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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 19)

Source: Bhai Veer Singh Ji, translated by Bimal Kaur

It was past midnight when Satwant Kaur heard the sound of hoof beats. In a short while, Agha Khan appeared, accompanied by a tall, slim woman. She seemed to be in her late forties. Unlike the Pathan women, her face was long and thin. Her eyes carried a hint of sadness in their depths, but they also showed the wisdom and gravity which come from facing tough and challenging situations.

Jaswant Singh: You’ve achieved this very quickly.

Agha Khan: Yes, with some help from Allah. She had managed to get out of the house yesterday and has remained hidden during the day. Now, under cover of darkness she had been making her way to this camp when I met her. She had an inkling of what fate awaited her after my departure, so she decided to act. Her absence must have been discovered by now, and I am sure my father must be sending guards here, since this is the only caravan ready for departure and he knows this is her one chance of getting out of the country. So, Jaswant Singh, it is now time for urgent action!

Jaswant Singh nodded and, leaving Agha Khan to escort the woman to his tent, he quietly went to where his luggage was kept. He took out his second set of clothes and brought them for the woman to change into. Then he took her back with him and waking up the old Babaji, he explained, “Agha Khan has ordered that we take this man along as our servant, but it must be kept a secret. I have promised Agha Khan, and you must help me. “The old man agreed.

With the breaking of dawn, Agha Khan’s ferocious father came galloping up along with his guards. He put on a great show of affection for his son and told him that he wanted to meet him once again before he left with the caravan. While they sat talking, the guards quietly infiltrated the camp and carefully checked everyone.

The people were becoming impatient to leave. So Agha Khan took his father’s permission and gave the signal for the caravan to move.

The guards stood lining the road and as the people passed by, they sharply scrutinized each one of them. Jaswant Singh and the maid too walked by, talking and laughing in a relaxed manner. The guards were unable to gauge that these were women in disguise.

Agha Khan’s father now embraced his son one final time and turned back, but he left a few of his spies to go with the caravan, in case the maid-servant managed to join it at some later stage.

With a heart full of trepidation and also of thankfulness and joy, Satwant at last set of for her homeland.

As the caravan meandered over the difficult rocky terrain, Jaswant Singh got a chance to know Agha Khan’s maid, whom they now called Saeenji. Agha Khan quickly spotted the four spies his father had sent, and instructed his most trusted guards to keep watch on them and keep them well supplied with liquor. Only then he visited his amma to see her well-being.

One day after the evening meal was over, Jaswant Singh and Saeenji sat talking.

Saeen: In this country, the people are not all Pathans. Scores of Hindus have been captured and brought here. Now they cannot be differentiated from the locals.

Jaswant: But how is it that they quietly accept this merging with the Pathan population?

Saeen: They are helpless. The threat of the raised sword is enough to keep them meekly complaint. Also, they have no hope of receiving any support from their homeland, and so they accept the inevitable. In this way they are assured sufficient food and escape from the fear of instant death.

Jaswant: That is true, but if they accept death, they can avoid a life of slavery. What is life worth without faith in one’s religion?

Saeen: Yes, I agree. I have seen that Sikhs are seldom taken prisoners. Even when they are out-numbered, they prefer to die fighting. So far I have not seen any Sikh, man or woman, who has agreed to give up his religion. Even though Sikhs are often of Hindu origin, a dramatic transformation takes place the moment they receive amrit. You appear surprised at my words. Have you not heard about the young Sikh girl who was recently captured by the Amir? The moment she entered his palace, she set her room on fire and perished rather than give up her faith. Surely you must have heard.

Jaswant: Yes, I have. In Punjab the people take great pride that not even a child of theirs has been captured and enslaved by the Pathans. Either he has been killed or he managed to escape from his captors and reach back home.

Saeen: It’s so true. Love of their religion burns bright and strong in their hearts. A Sikh infant can be brought up in a Muslim house, and for a number of years he can follow their path, but the moment he learns that he is from a Sikh family, it takes him no time to rush back to his original home and parents.

Jaswant: (Looking quizzically at Saeena) How is it that even though you are a Pathan you are so full of praise for the Sikhs?

Saeen: I am merely stating the truth. The qualities of the Sikhs are such that even their worst enemies end up praising them. It is a well-known fact that Nandir Shah had attacked Punjab, shed rivers of blood and captured innumerable Hindu women. At Attock, Sikhs had carried out raids under cover of darkness and saved 2100 of these unfortunate women. Only one Sikh woman was captured and sent to Kabul along with some Hindu women a few days earlier. But the brave lioness that she was, she gave up her life but not her religion.

Jaswant: Did you see her?

Saeen: See her? I was with her.

At these words Saeen’s face became very pale with grief and tears began to flow from her closed eyes.

Jaswant: Please, don’t cry. I did not mean to upset you, I won’t ask anything more.

And Jaswant continued to reassure Saeen, till she could control her grief.

(to be continued...)


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