Nikian Jindan-Vada Saka: Story of Child Martyrs Dr. Manmohan Singh # The anniversary of the martyrdom is observed in the last week of December. Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the founder of the Khalsa Panth sacrificed his whole family to protect the freedom of faith for India’s persecuted masses, standing as a bulwark against the tyranny and suppressive policy of Mughal rulers. To begin with, the child Gobind in 1675 at the age of nine years, implored his father, Guru Teg Bahadur to sacrifice his life to protect the Kashmiri Pandits against forcible conversions after over-hearing the grim dialogue between Guru Teg Bahadur Ji and the Pandit delegation from Srinagar. Guru Teg Bahadur was put to death in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, along with five devoted Sikhs in Novemmber, 1675. After this tragic but noble martyrdom, Guru Gobind Singh became the 10th Guru of Sikhs and he fought a number of battles not only against marauding hill Rajas but also the Mughals. While at Quila Anandpur Sahib in 1701 AD, along with many followers, the forces of Subedar Sirhind and the Hill Chieftain, Raja of Bindher, viciously laid siege to the fortress. The seige continued for many months. The enemy forces eventually made an offer to Guru Gobind Singh to leave the fortress on the sworn undertaking that they would not attack his family or followers on the way out. The Guru initially declined the offer but the beleaguered Sikhs, pestered by pangs of starvation and sickness, passed a resolution on the basis of which Guru Ji accepted the offer. But the Mughal forces, in contravention of the promises made in the name of God, attacked the Guru and his entourage while they were crossing the flooded Sirsa river. During the attack the family of Guru Gobind Singh was separated. Guru Ji, his two elder sons, Baba Ajit Singh and Baba Jujhar Singh and companions reached Chamkaur Sahib, while the younger two sons, Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh and his mother Mata Gujari took shelter at the house of Gangu Brahmin, a long time servant of the Guru. At Garhi Chamkaur Sahib, Guru’s first two sons Baba Ajit Singh and Baba Jujhar Singh and a handful of followers laid down their lives in the battle of Chamkaur fighting against several thousand strong Mughal army. Guru Gobind Singh left for Machhiwara after the battle of Chamkaur Sahib. Meanwhile, Gangu Brahmin, in whose house the two younger sons and mother of Guru Ji had taken shelter in village Kheri, was allured by the jewellery of Mata Gujari and the reward set by subedars of Sirhind for their arrest. After stealing the bag full of gold he informed the Kotwal of Morinda about their stay at his residence. They were peremptorily arrested and handed over to Wazir Khan, the Subedar of Sirhind. They were imprisoned in the tall chilly minaret known as Thanda Buruj. Guru’s young sons were subjected to mental torture and - simultaneously - they were offered rich reward of luxurious life if they embraced Islam by the wily Wazir Khan. But Baba Zorawar Singh, who was 9 years old and Baba Fateh Singh, who was hardly 7 years old, firmly spurned every offer of Nawab Wazir Khan and maintained their sense of pride and honour. They even refused to bow before him in his court because they had in their veins the blood of their great grand father, Guru Hargobind, and grand father Guru Teg Bahadur. No amount of persuasion or temptation could force them to renounce their religion and faith of their forefathers. They said they bow before one God and their father Guru and none else. On hearing the reply the Subedar Wazir Khan got into a mighty rage and sent them back to roofless prison in late December, to be brought back the next day. Farming courtiers and Qazis were asked to frighten them into submission, but they remained firm. The next day they again behaved in the court of Nawab with great dignity and firmness. The Nawab was mad with rage and wished to give them the severest punishment. Amid this grilling, Nawab Sher Mohammad Khan of Malerkotla, who happened to be there, earnestly implored that the children were too young and innocent to be punished and pleaded that Islam did not sanction such conduct. On the other hand, the underling Suchanand advised stern punishment. It was thus that Nawab Wazir Khan ordered Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh to be bricked alive. When the brick and mortar wall came up to the chest the young children were told that they could still save their lives by giving up their faith, but they remained firm, and finally they were bricked up and executed. Many are the legends about the two child-martyrs. According to Prof. Harbans Singh, in his book on Guru Gobind Singh, when the two Sahibzadas were being bricked, the brick structure tumbled down time and again and the unconscious Sahibzadas were taken back to jail. And it was on the third occasion on December 27, they were summoned to the Nawab’s court, when they remained steely in their resolve. So the Subedar ordered them to be beheaded. They (Sahibzadas) were slain in the order of their ages by the sword of a Ghilzai executioner. Bhai Rattan Singh Bhangu, an eminent Sikh scholar, in his book "Prachin Panth Parkash", Bhai Santokh Singh in his book "Suraj Parkash", Bhai Sukha Singh in "Gurbilas" and Mohinder Singh Manipuri in his epic poem "Saka Sirhind" confirm this account of the butchery in Sirhind. Diwan Todar Mal broke this news to Mata Gujari which proved fatal to her. A wave of anger swept the nation as a reaction to this bloody incident. It soon burst like a volcano and people joined hands to wage a relentless struggle against the Mughal tyranny. Diwan Todar Mal took the dead bodies and had to pay huge price for a small piece of land where he performed the last rites as per Sikh tenets. When Guru Gobind Singh came to know about this incident, he did not betray any emotion and remained unshaken. He said, no matter if four (his sons) have been sacrificed, there were thousand who were still alive and shall live for ever. He made up his mind to uproot tyranny in the moral tradition. He did not allow this wave of protest to cool down and prepared the Sikhs mentally to take on the mighty Mughals. The situation reached such a pass that within the next four years, the entire Sikh community cried for revenge eventually Guru Gobind Singh chose Baba Banda Singh Bahadur to lead the crusade against tyranny and religious persecution. Baba Banda Singh Bahadur marched like a hurricane from Nanded. After defeating the Mughals en route he reached Sirhind. A decisive battle was fought against Wazir Khan on May 14, 1709 and the city razed to the ground. The main historical Gurudwaras at Fatehgarh Sahib are: Gurudwara Thanda Burj where Mata Gujari and her two grandsons were kept under detention, Gurudwara Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh where they were bricked alive, Gurudwara Bibangarh Sahib where their corpses were prepared for the last rites, Gurudwara Joti Sarup where all the three, i.e. grandmother and two grandsons were cremated. Martyrs’ Day is observed as Shaheedi Jor-Mela every year from 25th December to 28th December at Fatehgarh Sahib to commemorate the sacrifices made by the two Sahibzadas. Some 15 lakh followers belonging to various religions pay obeisance on this occasion every year which is spectacular reminder of the noble- if grim - sacrifice. The eminent Hindi poet, Maithilli Sharan Gupt commemorates the Saka Sirhind in his poem: Jit kul, jatti, desh ke bachche, de sake hain balidan, us desh ka vartman kuchh bhi ho par bhavishya hai maha mahan i.e. the community and the nation which are capable of such a heroic sacrifice have a great future in store for them regardless of their present.