Bhai Bidhi Chand Chhina
Bhai Bidhi Chand Chhina was a gursikh warrior as well as religious preacher of the time of Guru Hargobind. Some say that he was a Chhina Jatt of the village of Sur singh, 34 km south of Amritsar, but it is also believed that the title 'Chhina' was given to him by Sixth Satguru Sahib. His father's name was Bhai Vassan and his grandfather's Bhai Bhikkhi. His mother was from Sirhali, another village in the same district. He was one of five close Sikhs of Guru Arjun Dev and Guru Har Gobind.
As a young man Bidhi Chand had fallen into bad company and taken to banditry. One day, a pious Sikh, Bhai Adali of the village of Chohia, led him into Guru Arjan's presence where he underwent a remarkable transformation. His life of banditry and misdeeds ended for he knew now wanted nothing more thana life of dedication to the service of the Guru.
With Guru Arjun
He was one of the five Sikhs chosen to accompany Guru Arjan on his journey to martyrdom at Lahore in 1606. With the death of his father Guru Hargobind now turned his thoughts to training and raising an army to resist the dangers that seemingly threatened his sangat of peace loving Sikhs at every turn. He chose Bidhi Chand to be one of the commanders of the Risaldari (Cavalry) he was raising. He displayed great feats of valour in several battles with the Mughal troops.
With Guru Hargobind
His best known exploit, however, was the recovery of the two now famous horses, Dilbagh and Gulbagh, from the stables of the governor at Lahore's Fort. The horses belonged to a Sikh who had raised and trained them and was bringing them from Kabul as an offering for Guru Hargobind. All along the way the horses had attracted attention. The stories of their extraordinary qualities and beauty had arrived at the Mogul govenor's court long before the horses reached Lahore. The Govenor offered the Sikh owner a fortune for each animal. With his offers rebuffed he had his men seize them.
Both horses were recovered from the Moghul satrap's stables when Bidhi jumped a low parapet and rode each of themthem down a sloped wall into the river Ravi. The saying goes fool me once shame on you--fool me twice shame on me.Returning later Bidi disguised himself as an Astrologer. Soon he arranged a demonstration of how the first horse was taken.
Bidhi Chand recovered the first horse after earning the trust of the stablemen who had allowed him to sleep in the stables after he pretended to be a hayseller. It is said that the first horse's health became a concern being away from his lifelong companion. So in a daring even almost beyond belief the daring Bidhi returned , this time well disguised as an astrologer, a sooth sayer, who after earning the Govenors trust staged a bit of courtly entertainment re-enacting the first event. The Govenor and his guards were very susprised when, suddenly the new court astrologer jumped over the battlements, half slid down the slopping wall into the river, never to be seen again.
Besides being a brave warrior, Bidhi Chand was well versed in Sikh lore and tenets. From Kiratpur, he was sent out by Guru Hargobind on a preaching mission to the eastern provinces where a Muslim saint, Sundar Shah of Devnagar, became so attached to him that, before he left for the Punjab, he secured his word that he would return and spend the his last days with the dying Sant.
Final Days of Life
According to Gurbilas Chhevin Patshahi, Bidhi Chand remembered his promise and, as he saw his end drawing near, he took his leave of Guru Hargobind and went to Devnagar. The two friends spent three days reflecting together on the teaching of Guru Nanak, whereafter, continues the Gurbilas, both died at the same time (14 August 1640). Sundar Shah's disciples buried the one in accordance with Muslim rites and cremated the other in accordance with Sikh rites, and raised shrines in their honour. Some time later, Lal Chand, a nephew of Bhai Bidhi Chand, brought from the site of his shrine at Devnagar some earth over which he built a samadh in his ancestral village of Sursingh.
Bhai Bachittar Singh
Bhai Bachittar Singh, warrior and martyr, was the second son of Bhai Mani Singh, a devotee of the Gurus. One of the five brothers presented by their father for service to Guru Gobind Singh, he joined the order of the Khalsa on the historic Baisakhi day, 14 April 1699, and shot into prominence during the first battle of Anandpur against the hill chieftains, when, on 1 September 1700, he was selected by Guru Gobind Singh to single-handedly face a drunken elephant brought forth by the enemy to batter down the gate of Lohgarh Fort.
As the elephant approached the gate, Bachittar Singh, (as narrated in the Gurbilas Patshahi 10) sallied forth on horseback and made a powerful thrust with his spear piercing the elephant's armour plate and injuring the animal in the forehead. The wounded elephant ran back creating havoc and great damage in the enemy's ranks. As a result of Bhai sahib's bold action, the Sikhs gained an upper hand in this conflict.
Bachittar Singh also took part in actions at Nirmohgarh and Basali and in the last battle of Anandpur. On the fateful night of 5-6 December 1705, when Anandpur was evacuated, he was one of those who safely crossed the torrential Sarsa rivulet. At the head of a flanking guard watching pursuers from the direction of Ropar, he had an encounter with a body of irregulars near Malikpur Ranghran in which he was seriously wounded. He was carried , near death, to Nihang Khan's house at Kotla Nihang Khan by Sahibzada Ajit Singh and Bhai Madan Singh.
Guru Gobind Singh asked Nihang Khan to look after Bachittar Singh, after which he proceeded with the remaining forty or so Sikhs towards Chamkaur. Guru Gobind Singh, before his departure, bestowed upon Nihang Khan; a sword, a dagger and a shield.
Rumors spread as quickly in those days as they do today, so hearing that Nihang Khan was sheltering some Sikhs, the Mughal troops searched his house while the mortally wounded Bachittar Singh lay in a small room attended by Nihang Khan's daughter. Living up to his name, Nihang Khan maintained his cool and succeeded in keeping the search party from entering the room by telling them that his daughter was nursing her very sick husband. Thus the danger was averted, but the life of Bachchittar Singh could not be saved. He succumbed to his injuries and breathed his last on 8 December 1705.
Nihang Khan had the cremation performed secretly the following night.
Kotla Nihang Khan
Kotla Nihang Khan, about two and a half kilometres south of Ropar, owes its prominence to Gurdwara Bhatta Sahib.
The village is named after its once local chief, Nihang Khan, a god fearing Afghan contemporary of Guru Gobind Singh. Guru Gobind Singh first visited Kotla Nihang Khan while on his way back from Paonta to Anandpur. The site of the present Gurdwara Bhatta Sahib used to be a Bhatta (a brick kiln) which was used to slake lime for mortar and whitewashing of walls. The kiln which was in use at the time belonged to the local chief. It is said that the kiln was still smouldering hot when the Guru arrived here on Magghar, 1745 Bk/12 November 1688 and, inadvertantly or otherwise, rode right onto the kiln's covering.
There is a fascinating story about this incident, as soon as the hooves of the Guru's horse touched the kiln, it cooled. Seeing this, Nihang Khan fell at the Guru's feet and became forever his devoted follower. He escorted him to his haveli and put him up for the night with due reverence and attention. The Guru again passed through Kotla Nihang Khan while returning from viewing the solar eclipse in 1702/1703. The third visit was on 6 December 1705 when Guru Gobind Singh, after crossing the Sarsa, on being forced to abandon Anandpur cut across straight towards Kotia Nihang Khan, after detaching 100 of his warriors under Bhai Bachchittar Singh to cover his flank. He safely reached Kotia where, relaxing in Nihang Khan's house, he waited for Bachchittar Singh.
The latter engaged their pursuers, unfortunately most of them perished in the action. Bhat Bachchiittar Singh was seriously wounded and was taken, near death, to Nihang Khan's house by Sahibzada Ajit Singh and Bhai Madan Singh. Guru Gobind Singh asked Nihang Khan to look after Bachittar Singh, after which he proceeded with the remaining forty or so Sikhs towards Chamkaur.
Rumors spread as quickly in those days as they do today so hearing that Nihang Khan was sheltering some Sikhs, the Mughal troops searched his house while the mortally wounded Bachittar Singh lay in a small room attended by Nihang Khan's daughter. Living up to his name, Nihang Khan maintained his cool and succeeded in keeping the search party from entering the room by telling them that his daughter was nursing her very sick husband. Thus the danger was averted, but the life of Bhat Bachittar Singh could not be saved. He succumbed to his injuries and breathed his last on 8 December 1705. Nihang Khan had the cremation performed secretly the following night.
Guru Gobind Singh had, before his departure, bestowed upon Nihang Khan; a sword, a dagger and a shield. These priceless relics were preserved and passed through generations in the family, but no shrine was raised to the Guru's visit in that most fateful night of peril - until Gurdwara Bhattha Sahib was constructed by Sam Baba Jivan Singh (1833-1938) of Buddha Bhora on the site of the former kiln. The construction was commenced in 1910 and completed in 1923. When the Pathan family left India, following thee partition of 1947, they presented the sword and the dagger at the Gurdwara, but the shield was taken by the family who next occupied their house.
The sword, which has a beautiful golden hilt and sheath, carries the inscription in Perisan letters: : "Shahinshah Shah Mir Muhammad Mamur."
Baba Deep Singh ji
Baba Deep Singh Shahid (26 January 1682 -13 November 1757), is one of most honoured martyrs in Sikh history. He was the founder of the Shahid Misl (group). He was the first head of Damdami Taksal (Damdama school of learning) a 300 years old religious school of the Sikhs which was founded by last Sikh prophet Guru Gobind Singh. Tall and strong he was an exceptionally brave Sikh.
A bold and fearless saint-soldier he was ever ready to risk his life for the Panth. Baba ji was born on January 26, 1682 (some records register this as January 20) and died fighting at Amritsar on November 11, 1757 when he was about 75 years old. From about 12 years of age, he grew up around the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh.
He spent most of his life as a custodian of the Panth (Sikh community). He and Banda Singh Bahadur are recognised as the most honoured martyrs of the Panth who, together set a unique and amazing example for the community to follow for many generations. Not only was Baba ji a brave and fearless soldier but a very intelligent scholar who had mastered several languages.
From the time when Guru Gobind Singh came to Damdama Sahib, Baba ji was responsible for the distribution of the Guru Granth Sahib to other parts of the world and was the "head granthi" (head priest) of Damdama Sahib in Bathinda.
A brief History
•Baba ji was a great Sikh scholar who became a soldier and martyr for the defence of Sikhism.
•Stayed at Anandpur Sahib where he spent about 8 years learning Gurmukhi from Bhai Mani Singh along with the art of horsemanship, archery as well as other arms training.
•At the age of 12 he met Guru Gobind Singh at Damdama Sahib where Guru Gobind Singh asked him to start preaching the message of Sikhism.
•At the age of eighteen, he received Amrit from the Panj Pyare at Anandpur Sahib in the presence of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
•Between 1705 and 1728 Baba Deep Singh and Bhai Mani Singh produced a number of hand written copies of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib for distribution among the Sikhs.
•Baba Deep Singh became head "Granthi" at Damdama Sahib.
•Fought in various wars - In about 1709, Baba Deep Singh Ji joined Banda Singh Bahadur to fight in the battle of Sirhind. Baba Deep Singh was also a survivor of the Chotta Ghalughara (Small Holocaust) in 1755 when 10,000 Sikhs were killed.
•On the outskirts of Amritsar, Baba ji and a group of heavily outnumbered Sikhs fought two fierce battles against a Mughal force of 20,000. In the second engagement Baba Deep Singh in the course of battle was beheaded, but having vowed to die in the precincts of the Golden Temple. He kept his promise by continuing after picking up his head and carrying it on his palm, whilst continuing to fight. He then left for Sach Khand with his severed head resting on the parkarma of Harimander Sahib on 11 November 1757.
Today at the same spot, just south of the norteast corner of the parkarma, a large marble octagonal tile marks the spot where his head landed. Many pilgrims stop and pause here daily, as they have since his death, to sprinkle rose pedals and lay garlands on the tile as they pray in his honor.
Baba Ji was born January 26, 1682, (14 Maagh Sunmat 1739) the son of Bhai Bhagata Ji and Mai Jeoni Ji,). A Sikh couple living in Pahuvind, a village 40 km southwest of Amritsar. Baba Ji's parents were hard working Sikh farmers. Their first born he was to be their only child. He was named Deepa (light). An only child, his parents lavished him with much devotion and affection. When Deepa was twelve, he traveled with his parents to Anandpur Sahib to meet Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Sikh guru. They stayed in the Guru's city for several days, doing Sewa (service) with the Sikh community. When his parents were ready to return to their village, the Guru asked the 12 year old Deepa to stay with him at Anandpur.
He readily accepted his Guru's request and began serving the Sikh community of the city. While at Anandpur Sahib, he immersed himself in his studies of Sikh philosophy and the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book of scriptures. He learned Gurmukhi (Punjabi script) and several other languages from Bhai Mani Singh and other Sikh scholars. It was here that he also learned the art of horsemanship, hunting and the use of the bow and other weapons.
At the age of eighteen, he received Amrit from the Panj Pyare at Anandpur Sahib on Vaisakhi day and took an oath to serve as one of Waheguru’s warriors (Akal Purakh dee fauj). With his new name, Deep Singh also learned that Sikhs are to always help the weak and needy, and to fight for truth and justice. After receiving the vows of the Khalsa, he stayed on in Anandpur to continue his studies of the sacred texts under Bhai Mani Singh. He soon became one of the Guru's most beloved Sikhs staying in Anandpur for a total of about eight years.
In about 1702 Guru Gobind Singh ji requested that he return to his village to help his parents. He was married that same year. In 1704, about two years after his return to Pahuwind, a Sikh messenger arrived to inform him that Guru Ji had left his fort in Anandpur Sahib after fighting with the Hindu hill Rajput Rajas for six months. He also learned that the Guru's two young sons and his mother, Mata Gujri, had become separated from the Guru during the battle. Upon hearing such disheartening news, Baba Deep Singh Ji immediately left Pahuwind to meet with Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Baba Deep Singh Ji caught up with the Guru at Damdama Sahib in Talwandi. Here, he learned that the two older sons of the Guru, Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh, had lost their lives in the battle of Chamkaur. Guru Ji also told him that his two younger sons, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh and with grandmother were betrayed by a former family servant and arrested. After refusing to convert to Islam they were cruelly murdered at the orders of Wazir Khan. Having pre-known the fate of younger Sahibzadas, their grandmother Mata Gujar Kaur left for heavenly abode in thanda burj in which she and the two princes were held at Sirhind.
The Missions of Baba Deep Singh
Baba Deep Singh Ji had been summoned to Damdama Sahib to work with Bhai Mani Singh Ji preparing the final text of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh Ji recited the entire Granth Sahib to them while they wrote out the text. After its completion Baba Deep Singh Ji continued, for several years, to hand write four additional copies of the holy scriptures. These four copies were dispersed, a copy each to: Sri Akal Takhat Sahib, Sri Takhat Patna Sahib, Sri Takhat Hazur Sahib and Sri Takhat Anandpur Sahib. Later the learned scholar inscribed another copy of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib in Arabic script. It was sent to the Middle East.
In 1706, before Guru Gobind Singh Ji traveled to the Deccan with Bahadur Shah, Guru Ji placed Baba Deep Singh in charge of Damdama Sahib. He sent Bhai Mani Singh Ji to head the Sangat at Harimander Sahib in Amritsar. Baba Deep Singh Ji spent many years at Damdama Sahib preaching Sikh values and teachings and doing service for the community. He was always ready to serve those in need and to fight for justice. Baba Ji also continued to write gutkas (books of hymns) distributing them to the Sikh community.
In about 1709, Baba Deep Singh Ji joined Banda Singh Bahadur, the Jathedar appointed by the dying Guru Gobind Singh to fight for the freedom of Punjab. They fought together in the battle at Sirhind—the city in which Guru Gobind Singh Ji's younger sons had been killed. Although the Muslim army outnumbered the Sikhs significantly, the Sikh army was able to easily defeat the Muslim forces. During the battle, Wazir Khan was killed closing the chapter of tyranny of this Mughal leader.
In 1732, he went to the rescue of Sardar Ala Singh who had been besieged in Barnala by Manjh and Bhatti Rajputs in collaboration with the faujdar of Jalandhar and the nawab of Malerkotla. In 1733, when the Mughal governor of Lahore sought peace with the Sikhs offering them a nawabship and a jagir, Baba Deep Singh and his jatha joined Nawab Kapur Singh at Amritsar to form a joint Sikh force, the Dal Khalsa, which was soon divided for administrative convenience into the Buddha Dal and the Taruna Dal, the latter being further split into five jathas. Deep Singh, now reverently called Baba, was given the command of one of these jathas which in 1748 were redesignated misls. It came to be known as Shahid misl. As the leader of the Shaheedi misl, he achieved numerous victories for the Sikhs. The Shahid misl had its sphere of influence south of the River Sutlej and Baba Deep Singh's headquarters remained at Talvandi Sabo. The tower in which he lived still stands next to the Takht Sri Damdama Sahib and is known as Burj Baba Deep Singh Shahid.
At the invitation of Mughlani Begum, Ahmed Shah Abdali invaded India for the fourth time during the years 1755-56. On his return journey Abdali was accompanied by his soldiers who carried enormous stores of gold, silver and other valuables looted from the towns of Mathura, Bindraban, Agra and Delhi. These valuables were loaded on the backs of horses and other animals. In addition thousands of beautiful unmarried girls and married women, from both Hindu and Muslim communities, were being forcibly taken against their wishes, to serve as maidens and slaves of Abdali, and to be auctioned in open market. They were herded together in bullock carts and bound to prevent their escape enroute.
When the leaders of the Khalsa Panth (Misaldars) came to know of this caravan passing through the Punjab, they decided to intervene with force, to free these girls and women and save their honour and that of the country. The cries for help of these unfortunate women fell on deaf ears and nobody dared to rescue them till the caravan arrived near Kurukshetra. Baba Deep Singh's Jatha (army) was assigned duty near the river Markanda. When he and his brave companions heard the wailings of the helpless children and women, they stormed out of the surrounding jungles (forests) and pounced upon Abdali's caravan, like lightening bolts from an angry sky. While some of them attacked Abdali's soldiers, others captured and drove away many bullock carts laden with the children, women and looted valuables taking them to the safety of their nearby jungle hideouts.
With little thought of their own safety or lives, the Sikhs had rescued about 300 women and young girls as well as 100 boys from the clutches of Abdali. The freed boys, girls and married women both Muslim and Hindu, were escorted safely to their homes by the Sikh soldiers. Men whose moral character was of the highest order even in those difficult days.
The Rajput and Maratha Khatris had failed to mount any attempt to rescue the prisoners. But the saints-soldiers of Guru Gobind Singh were made of other stuff. Ahmed Shah himself wondered at the Sikhs' daring, how could their Gurus take sparrows and turn them into Hawks and Eagles, did naming a man a Lion turn him into one.
Because of the dare devil tactics and noble acts of the Sikhs, the captured women and children took to singing:
"Moreen Baba Kachh Walea Chhai Naheen Taan Ran gai Basre noon gai"
'O' brave Sikh wearing Kachah(an undergarment), liberate the enslaved Women, otherwise they would be taken to Basra.
During this invasion of India, Ahmad Shah Durrani annexed Punjab to his Afghan dominions and appointed his son, Taimur Shah, viceroy at Lahore, with the veteran general Jahan Khan as his deputy. Jahan Khan invaded Amritsar in May 1757, razed the Sikh fortress of Ram Rauni and defiled the sacred pool. Although Baba Deep Singh Ji was seventy-five years old, he still had the strength of a young warrior. He gathered a large group of Sikhs and advanced towards Sri Harimander Sahib. By the time they reached the village of Tarn Taran, about ten miles from Amritsar, their numbers had risen to about five thousand. At this time, Baba Ji drew a line on the ground with his khanda, and asked only those who were willing to fight and die to cross the line.
All of the assembled Sikhs crossed the line eagerly. Baba Deep Singh Ji then recited the Shabad:
"Jo to praym khaylan ka chaao, sir dhar talee galee mayree aao."
Those who wish to play the game of love (to follow the Sikh path), come to me with your head in your palm.
"It maarag pair dhareejai, sir deejai kaan na keejai."
If you wish your feet to travel this path, don't delay in accepting to give your head.
When news of Baba Deep Singh Ji's intentions reached Jahan Khan, he immediately mobilized an army of 20,000 men and proceeded towards Tarn Taran. Baba Deep Singh Ji's army intercepted Jahan Khan's forces near the village of Goharwal, about five miles from Amritsar. At this point, there was a clash between the opposing forces. Baba Deep Singh Ji fought with his 15kg (about 32 lbs.) khanda (double-edged sword). Each Sikh fought with such great valor and courage that the enemy was almost defeated. During the midst of battle, a large army of reinforcements arrived for Jahan Khan's men, turning the odds against the Sikhs. Yet, the Sikhs with Baba Deep Singh Ji as their head continued fighting and advanced towards Amritsar.
During the clash, one of the Mughal commanders, Jamal Khan, attacked Baba Deep Singh Ji. As they fought, both men swung their weapons with great force, leaving both of their heads separated from their bodies. After seeing this scene, a young Sikh warrior called out to Baba Ji, reminding him of his vow to reach Sri Harimander Sahib. Upon hearing this, Baba Deep Singh Ji immediately stood up, holding his severed head upright on his left palm while holding his khanda in his right hand. He then continued fighting and moving towards Sri Harimander Sahib. Upon seeing the sight of Baba Deep Singh's headless body tearing through their numbers, most of the men in the Mughal army fled away in terror. Baba Deep Singh was able to continue fighting and reached the periphery of Sri Harimander Sahib from where he flung his severed head which came to rest at the parkarma (rectangular walkway) of this sacred Gurdwara and lay there as promised. The Sikh Army continued to fight the fleeing Mughals until victory was achieved. Baba ji is remembered by all Sikhs as a brave and courageous martyr with an unflinching dedication to the Sikh principles.
Two shrines now commemorate the martyr,
one on the circumambulatory terrace of the
Sarovar surrounding the Harimander Sahib where he finally fell and the other, Shahidganj Baba Deep Singh Shahid, near Gurdwara Ramsar, where his body was cremated. The places where Baba ji drew the line, engaged in battle, lost his head, threw it, and where it landed are all marked by Gurdwaras in Punjab. Baba Deep Singh Ji's actions encouraged the Sikhs to continue to fight against the tyrannical and oppressive Mughal Empire for many years. Even today, his life serves as an example for all Sikhs on how to live and die with dignity.
Baba Banda Singh Bahadur
Baba Banda Singh Bahadur (16 October, 1670 - 9 June, 1716) (Lachhman Dev alias Madho dass Bairagi), originally from the Jammu region, is revered as one of greatest Sikh warriors as well as one of the most hallowed martyrs of the Khalsa Army.
The Khalsa were engaged in a prolonged fight against the cruel Mughals, who were practising their tyranny and terrorism. His confrontation with the Mughal administration in Northern India, though brief, was strong and vigorous enough to shake the foundations of this evil empire.
The agrarian uprising that he led in the Punjab was the underpinning on which the Dal Khalsa, the Sikh Misls and Maharaja Ranjit Singh built the edifice which finally culminated with Ranjit Singh capturing Lahore in 1799 and establishing the Sikh Kingdom of the Punjab. This resulted in the end of a dark period in the history of India.
Baba Banda Singh Bahadur was born in a Minhas Rajput family on October 16, 1670 at Rajouri in the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir, Northern India; he was named Lachman Dev. Wrestling, horseback riding, and hunting were his major hobbies. He was a very active and energetic child.
However, as a young man, he shot a doe and was shocked to watch the mother and her aborted fawn writhing in pain and dying. After this gloomy scene, he had a change of heart. This experience moved him so much that he completely changed his outlook to life. He left his home and became a recluse. Soon, he met a Bairagi Sadhu, Janaki Das and became his disciple.
The Sadhu gave him the name, Madho Das. In the company of the Sadhus he travelled through Northern India and then finally arrived at Nanded (in present-day Maharashtra) in central India, situated on the bank of the river Godavari, where he built a hut to meditate upon God.
Madho Das meets Guru Gobind Singh
In September 1708, Guru Gobind Singh, who had come to the Deccan along with the Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah, happened to go to Madho Das’ hut while hunting. Madho Das was away. The Guru ordered his disciples to cook food immediately as the Sikhs were hungry as they had not eaten for days. News of this reached Madho Das, who was enraged. He had mastered Tantra and tried some of his tricks to humiliate the Guru. But none had any effect on Guru Gobind.
The Guru then asked him, “Who are you?”
Madho Das, who having tried all his occult powers had my now accepted defeat, said with great humility, "I am your banda (slave)".
The Guru inquired, if he knew who he was talking to. Banda said he was none other than Guru Gobind Singh. The Guru then had a long conversation with Banda. He encouraged him to give up his present recluse lifestyle and the lonely way of living. The Guru asked him to resume the duties of a true warrior to fight for righteousness and justice before God.
Banda Singh Bahadur's mission
Guru Gobind Singh had hoped that Emperor Bahadur Shah would fulfil his promise and do justice in the Punjab by punishing the Governor of Sirhind, Nawab Wazir Khan and his accomplices for their crimes against the common people including the deaths of the Guru's mother, Mata Gujri and his two younger sons, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh. Finding him reluctant, the Guru deputed Madho Das Bairagi, under the leadership of five Sikhs, to end Mughal persecution of innocents in Punjab.
In a few days, the Guru held a darbar and on 3 September 17081, baptised Madho Das with Khanda di pahal and conferred the title of Banda Singh Bahadur on him. He appointed him as his military lieutenant and invested him with full political and military authority as his deputy to lead the campaign in the Punjab against the evil Mughal administration and to punish Nawab Wazir Khan and his supporters.
Banda was supplied with five gold tipped arrow and a nagara (drum) as symbols of temporal authority. He was given an advisory council of five devoted Sikhs (Hazuri Singhs), who on their arrival in the Punjab were to assure the Sikhs that Banda was the Guru's nominee and deputy and to organize them in order to lead an expedition against Sirhind. The five Singhs were:
•Baj Singh, a descendant of the third Sikh Guru, Guru Amar Das.
•Baj Singh's brother Ram Singh.
•Binod singh, a descendant of the second Sikh Guru, Guru Angad Dev.
•Binod Singh's son Kahan singh
Twenty five soldiers were to act as Banda's bodyguards. A Hukumnamah (order) in the handwriting of the Guru instructing Sikhs to join Banda Bahadur in his struggle against Mughal rule was provided. As an insignia of his temporal authority invested in him, the Guru gave Banda Bahadur his own sword, green bow, five arrows from his quiver and a Nishan Sahib. Three hundred Sikh cavaliers in battle array accompanied Banda up to a distance of eight kilometres to give him a final send off.
En route to the Punjab
At the rate of ten to sixteen kilometres per day, it should have taken Banda more than a hundred days to complete his journey, but he actually took about a year. Probably, he might have been frequently in hiding. The emperor must have instructed his officers to kill Banda and his band. That is why Banda travelled right across Maharashtra and Rajasthan, both of which were then in revolt against the Mughals.
Banda on his journey, 1708-1709.
While Banda was on his journey to Punjab, the guru was severely wounded by a Pathan sent after the Guru by Wazir Khan with the connivance of the court nobles. The dispatch of Banda to Punjab had infuriated Emperor Bahadur Shah. As an indirect result of the wound of this attack, the Guru passed away on October 7, 1708. Banda had not gone far when he heard the sad news. This did not discourage him. On the contrary it doubled his zeal and set the fire of vengeance ablaze in his heart. Distance between Nanded and Hissar in current day Haryana is 1600 Kms. At the rate of 10-16 kms per day Banda should not have taken more than 100 to 150 days during his journey, but he actually took about a year. It means that he might have been frequently in hiding. The emperor would have instructed his officers to make short work of Banda and his party.
Banda in current day Haryana, 1709
Banda arrived at Narnaul. There he saw the complete destruction of Satnamis with his own eyes. His blood boiled on learning that entire sect of Satnamis, men, women and children, one and all had been wiped out of existence. It was here that Banda suppressed some dacoits and robbers. (this is mentioned in Shri Guru Panth Parkash of Giani Gian Singh, 345-46, 4th edition).
Hissar: He was well received by Hindus and Sikhs as a leader of the nationalist movement and deputy of Guru Gobind Singh. Liberal offerings were made to him in the cause of the country and dharam (religion and virtue) which he distributed among poor and needy.
Here Banda issued letters to Malwa Sikhs to join him in his crusade against Wazir Khan of Sirhind.
Never perhaps in the history of Punjab did the circumstances of the time offered so fair a field to the ambition of a leader, conscious of great talents, and called to the command of a warlike people, only too eager to support him in any enterprise he might undertake. Banda directed his attention to the east towards Delhi. He wanted to leave Mata Sahib Kaur in Delhi and plunder the Government officials of the fertile area of Haryana. From Kharkhauda about 50 kms north-west of Delhi, Mata Sahib was sent to Delhi under proper escort, to join Mata Sundari, who was now acting as the head of the Khalsa. She might have resented Banda's ignoring her for not having visited her at the capital before starting on his crusade.
At Sonepat, 50 Kms north of Delhi, early in November 1709 Banda commanded about 500 followers. He attacked government treasury plundered it and distributed it among his retinue. This was his second success against the government and it considerably raised his prestige. By slow marches he advanced towards Sirhind.
Kaithal: Near Kaithal, about 100 kms further North, Banda seized a Government treasury which was on its way from the northern districts to Delhi. He kept nothing out of it for himself and gave it away to his rank and file.
Samana, 50 kms farther north was the native place of Jalal-ud-did Jallad, the professional executioner, who had beheaded Guru Tegh Bahadur, while his son had beheaded two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh. Ali Hussain who by false promises had lured Guru Gobind Singh to evacuate Anandpur also belonged to Samana. It was a cursed place in the eyes of Sikhs. The entire peasantry of the neighborhood was now up in arms due to their ill treatment by the Mughal administration. Banda's following had risen to several thousands. Banda fell upon the town on November 26, 1709. The inhabitants were no match to the Khalsa army and they were massacred and town thoroughly squeezed. Samana was the district town and had nine Parganahs attached to it. It was placed under the charge of Fateh Singh. Samana was the first territorial conquest and the first administrative unit of Banda.
Then Kunjpura, Ghuram, and Thaska inhabited by Mughal Ranghars notirious for rape and rapine were destroyed. People who were born out of Muslim father and Hindu mother were called Ranghars. Damla was the village of Pathans who had deserted Guru Gobind Singh in the battle of Bhangani. It was ravaged. Shahbad Markanda also fell to Banda.
View article Conquest Of Sadhora
Usman Khan , the chief of Sadhaura 25 kms distant, had persecuted Sayyid Budhu Shah for helping Guru Gobind singh ji in the battle of Bhangani. The muslim population maltreated the local Hindus. On the approach of Banda the leading Muslims gathered in a big and strongly built mansion. They were all massacred. This building came to be known as Katal Garhi. Banda attacked the town and destroyed it.
The contemporary historian Khafi Khan wrote: "In two or three months time four to five thousands pony-riders, and seven to eight thousand warlike footmen joined him. Day by day their number increased, and abundant money and material by pillage fell into their hands. Numerous villages were laid waste and he appointed his own police officers (thanedars) and collectors of revenue (Tahsil-dar-e-mal)"
The ultimate aim of Banda was to punish Wazir Khan and conquer Sarhind. It required time to consolidate his material and territorial gains. He also wanted to study military resources of Sarhind. He was anxious to see what steps government will take against him. He therefore established his headquarters, in the beginning of February 1710, at Mukhlispur situated in lower Shiwalik hills south of Nahan, about 20 KM from Sadhaura. His fort stood on a hill top. Two kuhls or water channels flowed at its base and supplied water to it. This fort was repaired and put in a state of defense. All the money, gold and costly material acquired in these expeditions were deposited here. He struck coins and issued orders under his seal. The name of Mukhlispur was changed to Lohgarh, and it became the capital of first Sikh state.
Banda ruled over the region bounded on the north by Shiwalik hills, on the west by river Tangri, on the east by river Jamuna, and in the south by a line passing through Samana, Thanesar, Kaithal and Karnal. He abolished the Zamindari System of land prevailing under the Mughals and declared the actual cultivators as the owners of land. Thus he established the peasant proprietorship, and won approbation and support of the overwhelming majority of the population. Khafi Khan says that Banda "issued orders to imperial officers and agents and big jagirdars to submit and give up their business." So Guru Gobind singh's dream of political sovereignty was realized within a year of his death.
Banda's name struck terror into the hearts of lawless people, and thefts and dacoity became a thing of the past. "In all the paraganahs occupied by the Sikhs," writes Irvine, "The reversal of previous customs was striking and complete. A low scavenger or leather dresser, the lowest of the low in Indian estimation, had only to leave home and join the Guru, when in a short time he would return to his birthplace as its ruler with his order and his order of appointment in his hand. As soon as he set foot within the boundaries the wealthy and well-born went out to greet him and with joined palms awaited his orders. Not a soul could disobey an order, and men who had often risked themselves in battlefields, became so cowed down that they were afraid even to remonstrate.
Invasion of Sirhind and first Sikh state
Banda devoted three months in organizing his civil and military administration. Bahadur Shah was still away from Delhi. The Delhi Government had made no attempt to recover their lost territory from him. Wazir Khan of Sarhind was making his own preparations independently to meet the danger from Banda.
Banda's troops consisted of two classes of people. The old Sikhs who had fought under Guru Gobind Singh joined him purely to punish Wazir Khan. Eventhough Guru Gobind Singh had only sent Banda Bahadur to punish those who had committed atrocities against Pir Buddhu Shah and sane saints, it was the love of Guru Gobind singh and Sahibzade's that many Sikhs zealously to avenge the murder of the Guru Gobind Singh's young sons alligned themselves with Banda. They also wished to see the fulfillment of the Guru's prophecy for Sikh sovereignty in Punjab. They numbered about five thousands. Another class of Sikhs of about the same number comprised of young men who wanted to punish and plunder the enemies of their faith. The third group of Hindu jats, Gujars and Rajputs of about five thousand were intent on plunder alone. Most of them were untrained, raw levies, not fully armed. Banda possessed no elephants, no good horses and no guns. His followers had matchlocks, spears, swords, bows and arrows. According to Khafi Khan the number of Sikhs had risen to thirty to forty thousands.
Wazir Khan's Preparations
Wazir Khan had proclaimed a jihad or a holy war against Banda. He was joined by the Nawab of Malerkotla, all the other Muslim chiefs and jagirdars as well as Ranghars in large numbers. Majority of his soldiers were trained men. Wazir Khan's own forces were six thousand horsemen, eight to nine thousand musketeers (burqandaz) and archers, and with these about ten guns of artillery and many elephants. In addition there were about ten thousand Ghazis. The total number of their troops was about thirty thousands.
Banda advanced from Lohgarh and halted at Banur, near Ambala, 14 Kms from Rajpura. The muslims of that town used to seize cows and oxen of Hindus and slaughter them in their presence. Banda sacked it, and then went towards Sarhind.
Battle of Sirhind, May 12, 1710
The battle was fought at Chhappar Chiri, 20 kms from Sarhind. On the Mughal side Sher Muhammad Khan, Nawab of Malerkotla was the leader of the right wing. Wazir Khan was in command of the center. Suchanand, chief secretary of nawab was put on the left. On the Sikh side, Baj singh Bal a jutt of village Mirpur in Patti distt. of Amritsar, headed right wing. Binod Singh (descendent of Guru Angad Dev ji) headed the left wing while Banda commanded the center facing the Wazir Khan's army. Shouts of Sachcha Padishah, Fateh Darshan (Sat Sri Akal was changed to Fateh Darshan by Banda), Sat Sri Akal, Akal, Akal, and ya ali, rent the sky. Suchanand could not withstand the ferocity of Baj singh and soon vanquished and fled away. The artillery fire of the Mughals told heavily on the plunderers in Banda's camp. They were equally divided between Baj singh and Binod singh's forces. Sher Mohammed Khan was about to overpower Binod singh's wing when he was suddenly struck by a bullet and was instantly killed. His men immediately dispersed. Wazir Khan was rushing upon Banda who stuck fast to his ground and discharged arrows relentlessly. There a bloody battle was going on. Baj singh and Binod singh now joined Banda. Banda and the Sikh leaders now converged on Wazir Khan and he was killed.
Wazir Khan's death is variously described. Khafi Khan says that he was struck by a Musket ball. Mir Mohammed Ahsan Ijad says that Baj singh rushed upon Wazir Khan. Wazir Khan threw his spear at Baj singh. Baj singh caught hold of it. He flung the same spear upon Wazir Khan. It struck the forehead of his horse. Wazir Khan discharged an arrow which hit Baj singh's arm. He then rushed upon him with his sword. At this juncture Fatah singh came to the rescue of Baj singh. His sword cut the Khan from shoulder to the waist.
Pursuit of fugitives
Wazir Khan's head was stuck up on a spear and lifted high up by a Sikh who took his seat in the deceased's howdah (a seat atop of elephant). The Sikhs with one voice and in wild excitement raised the sky-rending shouts of Sat-Sri-Akal. The Sarhind's troops on beholding the Nawab's head took alarm, and trembling fled helter skelter in dismay and despair. The Sikhs fell upon them and there was a terrible carnage. Sikhs reached Sarhind by nightfall. The gates of the city were closed. The guns mounted on the walls of the fort commenced bombardment. The Sikhs laid siege to the place. They took rest in the night. Wazir Khan's family and many Muslim nobles fled to Delhi at night.
By next afternoon Sikhs forced open the gates and fell upon the city. The Government treasury and moveable property worth two crores fell into Banda's hand which was removed to Lohgarh. Several Muslims saved their lives by embracing Sikhism. Dindar Khan son of Jalal Khan Rohilla became Dindar Singh. The official newswriter of Sarhind Mir Nasir-ud-din changed his name to Mir Nasir singh. (Yar Mohammand, Dastur-ul insha, page 37, Persian)
Province of Sarhind occupied
Entire province of Sarhind consisting of twenty-eight paraganahs and extending from Satluj to the Jamuna and from the Shiwalik hills to Kunjpura, Karnal to Kaithal, yielding 52 lakhs (1 lakh = 100,000 Rupees) annualy came into Banda's possession. Baj Singh was appointed governor of Sarhind. Ali singh was made his deputy. Their chief responsibility was to be on guard against the Mughal troops from Lahore and Jammu. Fatah singh retained charge of Samana. Ram singh, brother of Baj singh became chief of Thanesar. Binod singh in addition to his post of the revenue minister, was entrusted with the administration of Karnal and Panipat. His main duty was to guard the road from Delhi. Banda retired to his capital at Lohgarh. His era began from May 12, 1710, the date of his victory in the battle of Sarhind. The Zamindari system was abolished in the whole province at one stroke.
Advances towards Lahore, June 1710
Having set up administrative machinery, Banda advanced from Sarhind to Malerkotla. The town was saved for a ransom of two lakhs on the recommendation of Kishan Das Banya, an old acquaintance of Banda. From there he marched to Morinda. He chastised the Brahmins and Ranghars who had made over Guru Gobind singh's mother and his two youngest son to Wazir Khan. Then he visited Kiratpur and Anandpur to pay homage to shrines. He took Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar and carried fire and sword everywhere. Banda crossed the Beus and fell upon Batala. Then, he went on a pilgrimage to Dera Baba Nanak. At Amritsar Banda made large offerings. He invited young men to embrace Sikhism promising remission of land revenue and other rewards. Then many from the area of Majha joined the Khalsa. Banda marched towards Lahore. Sayyid Islam Khan, the Governor mounted guns on the walls of city. Banda laid a siege, but was unable to force upon the walls of fort. Lahore must have fallen, but Banda was in hurry to look after his government.
Thus entire city remained safe owing to its fortifications. But the entire suburbs for miles around was completely devastated. In this campaign Banda was joined by thousands of low caste Hindus who came into the fold of Khalsa.
