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Guru Gobind Singh Escapes Chamkaur (1705)


Three Singh Survivors

Three Singh Survivors

Photo © [Courtesy Jedi Nights]

Survivors of Chamkaur:

On the night of December 7, 1705, a council of five remaining survivors convened and ordered Guru Gobind Singh to escape from the battle of Chamkaur. Daya Singh and Dharam Singh, two of the original Panj Pyare, and Man Singh, one of the first Khalsa initiates, smuggled the Guru out of the besieged fortress and through the enemy camp while their lone companion Sangat Singh stood at the rampart dressed in the Guru's clothing to fool the enemy. Of his band of 40 fearless warriors which included The Guru's two eldest sons, only three escaped death.

Escape Plan:

Guru Gobind Singh and his three surviving warriors noiselessly picked their way through the battle field littered with bodies of the dead and strewn with severed heads and limbs. [I once read that before he left the battlefield, the Guru administered last rites to his fallen warriors and his two sons Sahibzade Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh, however I not been able to substantiate this as fact in research materials.] They had discussed all options and devised a daring escape plan. To the South lay besieged Anandpur occupied by the enemy. To the East lay Sirhind, a major Mughal stronghold. To the West lay the raging river Sutlej. To the North lay the wilds of Machhiwara. They decided that each of them would set out in a different direction while the Guru headed North where they would meet up with him after making their escape. To confound their enemy the Guru and his surviving warriors approached the Mughal camp and extinguished their torches with arrows. While each of his men created a disturbance to the south, east and west, Guru Gobind Singh sounded his horn and clapped his hands loudly calling out,

"Peerae Hind Rahaavat
The Son of India takes his leave."

Dark and Thorny Night:

Alarmed and bewildered Mughal soldiers weary from the days battle and groggy from sleep woke to a dark befuddled encampment. Believing the enemy had fallen upon them, they fought and killed each other in utter confusion while the Guru and his party made their escape. Following a star, Guru Gobind Singh's escape from Chamkaur took him north over rough and thorny terrain. He tramped barefoot for nearly 10 miles through the remaining hours of night. In barely two hours time, his feet torn and bleeding, and his clothing in tatters, the Guru reached Jandsar just before sunrise. His arrival caused a stir. Fearing recognition might lead to capture, the Guru hurried on.

Hymn Shabad Hazaray:

Guru Gobind Singh pressed on turning east through Belhopur into the wild region of Machhiwara where he awaited the arrival of his companions in the forest. Having traversed nearly 20 miles with little rest, he at last slept on the hard bare lumpy earth. With no food available, the Guru subsisted on Akk leaves, a medicinal milkweed plant with caustic sap. Bereft of even the barest necessities, the Guru sang the hymn Shabad Hazaray Patishah 10 which tells of the false illusory comforts offered by the world that serve only to torment the soul separated from the Divine Beloved.

Exchange of Gold:

Guru Gobind Singh reunited with the other survivors of Chamkaur at a rendezvous point in Machhiwara forest. The three Singhs, Daya Singh, Dharam Singh and Man Singh had successfully evaded capture, however irate enemy troupes scoured the countryside searching in every direction. The Guru contacted Gulaba, an elderly Sikh, who gave them temporary shelter overnight while they figured their next move. A neighboring Bhraman detected the Guru's presence and sent him a gift of sweets and a sacred Janeu meant to subtly imply that the Guru ought to consider embracing the ancient Hindu faith. Guru ji returned his gift and made him a present of five gold coins. Frightened that the discovery of the Guru and his companions by his neighbors might lead to his arrest, Gulaba presented the Guru with a parting gift of five gold coins. A neighboring Sikh lady, who had met the Guru on a previous visit, presented him with cloth she had been weaving in the event he should pass by again. Gratefully accepting her gift, the Guru had the fabric dyed blue, and had a suit of clothes tailored from it. The Guru contacted two trustworthy brothers of Muslim origin who moved him to their home nearby.

Notes and References:

The Sikh Religion Vol. 5 by Max Arthur Macauliffe
Encyclopaedia of Sikhism by Harbans Singh Volume 3
History of Sikh Guru's Retold Vol. 2 by Surjit Singh Gandhi

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