seven troopers were all killed. On seeing this Bhim Chand fled with his army. After his victory Raja Gopal went to the Guru with large offerings and thanked him for his grace which made him successful in the battle field.
A third son, Zorawar Singh was born to the Guru on Sunday, the first day of the second half of the month of Magh, Sambat 1753 (1697 A.D.).
The defeat irked Dilawar Khan and he then sent Jujhar Singh and Chandel Rai to Jaswan but they could not achieve the purpose. They, however, captured Bhalan, a strategic place in that state. Before they could proceed further, Gaj Singh of Jaswal fell upon them. Jujhar Singh and Chandel Rai both fought like lions but Jujhar Singh as killed and Chandel Rai fled from the field.
The defeat of the imperial forces caused anxiety to Aurangzeb and he sent his son Prince Muazzam, later known as Bahadur Shah, for restoration of order in the hills. The Prince took charge in August, 1696 and deputed Mirza Beg to teach lesson to hill Rajas. He inflicted defeat after defeat, set up villages on fire, plundered the territory. After Mirza Beg, the Prince sent four more officers who, side by side, chastised the hill Rajas, plundered the homes of the apostates who had escaped destruction at the hands of Mirza Beg.
In due time a fourth son, Fateh Singh was born to the Guru on wednesday, the eleventh day of Phagan, Sambat 755 (1699 A.D.). In the state of seclusion and tranquility of the mountains, the Guru translated Sanskrit works in Sambat 1755 ( 1698 A.D.). It was on the 14th of June of that year that the Guru according to his own version, completed his translation of the Ram Avtar from Sanskrit into Hindi. Most of the compositions that are said to be of the tenth Guru, are not his. Macauliffe writes:
"What is called the Granth of the tenth Guru (Dasam Granth) is only partially his composition. The
greater portion of it was written by bards in his employ. The two works entitled Chandi Charitar and
the Bhagauti ki Var found in it are abridged translations by different hands (any one even moderately
acquainted with Hindi can tell from inner evidence of style that these translations have been done by
different persons) of the Durga Sapt Shatti, or seven hundred sloks on the subject of Durga, an
episode in the 'Markandeya Puran' on the contests of the goddess Durga with demons who had made
war on the gods."
There were fifty-two bards in the court of Guru Gobind Singh to translate the Mahabharat, the Ramayan, and the gallant achievements of Rama, Krishna, Chandi, and others. It does not follow from this that the Guru worshipped those whose acts were thus celebrated; this was only done for the purpose of inciting bravery and dispelling cowardice, and filling the hearts of his troops with valor to defend their faith. This the Guru himself declares in his translation of the tenth canto of the Bhagwat," I have rendered in the vulgar dialect the tenth chapter of the Bhagwat with no other object than to inspire ardour for religious warfare."
The Guru never put faith or worshipped anyone other than the One Immortal God. In Akal Ustat he writes:
"Without Thee (God) I worship none Whatever boon I want, get from Thee."
The Guru makes the above point clear in his thirty-three Swayas:
"Some fasten an idol firmly to their breasts; some say that Shiv is God; Some say that God is in the
temple of the Hindus; others believe that He is in the mosque of the Musalmans;
Some say that Rama is God; some say Krishna; some in their hearts accept the incarnations as God;
But I have forgotten all vain religion and know in my heart that the Creator is the only God." (Swaya-XII)
"Why call Shiv God, and why speak of Brahma as God?
God is not Ram Chander, Krishan, or Vishnu whom ye suppose to be the lords of the world.
Sukhdev, Prasar, and Vyas erred in abandoning the One God and worshipping many gods.
All have set up false religions; I in every way believe that there is but One God."
(Swaya- XV, Guru Gobind Singh)