Khalsa (1999)

 

 

 

Director:

Starring:

Writer:     .

a Punjabi animated cartoon complete with musical numbers

The writer made this film after doing research for 6-7 years.

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

 

Khalsa (Punjabi for "Pure") are all baptized Sikhs.  [The Khalsa brotherhood in the Sihk religion are Sikhs who have undergone the sacred Amrit baptismal ceremony initiated by the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh.]

Outdoors a man named Babaji sits down in front of a group of youngsters. They ask him if he is going again to Fatehgarh Sahib for the congregation? [Fatehgarh Sahib is located in northwest India, north of the town of Patiala in the state of Punjab.]

Babaji explains that no he is not going because the congregation at Fatehgarh is held just once a year. He reminds the children of the story of the younger Sahibjaadas, who became martyrs of the Sihk religion.

[The First Sikh Guru Ji Guru Nanak founded the Sikh religion in the 15th century. Guru Gobind Singh, the last of the living Sikh Gurus, started the Sikh Khalsa in 1699. He past the Guruship of the Sikhs to the Eleventh and Eternal Guru of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib.]

[The two sons of Guru Gobind, Zorawar (9 years old) and Fateh (7 years old), were offered safe passage if they became Muslims. Both refused, and so the Muslim Wazir Khan had the boys bricked alive. They became honored for their martyrdom.]

One of the boys, Bhai Wah, tells Babaji that he would like to be a son of Guru Gobind Singh like the Saahibjaadas. He adds that he will do this by partaking Amrit and by adopting the articles of faith.

[ Amrit is the name of the holy water used in the baptism ceremony (known as Amrit Sanskar or Amrit Chhakhna by the Sikhs). This ceremony is observed to initiate the Sikhs into the Khalsa brotherhood.]

Babaji says that it is also essential that the children know what the faith of the Sikhs is all about. He decides to test the childrenís knowledge of the religion. What, for instance, is unique about the martyrdom of the Sahibjaadas? A girl says they were the youngest martyrs of the world.

The Sihks wanted to hold a funeral for the child martyrs, but the Muslim Wazir Khan said a condition for the holding of the funeral is that the Sikhs must pay as many gold coins as would cover the land used for the burial. Todar Mal ji paid for the land by spreading out the gold coins of the Sihks over the ground.

The children want to know if Wazir Khan was ever punished for his evil doings?  Babaji says yes he did because Sirhind was decimated. [Sirhind is the older and more popular name of Fatehgarh Sahib.] Baba Banda Singh Sahadur, the tenth Guruís decorated hero, led the attack.

The children want to know more about this hero, so Babaji starts the story.

1706. Wazir Khan rules Punjab. The authorities would grab and torture Sikhs, who felt totally defeated and hopeless. The only exceptions were the Sikhs of Sri Guru Gobind Sahib.

Two sons speak to a woman saying they have to leave now on a two hour journey by foot to join the brave Sikhs of the Guru. Baba Banda Singh Sahadur tells the woman to tell their mother that Bhagel and brother Nirbhay will be gone. He didnít tell his mother because he was afraid that she would not let them go.

Jatherdas Sahib told the brothers to assemble in the jungle across the river. Another man walking with the brothers says he thinks they will assemble under the banner of Baba Banda Singh ji. The men are stopped by some guards who demand to know where are these men going in the middle of the night? They explain they are going to fetch a doctor in a nearby village. So the guards let the men go on with their journey.

As the men row in a boat across the river Bhai Sahib tells the story of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur. Babaji was born and named Lachhman Dev. He was brought up in Kashmir at Rajauri. As a boy he became a great hunter with the bow and arrow. One day he shot a deer dead only to discover that the mother dear was pregnant. Two little ones came out, but they too died. This bothered the boy. As an act of repentance he decides to give up all and become an ascetic.

In his travels he met the ascetic Aghar Nath. He became a disciple of the man and changed his name to Madho Das. He set up a dwelling near Nanded. Through meditation he gained supernatural powers and, in turn, this made him have a haughty attitude.

Dashmesh Pita came to Madho Das to tell him it is wrong to have a haughty attitude toward other human beings. He also forbade Madho Das from using his supernatural powers. Then he gets a break.. Guru Guru Gobind Singh ji Maharaj him partake Amrit and is named Burbux Singh according to Gurmat traditions.

When Babaji met Guru ji for the first time, he introduced himself as Guruís Banda. Guri ji then started calling him Banda Singh Bahadue.

Babaji came into contact with lots of Sikhs now and he learned about their history from Guru Sahib and others. And now he became angry at the Mughals and the betrayal of the hill chieftains. So Guru ji sent Babaji to Punjab under the banner of five Sikhs to fight the tyrants.

October, 1708. With twenty-five warriors with the surname of Singh, Babaji goes out to see what they can do to weaken this Wazir Khan.

Day 2. Jatha Halts for Nitnem. [The word jatha refers to an armed band or organized company especially of Sikhs. ]

Mughal spies are following the group of five Singh warriors, their leader and twenty more Singh warriors. So the warriors decide to divide into five groups and move out in five different directions. After traveling about 25 miles all of the Sikhs will move towards the North West. They will all gather back together on the out skirts of Pandhera town.

