Exploring Culture of Resistance In Sikh Thought


Culture carries the connotation of customary beliefs, social forms and material traits of a racial, religious or social group. It consists of passing on values, norms, institutions and artifacts from generation to generation. To resist means to oppose aggression, withstand force and its effects. Resistance is the power or capacity to resist and the term has been variously used to describe opposition to an invasion, foreign occupation, response to tyranny and injustice and acts to attain social or political change.

Militancy implies being aggressively active in a cause; tending to or exhibiting aggression marked by combative readiness. Compassion is sympathetic feeling and resolute stands for firmly determined, steadfast, staunch, faithful, true.

In this paper we will attempt to look at the way consciousness about resistance may have been raised in Sikh thought to try and help us find an answer to our subject question. To comprehend the precepts that may guide Sikh inspiration and understanding and mould their societal behavior we will look at the broad parameters of Sikh thought on human destiny followed by some specific encounters and responses evinced from the writings and lives of the Gurus.


Guru Nanak lived through the Lodhi period till Babar overthrew them in 1526. Behlol Lodhi governed with a firm hand and died in 1488 after a prosperous reign of thirty-eight years. Sikandar Lodhi was intolerant towards Hindus, destroyed temples and prohibited the shaving by barbers of beards and heads of Hindus on occasion’s pilgrimages. He died in 1517. Ibrahim Lodhi was known for acts of cruelty and was not liked. During his time Babar invaded Punjab twice in 1519, again in 1520 when he captured Sialkot and Saidpur and yet again in 1524 when he eventually marched into Lahore. At the urging of Daulat Khan Lodhi who was Governor of Punjab Babar invaded again in 1526. Ibrahim Lodhi was slain on the field and Babar established the Mughal rule.

Babar died in 1530. Humayun, who succeeded him waged wars on the Hindu kings of Bundelkhand and marched against Gujarat. While he was engaged in Gujarat, Sher Khan Suri gathered strength and in a battle in 1540 Humuyan was defeated. He eventually fled and gave up the idea of re-establishing the Mughal Empire in India.

Sher Shah died in 1545 and in 5 years of effective rule introduced certain administrative systems that have survived till to day. Salem Shah who succeeded him, died in 1553 after an uneventful reign. Sikandar Shah assumed the royal title in the Punjab. Around this time friends of Humayun wrote to him from Agra and Delhi inviting him to return and take possession of the country. He was successful and re-entered Delhi in July 1555 but died on January 21st, 1556, by accidentally slipping on a marble pavement. Akbar was a born statesman and soldier though he had never even learnt to read or write. He possessed an inquisitive mind, delighted in Indian fables and encouraged arts. He ignored distinctions of race and creed and tried to start an inclusive tolerant faith that had some resonance with the teachings of Sikh Gurus. He died in October 1605, after a reign of fifty-one years. This period saw consolidation of the nascent Sikh tradition under the guidance of Gurus Angad, Amar Das, Ram Das and Arjun.

Jahangir (1605–27) came to power with the support of orthodox Ulemmas and started out by promoting conversions to Islam, persecution of Jainas and execution of Guru Arjun. He soon got over his zeal but Shah Jahan (1628–58) picked up the thread again and for most of his reign Guru Hargobind had to contend with armed attempts to suppress Sikhs. Besides this Shah Jahan’s campaigns and extravagant architectural indulgence drained the imperial treasury and there was wide spread discontent among peasants impoverished by heavy taxes.

Aurangzeb was austere and orthodox. He prohibited the use of wine, abolished singing and dancing and imposed Sharia law through harsh enforcement of strict edicts. He also issued an edict prohibiting Hindus from being carried in palanquins and riding on Arab horses and encouraged their forced conversions. His reign was a calamitous period for Sikhs with martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur and several armed confrontations during the period of Guru Gobind Singh. Aurangzeb died in 1707.


Sikh thought is founded on the premise that you must live your life in the real world as a responsible householder who copes with the alluring as well as grim realities of human existence. The highest spiritual goal that a Sikh aspires to is to connect with the Divine in this, the only lifetime, possible through living a prayerful, virtuous, altruistic and activist life. For a Sikh renunciation, withdrawal, celibacy, ritualism and austerities are non-options. Sikh thought therefore keeps on prodding the believers to look at problems that may confront pursuit of virtuous living and comments on the desiderata for social order, though dispersed are clear and direct.

Equality is an important plank of Sikh thought on social order. Sikhs do not seek equality the way economic or political theorists may do. They believe that some inequalities and differences are inherent in the Divine dispensation but we must not cultivate an attitude of superciliousness and treat others as inferior because they are under privileged, women, poor et al. Men are asked to look for the Divine light in others, not their under privileged caste because distinctions of caste do not exist in God’s court[1]. On the status of women, the Guru questions how can we speak ill of women who mother all the upholders of our social order (leaders/kings)[2]? The poor must be looked after for those who feed off their labor cannot claim clear conscious[3]. To usurp what rightfully belongs to some one else is sinful for all[4]. In fact virtuous is the life of those who earn their livelihood through their effort and share what they have[5].

Those in leadership role must be held accountable. Their decisions must be made after thorough deliberation and should be able to withstand moral scrutiny and tests for justice and being equitable. Those who rule must be seen to be just[6] and in control of their evil propensities.[7]

Sikhs therefore expect each one to be able to enjoy the gift of life and carve their own destiny. They want to achieve it without violence or intimidation and shunning revenge almost in the manner of turning the other cheek and not causing pain to any one[8]. At the same time they pray for the boon not to shy away from righteous action — to be determined to right the wrongs, fight to win.[9] To tread the path of Lord’s love they must be prepared to give up life without demur[10] for giving up life for a worthy cause is approved.[11]


Gurus have in their compositions mentioned about their experience of being in the Divine presence. We would reproduce verses by Gurus Nanak, Arjun and Gobind Singh to get an insight into their respective vision and divine message they received.

Nanak’s Mission

Guru Nanak gives an account of his being summoned to the Divine presence and the command that he was given saying, ‘I was a minstrel, out of work, when the Lord took me into His service. My Master summoned me His minstrel, to the true mansion of His presence. He commanded me to sing His praises day and night and clothed me in the robes of His true praise and glory. Now amrit of the True name has become food that sustains me and those who imbibe Guru’s teachings will achieve satisfaction and find peace. His minstrel spreads His glory, singing and vibrating His word. Praising the true Lord, Nanak has obtained His fulfillment.’.[12]

Arjun’s Mission

Guru Arjun writes this epistle of love and humility ‘I am a minstrel singing glorious praises of Har Prabh at His door to please Him. While others come and go my Prabh is permanent and stable. I beg Lord of the world to bless His minstrel with the gift of His glimpse, a gift that will fulfill him and satisfy his hunger. The beneficent Prabh heard the prayer, and summoned me, His minstrel to His presence. Gazing upon Prabh, I am rid of pain and hunger and do not think to ask for anything else. All desires fulfilled, I touch His feet. I am an humble, unworthy minstrel and Prabh has forgiven me.’[13]

Gobind Singh’s Mission

Guru Gobind Singh recounts his conversation with the Divine saying ‘When I was busy in the austere devotion, the Lord called me and sent me to this world with the following words – CHAUPAI – “I have adopted you as my son and created you for the propagation of the Panth. Go therefore and spread Dharma and cause people to refrain from evil actions” – DOHRA – I stood up with folded hands and bowing down my head, said: “The Panth shall prevail in the world only with Thy assistance.” – CHAUPAI – Lord has sent me and for this reason I was born in this world. Whatever the Lord said, I am repeating the same unto you; I do not bear enmity with anyone.’[14] He goes on to say ‘I have been sent into this world by Gurdev to propagate Dharma. He asked me to spread Dharma and vanquish the tyrants and evil-minded persons. All those seeking the Divine should know that I have taken birth for the purpose of promoting Dharma, protecting the saintly and rooting out tyrants and evil-minded persons. All the earlier incarnations caused only their names to be remembered. They did not strike the tyrants and did not make them follow the path of Dharma.’[15]


Gurus’ lives and compositions provide an extensive glimpse of their sensitivity to the problems that confronted society they lived in and their responses to certain events and occurrences. We will look at a few of these to sample their perceptions and their moral message.

NANAK [1469-1539]

Ills of Ruling Elite

The ills of rulers and officials find frequent mention in Nanak’s utterances, example ‘the kings are tigers, and their officials are dogs; they intrude on people in their sleep to harass them and as their minions inflict wounds with their nails and the dogs – higher officials – lick up the blood that is spilled. Remember that in His court, all beings will be judged and those who have violated the people’s trust will be disgraced; their noses will be cut off.’[16]

Alien Cultural Influences

Nanak points to decay in the moral moorings of the society and the emerging influence on culture, language and religious freedom from the discriminatory practices by Muslim dispensation saying ‘This earth is Your cooking pot and Your beings receive their portions only once per their destiny. But not satisfied they beg for more and their fickle mind brings them disgrace —– Now that the turn of Sheikhs has come this is what it has brought. Temples of gods are being subjected to taxes and the Primal Being is addressed as Allah. Muslim devotional pots, calls to prayer, prayers and prayer mats are everywhere and even Banwari is clad in blue robes. People in every home use Muslim greetings and even their speech has changed.’[17]

Brahmin Hypocrisy

In this setting hypocrisy of Brahmins can only be exacerbating: ‘while wearing sacred marks on their foreheads and saffron loincloths around their waists they carry knives in their hands – they are butchers of the world! They wear blue robes to be approvingly seen by Muslim rulers, accept bread from them yet worship the Puraanas. They eat goat meat killed after Muslim prayers are read over them but at home they still do not allow anyone else to enter their kitchens.’[18]

Babar Vani

In his compositions popularly known as ‘Babar Vani’ Nanak has commented on various factors reflective of the state of society, its erosion of moral values and the widespread suffering that befell people as Babar’s forces attacked the country then ruled by Afghan Lodhi kings. A look at these compositions would add to our understanding of Nanak’s sensitivity, his empathy and the sense that he makes of the cataclysmic events in the lives of innocent people and as symbolic of divine dispensation.

