Mata ji was brought up with the consciousness of the Guru’s light; she fulfilled her parent’s aspiration of serving the path of the Guru beyond their expectations by growing into a perfect role model of grace, strength, persistence and sacrifice.
While on this path thou set thy feet, then lay down thy head and mind ungrudgingly…
-Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji
The life story of this unforgettable lady, Mata Gujjar Kaur Ji, is a lighthouse for the generations. Her name is uttered with respect as she preferred faith to a comfortable life. Due to her teaching and upbringing, her young grandsons set an example for others. We Sikhs owe our existence to her. She continued and emphasized the institution of martyrdom in Sikhism.
Aurangzeb had decided to put an end to Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji's and activities. He ordered the viceroys of Sarhind and Lahore to march the Guru. They attacked Anandpur in 1701. All the hill-chiefs joined them with their armies. The Ranghars and Gujjars of the locality who were Muslims also joined the attackers. The Sikhs had to face overwhelming odds. They fought as they had never fought before, and held their ground against the repeated attacks of the Hindu and Muslim armies.
The Viceroys of Lahore and Sarhind were struck dumb on witnessing on the splendid spirit and bravery displayed by the Sikhs. They saw their soldier being killed in large numbers.
After a time, they lost all hope of ever being able to defeat the Sikhs in open battles. They decided to besiege the city, cut off all supplies and thus force the Sikhs to surrender or to die of hunger. They acted accordingly.
After a time, the effects of the siege began to be felt in the fort. Those inside the fort began to feel pangs of hunger and thirst. Elephants and horses died lingering deaths for want of food. Now and then, the Sikhs fell upon the enemy's camp at night and took away some supplies and provisions from there. But such supplies could not last for long.
The Sikhs bore the hardships of the siege with exemplary patience and fortitude for three long years. But then they began to lose heart.
The besiegers came to know of the discontent which had begun to raise its heads in the Guru's ranks. They decided to take timely advantage of it and thus, end the war. Two messengers, a Brahmin and a Sayyid, were sent to the Guru. They were to say to him,
The messengers went to the Guru. They delivered the besiegers' message him. At the same time, they swore by the cow and the Quran that the besiegers were sincere in their offer.
The Guru refused to put faith in these oaths. He said,
A number of Sikhs, however, were in favor of accepting the besiegers' offer. They went to the Guru's mother, Mata Gujjar Kaur Ji. They begged her to persuade him to accept the offer. She advised him accordingly. He tried to convince her that no reliance could be placed on the besiegers' oaths. But she was not convinced. Thereupon, he agreed to demonstrate the correctness of his opinion.
He said to the messengers, 'I shall evacuate the fort on one condition. The besiegers should first allow me to remove my movable property. Go, get their consent, and then come to convey it to me.'
They went away and soon returned to inform the Guru of trje besiegers' consent. The Guru told them that he would send out his property that night.
The messengers went away. Under the Guru's orders such things as old shoes, torn clothes, horsedung, sweepings, and rubbish of all sorts were collected and packed in sacks. Thses sacks were to be the Guru's-'property' intended to be removed. They were covered with bright coloured cloth and loaded on the back of bullocks. Burning torches were tied to the bullocks' horns so that their departure and progress might be easily observed. Thus loaded, the bullocks were led out of the fort at the dead of night. As they approached the besiegers, the latter at once fell upon them to plunder the Guru's 'property'. When they found what the 'property' consisted of, they were filled with sorrow and shame. They had broken their solemn oaths and what had they attained!
The siege was, of course, continued. The condition of the besieged Sikhs grew worse, day by day. But they bore all hardships with patience and fortitude. Then came a letter in Aurangzeb's own handwriting. It said, 'I have sworn on the holy Quran not to harm you. If I do, may I not find a place in God's court hereafter! Cease war-fare and come to me. If you desire not to come hither, then go withersoever you please. No harm shall be done to you.'
The letter was delivered to the Guru by a Qazi. The latter added that the hill-chiefs had sworn by the cow that they would not harm the Guru in any way. The Guru, thereupon, told the Qazi that he had no faith in the oaths and pledges of either the hill-men or the Turks. They were sure to be broken.
