Sahibzada Zorawar Singh (Punjabi: ਸਾਹਿਬਜ਼ਾਦਾ ਜ਼ੋਰਾਵਰ ਸਿੰਘ) was the third of Guru Gobind Singh's four sons. He and his younger brother, Sahibzada Fateh Singh are among the most hallowed martyrs in Sikhism.
Guru Gobind Singh encouraged the highest of spirits in his people. This enabled them to resist the tyranny and oppression of the armies of the moghul Emperor as seen by the events of Anandpur Sahib and Chamkaur Sahib battles. The army of the moghul Emperor included a million men in joint armies of the Emperor, 22 Hill states, Government of Lahore and Sarhind.
This army laid seige at Anandgarh where only a few thousand Sikhs were defending the fort. The siege continued for 7 months with daily skirmishes.
The generals of Moghul army got weary and saw no end to the battle. They felt ashamed their sense of pride injured, as they saw no end to the siege. So they proposed a solution whereby they told Guru Gobind Singh that they were interested in the semblance of a victory, if the Guru and his Sikhs agreed to temporarily leave the fort and return later on, as and when they desired. They assured Guru Gobind Singh a safe passage in leaving by vowing on Muslim and Hindu holy books.
After the Guru, his family and a few hundred Sikhs vacated the fort and gone a few miles towards Kiratpur Sahib, they were treacherously attacked from behind. Guru planned for defense and assigned fifty Singhs with Bhai Udhay Singh and a hundred Singhs with Bhai Bachittar Singh to hold Moghul attack. Bhai Uday Singh killed Rustam Khan, the commander of the Moghul army thus halting the onslaught. On reaching river Sirsa, which was in flood, Guru Gobind Singh was seperated from his mother and two younger sons Baba Zorawar Singh (eight years) and Baba Fateh Singh (six years). The Guru with forty Sikhs, five beloved ones and both elder Sahibzaade Baba Ajit Singh and Baba Jujhar Singh crossed the Sirsa river and moved towards village of Kotla Nihang Khan. The Khan had great respect for the Guru.
After few days they moved towards village Chamkaur and occupied a mud fortress (Garhi). The Moghul forces of lakhs surrounded the fortress. Each time, five Sikhs would come out and gave a very tough fight. The Moghul army lost thousands of lives. The Guru lost both his eldest sons, three beloved ones (Sahib Singh, Himmat Singh and Mohkam Singh), Kirpal Singh Kashmeeree, three sons of Bhai Mani Singh and other Sikhs also attained martyrdom. The Guru obeyed the directive of the Sangat. It was decided that Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Dharam Singh, Ram Singh and Man Singh would also accompany him. The Guru transferred his Kalghi to the forehead of Bhai Sangat Singh who had strong resemblance to the Guru. At around 2 a.m. the Guru moved out of the fortress. After walking about 200 yards from the fortress (Garhi), the Guru repeatedly clapped declaring loudly that he was going, so as to make the enemy aware and to challenge them.
After crossing Sirsa, Mata Gujri ji and youngest Sahibzaade spent night in the hut of Kumma Maashki (boatman). Mata ji had one mule carrying some important articles and ornaments. The Sikh accompanying them became separated due to the floods and bad weather during the darkness at night. A man called Kumma Maashki, also known as Keema Mallah, used to be a Hindu and was known by the name Karma Jheevar.
Kumma Maashki was forcibly converted as muslim. But still used to worship as per Hindu rituals. Mata Gujri stayed in his hut for two days. A Brahmin lady by the name of Laxhhmi looked after them, serving food and providing shelter. During that time Gangu Brahmin met them. Gangu used to serve in the Guru's kitchen as a cook.
Guru's mother entrusted herself and the two grandsons, who accompanied her, to Gangu, a Brahmin. Gangu took them to his house and convinced them to put their faith in him. Gangu's true intentions were made known when the Guru's mother went to sleep, he stole her money, which she carried in a saddlebag and buried it.
The next day, Gangu came up with a plan to avoid suspicion of the theft. He mentioned to Mata Gujri that there were several thieves prowling about the neighbourhood, and she must be careful with her valuables. Gangu said he was giving her this information so that she should not suspect him of anything. He almost immediately informed her that her saddlebag was missing. As no one had entered the house overnight except for Gangu, Mata Gujri questioned Gangu about the theft.
Gangu pretended to be furious at the suspicion directed against him. Gangu tried to distract Mata Gujri by saying they were taking advantage of his hospitality by accusing him of being a thief when they were the ones that were outlaws. Worried at the turn of events, Gangu decided to turn Mata Gujri and the two young Sahibzadey over to the authorities, almost cetrtainly knowing they would meet their death, thereby hiding his crime.
