SIKH SAINTS


 

The Panj Piaras (The Five Beloved Ones)

The Panj Piaras were the first five Sikhs to be initiated into the Khalsa brotherhood by Guru Gobind Singh on Baisakhi day in 1699. A very large gathering of Sikhs had arrived at Anandpur Sahib on that day as per the Gurus instructions. After prayers Guru Gobind Singh stood up with his sword and asked the large congregation, “Is there anyone here ready to lay down his life at my call? This sword of mine is crying for the blood of a dear Sikh of mine.” The congregation was shocked and afraid, the third time Guru Gobind Singh repeated his call, Daya Ram stood up and offered his head. Guru Gobind Singh took him into a tent. The sound of a sword cutting a body was heard and blood trickled out of the tent. Guru Gobind Singh emerged from the tent and asked for another Sikh. Dharam Das stood up and volunteered. Again the same episode was repeated. Three more Sikhs offered their heads to the Guru in the same way, Mukham Chand, Himmat Rai and Sahib Chand. After some time Guru Gobind Singh brought the five Sikhs before the congregation dressed in new clothes. It is believed that they were all beheaded and their heads were swapped around amongst each other to show that all casts are equal. Guru Gobind Singh then baptised them with amrit (sweetened water) stirred with his Khanda, The Guru called them his Beloved Ones and gave them the last name ‘Singh’ which means Lion. Guru Gobind Singh then humbly bowed before the Five Beloved Ones and asked them to initiate Him into the Khalsa Brotherhood. All of the Five Beloved Ones remained with Guru Gobind Singh for the rest of their lives and they are remembered every day in Ardas (the common prayer).


Bhai Daya Singh (1669 to 1708)

The first Beloved One, Bhai Daya Singh was born to Khatri parents in Lahore in 1669. He attended Guru Gobind Singh in leaving Chamkaur Sahib during the famous battle in 1704. Bhai Daya Singh also personally delivered Guru Gobind Singhs letter Zafarnama to emperor Aurangzeb in the Deccan. Bhai Daya Singh accompanied Guru Gobind Singh to Nander and died there in 1708.

    Bhai Daya Singh was a son of Mayea Ram Ji, a Khatri of Lahore. His mother's name was Sobha Deyi Ji. He accompanied the Guru to the end of his life. He took a heroic part in the Guru's wars. In December 1704, the Guru was prevailed upon by the Beloved Five to leave Chamkaur Sahib. Bhai Daya Singh was assigned the duty of accompanying the Guru. It was Bhai Daya Singh who took the Guru's letter called Zafarnama to Aurangzeb. The emperor was then in Deccan (South). The journey was difficult, risky and long. On going through the letter the emperor was visibly moved. He appeared to be nervous and agitated. He became irritated and angry. But the latter stood calm and unafraid. He then said. 'O emperor, just think of the cruel, inhuman wrongs that you and your men have done to the Guru. In spite of all that, he was taken the courage to write to you and to give you sound advice. He has tried to reveal himself to you, to make you see what you are in your prophet's eyes, to make you realise how your actions contradict your professions. He occupies the throne of Baba Nanak, before whom your ancestor, Emperor Babar, bowed and prayed for blessings. He has the power to make and unmake kings; for he is ever in tune with the Almighty father. You will be well advised to seek his friendship. You, too, should seek his blessings. He can give you what your great conquest and your wide empire have failed to give you. He will give you peace of mind. I feel that it is peace of mind that you now need more than anything else. If you go and see him, he will extend his love and kindness to you. He will forget and forgive all the wrongs done to him. He is as forgiving and kind as God; for God dwells in him and he ever lives in God.'

    Bhai Daya Singh's conduct was like bearding the lion in his own den. You know he was one of the Guru Gobind Singh' lions. His words softened the emperor. He said, 'The Guru's letter and your words have opened my eyes. I now realise that I have done him much wrong. I now realise that he is a dear one of Almighty Allah. I am nearing the end of my life's journey. I shall soon have to render an account of my doings. I shudder to think what the verdict of the great, All-knowing, All-loving Judge will be. The Guru can help me. He has invited me to see him. I long to see him. But I am sick, perhaps on my death-bed. I can't go to him. Go back to him and request him to see me. He has promised to do so in this letter.' The emperor then ordered his men to treat Daya Singh with kindness and honour. He himself conferred a robe of honour on the Guru's bold and fearless messenger. For his return journey, he gave him a parwana (chit) of safe conduct. It was an order to his officials on the way back to see that the holder was well treated, and that no harm of any kind should be done to him. Because of that royal chit, Bhai Daya Singh could travel more safely and more quickly. On reaching the Guru's presence, he delivered to him the emperor's message. To that he added his own recommendation. The Guru agreed to see the ailing monarch. Bhai Daya Singh accompanied the Guru to Nanded in the Deccan. He continued to serve him with utmost affection and devotion. After taking Amrit, he became Bhai Daya Singh. He was appointed the leader of the Beloved Five. 


Bhai Dharam Singh (1666 to 1708)

The second Beloved One, Bhai Dharam Singh was born to Jat parents at Hastinapur or Delhi in 1666. Bhai Dharam Singh was also assigned to look after Guru Gobind Singhs personal safety during the battle of Chamkaur in 1704. It is unclear whether he died fighting in the battle or accompanied Guru Gobind Singh to Nanader and died there in 1708. His father's name was Param Sukh Ji and mother's name was Ananti Ji. On taking Amrit, he became Bhai Dharam Singh. He accompanied the Guru to the end of his life He took a hero's part in the Guru Gobind Singh's wars. When the Guru was prevailed upon to leave Chamkaur Sahib in 1704, the Beloved Five there assigned Bhai Dharam Singh the duty of going with the Guru. He accompanied the Guru to Nanded, Deccan. He served him with utmost affection and devotion. 

 

Bhai Himmat Singh (1661 to 1704)

The fourth Beloved One, Bhai Himmat Singh was born to a water carrier in 1661. His Father, Mal Deo Ji, was a water-carrier of Jagannath. His mother's name was Srimati Lal Dei Ji. He was born in the year 1664 in Jagannath. He was, thus, about thirty-five years old on the day of his becoming one of the Beloved Five. On taking Amrit, he became Bhai Himmat Singh. He remained with the Guru to the end of his life. All along he served the Guru most faithfully and lovingly. He also played a heroic part in the Guru's wars. He died fighting at Chamkaur Sahib on December 22, 1704.


Bhai Mukham Singh (1663 to 1704)

The third Beloved One, Bhai Muhkam Chand was born in 1663 to a washerman of Dwarka. His father's name was Jagjeevan Rai Ji and mother's name was Sambhli Ji. His father was a washer man of Dawarka. On taking Amrit, he became Bhai Himmat Singh. Thereafter he remained with the Guru. He played a heroic part in Guru Gobind Singh's wars. He died fighting at Chamkaur Sahib on December 22, 1704.   

 


Bhai Sahib Singh (1662 to 1704)

The fifth Beloved One, Bhai Sahib Singh was born to a barber family in 1662. He died fighting in the battle of Chamkaur in 1704. He was born to Sri Gur Naarayan Ji, a barber of Bidar, in the year 1675. His mother's name was Ankampa Ji. He came to Guru at the age of 11. On taking Amrit, he became Bhai Sahib Singh Ji. He remained with the Guru at last. He fought heroically in the Guru's wars. He died fighting at Chamkaur Sahib on December 22, 1704


 

 


Bhai Mardana (1459 to 1520)

Bhai Mardana was the lifelong companion and first disciple of Guru Nanak. Bhai Mardana was born in 1459 at Nankana Sahib to Muslim parents Bhai Badre and Mai Lakho. He belonged to a caste of musicians which sang and danced at festivals and weddings. Bhai Mardana became friends with Guru Nanak when they were both children, Mardana being 10 years older than Guru Nanak. Bhai Mardana accompanied Guru Nanak on most of his great journeys, he would play the rebeck (a string instrument) while Guru Nanak would be singing and composing his hymns. Three of Bhai Mardana’s hymns are included in the Guru Granth Sahib. Bhai Mardana passed away in 1520 on the banks of the river Khuram in Afghanistan. He was returning with Guru Nanak on the Gurus fourth and last great journey to Mecca and Medina. Guru Nanak personally performed the last rites of Bhai Mardana. Bhai Mardana is considered the founder of the musical tradition of the Sikhs.