The Qazi went back. The siege was continued. The hardships of the besieged were becoming unbearable. So much so that a group of Sikhs decided to go away even against the Guru's wishes and advice. At that he said to them...
A few hundred Sikhs wrote the 'disclaimer' and went away. After a time, the Guru's mother became in favour of going away with her daughter-in-law and grandsons. At last, the Guru yielded to his mother’s wishes. He agreed to evacuate the fort. Accordingly, he, his family, and his remaining left the fort at midnight. The night was dark and bitterly cold. A piercing cold wind began to blow. Soon it began to rain.
The besieging Hindu and Muslim armies learnt that the Guru and his Sikhs had evacuated the fort. They followed them, forgetting all their solemn oaths and pledges. They overtook the Guru and his party near the bank of the Sarsa stream. The night was dark. A bitter cold wind was blowing. The Sarsa was in flood. To cross it was very difficult indeed.
The Hindu and Muslim armies fell upon the Sikhs. There was hard fighting in the darkness and rain. In the confusion which ensued, all of the Guru's baggage, including some very precious manuscripts, was lost in the waves of the Sarsa. Many Sikhs were killed. The rest succeeded in crossing the flooded stream. The Guru was separated apart from his family. His two elder sons, Baba Ajit Singh and Baba Jujhar Singh, accompanied him.
His mother and two younger sons, Baba Zorwar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh were separated from the main party. What happened to them will be related in the next chapter. The Guru, along with his two elder sons and forty Sikhs went to Chamkaur Sahib in the district of Ambala. His five dear Ones were among the said forty Sikhs.
MURDER OF INNOCENTS
We have seen that when Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji evacuated the fort of Anandpur Sahib the Hindu and Muslim besigers forgot their solemn oaths, and fell upon him near the Sarsa stream. As said already, in the confusion which resulted from that attack, the Guru's mother, Mata Gujjar Kaur Ji, got separated from him and his Sikhs. His two younger sons. Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh, were with her. In the biting winter wind of early dawn, she traveled as chance directed her.
Her path lay through; thick jungle. Some way off, she met a Brahmin named Gangu. He had once been a cook at the Guru's house. His village Kheri was nearby. He offered to give her shelter in his house. She accepted his offer and went to his house along with her two grandsons.
The Brahmin proved to be a cheat. At night he stole Mata Gujri's saddle bag containing valuables and money.
Then she found the bag missing, she enquirered about it from her host. Thereupon he flew into a rage. He said that he had bee suspected and insulted. He at once went to the Muslim Headman of the village.
He said to him, 'The Guru's mother and two sons have just come to my house. We both can earn a large reward by handing them over to the authorities!’
The two went to the Muslim official of Morinda. They reported to him about the Guru's mother and sons. He was glad to hear the news. Taking a party of armed soldiers with him, he went to the Brahmin's house. He arrested Mata Gujjar Kaur Ji and her grandsons, and took them to Nawab Wazir Khan, the Governor of Sarhind.
The Nawab of Sarhind ordered them to be confined in a tower of his fort. They, had to pass the cold December night with the bare, hard floor as their bed. Next day, the Nawab ordered the children to be brought before him. When they took leave of their grandmother, she said,
‘No”, said Baba Zorawar Singh ‘We have been taught to bow before none but God and the Guru. We will not bow before the Nawab, come that may.’
This bold, unexpected reply astonished everybody. Even the Nawab could not help admiring the brave little ones. Then he said to them, in a soft voice
‘Children your father and two elder brothers have been killed at Chamkaur. They were infidels and deserved that fate. But you are lucky. Good luck has brought you to an Islamic darbar. Embrace Islam, become one with us. You will be given wealth, rank, honour, and every form of pleasure. When you grow up, I shall marry you to beautiful daughters of respectable chiefs. You will live happy lives. You will be honoured by our great Emperor. If you say "No" to my offer, you will be' treated as infidels are treated. You will be put to death with tortures. '
Baba Zorawar Singh, looking at his younger brother, said in a whisper, 'My brave little brother, the time to sacrifice our lives has come. What do you think should be our reply?”
