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The Saint - Soldier (Guru Gobind Singh)
The Saint - Soldier (Guru Gobind Singh)

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The Battle of Bhangani

The Battle of Bhangani

Anandpur was in the territory of Raja Bhim Chand of Bilaspur. Like the other Rajas of the hills he paid taxes to Aurangzeb and dared not say a word against the Government, much less, would he fight for freedom. The Guru's preaching against castes, idol worship, superstitions, and his free common kitchen where all could eat together, were hateful to the hill rajas. The Guru's growing power and influence seemed a great danger to them. The beating of the Ranjit Nagara (War drum) irritated Bhim Chand very much. Knowing that the Guru had a big following, he dared not attack him. On the advice of his minister he arranged a meeting with the Guru. When he saw the Guru he became interested in the guilder tent and "Parsadi," the elephant, which could do many tricks. He wished to acquire these two things. But the Guru flatly refused to give them away saying that it was the wish of the donors that the things should remain with the Guru. Bhim Chand left the Guru's court in anger and a few days later he sent the Guru a letter saying: "If you want to live in Anandpur, send me the elephant, the guilder tent, your gold seat and your sword, at once. If you fail to do this, my army is ready to teach you a lesson and this is my final warning."

The Guru accepted the challenge and again refused to give away the gifts. He took a band of his best soldiers, and with the help of Raja Medni Parkash, he had a fort built at Paunta in 12 days. A great many Hindus and Muslims joined the Guru's army. His strength grew daily. Pir Buddhu Shah along with his disciples paying homeage to Guru Gobind RaiAlso a Muslim saint, Budhu Shah, joined the Guru's army with his four sons and 500 followers. It was here that the Guru killed a lion which showed the raja how skilled he was in the art of fighting.

The Guru settled at Fort Paunta and kept a watch over what Bhim Chand was doing. He used to rise early, take a walk along the banks of the river Jamuna and find a suitable place where he could write poetry for three hours every day. He translated many books from Sanskrit including "Krishna Avtar." He also set about making Paunta bigger and more beautiful with gardens and pretty landscape.

Meanwhile Bhim Chand went to Sirinagar for the wedding of his son to the daughter of Raja Fateh Shah of Sirinagar. The Guru was very friendly with Raja Fateh Shah and sent one of his followers, Nand Chand, with a gift of 125,000 Rupees for Fateh Shah's daughter. When Bhim Chand found out that Fateh Shah was friendly towards the Guru, he would not let Fateh Shah's daughter marry his son and he attacked Nand Chand and the Guru's soldiers. Fateh Shah had to please Bhim Chand in order to avoid disgrace or, the day of his own daughter's marriage. When Nand Chand reached Paunta, he told the Guru what had happened. The Guru sent some of his troops to Bhangani, where Raja Bhim Chand and his party had to pass on their way home. Bhim Chand was very disappointed at the escape of the Guru's men and was boiling with rage. News also reached him that the Guru was going to block his way home. So he wrote for help to all the hill chiefs and also asked Fateh Shah to join him with his armies, to destroy the Sikhs. On the other hand, many of Budhu Shah's Pathans, Turkish soldiers and some Udasies ran away during the night leaving the Guru in danger. However, their leader Kale Khan, and a few others, stood like a rock to measure their strength with the hill chiefs. Budhu Shah heard about the treason of his men in the hour of need. He asked his brother to join the Guru's army with 700 of his best soldiers who were ready to lay down their lives for Budhu Shah and the Guru. Budhu Shah's Pathans and Turk soldiers were later seen fighting on the side of the hill chiefs. The Guru buckled on his sword, slung his quiver of arrows on his shoulder, took his bow in his hand, mounted his fiery horse, and shouted. "Sat Siri Akal." He called his five cousins to come and join him in the front line. The hoofs of the horses raised the dust into the skies. The cheers of "Sat Siri Akal," thundered through the hills. Arrows flew through the air, bullets pierced the brave. The cries of dying soldiers could be heard for mites. The bloody ground looked like a red carpet. The Guru himself describes this battle in Bachittar Natak:

" ...  Then my uncle Kirpal went forward in rage. The brave man's body was hit by many arrows, yet he emptied the saddles of many Turkish chiefs. Sahib Chand, a true Kashatri, fought in the battle's fury and slew bloodthirsty Turks, shining lights of Khurasan. Many excellent warriors were slain, and those who survived fled to save themselves ..."
"Hari Chand, in his rage, drew his arrows. He struck my steed with one arrow and then discharged another at me: but God saved me and It only grazed my ear. His third arrow pierced the buckle of my belt and reached my body but I was not badly wounded. It is only God who protected me. His humblest servant. When I felt the touch of that arrow my anger was kindled. I took up my bow and began to shoot one arrow after another. Upon this the enemy took to their heels. I took aim and killed the young chief Hari Chand. When he died my heroes trampled their enemies under foot. The cheif of Karori was killed. This made the hill men fly in panic. And I, through the favour of the Eternal God, gained the victory. Having thus won the battlefield we raised aloud the shout of victory (Bole So Nihal, Sat Siri Akal)."
Fateh Shah and the other hill chiefs fled with their armies. The Guru disposed of the bodies of the dead of both sides and in the evening held a big Diwan (meeting). The Guru gave great gifts to his brave warriors and honoured Budhu Shah, who had lost a brother and two sons in this battle. With tears in his eyes Budhu Shah said, "O True king, I do not mourn the death of my sons because they have fought for truth, but what makes me sad is that your philosophy of life is understood by so few."

"Never mind, my dear Budhu Shah. Sooner or later people will understand that although fighting is evil, it is a religious duty to fight in self-defence and for a righteous cause. I am not trying to establish a kingdom. Fighting is my last resort. The martyrdoms of Guru Arjan Dev and Guru Tegh Bahadur and his Sikhs have proved that the language of peace and love is not understood by the tyrants. Then efforts to restore peace and harmony fail, it is lawful to use force. People have been lighting from the time immemorial and they will hardly ever stop lighting but my Sikhs will show when and why to use a sword, and when to turn it into a ploughshare."

The Guru loaded Budhu Shah with many gifts and blessed him.  Budhu Shah, however, asked for just the Guru's comb and his loose hair that was on it. The Guru gave him his comb with loose hair on it. This comb has been kept by Budhu Shah's family with due reverence ever since. The comb was later acquired by Maharaja Bharpoor Singh of Nabha and call still be seen at  Temple "Siropao" (Nabha State).

Soon afterwards the Guru left Paunta and came back to Anandpur with his armies. He suspected More trouble from the hill chiefs and from the Emperor of Delhi, who had been asked for help by the Hill chiefs. So the Guru ordered his Sikhs to build a very strong fort at Anandpur. Although Bhini Chand was not good at heart, he wrote to the Guru for forgiveness. Meanwhile a son, (Ajit Singh) was born to the Guru's wife, Mata Sundri. Raja Bhim   Chand thought it a good chance to make friends with the Guru. So he visited the Guru's thanksgiving service and offered gifts to the baby. He became the Guru's friend and signed a Pact. In his heart, however, he was still an enemy and was looking for another opportunity to humble the Guru with the help of the other hill chiefs and the Emperor of Delhi.

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