Life Bhai Gurdas Ji

.Bhai Gurdas is considered the first interpreter of Gurbani. His writings are considered key to understanding the Sikh holy scriptures. He wrote 40 vars (ballads) and 556 kabits (both forms of Punjabi poetry). These writings are considered the best specimens of Sikh literature and philosophy. He also had the opportunity to be the scribe of Guru Granth Sahib or Adi Granth, the holiest Sikh scripture that was compiled by Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the fifth Sikh Guru, in 1604.

The exact date of birth of Bhai Gurdas is not known but it is somewhere between 1543-1553 A.D.

Bhai Gurdas became a Sikh under the kind influence of Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru in 1579 AD. Bhai Gurdas was the cousin brother of Mata Bhani, the mother of Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Bhai Gurdas received his early education under the guidance of Guru Amar Das. Bhai Gurdas travelled to far away places like Agra, Lucknow, Burhanpur, and Rajasthan to spread Guru’s word under the direction of Guru Amar Das.

Bhai Gurdas came back to Punjab after Guru Ram Das left for heavenly abode. He had the opportunity to study and observe Sikhism closely in the company of Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Bhai Gurdas also played a key role in the construction of the Harimandir Sahib (Golden Temple Amritsar).

This was a very difficult time for the fifth Guru as his own brother Pirthi Chand was very jealous of him. At the same time the Muslim ruler Jahangir had become jealous of growing popularity of Sikhism and Guru Arjan Dev Ji. He wanted to put an end to it. This was a period of great challenges and difficulties for the Sikhs. Bhai Gurdas was the first custodian of the Akal Bunga (Akal Takhat Sahib). Baba Buddha Ji was the first Granthi of the Harimandir Sahib. During the time of Guru Har Gobind Sahib, Bhai Gurdas went to many far away places like Kabul, Kanshi, Banaras, to spread the message of the Guru. The Sikh congregation was so impressed by Bhai Gurdas they that erected a Gurdwara in his memory in Kabul.

Bhai Gurdas passed away some time between 1629 and 1637 AD at Goindwal. Guru Har Gobind Sahib personally cremated his body. Bhai Gurdas had the good fortune to have had the the company of four Gurus.

Bhai Gurdas’s Contribution to Sikh Literature Scribe of Guru Granth Sahib

The compilation of Guru Granth Sahib was completed in 1601. It took almost 11 years to complete this task. Bhai Gurdas not only wrote the Adi Granth as dictated by Guru Arjan Dev, he also supervised the writings of four other scribes, namely Bhai Haria, Bhai Sant Das, Bhai Sukha and Bhai Manasa Ram who were writing various Sikh scriptures.

Bhai Gurdas was not only an interpreter of Sikh scriptures and preacher of Sikhism, he was a walking encyclopaedia of Sikhism.

Bhai Gurdas was a great scholar of Persian and Sankrit and of comparative religion. He was a poet of superb beauty. His most famous compositions are Vars, (Punjabi ballads, 40 in number).

Bhai Gurdas as a Sikh Historian

Bhai Gurdas has documented the Sikh history in his writings and has solved some of the historical riddles about Guru Nanak Dev’s visit to Mecca, Medina, and other parts of the world:

Fir Baba gaya Baghdad no bahar jae kiya asthana |
Ek Baba Akal roop, dooja rababi Mardana |

Then Baba (Guru Nanak Dev Ji) went to Baghdad and camped outside the city. In addition to Baba Nanak, who was a Divine personality, Mardana, the musician also went along.

Bhai Gurdas’s Account of Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev

Guru Arjan Dev was martyred as per orders of emperor Jahangir on May 30, 1606. Jahangir wrote in his Tuzak-i-Jahangiri only 20 days after the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev that he ordered his execution.

Bhai Gurdas had documented the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev as follows:

Rehnde Gur dariayo vich, meen kuleen het nirbani |
Darsan dekh patang jio(n) joti andar jot samani |
Sabad surat(i) liv mirg jio, bhirh payee chit avar na jani |
Gur Arjan vith(u) kurbani | (Bhai Gurdas, Var 24)

To achieve martyrdom, Guru Arjan Dev ji immersed in the God-like ocean like a fish. The Guru merged into the heavenly light like the moth that immolates itself after seeing the light.
.. I sacrifice my life to Guru Arjan.

Artist Bodh Rai's immpression of Sri Guru Har Krishan jiGuru Har Rai passed away on October 6, 1661. Guru Har Krishan consoled the disciples. He asked them not to give way to despair but abide by the Will of the Almighty. All should sing God’s praises and not weep or lament. As days went by, the disciples began pouring in from far and near. They were delighted to have a sight of the Guru. He sat on the throne, a small figure, young in years, but mature in wisdom. Says Bhai Santokh Singh, “The early morning sun looks small in size, but its light is everywhere. So was Guru Har Krishan’s fame, without limit.” Those who came to see him were instructed in true knowledge. They had their heart’s desires fulfilled and their sins erased. The Sikhs recognized him as the picture of Guru Nanak. They saw on Guru Har Krishan’s handsome face the same light as must have been on Guru Nanak’s. Guru Har Krishan had a rare ability in explaining passages from the Holy Granth. He delighted the hearts of his disciples by his commentaries. He reminded them to cherish the One God alone, and asked them to discard passions and learn the virtues of patience, charity and love. Thus Guru Har Krishan carried on the teaching of the Gurus and preserved intact the legacy he had inherited from them.

The Baisakhi day (March 29) of 1662 brought to Kiratpur vast numbers of followers. The festival lasted three days. The sangats were looked after by the Guru’ s grandmother, Mata Bassi, and mother, Mata Sulakkhni. In the sangat of Sialkot district was Pair Mall of Pasrur, along with his family. His son, Khem Karan, was a promising youth. Mata Bassi betrothed her granddaughter, Bibi Rup Kaur, to him. Nuptials were held on December 3, 1662. According to the Guru kian Sakhian, the presents offered by Mata Bassi included a pothi of stories from Guru Har Rai’ s mouth and a dagger belonging to Guru Hargobind.

Emperor Aurangzib was not pleased to hear about the growing fame of Guru Har Krishan. He sent for him to Delhi as he had sent for his father, Guru Har Rai. Guru Har Rai had not gone himself, but had sent his elder son, Ram Rai, to the emperor’ s court. Now when a servant of Raja Jai Singh of Amber arrived with the emperor’ s message, Guru Har Krishan took counsel with his leading Sikhs. They said to him with clasped hands, “We are thy servants, Lord. With thy knowledge of all the three worlds, thou knowest best.” Guru Har Krishan called the messenger and told him that he would accompany him to Delhi. Guru Har Krishan traveled through Ropar, Banur and Ambala. Along the way, he instructed the disciples who came to call on him.

When Guru was near Panjokhara, a Sikh spoke with humility, “Sangats are coming from Peshawar, Kabul and Kashmir. Stay here a day so that they may have the chance of seeing you, Master.” The Guru agreed. In that village lived a pandit, Lal Chand by name, who was proud of his caste as well as of his learning. He came to see the Guru and spoke with derision: “It is said that you sit on the gaddi of Guru Nanak. But what do you know of the old religious books?” Chhajju Ram, the illiterate, dark-skinned village water-carrier, happened to pass by at that moment. Guru Har Krishan asked Dargah Mall to call him. As Chhajju Ram came, the Guru enquired if he would explain to the pandit the gist of the Bhagavadgita. The illiterate villager astonished everyone by his cogent commentary on the sacred book. Lal Chand’s pride was overcome. Humbly he fell at the Guru’s feet. Both he and Chhajju Ram became the Guru’s disciples and travelled with him up to Kurukshetra. The former entered the fold of the Khalsa in Guru Gobind Singh’s time, and took the name of Lal Singh. Lal Singh met with a hero’s death fighting in the battle of Chamkaur on December 7, 1705.Gurdwara Bangla Sahib at Delhi, where Guru Harkrishan ji Stayed, got constructed by Sardar Baghel Singh

In Delhi, Guru Har Krishan put up in Raja Jai Singh’s bungalow which is now the site of Gurdwara Bangla Sahib. The house was a spacious one “designed to suit all the seasons of the year.” The Sikhs of Delhi started coming in groups to see the Guru. They came chanting the holy songs and brought offerings with them. According to the Guru kian Sakhian, Guru Har Krishan visited the emperor’s court on Chet Sudi Naumi, 1721 Bk/March 25, 1664. As says the Mahima Prakash, the emperor had planned a trial. He had two large trays laid out for the Guru. One of these displayed ornaments, clothes and toys. The other had in it a holy man’s cloak and cowl. Both were presented to Guru Har Krishan. He rejected the tray containing ornaments and clothes, and accepted the one containing the cloak. The emperor was convinced of his holiness. He thought he would invite him again and see him perform a miracle. Guru Har Krishan guessed what the emperor had in his mind. He told himself that he would not see his face again. He believed that no one should attempt a mirage and try to disturb the law of God. Guru Har Krishan knew how his father had punished Ram Rai, his elder brother, for showing feats in Aurangzib’s court.

