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The Story of Biddhi Chand and the Guru’s Horses

  Guru Hargobind Singh Ji

(This warrior Guru is the destroyer of armies ,he is very brave and benevolent (Bhai Gurudas JI,Vaar 1 Pauri 48)

Introduction

Guru Hargobind Singh sahib also known as sacha padshah .He was born on 5th of July 1595. He was the sixth of the Sikh gurus and becameGuru on 25 May 1606 following in the footsteps of his father Guru Arjan Dev JI. He was not,perhaps, more than eleven at his father’s execution. Before ascension, henominated Guru Har Rai JI, his grandson as the next Guru of the Sikhs.

From the very beginning, he was the deadly enemy of the Mughal Empire.The reasons for Guru Hargobindto arm his followers were many. Both externally and internally, the situationwas changing, and the policy of the Guru had to be adjusted to a newenvironment. The organisational development of Sikhism had mostly taken place during thetolerant days of Akbar, who had never interfered with it; he had, on thecontrary, even helped the Gurus in various ways. But the execution of Guru Arjan Dev JI at the hands ofJahangir and imprisonment of Hargobind definitelyshowed that sterner days were ahead, and the policy of mere peaceful organisation no longer sufficed. Guru Arjan had foreseen and Guru Har Gobindalso clearly saw that it would no longer be possible to protect the Sikh community without the aid of arms.He had a stable of eight hundred horses;three hundred mounted followers were constantly in attendance upon him, and aguard of fifty-six matchlock-men secured his safety in person.

While in prison,before his execution at Lahore, Guru Arjun had sent a message to his son, GuruHargobind, then aged only eleven, that he should henceforth maintain an army.At the very time of his installation as Guru, he insisted that he should weartwo swords, one representing his spiritual leadership and the other histemporal and political leadership. Soon after it, he constructed in front ofthe Amritsar temple, another building called the Akal Takht (God’s throne) asthe seat of temporal power. This place continues to the present day as thecentre of every sociopolitical deliberation and power of the community. There,like the two swords he wore, he raised aloft two flags representing the twoaspects of his activities. He told his followers, “My rosary shall be myswordbelt and on my turban I shall wear the emblem of royalty.” The Sikhswere already engaged in the trade of horses and the Guru advised every Sikh tokeep a sword and maintain a horse, wherever possible. He started recruiting aregular army. He had a personal bodyguard of 57 horsemen and kept 700 horses,60 gunmen and 500 infantry men. Thus a state within a state, started anddeveloped by the earlier Gurus, was consolidated by him. When this news reachedthe Emperor, he demanded from the Guru the fine imposed on his father. The Guruwas imprisoned in the Gwalior fort along with other political prisoners of highstatus. Later he was released.

 The Story of Biddhi Chand and the Guru’s Horses

Two Sikhs were once bringing two horses as presents for Guru Hargobind Sahib ji, from the far away city of Kabul, inthe deserts of Afghanistan. These horses were named Dilbagh and Gulbagh. Theywere absolutely beautiful, intelligent, and fast as the wind. When they ran, noone could tell whether they put their legs on the ground or flew in the air. Itwas said that they could cross a river without getting their riders wet. Ontheir way to find the Guru, the two Sikhs came to the city of Lahore. That dayin Lahore, there was a great procession, a great parade. The Emperor himself,Shah Jahan, rode on a beautiful tall elephant, adorned with gold and silver.And there were so many soldiers, that they seemed to be huge clouds. The soldiersfinding the horses extremely beautiful, took them away by force from the twoSikhs. The Emperor loved the horses so much that from that moment he would notlet them out of his sight. When the two Sikhs finally arrived, they explainedwhat happened to the Guru. The Guru was very calm, and He told them, “OhGursikhs, do not take it too hard. It doesn’t matter. God will take care of it.Let’s not worry about it.”