Baba Buddha (1506 to 1631)

Baba Buddha was the great Sikh saint who had the pleasure of serving under the first six Gurus. Baba Buddha was born in 1506 in the village of Kathu Nangal. When he was a young boy herding cattle in the fields when he met Guru Nanak who was visiting the village. The boy served the Guru milk and Guru Nanak exclaimed that though young in age, he was a Buddha (old man) in terms of his understanding and wisdom. Baba Buddha converted to the path of Sikhism and became an exemplary disciple of the Gurus. Baba Buddha was responsible for the guru ship ceremony of the next five Gurus from Guru Angad to Guru Hargobind. Under Guru Arjan Dev, Baba Buddha was appointed the first custodian (granthi) of the Guru Granth Sahib in the Golden Temple in 1604. Baba Buddha was also responsible for the early education of Guru Hargobind as a child and helped to personally construct the Akal Takht. Baba Buddha passed away in 1631 at village Ramdas and had his last rites personally performed by Guru Hargobind.

Bhai Buddha became a devoted disciple. His marriage at the age of seventeen at Achal, 6 km south of Batala (31°- 49'N, 75°- 12'E), did not distract him from his chosen path and he spent more time at Kartarpur where Guru Nanak had taken up his abode than at Katthu Nangal. Such was the eminence he had attained in Sikh piety that, at the time of installation of Bhai Lahina as Guru Angad, i.e. Nanak II, Guru Nanak asked Bhai Buddha to apply the ceremonial tilak on his forehead. Bhai Buddha lived up to a ripe old age and had the unique honour of anointing all of the four following Gurus. He continued to serve the Gurus with complete dedication and remained an example of holy living for the growing body of disciples. He devoted himself zealously to tasks such as the digging of the baoli at Goindval under the instruction of Guru Amar Das and the excavation of the sacred tank at Amritsar under Guru Ram Das and Guru Arjan. The ben tree under which he used to sit supervising the excavation of the Amritsar pool still stands in the precincts of the Golden Temple. He subsequently retired to a bar or forest, where he tended the livestock of the Guru ka Langar. What is left of that forest is still known, after him, as Bir Baba Buddha Sahib. Guru Arjan placed his young son, Hargobind, under Bhai Buddha's instruction and training. When the Adi Granth (Guru Granth Sahib) was installed in the Harimandar on 16 August 1604, Bhai Buddha was appointed granthi by Guru Arjan. He thus became the first high priest of the sacred shrine, now known as the Golden Temple. Following the martyrdom of Guru Arjan on 30 May 1606, Guru Hargobind raised opposite the Harimandar a platform called the Akal Takht, the Timeless Throne or the Throne of the Timeless, the construction of which was entrusted to Baba Buddha and Bhai Gurdas, no third person being allowed to take part in it. On this Takht Bhai Buddha performed, on 24 June 1606, the investiture ceremony at which Guru Hargobind put on two swords, one on each side, symbolising meeri and peeri, sovereignty and spiritual eminence, respectively.

Baba Buddha passed his last days in meditation at Jhanda Ramdas, or simply called Ramdas, a village founded by his son, Bhai Bhana, where the family had since shifted from its native Katthu Nangal. As the end came, on 16 November 1631, Guru Hargobind was at his bedside. The Guru, as says the Gurbilas Chhevin Patshahi, gave his shoulder to the bier and performed the last rites Bhai Gurdas, further to quote the Curbilas, started a reading of the Adi Cranth in memory of the deceased. The obsequies concluded with Bhai Gurdas completing the recital and Guru Hargobind presenting a turban to Bhai Buddha's son, Bhana. Two shrines stand in Ramdas commemorating Baba Buddha, Gurdwara Tap Asthan Baba Buddha Ji, where the family lived on the southern edge of the village, and Gurdwara Samadhan, where he was cremated.

 



Bhai Gurdas (1560 to 1629)

Bhai Gurdas was a great Sikh scholar who was the scribe of the original copy of the Guru Granth Sahib under the guidance of Guru Arjan Dev. Bhai Gurdas was born around 1560 at Goindwal and was the son of Datar Chand, the younger brother of Guru Amar Das. Bhai Gurdas learned Sikhism from his uncle Guru Amar Das and upon the Gurus death was sent by Guru Ram Das as a missionary to preach Sikhism at Agra. Under the guidance of Guru Arjan Dev, Bhai Gurdas spent a year with the Guru at Armitsar and helped to scribe the original copy of the Guru Granth Sahib. Bhai Gurdas also met the mughal emperor Akbar and convinced him that the Guru Granth Sahib was not derogatory to Islam. Bhai Gurdas was also a great writer and provides the best information that we have about the early days of Sikhism. He composes 40 vars (ballads) and 556 kabits (couplets) which Guru Arjan Dev blessed as being “the key to the Guru Granth Sahib”. Out of his humility Bhai Gurdas did not have any of his compositions included in the Guru Granth Sahib, but they are part of the writings outside the Guru Granth Sahib that are approved for recital by Sikhs. While Guru Hargobind was imprisoned at Gwalior Fort, Bhai Gurdas along with Baba Buddha were in charge of running the affairs of the Sikh community. Bhai Gurdas also helped to construct the Akal Takht. Bhai Gurdas died in 1629 at Goindwal and had his last rites personally performed by Guru Hargobind.

Bhai Gurdus ji is much honoured for his Sikhi way of life and literary work. He was a leading figure in Sikhism who enjoyed the partronage of Guru Arjan under whose supervision he inscribed the first copy of Sikh Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, which is still extant. He was born in a Bhalla Khatri family, his father's name was Ishar Das and mother's name was Jivani at Goindval in 1608 Bk/AD 1551. That makes him, Nephew of third Guru, Guru Amar Das ji.

Bhai Ishar Das, one of Gura Amar Das's cousins had settled in Goindval soon after the town was founded in 1603 Bk/AD 1546. Bhai Gurdas, who was the only child of his parents, lost his mother when he was barely three and his father when he was 12. He spent his early years at Goindval and Sultanpur Lodhl. At the former place, he had the opportunity of listening to many men of knowledge and spiritual attainment who kept visiting the town which fell on the Delhi-Lahore road and was then the religious centre of the Sikhs. He later proceeded to Varanasi where he studied Sanskrit and Hindu scriptures. He was initiated into elled extensively visiting Agra, Lucknow Varanasi, Burhanpur, Rajasthan, Jammu and Chamba hills, preaching Guru Nanak's word After the passing away of Guru Ram Das, in 1581, he returned to the Punjab, visited Goindval and thence proceeded to Amritsar to pay his obeisance to Guru Arjan, Guru Ram Das's successor. He made Amritsar his home and through his devotion and love of learning carved for himself a pre-eminent position among the Guru's disciples. When the Guru decided to compile the Holy Granth containing the hymns of the Gurus and of some of the saints and sufis, he chose Bhai Gurdas to be his principal helper. They worked together on the volume which was completed in 1604. The entire text was inscribed by Bhai Gurdas. The copy written in his hand is preserved to this day in the family of the Guru's descendants at Kartarpur, in Jalandhar district of the Punjab.