The Rani had devised her own test. she asked her husband, Jai Singh, to bring the Guru to the ladies dwelling-house. The Guru accepted the invitation. At the entrance to the inner apartments of the palace, he was received by the Raja’s servants with due honour. As he stepped inside, the ladies, in their costly jewels and clothes, bowed in reverencers He walked past them acknowledging their greetings. As he came near one dressed modestly in a maid’s coarse homespun, he stopped and said, You are the Rani. Why should you have dressed yourself in a maid’s suit?” The Rani bent her head in homage.

Suddenly one day Guru Har Krishan was taken ill with a fever. The fever turned out to be the beginning of an attack of smallpox. The Guru’s tender body was ravaged by the disease. The Guru’s mother, Mata Sulakkhani, became very sad. she said, “Son, you occupy the gaddi of Guru Nanak. You are the dispeller of the world’ s sorrows and sufferings . Your very sight removes the ailments of others . Why do you lie sick now?” Guru Har Krishan replied, “He who has taken this mortal frame must go through sickness and disease. Both happiness and suffering are part of life. What is ordained must happen. This is what Guru Nanak taught. Whatever He does is His order. One must walk in the light of His command.”

Guru Har Krishan had himself taken out of Raja Jai Singh’s house to a camp put up on the bank of the Jamuna. The Sikhs wondered why the Guru suffered thus. why this darkness surrounding the sun itself? They were in despair and wondered who would take the gaddi after him. Guru Har Krishan, as says the Sri Gur Pratap Suraj Granth, instructed them in this manner: “Gurgaddi, Guru Nanak’s throne, is eternal. It is everlasting and will command increasing honour. The Granth is the Lord of all. He who wants to see me, let him with faith and love see the Granth. So will he shed all his sins. He who would wish to speak with the Guru, let him read the Granth with devotion. He who practises its teachings will obtain all the four padarathas, or cherished objects of human life. He who has faith gains all. He who is without faith acquires but little. None in this world liveth forever. The body is mortal. In the Granth abides the Guru’ s spirit. Daily bow your head to it. So will you conquer your passions and attain liberation.”

Tears filled the Sikhs’ eyes as they listened to what sounded like the last words of the Guru. Then mother Sulakkhani came forward. With tears in her eyes, she spoke, “How shall I live without thee, son? I was blessed when I came into this family married to the late Guru. I was blessed when you were born. Now I am cast into a bottomless ocean of sorrow. Who would be my rescuer? How does a fish live separated from water?” “The body is perishable,” said Guru Har Krishan. “As you learn to have faith in God’s Will, you will attain to realms sorrowless. Eternal peace will be yours.”

Mother Sulakkhani’s heart was awakened to the truth and she felt herself released from her worldly chains. Guru Har Krishan was in a critical state. Yet he did not fail to carry out his important responsibility before he left the mortal world. In his last moments, he was able to nominate his successor. He asked for the ceremonial marks of succession to be fetched. But all he could say was “Baba Bakale.” He meant that the next Guru would be found in the town of Bakala. The reference was unmistakably to Tegh Bahadur.

Guru Har Krishan passed away on March 30, 1664. According to the Guru kian Sakhian, Mata Bassi, the grandmother, asked Gurdas, of the family of Bhai Bahilo, to start a reading of the Holy Granth in his memory. Dargah Mall and Munshi Kalyan Das were sent to Punjab with the mournful news. They first went to Kiratpur to inform Guru Har Krishan’s sister, Bibi Rup Kaur. The next day, they set out for Bakala to inform Guru Tegh Bahadur. While in Delhi, he had met Guru Har Krishan and now he received the news of his passing away. He consoled the Sikhs and taught them to abide by God’s Will.

Diwan Dargah Mall and Munshi Kalyan Das stayed at Bakala for three days before returning to Delhi . According to an entry in the Bhatt Vahi Talauda Parganah Jind, the ashes were taken from Delhi to Kiratpur where they were mixed with the waters of the Sutlej. The original entry is as follows:

Sangatbeta Blnne Uppal ka hasiAmbMari, parganah MiyenkaMaur,
Nanu Ram beta Baghe Chhipe ka basi mohalla Dilwali, Dilli, 
Jaggu beta Padme ka hasi Duburji, pnrganah Sodhara, DarEya 
beta Mule ka hasiA Wiper Shamali, parganah Multan, 
Guru Har Krishan ji ki hhasam Dilli se le ke Kiratpur 
aye, parganah Kahlur, samvat satran sai ikkis, 
Bhadon vadi ikadsi ko. Bathuti Satludhar nadi
 main parvai. Guru ji ki karahi hanti.

It is translated as

Sangat, son of Binna Uppal, of Amb Mari, parganah Miyen
ka Maur, Nanu Ram, son of Bagha, calico-printer, of Mohalla 
Dilwali, Delhi, Jaggu, son of Padma, of Duburji, parganah
Sodhara, and Dariya, son of Mula, of Alipur Shamali, 
parganah Multan, carried the ashes of Guru Har Krishan 
from Delhi and arrived at Kiratpur, parganah Kahlur, on 
the 11 th of the dark half of the month of Bhadon of 
1721 Bk/ August 7, 1664. The ashes were immersed in the 
River Sutlej. Karahprasad was distributed.

The concept of “Miri Piri” was highlighted by the sixth Sikh GuruGuru Hargobind when he was throned Guru on 11 June 1606. At the Guruship (succession) ceremony the Guru asked for two kirpans to be donned on him; one to symbolize the concept of Miri or temporal authority and the second to symbolize the concept of Piri or spiritual authority. The wearing of two swords was a departure from previous Guruship tradition when only the “salli” (for spiritual power) was worn by the preceding Gurus.

For many years now, the Sikh community worldwide have honoured the sixth Guru’s vision of Miri and Piri and have celebrated this vision on 21 July every year by calling this day the – Miri Piri Divas or the Miri Piri Day.

What do these words mean?

Miri: This word has come from the Persian word “miri”, which itself comes from the Arabic “Amir”. The word “Amir” (which is pronounced as “a-MEER”) literary means commander, governor, lord, prince, ruler, chieftain, etc. and signifies temporal power or material power. The concept of Miri signifies worldly, materialist and political power. The concept is linked to the traditional power enjoyed by kings and ruler where the might of the military resulted in the power and ability to rule or influence the people.

Piri: This word has again come from the Persian word “pir” which literary means saint, holy man, spiritual guide, senior man, head of a religious order and stands for spiritual authority. The concept of “Piri” is linked to the power enjoyed by religious leaders, church priests, qazis, pandits, etc. to have power or influence over the devotees by way of “spiritual power” or religious power. The words miri and piri are now frequently used together to give the concept promoted by the sixth Guru.

Concept of Miri Piri

The two Nishan sahib at Akal Takhatrepresenting “Miri and Piri”
painting by Kanwar Singh

Miri Piri: The adoption of the term “miri, piri” in Sikh tradition has been made to connote the temporal and spiritual components of life; the materialist concept of human existence and the spiritual aspect of the human soul. Guru Hargobind by wearing the two kirpans of Miri and Piri has endowed on the Sikhs the importance of these two important aspects of life. The term represents for the Sikhs a basic principle which has influenced their thought process and has governed their social structure, political behaviour, communal organisation, leadership and politics.

The Sikhs have to have regards to both the material needs of the community and the people and also the spiritual concept and rights of the people. Langar is an important aspect of the Miri concept; it provides for the materialist needs of the community. The right to follow your own chosen religion, a concept safeguarded by Guru Tegh Bahadar is an aspect of the “Piri” tradition. The Sikh has to keep an eye on both these important aspects of human endeavour; and the needs of all human beings be they Sikhs or non-Sikhs.