In Asa, he says, ‘having brought Khurasan under His protection God dispatched terror to Hindustan. The Creator sent the Mugal as messenger of death Himself but does not take the blame. When there was so much slaughter that people screamed, did You not feel any compassion? You are the Master of all, O Creator Lord. If the powerful strike out against powerful, then it may not cause grief to any one. But if a ravenous tiger attacks a flock of sheep and kills them, then its master must answer. This priceless country has been laid to waste and defiled by dogs. No one will cherish the dead when they are gone. You unite, and You Yourself separate; I gaze upon Your glorious greatness. One may assume a great name, and revel in the pleasures of the mind, but in the eyes of the Lord and Master, he is just a worm, for all the corn that he eats. Only one who dies to his ego while yet alive, obtains the blessings, O Nanak, by chanting the Lord’s Name.”[19] This verse is considered by historians to relate to Babar’s first invasion about which Babar recognized excesses by his soldiers in his memoirs.

In Tilang he says, “As the word of the forgiving Lord comes to me, so do I express it, O Lalo. Babar has invaded from Kabul bringing the marriage party of sin and demanding our land as his wedding gift. Modesty and righteousness have vanished, and falsehood struts around like a leader. Satan conducts the marriage rites as Qazis and the Brahmins have lost their roles. Muslim women read the Koran and in their misery chant Khhuda. So do the Hindu women, both of high social status and lowly — The One who created and attached the mortals to pleasures, sits alone, and watches on. True is the Master and true is His justice. He issues His commands as He deems just.”[20]

Guru Nanak was an eyewitness to the conflict at Eminabad and has vividly described the excesses of Babar’s soldiers during his third invasion; in Asa he laments, “heads that were adorned with braided hair, with their parts painted with vermilion were shaved with scissors, and their throats choked with dust. — When they were married, their husbands looked so handsome beside them. They came in palanquins, decorated with ivory; water was sprinkled over their heads, and glittering fans were waved above them. They were given hundreds of thousands of coins when they sat, and hundreds of thousands of coins when they stood. They ate coconuts and dates, and rested comfortably upon their beds. But ropes were put around their necks, and their strings of pearls were broken. Their wealth and youthful beauty, which gave them so much pleasure, have now become their enemies. The order was given to the soldiers, who dishonored them, and carried them away. If it is pleasing to God’s Will, He bestows greatness; if is pleases His Will, He bestows punishment. If someone focuses on the Lord beforehand, then why should he be punished? The kings had lost their higher consciousness, reveling in pleasure and sensuality. — Whatever pleases Him, comes to pass. O Nanak, what is the fate of mankind?” [21]

Continuing in Asa he questions, “Where are the games, the stables, and the horses? Where are the drums and the bugles? Where are the sword-belts and chariots? Where are those scarlet uniforms? Where are the rings and the beautiful faces? They are no longer to be seen here. This world is Yours; You are the Lord of the Universe. In an instant, You establish and disestablish. You distribute wealth as it pleases You. Where are the houses, the gates, the hotels and palaces? Where are those beautiful way stations? Where are those beautiful women, reclining on their beds, whose beauty would not allow one to sleep? Where are those betel leaves, their sellers, and the harem? They have vanished like shadows. For the sake of this wealth, so many were ruined; because of this wealth, so many have been disgraced. It was not gathered without sin, and it does not go along with the dead. Those, whom the Creator Lord would destroy – first He strips them of virtue, Millions of religious leaders failed to halt the invader, when they heard of the Emperor’s invasion. He burned the rest houses and the ancient temples; he cut the princes limb from limb, and cast them into dust. None of the Mughals went blind, and no one performed any miracle. The battle raged between the Mughals and the Pathaans, and the swords clashed on the battlefield. They took aim and fired their guns, and they attacked with their elephants. Men whose letters were torn in the Lord’s Court were destined to die, O Siblings of Destiny. The women – Hindu, Muslim, Bhattis and Rajputs – some had their robes torn away, from head to foot, while others came to dwell in the cremation ground. Their husbands did not return home – how did they pass their night? The Creator Himself acts, and causes others to act. Unto whom should we complain? Pleasure and pain come by Your Will; unto whom should we go and cry? The Commander issues His Command, and is pleased. O Nanak, we receive what is written in our destiny.”[22]

Clearly Guru Nanak in all his utterances above is raising our consciousness about ills of the society. We must be watchful of corrupt and capricious governance. People’s trust must not be allowed to be violated. We should have pride in our identity and our heritage and not get subsumed by the dominant cultural environment. This does not imply that we shun the other. On the contrary we must pull together if an avaricious foreign force wants to subdue us for when they violate our women they may not distinguish between Hindu and Muslim, Rajput or Bhatti.

Nanak’s empathy with the poor, suffering innocent men and women comes out strongly. When the powerful fall upon and kill the weak their master must be held to answer. He is condemnatory of greed and pleasure seeking ways of people and deprecates strongly the loss of higher consciousness by the ruling elite and their failure to protect the country. It must not escape our attention that Nanak has ridiculed the attempt to cast spells on and fight the invading Babar by using miracles. He says ‘religious leaders failed to halt the invader — none of the Mughals went blind and no one performed any miracle.’ He also seems to be pointing to the Lodhi military response when he says ‘they [Mughals] took aim and fired their guns, and they [Pathaans] attacked with their elephants.’ Fighting guns with elephants could only be indicative of inaptness. The message that one reads is that if you suffer an armed attack you must defend with all your strength and in a manner to match the invader. Protection of people is your responsibility. You cannot and must not shirk it.

Let us now try to understand the import of the other message that Nanak is conveying. In all the verses the Guru’s unwavering belief in supremacy of and his humble acceptance of divine will is evident. In that light he characterises Mughals to have been sent by God to punish Lodhis and the people for their fall. At the same time he likens those punishing to a bridal party of sinners who indulge in rape and ravine. Where can then one go – God who attached mortals to all these allurements, sits alone and watches on? Even though he seems to chide God for not showing compassion when the suffering screamed in pain, the answer is obvious – it is for humans to resist all that may ail the society individually and collectively. Hypocrisy and naiveté is no help. Mere self-image and vain visions of power are meaningless for in the eyes of God the mighty are no more than mere worms. To not invite the wrath of God people must rise above temptation and motivate others to do so.

On how to become fearless Nanak says ‘It all worked out-I was saved. Haumai within me was subdued and my evil instincts have become my servants since I placed my faith in the True Guru. By the grace of the True, carefree Lord I have renounced my useless schemes. Listen my mind; fear departs only when you meet with the True One. How can one become fearless without the fear of God? Become Gurmukh, and immerse yourself in the Shabad.’[23] Having fear of God, total submission, enables the love of divine to well up within and connect with God. Once that state is reached fears will depart from within.

ANGAD THRU RAM DAS [1539-52-74-81]

Humayun defeated by Sher Shah was on retreat when he stopped at Khadur to seek Guru Angad’s blessings. When Humayan arrived the Guru and the congregation was absorbed in singing devotional hymns. After a while Humayan became impatient and put his hand on the hilt of his sword. The Guru looked up just at that moment, noticed his move and said, “When it was time for you to use the sword you failed to but you do not hesitate to intimidate unarmed devotees engaged in prayer.”

Akbar paid a visit to Goindwal on his way to Lahore to meet Guru Amar Das at. He was informed that he could see the Guru only after he had dined with the sangat in the Guru’s langar. It is said that Akbar partook of the food and then met with the Guru.

Guru Ram Das brought greater clarity to emerging Sikh identity. He brought definition to Sikh wedding liturgy and laid the foundation of what in course of time developed into Sikh code of conduct. He also unambiguously resolved some of the traditional negative thoughts about material things and economic activity and spiritual pursuit and sanctified material possessions as pure and blessed if the means used to achieve them were fair; the owner is virtuous and their use is for altruistic purposes.

The message remains – seek the gift of continual rememberance of naam[24], use the sword to fight aggression for that is your duty, not to intimidate or oppress the weak and stay resolute to define and defend your principles.

ARJUN [1581-1606]

By Arjun’s time the following of the Gurus was growing in places as far apart as Kabul and Dacca. Increasing number of Hindus and even some Muslims had been gravitating to Guru’s discipleship. This caused uneasiness among some Pandits and Qazis. Towards the end of Akbar’s rule certain influential Muslim clerics like Shaikh Ahmed Sirhindi started advocating control of spread of Sikhi before it became a threat to Islam.

Successive Gurus had been confronted with internal dissent from family members who felt they had a claim to the Ministry and challenged each succession even though it was per the choice of the preceding Guru. This divide had not only created sects or parallel movements but also degenerated into a personal vendetta against the Guru in the time of Arjun.

The confluence of these adverse factors impacted the safety and security of the person of the Guru. He was conscious of this and his compositions refer to attacks intended to bring harm to him. His compositions also show focus on internal purity to enable one to initiate societal transformation. It is this steeling of self that no doubt gave him the courage and resolve to bear torture preceding his martyrdom with equanimity.

Halemi Raj

Guru Arjan has alluded to a vision of halemi raj – a concept of benevolent, humble and modest rule. We have discussed it in some detail elsewhere in this book. This vision is unique in the way it defines the assets of leadership, extols service as the core attribute of a leader, envisages exemplars and role models as catalysts for societal transformation and commend transparency and accountability in governance – related in the form of a mini epic with all its spiritual, heroic and humane nuances.

