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Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh

Baba Zorawar Singh, Baba Fateh Singh
Under emperor Aurangzeb's orders, the Mughal governors of Lahore and Sarhind, with all their troops, marched against Guru Gobind Singh. They were joined by the Hindu hill-chiefs and the Muhammedan Ranghars and Gujjars of the locality. The combined armies besieged Anandpur and cut off all supplies. The Guru and Sikhs bore the extreme hardships of the long siege with steadfast courage. The besiegers began to despair to success. They sent messengers to the Guru. The messenger said, 'The Mughal governors and the hill-chiefs have sworn on the Quran and the cow that, if you vacate the fort, you will not be harmed in any way. You may go where you like.' The Guru had no faith in these oaths. So he refused to vacate the fort. But after a time, he was prevailed upon by his mother and others to leave the fort. When he did so, the besiegers forgot their solemn oaths. They fell upon the Guru near the Sarsa river.

In the confusion which followed the fight near the Sarsa, the Guru's mother, Mata Gujri became separated from him and his Sikhs. His two younger sons, Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh, were with her. In the biting winter wind of early dawn, she travelled as chance directed her. Her path lay through a thick jungle. Some way off, she met a Brahman named Gangu. He had once been a cook at the Guru's house. His village, Kheri, was nearby. He offered to give her shelter and protection in his house. She decided to take her grandsons with her, and accept shelter and protection offered by Gangu Brahman. He lodged them in the hinder most room of his house. When the Guru's mother went to sleep, he stole her saddlebag which contained her valuables and money. He buried it somewhere in the house. When Mata Gujri woke, she found that saddlebag was missing. She questioned the Brahman. He pretended to be furious at this. He said to her, 'So you suspect me! You think me to be a thief! This, then, is the return that you propose to make for my service to you! I saved you from sure death. I exposed myself to grave risks in giving you shelter and protection. The return that you make to me for all this is that you charge me with theft! You have insulted me. You will suffer for this, O ungrateful lady.' Mata Gujri tried to calm him. But he refused to listen to what she had to say. He at once went o Muhammedan Chaudhri of the village. He said to him, 'The Guru's mother and two sons have just come to my house. We can both earn a large reward by delivering them to the imperial authorities.' The Brahman and Chaudhri went to the Muhammedan official of the Morinda. They reported ti him about Guru's mother and two sons. He was glad to hear the news. He went with them to the Brahman's house. He took a band of armed soldiers with him. Mata Gujri and her grandsons were arrested and taken to the Nawab Wazir Khan, governor of Sarhind.

Nawab Wazir Khan ordered them to be confined in a tower of his fort. They had to pass the cold December night with the bare, hard floor as their bed. Next day, Wazir Khan ordered the children to be brought before him. Mata Gujri knew that they will try to convert them to Islam so she had been teaching them over the night that never embrace Islam and die being a true Sikh. Then she kissed and hugged them. Then she said, 'Go, dear jewels of mine. Keep true to the ideals of your father and grandfather. Don't say or do anything which might bring bad names to your ancestors. May God be your protector!' The brothers were taken to Nawab Wazir Khan's court. On reaching there, they greeted everyone in one voice, "Waheguru Ji ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh." All eyes were turned in their direction. Their slim, handsome persons, their calm, bright faces, and their fearless appearance won the admiration of all present in the court. Sucha Nand, a Brahman courtier of the Nawab, advised the little prince to bow to the Nawab. "No," said Baba Zorawar Singh, the elder of the two. 'We have been taught to bow to none but God and the Guru. We will not bow to the Nawab.'

This bold, unexpected reply astonished everybody. Even the Nawab could not help admiring the brave little one. then he said to them, in soft voice, 'Children, your father and two elder brothers have been killed at Chamkaur. Your good luck has brought you to the Islamic darbar. Embrace Islam, become the one with us. You will be given wealth, rank, and honor. When you grow up, I shall marry you to beautiful daughters of respectable chiefs. You will live happy lives. You will be honored by the Emperor. If you say "NO" to my offer, you will be treated as infidels are treated. You will be put to death with torture.' Baba Zorawar Singh, looking at his younger brother, said in whisper, 'My brother, the time to sacrifice our lives has arrived. What do you think? Baba Fateh Singh, who had seen but six winters, replied, 'Brother dear, our grandfather, Guru Tegh Bahadur, parted with his head; he stoutly refused to part with his religion. We should follow his example. We have received the baptism of the spirit and the sword. We are the Guru's lions. Why should we fear death? It is the best that we should give up our lives for the sake of our religion. I am prepared to die.' Baba Zorawar was pleased to hear the brave words of his younger brother. He then said, 'That is good, indeed. We should preserve the good name of our noble family. The blood of Guru Arjan, Guru HarGobind, Guru Tegh Bahadhur, and Guru Gobind Singh runs in our in our veins. We are their descendants. We cannot do anything unworthy of our family.'

