300th Anniversary of Battle of Sirhind and the establishment of Khalsa Raj


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The battle of Sirhind: a background

WAZIR KHAN, the Governor of Sirhind, had vowed to finish the Sikhs root and branch. Two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh, Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh, were bricked alive on his orders when they had refused to embrace Islam in 1704 at Sirhind. The Sikhs were keen to avenge the killings.

Four years later, a chance meeting took place between Lachman Das, later known as Banda Singh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh, on the banks of the Gadavar. The Guru sent Banda Bahadur to Punjab to punish Wazir Khan and destroy the Mughal empire, which had let loose repression on Sikhs. In October, 1708, Banda marched towards Punjab along with a band of 25 Sikhs and a hukamnama, which enjoined upon the Sikhs to assemble under his banner. As Banda reached Delhi, thousands gathered under his command. After subjugating Sonepat, Samana, Shahbad, Mustafabad, Kapuri and Banur, Banda led his troops to take on Wazir Khan, who also came out of Sirhind to confront the Sikhs. Whereas the royal army had cannons and cavalry, the Sikhs had only swords and spears. The two armies clashed at Chapar Chiri on May 12. Though the enemy had the upper hand initially as Banda Bahadur directed the attack, sitting on a sandy mound. But he soon joined his forces and pounced on the enemy. A pitched battle was fought for two days during which Wazir Khan fell to the sword of Fateh Singh. The Sikhs raised a victory cry and razed Sirhind to the ground. Banda formally took control of Sirhind on May 14, 1710.



The Indian Mughal empire never recovered from the defeat inflicted on the Mughal army in the battle of Chappar Chiri near Sirhind, by the people's Khalsa army led by General Baba Banda Singh Bahadur 300 years ago, on 12 May 1710.

The historic battle showed that the well equipped and highly trained Mughal army was not invincible. The foundation for people's Khalsa raj had been laid by Tenth Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh, who had promised that his "sparrows" i.e. ordinary people armed with the Guru's egalitarian and liberating ideology, shall hunt and kill the Mughal "hawk". And so on 12 May 1710, led by one of the greatest generals in human history, the sparrows went for the jugular of the Mughal empire. This was the lifeline of the empire connecting north-west frontier and provincial capital Lahore, with Delhi. Starting with the earlier demise of the significant centre of Mughal aristocracy, Samana (26 November 1709), The Khalsa army held on for nearly six years to end 1715.

Rather belatedly, the great significance of this battle has been recognised. A monument is being built at Chappar Chiri by the Punjab Government's Cultural Affairs Department. Amongst other tourist attractions, battle scenes will be depicted.

Baba Banda Singh Bahadur remains a mystical but towering figure in Sikh history. In warfare tactics and strategy he followed in the footsteps of Guru Gobind Singh who first defeated the combined forces of the treacherous Hindu hill rajas with a handful of Sikhs at the famous battle of Bhangani.
Even in retreat, the Guru showed unmatched military skill at Anandpur, Chamkaur and Muktsar. Despite treachery and false promises of safe passage from Anandpur, the combined forces of the hill rajas and the Mughal army, were unable to capture or kill him in battle.

Similarly, like a tiger sent forth by the Great Guru, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur leapt on the Mughal elephant and drained away its life blood for six long years during the reign of three Mughal emperors.



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Battle of Sirhind

Sirhind the town located in Punjab India, which was the unfortunate witness to the the martyrdom of the two younger sons or chotta sahibzada of Guru Gobind Singh in 1704. Wazir Khan, its Subadar (Governor) at the time had vowed to finish off the Sikhs, 'root and branch', after they had left Anandpur Sahib.

Though the Sikhs had been given a promise of safe passage to Punjab, a promise written in the flyleaf of their holy book, the Qur'an which included the seal of the Emperor Aurangzeb. The Sikhs who were half starved and weakened by the many months that the the Mughals and Hindu hill chieftains had laid siege to Anandpur they put up a spirited defense at the Sarsa, killing many of their attackers. At Chamkaur thousands of attackers failed to capture Guru Gobind Singh no doubt making those who hoped to kill him including Wazir Khan furious.

