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PAYING OBEISANCE TO BABA BANDA SINGH BAHADUR JI ON FATEH DIVAS

May 12, 2022 03:01 PM
Warrior Banda Singh Bahadur (Painting)
Dr Amrit Kaur

 Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji (1670-1716), a brave Sikh warrior and

founder of the Sikh Rule in Punjab was born on October 27, 1670 at Rajauri in

Punchh District of Jammu and Kashmir. His early name was Lachhman Dev. His

father Ram Dev Ji, a Rajput farmer trained him in martial arts in early childhood.

At the age of fifteen, the sight of a dying pregnant doe during one of his

hunting excursions made him leave his home as penitence and become an

ascetic. He joined Bairagi Ram Das who named him

'Madho Das'. After his extensive tours he settled in the Panchvati woods near

Nasik in Maharashtra. Later on, he established a math (monastery) of his own in

Nanded, Maharashtra on the left bank of river Godavari. It was here that he came in

contact with Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Sikh Guru who happened to visit

his monastery on September 3, 1708. After some discourse, he fell at the feet of

Guru Sahib pronouncing himself as his banda i.e. slave. He was immediately

converted to the Sikh faith. Guru Sahib named him 'Banda Singh' and bestowed

upon him a drum, a banner and five arrows as symbols of authority. At the site of

his meeting with Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Gurdwara Baba Banda Bahadur Ghat,

Nanded has been established.

On May 12, 1710 to conquer Sirhind he attacked the imperial forces at

Chapar Chiri which are twin villages (Chapar Chiri Large and Chapar Chiri Small)

in Kharar Tehsil of District Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar, Punjab which are at a

distance of about 20 kms from Sirhind. Wazir Khan who had 25, 000 warriors at his

command had reached Chapar Chiri. A fierce battle took place. Toward the end of

this battle as the author of Ahwal-i-Salatin-i Hind has stated "The Sikhs came face

to face with the Mohammedans... Wazir Khan then came face to face with Baj

Singh saying 'be careful, you dirty dog'. " In the meantime, Fateh Singh took out

his sword and struck Wazir Khan so strongly that it passed through his shoulder

down to his waist and his head fell to the ground. To commemorate this victory

Gurdwara Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji has been established between Chapar

Chiri Large and Chapar Chiri Small.

Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji along with five Sikhs - Binod Singh, Kahan

Singh, Baj Singh, Daya Singh and Ram Singh set out towards the north with a

determination to chastise the tyrannical Mughal faujdar of Sirhind Wazir Khan and

other tyrannical imperial officers whowere persecuting Hindus and Sikhs compelling

them to come into the fold of Islam. On reaching Punjab, wherever he went the Sikhs

welcomed him and gave him their full support. On November 26, 1709 he attacked

Samana in Patiala District of Punjab, the native town of (i) Jalal ud-Din, the

executioner of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, the ninth Sikh Guru and (ii) of the two

executioners Shashal Beg and Bashal Beg who had beheaded Sri Guru Gobind

Singh Ji's two younger sons Sahibzada Fateh Singh Ji and Sahibzada Zorawar

Singh Ji aged 7 years and 9 years respectively at Sirhind.

After conquering Samana he occupied Ghurham, Thaska, Shahabad and

Mustfabad. After this he razed to the ground the town of Kapuri in Haryana whose

faujdar Qadam ud-Din was persecuting Hindus and Sikhs and was indulging in

debaucheries. His next mission was to punish Usman Khan, the chief of Sadhaura,

which presently falls in Ambala District of Haryana, who was notorious for

persecuting Hindus and Sikhs. On March 21, 1704 Usman Khan had tortured to

death the muslim saint Sayyid Buddhu Shah, who taking along with him 700 of his

followers, his brother and four sons had helped Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji in the battle

of Bhangani in Himachal Pradesh. The Hindus of this place had complained to Baba

Banda Singh Bahadur that they were not allowed to cremate their dead or to perform

any other religious ceremony. They also said that cows were slaughtered before

their houses and their blood and entrails were left in the streets which had compelled

some Hindus to leave this place. In a fierce battle which took place at Sadhaura

Usman Khan was killed. In Sadhaura to commemorate the bravery of Baba Banda

Singh Bahadur a Gurdwara named Quilla Gurdwara has been established.