False Complaint re Granth

A Brahman Mullans made a complaint against the Guru in 1598 to Emperor Akbar who that the Granth under compilation had verses derogatory to Muslims and Hindus. The Guru sent Baba Budha and Bhai Gurdas with the volume under compilation to answer any questions. Akbar was satisfied and the complaint was dismissed. The Guru writes that ‘the memorandum against me has proved false and the slanderers have come to grievous loss. Yama does not touch him whose has the support of Govind. The blind one who utters falsehood in True court has to beat his head and writhe his hands (in remorse). Prabh himself sits in judgment and those who sin are afflicted by ailments. All are bound by their own actions and riches are of no avail when life departs. Nanak sought sanctuary of His true court and his honor was saved by the Creator.’[25]

Attack on his Life

As the story goes, Sulahi Khan was a Mughal courtier. Prithi Chand, Arjun’s disaffected brother invited him and both conspired to finish the Guru off. While showing him round, however Sulahi’s horse stepped over a burning kiln that gave way and he was roasted alive. Guru Arjun who referred this incident at a few places in his verses writes ‘first I was counseled to send a letter, secondly I was advised to send two men to mediate. Third was the advice to make the effort and do something. I have renounced everything, and I meditate only on You, Prabh. Now, I am totally blissful, carefree and at ease. Enemies and evildoers have perished, and I have obtained peace.’[26]

At another places, Guru Arjun writes: ‘God preserved me from Sulhi, (his attack). Sulhi did not succeed in his plot, and he died in disgrace. God drew forth His axe and smote off his head and in a moment he was reduced to ashes. Plotting and planning evil, he was destroyed. He who created him thrust him into the fire. Of his sons, friends and wealth, nothing remains; his brethren and relations have all abandoned him. Says Nanak, I am sacrifice to that Prabh who fulfilled the prayer uttered by His servant.’[27]

Martyrdom of Arjun

We have also mentioned earlier about martyrdom of the Guru. He was the first Sikh Guru martyr. Jahangir has recorded in Tuzk i Jahangiri that ‘— a Hindu named Arjun — [who] had captured many simple-hearted Hindus and even ignorant and foolish Muslims — when Khusro passed this way — [he] made a finger-mark of saffron on his forehead that the Indians call Qashqa and is considered propitious. When this came to my ears and I fully knew his heresies, I ordered that he should be brought into my presence and having handed over his houses, dwelling places, and children to Murtaza Khan and having confiscated his property I ordered that he should be put to death with tortures.’

Tradition has it that Jahangir ordered the Guru to pay a fine of two hundred thousand rupees and also to erase hymns in the Granth that were opposed to the Hindu and Muslim faiths. The Guru replied that any money he had was for the poor and if Jahangir wanted he could have it but not by way of fine. As regards the Granth, he said that it had nothing that is derogatory; besides he could not erase or alter a word of it.

The sentence was carried out. The Guru went through those inhuman, unbearable tortures that eventually followed to test the validity of strength of good over evil with blissful fortitude; with not a shadow of doubt, complaint or rancor in his demeanor; only words expressing tranquil acceptance of divine will on his silent lips ‘tera bhana meetha laagey, har naam padarath nanak mangey.[28]

Let us now try and comprehend the message emanating from the above narratives. Ideal of societal transformation in halemi raj is founded on the individual struggle of a person to fight and win over evil propensities. This battle is played out within and therefore there are no gory scenes; no bloodletting; no wide spread suffering; no degrading episodes; no loss of the innocent lives and no collateral damage. The victor is happy and his happiness inspires in him the ideal of creating a society where the societal leadership comes forward to lead with humility and modesty – through seva.

Humility is not to be read as a sign of weakness or lack of resolve. On the contrary it is only the strong that can really be humble without being servile or cringing. It is a choice of behavior, made and lived only through deep deliberation. Those so imbued are in fact real warriors who would stake everything for the righteous cause. This sets new markers for individuals in pursuit of transformation of societal ills.

The Guru also set clear markers in other areas. He defended the attack on contents of the Granth. When faced with sure attack on his person he chose the path of prayer rather than prepare to defend his self. When he was asked to act against his beliefs he chose to face gruesome tortures and die rather than submit. Sikh resistance therefore was tested to the extreme and the Guru did not give up his resolve nor did he utter a word of hate. He just raised the bar.


Sikhs were stunned at the torture and martyrdom of Guru Arjun and rallied around young Hargobind who was barely 11 when nominated to succeed. The groundswell in spirit of resistance that reverberated through the small but growing community was given a visible expression by the Guru. He recruited an armed retinue of trusted guards, wore an aigrette on his turban, sported two swords and moved around with a canopy overhead. He took to hunting and was addressed as ‘sacha patshah’ – the true king – by the Sikhs. Opposite the Harmandar he constructed Akal Takhat, the Temporal Seat of the Divine, and held court there. Sikhs remember him as miri te piri da malik, the master of temporal and spiritual power. Soon his armed retinue increased to a stable of seven hundred horses and sixty gunners (topchi).

When this news reached Jahangir he demanded that the Guru pay the fine imposed on his father. The Guru refused and was imprisoned in the fort at Gwalior where several other political prisoners of high status were also lodged. Tradition has it that when released he would accept to be released only if the other detainees were freed and secured release of fifty-two Hindu princes. Over time relations of the Guru with Jahangir are said to have turned friendly.

The first armed encounter took place in 1621 following a skirmish in which one Bhagwan Das Kehrar who opposed Guru Hargobind’s plan to found the town of Hargobindpur was killed in a hand to nand fight with Sikhs.[29] The son of Bhagwan Das and his supporters sought the help of Nawab Abdula Khan, the area Faujdar who sent a force of 1500 led by Bhai Jattu against the Sikhs. In a series of actions the troop leader as well as two sons of the Faujdar were killed following which the Faujdar too took to the battle and was killed. Though there was significant loss of life on both sides Sikhs came out victorious.

Shahjahan who succeeded Jahangir in 1627 reverted to earlier policies like destruction of incomplete temples and relations with the Guru also became strained. An armed conflict with the Mughals erupted in 1628 when a posse of 7,000 was sent under Mukhlis Khan to arrest the Guru on the pretext of securing release of a royal hawk from the Sikhs. Guru Hargobind who was busy making preparations for wedding of his daughter moved the marriage to a village nearby and thus evaded arrest. Sikhs waylaid the returning royal troops inflicting heavy causalities including Mukhlis Khan who was killed.

Again in two years there was a skirmish where the Imperial troops sent to support Guru’s adversary in a land dispute at Hargobindpur were badly mauled. The third conflict arose when Imperial soldiers secured a horse intended for the Guru. A Sikh kidnapped it. Again the attacking Muslim forces lost. The Guru returned to Kartarpur a year later where he was encircled by troops led by Painde Khan, who earlier had been in the Guru’s employee. In a tough fight Sikhs again were successful and Painde Khan was killed.

Guru Hargobind retired to Kiratpur in 1635 to ward off further conflict with the Mughal government. He spent the remaining nine years of his life there. His son Gurditta worked hard to strengthen the missionary but there were setbacks. Around the same time as the Guru moved to Kiratpur, the son of Prithia assumed control at Amritsar. Gurditta died in 1638, his son Dhirmal turned against the grand father and left with the original rescension of Granth in his possession.

His ministry saw the transformation of Sikh resistance to armed defense in the event of being attacked. He did not initiate any fight but did not evade it when it was inevitable. Sikh and Punjabi response to Guru’s resistance was overwhelming and even though the internal strife seemed to be on the rise Sikhs were infused with a new sense of vigor and resurgent confidence in themselves. Bhai Gurdas points to the Guru’s valor as vanquisher in battles fought for good of others.[30]

HAR RAI [1644-61]

Guru Har Rai kept a contingent of 2,200 cavalry as his personal guard and continued to live at Kiratpur. There was no armed conflict in his time but when Aurangzeb ascended to the throne his detractors reported to him that the Guru had blessed and assisted escape of Dara Shikoh who was his rival in the succession struggle. Aurangzeb ordered the Guru to appear in the royal court of Delhi. Guru refused to go himself but sent his son Ram Rai instead. There the Qazis asserted to Ram Rai that Guru Nanak’s verse ‘mitti musalman di’ was derogatory of Muslims. Ram Rai pleaded that the actual text says – beiman – [a word that rhymes with the original and means] ‘faithless’ and not ‘Musalman.’ Guru Har Rai hearing of this disowned Ram Rai and he had to stay on in Delhi under the patronage of Aurangzeb. This once again gave the message that the text of Gurbani was sacrosanct and the Gurus will protect its integrity even at the cost of sacrificing the bond between father and son.

HAR KISHAN [1661-64]

He became Guru at the age of five. Aurangzeb asked to see him through Raja Jai Singh who was a devotee of the Guru. The Guru came to Delhi on the condition that he will not see Aurangzeb and stayed with Jai Singh. The reason was that Ram Rai was close to Aurangzeb and bore enmity to the Guru because of succession. The meeting therefore could only have exacerbated the already tenuous relations with the Mughals.

TEGH BAHADUR [1664-75]

Tegh Bahadur was the youngest son of Guru Hargobind. Attempts to physically harm the Guru started by Prithia in Arjun’s time continued. Dhir Mal, grandson of Guru Hargobind who was not happy with succession of Guru Tegh Bahadur is said to have sent his men to attack the Guru. His house was ransacked and the Guru was shot at and wounded. When Guru Tegh Bahadur went to Amritsar he was refused entry into the Golden Temple then under the control of Harji, grandson of Prithi Chand. The Guru came back to Kiratpur to the jealousy of local family and decided to acquire a tract of land and founded the town of Chak Nanaki in 1665, named in honor of his mother (later to be known as Anandpur Sahib).

Guru undertook his missionary tour of the east in August 1665 possibly in response to the request of Bhai Bulaki Das and Bhai Hulas Chand from Dacca and Bhai Darbara and Bhai Chain Sukh from Patna. These Sikhs had met the Guru at Kiratpur and begged him to visit their land in the east with his family. He arrived at the village of Sasram where lived a very devout disciple called Chacha Phagoo who had built a mansion and within it placed a superb couch for the Guru. On reaching Patna, Bhai Jaita a disciple, took the Guru to his residence.

Meanwhile Aurengzeb besides having Ram Rai in his control was ratcheting up pressure on Hindus. In 1665 he forbade them to have illuminations at Diwali. In 1669 governors of all provinces were directed to destroy schools and temples of infidels and in 1671 he issued an order that Muslims only could hold crown lands. In 1674 lands held in religious grants by Hindus in Gujarat were confiscated. Around then Iftikhar Khan Governor of Kashmir started forcible conversion of Hindus to Islam that led Kashmiri Pandits led by Pandit Kirpa Ram to request the Guru to intercede on their behalf. Guru Tegh Bahadur, after some deliberation and a remark by his son, told them to inform Aurangzeb that if he could make the Guru to embrace Islam they would follow suit. [He later taught Sanskrit to Guru Gobind Singh, became a Khalsa, fought in the battle of Chamkaur and was killed]

Guru Tegh Bahadur accompanied by three devout followers was arrested soon after and brought to Delhi. The Guru was made to watch his one companion killed by sawing his body in two, another by being boiled alive and the third by burning alive. On November 11, 1675 Guru Tegh Bahadur was publicly beheaded. A Sikh collected the Guru’s head under cover of darkness to evade reprisals and carried it to Anandpur Sahib. Another Sikh was able to bring the Gurus headless body to his house a few miles from the city where he cremated it by setting the house on fire.