Then Baba Zorawar Singh raised his voice and said, 'Hear O Nawab. You say that our father has been killed. That is a lie. He is alive. He has yet to do a good deal of work in this world. He has to shake your empire to its roots. Know that we are sons of him who, at my age, sent his father to sacrifice his life at Delhi. We reject your religion. It makes you behave like beasts of prey. We reject your offers of positions and pleasures. It has been a custom of our family to give up life but not to give up faith. Our choice is made. Let your sword do its work. We invite you to do your worst.' These words alone were enough to inflame the haughty Nawab. But Sucha Nand chose to pour oil over the fire. He said, 'So, such is their behavior at this tender age. What will it be when they grow up? They will follow their father's example, and destroy imperial armies. What good can be expected from them? This offspring of a cobra should be crushed in time.' The Nawab whispered to him, 'What you say is true and wise. But I should like to make them embrace Islam. They will be valuable additions to our community. There need be no hurry. They cannot run away. Let us give them time to think and consult with their aged grandmother. We shall try again tomorrow to make them yield.' 

Then, turning to the two brothers, he said, 'I do not want to act in haste. I give you time to think over the matter. Be wise and decide in favor of accepting my offer. You will live in peace, happiness, and honor. If you refuse, you will be given such tortures that your cries will be heard far and wide. Then you will be cut into pieces like fodder.' Then he ordered them to be taken back to the tower. Meanwhile, in the tower, after sending her grandsons to the Nawab's court, Mata Gujri sat down to pray. She kept on praying all the time that they remained away from her. She prayed, 'O kind Almighty father, Sustainer of the helpless, Strength of the weak, Champion of the friendless, Protector of the Unprotected, Boundless ocean  of Mercy and Kindness, help and protect my little, innocent grandsons. Give them the strength to keep firm in their faith and resolve. Keep them from faltering and wavering. So help them, so inspire them, that they may prove worthy sons of their father, worthy grandsons of their martyred grandfather. May they keep true to their family traditions and practices! May they be brave and strong enough to withstand all threats and temptations! May they prefer parting with life to parting with their faith! And O my dear jewels, keep firm! Keep your mind fixed on God! May he help you ever!'

God answered her prayers. He gave her grandsons what she had prayed Him to give them. At the same time, the thought waves sent by her certainly gave strength to her grandsons. We have seen how bravely and fearlessly they behaved in the Nawab's court. Wazir Khan's men then led the two princes back to the tower. Mata Gujri had been waiting for them eagerly. She was overjoyed to see them safe. A look at their faces convinced her that they had kept firm in their faith. she said a brief prayer of thanks to God. Then she refused forth to receive her 'little priceless jewels'. She took them in her arms. She hugged them lovingly to her bosom. She kissed them, again and again. Seating them on her lap, one on each side, she asked them to tell her what had happened at the court. Baba Zorawar Singh narrated how he and his brother had behaved. What had been said to them, and what answer they had made. Mata Gujri was immensely pleased to hear what her grandsons narrated to her. She pressed them again and again to her bosom. She blessed and patted them approvingly. 'Well done, my priceless, little jewels,' she said. 'I am proud of you. God be thanked! Let us offer our thanks to Him.'

Then the three stood up with folded hands. She said the prayer of thanks. Then they bowed and took their seats. Then she said, 'You are sure to be called to the court again tomorrow. Behave there as you have done today. They will try again to make you give up your faith. They will threaten you. They will tempt you. Remember your grandfather's example and teachings. If they torture you, pray to God for strength, think of your grandfather; think of Guru Arjan. Call upon them to sustain you, to keep your faltering and failing.' During the night, while her dear ones slept on her lap, Mata Gujri remained absorbed in prayers for most of the time. When they woke up early in the morning, she washed their faces, combed their hair, and helped them to dress. Then they sat and said their morning prayers. She recited a number of hymns proper to the occasion. They listened attentively, with their mind fixed on the Guru and God. In due course, the Nawab's men came to take the two Sahibzadas to his court. Mata Gujri patted and blessed them. She gave them the same advice as she had done the previous day. They gave her the same assurance as they had given her the day before. 