Bhai Gurdas also contributed the labour of his hands to the excavation of the sacred pool at Amritsar (1577) He was chosen to recite the Gurus' hymns to Emperor Akbar when he visited Kartarpur in 1596-97 on his way back from a military campaign. As the tradition goes, the Emperor had been incited by Prithi Chand and his supporters against Gura Arjan saying that the hymns he was planning to compile into a volume had an anti-Muslim tone. As Bhai Gurdas read out verses selected at random, the Emperor was deeply impressed with their spiritual content When Guru Hargobind, Nanak Vl, decided to construct in front of the Harimandar, Akal Takht, Throne of the Timeless Lord, he entrusted the task to the two most revered Sikhs of the time, Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Buddha the latter blessed by Guru Nanak himself Bhai Gurdas was assigned to looking after the premises. Guru Hargobind also appointed him to teach his young son (Guru) Tegh Bahadur ancient classics even as Bhai Buddha supervised his training in Manly arts of archery and horsemanship. Bhai Gurdas led a batch of Sikhs to Gwallor where Guru Hargobind had been detained under the orders of the Mughal emperor Jahaligir. He was present at the weddings of the Guru's sons Baba Gurditta (April 1621) and Baba Suraj Mall (23April 1629). He offered ardas at the death in 1621 of Mata Ganga, Wife of Guru Arjan, and recited Scripture and offered ardas at the time of Baba Buddha's death on ]7 November 1631.

Bhai Gurdas was the bulwark of Sikhi still for many years. He was the expounder and exemplar of the Sikh way of life. He was a man of wide learning especially in ancient texts and philosophy, and devoted his exceptional talents to preaching the Sikh faith. He composed verse which is valued for its racy style and for its vivid exposition of the teaching of the Gurus. His poetry, now available in two volumes, in Punjabi Vara Bhai Gurdas and in Braj Kabitt Savaiyye, fore fills part of accepted Sikh canon and is sung along with gurbani, the Gurus' word, at holy congregations. Guru Arjan put his seal of approval on it by designating it as the "key" to the Holy Scripture. Bhai Gurdas, who never married, died at Goindval on Bhadon suds 5,1693 13k/25 August 1636.

 


Bhai Nand Lal (1633 to 1715)

Bhai Nand Lal was a great poet and close associate of Guru Gobind Singh. Bhai Nand Lal was born in 1633 at Ghazni where his father was a high government official. Bhai Nand Lal became an accomplished poet and was fluent in Persian and Arabic. He married a Sikh girl and eventually became a disciple of Guru Gobind Singh. He lived in close association with the Guru from 1697 onwards. Bhai Nand Lal personally accompanied Guru Gobind Singh to Deccan where the Guru was assassinated. Bhai Nand Lal produced a number of works about the teaching of Guru Gobind Singh and the code of conduct he laid down. The works of Bhai Nand Lal are given equal respect as those of Bhai Gurdas and are read in gurdwaras. Bhai Nand Lal died in 1715 at Multan.

 

Jassa Singh Ahluwalia (1718-1792)


He became the leader of the Sikh Nation in 1753 after Nawab Kapur Singh's death. The Sikhs also conferred upon him the title of
'Sultan-e-Quam (King of the nation) when he captured Lahore in 1761.

       

Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was born (1718-1783) at a village called Ahlu or Ahluwal near Lahore, established by his ancestor, Sadda singh, a devotee of Sixth Guru, Hargobind. Hence the name Ahluwalia stuck to him. His forefathers were kalals (wine merchants). Hence he is also called Jassa singh Kalal.

However such was the admiration he won of the whole Sikh community that Jassa singh kalal came to be known as 'Guru Ka Lal' (the beloved son of Guru). Son of Badar singh Jassa singh was hardly 5 yrs old when his father died (1723 A.D.). His mother entreated Mata Sundri, widow of Guru Gobind Singh ji, to take him into her care. Mata Sundri agreed to do so, and lavished much affection on him, instructing him carefully in the arts of war and peace. He studied Sikh scriptures under Bhai Mani singh. Later, Mata Sundri asked Nawab Kapur singh to take charge of the promising youth. 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, appointed him as a storekeeper with his forces. As was natural, he participated in many combat as well where he displayed such qualities of leadership that Nawab Kapur singh appointed him his successor on the eve of his death in 1753.  Elated at his successful helmsman ship, the Khalsa honored Jassa singh with the title of Sultan-ul-Qaum (king of the whole people), when they captured Lahore in 1761.

On Feb 5 1762, Sikhs were especially the target of Ahmad Shah Abdali Sixth invasion into India. News had reached him in Afghanistan of the defeat of his general, Nur-Ud-Din Bamezai, at the hands of Sikhs who were fast spreading themselves out over the Punjab and had declared their leader, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, king of Lahore. To rid his Indian dominion of them once for all, he set out from Kandahar. Marching with alacrity, he overtook the Sikhs as they were withdrawing into the Malwa after crossing the Sutlej.

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 of the country. 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 invaders and their Indian allies (Nawab of Malerkotla, Sarhind, etc. ) desperately. Charat Singh, Hari Singh Bhangi and Jassa Singh Ahluwalia led their forces with skill and courage. Jassa Singh ahluwalia sustained sixty four wounds on his body and Charat Singh rode to exhaustion five of his horses one after another. 

Ahmad Shah succeeded, in the end, in breaking through the ring and glutted his spite by carrying out a full scale butchery. His orders were for everyone in Indian dress to be killed at sight. The soldiers of Malerkotala and Sarhind 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 lay on that ghastly field at the end of a single day's action (February 5, 1762). This battle in Sikh history is known as Wadda Ghalughara.

Jassa Singh fought valiantly and received 64 cuts, but he survived. Even such a disaster as had overtaken them at Kup caused no despondency among the Sikhs. When the survivors of the Great carnage assembled in the evening for their prayers. A Sikh got up and said "No harm done, Khalsa ji! The Panth has emerged purer from the trial; the alloy has been eliminated." Within four months of Ghalughara, Sikhs under Jassa Singh Ahluwalia inflicted and a severe defeat on the governor of Sarhind and were celebrating Diwali in Harimandir which the Shah had demolished, and were fighting pitched battle forcing him to withdraw from Amritsar under cover of darkness (October 17,1762).

Up to now, Sikhs forces were divided into 65 jathas Nawab Kapur singh reorganised them into Eleven bands, each of course with its own name, flag and leader.  These bands or Jathas, which came to known later on as Misls (lit. equal, also an example) together were, however, given the name of Dal Khalsa (or the Khalsa force), under over all charge of Jassa singh Ahluwalia.

It is a miracle of Guru Gobind Singh that everyone irrespective of Caste, region or station accepted the decision of their venerable old leader with a clean and good heart. Here is what Bhangu Ratan singh has to say 'Ape Raj, ape Mujdar, Bade bhujangi, dil ke sur. Ape pisen, ap pakwan, to bade sardar Kahawan. koi kare na kise sheereka, koi na sunawe nij dukj ji ka.' which means 'They were all brave of heart. They themselves ground their corn and cooked their own food. It is through such dedicated service that they became great Sardars. None felt jealous of another nor ever gave vent to his own privations or personal grief.

