9. Wada Ghalughara

The greatest blow to the Sikhs was the Wada Ghalughara or Great Massacre, in February of 1762. The Sikhs were moving towards dry areas to safety, when Ahmed, the Afghan invader, attacked them with vengeance and without warning. The Sikh deaths are estimated between 20,000 and 30,000. Jassa Singh himself suffered about two dozen wounds in this battle. This heavy blow, instead of demoralizing and incapacitating the Sikhs, committed them to greater service of the Panth. They gathered at Amritsar and defeated Ahmed on 17 October of that year. In the dark, he left the battlefield and escaped to Afghanistan. The Sikhs were again in a position to take control of many areas of the state. Each Misl, a section of the Sikhs, occupied a different region. There were eleven such Misls of the Sikhs (excluding the one which ruled Patiala, the region to the east of the Satlej River). Collectively, the called themselves the Sarbat Khalsa. When, in 1764, Ahmed again came to crush the Sikhs, they left for their safe hideouts and let him move forward. On his return from Delhi, when he crossed the Satlej, Sikhs attacked him swiftly and ferociously. They took away his looted wealth and escaped. Ahmed received the same treatment when he invaded again in 1767. Even though he defeated the Marhattas and looted Delhi many times, he could not subdue the Sikhs, who continued to stand in his way. Because of the vengeful behavior of Ahmed and the honorable character of the Sikhs, the Muslims of Lahore bluntly told Ahmed that they would not cooperate with him unless he offered the Governorship of Punjab to the Sikhs. But the Sikhs declined the offer of governorship, because they were already the de facto rulers of Punjab and people regarded them as their saviors.