Its easy to joke on a Sardar saying its Sardarji its 12 'o' clock or, Sardarji barah baj gaye, but how many of us actually know the meaning in between these words? And, how many pride a Sikh?
The Delhi Emperor, Aurangzeb cherished the ambition of converting the whole of India into a land of Islam. This philosophy was also pleaded by Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi (1569–1624), leader of the Naqashbandi School, to counter the liberal policies of Akbar's reign. The Emperor's experiment was first carried out in Kashmir. The viceroy of Kashmir, Iftikar Khan (1671–1675) carried out the policy vigorously and set about converting non-Muslims by force. A group of Kashmiri Pandits (Kashmiri Hindu Brahmins), approached Guru Tegh Bahadur, the then 9th Guru of the Sikhs, and asked for his help. They, on the advice of the Guru, told the Mughal authorities that they would willingly embrace Islam if Guru Tegh Bahadur, did the same.
Orders of the arrest of the Guru were issued by Aurangzeb, who was during that time in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan subduing Pushtun rebellion. The Guru was arrested at a place called Malikhpur near Anandpur after he had departed from Anandpur for Delhi. Before departing he nominated his son, Gobind Rai, later know as Guru Gobind Singh, as the next Sikh Guru.
The Guru was arrested, along with some of his followers, Bhai Dayala, Bhai Mati Das and Bhai Sati Das by Nur Muhammad Khan of the Rupnagar police post at the village Malikhpur Rangharan, in Ghanaula Parganah, and sent to Sirhind the following day. The Faujdar (Governor) of Sirhind, Dilawar Khan, ordered him to be detained in Bassi Pathana and reported the news to Delhi. His arrest was made in July 1675 and he was kept in custody for over three months and tortured both physically and mentally in order to accept islam . Later he was cast in an iron cage and taken to Delhi in November 1675.
The Guru was put in chains and ordered to be tortured until he would accept Islam. When he could not be persuaded to abandon his faith to save himself from persecution, he was asked to perform some miracles to prove his divinity. On his refusal, Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded in public at Chandni Chowk on 11 November 1675. Today, there stands a Gurudwar 'Sish Ganjh' in the location where he was beheaded. Guru Tegh Bahadur is also known as "Hind Di Chadar" i.e. "the shield of India", suggesting that to save Hinduism. Thus, the Guru gave his life, to protect the hindus from being forced to convert to islam.
Hearing the death of the Guru his son, Guru Govind Singh vowed to revenge on the mughals. He was then, not only responsible to save the hindus from been forcefully converted to islam but also to revenge the beheading of his father. The Guru asked the hindus if they trusted him and, who would willingly lay their lives on his command. 5 men stood up to his sayings, who were later blessed as 'Singh' and vowed to fight for the rights of hindus. These men were to grow their hair and wear a turban, grow they beard and, carry a sword to be ready to fight their enemy. They were baptized Sikhs. They were few, yet, they could be identified in the crowd. Because they were just 5 in number, they were to appear in the mid-night - 12 'o' clock - in the villages, so that the hindus could plea to them. They applied the art of gorilla warfare, to fight against the mughals. Seeing their bravery, art, skill and commitment, the hindus vowed that, the first son of their family would grow up as a Sikh or a 'Singh' and be a part of the Khalsa or the Sikh army. And thus, started a revolution against the mughals.
Nadir Shah raided Delhi in the year 1739 and looted Hindustan of its wealth and was forcefully trafficking around 2,200 Hindu women along with him. The news spread and was heard by Sardar Jassa Singh who was then the Commander of the Sikh army. He decided to attack Nadir Shah's Kafila on the same midnight. He, together with his army fought bravely and rescued all the Hindu women and later they were safely sent to their homes.
There are several such examples of battles fought and won against the mughals. But, it seems that with time, people have forgotten the bloody history of India. And, brave examples from the 15th century seem to become funny jokes in the 21st century. However, the next time when you hear someone telling a Sikh - Sardar ji its 12 'o' clock or Sardarji barah bah gaye, you maybe proud to know the meaning in those words.
Contributed by: Mohinder Pal Singh
Date: August 25, 2010