On becoming the Sikh GuruGuru Hargobind wore two swords declaring one to be the symbol of the spiritual (Piri) and the other that of his temporal investiture (Miri]. According to Macauliffe 4, the Guru reported to Bhai Buddha ji as follows:

“It is through thine intercession I obtained birth; and it is in fulfilment of thy blessing I wear two swords as emblems of spiritual and temporal authority. In the Guru’s house religion and worldly enjoyment shall be combined – the caldron to supply the poor and needy and scimitar to smite oppressors.”

In these words is the concept of Degh Tegh which was established by Guru Nanak; the Degh or “kitchen” or “cooker” (sometime caldron or even kettle or cooking pot)to provide food for the body and ‘Tegh’ sword or kirpanDegh Tegh (Punjabiਦੇਗ ਤੇਗ) is a term that forms part of the Sikh Ardas where it is recited in the line: “ਦੇਗ ਤੇਗ ਫਤਹ, ਬਿਰਦ ਕੀ ਪੈਜ, ਪੰਥ ਕੀ ਜੀਤ….” “Daeg taeg Fateh, bihrd kee paaej, Panth kee jeet….”.

As explained before, the word “degh” means “Large cooking pot” or “cauldron” or an “offering”. The word “tegh” means “sword” or “kirpan“. The term “degh tegh” refers to the concept of serving food Langar and protecting the liberty of the community. The two concepts of making sure that everyone in the community is fed and does not go hungry; and also that no one’s life is in any danger and that all in the community feel safe are both concepts equally promoted by Sikhi and the Sikh Gurus.

ai Taru Singh jiBhai Taru Singh lived with his mother and younger sister at village Pahoola and did farming for his living. His father had died while he was still young. It had become a part of his life to speak with love, serve everyone who came to him and help those in need.

One day, Rahim Bakhsh, a Muslim fisherman stayed at his house to spend the night. Before going to bed, he talked to Bhai Taru Singh, “The Commander of Patti had forcibly taken away my daughter, when I complained to the Governor about him, he got me thrown out of the court. Nobody listens to the complaints of the poor in this regime.” Bhai Taru Singh said to him, ‘Your complaint has not been listened by the Governor but it has been heard in the house of Guru Nanak. Your daughter will reach you in a few days.”

After some days a squad of Singhs passing that way, met Bhai Taru Singh. Bhai Taru Singh told them about the trouble of Rahim Bakhsh. That squad raided Patti and returned his daughter to him. The Commander of Patti was killed in that raid. Khushala, the headman of village Pahoola, informed Zakria Khan, the Governor, the secret behind this happening. The Governor sent soldiers to arrest Bhai Taru Singh. Bhai Taru Singh said to the soldiers who had come to arrest him, “You have come to take me away on the orders of your master. I, bound by the orders of my Master, cannot let you go without meals.” The soldiers acceded to his request and after taking meals, arrested him and presented him before the Governor.

Hoping that Bhai Taru Singh will help in arresting other Singhs if he embraces Islam, the Governor said to him, “All your sins can be pardoned if you become a Muslim and cut and give me those long hair of yours so that I may make a string of them for weaving my bed.” Bhai Taru Singh said, “I shall keep my faith with these hair and you shall be controlled by my shoes and with these you will die.” The Governor was beside himself with rage on hearing this. He got Bhai Taru Singh mounted on rotating wheels of torture and then from a cobbler got his scalp removed so that hair may not grow again. After that he got him thrown in a ditch.

In the evening the Governor could not pass urine. When the efforts of the physicians failed, the Governor sent Bhai Subeg Singh to seek pardon from Bhai Taru Singh. He sent him to the leader of Dal Khalsa. The leader said, “The Governor can pass urine if he is hit on the head with the shoe of Bhai Taru Singh but he will die before Bhai Taru Singh.

Samadh of Bhai Taru Singh jiThe words of the Singh must be fulfilled. When the Governor took the shoe of Bhai Taru Singh and hit his head with it, he was able to urinate. After surviving for 22 days with the help of that shoe, the Governor died on the 1st July, 1745 A.D. Bhai Taru Singh gave up this mortal body after hearing about the death of the Governor.

A Gurdwara in Ludhiana district has been established to depict the suffering of such great Khalsa martyrs as Bhai Taru Singh through pictures. This picture represents life size sculptures of various characters involved depicting the glorious deeds of Bhai Taru Singh.

Bhai Taru Singh ji

Salute to Great Sikh Martyr Bhai Taru Singh 

Bhai Mani Singh ji

Bhai Mani Singh was born on the 10th March, 1644 A.D., at village Alipur, district Muzaffargarh. He came for a glimpse of Guru Har Rai to Kiratpur with his father Mai Dass for the first time and stayed back for service of the Guru’s institution. He was married at fifteen to Bibi Sito, the daughter of Bhai Lakhi Rai. After the battle of Nadaun of 1690 A.D., Guru Gobind Singh entrusted him with the service of Diwan. At the time of leaving Anandpur on the night of December 20-21, 1704 A.D., the Guru entrusted him to take the Guru’s consorts to Delhi. In May, 1705 A.D., at the call of the Guru he reached Gurdwara Damdama Sahib, where Bhai Mani Singh ji helped Guru Gobind Singh ji to create copies of Adi GranthTalwandi Sabo where the Guru got him to write the original manuscript of the Holy Granth and prepare some copies. In 1708 A.D., Mother Sunder Kaur sent him from Delhi to Amritsar for service of the Harmandir Sahib.

In 1735 A.D., Zakria Khan, the Governor of Lahore, ordered village headmen and landlords to finish Sikhs of their areas. He also appointed Diwan Lakhpat Rai, an enemy of the Sikhs, the administrator of Amfitsar and Qazi Abdul Razak as the police chief. One day the Governor asked them, ‘What is the reason that no matter what the number of Sikhs we kill more are created ?” The Qazi replied, “Their Guru had put the elixir of life in the pool at Harmandir Sahib. Whosoever bathes in that pool, gains eternal life.” Hearing this, the Governor ordered the filling up of the pool with sand and turned Bhai Mani Singh out from the service of Harmandir Sahib.

Having been turned out from Harmandir Sahib, Bhai Mani Singh took up residence at the Sultan Wind’s well. one evening Qazi Abdul Razak came to Bhai Mani Singh and said, “My children are very ill. Medicines of local physicians and doctors are having no effect. Children wake up with nightmares.” Bhai Mani Singh went with him to his house. He sprinkled water from the pool of Harmandir Sahib over the children and said to them, “Be not afraid during the night.” As the Lord would have it, the children stopped having nightmares. Qazi Abdul Razak stopped silting up the pool.

With the help of the Qazi, Bhai Mani Singh got permission from the Governor to allow Sikhs to have free access to Harmandir Sahib for ten days on the occasion of Diwali of 1737 A.D., on the condition to pay tax of Rupees five thousand and so he wrote letters to invite the Sikhs. The Governor and Diwan Lakhpat Rai secretly planned to kill the Sikhs coming for the pilgrimage. Bhai Mani Singh came to know of their plan in time. He sent messages to Sikhs not to come and so no fair was held.

The Governor called Bhai Mani Singh to Lahore and demanded the tax money. Bhai Mani Singh said, “What for should I pay the money when the fair was not held ?” Then the Governor asked Bhai Mani Singh to embrace Islam. He refused. Qazi Abdul Razak ordered that Bhai Mani Singh be cut joint by joint. On the 14th June, 1738 A.D., he was martyred at Nakhaas Chowk by cutting him joint by joint.

Salute to Great Sikh Martyr Bhai Mani Singh ji

Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji was born at village Guru Ki Wadali (district Amritsar) on Harh Vadi 7th (21 Harh), Samvat 1652 (19th June, 1595). He was extremely handsome and the only son of Guru Arjan Sahib and Mata Ganga Ji. He had one daughter Bibi Viro Ji and five sons: Baba Gurditta Ji, Suraj Mal Ji, Ani Rai Ji, Atal Rai Ji and (Guru) Tegh Bahadur Ji. Out of these, four sons passed away during the life of Guru Sahib and the fifth one, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji become Ninth Nanak in 1664. Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji succeeded Guru Arjan Sahib in 1606, at the age of eleven years. After the martyrdom of Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the moment was crucial for the Sikhs. Now for the first time, the Sikhs began to think seriously to counter the high-handedness of the mighty and theist Muslim Empire. Now a change had taken place in the character of Sikh Nation on the force of circumstances. Dialectically speaking, it was the need of the hour. Now the Sikh nation adopts both spiritual and political ways simultaneously. This policy suited well to all the social and economic segments of the Sikhs.

Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji wore two swords, one of Spiritual Power – Piri and the other of Military Power – Miri. Now the Sikh became “Saint-Soldier.” Guru Sahib issued various letters advising the Sikhs to take part in the military training and martial arts. A Chronicler states that Guru Sahib kept seven hundred Cavaliers and sixty artillerymen. There was a band of Pathan mercenaries and Painda Khan Pathan was made its chief. Riding, hunting, wrestling and many others martial sports were introduced. And on the other hand the martial songs like ‘Vars’ were daily sung by the Dhadd-players in the court of Guru Sahib to inspire the Sikhs of heroic deeds. Abdul and Natha Mal were given the task in this respect. The Guru Sahib himself was healthy and strong in body and mind. He himself learnt the use of different weapons, besides riding wrestling and hunting.

In due course of action, Guru Sahib errected a wall around Amritsar city and constructed a small fort named ‘Lohgarh’ on the out skirts of the city. Guru Sahib revealed Sri Akal Takht Sahib also known as Akal Bunga (Tuineless Throned) just in front of Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in 1609. This place became the seat of preaching and praying in due course of time. At this place, Guru Sahib used to gave sermons to the Sikhs and discussions were held on the problems faced by the Sikh nation. In this way the Sikhs were encouraged to settle their own disputes themselves, some martial sports were also performed in the open courtyard before the Akal Takht. This development further consolidated the Sikh nation. The Sikhs call Guru Sahib ‘Sachcha Patshah’ (True Emperor) and the Sikh Nation followed the judgments or decisions taken on Sri Akal Takht Sahib enthusiastically.

The emperor Jahangir did not tolerated this new policy of Guru Sahib and subsequently ordered to imprison him in the Gwalior Fort. Though the various reasons are also ascribed for the detention of Guru Sahib but the most suitable one seems to be that the Emperor Jahangir was falsely alarmed (about the military preparations by the Guru Sahib and Sikhs) by the same elements; enemies of the Sikh Nation, who were earlier responsible for the execution of Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji. After receiving summons from Emperor Jahangir, Guru Sahib proceeded towards Delhi before making serious consultations about rest, with all the leading Sikh personalities including Mata Ganga Ji, Baba Budha Ji, Bhai Gurdas Ji, Bhai Jetha Ji and Bhai Sahlo Ji. Guru Sahib appeared before the Emperor Jahangir and was received by the latter with due respect. A debate on Sikh religion and Sikh doctrines held between Guru Sahib and Jahangir (having pre-tempered mind against Guru Sahib) but the emperor remained unimpressed and ordered for the imprisonment of Guru Sahib at Gwalior Fort. Guru Sahib was detained in the fort upto three years i.e. from 1609 to 1612. (There are divergent views regarding the detention period of Guru Sahib in the Gwalior Fort prison, but the most acceptable one seems to be three years from 1609 to 1612.)

Sain Mian Mir and Wazir Khan (Governor of Lahore) approached Emperor Jahangir on behalf of Guru Sahib and secured the releasing orders. When Guru Sahib met Jahangir immediately after his release, he insisted upon Jahangir for the release of other fifty-two Hindu Princes on his personal surety (These Princes were said to be the rebellious ones). The request was obliged and all the prisoners were released in 1612. Then the title of “Bandi Chhor Baba” was given to Guru Sahib and is still remembered by this name. Guru Sahib reached Amritsar on the occasion of Diwali. This was a big occasion for the Sikhs. It is said that Baba Budha Ji littered the earthen lamps throughout the Amritsar city. The Sikhs celebrated this occasion enthusiastically. From this day the Sikh Nation began to celebrate Dewali festival as ” Bandi Chhor Diwas ” also.

Now the attitude of Jahangir and his empire towards Guru Sahib changed considerably and remained favorable and friendly till the death of Jahangir. It was the outcome of the noble interceding by the religious, secular and political personalities like Sain Mian Mir Ji, Nizam-ud-Din and the Governor of Lahore, Wazir Khan. Shortly after the release of Guru Sahib, the angry Sikhs overtook Chandu Shah (the main brain behind the execution of Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji). They preceded him through the streets of Lahore. Chandu, like a mad dog, was pelted with stones, filth, and abuses thus put to death. A chronicle further states that “Death came to him as a relief and his body was thrown into the river Ravi.”

Shortly after the release from the Gwalior Fort and having cordial relations with the state, Guru sahib started to re-consolidate the Sikh Nation. He modified the concept of Charanamrit, (system of initiating people into the fold of Sikhism, which was being exploited by the selfish and corrupt Masands according to their own interests, when Guru Sahib was in Gwalior prison). He tried his best to dissuade Meharban (son of Pirthi Chand) from harbouring hostile designs against Sikhs and Sikhism.

Guru Sahib undertook Dharam Parchar tours to spead Sikhism. He started from Amritsar and covered thousand miles in India. In Punjab he visited Kartarpur and made it as headquarter of Sikh Nation in Doaba. He also visited several adjoining villages like Bara Pir, Mukerian and laid the foundation stone of Sri Hagobindpur town (the original name of this town was Gobindpura) near the river Beas in 1621. Guru Sahib also covered the ‘Malwa’ region of Punjab where the cult of Hindu Goddess and “Sakhi Sarwar” was fascination the lowly and downtrodden simple living people. Guru Sahib admitted the people of the villages: Darauli, Mehraj, Damru, Dabwali, Sidhwan, Sidhar, Lopo, Zeera, Katra and Gillan in the Sikhism. In other words the entire Malwa region embraced Sikhism and went a long way in integrating the Sikh Nation. This was a major achievement by Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji.

Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji visited an old Sikh religious parching centre Nanakmata (Gorakhmata) in the present Pili Bhit district of U.P. Guru Nanak Sahib established it. It is said that some Hindu Yogis ousted Almast Ji, (a pious Sikh preacher, deputed by Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji to spread Sikhism) from the gurdwara and desecrated the place by cutting the holy and historical Peepal tree, under which earlier Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji held discussions with the different sects of Jogis.

Guru Sahib reached Nanakmata along with some saint-soldiers. Seeing Guru Sahib on the scene, the Yogis fled away and never came back or interfered in the religious affairs of Almast Ji. Guru Sahib returned Amritsar via Darauli. Guru Sahib also held a detailed discussion on the spiritual and relious with a marathe Saint Ram Das Samrath, on the spiritual and religious issues in a very cordial atmosphere at Srinagar (Garhwal).

Guru Sahib visited Kashmir in 1620. Some chronicles state that Guru Sahib went there at the invitation of emperor Jahangir, because his personal physician’s advice for a natural climate and atmospheric change. It is also stated that Jahangir and his party paid a visit to Goindwal Sahib and reached Amritsar via Taran Taran. The emperor offered financial assistance for the construction of Sri Akal Takht Sahib, but Guru Sahib declined the offer politely.

On the other hand some Sikh source term the visit to Kashmir as a part of Guru Sahib’s preaching campaign. Guru Hargobind Sahib patronized one Sewa Das for preaching Sikhism. He and his mother Bhag Bhari served Guru Sahib with much zeal and devotion. Guru Sahib held a short meeting with his many devoted Sikhs and a preacher Kattu Shah (a converted Mohammedan). Guru Sahib visited Sialkot, Wazirabad, Mirpur, Bhimbar Rehran, Baramula, Uri and Muzafrabad. He appointed Bhai Garhia Ji to preach the Sikh religion. The large number of Kashmiris, both Hindus and Muslims embraced Sikhism due to the devoted and committed preaching by Guru Sahib. He married Bibi Marwahi Ji (Mata Mahadevi Ji), the daughter of a devoted Sikh couple Daya Ram Ji and Bhagan Ji at village Mandiali.

Guru Sahib returned home via Baramula and proceeded further to Gujarat where he met Saint Shah Daulla who appreciated Guru Sahib spiritual status and mode of living with splendor. Guru Sahib also visited Rai Bhoe-di-Talwandi (the birth place of Guru Nanak Sahib), Mange and Madai in Lahore district. He also visted Kurukshetra and established there a Sikh preaching centre (Now in Haryana State).