By saying that he could not trust her and her children, he ordered them to leave his house. The Brahmin with loud cries proceeded to the Chaudhri or chief civil official of Kheri and informed him that Guru's mother and sons had just come to his house and both he and Chaudhri would obtain a large reward for delivering them to the imperial authorities.
Accompanied by the village chief, he went to the police station at Morinda town and informed the station incharge about the preseence of Guru Gobind Singh's mother and his two youger sons in his house and requested him to bestow him prize money for helping the authorities in the arrest of fugitives.
The police officer was immensly pleased at this important information provided by Gangu. He accompaind him to his vilage and arrested Mata Gujri along with her two grandsons and handed them over to Nawab Wazir Khan of Sirhand. Nawab Wazir Khan who had to return empty handed from Anandpur Sahib without being successful in arresting Guru Gobind Singh or his associates, was too glad to find Guru's mother and two sons in his prison.
Mata Ji along with her two grandsons was imprisoned in the cold tower at Sirhind. The Nawab ordered them to be produced in his court the next morning. Sitting on the floor of the cold tower on a very cold December night, Mata Gujri tried to provide comfort and warmth of her body to her grandsons putting them on her lap.
She woke them up early the next morning and readying them for the ensuing test they were going to be put to at the court of Wazir Khan,the tyrant ruler of Sirhind. She thus said to them, "O sons of great Guru Gobind Singh! you are going to be offered all the comforts of a luxurious life if you agree to say goodbye to your religion and adopt islam as your new religion. If you refuse to accept such an attractive offer they will threaten you with painful deaths. I have full confidence that though you are young children, you will neither be fooled by the attractive offers nor be seduced by their threats. Be brave like your Guru father who has put every thing including his life at stake to prepare people to uproot the rule of tyrant rulers. Keep up the honour of your father at all costs."
While the grandmother was still advising her grandsons, the soldiers of Wazir Khan arrived to take the two saintly children of Guru Gobind Singh to the court. Mata Gujri wished her grandsons well and sent them with the soldiers praying for their success and to uphold their principles at the court.
Imagine the atmosphere, the children were presented to a full muslim court, on their own, without representation. Many a senior officers and advisors of Nawab Wazir Khan were seated in the court along with him in addition to prominent public personalities. On entering the court Sahibzada Jorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh loudly uttered, "Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh" to the utter astonishment and amazement of Wazir Khan and his courtiers.
One of the prominent courtier Sucha Nand told the courageous sons of Guru Gobind Singh to bow before the ruler Wazir Khan and salute like the Muslims do. The children, aged 6 & 8 years respectively, told him that like other Sikhs, they bow before no one except their Guru.
Nawab Wazir Khan now took over and said, "O small children! Your father along with your two elder brothers has been killed in the battlefield. Luckily you have arrived in my court alive. Be quick and agree to be converted to islam. As muslim children you will be provided best comforts of life like princes. You will be living in palaces, wearing silk clothes, eating a variety of foods and playing with other muslim princes with many servants at your beck and call, day and night. We are going to ban Sikhism and no Sikh will be left alive. If you do not heed my advice to become muslim, you will be put to the death in a most merciless manner. You will be cut to pieces so that no one dare become a Sikh in future."
The brave and smart children of the tenth master while smiling initially at the foolishness of this hot headed muslim ruler were angered at the threats of Wazir Khan and became more determined than before in their resolve to keep up the honour of their father Guru Gobind Singh.
In reply to Wazir Khan's lecture the brave children said, "Sikhism is dearer to us than our lives. Nothing in this illusory world can induce us to shed our religion. We are children of the lion Guru Gobind Singh who is determind to infuse courage into the people of all religions to rise against the cruel and tyrant rulers to gain freedom. Our grandfather, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur laid down his life to defend the right of religious freedom for the sake of opressed Hindu community being decimated by tyrant Aurangzeb. Our great great grandfather, Sri Guru Arjun Dev Ji submitted gladly to the will of God while facing torturous death under the orders of Emperor Jahangir. He chose death and refused to become a muslim. We will never bring bad name to the predecessor martyrs of our faith even if we have to face death."
Those present in the court of Wazir Khan were greatly impressed by the brave reaction offerd to Wazir Khan by 6 yrs old Baba Fateh Singh and 8 yrs old Baba Zorawar Singh.