Baba Fateh Singh, who had seen only six winters, replied,
Then Baba Zorawar Singh raised his voice and said,
...Our choice is made. Let your sword do its work. We invite you to do your worst.'
These words were enough to inflame the haughty, bigoted Nawab. But Sucha Nand Brahmin chose to pour oil over the fire. He said, 'So such is their behaviour at this tender age. What will it be when they grow up? They will follow their father's example, and destroy imperial armies. The offspring of a cobra should be crushed in time.'
The Nawab whispered to him, 'What you say is true and wise. But I very much desire to make them embrace Islam. They will be valuable additions to our community. There need be no hurry. They are in our power. They cannot run away. Let us give them time to think and consult with their aged grandmother. We shall try again tomorrow to make them yield’
Then, turning to the two brothers, he said, 'I don't want to act in haste. I give you both time to think over the matter. Be wise and decide in favour of accepting my offer. You will live in peace, pleasure, and honour. If you refuse, you will be given such tortures that your cries will be heard far and wide. Then you will be cut into pieces like fodder.'
On entering the court, they shouted louder than they had done on the previous day,
In the court the same threats were given and the same offers were made as on the previous day. They stood firm and gave the same answers as on the previous day. Sucha Nand Brahmin again pressed the Nawab to give immediate orders for their death. But the-latter again decided to give them more time to think over. He still had hopes that they would yield. So they were again taken back to the tower.
Next day, they were again taken to the Nawab's court. There the same offer was made by the Nawab and rejected by them. When the Nawab was convinced that they would not yield, he gave orders that they should be bricked alive and then beheaded.
On hearing this, the Qazis and other mean people like Sucha Nand Brahmin said aloud, 'That is as it should be.' But most of those present in the court set with their heads bent low, and their eyes wet and fixed on the ground.
Then Sher Mohammed, Nawab of Malerkotla, said 'Nawab Sahib, your order is against the rules of Islam. The Muslim law forbids the slaughter of tender-aged innocent children. These two have done no wrong. The rules of our religion clearly lay down that a son should not suffer for acts done by his father, and that every one is answerable for his actions. So, under the laws of our religion, these boys should be allowed to go unharmed. They should not be punished for what their father has done.'
The Sikhs have always remembered this protest of the Nawab with gratitude, and throughout their troubled relations with the Muslim powers, they have always spared the house of Malerkotla front their attacks.
But the Qazis said, 'What do you know of the holy law? How can you claim or pretend to know it better than we. The holy law gives them choice between Islam and death. Let them choose as they like.’
The Nawab expressed agreement with the Qazis. Two Pathan brothers were sitting near him. He said to them, 'You know that your father was killed by these boys' father. You may avenge his death. I hand them over to you. Kill them in a manner that I order.'
But the Pathans shook their heads and said, 'Our father was killed on a field of battle. He was not murdered. If these boys were full-grown men, armed with weapons, we would certainly have fought with them and killed them. That would have been a proper revenge. We cannot strike these innocent, unarmed tender-aged children. They have done us no worng.'
The Nawab was rendered speechless. He turned to left and right, seeking someone willing to do the bloody act. But all hung down their heads as a sign of their unwillingness, as a sign of their pity for the children. At last, looking behind, he saw two Ghilzai Pathans. The Ghilzai tribe was notorious for its heartlessness and cruelty. These two Pathans offered to do the bloody deed. The boys were delivered to them. They led them away for execution.
Under the Nawab's orders, a part of the outer wall of the fort was pulled down. The two children were made to stand in the gap thus created. The Pathans stood nearby. They had drawn swords on their shoulders, tightly held in their right hands. Their faces were fierce, their eyes were red, and their lips were tightly pressed together. An offical from the Nawab's court was also present. He was there to see that the Nawab's orders were duly carried out. A Qazi, with a copy of the Quran in his hand, also stood nearby. Masons were ordered to erect a wall round the children. They were told, Take care that'the bricks press well and tightly against their bodies.'
After each layer of the bricks, the Qazi urged the two to save their lives by accepting Islam. But they stood calm and firm. They were busy in reciting sacred hymns of the Gurus.
