Guru Gobind Singh

The life and works of Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708) lend great excitement and colour to the history of Rupnagar District. He had the closest association with the district and indeed, the vicissitudes in the Gurus life have largely  shaped in the history of the district. A major landmark in Sikh History is the creation of the "Khalsa" by Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur Sahib in 1699.  In recording the history of the district ,it is essential to study the life of Guru Gobind Singh.

Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and the last Sikh Guru was born at Patna on 26 December 1666. The only son of  Guru Tegh Bahadur , the 9th Guru, he spent the first six years of his life in Patna. Even during the period of his childhood, he is known to have displayed a flair for physical combat, and performed feats involving physical courage and strength. In the 1673, Guru Gobind Singh, then known as Gobind Rai, came with his father to stay in Anandpur Sahib. Suitable arrangements were made for the education and training of the young boy, one Bajar Singh, a Rajput being appointed to teach him horse-riding and military exercises. He was also instructed in Persian by Pir Mohammad and in Gurmukhi by Bhai Gurbakshsh Singh. He showed himself to be quick learner, acquiring great skill in sword fencing and also gaining proficiency in the language. After his father's execution in 1675, young Gobind Rai shifted to Paonta Sahib on the banks of he was to acquire erudition and scholarship in the ancient Indian scriptures and epics and also to build the nucleus of a skilled and highly motivated army retinue. It was also a time for contemplation of the two different kings of tyranny which afflicted the people of Punjab at that time. One, the political tyranny of alien rulers who denied to the local people in the even the elementary of life and property. And, two the religious tyranny of established priests, the Brahminns,  who through  empty rituals  and rites, had exploited, ignorant and superstitious  Hindus for centuries. In order to  counter the power stitious Hindus  for  centuries. In order to counter the  power of the priests, the Guru obtained  first hand knowledge  of ancient Sanskrit works and even  translated portions  of the  Ramayana and Mahabharata into  Hindi and Gurmukhi.  He  wished  to foster a new sprit  of self-reliance  among  his  followers " to steel their hearts  against injustice and tyranny.  In this task  of acquainting  the people  with the true import of  scriptures, the Guru was assisted byas many as 52 poets of grat eminence.

            At  the same time, the Guru did not allow nhis men to neglect physical fitness. Rather, they were  exhorted  to prepare themselves for combat, and were especially  trained in riding,  archery  and sword-play. Pathan mercenaries were enlisted as trainers in warfare, and  also to swell he ranks of the militia.

            Inevitably these activities excited jealousy  among  the neighbouring hill Chiefs, and as a result, the Guru  was compelled  to fight with  them  in the battle  of Bhangani (about six miles north-east of  Paonta  Sahib)  in September 1688.  Guru  Gobind  Singh's  victory  in this  battle instilled  great  confidence among  his followers. Immediately  after  the victory   of Bhangani, however, the  Guru  left  Paonta Sahib and again  shifted  to  the territory  of Raja  Bhim Chand  of  Kahlur ( Bliaspur State). He  made  Anandpur his headquarters and also  raised  five  small  forts-- Anandgarh, Lohgarh, Holgarh, Fatehgarh and Taragarh around it. Raja  Bhim  Chand prudently courted friendship,  which  subsequently  grew into a other  hill  Chiefs, to  raise  the standard of revolt  against Mughal  adminstration.  These  chiefs refused  toremit the yearly  tribute  to the Emperor, who  was  at that  time  away  in the Deccan. The immediate reaction to this newly-forged  alliance was for a larger Mughal force, under  Alif Khan to invade  the territory of  the hill  chiefs. A  bloody battle  was  fought  at Nadaun, a small  town  of Kangra. The  Guru  and the  hill chiefs fought desperately and in the end  succeeded in repulsing the Mughal attack. Soon after that battle, however  most  of the hill  chiefs made some settlement with the Mughal governor of Kangra. When the Guru and some of his allies refused to submit, a force under the son of local Faujdar Dilawar Khan was despatched against the Guru, but this attack too was unsuccessful. Two other expeditions under Hussain Khan and Jujhar Singh were sent by the Mughal Governor, but they, too, suffered the same fate.

            When the news of these repeated disasters reached the Emperor in the Deccan, he sent his own son, Prince Muazzam to deal with the rebels. The Prince came to Lahore and sent a large force under Mirza Beg against the Guru and the hill chiefs. Mirza Beg was victorious, and reduced all the hill chiefs to submission. Guru Gobind Singh did not suffer personal harm at the hands of the victorious army. It is said that this was mainly due to the influence of Bhai Nand Lal, Mir Munshi of Prince Muazzam. Bhai Nand Lal was a devotee of Guru Gobind Singh. During this reprieve, he reorganized his followers Creation of Khalsa and created in the year 1699 what is known as the "Khalsa".

