History of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Ashtbuja Dhujha

Guru Gobind Singh’s eight-limbed battle standard as preserved at Hazoor Sahib, and his prophesy of sovereignty for his loyal followers in the face of tyrannical Mughal rule, as told to his devotee, Bhai Nand Lal:

I will
make manifest my kingdom,
merge the four castes into one,
and make all contemplate the mantra
‘Vaheguru’ (‘Wondrous Enlightenment’).

On beholding my warriors mounted on steeds and
flying hawks, the Turks will take flight.

I will
have a single warrior fight 125,000 and
grant salvation to the Singh who wages war.
Lances will sway and elephants will be adorned.
At every door the battle drum will resound.

When 125,000 matchlock fuses smoulder,
the Khalsa will conquer all the lands under the sun.

 

Giani Pratap Singh, the head pedagogue of Hazoor Sahib, narrates the historicity attached to the said relic. ‘The history of the Ashtbhujha Dhujha, as I (Giani Partap Singh) have heard, is that in the old history, this Shaster is from Sri Guru Kalgidhar Patshah’s (Sahib Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji) collection of arms. In the Battle of Chamkaur (December 6th, 1705), the Ashtbhujha Dhujha was left behind, and after some time, a Jatha of Singhs went back to Chamkaur Sahib and found the Ashtbhujha on the battlefield.

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The name of the Singh who found the Ashtbhujha was named Akalkalah Singh. Akalkalah Singh took the Ashtbhujha from the battlefield and placed the shaster on display on a elevated zone (for respect) at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib. From Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib, a Jatha of 30 Singhs left for Sachkhand Sri Hazoor Sahib. Akalkalah Singh brought Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj’s Gajgah to Sachkhand Sri Hazoor Sahib, and used to carry the Ashtbhujha Dhujha just how a Nishan Sahib is carried. After Akalkalah Singh used to do this, the Singh’s at Sachkhand Sri Hazoor Sahib used to call Akalkalah Singh, “Gajgah Singh”. Since then, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj’s Gajgah which is also known as the Ashtbhujha, is now currently at Sachkhand Sri Hazoor Sahib Ji. This concludes the history of how the Ashtbhujha Dhujha found it’s way to Sachkhand Sri Hazoor Sahib Ji.’ (1)

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Historically the Nihungs possessed many accoutrements which have contemporarily become outdated and/or fallen out of favour due to manifold reasons. Plausibly the most commercialised and most famed is the‘Gajgah’ or the ‘Ashtbuj Duja.’ The latter was often employed as a medallion, and bestowed upon individuals who had single-handedly slaughtered a war elephant or captured one. Although debatable, it is plausible that the tradition of the‘Gajgah’ was born with Nihung Bachittar Singh who single-handedly charged an elephant to protect the gates of Anandpur. Commonly the ‘Gajgah’ was adorned on a Nihung’s turban, which in itself was a superb feat of design as not only did it have to support the ‘Gajgah’ but also envelope the wearer’s head comfortably and provide a cranium defence. The Sikhs of Hazoor Sahib even presently pay obeisance to a ‘Gajgah’ believed to have once been retained by Akali-Nihung Guru Gobind Singh Ji atop his turban, and discarded by him at the battlefield of Chamkaur.
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