The frustrated Wazir Khan must have been delighted when the two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh, 9 year old Baba Zorawar Singh and and 6 year old Baba Fateh Singh along with their paternal grandmother Mata Gujri ji fell into his custody, after being betrayed by a trusted former member of the Guru's household. They had been separated from the Guru and his Sikhs, in the confused battle while crossing the rain swollen frigid waters of the Sarsa.

After they refused the Subedar's offers of power and wealth, if only they would accept Islam, Wazir Khan ordered his men to brick them into a wall while still alive, thinking that the children would surely choose Islam over such a gruesome death, but even this failed to change the resolve of the Guru's two youngest sons. When even the bricks enclosing the young Princes tumbled to the ground Wazir Khan ordered their execution.
The anger of the Sikhs

Learning of the deaths of the sahibzades, the Sikhs were keen to avenge their deaths and that of the Guru's mother, the wife of the beloved Guru Tegh Bahadur. Such savagery and the loss of youngest of the Guru's sons at Wazir Khan's orders, would lead to the destruction of Sirhind four years later.

After the death of Aurangzeb, Guru Gobind Singh had rallied the Sikhs even lending his support to one of Aurangzeb's sons Muazzam to defeat his brothers in their fight for the Muslim throne. Four years later travelling with a band of Singhs, Guru Gobind Singh accompanied Muazzam now installed as Bahadur Shah on a trip to the Deccan. After separating from the Mughal column, Guru Gobind Singh and some of his devotees went looking for the camp of a Hindu faqir named Lachman Das who was soon to take Pahul from the Guru's hands, becoming Banda Singh Bahadar along the bank of the Godavari.
Guru's time to depart had arrived

After the Guru was attacked by two Pathan assassins, said to have been sent by Wazir Khan (who was fearful of the growing friendship between the Guru and the Moghul Emperor). Though the assassins were killed, one had managed to stab the Guru in his side. The wound was dangerous, but the European doctor that Bahadur Shah had sent to the Guru's aide had managed to repair the damage and the Guru was said to be recovering well.

Days later the Guru while stringing a new bow, he opened the wound again, but this time the wound could not be closed, realizing that he could not return to counter the tyranny of Wazir Khan and his like the Guru sent Banda Bahadur to Punjab to suppress the tyranny of the rulers and punish Wazir Khan and free the Punjab and India of Mughal rule, which had long repressed the peace loving peoples of the continent including the Sikhs. In October, 1708, Banda marched towards Punjab along with a band of 25 Sikhs and a hukamnama, which enjoined upon the Sikhs to assemble under his banner. As Banda reached Delhi, thousands gathered under his command.
Banda Singh starts his mission

After subjugating Sonepat, Samana, Shahbad, Mustafabad, Kapuri and Banur, Banda led his troops to take on Wazir Khan, who also came out of Sirhind to confront the Khalsa army. Whereas the Mughal army had cannons and cavalry, the Sikhs only had swords, spears and small arms. The two armies clashed at Chapar Chiri on May 12, 1710. The main battle was fought on the plain of Chappar Chiri which falls in Kharar Tahsil on Banur - Kharar Road.

Sirhind was not an easy target to capture for Banda. It was the seat of the provincial capital. It's Nawab, Wazir Khan was one of the pillars of the Mughal empire with a huge army under his command. He had been in power for many years and had accumulated considerable wealth and position. Khan made extensive arrangements to meet the challenge of Sikhs under Banda. He proclaimed a "Jihad" - a religious war against the Sikhs, the accursed infidels or Kafirs.
The preparation for battle

A large number of Gazis or religious warriors from far and wide responded to his call. He collected his noted faujdars, zamindars and sardars. He had a large number of elephants, mounted gunnery, archers, lancers and swordsmen. Banda had no artillery, no elephants and not even sufficient supply of good horses. He and his soldiers only possessed long spears, arrows and swords.