The fear of his Indian empire falling to the Sikhs continued to obsess the Ahmad Shah Abdali's mind and held out another campaign against Sikhs towards the close of 1766. This was his eighth invasion into India. The Sikhs had recourse to their old game of hide and seek.  They vacated Lahore, but faced squarely the Afghan general, Jahan Khan at Amritsar, forcing him to retreat, with six thousand Abdali's soldiers killed. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia with an army of about twenty thousand Sikhs roamed in the neighbourhood of the Afghan camp plundering it to his heart's content. Never before Ahmad Shah Abdali had felt so helpless, his dream of capturing the whole of India was dying before his own eyes. In the words of a contemporary writer: "The Shah's influence is confined merely to those tracts which are covered by his army. The Zamindars appear in general so well affected towards the Sikhs that it is usual with the latter to repair by night to the villages where they find every refreshment. By the day they retire from them and again fall to harassing the Shah's troops. " Jassa Singh was also called "Bandi Chhor", (The delivered) for having rescued 2200 beautiful Hindu women made prisoner by Abdali for his harms.

 

 


Banda Singh Bahadur (1670 to 1715)

The great Sikh soldier and martyr who avenged the death of Guru Gobind Singhs two younger sons. He was born as Lachhman Das in 1670 at Rajouri in Jammu to Rajput parents. He spent many years in Hindu monasteries in central India and established a ashram at Nanded in Maharashtra where he lived for fifteen years before meeting Guru Gobind Singh. He was given the name “Banda” meaning slave of the Guru and became a Khalsa. His name was changed to Gurbax Singh but he was popularly known as Banda. When Guru Gobind Singh was in the south at Deccan he sent Banda to Punjab to punish the enemies of the Khalsa. He attacked Samana in 1709 and captured Sirhind in 1710. The killer of Guru Gobind Singh’s two sons Wazir Khan the ruler of Sirhind was also killed. Banda Singh Bahadur became the leader of the Khalsa following the death of Guru Gobind Singh and struck coins in the name of Guru Gobind Singh. In 1712 Banda conquered the Lohgarh Fort. A huge army of 20,000 men amassed by the Muslim governor of Lahore besieged Banda for eight months at a fort in Gurdaspur in 1715. Banda Singh Bahadur along with 700 Sikhs were finally captured and brought to Delhi where they were all tortured to death for refusing to convert to Islam. Banda Singh's 4 years old son was seated on his lap. A dagger was given to Banda Singh and ordered to cut his own son. He refused. The executioner pierced the chest of his son, took out the violently vibrating heart and tried to push into the mouth of Banda Singh. Though shackled, Banda Singh refused furiously. After this his flesh was notched out with pliers, hot sharp rods were inserted into his flesh. His eyes were notched out, hands and feet were chopped off. Thus when he became unconscious, his head was chopped off.

The Early Life

He was born in October 1670 in a Rajput family doing farming in village Rajouri, district Punch, State of Kashmir. He was named Lachman Das. As a child he was very fond of horse riding, martial art, hunting and was expert in use of bow and arrow and other weapons used in wars at that time.

At the age of 15 years while hunting a she-deer and tearing the belly of the deer, he saw twin unborn off springs writhing in pain and dying in front of his eyes. He was so much moved of this happening that he left hunting and became an ascetic. His father was a kind religious person and used to give free food and shelter to the visiting saints, sadhus and holy persons. Lachman Das's attention turned towards them.

He became follower of Sadhu Ram Daas of Ram Thamman near Lahore (now in Pakistan). After some time he followed Janaki Daas. His name was changed to Madho Daas. While moving from place to place, he reached Punchvati near Nasik in Maharashtra and became follower Sadhu Aughhar Nath. Madho Daas served Aughhar Nath with full devotion for 5 years. Aughhar Nath pleased with his services, bestowed him with all his virtues, occult powers and even his own created holy book. Aughhar Nath expired in 1691. Thus at the age of 21 years, Madho Daas, the Rajput youth attained miraculous powers and reached Nander to set up his own Ashram.

Thus living at Nander since the last 16 years, in the year 1708, a the age of 38 years, Madho Daas with lot of miraculous powers and fame was a master of a big Ashram and was very proud of his wisdom, meditation, occult powers and fame. He started insulting, putting down all saints, sadhus, intellectuals, faquirs etc. who so ever came to his Dera.


The Prevailing Circumstances in 1704

Guru Gobind Singh left Anandpur Sahib in Dec 1704 along with his family and the Sikhs in the most compelling and incomparable circumstances. The 10 lakh forces of Mugal and their aiding Pahari Kings had assured the Guru that no one will be harmed when he left Anand Pur, but had attacked him from all sides and on one side the river Sarsa was in spate. Even though Guru Gobind Singh lost his four sons and unlimited sikhs, he was still in high spirits and took all this as Will of God. His determination - never to compromise with the circumstances - but stand erect like a rock while doing his duty towards mankind was unshrinkable. While moving from North of Punjab towards South of Punjab he sent "Zaffar Nama" a letter of victory to Aurangzeb, the king of India through Bhai Daya Singh. This made Aurangzeb to repent for his sins. This is clear from his last letter to his son Kaam Bakash. It stated- "I came alone in this world but without blemish. Now I am going with full of sins. I do not know about myself what will happen to me-my soul. I am full of evil deeds. When arrested in the court of God, I do not know what punishment I will meet." These lasting words of Aurangzeb had been engraved on his grave at his Makbra in Aurangabad.

Aurangzeb died in 1707 AD. An in-fight for the throne occurred in between his sons. His eldest son Bahadar Shah sought Guru's help. Bagadar Shah was a Shia Muslim. He promised Guru Gobind Singh to hand over all who committed atrocities and were guilty. With the help of Guru, he became the next king of Hindustan in 1707. Even after that atrocities were going on in Punjab unabated and Bahadar Shah failed to fulfill his promises to the Guru perhaps for fears of unrest among the Muslim masses.

In South, people revolted against Bahadar Shah. The king requested the Guru to accompany him. While reaching at Agra from Delhi Guru Gobind Singh became clear of the intentions of Bahadar Shah and separated his caravan from that of Bahadar Shah, but kept on moving towards South. The movement was perhaps his foresightedness and farsightedness.


Banda Singh coming in the fold of Guru Gobind Singh ji

While moving towards South at Jai pur, a Mahant Jait Ram came to pay his respect to the Guru. Guru Sahib asked him to suggest for some good and holy persons. Mahant Jait Ram suggested some names and advised not to go to Madho Daas Bairagi, as he was very egoistic and insulted one and all. Instead, the Guru decided to face Madho Daas first of all rather than anybody else.

In September 1708 Guru Gobind Singh along with few sikhs reached at the Ashram of Madho Daas Bairagi, At that time he was not in his dera . The Guru took his seat and the sikhs spread all over the Dera to arrange and cook food. Followers of Madho Daas ran and informed him of all about the happenings. Madho Daas used all his occult powers to insult, harass and let-down the Guru but failed in all his efforts. Full of rage, he came running to the Dera and shouted at the Guru " Who are you, and how come you have entered my Ashram? The Guru very calmly replied " You have all the power, you should know."
He said that he knew nothing about him. The Guru asked him to be calm and think it over. After some time, he said" Is it that you are Guru Gobind Singh?" The Guru replied : "Yes I am, now tell me, who are you?" His hands were folded and he said to the Guru" I am your Banda (slave)." Banda also means a good human being. The Guru said" If you are my Banda, then work as a Banda ( a good human being). He assured Guru Sahib to do as per his advice.

With these words Madho Daas was at the feet of Guru sahib. The Guru stayed in his Dera for a few days. He was given Amrit ( baptized the Sikh way) and named Gur Bakhash Singh but remained famous with the name of Banda Singh Bahadur. It was not less than a miracle and was the magnetic like personality of Guru Gobind Singh at his 42 years of age that a 38 year old Rajput, at a place far away from his native, now a mystic, celibate, vegetarian, having occult powers, master of a big Ashram but very haughty and proud was turned into a devoted and disciplined soldier and made an army general by the Guru, who fell on the cruel rulers of Punjab like a storm and cloud burst.


