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Sikh Resilience: Remembering 1746

May 14, 2024

Vahiguru ji ka Khalsa, Vahiguru ji ki Fatih!

Embarking on a journey through the annals of history, we are confronted with stories of unparalleled sacrifice and unwavering courage. Reflecting on the Chotta Ghallughara of 17 May 1746, we are drawn to the profound lessons of resilience and fortitude that echo through the ages. On this fateful day, near Kahnuvan, Gurdaspur, Panjab, approximately 10,000 to 15,000 Sikhs perished, marking the deadliest toll in Sikh history up to that point.

This chapter in Sikh history, marked by the merciless slaughter of thousands of Sikhs, underscores the brutality and injustice endured by the community. The catalyst for this bloodshed was the quest for vengeance by Lakhpat Rai, the Revenue Minister in the Lahore government, following the death of his brother, Jaspat Rai. Pressuring Lahore governor Yahiya Khan, Lakhpat Rai instigated a genocidal campaign against the Sikhs, initiating the brutality by rounding up, torturing, and executing all Sikhs in Lahore on 10 March 1746.

A significant contingent of the Khalsa, numbering 15,000, had encamped in a marshy forest near Kahnuwan, 15 km south of Gurdaspur. The Mughal Army, comprising 50,000 infantry and cavalry, surrounded the jungle, catching the Khalsa off guard. Despite a valiant attempt to break through the Mughal lines, the Khalsa suffered devastating losses in the process, symbolizing the unwavering courage and determination of the Sikh warriors to resist the overwhelming forces of the Mughal Army.

The survivors sought refuge across the Ravi River, intending to retreat to Basohli in the Jammu hills. However, they encountered further hostility from Hindu hill tribes, exacerbating their plight. Despite the renewed threat from Mughal forces, the battered and weary Khalsa managed to break through the encirclement once more, albeit at significant cost, and recrossed the Ravi. Many succumbed to exhaustion and injuries, while others perished in the treacherous river currents.

Undeterred, the survivors pressed on, heading southward. They crossed the Beas and then the Sutlej, finally finding safety in the Lakhi jungle, a Khalsa stronghold since the time of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib. Ultimately, 7,000 Sikh warriors fell in the grueling two-day battle, with 3,000 captured alive. These captives endured further indignity as they were paraded around Lahore atop donkeys before enduring months of torture and execution in small batches.

In the face of the Chotta Ghallughara's horrors, the human spirit shone brightly, showcasing the indomitable will and strength of the Sikh community. Despite overwhelming adversity, they displayed unwavering courage, determination, and solidarity, refusing to surrender their faith, identity, or dignity despite the odds stacked against them.

Today, we honor their memory and draw inspiration from their unwavering courage and resilience.

We remember them.
May Wisdom-Guru guide us!

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