Guru Tegh Bahadur has dwelt on the theme of fearlessness in his compositions quite a few times. Fearlessness is one of the attributes of God mentioned in the opening line, the creedal statement, in the Granth. Guru Tegh Bahadur seeks the gift of fearlessness for his own self and bares his soul saying ‘the fear of death has entered my heart and I cling to the protection of Your sanctuary. O ocean of mercy please save my honor. I am a great sinner, foolish and greedy who has now realized that sinful life is futile but I cannot forget the fear of dying and this anxiety is consuming my body. To achieve liberation I have run around in all directions but have not understood the secret of mystery of the pure, immaculate One who abides deep within my heart. I have no merit, and I know nothing about meditation or austerities; please tell me what should I do now? Says Nanak, I am exhausted and seek Your sanctuary; please bless me with the gift of fearlessness.’[31]

The influence and corrosive effect of fear on the lives of men was his continuing concern. He believed that in an ideal setting people should neither live in fear nor cause others to live in fear. One who realizes the truth of this dictum, call him spiritually wise.[32] This no doubt was the inspirational thought defining his approach to resistance.

Guru Gobind Singh later wrote in his autobiographical account that ‘in a great event in the Iron Age Tegh Bahadur protected the forehead mark and sacred thread (of Hindus). For the sake of saints, he laid down his head without even uttering a sigh. For the sake of Dharma, he sacrificed himself. He laid down his head but not his creed. The saints of the Lord abhor the performance of miracles and malpractices – DOHRA – breaking potsherd of body head of the king of Delhi (Aurangzeb), he left for the abode of the Lord. None could perform such a feat as that of Tegh Bahadur. The entire world bemoaned departure of Tegh Bahadur. Whit the world lamented, the gods hailed his arrival in heavens.[33]

Guru Tegh Bahadur gave his life so Hindus could have their freedom of faith. This he understood to be his dharma, his creed that all men, without distinction must have this freedom even if it takes him to give up his life to arouse people’s consciousness. His concern could not have been more forcefully articulated in any other way. There surely was a man whose prayer for gift of fearlessness had been accepted in the Divine court!


Guru Gobind Singh and Sikhs were obviously traumatized at the martyrdom of a second Guru. His life is a saga of struggle and we will look at a few of the incidents in the light of his own writings to reflect on his thoughts and his experience.

At Bhangani

Around 1685 he repaired to Paonta for a very productive period of his life when in the solitude of hills he did a lot of his writing. It was here that he had to defend against an armed attack in 1688 and describes the reason for start of the battle of Bhangani thus: ‘I left my home and went to place named Paonta. I enjoyed my stay and saw amusement of various kinds on the banks of Kalindri (Yamuna). I killed many lions, blue bulls and bears. On this the king Fateh Shah became angry and fought with me without any reason’.[34] In the course of the battle he says ‘filled with rage Hari Chand drew out his bow and shot his arrow which struck my horse. He aimed and shot the second arrow towards me but Lord protected me and his arrow only grazed my ear. Again the Lord saved his servant when his third arrow penetrated deep into the buckle of my waist-belt. Its edge touched my body, but did not cause a wound. When the edge of the arrow touched my body, it kindled my resentment. I raised the bow, aimed the arrow on a warrior, shot the arrow and killed him. When a volley of arrows was showered all the warriors fled. Hari Chand was killed and his brave soldiers were trampled. The chief of Kot Lehar was seized by death. Filled with fear all the hill-men fled from the battlefield. I gained victory through the favor of the Eternal One’.[35]

The line up at Bhangani was Rajas Fateh Chand of Garhwal, Bhim Chand of Kahlur, Kirpal of Katoch, Gopal of Guler, Hari Chand of Hadur, of Jaswal, Chandel and Dahwal plus 400 Pathaan mercenaries vs. the Guru and his Khatris, Pir Budhu Shah with his 700 followers, 100 Pathaan mercenaries.

The description of the battle in Bachitra Natak names several of Guru’s Sikhs. The killed on the other side are mostly Afghans – names mentioned include Hayat Khan and Nijabat Khan. Nijabat Khan and Sango Shah were locked in a struggle when some more Khans pounced on Shah. Both Nijabat Khan and Sango Shah were killed and when the Guru saw Sango Shah being killed he shot three arrows and killed Bhikhan Khan and two more Khans. Raja Hari Chand was killed fighting furiously. The active fighting seemingly was between Sikhs on one side and Khans, Hari Chand and possibly Gopal of Guler on the other. The rest of Rajas left.

The conflict was forced on the Guru who when thus challenged in his peaceful pursuit of life to defend himself, did not hesitate to do so. He sees forcible disruption of innocent enjoyment of life as wicked and tyrannical and sums up the result of battle as protection of the virtuous against the wicked. He says: ‘Saints were protected and the wicked were killed. The tyrants were hanged till they breathed no more and perished like dogs.’[36]

After his victory the Guru did not stay at Paonta but retuned and established the village of Anandpur. He says that he patronized those who fought bravely and turned out from the town those who did not join the forces.[37]

Battle of Nadaun

The Guru and his Sikhs were involved in another battle with a Mughal commander, Alif Khan, at Nadaun on 20 March 1691. The Guru says that Bhim Chand asked for assistance when intimidated by Alif Khan out of enmity and he helped out. The line up at Nadaun was Alif Khan, Rajas Kirpal of Kangra and Dayal of Bijrawal plus Rajputs of Nanglua and Panglo tribes vs. Bhim Chand of Kahlur, Prithvi Chand of Dadhwal, Sukhdeo of Jasrot, Raja of Jaswal, Raj Singh, Ram Singh plus the Guru.During action when he saw several Rajput groups supporting Alif Khan come together to attack, the Guru used his weapons and the Lord again brought the victory: ‘Much time passed in this way. Mian Khan came to Jammu (for collection of revenue) and sent Alif Khan to Nadaun. Alif Khan developed enmity towards Bhim Chand and prepared a wooden fort on Navras hill. Bhim Chand called me for assistance and he went to prepare their arrows and guns and fight — Rajputs of the tribes of Nanglua and Panglu advanced along with the soldiers of Jaswar and Guler. Great warrior Dayal saved the honor of the people of Bijharwal and also joined the battle. Then this lowly person (the Guru) took his gun, aimed unerringly at one of the chiefs and fired. He reeled and fell to the ground but even then he thundered in anger. I then threw away the gun, took arrows in my hand and shot four of them. Another three I discharged with my left hand, whether they struck anybody, I do not know. Then the Lord brought end to the fight as the enemy was driven out into the river.’[38]

Alif Khan’s or any Muslim soldier’s name does not figure in the narrative of the fighting. It seems that one of group of hill chiefs was fighting another group. No Muslims names are mentioned among the casualities. About end to the conflict the Guru says ‘Alif Khan fled away leaving back his belongings. All the other warriors also did not stay and were gone. I remained there on the bank of the river for eight more days and visited the palaces of all the chiefs. Then I took leave and came home, they went there to settle the terms of peace. Both the parties made an agreement.’[39]


Dilawar Khan who attained power in Punjab while Aurangzeb was in the Deccan sent his son Khanzada with a force of one thousand men to attack the Guru at night. A Sikh who saw them crossing the river informed the Guru. The Sikhs fired shots in the air and made other noises and the attackers beat a retreat. He says ‘the heroes form my side thundred and the blood thirsty Khans fled away without using their weapons. —They could not touch me because of the grace of Lord and fled away. They could not do any harm here by His favor but they were filled with great anger and returning plundered and destroyed village Barwa before halting at Bhallon.’[40]

Hussain Conflict & Muazzam’s Role

After failure of Khanzada Dilawar Khan sent Hussain. He plundered houses on the way and overpowered Raja of Dadhwal and took his sons as slaves. He then plundered Doon. Raja of Guler, Gopal aling with Ram Singh came to see Hissain and offered him some money but they could not agree and Gopal returned. Hussain who was supported by Rajas Kirpal and Bhim Chand got mad and besieged Guler for two days. Gopal sued for peace and asked the Guru’s help in negotiating a settlement with Hussain. The Guru sent Sangtia with an escort of seven troopers for the purpose. Hussain demanded ten thousand rupees. Sangatia asked Gopal to promise on oath but they could not reach any settlement and a battle ensued in which Hussain, Kirpal and Guru’s envoy Sangtia and his seven troopers were all killed. Raja Gopal was victorious. The Guru’s comment at the end of this conflict was ‘the victory was gained and the battle ended. All thought of their homes and went back. God protected me from the cloud of battle, which rained elsewhere.[41]

Dilawar Khan was very angry at the debacle of Hussain and sent some cavalry that was joined by Jujhar Singh and Raja of Chandel. They captured Bhallan but were opposed by Gaj Singh and Parmanand, Raja of Jaswar. Chandan Rai and Jujhar Singh were killed and the horse cavalry went back.