            In view of above, the creation of Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh was the result of his deep and sustained meditation. Having prepared his plans, he had issued a general invitation to the Sikhs to muster stronger than usual on the occasion of Baisakhi Festival in the year 1699. On the Baisakhi Day in April 1699, Guru Gobind Singh addressed a mass gatherin at Keshgarh in Anadpur Sahib. At he end of his speech, the Guru drew out his sword, and in a voice as that of thunder, took all those present by surprise, by asking for any one present in the assembly, who was ready to lay down his life at his call. When Guru Gobind Singh found no response to his first call, he called forth second time but again there was no response. His eyes, flashed fiercier, his voice grew more terrible, and for the third time he asked for anyone who would lay down his life at a call by him. At last a Khatri of Lahore, named Daya Ram, aged thirty-nine, got up and offered his life. The Guru immediately took him into the tent with his apparent hurry and in no time he came out of the tent with his sword dripping with fresh drawn blood. The Guru asked for another head. The crowd was convinced that Daya Ram was killed by the Guru inside the tent and people were hesitant to respond like Daya Ram. Dharm Dass, a Jat of Hastnapur (Delhi), aged forty-two, now stood up, and offered his head, on the third call. A stream of blood coming out from the tent convinced the terrified people that the Sikh, too, had been killed. Many fled for their    lives. The Guru came out and called for the third head. This time on the third call, Mohkam Chand, a Chhimba of Dwarka, aged forty-one, offered himself, Guru Gobind Singh came out again with the same sword dripping with blood, and asked for a fourth head. All were dumb with terror and amazement. At last, Sahib Chand of Bidar, a barber, by caste, aged forty-two, got up. He was likewise taken to the tent and now the Guru came out once again and on his third call, Himmat Rai of Jagannathpuri, a Jhiwar, aged forthy-three, stood up and the Guru disappeared with him in the tent.

            When the Guru came out of the tent, his sword was sheathed, his face was beaming with joy and satisfaction. After a short time to a great surprise of all present, the five Sikhs, who were taken inside the tent, were brought out. They were all dressed like the Guru in saffron coloured dresses. All the times, when Guru went to the tent with a Sikh, his sword had been falling on goats that had been placed in the tent. It was the goat's blood that had been coming out from the tent and dripping from the sword. The Guru had, in this unique manner, tested the fidelity and bravery of his followers. He had ascertained that his followers had fully learnt the lesson of self-sacrifice and the unquestioning obedience to their leader. To these five now the Guru bestowed the name of Panj Piyare or "Five Beloved" as they came to be called. With them the Guru proceeded to lay a new the foundation of Sikhism. Next day the Guru initiated them according to the new rites that he himself introduced. The method of initiation, which had hitherto been current in Sikhism, was known as Charanpahul. According to this, a Sikh was initiated in Sikhism by drinking the water touched by the Guru with his toe. It was believed that this method of initiation developed humility and politeness in the Sikhs. But Guru Gobind Singh wanted to add to these virtues of humility and politeness the virtues of self-respect, dignity, courage and boldness. He thus introduced absolutely a new method of initiation, which was a product of his own mind. For this new rite of initiation, Guru Gobind Singh took water and patasas sugar in an irion vessel kneeling beside it, he kept stirring the water with a two edged sword called khanda and recited over it the sacred verses that he had chosen for the ceremony. These verses were the Japji of Guru Nanak, the Jap Sahib, his own composition, Anand Sahib of Guru Amar Dass and certain Sawaiyas and Chaupais or quantrains of his own composition. The Five Beloved were asked to repeat Waheguru and the preamble of the Japji. He then gave them five handfuls of the Amrit which means nectar. He sprinkled the water five times on their hair and their eyes, and asked them all to repeat Waheguruji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru jiki Fateh, which means that Khalsa belongs to the Lord and to the Lord and to the Lord belongs the victory. As the outward sing of initiation by Pahul, the Sikhs were enjoined to were the five K's, viz., The Kes (long hair), Kachh (short breeches), the Kara (iron bangle), the Kirpan (sword) and the Kangha (comb). They were also given the common congnomen of Singh for men and Kaur for women. They were directed to regard to Guru Gobind   Singh  and  his wife  Sahib Kaur  as  their common parents so that none could thereafter claim a postion of pride on account of his  caste. As some people took pride even on the basis of their place of birth, the Guru enjoined on all those who were initiated to regard Anandpur as their place of birth. Guru declared  that the locks of all the Sikhs must remain unshorn of material things  he said that the Sikhs should devote their finite energies to steel alone and arms should dignify their person. They should be ever waging war. He enjoined his  Sikhs not to have any intercourse with the Dhirmalis, who had labored to kill Guru Teg Bahadur and Tam Rais, who were responsible for the death of his father and the Masands who had undermined the strengh of some of the Sikh Gurus in the past.