The organization and regrouping of troops before they are launched into battle is one of the fundamentals of war. This was an area in which Banda Bahadur was not lacking. So he organized his troops into two assaulting groups (Jathas). In the first group were the Malwais put under the command of Fateh Singh, Karam Singh, Dharam Singh and Ali Singh. The Majhel Singhs formed the second group under the command of Baba Binod Singh, Bhai Baj Singh, Ram Singh and Sham Singh.
Warir Khan marches out for battle

Wazir Khan marched out in person with his large army with elephants in front to check the advance of the Sikhs. Banda ordered his commanders to advance and himself sat on a mound nearby to watch and direct the operation. The moment the battle started, the irregulars comprising robbers took to their heels. It is with regard to these people that Irvine in his book "Later Mughals" remarks, "At the first shook, the Sikhs, after a feeble resistance turned and fled." A sanguinary battle now ensued. The Sikhs shouted the war cry of 'Sat Sri Akal', whereas, the war cry of 'Ali, Ali' , was raised by the Muslims. The entire atmosphere resounded with these war cries.

First, the Muslim artillery caused a heavy destruction of lives. Realizing this disadvantage, the soldiers of Guru Kalgidhar decided to do or die for a noble cause and sallied forth en-masse towards the cannon. Though they suffered heavy casualties, they succeeded in snatching the cannon. They then started hand-to-hand fight. Even then, the enemy was at an advantage.
Heat of the Battle

Then Baj Singh, Second-in-command, rushed to Banda, who had remained aloof so far, with a request to play his role. Banda then rushed forward to the forefront of his army. To quote Sohan Singh. "Then rose he (Banda) like a hungry lion from his cave and sprang upon the army like a bolt from the blue. His appearance very much encouraged the Khalsa, whereas it struck a general terror among the enemy. Just as Julius Caesar, all of a sudden and with a single attack had turned the tables of fortunes against the hitherto obviously winnings Gauls, the irresistible Banda, with a single sally changed the whole scene."

Encouraged by the advent of their leader on the battlefield. the Singhs fell in a compact body upon the Muhammadans. The onslaught was so penetrating that it became difficult for the enemy to stand it. Khazan Singh holds that "when the battle was raging, a strong storm set in and with that the Singhs rushed at the enemy with drawn swords and put them to flight. "Money and baggage, horses, elephants, fell" says Khafi Khan, "into the hands of the infidels (Singhs) and not a man of the army of Islam escaped with more than his life and the clothes he stood in.
Finally, the Khalsa overcome the enemy

Horsemen and footmen in great numbers fell under the swords of the infidels who pursued them as far as Sirhind. During that confusion, Wazir Khan fell to the sword of Fateh Singh. After a pitched battle fought for two days the Sikhs raised a victory cry and razed Sirhind to the ground. Banda formally took control of Sirhind locality on May 14, 1710.

This was the first territorial conquest of the Sikhs, which placed them in possession of the entire country south of the Satluj to the neighbourhood of Delhi. On 24 May 1710, Banda Singh Bahadur entered Sirhind city after it had been cleared of enemy fighters. And with this conquest, now included in the Patiala District became the first centre of an independent Sikh Kingdom in the Punjab and it fired the common people of the country with hopes of greater successes.
Declaration of Sikh rule

On 27 May, 1710 at huge diwan (gathering) was organised in Sirhind city. At this gathering, Banda Singh Bahadur announced the establishment of Sikh rule in Sirhind city and an end to the tyranny of the Mughal rule which had spread terror and injustice to the people of the region.

Banda Bahadur repaired the old imperial fort of Mukhlispur occupied by him at the time of conquest of Sadhaura, gave it the name of Lohgarh and established his capital there.

* 12 May, 1710 Battle of Chaaper Chheri in which Nawab Wazir Khan was killed.

* 14 May, 1710 Banda Singh Bahadhur conquered Sirhind.

* 24 May, 1710 Baba Banda Singh Bahadur enters Sirhind city.