Before attacking Sirhind, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji took a long route to

seek the support of theSikhs from Doaba and Majha. On his call, the Sikhs came

forward and gave him their full support because they wanted to avenge the killing

of the two younger sons of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji who had been bricked alive in

a wall at Sirhind on the orders of Wazir Khan. His aim was (i) to avenge the killing

of the two younger sons of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh Ji

and Sahibzada Fateh Singh Ji whom Wazir Khan, the imperial faujdar of Sirhind

had first ordered to be sealed alive in a wall, and who were later on executed by his

orders at Sirhind and (ii) put an end to the Mughal imperialism under which Hindus

and Sikhs were being forcibly converted to Islam.

On May 12, 1710 to conquer Sirhind he attacked the imperial forces at

Chapar Chiri which are twin villages (Chapar Chiri Large and Chapar Chiri Small)

in Kharar Tehsil of District Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar, Punjab which are at a

distance of about 20 kms from Sirhind. Wazir Khan who had 25, 000 warriors at his

command had reached Chapar Chiri. A fierce battle took place. Toward the end of

this battle as the author of Ahwal-i-Salatin-i Hind has stated "The Sikhs came face

to face with the Mohammedans... Wazir Khan then came face to face with Baj

Singh saying 'be careful, you dirty dog'. " In the meantime, Fateh Singh took out

his sword and struck Wazir Khan so strongly that it passed through his shoulder

down to his waist and his head fell to the ground. To commemorate this victory

Gurdwara Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji has been established between Chapar

Chiri Large and Chapar Chiri Small.

On May 14, 1710 Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji and his troops captured the city of Sirhind and razed it to the ground. The province of

Sirhind at that time extended from Karnal to Ludhiana.This victory named as

Sirhind Victory virtually paved the way for Khalsa Raj which ended with

Maharaja Dulip Singh, the youngest son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1849. At

the place of execution of Sahibzada Zorawar Singh Ji and Sahibzada Fateh

Singh Ji which is 5 kms north of Sirhind the city named Fatehgarh Sahib was

established and at the exact site of execution Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib has

been established. By this time Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji wasthe virtual

master of territories between Yamuna and Sutlej.

After the victory of Sirhind, he made Mukhlisgarh, which falls in-between

Sadhaura and Nahan in the Himalayas as his headquarters and renamed it

'Lohgarh'. Fort of Lohgarh in this way becamethe first capital of Sikh Raj (Rule).

He introduced new coins and a new calendar dating from May 14, 1710. He put an

end to the feudal system.

After crossing Yamuna, he seized Saharanpur in U.P. in the summer of 1710

after which he returned to Punjab and conquered Batala and Kalanaur in Gurdaspur

District of Punjab and marched towards Lahore. The Governor of Lahore Syyid

Aslam was so much awe stricken that he shut himself in a fort. By now, except for the

city of Lahore the whole of Majha and Riarki were under his command. On Oct 3,

1710 he occupied Rahon in Jalandhar Doab.