            The objective of the creation of the Khalsa was not to take revenge for any personal wrong  or injury, for he had  willingly acrificed his father in the cause of preserving  righteousness and he himself was also prepared to sacrifice his all for his lofty ideals. He did not advocate bleedshed for the sake of any realm or kingdom. If he wanted to throne and drive out the tyrants it was out of his unbounded love for the downtrodden humanity and not for the sake of any political power18"

 

The Past Khalsa Period:- Guru Gobind Singh had to fight eleven battles after the creation of the Khalsa. Of these six took place at Anandpur Sahib abd the rest at Nirmohangarh Bharsali, Sirsa, Chamkaur Sahib abd Khidrana ( Fridkot District). These are describe  briefly hereunder.

 

First Battle of Anandpur, 199.- The hill Rajas were much perturbed at the growing power of the Guru. They felt their own position threatened  by the Khalsa. The Mughal throne in Delhi  was also proossing them to evacuate the Khalsa from their territory. Emperor Aurangzeb had also instructed his Governors in Punjab to take stemps to crush the power of the Giuru. Macauliffe says that the Viceroy of Delhi despatched a force of ten  thousand men under his two Generals PaidahKhan and Din Beg. and the hill Rajas fled. they were purposed by the Khalsa for some distance. A large booty in the form of horse arms and baggage fell into the hands of sikhs.

 

Second Battle of Anandpur, 1699- After this defeat the hill Rajas formed a coalition and decided to act in concert with one another independently of the Mughals Bhim Chand of Bilaspur became  their leader. He sent a message to the Guru to vocate Anandpur as it lay in his tertorry and settle somewhere else of face the Rajas' Army. Finding that Gobind Singh would not submit they marched upon Anandpur Kesari Chand of Jaswan was in the vanguard. In the day's fighting the Sikhs struck fast to their ground. There was a followed. The Rajas of Kangta, Mandi and Bilaspur were for peace, while those of Hindur and Jaswan wanted to fight. The slege lasted two months. Kesari Chand of Jaswan and Ghamand Chand of Kangra lost their. The survivors fled.

 

Battle of Nirmohgarh, 1700. After some time, a strong contingent of the Mughal army was seen advancing towards Anadpur. The Guru intercepted it at Nirmohgarh, a village situated about 4 km. from Anandpur. Some hill chiefs also joined the Mughal, but they were repulsed.

 

Battle of Bharsali, 1780.- Some time later, Wazir Khan, the Governor of Sirhind, appeard on the scene, and himself assumed command of the force. His strategy was successful. The Sikhs suffered defeat and left Anandpur. They could not return to Anandpur as all entires to the town were blocked. The Guru retreated towards Bharsali. It lay 45 km from Anandpur beyond Una across river Swan, 5 km away. The enemy pursued the Sikhs. Another engagement took place at Bharsali, in which Sahib Singh, a notable Sikh Commander, lost his life.

 

Third Battle of Anadpur, 1702._ Two Mughal Commanders, Sayyid Beg and Alif Khan, were marching from Lahore to Delhi with a force of about five thousand men. Bhim Chand of Bilaspur who had not reconciled himself to the Guru, persuaded the Generals to help him in expelling Gobind Singh from his territory on a payment of one thousand rupees a day. Alif Khan had already gought in the Kangra Hills, and had a grievance against the Guru. Differences arose between the two Commanders. After a couple of skirmishes, Sayyid Beg parted company with Alif Khan and joined Gobind Singh. This disheartened Alif Khan who retired.

 

Forth Battle of Anandpur, 1703._ Bhim chand was not a man to lose heart. He prepared himself for another trial and succeeded in winning over certain neighbouring chiefs including Raja Bhp Chand, Raja Wazir Singh and Raja Dev Saran. They marched upon Anandpur. The Sikhs met them outside the town. Following the battle, the bill Rajas fell back and dispersed.