Torture and execution by Mughals
Banda Singh's rule, though short-lived, had a far-reaching impact on the history of the Punjab. With it began the decay of Mughal authority and the demolition of the feudal system of society it had created. Banda Singh increasing influence roused the ire of the Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah, who journeyed northwards from Deccan to punish Sikhs.
Instructions were issued to the governors of Delhi and Oudh and other Mughal officers to march towards Punjab. Prohibitory laws against Sikhs were passed. Fearing that some Sikhs might not have smuggled themselves into the royal camp disguised as Hindus, Bahadur Shah ordered all Hindus employed of imperial forces to shave off their beards.
Emperor Bahadur Shah's order, issued on December 10, 1710 was a general warrant for the faujdars to "kill the worshippers of Nanak, i.e. Sikhs, wherever they are found. (Nanak Prastan ra Har ja kih bayaband baqatl rasanand)" Banda was chased out of Every corner of Punjab and he took refuge in the Shivalik hills.
Banda gets married
He got married to daughter of one of the hill chiefs and it was few years before Mughals could trace him down . He again started his campaigns against Mughals and came out of hills to the plains of Punjab. But was overwhelmed by the superior numbers of Mughal forces. As reported to emperor Bahadur Shah on April 28th 1711, (Akhbarat-i-darbar-i-mualla) , "The wretched Nanak-worshipper (Banda Singh) had his camp in the town of Kalanaur (District Gurdaspur).
He has promised and proclaimed: "I do not oppress the Muslims." Any muslim who approaches him, he fixes a daily allowance and wage, and looks after him. He has permitted them to recite khutba and namaz. As such five thousand Muslim have gathered round him.
The massive imperial force drove the Sikhs from Sirhind and other places to take shelter in the fort of Lohgarh in the hilly region. "It is impossible for me," says Khafi Khan a muslim historian of that time, "to describe the fight which followed. The Sikhs in ther faqir's dress struck terror into the hearts of the royal troops. The number of casualties among the latter was so large that for a time it appeared as if they were going to lose."
Banda is hounded by Mughals
Further reinforcements arrived and sixty thousand horse and foot closely invested Banda's hill retreat. For want of provisions, Sikhs were reduced to rigorous straits. They killed their horses for food, and when they could stand up to the enemy no longer, they made desperate nightly sally to escape into the hills of Nahan. Banda was far from vanquished.
A hukamnamah, issued by him to his followers within a fortnight of his leaving the fort of Lohgarh, showed the spirit which swayed the Sikhs during those arduous times. The following is an English version of Banda Singh's letter.
Deg O Teg O Fateh o nusrat bedirang Yaft Az Nanak Guru Gobind Singh
The kettle and the sword (Symbols of charity and power), victory and blessing have been obtained from Guru Nanak-Gobind Singh. God is one! Victory to the Presence!! This is the order of Sri Sachcha Sahib (The great master) to the entire Khalsa. The Guru will protect you. Call upon the Guru's name. Your lives will be fruitful!.
You are the Khalsa of the great immortal God. On seeing this letter, repair to the presence, wearing five arms. Observe the rules of conduct laid down for the Khalsa. Do not use Bhang, tobocco, Poppy, wine, or any other intoxicant...Commit no theft or adultery. We have brought Satyug (the golden age) Love one another. This is my wish. He who lives according to the rules of Khalsa shall be saved by the Guru.
Final stand at Gurdas Nangal
Sikhs came out of their mountain haunts to recover their lost territories and once again occupied Sadhaura and Lohgarh. Farukh Siyar, who came to the throne of Delhi in 1713, launched against them the sternest proceedings that political authority stirred with a fanatical religious zeal could devise.
They were hounded out of plains of Punjab and their main column, under Banda Singh about 4,000 men was subjected to most stringent siege at the village of Gurdas Nangal, about six kilometers from Gurdaspur.
Gurdas Nangal was an epic of purest heroism in face of heavy odds. According to Muhammad Qasim, the Muslim author of Ibratnamah, who has given an eyewitness account of this campaign, the "brave and daring deeds (of the Sikhs) were amazing.
Twice or thrice a day, some forty or fifty of them would come out of their enclosure to gather grass for their animals, and, when the combined forces of the emperor went to oppose them, they made short work of the Mughals with arrows, muskets and small swords, and then disappeared. For eight months the garrison resisted the siege of 100,000 Mughal troops under the gruesome conditions.
Siege of Banda's forces
Quite apart from the daring exploits of the ordinary Sikh soldier, there were strong rumours in the Mughal camps that Banda Singh had magical powers, and could transform himself into many shapes to escape captivity. Most of the Mughal commanders were afraid of a face to face encounter with Banda, and were conslantly pushing their Qazis and Mullas to the front to offer prayers to counter the spells of the enemy.
Abdus Samad Khan openly prayed that Banda escaped from there, so that the whole business could be disposed off on any excuse. Only fresh orders from the Emperor to capture Banda dead or alive kept him at his task. He was taking new measures everyday to tighten the siege, to starve the defenders to submission. Qamar-ud-Din's forces were holding one half of the circle and his own forces were on the other half.
Dispute in the Sikh camp
This siege dragged on for eight months. Towards the end, an unfortunate dispute arose between Banda Singh and one of his most trusted advisers Baba Binod Singh. This man along with Baaj Singh and three others made up the war council that Banda was supposed to consult in any difficult situation. Binod Singh advised the evacuation of the fortress, but for some reasons of his own, Banda wished to fight it out there.
Binod Singh was senior in age, and when this difference of views flared up into an open quarrel, Banda agreed to let Baba Binod Singh take his men out of the Fortress. Binod Singh and his supporters then charged out of the fortress and escaped.
Capture of Sikhs
Towards the end of November 1715, the remaining defenders were running out of ammunition and food. They were trying to exist on boiled leaves and the bark of trees, and were gradually reduced to mere skeletons. Then on 17th December, 1715, Abdus Samad shouted across the separating moat, that he would not allow any killing by his men, if Banda opened the gate to the fortress.
When Banda ordered the gate be opened, the Mughals rushed in to spear or stab as many as three hundred of the half-dead and helpless defenders. About 200 were captured alive and handcuffed in twos.
Banda Singh had chains round his ankles and his wrists, and was then locked in an iron cage. The Mughals were still afraid that he might escape and so they placed a guard on each side of the cage with swords drawn and the cage was placed aloft an elephant, which led the procession, which paraded through Lahore, before proceeding towards Delhi.
Zakaria Khan takes charge
Zakaria Khan, the son of the Lahore Governor, then took charge. and in order to give the Emperor a bigger present, he ordered his men to lop off more heads of Sikhs that they caught on the way, and he loaded them on to the carts that carried the 300 from (Gurdas Nangal). The rest Sikhs around 740 Sikhs along with Banda Singh were taken to Lahore, and thence to Delhi.
The cavalcade to the imperial capital was a grisly sight. Besides 740 prisoners in heavy chains, it comprised seven hundred cartloads of the heads of the Sikhs with another 200 stuck upon pikes. On 26th Fehruary, 1716, this procession neared Delhi, and Farukh Siyar ordered his Minister Mohammed Amin Khan to go out to receive them and to prepare them for a suitable display in the town.
The prisoner are humiliated
On the 29th February, the citizens of Delhi had lined the streets in full force, to get a good sight of the show. First marched 2,000 soldiers each holding a Sikh head impaled on his upright spear (so many extra had been collected on the way). Next followed Banda Singh's elephant.
A gold-laced red turban was placed on his head, and to add further mockery to his plight, a bright printed scarlet shirt was slipped on his body. Then came 740 prisoners (500 had been collected on the way). These men were chained in pairs and thrown across the backs of camels.
Their faces were blackened, and pointed sheepskin or paper caps were clapped on their heads. Behind this line came the Mughal Commanders, Mohammed Amin Khan, his son Kamar-ud-Din Khan, and his son-in-law Zakaria Khan. Their army men lined both sides of the streets.
Sikhs accept their plight calmly
However humiliating their plight, there were no signs of dejection or remorse on the faces of these Sikhs. In the words of Mohammed Harisi, author of the Ibratnama, who was on the spot that day: "The crowds were pressing forward to get a better view. Many were enjoying the sight and taking hilarious jibes at them. But nothing changed the air of calm and resignation on the faces of those Sikhs. There were no signs of bitterness or dejection anywhere.
They appeared to be happy with their lot, and were actually joined in groups singing their Guru's hymns. If anyone remarked that they were being punished for their sins, their retort was: 'No, it is all according to God's Will ?"' When we see the list of weapons captured from them at Gurdas Nangal we are really amazed at what they could do with so little.
This is the list as supplied by Kanwar, the author of the Tazkrah: 1,000 swords, 217 small swords, 114 daggers, 278 shields, 173 bows, and 180 rifles. In spite of this scanty material they could have continued defying the Mughal might a long long time, if only their supplies of food had not run out.
C.R.Wilson, a Bengal civilian, has given in his Early Annals of the English in Bengal the following description of the entry of the Sikh captives into Delhi:
"Malice did its utmost to cover the vanquished with ridicule and shame. First came the heads of the executed Sikhs, stuffed with straw, and stuck on Bamboo's, their long hair streaming in the wind like a veil, and along with them to show that every living thing in Gurdaspur had perished, a dead cat on a pole. Banda himself, dressed out of mockery in a turban of a red cloth, embroidered with gold, and a heavy robe of brocade flowered with pomegranates, sat in an iron cage, placed on the back of an elephant.
Behind him stood a mail-clad officer with a drawn sword. After him came the other 740 prisoners seated two and two upon camels without saddles. Each wore a high foolscap of sheepskin and had one hand pinned to his neck, between two pieces of wood. At the end of the procession rode the three great nobles, Muhammad Amin Khan, sent by emperor to bring in prisoners, Qamr-ud-Din, his son, and Zakariya Khan, his son-in-law.
The road to the palace, for several miles was lined with troops and filled with exultant crowds, who mocked at the teacher (Guru) and laughed at the grotesque appearance of his followers. They wagged their heads and pointed the finger of scorn at the poor wretched a they passed. "HU! HU! infidel dog worshippers your day has come. Truly, retribution follows on transgression, as wheat springs from wheat, and barley from barley!!"
"Yet the triumph could not have seemed complete. Not all the insults that their enemies had invented could rob the teacher and his followers of his dignity. Without any sign of dejection or shame, they rode on, calm, cheerful, even anxious to die the death of martyrs. Life was promised to any who would renounce their faith, but they would not prove false to their Guru, and at the place of suffering their constancy was wonderful to look at. 'Me deliverer, kill me first,' was the prayer which constantly rang in the ears of the executioner."
Khafi Khan's narration
"Khafi Khan illustrates the resolute will and complete devotion to their cause displayed by those Sikhs by telling us about one young prisoner who was about to be called up from the line. This boy had been newly married and had been hauled in by Zakaria Khan's soldiers on the way, only to swell the number of captives for the pleasure of Farukh Siyar.
He was the only son of his widowed mother, who had hurried to plead her case before the Emperor. She said that her son had been beguiled into joining the Sikh bands, but was not a Sikh at heart. On that ground, the Emperor wrote out the order of pardon for the boy, and the mother had hurried with that note and handed it to the officer-in-charge of the executions.
The officer read out the pardon and the youth shouted out, "My mother has lied. I am a Sikh of my Guru in body and soul. Do not separate me from my departed friends. Please hurry so that I can join them now." Saying that he left the guards dumbfounded and rushed away to the front of the queue again. He lowered his head before the executioner and refused to budge until the sword had descended and cut him into two."
"That gory scene was enacted for seven days until all the ordinary captives had been disposed off. According to Mohammed Harisi, their bodies were loaded on wagons and taken out of town to be thrown to the vultures. The heads were hung up on trees or on poles near the market-place to be a lesson to all rebels. Not one from the 700 odd men had asked for pardon.
The jailors next turned their attention to the 20 odd sardars, including Baaj Singh, Fateh Singh, Ahli Singh and Gulab Singh (of Lohgarh fame). These men were tortured to the extreme and were asked to divulge the place where they had buried all the treasures that had been looted from Sirhind, Batala and other towns during their better days. "
The final barbaric act
"Failing to get any clues after three months, they prepared to put an end to their lives on Sunday, 9th June, 1716. Banda's cage was again hoisted on top of an elephant, and he was dressed in mock attire of an emperor, with a colourful red pointed turban on his head. His 4 year old son Ajai Singh was placed in his lap. The twenty odd sardars marched behind the elephant and this special procession then passed through the streets of Delhi, and headed for the Kutub-ud-din mausoleum of Bahadur Shah, near the present Kutab Minar. On reaching that graveyard, the captives were again offered a choice of two alternatives: conversion to Islam or death. Needless to say all chose death. The Sikh sardars were subjected to tortures before being executed. Their heads were then impaled on spears and arranged in a circle round Banda who was now squatting on the ground. There were hundreds of spectators standing around watching this scene. Here they made him paraded around the tomb of late emperor Bahadur Shah and put him to a barbarous death.
"Banda Singh was then given a short sword and ordered to kill his own son Ajai Singh. As he sat unperturbed, the executioner moved forward and plunged his sword into the little child cutting the hody into two. Then pieces of flesh were cut from the body and thrown in Banda's face. His liver was removed and thrust into Banda Singh's mouth. The father sat through all this without any signs of emotion. His powers of endurance were to be tested still further. But before that, Mohammed Amin Khan, who was standing near spoke as follows: "From your manner so far you appear to be a man of virtue, who believes in God, and in doing good deeds. You are also very intelligent. Can you tell me why you are having to suffer all this here ?"
"Banda's reply was, "When the tyrants oppress their subjects to the limit, then God sends men like me on this earth to mete out punishment to them. But being human, we sometimes overstep the laws of justice, and for that we are made to pay whilst we are still here. God is not being unjust to me in any way."
"The executioner then stepped forward and thrust the point of his dagger into Banda's right eye, pulling out the eyeball. He then pulled out the other eyeball. Banda sat through all this as still as a rock. His face gave no twitch of pain.
"The cruel devil then took his sword and slashed off Banda's left foot, then both his arms. But Banda's features were still calm as if he was at peace with his Creator. Finally they tore off his flesh with red-hot pincers, and there being nothing else left in their book of tortures, they cut his body up into a hundred pieces, and were satisfied. (These details of the torture are given in full, by the following writers: Mohammed Harisi, Khafi Khan, Thornton, Elphinstone, Daneshwar and others).
The ambassadors of the East India company, John Surman and Edward Stephenson, who were in Delhi then and had witnessed some of these massacres, wrote to the governor of Fort William: "It is not a little remarkable with what patience Sikhs undergo their fate, and to the last it has not been found that one apostatized from his new formed religion. "
On June 9th , came the turn of Banda Singh. Harshest torments had been reserved for him. His eyes were pulled out and his hands and feet chopped off. His flesh was torn with red hot pincers. The end came, mercifully for him with the executioner's axe falling on his neck. With his end Sikhism did not die on the contrary Sikhism came out strong and the torch of Banda Singh Bahadur was carried with new Warriors like Nawab Kapur Singh Virk, Sardar Budh Singh, Sardar Charat Singh, Baba Deep Singh ji Shaheed, Sardar Jassa Singh ji Ahluwalia, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Hari singh Bhangi, etc.
Manas ki jaal sabhai ekai pehchaanbo is the Guru Gobind Singh's message. which emphatically states "men may call themselves Hindus, Muslims, Emams and Shaffies, but I see them all belonging to one race—mankind." Guru Gobind Singh had given Banda specific orders to punish those who had persecuted good saints like Pir Budhu Shah. He had not mentioned any revenge on those who had executed his own young boys at Sirhind. Hc had expected Bahadur Shah to fulfil his promise to punish those who had committed atrocitics on good men, but had parted company from the Emperor completely disappointed. Banda Singh was then taught to bring to reality the Guru's own dream:
With Banda's death, the torch of the Khalsa was taken up by new warriors like Baba Deep Singh, Nawab Kapur Singh, Chhajja Singh, Bhuma Singh, Hari Singh Dhillon, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Budh Singh, Naudh Singh and Charhat Singh Sukerchakia and others. The Age of the Dal Khalsa and the Sikh Misls (principalities) had dawned. Within ninety years, Ranjit Singh Sukerchakia united the Misls, captured Lahore and established the Sikh Kingdom of the Punjab.
Shaheed Bhai Taru Singh
Shaheed Bhai Taru Singh, (c. 1720 - 16 July 1745), a Sikh martyr was a Sandhu of Puhla village, now in Amritsar district of the Punjab. He was a pious Sikh who following the teachings of the Sikh Gurus, worked hard tilling his land diligently and lived frugally; although not a rich man, he was always happy and did much for his Sikh brothers and sisters. Whatever he saved went to his Sikh brethren forced into exile by government persecution. He was spied upon by Akil Das (also known as Harbhagat Niranjania) of Jandiala, a government informer and subsequently, Taru Singh was hauled before Zakariya Khan, the governor of Punjab who was based at Lahore.
Born in Punjab during the reign of the Mughal Empire, Bhai Taru Singh was raised as a Sikh by his widowed mother. During this time, Sikh revolutionaries were plotting the overthrow of the Khan and had taken refuge in the jungle. Bhai Taru Singh and his sister gave food and other aid to these Sikh fighters. Akil Das, having informed the authorities about both of them to Zakaria Khan, the two of them were arrested for treason. Though his sister's freedom was bought by the villagers, Bhai Taru Singh refused to seek a pardon.
Zakariya Khan's mission against Sikhs
As the Prachin Panth Prakash narrates the story, Zakariya Khan once asked his men, "From where do the Sikhs obtain their nourishment? I have debarred them from all occupations. They realize no taxes. They do not farm, nor are they allowed to do business or join public employment. I have stopped all offerings to their gurdwaras, their places of worship. No provisions or supplies are accessible to them. Why do they not die of sheer starvation?"
Harbhagat, a sworn foe of the Sikhs, remarked, "There are Sikhs in this world who would not eat until they have fed their brethren. They may themselves go without food and clothing but cannot bear their comrades' distress. They would pass the winter by fireside and send them their own clothes. They would sweat to grind corn and have it sent to them. They would do the roughest chore to earn a small wage for their sake. They migrate to distant places to eke out money for their brothers in exile."
"In the village of Puhia in Majha," continued Harbhagat, "lives one Taru Singh. He tills his land and pays the revenue to the officials. He eats but little and sends what he saves to his brothers in the jungle. His mother and sister both toil and grind to make a living. They eat sparingly and wear the coarsest homespun. Whatever they save, they pass on to their fellow Sikhs."
Bhai Taru Singh arrested
Shahid Ganj Bhai Taru SinghFollowing the report by Akil Das, Bhai Taru Singh was arrested, imprisoned and tortured. Eventually, when presented before the governor, he defiantly greeted him with the Sikh salutation: Vahiguru ji ka Khalsa, Vahiguru ji ki Fateh. When charged with sedition, he stated :
"If we till your land, we pay the revenue. If we engage in commerce, we pay taxes. What is left after our payments to you is for our bellies. What we save from our mouths, we give to our brethren. We take nothing from you. Why then do you punish us?"
The governor was in a rage and pronounced the usual alternatives, Islam or death. To quote again from the Prachin Panth Prakash, Taru Singh calmly asked, "Why must I become a Mussalman (a Muslim person)? Do not the Mussalmans ever die?"
The exact method of his execution is somewhat ambiguous. However, it is believed that after a short period of imprisonment and torture, Singh was brought before the Khan and given the choice of converting to Islam or being executed. As a symbol of his conversion, Singh would have to cut off his Kesh and present it as an offering to the Khan. Upon his refusal, and in a public display, Bhai Taru Singh's scalp was cut away from his skull with a sharp knife to prevent his hair from ever growing back. This torturous act is believed to be carried out on 25 June 1745.
Bhai sahib left to bleed to his death
Sikhs believe that once Bhai sahib had been returned to prison to await a slow death, Zakaria Khan was stricken with unbearable pain and the inability to urinate. He consulted his advisers about this sudden illness and he was told that this illness was due to his maltreatment of the Sikhs. Due to the unbearable pain and as a last resort, he sent an apology to the Khalsa Panth for his persecution of the Sikhs and begged for their forgiveness.
It was suggested by his advisers that if Zakaria Khan had his own scalp hit with Bhai Taru Singh's shoes, his condition might be lifted. Although the shoe cured the Khan's condition, he died 22 days later. Upon hearing that he had miraculously outlived the Khan, Bhai Taru Singh died as well on 16 July, 1745.
Taru Singh was then barely 25 years of age. His dead body was cremated outside Delhi Gate at Lahore, where a "Shahidganj", or martyrs' memorial, was later constructed. It became a place of pilgrimage for the Sikhs
Shaheed Bhai Mani Singh Shaheed
Shaheed Bhai Mani Singh Shaheed (martyr) (1670 - 9 July 1737), a great Sikh personality of the eighteenth century, occupies a very esteemed position in Sikh history, when he assumed control and steered the course of the Sikhs' destiny at a very critical stage. A great scholar, a devoted Sikh, and a courageous leader, Bhai Mani Singh willingly laid down his life to uphold the dignity of the Sikh religion and the Sikh nation. The nature of his martyrdom has become a part of the daily Sikh Ardas (prayer).
The exact date of Bhai Mani Singh's birth is a bit of a mystery. Giani Thakur Singh lists his year of birth as 1672 while some other writers put it at 1670, but according to Sohan Singh Seetal, a well known Sikh historian, Bhai Mani Singh was born in 1664. Principle Satbir Singh listed his year of birth as 1672 in his 1970 edition of his, "Sada Itihaas", but later editions listed his year of birth as 1662. Dr Santokh Singh also lists the date of Bhai Mani Singh's birth as 1662. These earlier dates are indirectly based on Giani Giani Singh’s references to Guru Tegh Bahadur’s visit to village Akoi/Malwa in 1665. Based on critical analysis of ancient Sikh writings, it appears that Bhai Mani Singh may have been born no later than 1665.
Error in Identification
According to Shaheed Bilaas a book edited and published by Giani Garja Singh ji in 1961, the birth date of Bhai Mani Ram (alias Bhai Mani Singh Rajput) of Alipore, Multan was 1644.
Bhai Mani Singh Shaheed came, according to Bhai Kesar Singh ji Chhibbar, his contemporary, of a Kamboj family, but according to Giani Gian Singh Dullat [1822-1921], author of the Panth Parkash, of a Dullat Jatt family of Kamboval village (now extinct), near Sunam in Sangrur district of the Punjab. Since Giani Gian Singh himself belonged to Dullat lineage, hence he has claimed Bhai Mani Singh as one of his Dullat ancestors.
Since Bhai Kesar Singh Chhibber, a contemporary of Bhai Mani Singh, claims to have personally met and seen the latter several times during his early age, he therefore, is a very reliable eyewitness on Bhai Mani Singh's family particulars. Moreover, being a non-Kamboj himself, Bhai Chhibber can be assumed to be absolutely non-committed with regard to his write-up on Bhai Mani Singh's ethnic background. In contrast, Giani Gian Singh ji Dullat is far removed in time by over a century and half from Bhai Sahib ji. And he has also an understandable motivation for investing Bhai Mani Singh ji with a Dullat Jatt lineage and thus connecting him with his own (Dullat) family to claim credit and honor for his family. Hence, his claim or evidence on Bhai Mani Singh's ethnicity |ethnic identity apparently becomes much weaker and dubious as compared to the evidence of a non-committed eyewitness like Bhai Kesar Singh ji Chhibber.
In the service of the Guru
Bhai Mani Singh is said to have been brought in the early years of his childhood to the presence of Guru Tegh Bahadur at Anandpur. He was not the same age as the Guru's own son, Gobind Rai. Mani Singh remained in his company even after he had ascended the religious seat as Guru. Mani Singh accompanied the Guru to the seclusion of Paonta where Guru Gobind Singh spent some three years in large part given to literary work.
Bhai Mani Singh took Amrit at the hands of Guru Gobind Singh Ji on the day of the creation of Khalsa. When Guru Gobind Singh Ji left Anandpur on the night of December 20, 1704, his family got separated at river Sirsa during the confusion created by the Mughal attack. Bhai Mani Singh took Mata Sundri Ji and Mata Sahib Devan to Delhi via Ambala.
In 1706, Bhai Mani Singh escorted Mata Sundri Ji the wife of Guru Gobind Singh to Talwandi Sabo where the Guru was staying. It was there that she learned of the Martyrdom of her four sons and their Grandmother. When Guru Sahib left Agra with Emperor Bahadur Shah for Nanded in 1707, Mata Sahib Devan and Bhai Mani Singh accompanied him. Afterwards Bhai Mani Singh escorted Mata Sahib Devan Ji back to Delhi where she lived with Mata Sundri Ji for the rest of her life.
Mata Sundri Ji came to know of the trouble that was brewing between the Tat Khalsa and Bandai Khalsa military factions of the Sikhs. She appointed Bhai Mani Singh as the Granthi of Harimandir Sahib and sent him to Amritsar with Mama Kirpal Singh (Chand), the maternal uncle of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. On his arrival at Amritsar in 1721, Bhai Mani Singh restored peace among the Khalsa and put the affairs of Harimandir Sahib in order.
The Mughal Empire
By 1737, the Mughal government of Lahore had strictly prohibited the Sikhs to visit Amritsar and bathe in the holy tank. To overcome this restriction, Bhai Mani Singh applied to Governor Zakariya Khan for permission to hold the Diwali festival at the Golden Temple. The permission was granted for a promised payment of Rs.5,000 to the Governor. Bhai Mani Singh was certain that he would be able to pay the sum out of the offerings that would be made by the Sikhs who were invited to come.
The Sikhs came in large numbers, but Zakariya Khan, under the pretext of keeping order, sent a force under Diwan Lakhpat Rae to Amritsar. It marched towards the city on the day of the festival in order to intimidate and disperse the Sikhs and the festival broke up at the approach of the Mughal army.
Bhai Mani Singh was arrested for not paying the stipulated sum. He was asked by the Qazi to embrace Islam or else face death. Bhai Mani Singh stoutly refused to barter his faith and boldly opted for death. By orders of Zakarya Khan, Bhai Mani Singh was executed at Nakhas, Lahore in December, 1737 AD. The Nakhas has since been known as Shaheed Ganj - the place of martyrdom.
This was a gruesome execution in which Bhai Mani Singh's executioner was ordered to chop Bhai Mani Singh's body to pieces joint by joint starting from the extremities. The irony of the execution was that Bhai Mani Singh had the last word. When the executioner started to cut into Bhai Mani Singh's wrist, Bhai Mani Singh gestured to his fingers telling the executioner that he should follow the orders of his commander with strictness, like a true Muslim. Very puzzled by the interruption, the executioner and guards asked the Great Shaheed what he meant. Bhai Mani Singh replied, " you have been ordered to execute me by chopping my joints, have you forgotten that my joints start with my fingers.
Bhai Mani Singh acted as scribe when at the age of 14 Guru Gobind Singh Ji - the then Guru of the Sikhs - dictated Sri Guru Granth Sahib. He also transcribed many copies of the sacred Sikh scriptures which were sent to different preaching centers in India. He also taught the reading of Gurbani and its philosophy to the Sikhs.
Bhai Sahib was responsible for collecting the Gurbani of Guru Gobind Singh Ji and compiling it in the form of Dasam Granth (Book of the Tenth Guru). Besides this, Bhai Sahib also authored Japji Sahib Da Garb Ganjni Teeka (teeka means translation and explanation of a work). He expanded the first of Bhai GurDas's Vaars into a life of Guru Nanak which is called Gyan Ratanawali. Mani Singh wrote another work, the Bhagat Ralanawali, an expansion of Bhai GurDas's eleventh Vaar, which contains a list of famous Sikhs up to the time of Guru Har Gobind.
In his capacity as a Granthi of the Darbar Sahib at Harmandar Sahib, Bhai Singh is also stated to have composed the Ardaas
(Supplication) in its current format; he also started the tradition of mentioning deeds of various Gursikhs with the supplication.
Shaheed Bhai Dyal Dass
Shaheed Bhai Dyal Dass was son of Bhai Mati Dass and younger brother of martyr Bhai Mani Singh ji. His grandfather, Balu Ram had attained martyrdom while fighting in Guru Hargobind's first battle of faith against the Mughals. Bhai Mai Dass came to Kiratpur for an audience with Guru Har Rai in 1657 A.D. While returning, he left his three elder sons for service of the Guru's institution. Bhai Dyal Dass was fifteen when he entered the Guru's institution.
On recommendation from Diwan Durga Mall, Guru Tegh Bahadur made him minister for domestic affairs. In 1665 A.D., when Guru Tegh Bahadur went to Assam from Patna, he left him at Patna to look after his family. The birth of (Guru) Gobind Singh took place under his care and service and he looked after the prince till he reached Anandpur.
After sending the Kashmiri Brahmins back on the 25th May, 1675 A.D., Guru Tegh Bahadur decided to go to Agra for courting arrest. Before leaving Anandpur, he asked his principal devotees to ask for any blessing they had at heart. All were unanimous in their reply, 'That we be granted permission to accompany you to Agra." Bhai Dayal Dass was also one of those Sikhs who had been arrested ahead of the Guru.
On the 9th November, 1675 A.D., the qazis ordered that Bhai Dayal Dass be seated in a cauldron of boiling water. On hearing the ruling, Bhai Dayal Dass asked leave of the Guru. The Guru said, "Brother, your service has borne fruit due to which your turn has come before mine. Great are you and blessed is your devotion. What pleasure can be greater for me than to see my lifelong devotees sacrificing their lives for the protection of human rights even ahead of me. May God bless you with success."
Before putting Bhai Dyal Dass in the cauldron of boiling water, refering to Bhai Mati Das Ji the qazis said, "There is still time. Embrace Islam and save yourself from pains otherwise you will face greater agony than your companion. You have seen how cruelly he was sawn." Bhai Dayal Dass replied, "You could not harass my companion. Did you notice, how calmly he was meditating on the word of his Guru when he was being sawn. Having made mockery of bodily pains, he had diffused into the Supreme Being. Hurry up and let my soul attain unity with the Lord." On his reply in the negative, the executioners sat him in the cauldron of boiling water. He stayed on sitting in the water with an unwavering mind. His flesh separated from his bones and his soul merged into the Supreme Being.
Shaheed Baba Gurbaksh Singh Ji
Baba Gurbaksh Singh jee was a very well known and respected Singh, who had the honour of being martyred while defending Sree Darbaar Sahib.
Baba jee was of village Leel near Sree Amritsar. His Father was Bhai Dasaundha Singh jee and mother Mata Lachmee Kaur jee. Baba jee's parents served Satguru Gobind Singh jee and Baba jee received amrit at the age of 11, due to the inspiration of Bhai Manee Singh jee. He spent time with Baba Deep Singh jee and Bhai Manee Singh jee and became a very good scholar and warrior.
Baba Gurbaksh Singh was always dressed in blue baaNaa and kept a very strong rehit. He would awake at amrit vela and do ishnaan. Then, while reciting baaNee, Baba jee would tie his dumalla. Baba jee loved Sarbloh. He would offer his respect to his sarbloh shastars i.e. kirpans, chakars, toRaas (metal cable tied around dastaar), kaRas, etc and then put them on. He would finally put on a mala of sarbloh around his neck and also many sarbloh kaRas and simarnaas. Baba jee's dastaar had many sarbloh toRaas tied into it. He would also wear a sarbloh armour.
Other features Panth Parkash mentions about the way Baba jee looked was that he wore a very long 1.5 yard kacherra and always kept a long stick with him.
Every amrit vela then, after dressing himself in his baaNaa, Baba jee sat in the divaan at Sree Akaal Takhat Sahib. It did not matter who came to meet him, whether a powerful Sardar or a lowly peasant, he greeted all people in the same way and with the same respect. He had absolutely no worldly aspirations or greed.
Whenever there was a battle, Baba jee would always go and confront the enemy. He would take the Nishaan Sahib himself and advance. With the beat of the nagara, Baba jee used to be in the forefront to confront the enemy.
Abdali's Oppression and the Khalsa Scatters
The Khalsa had scattered when Ahmed Shah Abdali brought his army through the Punjab. Some Singhs went to the mountains where they were looted by the mountain-people; others went and hid around the rivers where they were not only looted but also attacked by lions and other animals. Those Singhs who decided to stay in Majha and not retreat were turned over to the Afghans by traitors and informers. In Malwa, the Singhs also fared no better and had to go from house to house like beggars.
At Sree Amritsar, the Sarbat Khalsa gathered one day and after the night divaan, decided to abandon Sree Amritsar and leave together as a group for Malwa.
Baba Jee Offers His Shaheedee
After the decision had been made, Baba Gurbaksh Singh rose and addressed the Singhs. Baba jee said, "Is there any Singh in the Panth today, who would fight with the Afghans and sacrifice his head and then go to Dargah and with his sacrifice have Karta-Purakh listen to his request and ensure the Chardi Kala of the Panth? One who could do ardaas to Karta-Purakh and bring an end to these dark days? Is there any Singh who is so determined and is such a devotee of naam and one who is so strong in rehit? Is there anyone who will give his life for the rest of the Khalsa and with his sacrifice be able to wipe out the enemy?" [It is said that when the enemy kills a bhagat of Vahiguru, the bad karma of committing such an act results in the enemy also being wiped out. Baba jee was asking if there was such a bhagat in the Panth who could give such a sacrifice and destroy the Afghans].
The Singhs listened to Baba Gurbaksh Singh and replied, "Baba jee, is there any Singh better for this than you? There is no one with more kamaiee. No one else has the power to abandon their body and go to Dargah like you do. No one else's request will be more acceptable to Vahiguru than yours."
Baba jee listened to these words and then bowed his head and agreed to the request.
Baba jee Prepares His Wedding Party
Baba jee then called out, "I want to be Shaheed! If there is any other Gurmukh who wishes to come with me to Dargah, then let them also come. When there is a marriage, the groom goes with his Sarbaalha (best man) and with a large baraat (marriage party). I am going to marry the bride of Death. Are there Singhs who would be my Sarbaalhas?"
Hearing Baba jee's call, many Singhs rose and stood with Baba jee. They said, "We were waiting for your call. With your permission we will be your Sarbaalhas."
Seeing these Singhs stand, many more Singhs also rose and said "then we all will come with you in the baraat!"
Baba jee then adressed all the Singhs and said, "Khalsa jee! You have all agreed to join my wedding party. We will give our heads in this Dharam Yudh and in this way we will be married. We will get Shaheedee and Guru Sahib will give us all Kingships. No, even bigger rewards than kingships. That Singh who gives his head in battle will be the King of Kings. "
The Singhs Prepare for The "Wedding"
By this time, Ahmed Shah Abdali had arrived in Lahore. He was preparing to go to Delhi when he heard about the gathering of the Khalsa at Sree Amritsar. He decided that on the way to Delhi, he would stop at Sree Amritsar and slaughter all the Sikhs.
Hearing of the advance of Abdali, some of the cowards who had remained at Sree Amritsar with Baba jee ran away. Baba jee also encouraged them to leave and said "Go! Leave now, otherwise we won't let you leave later!"
Only about 30 Singhs now remained. The remaining Singhs were all chardee kala naam abhyaasee Gursikhs. They prepared for their death like a groom prepares for his wedding. They all had new cholas sewn. Some decided to sew blue, and others wore white and others kesree. They gathered in front of Sree Akaal Takhat Sahib and eagerly awaited the enemy. They would stand on their toes to see if the enemy was yet visible on the horizon. They were discussing how they would give their Shaheedees and then in Dargah would stop the Afghan attacks forever.
The following day, the Singhs all rose at amrit vela. They began to prepare like it was their wedding day. They sprinkled themselves with attar and rose scents, and rubbed sandal past on their bodies. As they did this, they sang "GhoReeaa(n)" shabads from Sree Guru Granth Sahib. They then bathed in Sree Amritsar Sahib and then gathered at Sree Akaal Takhat.
Baba jee was looking very impressive in his new dress. He was wearing a blue chola over his new kacherra and was wearing a very tight dumalla, which was tied especially for battle. The dumalla had many chakars and kirpaans tied into it. The Singhs then gathered and offered obeisance to Sree Guru Granth Sahib. After reading 5 pauRees of Anand Sahib and doing ardaas, the Singhs distributed Degh and then as a group left for darshan of Sree Darbaar Sahib.
The group of Singhs was led by a Nishaan Sahib and nagaaras were beating. Baba jee asked the Singhs to sing shabads of happiness as this was their wedding day and the wedding party was now moving. Baba jee and the other Singhs also gave away all the money they had to the needy. They arrived at Sree Darbaar Sahib and did parkarma. Once inside, they showered Sree Guru Granth Sahib with flowers and then did Ardaas. Baba jee standing before Satguru Granth Sahib spoke the following words, "True Emperor, protector of the poor! Your Khalsa is going now to marry the bride of Death. We are going to battle the Dushts. Satguru jee! May our Sikhee and our kesh stay intact through our final breaths."
The Afghans in the meantime had began to move towards Sree Amritsar. They had prepared for a massive battle and brought a large army. They were wearing armour and metal helmets. They had decided to do battle in such a way that the Singhs would be killed but they themselves would incur minimal casualties. They had brought long weapons which could kill from a distance such as large guns.
Baba jee, after offering ardaas at Sree Darbaar Sahib, returned with the Singhs to Sree Akaal Takhat Sahib to listen to keertan and await the enemy. The keertanees began to recite keertan and the Singhs would ask that certain shabads they wanted to hear be sung. The GhoReeaa(n) shabads were again recited. In this way, the entire night passed in listening to keertan. At day break, the enemy had arrived.
The Afghans Arrive & The Battle Begins
The Singhs upon seeing the Afghan army came down from Sree Akaal Takhat Sahib. They bowed to their shastars (kirpaans, kataars and talwaars) and then grabbed them. Some Singhs grabbed very big sticks and others mounted horses. The Singhs vied to go ahead of each other and kept moving forward. They Singhs argued about who had the right to attain Shaheedee first. The Nishaan Sahibs were furling and the beat of nagaaraas was echoing. The Singhs were like grooms anxious to marry a beautiful wife and seeing the time come closer, becoming more and more excited.
Some Singhs then ran forward and began the battle. The Singhs would sprint forward and began to embrace Shaheedee and complete their weddings with death. The Singhs were surrounded on all four sides and the Afghans began to close in. Baba jee called out to all the Singhs, "Singhs! Step forward and embrace martyrdom! If we step forward, our honour remains intact, if we step back, they will say we are retreating! Do not look for assistance anymore, just go forward! Now go forward and give your heads!"
Hearing Baba jee's cry, the Singhs all charged forward. They fell upon the Afghans like a lion on deer. The Singhs were all eager to become Shaheed as quickly as possible. They had no hope for life.
Baba jee again called out, "Khalsa jee! Become Shaheed and cross this world-ocean! Let us go to the court of Satguru jee and ask that the Afghans never attack here again and that the Khalsa should rule! What is the delay now? Fall upon the enemy!"
The Afghans Fall Back & Reinforcements
Wherever the Singhs stood their ground against the Afghans, they eventually fell. Afghan reinforcements also arrived. Not one Singh stepped back. Some Afghans even began to run away. Seeing this, Baba jee bellowed, "Don't let them go Khalsa jee! Stand and fight this Dharam Yudh!"
The Afghans did not understand what Baba jee was saying and were surprised to the see the Singhs run after them. They then trained their guns upon the Singhs. Many Singhs standing with Baba jee fell to the rain of bullets. Baba jee then took out his heavy Tegha and ran towards the enemy. He swung his Tegha with such force that it cut through the armour of the Afghans. Baba jee would aim for the face and neck where there was less armour. The Afghans all then began to cover their faces with their shields.