His increasing power and influence roused the anger of the Mughal Emperor

Bahadur Shah (Rule 1707-1712) who came from the Deccan and commanded the

Governors of Delhi and Oudh and other Mughal officers to punish the Sikhs. The

Sikhs were so much on Bahadur Shah's brain that he looked at every bearded man

with suspicion. On September 8, 1710, he issued an order that 'all Hindus

employed in the imperial offices should get their beards shaved because he was

afraid that Sikhs may be disguisedin them. On December, 10, 1710 Bahadur Shah

issued orders to all of his faujdars to kill 'worshippers of Nanak' i.e., the Sikhs

wherever found. As per the imperial orders all Government officers were ordered

tokill Sikhs wherever found. The Sikhs were handed over to the Mughal soldiers in

lieu of pay who sold them in the horse-market (nakhas) at Lahore where they were

butcherd. Even in the face of the imperial order of killing of all Sikhs Baba Banda

Singh Bahadur Ji was tolerant towards the Muslims. Thus, 5000 Muslim in the

areas surrounding Kalanaur and Batala joined his army. These muslims were

allowed to shout their religious call azan and recite khutba and namaz in the army

of Sikhs.

In the face of the imperial orders, the Sikhs in Sirhind and other places were

compelled to take shelter in the Fort of Lohgarh. But the imperial forces which

included 60, 000 soldiers besieged this fort. Due to lack of sufficient provisions, the

Sikh soldiers were getting desperate. On the night of December 10, 1710 Baba

Banda Singh Bahadur Ji escaped Lohgarh and took control of the States of

Bilaspur, Mandi, Kullu and Chamba in Himachal Pradesh. In June 1711, he came

down to the plains and defeatedthe Mughal troops at Bahrampur near Jammu and

then again returned to the hilly areas. Ghulam Husain Khan in his book Siyar-ul-

Mutaakherin written in Persian language has reported that towards the end of his

life Bahadur Shah lost his mental balance and gave some very ridiculous orders

such as killing of all dogs and donkeys in the city and removal of all faqirs from the

city. He became melancholic and died on February 27, 1712.

After Bahadur Shah's death Jahandar Shah ascended the throne for a few

months. On January 10, 1713 Farrukh-Siyar who ascended the throne accelerated

the campaign against the Sikhs. The Sikhs were forced to leave Sadhaura and

Lohgarh.

Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji fought the last battle with the Mughals at the

village of Gurdas Nangal 6 kms from Gurdaspur where the main column led by

Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji was subjected to a severe siege. Due to lack of food

supplies his warriors had to live on grass, leaves and bark of the trees. On

December 7, 1715 after 8 months of difficult conditions he had to surrender. He

along with his followers was taken prisoner. About 200-300 Sikhs were bound

hand-and-foot and handed over to the Mughal and Tartar soldiery, who killed them

with their swords. Their blood filled the battle field as if it was a dish full of blood.

The heads of the dead Sikhs were stuffed with hay and mounted on spears.

Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji was first taken to Lahore and paraded in a

gruesome manner in the streets of Lahore. Then heavily chained, enclosed in a cage

which was set on an elephant he was sent to Delhi by road along with 740 prisoners

in heavy chains seated on camels (two on each camel tied together wherein one

hand of each of them was tied to his neck), 700 cart loads of heads of Sikhs, with

another 2000 heads of Sikhs stuck upon pikes. All of them were given food only

when they fainted because of hunger. The amount of food was as little could keep

their breath going. Cunningham in his book A History of the Sikhs (1849) has stated

that, 'Banda (Singh) and others were sent to Delhi under such miserable conditions

that only vulgar and semi-barbarian victors could do. This gruesome cavalcade

arrived in Delhi on February 27, 1716 and was taken through the main bazars of

Delhi. From Agharabad to Lohori Gate in Delhi thousands of Muslims had lined up

on the road-side who cut dirty jokes and taunted the Sikhs.

In Delhi, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji along with about two dozen leading

Sikhs was imprisoned in the Fort while the remaining 740 were handed over to the

kotwal Sarbrah Khan to be executed at the Kotwali Chabutra opposite Delhi Railway

Station at the rate of 100 a day. The butchering of the 740 Sikhs started on March 5,

  1. Each of them courted death with pleasure and reciting Gurbani (sacred

hymns). Mirza Mohammed Harisi, the author of Ibratnama, who was present in Delhi

during these scenes, writes that:

"Such a crowd in the bazars and lanes had rarely been seen. The Mussalmans could

hardly contain themselves for joy. But the unfortunate Sikhs, who had been reduced

to this condition, were quite happy and contented with their lot. Not the slightest sign

of dejection or humiliation was visible on their faces. In fact, most of them, as they

passed along on their camels, seemed to be happy and cheerful, merrily singing

their sacred hymns. If anyone from the lane called out to them that their own

excesses had brought them where they were, they quickly retorted that it had been

so decreed by the Almighty, and that their capture and misfortune was in accordance

with His will. And if anyone said, 'Now you will be killed', they shouted, 'Do kills us.