* 27 May, 1710 Baba Banda Singh Bahadur announces the establishment of Sikh rule in Sirhind

The site of historic war

Harbans Singh Virdi tribuneindia.com
Chief sevadar Prem Singh shows some of the weapons recovered from a well. The khanda shows 1694 as the year of its manufacture -Photo Pankaj Sharma

ON the Banur-Kharar road just a few kilometres off Landran lies a small village which has so far remained hidden in a maze of history. In appearance Chapar Chiri resembles any small Punjab village, with a few pucca houses devoid of any basic necessities of life. Yet this was the place where the battle of Sirhind, called the mother of all battles, was fought and won by the Sikhs under the command of Banda Singh Bahadur in 1710. It is at this place that having sacked Sirhind, the Sikhs for the first time had a foretaste of freedom. It gave the Sikh nation a shot in the arm and a feeling that they had as much right to rule as any Mohammedan ruler or an Afghan invader. The succeeding years saw the Sikhs fighting nothing short of political emancipation of their territory.

The Sirhind victory not only brought to end the decadent Mughal rule, but also established a brief but important four-year Sikh rule in Punjab. The Sikhs for the first time became rulers of the land of five rivers.

Despite its historical importance, Chapar Chiri remained in the dustbin of history for over two centuries. It would have been lost to the ravages of time for ever, but for the efforts of one Inder Singh of Sohana, who discovered the place in 1950. Realising its historical importance, he built a small kuctha kotha and looked after the place in the best possible way with his limited means. After his death, a survivor of the famous Jaito-ka-Morcha, Ishar Singh, took over the control of the place and built a modest gurdwara in 1955.

According to "mukh sevadar' Prem Singh, Ishar Singh served the place for 40 long years till his death in 1988. Ishar Singh, an illiterate, ex-Army man, looked after the place with devotion. He made every effort to accord the place the recognition it deserved. It was during his time that political leaders of the stature of Master Tara Singh addressed the Sikh sangat at Chapar Chiri. Yet the place failed to attract the attention of political leaders, who found little time to lay even a brick in memory of those selfless soldiers who had died for their faith.

The intensity and magnitude of the battle can be gauged from the fact that though the Sikhs won against heavy odds, they had lost 20,000 men in action. The Wazir Khan army had lost more than 60,000 troops. Interestingly, where the dead Sikhs were cremated en masse, a memorial stands even today on the premises of Jyoti Sarup Gurdwara in Sirhind. However, the place where they had fought and died, no war memorial has ever been raised in their honour. A few years ago, a broken piece of a sword, a khanda made in 1694 and some other weapons were recovered from a well in the village.

Chapar Chiri has about 45-50 houses and 500 inhabitants. A panchayat committee consisting of Balwant Singh, Dalip Singh, Zora Singh, Prem Singh, Daljit Singh, Harnek Singh and a few others runs the gurdwara with its modest means. The gurdwara has about 18 acres of land, yet the committee has failed to mobilise resources to build a war memorial. When The Tribune team visited the place, it found the power cable disconnected at the sevadar's house since the bill was not paid.

While the state can be blamed for not taking care of a great historic site, the panchayat committee has never thought of organising even a simple function on the battle anniversary, which falls on May 12. When quizzed on this, Prem Singh says that farmers at this point of time are busy in harvesting. Therefore, the committee holds a function every year in February in memory of all martyrs, including those of Nankana Sahib.

The place suffers from utter neglect. Till a few years ago, there was no school in the village. Now, the Bank of Punjab runs Guru Nanak Foundation School. A new building is coming up to house the gurdwara, for which kar seva is being undertaken by Harbans Singh of Delhi. But there is yet no sign of a war memorial for the unsung Sikh heroes.

The villagers demand that a function should be held on May 12 every year to remember those who had laid down their lives. Prem Singh says the SGPC should open a kirtan training centre at this place so that people are taught Gurbani. In addition, the village needs better infrastructure. Earlier, Chapar Chiri was part of Kharar subdivision, now it is part of Mohali. Since for every errand villagers have to rush to Mohali, they need better means of travel and communication.

Mr Balwant Singh, who had been the village sarpanch for 15 years, says they have approached both the state government as well as the SGPC for financial help, but none has contributed as a result of which neither the memorial nor any function has been held on May 12. "We have also tried to get grants through the panchayat committee but in vain. The government or the SGPC must take care of such a historic site".

