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The Battle of Chamkaur Sahib

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Battle of Chamkaur Sahib

Battle of Chamkaur Sahib

The Sikhs and the Mughals

The Second Battle of Chamkaur started on December 22 in 1704. It was one of the most significant battles fought by the Sikhs during the 18th century. The battle took place near the town of Chamkaur Sahib, in present-day Punjab, India, and was fought between the Sikhs and the Mughal Empire.

The battle was a result of the escalating tensions between the Sikhs and the Mughals. This was in part due to the Sikhs having grown in power and influence and being seen as a threat to Mughal rule. Guru Gobind Singh was also working to establish a separate Sikh state, which was not acceptable to the Mughals.

The Lead-in: The Battle of Anandpur in 1704

In May 1704, the Mughals, under the leadership of Wazir Khan, decided to attack Anandpur because the Sikhs were gaining power and influence in the region. They did this by forming a coalition with the Hill Rajas (the chiefs of several local states). The justification for the battle was that the coalition had claimed that Guru Gobind Singh owed them rent, which he disputed because the land was bought by his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur.

Guru Gobind Singh and his Sikhs were vastly outnumbered by the coalition army, but they fought fiercely and inflicted heavy casualties on the Mughals. The battle of Anandpur was fought for several months, but the Sikhs were able to hold off the Mughals.

The coalition forces besieged Anandpur, cutting off supplies and communications. The Sikhs were offered safe passage if they left Anandpur and were given assurances by Aurangzeb, the Mughal Emperor, who swore on the Quran that no Sikh would be harmed. Similarly, the Hill Rajas gave their assurance, making an oath on a cow, which they considered sacred, that they would not attack if the Sikhs if they left Anandpur.

Due to the scarcity of food and water, the Sikhs agreed to leave and accepted the assurances of safe passage. The Sikhs along with Guru Gobind Singh and his children left Anandpur on a bitterly cold night of the 5th and morning of 6th December 1704.

However, in spite of the assurances of safe passage, the Mughals and the Hill Rajas ambushed the Sikhs on the bank of the Sirsa river. In the chaos that ensued, many Sikhs were killed during the ambush or being swept away in the very cold river. Guru Gobind Singh and his two eldest sons (called the Vaade Sahibzade) made it across the river but were separated from the rest of his family, including his two younger sons (called the Chote Sahibzade). 40 other Sikhs made it across with the Guru and his two eldest sons. A Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) now stands on the spot where the family were separated.

Tired, hungry, cold and battle-scarred, the Guru, his two older children, and the 40 Sikhs camped out in an open space and eventually travelled on to Chamkaur, where they settled in a house on a hill belonging to Bhai Budhi Chand.

On a cold, wet and misty morning on 22 December, the Sikhs became aware of an advancing army of 100,000 Mughals. Wazir Khan had sent a message to Guru Gobind Singh to surrender with the other Sikhs if they wanted to live.

The Sikhs prepared for battle.

The Battle of Chamkaur

The Sikhs, who were vastly outnumbered, sent out waves of Sikhs to fight the Mughals. The Sikhs used their elevated position and the poor weather conditions to attack the Mughals. Each successive wave of Sikhs attacked and killed the Mughals before being killed themselves.

Over the course of the next few hours, the Sikhs continued to defend their position. Eventually, Guru Gobind Singh's two eldest children, Ajit Singh (18 years old) and Jujhar Singh (14 years old) went into battle and fought valiantly but eventually were also killed on the battlefield.

Eventually, the remaining Sikhs were able to break through the Mughal lines and escape the fortress, but only a handful of them survived the battle. This included Guru Gobind Singh.

The Guru vowed never to trust a Mughal again after being betrayed. Even though an oath was sworn on the Quran by Aurangzeb, they were not given the safe passage that they were promised. In spite of the heavy losses faced by the Sikhs, the Mughals had not achieved their objective of capturing Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who later wrote a letter to Aurangzeb called the Zafarnama (The Epistle of Victory).

A Sikh Hymn Written by Guru Gobind Singh After the Battle of Chamkaur Sahib

Why Was the Battle of Chamkaur Sahib Significant?

The Battle of Chamkaur was a significant defeat for the Sikhs, costing the lives of the Guru's eldest sons, the Vaade Sahibzade. However, the battle is considered significant in Sikh history as it is seen as an example of the bravery and sacrifice of the Sikhs in their fight against the Mughal Empire. The battle is remembered by the Sikhs as one of the most heroic and selfless acts of resistance against the Mughal Empire.

The Battle of Chamkaur also had a profound impact on the future of the Sikh community. After the death of his sons and many of his followers, Guru Gobind Singh is said to have declared that from then on, the Sikh community would be led by the teachings in the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, rather than by human leaders. This marked a significant change in the organization and leadership of the Sikh community, and it set the stage for the emergence of the Khalsa, the Sikh warriors.

The Battle of Chamkaur also had a profound impact on the future of the Sikh community, particularly in the growth and spread of the Khalsa, which is the collective body of initiated Sikh warriors who follow the specific code of conduct and are different from the rest of the Sikhs, who are termed as Sahajdhari.