As on the previous day, on entering the court, the two brothers shouted aloud, 'Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.' The Nawab gave them the same threats and made them same offers as the day before. They stood firm and gave the same answers as on the previous day. Finally, they said, 'Our choice is made. We have declared it again and again. We know what your orders are going to be. Announce them, and let this drama come to an end. Why waste time?' Sucha Nand Brahman again pressed the Nawab to give immediate orders for their death. But the latter again decided to give them more time to think things over. He still had hopes that they would yield. So they were again sent back to the tower. At the tower, Mata Gujri received them in the same way as on the previous day. Next day, the two brave brothers were taken to the court for the third time. On entering the court, they shouted louder than before. 'Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.' In the court the same threats were given, and the same offers were made as on the two previous days. The bold brave sons of Guru Gobind Singh made the same reply as on the two previous days.

Then the Nawab pretended to be kind. He softened his voice. He said to them, 'O boys, I hesitate ti give orders for your death. You are so handsome, so graceful in appearance, and so clever. Why are you bent upon being killed? I feel pity for you. By the way, boys, what would you do if we were to give you your liberty?' The bold brave boys replied in one voice, 'Do? We would collect our Sikhs, supply them with weapons of war, fight against you, and put you to death. This is what we would do, if released.' The Nawab said, 'If you were defeated in the fight, what would you do then?' 'To be sure,' replied they, 'we would collect our armies again, and either kill you or be killed.' The brave boys' fearless and bold reply enraged the Nawab. His pretended kindness was gone. He said, 'Well, you will have what you deserve. I order you to be bricked alive and then beheaded.' On hearing the Nawab's word, the qazis, Sucha Nand, and a few others said, 'That is as it should be.' But most of those present in the court sat with their heads bent low, and their eyes wet and fixed on the ground. Then Sher Muhammad, Nawab of Malerkotla, said, Nawab Sahib, you order is against the rules of Islam. The Muhammadan law forbids slaughter of tender-aged, innocent children. They have done no wrong. The rules of our religion clearly lay down that a son must not suffer for the wrongs done by his father; that everyone is responsible for his own actions. So, under the law of our religion, these boys should be allowed to go unharmed. They should not be punished for what their father has done. 

But the qazis said, "What do you know of the holy law? How can you claim to know more or better then we? We say firmly that the holy law bids them choose between Islam and death. They have refused to accept Islam. they should die. The Nawab Sahib's orders are wholly in keeping with the holy law." The Nawab expressed agreement with the qazis. Two Pathans were sitting near him. He said to them, 'You know your father was killed by the father of these two boys. You may avenge his death. I hand them over to you. Kill them in the manner ordered by me.' But the Pathans shook their heads and said, 'Nawab Sahib, our father was killed on a field battle. If these tender ones were grown up men, armed with weapons of war, we would certainly have fought them and killed them. That would have been a proper revenge. We cannot strike these innocent, tender-aged children. The Wazir Khan looked at his servants and courtiers present in his court. He desired to find out if any of them would come forward to carry out his orders. But none was willing to do so. One of them, when pointedly asked, said, 'We are willing to sacrifice our lives for you . But we cannot kill these children. The Nawab then turned to a Pathan sitting near him and said, 'You know that your father was killed by these boys' father. You should revenge your father's death. You can do that by killing these sons of his killer.'

The Pathan shook his head and said, 'No, I cannot do that. My father was killed in a fair fight. He died fighting. He was not murdered. If these tender-aged children had been grown up men, with weapons in their hands, I would have challenged them; I would have killed them in a fair fight. But I would not murder them. They have done me no wrong.' The Nawab could make no reply. He turned to left and right, seeking someone ready to do the bloody act. But all hung down their heads as sign of their unwillingness, as a sign of their pity ness for the children. At last, looking behind, he saw two Ghilzai Pathans. The Ghilzai tribe was notorious for its heartlessness and cruelty. The Pathans offered to do the bloody deed. The two Sahibzadas were delivered to the Pathans. They led them away for execution. Under the Nawab's orders, apart of the outer wall of the fort was pulled down. The two children were made to stand in the gap thus created. The Ghilzai Pathans were standing nearby. They had drawn swords on their shoulders, tightly held in their right hands. Their faces were fierce; their eyes were red; and their lips were pressed together. An official from the Nawab's staff was also there. He had been sent their to see that the Nawab's orders were duly carried out. A qazi, with a copy of Quran in his hand, also stood nearby. Masons were ordered to erect a wall around the children. They were told, 'Take care that the bricks press well and tightly against their bodies.'