When were we afraid of death? Had we been afraid, how could we have fought so

many battles with you? It was only through want and hunger that we fell into your

hands; other wise you know already what deeds of bravery we are capable of."

William Irvine in his book Later Mughals (1922) has stated that "All observers Indian

and European "unite in remarking on the wonderful patience and resolution with

which these men underwent their fate. Their attachment and devotion to their leader

were wonderful to behold. They had no fear of death; they called the executioner

Mukt or the Deliverer, they cried out to him joyfully, "O Mukt ! Kill mefirst !"

Ghulam Husain Khan in his book Siyar-ul-Mutaakhirin has stated that 'But

what is singular these people not only behaved firmly during the execution, but they

would dispute and wrangle with each other for priority in death, and they made

interest with the executioner to obtain the preference.' To evade death all the Sikhs

were given the option to court Islam. The letter dated March 10, 1716 and addressed

to the President and Governor of Fort William by John Surman and Edward

Stephenson, members of the British Embassy to the court of Farrukh Siyar who were

present at the venue of execution in Delhi states: 'It has not been found that one

apostatised from this new formed religion'. For a whole week the butchering of Sikhs

went on until all of them were beheaded. At night their bodies were removed in carts

and hung up on trees outside the city.

On June 9, 1716 Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji along with his 26 companions

was taken out in a procession through the streets of the old city of Delhi to the tomb

of Khwaja Qutb ud-Din Bakhtyar Kaki near the Qutab Minar. By this time, he along

with his companions had been continuously tortured for more than three months.

When Baba Banda Singh BahadurJi was brought to this place, because of tortures

inflicted on him his hands, arms, feet, and legs had been so severely distorted that he

could not even stand.He was given a stick to enable him to support his body and in

addition a few officials gave support to his shoulders. The historians feel that the

details of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji's execution are too horrible to be related.

On June 9, 1916 upon his refused to court the Islam religion his four-year old son

Ajay Singh was hacked to pieces before his eyes and the pieces of his flesh were

forcibly put into his mouth. After that he was deprived of his right eye, and then of his

left. Then his hands and feet were cut off, his flesh was torn with red-hot pincers, and

finally his head was chopped off. Until his last breath this brave warrior was reciting

Gurbani (sacred hymns), was fully composed and his face was gleaming. To

commemerate his bravery, at the site of his execution, Gurdwara Baba Banda

Bahadur Ji has been established in Mehrauli, New Delhi.

Three years after the painful shaheedi of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji

Farrukh-Siyar was killed on the night of 27-28 April, 1719 by his own men who

pricked needles into his eyes and then choked himto death.

In October-November, 1899 Rabindranath Tagore composed a poem in

Bengali titled Bandi Bir (Warrior Bound) based mainly on McGregor's History of the

Sikhs and Cunningham's A History of the Sikhs. In the opening stanzas Tagore has

described how Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji's message had turned the Sikhs into a self-

respecting and dauntless people and in the rest, he has highlighted the resistance

put up by Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji against the Mughal oppression, and has

heroic death.As reported by Himadri Banerjee this poem was a source of inspiration

for the Bengali writers as well as the Bangali militant youth engaged in the struggle

for India's independence.