After the battle, Guru Gobind Singh and his remaining followers retreated to the north and established a new base at Talwandi Sabo. He received word of the torture and execution of his younger sons, the Chote Sahibzade, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh. Wazir Khan had sentenced them to death by entombing them alive inside a brick wall. He also received word that his mother had died too. All three had been tortured by holding them in a cold tower, without food and water for days.

Guru Gobind Singh's Khalsa played a significant role in the later Sikh resistance to the Mughal Empire. The Khalsa, along with the Sikhs and particularly Banda Singh Bahadur and Baba Deep Singh, were responsible for several successful rebellions and played an important role in the eventual downfall of the Mughal Empire in India.

The Battle of Chamkaur is still remembered by the Sikhs to this day, and it is considered an important event in the history of the Sikh community. It is celebrated every year on December 22nd as Shaheedi Divas (martyrdom day) in memory of the brave Sikhs who gave their lives for their faith and freedom. The battle is also considered a symbol of the courage and determination of the Sikhs to defend their beliefs, and it serves as a source of inspiration for many Sikhs today.

The significance of the Battle of Chamkaur can also be seen in its role in shaping the Sikh identity and the creation of the Khalsa, which became a central and defining aspect of the Sikh community. It is considered one of the pivotal moments in the history of the Sikhs, which solidified the principles of sacrifice and selflessness, with the Guru Granth Sahib as the spiritual guide of the Sikhs, which are held dearly by the Sikh community till today.

Today, the battle is remembered and celebrated by the Sikhs with great devotion and enthusiasm. The Gurdwara Sri Chamkaur Sahib, located near the site of the battle, serves as a place of pilgrimage for Sikhs, and it is considered one of the most important historical sites in Sikhism.



What Is the Khalsa?

The Khalsa, founded by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699, is the collective body of initiated Sikhs who follow a specific code of conduct and is considered different from the rest of the Sikhs, who are known as Sahajdhari Sikhs.

Guru Gobind Singh initiated the first members of the Khalsa, also known as the Panj Pyare, who were five Sikhs who were initiated into the Khalsa by the Guru himself. He gave them Amrit (holy water), which initiated them into the Khalsa. He also laid down the code of conduct that all members of the Khalsa must follow, including the Five Ks: Kesh (uncut hair), Kangha (a wooden comb), Kara (an iron bracelet), Kachera (a special type of undergarment), and Kirpan (a sword).

The Khalsa was created to serve as a collective body of initiated Sikhs who would lead the community rather than relying on a single human leader. The Khalsa is considered the embodiment of the Sikh community, and its members are expected to lead by example, living a life of selflessness, service and devotion to the Sikh faith.

Today, the Khalsa continues to be a central aspect of the Sikh community, and the code of conduct laid down by Guru Gobind Singh is still followed by initiated Sikhs and is considered an essential aspect of the Sikh identity. The Khalsa is also responsible for the protection and preservation of the Sikh faith and its values, and its members are considered the true representatives of the Sikh community.

Formation of the Khalsa

Formation of the Khalsa

Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh (Vaade Sahibzade)

Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh were two of the four sons of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and last Guru of the Sikhs. They were born to Guru Gobind Singh's wife, Mata Sundari; Ajit Singh was the eldest of the four, and Jujhar Singh was the second eldest.

Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh grew up during a time of great turmoil in the region, with the Sikhs facing persecution and violence at the hands of the Mughal Empire. They were trained in martial arts and the ways of the Sikhs by their father, and they were also taught to uphold the values of the Sikh faith, such as courage, selflessness, and devotion to God.

Both brothers died during the Battle of Chamkaur in 1704. Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh are remembered in Sikh history as brave warriors and martyrs who gave their lives for the Sikh faith and freedom. Their sacrifice and devotion to the Sikh cause are still remembered and celebrated by the Sikhs today, and they are considered symbols of the courage and determination of the Sikhs to defend their beliefs.

Bravery and Martyrdom of Elder Sons of Guru Gobind Singh

Bravery and Martyrdom of Elder Sons of Guru Gobind Singh

Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh (Chote Sahibzade)

Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh were the younger two sons of Guru Gobind Singh. They were separated from their elder brothers and their father in Sirsa when they were ambushed by the Mughals.

The Chote Sahibzade were captured by the Mughals and subsequently executed on the orders of Wazir Khan. Their execution was a particularly brutal one; Wazir Khan ordered that they should be bricked alive. Given their young age, this act is considered one of the most heinous acts in Sikh history. Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib, located in the city of Sirhind, where they were martyred, is considered a significant historical site and is visited by thousands of Sikh pilgrims every year.

The execution was a tragic event in Sikh history and is still remembered with great sadness and anger by the Sikh community. It not only represents the brutality and cruelty of the Mughals towards the Sikhs but also serves as a reminder of the sacrifices that the Sikhs were willing to make for their faith and freedom. The execution of the Chote Sahibzade is still commemorated every year on December 28th, as the Shaheedi Divas, the Martyrdom Day.

Wazir Khan Brutal Torture of Guru Gobind Singh's Children

Wazir Khan Brutal Torture of Guru Gobind Singh's Children

An Animated Movie About Guru Gobind Singh

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2023 Mr Singh