Guru Gobind Singh ji’s Generalship

Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s art of warfare was swift manoeuvres against relatively larger forces to achieve complete surprise over the enemy. Critical analysis of his battle with Hussain Khan of the allied forces at the battle of Nadaun amply illustrate that the manoeuvres were not aimed to slaughter the enemy but to cause fear and panic in the enemy ranks in order to disorganise and thereby drive them from the battle field. The fleeing enemy were never given pursuit by the Khalsa army as that would have amounted to indiscriminate killing of men and therefore against the Khalsa code of conduct.

Guru Ji’s action on the battlefield repeatedly shows quick decision, rapid cavalry manoeuvres and flexibility of mind. Incidentally these three characteristics – quick decision, rapid manoeuvres and flexibility in an ever changing situation rank the most prominent ones in modern warfare.

The element of battlefield mobility, inherent in mounted weapons on horses, camels and elephants were employed in offensive roles both in nature and concept even as a defender.

A careful analysis of Guru Ji’s battles indicates that Guru Gobind Singh Ji never risked the security of the main defences in a bid to achieve mere surprise. Thinning out the main defences for creating various combat groups, aimed to hit the enemies rear and exposed flanks were well balanced and at no time were the main defences rendered insecure.

Resources, both in men and material, available to his command, although meagre compared to those of his adversaries, were always utilised to maximum advantage. Needless to emphasise that leadership ability is measured by the degree of effectiveness with which each leader employs those assets available to him.

Basic principles of objective, offensive, simplicity, unity of command, economy of force, surprise and security, morale, manoeuvrability, flexibility and so forth were always integral ingredients in Guru Ji’s plans.

As a general in the battlefield Guru Ji succeeded in forcing his adversaries to give up their purpose completely. After the battle at Mukatsar, the Mughals realised the futility of their efforts and were so badly demoralised that they gave up altogether. Hostility towards the Khalsa army vanished never to resurface again while Guru ji was alive.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji as a general never once remained away from the battlefield giving a pretext of directing the operation. Guru ji always directed and fought at the same time with the forward most rank and file of the Khalsa army. Despite mental and physical stress of day long battles, Guru Ji attended to minor details. After day long battles Guru Sahib Ji personally attended to the wounded and solemnised last rites who had touched martyrdom as his command.

The discipline of Guru ji’s army was not based upon fear or punishment but on mental awareness and realisation of their moral and patriotic duty which always exhorted the Khalsa soldier to stand at the beck and call of their leader with a will to do or die.

The victories of Guru Gobind Singh Ji can be attributed to discipline of his troops which impelled them to strictly observe the demands of the oath of allegiance and self devotion to their Guru.

Guru Ji’s army strictly observed the Khalsa Code as given by their Guru. There were numerous occasions when the Khalsa army, after victory in the battle field, could have wiped out the enemy by pursuing them, but did not resort to it as it was not approved by their leader. It speaks of excellent self control realised through a very high standard of discipline.

With Bahadhur Shahs succession to the Moghul throne, Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s military life came to a virtual end, but an epic legend in the military profession had only sprung to grow till eternity.


The Tenth Master

The Tenth Master


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