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But therewas a Sikh of the Guru named Biddhi Chand. Before he became a Sikh, Biddhi Chand had been a thief. Guru Arjan once told Biddhi Chand, “Oh Biddhi Chand,stop stealing. Become an honest man, and you will be forgiven. Serve God’sSaints, and you will be blessed.” Since then, Biddhi Chand had never stolenanything. But when he heard of the Guru’s stolen horses, he began to think ofways of getting them back. After all, they were the Guru’s horses. But, hethought, “It will be very difficult. The Emperor will never sell them or givethem back, and I know they must be kept in a castle which is impossible to getinto.” With a prayer, Biddhi Chand asked for forgiveness from Guru Arjan, andhe left to try to get the horses back. When he arrived near the fort in Lahore,Biddhi Chand visited a carpenter friend of his named Jeevan Singh. Jeevan Singh described to him the high eight sided tower surrounded by water where thehorses were kept. He also told them there were hundreds of soldiers guardingthem. “It is impossible for any human being to get in there, much less toget the horses. But if anyone can do it, it is you Biddhi Chand.”, saidthe carpenter. I will now tell you the scheme that Biddhi Chand used to getinto the castle. He walked to the bank of the river, and began cuttingbeautiful grass to take to the two horses. He then made a bundle out of it, andpretended to try to sell it in the market. As he did so, he moved closer andcloser and closer to the castle. In the evening, he finally met the King’sstable keeper who was in charge of the horses. Biddhi Chand spoke very sweetlyand enchantingly. He offered to give this very beautiful grass at a very lowprice. And so he was taken to the fort to feed the horses. The horses loved thegrass. When Biddhi Chand entered the fort, he saw it would be indeed verydifficult to remove the horses from the tower. But for six or seven days, hecontinued to feed the horses in this manner. Everyone believed him to be veryreliable. The stable keeper even hired him as a grass cutter. He worked veryhard cutting grass, and he also washed and brushed the horses, alwaystrying to take care of them. He did so much work that after sometime; he wasplaced in charge of grooming the horses. Whenever he drew grass for them, healso brought a large stone hidden in it. At midnight, he would throw the stoneinto the river. People began to think that large stones must be falling fromthe walls, or else that very, very large fish were jumping into thewater.  Biddhi Chand was preparing them for the noise he would one daymake when he’d jump with the horses into the river.

During the daytime, he gaveall the money away which was given to him, so that people would like him. Andhe was finally made Chief Groom in the Emperor’s stable. Everyone loved him.But he needed a saddle, a saddle on which he could ride the horses, and so oneday he convinced the stable keeper to show him the King’s saddles. They wereextremely beautiful, precious, studded with diamonds and pearls, and worthgreat sums of money. Biddhi Chand took note of where the key was placed so thathe could come back later. He thought to himself, “I must find a way to puteveryone to sleep in the castle so they will not hear me when I saddle thehorses before I jump over the wall into the river.” The opportunity came. Oneday, one of the grooms complained to Biddhi Chand, “I don’t care brother. Youare the newer servant, you get the highest pay, yet you have never even offeredus a single dinner.” “ I am at your service.”, said Biddhi Chand, “You know Iam not stingy, I will even spend all the money I have on you. I have beenkeeping it to spend it for you. I will give you wine and food as much as youwant, as much as you can drink and eat. And I will serve you myself. Be happy,enjoy life, life is so short.” Everyone was very, very happy, and Biddhi Chanddecided that the next night would be a very dark night, with no moon and thatit would be perfect for taking the first horse out of the fort. And so hetalked to all the grooms. “Please,” he said, “Do not eat dinner tonight. I willgo and get some wine, so you can drink it and enjoy it. Then you can eat asmuch as you want. Sleep here if you like, enjoy yourselves.” And so he bought avery powerful wine, guaranteed to make everyone who drank it, totally drunk andsleepy. When he came back to the castle, he began to serve the wine to all thegrooms. At first, he gave little by little, but when they started to becomedrunk, he gave them as much as they wanted, even the soldiers who were on guardjoined the party. “Have no fear.”, said Biddhi Chand to them, “I will remainawake and guard for you tonight. Anyway, our Emperor is so great, who woulddare to steal from him?” After drinking wine for many hours, every singlegroom, servant, and solider was totally drunk and asleep, rolling under thetable. Wine can make a person lose his senses, and turn him into an animal.Great kings have become weak by drinking too much, and even Holy men, clevermen, great men, have become like obnoxious beasts by drinking wine. It makesmen prisoners without chains. Seeing them all asleep, Biddhi Chand adjusted histurban, he tied on his kamarband, and he looked for the key to the saddle room.He opened the door, he brought out the saddle, and very quietly and carefully,he saddled Dilbagh, the first horse. He untied him, mounted him, and began torun him until the horse was at full speed. He then whipped him. Dilbagh hadnever been hit, not even with a flower, and so he doubled his speed. WhenBiddhi Chand lifted the reins, he leaped over the high battlement of the fort,and plunged into the river with a great splash. All the people who heard thenoise thought it was another stone falling from the walls, or maybe anotherlarge fish, and they paid no attention to it. As you remember, Biddhi Chandused to throw large stones into the river at midnight to get them used to thenoise of the horse jumping into the river. And while the horse ran like thewind, Biddhi Chand sang happily to himself. “May the Guru and God be alwayswith me. May the Guru and God be always with me. All remember, remember Him,Whoever protects you. Remember, remember Him, Whoever protects you. In the morning, the head stable keeperdiscovered one of the Emperor’s favorite horses missing.

