Monday, 9 July 2012

The Singh and the Pathaan Battle

In the second world war, the Sikhs fought for the British and many Sikhs gave their lives fighting for them. Many Sikhs fought in Europe too and the Sikhs were recognized for their outstanding performance in the war. After the war was over, the Sikh regiments were brought back to India by road. As thus, they had to pass through Afghanistan and the present day Pakistan, to arrive in India.

When the Sikh regiment reached Jamraud (an area in Pakistan, close to the Afghanistan border, currently controlled by the Taliban), the Sikhs requested the officer in charge to stay at Jamraud as they wanted to visit the Gurdwara Sahib that stands there in the sweet memory of the legendary Sikh general - Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa. The officers agreed and the Sikhs stayed there for some days.

As the military had stationed in Jamraud, the Sikhs took liberty to visit the adjoining places. The residents of Jamraud did not know too much about the Sikhs and showed curiosity to know about them. One such person was the wife of a Pathan general Abdul Qiyoom Khan. She had not seen the Sikhs before and when she saw singhs with parkaash beards and well-built bodies, she asked her husband who they were.

Abdul Qiyoom Khan praised the Sikhs for their bravery just as a big-hearted warrior would praise another warrior. He told her about the background of the Sikhs and how they were known for their courage and strength.

The pathaans too are known for their bravery and if we read the history of Pusthuns (Pathans), we realize that they have fiercely maintained their independance. They are extremely brave and proud people. During the Mahabharata times, the area inhabited by the Pusthuns was known and Gandhaar and Duyoudhana's mother Gandhari was from this area. These people ruled India for many years and they were stopped by only one person and that person was Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa. Sardar jee reversed the flow of invasion from Punjab towards the West. For this reason, the old people of this area have respect for the Sikhs.

Coming back to the story, after hearing the stories of bravery of Sikhs, from her husband, the Pathaan lady jokingly said to her husband that the reason she married him was his bravery and that she did not know that the Sikhs were more brave than him. When the Pathaan heard such mocking from her wife, he got hurt and his ego was severely wounded. Just as a wife cannot tolerate the description of beauty of another woman from her husband, same way a man cannot bear praise courage and strength of another man from his wife's mouth. He immediately shot back at his wife saying that he did realize that the Sikhs were brave but he did not mean to say that they are more brave than Pathaans. He said to his wife that he would prove it to her.

Saying this, the Abdul Qiyoom Khan (the Pathaan) immediately dashed towards the camping place of the Sikh regiment. He went to the officer in-charge and challenged the Sikhs for a one-on-one fight. Abdul Qiyoom Khan was a very accomplished warrior of his area and was the sardaar (leader) of the tribal army in his area. He stood close to 6 feet, 5 inches tall and had a huge muscular body.

When the Sikhs heard his challenge, they started thinking how to respond, since this happened so fast. When he challenged again, a Sikh soldier by the name of Kartar Singh accepted his challenge. Kartar Singh was not very tall in height but he had a well-built body. It was decided that the fight would take place the following day at such and such time.

The next day, Abdul Qiyoom Khan arrived a little early along with his supporters. When the time of the match came, Kartar Singh did not arrive on time. The Pathaans thought that he had ran away, out of fear of fighting Abdul Qiyoom Khan. They started mocking the Sikhs. This incident was recorded by the Englishman who acted as the referee in the competition. His name was M. Crafts.

Anyway, a Sikh soldier was dispatched to get Bhai Kartar Singh. When the soldier arrived at his tent, he found him standing in ardaas. Unaware of his surroundings, Kartar Singh was urging Siri Guru Gobind Singh jee Maharaj for strength and was humbly supplicating along the lines that he did not have any strength of his own and that he was relying on Him (Guru Sahib) alone. After the Ardaas was over, Bhai Kartar Singh arrived at the place of competition.

Most independent observers had thought that this match would not last more than 10 minutes and would result in the death and defeat of Sardar Kartar Singh. Both warriors were allowed to use any weapon they wanted and they both chose swords to fight. They both were very skilled in fighting. They both did vaars (attacks) on each other and very diligently saved the vaars of their opponent. They were attacking, defending and counter-attacking all at the same time. The Singh was fighting so well, that the pathaan who had thought of crushing him in minutes was taken aback by the fierce resistance posed by him.

After half an hour, when no one emerged as a clear winner, the competition was briefly stopped for about 10 minutes. The pathaan came to his side of the ring and drank grapes juice. The singh on the other hand only drank water and closed his eyes to thank Siri Guru Dasmesh jee for giving him strength and martial skill to face an opponent as strong as Abdul Qiyoom Khan.

When they came back after the second round, the pathaan got a little impatient and challenged Kartar Singh to try blocking his vaar (attack). When a person loses his cool in a battle or competition, he is bound to lose a little bit of focus and concentration. This is what happened to the pathaan. He did a mighty vaar on Kartar Singh who in turn very diligently stopped it and did a counter vaar, which resulted in the pathaan getting seriously injured, thus ending the competition in Kartar Singh’s favour.

After the competition Kartar Singh quietly left the place and while the Sikhs were celebrating he went to his tent to perform an ardaas of thanking Guru Sahib for his victory. The words on his lips were the same words that Siri Guru Gobind Singh jee had on His lips, when He won the battle of Bhangani:

(O Vaheguru, I attained victory because of your grace).

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