Banda Singh's March towards Punjab

In Oct. 1708, at Nander, Guru Gobind Singh sent Banda Singh to Punjab and advised him to:
1. Put a stop to the cruelty of Punjab rulers.
2. Punish the guilty and cruel misrulers.
3. To fight for human rights, uplift and strengthen the poor, the low and slave like people who could not even imagine freedom.

The Guru blessed him with:
1. Guru's order to Sikh Sangats.
2. Five arrows.
3. A double Edged sword (Khanda).
4. A big leather mounted drum (Nagaara).

He sent with him five Sikhs for counseling: 
1. Bhai Daya Singh
2. Bhai Binod Singh
3. Bhai Kahan Singh
4. Bhai Bijay Singh 
5. Bhai Ran Singh

Another 25 Singh's as companions and fighters.

In the times of Sikh Gurus, wars were defensive. Generally they fought when war was thrust upon them. Though at two occasions Baba Ajit Singh, the eldest son of Guru Gobind Singh was advised by the Guru to go and help the poor Brahmins who's newly married daughter-in-law was taken away by the local Mugal chieftains that Baba Ajit Singh along with few Sikhs were offensive.

The 6th Guru, Guru Har Gobind fought 4 wars with the Mugal Chieftains and won in all. His war strategy was to challenge the Generals and fight with them and avoid bloodshed of masses even then numbers of brave Sikhs and Mugal soldiers were killed because no General wanted to face the Guru alone. 

The 10 th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh faced about 16 wars in a period of about 25 years. Whole family of Guru Gobind Singh, thousands of sikhs, devoted muslims - the name of Peer Budhu Shah of Sadhoura (a town in Punjab) is worth mentioning, his 2 sons, nephews and many of his followers - sacrificed their lives while fighting the Mugal soldiers. In a later period the Nawab of Sadhoura, Usmaan Khan, the Mugal ruler, killed Peer Budhu Shah and cut his body into pieces and threw them in different parts of Sadhoura, punishing him for having served Guru Gobind Singh.

For such reasons it was imperative for Banda Singh Bahadur to be offensive and punish the guilty. The Nawab of Sarhind, Wazir Khan, the murderer of 2 younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh was feeling relieved knowing that Guru Gobind Singh had departed towards South but had constant fear that Sikhs won't let him live. He had prepared and sent two Pathan spies to chase and murder the Guru. At Nander one day they succeeded in stabbing Guru Gobind Singh when he was resting, even though both of them lost their lives. The wounds of the Guru were operated and stitched. After about one and a half month, the injuries became the cause of Guru's passing away. But before this the Guru had already created Khalsa, prepared Banda Singh Bahadur and sent him to Punjab.

It was first time in The Sikh history that Sikhs were attackers and offensives but their aim was same as earlier. Banda Singh was on the way to Punjab, when Guru Gobind Singh after giving Guruship to the everlasting Shabad Guru - Guru Granth Sahib, had left this world. After reaching Punjab, Banda Singh sent Guru's message to the Sikhs all over Punjab, Kashmir and Afghanistan. Memories of unlimited sacrifices of Gurus, their families, Sikhs and their sufferings at the hands of oppressors were fresh in the Sikh masses. News of passing away of their dear Guru, Guru Gobind Singh added fuel to the fire for fighting the Mugal rulers and making sacrifices. Listening to the call of Banda Singh at the behest of Guru, Sikhs started joining Banda Singh. In a short period Banda Singh had 4000 horse rider and 7800 artillery Sikhs with him. After some more time the strength of 40,000 warriors was at his command.

His army was constituted by four type of people:

1. The true followers all over from Punjab, Kabul, Kandhar, Multan and Kashmir.
2. God fearing Muslims, who had been always with the Guru in most of the fights.
3. Poor, down-trodden and low caste who had always been subjected to torture. 
4. Some unknown selfish bad elements with the intention of loots.

To meet financial needs, Banda Singh made fervent appeals to big business men of that time. After meeting the basic requirements, in Feb. 1709 he started attacking various towns and conquered various areas of Punjab such as Samaana, Sonepat, Kenthal, Ghurham, Thaskaa, Shahbaad, Kapoori, Sadhoura etc. Usmaan Khan, the murderer of Peer Bhudu Shah was killed by Banda singh's army. At Usmaan Khan's death, even the people of Sadhoura felt relief and were grateful to the Sikh army. Malerkotla was won without any resistance, because it was the Nawab of Malerkotla, who had fervently appealed against the killing of Guru's two younger sons. In the meantime another group of Sikhs from Majha (Central Punjab) attacked Ropar and other nearby areas and joined with the forces of Banda Singh. 

Now main aim for the Sikhs was Sarhind and its Nawab Wazir Khan. This war took place in May 1710 at the field of "Chhappar Chiri" 15 miles away from Sarhind. Wazir Hkan lost his life. The Mugal army ran away from the field. The Sikhs entered the city of Sarhind. Most of the high officials and administrators were killed. Their buildings were destroyed and looted. Even in war, Banda Bahadur had instructed not to harm any Mosque, Madrassa and Makbras (Graves). Irrespective of their religion, the old, women and children were protected from any harm. Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi was the main conspirator for the death of Guru Arjan dev ji. Even his grave was not destroyed. All attempts were made to avoid to give any religious colour to these wars. As and when an area was conquered Banda Singh appointed one of his trusted lieutenants to govern these places and who in turn appointed other local people for administration.

Keeping continuous the wave of attacks on other areas, in 1710 itself he took over other Northeren Areas in between rivers of Jamuna and Ganga such as Saharan Pur, Shamli, Muzzafar Nagar etc. Banda Singh established his capital at Mukhlis Garh, a place situated in the base of hills and away from the main highway and central areas from security point of view. He repaired the fort of Mukhlis Garh and renamed it as Loh Garh. He even started a mint to make coins and stamps in the name of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh and established Khalsa Kingdom.

Seeing such a rise of Banda Singh, The Mugal Emperor at Delhi, Bahadur Shah became nervous and furious. He could least think of such a situation. To take back his lost areas, he started chasing Banda Singh with all his forces. Viewing the situation, Banda Singh and his forces returned to the fort of Loh Garh in Dec 1710. The Mugal forces surrounded the fort and cut off all supplies. In one of pitch dark nights, Banda Singh and his men forced their way through the Mugal army and moved towards upper hill areas. Punishing various kings of hills who were part of the Mugal forces against Guru Gobind Singh, he moved towards Jammu.

Bahadar Shah reached Lahore in Aug.1711. His attempts to kill or capture Banda Singh were on. In Feb 1712 Bahadur Shah died out of illness. For one year there was fight for the Throne of Delhi among his sons. To take gain of the situation Banda Singh collected his forces and again conquered Batala , Kalanaour, Sarhind, Muzaffar Nagar and other areas in 1712 and ruled till 1715. In Delhi, Farukh Seyer son of Azimu-Shaan became king of Hindustan in Feb 1713.

It was for the first time that Banda Singh broke the believe of Mugals that they could not be conquered by any one. He established a democratic rule. The poor and down trodden got a sense if living with dignity. Those who tilled the land became its owners. He had power of devils but heart of saints. He protected the poor and low, did not harm those who surrendered. Clear example is the army of Afgan fighters who did not want to fight Banda Singh and accepted his leadership.