In order to offer some respite and encouragement to the dazed Wazir Khan, Sucha Nand courtier commented, "if these children, at such an adolescent age, can have courage to shun all inducements and threats to their lives, they could pose a grave danger to the Mughal rulers when they grow up. Like their father they would encourage other Sikhs to rise in revolt against the Kingdom. It will be proper to deal with them firmly now, no mercy should be shown to them just because they are small children.
Nawab Wazir Khan, though impressed by the moral support provided and suggestions made by Sucha Nand, was more inclined towards coverting the children to islam. Rather than punish them with death penalty Wazir Khan wanted to provide an opportunity for the historians to write that the two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh preferred islam to Sikhism. He, therefore controlled his anger and allowed the lads to go back toconsult their grandmother who might advise them to accept islam to save their lives. Saying this Wazir Khan hurriedly left the court there by adjourning it for the day and thus denying the lads an opportunity to give a benifitting reply to his latest suggestion.
Mata Gujri Ji was immensly pleased to see her grandsons back in high spirits heaving a sigh of relief. She took them hurriedlyfrom the soldiers into her bossem and kissed profusely their bright and smiling faces gave indications of their winning the battle for the day. thereafter, she asked and they told her about what happended in the court of Wazir Khan. They made a special mention about the wicked advice provided to the ruler of Sirhind by Sucha Nand Courtier.
Mata Gujri congratulated her grandsons on the bravery and courage shown by them in the court in the face of hostile attitude of Wazir Khan and his courtier Sucha Nand. She warned them of greater inducements and threats of torture when they went to the court next day. She advised them to remember Bhai Mati Dass, Bhai Sati Dass and Bhai Dayala Ji, who did not flinch in their faith and faced torturous deaths. Thus providing encouragment to her grandsons Mata Gujri went to sleep, keeping the brave young children pressed to her body.
The next day more inducements and threats were held out to the young Sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh but none of these could deter them from their firm resolve to stick to thier grandmothers advice.
When on the third day the young Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh left for the court escorted by Wazir Khan's soldiers, She could visulise that her grandsons would not come back in the evening and that the rulers will carry out their threats held out to the children earlier. She was, however, confident that her brave grandsons would die happily for their faith. She took them in her bossom, kissed their faces and stroked their backs providing them lot of love and encouragement. She kept staring at them till they disappeared from her view.
Back in her prison cell, the cold tower, she went into meditation and prayed to the Guru and God to provide strength and unshakable determination to thetwo younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh and wished them success in the face of heavy odds they were to face at the court that day, which could in all probability be their final and last day at the court.
At the court, seeing no let up in the firm resolve of the brave sons of great Guru, the Nawab asked them as to what would they do in case he freed them. The young boys said in reply, "We would organise Sikhs and fight to finish against the tyrant rulers to provide freedom to the opressed. We will stick to our Sikh faith under all circumstances and you or others like you will never succeed in deflecting us from our faith."
Nawab Wazir Khan failed in his mission to convert the two Sahibzadas into Islam. He felt dejected and humiliated. He asked his court Kazi to suggest appropriate punishment for the children. The Kazi promptly suggested bricking the children alive and then hacking them to death with sword blows as per muslim law, as understood by him.
Shaken by this inhumane punishment for the young innocent children suggested by Kazi, Nawab Sher Khan of Malerkotla protested and said, "Islam does not specify punishment to the children for the guilt of their father. They are innocent and should be freed." The Kazi lost his temper and told Sher Khan that he (Kazi) was much more conversant with Muslim law than him. Sucha Nand added fuel to fire by suggesting that Cobra's off springs should be killed promptly lest they create trouble when they are fully grown up.
On this, Wazir Khan approved the punishment, suggested by Kazi, to brick the children alive. The Nawab of Malerkotla protested loudly at this decision and walked out of the court.
When no one came forward to carry out the punishment pronounced for the young children, two Pathans of Ghilaza Tribe (known for their barbarism) were successfully persuaded to do the job. Onlookers saw this act, and many were disgusted at how clearly innocent children could be killed like this. First the shins and feet of the Sahibzadey were pierced using pincers, so that they would bleed slowly and suffer tremendously. The wall was then built around the young boys, entombing them within. The executioners made sure the wall was straight and when the knee caps of the young singhs obstructed it, they were hacked off. Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh started reciting hymns of Guru ji (Gurbani) and meditating on the name of God, they remained composed and in high spirits.
