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

Sikh Missionary Society: Publications: The Saint - Soldier (Guru Gobind Singh):

A Struggle

A Struggle

Some very serious objections were raised by the Hindus against the Khalsa. They asked, "How can all castes eat together? How can people obtain salvation without reading the Vedas? How can the sword preach peace?" The Guru did not care what they said. He ordered all his followers to be baptised and become members of the Khalsa. He asked them to renounce the caste system and abandon Hindu beliefs and ways of worship.

On one occasion Ajmer Chand, a descendant of Raja Bhim Chand, was in Anandpur. He asked the Guru some questions about the Khalsa

Ajmer Chand: "In what way will your Sikhs be different from the Hindus or the Muslims?"

Guru Gobind Singh: "My Sikhs shall remain in their natural form. They will not shave off their hair (Bhadan) like the Hindus, nor will they be circumcised like the Muslims. A turban will be part of their uniform."

Ajmer Chand: "How can your religion flourish when you don't accept the two basic Hindu Principles of shaving and worshiping idols?"

Guru Gobind Singh: "Time alone shall answer this question. For the present, let me say that if hair were not pleasing to God, why should He have caused it to grow? As for the idols, I must say that my Sikhs will worship the only God who according to Guru Nanak, can never be set up by any human hand (Thapia Na Jai). You will see that my Sikhs: with the name of God in their hearts, will be able to hold their ground against hundreds and thousands. I will show you how sparrows shall kill hawks. The lowest in society which you call riff-raff will lose all caste, and when they become my Singhs they shall make the mightiest warriors tremble in their shoes. These are not mere words. Their truth will be as clear as daylight in the near future."

The Raja was, however, not convinced and did not accept the Guru's baptism. Conspiring with other hill chiefs he sent a man named ParmaNand to act as a secret agent in the Guru's court, to report on what the Guru did. It was on Parma Nand's advice that two hired murderers Balia and Alim Chand, ambushed the Guru when he was alone. But they were both killed and their attempt to kill the Guru failed. The Guru's growing popularity and the dangers that it entailed, had already been reported to Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb agreed to destroy the power of the Guru and his Sikhs if the armies of the hill chiefs also joined in the hunt. The hill chiefs agreed and an army of 10,000 was immediately sent to Anandpur under the command of Dina Beg and Painda Khan. At Ropar, the armies of the hill chiefs also joined them. It was decided that's if possible, the Guru should be caught alive, so that he should meet the severest punishment, which would be a terrible warning to his followers.

When the news of the Imperial army's advance reached the Guru, he appointed his five Beloved Sikhs as his generals and made quick preparations. When the two armies met, a fierce battle took place. Painda Khan, the Moghul Commander, was killed. Ajmer Chand and some other hill Chiefs took flight. Soon after that the second Moghul Commander, Dina Beg, was wounded. The imperial army had to retreat to Ropar. It was now quite clear to the Guru that the Sikhs must always be on the alert. He, therefore, sent for more muskets, swords and gunpowder and started more intensive training for his followers.

After this defeat, the hill chiefs of Jammu, Nurpur, Mandi. Kullu, Chamba, Srinagar, Guler and Dadwal met to discuss plans to oust the Guru from Anandpur. They decided to besiege Anandpur. They also wrote a letter to the Guru which said, "The land of Anandpur is ours. We allowed your father to live without paying any rent. You have not only started a new religion to discredit ours: but you have also laid our country waste. We have never complained until now but we can no longer keep quiet and let you carry on with your activities. Pay the rent and leave Anandpur. Or, be ready to face our armies. After sunrise tomorrow, not a dry crumb of bread will be allowed into the town." The Guru replied, "O Ajmer Chand, you and your friends are discrediting your religion and yourself by telling lies. The land of Anandpur is a freehold property bought for cash by my father. I do not owe you any rent. As for your threat to starve us, you can do what pleases you. I and my Sikhs live by faith in God's generosity. Guru Nanak says, 'The great Lord keeps giving even when those Who receive become weary'."

The siege was carried out. When the news reached some of the Sikhs. they rallied round their leaders and marched towards Anandpur to help the Guru in this hour of need. About 500 men under the command of Duni Chand entered the town killing the royal soldiers at the gates. Within Anandpur the Guru had two fortes Lohgarh and Fatehgarh. One guarded by Sher Singh and Nahar Singh with 500 soldiers. The other was guarded by Ude Singh and Duni Chand. The siege went on and on. For a time it looked as though the Sikhs were facing defeat. But their determination never let them down. One day Ajit Singh, the eldest son of the Guru, asked his father for permission to go out and fight the enemy. The Guru allowed him to go and soon Ajit Singh was out in the thick of the fighting, He shot his arrows so skilfully that they brought death to many enemy soldiers. When his horse was killed under him, he fought on foot. Another brave Sikh, Baba Bachittar Singh showed rare courage in tackling a fully armed, drunken elephant. The elephant was sent to break open the main gate of the fort. The struggle continued for many months and it seemed as though the siege would never end.

"Do not present yourself before me without Keshas and arms."
(Guru Gobind Singh)
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