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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 25)

Source: Bhai Veer Singh Ji, translated by Bimal Kaur

Continuation from : ( Chapter 24 )

At the break of dawn the next day, a group of people left Peshawar. These were Agha Khan, Saeen, Jaswant Singh and Baba Ladha Singh with his trusted servant. They were all dressed as Pothohari Muslims, as that would draw the least attention from their enemies. All were on horseback, while a couple of mules brought up the rear with their baggage.

The route led them through some of the most picturesque countryside. This land had seen many ups and downs. It was ruled by the powerful Aryan kings in the past and was known as Gandhar. Later, Akbar renamed it as Peshawar after King Porus. Chinese travelers, who came here a century and a half ago also referred to it as 'Parshupura'. Hindu religion was dominant and one of the great scholars Panini was born here. Later, the people turned to Buddhism, and this area became the centre of its learning and culture.

Various monuments and edifices of Buddhist architecture were built.

Gandhar became famous for its fruits, flowers, forests and springs of fresh water. The land is still arable but all the natural beauty has long gone. Mehmood Ghaznavi laid the whole area to waste. The artistically designed budh vihars and stupas were turned to rubble.

In the time all traces of Hindu and Buddhist culture vanished. This became the entry point for the foreign invaders to India, who looted and pillaged, leaving behind ruins and destruction. The party from Peshawar followed this route, their horses carefully picking their way among the stones and rocks. They little realized how many centuries of history lay underfoot.

As they neared the banks of the Indus, they spotted a group of Sikhs at a distance, and heard the sound of singing. Jaswant Singh suggested that they stop there and get some rest, while he sent one of the attendants to find out what was happening. Soon the boy returned and reported, "It's a group of Sikh men and women. They have prepared Karah parshad and are singing kirtan.

Jaswant Singh wanted Agha Khan to experience a Sikh samagam. So they both dressed in Sikh garments and joined the group. Accepting them as Singhs and sehajdhari Sikhs, the group respectfully welcome them.

After completing the kirtan, the leader recited the ardas, which was for the soul of a young girl who had died at this very spot.

During a raid by the Mughals, a group of Hindu men and women had been captured. Among them was a Sikh girl. During the journey she constantly urged the others to resist the invaders and not meekly follow them like a herd of cattle. They were being taken to a life of slavery, which was worse than death. To die fighting for one's freedom was far better. Her words often let to skirmishes between the soldiers and their victims and many were wounded and killed.

When the Mughals learnt that the one instigating the rebellion was a Sikh girl, they began to treat her more harshly, finally tying up her hands and feet. On the banks of Indus where they made camp, they decided to convert her to Islam. The qazi got ready but the fearless girl refused. Ultimately, they lost patience and threw her into the river. And thus, this brave soul was liberated from all sufferings and went free and happy to meet her Lord.

The news soon spread to all Sikhs who lived in the region. They could not find her body, but they made parshad and said a prayer for her soul. Since then, this was repeated every year. Later they were able to trace her to a Sikh family of Gharhthal. Her father had become a Singh after taking amrit. He was killed fighting in a battle.

Some Pathans of the area had told them that they had heard her say to her companions, "If you can do nothing else then jump into the river. On the way there will be plenty of opportunity as we will cross seven rivers-Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, Jhanab, Jehlum, Indus and Lunda!"

Agha Khan listened to all this, his throat tight with emotion. His thoughts went back to his mother and her imprisonment, and automatically his hand tightened on his sword. Waves of emotion washed over him, ultimately bringing tears to his eyes. 'O Lord!' he thought, 'Creator of such a courageous people! And yet what warm feelings they have for each other! They had never seen this girl, knew nothing about her except that she died to keep her faith intact, and yet they meet every year, sing kirtan and pray for her. What an example of love and devotion, more than that of any family! I am grateful that this sacred blood flows in my veins too, and it has brought me close to my own people, and to Sikhi.

Agha Khan accepted the karah parshad with thankfulness. His first attendance at a Sikh samagam proved spiritually uplifting for him. The warmth of their acceptance of him gave him immense joy, especially when they heard from Jaswant Singh a brief account of their difficult journey from Kabul.

(continued...)


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