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Legendary Sikh Battle of Hargobindpur 1629

The Battle of Hargobindpur was the second battle where Guru Hargobind and his Sikh Risaldari (warriors) fought the forces of Abdullah Khan, the Mughal governor (Subedar) of Jalandhar. This historic war occurred in September 1629 (although according to some chronicles it was in 1628). The battle was fought near the village of Ruhela where Guru Hargobind and his warriors defeated the Mughal force commanded by Turkish chieftains and the governor Abdullah Khan. After the victory the area in which the battle was fought became the town of Sri Hargobindpur.

Reason for Conflict

Establishment of a Village

A new village called Hargobindpur was established near the village of Ruhela, on the bank of the Beas river by Guru Arjan Sahib Ji. The fifth Guru named this new village in honour of his young son Hargobind. However, after the arrest, torture and martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev, the area fell under the control of Diwan Chandu Lal (an influential hindu banker and chief minister of Emperor Jahangir. Jahangir took control of the whole area, but it was neglected and soon fell into ruin (Veerana). When the young Guru Hargobind was eighteen years old, his attention focused on the intrigues that resulted in his father's death and the growing dangers to the Sikhs. Guru Hargobind turned his efforts to train a force of Sikhs for defense. He raised, armed and prepared a standing force of professional soldiers to defend himself and his devotees from attacks.

Bhagwan Das Ghirarh

Bhagwan Das Ghirarh, was a Khatri, the traditional caste of hindu warriors who in the distant past governed and protected hindu kingdoms. With the coming of the Mughals, the hindu armies had been subdued and defeated. Many of the hindu kingdoms became ghulams (slaves) and allies with the Mughal rulers. Hindu Maharaja's arranged marriages between their daughters and the Mughal rulers, Emperor Jahangir was a half caste as his mother was a hindu Princess. The Hindus were quick students and mastered the Persian language (of the new conquerors). This enabled rapid opportunities 'for advancement' within the Mughal hierarchy. Bhagwan Das Ghirarh often used torture as a means to his ends. He was friend of Abdullah Khan and was a relative of Chandu Shah (who many accused, for the horrific tortures that lead to the Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Sahib Ji).

Guru Hargobind's Visit

During the rainy season, Guru Hargobind Ji left Kartarpur and camped at the village, Hargobindpur. He decided to rebuild and enlarge the town on the open space at the bank of the river. The village still had the ruins and bricks from the village begun by his father.

Death of Bhagvan Das

Bhagvan Das was made aware of the Guru Hargobind Ji's presence while he was setting up his camp. Bhagvan Das arrived at the Gurus camp to object and challenge Guru Hargobind, asking him to vacate the site. Bhagwan Das stressing his right of ownership to the land had hired ruffians, who forcibly attempted to dislodge the sikhs. The Sikhs were busy raising the new township.

During this attempt to expel the Sikhs Bhagvan Das hurled insults at the Guru, using some undignified words in his anger. The Sikhs reacted to the language directed at their Guru's direction and were about to attack Bhagwan Das, when Guru Sahib ordered them to stop. However, Bhagwan Das continued to abuse the Sikhs (doubtless this was more than the Sikhs could bare) and in the ensuing clash, most of the hired ruffians were killed along with Bhagwan Das.

After this incident, people told Ratan Chand about the death of his father. In his anger Ratan Chand, Bhagwan's son, approached Abdulah Khan. Ratan lost no time in going to Jalandhar, to meet with his relative Karam Chand, the son of Chandu Shah. Together they went to Ali Beg (Abdullah Khan), the subedar of Jalandhar and complained about Guru Hargobind. They played on the fears of Abdullah Khan, telling him that the Guru was constructing a fort at Sri Hargobindpur to raise an army to seek revenge on the mughals for the death of his father. Guru Hargobind had been advised by his father to raise and train a force to defend against attacks on the Sikhs. The young Guru had no intentions of building a fort or attacking anyone, but such were the fears (and doubtless the guilt of the Mughals concerning the death of the Saintly Guru Arjan). No doubt the heat of Bhagvan Das's anger over his father's death and his warning of the Sikhs preparing for an attack, Abdullah Khan was quickly persuaded to dispatch a more than adequate force of ten thousand soldiers to help the plotters expel Guru Sahib and the community of Sikhs.