The tercentenary of Sirhind Fateh Divas i.e. the day of conquering Sirhind

was celebrated all over the world on May 14, 2010. One Fateh Divas March was

started on March 30, 2010 at Gurdwara Baba Banda Bahadur Ghat, Nanded in

Maharashtra. The pompous procession led by Palki Sahib i.e. the palanquin carrying

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and Punj Piaras along with devotees riding elephants,

horses and thousands of vehicles passed through the big cities and reached

Fatehgarh Sahib on May 14, 2010. The second Fateh Divas March originated at

Rajauri in Jammu and Kashmir, the birth place of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji and

also reached Fatehgarh Sahib on May 14, 2010. Millions of Sikhs came to have a

darshan (holy glimpse) of Fateh Divas March at Chapar Chiri on May 13 and at

Fatehgarh Sahib on May 14, 2010.

Whenever we think of the martyrdom of Sahibzada Fateh Singh Ji and

Sahibzada Zorawar Singh Ji, the two younger sons aged 7 years and 9 years

respectively of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, we are reminded of the cruelty of Wazir

Khan the then faujdar of Sirhind, who first ordered that these two young children be

bricked alive in a wall but when because of some miraculous happening that wall

cracked and the masons found it impossible to complete it, then he ordered that

these two young children be beheaded. On hearing about the death of her naive

grandsons Mata Gujri Ji died of shock. Wazir Khan's forces were also part and

parcel of the army which on December 7, 1705 raided the Garhi, the high walled

fortified house being used as a temparory citadel by Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji where

a fierce battle took place between Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji and his Sikhs one

side and the imperial army, which included reinforcements from Malerkotla and

Sirhind, on the other. It was in this battle which took place inDecember 7, 1705 at a

nearby place west of this Garhi that the two elder sons of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji,

Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji and Sahibzada Jujhar Singh Ji aged 18 years and 14 years

respectively earned martyrdom.

Even after the martyrdom of all the four Sahibzadas of Sri Guru Gobind Singh

Ji and his mother Mata Gujri Ji, Wazir Khan was still full of fury. He alongwith his

troops followed Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji and on December 29, 1705 reached

Khidrana Dhab which is close to the present day city of Muktsar andinvaded him but

was defeated. Later on when Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji after staying at Talvandi

Sabo now called Damdama Sahib in District Bathinda from January 20, 1706 to

October 30, 1706 left for the south he despatched two pathans Jamshed Khan and

Wasil Begh to kill him.

These two pathans followed Guru Sahib secretly and towards the end of

August 1708 when he reached Nanded in Maharashtra, they ever took him. One of

them stabbed Guru Sahib on the left side below the heart as he lay resting in his

chamber in the evening. Guru Sahib immediately struck him down with his sabre and

killed him. The second pathan was killed by his devotees. The wound of Guru Sahib

was stitched and seemed to have been healed. But one day as he tried to pull a stiff

bow, the wound broke outwhich ended up being fatal and on 7 October, 1708 after

bestowing Guruship on Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji left for his

heavenly abode.

Thus, Wazir Khan ended up being criminal to the whole family of Sri Guru

Gobind Singh Ji. As mentioned earlier to take revenge from Wazir Khan for his

misdeeds Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji on May 12, 1710 attacked the imperial

forces at Chapar Chiri, Tehsil Kharar, District Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar a place at

a distance of about 20 kms from Sirhind and in this battle Wazir Khan was killed.

Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji the brave Sikh warrior is remembered by the

Sikh community on (i) October 27 his birthday (ii) on June 9 his martyrdom day (iii)

in December-January during the martyrdom days of the four Sahibzadas and (iv)

Sirhind Fateh Diwas on May 14.

The name of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji will always be remembered

respectfully as a brave Sikh warrior, founder of Sikh Rule, a liberal leader, one who

stood against the cruel treatment of the people by the imperial class and embraced

death heroically.

HAIL THE DAUNTLESS WARRIOR AND SHAHID!

Dr Amrit Kaur (Retired) Professor, Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab, India

Email: amritkaurchd40@gmail.com

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