55. The Manjha Sikhs make Overtures for Reconciliation

The Manjha Sikhs who had deserted the Guru at Anandpur and had disowned him were, in their turn, disowned by their people, on their return home. Their wives told them to wear female attire and stay at home, while the women would go and fight for the Guru. So public hatred as well as self-mortification, led them to seek for a reconciliation with the Guru. With this view forty penitent souls went to Malwa to hav.e an audience with the Guru and pray for forgiveness. The Guru's army lay encamped in the outskirts of a wood. Espying the Moghul forces advancing towards it from a distance they entrenched themselves behind a cluster of trees that grew around a small pool of water and resolved to give their lives for the sake of the Guru, then and there. When the Muslims came within shot, bullets and arrows from the bushes retarded their progress. Believing that this was the mass of the Sikh force the enemy did not approach near enough ; but after some hours' fighting they were emboldened to come to close quarters. The brave band fought like lions, and though infinitesimally small in number, they died to a man, inflicting heavy losses on the enemy. The heat was intense and the country waterless. Both man and beast panted for breath. Immediately the aspect of the heavens changed. A strong wind began to blow in the face of the invaders. Clouds of sand rose high in the air and seemed to be determined on burying the marauding hosts alive. The horizon was darkened. Not a soul could be distinguished. Fearing annihilation the Subah of Sirhind ordered a retreat without engaging the main body of the Sikh army.