Mr Prithipal Singh, a Sikh scholar based in Ludhiana, laments the absence of any war memorial at the site. "It is surprising that Chapar Chiri has escaped the notice of the Sikhs, the successive governments and even the SGPC for so long."

Another Sikh scholar, Prof Tajinder Singh of Jalandhar, echoes similar sentiments. "Not only a war memorial should be raised in memory of those who had realised the Sikh dream but also the weapons recovered from the site should be preserved for future generations. After all, the Sirhind victory marked a new epoch in Sikh resurgence," he says.



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Feb 23, 2009
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Fateh March enters Punjab, gets rousing welcome

Chandigarh, May 12 (IANS) Hundreds of people gathered at the Shambhu barrier on the Punjab-Haryana border as the 'Fateh (victory) March', to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the victory of Sikh warrior Banda Singh Bahadur in a battle, entered Punjab Wednesday morning.
The march started from Nanded Sahib gurudwara in Maharashtra March 30 and has traversed various states before entering Punjab.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and other leaders welcomed the 'Fateh March' as it entered the state for the final leg of its journey that will culminate at Sirhind in Fatehgarh Sahib district, 50 km from here, May 14.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to participate in the May 14 event.

Traffic along the busy national highway (NH) No.1 was affected as the march entered Punjab from Haryana. Scores of vehicles, devotees on foot - including the 'Panj Piaras' (the five loved ones of the Guru), accompanied the flower-bedecked 'Palki Sahib' vehicle carrying the 'Guru Granth Sahib' (Sikh holy book) and weapons of the Sikh warrior.

The function was held to commemorate the heroic deeds of Banda Bahadur, who took on the might of the Mughal empire in the Battle of Sirhind in 1710 and established Sikh rule in areas of present day Punjab.

He was christened Banda Singh Bahadur by the Tenth Sikh guru, Gobind Singh, for his acts of bravery.



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Sardar Banda Singh Bahadur

Banda's original name was Lachhman Dev. He was born in Kartik 1727 Bikrami Samvat, October-November 1670, four years after the birth of Guru Gobind singh. He belonged either to Kashmir or Punjab. He was a Rajput cultivator. By the time he was just turned 20, his astonishing mind was set on its task. He had a reputation of being a great hunter. One day he killed a doe which immediately delivered itself of two cubs which expired in his presence. The sight shocked him. He renounced worldly life and became a bairagi sadhu or a wandering hermit and ultimately settled at Nander on the banks of river Godavari in Maharashtra. He won great fame as a sorcerer under the name of Madhodas and commanded thousands of followers.

Guru Gobind Singh went to his hermitage. Madhodas was away. The Guru ordered his disciples to kill a few goats of the Bairagi and cook meat there and then. The matter was reported to Bairagi. The Guru asked him who he was. Madhodas replied, he was Banda or Guru's slave. The Guru inquired, if he knew whom he was talking to. He said he was none other than Guru Gobind Singh. At that time Banda was 38 years old and Guru ji 42. The Guru encouraged him to give up his present way of living and resume the duties of a real Rajput. In few days the Guru held a durbar, conferred the title of Banda Bahadur on him and appointed him his military lieutenant to punish the Governor of Sarhind who had killed his two youngest sons, and was mainly responsible for the death of his two elder sons, his mother and thousands of Sikhs and Hindus. He was given a council of advisers of Five Sikhs who on their arrival in Punjab were to assure the Sikhs that Banda was Guru's nominee and deputy to organize them in order to lead an expedition against Sarhind.

At a durbar held at Nander about the middle of September 1708, the Guru conferred the title of Bahadur on Banda and invested him with full political and military authority as his deputy to carry on the national struggle in the Punjab and to punish Wazir Khan of Sarhind and his supporters. He was supplied with a standard arrow and a drum as symbols of temporal authority. He was given an advisory council of five devoted Khalsa: Baj Singh, a descendant of the family of third Guru, Amar Das, his brother Ram Singh, Binod singh, who descended from Guru Angad Dev second Guru, his son Kahan singh and Fateh Singh. Twenty five soldiers were given to him as his bodyguard. A prescript called Hukumnamah or a letter of authority in the handwriting of the Guru instructing Sikhs to join Banda Bahadur in his national war against Mughal tyranny was provided. As an insignia of his temporal authority invested in him, Guru gave Banda Bahadur his own sword, green bow and Five arrows from his quiver. Three hundred Sikh cavaliers in battle array accompanied Banda to a distance of eight kilometers to give him final send off.