Abdullah Khan's Plan

Abdullah Khan first sent 4000 soldiers to Hargobindpur and ordered the local chieftains Bairam Khan, Muhomad Khan, Balwand Khan, Imam Baksh, Nabi Baksh, Chirag Din, Akbar Khan and Sher Muhommad to ready their forces. The chieftains were to be Khans pawns. Abdullah Khan then divided these forces, sending them to eight different locations around the Sikhs.

Guru Hargobind gave command of his army to Bhai Jattu and selected one jathedar (leader) for each jatha (group). Those selected to lead the jathas were Bhai Kalyana, Bhai Piraga, Bhai Mathra Bhat (son of Baba Bhikha), Bhai Jagan Nath, Bhai Jagna, Bhai Saktu, Bhai Jati Mall, Bhai Paras Ram, Bhai Malooka. The Guru kept the jatha of Bhai Bidhi Chand in reserve so that they could provide support wherever it was needed.

Hargobindpur War

Image Depicting Quotes from Suraj Granth
on the Battle of Hargobindpur

The Battle

Historians have written that the warriors of the Guru flared out like peacocks and their enemies hid themselves like cowering snakes.

On the first day of battle, Bhai Jattu directly challenged Muhommad Khan. Muhommad Khan killed Bhai Jattu's horse with his first arrow. Bhai Jattu and Muhommad Khan then fired simultaneous arrows which killed both men.

Abdullah Khan gave command to Bairam Khan. On the Sikh side it was Bhai Mathura Kaman, in place of Bhai Jattu. Bhai Mathura Ji took down Bairam Khan's horse and then fought with him. The body of Bairam Khan was fully covered with "Sanjoh" (protective garments; Warrior's iron dress) so he thought he was invincible. Bhai Mathura Ji drew his Kata (Sword) from his scabbard striking his adversary in his face, killing Khan immediately.

Balvand Khan was the next to attack, with the battlion of Ali Baksh. Both battlion's stampeded towards the Sikh Army. Bhai Kalyana fired an arrow at Balvand Khan and he was killed. When Ali Baksh saw this, he attacked Bhai Kalyana. Bhai Kalyana let all his arrows fly and then he started fighting with his sword. However, he was completely surrounded and could not escape. He was martyred in the ensuing attack.

Ali Baksh moved toward Guru Hargobind, watching this Bhai Nanu moved forward to cut him off. Ali Baksh tried to shoot at Bhai Nanu but Bhai Nanu's arrow killed Ali Baksh before he could do anything.

After Ali Baksh, Imam Baksh moved forward. Imam Baksh and Bhai Nanu fought hand to hand. Bhai Nanu cut Imam Baksh's arm off but was killed.

After Bhai Nanu was killed, the Sikh Army was on the defensive. This was when Bhai Bidhi Chand took control of the situation. Bhai Kishna and Bhai Paraga moved forward and clashed with Imam Baksh.

In evening of the first day both Armies retired and returned to their "tikanas" (bases).

On the morning of the second day of battle, Guru Sahib mentioned the bravery of Bhai Nanu and encouraged the army to fight with bravery. Bhai Paraga, Bhai Jagna, Bhai Saktu, Bhai Pirana and Bhai Bholan took command of different jathas (groups). Bhai Bidhi Chand took the command of a defensive jatha. Abdullah Khan also established his command for the enemy. The Sikhs attacked bravely and the enemies were surprised at the ferocity of the Sikhs. Abdullah Khan thought that the Sikhs were just common men, farmers and craftsmen (Chibas and Baroots) but they turned out to be strong warriors.

Abdulah Khan sent his eldest son Nabi Bakhsh into the battlefield and asked Karam Chand to stop Bhai Bidhi Chand. Karam Chand fired an arrow towards Bhai Bidhi Chand. The arrow struck Bhai Bidhi Chand's body; however, Bhai Bidhi Chand pulled the arrow out and fired it back at Karam Chand. Karam Chand escaped but his horse fell. Bhai Bidhi Chand put a "kamand" sling around Karam Chand and dragged him with his horse. He threw Karam Chand before Guru Hargobind and asked permission to finish him off. Guru Sahib denied permission, saying that the enemy fighter was without a weapon.