These repeated failures of the imperial forces caused anxiety to Aurangzeb and he sent his son Prince Muazzam for restoration of order in the hills. The Prince took charge in August 1696. Narrating this part the Guru says ‘this made Aurangzeb very angry and he sent his son to Punjab. On his arrival people were frightened and hid themselves in big hills. They did not understand the ways of Almighty and tried to frighten me also — the son of Aurangzeb got angry and sent a subordinate in this direction and he demolished homes of those who had fled turning their face from me left me. Those who turn away from the Guru, their houses are demolished in this and the next world. They are ridiculed here and also do not get any abode in heaven. They remain disappointed in all things —– God Himself created the successors of both Baba (Nanak) and Babar. Recognize the former as the spiritual king and the later as temporal king.’[42]

Towards the end of Bachitar Natak the Guru offers a supplicatory hymn that ‘at all times, the Lord has protected saints, exhibited His marvelous state to them and saved them from all sufferings and He has destroyed all the malevolent and malicious persons, subjecting them to great agony. Considering me as Your servant, You have helped me and protected me with Your own hands.’[43]

We should note here that in the battle of Bhangani the Guru had to fight a group of Rajas including Bhim Chand and in the battle of Nadaun he accepted to support Bhim Chand, whereas some of that Raja’s compatriots helped Alif Khan. In both cases the Guru was on the side defending aggression and against intimidation whether it was by a Hindu or a Muslim chieftain. Bhim Chand again was an adversary of Gopal who sought Guru’s help to conciliate conflict with Hussain.

His conciliatory role and influence is clear from his staying on after the battle of Nadaun and visiting with all the chiefs that eventually helped bring them to a settlement though he does not claim credit for it. He was again asked by Gopal to help and he sent Sangatia to help negotiations with Hussain.

On reading the text one does not fail to notice that he is equally praising of valor whether it is by the enemy or defenders. Witness the lavish praise for Kirpal Chand, the Kangra Chief as a true, valiant Rajput whose bravery was praised in the nine regions of the world – he was ally of Alif Khan. Likewise the Guru praises Hussain, Jujhar Singh, Gopal and so many others for their bravery. His manner of presentation is such as if he is a witness and not a participant to the conflict.

We should also note that he say he was victorious in the battles of Bhangani and Nadaun. We may compare the victory as it is seen in two situations – one over evil instincts as in Guru Arjun’s halemi raj and the other over external threat as in these conflicts. The Guru says in the first case that his defeated adversaries can no more challenge him whereas in the second case there is no claim to an abiding harmony prevailing – only the imminent threat was removed, or contained or defused. In other words individual transformation, if achieved is a victory but at societal level eliminating, suppressing or controlling a threat is a victory too. Societal transformation is a process that takes much longer, even ages.

Creation Of The Khalsa

Guru Gobind Singh created the order of Khalsa in April 1699. This sent a strong message of Sikh resolve to make themselves strong to be able to defend their person, property and values from predators and oppressors. The process of initiation into the fraternity created a variety of symbolisms to remind Sikhs of their cherished postulates. Asking the initiates to drink off from a shared cup signaled a formalized rejection of caste prejudices. Narrow loyalties were de-emphasized in favor of a broader communal identity by dropping caste from names. The outward symbols also reflected on their determination to carve out their place in the society on their own in full glare of visibility. These changes did not as such bring about a change in Sikh approach to resistance but it definitely made people around take notice and in several cases, with rising concern about the impact of these changes on vested elitist interests.

First Battle Of Anandpur

The immediate effect of creation of the Khalsa was a deep sense of insecurity and anxiety among hill Rajas. It is significant that prior the Baisakhi of 1699 even though Hindus had viewed the rise of Sikhism as a threat to their faith, their resistance mostly took the form of inciting trouble within the house of the Gurus or imperil their relations with the rulers. Violent incidences against Sikhs were rare – battle of Bhangani being one. The position changed and as we will see in what follows.

The Rajas in early 1701 sought help of Delhi government to subdue the Sikhs and Delhi sent Din Beg and Painde Khan each with five thousand men to support their attak. Painde Khan was killed in a fierce battle and the hill chiefs left the field. Din Beg was wounded and he beat a retreat.

Second Battle Of Anandpur

Again later in 1701, the Rajas of Jammu, Nurpur, Mandi, Bhutan, Kullu, Kionthal, Guler, Chamba, Srinagar, Dadhwal, Handur and others assembled at Bilaspur to take stock of the situation. Raja Ajmer Chand of Kahlur proposed that if they repeatedly ask assistance from Delhi to subdue Sikhs they might be taken over by the Mughals. The best course of action for them was to act on their own and accordingly they marched onto Anandpur and asked the Guru for rent for the city. The Guru refused saying that the land on which the town was built had been purchased his father. At this the hill Rajas launched an attack but could not overcome the Sikhs by direct assault. They then put the city under siege lasting for a few weeks but it was not successful.

Battle Of Nirmoh

Frustrated, toward end of 1701, Raja Ajmer Chand sent an envoy to Sirhind and another to Delhi seeking their help to expel the Guru from Anandpur. At the same time through an intermediary, the hill chiefs proposed to the Guru that if he left Anandpur for a while and come back later they would be always be friends with him. The Guru agreed and left for Nirmoh. Once the Guru was at Nirmoh Ajmer Chand and Raja of Kangra launched an attack on Sikhs even before the Mughal help arrived. The Guru repelled the attacks but decided to move to Basoli whose Raja had been inviting him. Overjoyed the hill chiefs presented elephants to Wazir Khan wh arrived by then to help them. After staying a few days at Basoli the Guru returned to Anandpur. Finding the Guru back at Anandpur and firmly in control, Ajmer Chand sued for peace followed by other hill Rajas.

Third Battle Of Anandpur

Hostilities erupted again in 1703 when Raja Ajmer Chand and Rajas of Handur, Chamba and Fatehpur attacked the Guru’s forces at Anandpur. The Sikhs fought courageously and hill chiefs had to retire from the battle in despair.

Fourth Battle Of Anandpur

The hill chiefs persevered and on their repeated requests Delhi sent a large force under the command of Saiyad Khan in March 1704 to subdue the Guru. Saiyad Khan was a brother-in-law of Pir Budhu Shah who had fought on the side of the Guru at the battle of Bhangani. On his way to Anandpur he met Pir Budhu Shah. Favorably influenced, during the ensuing battle he defected to the Guru. Ramzan Kha took over the command and put Sikhs under relentless pressure. The Guru decided to evacuate Anandpur. Mughal forces plundered the city and retired to Sirhind. Sikhs attacked them at night, got their loot back and the Guru returned to Anandpur.

Fifth Battle Of Anandpur & Battle Of Chamkaur

The turn of events caused major concern at Delhi and the Governors of Sirhind, Lahore and Kashmir were ordered to proceed against the Guru. They were aided by more than a dozen hill chiefs and Gujars and Ranghars of the area and attacked Anandpur. In spite of strong rallies success evaded the attackers for several days. They then laid a siege and cut off the supplies. Some Sikhs lost heart and forty of them left after signing a disclaimer renouncing their relation with the Guru.

In the meantime Raja Ajmer Chand’s envoy offered safe passage to the Guru if Anandpur was evacuated. The Guru assured by oaths on the Salagram and the Quran let it be known that he would send his valuables first. When the caravan reached enemy lines they started to loot the treasure that turned out to be rubbish.

At last through an envoy the Guru was brought a signed letter from the Emperor saying, “I have sworn on the Quran not to harm you and if I do, may I not find a place in God’s court hereafter! Cease warfare and come to me and if you do not desire to do so, then go wheresoever you please.” The hill Rajas also swore that they would allow safe passage to the Guru. By then his force had dwindled and he finally decided to leave Anandpur at night on 20-21 December 1705. Notwithstanding sworn assurances Sikhs were pursued as they were leaving and the Guru decided to get across the flooded Sarsa River. Many got drowned and the Guru’s mother with two younger sons got separated from the group. The Guru with his two elder sons and forty Sikhs decided to face the enemy from within the Garhi of (mud fortress) Chamkaur.

They were soon besieged by the pursuing troops. The Sikhs held on fighting in batches of five. Both sons of the Guru asked to be allowed to go and fight and were killed fighting. Guru then got ready to go in combat but the Sikhs passed a ‘Gurmatta’ (resolution) asking him not to and to leave the fortress. He accepted their instruction and left. Wandering lonesome in the wilderness of Machhiwara the Guru pensively poured his heart out, ‘do convey to my dear friend the state of His disciples. Without Thee a comforter covering is like lying in sickness; the house no different than a den of serpents; the flask like a spike and the cup feels like a dagger. This separation tears at me like a butcher’s knife. Pleasing to me is the pallet of my cherished Friend; pleasures only consuming flames.’[44] No rancor, just humble acceptance of and submission to whatever transpired in His will.

Daya Singh, Dharam Singh and Man Singh caught up with him. They finally were able to reach the safety of Rai Kot with help of two Muslims. Here the Guru learnt of the heroic death of his other two sons at the hands of Wazir Khan at Sirhind. The Guru stayed at Dina for a few days, wrote ‘Zafarnama’ and sent it through Bhai Daya Singh and Dharam Singh to Aurngzeb in Deccan. This letter is said to have made him repentant and he asked for travel arrangements to be made for the Guru so he could meet him. The Guru decided to proceed to the south to see Aurangzeb but received news of his death on the way and did not go further.

In the battle of succession that followed Bahadur Shah sought help from the Guru and promised that he would be fair and just to all and undo wrongs committed by his father. The Guru sent a detachment to help him. Bahadur Shah was victorious and presented the Guru a royal robe of honor at his coronation in Agra on July 24, 1707. The Guru later accompanied the King to South and parted company to go to Nanded where he reached in July 1708. Two Muslim intruders attacked him on October 7, 1708. He chased and killed one of them but succumbed to his injuries and died. Significantly the King ordered on Oct 28th for the grant of a dress of mourning to the son of the Muslim who was killed and two days later for the same to Guru Gobind Singh’s family. Sikhs wondered if there was a possible complicity of the King in the attack on the Guru and if the laudation said to have been showered by the Guru on him was deserved.


We will now look at Zafarnama[45] or the Epistle of Victory, a verse in Persian, written in 1706 and addressed to Aurangzeb subsequent to the siege of Anandpur and action at Chamkaur. The composition is a severe indictment of the Emperor and his commanders who had perjured on their oath of providing safe passage to him and his followers. It is reflective and provides a deep insight into the Guru’s thoughts on the conflict, its inherent ethical dilemmas and righteous rulership. To facilitate our understanding I am presenting below the gist of his thoughts. The numbers in parenthesis refer to the verse as numbered in the original text.

