CHĀLĪ MUKTE, lit. forty (chālī) liberated ones (mukte), is how a band of 40 brave Sikhs who laid down their lives fighting near the ḍhāb or lake of Khidrāṇā, also called Īsharsar, on 29 December 1705 against a Mughal force in chase of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh are remembered in Sikh history and daily in the Sikh ardās or supplicatory prayer offered individually or at gatherings at the end of all religious services. Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, who had watched the battle from a nearby mound praised the martyrs' valour and blessed them as Chālī Mukte, the Forty Immortals. After them Khidrāṇā became Muktsar - the Pool of Liberation. Etymologically, muktā from Sanskrit mukt means 'liberated, delivered, emancipated, ' especially from the cycle of birth and death. Mukti (liberation, emancipation) in Sikhism is the highest spiritual goal of human existence, and muktī or mukta is the one who has achieved this state of final beatitude. Muktā, also means a pearl, and the word would thus signify a title or epithet of distinction. It was probably in this sense that the five Sikhs, who on 30 March 1699 received the vows of the Khālsā immediately after the first five Pañj Piāre (q. v. ), were blessed with the title muktā, plural mukte.
The term Chālī Mukte is also used sometimes for the martyrs whom a huge army, in pursuit since the evacuation of Anandpur by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh during the night of 5-6 December, caught up with and encircled at Chamkaur on 7 December, and who engaged the enemy in small sorties throughout the day with the result that the Gurū with three other survivors was able to escape during the following night. See CHAMKAUR SĀHIB.
While there is no unanimity over the names of the martyrs of Muktsar and Chamkaur Sāhib, the five Muktās who comprised the first batch of Sikhs to receive amrit at the hands of the Pañj Piāre are given in Rahitnāmā by Bhāī Dayā Siṅgh as Rām Siṅgh, Fateh Siṅgh, Devā Siṅgh, Ṭahil Siṅgh and Īsar Siṅgh. No other details of these five are available except that an old manuscript of Bhāī Prahlād Siṅgh's Rahitnāmā is said to contain a note associating Rām Siṅgh and Devā Siṅgh with the village of Bughiāṇā, Ṭahil Siṅgh and Īsar Siṅgh with Ḍall-Vāṅ and Fateh Siṅgh with Khurdpur Māṅgaṭ. According to Bhāī Chaupā Siṅgh, his Rahitnāmā or code of conduct was drafted by muktās. The text is said to have received Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's approval on 7 Jeṭh 1757 Bk / 5 May 1700. It appears that the title of muktā was bestowed subsequently also on persons other than the original five. The number of muktās is recorded variously in old Sikh texts. For instance, Kesar Siṅgh Chhibbar, Baṅsāvalīnāmā Dasāṅ Pātshāhīāṅ Kā, mentions 14, and Kuir Siṅgh, Gurbilās Pātshāhī X, 25. But muktās universally celebrated in the Sikh tradition are the forty martyrs of Muktsar who earned this title by sacrificing their lives for the Gurū and who redeemed their past apostasy of having disowned the Gurū and deserted him driven to desperation by the prolonged siege of Anandpur by the hill chiefs and Mughal forces by having their disclaimer torn by the Gurū.
Piārā Siṅgh Padam