Guru Sahib spent the last decade of his life (from 1635 to 1644) at Kiratpur Sahib, which is situated in the hill state of Hadur (Nalagarh), founded by Baba Gurditta Ji (Guru’s son). It is said that Raja Tara Chand donated land for this purpose. Guru Sahib devoted his much time in reorganizing the Sikh Nation and updating the preaching centres by establishing a new system called Dhunas. Baba Gurditta Ji was made the incharge of religious affairs and he further appointed four head preachers area vice: Almast Ji, Phaul Ji, Gonda Ji and Baba Hansa Ji. Guru Sahib made reconciliation with Udasi sect headed by Baba Sri Chand Ji. Guru Sahib’s religious tours and preaching made the Sikhism more popular in different parts of India.

On the other hand Guru Sahib did not abandoned the mission of militarizing the Sikhs. Now for the first time in the Indian history since the invasion of Muslims, the Sikh Nation, under the supreme command of Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, prepared for the armed resistance. The tyranny and injustice of the Muslim theocratic state was opposed. This was only an imperative measure of defense. Guru Sahib converted the peaceful sect into a warlike community, ready to defend their interests with the swords and it was the need of the hour.

After the death of emperor Jahangir the policy matter of the new young emperor Shah Jahan changed considerably. The emperor took the notice of new converts to Sikhism from the Muslims. He ordered to destroy all the temples and Gurdwaras, which were under construction. The sacred Baoli of Guru Arjan Sahib in Dabbi Babar, Lahore (now in Pakistan) was desecrated and converted into a mosque. (Later Maharaja RanJit Singh re-excavated and re-established this Baoli. Again it was destroyed in 1947, by the unruly and fanatic Muslims mob). On the other hand the influence of Naqashbandis (a radical and fundamentalist order of the Muslim’s clergy).

In 1629 Mukhlis Khan was made the Governor to Lahore. He and Qazi Rustam Khan were best friends. According to some historical accounts Kaulan(Mata), a Hindu lady , as it is also signified to by the name Kaulan, was forcibly abducted by the Qazi Rustam Khan in her childhood and was made a maid servant . She was treated like a slave .At the young age; she came under the influence of the teachings of Sain Mian Mir Ji. She also began to take part in the religious sittings of Guru Sahib and became an ardent and pious follower of Guru Sahib.

On noticing this attitude of Kaulan Ji, Qazi became harsher towards her .How a Qazi, an extreme fanatic personality; tolerate her deep and devotional interest in Sikh religion? Because of Qazi’s harsh treatment she sought the help of Mian Mir Ji, who deputed his disciple Abdullah (Abdul Yar Khan) to escort Kaulan Ji safely to Amritsar, Where she was treated kindly by Guru Sahib and provided her a safe and separate lodging near a pond, (later it was converted into a tank by Guru Sahib and named it Kaulsar, after the name of Kaulan Ji). She was a pious disciple of Guru Sahib and an ardent follower of Sikhism. She began to arrange religious congregations on Sikhism and Gurbani, at her residence. Within a short span of time she became much popular among the Sikh masses. Thus she won the sympathy of the Sikhs who began to address her as Mata Kaulan Ji. She breathed her last on 4th July 1629 at Kartarpur (Jalandhar) while serving for the Sikh Nation.

When Shah Jahan succeeded the throne after the death of his father Jahangir, Qazi Rustam Khan lodged a complaint with the new emperor, who was incensed earlier by the fanatic Muslims and Hindus against the Sikh Nation and Guru Sahib. He obliged the complaint and revised his policy matter; earlier adopted by his father Jahangir towards Guru Sahib.The possible conflict out of charged circumstances was inevitable. Guru Sahib fought five battles during the regime of emperor Shah Jahan, and all were won. A small conflict of Rohilla near Sri Hargobindpur was fought in 1621. It was the first armed clash between the Faujdar of Jalandhar and Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji.

Near the site of new town Hargobindpur, Bhagwan Das, a Khatri ‘Kirar’ contemplated his right of ownership on the land and with the help of some hired ruffians forcibly tried to dislodge the Sikhs, who were engaged in developing the new township. In the ensuing small clash Bhagwan Das and his most hired ruffians were killed. After this incident, Rattan Chand (son of Bhagwan Das) and Karam Chand (son of Chandu Mal) incensed the Faujdar of Jalandhar against Guru Sahib. Abdulla Khan the Faujdar of Jalandhar dispatched ten thousand soldiers. They were intercepted by the mighty and devoted Sikh Saint-Soldiers at Rohilla Ghat on the bank of the river Beas. The Mughal army met a crushing defeat by the hands of, but there was an immense loss of lives and material on the both sides. Besides Rattan Chand and Karam Chand, the Faujdar of Jalandhar, Abdullah Khan his two sons and five commanders were killed. Guru Sahib sacrificed Saint Soldiers like Mathura Bhat Ji (son of Baba Bhikha Ji), Bhai Nanu Ji, Bhai Saktu Ji, Bhai Jattu Ji, Bhai Pirana Ji, Bhai Paras Ram Ji, Bhai Jagannath Ji and Bhai Kalyana Ji.

The second and the most serious conflict between Guru Sahib and the Mughal forces were fought in April 1634. It started with the lifting of a royal hawk of the imperial army of Shah Jahan by the Sikhs, who incidentally were also hunting in the same territory aroud Gumtala Village near Amritsar. This led to a small violent conflict between the two parties. Guru Hargobind Sahib was not directly involved in his clash.

This incident enraged the emperor, Shah Jahan. He deputed Mukhils Khan with, 7,000 soldiers “to teach the lesson” to Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji. The mini fortress of Lohgarh was attacked. The Sikhs though small in number, gave a stiff resistance. Guru Sahib and the whole family had to hurriedly move to Chabal, to solemnize the marriage of Bibi Veero Ji (the daughter of Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji). The attackers had an upper hand over the Sikhs on the first day of the battle. They looted and plundered all the property and holy residence of Guru Sahib. On the next morning the Sikhs, after consolidating their position, retaliated and made a vigorous attack on the sleeping Mughal forces. Mukhlis Khan, the commander and most of his leading lieutenants were killed. Guru Sahib also suffered a heavy loss of life and property. This was the first armed clash between the Mughals and the Sikhs.

After this battle, Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji retired to the semi desert wastelands of Bhatinda. (While leaving Amritsar for the Malwa region, Guru Sahib took Guru Granth Sahib with him but after meeting a halt for sometimes at Daroli he sent Guru Granth Sahib to Kartarpur along with the family). Soon after this, a tussle between Guru Sahib and Subedar of Lahore began over the two horses, which were forcibly snatched and taken into custody by the Mughal officials from the two devotees of Guru Sahib, at Lahore. This incident was informed to Guru Sahib. Bhai Bidhi Chand a daring disciple recovered the horses one by one from the royal stable. This dare devil act was considered an open thereat to the authority of the Mughal Empire. The imperial forces (22000 troops) were dispatched towards the Lakhi Jungle under the command of Qammar Beg and Lalla Beg. Guru Hargobind Sahib had only three to four thousand warriors. The Sikh forces under the command of Rai Jodh and Kirt Bhatt camped near a water reservoir. The interception took place near Mehraj and Lahira villages. According to some chronicle (on 16th December 1634) the Sikhs waged a guerilla attack on Mughal forces at night, which resulted heavy causalities in the Mughal camp. The Sikhs routed and defeated the enemy. Guru Sahib lost 1200 Saint Soldiers including Kirt Bhatt Ji and Bhai Jetha Ji. On the other side Sameer Beg and his two sons Shams Beg and Qasim Beg were also killed. The Mughal forces fled to Lahore leaving behind the dead and wounded. The Sikhs did not intercept the fleecing enemy. Guru Sahib built a tank called Gurusar commemorating the victory. Near a village Nathane Guru Sahib faced another encounter with the Mughal forces but remained victorious.

