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"ਸਾਹਿਬ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ ਵਿਰੁੱਧ ਕੁਫ਼ਰ ਤੋਲਣ ਵਾਲੇ, ਗੁਰੂ ਸਾਹਿਬਾਨ ਦੇ ਵਿਰੁੱਧ ਬੋਲਣ ਵਾਲੇ ਨੂੰ ਸੋਧਣਾ ਹਰ ਗੁਰਸਿੱਖ ਦਾ ਫ਼ਰਜ਼ ਹੈ। ਇਹੋ ਜਿਹੇ ਸਿੱਖ ਨੂੰ ਜੇ ਸਰਕਾਰ ਅਤਿਵਾਦੀ ਕਹਿੰਦੀ ਹੈ ਤਾਂ ਮੈਂ ਅਤਿਵਾਦੀ ਹਾਂ।"
- Bhai Ranjit Singh (Jathedar Sri Akal Takht Sahib)

Satwant Kaur : An 18th Century Legend (Chapter 16)

Source: Bhai Veer Singh Ji, translated by Bimal Kaur

In far-off Kabul, on the barren outskirts of the city, the caravan lay under the silent, twinkling stars. All round were the Amir's soldiers standing guard. Those who had already gone through the inspection were fast asleep, but the others waited, restless and anxious, till exhaustion claimed them into deep slumber.

Only one person, Jaswant Singh, sat with eyes fixed heavenwards, his thought focused on the Creator. His mind was filled with the fear of the morning, when it would be revealed that he was a young woman dressed in male garments. She would be recognized as the same girl who had escaped from the Amir's palace. The result would be capture, torture and death. Satwant had believed that being disguised as a man would give her protection, make her journey safer, but it had put her in greater peril.

As time passed a calmness descended on her mind. Every time a fresh wave of fear and worry threatened, she seemed to hear a voice saying:

Angikaar oh karey teyra
Karaj sabh swarnaa
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ang 917)
(He will accept you and He will protect you for He is the One who can put everything right.)

Eih mann meyreya tu sadaa raho Har nalay
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ang 917)
(Oh, my heart! Stay always with the Lord.)

Time passed and still Satwant Kaur could see no ray of home. She clung to her faith and reassured herself that the Guru would show the way; she must keep her spirits up. Finally, she got up and decided to find a way to get out of the camp, but guards were posted everywhere. Quietly she slipped back and sat down again.

One Pathan chief passed close by. He was talking, softly to himself, "Everyone is asleep. All are either Kabuli or Pathans. Who would know where 'Butala' is?

Oh, what should I do? Tomorrow, we leave and who knows what will happen then!"

As he paced slowly, he heard the sound of a soft voice. In the dark, he could see someone sitting and reciting something in a strange language. As he listened carefully, he realized that the person was Guru Nanak's Sikh, and was reciting Gurbani.

The Pathan chief was intrigued and excited, and moved forward quickly. He approached the young man and shook him by the shoulder, saying, "Who are you, young man?"

Jaswant: A traveler.

Chief: Where are you going?

Jaswant: To Hindustan.

Chief: Have you been there before or is this your first trip?

Jaswant: I have been up to Sirhind.

Chief: Have you see Butala?

Jaswant: Not Butala, it's Vatala.

Chief: Yes, yes. What sort of place is it?

Jaswant: It has Muslim madrasas (schools) and libraries.

Chief: Yes, right. You know about Punjab also?

Jaswant: A little.

Chief: How is that?

Jaswant: My family was from Punjab?

Chief: Did Nadar Shah capture you and bring you here?

Jaswant: No sir, But we belong to that part.

Chief: Do you know anybody in Punjab?

Jaswant: Not many.

Chief: Have you heard the name Aas Kur?

Jaswant: (thinking deeply) Yes, sir, I had heard that a woman, Aas Kaur, along with her little boy had been captured by Nadar Shah and along with other Hindu slaves, had been brought
here.

Chief: What happened to her?

Jaswant: Near Attock, Sikhs had attacked and managed to free some Hindu prisoners, but she was not among them. It was believed that there was a pahadi maid, Nukro, with her, but no trace was found of the three.

The chief frowned and biting his lip asked, "Young man, how do you know all this?"

Jaswant: Just heard it in the passing.

Chief: Why are you still awake?

Jaswant: I am remembering my Lord.

Chief: Why?

Jaswant: It is Guru Nanak's teaching to remember the Lord with one's heart even as we toil with our hands. He taught us that those who do not believe in the Lord, eat corrupted food.

Chief: You appear to be a very noble person. (Thinks his forehead is peaceful and loveable. His words are sweet and thoughts clear and concise) and speaks aloud.) Tell me, does Aas Kaur have a husband and do you know his name?

Jaswant: His name is Shatrujeet Singh. He has a daughter, who is very pretty and God-loving. It is said that she resembles her mother.

Chief: You've not seen her?

Jaswant: Only heard about her.

Chief: If you were in Hindustan, would you be able to find out her whereabouts?

Jaswant: I am not sure, but if it is for a good cause, I can try.

Chief: Ha! You are a wise one.

Jaswant: I have heard that when she sings songs of love and sorrow in the memory of her brother and mother, the hardest stones melt.

Chief: Do you have any weapon with you?

Jaswant: Yes a small dagger.

Chief: Give it to me.

Jaswant: How do I protect myself?

Chief: You know the consequence of disobeying me?

Jaswant: Yes, but at least tell me why you want it?

Chief: I have to imprison you.

Jaswant: For what crime?

Chief: No crime. I need you and when the job is done, I shall release you.

Jaswant: But why imprison me? You have just to order me and if there is no wrong-doing involved, I shall willingly obey.

Chief: I am not sure, but I've been waiting for a long time for someone like you. Maybe you can solve my dilemma.

Jaswant: To achieve your own ends, why do you arrest an innocent?

Chief: My wish.

Jaswant: Justice, justice..."

Chief: If there was justice, why would I have needed you? Enough of talking. Get up and come with me or it will be the worst for you.

(to be continued...)


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