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Sikh Research and Education Center: Articles on Sri Dasam Granth Sahib:

Battle of Nadaun


Battle of Nadaun

Now observations made on Chapter 9 of Bichitar Natak.

The G.S. Kala-Afghana begins his criticism of chapter 9 of Bichitar Natak, with the opening sentence of reference to the concluding lines(verses 34-38) of Chapter 8, slandering the Guru with heinous crimes, which we had already cleared, and are, however, reproduced below for ready reference –

“All the hill rajas were then fear stricken, and left the Battle Field. Lord, I became victorious, because of Your Grace only. (34)
We came back from the battlefield victorious, and were hailed all around by singing victory songs, distributed wealth in plenty, and all the warriors became elated. (35)
After the Sikhs attaining victory in the battlefield, their happiness knew no bounds and they did not stay for long at Paunta, and came back to again inhabitate or populate Anandpur in Kehloor State. (36)

Note: The word used is “bandhio” means repopulated, translated by all the translator. Even Pandi Narayan Singh Giani, on whose translation IOSS critics stated to have based their crticism, has translated as “populated”. This translator further stated that when the Guru left Anandpur for Paunta, then Anandpur was greatly depopulated, the persons accompanied the Guru.


Those persons, who accompanied the Guru to Paunta, who did not participate in the battle, were asked to leave the town of Anandpur. (The Guru foresaw that thereafter at Anandpur there would be many battles to be fought). Those who joined the battle, were greatly honoured and helped. (37)
Thus the Guru spent many days therein this way. The saintly pesons were greatly looked after, whereas the evil ones were decimated; they were killed and met with dog’s death.” (38)
Verses 34 –37 are very clear. Verse 38 needs to be clarified.

Verse 38 needs deeper thinking to understand. The Guru stated that after coming back from Paunta, he spent many days; the saintly persons were greatly looked after. In the remaining part of the verse, he metaphorically stated that the saintly persons were looked after, the EVIL DOERS in them, that is the Mind’s Instinctual Enemies, Selfishness, Lust, Anger, Greed and Attachment; the root cause of all human miseries were completely removed. This phrase we find when the Guru stated the Purpose of his Coming to this World –

“For this Purpose I came to the world to spread Dharma, and exhort Saintliness, and to compleely root out the Evil Doers (Our Morbid Instinctual Forces).”
The same metaphor the Guru has used here.

This metaphorical usage of such phrases we not only note in Sri Guru Gobind Singh’s Writings, but also in Sri Guru Granth Sahib so frequently. In this connection please refer to Sri Guru Arjan Dev’s Composition “Funey”, page 1363 –

“The five evil enemies are tormenting me; how can I destroy them? Shoot them with the sharp arrows of meditation on the Name of God. The way to slaughter these terrible sadistic enemies is obtained by reflecting our self on the Divine in us.”


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G.S.Kala Afghana's objections

Gurbaksh Singh Kala Afghana has made queer and extremely insulting observations relating to the part the Guru took in the battle of Nadaun,

(a) stating how could the Guru by firing a single shot from the gun, and discharging merely seven arrows from his bow could bring an end of the total defeat of the Mughal invader Alf Khan with his men in the Battle of Nadaun? In his criticism of Chapter 14 of Bichitar Natak, Kala Afghana again took up this matter and stated how the Guru could not defeat the enemy in the last Battle of Anandpur, and he had to leave the town for good; and also similarly at Chamkaur the Guru discharged many arrows, but was unsuccessful to defeat the invaders. He further stated that the Guru himself was against show of miracles, and here he was contradicting himself.

(b) Kala Afghana further stated that the Guru repeatedly stated the description of various battles, how the fighters behaved, and also descriptions of the comforts of varied types during peace time he enjoyed, but there is no mention found any where of in Praise of God, or the Guru ever held any prayer services, singing of Gurbani , religious discourses and other religious activities of the daily routine. What type of comforts the Guru could enjoy at Anandpur, and out of these comforts, what higher aims he could achieve? This the Guru alone knows, what he achieved in such merry makings!!!

(c) The third sinuating remark made is the incorrect interpretation of the concluding verse of this chapter (No 9 of Sri Bichitar Natak) – The verse reads – “Alsuin keh markai eih disi kio pian. Bhant anaikan kai karai Anandpur aan.
As translated by Kala Afghana – “I on the way hit and plundered the village of Alsuin headed toward Anandpur, where I enoyed varied types of comforts. “

The details of Battle of Nadaun are given below, which will reply to his observation (a) above. As regards observation (b) he should read every section in the Bichitar Natak, in which more than half of the writings are in Praise of the Lord alone.