When they were buried in the wall up to the shoulders, the Nawab himself came and said to them in an affectionate tone, "There is still time for you to save your' lives, just recite the Kalma and the wall will be pulled down immediately."
The Sahibzadays shouted loudly,
"We shall not give up our faith, death does not frighten us."
Both the Nawab and Qazi were amazed at their steadfast determination. Tears flowed from the eyes of onlookers, as they observed,
"Blessed be their mother who gave birth to such children, and Blessed it the mother who taught them to give up their head, and not their Faith."
The wall went up still higher and it was shoulder high. Sahibzaday Zorawar Singh said to his younger brother,
In Sarhind there lived, at that time, a Sikh named Todar Mal. He Heard that Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s mother and two sons had been imprionsed by Nawab Wazir Khan. Taking a large bag of gold coins with him, he' hastened to the Nawab's court. His intention was to free them by paying as much as the Nawab would demand. But he arrived too late. The two brothers had been put to death by then. He visited the place where they had been bricked alive and beheaded. After paying homage to the two martyrs, he proceeded to their grandmother. With his eyes melting into tears, and in a voice, choked with sobs, Todar Mai told her of her grandsons' martyrdom. On hearing this, she said,
Saying this, she closed her eyes and began to repeat
‘Waheguru, Waheguru, Waheguru.’
Soon she was gone to meet her grandsons. Todar Mai touched her feet and sobbed in anguish.
Then he went to the Nawab. He sought his permission to cremate the three bodies. He was told, 'You may do so. But for the cremation you will need a piece of land. You will have to pay for it. You may have the requisite land by paying as many gold coins as placed closely together, would completely cover it.'
Todar Mai chose the site. He spread out gold coins to cover the whole piece of land that he required. He took out the two martyrs' bodies from the wall. He took out Mata Gujri's body from the tower. He took the three bodies to the site selected and purchased by him. He cremated them and later buried their ashes there.
On the spot where the three bodies were cremated was later erected a gurdwara named Joti Sarup. At the place where the two children were bricked alive and beheaded, stands the gurdwara called Fatehgarh Sahib. Nearby, at the site of the tower in which the three were kept imprisoned, and where Mata Gujri breathed her last, stands a gurdwara called Mata Gujri's Burj.
The Sound of the bricks being laid around the young souls of six and eight years, sends waves of reassurance and inspirit that strengths our commitment and dedication to our Sikhi and to our Guru Ji
After evacuating Anandpur, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji preceded towards Ropar. He soon learnt that a large Muslim army lay a few miles in front. He knew that the armies of the two viceroys and the hill-chiefs were pursuing him. He was thus between two formidable armies. He had only forty Sikhs and his two elder sons with him. He decided to change his course and go to Chamkaur.
The Mughal armies arrived at nightfall. They surrounded the village. Early next day they began their attacks on the haveli. They were greeted, each time, with a volley of bullets and arrows. Each time they fell back after losing many of their soldiers. Two army officers, Nahar Khan and Gairat Khan, tried, in turn, to scale the wall of the haveli. They were cut down by the Guru. Another officer, Mahmud Khan, saved himself from the Guru's arrows by hiding behind a wall.
The imperial army then decided to direct all their efforts towards-forcing to open the gate. As they moved in that direction, a number of Sikhs went out to oppose them and defend the gate. They fought most valiantly and killed many of the attackers. At last, they were overpowered and slain. Then another batch of Sikhs came out and bravely engaged the attacker as long as they could.
This went on for a good part of the day. Then there was a slight pause. The Sikhs met and decided to request and prevail upon the Guru to make good his escape. 'If he goes,'said they, 'he can raise thousands to carry on the fight for sacred cause.' So they approached him to make the request. They found that the Guru's eldest son, Baba Ajit Singh, was standing, with folded hands before him. He was begging permission to go out and check the enemy's advance in the next attack, which was sure to come soon.
'Dear father,' they heard him say, 'you have named me Ajit or unconquerable. I shall justify your choice of my name. I shall not be conquered. I shall not yield. If I am overpowered, I shall die fighting like my brother Sikhs. O' father, permit me to go and fight on the battleground and grace me with the oppurtunity to make my life fruitful and worthy in your service.'
