The Battle of Chamkaur, also known as Battle of Chamkaur Sahib, was a battle fought between the Khalsa, led by Guru Gobind Singh, and the coalition forces of the Mughals led by Wazir Khan. Guru Gobind Singh makes a reference to this battle in his victory letter Zafarnama.
After Guru Gobind Singh left Anandpur Sahib on the night of 05 and 06 December 1704, they crossed the Sarsa river and while they were crossing the mughals and hill chiefs broke their oath and attacked the sikh. Many of the sikhs had gotten scattered. They asked permission of the city chief for shelter to rest for the night in their garhi or haveli. The older brother thought giving him shelter would be dangerous so he refused. But the younger brother gave permission to let them stay there for the night.
Despite giving assurance of safe conduct, the Mughals soldiers were looking for Guru Gobind Singh, to take his head as a trophy. After learning that the party of Sikhs had taken shelter in the haveli, they laid siege upon it. The actual battle is said to have taken place outside the haveli where the Guru was resting. Negotiations broke down and the Sikh soldiers chose to engage the overwhelming Mughal forces, thus allowing their Guru to escape. Another Sikh who resembled the Guru, Sangat Singh, donned the Guru’s clothes and remained with the soldiers. The next morning the remaining Sikhs were killed by Mughal forces.
Aftermath and Legacy
When the Sikhs won the war the Mughals all ran away.
Guru Ji let them run and didn’t chase them. Guru Gobind Singh made a last stand against the Mughals at Muktsar, but by then Aurangzeb lost interest in chasing him thus he started negotiations to sue for peace. The Battle of Muktsar was the last battle fought by Guru Gobind Singh.
The Guru emphasized how he was proud that his sons had died fighting in battle, and that he had ‘thousands of sons – the Singhs’. He also said that he would never trust Aurangzeb again due to his broken promises and lies.
Zafarnama or “Epistle of Victory” is a letter that was written by Guru Gobind Singh to the then Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Zafarnama vividly describes what happened at Chamkaur, and also holds Aurangzeb responsible for what occurred and promises he broke:
- 13: Aurangzeb! I have no trust in your oaths anymore. (You have written that) God is one and that He is witness (between us).
- 14: I don’t have trust equivalent to even a drop (of water) in your generals (who came to me with oaths on the Quran that I will be given safe passage out of Anandgarh Fort). They were all telling lies.
- 15: If anyone trusts (you) on your oath on the Quran, that person is bound to be doomed in the end.
After his escape from Chamkaur, the exhausted Guru is said to have been carried by two Pathans (Ghani Khan and Nabi Khan) to Jatpur where he was received by the local Muslim chieftain. He later went to Dina, and stayed at Bhai Desa Singh’s house, where he is said to have written “Zafarnama” in Persian, in 111 verses.