One who proclaims to be a true believer and faithful to his faith must demonstrate that his belief is not merely a verbal protestation but also guides his societal behavior. He must not break a promise made in all solemnity. (47) If such a person were to make a swearing declaration on his scripture or give an assurance to another in the name of his beliefs then he must live by it. Having given a sworn solemn undertaking of safe passage he ought not to have pounced on the party assured to kill and imprison them when having left their defenses they were vulnerable. (25) That man is real who says what is in his heart. There is no gap between his speech and intent. (55)

He questions the way force was used by his Commanders and his response saying, ‘what kind of chivalry is this in war, that countless hosts should pounce upon just forty of us. (41) I had perforce to join battle with your hosts at that stage and I too fought with the muskets and arrows as best as I could, (21) because when a situation is past every other remedy it is righteous to unsheathe the sword to defend and to dispel the aggressor. (22) I would have had nothing to do with this battle otherwise. (23) But even as we fought we did not hurt or molest those who had not aggressed against us. (28)

The Guru asks what could have been achieved by killing his four tender sons, when he, like a coiled snake remained behind. (78) Bravery does not consist in putting out a few sparks and in the process stir up a fire to rage all the more! (79)

The Guru makes several comments about what a king should or should not do. A king must be cognizant that God could not have wished for him to create strife but instead to promote peace, harmony and tranquility among the people. (65) Nor should the ruler use his strength, power and resources to harass, suppress or deprive the weak. This will only weaken the society, erode his ability to rule effectively and make the State unsafe. (109) He should not recklessly shed blood of others lest heaven’s rage should befall him. (69)

The Guru is unsparing in his indictment of Aurangzeb for his tyranny and lack of religiosity. He says ‘I believe that you know not God, since, from you have come only tyrannous acts. (85) The Beneficent God also will know thee not and will not welcome thee with all thy riches. (86) I will not trust you even for a moment if now you swear a hundred times on the Koran. (87) I will not enter your presence or travel on the same road even if you so ordain. (88) O Aurangzeb, king of kings, you are fortunate, an expert swordsman and a horseman too (89) — ornament of the throne, master of the world, but far from religion! (94)’

In spite of all that happened the Guru is gracious, kind and compassionate and wants the matter to be brought to close without any lingering resentment. He says ‘if only you were gracious enough to come to the village of Kangar, we could then see each other face to face. (58) Come to me so that we may converse with each other, and I may utter some kind words to thee. (60) You are bound, indeed by your word on the Koran, let, therefore, the matter come to a good end, as is your promise. (76) On the way there will be no danger to your life for the whole tribe of Brars accepts my command. (59) I will send thee a horseman like one in a thousand, who will conduct thee, safe to my home. (61)’

Guru’s faith in divine protection and inconsequentiality of human power is complete. He says ‘Beware; the world keeps not faith with any. He who rises also falls and comes to grief. (96) And look also at the miracle that is God; He may destroy a whole host through a single man! (97) He who trusts in an oath on God, God also shows him the path and is his protection in need (43) [for] He rains His mercy on those who act in good faith, (101) blinds the enemy and protects the helpless in time of need from injury and harm. (100) What harm can the enemy do if God is one’s friend? (110) Let them launch a thousand assaults yet they will not be able to touch even a hair on his head. (111) So not a hair of mine was touched nor my body suffered for God, the destroyer of my enemies pulled me out to safety. (44)’

The account of episodes at Anandpur points to intensification of open attacks on the Guru by Hindu Rajas. It also seems that what started out as use of force by Hindu Rajas against the Sikhs turned in no time into a bloody struggle that ended up directing the Sikh ire and sense of righteous indignation against the Muslim ruling elite. The Guru has mentioned in Zafarnama that he too vanquished hill Rajas and that they were idol worshippers to his being an idol breaker [verse 95]. Beyond that there is no mention of Hindus or suggestion of connivance by Hindus in the treachery of false oaths and assurances given to him. The Guru’s reference to idol worship suggests that he saw the Hindu-Sikh divide rooted in religious differences. These differences did cause Hindus to commit aggression agaist the Guru but he did not chastise them as ‘Hindus’ after the battle of Bhangani or the series of attacks launched by them later at Anandpur.

The Guru has also written about the battle of Nadaun that was caused by the enemity that Alif Khan developed against Bhim Chand. He has given account of attempt by Khanzada to attack him at Anandpur. The Guru also penned the story of extortion, plundering, and misadventure by Hussain in graphic detail. He did not approve of their actions but did not characterise their acts as ‘Muslim’ deeds.

On the other hand he characterized the act of recanting an oath on Quran as irreligious and being not a true Muslim [verse 46] and has condemned it as deceit, perjury, and sinful act. The hill Rajas are also said to have recanted on their solemn assurance in the battle of Nirmoh and also at Anandpur but the Guru did not mention anything whatever about their role in the Zafarnama. No doubt the parallel between the two is tenuous it is difficult to infer that the Sikhs developed such negative sentiment against Muslim rulers for their crippling moral failure in this conflict.

A point that may merit further reflection is persistence by the Guru to not withdraw in spite of mounting odds and pressure from his mother and Sikhs during the fifth battle of Anandpur. Later at Chamkaur after his two elder sons were martyred it is said that his ‘expression of mental composure showed glow of divinity upon the glorious end of his sons.’[46] Was he contemplating the irrevocable play of Divine will? Had he cocluded that this was the only possible outcome of this protracted conflict? Was he thinking that this was the way that it should end?

Verses 77 – 80 perhaps offer an explanation. The Guru told Aurangzeb that thoughtless acts of tyranny might stoke fires rather than put out a spark. By their reckless treachery and killing of minor children of the Guru Muslims made the seeds of resistance spread to sprout far and wide. This was no victory for Aurangzeb. It was the beginning of defeat. Sikhs did not forget the winter of 1705. The saga of Chamkaur, Sirhind and Machhiwara became an unforgettable part of the Sikh lore and the spark lighted that cold winter soon turned into a raging fire against Muslim rulers and foreign invaders who tried to intrude into the land of their Gurus.


The process of acculturisation of resistive thought was a continuing one. From the very beginning Sikhi was developed in a congregational setting. Nanak established the town of Kartarpur where the believers lived, worked and prayed together. Successive Gurus gave impetus to this mode and several new communities were developed. Additionally the Gurus encouraged their followers to come together and form congregations – sangats – in their own settings. This communal affinity helped in assimilation and transmission of precepts. It also made them conscious of their shared interests and the risks to which their communities were vulnerable.

Guru Amar Das asked the Sikhs to assemble at Goidwal every Diwali and Baisakhi. This created opportunity for them to listen to the Guru and talk among themselves – a process that would have helped reinforce their sense of identity. Heritage sites were increasing – Kartarpur, Khadur, Goidwal, Ramdaspur, Harmandar, Akal Takhat – and with them the Sikh urge to cherish and protect what the Gurus bequeathed to them. Compilation of the Pothi Sahib provided a strong anchor.

The structure of Manjis, Piris and Daswandh system administered by Masands brought order into their communal life. They had an organization to guide and support them in their locales and also to generate resources for the centralized activities as directed by the Gurus. In Guru Hargobind’s time the bards sang the songs of valor in bir ras as the new symbols of aigrette, canopy, sword and chase nurtured their confidence to carve out their own destiny in spite of the power of forces that had tried to hurt the Gurus and caused the martyrdom of Guru Arjun. They clashed with their oppressors and won. A second Guru martyrdom strengthened their resolve rather than weaken it. They took on the mantle of protectors of universal values.

With Guru Gobind Singh the process of acculturisation saw its culmination. The Khalsa had a visible uniform identity and purpose. Ranjit Nagara sounded loud and clear that the Sikh were determined to resist intrusion, insults or oppression. The Sikhs were now ready to make supreme sacrifices to protect what was righteous and resist what was not with the use of arms, if needed. The call of Guru Nanak that ‘step onto my path with your head in your hand if you desire to play this game of love. Once you are on, care not for what any one says when the call for making that sacrifice is heard’[47] was understood and imbibed by the Sikhs.


Sikh thought does reflect on social issues that impact the way we are able to live our lives in quiet enjoyment. There are clear markers that would define an ideal society. We have seen an example in the concept of halemi raj. The Gurus persuade Sikhs to be aware of ills that pervade our lives and work diligently to overcome them in their personal conduct and help protect the weak and vulnerable from becoming their victims. This task has to be done by the members of the society and while prayer helps, to depend on miracles and charms is futile.

Resistance must be offered to what is evil. Differences out of varying religious beliefs are not seen as evil. The uses of religion to mislead, cheat, deceive or to gain advantage by a subterfuge using pious credentials is sinful and evil. Problems must be resolved without recourse to use of force but if all else fails then force may be used as a last resort.

In resistive struggle against our personal infirmities victory is achieved when we are able to overcome our weakness [es]. This is hard but if such transformation comes about it is cause for being satisfied and should be an inspiration to motivate one toward larger social good. This struggle is bereft of violence.

At societal level it could be a victory if an imminent conflict is averted. Transformation of societies is a tenuous process. It is gradual and neither persuasion nor violent methods can assure abiding change. It may in certain situations take supreme sacrifices to arouse people’s consciousness and to shake them into recognition of their societal ills and start working to eradicate them.


There are clear and strong markers to remind us of our need to be vigilant and resist what is not righteous. Symbols, rituals and artifacts surrounding religious observances do not let Sikh sense of social responsibility easily suffer dilution and help in transmission of these underlying values.

The contours of Sikh resistance, its scriptural basis, the way Gurus responses influeced and defined it should be evident from our discussion. My sense is that Sikh resistance has two facets – the proactive Sikh urge is to blunt the ill effects of institutionalized societal discrimination and ameliorate human condition through encouraging social equality, self-reliance, sharing and seva; the reactive part is to not give in to oppression or injustice but to resist it through non violent means even if it means making supreme sacrifices and if all else fails resort to limited use of force to obviate the immediate cause of dissnance. Further work will be needed to construct a paradigm, deconstruct it and see if it stands up to a validating enquiry. That work I hope to be able to present at a later time.