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 Singh said to his younger brother, "They are putting us to test. They do not know that the Sikhs of Guru Nanak are fearless. Our Fifth Guru Arjan Sahib faced martyrdom cheerfully on burning iron pans. Whereas he guided humanity to the path of a 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 grand father, Guru Tegh Bahadur was also unique. We shall soon join him. He is waiting us." Later both the Sahibzadas became unconscious. The executioners became nervous and 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." Just as they were going to pull the wall down, a strong gale came and blew down the wall. They brought the unconscious Sahibzadas out, laid them flat on the ground and, in an instant, martyred them. This was performed by holding them down with the executioners placing their knees on the Sahibzadas chests, and then slowly beheading them. People in the crowd were shocked at this ghastly act.
Mata Gujri was thrown to death from the cold tower by the soldiers after being informed of the fate of her grandsons.
Thus the two sons of Guru Gobind Singh, aged 6 & 8 years respectively, became the youngest martyrs at the hands of barbarous rulers. Their brave deeds will provide inspiration to the Sikhs and their young children to emulate the brave acts of young Sahibzadas of the tenth master whom no amount of wordly attractions and threat could deter from their resolve to stick to their faith and fight against the unjust and cruel rulers. Mata Gujri ji also provided a shining example to all mothers and grandmothers as to how they should imbibe good qualities of religion, sacrifice, faith, in the young minds of their sons and grandsons at tender age, and prepare their minds and bodies to facce challenges they are likely to face as they grow up. The example of Mata Gujri Ji is worth emulating by all mothers and grandmothers.
When the Turks heard that the Brahmin who had betrayed the Guru's mother and children possessed much wealth, they arrested him and all his family, and forced him by torture, to tell where he had concealed his treasure. He pointed out the spot where he had buried Mata Gujari's money, but it was not found there. The Turks believing that he was only deceiving them continued to torture him until his soul took flight to the infernal regions. On the way from mud fortress (Garhi) the Guru preceded to Kanuech in the eastern part of what is now Ludhiana district. Then Guru proceeded to Hehar, also in the Ludhiana District and meet Kirpal who distinguished himself in the battle of Bhangani. He advised Guru to move on towards village Lamma Jatpura.
On the way, Guru met a Muhammadan called Kalha, a rich and important person who was chaudhari of Jagraon and Raikot, two considerable towns of Ludhiana district, Kalha entertained him at Jatpura. The Guru requested him to send a messanger to Sirhind to enquire in fate of his mother and two younger sons. The Guru remained at Jatpura until the messanger's return. Jatpura is about fifty miles distance from Sirhind. This distance the messanger is said to have traversed in an incoredibly short space of time. While the Guru was listening to the narrative, he was digging up a shrub with his knife. He said, "As I dig up this shrub by the roots, so shall the Turks be extirpated." He inquired if any one except the Nawab of MalerKotla had spoken on behalf of the children. The messanger replied in the negative. The Guru then said that after the roots of the oppressive Turks were all dug up, the roots of the Nawab should still remain. His Sikhs should one day come and lay Sirhind waste.
One of the people that helped Mata Gujri Ji and the Sahibzadey was Moti Ram Mehra who was from gheewar (waterman) caste. He was serving in Hindu Kitchen of Suba Sirhind Wazer Khan. Moti Ram Mehra used to cook and serve to Hindu oficers and prisoners. He was very sincere and honest to his assigned tasks. His ancestors used to pay respects to Baba Kauji ji before they started paying regards to Guru Ji. Baba Kauji was Pir of gheewars. Their village Dehra is in Panch Nangal, Hoshiarpur (Punjab) where gheewars (Kashyap Rajputs) go and worship. Vaisakhi Mela is also hold there. Moti Ram Mehra used to live in Mohalla Mansuriv Tibba. This Mohalla was famous for Rajput clan's population. His family included his old mother, wife and a small male child. Due his respect for Sikhs, the Sikhs used to visit his place often. Many travellers on their way to Anandpur Sahib used to take rest in his small room. He also used to long for going to Anandpur to meet Guru Ji.
During extreme cold weather, Mata Gujri and the younger Sahibzadey were imprisoned in Thanda Burj (Cold Tower). The Daroga (police chief) asked Moti Ram to serve food to three new prisoners. Moti Ram knows very well that Moghal army had returned and boasted about demolishing the enemy. The prisoners of Thanda Burj could not be ordinary prisnors. When he entered the Burj and saw Mata Gujri and Sahibzade his hands were folded as of automatically and his head bowed in obeisance. He requested and explained that he had brought food for them. Mata Gujri refused to eat food from the Kitchen of cruel Nawab. He fell on his feet and cried upon asking by Mata Ji as to who he was, he told her that he was a cook. Mata Ji, then made him understand with solemn speek, as to why she would not eat the food. Moti Ram informed Daroga in return Daroga went to Nawab where Suchanand was also sitting. Sucha nand told Moti Ram to get food from his house. But Mata Ji still refused that food as well. Nawab got angry and gave orders that no one should co-operate with these prisoners. Any one who would be found helping them would be declared as an offender.