 

Fifth Battle of Anandpur, 1703._Bhim Chand again sought help from the Mughal Viceroy at Delhi. In course of time, a strong force was despatched. The Guru came to know of it when it had arrived at Thanesar. Sayyid Beg stood firm in support of the Guru. Another Muslim Noble Maiman Khan joined the Guru. The combined troops of the Mughals and the hill Rajas invested Anandpur. In the contest one hill chief and Sayyied Beg were killed. Owing this engagement, the invading forces drove the Sikhs out of Anandpur and plundered the town. In the meantime, however, the Sikhs returned, fell upon the heavily laden enemy troops, retrieved their position and recovered Anandpur.

 

Sixth Battle of Anandpur, 1704._These continuous repulses disheartened the Mughal Governor of Delhi, Sirhind, Lahore and Jammu as well as the Rajas of Kangra Hills. They wrote to Aurangzeb warning him against the growing power of Guru Gobind Singh. They stated that the Emperor's conquest in the Deccan might lead to the loss of North-Western India from Delhi to Kabul. they invited him to take command against the Guru personally. /This upset Aurangzeb who issued instructions to his Governors and the hill Rajas to throw out the Guru from Anandpur Sahib at all costs.

            Anandpur was most closely besieged in September 1704 by the Mughal forces from Delhi, Sirhind, Lahore and Jammu, by the Hindu Rajas of Kangar Hills, and by the Muslim Chiefs and Jagirdars of the neighbourhood. Wazir Khan, the Governor of Sirhind, in whose jurisdiction Anandpur was situated, assumed the chief command.

            The Guru had mounted two heavy guns named Baghan or tigress and Vijayghosh or victory warrant on his fort. They were brough into action and they wrought havoc in the enemy ranks. In the first day's fight, Wazir Khan lost nine hundred men. the siege was conducted with great intensity. All means of communications were cut off. The provisions had almost ben exhausted and the inmates lived on leaves and barks of trees. Taking advantage of this situation, Wazir Khan formed a plan to capture the Guru alive and send him to Aurangzeb to win his pleasure and goodwill. He opened negotiations with the Guru promising safe evacuation. Many Sikhs who were starving welcomed this overture. /they requested Gobind Singh's mother to exert pressure on the Guru to accept the offer and she did attempt to do so. The Guru however, was unyielding. In this situation, desertions became wide spread. Many renounced the new Khalsa creed. The Guru's mother prepared to leave with her two youngest grandsons. In this desperate state of affairs, the Guru reluctantly agreed to evacuate Anandpur. He destroyed much of his movable property, buried some underground, and took the most valuable baggage with him. the evacuation began at the dead of night on 20-21 December 1704. The entire camp was divided into two parts. The Guru's mother, wives, two youngest sons and other women of the household together with all the manuscripts prepared by the Guru and his scholars left in the fist batch. Udey Singh, the bravest commander of the Guru, was put in charge of this party at the head of two hundred armed horsemen. The Guru had given them a letter for the Raja of  Nahan requesting him to give shelter to his family. They were to follow the direct road to Rupnagar. The Guru was to join them as soon as possible.

 

            Battle of Vichhora Sahib on the River Sirsa. 21 December 1704._ Accompanied by his two elder sons and about 400 men, Guru Gobind Singh also left Anandpur Sahib, soon afterwards. He had not yet reached the bank of River Sisra, 15 km. to the East when he was attached by a strong contingent under Wazir Khan. Even as Guru was heavily engaged, another detachment of the Mughals deliered an assault on the first batch halting on the river bank. In the midst of rain, cold, darkness and flerce fighting complete confusion prevailed among the Sikhs. Udey Singh and most of his followers lost their lives. A gurudwara called Parivar Vichhora Sahib marks this site. Some daring Sikha pushed their horses into the swirling waters and carried the guru's family safely across 400 metres, the width of the river. But in this attempt, all valuable and manuscripts were washed away. The Guru's household was further divided into two groups. The Guru's mother and his two younger sons who could not walk or ride for long were taken by Gangu, an old domestic servant to his native village Saheri, near Morinda. Mata Sundari and Mata Sahib Devan were hurriedly led towards Ambala in the disguise of rustic women.

            The Guru also suffered equally. Having put up a tough fight, he also threw his horse into the swollen current. Most of his men had been killed in the battle and may perished in passage of the river. When he reached the other bank, he was left with his two sons, the five beloved ones, and thirty-five other Sikhs, 43 survivors from among the original party of 400. At Ropar, 23 km farther news was brought to him that about a thousand Mughal troops were advancing against him from Sirhind, while another force was crossing the river Sirsa.