The Guru embraced and kissed his son for the last time. He then let him go into certain death. The Sikhs fell on their knees before the Guru and begged him to save himself and his two sons. But the Guru did not agree to do so.
Every father wants to see their child get married, but this was the time of fighting the enemy. Death was waiting and today Baba Ajeet Singh would be marrying death.
They were engaged by Baba Ajit Singh and his eight companions. Many of the attackers were cut down. At last, the nine brave warriors were overcome and killed.
The Guru had been watching his son from the top storey, and admiring and rejoicing at his daring bravery and skill as a warrior. When he saw him fall, he thanked God that his son had proved worthy of His cause.
When Baba Ajit Singh Ji attained Shaheedi, Guru Sahib roared a Jaikara of "Sat Siree Akal."
The Guru's second son, Baba Jujhar Singh now made the same request as his elder brother had made.
"Permit me, dear father, to go where my brother has gone. Don't say that I am too young. I am your son. I am a Singh, a Lion, of yours. I shall prove worthy of you. I shall die fighting, with my face towards the enemy, with the Naam on my lips and the Guru in my heart."
The Guru took him in his lap. He kissed and patted him, Then he gave him a sword and a shield. 'Go my son,' said the Guru, 'and join your grandfather and elder brother, 'Go and wait for me there.'
Thus armed, this lad of fourteen years went out to face thousands of hard, well-trained, and far better armed Mughal soldiers. Two Sikhs accompanied him. Baba Jujhar Singh fought as valiantly as his elder brother had done. Many mighty soldiers fell under the sword of the child-warrior. Then he was overpowered.
He died fighting to the last breath
The Guru had been watching and admiring Baba Jujhar Singh's wonderful performance. When he fell, the Guru thanked God that his second son had also proved worthy of His cause.
The gate was attacked and defended in this way throughout the day. At night the Mughal army lay down to take rest. By then, besides the Guru's two sons, three of his five Beloved ones had been killed. Their names were Bhai Mutikam Singh, Bhai Sahib Singh, and Bhai Himmat Singh. Thirty two other Sikhs had also fallen. Only ten Sikhs were left with him.
These five Sikhs met the Guru and said, 'We beg you to make good your escape. You will create thousands of Khalsa warriors. The Khalsa warriors will destroy the cruel, Godless tyrants.' The Guru shook his head. Thereupon, the Sikhs said,
'O true King, at the time of the creation of the Khalsa, you declared, "The Guru is the Khalsa, the Khalsa is the Guru." We as the Guru Khalsa, order you to go. We hope you will excuse our adopting this role.'
The Guru was left with no alternative. He had to obey the Guru Khalsa. He seated his five Sikhs near him and proceeded to entrust the Guruship to them. Then he said, 'After me the Khalsa Panth shall be the Guru under the guidance of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Whenever five Sikhs assemble and remember or call me, I shall be with them.
Saying this, the Guru went round them thrice. Then he laid his plume and crest in front of them, gave them his arms, bowed before them, and said aloud, ‘Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa! Waheguru Ji Ke Fateh!! The Guru Khalsa further decided that three Sikhs – Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Dharm Singh, and Bhai Man Singh should accompany the Guru. Two Sikhs- Bhai Sant Singh and Bhai Sangat Singh – where to remain in the haveli. They were to hold it as long as there was breath in their bodies.
The Guru and three companions left the haveli at the dead of night. It was pitch dark. Thick clouds covered the Sky, here and there. There were occasional flashes of lightning. As the proceeded, Bhai Daya Singh said, ‘O true King, there lies the body of Baba Ajit Singh.’ The Guru looked at the body, blessed his martyred son and walked on. A moment later, Bhai Daya Singh said, ‘Here lies the body of Baba Jujar Singh.’ The Guru looked in that direction, blessed his martyred son, and walked on. Bhai Daya Singh then said, ‘O true King, I have sheet with me. I wish to tear it into two pieces and cover with them the bodies of the two martyrs.’