Arrest and sacrifices of Banda Singh and his men


In April 1715, Farakh Seyer the King of Hindustan, ordered all the governors of North India that Banda Singh either be killed or arrested. He taunted the Governer of Lahore, Abdu-Samad for his inability and sent his own forces for his help. Banda Singh and his forces were at Gurdaas Pur. He occupied a kachhi Garhi (a dilapidated four walled area) of Duni Chand at Gurdas Nangal. The Mugal forces dared not even to attack this Kachhi Garhi and surrounded it for 8 months. Banda Singh had very little army with him and had very limited quantity of weapons and food. The Mugals had cut off all the supplies from outside. Baba Binod Singh wanted to run away from the Garhi as was done in Dec 1710 while leaving the fort of Loh Garh. Banda Singh's strategy was different. He did not want to leave the Garhi. Banda Singh's strategy was different. He did not want to leave the Garhi but said that those who wanted to leave him could go. At an appropriate night Baba Binod Singh and his men left the Garhi. This left Banda Singh and about 800 of his men in the Garhi.

Day by day conditions worsened in the Garhi. No food was left, grass, leaves of plants and trees were boiled and eaten. Even balk of trees was eaten. One cannot imagine the misery they faced. Meat of animals and birds was eaten. Not even wood was left for cooking. It is said a few cut the flesh of their own thighs to eat. History was being created, but there was no one to write. They were completely cut off from the outside world. 
Number of Banda Singh's men fell ill and had bad stomach. After surrounding for 8 months, the Mugal army with swords in their hands charged the fort. Even at this stage the Sikhs offered heavy resistance. It is said Banda Singh alone had killed about 50 to 60 soldiers of the Mugal army before he could be captured.

Hazi Karam-war Khan writes in his book 'Tazkiratu-Sulatin Chugtian' that arrest of Banda Singh and his men was not the result of wisdom or bravery of the rulers, but it was the Grace of God that Kafir( Non Muslim) Banda Singh and his men were weakened by hunger. 

The Nawab was surprised at the wealth- Banda Singh had and the determination with which they were fighting. Hardly rupees 600 and 23 gold coins and a few weapons were found with them. The Mugal soldiers thought that the sikhs had swallowed gold coins, in fact few of the Sikhs were killed, their stomachs torn open, but nothing was found. Thus Banda Singh with about 800 sikhs was captured in Dec. 1715. They were taken to Lahore in the form of a procession. Farukh-Seyer, the king at Delhi, wanted them at Delhi. Abdu-Samad, the governor of Lahore, wanted himself to go to Delhi to present this big catch and take all the credit, but Farakh-Seyer ordered him to stay back and send his son Zakria Khan.

The Nawab and his son thought that this was too small a 'gift' -Banda Singh, 200 heads on spears and 700 prisoners. So they ordered the local chieftains to behead the sikhs wherever found and present their heads to the Nawab. Thus thousands of sikhs were murdered.

Banda Singh was clothed with clothes of a joker with a cap on head, was firmly chained, put in an iron cage. The cage was tied on top of an elephant. On both sides of the cage two Mugfal soldiers were seated with unsheathed swords, lest Banda Singh may still free himself and try to run away. About 760 prisoners were forced to wear coats of goat skins and caps of different colours. They were tied with chains and shackles and were seated on unsaddled camels - two on one with back to back.

Thus the procession consisted of:

1. Banda Singh on an elephant in an iron cage in the fore-front.
2. 760 prisoners in chains on camels.
3. About seven hundreds of Mugal soldiers on horses with heads of sikhs on their spears.
4. About 700 hundred carts, loads with severed heads of sikhs. 
5. A dead cat on a spear indicating not even a trace of a sikh is left.

This procession was brought to Delhi in Feb.1716.Thousands of men and women were on streets to witness this horrible procession. People of all faiths, even Christians were witness to this. Among the captured sikhs not even a single sikh was sad, disappointed or ready to ask for mercy. Accepting it as the Will of God they were happily singing Gurbani.

Leaving Banda Singh and a few of his companions for interrogation, others about 700 were beheaded in front of Delhi Gate at Khuni Darwaja. This execution went on for 7 days daily at the rate of 100 executions per day in the open and publically. This slaughtering was carried over in March 1716.

Banda Singh and his remaining men were interrogated for 3 months to find out about their war strategies, wealth and ammunition. He had, in fact, never buried any wealth or currency. Whatever he got he used to distribute among his soldiers and needy. His weapons were only swords, spears, bows, arrows, daggers etc. His army was on foot and horses. He had no elephants or cannons or any other sophisticated weapens.

At last in June 1716, Banda Singh and his 26 companions were moved in the streets of old Delhi in the form of a procession and then taken to the Makbra (Grave) of Khawaza Kutub-ud-deen Bakhitiyar Kaki near Kutub Minar. 26 sikhs were beheaded in the presence of Banda Singh, hoping that he may still ask for mercy. Now it was the turn of Banda Singh. He was asked to accept Islam or face death. He accepted death.


Execution of Banda Singh Bahadar

Banda Singh's 4 years old son was seated on his lap. A dagger was given to Banda Singh and ordered to cut his own son. He refused. The executioner pierced the chest of his son, took out the violently vibrating heart and tried to push into the mouth of Banda Singh. Though shackled, Banda Singh refused furiously. After this his flesh was notched out with pliers, hot sharp rods were inserted into his flesh. His eyes were notched out, hands and feet were chopped off. Thus when he became unconscious, his head was chopped off. This black day of the rulers was on 9th June 1716.

Whosoever, a Muslim, Hindu or Christian, saw this felt that the souls of those, who sacrificed their lives had miraculous powers that did not allow them to accept defeat. It was a strange incidence in the life of Banda Singh that when at the age of 15 years he saw dying two infants of a deer, which altogether changed his life and now at the age of 46, the beating heart of his own son was being pushed into his own mouth.

The English historian Conningham wrote that it was inhumane, unsocial and forest ruled activity of the victorious Mugals for having treated the sikhs in such ill manners. Such dreadful were the scenes, perhaps no body except those who saw could believe.

Farakh-Seyer, who tortured and killed Banda Singh and his men in June 1716, met with the same fate just after three years at the hands of his own men. There was a revolt against him. He hid himself in the dark rooms of Red Fort. He was chased, and his eyes similarly notched off. And then killed.

Banda Singh Bahadur ruled only for 6 to 7 years, when sikhs were like salt in flour.
This broke the yoke of 700 years rule of the invading forces from the Arab countries. Their myth of power was broken by him. The sacrifices of Banda Singh and his men did not discourage the sikhs but prepared them for the worst future fights. Passing through very difficult times for the next 40 years, the sikhs ruled at Lahore under the leadership of Nawab Kapoor Singh and then by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia in 1756. Later on they ruled all over Punjab in the form of 12 Sikh Misels (groups) under different names. This ultimately led to establish Khalsa Raj under Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1799 AD.

 


Baba Deep Singh (1682 to 1762)

Baba Deep Singh was a great Sikh scholar who became a soldier and martyr for the defence of Sikhism. Not much is know about his early life but when he visited Anandpur Sahib in 1700, he became a Khalsa and decided to stay. There he learned Gurmukhi from Bhai Mani Singh along with horse riding, archery as well as other arms training. Baba Deep Singh met Guru Gobind Singh at Damdama Sahib where Guru Gobind Singh told him to start preaching the message of Sikhism. Between 1715 and 1728 Baba Deep Singh and Bhai Mani Singh produced a number of hand written copies of the Guru Granth Sahib for distribution among the Sikhs. When Bhai Mani Singh became the head granthi at the Golden Temple, Baba Deep Singh stayed on as the head at Damdama Sahib. In 1710 Baba Deep Singh joined Banda Singh Bahadur 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. In 1762 Ahmed Shah Abdhali the Afghan invader ordered the Golden Temple blown up and the sacred pool filled in with refuse. Baba Deep Singh came out of scholarly retirement at Damdama Sahib and asked Sikhs to march with him to Amritsar to avenge the desecration. Along the way to Amritsar 5,000 Sikhs joined Baba Deep Singh. On the outskirts of Amritsar Baba Deep Singh and the heavily outnumbered Sikhs fought two fierce battles against a mughal force of 20,000. In the second engagement Baba Deep Singh was fatally wounded in the neck but had vowed to die in the precincts of the Golden Temple. Although mortally wounded Baba Deep Singh was able to continue fighting until he was able to make his way to the Sacred Pool of the Golden Temple where he finally expired.

Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Ji is one of most honoured martyrs of Sikh history. His parents, Bhai Bhagtu Ji and Mata Jeonee Ji, lived in the village of Pahuwind, Amritsar, India. They were hard working Sikh farmers but had not been blessed with any children. A Sikh saint told them one day that they would have a special child whom they should name Deep (meaning one who gives light). Baba Deep Singh Ji was born to them on January 26, 1682 (14 Maagh Sunmat 1739). Since Deep was an only child, his parents raised him with much devotion and affection.

At the age of twelve, Baba Deep Singh Ji went with his parents to Anandpur Sahib to meet Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Sikh guru. They stayed at Anandpur Sahib for several days, doing sewa (service) with the Sikh community. When his parents were ready to return to their village, Guru Gobind Singh Ji asked Baba Deep Singh Ji to stay with him. He humbly accepted Guru Ji's command and began serving him. While at Anandpur Sahib,

Baba Deep Singh Ji learned about Sikh philosophy and Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book of scriptures. He learned gurmukhi (Punjabi script) and several other languages. Guru Gobind Singh Ji also taught him horseback riding, hunting and arms training. At the age of eighteen, he received amrit (holy water) from Guru Ji on Vaisakhi. As a amritdhari Sikh, Baba Deep Singh Ji took an oath to serve as God's soldier--Sikhs are to always help the weak and needy, and to fight for truth and justice. Baba Deep Singh Ji soon became one of Guru Gobind Singh Ji's most beloved Sikhs.

Baba Deep Singh Ji stayed in Guru Gobind Singh Ji's service for about eight years. At Guru Ji's request, he returned to his village to help his parents. A year after his return to Pahuwind, a Sikh messenger arrived from Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Baba Deep Singh Ji was told that Guru Ji had left his fort in Anandpur Sahib after fighting with the Hindu hill rajas for six months. He also learned that the Guru's four sons and his mother, Mata Gujri, had all become separated. Upon hearing such disheartening news, Baba Deep Singh Ji immediately left Pahuwind to meet Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Baba Deep Singh Ji met Guru Gobind Singh Ji again at Damdama Sahib in Talwandi. Here, he learned that two of the Guru' sons, 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, were cruelly murdered at the city of Sirhind under the orders of the Muslim governor, Wazir Khan.

Baba Deep Singh Ji had been summoned to Damdama Sahib to work with Bhai Mani Singh Ji to prepare the final text of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh Ji recited the entire Granth Sahib to them while they wrote the text. On its completion, Baba Deep Singh Ji hand wrote five more copies of the holy scriptures. Four copies were sent to Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Sri Takht Patna Sahib, Sri Takht Hazur Sahib, and Sri Takht Anandpur Sahib. Another copy was prepared by Baba Deep Singh Ji in Arabic script and sent to the Middle East.

Baba Deep Singh Ji was soon regarded as one of the most devout Sikhs of his time. While preparing copies of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Baba Deep Singh Ji questioned Bhai Mani Singh Ji about a line of gurbani: "mitar pyare nu hal fakeera da kahna". Baba Deep Singh Ji felt that the line had been stated incorrectly because the Guru could never be a fakeer (beggar). He felt that the line should have been stated as "mitar pyare nu hal mureedan da kahna". Bhai Mani Singh Ji warned Baba Deep Singh Ji that in order to make an alteration to gurbani, he would need to give a part of himself in return. Baba Deep Singh Ji agreed to this, declaring that he was prepared to give his head for the sake of the panth. Therefore, Baba Ji was given the title of "Shaheed" (martyr) while alive.

In 1706, Guru Gobind Singh Ji placed Baba Deep Singh Ji in charge at Damdama Sahib, while Bhai Mani Singh Ji was made head priest of 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) and distributed them to the Sikh community.

In 1707, Baba Deep Singh Ji joined Banda Singh Bahadur 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, Baba Deep Singh Ji beheaded Wazir Khan. Later, when the Sikh forces were reorganised into twelve misls (groups), Baba Deep Singh Ji was appointed in charge of the Shaheedi division. As the leader of the Shaheedi misl, he achieved numerous victories for the Sikhs.

In 1716, the Sikh community became divided into two separate groups. One group, known as the Bandahi Khalsa, believed that Banda Singh Bahadur is the last Sikh guru, while the other group, the Tatt Khalsa, believed that Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the guru. These two groups began to dispute over control of Sri Harimander Sahib. Baba Deep Singh Ji was asked to help in reaching an agreement between the two parties. After speaking to both sides, it was decided by Baba Deep Singh Ji and Bhai Mani Singh Ji that two slips of paper would be written with each group's name on it. The slips of paper would then be tossed into the sarovar (pool of holy water); whichever group's paper stayed afloat the longest would be allowed to stay at Sri Harimander Sahib while the other group would agree to leave. Both parties agreed to solution. Baba Deep Singh Ji did ardas (prayer) and let the slips float in the water. In a few minutes, one paper began to sink and soon disappeared beneath the water. The other slip, which remained afloat, was lifted out of the sarovar. The name on this slip was Tatt Khalsa--therefore, the Bandahi Khalsa were forced to leave Sri Harimander Sahib forever.

In 1755, Ahmad Shah Abdali, the emperor of Afghanistan, attacked India for the fifth time. After looting many Indian cities including Delhi, he brought back with him gold, jewellery, and thousands of captured young women. When Baba Deep Singh Ji learned about this atrocity, he took a group of Sikhs and ambushed Ahmad Shah's forces. Baba Deep Singh Ji and his men freed much of Ahmad Shah's stolen goods and liberated the prisoners, returning them to their homes.

Ahmad Shah Abdali was able to escape to Lahore. Angered by the attack from the Sikhs, he decided to destroy the Sikh community. He appointed his son, Tamur Shah, as the governor of Lahore, and made Jahan Khan his general. In order to destroy the source of the Sikh's spiritual strength, he ordered Jahan Khan to destroy Sri Harimander Sahib. Following orders, in 1757, Jahan Khan proceeded to Amritsar with heavy artillery. Many Sikhs died trying to defend Sri Harimander Sahib but unfortunately the gurdwara and its surrounding buildings were demolished and the sarovar was filled with dirt and debris. Sri Harimander Sahib was then closed to all Sikhs.

At this time, Baba Deep Singh Ji was at Damdama Sahib. When he learned about this disturbing news, he immediately declared his intention of expelling the Afghans and rebuilding the gurdwara. He took a vow not to come back alive without fulfilling this mission. Baba Deep Singh Ji did ardas while promising to get to Sri Harimander Sahib:

"Sir jaave ta jaave, mera Sikhi sidhak na jaave" (If my head is severed, let it be, but don't severe my Sikh way of life)

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 Sir Harimander Sahib. By the time they reached the village of Tern 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 Sikhs there 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 (follow Sikhism), 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 mobilised an army of 20,000 men and proceeded towards Tern 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 both sides. Baba Deep Singh Ji fought with his 18-ser khanda (weighing about 32 lbs.). Each Sikh fought with such great valour 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 advancing towards Amritsar.

