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Chhibber (alternatively Chibber or Chhiber) is a Mohyal Brahmin clan from the Sindh and Punjab. They are one of the seven clans of the Mohyals of the Punjab. The other six clans are Bali, Bhimwal, Datt/Dutt, Lau, Mohan and Vaid. Punjabi Brahmins other than Mohyals include Barahis (Twelvers) and Athwans (Eighters). Most Chhibbers are Hindus, but because they were closely associated with the Sikh Gurus, especially the ninth and tenth Gurus, Guru Teg Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh, many follow Sikhism as well. Some are Muslim as well.
Chach and Dahir
There are indications in old textbooks that the Chhibbers lived in Mathura around 250 BC. In the 7th century AD Rai Narsingh Dev, a Chhibber patriarch was the Dewan(Prime Minister) in the ruling principality of Mathura. He had two sons named Chach and Nahar Singh. After the death of Narsingh Dev, his sons became disenchanted with Mathura and migrated to Sindh. In Sindh, Chach got a job in the court of Raja Sahasi. Raja Sahasi discerned his latent qualities and appointed him as his prime minister. When Sahasi died without leaving any heir to succeed him, his queen, Rani Suhanadi, who was secretly in love with Chach, kept the news of his death a closely guarded secret to pre-empt intrigues of the many aspirants to the throne. She later married Chach and proclaimed him as the new ruler. The Chach Nama written by Kàzí Ismáíl about the Chach rule in Sindh.
Chach is considered to be the founder of the Chhibber clan. Chhibber is believed to be derived from the Sanskrit word `Shivi Var’, meaning a righteous person
Raja Chach died in 674 AD after ruling for forty years. His son, Dahir took over in 687 AD.Though he was a Brahmin, many of the citizens of his kingdom were Buddhists. His reign was shattered by the invasion of the army of the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I of Baghdad. He sent his general, the seventeen-year-old Muhammad bin Qasim who besieged and conquered Debal, a port near modern Karach. Later, the Raja was defeated and killed by Qasim's forces at Roar (near present-day Nawabshah). Qasim moved towards upper Sindh but had to fight long segies and protracted battles at each fort. It has not been highlighted by the historians that even after the death of Raja Dahar his subjects put up strong and protracted resistance, knowing that it was a losing battle. One thousand Brahmans with shaven heads came out and professed their loyalty towards their King Dahar but submitted for he was no more. Impressed by their loyalty and simplicity Qasim appointed them as tax collectors. Finally Qasim reached up to, and conquered, Multan. The exodus of the Chhibbers from Sindh took place at about the same time as that of the Datts from Arabia . After the fall of Sindh, the descendants of Raja Dahir moved to the Punjab. They were helped in their rehabilitation by the king of Delhi and established themselves in different places. Noticing the weaknes of the Arab rule in Sindh, Jayasing, the eldest son of Raja Dahar, came back and reclaimed his original territory of Brhamanabad. The Arabs had to send another general with Army to reconquer the arrea. Jayasing was killed by treachry.
Timur invaded India in 1398. While on his way to Delhi, he pillaged and plundered Dipalpur and Bhatner, the stronghold of the Chhibbers, and indulged in carnage reminiscent of Mahmud Ghaznavi. The Chhibbers fled to Bikaner but finding no means of livelihood migrated to Ujjain. Though the Brahmin king of Ujjain treated them with great hospitality, for some unknown reason they shifted to Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh.
Chhibers and the Sikh Panth
Praga Sain (probable transliteration: Prayag Sen)(1507—1638) laid the foundation of Karyala, which remained the home of the Chhibbers for 450 years till the Partition of India in 1947. Praga became a disciple of Guru Nanak Dev. After Guru Nanak Dev, Baba Praga played an important part during the lifetime of the next five Gurus: Guru Angad Dev, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan Dev and Guru Har Gobind. In the year 1638, he fought with Paindah Khan, the Governor of Lahore. Baba Praga was wounded and died on his return to Karyala. His samadhi stands on the outskirts of Karyala and another memorial was raised in Kabul at ‘Char Bagh’. The cross section beyond Sarai Guru Ram Das on the periphery of the Golden Temple Complex at Amritsar is named Chowk Praga Das after him.
Durga Das, Lakhi Das and Durga Mal
Praga Das' son, Durga Das was the Diwan of Guru Har Gobind and the seventh Guru, Guru Har Rai. His son, Lakhi Das was anointed to the same post but he died soon afterwards and Durga Mal held that position until Guru Har Krishan.
Guru Teg Bahadur founded Anandpur Sahib in the princely state of Bilaspur (present-day Himachal Pradesh) in 1665. Mati Das (son of Durga Mal), as Dewan of the Guru, carried on the administration from there. He also acted as the chief priest of the Vaishnava Matha at Karyala whose scholars worked all over the Punjab, the North West Frontier Province, Afghanistan and Iran.
