substantially edited for grammar, historical veracity, elimination of hearsay
During the night flight from besieged castle of Anandpur Sahib, the 81 year old mother of Tenth Guru Gobind Singh, Mata Gujri and her grandsons, sahibzadah, Zorawar Singh aged 9, and Sahibzadah Fateh Singh aged 7, struggled across the stormy floodwaters of River Sirsa together. The dark raging turbulence swept away people and possessions alike and many Sikhs did not survive the crossing.
Mata Gujri and the young sahibzadeh were separated from the rest of their family. Wet, chilled, and exhausted they accepted help from a Brahmin Gangu, a former cook servant who had been discharged from Guru Gobind Singh’s household. Gangu led them to his village Saheri not far from Morinda (in present day district Ropar) and gave them shelter in his home. While Mata Gujri and her grandsons slept, Gangu pilfered her belongings looking for valuables. He found and took a bag of coins that Mata Gujri had carried with her. When Mata Gujri discovered the theft, she confronted the former servant. Gangu denied the theft, became angry and accused her of being ungrateful. He then turned Mata Gujri and her grandsons out into the streets.
Capture By Moghul Government
Greedy for more money and rewards, Gangu contacted the local Chaudhri (local Moghul official) and told him that Guru Gobind Singh’s mother and her grandsons had arrived at his home seeking shelter. Gangu advised the Chaudhry that they would be rewarded by the Mughal authorities in Morinda for the capture of the Guru’s mother and the grandsons. Together they informed Moghul officers Jani Khan and Mani Khan about the whereabouts of Mata Gujri and her grandsons.
On December 8, 1705 A.D., the Moghul officers captured and arrested Mata Gujri and the younger sahibzadeh and transported them to Sirhind. In anticipation of his reward, Gangu accompanied the arresting detail of Moghul soldiers.
On December 9, 1705 A.D. Nawab Wazir Khan the head official of Sirhind District imprisoned Mata Gurjri and the younger sahibzadeh.
Despite the chilly winter weather, he locked the 81 year old Mata Gujri and her young grandsons in an open tower, called Thanda Burj which means “cold tower“. As terrorists who were engaged in an insurrection against a ‘lawful’ governement, the captors treated Mata Gujri and her grandsons with exceptional cruelty . Local residents of Morinda came to the Thanda Burj to view the prisoners (terrorists). Sachanand Khatri, whose offer of his daughter as wife to one of Guru Gobind Singh’s elder sons had been repeatedly spurned, turned his anger towards the younger sahibzadeh with vengeance and declared them to be the offspring of a poisonous serpent who would grow up to be as dangerous as their father if allowed to live.
Wazir Khan ordered the Sahibzadeh to be brought to his Court, but ordered Mata Gujri to be kept confined in the tower He thus hoped that the separation would increase the vulnerability of the young Sahibzadeh to his intended ploy. The Ranghar, or governor, of Morinda went to fetch the Sahibzadeh.
The Ranghar hoping to shake their resolve of the Sahibzadeh, advised them their father and elder brothers had been killed upon their flight from the Castle of Anadpur Sahib.
Test of Faith
The younger sahibzadeh were brought before Wazir Khan. Wazir Khan advised them that their troubles would be over if they accepted Islam. He promised them riches and rank if they would denounce their father’s faith. He made it clear however, that they had no other choice and any other choice would assuredly result in their execution. Advising them to consider the offer carefully, the Wazir ordered them returned to the open air tower informing them their death sentence would be carried out in two days time if they did not submit to Islam (Islam qabool).
What Wazir Khan did not realize is that the young Sahibzadeh had been brought up with a deep understanding of Sikh ideology and the central position of valor in the Sikh religion. The young sahibzadeh were undoubtedly aware of Nanakian philosophy, the chardi kala doctrine, the doctrine of fear and so forth. Thus the resolve of the young sahibzadeh could not be so easily broken.
On December 11, 1705 A.D. Wazir Khan offered the Sahibzadeh a second opportunity to renounce their faith and embrace Islam. When they refused, he order that they be entombed alive.
Nawab Sher Muhammed of Malerkotla registered a formal protest insisting that the Quran did not condone the murder of innocents. Ignoring his advice the Wazir made ready to implement his order.
On December 12, 1705 A.D. The Wazir gave the Sahibizadeh one final opportunity to convert to Islam. The stalwart sons of Guru Gobind Singh withstood temptation, declared their undying devotion to the Khalsa Panth and denounced the Wazir’s forcible attempts to sway them. Determined to see them die, the Wazir, ordered the Sahibzadeh to be entombed alive and upon their death their heads to be severed from their bodies.
On December 12, 1705 A.D., the young Sahibzadeh were entombed alive. While the entombment proceeded, a Qazi (muslim cleric) stood nearby exhorting the Sahibzadeh to convert to Islam.
Learning of the emtombment, Mata Gujri passed away a few days later at the age of 81 years.
On December 13, 1705 A.D. merchant Seth Todar Mal of Sirhind obtained permission to perform last rites when he offered to cover the ground where the bodies lay outside the fort wall with gold coins. The merchant respectfully cremated the bodies of Guru Gobind Singh’s mother and young sons.
Historic Commemorative Shrines
The place where the bodies of Mata Gujri and the Sahibzadeh lay overnight is known as Bimangarh. Three shrines near Sirhind are dedicated to their memory :
Gurdwara Burj Mata Gujri
Gurdwara Shahid Ganj