In case any one who was caught doing any such thing would be liable for very strong punishment. Bhai Moti Ram was disturbed and worried as three prisoners were hungry. He was so much worried that he shared his sorrows with his mother and wife asking them how would they rest throughout the night without partaking food? He was not aware since how many days they had not eaten? They even refused the food from Dewan Sucha nand. Moti Ram was very upset. He decided to do something. His mother and wife reminded him of cruelties of the Nawab. Nawab could perish their small world in a jiffy. But the respect in Moti Ram's mind for Guru and his family, who were striving for religion, got stronger manifolds. He explained to his mother and wife that "the whole family of Guru is struggling so hard to save the sacred religion and if I don't do my duty just because I might get frightened from death then our future generations will never excuse us".
Bhai Moti Ram finally decided that come what may, he wouldn't care what happens to his life, he will not let the young children remain hungry. His family was poor. They used to cook Kodhra (a cheap cereal). He milked his cow and filled a bowl. He was also aware of security at Thanda Burj that after the Nawab has issued the strict orders he won't fend his way in so easily. Whatever silver coins were available in his house, he put all money in his pocket. He bribed the security guard with silver coins and presented himself before Mata Ji and children. He prayed with folded hand, that he had faith in Guru and has brought milk from his own home and from his own income. He offered milk to Mata Ji and Sahibzade to drink.
Bhai Moti Ram continued the process for number of days. Mata ji was so delighted, that she blessed him. 'O great Moti, seeing your faith and love May you be the Blessed one!' Dewan Sucha Nand had his own doubt about Moti Ram Mehra. The confiders confided in. During those days one relative of Gangu Brahman named Mauga used to go about in viceroys' offices to help Gangu. He came to know that Moti Ram had helped Mata Gujari and youngest Saahibzadey and used to offer them milk. He confided to high officials. Moti Ram's service to the family of Guru was declared as punishable offence. Dewan Sucha Nand also informed nawab as to how Moti Ram used to enter the Thanda Burj and offer milk to Mata Ji and her grandchildren. Moti Ram Mehra accepted the truth in the court explaining that since his job was serving the Hindu prisoners by cooking and serving food, he did not commit any offence by doing his assigned duties. Moti Ram Mehra's case was presented to Nawab Wazir Khan, after he returned from battlefield of Khidrana after losing many of his soldiers in the battle. He was bent upon taking revenge against Guru. He got enraged and ordered that Moti Ram Mehra and all his family members be crushed in Kohlu (a wooden mill used to extract oil from seeds).
The Nawab faced problems with his family too. Nawab had a begum (wife) named Zai-bul-nisa. He used to fondly call her Zaina Begum. She was extremely beautiful and young. She was the daughter of a servant to Raja of Bilaspur and was married to a young man of Sirhind. But her bridal carriage was abducted and brought to the palace of Nawab. After the Nawab ordered the torture and execution of the Sahibzadey, the Begum got upset that she picked a fight with Nawab and stabbed herself with a poniard and died.
After Aurangzeb died, his sons started fighting amongst themselves to capture the throne. The eldest son Bahadur Shah approached Guru for the help. Bahadur Shah came out victorious and became the Emperor. He honored the Guru at Agra. From there both of them traveled to South.
Guru Ji camped at Nanaded but Bahadur Shah traveled further south. Guru Ji met a Kashmiri hermit named Madho Das Lachhaman Das Bairagi. Madho Das was so impressed with Guru Ji he became his diciple after partaking Amrit. He became famous and was known by the name of Banda Singh Bahadar. Guru Ji left him in charge of his men and gave him weapons and letters for the Sangat to fulfill his mission. Guru Ji also sent five Sikhs to help Banda Singh as and when required.
The mission of Banda Singh Bahadar was to uproot the cruel rulers of Sirhind and other places where there was tyranny and oppression. After conquering Panipat, Samana and Sadhaura with great success Banda Singh Bahadar moved towards Sirhind. A great battle raged near village called Chappar–Chiri near Sirhind. The Khalsa came out victorious and the evil musalmaan Wazir Khan was killed.
Gurmat Gyan (Knowledge)
Other Gurbani Contributors