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The Saga of Saka Sirhind: Remembering The Martyrdom of Chottey Sahibzade

The Saga of Saka Sirhind: Remembering The Martyrdom of Chottey Sahibzade

The Saga of Saka Sirhind:  Remembering The Martyrdom of Chottey Sahibzade

The martyrdom of the four “Sahibzaade” (Sons) is an important and integral part of the Sikh history and the occasion of their martyrdom is remembered, and commemorated both with great vigour and very acute sadness, by the Sikh community every year in the month of December, also known to be the month of “Poh”.Chaar Sahibzaade, (‘Chaar’ means four and ‘Sahibzaade’ refers to the sons or scions) is a term endearingly used for the four sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the 10th guru of the Sikhs.The incidents that took place on the 21st and 27th of December 1704 AD are the days that hold very dear memories for the Sikhs around the world.

In the chaos of battle, Guru Gobind was separated from his family at the bank of river Sirsa. While Guru Ji and his elder sons crossed the river and went to Chamkaur, Mata Gujri and the Chottey Sahibzade had to journey through thick forests and treacherous terrain. They came across many wild animals but went bravely on their way. Along the path, Mata Gujri relayed the tales of Sikh history to comfort the young boys. After travelling for a long time, they reached the hut of a devoted Muslim water carrier, named Kuma. He humbly requested Mata Ji to stay at his cottage for the night. It was already getting dark and Mata Ji decided to halt their journey for the night. The next morning, a former cook of ‘Guru Ghar’ called Gangu approached Mata Ji and requested them to stay at his home instead. He assured her that they would be quite safe there and Emperor’s officials will have no knowledge about their whereabouts. Although Mata Ji was reluctant, but at his persistent requests, she agreed and the three of them set out for his village.

Upon arrival, Mata Ji put their luggage in one of the rooms, and by embracing Baba Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, she settled for the night. In the cover of darkness, assuming that Mata Ji is asleep, Gangu came to the room, ruffled through the luggage of his guests and stole gold coins. Mata Ji saw him but kept resting and did not say anything. In the morning, she asked Gangu if the door was closed last night and told him that the gold coins are missing. Gangu created a ruckus and shouted about that there has been a theft and the thief must be found. Not wanting to create unnecessary commotion, Mata Ji tried to pacify him and eventually told him that he can keep the coins if he wished. Gangu was furious at the accusation and acted all sanctimonious. He accused Mata Ji of being ungrateful and would not listen to reason. In rage, he left his house and went to the Kotwali Morinda (a police station) and betrayed Mata Ji by informing them of their location. The Kotwal took immediate action and sent his constables to arrest them. Mata Ji and the two Sahibzade made no attempt to run or hide. They stayed put at Gangu’s house, as if awaiting their arrival. The police took them in custody.

The news of the arrest spread like wildfire and people would not believe that two children and their grandmother had been arrested for no crime whatsoever. The onlookers praised the bravery of the three. Upon arrival in Sirhind, they were lodged in Thanda Burj (Cold Tower) in the freezing nights of December. As always, Mata Ji comforted the children with brave tales of their father and grandfather. The children promised that they would follow in their footsteps and would always stand by their faith. In the morning, two soldiers appeared and relayed the orders of Nawab Wazir Khan that they were taking the Sahibzadas to the court. The Nawab addressed them sweetly at first in an effort to entice them to Islam. He told the young Sahibzadas that no harm would come to them. In fact, they would be welcomed with open arms only if they recite the ‘Kalmas’ and accept Islam.

The Shahibzadas bravely declared that they will lay their lives but will never give up Sikhi. The Nawab was taken aback by the sharp retort but there was no crime he could charge them with. The Sahibzadas were clear in their intent. They declared that they would organize a rebellion as soon as they can and will wipe out this corrupt regime. The repeated attempts of courtesans to try and convert them failed. The Qazi advised the Nawab that there is only one way out of this conundrum. He should hand over the Sahibzadas to Nawab Sher Mohammad of Malerkotla whose brother died at the hands of Guru Sahib. He assumed that he must be looking for an opportunity to exact revenge. But when they contacted Sher Mohammad, he said that he cannot kill these innocent boys. His fight was with their father, he said, and this would be an ultimate sinful act. Seeing no way out, the Nawab sent the Sahibzadas back to Thanda Burj, giving them an ultimatum to make up their mind to embrace Islam or be bricked alive.

The next morning, Nawab called the boys again but they were unrelenting. They again declared that no matter the consequences, they will never give up their faith. “Death”, they said, “have no meaning for us.” Nawab was astonished at the firm faith of the boys of such young age. At this, his officials declared that two executioners from Delhi, Shashal Beg and Bashal Beg are in court and they are willing to brick up the boys in return for their pardon. The Nawab granted their request. Upon hearing the news of what is happening, a large crowd gathered to witness the unspeakable act. The Sahibzadas were then brought to the place where they planned to raise the wall. They stood side by side and recited Jab Ji Sahib as they wall slowly went up, brick by brick. The Qazi kept attempting to persuade them to accept Islam that there is still time and their lives will be spared. But his pleas had no effect on the brave children. As the wall rose completely, the brothers became unconscious and were pulled out. As they began to regain consciousness, they were again offered to accept Islam but no avail. The executioners were then given the orders to cut their trachea and end their lives. The cruelty of the Nawab and the bravery of young Sahibzadas astonished the masses.

Perhaps nowhere in human history we can find a story of faith such as this. Chhotte Sahibzade, thus attained martyrdom on 26 December 1704 at a very young age of 7 & 9 only. This is what we known as Saka Sirhind. Every year on 24 to 26 December, Shaheedi Jor Mel/Sabha is organized at Fatehgarh Sahib Punjab, India, to commemorate the supreme sacrifice at the place of their martyrdom.

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