A total of 8 invasions of occurred at Sri Harimandir Sahib Ji in history but we will look at 4 of the deadliest ones.
1. Massa Rangar 1740
To prevent the Sikhs accessing the holy shrine of Amritsar, built in the time of Guru Arjan, and known as Sri Harmandir Sahib, a Mughal military officer named Massa Ranghar was stationed there.
Massa Rangar was physically very strong, a fit man, 5’11” tall. Ranghar not only occupied the holy place, but committed sacrilege by carousing with dancing girls and consuming meat and alcohol in the Sanctum Sanctorum situated in the midst of the sacred pool.
This offense continued until news of it reached an isolated band of Sikhs in Rajasthan. Of them, Mehtab Singh and Sukha Singh set off to cross the distance to Amritsar.
Finding the city strongly guarded, the two disguised themselves as revenue officials. In this guise, they entered the Harimandir, cut off Ranghar’s head and escaped before the Mughal soldiers could realize what had happened. This took place on 11 August 1740.
Sukkha Singh was wounded in the defensive action involving the first Sikh massacre and later died in battle with the invading Afghan army of Ahmed Shah Durrani in 1752.
2. 2nd Invasion By Ahmed Shah Abdali (Durrani) 1757
In October 1757 Ahmed Shah Abdali launched his fourth invasion on India. As usual, the Sikhs made the task of plundering India very difficult. They would constantly harass his troops using guerrilla tactics and would rescue countless Hindu women who were being kidnapped and taken to Afghanistan to be sold as slaves. In order to break the Sikh power base, he attacked and destroyed Siree Harmander Sahib completely in 1757. The sacred Sarovar was polluted with debris and animal carcasses.
The Sikhs decided to liberate Harmander Sahib under the leadership of Naam Rasseya Baba Deep Singh Jee in 1757. After a fierce battle, Baba Deep Singh was martyred but the Sikhs were successful in their quest and were able to celebrate Diwali there. They started the process of cleaning and rebuilding of the site on Vaisakhee 1758. The numerically and materially superior Afghan had been humbled by the Sikhs. The shock victory led to Abdali wishing to exterminate the Sikhs once and for all.
3. 3rd Invasion By Ahmed Shah Abdali (Durrani) 1762
On 5th February 1762, an Afghan army numbering 150,000 soldiers feel upon a large gathering of Sikh men, women and children. In the ensuing desperate battle, over 30,000 Sikhs were killed, this became known as the Vada Ghallughara ( The Great Holocaust).
After this event, Abdali had Siree Harmander Sahib blown up once again, and the Sarovar was polluted with refuse and the entrails of cows and bullocks. During the cannon fire, a brick from Siree Harmander Sahib struck Abdali on the nose. This injury later became cancerous and led to his death in 1773.
In spite of the high casualties suffered, the Sikhs gathered at Siree Harmander Sahib in October 1762 to celebrate Bandi Chor, Abdali thought that the Sikhs had almost been destroyed so he sent a large force to finish the Sikhs off, once and for all. Although outnumbered, the Sikhs defeated Abdali’s Army and caused him to return to Afghanistan. The Sikh Spirit and their love for Siree Harmander Sahib shone through yet again.
4. Indira Gandhi 1984
In the late 1970’s, Indria Gandhi decided to setle the ‘Sikh Problem’ for once and all. She was frustrated bu the fact Sikhs had protested against her illegal declaration of ‘Emergency Rules’, when she was found guilty on corruption charges and ended up in prison.
In June 1984, on the Shaheedi Gurpurab of Siree Guru Arjan Dev Sahib Jee, she ordered the Indian Army to launch an attack on Siree Harmander Sahib and over 40 other Gurdwaras, on the pretext of ‘flushing out militants’. The operation was carefully timed under a media blackout, to cause maximum casualties as innocent Sikh devotees were gathered there in high numbers.
As news of the attack traveled, Sikh Jathas started to converge towards Siree Harmander Sahib, but they were stopped or gunned down by Indian army patrols, supported by helicopter fire.
At Siree Harmander Sahib itself, around 150 ChardeeKaala Khalsa Warriors held out against 15,000 Indian army troops armed with the latest weaponry (including chemical weapons) for over 12 Days. The army was taken aback by ferocious resistance they faced and suffered high casualties. In the end, they brought in tank support and destroyed Siree Akaal Takht Sahib