The Singhs seeing the cowardice of the Afghans threw aside their own shields and challenged, "look! We've thrown aside our shields, do you have the bravery to do the same? We'll take your blows without any shield, will you take ours?"
The Singhs continued to run forward and did not show any fear of death. They did not so much as look backwards. The Afghans continued to fall back and began to wonder why such a small group was not finishing and whether these few Singhs would cause their defeat. They could not bear the brunt of the Singhs' sword blows. They fell back and began to fire bullets and arrows.
Baba Jee's Shaheedee
Baba jee's body was pierced by many bullets and arrows and his wounds could not be counted. Some cut through his skin and others broke bones. But neither did the Singhs accept defeat nor would they acknowledge any pain. Baba jee's body was pouring blood like a spring. But Baba jee kept moving forward. He was soaked in blood like he had just been playing Holi with colours. Eventually because of loss of blood, Baba jee became very weak. He could not walk anymore and became very tired. But with every ounce of strength in his being, he put on foot ahead of the other.
Baba jee called to the remaining Singhs, "Singhs! Do not shame the BaaNaa we wear! May our Shaheedees be perfect and may we fall in the battlefield!"
By this time, even more Afghan reinforcements arrived. The new Afghans surrounded the wounded Baba jee and pierced him with their long spears. Baba jee with great effort used his khanda to cut off the spears and the Afghans again fell back. Baba jee continued to challenge the Afghan reinforcements until eventually he was beheaded by the enemy and attained Shaheedee. Baba jee's vow was completed.
Night fell and the Afghans were in shock after seeing such a bloody battle. They set up camp near the Bhangi fort and fell into a deep sleep. The few Singhs that had remained hidden in the area though rose at night and attacked the camp. The Singhs stole horses and began to slaughter the exhausted Afghans. The remaining Afghans could not sleep in peace and at day break, they quickly fled from the area.
The same night, a few other Singhs came to the scene of the battle to see what had happened. They saw the headless bodies of the Singhs and many many Afghans. The Singhs decided to make one big pyre and cremate all the bodies together. Behind Sree Akaal Takhat Sahib, a lot of wood was gathered and all the bodies were cremated together. Degh was distributed and the Singhs
celebrated as though a great wedding had taken place. The Shaheed Ganj of Baba Gurbaksh Singh still stands at that place.
Baba jee's Shaheedee was glorious and indeed, the Afghan power did begin to fall after this point. Within a few years, the Sikhs began to rule Punjab and the Sikh Kingdoms were established. In today's dark period, where again the Sikhs are powerless and attacked from all sides, do we still have Shaheeds who can give their sacrifice and return power to the Khalsa?
Sardar Charat Singh
Sardar Charhat Singh was grandfather of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He was eldest of the four Sons of Sardar Naudh singh Sandhu. He took to arms while still very young and started taking part in the raids and expeditions led by his father. He also fought in the Sikh's skirmishes with the Afghan invader Ahmad Shah Durrani. After the death of his father, he broke away from the Faizullapuria Misl and determined to acquire territory for himself. He left his ancestral village of Sukkarchakk and established his headquarters at Gujranwala, where he had gathered a considerable following within a short time.
One of his constant companions was, Amir Singh, who was known in the area for his valour. In 1756, Charhat Singh married Desan, the eldest daughter of Amir Singh. This united the resources of the two families and added considerably to the importance of the young Sukkarchakkia chief. Charhat Singh attakhed Eminabad, killing the faujdar and plundering the town . He next captured Wazirabad. His most significant victory was at Sialkot, where in August 1761 he besieged Ahmad Shah Durrani's general, Nur ud-Din Bamezat. He pressed the Afghan general hard and forced him to flee the town. He had now to face Khwaja Ubaid Khan, the Afghan governor of Lahore, who marched upon Gujranwala to chastise him. The town was besieged, but Charhat Singh fought with courage and surprised the besiegers by his night sallies. In the mean time, other Sikh sardars, under the leader ship of Jassa Singh Ahluvalia, came to his rescue. Ubaid Khan was forced to retreat, leaving behind siege guns, ammunition and stores. In the Vadda Ghallughara or Great Holocaust of 5 February 1762, when the Sikhs were involved in a pitched battle with Ahmad Shah Durrani, Charhat Singh fought with great skill and courage.
No sooner had Ahmad Shah returned to Afghanistan than the Sikhs reappeared all over the Punjab. Charhat Singh and the Bhangi Dhillon sardars sacked Kasur in April 1763. In November 1763 he engaged at Sialkot the Shah's commander-in-chief, Jahan Khan, who had been especially sent to punish the Sikhs, and inflicted upon him a severe defeat. The Shah who came out himself was forced to return home harassed by the pursuing Sikh bands.
Charhat Singh swept across Rachna and Chaj Doabs and reached Rohtas. The Afghan commander of the fort, Sarfaraz Khan, offered stiff resistance, but was overcome near Attock. Charhat Singh defeated Sarbuland Khan, governor of Kashmir, who was on his way to meet the Afghan ruler at Lahore. He followed these victories with the occupation of a large portion of Dhanni and Pothohar areas. He then took Pind Dadan Khan, and built a fort there. The Salt Range of Kheora and Miani was the next to fall to him.
Charhat Singh's rapid successes, especially in the Salt Range and Pind Dadan Khan, aroused the animosity of the Bhangi Dhillon sardars who had always reckoned these areas within their sphere of influence. Their antagonism came into the open when Charhat Singh and the Bhangi sardars took up sides in the family dispute at Jammu. Its ruler, Ranjit Deo, wanted to pass on the succession to his younger son, but was opposed in this attempt by Brij Raj Deo, the elder son, who managed to secure the active support of Charhat Singh and of the Kanhaiyas. Ranjit Deo enlisted the support of the Bhangis. The rival armies marched into Jammu in 1770. Charhat Singh was fatally wounded in the skirmishes that followed the bursting of his own gun.
Bhai Bota Singh and Bhai Garja Singh/Bhai Mota Singh
Bhai Bota Singh and Bhai Mota Singh, an eighteenth century martyrs of the Sikh faith who belonged to the village of Bharana in Amritsar district. In those days of dire persecution, he along with many fellow Sikhs had sought the safety of wastes and jungles. At nightfall, he would come out of his hiding place and visit some human habitations in search of food. Occasionally he would come to Amritsar by night to have a dip in the holy tank, spending the day in the wilderness around Tarn Taran. One day he was noticed by some people who thought he was a Sikh.
But one of the party said that he was not a Sikh, for had he been one he would not conceal himself thus. The taunt cut Bota Singh to the quick. Accompanied by his companion Garja Singh, a Rarighreta Sikh, and with a bamboo club in his hand, he took up position on the grand trunk road, near Sarai Nur udDin, near Tarn Taran. To announce his presence and proclaim the sovereignty of the Khalsa, he started collecting toll from the passersby. Finding everyone submitting tamely to his authority, he sent a communication to the provincial governor himself.
The words of the letter, as preserved in Punjabi folklore, were:
Chitthi likhi Singh Bota : Hath hai sota, Vich rah khalota Anna laya gadde nu, Paisa laya khota. Akho Bhabi Khano nu, Yon akhe Singh Bota.
Bota Singh writes this letter as:
With a big club in hand, On the road do I stand. I levy an anna on a cart And a pice on a donkey. This, tell your sister, Khano, who is my sister-in-law, Is what Bota Singh declares.
The wife of the Mughal governor is burlesqued here using her popular name "Khano." Bota Singh calls her his bhabi, i.e. brother's wife with whom one could be familiar (see without Purda, etc.).
Zakariya Khan, the governor, sent a contingent of one hundred horse under Jalal Din to arrest Bota Singh alive and bring him to Lahore. Jalal Din asked Bota Singh and Garja Singh to surrender and accompany him to Lahore, promising to secure them the governor's pardon. Bota Singh and his comrade spurned the offer and fell fighting valiantly against heavy odds. This happened in 1739.
Bhai Bota Singh Garja Singh, the Story Recounted in Depth
Many of us are familliar with the story of Bhai Bota Singh & Bhai Garja Singh. The fact is however, that the true details of their heroic and bloody shaheedee are not commonly known. The details are shocking and awe-inspiring. How with smashed bones they crawled towards the enemy is ignored by most history books. Here is the most puraatan account of their Shaheedee.
Are not all the Sikh Singhs Dead?
It had been four months since a Singh had been seen in the Punjab. Hundreds if not thousands of Singhs had been martyred and people began to say that all the Singhs have been killed. They would say, "The Mughals have defeated the Sikhs. They totally eliminated them. The Singhs no longer attack the Mughals nor do they battle. Four months have passed and there has been no word from the Khalsa. It seems the Khalsa has been totally killed off."
Bhai Bota Singh
Bhai Bota Singh was from the Taran Taaran area and had been separated from the main Jatha of Singhs. Bhai Bota Singh was an unmarried Singh who was very strict in his rehit. He was a sevak of the Satguru and in his heart he was a true warrior with absolutely no fear. He was true to every word that he spoke.
It was amrit vela and Bhai Bota Singh had left his hiding place in the jungle and was quietly walking out. The day had not dawned yet and two travellers on the road saw this solitary Singh. They wondered aloud if he was truly a Singh. They were stunned to see a Singh after such a long time and one of posed the questian, "How did this Singh remain alive? How did he survive this long? No, he must be a fake. No Singhs can be found anywhere now, since the Mughals wiped them out."
The second traveller replied, "It must be some coward, who is weak and afraid. The Singhs were a very proud people and didn't go about in hiding. The Khalsa used to fight the Mughals everyday. The Khalsa was never afraid of death. How could this man be a real Khalsa if he has been hiding for so long, in the fear of being killed? The real Khalsa used to cause havoc and chaos for the enemy and would sacrifice his head for the sake of others. This can be no Khalsa."
Sacrifice to Awaken the Panth
Bhai Bota Singh heard these words and stopped in his tracks. His feet were planted firmly in the ground. He had heard this entire conversation with close attention. Their words were like the bite of a snake for him. Hearing these words, Bhai Bota Singh reached a firm conclusion: "There is no option now, but for me to sacrifice my head. If I sacrifice my head the people will again say "Indeed! The Singhs live!" and news of my battle will travel across the Punjab. The world will know that the Khalsa lives and the Khalsa too will be inspired to re-start its battle against the enemy. I will fight my battle on the main road. When I give my head, the Mughals will be disgraced for having attacked a lone Singh with such cowardice and the talk of the Khalsa will start and the Khalsa will rise again! Once the Khalsa lays its claim to the rule of this land and we will seize this land back from the enemy."
Setting up of a Checkpoint
Near Taran Taaran there is a place called Noordeen Dee Saraa(n). Many travellers, businessmen and merchants used to come to this place and on the way there was a major intersection which all had to pass through. Bhai Bota Singh went to this intersection and planted some logs in the ground and made a checkpoint. He announced that no traveller could pass through this place without first paying him the Khalsa's Royal Tax.
Another Singh name Bhai Mota Singh (known in other places as Bhai Garja Singh) also joined in with Bota Singh. The two Singhs, with not a Sikh having been seen for months now, made their checkpoint and began to create a commotion by yelling at travellers, "OI!!! STOP!! You have to pay the Khalsa's tax!" Everyone was shocked to see Singhs standing out in the open after such a long time. The travellers would rudely reply that they paid their taxes only to the government and who were they (the Singhs) to take money from them?
After all, the Singhs were now a powerless bunch with no authority over them. The Singhs hearing these words would punish the travellers' insolence by beating the travellers with their massive sticks. "Now tell us! Will you pay or not?" The travellers would be forced to pay the tax. Chaos erupted all around the main road and news began to spread about the two Khalsas and their roadblock and claims of authority.
The two Singhs thus made extra efforts to cause a commotion so that news of their tax-collection would be sure to reach the Mughal government. But quite some time passed and no Mughal army came. Many people came and paid their taxes and some even came to make requests like they would to a genuine ruler. When no reply came from the government, the Singhs decided to write a letter to the Governor, which would cause him to burn with fury.
Bhai Bota Singh was from the same village as Navaab Kapoor Singh jee and in this village, the Governor's older sister Khaano was married. She was married to Farzulla Khan who intensely hated the Khalsa. What better way to irk the Governor than to mention the name of his sister? In an insult to the governor, Bhai Bota Singh decided to call Khaano "Bhabee" i.e. sister in law since she was married into his village. Bhai Bota Singh wrote to the Governor, "I have a big stick in my hand and stand on the road to Noordeen Dee Saraa(n). I charge one paisa for a donkey and 4 paisas (one anna) for a cart. Tell Bhabee Khaano, Bota Singh says this."
The Army Arrives
The mention of the Governor's sister of course infuriated him. He immediately dispatched the army. When the army arrived, one Singh was manning the checkpoint and the other was walking towards the jungle with a gaRvaa in his hand. Seeing the army approach, he turned back right away.
The Singhs yelled a loud Fateh to the army and challenged them. "OI! Come here! Where are you going? Make sure you pay the tax!"
The Singhs had kirpaans in their gaatraas and big sticks in their hands. The left their checkpoint and stood on the road now. The Commander of the army saw them and yelled back, "Singhs! Don't fight and die today. Come with us to Lahore. Bota Singh! Come with us and we'll arrange a meeting with the Governor for you. The Governor will spare your life and release you."
The Singhs replied, "When did we ever want to save our lives? We want to battle! You say you'll spare our lives, but we stand here prepared to die. We are anxious for death today. Stop with your talk, get off your horses and fight us so we can be martyred. You can use whatever weapons you want, we'll use our sticks only. Don’t worry, what harm can we do to you with our sticks? We just want to know how much courage you will show on the battlefield and how much courage we have to fight you."
The Commander again tried, "Why bother with all this Bota Singh? There is no need for any of this, just come with us. We'll have the Khan Bahadur speak with you in his court."
The Singhs replied, "There is no talk left between us and you. There is no compromise between us. We're not here to negotiate. We'll go to the court of Dharam Rai and say what we want there. We don't have any need for your court. The only relationship we can have now is of exchanging weapon blows. "
The Battle Begins
The Singhs were anxious for martyrdom and could wait no longer as the Commander thought of a reply. They called out, "If you will not make any attack, then we are coming to you. Don't say we didn’t warn you. Prepare yourselves!" And with this, the Singhs fell upon the Mughals like lions. They sprinted towards the army and began to swing their weapons.
The Mughals were mounted on horses and retreated away from the Singhs. Seeing the retreat, the Singhs began to throw rocks at the soldiers. The Mughals were anxious to save their lives and had taken their horses far away and were terrified to see how fearlessly the two Khalsa stood before them. The Mughals began to fire arrows and bullets from far away, but the Singhs would run towards them caring nothing for their own bodies. Bhai Bota Singh and Bhai Mota Singh were suffering many injuries but not slowing down. As arrows and bullets hit their bodies, they became even more excited. They kept charging at the retreating Mughals. Sometimes they would make a small leap forward and sometimes make a giant leap.
The Mughals then decided to run the Singhs down with their horses. They made a charge towards them and as the horses threw the two Khalsa down, they would immediately rise again. Seeing that the Singhs were still not using any dangerous weapons, the Mughals grew more confident and their fear lessened. They were now eager to kill the Singhs.
As weapons struck their bodies, Bhai Mota Singh and Bhai Bota Singh showed no pain. Their bodies had become hardened because of their time in the jungles and their skin was as taut and strong as a shield. Only when a blow would fall upon a bone and break it would they feel some fatigue. When an arrow would pierce their bodies, the Singhs would pull it out and throw it aside with disgust. Making sure the Mughals could clearly see them, they would tear out the arrow and yell "Your arrows are useless! They cannot pierce our bodies!"
The Mughals now drew their swords and attacked. The Singhs stopped the sword blows with their staffs and stood back to back to face the enemy. As the enemy ran horses upon them, they would hit the horses with their massive sticks and turn them away. The Mughals were forced to abandon their horses and advance on foot. The enemy would try to block the staff blows with their shields but were growing tired from the force. The ornamental flowers and markings on their shields had all been smashed off. The Mughals were beginning to see that their attempts were futile.
The Mughals again retreated and this time drew their guns. They fired burst upon burst at the two warriors and wherever the bullets hit, they would smash a bone. The Mughals fired at the Singh's hands and broke the hands they held their staffs with. The Singhs then grabbed their staffs with their left hands. The Mughals managed to break the Singhs' hips with their bullets and made them lame. The bullets then broke the Singhs' legs and they fell to the ground.
The Mughals now called out, "Now put your hands together and beg for forgiveness! Admit you have made a mistake! We will spare your lives and not kill you if you stand with your hands clasped together. You'll have to become Muslims, but we will spare you."
The Singhs heard these words and looked at each other. They grabbed a hold of the other's shoulder and rose. They now stood back to back on one leg. They again called out a challenge to the Mughals.
The Mughals were confused. There stood two utterly smashed bodies, standing on only one leg each. What were they thinking? The Mughals again approached and their commander who ordered them not to fire. "They only have one leg and one hand each. Tackle them to the ground and subdue them!"
As the Mughals came near, the Singhs forcefully began to swing their heavy staffs with their left hands and smashed the enemy's heads. Blood poured from the Mughal soldiers' noses and mouths. Streams of blood began to flow. They smashed many enemy soldiers' heads and again fell exhausted to the ground.
The Mughals had run back in retreat once again. The two Khalsa were lying on the ground with no bone intact. And then the unimaginable happened. The Singhs propped themselves up and on their knees and elbows began to advance towards the enemy again. They glared at the Mughals and would not look away or blink. With their intense gaze they continued their approach. They had no hope for life any longer. Their faces were glowing red. The Mughals were terrified that these two beasts may stand again. The entire army fell upon them and cut their bodies into pieces. The two Singhs were martyred and joined their brothers and sisters in SachKhand.
The news of the Khalsa's bravery again spread across the Punjab. The people began to remark that perhaps the Khalsa had not been finished after all. Who could finish warriors like this? The bravery of Bhai Bota Singh and Bhai Mota Singh shocked not only the people but also the Mughals. News spread to the Khalsa in hiding and they too were inspired to rise again. Bhai Bota Singh and his
tax collection was a reminder that Punjab was the Khalsa's land. They would seize it back from the enemy. The Khalsa began to regroup again and prepare for battle.
Bhai Bota Singh and Bhai Mota Singh's Shaheedee inspired the entire Panth and struck fear into the heart of the enemy. Are there not any Bhai Bota Singh or Bhai Mota Singh today who will wake up the Panth from its slumber again?
Sardar Sham Singh Attariwala
Sardar Sham Singh Attariwala, was born in 1790's in the house of well known Sikh farmers in the town of Attari (Few kms from the border of Indian and Pakistan punjab in India). At his early he was educated in Gurmukhi and Persian. When Ranjit Singh became maharaja of Punjab he got himself at his disposal. Ranjit Singh knowing his qualities and fighting abilities made him a jathedar of 5000 horsemen. He participated actively in many campaigns, notably like the campaign of Multan, campaign of Kashmir, Campaign of the frontier province.
For a brief period of 3 years Maharaja Ranjit Singh made him governor of Kashmir. Later, Maharaja Ranjit Singh recalled him to Lahore, since he was trusted aide of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Maharaja feared treacherous dogras. It is said that Sham Singh Attari and Maharaja Ranjit Singh were good friends. Sham Singh Attari could be called truly, one of the unofficial ministers of Ranjit Singh's court. Later, he educated himself to read and write English. Lord William Bentick's meeting with Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Ropar, on the bank of the Sutlej, in the spring of 1831 October 15 was an occasion of an impressive ceremony and display. Both sides met on the either side of Satluj with their full forces. Sham Singh Attariwala was in the forefront everywhere. Kharak Singh was declared the heir apparent of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Kharak Singh's son Nau Nihal Singh was sixteen years old in 1837 when Sham Singh Attariwala proposed the marriage of his daughter to Nau Nihal Singh, grandson of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Maharaja agreed. Marriage was held at Amritsar in the month of April. It was a gala event. Almost all the rulers of India were invited as well as those of Kabul, Iran, etc. The two days of festive and merriment is still remembered by the people of Amritsar and Lahore. In honor of Nau Nihal Singh's wedding, Ranjit Singh started an Order of Merit that was known as Kaukab-i-Iqbal-i-Punjab, star of the Prosperity of Punjab. But... all was not well.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh died in June 1839. The powerful Dogras from Jammu, Gulab Singh Dhian Singh and Suchet Singh- played a subtle role and put into motion a chain of proceedings which brought about the demolition of Sikh power. At the time of Sikh ruler's death. Dhian Singh was Prime Minister of Punjab to Kharak Singh, son of Ranjit Singh. Gulab Singh and Suchet singh also held offices under Dhian Singh dogra. They were not content with this. They had their eyes on the throne itself and the main object of their grand strategy was to crown Dhian Singh's son, Hira Singh, king of the Punjab. One night, Suchet singh led his men into Maharaja Kharak Singh's chamber and killed his trusted aide and tutor, Chet Singh Bajwa. Kharak singh was removed from the Fort and remained virtually prisoner in the hands of Dhian Singh. Sham Singh Attariwala and other good officers were sent to far places like Kashmir, northwest frontier provinces, just like Nau Nihal Singh. Nau Nihal Singh knew about the treacherous dogras. He did not come to Lahore until the day his father Kharak Singh, died due to slow poisoning by Dogra brothers. On the same day of his father's cremation, a huge concrete piece fell on Nau Nihal Singh and he also died. It is said that Dogra brothers hatched this conspiracy. English doctor of Lahore that operated on prince, later reported that prince was alive and wells after injury but mysteriously next day his skull was found crushed. Dhian Singh then openly suggested Maharani Chand Kaur to adopt his son and declare him Maharaja of Punjab, she refused and was put in house arrest. The maidservants also killed her. Gulab Singh carried away all the money and valuables belonging to Maharani. Then the next Maharaja other son of Ranjit Singh, Maharaja Sher Singh was put to death by the Sandhawalia sardars, they were together with Dogra brothers.
English saw the opportunity and they attacked. Sham Singh Attariwala, who was more of a soldier than a politician., got the troops together. But he was not assigned the general, rather a small number of horsemen was put under his command. Generals like Lal Singh and Tej Singh led the Khalsa forces. They did not attacked British at Ludhiana but waited until their reinforcement arrived from Delhi. On December 13, 1845 Governor General Lord Hardinge issued a proclamation, announcing war on the Sikhs. Lal Singh, the Prime Minister of Sikhs was in treasonable communication with Captain Peter Nicholson, the Assistant Political agent. He advised Lal Singh too not to attack Ferozepur Sikhs could have won it easily. Sikhs came into contact with British on December 18 1845 at Mudki, a Battle took place. Lal Singh who headed the Sikh attack, deserted his army and precipitately fled the field when Sikhs stood firm in their order fighting in a resolute and determined manner. The commander's action disturbed the ranks and Sikhs retired with the loss of 17 guns, British suffered heavy casualties of 872 dead. Among the dead was General Robert Sale, the defender of Jalalabad. Sham Singh Attariwala did not took part in this action he was deployed at another point. The second battle of Mudki was fought and it seemed that Sikhs had won it easily. Here is what the British commander in chief acknowledged "We were in critical and perilous stage". But Lal singh and Tej Singh came again to the rescue of the English. They both deserted the Khalsa army, Sikh soldiery without their leaders was stood waiting for orders and lost the battle once ammunition was done. In this battle British lost 1000 men 1721 were wounded, Sikhs lost about 2000 men and about 73 pieces of guns. Sikh Sardars were alarmed. A Sikh Sardar named Ranjodh Singh Majithia crossed the Satluj in full force along with another Sardar named Ajit Singh Ladwa. They marched to Ludhiana and burned down the British cantonment. Sir Henry Smith who was sent to intercept them was defeated at Baddowal on January 11. Then the last battle of the Anglo Sikh wars was fought at Sobharaon. It was do or die for the Sikh Sardars like Ranjodh Singh, Ajit Singh and Sham Singh Attariwala. Sham Singh Attariwala who was about 60 years of age vowed before Guru Granth Sahib to fight unto the last in battle rather than retire in defeat. But... Lal Singh and Tej Singh had already given British their positions of guns, etc. Gulab Singh Dogra stopped sending rations from Lahore. Tej Singh fled on the very first day of the action. Sham Singh and Ranjodh Singh led the forces. Sham Singh Attariwala clad in white silks and riding a white steed, the gray bearded hero went unto the field of action, pledged to victory or death. He rallied the ranks depleted by traitorous desertions. His courage inspired the Sikhs to make a determined bid to save the day, but the odds were against them. Sham Singh fell fighting in the foremost ranks. So did his dauntless comrades. Cunningham, who was present as an additional aid-de-camp to the governor-general, describes the last scenes of battle vividly in his book History of the Sikhs: "...although assailed on either side by squadrons of horse and battalions of foot, no Sikh offered to submit and no disciple of Guru Gobind Singh asked for quarter. They everywhere showed a front to the victors, and stalked slowly and sullenly away, while many rushed singly forth to meet assured death by contending with a multitude. The victors looked with stolid wonderment upon indomitable courage of the vanquished..."
Sardar Jodh Singh Ramgarhia
Sardar Jassa Singh was succeeded by his eldest son Sardar Jodh Singh Ramgarhia who, aided by Sansar Chand, the hill chieftain took back by force the following important towns from the Ahluwalia Misl: Garh, Depalpur, Bhunga, and Hoshiarpur. He gave after a time, Hoshiarpur in Jagir to Nawab Bhamboo Khan; to Muhar Singh, Hazura Singh and Thakar Singh, who were dismissed by Sardar Fateh Singh Ahluwalia, he gave five villages in Jagir. Sardar Fateh Singh Ahluwalia and Sardarni Baghel Singh collected a force of twenty thousand men and marched against Sardar Jodh Singh, who, aided by Nidhan Singh, came forth to meet the enemy. A great battle was fought at Banola, in which, however, Sardar Fateh Singh was worsted.
The following story which Sir Lepel Griffin by mistake has attributed to Sardar Jodh Singh Wazirabadia is really about Sardar Jodh Singh Ramgarhia, because it is found in the family records which were put together by the late Sardar Mangal Singh Ramgarhia C.S.I. "The Maharaja, thinking Sardar Jodh Singh too powerful to attack, invited him to Lahore on a friendly visit. Suspecting Ranjit Singh's intention he brought a large force with him, which he was asked to send back, a request which he was too proud to refuse compliance. He attended the Darbar next day with only twenty-five followers whom he left outside. He was received by the Maharaja with the utmost cordiality, but suddenly Ranjit Singh made a sign to his people to seize the Sardar. He, drawing his sword, called on them to come on as he would not be taken alive and had never learned to turn his back on an enemy. His courage so impressed the Maharaja that he dismissed the chief with honour, rich presents and an addition to his estates. So far the story is creditable to Ranjit Singh as well as to the Sardar, but when shortly afterwards Jodh Singh died leaving only infant sons, the Maharaja seized all his possessions."
When Holkar, at the head of a large Maratha force, came to the Punjab, he being invited by Sardar Fateh Singh Ahluwalia plundered and destroyed nearly 50 villages of Sardar Jodh Singh who at once sent two messengers named Ral Singh and Lakha Singh to Major Lake who was pursuing Holkar. The British commander received them with due formality and gave them robes of honour. He also sent a rifle and a field glass to the Sardar. Both of these are still preserved as an heirloom in the family. After this Sardar Jodh Singh entered into friendship with the Afghans of Kassur. Many times did Ranjit Singh attack his territory, but the Sardar with the help of Afghans always defeated him.
A compact of eternal friendship between Ranjit Singh and the Ramgarhia family was drawn up before the Granth in the Holy Darbar Sahib at Amritsar. Ranjit Singh stamped the paper in his royal and illiterate way with his open palm dyed with saffron. The better to inveigle Sardar Jodh Singh he went over to the Ramgarh fort almost unattended. He professed his great admiration for the fortifications and ordered the foundation of a fort, afterwards called Gobindgarh (which still exists at Amritsar to the west of the city) to be laid down according to the same plan. The simple hearted Sardar Jodh Singh was won over. He accompanied the Maharaja with all his forces in the last successful expedition against Kutb-ud-din Khan. Mr. Prinsep writes in his life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh:
"Ranjit Singh who was himself free-spoken and allowed great latitude in conversation to his courtiers received at this period a rebuke for the grasping disposition he displayed in his treatment of the old Sikh Sardars from Jodh Singh Ramgarhia, himself a reduced chief of the class. When taking his leave to join Muhkam Chand in the operations against the Faizulapurian Sardars, Ranjit Singh offered him presents as a mark of a favour. He begged, however, with characteristic frankness that such an honour might be dispensed with in his case, for he should deem himself fortunate in these times if allowed to keep his own turban on his head. Ranjit Singh took no offence at his freedom, but smiled and told him to be faithful and of good cheer."
It was with his assistance as well as that of Sardar Fateh Singh Ahluwalia that the Maharaja could take Kangra and subdue Raja Sansar Chand. He also helped the Maharaja in Multan expedition. The Maharaja being pleased gave him many villages in jagir which were taken from Sardar Golab Singh Kharara, the revenue of which amounted to 25 thousand Rs. Per annum. In 1811 AD, he gave him in jagir 11 villages in Sheikhupura, and also one elephant, the revenue of these villages amounted to Rs. 12,000 per annum. He was much respected by the Maharaja who used to call him Baba-Ji and give him a seat next to him, whenever he used to go in the Darbar. The Sardar died in 1816. Like his father he was also brave and generous. Whoever sought his protection received it. He gave shelter to Sardar Gulab Singh Bhangi and also to Bibi Lashmi of Phagwara who were defeated by Ranjit Singh. It was he who built the great Ramgarhia Bunga, with its two lofty towers. He helped much in the building of the Golden Temple. He brought the pieces of perforated marble that serve as parapets on both side of the causeway that leads to the Temple situated in the centre of the tank, from the four minarets of the maqbara (tomb) of Jahangir situated near Shahdara on the bank of Ravi, close to Lahore the lower storeys of these minarets mosaic work and finely tessellated and chequered pieces of marble from Muhammaden monuments situated as far as Delhi and Agra. He also built the first two storeys of Baba Atal (the loftiest building in the city of Amritsar, the towers of his own Bunga being second in height). Thus he had the honour to build the finest and the loftiest edifices of Amritsar which constitute the integral part of the beauty of the city as a whole. The family still possesses a Khanda and a Katar of this brave man as an heirloom
The death of Sardar Jodh Singh was the signal for the breaking out of dissension in the family. Sardar Diwan Singh, Bir Singh, Mehtab Singh and widow of Sardar Jodh Singh all set up claims for the estate. The Maharaja, hearing of this, summoned them to Nadaun where he then was, promising to settle the dispute by arbitration. On their arrival they were received with courtesy by the Maharaja, but soon took occasion to leave the reception tent, which was straight away surrounded with troops and the three Ramgarhias were made prisoners. Then Ranjit Singh marched on towards Amritsar and after some severe fighting took the fort of Ramgarh. Again marching northward he seized the whole of the vast Ramgarhia jagirs and in a short time reduced all their forts. Thus was fulfilled the saffron bond! There was a proverb in the country that it would take a year to conquer the Ramgarhia family, if it lost one fort per day, because the family had 360 forts. But when fate was adverse, a few hours sufficed to change the state of the family. Sardar Wir Singh and Mahtab Singh were soon released and were placed under Sardar Lehna Singh of Majitha, a jagir of 45,000 was settled on the family. Sardar Diwan Singh for some time refused to accept his share of Rs. 12,000 and remained a prisoner, but at length pretended to acquiesce. On regaining his freedom, however, he fled to Patiala where he was well received by Maharaja Karam Singh and remained there for 10 months. Here many old retainers of the Ramgarhia clan came and assembled round him. When their number swelled to a thousand, the Rajas of Patiala, Nabha, and Jind suspected the Sardar to be a secret agent sent by the Maharaja to seize their territories, so they asked him to keep only four or five hundred men and dismiss the others. The Sardar not agreeing to the proposal took friendly leave of them and wandered about for some time. Afterwards, at the intercession of some Sardars, the Maharaja gave him jagir worth Rs. 97,000 per annum and sent him in command of 1,000 men to Baramoola cantonment in Kashmir, a difficult hill post on the road to Srinagar, which was on the frontier of the Maharaja's territory. Moreover, he was allowed, as a perquisite, to get shawls worth Rs. 7,000 annually from the Governor of Kashmir. In 1828 the Maharaja fell sick. The Sardar hearing of his illness at once came to Lahore with all his forces he had under him without any permission and even the information of the Maharaja. By chance the Maharaja recovered very soon. He understood very well the purpose of the Sardar's coming and took no offence of it, but pleased him with many rich gifts. The Sardar went back to Baramoola where he died in 1834 after remaining there for 14 years. His Sumadh together with a large Dharmsala is situated there on the banks of the River Jhelum. The house where the Sardar used to live was situated at a distance of few miles from Srinager, all signs of it have disappeared but the place is marked by some lofty popular trees and is still called cantonment of Sardar
Diwan Singh Ramgarhia. Sardar Bir Singh had died 6 years before, i.e.,in 1828 when 2/3 of his jagirs were resumed.
Kirpa Singh Ram
Pandit Kirpa Singh Dutt (d. 1705)(aka Pandit Kirpa Ram, born Kirpa Ram Dutt) was the son of Bhai Aru Ram, a Saraswati Brahmin of Matan, 65 km east of Srinagar, in Kashmir. Aru Ram had met Guru Har Rai and sought his blessing at the time of the latter's visit to Kashmir in 1660.
A group of Kashmiri Brahmins came to Guru Tegh Bahadar at Anandpur in May 1675 for protection against atrocities of Aurungzeb. Kirpa Ram led this group of Kashmiri Pandits driven to dire straits by State Persecution. They had faced stiff taxes, atrocities, cruelty under Muslim Mughal governor of Kashmir. Honour of their daughters was being lost and they were losing their religion to the fanatic zeal and proletyzation activities of Islamic crusaders.
Main article: Kashmiri pandits
Iftikhar Khan, governor of Kashmir (1671-75) was a harsh man and was making forcible conversion to Islam. Kashmiri Brahmins asked Guru for a solution. Guru replied "Such activities can only be stopped by a sacrifice of a great person". Just then 8 years old son of Guru Tegh Bahadar, Gobind Rai (Later Gobind Singh) walked into the meeting to find his father lost deep in thoughts. He enquired about the reason.
He offered a possible solution by saying "who else is greater then you, O father". Guru Tegh Bahadur knew then his ultimate mission and Dharma. He told Kashmiri Brahmins "Go tell Aurangzeb that if they can convert your Guru then you will all become Muslims." Kirpa Ram obliged and Aurangzeb issued summons for Guru. Guru performed the ceremony and declared that next Guru will be his son, Gobind Rai.
Guru Tegh Bahadur whose help the visitors sought asked them to go and have it communicated to the Emperor that, if he (Guru Tegh Bahadur) was converted, they would all voluntarily accept conversion. Kirpa Ram and his companions sent to Emperor Aurungzeb a petition to that effect through Zalim Khan, a governor of Lahore.
Guru summoned to Delhi, Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadar
In the summer of 1675, the Guru, along with some of his companions were finally brought to Delhi and asked to convert to Islam or else face the penalty of death. Guru ji was also asked to perform a miracle. Guru Tegh Bahadur averred that he would rather sacrifice his life than give up his faith and his freedom or belief or perform a miracle.
Thus, under Aurangzeb's orders, Guru ji and his companions were tortured. The Guru was chained and imprisoned in a cage and was tortured in the cruellest and the most inhuman ways for five long days. In order to terrorise him further into submission, one of his distinguished devotees (Bhai Mati Das) was sawn alive, another (Bhai Dyal Das) was boiled in the cauldron and the third (Bhai Sati Das) was roasted alive before the Guru.
Finally, the Guru himself was beheaded, under imperial warrant, in broad daylight, in the middle of a public square, the most prominent public place in India, called Chandni Chowk, of Delhi, on the charge that he was a stumbling block preventing the spread of Islam in the Indian subcontinent. The exact location of the beheading is marked by Gurdwara Sis Ganj in Delhi.
His martyrdom was yet another challenge to the Sikh conscience. It was then realized that there could be no understanding between an insensate power imbrued with blood and a proud people wedded to a life of peace with honour. The sacrifice roused the Hindus from their passive silence and gave them the fortitude to understand the power that comes from self-respect and sacrifice. Guru Tegh Bahadur thus earned the affectionate title of "Hind-di-Chadar" or the Shield of India.
1699, Kirpa Ram becomes Kirpa Singh
Guru Gobind Singh from 1675 until 1690 took an extensive courses in Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, and Punjabi in educating himself. According to chronicles, Pandit Kirpa Ram Dutt helped Guru Gobind Singh in his Sanskrit studies.
Guru Gobind Singh having contemplated the history of Sikhi, the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev (his great grand father), the martyrdom ofGuru Tegh Bahadur (his father) decided to create the Khalsa. The Khalsa was created at Anandpur on March 31st 1699.
Pandit Kirpa Ram Dutt became Kirpa Singh after taking Khanda Bate da Pahul. In 1699 he received the holy Amrit and entered the fold of the Khalsa.
The Hill Rajas and Mughals attack
In 1704, the forces of the local Rajput Rajas who were alarmed by the rapid changes that Guru Gobind Singh was making in the rigid caste based Hindu religion. Particularly troubled over the growing number of converts from the Hindu and Muslim faiths and angered by the Guru putting a sudden and abrupt end to the converts' historical caste designations (even adopting the Rajputs' traditional name Singh (lion), previously only used by the Rajput warrior caste of Hinduism, sought the help of their Mughal allies to put and end to this new religion which clearly threatened their privileges.
The Mughals having lost men in previous battles with the Sikhs were only too glad to attack the fort of Anandpur, and after many months and several defeated attempts to take the city and a long siege, the Sikhs, low on both supplies and ammunition and nearly starved, agreed to abandon the city under a second promise of safe conduct to Punjab (during the first promise of safety a party of Sikhs and a 'pretend' treasure filled train of wagons was quickly attacked and looted), but to the dismay of the attackers the clever Guru had ordered the wagons loaded with trash covered in rich cloth. Under a second set of oaths 'sworn on the Qur'an and holy cow' (even bearing the mark of Aurangzeb) the Guru was finally persuaded by his devotees to give up Anandpur.
Battle of Chamkaur
Main article: Battle of Chamkaur
Once again the Rajputs and Mughals broke their promises and chased after the retreating Sikh forces. Reaching the rain swollen Sarsa river's frigid waters the Sikhs were suddenly attacked. In the ensuing confusion, the Guru's soldiers and his family members were divided, departing in different directions.
Guru Gobind Singh along with his 40 Sikhs, including Kirpa Singh and the Shahibzadas; Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh, made their way to the fort of Chamkaur. Their pursuers soon surrounded the small mud fort of Chamkaur.
Kirpa Singh becomes a martyr himself
The next morning as the attack began the Guru, a master archer, dispatched anyone foolish enough to expose their themselves to his deadly aim. Finally with their arrows and powder running out the Sikhs in parties of five, exited the high perimeter mud walls through the haveli's only gate.
Pandit Kirpa Singh was among the valiant parties of five which even included the Guru's two sons Ajit Singh, and Jujhar Singh. The death and carnage the Sikhs dealt the opposing forces was frightful. The battle had raged throughout the day which as night fell saw the attacking forces retreat to lick their wounds and regroup making plans for the next day when surely, they thought, they could capture or kill the Guru himself and earn a handsome bounty.
In the dark that night the Guru was persuaded to quit the battle, to fight another day; many Sikhs fell as martyrs in the
battle of Chamkaur. Pandit Kirpa Singh Khalsa fell a martyr in the battle of Chamkaur on 7 December 1705.
Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa
Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa (1791-1837), celebrated General of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was born in April 1791, at Gujranwala, now in Pakistan, to Gurdial Singh, an Uppal Sikh of the Sukerchakia Misl. The family originally came from Majitha, near Amritsar. His grandfather, Hardas Singh, had been killed fighting against Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1762. His father, Gurdial Singh, had taken part in many of the campaigns of the Sukkarchakkias Charat Singh Sukkarchakia and Mahari Singh.
Hari Singh Nalwa was the Commander-in-chief at the most turbulent North West Frontier of Ranjit Singh's kingdom. He took the frontier of the Sarkar Khalsaji to the very mouth of the Khyber Pass. For the past eight centuries, marauders, who had indulged in looting, plunder, rape, and forcible conversions to Islam had used this route into the subcontinent. In his lifetime, Hari Singh became a terror to the ferocious tribes inhabiting these regions. He successfully thwarted the last foreign invasion into the subcontinent through the Khyber Pass at Jamrud, permanently blocking this route of the invaders. Even in his death, Hari Singh Nalwa's formidable reputation ensured victory for the Sikhs against an Afghan force five times as numerous.
Hari Singh Nalwa's performance as an administrator and a military commander in the North West Frontier remains unmatched. Two centuries on, Britain, Pakistan, Russia and America have been unsuccessful in effecting law and order in this region. Hari Singh Nalwa's spectacular achievements exemplified the tradition established by Guru Gobind Singh such that he came to be hailed as the "Champion of the Khalsa".
Hari Singh was hardly 7 years of age when his father died. His mother, Dharam Kaur, had to move to her parental home to live under the care of her brothers. There Hari Singh learned Punjabi and Persian and trained in the manly arts of riding, musketry and swordsmanship. Dharam Kaur returned to Gujranwala when her son was about 13 years old.
Joining Sikh Army
In 1804, Hari Singh participated in a recruitment test for service in the Sikh army and so impressed Maharaja Ranjit Singh with his skill at various drills that he was given an appointment as a personal attendant. Not long after, in 1805, he received the commission with a command of 800 horses and foot and was given the title of 'Sardar' (Chief).
A historical text tells us that his rapid promotion from a personal attendant of the Maharaja to a command of 800 horsemen was owed to an incident in which he had cloven with sword the head of a tiger which had seized him. From that day he came to be known as "Baaghmaar" (meaning - the tiger killer), and earned the title of "Nalwa" (one with claws, like that of a tiger). Another historical text describes his incident with the tiger differently, telling us that he was already a Sardar when the word "Nalwa" was added to his name after he, "had killed a tiger single-handed on horseback, with the sacrifice, however, of his horse." (Prinsep, 1834: 99)
Hari Singh went on to participate in many glorious victories of the Sikhs before becoming the Commander-in-Chief of the army along the North Western Frontier of the Sikh Kingdom. He was appointed Governor of various provinces and was one of the wealthiest jagirdars of the Kingdom.
Hari Singh was commander of a regiment at the time of the Maharaja's final attack on Kasur in 1807 and gave evidence of his prowess on the field of battle. He was rewarded with a handsome "jagir".
During the later years, he participated in the Sialkot, Sahival and Khushab expeditions and in four of Ranjit Singh's seven campaigns against Multan during 1810, 1816, 1817 and then in 1818. He fought in the battle of Attock in 1813 as second-in-command to Diwan Mohkam Chand, and in Kashmir in 1814 and 1819.
Kashmir was occupied and, in 1820, Hari Singh was appointed its governor in succession to Diwan Moti Ram. He restored order in the turbulent areas, and reorganized civil administration. The territory was divided into parganahs, each under a collector. The habitual criminals were bound down and robbers infesting the forests were suppressed. Construction of forts at Uri and Muzaffarabad and gurudwaras at Matan and Baramula was undertaken and work was started on laying out a spacious garden on the bank of the River Jhelum.
To alleviate the misery of the people in the wake of the unprecedented floods of 1821, he took measures to provide prompt relief. From Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Hari Singh received a special favor when he was allowed to strike a coin in his own name. This coin, known as the Hari Singhi rupee, remained in circulation in the valley till the closing years of the nineteenth century.
In 1822, he was assigned to the Pathan territory of Hazara on the northwest of the Sikh kingdom, where he remained for fifteen years and settled the disturbed area. He built a strong fort near Salik Serai, on the left bank of the Dor river, and on the road from Hasan Abdal to Abbotabad and named it Harikishangarh, in honour of the Eighth Guru. He also raised a town in the vicinity of the fort, Haripur, which later grew into a busy commercial and trade centre.
From 1827 to 1831, he was engaged in repelling Sayyid Ahmad Barelavi's fierce campaign against the Sikhs.
In 1834, Hari Singh finally took Peshawar and annexed it to the Sikh dominions. Two years later, he built a fort at Jamrud at the mouth of the Khyber Pass and scaled it once for all for invaders from the northwest.
On 30 April 1837, as he was locked in a grave battle against the Afghans under Akbar Khan, Hari Singh received four gun wounds, and two sabre cuts across his breast. He continued to issue orders as before, until he received a gunshot wound in the side. He mustered his failing strength for the last time and managed to ride up to his field tent, from where he was taken to the fort. Here the same evening the great general passed away. His last instructions were that his death should not be made public until the arrival of the Maharaja's relief column.
Kashmir (1820-21) Greater Hazara (1822-37) Chhachch Hazara, Pothohar plateau, (Rawalpindi), Salt Range (Katas) Trans-Indus' Viceroy on the Western Frontier' (1822-31) & Governor of Peshawar (1834-37)
Governor of Kashmir(1820-21)
Hari Singh Nalwa was appointed the first Khalsa Governor of Kashmir in 1820. He governed the province for a little over a year when the pull of the Sikh Forward Policy compelled his recall from the province.
Hari Singh Nalwa was remembered in Kashmir for something he least expected. The currency minted while he was the governor had been the subject matter of much speculation (Surinder Singh 2001: 81-8). Following his departure from this subah, all the coins minted under the Sikhs in this province were called the 'Hari Singhee'. Thereafter, no matter who was the governor all coins minted in Kashmir continued to be called the 'Hari Singhee' even following Hari Singh's death
Muslim and British historians criticised Hari Singh's tenure as the Governor of Kashmir. Archival records, however, show that their assessment was based on an incomplete understanding of the situation.
Governor Greater Hazara
Jagirdar-Governor Greater Hazara (1822-37) The possibility of consolidating the North West Frontier of the Indian sub-continent into a province was presented by the relentless efforts of Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa. What he achieved in this region in a span of 15 years with limited resources and in the midst of a turbulent population, was nothing short of a miracle. Hazara, the crown of the Sindh Sagar Doab, was the most significant of all the territories under his governance. His proceedings in this area present the finest example of his skill as a military commander and as an administrator. The compiler of the Hazara Gazetteer acknowledged that Hari Singh Nalwa left his mark upon this district, which at that time only a strong hand like his could effectively control. "Of unbounded energy and courage, he was ruthless towards those who opposed his path. The town of Haripur fittingly perpetuates his name and the fort of Harkishangarh forms an enduring monument of his power." (Hazara 1907: 130)
Viceroy & Governor
Viceroy on the Western Frontier' (1822-31) & Governor of Peshawar (1834-37)
In the early years, Ranjit Singh requisitioned all his fighting men when he proposed a conquest. In the later years, apart from the garrison manning the forts, the Kampu-i-mu'alla or the State troops continued to be stationed in Lahore under the Maharaja's command. The Kampu-i-mu'alla was dispatched as reinforcement when requested for by Hari Singh Nalwa. More often than not, however, the fate of the battle had been decided before these could arrive. Hari Singh Nalwa and his Jagirdari Fauj, together with the two battalions of the Fauj-i-Khas raised by him, were largely responsible for guarding the western frontier of the kingdom. In case of an invasion from the west, the British saw the Sikhs as their Forward Post. The Sikhs, in turn, saw territory under Hari Singh Nalwa's jurisdiction and command as the farthest extent of the Sikh Kingdom.
Mission to Simla (1831)
In 1831, Hari Singh was deputed to head a diplomatic mission to Lord William Bentinck, Governor-General of British India. The Ropar Meeting between Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the head of British India followed soon thereafter. The British desired to persuade Ranjit Singh to open the Indus for trade. Hari Singh Nalwa expressed strong reservations against any such move. The most compelling reason for the Sardar’s scepticism was the scenario visible across the Satluj — namely, the proceedings in British Hindustan. As a “wide awake” military man and an efficient administrator, Hari Singh Nalwa clearly understood both the military and trade designs of the British.
Dost Mohammad Khan did not rest contented and after mobilizing all his resources dispatched his son Akbar in A.D. 1837 to recover Peshawar which he did. Resultantly, Sardar Hari Singh Nalua was sent at the head of Lahore troops to face Afghans. He got his forces to Peshawar. Jamrud turned out to be the field of battle this time where a formidable battle was fought. Sardar Hari Singh Nalua had earlier build a fort on the entrance of Khyber pass called fort of Jamrud, this fort was being commanded by Sardar Mahan Singh Mirpura. For want of man and war material Nalua strove extraordinary hard, inspite of this he did not loose his heart. Urgent messages were sent to Lahore and Peshawar for materials. For want of timely help the Sardar was of course, killed but the Afghans could not dislodge the 500 Punjabi troops from the fort of Jamrud. General Hari Singh Nalua give his last command to his men to not to disclose his death and continue giving enemy a good fight.
Sir Lepel Griffin, gives a detailed and comprehensive account of Sardar Nalua's campaign of Jamrud. He points out that Sardar was directed to build a fort at Jamrud situated at the entrance of Khber pass from the walls of which Maharaja might glance Jalalabad in Afghanistan. Sardar got built a small port which was quite impregnable to the artillery fire and could hold on for several weeks of pounding. The Dost Mohammad Khan, with 7,000 horse, 2000 matchlock men and 18 guns. His three sons with their forces and a force of 12,000 to 15,000 of Khaibiris joined the main force and started pounding the fort. Mahan singh Mirpura requested help from Peshwar where Hari singh Nalua was ailing with fever. Hari immediately sent some horsemen to Lahore for more reinforcement and he along with his soldiers went to Jamrud. Reinforcement under Hari Singh Nalua give a new life to the garrison and attack of Afghanis was repulsed with vigour. Grifin further states that when Hari Singh Nalua along with about five of his companion went outside of the fort to inspect a breach in a wall, he was struck by two balls, one in the side and the other in stomach. Inspite of them understanding that he was mortally injured, the Nalua sardar managed to ride as far as his camp lest the troops be discouraged. Then laying on floor he gives his last order to his few trusted men, that was to not to disclose the secret of his death. Hari Singh further imparted instructions to his soldiers to cover his dead body after lifting it from the ground and placing it on a cot. Thus the great Sardar Hari Singh Nalua, with the terror of whose name Afghan mothers used to quiten their fretful children attained his martyrdom.
Some of the more famous towns, gardens, fort and shrine associated with Hari Singh Nalwa include
The ‘new’ town of Gujranwala (Punjab, Pakistan) Haripur (Hazara, North West Frontier Province, Pakistan) was a planned town built by Hari Singh Nalwa in 1822-23, in the North West Frontier tribal belt.
Peshawar (North West Frontier Province, Pakistan) Hari Singh built the fort that dominates the city of Peshawar in the twenty-first century. He called his fort 'Sumergarh', however, this fort is today more popularly known as the 'Bala Hissar'.
Katas (Salt Range, Pakistan) Hari Singh Nalwa built two enormous havelis on the pool side at this famous place of pilgrimage.
Hari Singh ka Bagh at Amritsar (Punjab, India), Srinagar (Kashmir, India)
Views on Hari Singh Nalwa
•“…champion of the Khalsaji”, Lepel Griffin in The Panjab Chiefs, 1865(Bengal Civil Service, Assistant Commissioner, Lahore)
•“…builder of the Sikh Empire”, A.S. Sandhu in General Hari Singh Nalwa 1791-1837, 1935
•On being asked about the Sikh Kingdom, Mohan Lal informed Abbas Mirza— the Persian Qajar crown prince and military commander during wars with Russia and the Ottoman Empire:
“…if Sardar Hari Singh were to cross the Indus, his highness would soon be glad to make good his retreat to his original government in Tabriz.” (Mohan Lal Kashmiri in Travels in the Panjab, Afghanistan, and Turkistan, etc., 1846(In service of the East India Company))
•“The noblest and the most gallant of the Sikh generals of his time, the very embodiment of honour, chivalry, and courage…” (K.M. Panikkar in The Founding of the Kashmir State, 1930
(Historian, Author, Diplomat and Editor Hindustan Times in 1925) )
In the news
Only Sikhs have emerged victorious in Afghanistan, courtesy Hari Singh Nalwa 23rd June, 2009
Chandigarh, Punjab: In the two and a half centuries that Afghanistan has existed as a nation, three super powers — the US, Russia and Britain have attempted to subdue the Afghans with little or absolutely no success. The Sikhs won the only real victories against them. Hari Singh Nalwas success has remained unmatched.
This was stated by Dr Vanit Nalwa, psychologist-turned-historian based in Delhi and a seventh generation descendant of the Sikh folk hero. Dr Vanit Nalwa delivered the talk Hari Singh Nalwa The Forgotten General here today. The talk organized by Kadam a forum for social justice saw participation from all walks of life.
Delivering the talk, Dr Vanit Nalwa, stated that Hari Singh was called Nalwa after he killed a tiger with a dagger. He joined the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh as a lad, participated in the battle of Kasur and rose to become the Governor of Kashmir in 1820 and the Viceroy on the Western Front (1822-31). In 1834 Nalwa became the Governor of Peshawar.
Hari Singh Nalwa effectively reversed the entire cource of history of Afghan Sikh relations. Afghans, who had been invading, looting and plundering the territory saw for the first time a reversal when Hari Singh established the Sikh kingdom in their domain. He effectively stopped the invasions forever.
While the Maharaja was busy with preparations for the marriage of his son, Nau Nihal Singh, Hari Singh Nalwa was guarding the North-West Frontier. He had a handful of forces with him when the entire Afghan army attacked them at Jamrud.
Nalwa was fatally wounded in the battle but his death was kept a secret till the arrival of reinforcements. The fear of his presence kept the Afghan army at bay for almost ten days. The delay in sending reinforcements is attributed to a conspiracy in the Court of Lahore about who would succeed an ailing Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
As a distinguished warrior, Nalwa commanded the respect of even his enemies, the Pathans. Ballads were composed in celebration of his bravery.
Nalwa also had a highly developed aesthetic sense. He built gardens in Srinagar and Amritsar. A town, Haripur (near Hazara, now in Pakistan), was planned and built by him.
The various temples, gurdwaras and mosques he built bear testimony to his secular outlook.
He had four sons and he did not try to promote any of them at the court of Lahore. When he died, very little money was found in his toshakhana. It is said he gave most of his wealth in charity.
About the speaker: Dr Vanit Nalwa, a Ph.D. in neuropsychology from Delhi University, did post-doctoral research in Oxford University and won a Fulbright scholarship to train at the National Institute of Mental Health in Maryland, US. She is not a historian by training. She taught at a Delhi University college for about a decade and then left the job to practise as a therapist for the corporate sector.
Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia
Sultan ul Quam Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia (1718-1783) was a prominent Sikh leader during the period of the Sikh Confederacy. He was democratically elected the Supreme military Commander of the Sikh Confederacy on March 29, 1748 - Baisakhi, which is considered to be one of the greatest honours given, in the 18th century, to any Sikh. He was further honoured on 1754 by the Sikh Confederacy with the title of Nawab that was conferred on him at Amritsar, after the passing of Nawab Kapur Singh in 1753. He was also the Misldar (Chief/Baron) of the Ahluwalia Army (misl). This period was an interlude, lasting roughly from the time of the death of Banda Bahadur in 1716 to the founding of the Sikh Empire in 1801. The period is also sometimes described as the Age of the Misls. He was the also the fourth jathedar (leader) of Buddha Dal.
Sultan ul Quam Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was born at a village called Ahl/Ahlu/Ahluwal near Lahore, established by his ancestor, Sadda singh, a disciple of the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Har Gobind. Hence, the name Ahluwalia stuck to him. His forefathers were Kalals (wine merchants). Hence, he is also called Jassa Singh Kalal.
His father, Sardar Badar Singh died in 1723 A.D., when Ahluwalia was hardly five years old. His mother entreated Mata Sundri, widow of Guru Gobind Singh, to take him into her care. Mata Sundari agreed to do so. She brought him up affectionately, instructing him in the arts of war and peace. He studied Sikh scriptures under Bhai Mani Singh. Later, Mata Sundari asked Nawab Kapur Singh to take charge of the promising youth. It will be interesting to note that S, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was a great Rabab instrumentalist and 'Keertan Kaar', who patronised the Kapurthala Rababi Gharana as well. Both he and his mother used to perform Hari-Kirtan before Nawab Kapur singh who much pleased at his supreme devotion to the faith and sense of duty and humility. He appointed him as a storekeeper with his forces. Ahluwalia participated in many battles as well where he proved himself to be a natural leader. Nawab Kapur Singh appointed him as his successor on the eve of his death in 1753. Elated at his successful helmsmanship, the Khalsa honoured Jassa Singh with the title of Sultan-ul-Qaum (King of the community), when they captured Lahore in 1761.
The raids of Ahmed Shah Abdali
Ahmed Shah Abdali, Nadir Shah's seniormost general, succeeded to the throne of Afghanistan, when Shah was murdered in June, 1747. He established his own dynasty, the Sadozai, which was the name of the Pashtun khel to which he belonged to.
Starting from December, 1747 till 1769, Abdali made a total of nine incursions into India . His repeated invasions destroyed the Mughal administration of the Punjab and the rest of Northern India. At the Third Battle of Panipat, he dealt a drippling blow to Maratha pretensions in the North. Thus he created a power vacuum in the Punjab, which was filled by the Sikhs.
The Sixth Afghan Invasion, 1762: The Great Holocaust
On February 5, 1762, the Sikhs were especially the target of Ahmad Shah Abdali's sixth invasion into India. News had reached him in Afghanistan of the defeat of his general, Nur-ud-Din Bamezai, at the hands of the Sikhs who were fast spreading themselves out over the Punjab and had declared their leader, Baron Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, king of Lahore. To rid his Indian dominion of them once and for all, he set out from Kandahar. Marching with alacrity, he overtook the Sikhs as they were withdrawing into Malwa after crossing the Satluj.
The moving caravan comprised a substantial portion of the total Sikh population and contained, besides active fighters, a large body of old men, women and children who were being escorted to the safety of the interior. Surprised by Ahmad Shah, the Sikhs threw a cordon round those who needed protection, and prepared for the battle. In this formation and continuing their march, they fought the invaders and their Indian allies (The Nawabs of Malerkotla, Sirhind, etc.) desperately. Baron Charhat Singh Sukerchakia (the grandfather of Maharaja Ranjit Singh), Baron Hari Singh Dhillon and Baron Jassa Singh Ahluwalia led their forces with skill and courage. Jassa Singh sustained sixty-four wounds on his body, but he survived. Baron Charhat Singh rode to exhaustion, five of his horses one after another.
Ahmad Shah succeeded, in the end, in breaking through the cordon and carried out a full scale massacre. His orders were for everyone in native dress to be killed at sight. The soldiers of Malerkotala and Sirhind were to wear green leaves of trees on their heads to distinguish themselves from the Sikhs. Near the village of Kup, in the vicinity of Malerkotla, about 20,000 Sikhs died at the end of a single day's action (February 5, 1762). This battle is known in Sikh history as the Wadda Ghalughara(The Great Holocaust).
The Battle of Amritsar
Despite the Ghalughara disaster, by the month of May, the Sikhs were up in arms again. Under Jassa Singh, they defeated the Afghan faujdar of Sirhind at Harnaulgarh. By autumn, the Sikhs had regained enough confidence to foregather in large numbers at Amritsar to celebrate Diwali. Abdali made a mild effort to win over them and sent an envoy with proposals for a treaty of peace. The Sikhs were in no mood for peace and insulted the emissary. Abdali did not waste any time and turned up at the outskirts of Amritsar.
The Second Battle of Amritsar (October 17,1762) was fought in the grey light of a sun in total eclipse. It ended when the sunless day was blacked out by a moonless night with the adversaries retiring from the field: The Sikhs to the fastness of the jungles of the Lakhi (the forests of a hundred thousand trees located in Central Punjab) and Abdali behind the walled safety of Lahore.
The formation of the Dal Khalsa and the Misls
Until now, the Sikh forces were divided into 65 jathas(bands). Baron Nawab Kapur Singh reorganised them into eleven bands, each of with its own name, flag and leader. These Armies or jathas, which came to known later on as Misls (literally "equal", also "an example") together were, however, given the name of the Dal Khalsa (or the Army of the Khalsa). Baron Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was nominated as the Supreme Commander of the Sikh Confederacy in addition to being Baron of the Ahluwalia Army (misl).
The Eight Afghan Invasion, 1766
In November 1766 Abdali came to the Punjab for the eight time with the avowed object of "crushing the Sikhs". The Sikhs had recourse to their old game of Dhai-phut('hit, run and turn back to hit again') tactics (later made famous at the Battle of Chillianwala against the British). They vacated Lahore, but faced squarely the Afghan general, Jahan Khan at Amritsar. Inflicting a humiliating defeat,and forcing him to retreat, with five thousand Afghan soldiers killed. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia with an army of about twenty thousand Sikhs roamed in the neighbourhood of the Afghan camp, plundering it.
Jassa Singh continued with his campaigns. After Abdali's ninth and last invasion in 1769, Jassa Singh wrested Kapurthala in 1774 from Rao Ibrahim Bhatti and made it his headquarters. Jassa Singh died in Amritsar in 1783 AD. Being issueless, he was succeeded by Bhag Singh, whose son, Fateh Singh became a close collaborator of Ranjit Singh. A commemorative postage stamp on 'Baba Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was issued by Government of India on April 04, 1985.
Baron Sultan ul Quam Nawab Jassa Singh Kalal was also known as 'Guru ka lal' (the beloved son of Guru).
Jassa Singh Ramgarhia
Jassa Singh Ramgarhia (1723 -1803) was a prominent Sikh leader during the period of the Sikh Confederacy. He became the Misldar (Chief/Leader) of the Ramgarhia Army (misl). This period was an interlude, lasting roughly from the time of the death of Banda Bahadur in 1716 to the founding of the Sikh Empire in 1801. The period is also sometimes described as the Age of the Misls.
Ramgarhia was born Jassa Singh Thoka at Ichogil village in 1723, near the city of Amritsar into a Tarkhan family of the Sehmi Clan.
His grandfather, Baba Hardas Singh was a resident of Sur Singh, a large village in the Lahore district. He took Pahul (the Sikh baptismal oath) from the hands of Guru Gobind Singh, the initiator of the Pahul tradition who bestowed the original Panj Piares. Giving up his work as a ploughman, he became one of the Guru's personal attendants. Baba Hardas Singh was only five years old when Guru Tegh Bahadur and his three brave companions bravely faced their tortuous executions in defence of the threatened Hindu Pandits of Kashmir, in Chandi Chowk at the order of Aurangzeb.
Baba ji served the Sikh panth under the guidance of the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. He was responsible for many Birs (hand written copies of the Holy Granth. He worked with one of the famous Sikh martyr and scholar Bhai Mani Singh. After the death of the Guru, he joined the forces of Banda Bahadur and took part in almost every battle for religious freedom, under the Sikh Jathedar's (commander's) flag, against the Mughal Empire's forces. In 1716 his grandfather, Baba Hardas Singh died in a skirmish.
His only son, Bhagwan Singh then became the head of the family. He was of a still more adventurous disposition. He shifted to village Ichogil which lay about twelve miles east of Lahore. He preached the Sikh faith in the neighbouring villages. He was an intrepid soldier and with two hundred followers entered the Imperial Mughal forces under the Governor of Lahore — Khan Bahadur. Where, owing to his abilities, he became a distinguished officer. He was appointed a Risaldar (a Commander of a Calvary unit) by Khan Bahadur.
Bhagwan Singh had five sons, named Jai Singh, Jassa Singh, Khushal Singh, Mali Singh and Tara Singh. In 1739 during the invasion of Nadir Shah, Bhagwan Singh saved the life of the governor of Lahore at the cost of his own. Khan Bahadur surrendered to the Persian invader's forces and was left in place as Governor. To reward Bhagwan Singh's brave deed the governor gave a village each to all of his five sons. The villages gifted were Valla, Verka, Sultanwind, Tung and Chubhal. All of these are now in the Amritsar district. Of these villages Valla came to the share of Jassa Singh.
On the death of Khan Bahadur in 1746, Jassa Singh, together with his followers, joined their Sikh brethren at Amritsar. Jassa Singh Ramgarhia was one of the closest friends of Jhanda Singh Dhillon.
The Dal Khalsa: the Buddha Dal and the Taruna Dal
In 1733, the Mughal government decided, at the insistence of Zakarya Khan, to stop the persecution of the Sikhs and made an offer of a grant to them. The title of Nawab was conferred upon their leader, with a jagir consisting of the three parganas of Dipalpur, Kanganval and Jhabal.
After some mutual discussion, (five revered Sikhs) - Baba Deep Singh, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Hari Singh Dhillon, Bhai Karam Singh and Bhai Buddh Singh decided to make Kapur Singh the Supreme Leader of the Sikhs. Kapur Singh was thus chosen for the title and became Nawab Kapur Singh.
Word was sent round to Sikhs living in distant jungles and deserts that peace had been made with the government and that they could now return to their homes. Nawab Kapur Singh undertook the task of consolidating the disintegrated fabric of the Sikh Jathas. They were merged into a single central fighting force (The Dal) divided into two sections - The Budha Dal, the army of the veterans, and the Taruna Dal, the army of the young. Hari Singh Dhillon was elected leader of the Taruna Dal. The former was entrusted with the task of looking after the holy places, preaching the word of the Gurus and inducting converts into the Khalsa Panth by holding baptismal ceremonies.
The Taruna Dal was the more active division and its function was to fight in times of emergencies and fighting the Afghan armies of Ahmed Shah Abdali. Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and Jassa Singh Ahluwalia were then youngsters who led regiments under Hari Singh Dhillon in the Taruna Dal, reporting to Nawab Kapur Singh at Diwali and Vaisakhi.
The rise of the Misls
The Taruna Dal rapidly grew in strength and soon numbered more than 12,000. To ensure efficient control, Nawab Kapur Singh split it into five parts, each with a separate command. The first group was led by Baba Deep Singh, the second by Karam and Dharam Singh, the third by Kahan singh and Binod Singh of Goindwal, the fourth by Dasaundha Singh of Kot Budha and the fifth by Vir Singh Ranghreta and Jivan Singh Ranghreta. Each group had its own banner and drum, and formed the nucleus of a separate political state. The territories conquered by these groups were entered in their respective papers at the Akal Takht by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. From these misls (documents), the principalities carved out by them came to be known as Misls. Seven more groups were formed subsequently and, towards the close of the century, there were altogether twelve Sikh Misls ruling the Punjab.
The Ramgarhia Misl
In 1716 Ahmed Shah Durrani left Lahore, Adina Beg the Afghan Governor of Punjab was hunting for the heads of the sikhs, they dispersed and scattered in all directions. Jassa Singh and others in the band took refuge in the mud fort of Ram Rauni near Amritsar where they were surrounded and attacked during the ensuing period. In 1758 Adina Beg died and there was a power vacuum in Punjab and those who escaped from the fort of Ram Rauni assumed the name of Ramgarhias and Jassa Singh became its head.The Misal (Confederacy) was called Ramgarhia.
The main concentration of the Misl was in and around the Riarki area of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Batala (in Majha). The Ramgarhia constructed and fortified the mud fortress of Ram Rauni just outside Amritsar. It was named in honour of the founder of the city, the fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das. His Misl contained more than 10000 cavalry who were always on the move, helping the Dal Khalsa whenever the Mughals or Afghans attacked. Whilst the Mughal administration controlled the cities, it was the Sikhs who were in control of the villages. Twenty years earlier, Banda Bahadur had wreaked havoc on the Mughal administration by abolishing all taxes and the Zamindari system. Now only a "dasvand" (10% of income) was levied on the Sikhs - as protection tax to pay for the armies.
Mir Mannu becomes the new Subedar of the Punjab
Mir Mannu became the new governor of the Punjab on April 9, 1748. He appointed Kaura Mal as his new Diwan (minister). After taking control of the administration of the provinces, he employed his army to fight the Sikh misls or fighting orders. The Sikhs left the territory and moved to other states. The Sikh Chiefs asked Jassa Singh Ramgarhia to liaise with the subedar (governor) of the Jullundur Doab, Adina Beg Khan. While drawing his salary from the Mughals, Adina Beg Khan joined forces with the Jassa Singh Ramgarhia against the Mughals.
The siege of Ram Rauni
The Sikhs gathered in Amritsar on Diwali,1748. Adina Beg proceeded towards Amritsar and besieged Ram Rauni. Mir Mannu came down from Lahore with an army to assist Beg in the siege.
Jassa Singh used the good offices of Diwan Kaura Mal and had the siege lifted. The fort was strengthened and re-named Ramgarh. Jassa Singh, having been designated the Jathedar of the fort, became popular as Ramgarhia.
Mannu intensified his violence and oppression against the Sikhs. There were only 900 Sikhs when he surrounded the Ramgarh fort again. The Sikhs fought their way out bravely. The army demolished the fort. The hunt for and torture of the Sikhs continued until Mannu died in 1753.
Manu’s death left Punjab without any effective Governor. It was again an opportune period for the Sikhs to organize themselves and gain strength. Jassa Singh rebuilt the fort and took possession of some areas around Amritsar. The Sikhs took upon themselves the task of protecting the people in the villages from the invaders. The money they obtained from the people was called Rakhi (protection charges).
The new Governor, Prince Timur, the son of Ahmed Shah Abdali, despised the Sikhs. In 1757, he again forced the Sikhs to vacate the fort and move to their hiding places. The fort was demolished, the Harimandir was blown up, and the sacred pool was filled with debris. The Governor decided to replace Adina Beg. Beg asked the Sikhs for help and they both got a chance to weaken their common enemy. Adina Beg won the battle. The Sikhs rebuilt Ramgarh and repaired the Harimandir. Beg was well acquainted with the strength of the Sikhs and he feared they would oust him if he allowed them to grow stronger, so he lead a strong army to demolish the fort. After fighting valiantly, the Sikhs decided to leave the fort. Beg died in 1758.
The Ramgarhia Misl Estate
Jassa Singh Ramgarhia occupied the area to the north of Amritsar between the Ravi and the Beas rivers. He also added the Jalandhar region and Kangra hill areas to his estate. He had his capital in Sri Hargobindpur. The large size of Jassa Singh’s territory aroused the jealousy of the other Sikh Misls.
Intra Misl wars
Although Jai Singh Kanhaiya and Jassa Singh Ramgarhia were once close friends, their rivalries led to a pitched battle between them and their allies. The chiefs of the Bhangi Misls joined the Ramgarhias and their associates. Jai Singh Kanhaiya was joined by Charhat Singh Sukerchakia and Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. The Ramgarhia side lost the battle.
Later, Ahluwalia while hunting one day, happened to enter Ramgarhia territory where Jassa Singh’s brother arrested him. Jassa Singh apologized for the misbehavior of his brother, and honorably returned Ahluwalia with gifts. However, their old differences increased further. The other chiefs also took a grim view of this act.
Due to mutual jealousies, fights continued among the Sikh Sardars. In 1776, the Bhangis changed sides and joined Jai Singh to defeat Jassa Singh. His capital at Sri Hargobindpur was taken over and he and his forces were pursued from village to village. Finally he lost all his territory. He choose to cross the river Satluj, going over to Amar Singh, the ruler of Patiala.
Amar Singh welcomed the Ramgarhia sardar in order to make use of his bravery, fighting skill, and ruling experience. He gave him the areas of Hansi and Hissar which Jassa Singh handed over to his son. He himself joined Amar Singh to take control of the villages on the west and north of Delhi, now forming parts of Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. Jassa Singh Ramgarhia entered Delhi in 1783. Shah Alam II, the Mughal emperor, extended him a warm welcome. Ramgarhia left Delhi after receiving gifts from him.
Meanwhile to the north, differences over how to divide the Jammu state revenues, resulted in long time friends and neighbours Maha Singh, Jathedar of the Sukerchakia Misl and Jai Singh, Jathedar of the Kanahya Misl, becoming enemies. This rancor resulted in a war which would change the course of Sikh history.
Maha Singh requested Jassa Singh Ramgarhia's aid. In the ensuing battle, Jai Singh Kanahya lost his son, Gurbaksh Singh in the fighting with the Sukerchakias and the Ramgarhias.
The unification of the Misls
Sada Kaur, the newly widowed daughter-in-law of Jai Singh, proved to be a great statesperson. Though very young she could see the end of Khalsa power if such internescine battles continued, she now worked to unite the waring misls in order to form a united, formidable force. She was able to convince Maha Singh to adopt the path of friendship by offering the hand of her daughter, then only a child, to his son, himself just a young boy, Ranjit Singh the future Maharaja of the Punjab. The balance of power now shifted in favor of this united Misls as other sardars also joined the union. Ranjit Singh was now the leader of the most powerful Sikh Misl ever.
Establishment of the Sikh Kingdom of the Punjab
When the Afghan invader, Shah Zaman, came in 1788, the Sikhs, however, were still divided. The Ramgarhia and Bhangi Misls were not willing to help Ranjit Singh to fight the invader, so the Afghans took over Lahore and looted it. As soon as the Afghans went back, Ranjit Singh occupied Lahore in 1799 but the Ramgarhias and Bhangis did not accept him as the leader of all the Sikhs. They got the support of their friends and marched to Lahore to challenge Ranjit Singh. The forces, who were 12 miles outside the city, were finalizing their plans to attack, when the Bhangi leader died. This discouraged Jassa Singh and he returned to his territory.
Jassa Singh was eighty years old when he died in 1803. His son, Jodh Singh, developed good relations with Ranjit Singh and they never fought again.
Because of Jassa Singh Ramgarhia's Tarkhan roots, Tarkhans who became Sikhs, came to be known as Ramgarhias. Jassa Singh left behind two sons Jodh Ramgarhia and Bir Ramgarhia. His four brothers Mali Singh Sehmi, Jai Singh Sehmi, Khushal Singh Sehmi and Tara Singh Sehmi. His direct descendants include Baldip Singh Sehmi (Architect) Ajit Singh Sehmi ( Accountant) Heronimo Sehmi (Actor /Director) Pritpal Singh Sehmi ( Singer/Songwriter) Joshuah Dipp Kalsi ( Publisher/Singer/Songwriter) Darshan Singh Sehmi Gain Kaur Sehmi there are 215 direct descendants.
In the news
Tribune article on Thursday, March 30, 2006, Chandigarh, India
Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, one of the greatest Sikh generals, has not been given his due place in the Sikh history. Even the historic fort constructed by this great warrior has lost its very existence, report by Varinder Walia Photos by Rajiv Sharma
Historians, the SGPC and Sikh institutions have not done full justice to Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, one of the greatest Sikh generals.
The two-and-a-half century old historic Qila Ram Rauni (Ramgarh), built by Sardar Ramgarhia, has already lost its very existence. This was the fort from which the Ramgarhia Misl got its name. The adjective “Ramgarhia” means “Custodians of the Castle of God”. The chain of forts, including Ram Rauni Fort, Ahluwalia Fort and Gobindgarh Fort, were constructed to protect Harmandar Sahib from any foreign invasion.
Dr Ganda Singh in his book, “Sikh History” and another historian, A.C Arora in “Punjab Da Itihas”, claim that Ramgarh Qila came into being in 1748 AD.
The SGPC, which considers itself as the custodian of the Sikh edifices, has put a big ‘misleading’ board, mentioning the ‘samadh’ (tomb) of Sardar in the Gurdwara Shaheed Baba Deep Singh complex (Amritsar).
Contesting the claims (of the SGPC), a renowned Sikh historian, Bakshish Singh Adal, in his well-acclaimed monograph, “Maharaja Jassa Singh”, claims that he (Sardar Ramgarhia) breathed his last at historic town Sirihargobindpur (Gurdaspur), and not in Amritsar, as mentioned by the Shiromani Committee on its board.
The tomb of Sardar Ramgarhia on the bank of the Beas was destroyed with heavy currents of the mighty river. No Sikh organisation made any effort to locate the exact place of his death so that appropriate monument could be constructed.
Sardar Ramgarhia was born in 1723 at Ichogil village, near Lahore. His grandfather took Amrit during the lifetime of Guru Gobind Singh, and joined him in many battles. Later, he joined the forces of Banda Singh.
One gets perplexed to see a white memorial belonging to Sardar Jodh Singh Ramgarhia, son of Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, in Gurdwara Shaheed Baba Deep Singh complex, where the SGPC through different signboards has described it (the memorial) as tomb and birthplace as well.
The All India Ramgarhia Federation, headed by Mr Onkar Singh Sandhu, took up the case with the SGPC many times for carrying out the correction, but to no avail. Out of the 12 “samadhs” of the “Ramgarhia Sardars’”, only this (Sardar Jodh Singh’s) tomb has been protected.
Jassa Singh Ramgarhia had two sons, Jodh Singh and Bir Singh. Sardar Jodh Singh succeeded his father after his death. He participated in the Battle of Kasur (siding with Ranjit Singh). After the occupation of Kasur, the Maharaja wooed him by gifting him an elephant. Maharaja Ranjit Singh felt that unless Ramgarhia was befriended, he could not occupy the whole of Punjab. So, he wrote a letter to Jodh Singh, soliciting his friendship and cooperation. Historians say that with the goodwill gesture he always sided with Maharaja in the latter’s expeditions against his adversaries.
Another edifice of Sardar Ramgarhia, which is losing its sheen, is twin minarets in Ramgarhia Bunga in the Harmandar Sahib complex. The rest of the 83 “bungas” were dismantled to widen the “parikarma” in the past. This three-storey building, a marvel of the Sikh school of architecture and built by Sikh warriors in 1794, faces threat to its very existence. Considerable damage has been done to this unique building by managers of kar seva.
The Babas of Kar Sevawale, who are using the “bungas” as their abode these days, have allegedly damaged certain portions of the building within the precincts of Darbar Sahib itself. They have built walls under the arches on the ground floor, and fixed doors to convert verandahs into rooms. The brickwork (the Nanakshahi bricks) has been plastered and painted at many places. Due to hindered ventilation, there is seepage in the basement of the “bunga”, which could render irreparable damage to the building.
The Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia Federation has criticised the SGPC for its attitude towards this monument. It has claimed that the former SGPC secretary, Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, had initiated a move to convert the basement of the “bunga” into a war museum. However, some persons having vested interests scuttled the move.
The federation had requisitioned the services of Sikh architects, and with reference to old pictures, the minarets in the “bungas” were got repaired. The federation got the bricks chiselled, carried out restoration work on the north-western wall of the “bunga” facing Darbar Sahib, but abruptly and without any notice by the authorities in the SGPC, withdrew the seva from the federation.
According to Mr Joginder Singh Kalsi, an expert on Sikh heritage, all three storeys of the “bunga”, supported by 44 pillars, parabolic arches for roofs and beams, and decorated by cornices and projections, are in a pitiable condition and need immediate repair.
While constructing the “bunga”, care was taken to provide natural light and ventilation through ventilators, which open in the perambulatory path around the holy tank of Harmandar Sahib on one side and in the well dug on the other side. The basement just below the ground-level accommodates a hall for maharaja where he used to hold his court in “Diwan-e-Khas”, accommodating around 300 courtiers and soldiers. Due care was taken to keep the level of the throne (made of marble and decorated with engravings)at a level lower than that of Akal Takht.
