- Feb 23, 2009
The battle of Sirhind: a background
WAZIR KHAN, the Governor of Sirhind, had vowed to finish the Sikhs root and branch. Two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh, Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh, were bricked alive on his orders when they had refused to embrace Islam in 1704 at Sirhind. The Sikhs were keen to avenge the killings.
Four years later, a chance meeting took place between Lachman Das, later known as Banda Singh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh, on the banks of the Gadavar. The Guru sent Banda Bahadur to Punjab to punish Wazir Khan and destroy the Mughal empire, which had let loose repression on Sikhs. In October, 1708, Banda marched towards Punjab along with a band of 25 Sikhs and a hukamnama, which enjoined upon the Sikhs to assemble under his banner. As Banda reached Delhi, thousands gathered under his command. After subjugating Sonepat, Samana, Shahbad, Mustafabad, Kapuri and Banur, Banda led his troops to take on Wazir Khan, who also came out of Sirhind to confront the Sikhs. Whereas the royal army had cannons and cavalry, the Sikhs had only swords and spears. The two armies clashed at Chapar Chiri on May 12. Though the enemy had the upper hand initially as Banda Bahadur directed the attack, sitting on a sandy mound. But he soon joined his forces and pounced on the enemy. A pitched battle was fought for two days during which Wazir Khan fell to the sword of Fateh Singh. The Sikhs raised a victory cry and razed Sirhind to the ground. Banda formally took control of Sirhind on May 14, 1710.
The Indian Mughal empire never recovered from the defeat inflicted on the Mughal army in the battle of Chappar Chiri near Sirhind, by the people's Khalsa army led by General Baba Banda Singh Bahadur 300 years ago, on 12 May 1710.
The historic battle showed that the well equipped and highly trained Mughal army was not invincible. The foundation for people's Khalsa raj had been laid by Tenth Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh, who had promised that his "sparrows" i.e. ordinary people armed with the Guru's egalitarian and liberating ideology, shall hunt and kill the Mughal "hawk". And so on 12 May 1710, led by one of the greatest generals in human history, the sparrows went for the jugular of the Mughal empire. This was the lifeline of the empire connecting north-west frontier and provincial capital Lahore, with Delhi. Starting with the earlier demise of the significant centre of Mughal aristocracy, Samana (26 November 1709), The Khalsa army held on for nearly six years to end 1715.
Rather belatedly, the great significance of this battle has been recognised. A monument is being built at Chappar Chiri by the Punjab Government's Cultural Affairs Department. Amongst other tourist attractions, battle scenes will be depicted.
Baba Banda Singh Bahadur remains a mystical but towering figure in Sikh history. In warfare tactics and strategy he followed in the footsteps of Guru Gobind Singh who first defeated the combined forces of the treacherous Hindu hill rajas with a handful of Sikhs at the famous battle of Bhangani.
Even in retreat, the Guru showed unmatched military skill at Anandpur, Chamkaur and Muktsar. Despite treachery and false promises of safe passage from Anandpur, the combined forces of the hill rajas and the Mughal army, were unable to capture or kill him in battle.
Similarly, like a tiger sent forth by the Great Guru, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur leapt on the Mughal elephant and drained away its life blood for six long years during the reign of three Mughal emperors.