During this time, under the harsh rule of emperor Aurangzeb, non-Muslims (mostly Hindus and Sikhs) suffered a lot. Around 1665, Guru Teg Bahadur left Anandpur Sahib with his mother, Mata Nanaki and wife, Mata Gujri and travelled eastwards through Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, preaching as he went. He travelled through Agra, Allahabad, Benares, Gaya, and finally arrived at Patna. Mata Gujri, being in an advanced stage of pregnancy, could not go any further. Guru Teg Bahadur made suitable arrangements for his wife and mother in Patna and travelled eastwards to Bengal and Assam. He was in Dhaka, when he heard the news of the birth of his son, Gobind Rai (Guru Gobind Singh), who was born at Patna on December 26, 1666. However, it was only after three years that Guru Teg Bahadur could join his family back in Patna again.
The Guru was at Patna when he received a distress call from Bhai Mati Das in Anandpur about the deteriorating condition in the North, particularly in Kashmir, where Hindus were groaning under the atrocities perpetuated by its Mughal Governor, Iftikhar Khan. The Guru rushed to Anandpur and from there began a tour of the Punjab to console the people and inspire courage in them.
Kashmir in that era was predominantly Hindu populated, As the Mughals had brought repressive acts against them, Kashmiri Hindu population started to migrate from Kashmir. The migration was so prominent that a camp site mid way of Jammu and Srinagar was named as Bat-Wath( Hindu- path). This place is now known as Batotein in J&K. Guru ji went to Delhi at the request of Kashmiri Brahmins, who had pleaded before him that Aurangzeb has vowed that either all Kashmiri Brahmins convert to Islam or face imminent death and they requested the Guru to save their religion. Learning their plight, Guru decided to help them, and thus he went to Delhi. Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das, Bhai Dyal Das, and a retinue of about 500 followers, he camped at Ropar before going to Agra. At Agra, Guru Teg Bahadur parted with his precious ring and shawl to get some sweets for his hungry followers. It is believed that the confectioner from whose shop these sweets were purchased reported to the police who were in search of the Guru. This led to their arrest. After arrest, the Guru along with his disciples, was escorted to Delhi under the surveillance of 1,200 mounted soldiers to face trial for sedition against the emperor. At Delhi, the Qazi offered them two options: to embrace Islam or to die. In response, they unanimously refused to convert.
Bhai Mati Das was bolted between two planks of wood and bifurcated into two from top to trunk with a saw by a commander called Altaf Khan on November 9, 1675. It is stated that when the execution began, Bhai Mati Das started reciting the Japji Sahib and the voice continued to come from the two parts of his body till the prayer was completed.
Bhai Dyal Das was scalded to death in a cauldron of boiling water on November 10, 1675.
Guru Teg Bahadur was beheaded under a banyan tree (the trunk of the tree and well near-by where he took a bath are still preserved), opposite the Sunheri Masjid near the Kotwali in Chandni Chowk where he was lodged as a prisoner, on November 11, 1675.
His head was carried by Bhai Jaita, a disciple of the Guru, to Anandpur where the nine-year-old Guru Gobind Singh cremated it (the gurdwara at this spot is also called Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib). The body, before it could be quartered, was stolen under the cover of darkness by Lakhi Shah Vanjara, another disciple who carried it in a cart of hay and cremated it by burning his hut. At this spot, the Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib stands today. Later on, the Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib, was built at Chandni Chowk at the site of Guru’s martyrdom.
In recognition of the devotion and supreme sacrifice made by Mati Das, Guru Teg Bahadur bestowed the title of Bhai on him. In course of time, all Chhibbers belonging to the village of Karyala adopted this title.
Sahib Singh, Gurbaksh Singh, Kesar Singh and Chaupa Singh
Guru Gobind Singh appointed Bhai Sahib Singh (nephew of Bhai Mati Das), as his Dewan. He died in a war with Hatai Khan near the Beas and was cremated on the banks of the river. Before Guru Gobind Singh left for heavenly abode at nanded, he bestowed the Guruship to Guru Granth Sahib. The Chaupa Singh Rahit-nama was written by Chaupa Singh Chhibber in 1700 CE. He served the last three gurus. He was the care-taker of Guru Gobind Singh.
Bhai Kesar Singh Chhibber, son of Gurbaksh Singh, wrote 'Bansavalinama Dasan Patshahian Ka' his work in 1779 AD. He served Mata Sundari (Mahal of Dasam Pita Guru Gobind Singh and Mother of Sikhs). The descendants of Kesar Singh Chiibber were driven out of Harminder Sahib Management after the Singh sabha movement. Chhibber's migrated from Amritsar to mirpur and then to sailkot, Most of the Chhibber's now follow Hinduism but some descendants are still Sikhs and others have converted to Islam.
- Forward Castes
- Bhai Dyal Das
- Bhai Mati Das
- Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadar
- Bhai Paramanand