There is also a room that was used as jail for political prisoners. Another room on the other side of the wall facing the throne was the treasury where steel chests were installed for rooms of ‘daffadars’ (security in charge of treasury) and security staff. All these are in a dilapidated condition.
The federation has again offered to carry out the restoration work and to convert the basement into a war museum by providing entry and exit from the ‘parikarma’ of the Golden Temple.
The restoration work of two historical gates, named after Sardar Ramgarhia, has been hanging fire due to the allegedly callous attitude of the SGPC, even though the local Municipal Corporation had given its green signal by passing a unanimous resolution in this regard on January 17, 2003.
The federation believes that this gate was demolished after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. A map of the Municipal Committee, Amritsar, published before the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh depicts 12 historical gates, including Darwaza Ramgarhia and Darwaza Ahluwalia. Moreover, history books point out that Chattiwind was named after Jassa Singh Ramgarhia. The federation has also demanded the renaming of Katra Ramgarhia, which was developed in 1760 and was located between the Gilwlali Gate and the Doburji Gate (Sultanwind Gate) and was surrounded by Katra Dal Singh, Katra Mit Singh and Katra Garbha Singh.
The statesmanship and valour of Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia during the siege of Ram Rauni Fort is a great event in the Sikh history. Mir Manu, the Governor of Punjab, felt a threat to his authority and rule, from the rising power of the Sikhs and wanted to crush them. He intensified his violence and oppression against the Sikhs. There were only 900 Sikhs when he surrounded the Ramgarh Fort again. He sent his forces to attack Ram Rauni Fort of the Sikhs at Amritsar in October 1748 AD. This siege, under the command of Adina Beg, the Governor of Jallandhar Doab, continued for four months up to January 1749 AD. Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, along with his army, entered the fortress during the night and took the command of the besieged Sikhs and defended the fortress along with the besieged Sikhs against the repeated attacks of the Mughal Army. The siege was lifted in January 1749 AD and the Sikhs came out victorious.
Sirihargobindpur, one of the ancient towns of the state, founded by the sixth Sikh Guru, was made capital by Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia. Sadly, it is fast turning into ruins — thanks to the “callous” attitude of the successive state governments, the Department of Archives and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee that claim to be working for the preservation of the Sikh heritage.
The ruins of majestic historical buildings and the material used to build this “first capital of the Sikhs” are fine specimens of craftsmanship. Most of these date back to the time of Emperor Shah Jehan — a contemporary of Guru Hargobind — the sixth Guru.
After the sixth Guru, Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, too, used the town as the “Capital of Sikhs”.
As many as 40 wells were got sunk by Guru Hargobind in a planned manner, but owing to the indifferent attitude of all concerned, most of these are now filled with earth. Shockingly, the SGPC seems to be unaware of the historical importance of the wells. The border district of Gurdaspur (Hargobindpur is part of it) was part of the vast area covered under the Indus Valley Civilisation. This civilisation developed prior to the Aryan Civilisation in the region.
Sardar versus Maharaja
The Ramgarhia federation says that Sardar Jassa Singh should be called “Maharaja” instead of “Sardar”. It says Ramgarhia conquered the territories of his contemporary Rajas, who started giving him taxes to provide security — all qualities making his ‘kingdom’ sovereign. Sardar Jassa Singh occupied the area to the north of Amritsar between the Ravi and the Beas. He had also added Jalandhar region and Kangra hill areas to his state. He had his capital in Sirihargobindpur, a town founded by the sixth Sikh Guru.
A joint Sikh army known as Dal Khalsa, comprising forces of Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and Sardar Baghel Singh, attacked the Mughal ruler in Delhi and occupied the Red Fort in 1783. During the brief occupation by the Khalsa army, Sardar Ramgarhia removed the royal throne. He fettered it with chains and ropes and brought it to Amritsar to present it before the Almighty as a war prisoner.
Presently, the seat of the throne measuring six feet in length, four feet in breadth and nine inches in thickness is placed in a tilted position, symbolising its surrender before the Golden Temple in Ramgarhia Bunga (a Persian word for residence), which is situated on the premises of Harmandar Sahib.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh
Maharaja Ranjit Singh was born on 13th November 1780 at Gujranwala in Punjab. His father Sardar Mahan Singh was a Chieftain and a Warrior. At a young age, Maharaja Ranjit Singh became a Champion Swimmer, an Expert Horse-Rider and an Able Swordsman. He was greatly inspired by the fact that Guru Gobind Singh ji's two elder sons had fought the Mughals very bravely at the tender age of 14 and 17. Maharaja Ranjit Singh led his first war at the age of 11 years and defeated the army of the ruler of Gujrat. Later he fought two severe battles with the Afghans, with a smaller army and took over the city of Lahore. After decades of misrule by foreign invaders, the people of Lahore heaved a sigh of relief when the Maharaja assured the citizens of safety and good administration. Under Ranjit Singh's leadership, the various Sikh Chiefs were united and on Baisakhi day of 1801, they conferred the title of 'MAHARAJA OF THE PUNJAB" on him. Maharaja Ranjit Singh systematically extended the frontiers of Punjab and brought the regions around Amritsar, Lahore, Multan, Kashmir and Peshawar under his rule. He never became proud or arrogant despite all the victories won by him. He was a liberal ruler and did not bother about the colour, creed, caste or nationalities of his employees. He engaged a number of English, Italian, German, French and American Officers. They trained the Maharaja's Army and improved its organisation & efficiency. Maharaja Ranjit Singh's army was full of men from different faiths and nationalities, but there was no jealousy or bickering between them. His court was cosmopolitan - consisting of Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims, all of whom loved him dearly. He never sat on a throne nor did he wear a crown. He sat on a silver chair and dressed in a simple and sober manner. He ruled in a Democratic manner and never isolated himself from the masses. He was a very kind and generous ruler. He ruled in a truly Secular and just manner. He allowed equal rights for all communities in Punjab. He also encouraged development of educational institutions and industries by the different communities. The British signed a peace-treaty with Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1809, which they broke as soon as he died. Khalsa kingdom under Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the most peaceful time Punjabis had ever seen. This period of 40 years was Golden era of Punjab. Muslims, Hindus and Sikh reaffirmed their Punjabi roots. several schools were opened, especially Khalsa schools at Amritsar and Lahore run by Sikh academicians, which were open to all Punjabi population. Ranjit Singh did not allowed any British missionaries to open Christian schools although they were allowed to preach in Punjab. Other Sikh kingdoms of Patiala, Nabha, Jind, Kapurthala and Faridkot, also accepted British Christian missionaries. Sikhs acted as a buffer between Hindus and Muslims in Punjab. Ranjit Singh through his foresight had brought peace and prosperity in Punjab. Punjabi Muslims who from centuries had looked westwards towards Afghanis and Persians and had been betrayed by them were now leading Punjabi armies of Sarkar Khalsa. Ranjit Singh's legacy was such that he created a secular kingdom with equality for all. In his lifetime, there were three groups of Individuals whom he had given power to pursue different matter of state.
One group of Dogra Hindus converted to Sikhism, led by Dhyan Singh Dogra but following Hindu customs. Ranjit Singh did not enforced Khalsa code of conduct on anyone, often his friends and peers did things to please him which included adding Singh to their names, keeping five symbols of Sikhs, etc. Dhyan Singh Dogra played a very strange role in Sikh history. He originally belonged to Jammu. He came to Lahore in search of job and with his hard work and ability he rose to the top. Maharaja Ranjit Singh made him prime minister of Sarkar Khalsa. Then he also got his brothers inducted in different departments in Sarkar Khalsa. Soon Dogras had all the administration of state, things like treasury, finance, etc. Then the other group was led by noblemen of Lahore which were both Muslims and Hindus, leaders being Azizudin brothers. This group led departments like foreign affairs, medicine and science under Sarkar Khalsa. It is owed to diplomacy of Faqir Azizudeen that Ranjit Singh got Kohinoor diamond from Afghani king. Third group was comprised of Sikh noblemen from all over Punjab, leaders like Dhanna Singh Malwai, Majhithia brothers, Sandhawalia brothers, Ahluwalias, Ramgarhias, Virks of Sheikhupura, Bajwas of Narowal, etc. This group was mostly involve in defense of state, it was divided into foot soldiers, cavalry, support troops and Artillery. Cavalry was all Sikhs while foot soldiers included mercenaries hired from all over India. Artillery was in command of capable Punjabi leader named Mian Ghaus Khan. Support troops were soldiers in charge of support lines, etc.
This efficient machinery worked well under Ranjit Singh and Punjab was on its way to prosperity. Army was totally separated from state affairs, Ranjit Singh had designed and implemented an ingenious system for this purpose. Army democratically elected five members Panches, they decided on all the matters vis-à-vis state, etc. British did not dared attacked Punjab as long as Ranjit Singh lived. Ranjit Singh counterchecked British by hiring several Frenchmen for his important defense portfolios. Ranjit Singh's biggest oversight was perhaps inability to have fully prepared one of his sons to take over his kingdom. When Ranjit Singh died, Kharak Singh, his eldest son became Maharaja. Kharak Singh was 50 years old at this time. He lacked the down to earth personality of his father. Kharak Singh was a heavy opium eater. He totally neglected state affairs and got himself immersed in wine, opium, drinking and womanizing. At this time Prime minister was still Dhyan Singh. His son Naunihal Singh though, was a favorite with army. He fought in several battles and was posted as a governor of North West Frontier province at this time. Maharaja Ranjit Singh had earlier married Naunihal Singh with daughter of Sardar Sham Singh Attariwala.
Dogra brothers, Dhyan Singh, Suchet Singh and Gulab Singh were in total control of administration at this time. Dhyan Singh's son Hira Singh was also a favorite of Maharaja Ranjit Singh just like Naunihal Singh(his own grandson). Maharaja Had given him a title "Farzand-e-Khas", or "a special son". It was rumored that Dhyan Singh wanted Hira Singh, his son to become Maharaja of Punjab and thus he started his manipulations. Kharak Singh, the new maharaja did not trusted Dogra brothers and started neglecting them. His mentor was one Chet Singh Bajwa who was also his childhood teacher. Kharak Singh started interfering with affairs concerning state, which were under the jurisdiction of Dogra brothers. Ranjit Singh had earlier looked after all matters himself and had only given some liberty to Dogra brothers while keeping them in check. Ranjit Singh's ability to not trust anyone blindly played a major role in day to day administration of state affairs. Most of his courtiers were scared to do anything wrong.
But during the time of Kharak Singh, everything was changed. Dogra suspected that Chet Singh was responsible for their removal from state affairs. Dogras brothers Gulab Singh and Suchet Singh got together and decided to remove Chet Singh Bajwa and then subdue Kharak Singh. One night when Chet Singh was sleeping in same palace where Maharaja Kharak Singh lived, Suchet Singh Dogra along with Gulab Singh entered the palace and hacked Chet Singh to pieces. Dogra brothers now changed servants of palace and administer a slow poison (mercury) in food to Maharaja Kharak Singh. His son Naunihal Singh who suspected treachery of Dogras did not returned to Lahore until Maharaja Kharak Singh died. All this time Dhyan Singh Dogra was faithful to the Maharaja Ranjit Singh's family.
Naunihal Singh came back to Lahore to fulfill his obligation to cremate the body of his father Maharaja Kharak Singh and as well as to become a new maharaja. Dhyan Singh Dogra declared Naunihal Singh a new maharaja. On the same day when the party was returning from cremation ground, a large block of concrete from Archway fell on top of Naunihal Singh. It is said that he was not hurt bad and was able to walk himself but still Gulab Singh Dogra insisted on getting a palki. Two days later Dhyan Singh Dogra declared that Naunihal Singh had died due to complications of his injury. Even Naunihal Singh's mother and wife were not allowed to meet him after injury. English doctor that operated on Naunihal Singh testified to British author Macauliffe that initially Naunihal Singh did got some injury on head and he applied bandages but next day when he went to see Naunihal Singh his head was totally crushed and bandages were changed, he was not breathing. Dhyan Singh Dogra now proclaimed other son of Ranjit Singh named Sher Singh as Maharaja of Punjab.
Sher Singh was very popular with army, he was a good person but not a shrewd politician. His Chief minister Dhyan Singh Dogra, a trusted friend of Ranjit Singh was an intelligent minister, i.e. vazir. He could not sense a treachery by his brothers Suchet Singh and Gulab Singh. Meanwhile, Sandhawalia Sardars Ajit Singh, Lehna Singh and Attar Singh who had inimical relations with Sher Singh and Dhyan Singh Dogra, fearing them run away from Lahore and joined British. In Sher Singh, Punjab got a maharaja who was handsome, dandy and knew more about wine and women then state affairs. Two years later, Sandhanwalia brothers sent a letter to Maharaja Sher Singh that they wanted to return to their motherland. Sher Singh obliged and gave them permission to return to Punjab. It is widely believed that Dogra brothers Suchet Singh and Gulab Singh were behind Sandhanwalia's return from United provinces. Sher Singh gave them good ranks in army and it looked in the beginning as Sandhawalia brothers were pleased. Sher Singh had a ten years old son named Pertap Singh. One day when Sher Singh was inspecting his troops, Ajit Singh Sandhawalia asked permission to show him how to fire a new gun he had got from British. Sher Singh allowed and Sandhawalia fired at him, Sher Singh could only say "aah ki Daga", "what treachery?." At the same time, Lehna Singh Sandhawalia killed Ten years old Pertap Singh. Sher Singh had good relations with Dogra brothers as well as Khalsa Army. Dhyan Singh Dogra who was about a mile away when all this was happening reached there with 25 of his troops. Sandhawalia brothers Ajit Singh and Lehna Singh killed Dhyan Singh Dogra, cut his body into different pieces and hung all over Lahore City. Gulab Singh Dogra brother of Dhyan Singh Dogra along with Sarkar Khalsa attacked Sandhanwalia's citadel.
Sandhawalia brothers had got themselves shut in fort with about 500 of their supporters. But enraged Khalsa Army attacked and killed both Sandhanwalia brothers on spot. While all this was going on, other Dogra Brother named Suchet Singh got 22 carts load of Khalsa treasury through the back door and transported it on its way to Batala and then subsequently to Jammu. Gulab Singh Dogra now openly supported making his son a Maharaja of Punjab. He even asked Maharani Chand Kaur, widow of Ranjit Singh to adopt Hira Singh. Khalsa Army and other Sikh noblemen intervened and made youngest son of Ranjit Singh, born of Maharani Jindan, and named Dilip Singh, a 5 years old boy, new Maharaja of Punjab with Hira Singh Dogra as new prime minister. Few days later, Maharani Chand Kaur was found murdered on her bed, her head crushed. It was suspected that Gulab Singh Dogra got her killed since she refused to adopt Hira Singh.
Peshaura Singh and Kashmira Singh, elder sons of Maharaja Ranjit Singh questioned the validity of 5 year old Dilip Singh Maharaja of Punjab, but with any effect. Hira Singh appointed Tej Singh Dogra and Lal Singh Dogra as general of Khalsa army. So now, the command of Khalsa army was passed from Sikh generals to Hindu generals, only one Sikh general named Ranjodh Singh Majithia remained at highest command level. Even though able generals like Sham Singh Attari were always there but never considered for top posts. It is believed that Dogra Brothers were responsible for appointing generals so that to keep negotiations open with British during war, which increasingly was becoming inevitable. British forward post was in Ferozepur and then at Jalandhar and Ambala being another major cantonments. British requested Hira Singh to allow transport of Afghani women to Afghanistan through Punjab under Major Wolcroft. Hira Singh obliged and supplied some of Punjabi troops for escort. Major Wolcroft was a paranoid major and on more then one occasion he ordered his troops to fire at Punjabi troops. Later British Governor General apologized for his behavior.
Hira Singh Dogra and his advisor, one Brahmin named Jalla had whole administration in their hands, Maharaja Dilip Singh was just a figurative head of state. Hira Singh uncle Suchet Singh Dogra did not liked Jalla and asked for his removal. He came to Lahore along with his general Rai Kesari Singh and camped at mausoleum of Mian Wadda, outside city. Hira Singh Dogra was irked at the suggestion of his uncle for removal of Pundit Jalla and he ordered Punjabi Troops to storm their citadel of Mian Wadda. Suchet Singh and Rai Kesari Singh were killed. Hira Singh Dogra then broke down on sight of his uncle's bullet ridden body and give him a huge funeral. At the same time, two camps were seen emerging, one at Sarkar Khalsa at Lahore and other little bit away close to Batala under Bhai Bir Singh. Many Sikh Sardars like Majhitias, Attariwala were although loyal to Sarkar Khalsa at Lahore but in communications with Bhai Bir Singh. Attar Singh Sandhawalia who had earlier fled to Thanesar, slipped into Punjab and came to Bhai Bir Singh's camp. Bhai Bir Singh welcomed him and assured him that he will be made Maharaja of Punjab. Soon Prince Kashmir Singh and prince Peshaura Singh also joined Bhai Bir Singh and supported Attar Singh Sandhawalia on his bid for kingship. So mostly Sikhs who were against Dogras got themselves under Bhai Bir Singh, thus creating two camps of Dogras vs. Sikhs. More then 70% of Punjab's army under Hira Singh Dogra was Khalsa or pure Sikh. Hira Singh Dogra through his promises of more salary, and gifts of gold for each soldier manage to keep most of them with him, and above all king of Punjab was still a Khalsa Sikh child named Dilip Singh., to whom army was loyal. Hira Singh reminded army of the murders of Prince Sher Singh by Sandhawalia brothers and how Attar Singh had fled Punjab after his brothers were killed by army. Then in an apparent move to win over Khalsa of Sarkar Khalsa army, Bhai Bir Singh invited army at his camp for a feast. Attar Singh Sandhawalia in a fit of rage over an argument fired on one of the Sikh officers named Attar Singh Kalkattia killing him on spot. A riot followed in which one by one Bhai Bir Singh's other guests were murdered by Army. Bhai Bir Singh died, as well as Attar Singh Sandhawalia and prince Kashmira Singh. The main culprit for this riot was one battalion under major Croft one of the foreign officers employed by Sarkar Khalsa. His battalion was aptly named "Gurumar". Hira Singh Dogra understood the grave mistake and apologized for the murders of princes and Bhai Bir Singh to Army as well as whole nation. On April 9, 1944 a huge earthquake hit Amritsar and Lahore, and was believed to be a sign of bad luck by general populace
British forward post at Ferozepur was being strengthened and by all means it looked like that whole of Punjab was under preparation of war. Ambala and Jalandhar cantonments were tripled with reinforcements and new recruits from Bengal, Awadh and Bihar. Hira Singh Dogra although fearing British knew that war was inevitable. Millions of Punjabis left central Punjab and settled in other states which were protectorate of British, like Patiala, Faridkot, Nabha and Jind. Hira Singh Dogra mobilized Punjabi troops to Kasur which was directly opposite Ferozepur. Sooner both armies were directly oppose to each other. In December of 1944, Henry Harding took over as Governor general of India. He was called Tunda Lat Or One armed lord. He sent his officers to Ferozepur and Punjabis fearing attack put on a vigil for 24 hours a day. But no attack came and standstill was averted. Then came the second round of intrigues between Dogras and Sikhs. Pundit Jalla, accused Maharani Jindan of illicit relations with one Misr Lal Singh (not general). This created a furore all over kingdom as she was mother of king Dilip singh. Enraged Maharani Jindan was summoned to army panches as well as Hira Singh Dogra and Pundit Jalla. Couple days earlier, Hira Singh Dogra had dismissed 500 of army soldiers without pay and thus he feared worst. Maharani Jindan with her son Dilip Singh and brother Jawahar Singh came to cantonment, while Hira Singh Dogra and Pundit jalla sent advance horsemen to his uncle Gulab Singh at Jammu for help. Gulab Singh sent 1000 horsemen, and Hira Singh and Jalla came out of their palace and slowly and quietly crossed river Ravi from Shahdra and were on their way to Jammu with more crores of treasury. Khalsa army pursued them and caught them about 14 miles away from city. Mian Labh Singh, their general give a good fight but all 1000 dogras were massacred. Pundit Jalla, Hira Singh Dogra and their accomplice faced wrath of Khalsa army, their heads were put up on city streets of Lahore. Then Diwan Deena Nath, aristocrat of Lahore took charge of the situation and appointed Lal Singh as Chief minister of Punjab, Tej Singh as commander of Army and Dilip Singh as Maharaja of Punjab.
Punjabi Khalsa army was a much larger and stronger force and at this time British were still mobilizing their forces from Ambala and other places. Instead of attacking Ferozepur, Lal Singh waited for four months by then British forces were three times
stronger then the Khalsa army. It is said that Lal Singh had already negotiated with British and supplied them with position of guns, number of soldiers, plan of attack and other vital statistics. Let's read about Anglo-Sikh wars in depth.
Intrigue of Dogra brothers for their own selfish means and inability of any Sikh politicians to lead was responsible for demise of Maharaja Ranjit Singh's Sarkar Khalsa. After Anglo-Sikh Wars, Dogras Got whole Kashmir (until 1947 then it was divided between India and Pakistan), British got Punjab and Sikhs lost their hard earned kingdom.
Nawab Kapur Singh Virk
Nawab Kapur Singh Virk (1697-1753) is considered one of the most revered, pivotal and legendary figures in Sikh history post 1716. Under his leadership decisions and courage, the then tiny Sikh community went through some of the darkest periods of its history.
The founding father of the Sikh Confederacy and Sikh Empire, he was also the founder of the Dal Khalsa. Alongside Banda Bahadur who dominated the seen before him, he laid the foundations of the Sikh Empire and the eventual over-through of the vicious Mughal Empire. Today, he is regarded by Sikhs to be of equal importance to Banda Singh Bahadur.
The period, starting from the massacre (in 1716) in Delhi of Banda, his son, seven hundred of his devoted army members and thousands of Sikhs taken captive or beheaded along the march to Delhi, was followed by severe action against the Sikhs by the rulers, including massacres of young men, women and children. However, every fresh adversity only stimulated the Sikhs' will to survive; after Banda, this fight against the oppressors was planned and led by Nawab Kapur Singh.
Many Sikh scholars have stated that had it not been for the leadership of Kapur Singh, the tiny Sikh community of the time would not have survived and would have been completely decimated. Today, significant number of Sikhs commemorate and celebrate his birthday as a sign of respect and as a way to repay a debt of gratitude for his sacrifice.
Nawab Kapur Singh was born into a Virk family of Jats in 1697. His native village was Kaloke, now in Sheikhupura district, in Punjab (Pakistan). Kapur Singh was eleven years old at the time of Guru Gobind Singh's death and nineteen at the time of the massacre of Banda Bahadur and his followers in Delhi.
Later, when he seized the village of Faizullapur, near Amritsar, he renamed it Singhpura and started living there. He is thus, also known as Kapur Singh Faizullapuria, and the small principality he founded, as Faizullapuria or Singhpuria.
Kapur Singh received baptism at a large gathering held at Amritsar on Baisakhi Day, 1721 from Bhai Mani Singh. His father, Dalip Singh, and brother, Dan Singh, were also among those who were baptized into the Khalsa fold on the same day.
Campaign against Zakarya Khan
Kapur Singh soon gained a position of eminence among the Sikhs, who were then engaged in a desperate struggle against the Imperial Mughal government. Zakarya Khan, who had become the Mughal governor of Lahore in 1726, launched a policy of aggressive persecution against the Sikhs.
Kapur Singh headed a band of Sikh warriors who, with a view to paralysing the administration and obtaining food for their companions. They were forced to seek shelter in the lakhi ('The forest of a hundred thousand trees') jungles of Central Punjab. From here, they launched a series of sudden surprise attacks on government treasuries and caravans moving from one place to another. Due to the success of these campaigns, such was the effect of their depredations that the governor was soon obliged to make terms with them.
The title of
In 1733, the Mughal government decided, at the instance of Zakarya Khan, to lift the quarantine forced upon the Sikhs and made an offer of a grant to them. The title of Nawab was conferred upon their leader, with a jagir consisting of the three parganas of Dipalpur, Kanganval and Jhabal.
After some mutual discussion, the Sikhs accepted the offer. Kapur Singh was unanimously elected as the leader and chosen for the title. He was reluctant, but could not deny the unanimous will of the community.
As a mark of respect, he placed the robe of honour ('Siropa') sent by the Mughals at the feet of five revered Sikhs - Baba Deep Singh (Shaheedan Misl), Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia(Ramgarhia Misl), Bhai Hari Singh Dhillon (Bhangi Misl), Bhai Karam Singh and Bhai Buddh Singh (great-great-grandfather of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, whose son, Naudh Singh founded the Sukerchakia Misl)- before putting it on.
The dress included a shawl, a turban, a jewelled plume, a pair of gold bangles, a necklace, a row of pearls, a brocade garment and a sword.
The formation of the Dal Khalsa
Word was sent round to Sikhs passing their days in distant jungles and deserts that peace had been made with the government and that they could return to their homes. Nawab Kapur Singh undertook the task of consolidating the disintegrated fabric of the Sikh Jathas (groups).
They were merged into a single central fighting force (The Dal) divided into two sections - The Budha Dal, the army of the veterans, and the Taruna Dal, the army of the young. Baron Hari Singh Dhillon was elected its leader of the younger warriors.
The former was entrusted with the task of looking after the holy places, preaching the word of the Gurus and inducting converts into the Khalsa Panth by holding baptismal ceremonies. The Taruna Dal was the more active division and its function was to fight in times of emergencies.
Nawab Kapur Singh's personality was the common link between these two wings. He was universally respected for his high character. His word was obeyed willingly and to receive baptism at his hands was counted an act of rare merit.
The rise of the Misls
Under its leader, Hari Singh, the Taruna Dal rapidly grew in strength and soon numbered more than 12,000. To ensure efficient control, Nawab Kapur Singh split it into five parts, each with a separate centre. The first batch was led by Baba Deep Singh Shaheed, the second by Karam Singh and Dharam Singh, the third by Kahan singh and Binod Singh of Goindwal, the fourth by Dasaundha Singh of Kot Budha and the fifth by Vir Singh Ranghreta and Jivan Singh Ranghreta.
Each batch had its own banner and drum, and formed the nucleus of a separate political state. The territories conquered by these groups were entered in their respective papers at the Akal Takht by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. From these documents or misls, the principalities carved out by them came to known as Misls. Seven more groups were formed subsequently and, towards the close of century, there were altogether twelve Sikh Misls ruling the Punjab replacing the Mughal rulers in many parts of this region.
The Singhpuria Misl
The founder of the Misl was Nawab Kapur Singh who was a great warrior. He fought many battles. The last battle that he fought was the battle of Sirhind. After the fall of Sirhind in 1763, a considerable portion of present-day Rupnagar District came under the Singhpuria Misl. These areas included Manauli, Ghanuli, Bharatgarh, Kandhola, Chooni, Machli, Bhareli, Bunga and Bela.
By 1769, the Singpuria Misl had the following territories in its possession:- Some parts of the districts of Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur in Doaba, Kharparkheri and Singhpura in Bari-Doab and Abhar, Adampur, Chhat, Banoor, Manauli Ghanauli, Bharatgarh, Kandhola, Chooni, Machhli Bhareli, Banga, Bela, Attal Garh and some other places in the province of Sirhind.
The entente with the Mughals did not last long and, before the harvest of 1735, Zakarya Khan, sent a strong force and occupied the Jagir. The Sikhs were driven out of Amritsar into the Bari Doab and then across the Satluj into Malwa by Diwan Lakhpat Rai, Zakarya Khan's minister. They were welcomed by Sardar Ala Singh of the Phulkian Misl of Malwa. During his sojourn in Malwa, Nawab Kapur Singh conquered the territory of Sunam and made it over to Ala Singh. He also attacked Sirhind and defeated the Mughal governor.
Nawab Kapur Singh led the Sikhs back to Majha to celebrate Diwali at Amritsar. He was pursued by Lakhpat Rai's army near Amritsar and forced to turn away. The Taruna Dal promptly came to his help. The combined force fell upon Lakhpat Rai before he could reach Lahore and inflicted a severe defeat. His nephew, Duni Chand, and two important Faujdars, Jamal Khan and Tatar Khan, were killed in the battle.
In the summer of 1739, Nadir Shah, the Persian invader, was returning home after plundering Delhi and Punjab. The Dal lay in wait, not far from the route he had taken. When he reached Akhnur, on the Chenab (in the present-day Jammu region), they swooped down upon the rear guard, relieving the invaders of much of their booty. On the third night they made an even fiercer attack and rescued from their hands, thousands of girls who were escorted back to their families. For a long part of the journey, the Sikhs pursued Nadir Shah in this manner.
Zakarya Khan's campaign continues
Zakarya Khan continued to carry out his policy of repression with redoubled zeal. A pitiless campaign for a manhunt was started. Sikhs heads sold for money and the Mughals offered a prize for each head brought to them. According to the historian, Ratan Singh Bhangu, "He who informed where a Sikh was received ten rupees, he who killed one received fifty."
To cut off the Sikhs from the main source of their inspiration, the Harmandir at Amritsar was taken possession of and guarded by Mughal troops to prevent them visiting it. Sikhs were then again living in exile in the Shiwalik hills, the Lakhi Jungle and in the sandy desert of Rajputana.
To assert their right to ablution in the holy tank in Amritsar, they would occasionally send riders, who, in disguise or openly cutting their way through armed guards, would reach the temple, take a dip in the tank and ride back with lightning speed.
Zakarya Khan, sent a strong force under Samad Khab to seek out the Sikhs. The force was defeated and their leader, Samad Khan who had been the target of the Sikhs' wrath since he had on June 24, 1734 executed Bhai Mani Singh was killed.
Nawab Kapur Singh now made a plan to capture Zakarya Khan. With a force of 2000 men all of whom were in disguise, he entered Lahore and went on to the Shahi Mosque where, according to intelligence received, the Mughal governor was expected to attend the afternoon prayer. But Zakarya Khan did not visit the mosque. Kapur Singh was disappointed at the failure of the mission. Throwing off the disguise and shouting their war cry of Sat Sri Akal, the Sikhs marched out of Lahore and vanished into the jungle.
The Chota Ghalughara
Meanwhile, Khan and his minister, Lakhpat Rai, again launched an all-out campaign and set forth with a large army. The Sikhs were brought to bay in a dense bush near Kahnuwan, in the Gurdaspur district. They put up determined fight, but were overwhelmed by the superior numbers of the enemy and scattered with heavy losses.
They were chased into hills; more than 7000 died. "To complete revenge" says Syed Mohammad Latif, another historian of the Punjab, "Lakhpat Rai brought 1000 Sikhs in irons to Lahore, having compelled them to ride on donkeys, bare-backed, paraded them in the bazars.
They were, then taken to the horse-market outside Delhi Gate, and there beheaded one after another without mercy." So indiscriminate and extensive was the killing that the campaign is known in Sikh history is known as the "Chhota Ghalughara" or the lesser holocaust. The "Wadda Ghalughara" or the greater holocaust was to come later.
Ahmed Shah Abdali
In 1748, a section of the Dal Khalsa under Charhat Singh Sukerchakia, grandfather of Ranjit Singh gave chase to the fleeing troops of Ahmad Shah Abdali.
Nawab Kapur Singh requested the community to relieve him of his office, due to his old age, and at his suggestion, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was chosen as the supreme commander of the Dal Khalsa. Kapur Singh died in 1753 at Amritsar and was succeeded by his younger brother, Hameer Singh.
Hameer Singh was succeeded by his son, Khushal Singh succeeded as leader of the misl. Sardar Khusal Singh played a significant role in expanding the territories of the Singhpuria Misl on both the banks of the Satluj river. The most important of the possession of Khushal Singh were Patti, Bhartgarh, Nurpur, Bahrampur and Jalandhar, Khushal Singh also occupied Ludhiana, through. He had to divide the district of Banur with Patiala. He died in 1795 leaving the misl structure stronger than ever it was and with territorial possessions and freedom for it people far larger than those he had inherited.
Khusal Singh was succeeded by his son Budh Singh. When Abdali returned home after his ninth invasion of India, the Sikhs had occupied more territories in the Punjab. Sheikh Nizam-ud-din was the ruler of Jalandhar at that time. Sardar Budh Singh defeated Nizam-id-din on the battle-field and occupied Jalandhar. He also took possession of Bulandgarh, Behrampur, Nurpur and Haibatpur-Patti.
This victory brought him yearly revenue of three lakhs of rupees.
However, Budh Singh could not equal Khushal Singh's talents. The Singhpuria Misl began to decline and ultimately all its possessions on the west of Satluj were annexed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. On his possessions on the east of the Satluj, however, the British extended their protection to him.
Budh Singh died in 1816, leaving seven sons behind. His eldest son, Amar Singh, retained possession of Bhartgarh and divided the rest of the territories among his six brother as under:-
•Bhopal Singh was given the estate of Ghanauli.
•Gopal Singh: Manauli.
•Lal Singh: Bunga.
•Gurdyal Singh: Attalgarh.
•Hardyal Singh: Bela
•Dyal Singh: Kandhola.
The descendants of these Sardars still live on their respective estates.
The village of Kapurgarh in Nabha is named after Nawab Kapur Singh.
Shaheed Bhai Haqiqat Rai
Bhai Haqiqat Rai was born at Sialkot in 1724 A.D. His father was Bhai Bhag Mall. His maternal grandparents were Sikhs and he was married at a young age to Durgi the daughter of Sardar Kishan Singh. Bhai Haqiqat Rai became a Sikh early in his life due to influence of his mother. During Mughal rule, children used to go to mosques to study Persian from Maulvis (Muslim priests). Bhai Haqiqat Rai was also learning Persian from a maulvi. One day, the maulvi had gone out. Bhai Haqiqat Rai-had a quarrel with a boy. He retaliated to slurs made against himWhen the Muslim boys heard him calling name, all of them gave him a sound thrashing. He returned home weeping.
In the evening, the Muslim boys got together, went to the maulvi and said, "Today, when we said to Haqiqat Rai that their gods and goddesses are made of clay and all are false, he said Bibi Fatima to be false and called her names." The maulvi said, "Did that infidel call Bibi Fatima names ?" The boys exaggerated the event and said, "When we said to him that we would complain to the maulvi, he replied that he was not afraid of him. His maternal uncles and inlaws are Sikhs. He will get the maulvi eliminated through them." The maulvi was greatly enraged on hearing this. He said to the boys, "Call that infidel and bring him to me."
At the message from the boys, Bhai Haqiqat Rai and his father went to the maulvi. As soon as they arrived, the maulvi caught hold of Bhai Haqiqat Rai and started beating him The maulvi beat him to unconsciousness but his anger did not subside. He arrested Bhai Haqiqat Rai and sent him to Amir Beg, the administrator of Sialkot. The next day the qazi said to Bhai Haqiqat Rai in the court, "You have hurt the feelings of believers by calling names to Bibi Fatima for which you should be given severe punishment. For this sin you can be burnt alive after pouring oil on you. you can be torn apart alive from dogs. But your sin may be pardoned if you embrace Islam." Bhai Haqiqat Rai refused to become a Muslim. By order of Amir Beg, Bhai Haqiqat Rai was hanged feet up from a tree and beaten but he did not agree to embrace Islam.
Amir Beg sent Bhai Haqiqat Rai to Zakria Khan, the Governor of Lahore. Mother Goran said to Bhai Haqiqat Rai, "Son ! No doubt I shall lose a son by your death but if you give up your faith I shall be called the mother of a deserter and faithless son. I pray to God to bestow on you the will to keep your faith even if you have to sacrifice your life." When Bhai Haqiqat Rai did not agree to embrace Islam even after further torture, he was martyred by the orders of the Governor in January, 1735 A.D.
Shaheed Akali Phoola Singh
The great Sikh General, Jathedar Akali Phoola Singh, was born in 1761. His father Ishar Singh was fatally wounded during the great massacre of Sikhs (Wada Ghalughara) in 1762. Before his death he charged Bhai Narain Singh of Misl Shaheedan with the responsibility of raising his infant son.
Akali Ji, by the age of ten, could recite Nitnem and other Gurbani hymns. At Anandpur Sahib, he always kept himself busy doing sewa or reading Gurbani, and he became very popular with the sangat. Because of his scholastic attitude and commitment to Panthic welfare, he was made the leader (Jathedar) of the Misl after the death of Bhai Narain Singh. In 1800, he came to Amritsar and made the Mahants improve the management of the Gurdwaras. The major credit for extending the boundaries of the Sikh Raj goes to Akali Ji, the legendary general of the Sikhs.
Respected by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh
In 1802, Maharaja Ranjeet Singh sent his army to take over Amritsar and annex it to his kingdom. On the advice of Akali Phoola Singh, the Maharaja agreed to give an estate to the Bhangi Misl, then ruling Amritsar. He also ordered the army not to loot the inhabitants of the city.
In 1807, Phoola Singh was, for the first time, involved in a major battle against the Nawab of Kasoor, who had the protection of a strong fort. The Sikhs fought bravely and were finally able to demolish a section of the wall. The Nawab was arrested. The Sikhs took pity on him and allotted him an estate near the Satlej river. The bravery of Akali Ji during the battle very much impressed the Maharaja.
In 1808, a British representative was sent to Amritsar for talks for developing better relations between the two governments. A Muslim platoon with the British emissary organized a procession to celebrate their festival chanting loud slogans. When passing near the Akal Takhat, they were advised not to create noise, because it disturbed the Sikh congregation. However, the leaders of the procession insulted the Sikhs instead of listening to their suggestion. On hearing this disturbing news, Akali Ji himself went to settle the matter with the British platoon. The soldiers apologized and behaved respectfully in the future. No more noisy processions were taken near the Gurdwara again.
Loss of faith in the Maharaja
The internal political policy pursued by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh went against Sikh interests. Major points of differences were that the Maharaja had:
1. Delegated too much authority of the government to Dogras who were insincere and disloyal to the Sikhs.
2. Appointed relatives of his cronies to important posts instead of selecting competent persons.
3. Developed misunderstanding with his sons by listening to the misinformation given by the Dogras.
Note: Later, it was found that Akali Ji was right and justified in asking the Maharaja not to place all his confidence in the Dogras alone. The Dogras had a secret understanding with the British, who had already taken control over much of India. The Dogras caused the downfall of the Sikh Raj. They were made the rajas of Kashmir as a reward for helping the British infiltrate the Sikh raj. The Dogras also informed the Kabul regime about the Sikh army and they planned the murder of the hero of the Sikh raj, Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa, who was considered a terror by the Afghans and Pathans.
When Akali Phoola Singh Ji went to discuss domestic policies of the government with Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, the Dogras did not allow the meeting to take place. Akali Ji forced his entry into the palace and was warmly received by the Maharaja. Showing his hospitality, the Maharaja offered Akali Ji a splendid meal. Akali Ji declined his offer stating that unless the Maharaja changed his policies, and realized his own entrapment by the Dogras, this was to be their last meeting. After delivering this message to the Maharaja, Akali Ji left for Anandpur Sahib.
The Prince of Jind state (Jind was then part of the British Raj, now a part of the Haryana state of India.) developed differences with the British raj. He moved to Anandpur Sahib and took protection under Akali Ji. The British desired the Prince to be handed over to them. They approached the Maharaja when Akali Ji refused to surrender him to them. The Dogras misinformed and misguided the Maharaja and accused Akali Ji of creating enmity between the British and the Sikh raj. The army at Phillaur was, therefore, instructed to arrest Akali Phoola Singh. The army, however, declined to obey the Maharaja recognizing that Akali Ji was the holiest man amongst the Sikhs.