            Battle of Chamkour Sahib, 22 December 1704._Guru Gobind Singh realized his precarious position. The enemy was in front also in the rear. To his left were the hill States which were equally opposed to him. The only side open was towards Chamkaur 16 km distant. When he reached the vicinity of Chamkaur, he learnt that the enemy was close upon him. He halted in a garden and sent two Sikhs inside the village to find a suitable place of shelter. They chose a mud built double storeyed house with a large open compouned. Once of its two owners offered his portion to the Guru, The Guru and his Sikhs hurried into it. This was the evening of 21 December 1704. The enemy invested the place on the morning of 22 December 1704. The eager and impetuous men of the Guru, clad in the splendid new uniform recently prescribed by the Guru offered tough resistance. They were raked by the gunners. they received the direct fire of the batteries in front. the Sikhs shot down from all sides, from behind the walls, from the roofs, through every window, through every air hole and through every chink in the doors. The fighting cost most of the Sikhs their lives.

            In a few hours on a single day, the 38th birthday of the Guru, his two elder sons, Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh still in their teens, three of the five beloved ones and thirty-two other Khalsa laid down their lives.

            As darkness descended on this shortest day of the year, the Guru was left with five disciples only-Daya Singh, Dharam Singh, Man Singh, Sangat Singh and Sant Singh. In the midst of his mortifying musing, over the past 38 years of his life, he was interrupted by his five surviving Sikhs. They suddenly gathered in a group, whispered something among themselves and enacted the scene of Anandpur in which Gobind Singh, five years earlier, had played, the double role of  being the Guru and disciple at the same time. They told Gobind Singh that at the moment they were the Guru and he was a Khalsa. They ordered him to escape in the interest of the Panth. Daya Singh, the first of the five beloved ones. Dharam Singh would stay behind to continue the fight. Sant Singh who had a great resemblance with the Guru wore his clothes and sat in the place of the Guru.

            The house was closely surrounded on all sides. Fires were lit and the Sikhs in the upper storey could easily watch the movements of the enemy. According to the practice in those days, fighting ended at nightfall. Most of the soldiers had gone to sleep. Some were keeping a watch at various places. A Sikh went down into the compound and removed dresses from three dead Mughal soldiers. The Guru and his three Sikhs dressed themselves as Mughal soldiers, and managed to escape at about 2 O'Clock in the morning. It was decided that they would meet on the ouskirts of Machiwara, 27 km away.  The Guru was the first to leave.  He stopped for a while at Jhand Sahib. 12 km away.  Here two Gujars, Ramzu and Kalu, recognised the Guru.  They raised an alarm.  The Guru offered them a few gold coins in order to keep them quiet.  They did not stop.  The Guru silenced them for ever with his sword. At sunrise his three Sikhs found him lying fast asleep near the village Machhiwara in a ploughed field under a cluster of bushes.  A Sikh, named Gulaba lived in that village.  All the four took shelter in his house.

            In the same village, there lived Ghani Khan and Nabi Khan, two Pathans, who frequently supplied horses to the Guru.  They arranged his escape.  The Guru put on blue clothes, spread his hair loose on shoulders, and assumed the appearance of a Sufi Saint.  He was called the Pir of Uchch.  The Guru seated himself on a cot in accordance with  the custom of the Pirs on his joureny. It was carried by hour men, two Sikhs and the two Pathans. One waved the chanwar over the Guru’s head and served as reserve to give  relief to others56

            The distinct contribution of Guru Gobind Singh lay in establishing a society that drew inspiration from his personal example, apeople at once fearless and spiritually inclined. He sought the creation of an equalitarian community, whose ideal was equalit and sacrifice. He himself was the personal inspiration for the cretion of a community that was prepared to take up arms against oppression that set no store in individual fortune, and consequently maintained morale amidst continuing advesity. Himself a distinguished scholar and a fearless warrior he left a tradition of   a brave martial segment of society. The Sikh martial tradition continues today.

            Banda Bahadur occupies a significant place in the history of the Punjab of the eighteenth century. After having come into contact with guru Gobing Singh at Nander (Maharashtra) in 1708, he marched to the Punjab and waged a series of battles against the Mughal rulers. The Guru has deputed Banda Bahadur for this very purpose. Sometime in October 1708. Banda left for Punjab with twenty-five followers. He was briefed by Guru Gobind Singh about the route to be followed, the tasks to be accomplished, the source of his reinforcements and the sequence of action. At the same time Guru Gobind Singh issued decress  to the Sikhs in the Punjab to Join Banda in his adventure.

