Saka Gari Chamkaur - The Battle of Chamkaur
Martyrdom of Sahibzadas Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh, December 7, 1705:
After leaving Anandpur on the night of December 5/6, 1705, crossing the flooded Sarsa rivulet, and resting at Kot Nihang Khan, for a few hours, Guru Gobind Singh reached Chamkaur. He was accompanied by not more than 40 Singhs, including two of his older sons, and the five panj piyare, the original "Beloved Five". Their arms were mostly swords and spears, as their ammunition had exhausted during the eight-month defence of the besieged Anandpur.
Halting in a small garden, they approached the local chief for permission to use his haveli for shelter during the night. The place belonged to two brothers. The elder brother Rai Jagat Singh refused, for fear of Imperial wrath. But, his younger brother, Rup Chand, at his own risk, permitted them to stay in the small fortress like two-storey house, which had a moderate quantity of arms and ammunition inside.
Despite promise of safe conduct given to Guru Gobind Singh, the Mughal and Rajput commanders were in search of him, to catch him in person or get his head as a trophy. After crossing the Sarsa, the whole party of the Sikhs had scattered hither and thither. The Mughals did not know, where the Guru had gone. When they got information of his halt at Chamkaur, they came and laid siege to the haveli, which was like a small garhi, or a fortress.
Early in the morning, alerted by the sound of galloping horses, the Sikhs took up defensive positions. The two Sahibzadas -- Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh -- and three other archers took up positions, along with Guru Gobind Singh, in the upper portion of the house. Eight persons each were deputed to guard each of the four sides. Two expert swordsmen -Bhai Madan Singh and Bhai Kotha Singh - stood to guard the only entrance to the haveli.
During the previous two decades, the Singhs had established a reputation of their invincibility in battles. Therefore, the enemy's mainstay had to be in numerical strength. The hordes of Rajput and Mughal warriors rushed to join the manhunt.
The arrows from upper storey of the haveli kept many a soldier at bay. Those who came forward to storm the garhi, met piercing arrows. They either perished or preferred to pull back. Or faced hand-to-hand fights with Singhs guarding the four sides. Faujdar Nahar Khan was one of those who fell to the arrows of Guru Gobind Singh himself.
The battle lasted all day. When the ammunition and arrows in the garhi almost ran out, the Singhs came out in batches of five, with swords and spears in their hands, to face the enemy that far outnumbered them. Their determination and fighting skill helped them kill many of the enemy, but odds were so heavy against them that they all fell in the field, one by one. They were followed by the next batch of five, charged with emotions of fighting a treacherous enemy. Determined to fight with all their vigour, they too wer to lay their lives the same way.
With over thirty Singhs, including three of the panj piyare lying dead or dying out in the field, Guru Gobind Singh's eldest son, 18-year old Sahibzada Ajit Singh sought permission from his father. Getting a farewell hug and a blessing from him, he went out to join the battle. After heroic confrontations with several of the enemy at a time, he fell in the field. After watching his brother being slaughtered, the younger Sahibzada, 15-year old Jujhar Singh, touched the feet of his father, gave him a hug, and bidding farewell sallied forth with the next and the last batch. With the setting of the sun, that day, he too became a martyr like his elder brother, and other select warriors of Guru Gobind Singh's bodyguard. Included in them were also three of the "Beloved Five" - Bhai Mohkam Singh, Bhai Himmat Singh and Bhai Sahib Singh.
By the nightfall, only six persons - Guru Gobind Singh, two of the " Beloved Five" (Bhai Daya Singh and Bhai Dharam Singh), Bhai Sant Singh, Bhai Man Singh and Sangat Singh remained alive in the garhi. The Singhs decided that Guru Gobind Singh must quit the haveli, so that he could rally his followers again. If he perished, loss to the community would be irreparable. It was proposed that the Guru should change his attire with Sangat Singh, who somewhat resembled him in stature. By his being visible, the others might get enough time to reach a somewhat safe distance. Reluctantly, the Guru agreed, to the propsal, which the Singhs presented as the matta of five, which was bindinding. . Bhai Sant Singh decided to stay back to guard the entrance, and thus gain some additional time, when the enemy barges in.
In the middle of the night Guru Gobind Singh and three remaining Sikhs - Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Mohkam Singh and Bhai Man Singh -- left the haveli, with a plan to go in different directions but meet in a garden outside Machhivara.
Fate of the remaining two sentinels, Bhai Sant Singh and Bhai Sangat Singh, has just to be imagined.
(With thanks from: S. Harbans Singh Noor Baltimore USA)