The British also tried to capture Akali Ji by ordering the Nawab of Malerkotla and Raja Jaswant to attack Anandpur Sahib and arrest Akali Ji along with the Prince of Jind. Both of them knew of Phoola Singh’s goodness and greatness. They also endorsed his stand and refused to cooperate with the British. Finally, Maharaja Ranjeet Singh thought of another plan to get Akali Ji on his side. He sent Baba Sahib Singh Bedi, a close friend of Akali Phoola Singh, to escort him with honor to Amritsar where a spectacular welcome was arranged by the Maharaja. The two were finally reconciled. Unfortunately, the Maharaja did not take advantage of his advice to keep the Dogras away from the helm of administration.
Protector of the Sikh Faith
Some administrators of the Kashmir area broke their agreement. Akali Phoola Singh and General Hari Singh were sent to punish them. In 1816, Akali Ji lead his forces against the rebels in the west and south of Punjab, including the Nawab of Multan who had not paid his taxes. In 1817, Phoola Singh was sent to Hazara to recover the taxes. The administrator paid his dues and was, therefore, allowed to continue in his position by Akali Ji.
The Nawab of Multan again declined to pay his taxes to the state. When the army was sent to collect the dues, he defeated the Lahore army. The Maharaja then sent his son with a strong force who pushed the Nawab into the fort, but could not achieve his mission. At last, the Maharaja came to Amritsar and humbly requested Akali Phoola Singh to help the Khalsa Panth. Akali Ji angrily asked: “O supporter of the disloyal Dogras, why did you not tell me earlier?” Akali Ji took his men to Multan. They demolished the wall of the fort. A bloody hand to hand battle followed. The brave Nawab, his five sons and 12,000 soldiers lost their lives in the battle. Akali Ji was wounded. On his return to Amritsar, Akali Ji was honored and given the title “Protector of the Sikh Faith.”
Battles for Peshawar
In 1818, the Maharaja himself led the expedition to bring the rebellious Pathans under control. A pontoon bridge was constructed across the river Attock and a small Jatha was sent to assess the situation, but it was attacked. This enraged the Maharaja. He sent Akali Phoola Singh and general Hari Singh Nalwa against the rebels. As soon as the Sikh army was within firing range, they were showered with a rain of bullets. Akali Ji ordered a tactical retreat. This made the rebels come out of their bunkers to follow the retreating Sikhs and push them out of their area. When the enemy was in the open battlefield, Akali Ji ordered a severe attack and then encircled them. Their commander Feroze Khan accepted his defeat and requested the Sikhs to end the battle.
The next target of the Sikh army was to retrieve the control of Peshawar. The rebels decided to obstruct their path to the city. When Akali Ji was informed about this he immediately attacked them before they could gather and organize a coordinated resistance to his advance to Peshawar. This strategy proved useful. The Ghazis (Muslim fighters) did not dare to face the Sikhs and ran for their lives. The road was left open for the Sikhs to proceed to the city where they raised their flag on the fort. After the Sikhs took control of Peshawar, Yar Mohammed Khan sent gifts to Maharaja Ranjeet Singh to express his loyalty. The Maharaja accepted the gifts and made him the Governor of Peshawar. But Khan, too, proved disloyal to the Sikh raj.
Battles for Kashmir
In 1819 Akali Ji was deputed to discipline the ruler of Kashmir who had broken the agreement made with the Maharaja. Unable to proceed through the Pass protected by the army, the Sikhs were instructed to follow footpaths through hilly terrain. By this tactical move they took over all the outer defense posts without much difficulty. After heavy fighting, they captured the strong fort as well.
The Sikh army was unable to make further progress, as the route to Pir Panchal Pass was blocked by the Pathans. The Pathans, occupying the sides of the path, rained bullets on the Sikh army. Akali Ji directed his soldiers to get on the mountains, instead of moving through the Pass. The Sikhs fought the Pathans hand-to-hand and continued their journey through the Pass.
The next battle took place with Jabar Khan, who had built a strong army with thousands of Afghans. Diwan Chand ordered the Sikh army to open gun fire on Afghan positions, but it did little harm to them. He then directed his men to advance their guns to get closer to the defenses for effective firing. As soon as the Sikhs stopped firing in order to move their guns, the Afghans came out of their bunkers and attacked them, capturing several Sikh guns.
Finding the Afghans in the open battlefield, Akali Ji responded with a lightning attack by his men, who were considered the best swordsmen. Jabar Khan was wounded and he fled. The Khalsa won the battle and took control of the Kashmir state.
Defeating Kabul forces
In 1823, Mohammed Azim Khan, the ruler of Kabul, made plans to take over Peshawar. Yar Mohd Khan, the Governor of Peshawar, appointed by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh was his brother. He agreed to help the Kabul regime by withdrawing from the city and leaving it unoccupied. The Khan’s army came and occupied the city without firing a single bullet. Local administrators and communities were instigated to rebel against the Sikh raj. They occupied all the routes to Peshawar making it very dangerous for the Sikh army to go there.
When this news reached Lahore, the Maharaja called General Hari Singh Nalwa and sought his advice. He suggested that Akali Phoola Singh must join him to recover the state from Khan. Nalwa immediately left for Peshawar, with the Maharaja and Akali Ji following him. When they reached Attock, they found that the pontoon bridge had been destroyed to stop the Sikhs from crossing the river and helping Nalwa.
General Nalwa and his forces were engaged in a bloody battle on the western side of the river while the Maharaja and the main Sikh army were delayed on the eastern bank. Hearing the fight across the river, the Sikhs became more worried and distressed at their situation. A messenger, who swam across the river, informed Akali Phoola Singh and the Maharaja that unless Nalwa and his soldiers received help, he would most likely lose the battle. Hearing this, Akali Phoola Singh got on his horse and crossed the river followed by the Maharaja and the rest of the forces. The news of the arrival of the Maharaja demoralized the opponents and they lost all hope of winning the battle. They ran to save their lives and took shelter behind their second defense line, Nawshehra fort, to prepare a strong defense.
After reorganizing their forces, the Sikhs decided to move forward to take over the fort. Having said their prayers, the Jathas started marching, when a scout brought the news that a new army of 10,000 men with forty guns had arrived to support the rebels. The Maharaja wanted to wait for their own guns to arrive but Akali Ji said, “The Khalsa has started its march after prayer, now no one can stop them!”
When the Sikh army was within their range, the Ghazis opened fire on the Sikhs. Akali Ji ordered them to move forward suddenly and engage them in hand to hand combat, an art in which no army could match the Khalsa. Bullets were coming from all sides, but Akali Ji was moving forward with his men. His horse was killed by a bullet. He immediately boarded an elephant to continue his advance on the Ghazis. Watching the daring deeds of the Akali platoons, the Maharaja could not resist joining them. Meanwhile the Akali men had reached the firing lines and started fighting with their swords. The Afghans were no match for the quick swords of the Sikhs. Fresh Sikh army and gunmen also reached the battlefield by that time and the Sikhs claimed another victory.
The Sikh Nation bereaved
Unfortunately, the Sikhs sustained a grievous wound: the death of Akali Phoola Singh. A Pathan, hiding behind a boulder,
shot Akali Ji from close range as he was pressing the Pathans to retreat.
Thus, the Sikhs lost their great General, a true Sikh. He was a fearless and skilled commander. He maintained the Sant-Sipahi (Saint-Soldier) tradition of the Khalsa. Akali Phoola Singh Ji remains a role model for all Sikhs.
Shaheed Bhai Sukha Singh and Bhai Mehtab Singh
In October, 1738 CE, Qazi Abdul Razak was killed in an encounter with Singhs. Zakaria Khan, Governor of Lahore state of Mughals, knew that Sikhs would always try to visit their fountain of Truth — Harmandar Sahib. The choudhry of Mandiala was one Mir Musalul Khan, commonly known as Massa Ranghar (Ranghars were those Muslims who were born of mixed Hindu and Muslim parentage). In 1740, Zakaria Khan assigned this man the task of watching around Amritsar for Sikhs trying to visit the Sarovar at Darbar Sahib. His guard was augmented by government soldiers. Massa needed no further prompting from the authorities. He placed his cot in the centre of the Darbar Sahib, and set about desecrating it to his heart's fill. Dancing girls revelled before him while he dined and wined in the holiest of the Sikh shrines. Massa Ranghar turned Harmandar Sahib into a dance hall and started organising hedonistic gatherings there. By his orders all the Sikhs of Amritsar were hounded and killed.
There would always be one or two Sikhs in hiding near the temple, waiting for nightfall, when they could steal in for a dip in the tank. One Sikh, Bulaka Singh, happened to be around when Massa was in occupation and he saw how Harmandar Sahib was being desecrated. Bulaka Singh hurried away to Bikaner where he reported the happenings in Harmandar Sahib to the Jatha of Sardar Sham Singh. The leader of the Jatha, Sardar Sham Singh, said in the congregation, "Is there a Singh who will cut and bring Massa Ranghar's head here?" From amongst the assembly of Sikhs stood up one Mehtab Singh of Mirankot, who declared his resolve to go and kill Massa or be killed himself. Another Singh, Sukha Singh of Marhi Kamboki, also stood up and asked permission of Sardar Sham Singh to accompany Mehtab Singh. The whole gathering said their ardaas for the success of the mission, and the two rode away in the hot month of August for Amritsar. They reached Damdama Sahib by evening.
On the next morning before starting from Damdama Sahib, they disguised themselves as Muslim landlords of Patti and filled two sacks with pieces of broken earthenwares and loaded them on the backs of their horses, giving the impression that these contained gold coins. They had let their hair loose behind their necks (as the Pathans do). Entering Harmandar Sahib they tethered their horses to the berry tree and went inside with the sacks on their shoulders. They saw that Massa Ranghar was sitting on a bed smoking hubble bubble (hookah), girls were dancing and wine was flowing freely. They placed the sacks in such a way that they were half under the bed and said, "We have come to pay the revenue." When Massa Ranghar bent to feel the sacks, Mehtab Singh cut his head in a flash and put it in a sack after emptying it of the potsherds. Sukha Singh made short work of the companions of Massa Ranghar. Having finished their work with the speed of lightening, the Singhs mounted their horses and were out of sight in no time. By evening both the Singhs reached Damdama Sahib. The next day they presented Massa Ranghar's head on a spear to the Sikh Sangat at Budha Johar. The gathering congratulated them and ordered that the head be consigned to the flames.
Aqil Dass of Jandiala, the government informer told the Governer, "Sukha Singh and Mehtab Singh are the persons who have taken away Massa Ranghar's head. They are living in Bikaner. Sukha Singh is not married. Mehtab Singh's wife and seven year old son, Rai Singh, are living at Mirankot whom he has left in the care of Natha Khaira, the headman of the village before going away." Hearing this, the Governor said to Commander Noordin, "Take the army to Mirankot immediately and bring Mehtab Singh here. If he is not there bring his son with you." At the demand of the Commander, Natha Khaira did not hand over Rai Singh to him but preferred to fight to save his friend's son. During the skirmish Rai singh was badly wounded but recovered. Natha Khaira and his son attained martyrdom. Later on Rai Singh's son, Bhai Rattan Singh, wrote the famous Panth Parkash in 1842 CE. When in 1745 CE, Bhai Mehtab Singh came to Mirankot, Aqil Dass Jandiala had him arrested. On the orders of the Governer of Lahore, he was tortured and martyred in June 1745 CE
Shaheed Bhai Mati Das
Shaheed Bhai Mati Das came from a Brahman family of village Kariala in the district of Jhelum (Pakistan). He was the eldest son of Bhai Praga. His grandfather, Mahatma Gautam Das, used to be a deeply religious man of noble, saintly character. He was loved and respected by all, Hindus and Muslims alike. Bhai Praga was a strong stalwart. He had the body and the strength of a giant. He embraced the Sikh faith during Guru Har Gobind's time. He lived the life of a true Sikh. His life was a model for others. He was a prominent saint-soldier of Guru Har Gobind's. He took a hero's part in Guru Har Gobind's battle. He had four sons: Bhai Mati Das, Sati Das, Jati Das and Sakhi Das. Bhai Mati Das was a strongly built as his father, Bhai Praga. He was a dear, devout disciple of Guru Tegh Bahadur. He actually practiced what he believed and professed. Guru Tegh Bahadur made him his diwan. He had to look after the income and expenditure of the Guru's darbar.
Along with the Guru, Bhai Mati Das was also arrested, chained and imprisoned. Under Emperor Aurangzeb's orders, Guru Tegh Bahadur was to be beheaded. The qazis decided to torture and kill the Guru's companions before his eyes. They thought, 'The sight of their suffering and fate might shake his resolve. He might be inclined to save himself be agreeing to our proposal. He might embrace Islam.' So they picked out Bhai Mati Das first of all. He was led out in chains to Chandani Chowk under a heavy guard. He was calm. His face beamed with glory. His gait was a mighty hero's swagger. He walked like a superior among inferiors. His whole bearing showed wonderful self-confidence and self-satisfaction. A large crowd had gathered already in Chandani Chowk. Bhai Mati Das was brought there under a heavy guard. A number of qazis accompanied him. They were apparently saying something to him. But he neither listened nor heard. His mind was wholly fixed on God. He was eager to meet him. No eyes were dry. All observers were filled with reverence and admiration for that tall, strong, calm, and holy man of God. They shuddered at the thought of what was about to happen to him.
The spot fixed for his execution was reached. The guard and the qazis halted, with Bhai Mati Das in their midst. The chief Qazi then said to Bhai Mati Das, 'O brave young man, be wise. This is my last appeal to your common-sense. Why throw away your youthful life and all the joys it may bring ? Accept Islam, and be one of the ruling class. You will have wealth and high position. You will enjoy a life of peace, plenty and pleasure. When you die, prophet Mohammad will receive you among the faithful. You will be led into Paradise. You will live there forever among pleasure of all kinds. If you refuse to accept all these good things of this world and the next, you will be killed with torture. So be wise. Make a wise choice.' Bhai Mati Das replied, 'Why waste your time and breath ? I prefer dying to giving up my faith. Be quick.' The Qazi said, 'All right, let it be as you desire. But have you any last wish which you would like to be fulfilled before you are killed ?'
Bhai Mati Das said, 'Yes. Stand me with my face toward my Guru. In that way I shall behold him to the last moments of my life here.' His wish was granted. He was made to stand with his face toward the Guru. He was tightly tied between two erect flat logs of wood. A saw was placed on his head. Each end of it was held by a fierce looking Pathan. The saw began to move to and fro. Blood began to flow down Bhai Mati Das's face and neck. He did not utter any cry of pain. His face showed no sign of suffering. He was calmly repeating Japji. His body was sawn into two. His devout, brave soul reached the bosom of the kind and loving Father of all. Bhai Mati Das has not died. He still lives in the hearts of those who worship goodness, who admire nobility. He lives in the minds of those who lead a spiritual life. He is the inspiration of those who prefer the soul to the body; who, in order to save their soul, to keep in pure and unsullied, would gladly sacrifice the body and all its pleasures. He is the motivation of those who place duty before self. He is the hero of all who work for noble objectives, not for rewards or recognition.
Shaheed Bhai Sati Dass
Shaheed Bhai Sati Dass was Bhai Mati Dass’s brother. While Bhai Mati Dass was Dewan at Guru’s court, Bhai Sati Dass was a writer cum translator of a high calibre. He was a scholar of Persian language. He used to write in Persian, the utterings of Guru ji which were later translated and written in Gurmukhi script by him.
Bhai Sati Dass was the third and last of the three sikhs who were arrested along with Sri Guru Teg Bahadur ji under the orders of Emperor Aurangzeb. Bhai Mati Dass and Bhai Dayala were done to death before the eyes of Bhai Sati Dass in the most brutal manner when they refused to forsake their religion and firmly spurned the offers of luxurious living in case they agreed to become Muslims.
The most commendable manner in which both his companions laid down their lives inspired Bhai Sati Dass to face the cruel Kazis, with courage, determination and fortitude.
In their effort to instil fear in the heart of Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib, Bhai Sati Dass was brought out in the open at Chandni Chowk, with hands and legs bounded with iron shackles.
The spectators were guessing about the method to be employed for Sati Dass’s execution, when they watched in disbelief Bhai ji being wrapped in cotton.
Like his predecessors, he too was given the option of saving his life by agreeing to be converted to Islam or face death through torture. Bhai Sati Dass chose the later option, i.e. death through torture since he was not willing to shun his belief in Sikhism to the promised luxurious life in this world and heavens in the next.
Facing his master Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib and while reciting Gurbani and meditating, Bhai Sati Dass who was wrapped in cotton, was set afire and burnt alive under the watchful eyes of his Guru and thousands of spectators. While many of spectators were sobbing, some Muslims were deriving pleasure out of these most barberous acts of execution exployed by their co-religionist rulers. Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib, sitting in the cage showered his blessings on his three Sikhs who had faced brutal executions with unflinching faith and courage. He was immensly pleased with the steadfastness shown by these three Sikhs which was sure to inspire many more Sikhs to emulate the examples of these brave Sikh martyrs.
With the execution of Bhai Sati Dass, the Kazis of Emperor Aurangzeb were disheartened and dismayed. They were expecting that at least one among the three of Guru’s Sikhs would be attracted by lures of luxurious lives out of love for life and agreed to get converted to Islam.
Now they were left with no illusions that they could still persuade the 9th Guru of the Sikhs to adopt Islam, thereby opening the floodgate of conversion of the Hindus of India into Islam.
The disciples of Sikh Gurus will derive inspiration from these three sikh martyrs for all time to come and emulate their examples that no sacrifice is too high for one’s religion and faith
Shaheed Bhai Subeg Singh and Bhai Shahbaz Singh
Bhai Subeg Singh was resident of village Jumber district Lahore. He was well educated and scholar of Persian. He was working as a government contractor at Lahore. He mediated between the government and the Sikhs in 1733 A.D., when the Dal Khalsa was given an estate. During 1745 A.D., when the Governor Zakria Khan could not pass urine, Bhai Subeg Singh was sent by him to the Dal Khalsa. As advised by the leader, the Governor had kept on passing urine when hit on the head with the shoe of Bhai Taru Singh.
After the death of Zakria Khan on the 1st July, 1745 A.D., his son, Yahiya Khan became the Governor of Lahore. To avenge the death of his brother Jaspat Rai, who had died in an encounter with the Singhs near Eminabad in January, 1746 A.D., Diwan Lakhpat Rai said to the new Governor, "Subeg Singh is in league with the Singhs. Your father had to hit himself on the head with a Singh's shoe at his bidding which caused his death. He should be punished for that crime."
The Governor ordered Bhai Subeg Singh to become a Muslim and spy on the Singhs. Eighteen year old son of Bhai Subeg Singh, Shahbaz Singh, studied Persian from a maulvi. When the maulvi came to know of the arrest of Bhai Subeg Singh, he asked Bhai Shahbaz Singh to embrace Islam so that he may marry his daughter to him as he was handsome and genius. Bhai Shahbaz Singh refused his offer. The maulvi asked the Governor and had him arrested also. The qazi said to them, "If both of you embrace Islam, you will be pardoned . " At their refusal both of them were mounted on rotating wheels in sight of each other so that they might embrace Islam seeing each other suffering. But they did not forsake their faith although both became unconscious due to excessive loss of blood.
Next day, the qazi said to Bhai Shahbaz Singh, "Son ! your father has been executed. I can ward off your death if you become a Muslim even now." Bhai Shahbaz Singh replied, "Death cannot be put off. It must come one day." The qazi sent the son away, called for the father and said to him, 'Your son has agreed to embrace Islam and you should also consent to do so." Bhai Subeg Singh said, "I cannot give up my faith at any cost." The qazi again brought the father and son face to face. He again asked both of them to come to the fold of Islam. On their refusal, the qazi ordered both of them to be killed. On the 10th March, 1746 A.D., the executioners beheaded both of them. It was on that day that Diwan Lakhpat Rai had got together the Sikhs of Lahore and handed them over to the scavengers of the city for slaughter in order to exterminate Sikhs. The prominent Hindus of the city pleaded with the Diwan, not to murder innocent Sikhs. He replied, "If God Himself comes and forbids me, I shall not stop.
Shaheed Bhai Uday
Bhai Uday Singh was one of the four sons of renowned Sikh martyr Bhai Mani Singh Ji, a resident of village Alipur, District Multan (now in Pakistan) who offered his services along with those of his four sons, to Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Bhai Bachiter Singh and Bhai Uday Singh, were two of the four sons who joined the band of dedicated Sikhs in the Army of the Guru.
Bhai Uday Singh was a very good marksman. Once, while he and a few other Sikhs accompanied Guru Gobind Singh Ji on a hunting expediton, they were suddenly attacked by two Hill chiefs named Balia Chand and Alamchand.
Bhai Alam Singh from Guruji’s party engaged hill chief Alam Chand and cut off his right arm with a single stroke of his sword. Bhai Uday Singh surged forward and caused serious injury to the Hill Chief Balia Chand with a gun shot. With both the Hill chiefs seriously injured the soldier accompaning the two Hill Chiefs beat hasty retreat into the thick jungle. Guru praised Bhai uday Singh’s brave act in the battle in presence of Sikh sangat.
Bhai Uday Singh took a very active part in almost all the battles that took place between Gururji’s forces and those of Hill Rajas, from time to time. When all the Hill Chiefs mounted a combined attack on Anand Pur Sahib, Bhai Uday Singh was deputed for the defence of Fort Fatehgarh by Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
While Bhai Bachitter Singh, one of the brothers of Bhai Uday Singh, was sent out of the fort by Guru Ji to face an intoxicated elephant, who was being used by the enemy forces for breaking down the fort gate. Bhai Uday Singh sought Guru Ji’s permission to engage in battle the commander-in-chief of enemy forces, Raja Kesri Chand of Jaswal Hill State. After obtaining Guru Ji’s permission and accompanied by some sikh soldiers, Bhai Uday Singh attacked enemy forces like a hungry lion attacking its prey. In the lightening attack, the Sikhs accompanying Bhai Uday Singh, killed many enemy soldiers whose bodies lay scattered every where.
When Bhai Bachitter Singh caused serious injury to the intoxicated elephant with his spear and the elephant turned back and started crushing Hill soldiersunder its feet, Raja Kesri Chand got terribly upset and angry. At this very moment, Bhai UdaySingh dared Kesri Chand for a straight man to man fight. Launching a lightening attack, Bhai Uday Singh cut off the head of Kesri Chand and mounting the same (head) on his spear, returned to the Fort. With the death of their commander-in-chief, the Hill forces retreated in disgust Bhai Uday Singh was declared, the hero of that battle. He led the Guru Ji’s forces against the army of Hill chiefs in the fifth battle of Anandpur Sahib and inflicted heavy casualities on the enemy forces.
Thereafter, combined forces of Hill chiefs and those of Emperor Aurangzeb laid a siege of Anandpur Sahib, lasting more than six months. Guru Gobind Singh vacated Anandpur Sahib for various reasons in Dec. 1704 A.D.
When enemy forces, violating all their vows and undertakings attacked Guru Ji’s entourage, Bhai Uday Singh along with Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Alam Singh and other brave Sikh warriours, kept the enemy at bay under the leadership of Sahibzada Ajit Singh for a considerable time, facilitating crossing of flooded rivulest Sirsa by Guru Gobind Singh and others.
In the process, however, Bhai Uday Singh laid down his life as a martyr in the service of Guru Ji. He laid down his life fighting against a cruel and treacherous regime for emancipation and freedom of the opressed. Thus, yet another renowned Sikh martyr enriched the Sikh heritage, enlightening the path of future Sikh generations.
Bibi Anup Kaur
The Sikh Gurus not only preached for the equal status of women, but also revolutionized their social life. History is full with examples where women who did not step out of house without covering their faces, performed wonderful daring deeds in life. After being baptized, they faced the enemy courageously and preferred death to an immoral comfortable life. Life story of martyr Anup Kaur is a golden example worth narration. She was born in 1690 in village Jalopur Khere, near Amritsar. Her father’s name was Lachchman Das Sodhi. In those days, Sodhis were divided in two opposite groups. One group favored Guru Tegh Bahadur for Guruship, while the other group led by Dhir Mal claimed that Guruship belonged to them. Many members of the Sodhi dynasty, like Lachchman who favored Guru Tegh Bahadur, left the central Punjab to avoid daily bickering and friction, and settled far away at Anandpur. Anup Kaur was only five years old when her parents migrated to Anandpur. She was an attractive, every happy, sweet-tongued and beautiful girl. She used to play with Sahibzadas (Guru Gobind Singh’s sons) and was liked by Mata Sundri. Anup Kaur spent most of her time with the Sahibzadas and was treated like a member of the Guru family. She acquired religious education and learned reading and writing Gurmukhi in their company. In 1699 when Guru Gobind Singh created Saint- soldiers, she along with her father who was now named Lachchman Singh was also baptized. It brought a wonderful change in her life and she rapidly grew physically as well as spiritually. Now she was regular in the performance of her daily prayers and visited Gurdwara daily. She collected other baptized girls and started learning fencing and other martial arts. They also used arms like sword, shield and spear. These girls also learned horse riding. This armed group under Anup Kaur was well versed in self defense and became famous in the area.
Anup Kaur with her group took part in the battle with the Sikhs against the hill chiefs. Victory in this battle created self-confidence among the young girls. The hill chiefs requested the Mughals at Delhi for help. As desired by Aurangzeb, the Mughal emperor, governor of Sirhind along with governor of Lahore and the hill chiefs besieged the Anandpur fort with a huge force. The Sikhs met the Mughal forces with fire from their guns. Sikh girls under the leadership of Anup Kaur played a very important part in this battle. They took responsibility of looking after the Guru’s family and taking the cooked food from the common kitchen to the Sikh soldiers in their trenches. They also helped in fighting wherever the Sikh soldiers needed help and showed feats of bravery. The siege continued for some days. The governor of Sirhind assured the Guru for the safety of all if the fort was vacated. The Guru did not rely on this assurance, but he knew that the effective defense was impossible owing to lack of food and other supplies. So the Guru agreed reluctantly to vacate Anandpur on the night of 20th December 1704. Anup Kaur’s group took care of the Guru’s family. The assurance proved false and the Sikhs were attacked outside the fort. Sikh soldiers and girls under Anup Kaur continued their march towards the rivulet Sirsa while fighting the enemy. While crossing the flooded Sirsa, Anup Kaur was separated from the Guru’s family in confusion. After crossing the river, she met five Sikh soldiers who told her that Guru Gobind Singh fought a battle with the Mughal forces at Chamkaur where the two elder Sahibzadas died fighting and the Guru had left Chamkaur. She was also told that the younger Sahibzadas were arrested at Sirhand. They all started towards Sirhand, but on their way they met a patrolling party of the Mughal soldiers. In the fight with them two Sikh soldiers were killed and Anup Kaur was injured, but the Mughal soldiers took to their heels. Anup Kaur came to know from someone that Mata Gujri and her two younger grandsons had been martyred, so they started to find the Guru. They were on their way when the chief of Malerkotla state with two hundred soldiers surrounded them. Anup Kaur’s companions died fighting but Anup Kaur’s horse stumbled, she fell down and broke her arm. She was arrested and taken to Malerkotla. When the chief came to know that the young charming girl was Anup Kaur about whose bravery he had heard a lot, he decided to marry her and instructed his soldiers to treat her respectfully and get her arm treated. She saw through their trick and realized that she would be forced to embrace Islam and marry the chief. She was a helpless prisoner, but she made up her mind to commit suicide to save her faith and honor. At Malerkotla she was under strict watch. Her maid servants told the chief that she was always meditating and remained in a serious mood. The chief persuaded Anup Kaur to marry him as there was no other way for her to save herself. He also promised her a comfortable life in the royal palace, but she refused. One day he called the Kazi (Muslim cleric) to forcibly convert and marry her, but they found only her dead body as she had thrust a dagger into her chest. She was buried quietly according to the Muslim rites.
Professor Ganda Singh, on the basis of his research, writes that Banda Singh Bahadur was moved to hear her pathetic story. When he marched upon Malerkotla in 1710, he said that last remains of this brave Sikh lady should not be allowed to rot in a grave. He was not opposed by anybody as the chief of the state had fled before Banda Bahadur reached there. He did not destroy Malerkotla as its chief had advocated mercy for the younger Sahibzadas at Sirhind. Body of Anup Kaur was exhumed and cremated according to Sikh rites as desired by Banda. Thus the martyr Anup Kaur who sacrificed her life at the altar of her faith and chastity was given a decent cremation she richly deserved. She had not embraced Islam and had died a Sikh. She is still remembered respectfully by the people of the area and her sacrifice will never be forgotten.
Bibi Baghel Kaur
A newlywed Hindu girl was returning along with her groom and the marriage party to the village of her in- laws when some Mughal soldiers abducted her and looted her dowry.Her groom and the members of the marriage party who were unarmed were beaten and made to flee. They complained to the Muslim chief of the area, but he did not care and said, “What does it matter if our soldiers enjoy her for a few days? I shall see that she is returned to you as soon as I find a clue of her.” Her husband was disappointed and turned to the forest to meet the Sikhs and appeal to them. In those days, Ahmad Shah Abdali invaded India again and again and the Mughal Empire at Delhi and the governor of Lahore had become very weak. Abdali looted Indian cities, forcibly took beautiful Hindu ladies with him, but the Sikhs attacked his army when he was going back to Afghanistan. They recovered the property he was taking with him, and got the ladies, that he was forcibly taking, released. They fought a guerrilla war and slipped back into the forest before they could be caught. The groom met some Sikhs in the forest. They consoled him and baptized him. Now he was named Teja Singh. One night, a party of Sikhs along with Teja Singh, attacked the same party of plunderers and taught them a lesson. Teja Singh’s wife, who was in a miserable condition, was also rescued from them. She wanted to commit suicide, but was dissuaded from doing so. She was encouraged to live and was baptized. Now she was named Baghel Kaur, who wore a turban and not a scarf on her head. She always had a long sword with her. Many ladies like her lived in the wilderness near the pond of Kahnuwan in the company of the Sikhs.
In the wilderness, Baghel Kaur and her party met a few more Sikhs known to Teja Singh. They planned to attack a patrolling party of the Muslim soldiers and snatch their horses and arms for the newcomers. When they reached the village, they found that the soldiers were armed, but asleep. Baghel Kaur and her companions took some guns and two horses from the soldiers and left the village before the soldiers were awake. They killed only those soldiers who resisted them. Baghel Kaur and the party reached back safely and met their companions who were anxiously awaiting them. All left the pool of Kahnuwan (District Gurdaspur). They had to cross a dense forest and thorny bushes grown on the bank of the river Bias. In fact, these dense, thorny bushes served them as a fort as the Mughal soldiers were afraid of crossing them. Inside this dense forest, the Sikhs had cleared some area and lived in tents there. They lived on the ration they could bring from outside, meat of the animals they hunted, and whatever edible they could find in the forest. After a long journey, they met their companions who were there with their leader Nawab Kapur Singh. He exhorted the gathering to be ready to fight against aggression for the sake of justice
Mir Mannu was the governor of Lahore. His minister Kaura Mal was sympathetic towards the Sikhs, but after the death of Kaura Mal, Mir Mannu turned his attention to finish the Sikhs. He was a tyrant and bent upon converting Sikhs to Islam. He used every possible punishment to subordinate the Sikhs, who had left villages and started living in thick forests. In those days, Sikhs used to say, “Mir Mannu is our sickle and we are his grass blades. As he cuts, more than two hundred times we grow.” Abdali consulted Mir Mannu and sent a challenge to the Sikhs to come out of the forest and fight face to face. Nawab Kapur Singh accepted the challenge. Th next day, four thousand Sikhs with a few hundred Sikh ladies, including Baghel Kaur, divided
themselves in two parties and, riding on their horses, entered the field, fully armed, with sword and spears. They were opposed by 10,000 Pathan forces. At the end of the day, 500 Sikhs became martyrs, but the Pathans suffered a heavy loss. Second day, Baghel Kaur with a few other ladies fought so bravely and courageously that it would be remembered for ever. In the evening the Pathan army had to retreat, but in the confusion that prevailed Baghel Kaur and four other ladies were separated from the Sikh forces. These ladies reached a small village, cooked their food and slept on the ground. Turn by turn, one of them remained awake to look after the horses and the arms. They got up before daybreak, performed their morning prayer and started. Soon they found fifty enemy soldiers of a patrolling party coming towards them. Five of them proceeded towards Baghel Kaur and her party. They did not realize that they were going to face a tough enemy. They planned to capture them and marry them. All of a sudden, Baghel Kaur came forward and cut the sword of the first soldier with her sword. In the meantime, a companion of her injured him with her sword when he was returning to save himself from the second attack. Another soldier attacked Baghel Kaur with his spear, but her friend checked his attack with her sword and injured him. Now the injured soldiers started returning to their party to seek help. In the mean time Baghel Kaur and her companions rode away to the thick forest to meet their companions. All the Pathan soldiers started chasing Baghel Kaur and her friends. A Sikh watchman informed the other Sikhs in the forest about the coming Pathans. At once, the Sikhs came out and killed the Pathans in a few minutes. Three Sikhs were also killed in this fight. Sikhs persuaded Baghel Kaur and her companions to stay in the village but the brave ladies refused, wanted to stay with them, and die fighting.
Mir Mannu was a notorious bigot. He massacred Sikhs and proclaimed a reward of twenty-five rupees per Sikh head. He killed no less than thirty thousand Sikhs. He ordered that any Sikh lady found anywhere should be caught and forced to embrace Islam. Baghel Kaur wanted to save a few ladies who were still in the village and could not leave because two of them had small children. One night Baghel Kaur disguised herself and went back to her village to save the three Sikh ladies who were hiding in the house of a Muslim girl friend. She contacted them at midnight, encouraged them to accompany her early in the morning and leave for the thick forest on the other side of the river Beas.
After a short nap of two hours, she along with three Sikh ladies and two children left the village at 4am. Four soldiers who were sleeping outside the village saw them and followed them to the rive bank. Baghel Kaur asked the two ladies to cross the river along with their children and herself along with the third lady faced the soldiers. She thrust her spear in the chest of the first two soldiers who came forward before they could attack her. One of her companions tried to attack the third soldier, but his spear injured her arm before she could attack. Baghel Kaur gave her horse to her injured friend and asked her to cross the river at once. Baghel Kaur took the horse of the injured soldier and fought against the remaining two soldiers bravely and fearlessly. The soldiers as well as Baghel Kaur were injured and bleeding. She took courage and in the twinkling of an eye crossed the river on her horse. Now all the four ladies with two children started on their horses and soon they were out of sight of the soldiers who were chasing them. After covering a long distance the party reached the destination and met a party of the Sikhs.
Plight of the Sikh ladies detained in the camps of Mir Mannu was miserable. They were tortured and kept thirsty and hungry as they refused to be converted to Islam. Every one of them was allotted a small millstone to grind a fixed quantity of wheat. It was ordered that the children of these ladies be snatched. One soldier threw a child up in the air and the other killed him with his spear before he could touch the ground. The dead bodies of these children were cut into pieces and the ladies were garlanded with those pieces. Pieces of flesh of the children were thrust into the mouth of their mothers. In spite of all that, none of the ladies cried or yielded to embrace Islam Once this horrible scene stunned Mir Mannu. When he reached the palace after visiting the camp, he did not talk to anybody. It seemed he repented. He left for hunting with only four soldiers. While he was hunting, his horse was scared, ran very fast and jumped so high that Mir Mannu could not control it. He fell down, and his feet got entangled in stirrip. Mir Mannu’s cries further scared the horse and it ran faster. It was dragging Mir Mannu and none could stop it. Mir Mannu was badly injured and died in the forest.
Mir Mannu’s tragic and sudden death had emboldened the Sikhs and they were settling in their villages. A group of Sikhs, under the command of Baghel Kaur, attacked the Lahore camp at midnight, killed 25 Muslim soldiers who were unprepared, and got the captive ladies released and escorted them to a safer place. After Mir Mannu’s death, his queen invited Ahmad Shah to help her and capture the Sikhs. At this time, Baghel Kaur was living in her village along with her four-year old son and her husband. She wanted to save the ladies who were forcibly being taken to the camp. She asked her husband to take the child and leave for the forest. She herself started to rescue the ladies being taken forcibly by the Muslim soldiers. She saw one such lady who was being taken to the camp, but Baghel Kaur did not slip away. All of a sudden, she injured with her spear the two soldiers who were taking the lady, but she was caught by their companions. Now she herself was a captive with the other ladies in the camp.
Every lady in the camp was given a piece of bread. Some injured and hungry ladies were lying half-dead on the ground and their children were crying for food. Baghel Kaur gave her own piece of bread to the crying children and she remained hungry. The ladies in the camp were whipped, insulted, and taunted by the soldiers so that they might embrace Islam to get rid of this hell. Baghel Kaur protested against ill treatment, but she was ordered to grind wheat for the whole night without rest.
At midnight, the camp-in-charge sent for Baghel Kaur, but she refused to move out. The drunken soldier caught her by the wrist and dragged her. She took courage and slapped the soldier. She took his sword, which was tied to his belt, and injured him. The other ladies came to her help and the soldier had to run away. In the morning, all the ladies were assembled at one place, and the camp-in-charge told them that anyone who agreed to marry a soldier of her choice would be set free and allowed to lead a happy and prosperous life. Baghel Kaur stood up and said that none would agree to be converted as their own religion was dear to them and they would die rather than lead an immoral life of a coward. Her bold and frank talk made the camp commander speechless.
She was taken to a pillar so that her hands should be tied and then whipped to death.On her way to the pillar, she took courage, pushed the soldier who was taking her to the pillar and snatched his sword. Now the whole camp was surrounded by the other soldiers and many ladies were murdered. Baghel Kaur fought bravely, but was killed by armed soldiers who were surrounding her. Next day,about 8000 Sikhs attacked the camp at midnight, killed the camp commander and freed the captive ladies.
Bibi Nirbair ur Ji
Bibi Nirbhai Kaur was a fearless and baptized girl of 22. Her father, Jangbahadar Singh, head of the army of Sodhi Wadbhag Singh, had taught her horse riding and use of arms. She treated herself as a brave soldier and had forgotten that she was a girl and not a boy. She was armed whenever she left the house. She was in the prime of her youth, about 6 feet tall having a well built body and a bright face. She was religious minded and never missed her daily prayers. She also helped her mother in household affairs. She was the only daughter of her parents who loved her a lot. In fact, she had the nature of a soldier. Her girl friends were afraid of Afghan soldiers, but she always told them that they could not live like cowards and they would have to face these tyrant invaders. Once she was returning late at night from the house of a girl friend where she had gone to participate in a singing party held before a marriage. On her way back, she met two drunken Pathan soldiers who ordered her to stop. Before stopping, she drew her sword and cut the right arm of the soldier who stepped towards her. Seeing this, the second soldier ran away. Her sword was still red when she reached home. Her father praised her for her bravery and presence of mind.
Sodhi Wadbagh Singh was the chief of the territory of Kartarpur, near Jullundhar and proprietor of land worth a lot of revenue. He was also a respectable religious guide of the Sikhs and in charge of Gurdwara Tham Sahib, built by the Fifth Master, Guru Arjan Dev. Sodhi was informed by Janhan Khan, commander-in-chief at Lahore that an Afghan soldier, who was coming from Sirhind to Lahore, was killed by somebody in the territory of Kartarpur. He compelled Sodhi to produce the culprit at once. Sodhi could not find the culprit. Jahan Khan ordered the governor of Jullunder to finish Sodhi Wadbhag Singh and loot Kartarpur after killing all those who refused to embrace Islam. In fact, Jahan Khan was under instruction from Abdli to crush the Sikhs as they always harassed him when he returned after looting Delhi.