After each layer of the bricks, the qazi urged the two to save their lives by accepting Islam. But they stood calm and quiet. They were busy in reciting the Japji and other hymns of the Gurus. They were thinking of their martyred grandfather, Guru Tegh Bahadur. They hoped to be with him and in his arms in a few minutes. When they were buried in the wall up to the shoulders, the Nawab himself came. He urged them to accept Islam and save their lives. They calmly shook their heads. By now, their faces were bright and glorious, expressing hope and joy. Then the Nawab made a sign to one of the Pathans. With a stroke of his heavy sword, the Pathan cut off Baba Zorawar Singh's head. It fell on the part of the wall  that lay between the two brothers. Baba Fateh Singh bent his head and twisted his lips. It seemed that he was bowing to his martyred elder brother and kissing him. The Nawab said to Baba Fateh Singh, ' You have seen what had happened to your brother. I advice you, for the last time, accept Islam. Otherwise, your head, too, will be rolling on the ground.' He replied, 'Be quick, dispatch me after my dear brother, so that we may go together into the open arms of our grandfather, and into presence of the Almighty Father.' At a nod from the Nawab, the other Pathan cut off Baba Fateh Singh's head. The lips of two martyred brothers were parted a bit as in a smile. The two brothers seemed to be smiling at each other. 

In Sarhind there lived, at that time, a rich Sikh named Todar Mal. He heard that Guru Gobind Singh's mother and two younger sons had been imprisoned by Nawab Wazir Khan. Taking a large bag of gold coins with him, he hastened to the Nawab's court. His intention was to free them by paying as much money as the Nawab would demand. But he arrived too late. The two brothers had already been put to the death. He visited the site where they had been bricked alive and beheaded. after paying homage to the two martyrs, he proceeded to their grandmother. She had not yet heard of the murder of her grandsons. She sat waiting for them, praying for them, and now and then, looking out for them. Todar Mal tried to speak. But repeated sobs choked his voice. His eyes were melting into tears. On seeing this, Mata Gujri became alarmed. She said, 'tell me the truth. Why are you so broken down with sorrow? What has happened to my dear grandsons? Have they proved too weak? Have they given up their faith to save their lives? Have they turned their backs on their brave, noble family? If they have so fallen, tell me. I shall weep with you at their fall. But if they stood firm in their faith, if they preferred death to proving false to their faith and family, tell me that with cheer. We shall then rejoice together. Then I shall depart happily and speedily after them.' 

With his eyes melting into tears, and a voice choked with sobs, Todar Mal told her of her grandsons' martyrdom. On hearing this, she said, 'Well! Have my darlings already gone to meet their grandfather? O my dear ones, take me with you! I had taken upon myself the duty of looking after you. But, my dears, now that you have gone what I have left to do? O my soul, fly after them to the bosom of the Merciful Father. farewell, O my dear ones. we shall meet again in our True Home.' Saying this, she closed her eyes and began to repeat WAHEGURU. Soon she was gone to meet her grandsons. Todar Mal touched her feet and sobbed in anguish. Then Todar Mal went to the Nawab. He sought permission to cremate the three bodies. He was told, 'You may do so. But for their cremation you will need a piece of land. You will have to pay for it. You may have the requisite land by paying as many gold coins as, placed closely together, would completely cover it.' Todar mal chose the site. He spread out gold coins to cover the whole piece of land that he had selected. He took the two martyr's bodies out of the wall. He took out Mata Gujri's body from the tower. He took the three bodies to the site selected and purchased. He cremated them and later buried their ashes there. 

On the spot where the three bodies were cremated was later erected a Gurdwara called Joti Sarup. At the place where the two Sahibzadas were bricked alive and beheaded stands the Gurdwara called Fatehgarh Sahib. Nearby, at the site of the tower (Burj) in which the three had been imprisoned, and where Mata Gujri had breathed her last, stands a Gurdwara called Mata Gujri's Burj.

Source - Sikh History Book 5 by Kartar Singh, Hemkunt Press, New Delhi