PART I – Martyrdom of Younger Sahibzadas
Anandpur Battle and Separation of Guru Gobind Singh’s Family
Martyrdom of Younger Sahibzadas: The brave and fearless Sikhs (army) of Guru Gobind Singh were engaged for months together in a prolonged battle with the Mughal army outside the Fort of Anandpur. Emperor Aurangzeb sent a message on oath that if the Guru and his Sikhs left the fort they would be allowed to go wherever they please. Guru Gobind Singh, had his doubts, on being persuaded by his devoted Sikhs, he reluctantly agreed to leave the fort.
However it happened exactly as the Guru had thought. As soon as the Sikhs came out of the fort the Mughal Army pounced upon them. A fierce battle was fought on the bank of River Sirsa. The brave Sikhs faced the enemy with unparalleled courage. Each one of them killed quite a few Mughal soldiers before sacrificing their lives.
In the dust and chaos of battle, members of the family of Guru Gobind Singh got separated from each other. The two younger Sahibzadas, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh, proceeded along with their Grandmother Gujri Ji. They passed through thick forests and difficult terrain. They came across snakes, lions and many other wild animals on the way but the brave Sahibzadas walked on and on fearlessly in the company of their Grandmother, reciting the holy psalms of their Gurus. Gujri Ji related to them the stories from Sikh History. They were thus able to cover the journey comfortably.
The elder two brothers, Sahibzada Ajit Singh and Sahibzada Jujhar Singh, accompanied their father Guru Gobind Singh. After crossing Sirsa River, they stayed for the night at Ropar and reached the Chamkaur Fort early next morning.
PART II – Martyrdom of Younger Sahibzadas
Mata Ji and Sahibzadas in Sirhind
Martyrdom of Younger Sahibzadas: On arrival at the police station Mata Gujri Ji and the two Sahibzadas were lodged in the Kotwali for the night. Both the brothers listened to the tales of bravery of the followers of Guru Nanak, story of the unique Martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev and Guru Tegh Bahadur from their dear and affectionate Grand mother. All three joined in reciting the sacred evening Sikh prayer, Rahras and Kirtan Sohila – before going to the bed.
Early next morning they were taken in a bullock cart to Bassi Police Station. News of their arrest had spread like a wildfire far and wide. Large crowds collected everywhere on the way. People were surprised that the young innocent boys had been put under arrest along with their aged grand mother. The fearless looks of Sahibzadas aroused their admiration and they observed, “They are the brave sons of their brave father.” The remarks of the on-lookers made the constables panicky and they started walking fast. The cart-driver also whipped the bullocks so that they could reach Sirhind quickly.
On arrival at Sirhind, they were lodged for night in a cold room in the tower. At a great risk to his life, one of the devotees of the Guru Bhai Moti managed to send milk for Mata Ji and Sahibzadas. Sahibzadas Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh listened to episodes from Sikh History related to them by their grand mother. On hearing about the ideals set by the Gurus the two Sahibzadas assured Mata Ji that they would stand by their faith and follow in the footsteps of their illustrious father. Mata Ji was pleased to hear this and admired her grand children’s courage and firm determination.
Next morning the police constables appeared again and told Mata Ji that they had orders for taking the two boys to the Nawab’s court. On an inquiry by Mata Ji as to why they were called there, they answered respectfully that they were not aware of the reasons, their duty was to obey orders only. Mata Ji embraced her grandsons, blessed them and asked them to uphold the sacred traditions of the Gurus. The two Sahibzadas pledged to do so and departed cheerfully.
Scene at Nawab’s court
The two Sahibzadas walked to the court boldly along with the constables. As they reached the court, they noticed that the big gate was closed and there was only a small window for entering the court. The intelligent Sahibzadas saw through the game. They put their feet forward and jumped inside through the window without bowing their heads.
The Nawab’s court was in session. As the two Sahibzadas stepped inside, they greeted the courtiers with the Sikh salutation-
“Wahguru Ji Ka Khalsa Wahguru Ji Ki Fateh,”
“The Khalsa is God’s own Victory be to God.”
The court resounded with their greeting. All the courtiers were greatly impressed by their fearless behaviour.
Dressed in saffron shirts with Kirpans worn round their waists, the fair colored Sahibzadas looked very sweet and lovely. Nawab Wazir Khan addressed them in an affectionate tone: ” What sweet and brave faces! Islam will be proud to have you within its fold. Just recite Kalma (Muslim benediction) and we shall welcome you in our midst. You will get anything for the asking.”
The two Sahibzadas shouted back in one voice. “We care not for the worldly wealth. We shall not renounce our religion at any cost.” The Nawab got quite annoyed at their reply but just kept quite.
Addressing the Qazi the Nawab said, “Have you observed the insolent behavior of these boys! Don’t regard them as innocent. They are rebellious sons of a rebel. They will have to be punished.”