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The Hill Rajas in Trouble

Emperor Aurangzeb was constantly forcing the northern provinces to send money to meet the expenditure of his ventures in the South. As the things were not going smoothly, he had to appoint 12 governors in Kashmir, one after the other, during his reign of 50 years. No governor could remain in office for more than 8 years with the exception of Ibrahim Khan, who was thrice appointed governor there and remained in office for 14 years. When Aurangzeb asked for money from Ibrahim Khan, he dispatched one of his deputies, Mian Khan, with an army to Jammu to collect money from the Hindu hill rajas. Mian Khan engaged himself in collection of money in Jammu province, and sent his lieutenant Alif Khan toward Kangra. On reaching Kangra, Alf Khan met Raja Kirpal Chand. Kirpal Chand did not refuse payment of the money, but advised Alf Khan to contact Raja Bhim Chand of Kehloor state, who was the leader of all the hill rajas. If Bhim Chand were to pay the ransom money to Alf Khan, the other rajas would follow suit automatically. The suggestion of Kirpal Chand made a good impression on Alf Khan. He then proceeded toward Kehloor state and halted at Nadaun enroute. From Nadaun Alf khan sent message to Raja Bhim Chand for payment of money. Bhim Chand in turn called for other hill rajas to find out how the problem could be solved. It was very difficult for the rajas to meet the demands of Alf Khan from their meagre resources. The hill rajas also realized that they were not powerful enough to face the Mughal army.

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The Hill Rajas Made Request to the Guru for Help

Raja Bhim Chand’s priest, Permanand, advised the rajas to seek help from Guru Gobind Rai. It was only few months earlier, Raja Bhim Chand along with Raja Fateh Shaw of Garhwal and other rajas had attacked the Guru and the battle was fought near Bhangani. The rajas felt belittled and felt ashamed to seek help from the Guru. After prolonged discussions, they decided to compose their differences with the Guru and seek help from him. Permanand was deputed as emissary to negotiate with the Guru.

When Permanand came to Anandpur and presented himself before Guru Gobind Rai, he made a request for help on behalf of the hill rajas. The Guru observed that the hill rajas had not proved trustworthy till then. At the same time he also did not like that ransom money should be paid to the Mughal government. He thought if the rajas paid the amount to the Mughals, it would be at the cost of the common people, and the amount thus paid would be utilized by the emperor in subjugating the people in the south. The people of south had already suffered much from the emperor’s aggressions. The Guru thus decided to give military aid to the hill rajas, if attacked for non-payment of the ransom money to the Mughal government.

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The Battle of Nadaun

Alaf Khan was staying on the banks of river Beas near Nadaun. The Raja of Kangra, Kirpal Chand was with him. On hearing of the news that Guru Gobind Rai would help the hill rajas, they brought their forces to the battle field.

Alaf Khan positioned his troops at an elevated place at Nadaun, where he also raised a wooden fortress. The hill rajas, Kirpal of Kangra and Dayal of Bijarwal joined Alaf Khan’s forces against other rajas who were opposed to the payment of the tributes to Mughals. Raja Kesri Chand, Raja Prithi Chand and Raja Sukhdev took their forces to join the forces of Raja Bhim Chand and all proceeded toward Nadaun, where the rival forces had the engagement. Bhim Chand’s forces shot arrows and bullets, which struck rocks and trees. He was much disheartened, invoked in all fervor, Hanuman, who assisted Sri Ram Chander in his war against Ceylon. In another assault made by his troops, Raja Dayal’s men slew all of them. Now Bhim Chand lost all hope of victory in the battle. Bhim Chand then requested the Guru for help. The Guru and the Sikhs discharged fatal arrows and caused havoc in enemy’s ranks.