The Guru said, ‘The idea is good. You have my permission, but on one condition, you should first cover the bodies of my thrity five martyred Sikhs. They are my sons in spirit and equally dear to me. After that you may cover the bodies of these two martyrs, who are my son in flesh.’ Bhai Daya Singh could make no reply. He bowed and held his tongue. They then proceeded on their risky course.
Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji and three companions left Chamkaur at the dead of December night. The Guru pointed to a star to his companions, ‘We shall proceed in the direction of that star.’
Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji was at the time in the forests of Machhiwara, when the news of the martyrdom of his younger sons reached him. On hearing this he pulled out a plant with tip of his arrow and forecast that this tragedy will herald the uprooting of Moghul Empire in India. And to the Emperor he wrote:
"It matters little if a jackal through cunning and treachery succeeds in killing two Lion's Cubs, for the Lion himself lives to inflict retribution, on you."Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji addressed his followers thus have sacrificed four sons for the survival of the thousands of my sons who are still alive.
You are wrong if you think I had only four sons, I have thousands of sons and daughters and in them I see the four I sacrificed. Those four sons were four virtues from Waheguru Ji, their body parts were to be smashed so that those virtues could be poured into the Khalsa.
rather die fighting than run like a coward
Jujhar means warrior, my Khalsa
is powerful and strong
Zorawar means Power, as long as my Khalsa is
distinct I will give them all of my power
Fateh is victory, my Khalsa will
fight for Waheguru's victory
O' Mata Jee, when I see one Khalsa with
these 4 qualities I see all four sons
Women in Sikhism: Gender Inequality...
The following excerpts are from MrSikhnet’s Blog. To read the Full Article and Read the Discussion Click Here
It highlights the challenges we still face today. Nevertheless, the Western-Sikhs are becoming the foundations in overcoming these issues that are still prominent in the Punjabi Culture.
I’m pretty sure many young Sikh women thank Gurumustuk Singh for highlighting some of the issues we face. Thus, I request that we all respect the beliefs and personal stories that he has provided in this article.
In this Shabad Guru Nanak so beautifully sums up the value of the woman:
Another major indication of this is the HUGE problem of infanticide in Punjab, where girls are not valued. The babies are aborted just because they are girls.
The ratio of men and women in Punjab is so out of balance that it makes me wonder where all these men will find a wife in the future?
Preferential Treatment for Boys/Men
A less extreme example would be how the child/boy of the family is treated extra good and can do many more things than the girls. I’m sure other women could share more examples like this relating to being in a family with other brothers and how they are treated in and unfair way because they are a girl.
Then there are the issues of physical and sexual abuse by other dominant men. Much of this is kept secret if discovered by families. I have also heard from other Sikh women’s groups about how many families take the side of the man and don’t give the support that the woman needs to deal with these issues. Just imagine that you are being raped or beaten and get no support from your family?? Again the women becomes the victim without support, from her OWN family. I can only guess how widespread these issues are.
Seva in Harimandir Sahib
It baffles me how a religion that has a core belief of Gender equality can justify not allowing Sikh woman to play Gurbani Kirtan in Harimandir Sahib or certain sevas which are "reserved" for only men. Ok…if this were some small random Gurdwara somewhere one might just write it off as a small thing. However when this is the case at THE Harimandir Sahib which is one of the most visible and visited place of worship for Sikhs, you would think that people would do what is right.
Khalsa Women - Panj Piaray
Some people email me from time when I post a picture of the Panj Piare in our sangat which most of the time has a woman. The comments I get are like, "women can’t be in the Panj Piaray". I think that is ridiculous since Khalsa has no gender and...
"...the 'Panj Piaray' is any 5 Sikhs of the Guru, not any 5 men of the Guru..."
Help Create Change
What can you do to help? To start I think to we can all make a difference by first looking at the actions of ourselves, family and circle of friends. There may be negative things that you or others do without even thinking about it. The first step to change is awareness of the problem. In your daily life be aware of these issues and stand up for women when something is being done that is not right. The things could be small, but they are just as important.
Please remeber to respect the beliefs and personal stories shared in this article before you comment on this topic.
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ke Fateh
Singhnees receive honor for bravery