Day2.  After the Jatha has departed.

The Sikhs deliberately left some of ther equipment behind. So when the spies reach the area they thinks that the Sikhs went out hunting but will come back her to retrieve their belongings.

Day 5. (Outskirts of Pandera) Jatha reunites. The warriors come back together and say they must quickly head for Punjab, but they receive some bad news that the Mughal army is after Guru Sahib. Bhai Kahan Singh gathers more information about this situation. He learns that Guru ji had bequeathed Guruís seat to Sri Guru Granth Sahib and brought an end to the tradition of the living Guru.

"But the doctrine of the Shabad Guru provided by Guru Sahib gave unflinching faith to the followers. They could understand that spirit of the Gurus was immersed in Sri Gyuryu Granth Sahib and all practicalities rested with the Khalsa."

The men decide to fight against tyranny under the orders of Guru Sahib. And their leader will be Banda Singh Bahdur. The leader says he will seek the advice of the five beloved beloved Singh warriors.

The jatha heads to Delhi in five small groups. They travel from Nanded northwest to Manmad; then north to Indore by the Vindhya Mountain Range; they skirt around the Aravali Mountain Range heading north to Udaipur; they cross a part of the Great Indian Desert heading northeast to Bharatpur; and, finally, they reach the town of Narnaul a short distance south of Delhi. The total distance of the trip was 1,000 miles and it took the jatha one year to traverse the distance.

After One Year (October 1709), in a village near Narnaul. The warriors come upon a woman crying. A villager tells them that the area police chief is very cruel and he and his men love to torture the common people. They love to loot the villages. The woman here is crying because Dilawar Khan abducted her daughter. A boy tried to interfere and was beaten mercilessly because of it. Now the people ask for the help of the jatha.

The Khalsa agree to help. They capture the culprit Dilawar Khan. And now the women are allowed to beat the kidnapper. Other men of the village now want to join the jatha. They swear to decimate the tyranny of the Mughals.

Babaji and his large force now head for Delhi and wipe out the dacoits [members of a robber band or gang] from the cityís outskirts. They distributed the booty they take among the poor. And now even more men join the jatha.

After his victory over Kaithal, Babaji is welcomed like a national hero. At this time the Khalsa army had 4,000 cavalry and 7,800 infantry. The army became so big that it became a real problem to feed the troops. So common people started bringing money and ornaments to help the cause. Babaji then distributed the money among the army.

Assault on Samana. The Sikh army is moving on Samana which is eight miles in the distance.

Baba Band Singha Bahadur arrives to the thrill of the Khalsa.

Three Mughal soldiers are going to kidnap a pretty woman. She speaks up and says that she is the daughter of Sri Guru Gobind Singh and for their safety that had better not advance any closer to her. The men pay no attention to her, so she starts kicking them down one after another. Then she grabs the sword of one of the men and starts loping off heads.

Babaji praises the woman and she explains to him that she and her group are fighting Singhnis of Guru Sahib on their way to join the Khalsa army. So the women join the army. And now it is on to Samana.

November 26, 1709. Battle of Samana.

The Khalsa army besieges Samana. During the night the Khalsa attacks Samana. They meet some resistance from the enemy but the Mughals soon flee the battlefield. The houses and belongings of the residents are burned.

The Sikh warriors catch Jalaludin, the assassin of Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib. They then bring out Shashal Beg and Bashal Beg, killers of the younger Sahibzaadas. They start begging for mercy saying they committed the sin only on orders from Suba Sirhind.  Babaji reminds the two men that they used torture on two of the sons of his Guru. The sentence for all three men is death.

Babaji appoints Bhai Fateh Singh ji to be ruler of Samana. He will run the city under the guidance of Khalsa Panchayat. Some of the troops will stay at Samana while the bulk of the troops advance on Sadhaura. The cityís ruler, Usmaan Khan, was the one who murdered Pir Budhu Shah, a devotee of Guru Sahib.

As the number of Sikh victories piled up, so too did treasure, canons and weapons. At the fort at Mukhlispur, Babaji renamed it Lohgarh. At Lohgarh he planed the final assault of Sirhind.

Five months after the victory over Samana, news arrives that the Singhs from Majha and Doaba region traveled east and have reached Kiratpur Sahib which is located on the east central border of Punjab.

A message was sent to the Singhs at Kirtapur Sahib to advance south towards Banur by hugging the border line passing by the towns of Ropar and Sirhind. East of the border from Lohgarh the Singhs travel west to Banur.

Beginning of May 1710. The two different forces meet up near Banur. The men hug each other.

Babaji sends a letter to Wazir Khan, who is very concerned because Babaji has killed all the rulers from Samana to Banur. The dead rulers are replaced by various members of the Singh family. An adviser to Wazir Khan warns him that Banda Singh has super human powers.

