Gurdwara Data Bandi Chorh Sahib, situated in Gwalior, is associated with the imprisonment of Guru Har Gobind Sahib in Gwalior Fort and his celebrated release in which he managed to win the freedom of 52 Rajas (Kings) who had long suffered imprisonment in the Fort. The word “Bandi” means “imprisoned”, “Chhor” means “release”. For further reading see Bandi Chhorh Divas.
Pilgrims from all over the country visit this Gurdwara to pay homage to Guru Hargobind.
During October/November, the worldwide Sikh Sangat (community) celebrates the safe return of the sixth Nanak, Guru Hargobind from detention from Gwalior Fort in about October 1619. The day coincides with the Hindu festival of Diwali , (“the festival of lights”). This concurrence has resulted in a similarity of celebrations amongst Sikhs and Hindus.
The most familiar version has Emperor Jahangir being warned by Murtaja Khan, Nawab of Lahore, who noticed that Guru Ji had constructed the Sri Akal Takhat Sahib, ‘The Throne of the Almighty’, at Amritsar, and was also strengthening his army, he informed the Mughal Emperor Jahangir about this incorrectly, emphasizing that the Sikh Guru was making preparations to take revenge for his father’s torture and martyrdom. When Jahangir heard about this he at once sent Wazir Khan and Guncha Beg to Amritsar in order to arrest Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji. Given the severity of the brutal torture inflicted on Guru Arjan, Jahangir would have had ample reason to believe that the young Guru was coming for his head.
But Wazir Khan, who was an admirer of Guru Hargobind, requested the Guru to accompany them to Delhi telling him that Emperor Jahangir wanted to meet him. Guru Sahib accepted the invitation and soon reached Delhi. However Guru Hargobind was a man totally assured of himself who by his mere appearance and evident holiness charmed Jahangir and his wife Noor Jahan (said to be the real power in Jahangir’s Darbar.) . But the same evil men who had plotted the arrest and torture of Guru Arjan hatched a plot aimed at similar fate for Guru Hargobind. In this well told version Jahangir falls terribly ill, his Astrologers predictions end with Guru Hargobind seemingly a prisoner in Gwalior Fort whose prayers are the only cure for Jahangir. The Sikhs, after the Martyrdom of Guru Arjan, fear the worst, but the Guru is not worried in the least, even as the same powerful Hindu Courtier Chandu Shah planned his death.
There are at least three other versions of the Stay of Guru Hargobind at Gwalior Fort.
In these versions the Guru is actually arrested and has not first become the guest of Jahangir and Noor Jahan, or traveled to the fort at the Emperor’s request to Pray forhis recovery from a mysterious malady.
- However, except for the arrest, illness and friendship, the details are all the same.
In the following version the Emperor without meeting the Guru calls for his release on others’ recommendations, drops a huge fine he had imposed and doesn’t get upset by the Guru’s, (who he has not met) outsmarting him and causing him a considerable loss of ‘Royal’ face by his clever adaptation of the wording of the Emperor’s orders by adding 52 tails or ribands to his cloak to outwit the Emperor. Somehow later, dispite this ‘pulling of the wool over his eyes’ the Emperor invites the son of the murdered Guru Arjan to hunt with him on a royal shikar. Maybe as some say he had wanted to avoid killing the young Guru outright and schemed to have Guru Hargobind die from some ‘friendly fire’ while hunting a ferocious man eating tiger. And to think they called him Jahangir the Just.