            Banda was really an enterprising leader, and led the Sikhs to many significant victories. His conquests of Samana (1709) and Sadhaura enabled him to multiply his resources in men and money. In these conquests, Banda was assisted by the Sikhs from the Malwa  region. However, before attacking Sirhind he wanted to increase his force with sikhs from the Majha Region. Acccordingly, messages were sent to the Sikh leaders of Majha.

            The news of the Guru’s assassination in 1708 inflamed the Sikhs. When they heard of Banda’s coming, the obstacles created by the local administration.

            The Bettle of Ropar (Rupnagar):-    The Mazhail Sikhs had responded to Banda’s message  with written assurances of support. Wazir Khan, the Faujudar of Sirhind in his bid to check reinforcements from reaching Banda, had issued strict orders to serao-keepers and to the officers-incharge of roads, ferries, etc. to precent any Sikhs from moving towards Banda. The Malwais were free of such impediment, whereas the Majhails were free of such impediments whereas the Majhails had to cross several rivers in ferries to reach their destination. These men devised various methods to evade detection, These men devised various methods to evade detection, such as posing traders and passing undetected in their groups. Some traders, too were eager to help them, prominent among them being Kishora Singh and Ram Singh of Kiratpur. The Majhail Sikhs reached Kiratpur, where they were entertained by these sympathizers. Hence they waited for sometime for Banda’s forces  and then moved on to Kharar. These contingents from Majha were joined by some from the Doab who crossed over from Kiratpur.

            Wazir khan was alarmed  at the successes of Banda. He wanted to prevent the combination of these two forces, and to this end, he detailed Sher  Muhammad Khan of Malekotla to deal with the coming Sikhs.

            Sher Muhammad Khan advanced, accompained by Khizar Khan, Nashtar Khan and Wali Muhammad Khan engaged them in battle at Ropar. With the Faujdar of Sirhind  to back him., Sher Muhammad Khan had at his disposal adenumber but were strongly motivated after the assassination  of their Guru. The battle was bloody. According to Sohan Singh,streams of blood flowed through the hilloks of the killed and the wounded, but sher Mohammad Khan expected to wrap up the battle the following morning. Ganda Singh records however,” Sikhs were reinforced  by a fresh batch from the North-East”, and offered unexpectedly stiff resistance in the battle which continued. The Sikhs force suffered heavy casualties, but the fought strongly against superiorfire-power, eventually reducing the battle to a hand to hand fight.

            It is said that at the stage.Khizar Khan came forward and loudly advised the Sikhs to lay down their arms and surrender. The Sikhs responded with a shower of arrows and shots, one of which struck Khizar Khan. This reverse demolished the Afghan ranks. The Sikhs ascendancy in this battle was so great that the Afghan soldiers were not even able to recover the body of Khizar Khan. Indeed both Nashtar Khan and Wall Mohammad Khan fel in their attempt to bring back the body of the slain leader and Sher Mpohammad himself was wounded. The Mughal contingent was routed. The victorious Sikhs soldiers joined Banda Bahadur in Banur, now in district Patiala.

 

            The Battle of Chhappar Chiri, 22 May 1710

            This was one of the decisive battles fought by Banda Bahadur. The plain of Chappar Chiri falls near Landran in the present day Kharar Tehsil, on the Banur-Kharar road. The battle was significant for Banda Bahadur as his poorly equipped and assorted warriors were able to prevail over a technically superior, larger and well-equipped fprce. Wazir Khan, the Governor of Sirhind, himself led the Mughal contingent which boasted of elephants and mounted guns. Banda’s troops were divided  into two attacking colmns, the Malwais and the Malwais  with some irregulars, among them dacoits and robbers , being attached to both columns. Banda Bahadur met an intial reverse when his irregulars turned tail and fled. An unexpected counter-assault, which in Banda Bahadur. This turned out to be an inspried move, and  spectacular  in its impact, as his troops managed not only to capture, some enemy cannons, but also the Commander of the opposing contingent, Wazir Khan himself who was subsequently put to death by Banda . It  was a bloody battle, with heavy casualties on both sides.

            This victory gained for Banda Bahadur the control of Sirhind and enabled him to subdue and enabled him to subdue the Rajas of the neighboring hilly areas, including Kahlur (Bilaspur), Mandi, Kulu and Chamba who had earlier opposed Guru Gobind Singh. Banda established his own administration in Sirhind, headed by Baj Singh as Governor. He easily gained control over all the twenty-eight Parganas  of the old Sirhind Povince. The entire area now comprising Rupnagar District was in his control. His State functioned from Sadhaura (now in Haryana).