The guru was severely wounded by a Pathan set on the Guru by Wazir Khan with the connivance of the court nobles. The dispatch of Banda to Punjab had infuriated Emperor Bahadur Shah. As a result of his intrigue 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 Nander 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 days during his journey, but he actually took about a year. It means that he might have been frequently in hiding. The emperor should have instructed his officers to make short work of Banda and his party. That is why Banda traveled right across Maharashtra and Rajasthan, both of which were in revolt against the Mughals.

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).

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 Sarhind.

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 devi in Delhi and plunder the Government officials of the fertile area of Haryana. From Kharkhauda about 50 kms north-west of Delhi, Mata Sahib devi was sent to Delhi under proper escort, to join Mata Sundari, who was acting as 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 Sarhind.

Near Kaithal, about 100 kms further North, Banda seized a Government treasury which was 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 an accursed place in the eyes of Sikhs. The entire peasantry of the neighborhood was now up in arms, and Banda's following had risen to several thousands. Banda fell upon the town on November 26, 1709. The inhabitants were massacred in cold blood 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 Muslim 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 ji in the battle of Bhangani, It was ravaged. Shahbad Markanda also fell to Banda.

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.
Banda's Troops

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. War_SceneThey 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 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.

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. War_SceneBinod 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. War_Scene2 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.

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)

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.

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.

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.

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. siege_Picture

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."

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.

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.

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 13anda dead or alive kept him at his task. He was taking new measures everyday to tighten the siege, to starve the delenders to submission. Qamar-ud-Din's forces were holding one half of the circle and his own forces were on the other half.

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.

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 handcuff'ed in twos. Banda Singh had chains round his ankles and his wrists, and was then locked in an iron cage. picture 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, hefore proceeding towards Delhi. 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. On the 29th February, the citizens of Dclhi had lined the streets in full force, to get a good sight of the show. E:irst 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 carne 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.

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 hillarious 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 butcher_Killing_Sikhs which constantly rang in the ears of the executioner.

"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 thc 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.

"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 cxecutioner 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 thc point of his dagger into Banda's right eye, pulling out thc 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:

Salute to great Sikh Warrior Sardar Banda Singh Bahadur who gave all but not his beliefs



Tihar Jail
Aug 6, 2009
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"Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh"
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Global Defence Moderator
Senior Member
Apr 20, 2009
the Khalsa shall rule let the deeds of my brothers and Gurus be sang around the world

Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal


Sanathan Pepe
Sep 18, 2009
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That battle was important for not only the Sikh heritage, but the fate of the entire country of today. The Sikhs inflicted enough strategic damage on the Mughals to put them in disarray, making it easy for the Britts to colonize India, and leave behind a democratic country. India owes a big deal to this episode in History.


Tihar Jail
Oct 2, 2009
Unsung Sikh hero Banda Bahadar

Kulbir Singh Sidhu

BABA Banda Singh Bahadar, the great disciple of Guru Gobind Singh, rose up in arms against tyranny in the footsteps of his master to defend and safeguard humanity. He treaded the glorious path of supreme sacrifice and kept aloft the 'flame of liberty' burning bright with his fortitude and sacrifice in the face of untold misery and torture.

Baba Banda Singh Bahadar was born in Rajouri. He settled on the banks of the Godavri, near Nanded. It was here that Guru Gobind Singh met him. Banda 'Bairagi', as he came to be known, was greatly impressed by the 10th Guru and took Pahul from him. He was ordered by the master to go back to Punjab and help the people of the state to fight against atrocities and also avenge the most brutal and unjust killings of Sahibzadas Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh.