Karam Chand ran back to Abdullah Khan and told him that there were only a few Sikhs with the Guru. Abdullah Khan planned a strong attack and with Nabi Baksh they attacked the Sikh soldiers. Bhai Paras Ram's jatha stopped Nabi Baksh but he was injured by an arrow from Nabi Baksh, Bhai Saktu supported injured Bhai Paras Ram and took his sword and hit Nabi Baksh. His strike with the sword was so forceful that Nabi Baksh was killed him instantly. Watching this the Mughal army attacked Bhai Saktu and Bhai Paras Ram and they were martyred.

Abdullah Khan mourned the death of his son while his second son Karim Baksh moved forward to attack Guru Sahib but Bhai Bidhi Chand stopped him. Karim Baksh started attacking Bhai Bidhi Chand forcefully with his sword. Some of his strikes were wasted but one strike was so powerful that Bhai Bidhi Chand's sword broke into two. Bhai Bidhi Chand took the sword of one of the other Sikhs and attacked Karim Baksh and killed him. Karam Chand and Ratan Chand fled when they saw Karim Baksh fall.

Abdullah Khan began to think that it was not ideal to attack with one or two commanders. So he ordered his whole army to attack together. Abdullah Khan was so disturbed with death of his sons that he fought to reach the location of Guru sahib. At that time Guru Sahib had a "Lakhae Nagarachi" (a spear like weapon) and a Khachar full of arrows" and two Sikhs with him.

The Khan blindly attacked Guru Sahib. Karam Chand and Ratan Chand were nearby to help the Khan. The three Mughal fighters started an attack together with arrows. The Guru had an iron shield which he used very brilliantly to deflect the arrows. However, the horses were dying due to shower of arrows. Karam Chand went near the Guru and tried to attack Guru Sahib; Guru Ji hit him with the shield and he fell unconscious. The Guru then fought and killed Ratan Chand with his sword. Abdullah Khan tried attacking Guru Ji again and again but Guru Sahib hit him with his Khanda (double edged sword) and he fell unconscious.

Karam Chand regained consciousness and attacked Guru Sahib again. Guru Ji dropped his shield and fought with his sword. Karam Chand's sword broke into two; he took another sword and fought again but the second sword also broke into two; simultaneously the Guru's sword also broke. Guru Sahib didn't use the sword of Piri and instead killed Ratan Chand after a hand to hand fight.

Guru Ji uttered jaikara jai hoyi Satguru Nanak Sahib Ji ki (Victory be to the true Guru Nanak). The whole battleground was under the control of the Guru.


Guru Hargobind Sahib rested after the battle and removed his waist sash, (at present day Damdama). During the evening Guru Ji was alone. The whole congregation was tense, they could not find Guru Sahib so a Sikh chaudhary sent mashaals (which had a flame on a wooden top) so they were able to find and see Guru Ji.

In the end, both Ratan Chand and Karam Chand were killed along with Abdullah Khan, his two sons and five of his commanders.

On the Guru Sahib's side, Mathura Bhat Ji (son of Baba Bhikha Ji), Bhai Nanu Ji, Bhai Saktu Ji, Bhai Jattu Ji, Bhai Pirana Ji, Bhai Paras Ram Ji, Bhai Jagannath Ji and Bhai Kalyana Ji were martyred.

Guru Sahib made grave's for Muslims and drowned the corpses of Sikhs in Beas. Abdullah Khan, his two sons and his 5 Senapatis had one grave. After this battle, Sikhism spread across the whole doab. People took courage and became Sikhs and members of gurus army. The people of Doaba region were grateful for the end of Abdulah Khan and his tyranny.

The local population was also thankful for end of the evil minded Chaudhry and the Mughals. They helped Guru Sahib in the construction work of the town.

Reaction of the Mughal Emperor

At the time, Shah Jahan, the mughal emperor, was at Agra. When he heard about the embarrasing defeat of the mughals at the hands of the smaller force of Sikhs he ordered his troops to destroy Sri Hargobindpur. But when his son Dara Shikoh and Wazir Khan narrated the true version of the whole story, Shah Jahan said that Abdullah Khan fought the war without any justification and, even worse, without his permission. Shah Jahan ordered his men to take possession of the property of Abdullah Khan. Wazir Khan also told Shah Jahan that Guru Hargobind had ordered his Sikhs to build a mosque in Hargobindpur, as the Muslims of the village were not able to afford one themselves. Shah Jahan was pleased to hear that.

BackList of Sikh Battles

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