            Banda’s ascendance was for all too brief a period, but his contribution was significant in so far as raising the morale of the Sikhs after Guru Gobind Singh was concerned. He was able to instil a new-found confidence among his fighters, which, as events turned out was to shape the course of subsequent battles.  Banda made some efforts at administrative reform, including an attempt to abolish the oppressive  zamindari system of cultivation.

 

Persecution of the Sikhs

            After Banda Bahadur's execution in Delhi, the Sikhs were subjects to considerable persecution by the Mughal administration.

            In 1726 Zakariya Khan Bahadur became the Governor of Lahore. During his tenture thousands of Sikhs were killed, even as they continued, whenever the opportunity came, to plunder the imperial treasuries and to harass Government officials and their agents.  The Sikhs were subjected to all manner of persecution during the period of Zakariya Khan (172645), Yahiya Khan (1746,47) and Mir  Mannu (1748,53)    

            The Rise to Power of the Sikhs - Nawab Kapur Singh(1697,1753) played and important role in leading the Sikhs during a crucial period of their history. His most significant  contribution came tro fruit in 1748, the year in which he consolidated the entire disintegrated fabric of the Sikh Commonwealth into the Dal Khalsa. The  Organisation  of Dal Khalsa is a landmark in the history of the Punjab. Besides, giving the Sikhs and efficient organisation, it was destined  to clear the way to Sikhs  political power.  Invasion of Nadir Shah in 1739 and Ahmad Shah Abdali(1748,68) weakened the hold of Mughals over Punjab . This was in fact the period when the Mughal Empire began to decay. In 1757, Ahmed Shah Abdali snatched a large portion of Punjab up to Sirhind from the Mughals, and under him Abdus Samad Khan was the Governor of the province of Sirhind including most of the area of present day Rupnagar District. However, the Marathas, in collaboration with the Sikhs, recaptured Punjab from the forces of Abdali in 1758 and made Adina Beg the Governor of  Punjab. Adina Beg appointed Sadik Beg Khan, as the Faujdar of Sirhind including area of Rupnagar District. However, in the year 1761, the Marathas crushed in the Third Battle of Panipat under Ahmed Shah Abdali. In 1761, Ahmed Shah Abdali appointed Zain khan as Farjdar of Sirhind. This turned out to be the last Mohammadan ruler this area.

            As Abdali gave a fatal blow to Mughal Rule in India, the Sikhs rose to power in Punjab. The Sikhs, under the leadership of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, attacked Sirhind on 14January 1764, Zain Khan while attempting to escape was shot dead, and his Afghan troops in panic ran in all directions. They were pursued and most of them were cut to pieces. Sirhind was again subjected to indiscriminate plunder and its buildings were razed to the ground. The spot where the two little sons of Guru Gobind Singh had been done to death, was searched out and a gurudwara called  Fatehgarh   Sahib ( Fort of Victory) was built on it.

            The Sikhs spread all over the Sirhind Province and parcelled out the entire territory among them selves. A tradition describes how in a strange manner the Sikhs occupied the territories. A Sikh would ride a horse, visit a village, and leave an article of his dress with its headman, and then gallop off to another village doing likewise the whole day and night, till he was left with nothing but short breeches on his body. All these villages, thus became his property, and such was the discipline among the Sikhs that a village thus visited by a Sikh, would not be occupied by another, and thus the entire plains territory between the Satluj and the Jamuna was divided among them. The ruins of the town of Anandpur were unanimously assigned to Budh Singh an old Companion of Guru Gobind Singh, who sold it later for Rs. 25,000 to Ala Singh of Patiala.

             Thus the whole of Province of Sirhind came under the Sikh Sardars. The greater parts of this area, including the area of the present day Rupnagar District was held by the Chiefs of the Phulkian Family. The foremost Phulkian Chief was the ruler of Patiala. Ala Singh and Amar Singh were the first two Phulkian Sardars who ruled over this area. The head quarters of the state was shifted from Sirhind to Patiala and the erstwhile Province of Sirhind came to be know as Patiala State. Accordingly, most of the area of the present Rupnagar District fell in the Patiala State of the Phulkian Sardars. The district administrative offices located at Sirhind were immediately shifted to the neighbouring town of Bassi Pathana and the district of Sirhind was renamed as Amargarh Nizamat in 1765. Thus much of the area of modern Rupnagar District became part of the Amargarh Nizamat under Patiala Administration. After the merger of Pepsu with Punjab in 1956, Amargarh Nizamat was renamed as Fatehgarh Sahib Nizamat. When Maharaja Ranjit Singh, whose role is described later came to power in the first decade of 19th Century, Sahib Singh was the ruler of the Patiala State. He was a weak and incompetent ruler. A serious quarrel with his own wife, Rani Aus Kaur was distracting his attention from work. The other Phulkian Chief of Nabha and Jind, taking advantage of that quarrel, had begun to make encroachments upon the territory of Sahib Singh. Ranjit Singh who was the ruler of trans Satluj Punjab also exploited the situation to his advantage, crossed Satluj and conquered many villages, surrounding Morinda in Rupnagar District which were passed over to his uncle Bhag Singh, the ruler of erastwhile Jind State.  Ranjit Singh also received tributes from the chiefs of Mani Majra and Ropar (now Rupnagar). Raja Sahib Singh of Patiala exchanged his turban with Ranjit Singh.

