This article has been written in a narrative style, based on some historical facts and additional thoughts of the author.
I, Baba Ajit Singh, was born on January 7th, 1687. From my earliest days, I was trained in the skills of a saint-soldier of the Khalsa. As I grew into a young man I became proficient in the use of all weapons, and especially the bow and arrow and the sword.
I was twelve years old when I witnessed my father give the call to all Sikhs on Baisakhi 1699. Even though I was young, my heart swelled with “bir ras”, the nectar of courage, at the call from my marvelous father to the sangat for a man to come forward and give his head. I yearned to stand next to him on that day, and it was only the hands of my mother, and her gentle reminder of my young years, that held me back.
From that day forward, no danger could daunt or deter me from my path of duty as the eldest son of the 10th Guru. When I was 16, I wanted to take my place in the ranks of the great Guru’s army. However, I was too shy to speak directly in my father’s presence, so I asked Ude Singh, one of the Guru’s brave generals, to speak for me. The Guru was very pleased to hear my request, and he gave me command of one hundred soldiers.
Once, a Brahmin came to the Guru and complained that his newly wedded wife had been kidnapped by the Pathans of Bassi. The Guru expressed that he wanted to help this man in need. I knew this was my chance to prove myself, and I stood before my father without hesitation.
“Father,” I said, “I have studied and practiced daily in the art of war. Let me go. Let me lead the Sikhs in protection of these people who need our help.”
Even though I was young, my father agreed. With a band of brave Sikhs, we marched towards Bassi in the cover of night. By God’s grace I was successful, and I returned to Anandpur on the following morning not only with the Brahmin’s wife, but also with the guilty Pathans in chains. The Sikhs who fought by my side that night told the story of my fearless and unwavering nature.
As I grew up, the situation for the Sikhs in Anandpur Sahib became increasingly dangerous. Three times I joined my father in battle to defend the fort and by my seventeenth birthday, I was experienced in battle and respected as a military commander.
Wrung by anger and jealousy, the Mughal armies had laid a deadly siege to our city, forcing the Sikhs to evacuate Anandpur Sahib on December 20, 1704. I rode proudly next to my father during the final preparations and departure from the fort. As the sangat left the safety of the fort they had to cross the cold and dangerous waters of the river Sarsa. Even though the Mughal emperor had given the Sikhs a guarantee of safe passage, it was here that the treacherous Mughal army attacked us from behind. In the darkness and confusion that ensued, my soldiers and I turned without hesitation to meet the enemy and hold them at bay while the rest of the Guru’s party crossed the rain flooded river. I fought with courage, and it is said that I chopped off enemy heads like melons in a field. When my father had safely crossed, we again joined up with the Guru.
Guru Gobind Singh and 40 of the Khalsa, including my younger brother and me, moved quickly through the night and took shelter in a small mud fort at Chamkaur. The Guru began preparing for battle as the enemy amassed a hundred thousand troops on the horizon. Hopelessly outnumbered, it was the firm
resolve of each of the forty Sikhs to fight to the last drop of blood. We should have been afraid, but we were not. Being so close to the Guru filled us with a light so hot, there was no room for fear.
Six Sikhs went out from the improvised fort, to delay the advance of the enemy. The Guru devised a new pattern for fighting. Two Sikhs would stand back to back, and in that way form a single entity. With four arms and four legs, covering all directions, they moved out into the enemy ranks. They fought bravely and amazed the mughal soldiers with their skill and effectiveness, holding off the advancing troops. Swirling and slashing their swords, the few Sikhs wreaked mighty destruction in the ranks of the mughals.
The strategy worked, and the huge army could not take the mud fort during the entire day. When the first group succumbed to the overwhelming odds, six more Sikhs volunteer to enter the battlefield.
Filled with the fury of battle, I placed my head on my father’s feet and asked permission to go forth and fight the enemy. Guru Gobind Singh, my father and my everlasting lord, understood this was our last meeting together on this earth. Smiling, my eternally loving father gave permission for me to enter the battlefield. I took five brave Sikhs with me who had fought by my side before, and stepped out through the gates.
We fought with a fierce fury and mughals fell beneath our powerful steel. Each second slowed in time, and it seemed that the enemy moved in slow motion against my lightening speed. As quick as they came forward, so quickly I drew their blood. When my arrows were spent and my sword was broken, I still did not stop. I whirled and jumped, spitting the enemy with my spear. When my spear snapped, the enemy soldiers saw that I finally stood with bare hands.
With a great yell, they rushed together and made a fresh attack. Under the force of their great numbers, I was martyred.
As my soul rose above the blood soaked earth, I heard my father call out from the roof, saying, “O God, it is You who sent him, and he has died fighting for his faith. This gift You have given to the earth has now been restored to You.”
Shanti Kaur Khalsa