The governor of Jullunder, with a large force, attacked Kartarpur at midnight and burnt most of the city. Sodhi, who had a small army, was caught and shut in a room. Even the 250 years-old sacred Gurdwara, Tham Sahib, was not spared and burnt to ashes. In the meantime, some soldiers brought four young girls and presented to the commander as a gift. Their clothes were torn. It seemed that they had fought with the soldiers to save themselves.
The soldiers reported that one of the girls, whose hands were red with blood, had killed two soldiers and was caught after a great struggle. The lustful and sexual commander praised the beauty of the girls. He said to one of them who seemed very angry, “What is your name?” He also tried to touch her cheeks. She thundered and asked him to keep away his hand. She told him that her name was Death of the Enemy, who was standing in front of her. A soldier admonished her to behave if she wanted to live. She fearlessly replied that the Death did not want to live. The governor was surprised to hear that these Sikh girls called themselves daughters of Death and they could use arms and kill a person to save himself or herself. He ordered that all the four be taken to his camp as he would like to enjoy their company at night. The girls were helpless as they had been unarmed.
The governor started towards the city to inspect the destruction, massacre of the citizens, and the property looted. There were a number of dead bodies. Some persons were being thrown in the fire. At the same time, a soldier came on a horse and informed the governor that Sodhi, along with his head of the army, had escaped on horseback. The governor and some soldiers chased Sodhi, but they failed to catch him. When they were coming back, they saw one young girl, taking another young girl on her horse, leaving the camp. Her horse was running so fast that the soldiers sent to chase her failed to trace her. The governor saw that one of the soldiers deputed to watch the girls was lying dead at the door of the camp and the other was bleeding profusely. The bleeding soldier said to the commander, “One of the girls who told that her name was Death jumped over the soldier, snatched his sword, and killed him in the twinkling of an eye. When I went to catch her, I was also injured. The other soldiers were away at a distance. When they came to our rescue, the girl had put another newlywed girl on one of our horses and had disappeared.”
It was Nirbhai Kaur who after killing a soldier and injuring another had taken with her one of her girl friends. She with her girl friends was attending the marriage of one of them when the marriage was disrupted and the house was set on fire. She along with her girlfriends was caught and presented to the chief. On her way, Nirbhai Kaur met her fiancé, Harnam Singh, a young baptized Sikh of twenty-four. She told him the whole story and asked for help to rescue her remaining two friends from the chief. He told her that her father had left with Sodhi Wadbhag Singh and her mother was burnt alive when her house was set on fire by the invading soldiers. She was red with rage on hearing all this and made up her mind to take revenge for all the atrocities.
At midnight, she and her fiancé turned their horses towards the camp. Reaching there, they found that all the watchmen were enjoying a sound sleep. They had eaten to their fill and drank a lot to celebrate their victory. She and her fiancé left the horses and her girlfriend at a distance from the camp and walked towards the camp. As they reached near the camp, they heard the cries of a girl. It meant that she was being forced by the chief to sleep with him. Harnam Singh tore the cotton wall of the camp with his sword and they entered the camp from the back. They saw that the chief was throwing the girl on his bed and she was struggling to save herself. At once, Nirbhai Kaur cut the arm of the chief with her sword and, before he could come to his senses, she cut his head and separated it from his body. Another girl was lying unconscious. Harnam Singh carried her and Nirbhai Kaur put the whole camp on fire with the help of the camp lamp. Now all the soldiers were awake and there was confusion everywhere. Fire was spreading to the other camps and everyone was trying to save himself.
Now all the five rode on horses and disappeared in the thick forest before they could be chased. They took rest for a few hours under a tree. At daybreak, they cooked whatever vegetables they could find in the fields and saved themselves from hunger. Nirbhai Kaur’s girl friends wanted to accompany them, as they were afraid that their families would not accept them because they had spent some time with the chief. They started towards the hills, as they were sure that other Sikhs would be there. At Anandpur, they met Sodhi Wadbhag Singh and Jang Bahadur Singh. Here the girl friends of Nirbhai Kaur were baptized to fulfill their desire.
Adina Beg, ex-chief of Jullunder, had revolted against Jahan Khan, the present chief, and was passing his time in those hills. He told Sodhi Wadbhag Singh that he was ready to attack Jullunder if the Sikhs agreed to help him. Sodhi Wadbhag Singh approached the Sikh chief, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, who agreed to the proposal. Now a huge force of Adina Beg, with the help of the Sikh forces, attacked Jullunder. The Jullunder chief gathered a large force and ammunition, but was defeated. Jullunder was destroyed and Nirbhai Kaur’s desire of taking revenge was fulfilled. It all happened in December 1757. Nirbhai Kaur was married to Harnam Singh. Her three friends were also married to young Sikh soldiers of their choice.
Bibi Dalair Kaur
Bibi Dalair Kaur was a seventeenth century Sikh woman who fought against the Mughals. She rallied 100 female Sikhs against them. She was killed and is considered to be a martyr among Sikhs, screamed the Moghul soldiers, with their heads down, one hand on the horse-reigns, one hand weilding a mighty sword, they charged up the hill determined to smash the fortress gates this time. A thousand arrows and bullets rained down from the over the high fortress walls. It was useless, they couldn't penetrate AnandPur, the Khalsa fort.
"RETREAT! RETREAT!" screamed a desparate General as he saw hundreds of his imperial forces drop to the ground. Back at base camp, an emergency meeting of General's was called. The jungle nights were cold, and hundreds of camp fires where seen all around the base of the hill. Anandpur Fort stood on top, inpenetrable and untouched.
"9 MONTHS! 9 Long months in this wretched, mosquito infested jungle. When are those Fortress rats going to give up?" said Wajir Khan.
"Be patient General, even rats die one day" replied Jabardast Khan.
"Patient! How much more patient can we be? We have over 1 million soldiers out there. One Million soldiers to kill that infidel Gobind Singh. Yet his Khalsa army has killed tens of thousands of our soldiers and we have barely scratched the fortress walls" thundered a raging Wajir Khan.
"Sit down Generals. As leader of the royal forces of his excellency Emperor Aurangzeb, I will make the decisions." Said Aurangzeb's General. He continued, "Let us review our tactics. We have 22 local Hindu Kings with us, we have the victorious armies of Wajir Khan and Jabardast Khan with us, and we have the miltary might of the Moghul Empire. One million soldiers, countless cannons, and an unlimited supply of arms. Fellow generals we have underestimated these Khalsa rats. Even though there can be no more than 10,000 soldiers in the fort, we have not been able to beat them through sheer force. They have the superior position on the hill top. Think of another plan Generals. We need a new strategy."
"Patience is the best strategy. It has been several months since we imposed the seige. I believe our seige is working fellow Generals. We have cut off all supplies of food and water to the fort, those rats must be almost starved by now. If we just wait another few months, victory will be ours." Said Jabardast Khan.
"It's already December, there's a cold and miserable winter infront of us. Our camp hospitals are bursting at the seams with sick soldiers, those wretched floods last month brought so many mystery illnesses, that hundreds of soldiers are dying every day. There is low moral amongst the troops and thousands of soldiers are deserting us every week, because they think we will never be able to capture the Fort. Do any of us went to spend the rest of winter like this? NO. I suggest we lure out the Khalsa rats and finish them with our swords!" raged Wajir Khan. The room full of Generals stood up and cheered. "Beloved Son and Guru, listen to your mother," said Mata Gujree. She continued, "You are beautiful and you have your father's blessing upon your head. Whatever you say is law, but I urge you to reconsider the offer of safe passage from the Royal forces. Aurangzeb himself has given his word, promising on the Koran that no harm will come to us."
"Mata Jee, it's nothing but a trick. Why would they offer us safe passage after they've been trying to kill us for 9 months?" said Guru Gobind Singh jee.
"Guru jee, you are our Father, we live for you and we will die for you," said Bhai Mani Singh, "but Guru jee we started off with 10,000 Khalsa warriors and now we have less than a thousand. Guru Jee, you are the King of this world and the King of the next world. It makes no difference to us if we live at your feet in this world or the next, but Guru jee this world needs you. You must survive, if you stay here you will die with the rest of us." "O Beloved Khalsa jee, I would rather die fighting than walk away from this battle. But Khalsa jee, you are my Guru and you have ordered that we accept the offer of safe passage and leave the fort. So we will leave tommorow. But, I don't intend to leave the fort unguarded. Bibi Dalair Kaur Jee, you are my trusted Sikh. I want you and the rest of my daughters to stay here along with 10 Khalsa men." Said Guru Gobind Singh Jee.
"Pita Jee, your words are true, bless us so we may do this duty and bring honour to the Khalsa," replied Bibi Dalair Kaur jee.
Guru Gobind Singh jee tapped her shoulder with the tip of his arrow. As soon as Guru Gobind Singh jee left the fort, the combined forces of Moghal troops and Hill Rajas quickly abandoned their sacred oaths. They charged after Guru Gobind Singh jee and his 500 Khalsa soldiers. A bloody battle took place on the banks of the Sirsa river. Many Khalsa soldiers were killed and Guru jee's family was scattered. His younger sons and mother escaped with Gangu to his village. Later on he turned them in to the authorities for a reward. This lead to their martyrdom. Bhai Mani Singh and Guru jee's wife escaped and rode to Delhi. Guru Gobind Singh jee, his two older sons and the remaining 40 Khalsa soldiers escaped to the place called Chamkaur were another battle was fought. The Khalsa fought against the odds. All 40 Khalsa, along with the older sons fought to the death. Guru Gobind Singh Jee was ordered by the Khalsa to survive and escaped to Mashiwadha. While some of the Combined Moghul forces pursued the Khalsa, the rest rode to the fort to claim victory. Bibi Dalair Kaur saw that her beloved Guru and Khalsa had been betrayed and she prepared the Guru's daughters for battle. The Moghul soldiers broke their ranks and rode to the fort, burning and looting everything in their way. Bibi Dalair Kaur stood up infront of her sister's and spoke with passion, "Sisters, we have given our heads to our Guru-Father at the amrit ceremony. We have lived for Truth, now the time has come to die for it. Sisters, remember that we are all trained warriors and we will die fighting rather than be taken as slaves. Sisters, pick up you guns and get in position_it's a good day to die_BOLAY SO NIHAL_SAT SRI AKAL."
The enemy soldiers thought that the fort was empty and were taken aback by the sudden rain of bullets. Within a few minutes, hundreds of dead soldiers lay outside the fort. Seeing this, the remaining soldiers left their positions and ran for their lives. Wajir Khan was furious at not having captured the fort, he started screaming at his men "FIRE THE CANNONS! FIRE THE CANNONS." Intense cannon fire succeeded in breaking through a wall of the fort. No-one could be seen inside so the ground troops charged towards the fort. Suddenly, they were showered with bullets and line after line of soldiers dropped dead to the ground.
Wajir Khan was ruthless and kept sending more and more troops, eventually the Khalsa women ran out of bullets. Wajir Khan smiled as capture was imminent.
Bibi Dalair Kaur jee gathered her sister's together and spoke with her Guru-Father's blessing, "Sisters, we have fought well, now we our time has come to die. It is up to us to die with honour. Remember the brave women from RajPut. When their husbands had died in battle and their fort was about to be captured, they would all all jump into a fire and burn to death rather than let the enemy dishonour them. This was how their religion taught them to preserve their honour. Our Guru-Father is always with his Sikhs and protects his sons and daughter's honour. Sisters, our Guru-Father has trained us as warriors and we will die fighting alongside our husbands and brothers. Remember we are lionesses." The enemy was advancing so rapidly that there was no time for further speeches. Bibi Dalair Kaur jee gave the signal and all Khalsa women drew their swords and positioned themselves behind the damaged wall. This was the only way for the enemy to enter. Mighty soldiers began climbing in over the piles of rubble. When they saw 100 Khalsa women and 10 Khalsa men ready for battle they stopped in their tracks. They were expecting to find hundreds of Khalsa men, they never knew women could be warriors.
Witnessing the events from a distance, Wajir Khan yelled, "Cowards, are you afraid of women? They are gifts for you, capture them and do what you want with the rewards of your hunt." Bibi Dalair Kaur yelled back, "We are the hunters, not the hunted. Come forward and find out for yourself!" Wajir Khan took up the challenge and rode into the fort with his men. Khalsa Lionesses attacked them from every corner and he dropped dead to the ground. Not knowing how many other Khalsa warriors were in the fort the Moghuls retreated yet again.
Jabardast Khan started yelling at his men "FIRE THE CANNONS! FIRE THE CANNONS." Intense cannon fire destroyed the already weakened wall. The fort's inner compound was clearly visible and no Khalsa warriors could be seen. Jabardast Khan was was convinced that no one was left alive and this time he took thousands of troops with him into the fort. They searched every inch of the fort but did not find anyone. Jabardast Khan was furious. Where did the Khalsa lionesses disappear too? He screamed at his men to find them. The soldiers searched cautiously, expecting a surprise attack from any direction. Finally they concluded that the remaining Khalsa warriors must have escaped through some secret passage.
Orders were given to abandon the search and initiate looting. The very soldiers who were afraid for their lives started searching for wealth inside the fort. When they removed the piles of rubble from the fallen wall they found no wealth, they only found the bodies of our martyrs. The faces of Guru Gobind Singh jee's daughters were still radiant yet peaceful.
They and their Khalsa brothers and husbands had stood by their leader, Bibi Daler Kaur. They died fighting to the death and received an eternal place at our Guru-Father's Lotus Feet. Dayh Shiva bar mohe ehai, subh karman tay kabhoon na taro. Na daro ar so jab jaa-e laro, nischai kar apanee jeet karo. Ar sikh ho aapnay hee man hau, eh lalach hao gun tao ucharo. Jab aav kee a-odh nidhaan banai, at hee ran mai tab joojh maro. 231. (Guru Gobind Singh)
Give me this boon Lord, that I never refrain from righteous deeds. That I have no fear when fighting the enemy, That
I attain victory with faith and fortitude, That I keep your teachings close to my mind. Lord, my desire is that I sing your praises and when the end of this life draws near, may I die fighting, with limitless courage in the battlefield.
Bibi Deep Kaur - The Warrior
Turkish soldiers were on active patrol in the area of Majha, as a Sikh jatha was to pass through there to go to Anandpur sahib to participate in Dashmesh father's (Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s) Dharam Yudh. The soldiers used to stay ahead of the Sikhs, so they could go to villages and instill fear among people who either express sympathy with the Sikhs or welcome, or serve them in anyway.
Bibi Deep Kaur lived in a village called Talban, in Hoshiarpur leading up to Anandpur Sahib. Hers was the only Sikh family to live in this village. Today her husband was not home. He had already left to participate in Dashmesh father's Dharam Yudh. When Bibi ji heard of the Jatha's arrival, she was filled with emotions of
self-service. She explained her emotions and desire to other women in her neighbourhood. But the Turkish soldiers had successfully frightened the residence of this village. Thus no one was willing to accompany her. She thought to herself, how could a person stay behind if they had even the slightest love for Maharaj; with this thought she went alone to get darshan of the gursikhs.
As she was waiting, dust suddenly arose from afar. Her face brightened with joy. Her quest for the Jatha's sight grew stronger. Now she started walking on the road towards the rising dust storm. Soon she realized that these were not the gursikhs advancing her way, but rather the Turkish soldiers. Surprised, she quickly moved off the road and tried to hide herself by sitting next to a tree. As the soldiers approached, their commander caught sight of Deep Kaur. Seeing the youthful beauty, he asked “who are you?”
"Whoever I am. How does it matter to you?" She answered fearlessly.
The commander's attraction grew stronger with her challenge. He remarked softly, "By Shehansha's (ruler's) orders, my job is to keep a watch on Sikhs in this area. Since the Sikhs are heading this way, I need to ascertain whether you are a Sikh, if you are then I am to arrest you and take you to lahore"
Deep Kaur heard his response. But, being a Sikh how could she lie. Fearlessly, she announced, "I am Sikh."
The Turk Commander was astonished by her fearlessness. But as captive of her beauty, by now, he had lost all self-control. He spoke softly and said, "Beautiful, I am responsible for capturing Sikhs. You are a Sikh. I should arrest you, but I cannot do that. I cannot fulfil my responsibilities. For I have a heart that worships
beauty and it is now yours. I am your captive."
Deep Kaur's face reddened with anger. She lashed out saying, "You should be ashamed of yourself talking to me like this. I am a Sikh and married. If you ever utter anything like this again I will snatch your tongue." "What is there to be ashamed of where hearts have met? I am yours. Accept me and I shall keep you as my Begum (wife)." Saying this the commander dismounted from his horse and moved towards Deep Kaur
while his contingent waited on the opposite side of the road.As he dismounted, Deep Kaur stood up. Seeing him approach her, she challengingly said "Beware, if you so much as touch me I will not spare you."
The commander ignored her warning and instead proceeded to hug her. Deep Kaur pulled back with lightening speed. By now she had her kirpan in her hand. As the commander approached, she struck him in his stomach with the kirpan. There was blood everywhere, with painful cries, he simply dropped to the ground.
By now Dashmesh's daughter had jumped into the war. As the wounded Commander sat on the ground, she viciously attacked him once again, sending his evil soul to burn in hell. Before the Turkish soldiers could advance, she moved swiftly to take control of the commander's sword and was well-prepared for self-defence. Seeing their dying commander, the soldiers advanced shaking in anger and simultaneously
attacked her. However, the Dashmesh's daughter wasn't scared about being out-numbered. Like a lioness, she stood fast for the challenge. She used the sword like a singh would and soon two soldiers fell to the ground while several others were severely wounded. Deep Kaur too sustained deep wounds on her face and neck. Although her wounds were profusely bleeding, she kept her courage and continued fighting.
Far on the road, the sound of horses could be heard once again. This time the Gursikhs Jatha was approaching. As the Turkish soldiers saw the Gursikhs they got scared, immediately mounted their horses and ran for their lives. The bodies of the Commander and five of his associates were left behind, lying cold on the ground.The sight of approaching Sikh brothers filled Deep Kaur filled with joy. She quickly tried to move towards the road but couldn't. She had lost too much blood and thus was unable to walk. She simply fell unconscious to the ground. The Gursikhs saw Deep Kaur, unconscious and 6 dead bodies of Turkish soldiers. It did not take them long to comprehend the situation. Immediately, they spread a bed for Dashmesh's daughter, dressed her wounds and awakened her with medication. Then carrying her along, they proceeded to Anandpur Sahib for participating in the Dashmesh father's Dharam Yudh.
Fully aware of the situation, our Dashmesh father Guru Gobind Singh Ji was strolling outside his court awaiting the arrival of his Gursikhs. Seeing them arrive, he joyfully advanced to receive them and asked "Where is my daughter?" The Sikhs were all confused. They did not understand the meaning of this question, since there were many Sikh women among them. Who did Guru Sahib honour with daughter's address? They could not understand. In the meantime, Guru Sahib quickly moved towards the palki (palanquin) carrying the wounded Deep Kaur. Raising the palki curtain, he hugged and kissed her forehead, saying "This is my daughter Deep Kaur. Because of such a daughter my Panth shall remain in Chardi Kala."
Bibi Harsarn Kaur
Sikh women are always known to have responded to the call of their duty. They have not allowed hardships and dangers to stand in the way of the performance of their moral obligations. Bibi Harsarn Kaur was one of these women who faced the odds to fulfill her obligations. Guru Gobind Singh's two elder sons together with many other Sikhs, were martyred while fighting the foes at the battle of Chamkaur Sahib. Under pressure of supplications of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh was obliged to leave the place under cover of darkness. The enemy too, taking advantage of the lull and darkness, rested in the surrounding area where they had besieged the Sikhs.
After leaving Chamkaur Sahib, Guru Ji reached the village where Bibi Harsarn Kaur lived. When he met her, she at once recognised the Guru. She bowed to Guru Ji and asked about the Sahib Jadey. She had been a nursing sister to them. Guru Ji told her about their martydom. She hurried to Chamkaur Sahib and stole on cat's paw to the battle scene and recognised the martyred Sikhs. She collected all the wood she could and piled them high. She placed the bodies of the Sahib Jadey and the Sikhs on the pile and set it afire. The big conflagration woke the enemy with consternation. All their expectations of getting prizes and honours were dashed to the ground. Now there was nothing left to show their identities of their victims.
In the light of the fire, they were amazed to espy a female figure with a javelin in hand near the pile. They approached her and demanded to know who she was and whence she came. But nothing could make her speak. They became furious and threw Bibi Harsarn, javelin and all in the fire. Thus she too obtained martyrdom on 23rd Dec 1704.
from the Punjabi book "Adarshak Singhnia"
Bibi Harsharn Kaur was a brave Sikh woman who gave her life to fulfill her obligation. She faced odds and did not allow dangers to stand in her way. She is well known for responding to the call of her duty ignoring her safety. Bhai Vir Singh in his book Kalghidhar Chamatkar Part V named her Sharan Kaur Guru Gobind Singh with his two elder sons, five beloved ones and thirty-five other Sikhs, forty-three souls in all reached Chamkaur, a village sixteen kilometers from the river Sirsa, which they crossed on 21st December 1704. Realizing that the enemy was in front and in the rear, they occupied a mud-built double-storied house there. The next morning they were besieged by thousands of Mogul soldiers. Two under aged princes, Ajit Singh, and Jujhar Singh (still in their teens), and thirty-five of the remaining Sikhs laid down their lives fighting bravely at the altar of faith and freedom before the night fall when the fight ended. The Guru himself took part in the battle, and killed, and wounded many.
Now the Guru was left with only five Sikhs who told the Guru that at that moment they were the Guru and he was the Khalsa. They ordered him to escape in the interest of the community. Three would accompany him and the remaining two would stay behind to continue the fight. Pressed by the repeated humble requests of the five Sikhs, the Guru was obliged to leave the place under the cover of darkness at midnight. Three Sikhs also left one by one. It was decided that they would meet in the garden near Machhiwara. Tired Moghul soldiers were also resting in darkness in the surrounding area. After leaving Chamkaur, the Guru reached a village where Harsharn Kaur, a baptized Sikh lady, lived. She recognized the Guru, bowed before him and asked about the princes and the other Sikhs. She had been a nursing sister to the princes. The Guru told her about their martyrdom. Hearing this, she made up her mind to cremate the dead bodies of the princes and other Sikhs. She realized that it was her moral duty to give these martyrs a decent cremation even if it cost her life.
She disguised herself as a Muslim woman, armed herself and secretly started for the battle scene. On reaching there, she saw that the Moghul soldiers were enjoying a sound sleep in their tents as they had been burying their dead soldiers throughout the day and were tired. She gathered all the dead bodies of the Sikh martyrs at one place. She collected sufficient dry wood and bushes, and piled them high. She placed all the dead bodies on the pile, prayed with tears in her eyes, and set them on fire. Flames of fire woke the sleeping soldiers. They ran to the scene and were disappointed to find that there was no dead body left. Now they could not show the identities of their victims and thus earn prizes and honors form their superiors.
In the light of the fire, they were surprised to find a woman. They asked her who she was and from whence she came. She did not speak, as she did not want to tell a lie. She stood without any sign of fear. They threatened her, but nothing could make her speak. When they saw that she had a sword in her hand, they became furious and one of them fired at her and injured her seriously. Now two soldiers lifted her and threw her body along with her sword in the fire. Thus she, too, obtained martyrdom on 23rd December 1704. Her soul met her martyred brothers. Her sacrifice is narrated many times
Bibi Shushil Kaur
Sikhs have been fighting for saving their individual existence since long. Sikh women have not lagged behind their men in this holy battle. They have also suffered in- human tortures at the hands of bigots like Mir Mannu. They were kept hungry and forced to grind grain by working heavy stone mills. To break their wills and high spirits, their children were thrown up in the air to fall back on sharp blades of spears in their presence. Pieces of their children’s dead bodies were put up as a necklace around the necks of their mothers, but these great women bore this all without even a sigh on their lips. Writers have not done justice to them. While many writers have praised the achievements and sacrifices of Banda Singh Bahadur, only a few have mentioned the sacrifice of his wife, Bibi Shushil Kaur. Her short biography will reveal that her sacrifice was also important.
In 1708, Banda Singh Bahadur was instructed by Guru Gobind Singh to carry on the national struggle in the Punjab, guide the Khalsa and to punish the oppressors. With the blessing of the Guru, Baba Banda Bahadur left Nander, South India, for Punjab and started his job in right earnest. In 1710, he conquered a large part of the Punjab including Sirhind. The governor of Sirhind, Wazir Khan, murderer of the younger two princes (Sahibzadas). Was killed in the battle an the Mughal army was defeated. Banda organized the Sikhs and established the first Sikh state with its capital at Lohgarh, near the hill state of Nahan, now a part of Himachal state, in the beginning of 1710. He struck coin in the name of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh, and issued orders under his own seal. He realized Guru Gobind Singh’s dream of political sovereignty. He can safely be called the first Sikh ruler. Huge Mughal forces from Delhi and Punjab besieged the fort of Lohgarh. Banda and his men escaped to the hill states as they were not able to withstand a long siege.
He conquered many hill states. When he reached near the hill state of Chamba, its ruler, Uday Singh, did not want to fight and offered Banda to marry a princess. Banda said to the ruler, “Why do you offer a princess when I have never made any such demand from you or from any other body?” The ruler said, “It is the desire of the princess. She does not like the hill chiefs who have sided with the Mughal chiefs. Moreover, she has heard of your courageous fight against the oppressors. She is also determined to join you in your fight to achieve your mission. .” After consulting his companions, and satisfying himself about the statement of the ruler, Banda agreed and the marriage was solemnized according to the Sikh rites in the beginning of 1711.
She was baptized and named Shushil Kaur. Macauliffe, a famous writer of the Sikh history, writes, “she had large eyes, her limbs were graceful and delicate.” Historians have described her as the very image of the God of love. After a few more conquests, Banda along with Shushil Kaur and some Sikhs retired to the hills and settled at a lonely place on the Bank of the river Chanab, in the Jammun state. It was called Dera (encampment) Baba Banda Singh Bahahdur. In the beginning of 1712, a son named Ajit Singh was born to Shushil Kaur. Off and on Banda visited different parts of the Punjab to conquer new areas or to restore order and returned to his headquarters. Now Bibi Shushil Kaur nursed her baby, Ajit Singh, and served her husband. Many Sikh Soldiers and Banda’s followers visited the Dera daily. She was also in charge of the Langar (common kitchen) at the Dera. She knew that her husband might leave any time for the plains to fight some battle. She used to listen all about these battles. Ajit Singh was brought up in this war like atmosphere. She prayed for Banda’s success whenever he left the Dera for fighting injustice and thanked God when he returned after suppressing the rebels. She also wished to accompany Banda Singh to help him, but Banda Singh did not agree.
In the beginning of 1715, when Banda Singh and his Sikhs marched towards Kalanaur, near Gurdaspur, he took Sushil Kaur and Ajay Singh with him as she insisted on accompanying him. After conquering Kalanaur, they marched towards Batala which was also captured after a bloody battle. Shushil Kaur was watching these battles and was mentally preparing herself to sacrifice his life if required. Mughal chiefs of the Punjab and Delhi under orders from the Emperor besieged Banda Singh and his Sikhs with a huge force in an enclosure at village Gurdas Nangal, near Gurdaspur.
The siege continued for eight months. Banda Singh and his men fought against heavy odds and held their ground with courage. Their provision had run out as they were attacked suddenly. They had to live on grass and leaves. Bibi Shushil Kaur did not lose heart. She with her innocent child faced these odds boldly. Banda Singh along with his family and famished soldiers, who had survived, was taken prisoners in December,1715. They were brought to Lahore and from there to Delhi. They were humiliated, but there was no sign of sorrow or dejection on the face of anyone. Shushik Kaur was satisfied that she was with her husband at that time when death seemed to be sure. She was meditating and praying to God to give everyone courage to face death boldly.
At Delhi Bibi Shushil Kaur with her child was separated from the other prisoners and taken to the palace where other queens lived. The Mughal Emperor at Delhi, Farrukh Siyar wanted to marry her, so she was not tortured. She was provided with all the comforts. Other queens and maid servants were instructed to induce Bibi Shushil Kaur to embrace Islam and enjoy her life. She was promised high position among the queens and expensive jewellery, but she refused. To discourage her, she was told that 100 Sikh soldiers were being murderers daily because they also refused to feel sorry and embrace Islam. Hearing this, she felt encouraged and hated her life in the palace. She was told that her lovely child would also be killed mercilessly if she did not agree to be converted. She replied without any fear , “ Do whatever you like. Neither I nor my innocent son would like to be converted. We, Sikhs, are not afraid of death”. According to the court reporter, Mohammad Suffi, next day the offer of making her royal queen was repeated to her, but she remained firm and said, “ Time of our death is fixed and none but God can prolong our life. My religion is dearer to me then my or my son’s life”.
According to the same reporter, after two days, she was told that her husband had embraced Islam and he wanted her to follow him. She understood that it was a lie and said to the messenger, “ You are telling a lie. Prove it by taking me to my husband”. At last, they ordered her to give them her child. She understood that the end of her four years old child’s life had reached. She was a helpless prisoner and could do nothing. She kissed and hugged her dear son, overcame her sentiments and handed him over to them. Next day She came to know from a reliable source that the executioner had hacked the child to pieces with a long knife while the child was sitting in the lap of his father. Quivering heart of the child was thrust into the mouth of his father. She also heard the confirmed news that Banda Singh was also cut to pieces. Hearing all these bad news, she thanked God that everyone had been firm in his faith. She was calm and nobleness of her features was visible. She was again induced and pressured to agree to conversion and marry the Emperor. Her maids thought that she would agree as there was none left to support her. When this self-respecting woman realized that his honor was in danger, she decided to end her life. She followed the example set by Bibi Anup Kaur, found a deggar and thrust it into her chest at midnight. She became a mortal on 20th June,1716. Her soul joined her husband’s and her son’s souls
Sardarni Sada Kaur
Sardarni Sada Kaur, mother-in-law of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, is one of the builders of the Sikh Raj. She was born to Sardar Dasaunda Singh of Ferozepur District and was married to Sardar Gurbakhsh Singh, son of Sardar Jai Singh, jathedar (Head) of the Ghanya Misl. A misl was like a kingdom for each of the Sikh sardars. They collected revenue from their Misl areas.
Sardar Jai Singh was a friend of Sardar Charhat Singh, the Jathedar of the Shakarchakia Misl. The areas of the two Misls were adjacent to each other. Unfortunately, Sardar Charhat Singh died early leaving his young son, Mahan Singh, an orphan. Sardar Jai Singh extended his sympathy to the bereaved family and raised Mahan Singh with love and affection.
When Mahan Singh became an adult, he wanted to use his powers to increase his revenues. He collected money from the nearby Jammu area, which was under the protection of Sardar Jai Singh. Naturally, he got angry at the young boy, Mahan Singh, for his unfaithful act. He ordered him to pay a heavy fine or be ready to be attacked and turned out of his Misl area.
Mahan Singh understood the blunder he made for the lust of wealth. He went to Jai Singh to feel sorry and negotiate the fine to be paid by him. Sardar Jai Singh, being very mad, did not agree to relax his condition of collecting heavy fines from Mahan Singh. The reconciliation efforts having failed, he had no alternative but to face the mighty Sardar Jai Singh. To be able to come up to the level of giving a good fight to Jai Singh, the young sardar decided to get as many people on his side as possible. All the opponents and Sikh chiefs jealous of Jai Singh got on the side of Mahan Singh.
A big battle was fought between the two brave Sikh armies, each proud of his men and their expertise in fighting skills. Gurbakhsh Singh, son of Jai Singh was fighting on one front independent of his father. He was murdered in the fight, leaving young Sardarni Sada Kaur a widow and his father without support. Jai Singh could not bear the loss of his only son in the battle and immediately gave up the fight. He threw away his arms and raising his hands cried aloud to his opponent to murder him. While weeping he said he did not want to live without his son, his only hope in the world. The fighting stopped right away leaving Jai Singh a mental wreck and incapable of managing his Misl.
Sardarni Sada Kaur did not lose her heart even under these trying and adverse situations. She decided to face all these problems bravely and tactfully. She reconciled with her main opponent Mahan Singh. She offered the hand of her daughter Mehtab Kaur to Ranjit Singh, the son of Mahan Singh. The engagement of the two children cemented the friendship of their parents and removed all the grains of mutual enmity and misgivings. The combination of the two big Misls, Shakarchakia and Ghanya created a force to be counted as number one in the Punjab state.
It is said misfortunes never come alone. Another great tragedy struck Sada Kaur. Sardar Mahan Singh died three years after the engagement of his son Ranjit Singh and left him an orphan at the age of nine. To face this new unfortunate situation, Sardarni Sada Kaur had to perform the marriage ceremony for her daughter when she was just a child. The marriage entitled her to conduct and manage the affairs of the Shakarchakia Misl as well.
She handled her job so wisely and bravely that she was able to achieve the long cherished goal of the Sikhs of becoming the rulers of Punjab. She performed this great task within 9 years after taking over the charge of the two Misls.
She used both tact and power to unite all the major Misls to take over the rule of Punjab. Some Sikh chiefs willingly joined her because of her good negotiating power. Others, she physically took over with the help of her strong army and annexed their Misls. She gave them (Sikh chiefs defeated by her) appropriate positions in the enlarged kingdom to keep them on her side rather than letting them nurse any ill-will against her as her opponents.
Whenever an opponent tried to weaken her or any invader tried to loot her territory, she defeated them to silence them forever. In this way, one success after the other led her to make her son-in-law, Ranjit Singh, become the ruler of Lahore before the turn of the century. The Sikh Raj was thus established in 1799 in Punjab. She guided, advised, and helped him to take over not only the whole of Punjab lying to the west of the Satlej River, but also to become the ruler of the regions adjacent to the Punjab. Ranjit Singh thus became a great, powerful Maharaja of Punjab. He defeated the Pathans and Mughals, and subdued these great fighters who had been coming from the west, invading and looting Punjab for almost a century.
Sardarni Sada Kaur thus carved out a place for herself in the history of northwestern India as one of the builders of the Sikh State.
Sikh women are good statesmen and great soldiers. They can organize armies, win battles, and rule the state well.
Mai Bhago, (Mata Bhag Kaur) the sole survivor of the battle of Khidrana, i.e. Battle of Muktsar (29 December 1705), was a descendant of Pero Shah, the younger brother of Bhai Langah, a Dhillon Jatt who had become a Sikh during the time of Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji Maharaj. Born at her ancestral village of Jhabal in presentday Amritsar district of the Punjab, she was married to Nidhan Singh Varaich of Patti. A staunch Sikh by birth and upbringing, she was distressed to hear in 1705 that some of the Sikhs of her neighbourhood who had gone to Anandpur to fight for Guru Gobind Singh Ji had deserted him under adverse conditions.
Finding the men she persuaded them to find the Guru, to apologize for leaving Anandpur while it had been under attack and seek his permission to be reinstated as Sikhs. She set off along with them and some other Sikhs to find the Guru, who had been pursued by Mughal forces since leaving Anandpur. They caught up with him in the area around Malva. Mat Bhago and the men she was leading stopped near the dhab (pool) of Khidrana just as an imperial army was about to attack the Guru. The 40 sikhs who had asked the Guru for permission to leave Anandpur, had been allowed to leave, but the Guru had asked them first to leave the Khalsa and dis-avowing him as their Guru. Now fate gave them the chance to redeem themselves, nevermind that even though they appeared as Sikhs, they were no longer Khalsa, so despite the fact that they surely faced certain death, the forty (chali) men along with Mai Bhago, waded headlong into the Muslim forces (around 10,000 soldiers) and inflicted so much damage that the Muslims were finally forced to give up their attack and retreat as darkness fell to lick their wounds in the nearby woods. The Guru had watched the battle from a nearby hill and with deadly accuracy had rained down a flurry of arrows on the Mughal fighters during the attack. Seeing little activity among the party that had come to his aid he rode to the battlefield.
He found that group was composed of the fourty men who he had asked to sign a paper dis-avowing him as their Guru, all of them had died of their wounds except one, Mahari Singh, who mortally wounded, had only the time to look up at Guru Gobind Singh as he pulled him upright with his arms pulling him into his lap. It is said that the note the men had signed slipped out of the dying Sikh's clothing and was picked up by the Guru who told Mahari Singh that all was forgiven that all had died as Martyrs.
The Forty Liberated Ones
Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji blessed the forty men as the forty (chali) liberated ones (mukte) and that is still how the men are known today; the Forty Liberated Ones the Chali Mukte. He took into his care Mata Bhago who had also suffered injury in the battle. After recovering she thereafter stayed on with Guru Gobind Singh Ji serving as one of his bodyguards, in warrior attire. After the passing of Guru Gobind Singh at Nanded in 1708, she retired down at Jinvara, 11 km from Bidar in Karnataka where, immersed in meditation, she lived to attain a ripe old age.
Her hut in Jinvara has now been converted into Gurudwara Tap Asthan Mai Bhago. At Nanded, too, a hall within the compound of Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazur Sahib marking the site of her residence is known as Bunga Mai Bhago.
Bibi Basant Kaur Ji
"When the Mughal forces laid siege around Anandpur Sahib, many Singhs deserted the Guru, including the 40 Singhs who later became the 40 Muktas. Guru Gobind Singh Jee asked Bibi Basant Kaur if she wanted to leave the fort, as there would be terrible hardships in the coming months. However Bibi Jee politely declined, saying that she would not leave her Guru whatever the circumstances.
After some months of real difficulties and hunger, Guru Gobind Singh Jee decided to leave Anandpur Sahib at the request of his Sikhs. Evading the Mughal forces, the Guru and his Sikhs reached the River Sirsa. It was the winter months, and due to the cold weather and fast flowing river current, the Sikhs got scattered. Guru Gobind Singh Jee, Sahibzada Ajit Singh and Sahibzada Jujhar Singh got separated from Mata Gujjer Kaur ( Mata Gujri), Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh.
Bibi Basant Kaur was with Mata Gujjer Kaur at this critical time, leading Mata Jee's horse through the River Sarsa. Mata Jee's horse led her to the other side of the river, but Bibi Basant Kaur got swept away by the cold but rapidly flowing river water. As the river carried her for some distance, she fell unconscious due to the horrendously cold water. Finally her body was washed up on the side of the riverbank.
A Mughal soldier, Samund Khan, seeing Bibi Basant Kaur unconscious, took advantage of her vulnerability and took her to his house. When she regained her consciousness, he asked her to accept Islam and become his wife. He said if she accepted his wishes, she would have all the material pleasures that she could ever dream of. Bibi Jee replied: "I could have left my Guru months ago and not had to endure such hardships at Anandpur Sahib. I will never leave my Guru." Samund Khan was taken aback by Bibi Jee's response, but thought leaving her locked up and hungry in a cell for some days would easily break her resolve.
Bibi Basant Kaur's health was already in a bad state, but throughout her stay in the cell, she resolved to make Gurbani her Aasra. She sat cross-legged in one spot, but with deep concentration and faith in Waheguroo, she kept doing Sukhmani Sahib da Paath. No fears about the future could remove her concentration from Guru Jee and Gurbani.
When Samund Khan came to Bibi Jee after eight days, her resolve was nowhere near broken. This left Samund Khan seething with anger. Evil thoughts crossed his mind. He started to move towards Bibi Jee. Bibi Jee realised the situation, and started praying to Kalgidhaar Dasmesh Pita.
Samund Khan was saying in an antagonising and sarcastic manner "what's your Guru going to do for you now? Are you ready to accept Islam now?" Bibi Jee responded "My Guru is always with me. You cannot do anything to me." "Don't lie … your Guru is nowhere to be seen," he said in a taunting manner, as he moved further towards Bibi Jee. Bibi Jee started to do Ardaas to Guru Sahib with even greater pyaar and faith. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Bibi Jee said "My Guru is here." He was now within touching distance of Bibi Jee. He said, "I cannot see him … you're imagining things." Bibi Jee said, "you will not be able to see him … you're a Paapi person, full of the 5 vices. Only those with high Kamayee can see him. My Guru Jee is here with me."