“Oh my goodness! The horsehas been taken!” The grooms and the guards and the servants allran around like chickens, and they all lied saying that they had been awake allnight. They did not understand, perhaps the ground had opened and the horse hadfallen to the Hells. The Emperor Shah Jahan became extremely sad and angry atthe loss of his favorite horse. Shah Jahan was the greatest King in India, allof the Kings, Princes, and people bowed to him. All feared him. “What?! My horse has been stolen?!” He sent trackers in all directions to findthe horse, and he promised to cut off the head of the thief. But no one couldfind the horse or any trace of where he had gone.

Meanwhile, Biddhi Chand hadbrought the horse to the village where the Guru was staying, but rather thanbeing happy, the horse would not eat and he looked very unhappy. The Sikhsrealized that he was missing his brother Gulbagh. You see the two horses hadbeen raised together and they had never been separated, and so he was longingfor his brother. Biddhi Chand decided to capture the other horse from the fortin Lahore. He said to himself, “Even if hundreds of thousands of soldiers wereguarding him, still I could deceive them and take the horse away from undertheir very eyes.” And he left for Lahore.When Biddhi Chand arrived in Lahore, he heardthe news. “Here ye, here ye. Some treacherouscontemptible thief has dared to steal Dilbagh, our great and triumphantEmperor’s favorite horse. The thief will be executed when he is found and sowill everyone who helps him. Also,  his Imperial Majesty offers any rewardof his choice to anyone who finds the horse.”  Biddhi Chand realized that he was in greatdanger if he got caught, but a new plan came to his mind. He went to a tailor,and he had the tailor make him a beautiful Hindustani costume. He ordered threecoats of different lengths, a pajama with a beautiful kamarband, a long turbanwith embroidered ends, and shoes with curly toes. Biddhi Chand then bought amagician’s chain. The next morning he put on his new clothes, and he greasedhis long hair with coconut oil. He parted his beard in the middle and turned uphis moustache. Then looking very impressive and respectable, he went walkinginto the streets. Curious people asked him, “Who are you? Where do you comefrom?” Biddhi Chand said, “I am a professional man, and I know something aboutmagic.” He then proudly walked away towards the gate of the fort, followed by acrowd. He sat on a platform and said, “I am tracker and an astrologer. I cantrace and find anything, anything which has been lost!” He then answeredquestions people asked him, with long words to make everyone think he was agreat magician. He would also often pull out a mirror from his pocket to lookat himself, fixing his beard and his mustache. A servant of the King’s stablehappened to walk by. He told the magician of the Emperor’s lost horse andpromised him he would be generously rewarded if he could help in finding thehorse. “That is very easy!”, said Biddhi Chand, “Just by smelling the ground, Ican tell you the secrets of  Heaven and the secrets of Hell. Now whathappens on the planet Earth is very simple. It is barely worth my time. I cantell you not only where the horses are, I can tell you who stole the horse, andI can tell you exactly where the horse is. That is no problem for me.”

Hearingof this man, the Emperor had him brought to his palace. “Bring him to the towers.” Biddhi Chand went with great confidence. “Whoare you? And where do you come from?”, said the Emperor.“I dwell in the forest.People call me Tracker Ganak, and I learned everything that I know from anancient and venerable wise man. I can read the stars and the planets. I cantell the future, and I can discover lost objects. If you like, I will help findthe horse.”