The Sikh resistance to my mind draws inspiration from resolute espousal of compassion for all. If it needs recourse to use of force to defend righteous values as a last resort when all else has failed, so be it. That is not being militant. Is it?


  1. The translation of the scriptural text is mine though I have consulted various other sources. Any misreading therefore may be attributed to my limited understanding.
  2. I have consulted a few translations of Zafarnama. There are significant differences in various interpretations but with my rudimentary knowledge of Persian I feel that my current understanding may not be widely off the mark. I do however propose to consult more sources.
  3. There is considerable controversary surrounding authorship of Dasam Granth and the accounts of battles in Bachittar Natak also have been questioned for their slant in favor of Hindus and ignoring role of Pir Budhu Shah and the like. I have tried to fill some gaps and my sense is that credibility of authorship may not materially affect the tenor of what I am saying.
  4. The historical accounts are based on a variety of texts in English. The events and their analysis present a range of views. I feel that on balance the inferences that seem to be emerging from my narration should hold. I would however welcome constructive criticism and suggestions.


This is the complete list of full citations:

[1] jaano jot neh poochho jaati aagey jaat neh hai (M I p.349)

[2] so kiyon manda aakhiye jit jamme raajan – ( Asa M I, p. 473 )

[3] jo rat peevey maansaa tin kiyon nirmal cheet (M I p.140)

[4] haq paraaya Nanakaa us sooer us gaaey (M I p. 141)

[5] ghaal khaye kichh hathoon dei, Nanak raah pachhane seh (M I p.1245)

[6] raaje chuli niyaon kee (M I p.1240)

[7] raajaa takht tikey ginee bhai panchain ratu (M I p.992)

[8] Farida je tu maaran mukiyan tina naa maare ghum, aapane ghar jaaiye paer tina dey chum— Je tu priya di sik heeao na thhaey kahi daa(Slok Farid p.1384)

[9] de shiva bar mohey shubh karman te kabhoon neh taroon —- nishchai he apni jeet karoon (Dasam Granth, p. 240)

[10] jo to prem khelan kaa chaao sir dhar tali gali moree aao (M I p.1412)

[11] maran neh mandaa lokaa aakhiyeje koi mar jaaney (M I p.579)

[12] ho dtaadtee vaekaar kaarai laaeiaa raath dhihai kai vaar dhhurahu furamaaeiaa dtaadtee sachai mehal khasam bulaaeiaa sachee sifath saalaah kaparraa paaeiaa sachaa anmrith naam bhojan aaeiaa guramathee khaadhhaa raj thin sukh paaeiaa dtaadtee karae pasaao sabadh vajaaeiaa naanak sach saalaahi pooraa paaeiaa – Majh M I, p. 150

[13] ho dtaadtee dhar gun gaavadhaa jae har prabh bhaavai prabh maeraa thhir thhaavaree hor aavai jaavai so mangaa dhaan guosaaeeaa jith bhukh lehi jaavai prabh jeeo dhaevahu dharasan aapanaa jith dtaadtee thripathaavai aradhaas sunee dhaathaar prabh dtaadtee ko mehal bulaavai prabh dhaekhadhiaa dhukh bhukh gee dtaadtee ko mangan chith n aavai sabhae eishhaa pooreeaa lag prabh kai paavai ho niragun dtaadtee bakhasioun prabh purakh vaedhaavai – Maru M V, p. 1097

[14] Tap saadhat Har(i) moh(i) bulaayo Im kah(i) kai eh lok pathaayo — Mai apnaa sut tohe nivaajaa Panth prachur karbe kauh saajaa Jaah(i) tahaan tai dharam(u) chalaae Kabudh(i) karan te lok hataae — thaah bhayo mai jor(i) kar bachan kahaasir niaae Panth chalai tab jagat mai jab tum karoh sahaae — Ih karan(i) Prabh moh(i) pathaayo Tab mai jagat janam dhar(i) aayo Jim tin kahoo tinai tim kahihon Aur kisoo te bair na gahihon – Bachitar Natak, p. 136-7

[15] Ham eh kaaj jagat mo aae Dharam het Gurdev pathaae Jahaan tahaan tum dharam bithaaro Dust dokheean(i) pakar(i) pachhaaro Yaahoo kaaj dharaa ham janamang Samajh leh(u) saadhoo sabh man mang Dharam chalaavan sant ubaaran Dust sabhan ko mool upaaran Je je bhae pahil avtaaraa aap(u) aap(u) tin jaap(u) uchaaraa Prabh dokhoo kooo na bidaaraa Dharam karan ko raah(u) na’aaraa – Dasam Granth p. 138

[16] raajae seeh mukadham kuthae jaae jagaaeinih baithae suthae chaakar nehadhaa paaeinih ghaao rath pith kuthiho chatt jaahu jithhai jeeaaan hosee saar nakanaee vadtanaee laaeithabaar – Malar M I, p. 1288

[17] dhharathee dhaeg milai eik vaeraa bhaag thaeraa bha(n)ddaaree naa saaboor hovai fir ma(n)gai naaradh karae khuaaree lab adhhaeraa ba(n)dheekhaanaa aougan pair —- aadh purakh ko alahu keheeai saekhaa(n) aaee vaaree dhaeval dhaevathiaa kar laagaa aisee keerath chaalee koojaa baa(n)g nivaaj musalaa neel roop banavaaree ghar ghar meeaa sabhanaa(n) jeeaaa(n) bolee avar thumaaree – Basant Hindol, M I, p.1191

[18] – mathai tikaa tayrh Dhotee kakhaa-ee.hath chhuree jagat kaasaa-ee. neel vastar pahir hoveh parvaan.malaychh Dhaan lay poojeh puraan.abhaakhi-aa kaa kuthaa bakraa khaanaa.cha-ukay upar kisai na jaanaa – M I p.471-2

[19] khuraasaan khasamaanaa keeaa hi(n)dhusathaan ddaraaeiaa aapai dhos n dhaeee karathaa jam kar mugal charraaeiaa eaethee maar pee karalaanae thai(n) kee dharadh n aaeiaa karathaa thoo(n) sabhanaa kaa soee jae sakathaa sakathae ko maarae thaa man ros n hoee sakathaa seehu maarae pai vagai khasamai saa purasaaee rathan vigaarr vigoeae kutha(n)aee mueiaa saar n kaaee aapae jorr vishhorrae aapae vaekh thaeree vaddiaaee jae ko naao dhharaaeae vaddaa saadh karae man bhaanae khasamai nadharee keerraa aavai jaethae chugai dhaanae mar mar jeevai thaa kishh paaeae naanak naam vakhaanae – Asa M I, p. 360

[20] jaisee mai aavai khasam kee baanee thaisarraa karee giaan vae laalo paap kee ja(n)n(j) lai kaabalahu dhhaaeiaa joree ma(n)gai dhaan vae laalo saram dhharam dhue shhap khaloeae koorr firai paradhhaan vae laalo kaajeeaa baamanaa kee gal thhakee agadh parrai saithaan vae laalo musalamaaneeaa parrehi kathaebaa kasatt mehi karehi khudhaae vae laalo jaath sanaathee hor hidhavaaneeaa eaehi bhee laekhai laae vae laalo — jin oupaaee ra(n)g ravaaee bait(h)aa vaekhai vakh eikaelaa sachaa so saahib sach thapaavas sacharraa niaao karaeg masolaa – Tilang M I, p. 722

[21] jin sir sohan patteeaa maa(n)gee paae sa(n)dhhoor sae sir kaathee mu(n)neeanih gal vich aavai dhhoorr

— jadhahu seeaa veeaaheeaa laarrae sohan paas heeddolee charr aaeeaa dha(n)dh kha(n)dd keethae raas ouparahu paanee vaareeai jhalae jhimakan paas eik lakh lehanih behit(h)eeaa lakh lehanih kharreeaa garee shhuhaarae khaa(n)dheeaa maananih saejarreeaa thinh gal silakaa paaeeaa thuttanih mothasareeaa dhhan joban dhue vairee hoeae jinhee rakhae ra(n)g laae dhoothaa no furamaaeiaa lai chalae path gavaae jae this bhaavai dhae vaddiaaee jae bhaavai dhaee sajaae ago dhae jae chaetheeai thaa(n) kaaeith milai sajaae saahaa(n) surath gavaaeeaa ra(n)g thamaasai — jo this bhaavai so thheeai naanak kiaa maanukh – Asa M I, p. 417

[22] kehaa s khael thabaelaa ghorrae kehaa bhaeree sehanaaee kehaa s thaegaba(n)dh gaaddaerarr kehaa s laal kavaaee kehaa s aaraseeaa muh ba(n)kae aithhai dhisehi naahee eihu jag thaeraa thoo gosaaee eaek gharree mehi thhaap outhhaapae jar va(n)dd dhaevai bhaa(n)ee kehaa(n) s ghar dhar ma(n)ddap mehalaa kehaa s ba(n)k saraaee kehaa(n) s saej sukhaalee kaaman jis vaekh needh n paaee kehaa s paan tha(n)bolee haramaa hoeeaa shhaaee maaee eis jar kaaran ghanee viguthee ein jar ghanee khuaaee paapaa baajhahu hovai naahee mueiaa saathh n jaaee jis no aap khuaaeae karathaa khus leae cha(n)giaaee kottee hoo peer varaj rehaaeae jaa meer suniaa dhhaaeiaa thhaan mukaam jalae bij ma(n)dhar mushh mushh kueir rulaaeiaa koee mugal n hoaa a(n)dhhaa kinai n parachaa laaeiaa mugal pat(h)aanaa bhee larraaee ran mehi thaeg vagaaee ounhee thupak thaan chalaaee ounhee hasath chirraaee jinh kee cheeree dharageh paattee thinhaa maranaa bhaaee eik hi(n)dhavaanee avar thurakaanee bhattiaanee t(h)akuraanee eikanhaa paeran sir khur paattae eikanhaa vaas masaanee

jinh kae ba(n)kae gharee n aaeiaa thinh kio rain vihaanee aapae karae karaaeae karathaa kis no aakh sunaaeeai dhukh sukh thaerai bhaanai hovai kis thhai jaae rooaaeeai hukamee hukam chalaaeae vigasai naanak likhiaa paaeeai – Asa M I, p. 417