During the clash, one of the Mogul 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 head on his left palm while holding his khanda upright in his right hand. He then continued fighting and moving towards Sri Harimander Sahib. Upon seeing the sight of Baba Deep Singh Ji, most of the men in the Mogul army fled away in terror. Baba Deep Singh Ji was able to continue fighting and reached Sri Harimander Sahib. He bowed his head at the prikarma (rectangular walkway) of Sri Harimander Sahib and lay there as a martyr.

Baba Deep Singh Ji's shaheedi incited the Sikhs to continue to fight against Mogul oppression for many years. Even today, his life serves as an example for all Sikhs on how to live and die with dignity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DamDami Taksal was created from the incidence, which occurred when the tenth master, Guru Gobind Singh was at Takht Sri Anandpur Sahib. At that time, a beloved priest was reciting the Panj Granth with sincerity. Whilst reciting the gurbani he made one continuous mistake in the Dachanee Onkar path. This was noticed by Bhai Daya Singh Ji, and other Sikh followers, who then approached the tenth master saying 'Oh great one, bestow your blessings upon your followers and teach us the way to read and understand the Gurbani without which we do not stand corrected.'

When ever the beloved followers put a request forward to the Guru Ji he would never disregard the congregations wishes. Once free from the battles, proceeding after his sacrificed sons (4 Shahejade), who gave there lives away for there religion, Guru Ji went on to Talwandi and asked of the Singhs to 'go to Kartarpur Sahib to see Theer Mal. When the fifth master, Guru Arjan Dev Ji was reciting the gurbani, he left a space for where the Ninth Guru was to complete it. Whilst getting the Guru Granth Sahib Ji complete the translations shall be explained.'

Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Ji went to see Teer Mal, and replied if Guru Gobind Singh Ji is so great why cannot he recite the gurbani off by heart. To make Teer Mal eat his words Guru Ji went to Takht Sri Dam Dama Sahib Sabho Ke Talwandi, to then recite the whole of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji with the aid of Bhai Mani Singh being the scriber. With so much swiftness at that very day the Jap Ji Sahib, reheraas Sahib and the Kirtan Sohila was concluded, and that very evening, it was all translated to the congregation. This began the process of writing, reading and translating of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, to the 48 followers and the congregation. The papers, pens and ink were supplied with great homage by Baba Deep Singh Ji. It took 9 months 9 days from 1762 until 1763 to complete the whole of the translation from Ik Onkar to Attarehi Das Bees. Where at the ending of the Guru Ji's teaching, a large ceremony took place which left the whole Sikh nation astonished by Guru seva.

From hearing the translation from the Guru Ji (10th), the 48 followers gained devine knowledge (Brahm Giaan) which left them detached from all material status. Guru Ji gave permission to Bhai Manni Singh and Baba Deep Singh Ji to take forward this seva and teach others there learnings. Even if your body's are cut into pieces or your head is removed from your body, you will remain focused to your devine knowledge.

Guru Ji sent Bhai Mani Singh to Amritsar and sent Baba Deep Singh Jee to Taksal Damdama Sahib to run The Taksal's teachings. Both Taksals have been running with the blessings of the divine knowledge of great saints (refer to historical tree) who have taught the Guru Jee preaching's one by one. From Baba Deep Singh onwards the chain of Jathedars of DamDami Taksal has never broken. As now the Jathedar of DamDami Taksal is Sant Giani Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindrawale, acting Jathedar Sant Baba Takhur Singh Ji.

 

 

 

Bhai Bidhi Chand 

Warrior as well as religious preacher of the time of Guru Hargobind, was a Chhina Jatt of the village of Sursingh, 34 km south of Amritsar. His father's name was Vassan and his grandfather's Bhikkhi. His mother was from Sirhah, another village in the same district. As a young man Bidhi Chand had fallen into bad company and taken to banditry. One day, a pious Sikh, Bhai Adah of the village of Chohla, led him into Guru Arjan's presence. Bidhi Chand wished no longer to return home and decided to dedicate the rest of his life to the service of the service of Guru.

He was one of the five Sikhs chosen to accompany Guru Arjan on his journey to Lahore where he was martyred in 1606. Guru Hargobind chose him to be one of the commanders of the armed force he had raised and he displayed as a soldier great feats of valour in battles with the imperial troops.

His best-known exploit, however, was the recovery of two horses, Dilbag and Gulbag, from the stables of the governor of Lahore. The horses belonged to a Sikh who was bringing them from Kabul as an offering for Guru Hargobind, but they were seized on the way by the Mughal satrap. The first horse Bidhi Chand recovered disguised as a hay-seller, and the second disguised as an astrologer.

Besides being a brave warrior, Bidhi Chand was well versed in Sikh lore and tenet. 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 his last days with him.

According to Gurbilas Chhevin Patshah, 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, where after, 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, Sursingh.


The Sahibzadas

These were the four sons of Guru Gobind Singh who bravely sacrificed their lives for Sikhism and are remembered every day in Ardas (the common prayer).


   
Baba Ajit Singh (1687 to 1704) and Baba Jujhar Singh (1689 to 1704)

Baba Ajit Singh was the oldest son of Guru Gobind Singh and was born on January 7, 1687 at Anandpur Sahib. Baba Jujhar Singh the Gurus second son was born in March 1689. Both brothers received religious education as well as training in the weapons of war. During the battle of Chamkaur in 1704 in which the Guru and 40 Sikhs fought against overwhelming odds (1:25,000), both brothers were martyred in battle. During the battle Baba Ajit Singh asked his fathers permission to go out of the fort and fight the enemy. He said, "Dear father, my name is Ajit or Unconquerable. I will not be conquered. And if conquered, I will not flee or come back alive. Permit me to go, dear father." Guru Gobind Singh hugged and kissed his beloved son before sending him into battle where he fought heroically until his last breath. Baba Jujhar Singh having watched his brother fight, asked Guru Gobind Singh, "Permit me, dear father to go where my brother has gone. Don’t say that I am too young. I am your son, I am a Singh or Lion of yours. I shall prove worthy of you. I shall die fighting, with my face towards the enemy, with God and the Guru on my lips and in my heart." Guru Gobind Singh embraced him and said, "Go my son and wed life-giving Death. We have been here for a while. Now we shall return to our real home. Go and wait for me there. Your grandfather and elder brother are already waiting for you." Thus the Guru watched his two sons achieve eternal peace through martyrdom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baba Jorawar Singh (1696 to 1704) and Baba Fateh Singh (1698 to 1704)

                                        The two youngest sons of Guru Gobind Singh, Baba Jorawar Singh was the third son and was born in 1696 while Baba Fateh Singh was the youngest son and was born in 1698.  During the crossing of the river Sarsa following the departure of the Guru and his family from Anandpur Sahib, the Sikhs were attacked by the treacherous mughals who had guaranteed them safe passage. During the ensuing battle and confusion, both sons along with Mata Gujri, Guru Gobind Singhs mother, were separated from the others. Eventually through the treachery of a Brahmin named Gangu they fell into the hands of Nawab Wazir Khan the governor of Sirhind. The Nawab gave the two young brothers a choice of either converting to Islam or being put to death. Baba Jorawar Singh said to his little brother, "My brother, the time to sacrifice our lives has arrived. What do you think? What should be our reply?" Baba Fateh Singh his younger brother replied, "Brother dear, our grandfather, Guru Tegh Bahadur parted with his head; he stoutly refused to part with his religion. We should follow his example. We have received the baptism of the spirit and the sword. We are the Guru’s lions. Why should we fear death? It is best that we should give up our lives for the sake of our religion. I am prepared to die". Baba Jorawar Singh replied, "That is good, indeed. The blood of Guru Arjan, Guru Hargobind, Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh runs in our veins. We are their descendants. We cannot do anything unworthy of our family". Both sons were bricked up in a wall and had their heads cut off but they steadfastly refused to convert to Islam.