After these successful encounters Guru Sahib retired at Kartarpur (Jalandhar) along with his warriors. Painda Khan Pathan a commander in Guru’s army and childhood friend, deserted him later and joined the Mughal camp after some altercation with the Sikhs and Guru Sahib on some petty issues. He and Kala Khan (brother of slain Mukhlis Khan), along with imperial army made an attack on Guru Sahib at Kartarpur on 26th April 1635. The Sikhs having a nominal strength of 5000, fought with rare courage and velour. Teg Bahadar Ji (Guru), Baba Gurditta Ji and Bhai Bidhi Chand Ji showed great feasts of bravery. Painda Khan and Kala Khan were killed. Several Sikh Saint Soldiers were also martyred.

After the battle of Kartarpur, Guru Sahib moved onwards Kiratpur Sahib, which was under the rule of Raja Tara Chand (a hill state chief). Again Guru Sahib’s entourage was suddenly ambushed by a contingent of royal forces under the command of Ahmed Khan in the village Palahi near Phagwara town on 29th April 1635. It caused considerable loss on the Guru’s soldiers. Bhai Dasa Ji and Bhai Sohela Ji (sons of Ballu Bhat, and grandsons of Mula Bhat) sacrificed their lives. Guru Sahib crossed the Sutlej River and reached Kiratpur Sahib where he established another spiritual and preaching center of the Sikh Nation. Here, Guru Sahib spent ten years of his life and breathed his last on Chet Sudhi 5th (6th Chet Samvat 1701) 28th February 1644 (some chronicle record the date as 3rd March, 1644). It is said that when Guru’s body was placed on fire, and as the flames rose high, a large number of Sikhs tried to burn themselves on the funeral pier. Har Rai Sahib (Guru) dissuaded them, but earlier two had jumped into the pier and were consumed by the fire. Before his death Guru Sahib nominated his grandson Har Rai Sahib (The second son of Baba Gurditta Ji) as his successor (Seventh Nanak).

pictoral representation of 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.

BANDAGuru 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.

Banda on his journey, 1708-1709

JOURNEY_PICTUREThe 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 in Current day Haryana, 1709


Banda arrived at Narnaul. There he saw the complete destruction of Satnamis with his own eyes. His blood boiled on learning that entire sect of Satnamis, men, women and children, one and all had been wiped out of existence. It was here that Banda suppressed some dacoits and robbers. (this is mentioned in Shri Guru Panth Parkash of Giani Gian Singh, 345-46, 4th edition).


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.

Chhote_sahibzadeBanda ruled over the region bounded on the north by Shiwalik hills, on the west by river Tangri, on the east by river Jamuna, and in the south by a line passing through Samana, Thanesar, Kaithal and Karnal. He abolished the Zamindari System of land prevailing under the Mughals and declared the actual cultivators as the owners of land. Thus he established the peasant proprietorship, and won approbation and support of the overwhelming majority of the population. Khafi Khan says that Banda “issued orders to imperial officers and agents and big jagirdars to submit and give up their business.” So Guru Gobind singh’s dream of political sovereignty was realized within a year of his death.

Banda’s name struck terror into the hearts of lawless people, and thefts and dacoity became a thing of the past. “In all the paraganahs occupied by the Sikhs,” writes Irvine, “The reversal of previous customs was striking and complete. A low scavenger or leather dresser, the lowest of the low in Indian estimation, had only to leave home and join the Guru, when in a short time he would return to his birthplace as its ruler with his order and his order of appointment in his hand. As soon as he set foot within the boundaries the wealthy and well-born went out to greet him and with joined palms awaited his orders. Not a soul could disobey an order, and men who had often risked themselves in battlefields, became so cowed down that they were afraid even to remonstrate.

Invasion of Sarhind and establishment of first Sikh state

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’s Preparations

Wazir Khan had proclaimed a jihad or a holy war against Banda. He was joined by the Nawab of Malerkotla, all the other Muslim chiefs and jagirdars as well as Ranghars in large numbers. Majority of his soldiers were trained men. Wazir Khan’s own forces were six thousand horsemen, eight to nine thousand musketeers (burqandaz) and archers, and with these about ten guns of artillery and many elephants. In addition there were about ten thousand Ghazis. The total number of their troops was about thirty thousands.

Banda advanced from Lohgarh and halted at Banur, near Ambala, 14 Kms from Rajpura. The muslims of that town used to seize cows and oxen of Hindus and slaughter them in their presence. Banda sacked it, and then went towards Sarhind.

The Battle of Sarhind, May 12, 1710 A.D.

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_Scene2Wazir Khan was rushing upon Banda who stuck fast to his ground and discharged arrows relentlessly. There a bloody battle was going on. Baj singh and Binod singh now joined Banda. Banda and the Sikh leaders now converged on Wazir Khan and he was killed.

Wazir Khan’s death is variously described. Khafi Khan says that he was struck by a Musket ball. Mir Mohammed Ahsan Ijad says that Baj singh rushed upon Wazir Khan. Wazir Khan threw his spear at Baj singh. Baj singh caught hold of it. He flung the same spear upon Wazir Khan. It struck the forehead of his horse. Wazir Khan discharged an arrow which hit Baj singh’s arm. He then rushed upon him with his sword. At this juncture Fatah singh came to the rescue of Baj singh. His sword cut the Khan from shoulder to the waist.

Pursuit of fugitives:

Wazir Khan’s head was stuck up on a spear and lifted high up by a Sikh who took his seat in the deceased’s howdah (a seat atop of elephant). The Sikhs with one voice and in wild excitement raised the sky-rending shouts of Sat-Sri-Akal. The Sarhind’s troops on beholding the Nawab’s head took alarm, and trembling fled helter skelter in dismay and despair. The Sikhs fell upon them and there was a terrible carnage. Sikhs reached Sarhind by nightfall. The gates of the city were closed. The guns mounted on the walls of the fort commenced bombardment. The Sikhs laid siege to the place. They took rest in the night. Wazir Khan’s family and many Muslim nobles fled to Delhi at night.

By next afternoon Sikhs forced open the gates and fell upon the city. The Government treasury and moveable property worth two crores fell into Banda’s hand which was removed to Lohgarh. Several Muslims saved their lives by embracing Sikhism. Dindar Khan son of Jalal Khan Rohilla became Dindar Singh. The official newswriter of Sarhind Mir Nasir-ud-din changed his name to Mir Nasir singh. (Yar Mohammand, Dastur-ul insha, page 37, Persian)

Province of Sarhind occupied

Entire province of Sarhind consisting of twenty-eight paraganahs and extending from Satluj to the Jamuna and from the Shiwalik hills to Kunjpura, Karnal to Kaithal, yielding 52 lakhs (1 lakh = 100,000 Rupees) annualy came into Banda’s possession. Baj Singh was appointed governor of Sarhind. Ali singh was made his deputy. Their chief responsibility was to be on guard against the Mughal troops from Lahore and Jammu. Fatah singh retained charge of Samana. Ram singh, brother of Baj singh became chief of Thanesar. Binod singh in addition to his post of the revenue minister, was entrusted with the administration of Karnal and Panipat. His main duty was to guard the road from Delhi. Banda retired to his capital at Lohgarh. His era began from May 12, 1710, the date of his victory in the battle of Sarhind. The Zamindari system was abolished in the whole province at one stroke.

Banda advances towards Lahore, June 1710

Having set up administrative machinery, Banda advanced from Sarhind to Malerkotla. The town was saved for a ransom of two lakhs on the recommendation of Kishan Das Banya, an old acquaintance of Banda. From there he marched to Morinda. He chastised the Brahmins and Ranghars who had made over Guru Gobind singh’s mother and his two youngest son to Wazir Khan. Then he visited Kiratpur and Anandpur to pay homage to shrines. He took Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar and carried fire and sword everywhere. Banda crossed the Beus and fell upon Batala. Then, he went on a pilgrimage to Dera Baba Nanak. At Amritsar Banda made large offerings. He invited young men to embrace Sikhism promising remission of land revenue and other rewards. Then many from the area of Majha joined the Khalsa. Banda marched towards Lahore. Sayyid Islam Khan, the Governor mounted guns on the walls of city. Banda laid a siege, but was unable to force upon the walls of fort. Lahore must have fallen, but Banda was in hurry to look after his government.

Thus entire city remained safe owing to its fortifications. But the entire suburbs for miles around was completely devastated. In this campaign Banda was joined by thousands of low caste Hindus who came into the fold of Khalsa.

