Chhibber or Chibber is a Brahmin clan from the Punjab. They are one of the seven clans of the Mohyals who are Saraswat Brahmins of the Punjab. The other six clans are Bali, Bhimwal, Datt/Dutt, Lau, Mohan and Vaid. Punjabi Brahmins other than Mohyals include Barahis (Twelvers), Bawanjais (Fifty-twoers) 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.
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.
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 who sent his general, the seventeen-year old Muhammad bin Qasim, to besiege Debal, Dahir's capital.The Raja was defeated and killed by Qasim's forces at Roar (near present-day Nawabshah).
After Sindh, Qasim 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.
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 they 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
- Baba Praga (1507—1638)
Also called Praga Sain (probable transliteration: Prayag Sen), Baba Praga 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 and 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 (not the Paindah Khan who was killed in battle by Guru Hargobind in 1635). In that battle 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, after which Durga Mal held the position until Guru Har Krishan.
- Mati Das
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.
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.
Guru Tegh Bahadur's arrest
- 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.
- However, according to another version of the incident the Guru went to Delhi on behalf of a large group of Kashmiri Brahmins, who had pleaded for the Guru's assistance since Aurangzeb had vowed that either all Kashmiri Brahmins would convert to Islam or face imminent death. Hearing this the Guru sent a bold challenge to Aurangzeb and at the risk of his life, he and several of his Sikhs left for Delhi.
After his arrest, the Guru, along with his disciples, was escorted to Delhi under the surveillance of one thousand two hundred mounted soldiers to face trial for sedition against the emperor. At Delhi, the Qazi offered them two options: to embrace Islam or to be executed. Each man bravely refused to convert.
Torture most foul
Bhai Mati Das was bolted between two planks of wood and was sawed in half by two men under the command of Altaf Khan on November 9, 1675. It has been recorded 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.
Fearing that the Guru's head would be put on display, Bhai Jaita one of the Guru's follower's, at the risk of his life, managed to grab the Guru's head and carry it back to the Gurur's son at Chak Nanki (later Amritsar). Bhai Jaita presented nine-year old Guru Gobind Singh with Guru Tegh Bahadur's head so that it could be cremated according to tradition. The gurdwara that now stands at the spot of this exchange is, along with the other at Delhi, 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 away in a cart of hay and cremated it by burning his hut down arrant it. At this spot in Delhi, Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib stands today. Later on, 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. Guru Gobind appointed his son, Gurbaksh Singh as the next Dewan. When Guru Gobind Singh left for the Deccan, Gurbaksh Singh retired to Amritsar. At the time of the invasion of Ahmed Shah Abdali, on the Harmandir Sahib, the aged Bhai Gurbaksh Singh was killed.
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 and tutor 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 (wife of Guru Gobind Singh).