Alf Khan, Kirpal and Dayal’s forces then turned against Bhim Chand’s troops, whom they caused to retreat. Raja Prithi Chand thereupon came out with sword in hand, rushed to kill Alaf Khan and Dayal, who could not face him, and retreated. Now Dayal came with bow and began to discharge arrows, which caused great destruction in Bhim Chand’s troops. Seeing this destruction being caused, Guru Gobind Rai came forward and challenged Raja Dayal. After having defended Dayal’s arrow on his musket, he lodged a bullet in Dayal’s chest, who fell down dead. The Guru states, that he then started discharging arrows, which had deadly effect. HARDLY SEVEN ARROWS HAD BEEN DISCHARGED, THAT IT SO HAPPENED THAT THE BATTLE WAS BROUGHT TO AN END. Alaf Khan and Kirpal disappeared as the night set in. The hill rajas came victorious with the help of the Guru. Even the extreme opponent, the Hindu fanatical Dr H R Gupta, who bitterly criticized Guru Gobind Singh, in favour of the policies of the Hindu Hill Rajas, while describing this battle stated, “After a hard battle the allies were successful and Alif Khan took to flight leaving behind all the baggage, “ says H R Gupta in History of Sikh Gurus. Alas! This Kala Afghana and his hench men have crossed all limits. One is extremely amazed how they call themselves as Sikhs – simply to effectively stab Gurmat in the back effectively!!!

As regards the criticism above, the reply is given below -

The Guru stated in ‘Bichitar Natak’ that he spent 8days on the banks of river Beas, and also visited the palaces of the hill rajas. The Guru then along with the Sikhs came back to Anandpur. But the hill rajas stayed back at Nadaun and composed their differences and made peace with Alaf Khan and signed a treaty with him. The Guru clearly mentions of the treaty made by hill rajas Alf Khan, when he was still at Nadaun. The Guru states, “eit ham hoai bida ghar aai. sulnimat veh autai sidhai. sand einai aun kai sung kehi, hait katha pooran eit bhai.” The Guru further states, “Alsuin kai mar keh, eh dis kio pian. bhant anaik karai pur Anand sukh aan.” (we had an encounter on the way at Alsuin in which we became victorious. We came back to Anandpur and there enjoyed many comforts.)

Historians have described the happenings at Alsuin in the following different ways -

(a) According to Gian Singh, author of Twarikh Guru Khalsa, Vol I, page 159, in Urdu, when the Guru along with the Sikhs reached village Alsuin, there they found a military base held by Pathans, who made an assault on the Guru and the Sikhs, which was defended. The Guru also told the Sikhs to demolish the base completely. The same annotation has been made by Dr Ganda Singh in “Gur Sobha” by Sainapat.
(b) Sainapat, the contemporary poet wrote: “aan Alsuin pai soor aisai rupai pakar kai sastar aisai chalai. paraijo jai sangram aisai kio main anak kaitan ghai. mar kaitai aur bhajai sabhai chor dhan dham aisai sidhai. chalat hai ban gunjan bhari parbal bhajai hai bhant aisai bitai. 12.103. dhoera. fateh kio Alsuin ko bajio tabal nishan, gobind Singh aai tabhai pur anand subh than. 13.104.” Sainapat was a renowned poet in the Court of Guru Gobind Rai. His report is most reliable. He clearly states that the Guru and the Sikhs, when they reached Alsuin, were intercepted and were thus engaged in a battle and came out victorious. He specifically mentions that it was a fierce battle. Many of the men of the opposing forces were slain and many took to their heels, while fighting. However, Sainapat also did not mention who were the inimical forces on the look out for harming the Guru and the Sikhs.
(c) Sooraj Parkash and Maculiffe state that the inhabitants of the village refused to sell supplies to the Sikhs. Already we have discussed at length that the high caste Hindus bitterly opposed the Guru’s Teachings of Equality of All and his Way of Life. The Guru it is stated owing to the necessity of travel was compelled to order that the supplies be forcibly taken after payment of current rates. This does not appear to be the cause of battle. The people of hilly regions generally experience extreme economic privations. They would never refuse to sell their merchandise to any one. This account is totally non-acceptable.
(d) Giani Bishan Singh, in his translation of ‘Dassam Granth’ states that the Rajputs of the village had set up the military base and assaulted the Guru and the Sikhs, and thereupon, they were set aright. This is practically the same explanation as given in (a) above with the difference that the marauders were Hindu Rajputs and not the Pathans. However, Forster says that on his return the Guru “was hospitably received by a marauding Hindu chief of that quarter.”
(e) Indubhushan Banerjee writes in his book “ Evolution of the Khalsa” (page 8) Vol II, “The Guru states that after the victory he encamped on the side of the river and remained there for eight days. He visited the places of the various Rajas and then took his leave. The two parties came to terms and the Guru, on his part, returned to Anandpur after having plundered the village of Alsuin on the way ... The evidence of the more important records leave no room for doubt that the entire village was looted. (The more important records referred to by this author are (1) Bichitar Natak (2) Panth Parkash of Gian Singh (3) Gur Sobha of Sainapat. We have already dealt with the implications of these records as stated above, which speak otherwise, if carefully examined.