The Qazi told the Nawab that, according to Islamic Law, the two boys were not guilty of any crime. They could not be held responsible for their father’s actions.
The Nawab observed, however, “They are rebels too. Haven’t you heard their rude statements!” The Qazi answered, “But they have not committed any crime.”
Nawab Wazir Khan was taken back at the Qazi’s unexpected reply. Nawab Wazir Khan again persuaded them and said, “You are still young and innocent. It is your age for enjoyment and fun. If you listen to our advice, you will enjoy life to your heart’s content in this world and be blessed with a glorious life in Paradise.”
Sahibzada Zorawar Singh spoke fearlessly. “We are fighting against tyranny and injustice. We are the sons of Guru Gobind Singh, the grandsons of Guru Tegh Bahadur and descendants of Guru Arjun Dev. We shall follow in their footsteps. We are ready for all sacrifices for the protection of our faith.”
One of the officials of Moghul government Dewan Sucha Nand, who happened to be there, walked up to the Sahibzadas and asked them, “If you are released, where will you go?”
Sahibzada Zorawar Singh said, “We shall go to the forests, gather together a few Sikhs, get hold of good horses and then come and face you and your army on the battlefield.”
On hearing this, Dewan observed, “Do you know that your father has been slain?”
Both the brothers reacted in an angry tone, “No one can kill our respected father. He will never fall in your hands.”
The two Sahibzadas shouted back, ” We don’t need any advice from you. Listen carefully. Until this tyrannical Government is completely wiped out, we shall go on fighting.”
Dewan Sucha Nand was taken aback at their reply. Addressing the Nawab, he said, “Sir, killing the serpent and feeding his young ones would not be wise. When these young kids grow up, they will rebel against the Government. They must be punished and should, on no account, be released.” The Nawab listened to what Dewan Sucha Nand said.
Qazi gave his judgement
The two Sahibzadas were in a playful mood, taking to each other fearlessly and quite unconcerned when the Nawab, the Qazi and Dewan Sucha Nand were engaged in the conversation. The courtiers were quite amazed at the lack of any fear or anxiety on their faces even though it was a question of life and death for them.
The nawab said to the Qazi again, “You have heard the impertinent answers given by them to Dewan Sucha Nand. It would not be safe to release them. They are sure to raise the banner of revolt, like their father, when they grow up.”
The Qazi had also listened to the conversation that took places between Dewan Sucha Nand and the two bold sons of Guru Gobind Singh. After some deliberation he pronounced his judgement and ordered that they be bricked up alive in a wall. Sahibzadas heard the sentence without dismay but the courtiers were taken aback on hearing the judgement. The Qazi advised the Nawab further that they be handed over to the Nawab of Malerkotla for carrying out the sentence since his father met his end at the hands of the Guru so that he can have his revenge by getting his sons buried alive.
Nawab Wazir Khan called Sher Mohammad khan, the Nawab of Malerkotla, and conveyed the Qazi’s orders to him, “Your brother lost his life at the hands of Guru Gobind Singh. Here is an opportunity for you to wreak your vengeance. The Qazi has sentenced these two sons of Guru Gobind Singh to death and has further ordered that they be bricked up alive. We are handling them over to you for doing the needful.”
On hearing this Sher Mohammad was dumb founded. After some pause he said to the Nawab in a faltering voice, “This is cruelty! My brother was killed on the battlefield. These innocent boys are not responsible for his death. If we have to take revenge it shall be from the father. God save us from this sinful act.”
Saying this he got up and remarked in a mournful tone, “O God, how cruel!”
PART III – Martyrdom of Younger Sahibzadas
Martyrdom day of young sahibzadas
Martyrdom of Younger Sahibzadas: The Nawab ordered that both the boys be sent back to the tower. He directed his officials to arrange for executioners who would brick them alive in between two walls, which may be constructed immediately.
The Sahibzadas reached the tower and gave a report of the proceedings of the court to their grand mother. She embraced her grand sons, patted them on their back for their courageous and bold stand and said, “You have rightly upheld the dignity and honour of your revered grand father and your valiant father. May God ever abide with you.”
Next morning they were taken to the Nawab’s court. The Nawab asked them again, “I do hope you have made up your mind to embrace Islam, otherwise, as you know, you will be bricked up alive.”
Both Sahibzadas proclaimed fearlessly, “We shall never give up our faith, whatever may be the consequences. Death has no meaning to us.” The Nawab was simply amazed to their determined and firm reply. One of his officials stepped forward, and said to the Nawab, “Sir, the two royal executioners of Delhi, Shisal Beg and Vishal Beg, are prepared to carry out your orders of bricking up these boys alive if they are granted pardon.” The Nawab called them and told them, “Your request for pardon has been granted on condition that you brick up these two sons of Guru Gobind Singh alive in a wall.”