 

However in due course, the Phulkian Chiefs became suspicious of the aggressive designs of Ranjit Singh who wanted to become the ruler of the entire Sikh Nation. Accordingly, they approached the British Government for protection. Consequently, the British Government sent Sir Charles Metcalfe to sign a treaty with Ranjit Singh. Metcalfe insisted that Ranjit Singh should relinquish all his claims on the territory south of Satluj. Though reluctant, Ranjit Singh had to bow before the mighty British Power and sign the treaty of Amritsar in 1809 whereby he agreed to continue his activities of war and conquest to the territories lying to the South West of the River Satluj. Hence from 1809, the most of the area of present Rupnagar District came under the domination of British power through the Phulkian Sardars. However, the claims of Ranjit Singh over Anandpur Makhowal and Chamkaur were admitted by the British in 1827.

            Establishment of Sikh State of Ropar: Hari Singh, a virk Jat of Kaleki near Kasur (now in Pakistan), was a noted member of the Dallewalia Misl. Hs was the founder of the Sikh State of Ropar in A.D. 1763. He was once a poor man residing with S. Manak Singh of village Handiaya (tahsil Barnala, district Sangrur). In due course with the support of a Sikh jatha at Gurudwara Damdama Sahib, he becomes the leader of a jatha of 400 Sikhs. In 1760, his jatha marched for the pilgrimage of Anandpur Sahib. On the way, he had to fight with the Pathan Nawab of Rupar.  He won the battle and became the ruler of Rupar State, including many village of madern Kharar and Rupnagar tahsils of the District. Sialba Khizrabad, Siswan and Kurali of the Rupnagar District were included in his territory. He also captured the fort of Khizrabad built by Chaudhari Tek Chand. Hari Singh ruled over this territory up to the year 1792. During his reign he appointed Bhai Bhag Singh, son of Sardar Manak Singh, his religious Advisor (Raj Granthi)

            Hari Singh died in 1792 and his State was divided between his two sons, charat Singh and Deva Singh. Soon after Charat Singh died, his minor son Bhup singh succeeded him. The boy, being a minor was taken by the British in their protection on 8,November 1813. Bhai Bishen Singh became the Advisor of Raja Bhup Singh

            As Raja Bhup Singh grew up, he chafed at the interference of the British in the affairs of his Stfate. Breaking out of his clutch was a difficult problem.

            Under the advice of Bhai Bishen Singh, Raja Bhup Singh took many steps to fortity his position among the people. He had the gurdwara of Kiratpur Singh renovated and constructed the Samadh of Baba Gurditta. Insription on the stairs leading to the gurudwara regarding the services of Raja Bhup Singh of Rupar still exists. Such activities he took up to an eventful uprising.

              His design required him to obtain the support of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.  Accordingly, he negotiated with the Maharaja.  The British were carefully watching his activities and were awaiting a mere excuse to confiscate his State.  As long as Maharaja Ranjit Singh was alive, Raja Bhup singh was safe. Maharaja Ranjit Singh died in 1839 and the power of the Sikhs declined.  Therefore Raja Bhup Singh had sided with Dalip Singh, the minor successor of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.  This help given by Raja Bhup Singh was intolerable to the British.

            The British had called all the Rajas to Lahore to determine their loyalty.  Raja Bhup Singh if Rupar refused to join this conference.  This was sufficient excuse for the British to declare le the Raja a traitor and to confiscate his State.  His Advisor, Bhai Bishen Singh was also considered by the British as their enemy and for both, confiscation of State and property and Bhai Bishen Singh Granthi were exileld on 29 January 1847 to Saharanpur.  There was a tough fight between the British and the Sikh forces on the day of forceful exile and thousands of Bhup Singh’s soldiers were killed.  The territory of the Raja was annexed by the British.

 

 

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