We condemn the views expressed by Surjit Singh Gandhi in his book “History of Sikh Gurus”, for the following remarks: “The Guru and his followers, while still on their way to Anandpur - Makhowal, heard that Bhim Chand had entered into an agreement with Alaf Khan. They naturally felt upset at Bhim Chand’s entering into agreement with Alaf Khan and expressed their resentment by plundering the inhabitants of Alsuin.”*
*Macauliffe says that the village of Alsuin was situated in the territories of Bhim Chand of Kehloor, but he gives a somewhat garbled version of the plunder. We are told that the inhabitants refused to sell supplies to the Guru’s troops and at last the Guru was compelled to order his followers that the supplies be forcibly taken at current rates. But the views are not supported by any evidence. The weight of the evidence of the more important records is in favour of the view that the entire village was looted as a mark of retaliation against Bhim Chand, who made the submission before Alaf Khan.

The Guru in ‘Bichitar Natak’, however, clearly states that he was at Nadaun when the hill rajas reached an agreement with Alaf Khan and signed a treaty with him. Surjit Singh Gandhi and other writers have betrayed complete ignorance of the facts. How could the Guru have killed innocent people at Alsuin, when despite extreme differences with the hill rajas and their complete unreliability, the Guru agreed to fight on their behalf with a view that the money would not be exacted from the poor common hill people for payment of the tributes!!

This is a serious charge against the Guru. Surjit Singh Gandhi should make public the “the more important records” he mentioned. It may be stated that there is absolutely no mention of this incident by any non-Sikh sources, who were all adversaries of the Guru. All writers take clue from the brief writings of the Guru himself in ‘Bichitar Natak’. If the village would have been plundered and looted by the Guru and the Sikhs without any provocation from the village, then there would not have been any battle fought and victory claimed by the Guru, as the villagers could not have fought with the regular army, as was the case when Babar’s hordes invaded Saidpur and looted the town. Raja Bhim Chand, nay all the hill people, even the learned Sikhs would have asked the Guru for clarification of his conduct. In whole of the Guru’s life history, he never retaliated to harm any one for the wrongs done to him. He only defended himself, when armed assaults were made against him, for his mere survival, which is the most sacred act. Strange it is to imagine that the Guru is stated to have caused plunder of the innocent inhabitants of the whole village to take revenge against Bhim Chand, to whom he said nothing!!

According to the Sikh Teachings, all have the Divine Right to lead a life of independence. If any extraneous power enforces its will on a people, they have the right to resist. The small states in the hilly region of northern India, ruled by Hindu rajas were paying tribute to the paramount Mughal government. It appears that the rajas had stopped payment of the tributes. On their refusal to pay the tributes, the Mughal Commander, Alf Khan, had made an attack on them. The rajas were justified to resist this exploitation and requested the Guru to help them. The Guru was morally bound to help the exploited people. His refusal to help the exploited people, would have meant that he was merely a silent spectator to the exploitation of the poor people. This was not the rebellion raised by the Guru against the Mughal government, but only resistance to the injustice being imposed. The Guru helped the aggressed ones, not the aggressors. However, the deal proved extremely costly to the Guru, as we shall observe from the activities of these rajas.

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The Unfaithful Hill Rajas

Although the hill rajas had been saved from destruction at Nadaun by Guru Gobind Rai, yet they later began to feel that their own true ally could only be the mughal rulers. After the battle of Nadaun Kirpal Chand advised Bhim Chand that it was not wise for the latter to have fought with the Mughal army. Kirpal Chand further said that the Guru, who was making the low caste people aware of their human rights and making them shed off their inferiority feelings, could not put up with them, as there was no common ground between him and the Rajas. Bhim Chand realized his mistake and secretly promised to pay the tributes to the Mughal government. The Rajas did not have to pay the money from their own pockets but only had to extract from the people.

Gurbaksh Singh Kala Afghana and his people have gone to the extreme in ridiculing the Guru without any basis, except extreme hatred for the Guru. In the circumstances, can they hope they will ever be able to reconcile with the Guru; why not these haters on their own abjure Gurmat, and choose their new way of life. We the Believers will feel much relieved on their departure out of the Sikh Circle.

We have great hopes that both Sri Akal Takhat Sahib and SGPC will take decisive action against these Guru Akal Purkh Slanderers.

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Copyright (©)2003 by Dalip Singh and Amarpreet Singh Munde.
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