The constables took away both the Sahibzadas. A huge crowd had collected outside. People were surprised on hearing the orders of the Nawab that the two young innocent sons of Guru Gobind Singh were to be bricked alive.
“What crime have they committed?” said one.
“How cruel and inhuman O God!” exclaimed another.
“But they are not terrified,” remarked a lady in the crowd.
“They are the brave sons of their brave father, Guru Gobind Singh,” pat came the remark by her companion.
The constables, who were escorting the two Sahibzadas, were getting perturbed on hearing such observations from the crowd and were rushing forward.
The Sahibzadas were brought to the spot where a wall was being raised. Both of them were made to stand side by side. The Qazi arrived there soon after and tried to persuade them to accept Islam and not to cut short their lives. Even the executioners tried to prevail upon them but they both were unflinching in their determination and told the executioners, “Raise the wall fast and bury the Mughal Raj quickly. Don’t delay for a minute.” Thereafter both of them started reciting Japji sahib while the wall was going up brick by brick.
The wall went up higher and higher until it reached their chests. The Nawab and Qazi approached them and said to them in an affectionate tone, “There is still time for you to save your lives, just recite the Kalma and the wall will be pulled down immediately.”
The Sahibzadas shouted loudly, “We shall not give up our faith, death does not frighten us.”
Both the Nawab and Qazi were amazed at their steadfast determination. Tears flowed from the eyes of onlookers, as they observed, “Blessed be their mother who gave birth to such children.”
The wall went up still higher and it was shoulder high. Sahibzada Zorawar said to his younger brother, “They are putting us to test. They do not know that Sikhs of Guru Nanak are fearless. Our fifth Guru Arjun Dev faced martyrdom cheerfully on burning iron pans. Whereas he guided humanity to the path of truthful and noble life, he also set an example of facing death boldly and with full faith in God.”
The younger brother Sahibzada Fateh Singh remarked, ” The martyrdom of our revered grandfather, Guru Tegh Bahadur was also unique, we shall soon join him. He is waiting for us.”
Later both the Sahibzadas became unconscious.
Sahibzadas Attains Martyrdom
The executioners became nervous as both the Sahibzadas became unconscious. They consulted each other, “They are now nearing their end. There is no need to raise the wall further. Why not cut short their agony by beheading them? It is already getting dark.”
The wall was pulled down, they brought the unconscious Sahibzadas out laid them flat on the ground and, in an instant, martyred them.
People in the crowd were shocked at this ghastly act. They sighed in dismay, “What cruelty! How shall they answer for their crime in Mohammad’s Court.”
As soon as the two Sahibzadas attained martyrdom, Mata Gijri Ji, who was sitting in meditation in the tower, breathed her last. The messenger who came with the news of the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas found that Mata-Ji had already attained salvation.
There was great commotion in the town of Sirhind. Every one was furious at the atrocious crime. They were unanimous in their view that this heinous act would herald the doomsday of the Mughal Empire. They admired the courage and steadfastness of the brave sons of Guru Gobind Singh and remarked, “What determination at this young age! They did not budge an inch from their position in spite of several allurements by the Nawab and Qazi.”
The same evening Dewan Todar Mal, a jeweler reached Nawab Wazir Khan’s court for permission to cremate the dead bodies of the two Sahibzadas and Mata Gujri.
The Nawab agreed on condition that the Dewan paid for the required piece of land by spreading as many gold coins as would cover the entire cremation.
The two martyred young sons of Guru Gobind Singh were cremated with full honors along with their grand mother.
Guru Gobind Singh was at the time in the forest of Machhiwara, when the news of the martyrdom of his younger sons reached him. On hearing this he pulled out a plant with the tip of his arrow and forecast that this tragedy will herald the uprooting of Mughal Empire in India. And to the Emperor he wrote: “It matters little if a jackal through cunning and treachery succeeds in the killing two lion’s cubs, for the lion himself live to inflict retribution on you.”
Guru Gobind Singh addressed his followers thus: “I have sacrificed four sons for the survival of the thousands of my sons who are still alive.”
A wave of anguish gripped the country at the news of the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas. After some time the recluse Banda Bairagi come under the influence of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, and was christened Banda Singh Bahadur. He shook the Mughal Empire and the town of Sirhind was reduced to utter ruins.
There is no parallel to the martyrdom of such young boys in the annals of human history. Sahibzada Fateh Singh was less than six years old (born 1699) and Sahibzada Zorawar Singh just over eight (born 1696). They laid down their lives in December 1704. They were bricked up alive but did not bow before the tyranny of the Mughal government.
The renowned Hindi poet, Maithali Saran Gupt in his well known book Bharat Bharati said: