Wednesday, 19 December 2007


Sahibzadey - The young Martyrs

As the festive period approaches, the Sikh people will be commemorating the martyrdom of Baba Fateh Singh Ji and Baba Zorawar Singh Ji on the 26th Dec. Many historians have given them the title of the world’s youngest martyrs. December 26th 1705 is seen as one the darkest days in Sikh history, when two young innocent children were mercilessly bricked alive by the mughal regime of Sirhind. Their supreme sacrifice should never be forgotten, and all Sikhs should draw inspiration from the valour and courage displayed by the young souls....

Vichora - The Separation

The Mughals and the hill chiefs had promised to let Guru Gobind Singh Ji and his followers leave the fort of Anandpur unharmed. However they were very quick to revoke their promises. They began to mount an attack on the evacuating party. The Sikhs heavily outnumbered and tired after being held up in the fort for months, scattered in any direction they could find in the dark. In front of them lie the river Sirsa which was in spate, behind them was the blood thirsty enemy. Untold sacrifices were made on that fateful night of Dec 5th, as many Sikhs lost their lives either holding up the enemy to ensure a safe passage for the rest of the Sikhs, or by drowning in the Sirsa. Countless valuables, literature, and priceless pieces of handwritten work were lost forever.

Gangu's Treachery

The family of the Guru were also separated at this point, and were destined never to meet again. Whilst Guru Ji and the older Sahibzadey made their way to Chamkaur, Mata Gujri and the younger Sahibzadey were escorted by the family cook Gangu to his village kheri. Historians differ on what made Gangu commit perhaps the biggest act of treachery in Sikh History. I feel the most plausible would perhaps be his greed for wealth, he had noticed that Mata Gujri had some valuables in her bag. Gangu stole the valuables, and then also informed the local mughal officers about the fugitives in hope for a reward.

Arrested and sent to Sirhind

The local officials arrested Mata Gujri and her Grandsons, and they spent a night in the jail at Morinda. The Following morning the three were escorted to Sirhind, and placed in the thanda Burj (Cold Tower) to spend the harsh cold winters night. Mata Gujri spent the night telling her grandsons the great tradition of martyrdom within their family, and for them to remain steadfast no matter what obstacles they face.

A Bold Response in Court

The following morning the Fateh Singh and Zorawar Singh were presented to the Governor of Sirhind – Wazir Khan. The court room was astounded as the two sahibzadey roared “Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh”, this in itself was seen as contempt of the court. Wazir Khan tried to persuade the sahibzadey to accept Islam, by initially telling them that their Father and brothers had already been murdered by the imperial forces. The Sahibzadey would not believe any word of Wazir Khan, he then tried to bribe them by offering them worldly goods. Yet again the Sahibzadey remained steadfast in their faith, and rejected all offers. They smiled at the Governor and replied “Sikhism is dearer to us than our lives. Nothing in this illusionary world can induce us to shed our religion. We are kids of lion Guru Gobind Singh who is determined to infuse courage into the people of all religions to rise against the cruel and tyrant rulers to gain freedom. Our grandfather, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur laid down his life to defend the right of religious freedom for the sake of oppressed community being decimated by tyrant Aurangzeb. Our great great grHinduandfather, Sri Guru Arjun Dev Ji submitted gladly to the will of God while facing a tortured death under the orders of Emperor Jahangir, to infuse courage and endurance in his disciples rather than convert as Muslim. We will never bring bad name to the predecessor martyrs of our faith even if we have to face death.” Everyone in the courtroom was left shell shocked by the bravery shown by the young souls. A prominent courtier Sucha Nand called for strict and firm punishment, as he felt that if they were left free they would eventually revolt against the Governor. Initially Wazir Khan still preferred to convert the two, so that he would go down in history as the individual who converted the two children of the Sikh Guru, and the fact that this would show that they preferred Islam to Sikhi. The Court was adjourned for the day rather hastily, and the Sahibzadey were given more time to think over the decision.

A Grandmothers words of encouragement

They returned to the tower to their Grandmother, and retold the events of the court room. Mata Gujri was proud of the conduct of her Grandsons, and they had indeed kept the family tradition alive. She warned that the inducements and threats would increase, but they must not lose faith, and they should take inspiration from the likes of Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das, and Bhai Dayala.

As Mata Gujri had anticipated over the course of the next two days the inducements and threats intensified. She prayed to God that the Sahibzadey remained firm in their beliefs, and would not flinch at any cost.

The Punishment

Wazir Khan, unable to make any impression upon the Sahibzadey, finally asked the Qazi to suggest a punishment. The Qazi suggested them to bricked alive. At the this point Sher Mohammed Khan (Who’s brother had been killed by Guru Ji on the battle field) spoke up against the Nawab, and disagreed with the punishment. He felt the punishment went against the principles of Islam, and walked out of the court, whilst cursing the Governor for this grave mistake.

And so it was decided, that the Sahibzadey would be bricked alive. Whilst the brick wall was being constructed the Qazi and Wazir Khan were still trying to persuade the two to accept Islam, however the Sahibzadey were busy reciting Gurbani. Once the wall reached a specific height it is said that the Sahibzadey were beheaded. Mata Gujri upon hearing the fate of her grandchildren passed away in the tower (although some historians have stated that she was thrown from the tower by soldiers).

And on that fateful day the young Sahibzadey gave their lives, so that the forthcoming generations were able to flourish. And how do we as the benefiters of their valour repay our debt to them? Are we even worthy of calling ourselves the brothers and sisters of the Sahibzadey? Would we be able to display anywhere near the same courage? Can we at least try to tread on the path of Sikhi, for which these young souls sacrificed themselves? These are questions that we must delve deep inside to find the answers to...

It would not be appropriate to forget the compassion shown by Sher Mohammed Khan (who was an adversary of the Guru, as his brother was slain by the Guru in the battle of Chamkaur). He spoke out against the death sentence imposed upon the Sahibzadey. If the Sikhs never forgot the evil deeds of Wazir Khan or the courtier Sucha Nand, they also never forgot the compassion shown by the Nawab of Malerkotla. During the period when Banda Bahadur and his troops razed Sirhind to the ground, they completley left Malerkotla untouched due to this act of the Nawab. It has also been mentioned that during partition, the muslims of Malerkotla especially were protected by Sikhs.

Another Character that deserves a special mention is Deewan Todar Mal. Todar Mal, a rich Sikh, heard of the imprisonment of the Guru's Sahibzadey and Mata Gujri, he hastened to the Sultan with the intention of paying a ransom for their release. But, by the time he arrived at Sirhind, the Sahibzadey's has already been martyred and Mata Gujri had also left the earthly abode. Todar Mal went to Wazir Khan's court to obtain permission for cremating the dead bodies of the martyrs and their grandmother. The Sultan told Todar Mal that he would agree to his request if he paid for the land with spreading as many gold mohurs (coins) as would cover the piece of land required for cremation. Todar Mal accepted Wazir Khan's terms and made the payment.

Another character was Bhai Moti Mehra, who was another follower of Guru Ji. When he found out that Mata Gujri and the Sahibzadey were left in the cold tower, he went to visit them. He took some warm milk for the Family, he sneaked past the guards and climbed up the tower by ladder. Bhai Moti Mehra was later caught, and he along with his family were sentenced to death by crushing.

I apologize for any mistakes that may have been made whilst compiling the above Sakhi. Bhul Chuk Maf.

Finally i'd like to share this dharmik song, which tries to capture the emotions of this particular episode. Balwinder Singh Safri sings "Pothey Mata Gujri De":

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