Wazir Khan decides to send a large force to join in with the Sikh army. But once the main Mughal army clashes with Baba Banda Singhís army, the smaller group joined with the Sikh army, will desert Banda Singh.

May 12, 1710. Battle of Sirhind. (Chapper Chiri, eight miles from Sirhind.)

Wazir Khan gathers together an army of 25 to 34 thousand soldiers. He camped at Chapper Chirri.

Sher Muhammed Khan commanded his Pathan force on the left side. Wazir Khan had his 15,000 mercenary soldiers in the middle. Beg Khan had 5,000 fanatics on the right wing. Babaji takes the high grounds. He also figures out that Wazir Khan wants the Sikh army to attack them.

Babaji says they will fake an attack on the Mughals. They will rush toward the group of trees, but none of their forces will go beyond this point because the cannons of the enemy can reach the trees. The Mughal forces start firing their canon and use up about half their supplies of cannon balls and gun powder.

At night groups of Sikhs would rush through the Mughal encampment just to get them up all night. In the confusion Mughals started fighting Mughals and the firing canons killed more of the Mughal men.

The battle formations are set up again. Bhai Fateh Singh ji commands the Khalsa forces from Malwa on the right side. The commander will attack Nawab of Malerkotla Sher Muhamad Khan. Bhai Binod Singh and Baj Singh will command the Majha and Doaba Khalsa force on the left side. And Bhai Kahan Singh and Ganda Mal will command the center.

Babaji tells Kahan Singh ji that Ganda Mal is of dubious character. The man will run from the battlefield. But they still need the doubtful troops to boost the numbers of the Sikh forces, so the Mughals will not attack the Sikhs and will remain in their defensive positions.

Bhai Shabaj Singh will command six canons. He wants the canon to fire only on the Mughal cannons, so they can wipe out the advantage the Mughals have in artillery.

Now Babaji addresses his forces. He says: ". . . we are confronting Suba Sirhind who has betrayed our Guru and his family. He martyred the innocent Sahibjaadas by bricking them alive. The death of the sinner Wazir Khan has driven him to this place."

The Sikh canon barrages takes out twelve Mughal canons. Then the Khalsa forces go to the attack. A number of them are killed by arrows from the Mughal archers, but the Sikhs capture the Mughal canons. They then used the canon to fire on the 100 Mughal elephants. The elephants panic and crush a lot of the Mughal forces.

Ganda Mal and his cavalry start running from the battlefield. Wazir Khan thinks the Sikhs are retreating and tells him men to pounce on the Sikhs and kill them all. The Mughals start moving forward.  Babaji now sends 500 of his 1,000 emergency soldiers to help the forces under Bhai Kahan Singh ji.

The introduction of new Sikh forces inspires the now fighting Sikhs to fight harder. The Sikh military women are in the thick of the battle.

The battle rages for around ten hours and one of Babajiís advisors suggests that they call off the fight for the night and begin afresh tomorrow. Babaji just yells: "Itís victory time now!!" The other half of the emergency force is now sent into the battle to attack the Mughalís mercenaries.

After a bit more fighting, the Mughals start fleeing from the battlefield.  Bhai Baj Singh, Fateh Singh and some other Singhs surround Wazir Khan atop his elephant. Wazir Khan is stabbed and falls from the platform on the back of the elephant. And now the Mughal army runs for its life.

Babaji now shouts: "Take Wazir Khanís corpse to Sirhind dragged behind a horse."

One badly wounded Sikh warrior complains that he could have accomplished "my sewa" for Khalsa panth.  Sewa is any physical act performed for and resulting in the gain of others.

Another seriously wounded warrior is Daughter Satwant Kaur. Babaji goes over to comfort her. She says she gave her all in the battle, but the enemy got her from behind.

And now the Khalsa army attacks Sirhind. They have little trouble entering the city. They then destroy much of the city.

And now attentions are focused on the Roza Sharif Mosque whose Kaazi, incited Jahangir for the Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev ji. Also from this place is the Kaazi who ordered the martyrdom of the younger Sahibjaadas. But Barbaji decides to spare the mosque from destruction.

Sucha Nand has been captured and is taken to see Babaji. The man asks to be spared.  Babaji asks: "Forgive the one who murdered Sahibjaadas and the mother of Guru Sahib?"  He also asks what happened that made Sucha Nand kill Babajiís four children?

Within five years of the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas the Khalsa established the Khalsa Empire (which lasted from 1799 to1849). The Singhs established Fatehgarh Sahib as the memorial for the Sahibzadas martyrs.

Bhai Baaj Singh became the Nawab of Sirhind and Mukhlispur became the capital of the Sikh Empire. Twelve small fortresses were built around Lohgarh and the Khalsa Raj was established.

 

 

I knew very little of the Sikh religion and its history, so it took a lot of time to read the historical background and look up the religious terms and cities I did not know.  The film is an animated cartoon, which was okay with me.  The cartoon is no competition for Disney Pictures.  I learned quite a bit from the "cartoon".  Most of the cartoon dealt with the punishment of Mughal leader Wazir Khan.  The climactic battle is covered well.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

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