Torture and execution of Banda Bahadur by Mughals

Banda Singh’s rule, though short-lived, had a far-reaching impact on the history of the Punjab. With it began the decay of Mughal authority and the demolition of the feudal system of society it had created. Banda Singh increasing influence roused the ire of the Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah, who journeyed northwards from Deccan to punish Sikhs. Instructions were issued to the governors of Delhi and Oudh and other Mughal officers to march towards Punjab. Prohibitory laws against Sikhs were passed. Fearing that some Sikhs might not have smuggled themselves into the royal camp disguised as Hindus, Bahadur Shah ordered all Hindus employed of imperial forces to shave off their beards. Emperor Bahadur Shah’s order, issued on December 10, 1710 was a general warrant for the faujdars to “kill the worshippers of Nanak, i.e. Sikhs, wherever they are found. (Nanak Prastan ra Har ja kih bayaband baqatl rasanand)” Banda was chased out of Every corner of Punjab and he took refuge in the Shivalik hills.

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. pictureThe 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_Sikhswhich 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

Artist Bodh Rai's immpression of Sri Guru Arjan Dev jiChandu Shah, a Banker of Delhi, wielded a lot of influence at the Mughal court. He was looking for a suitable groom for his daughter. He was originally from Punjab and was keen that it should be a Punjabi youth. His emissaries saw Hargobind, son of Guru Arjan Dev at Amritsar. Agents informed about Hargobind to Chandu Shah. He however, had the ego of a spoiled rich man. He couldn’t imagine giving his daughter in marriage to anyone below his status. He said “At best Arjan lives on the offerings of his followers,” he objected “he has no social or   political position”. So proposal was accordingly dropped. Some Sikhs came to know about the Chandu Shah’s remarks and they conveyed them duly to the Guru. As it happened, agents continued to search everywhere for a suitable match but couldn’t find anywhere. Chandu Shah’s wife felt that Hargobind was a good match for her daughter. Chandu Shah thus sent his agents to Guru asking them to finalize this proposal of marriage. Guru’s Sikhs wanted Guru to decline this offer and Guru obliged his Sikhs by declining to accept the marriage asking that “Daughter of such rich household was not fit for the house of a Saint “Dervesh” like me”. Chandu Shah could not imagine that the hand of his daughter could be refused by anyone. In a fury of temper, he decided to avenge himself on the Guru for the indignity hurled on him.

Chandu Shah and Guru’s enemy Prithi Chand Sodhi, complained to Emperor Akbar that Adi Granth, which Guru Arjan had compiled has derogatory remarks against Muslims and Hindus. Emperor Akbar asked for Guru Arjan. Guru Arjan send Bhai Gurdas and Baba Buddha ji to the Mughal court along with the copy of Holy Granth. When the holy book was opened, the first hymn written by Guru Nanak Dev was read was

from clay and light God created the world.
the sky,the earth, trees and water are made by Him.

Emperor heard it and was fully satisfied. However, Chandu Shah complained that Bhai Gurdas had read this hymn from memory and not from Guru Granth Sahib, so he got someone named Sahib Dayal from Town and made him read the granth. This time hymn was

You don't see God who dwells in your heart,
And you carry about an idol around your neck

Emperor was delighted to listen to the hymn and exonerated Arjan and Sikhs of any wrong doings against any community. He bestowed honour of robes on Baba Buddha and Bhai Gurdas ji and sent them back.Akbar died soon thereafter and was replaced by his son, Prince Salim, aka Jahangir. Jahangir was a debauched drunken, fanatic who believed in whatever his Sunni Mullah told him. He has left his kingdom on the whims of his queen Noorjahan and was always either drunk or hunting in wilderness. Chandu Shah complained to Jehangir again that Granth has some derogatory references to Islam and Hinduism. Jehangir issued orders for Guru Arjan to revise Holy Granth and remove any references to Islam and to pay two hundred thousands rupees as fine. The Guru told Mughal emperor Jehangir that his money was the sacred trust of the Sikh community and the hymns in the Holy Granth were revelation in praise of God: no one dare alter them. King was on his way to Kashmir. He was in hurry so he asked Murtza Khan to deal with Guru in the way he thought was best. Chandu Shah approached and poisoned his ears, urging him to extract the fine levied by the Emperor.

Murtza khan ordered the Subader of Lahore to arrest Guru Arjan. Guru Arjan dev ji were arrested and put in Jail at Lahore. When Sikhs heard that Emperor wanted two hundred thousand rupees, they started collecting money to pay the fine, Guru Arjan dev forbade them to pay the fine, citing it as against the ethics. Meanwhile, Qazi gave an injunction ordering the Guru Arjan to be tortured to death if he didn’t agree to expunge the so-called derogator references to Islam in Adi Granth or he converts to Islam.

Guru was made to sit on a red hot iron sheet. They poured burning hot sand on his body. He was given a dip in boiling water. As the Guru was being persecuted thus Mian Mir, the Muslim sufi divine of Lahore, who had laid the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar, came and begged the Guru to allow him to use his mystic power to undo those who were responsible for the Suffering inflicted upon him. The Guru heard Mian Mir and counselled patience. He told him that one must accept the will of God; not a leaf moves if (God doesn’t ordain it. When Chandu’s daughter-in-law heard about it, she bribed the jailor and came to the prison with sherbet and other delicacies to serve the Guru. The Guru declined to accept anything from Chandu’s house but blessed the lady for her faith and devotion.

The Guru was tortured for five long days. When the tyrants found him bearing all the agony with perfect equanimity they became helpless. They were at a loss and didn’t know what to do. At this the Guru asked for a bath in the river Ravi by the side of the Mughal fort in which he was imprisoned. Thousands of his followers watched the Guru walk to the river with tears in their eyes. His bare body glistened with blisters. There were blisters on his feet and he couldn’t even walk properly “Sweet is Your will, O God; the gift of your Name alone I seek.” said the Guru again and again.
nAm pdArW nAnc mA:gE

if you cannot read the above line in Punjabi, then download punjabi fonts by clicking here.
As he reached the river, he bade farewell to the bewailing multitude and walked into the water as serene and as calm as ever. It is said that it was the last glimpse his devotees had of the Guru. He never came out of the river. River was flowing at very fast pace and with blisters on body, it was very tough for Guru to hold on against the tide. The tide bore him in her longing lap and he was gone forever. Guru Arjan was only forty-three years old at the time of his supreme sacrifice on 30 May 1606. Sikhs celebrate that day every year with Sweetened buttermilk Stalls called Chhabil all over Punjab.

Thus a magnificent life was brutally cut short at the hands of tyranny. The way in which Guru Arian gave his life for the values that he cherished is of far-reaching significance. With his martyrdom the attitude of the Sikhs toward life changed. Emulating their Guru, they would readily give their lives for any cause dear to them, whether it was a fight with the bigoted Mughals for the protection of their faith, or with the British for the freedom of the country, or even Congress after Independence for the Puniabi-speaking State. Guru Arian’s humility is almost unparalleled. There was no trace of self; he emphasized with actions that more important than the Guru, were the Guru’s Sikhs. Since the Delhi Sikhs did not want the Guru’s son to be married to Chandu Shah’s daughter because of his arrogance, The Guru respected their wishes, even when his life was at stake.

Guru Arjan has left a massive volume of 2218 hymns marked their musicality and richness of imagery. They have continued to be popular with the Sikh musicians generation after generation. He wrote in a simple, conversational language, reflecting the various stages of thc spiritual journey of the human soul. His magnunn opus is the Sukhmani. the Psalm of Peace, is a long poem, ranking next only to the Jap ji of Guru Nanak in popularity with the devout. Though it doesn’t form part of the essential set of five hymns enjoined upon the Sikhs to be recited every day, the Sukbmani is recited by a large number of devotees every morning and also at the hour of anxiety in the family. In Guru Arjan we have the culmination of all that Guru Nanak and the three Gurus following him stood for. They combined in themselves the best of Islam and Hinduism. Rather than alienating anyone, they strove for mutual understanding. Venerated equally by the Muslims and the Hindus, they were peace-loving, devoted to meditation and prayers, and service of their fellow-beings. In Sikhisnn the stress is on universal truth. All rites, rituals, and worship of god and goddesses have been dispensed with. Sikhism comprises love of God and service of humanity.
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Guru Arjun’s multifarious activities, apart from making a very major contribution to the organisation of the mission, demonstrate, as laid down by Guru Nanak, that no field of life, whether temporal, social or political, is excluded for the operation of a mystic. Slowly but surely the movement came out with a distinct identity of its own and with clear-cut religious- and sociopolitical facets.