[23] bhalee saree j oubaree houmai muee gharaahu dhooth lagae fir chaakaree sathigur kaa vaesaahu kalap thiaagee baadh hai sachaa vaeparavaahu man rae sach milai bho jaae bhai bin nirabho kio thheeai guramukh sabadh samaae – Sri Rag M I, p. 18

[24]Ho Dtaadtee Har Prabh Khasam Kaa Har Kai Dhar Aaeiaa || Har Andhar Sunee Pookaar Dtaadtee Mukh Laaeiaa || Har Pushhiaa Dtaadtee Sadh Kai Kith Arathh Thoon Aaeiaa || Nith Dhaevahu Dhaan Dhaeiaal Prabh Har Naam Dhhiaaeiaa ||Har Dhaathai Har Naam Japaaeiaa Naanak Painaaeiaa – I am a minstrel of the Lord God, my Lord and Master; I have come to the Lord’s door. The Lord has heard my sad cries from within and called me, His minstrel, into His Presence and asked, “Why have you come here?” “O Merciful Lord, please grant me the gift of continual meditation on Naam.” And so the Lord, the great giver, inspired Nanak to chant Naam, and blessed him with robes of honor – Sri Rag ki Var, M IV, p. 91

[25] mehajar jhoot(h)aa keethon aap paapee ko laagaa sa(n)thaap jisehi sehaaee gobidh maeraa this ko jam nehee aavai naeraa saachee dharageh bolai koorr sir haathh pashhorrai a(n)dhhaa moor rog biaapae karadhae paap adhalee hoe bait(h)aa prabh aap apan kamaaeiai aapae baadhhae dharab gaeiaa sabh jeea kai saathhai naanak saran parae dharabaar raakhee paij maerai karathaar – Gauri M V, p. 199

[26] dutee-ay mataa du-ay maanukh pahuchaava-o. taritee-ay mataa kichh kara-o upaa-i-aa. mai sabh kichh chhod parabh tuhee Dhi-aa-i-aa. mahaa anand achint sehjaa-i-aa. dusman doot mu-ay sukh paa-i-aa – Asa M V, p. 371

[27] sulehee thae naaraaein raakh sulehee kaa haathh kehee n pahuchai sulehee hoe mooaa naapaak kaadt kut(h)aar khasam sir kaattiaa khin mehi hoe gaeiaa hai khaak ma(n)dhaa chithavath chithavath pachiaa jin rachiaa thin dheenaa dhhaak puthr meeth dhhan kishhoo n rehiou s shhodd gaeiaa sabh bhaaee saak kahu naanak this prabh balihaaree jin jan kaa keeno pooran vaak – Bilawal M V, p. 825

[28] Asa M V, p. 394

[29] for a detailed account see Gurbachan Singh Nayyar, The Sikhs in Ferment, New Delhi, 1992, p. 46-48

[30] dal bhanjan gut surma vadh jodha bau parupkari

[31] har joo raakh layho pat mayree. jam ko taraas bha-i-o ur antar saran gahee kirpaa niDh tayree. . mahaa patit mugaDh lobhee fun karat paap ab haaraa.bhai marbay ko bisrat naahin tih chintaa tan jaaraa. kee-ay upaav mukat kay kaaran dah dis ka-o uth Dhaa-i-aa. ghat hee bheetar basai niranjan taa ko maram na paa-i-aa. naahin gun naahin kachh jap tap ka-un karam ab keejai.naanak haar pari-o sarnaagat abhai daan parabh deejai – Jaitsree, M IX, p. 703

[32] bhai kaahoo ka-o dayt neh neh bhai maanat aan. kaho naanak sun ray manaa gi-aanee taahi bakhaan – Slok 16 M IX, p. 1427

[33] Tilak janjhoo raakhaa Prabh taa kaa Koono ba?o kaloo maih saakaa Saadhan het(i) itoo jin(i) karoo Soos(u) dooaa par soo na ucharoo Dharam het(i) saakaa jin kooaa Soos(u) dooaa par sirar(u) na dooaa Naatak chetak kooe kukaajaa Prabh logan kah aavat laajaa — thookar(i) phor(i) Diloos(i) sir(i) Prabh pur kooyaa payaan|| Teg Bahaadur soo kriaa karoo na koon-hoon aan Teg Bahaadur ke chalet bhayo jagat ko sok Hai hai hai sabh jag bhayo jai jai jai sur lok – Bachitar Natak p. 131

[34] Des chaal ham te pun(i) bhaoo Sahar paanvtaa koo sudh(i) laoo Kaalindroo tattee kare bilaasaa Anik bhaant(i) ke pekh tamaasaa Tah ke singh ghane chun(i) maare Rojh roochh bahu bhaant(i) bidaareFatesaah kopaa tab(i) raajaa Loh paraa ham so bin(u) kaajaa – Dasam Granth, p. 143-4

[35] Haroochand kope kamaanang sanbhaarang Pratham baajooyang taan baanang prahaarang Dutooyataak kai toor mo kau chalaayang Rakhio daoov mai kaan chhvai kai sidhaayang Tritooya baan maariyo su petoo majhaarang Bidhiang chilkatang duaal paarang padhaarang Chubhi chinch charamang kachhoo ghaae na aayang Kalang kevalang jaan daasang bachaayang Jabai baan laagyo Tabai ros jaagyo Karang lai kamaanang Hanang baan taanang Sabai boor dhaae Saroghang chalaae Tabai taak(i) baanang Hanyo ek juaanang Haroochand mare Su jodhaa lataare Su Kaaro’-raayang Vahai kaal ghaayan Ranang tiaag(i) bhaage Sabai traas page Bhaoo joot meroo Kripaa kaal keroo – Dasam Granth, p. 148

[36] Sant ubaar dust sabh ghaae taang taang kar(i) hane nidaanaa Kookar jim(i) tin taje paraanaa – Dasam Granth, p. 149

[37] – Judh joot aae jabai tikai na tin pur paanv Kaahloor main baandhiyo aan aanandpur gaanv Je je nar tah nab hire doone nagar nikaar Je tih thaur bhale bhire tinai karoo pratipaar – DasamGranth p. 149

[38] Bahut kaal eh bhaant(i) bitaayo Mooaan Khaan janmoo kah aayo Alaf Khaan Naadaun pathaavaa Bhoomchand tan bair ba’haavaa Juddh kaaj nrip hamai bulaayo aap(i) tavan koo or sidhaayo Tin kath ga Navras par baandhyo Toor tuphang naresan saadhyo — Chale Naangloo Paangloo vedolang Jasvaare Gulere chale baandh tolang Tahaan ek baajio mahaan boor Diaalang Rakhoo laaj jaune sabhai Bijha’vaalang Tavang koot tau lau tuphangang sanbhaaro Hridai ek raavant ke takk(i) maaro Girio jhoom bhoomai kariyo judh suddhang Taoo maar(i) boliyo mahaa maan(i) kruddhang Tajiyo tupakang baan paanang sanbhaare Chatur baanyang lai su sabhiyang prahaare Triyo baan lai baam paanang chalaae Lage yaa lage na kachhoo jaan(i) paae So tau lau daoov jdh koono ujhaarang Tinai khed kai baar(i) ke booch aarang – Dasam Granth, p. 150—52

[39] Bhajio alaf khaanang na khaanaa sanbhaario Bhaje aur boorang na dhoorang bichaario Nadoo pai dinanaang ast koone mukaamang Bhaloo bhaant(i) dekhe sabai raaj dhaamang It ham hoe bidaa ghar aae Sulah namit vai utah(i) sidhaae sandh(i) inai un kai sang(i) kaoo – Dasam Granth, p. 153

[40] Ite boor gajje bhae naad bhaare Bhaje Khaan khoonoo binaa sastra jhaare — Barvaa gaaon ujaar kai kare mukaam Bhalaan Prabh bal hamai na chhue sakai bhaajat bhae nidaan Tah bal oohaa na par sakai Barvaa hanaa risaae – Dasam Granth, p. 155

[41] Joot bhaoo ran bhayo ujhaaraa Simrit(i) kar(i) sabh gharo sidhaaraa Raakh(i) looyo ham ko jagraaoo Loh ghataa antaoo barsaaoo – Dasam Granth, p. 166

[42] Tab Aurang man maah(i) risaavaa Maddra Des ko poot pathaavaa Tihh aavat sabh lok daraane Bae bae gir her lukaane Hamhoon logan adhik araayo Kaal karam ko maram na paayo — Tab Aurang jooa maanjh risaae Ek ahdooaa oohaan pathaae Ham te bhaaj(i) bimukh je gae Tin ke dhaam giraavat bhae Je apne Gur te much phir-hai eehaan oohaan tin ke grih gir(i)-hain Ihaan up-haas na sur pur baasaa Sabh baatan te rahai niraasaa —- Baabe ke Baabar ke dooo aap kare Parmesar sooo Doon saah in ko pahichaano Dunoo patt(i) un kau anumaano – Dasam Granth, p. 169-71

[43] Sarab kaal sabh saadh ubaare Dukh(u) dai kai dokhoo sabh mare Adbhut(i) gat(i) bhagtan dikhraai Sabh sankat te lae bachaaoo Sabh sankat te sant bachaae Sabh kantak kantak jim ghaae Daas jaan muh(i) karoo sahaae aap haath dai layo bachaae – Dasam Granth, p. 174

[44] Mitra piaare noon haal mureedaan daa saihnaa Tudh (u) bin (u) rog (u) rajaaeeaan daa orhan naag nivaasaan de raihnaa Sool suraahikhanjar(u) piaalaa bing kasaaeeaan daa saihnaa Yaararhe daa saanoon satthar(u) changaa bhatth kherhiaan daa raihnaa – Dasam Granth, p. 1347

[45] For full text see Dasam Granth, Chapter 14, pp. 2263-72

[46] Gateway to Sikhism, Life of Guru Gobind Singh, Battle of Chamkaur

[47] jo tho praem khaelan kaa chaao sir dhhar thalee galee maeree aao eith maarag pair dhhareejai sir dheejai kaan n keejai – Slok Varan te Vadhik, M I, p. 1410

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