Naga Sadhus in the medieval era fought against Islamic Invaders with grit and determination to protect the culture, faith, tradition of Hindu Religion and also safeguarded many temples from the attack of Mughals, Afghans,Turks.
In the 8th century when Adi Shankaracharya saw that Hindus were being attacked and temples were demolished and other cultural sites, he then decided to form a military force of Naga Sadhus for the sake of protecting the motherland and Religion from plunders of Islamic attackers. They then became the valiant, chivalrous fighter after acquiring a tough military training and in the battlefield played havoc on the enemies army which instill a sense of fear in many Muslim kingdom and empire related to them.
It was the time when Afghanistan’s Emperor Ahmed Shah Abdali invaded India 4th time in a row, at that Time Mughals were very weak and there was no other Hindu power in the Northern part of India to challenge the Islamic invaders, so Afghans took advantage of the situation and made an outrageous treaty with Mughal King ALAMGIR in which he got the permission of looting Delhi from Mughals and in January 1757 he looted Delhi, decimated the temples but still he wasn’t satisfied with the bounties he got in the loot.
He further ordered his two Afghan commanders Najib Khan and Jahan Khan to take 20,000 afghan soldiers with them and carry out the raids in Ballabgarh, Mathura, Agra, Vrindavan. He also said that The city Of Mathura, Vrindavan is a holy place of the Hindus, let it be put entirely to the edge of the sword, upto Agra leave not a single place and raze every building to the ground, whatever booties you would get in the wars will be yours, behead the Hindu Kafirs and gift their head in Afghan camp to me and take RS 5 as a reward for that.
After reaching Mathura, the Afghan army started destroying temples, raping women and Hindu men were beheaded and chopped up their bodies into pieces, Children were enslaved, many women jumped into the Yamuna river in order to save their honor. In this barbaric attack, many women lost their lives and many people were running here and there to get shelter so as to escape from the murderous Afghan maniacs, a large crowd of Hindus took refuge in the cave which is behind the Shitala Mata Temple, Afghan soldiers saw them hiding and they then mercilessly went inside cave and killed all Hindus in the cave.
After destroying Vrindavan, the Afghan army targeted Mahaban and looted the treasure and the massacre of Hindus was carried out, their next target was to attack Agra but suddenly Sardar khan, an Afghan commander thought why not Plunder and loot Gokul also which is just 9 KM away from Mahaban, He along with 10,000 Afghan soldiers went towards GOKUL where they saw 4,000 Naga Sadhus standing firmly for the war with them. When Naga sadhus got to know about the plight caused by the Afghans on Hindus then 10,000 naga sadhus from sacred cities of Hindus like Haridwar, Ujjain started gathering in Gokul but were little late in reaching their since Haridwar, Ujjain was at a comparable distance from Gokul.
A war started between Afghan army and Naga sadhus, at first afghans anticipated that nagas wouldn’t be able to counter them for long but soon they were proved wrong, Afghan soldiers were overpowered by naga sadhus military skill who were carrying Swords, matchlocks and cannons with faces smeared in ashes was terrifying Afghan soldiers so much that they were unable to give any resistance to nagas at all. With heavy casualties Afghan army started suffering due to which their strength now started decreasing drastically on the battlefield. This enraged Abdali so much that he threw more troops in the war but it is of no avail, dead bodies of Afghan soldiers were piling and afghans were losing morals, meanwhile the other bands of nagas also entered in the battlefield which intensified attack of nagas, In fear of loosing war and soldiers Afghans started retreating after the order of Sardar khan.
More than 5,000 afghan soldiers died and countless soldiers got injuries whereas 2,000 nagas attained martyrdom in this battle. Afghan commander Sardar khan was aware that Abdali would punish him for his decision of retreating from the war with humiliation since they were victories everywhere from Kabul to Mathura and defeat from hands of Nagas was a big blow to them. HE bribed Jugal Kishor who was appointed by Abdali from Bengal for inspecting the war, loot and treasure caught in war to frame a false report stating that afghans retreated due to spread of epidemic in Afghan army so that he could escape from the penalty of losing war in Gokul without any bounties.
The Naga Sadhus thus were able to save Gokul from the tyranny of Afghans and many Hindu shrines were rescued from Afghan, the sacrifices given by the gallant, chivalrous Naga Sadhus and the belligerency they exhibited during the war outstripped the unbeatable Afghan army, many Nagas died due to slippery nature of battlefield caused by blood of dead bodies of Soldiers but they still didn’t lose hope, such incident juxtaposes the brutal realities of war, oppression with instances of unforgettable spiritual grace and stepping in the history and passing through a turmoil is both thought provoking and gripping.
The true of exemplars of courage, faith naga sadhus motivates us on how to protect the motherland and culture from foreign invasion. With no regard for their own lives and firm determination to preserve faith and culture slain Afghan army to save holy town of Gokul. The appalling cost paid by them in the battlefield with battle cry of ‘Har Har Mahadev’ struck Afghans so much that they will not ever in their dream dare to think of attacking Hindus in Gokul. Such is the history and long tradition of Naga Sadhus full of valor and indifferent to materialistic desires of the world. Such is the god’s way of testing the fibers and spirits of their disciples. The selflessness and love for their culture and defence of the faith they did during the critical stages of History will always remain intact in our heart forever.