“Ohhh! How nice!”, said theEmperor. And he gave him an expensive robe and a large sum of money. Hepromised him thousands of rupees if the horse were to be found. Biddhi Chandheld his magician’s chain, put his hand on the ground, and raised it threetimes to his forehead. He then began to count the joints of his fingers,pretending to do magic. “Your Majesty, I know where your horse is, but I wantto see the place from where the horse was stolen. And I will find it by themorning. After that, you can decide how to get the horse back. I will simplytell you where it is. To find it, that is your job, that is not my job. I willthen go home. I will just find the horse.” The Emperor promised him fourhundred thousand rupees,  the highest office in the Court, and power overall his enemies when the horse was found. Biddhi Chand had the King ride downand sign his promise. He said, “I think it will very much help if everyonecould pray that the two horses will meet again.” And so everyone in theEmperor’s Court began to pray. “Om!” “Allah!” Then Biddhi Chand said, “That is good.Now let us go to the place from where it was stolen. I will cast my chain, andI will look at numbers, stars, and omens. And I swear by my Guru, that I willtell you truly where the horse is and the name of the thief.” “Oh, that’s extraordinary”, said the Emperor. When they got to the stables, he asked, “Was thehorse saddled when it was stolen?”“Yes it was.” “Aha! Then in order for my calculations to beexact, you must saddle the other horse. Otherwise, it will take more time. “Oh no!” “Well in this case, I will not sleep tonight, sothat I can find the horse by the morning.”“Oh I cannot wait till morning! Can’t you do itnow?”“No, no, no, no, no, no, no! I can only find thefacts in the place where the horse was stolen and at the exact time when it wasstolen. And I must be left absolutely alone to do my work. It will be veryquiet. Have everyone close their doors and go to sleep. Furthermore, shut allthe gates. I do not want anybody to come in and out of the fort to disturb me.And I want to be very quietly alone.”“So be it.”, said the King.Everyone went to rest, and Biddhi Chand untiedthe horse. The Emperor heard the noise.“What’s going on?”“Do not worry your Majesty. Your divine imperialbeautiful Majesty. I have just discovered where the horse is. And I will nowtell you the name of the thief.” Biddhi Chand then locked the door that led tothe Emperor’s apartment, and he yelled at “Listen oh Emperor, you unjustlystole two horses belonging to the beloved Guru Hargobind, who’s fame is likethat of the Sun. I have taken one horse back by my cleverness. My name isBiddhi Chand. I am the Guru’s servant. It was I who took Dilbagh home, but hewas so sad from being separated from his brother that I have come back to takehis companion home. I am the thief! The true King Guru Hargobind is my Master.You have even saddled Gulbagh for me. I see now that you and your Court arevery foolish. I will now fulfill my promise and tell you where the other horseis. It is in the village called Biroopa. Know that Dilbagh is standing there,and now, Gulbagh shall go to join him.”The Emperor called for help. “Help! Help! Help!”But everyone was either locked in or locked out.“Why are you angry?”, said Biddhi Chand.“Remember the money you promised me? My wage as a grass cutter, the thousandrupees present, the four hundred thousand rupees as my tracker’s fee, and thehundred fifty thousand you promised me to do the job right away. You have notgiven me anything oh King. I feel I have well paid for the horses and theirsaddles in the bargain. Now if you try to stop me, I think that you aredeceitful, cheating King. Also, I have the key to the fort here, and I willthrow it into the deep, deep river. You have to find the key before you cancatch me.” He then prayed to God and asked for help. And hefinally said to the Emperor, “Oh Emperor, you cannot say that I did not fulfillmy promise. You now know where the first horse is and the name of the thief.” Hethen took the key and said, “Going, going, gone!” And he threw it into theriver. He then whipped the horse, who leaped over the battlement into the deepriver. Biddhi Chand galloped to the village where Dilbagh, the first horse, waswaiting. When the two horses met, they made each other welcome and rubbednoses. The Emperor then sent an army to get the horsesback from Guru Hargobind, but the brave armies of the Guru, though they weremuch smaller, were victorious over the Emperor’s soldiers. Everyone was happythat at last the two horses were with the Guru, their rightful owner

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