It’s Bandi Chhor Divas tomorrow!
Guru Hargobind Ji, our 6th Guru, build the Sri Akal Takht Sahib and strengthened his army. In 1619, Murtaja Khan, Nawab of Lahore, noticed this and lied to emperor Jahangir that Guru Ji was going to seek revenge for the torture and execution of his father (Guru Arjan Dev Ji). Wazir Khan was sent to arrest Guru Ji, however he instead asked the Guru Ji to accompany him to Delhi to meet Jahangir. Jahangir changed his mind once he got to see and hear Guru Ji speak, and Guru Ji saved his life from a lion.
(I am going to write a little bit of back-story about Chandu Shah. He was the governor of Lahore, and a wealthy banker. His family priest suggested Guru Arjan Dev’s son Hargobind would be a good match for his daughter, however being of upper caste, Chandu Shah refused and made disparaging comments about Guru Ji. These were passed on to Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Over time, Chandu Shah reconsidered and felt this may have been a good match, at which point he asked for the match to be arranged. Guru Ji refused, knowing Chandu Shah’s real nature from his comments. Chandu Shah was enraged and went on to cause the torture of Guru Arjan Dev Ji.)
Then in 1619, when Jahangir fell ill, Chandu Shah wanted to find a way to imprison Guru Hargobind Ji as well. He told an astrologer to tell Jahangir that a holy man needed to pray for him at the Gwalior Fort (prison) in order for him to get better. Chandu Shah recommended this be Guru Hargobind Ji. Guru Ji prayed in the prison, and worked to have the conditions of the jail improved for the prisoners. Hari Daas, who was in charge of the prison was actually a follower of the Guru himself, and helped as much as he could including foiling Chandu Shah’s plan to poison Guru ji. Jahangir’s health improved but the Guru Ji was kept prisoner. His followers, led by Baba Buddha Ji, became concerned and visited Guru Ji. Guru Ji told them not to worry. Sufi Saint Mian Mir then convinced Jahangir to release Guru Ji. Guru Ji thought of the other prisoners, Hindu Princes who had only been imprisoned due to political reasons and were suffering for years in the poor conditions of the jail. He said he would leave the jail if the other prisoners would be released. Jahangir did not like this idea, but agreed that only those prisoners who could hold the cloak of the Guru could be released. Guru Ji designed a long cloak with 52 tails for each prisoner to hold, and they were all released. Gurdwara Bandi Chorr Sahib has been created at the site of the Gwalior fort. So Bandi Chhor Divas, translated as “prisoner release day” is the day that Guru Hargobind Sahib and the 52 princes were freed from the prison. When Guru Ji safely traveled home to Amritsar, Diwali was being celebrated by the Hindus, so we celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas at Diwali each year.
Happy Bandi Chhor Divas everyone!
picture from http://sikhguru.org.uk/sikhsim/festivalsceremonies/bandi-chhor-divas/