"gur m aerai sa(n)g sadh aa hai n aalae s imar si mar th is sadhaa samh aalae 1 reh aao "
My Guru is always with me, near at hand. Meditating, meditating in remembrance on Him, I cherish Him forever. 1Pause - Guru Granth Sahib Ji Pg 394
At this instance, Samund Khan tried to move further towards Bibi Jee, yet his body had now frozen. Although he could see with his eyes and speak with his mouth, all his body's muscle had frozen, as if he was a statue. Bibi Jee had realised what her Guru Jee had done. She asked, "I thought you said my Guru would not save me? I thought you said he was not here?"
After a few minutes of being frozen like a statue, he started begging Bibi Jee to do Ardaas to unfreeze him. Bibi Jee said that her Ardaas would only happen if Samund Khan promised to be a decent God-fearing person. Samund Khan readily agreed. Bibi Jee did her Ardaas, and Guru Gobind Singh Jee unfroze the Mughal soldier. For the following few weeks, having seen the Kamayee and Gursikhi Jeevan of Bibi Basant Kaur, he served Bibi Jee very well whilst Bibi Jee continued doing Bhagti. He then took Bibi Jee personally to Dina Kangoor to re-unite Bibi Jee with Guru Gobind Singh Jee.
What can we learn from this episode?
Guru Jee is always with us, but only those fortunate souls with high Bhagti and Naam Jeevan realise this. Such souls can speak, feed, see and call upon their Guru all the time and at any time.
If we are to reach this stage, we must have full faith in the Guru, incorporate his teachings into our lives and never leave the Guru … just like Bibi Basant Kaur Jee.
If we become Bhagats of Waheguroo, Waheguroo will always preserve our honour, saving us physically whilst having mortal form and saving us forever once our soul leaves the body.
Bibi Sahib Kaur
Bibi Sahib Kaur (1771-1801) was a warrior and leader of men who played a prominent part in the history of the cis-Sutlej states from 1793 to 1801, was the elder sister of Raja Sahib Singh of Patiala. Born in 1771, Sahib Kaur was married at an early age to Jaimal Singh of the Kanhaiya clan, who resided at Fatehgarh and was master of a greater part of the Bari Doab above Dina Nagar in present-day Gurdaspur district of the Punjab. In 1793, Raja Sahib Singh, in view of mounting dissensions within his state, recalled his sister Bibi Sahib Kaur to Patiala and entrusted to her the office of prime minister. She had not been long in Patiala when she had to return to Fatehgarh at the head of a large Patiala army to rescue her husband who had been captured by Fateh Singh, a rival chief. Back in Patiala she faced a large Maratha force marching towards the town in 1794 under the command of Anta Rao and Lachhman Rao.
Raja Bhag Singh of Jind,Jodh Singh of Kalsia and Bhanga Singh of Thanesar joined hands n with her while Tara Singh Ghaiba sent a detachment of troops. The joint force, numbenng about 7,000 men, met the enemy at Mardanpur near Ambala where a fierce engagement took place. The Sikhs were severely outnumbered and would have retreated had not Sahib Kaur, alighting from her rath, i.e. chariots made a brave call with a drawn sword in hand for them to stay firm in their ranks. The next morning they made a sudden charge on the Marathas who, taken by surprise, retired towards Karnal in utter confusion.
Bedi Sahib Singh of Una charged the Pathan chief of Malerkotla with cow-killing and attacked him. He was saved by the timely succour given him hy Sahib Kaur. In 1796, in response to the request of the Raja of Nahan who had sought help from Raja Sahib Singh of Patiala to quell a revolt in his state, Sahib Kaur proceeded to the hills with a strong force and soon reduced the insurgents to submission. The Raja was reinstalled on the gaddi and, at the time of Sahib Kaur's departure, he presented her with many rich andvaluahle gifts in token of his gratitude. In the summer of l799, George Thomas, an English adventurer, who had become very powerful and who ruled the country in the neighbourhood of Hansi and Hissar, turned his attention to the Sikh territories on his northern frontier and reached upon Jind. Sahib Kaur led out a strong contingent to relieve the besieged town and, assisted by the troops of other Sikh chiefs, she forced George Thomas to withdraw.
Owing to differences with her brother, Blbi Sahib Kaur had to leave Patiala to take up residence in Bherlan, near Sunam, which fell within her jagir and where she had built a fort changing the name of the village to Ubheval. She died there in 1801 in the prime of her life.
Mata Jito Ji
Mata Jito Ji was ji was the wife of Guru Gobind Singh ji (1666-1708) and the daughter of Bhai Ram Saran, a Kumarav Khatri of Bijvara, in present-day Hoshiarpur district of the Punjab. She was married to Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur on 4 April 1684. The father-in-law had desired that the bridegroom should come at the head of a marriage party to Lahore where the ceremony should be performed with due dignity.
The fateful events leading to the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur ji intervened, and in the changed circumstances it was not possible for the young Guru to go to Lahore. Therefore a temporary encampment was raised near the village of Basantgarh, 10 km north of Anandpur, and named Guru ka Lahore where the nuptials were held on 23 Har 1734 Bk/21 June 1684. Mata Jito ji became Mata Sundari ji after marriage as was the custom in Punjabi families.
Four sons were born to Mata Jito ji/Sundari ji - Baba Ajit Singh ji, Baba Jujhar Singh ji (14 March 1691), Baba Zorawar Singh ji (17 November 1696) and Baba Fateh Singh ji (25 February 1699). Mata Sundari Ji raised her four sons on the martyrdom tales of their grandfather Guru Tegh Bahadur ji and great great grandfather Guru Arjan Dev ji. She told them a Sikh never runs from a battle field. Being raised on such tales of bravery, her sons, like thousands of other Sikhs, both men and women, have attained Martyrdom.
The flight from Anandpur
After several attacks on the fortifications of Anandpur Sahib and a long siege, the Guru was finally convinced to leave Anandpur, but as he later related in his Epistle of Victory (a letter he wrote to Aurangzeb called in Persian the Zafarnama) he only left Anandpur after a second promise from both the Hindu and Mughal forces made on their most Holy Books of safe passage for him and his Sikhs to the Punjab. History and Sikh narratives tell us that the main body of the Sikhs accompanied their Guru headed towards the Sarsa River where the fury of the storm swollen frigid waters of the Sarsar an an attack by a far superior Mughal force caused the Guru, his two older sons and the remaining Sikh forces to be separated from the Guru's mother and the two younger Shahibzadas. Mata Sundari ji, along with Mata Sahib Devan (who adopted the name 'Sahib Kaur' after recieving Amrit), were escorted in another direction by Bhai Mani Singh ji to Delhi on the night of 5-6 December 1705.
The Battle of Chamkaur
Vastly outnumbered Baba Ajit Singh ji, 19 years old and Baba Jujhar Singh ji, only 15 years old, both having asked their father for permission to join their fellow Sikhs in attacking the forces of the hill chiefs and the Muslim at Chamkaur attained Martyrdom before their father's eyes. Turned over to the Mughal forces with their paternal grandmother, Baba Zorawar Singh ji, only 9 and Baba Fateh Singh ji, only 6, were cut down on the orders of Wazir Khan, Mughal Governor of Sarhind. The young Sahibzadas were offered wealth and worldly treats, if only they would accept Islam. They too attained Martyrdom at the edge of a Mughal blade having refused to abandon the Sikh religion.
Mata Sundari ji rejoined Guru Gobind Singh in 1706 at Talwandi Sabo, where she was told of the martyrdom of her sons and of the death of her aged mother-in-law, Mata Gujari Kaur ji. She went back to stay at Delhi while Guru Gobind Singh left Talwandi Sabo for the South. At Delhi, Mata Sundari ji adopted a young boy whom she named Ajit Singh because of his resemblance to her own late son, Sahibzada Ajit Singh ji. After the passing away of Guru Gobind Singh ji at Nanded in October 1708, the Sikhs looked to her for guidance. She appointed Bhai Mani Singh ji to manage the sacred shrines at Amritsar and also commissioned him to collect the writings of Guru Gobind Singh ji. She also issued under her own seal and authority hukamnamas to sangats. The hukamnamas since discovered and published bear dates between 12 October 1717 and 10 August 1730.
Mata Sundari ji was disappointed in her adopted son, Ajit Singh. Emperor Bahadur Shah treated him as the successor of Guru Gobind Singh ji, called him to his court and gave him a robe of honour in September 1710. This went to his head and he started living in style as a courtier. He grew arrogant and haughty even towards Mata Sundari who disowned him, and migrated to Mathura. Ajit Singh was later convicted for murder and was put to death on 18 January 1725. Mata Sundari ji returned to live in Delhi where she ,died in 1747. A memorial in her honour stands in the compound of Gurdwara Bala Sahib, New Delhi.
Clearing up some misconceptions
Article taken from The Encyclopedia of Sikhism, edited by Harbans Singh ji.
Also based on the following results on the research by Dr. Gurbaksh Singh ji
The wrong impression that Guru Gobind Singh had more than one wife was created by writers who were ignorant of Punjabi culture. Later authors accepted their writing, which indicated more than one marriage of the Guru and presented it as a royal act. During those days kings, chiefs, and other important people usually had more than one wife as a symbol of their being great and superior to the common man. Guru Gobind Singh ji, being a true king, was justified in their eyes to have had more than one wife. This is actually incorrect. In Punjab, there are two and sometimes three big functions connected with marriage, i.e., engagement, wedding, and Muklaawaa. Big gatherings and singings are held at all these three functions. In many cases, the engagement was held as soon as the person had passed the infant stage. Even today engagements at 8 to 12 years of age are not uncommon in some interior parts of India. The wedding is performed a couple of years after the engagement. After the wedding, it takes another couple of years for the bride to move in with her in laws and live there. This is called Muklaawaa. A dowry and other gifts to the bride are usually given at this time of this ceremony to help her to establish a new home. Now, the wedding and Muklaawaa are performed on the same day and only when the partners are adults.
A big befitting function and other joyful activities were held at Anand Pur, according to custom, at the time of the engagement of the Guru. The bride, Mata Jeeto Ji, resided at Lahore, which was the capital of the Mughal rulers who were not on good terms with the Gurus. When the time for the marriage ceremony came, it was not considered desirable for the Guru to go to Lahore, along with the armed Sikhs in large numbers. Furthermore, it would involve a lot of traveling and huge expenses, in addition to the inconvenience to the Sangat, younger and old, who wished to witness the marriage of the Guru. Therefore, as mentioned in the Sikh chronicles, Lahore was 'brought' to Anand Pur Sahib for the marriage instead of the Guru going to Lahore. A scenic place a couple of miles to the north of Anand Pur was developed into a nice camp for the marriage. This place was named Guru Ka Lahore. Today, people are going to Anand Pur visit this place as well. The bride was brought to this place by her parents and the marria ge was celebrated with a very huge gathering attending the ceremony.
The two elaborate functions, one at the time of engagement and the other at the time of the marriage of the Guru, gave the outside observers the impression of two marriages. They had reason to assume this because a second name was also there, i.e., Mata Sundari Ji. After the marriage, there is a custom in the Panjab of giving a new affectionate name to the bride by her inlaws. Mata Jeeto Ji, because of her fine features and good looks, was named Sundari (beautiful) by the Guru's mother. The two names and two functions gave a basis for outsiders to believe that the Guru had two wives. In fact, the Guru had one wife with two names as explained above. Some historians even say that Guru Gobind Singh ji had a third wife, Mata Sahib Kaur. In 1699, the Guru asked her to put pataasas (puffed sugar) in the water for preparing Amrit when he founded the Khalsa Panth. Whereas Guru Gobind Singh ji is recognized as the spiritual father of the Khalsa, Mata Sahib Kaur ji is recognized as the spiritual mother of the Khalsa. People not conversant with the Amrit ceremony mistakenly assume that Mata Sahib Kaur ji was the wife of Guru Gobind Singh ji. As Guru Gobind Singh ji is the spiritual but not the biological father of the Khalsa, Mata Sahib Devan ji is the spiritual mother of the Khalsa, Mata Sahib Devan is the spiritual mother of the Khalsa but not the wife of Guru Gobind Singh. From ignorance of Punjabi culture and the Amrit ceremony, some writers mistook these three names of the women in the life of Guru Gobind Singh as the names of his three wives. Another reason for this misunderstanding is that the parents of Mata Sahib Devan, as some Sikh chronicles have mentioned, had decided to marry her to Guru Gobind Singh ji. When the proposal was brought for discussion to Anandpur, the Guru had already been married. Therefore, the Guru said that he could not have another wife since he was already married. The dilemma before the parents of the girl was that, the proposal having become public, no Sikh would be willing to marry her. The Guru agreed for her to stay at Anand Pur but without accepting her as his wife. The question arose, as most women desire to have children, how could she have one without being married. The Guru told, "She will be the "mother" of a great son who will live forever and be known all over the world." The people understood the hidden meaning of his statement only after the Guru associated Mata Sahib Devan with preparing Amrit by bringing patasas. It is, therefore, out of ignorance that some writers consider Mata Sahib Devan as the worldly wife of Guru Gobind Singh.
Mata Sahib Kaur November 1681 - 1747) also Mata Sahib Devan is known as the "Mother of the Khalsa". She earned the distinction when she aked Guru Gobind Singh Ji for children, and Guru Gobind Singh Ji said that the Khalsa is your child. Mata Sundari ji (also known as 'Mata Jito ji') was the only wife of Guru Gobind Singh. Mata Sahib Kaur, who was called 'Sahib Devan' was the Spiritual Mother of the Khalsa. Mata Sahib Kaur Ji accompanied Guru Sahib throughout his life.
Mata Sahib Devan's father wished her daughter to marry Guru Gobind Singh, however as the Guru was already married, her father asked the Guru's permission for Mata Sahib Devan to live in the Guru's house as Sikh and serve the Guru and his family. Therefore, Mata Sahib Devan was never married and never had a physical relationship with the Guru. As a consequence of not marrying Mata Sahib Devan and her not being able to have children, Guru Gobind Singh made her the "Mother of the Khalsa". Up to this day in history, all Sikhs who take Amrit consider Mata Sahib Kaur as their (spiritual) Mother, and Guru Gobind Singh ji as their (spiritual) Father.
Mata Sahib Kaur Ji, who is also called Mata Sahib Devan Ji, was born on the 1st November 1681 in a village called Rohtas, District Jehlum, in West Panjab, (now in Pakistan). Her mother’s name was Mata Jasdevi Ji and father’s name was Bhai Rama Ji. Her father, who was an ardent sewak (devotee) of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, influenced her to the extent that she wanted to devote her whole life in the service of the Guru Sahib.
According to Folks, From her childhood, Mata Sahib Kaur Ji was a sweet and quiet natured girl. Because of the religious atmosphere at home, she was deeply influenced by Gurbani during her formative years. It is possible that in her childhood she might have seen Guru Gobind Singh Ji at Sri Anandpur Sahib during the visit of her family. She had inherited humility, love and sacrifice to humanity and devotion to Waheguru.
When she came of age, her father and other devotees of village Rohtas, took her to Sri Anandpur Sahib and requested Guru Gobind Singh Ji to take her as his bride. Guru Ji told the Sangat that he was already married and could not marry again. However, Mata Sahib Kaur Ji's father had pledged his daughter to Guru Sahib and no-one else would marry her now.
Therefore, Guru Sahib agreed that Mata Sahib Kaur Ji could stay with the Guru's family, however, they could not marry or ever have children. Guru Sahib instead promised Mata Sahib Kaur Ji, that you will become a great Mother to thousands. Mata Sahib Kaur Ji lived in the Guru's household and served Guru Ji and the Sangat with full shardaa (devotion).
Mata Sahib Kaur Ji accompanied Guru Sahib throughout his life, even during battles, serving him in every possible way. On Vaisakhi 1699, in the first Amrit-Sanchaar, it is said Mata Sahib Kaur Ji participated in the sewa of the Amrit-Sanchaar by adding Pataasey (sugar wafers) to the Amrit, and was bestowed the honour of eternal motherhood of Khalsa Panth. Mata Ji guided the Khalsa Panth through period of crisis many times and issued eight decrees in the name of Khalsa.
When Guru Gobind Singh reached Abchal Nagar (Sri Hazoor Sahib), he sent Mata Sahib Kaur Ji to Delhi and gave her five weapons of the Sixth Nanak, Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, for safekeeping. These weapons are today displayed at Gurdwara Rakabganj in Delhi. Mata Sahib Kaur Ji, passed away before Mata Sundri Ji. She left for heavenly abode at the age of sixty six in 1747 and her last rites were performed in Bala Sahib, Delhi.
Baba Maharaj Singh Puratan Shaheed
Baba Maharaj Singh ji's childhood name was Nihal Singh. He was blessed soul who had holy darshan of Mahapurakhs like Baba Mani Singh ji, Baba Deep Singh ji and Baba Gurbaksh Singh ji in childhood. He later on joined Jatha of Baba Sahib singh ji bedi and was instrumental in creation of Khalsa Raaj with Babaji. Baba Sahib singh ji was real mind behind a unified Khalsa Raaj. After Babaji left for sachkhand in 1834, SInghs of Jatha moved to Naurangabad, a village in Amritsar and Baba Bir Singh ji became the Jathedar. This place of Baba Bir SIngh ji became a centre of SIkh unrest against Dogra takeover of Khalsa Raaj. Dogras attacked this place in 1844 and Baba Bir SIngh ji attained Shaheedi.
Baba Maharaj SIngh ji was elected next Jathedar and he continued to lead Sikhs in battles against British and dogras. He was a Mukt-Aatma who believed in Freedom of SIkh panth and supremacy of Khalsa Raaj. When Britsh took over Lahore Darbar in 1846, he revolted and didnt accept Firangi raaj. He incited Raja Sher SIngh to revolt against British empire, which led to second anglo-sikh war. Babaji, at the age of 118 years, fought like lions in battlefields of Gujrat and Chillainwala, which are considered to be the most humiliating defeats of British in South Asia, in which thousands of British soldiers died. Even viceroy and generals of British army were removed after these battles. But Raja Sher Singh showed weakness and surrendered to British later. Baba Maharaj SIngh ji refused to surrender and carried on the revolt. He was feared by British for his spiritual powers and was known as 'karnivala' by them. He was arrested by British one Amritvela, when Babaji was in Samadhi with his 25 Gursikh soldiers. He was kept in Jail for some time, but as he was a 'Dangerous Guru', He was shifted to Singapore where he was kept in solitary confinement for 6 years and wasnt allowed to meet anyone, except his hazooriya, Bhai Kharak Singh ji. Babaji suffered from many physical diseases, but Cruel british empire refused to free him or even let him take a walk. at last, on 5th august 1856, the great Sant-sipahi-freedom fighter Baba Maharaj Singh ji left his body and the Mukt Aatma went to the land of his beloved.
such was the spirit of Gursikhs of 18th and 19th century, that even at age of 118 years they fought for freedom and Independent Khalsa Raaj, and went through every possible torture, even of separation from Motherland at age of 125 years. Lakh lakh Parnaam to Baba Maharaj SIngh ji.
(Babaji's spiritual lineage continues with Rarewali Samparda, in which came holy Baba isher Singh ji Maharaj.)
Baba Maharaj Singh ji..The free soul who had seen the lives and battles of Singhs of 18th century was the one of leaders of Khalsa army in battle of chillianwala. Babaji was riding a white horse and this 118 year old 'Buddha Sher' of Panth waving his sword in his hand was exhorting Khalsa army with words
''When i was young,I heard Baba Deep Singh ... See Moresay in battlefield to his Akali Fauj,'The Day Sikhs learnt to live in Slavery,Sikhi is doomed.The day Sikhs became afraid of getting cut to pieces for Guru,Sikhi is
doomed.Its better to chop the enemy or get cut to pieces rather than living a life of dishonor and slavery'.And I saw Khalsa fight without head.I need that Khalsa back.Today's the day to cut or get cut for Guru, for SIkhi. Its better to die a Shaheed than live as a slave''.
And world knows what happened at Chillianwala that day.5th august was the day this hole soul left this planet, but very few of us know abt the greatness and courage of Mahapurakhs like Babaji. lets rememeber them, revere them, make them our idols, only than will we achieve freedom.
Posted by Gursikhi Jivan
Baba Ala Singh
Baba Ala Singh a Misl Jathedar of Phulkian Misl, who became the first ruling chief of Patiala, was born in 1691 at Phul, in present day Bathinda district of the Punjab, the third son of Bhai Ram Singh. His grandfather, Baba Phul, had been as a small boy blessed by Guru Hargobind, Nanak VI. Ala Singh's father and his uncle, Tilok Singh, had both received the rites of initiation at the hands of Guru Gobind Singh who conferred on their family the panegyric,"Your house is mine own."
Ala Singh was married at an early age to Fateh Kaur, popularly known as Mai Fatto, daughter of Chaudhari Kala of Khana, a zamindar of the village Kaleke, now in Sangrur district of the Punjab, and had three sons, Bhumia Singh, Sardul Singh and Lal Singh, all of whom died in his lifetime, and a daughter, Bibi Pardhan.
Ala Singh's career of conquest began soon after the execution of Banda Singh Bahadur in 1716 when central Punjab lay in utter confusion. Ala Singh was living at phul about 40 km from Bathinda. He gathered around him a band of dashing and daring young men. In 1722, he set up his headquarters at Barnala, 32 km farther east, and his territory comprised 30-odd villages. At Barnala, Ala Singh defeated in 1731 Rai Kalha of Raikot, an influential chief with a large force at his command. Aided by roving bands of the Dal Khalsa, he ransacked and annexed several villages belonging to the Bhattis. He also founded several new villages such as Chhajali, Dirba, Laungoval and Sheron.
For a period Ala Singh remained in the custody of 'Ali Muhammad Khan Ruhila, Mughal governor of Sirhind from 1745-48, and was released only when the latter fled his capital at the approach in February 1748 of the Afghan invader Ahmad Shah Durrani. In the battle fought on 11 March 1748, near Manupur, 15 km northwest of Sirhind, between the Mughals and Ahmad Shah Durrani, Ala Singh sided with the former. He cut off Durrani's supplies and captured his camels and horses. In 1749, Ala Singh defeated and repulsed Farid Khan, a Rajput chieftain, who had sought the help of the imperial governor of Sirhind and stopped the construction by him of a fort at Bhavanigarh. Three years later, Ala Singh, captured the district of Sanaur, called chaurasi, lit. eighty-four, from the number of the villages it comprised. One of these where he built a fort in 1763 and which was thenceforth his permanent seat, became famous as Patiala. At the end of 1760, Ala Singh possessed 726 villages including many towns. On the eve of the battle of Panipat (1761) when the Marathas' camp was blockaded by Ahmad Shah Durrani, Ala Singh helped them with foodgrain and other provisions. In the Vadda Ghallughara or Great Carnage of February 1762, Ala Singh remained neutral, Thus Phulkian Misl was declared out of Dal Khalsa. Ahmad Shah punished him with the devastation of the town of Barnala.
Ala Singh presented himself in the Shah's camp, was ordered to shave off his head and beard. This he declined to do and offered instead to pay a sum of one and a quarter lakh of rupees. The Shah accepted the money but had him taken to Lahore where he secured his freedom by paying another five lakh of rupees.
Ala Singh took the pahul in 1732 at the hands of Kapur Singh, leader of the Dal Khalsa. He was an ally of Jassa Singh Ahluvalia in the attack on Sirhind in 1764. Later he purchased this town from Bhai Buddha Singh to whom it had been assigned by the Khalsa. On 29 March 1761, Ahmad Shah Durrani had already recognized by a written decree the sovereignty of Ala Singh over the territories held by him. At the time of his seventh invasion of India, he confirmed him in the government of Sirhind (1765) and granted him the title of Raja, with the robes of honour as well as with a drum and a banner as insignia of royalty.
Ala Singh died on 7 August 1765 at Patiala and was cremated in the Fort, now inside the city. Ala Singh though not a truest Khalsa leader but was influential. He worked more for his kingdom then Khalsa. Neverthless, he was a Sikh and it was because of his these qualities that Sikhs of adjoining villages supported him.
Shaheed Baba Ram Bedi Nihang
RAM SINGH BEDI, BABA (d. 1797), a Nihang warrior, was the son of Bhai Faqir Chand, of the village of Kotia Faqir Chand, in Sialkot district, now in Pakistan. The family claimed direct descent from Guru Nanak. Ram Singh took khande di pahul or vows by the double edged sword, thus entering the fold of the Khalsa. Tall and hefty of build... and trained in the martial art as well as in sacred learning, and always carrying on his person a quintet of weapons, he became a legendary hero in the region. At the end of November 1796, Shah Zaman, grandson of Ahmad Shah Durrani, invaded India at the head of a host of 30,000 men his third incursion into the country.
The Sikh chiefs, following their time tested strategy of avoiding pitched battles against numerically superior forces, retired towards Amritsar allowing the Shah to advance unopposed to Lahore, which he entered on 3 January 1797. Soon after, however, the news of the rebellion in Herat by his brother, Prince Mahmud, compelled him to go back, leaving a force of 12,000 under his general, Ahmad Khan Barakzai, better known as Shahanchi Khan, to keep the Punjab under occupation. The Sikh sardars resorted to their usual tactics and kept preying upon the retreating Afghan columns right into the territory across the River Jehlum.Ram Singh, at the head of a small band of irregulars, took part in these operations.
Shahanchi Khan, planning to surprise the returning Sikhs, advanced from Lahore, intercepted some of the troops under the young Sukkarchakkia chief, Ranjit Singh, at Ramnagar and besieged them. The Sikhs fighting back desperately forced Shahanchi Khan to raise the siege and retire towards Gujrat. Ram Singh and his band of warriors overtook his column on the way. In the skirmish that ensued Baba Ram Singh Bedi fell fighting near the village of Paropi, where a memorial was later raised in his honour. Shahanchi Khan was also killed soon after in the main battle that took place a few kilometres east of Gujrat.
Maharaja Sher Singh
Maharaja Sher Singh (4 December 1807 - 15 September 1843), Sikh sovereign of the Punjab from January 1841 until his assasination in September 1843, was the son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, born on 4 December 1807 to Mahitab Kaur, the Maharaja's first wife. Sher Singh grew up to be a handsome, broad-chested young man given to fashionable dress and lavish jewelry. His soldierly mien made him popular with the army. He loved hunting and hawking, and devoted attention to cultivating European interests and hobbies in the company of foreigners serving at the Sikh court.
In 1829, Maharaja Ranjit Singh conferred upon him civil and military honours and the privilege of being seated on a chair in his Darbar. Sher Singh took part in many of the campaigns undertaken by the Maharaja for the expansion of his kingdom. In May 1831 he defeated, at Balakot in Hazara district, the turbulent Sayyid Ahmad Barelavi who had started a jihad against Sikh rule. From 1831 to 1834 he acted as governor of the province of Kashmir. In 1834 he was one of the army commanders who led forces in Peshawar and who finally seized the city from the Afghans.
In the political vacuum created by the successive deaths in November 1840 of Maharaja Kharak Singh and his son Kanvar Nau Nihal Singh, Sher Singh staked his claim to the throne of the Punjab. Another major contestent was Rani Chand Kaur, Kharak Singh's widow, who sent for Gulab Singh Dogra from Jammu to counteract the influence of his brother, Raja Dhian Singh, who had declared support for Sher Singh. Dhian singh suggested several compromises. Chand Kaur could marry Sher Singh or, being childless could adopt Sher Singh's son Pratap Singh as her son. However, Chand Kaur asserted that Nau Nihal Singh's widow was pregnant and might give birth to a rightful successor.
Ultimately an arrangement was arrived at under which Chand Kaur was to act as regent for her expected grandson, while Sher Singh would function as vice-regent and head of the council of regency, and Dhian Singh as the principal minister. But the triumvirate failed to work in unison. A few days later, two powerful Sandhanvalia Sardars, Atar Singh and Ajit Singh, collaterals of the royal contenders for the throne, arrived in Lahore and took over control. On 2 December 1840, Chand Kaur was proclaimed the Maharani of the Punjab, with the title of Malika Muqaddasa (immaculate queen). The next day Sher Singh left Lahore for his estate in Batala. A month later, Dhian Singh Dogra was compelled to quit the capital, and Chand Kaur and the Sadhanvalias gained complete control of the administration.
Sher Singh still had the support of the army and most of the crack regiments had gone over to his side. The European officers were with him too. In January, 1841, he arrived in Lahore at the head of a considerable force. Chand Kaur had appointed Gulab Singh Dogra as commander-in-chief and charged him with defending the city. She cleared the soldiers arrears of pay for four months, and lavished presents of gold bangles, necklaces and shawls on the officers. She issued orders to the city bankers forbidding them to lend money to Sher singh. But the situation turned decisively in favour of Sher Singh, when regiments stationed outside the city-walls joined him in a body. He finally had with him 26,000 infrantry, 8,000 horses, and 45 guns, whereas Chand Kaur was left with only 5,000 men, a few guns and a limited quantity of gunpowder.
Sher Singh forced his way into the city, and made a proclaimation assuring safety of life and property to the citizens and offering pardon to those who would come over to him. The leading courtiers made their submission and forwarded a joint appeal to Chand Kaur and Gulab Singh Dogra to lay down arms. The Maharani, however chose to fight. For two days, Sher Singh's artillery shelled the fort, but with little effect. On the evening of 17 January 1841, Dhian Singh Dogra arrived and secured a ceasefire. Chand Kaur was persuaded to accept a jagir and relinquish her claim to the throne. At midnight Gulab Singh dogra and his soldiers evacuated the Fort, taking with them all the State's hoard of gold and jewels. From among the Sandhanvalia supporters of Chand Kaur, Ajit Singh fled to seek help from Mr. Cler, British political agent in Ludhiana, and, on his refusal to receive him, he proceeded to calcutta to see the Governor-General. Ajit Singh's uncle, Atar Singh, also sought asylum in the British territory.
Sher Singh occupied the fort and ascended the throne on 20 January 1841, though the formal tilak (anointment) ceremony was performed a week later on 27 January by Baba Bikrama Singh Bedi of Una. His son Kanvar Pratap Singh, received a Khillat as heir apparent and Dhian Singh Dogra was appointed as Wazir (minister). In the second half of July, Sher Sigh married the daughter of the Raja of Suket. Known in the palace as Rani Dukno, she was famed as one of the most beautiful women of her time. The match was made on the recommendation of Lahina Singh Majithia woh conducted the preparatory negotiations.
Sher Singh forbore from taking any reprisals and treated generously even those who had opposed him. Through a proclamation by the beat of drum, he assured the people of Lahore peace and security. The army was warned not to molest the citizens in any manner, and the commanders were cautioned to exercise maximum vigilance to this end. But since the Maharaja was not able to redeem his promises of rewards to the troops (as Gulab Singh Dogra had stolen and carried away the state treasury to Jammu), they went berserk, killing regimental accountants and officers, who they suspected of having embezzled their wages or of having dealings with the English, and plundering the city. As the prestige of the Darbar declined, the men of the army began to have their voice heard in matter of state. The one institution with which they were familiar was the Panchayat, the council of elders which regulated the affairs in their villages. The system was imported into the army, and each regiment began to elect its own panches whose duty was to deliberate on the orders of the commanding officer and then to make their recommendations to the men. This seriously affected discipline in the army.
The British from across the border might have intervened in the affairs of Maharaja Sher Singh's administration, but they were prevented from doing so by a sudden turn of events in Afghanistan which the British had occupied earlier with the active help of the Sikhs under the Tripartite Treaty of 1938, placing Shah Shuja on the throne of Kabul. In a bloody rising in Kabul in the autumn of 1841, Shah Shuja was murdered and the British army of occupation was annihilated, only one man of the thousand + made it out of Afganistan. For the recovery of Afghanistan, Lord Ellenborough, the governor-general, sought (spring 1842) the cooperation of the Sikhs. Reassured that the Sandhanvalia refugees in the British territory would not be allowed to disturb his reign, Sher Singh was persuaded to assist. The purchase of grain and hire of carriage and cattle in the Punjab were facilitated, and a division of 5,000 Sikhs helped force the Khyber pass. Sher Singh allowed Dost Mohammad khan, with whom the Sikhs crossed swords in many battle and whom the British were escorting to Kabul for the installation as the new king. The Lahore Darbar signed a separate treaty with Dost Muhammad Khan as the Amir of Afghanistan.
A notable event during Sher Singh's reign was the conquest of the Ladakh valley which was strategically very important and which made the frontier secure against the expanding influence of China. A Sikh expedition under the Dogra General Zorawar Singh, marched towards Tibet. Garo and Rudok wre occupied and Lhasa armies attacked. Although the expedition did not make much headway owing to premature snowfall and difficult and unfamiliar terrain, a treaty of peace was signed on 17 September 1842 between the representative of the Khalsa darbar and the representative of the Chinese emperor. It was agreed that the traditional boundaries of Ladakh and Tibet would be considered inviolable by both parties and that trade, particularly of tea and Pashmina wool would, as in the past, travel through Ladakh.
Return of Ajit Singh
In March 1842, Mr Clerk of the Ludhiana political agency had led a diplomatic mission to Amritsar to condole with Maharaja Sher Singh on the death of his predecessor and congratulate him upon his accession. He also took the opportunity of interceding on behalf of the Sandhanvalias, Atar Singh and Ajit Singh, who had formally sought the Maharaja's permission for returning to the Punjab.
In September 1842 a letter was received from Ajit Singh announcing "his intention to come to Lahore for presenting himself before the Shahzada (Sher Singh)." Sher Singh gave his approval for the return of the fugitives. Baba Bikram Singh of Una placed them under solemn oaths. On his standing surety for them, Sher singh pardoned them. Ajit Singh arrived in Lahore on 17 November 1842, followed by Atar Singh. Amnesty was also extended to Lahina Singh Sandhanvalia and Kehar Singh Sandhanvalia who were released from confinement in the Mukerian Fort.
Plot against Sher Singh
Although Sher Singh had shown magnamity in allowing Atar Singh and Ajit Singh to return to the Punjab and to resume their accustomed positions at the court, they were not reconciled to him. Their original nominee for the throne of the Punjab, Mai Chand Kaur, whose cause they had persistently espoused even after crossing over to the British territory, was now dead (9 June 1842), yet they continued to nurture a feeling of hostility towards Sher Singh. This culminated in a murderous plot. On 15 September 1843, the Maharaja rode out of the city early in the morning, that being a sankrant the first day of the Bikrami month, there was no darbar for him to attend. He alighted near Tej Singh's garden where tents were put up for his son, Kanvar Partap Singh.
To fulfil the morning's engagement, he moved on the Shah Balaval where sitting in the baradari or pleasure house, he witnessed wrestling-bouts, with Diwan Dina Nath and Buddh Singh, his armour-bearer, in attendance. After he had dismissed the wrestlers with due charity, the Sandhanvalia Sardars, who had followed him with 150 horse and 300 foot, requested him to inspect their troops.
Murder of Sher Singh
Totally without suspicion, Sher Singh agreed and came out of the room. After the parade, Ajit Singh sought his permission to show him a carbine he had obtained from an Englishman in Calcutta. As the Maharaja who was a great lover of weapons put forth his hands to take hold of the rifle, Ajit Singh pressed the triggers and emptied the loaded barrels into his chest. "Oh, Sardar, What deception?" was all the Maharaja could say as he dropped to the ground dead. Ajit Singh rushed forward and cut off his head with a single blow of the sword. The shots that killed Sher Singh were a signal for the elder Sandhanvalia, Lahina Singh, to pounce upon the 12-year old son of Maharaja Sher Singh, in the nearby Tej Singh garden, and hack off his head. Dhian Singh was also killed shortly after that. The Sandhanvalia sardars were hunted down and killed shortly after this.
Sher Singh was survived by his son Sahdev Singh, born to Rani Dukno in 1843, who, after the annexation of the Punjab in 1849, accompanied the deported king, Duleep Singh, to Fatehgarh in Uttar Pardesh. Descendants of Sahdev Singh, his son Basdev Singh and daughter Harbans Kaur (later married to the Rana of Dhaulpur), lived at Rae Bareli.
Sardar Baaj Singh - Governor Of Sirhind
When Banda Singh Bahadur heard about the shahidis of Sahibzadas at Sirhind, he became very upset. He went over to Guru Gobind Singh jee and asked his permission to punish the tyrants who did this inhuman act. Guru Sahib readily gave him this permission and dispatched him to Punjab along with 5 Singhs.
Banda Singh because of his experience with meditation, very soon became a Sikh of high spiritual stages. Such was his Kamayee that whoever looked at him bowed to him. Banda Singh was very humble person and he called everyone by the prefix "Singh", whether Sikh, Hindu or Moslem. He went up to the present day Haryana and sent letters and hukamnamas to all the Sikhs around to come and see him wearing 5 weapons. Soon he had a substantial amount of people as his army.
His army consisted of three kind of people. Firstly true Sikhs who wanted to do sewa of Panth and estabilish Sikh Raaj. Secondly salaried employees and thirdly oppressed peasantry and dacoits who joined him for the sole purpose of looting, taking revenge and making money. Most of the atrocities and plunders of the towns he conquered were done by this third category. Banda Singh was aware of this category but he needed as many people as possible to fulfill his aim of punishing the tyrants.
Anyway after conquering and punishing several towns like Samana, Sadhaura, Banda Singh now turned to conquer Sirhind and punish it's governer Wazir Khan. After the powerful attack from Wazir Khan on the advancing Sikh armies, the second and the third category fled the battlefield. The Sikhs held ground for sometime but they started to move back as they were greatly outnumbered. At this moment Banda Singh himself came in the battlefield and fell upon the enemy. The Sikhs eventually conquered Sirhind. When Sirhind was conquered Banda Singh appointed Sardar Baaj Singh as the governor of Sirhind.
Bhai Baaj Singh was a very strong and brave Sikh. His bravery and fighting skills were famous far and wide. So much was his name that even the king of India had heard about him. He defeated the most strong and skilled Pathaans and Moslems in one-on-one fights in the battlefields.
When Bhai Baaj Singh was caught and brought to Delhi, he remained in high spirits and could be heard singing Gurbani loudly and saying Vaheguru Vaheguru all the time.
The following conversation and incident has recorded in the writings of Moslem and English writers who eye-witnessed the incident that took place.
The king of Delhi at that time was Farukhsiyaar and as he had heard about Baaj Singh he asked a group of Sikhs brought before him to be killed, "Which one of you is Baaj Singh", asked the king. "I am Baaj Singh the humblest servant of my Guru", replied Baaj Singh in high spirits. "I heard you are very brave and strong. What can you do now ?"
"Why don't you open my hands and feet and I will tell you what I can do", challenged Bhai Baaj Singh.
The emperor thought that what can a hunger-stricken person do amidst so many of his strong soldiers. So he ordered that his chains be opened.
As soon as the soldier opened his chains in feet, Baaj Singh like lightening grabbed a sword from a soldier nearby and killed 7 soldiers by the time he was caught and overpowered. This happened so fast that no one got time to think. The king ran for cover saying "Tauba Tauba, khudaaya Khudaaya". When he was caught, the king ordered him to be executed immediately.
We have to think that what power was it that prompted Baaj Singh to act like this. That was the power of Naam and bhagti that he had done. Otherwise a normal person becomes half dead if he or she does not eat for one day only. But Dhan Bhai Baaj Singh who had not eaten properly for the last 9 months and still managed to put up such a show.
My head bows before Bhai Baaj Singh who lived a warrior and died a warrior. If we can become even 1/10th of what Bhai Baaj Singh was, we would have no problem estabilishing any Raaj Bhaag.