Banda Bahadar reached Punjab in 1709 and established his capital at Mukhlisgarh, a place on the border of Nahan in Himachal and Jagadhri in Haryana. In reverence to the hukamnama of Guru Gobind Singh, many disciples of the Guru came under his command to fight against the Mughal rule in Punjab. Baba Banda Singh Bahadar attacked Samana and put Sayyed Jalaludin, the executioner of Guru Teg Bahadar, to death. His brothers — Sashal Beg and Bashal Beg — were the executioners of the younger Sahibzadas, who also lived at Samana. Baba Banda Singh Bahadar also attacked Sadhaura and took revenge from the Mughal chief Usmaan Khan and his accomplices responsible for the death of Pir Budhu Shah and his family.

Baba Banda Singh Bahadar, after capturing Banur, marched towards Sirhind and defeated Subedar Wazir Khan in Chapar Chiri, near the present-day town of Landran. It was on May, 1710, that Wazir Khan was killed in a fierce battle. Thereafter, he captured Sirhind and avenged the death of the innocent Sahibzadas. He issued a coin in the name of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh. He also abolished the system of zamindari and gave land to the actual tillers. Thus, he became the Messiah of the downtrodden and small farmers.

He was chased by Mughal chiefs. Emperor Bahadar Shah had to command the army himself against Banda Bahadar. From Mukhlisgarh, he escaped but ultimately was captured along with 700 dedicated Sikhs at Gurdas Nangal, near Gurdaspur, after a siege for months together. They were taken to Delhi where they were tortured to death in 1716 near the Kutab Minar. They were lured to temptations but the brave Sikhs rejected all offers and embraced martyrdom without apology or remorse. Baba Banda Singh Bahadar was put to untold mental and physical torture. His wife and five-year-old son Ajai Singh were hacked to death.

It was in June, 1716, that he was cut limb by limb and his flesh was torn apart from his body. He neither aplogised nor did he show agony in the face of untold misery. The events were recorded not only by Muslim historians like Khafi Khan, Mohammed Harisi and Mohammed Kasim Lahori but also by East India Company officials John Sarman, Edward Stephenson and Hugh Barker, who sent reports to Governor Robert Hadges at Fort William at Calcutta.

Rabindra Nath Tagore gave a befitting tribute to Banda Singh Bahadar in his poem entitled Bandi Bir in Bengali. As a tribute to the victor of Sirhind on his martyrdom. the poem eulogises him as great warrior and true disciple of Guru Gobind Singh. This poem became the anthem for the revolutionaries of Bengal, especially during the freedom struggle of India. But it is an irony of fate that until today the great warrior did not get due recognition in Punjab itself. Today we hardly celebrate the first-ever victory of the Sikhs at Sirhind to commemorate his death anniversary. It speaks volumes of our apathy that one wonders if even a fraction of the Punjabis know or can locate the battlefield of Chapar Chiri, just 10 km from Chandigarh.

It is high time that the government in pursuance of its policy to identify and glorify the rich heritage of Punjab considers to give the required recognition to the battlefields of Chapar Chiri and Gurdas Nangal by declaring these places as national monuments. Such historical places, including Fatehgarh Sahib, Morinda, Chamkaur Sahib, Roopnagar and Kiratpur Sahib right up to Anandpur Sahib, should be developed as heritage tourism centres.

Extract from Rabindra Nath Tagore's poem Bandi Bir written in praise of the great Sikh warrior:

The Mughals and Sikhs together kicked up the dust of Delhi thoroughfares;

Who will offer his life first?

There was a rush to settle this;

In the morning hundreds of heroes offered heads to the executioner, calling "Glory be to Guruji";

The Kazi put into Banda's lap one of his sons;

Said... must kill him with own hands;

Without hesitation, saying nothing, slowly Banda pulled the child on his breast;

Then slowly drawing the knife from the belt, looking at the boy's face, whispered "Glory be to Guruji", in the boy's ears.

The young face beamed;

The court room shook as the boy sang, "Glory be to Guruji;"

Banda then threw the left arm around his neck and with the right plunged the knife into the boy's breast;

The boy dropped on the ground, smiling saying "Glory be to Guruji".

The court was dead silent. The executioner tore apart Banda's body with a pair of red-hot tongs;

Standing still the hero died,

not uttering a sound of agony;

The audience closed their eyes;

The court was dead silent.

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