This system of voluntary offerings for the common cause and the sharing of one’s earnings was made regular. Every Sikh was supposed to contribute 10% of his income to the common fund maintained by the Guru. The representatives of the Guru collected contributions from their respective areas and sent them to the common treasury.

The construction of the temple at Amritsar was started by the Guru and its foundation stone was laid by the reputed Muslim Sufi Saint, Mian Mir. He built another tank and temple at Taran Taran. These temples had doors on all sides, indicating that these were open to all castes and communities.

The Guru had a well-organised central establishment which included the maintenance of a contingent of horses and elephants. He encouraged his followers to trade in horses from Central Asia. For his personal maintenance, the Guru also took up the trade. As such, the Sikhs became good horsemen and formed later the nucleus of military power. All these features were important developments because they were clear preparation for the military organisation that was to follow from the time of the Sixth Guru. It was in the lifetime of Guru Arjun that his son, Hargobind, started learning to wield the sword and hunting.

Gurdwara Patshahi V at LahoreIn 1598, the Guru interceded on behalf of the local peasantry with Emperor Akbar to get the excessive levy of land revenue reduced. These activities of the Guru gave him a new status. It was at this time that the Guru came to be called by the Sikhs as Sacha Patshah (True Emperor). The Guru had come to guide, govern and influence the lives of the Sikhs both in the temporal and the spiritual fields. It was a significant development The organization of the community, according to Gupta, became a state within a state.

An important step in the separate consolidation of the religion was the compilation of the Adi Granth as the sole and authentic scripture of the Sikhs. It has a significant feature. Besides the hymns of the five Gurus, it contains the hymns of Hindu and Muslim saints. The Adi Granth was formally installed at the Amritsar temple on the annual gathering of the Sikhs. From the very start it was recognized as the Sikh scripture. Emperor Akbar made an offering of 51 gold coins to the Adi Granth. Its installation at the only Sikh temple constructed then by the Guru and the appointment of the most venerated Sikh as its Granthi (minister) show that it was meant to be the exclusive scripture of the Sikhs and the embodiment of the Gurus system and thought In this way conjectures about links with the other systems or scriptures were set at rest for ever. This is an important step, especially when we find that in Guru Granth Sahib no status or sanctity has been given to any gods, goddesses or avatars.

This compilation is a landmark in the history of Sikhism. It is a clear testimony of the fact that the Guru took this vital step to emphasise that their message and mission were prophetic. This fact comes out in all its glaring singularity when we see that, in thc entire religious history of man, no other prophet felt it essential to authenticate his message so as to secure its purity and exclude the possibility of interpolation and misinterpretation. In fact, in most cases the utterances of the prophets were compiled by their devotees long after their ministry. This authentication of the scripture by the Guru himself once and for all ensured its separate identity and purity. In the case of other prophets, their opponents can say that the prophets themselves never meant to declare any new truths, but their overzealous followers made it into a separate system not intended by the prophets. Nothing of that kind can be asserted about the Gurus and Guru Granth Sahib.

It is something very extraordinary that, in line with Guru Nanak’s hymn that ‘with the help of other God-conscious beings he would help every one to be a God-centered person’, the Guru included in the Adi Granth hymns of twentytwo Muslim and Hindu saints. It is a singular example of the Guru’s sense of personal anonymity. He truly felt that in accomplishing this task he was working Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Tarntaran, got constructed by Guru Arjan Dev jionly as an agent of God’s mission. We also find that contemporary saints like Mian Mir and Pir Budhu Shah, irrespective of religion and race, remained closely associated with the mission of the Gurus.

Owing to the growing religious and political influence of the Gurus, the Sikhs had got a clear consciousness of their religious and sociopolitical identity. Consequently, the position of the Gurus had naturally given rise to hostility, both in the religious and political quarters. Saikh Ahmad, the head of the Naqashbandt order at Sirhind and a leader of the revivalist movement of Islam in India, got upset at the influence of the Guru among men of both the communities. He had access to the court of Jahangir. But, probably the chief reason that upset the Emperor was that the Guru had blessed Khusro and helped him monetarily while the latter had rebelled against Jahangir. The local administration was naturally aware of the growing Sociopolitical strength and influence of the Guru. Chat this incident rankled in the mind of emperor Jahangir, is evident from his own statement recorded in his autobiography. He wrote that he had ordered the execution by torture of Guru Arjun unless he embraced Islam, because the Guru had raised aloft the standard of holiness and many Hindus and Muslims had foolishly become his followers. Pictoral representation of Guru Arjan dev jiPrithi Mal and his son Meherban called themselves real gurus and Meherban glorified his father Prithia and discredited Guru Nanak’s hymns. They were both plotting against Guru Arjan. Others who were against Guru were Sulahi Khan of Batala, Chandu Shah Khatri of Lahore, Sheikh Ahmad faruqi Sarhindi, Emperor Jahangir who was unlike his father Akbar and pretty much intolerant of other faiths. Prince Khusrau who was also son of Akbar and was contesting for throne was captured by Jahangir’s men. This prince Khusrau was the son of Jodha Bai, daughter of Udai Singh of Jodhpur, since he was born to a Hindu mother, was disliked by the fanatics who wanted Prince Salim who was a 100% Sunni Muslim (as oppose to the popular Hindi movie Mughal-e-Azam, where Jahangir was shown as son of Hindu mother). Prince escaped and went to Guru Arjan. Guru Arjan was moved at the 13 years old Prince and gave him help with money and shelter. Salim succeded with the title of Jahangir. Jahangir hated all those who were in Akbar’s good books. He summoned Guru to Lahore, Sikhs of lahore pleaded with Jahangir to let them collect the fine and pay to him to release Guru, but Jahangir refused. Jahangir appointed Murtaza Khan to confisicate the property of Guru and hand it over to state., apart from that a fine of 2 lakhs was also collected from the Sikhs. Guru was imprisoned at Lahore fort. He was chained to a post in an open place exposed to the sun from morning to evening in the months of May thru June. Below his feet a heap of sand was put which burnt like a furnace. Boiling water was poured on his naked body at intervals. His body was covered with blisters all over. In this agony Guru used to utter.

	Tera Kiya Metha lage, naam padarath Nanak mange (whatever you 
ordain appears sweet.  I supplicate for the gift of name)

VErA BANA mITA lAgE, nAm pdArW nAnc mA:gE The Guru was ordercd to be executed. In addition a fine of Rupees two lakhs was imposed on him. Some historians say that, as a measure of clemency at the intervention of Mian Mir, this fine was imposed in lieu of the sentence of death. The Sikhs offered to pay the fine themselves but the Guru forbade them to do so. He replied to the Emperor, “Whatever money I have is for the poor, the friendless and the stranger. If thou ask for money thou mayest take what I have; but if thou ask for it by way of fine, I shall not give thee even a Kaurz (penny).” The Guru accepted death by torture and suffered the first great martyrdom. His sacrifice further steeled the faith of the community in the mission of the Gurus. Gupta, who considers the views of all other historians as relevant material, concludes that it was principally a political execution.

Gurdwara Dehra Sahib, LahoreA ruling administration never takes notice of a religious institution, unless it has a political complexion and potential. The Mughal emperors never bothered about any saint of the Bhakti school. The Sikh movement was growing into a clear socio-political body, fired with a religious and moral zeal. It constituted a disciplined people who were being guided and led towards their ideals by a prophetic mystic. It was this socio-political growth which no ruler or administration could fail to take note of as a potential danger and challenge to its existence and rule. It is evident that the Sikh growth was of such dimensions that it attracted the attention of the administration and also of the Emperor. In addition it is a political fact that the Guru, as recoded by Beni Prasad (the historian on Jahangir), had given a very substantial aid of Rs. 5,000/- to Khusro, leading a rebel army and claimant to the throne. Further, this organization was of such size and importance that the Emperor not only took the extreme step of the execution of Guru Arjun, so as to stop altogether this unwanted growth (as recorded by the Emperor), but also found the movement and the episode as significant enough for mention in his autobiography Jahangir was undoubtedly right that the organisation and the movement posed a political threat to the Empire. But he was mistaken in his belief that by the execution of the Guru he had nipped this growth in the bud. In this background and the context of future developments, it would surely be naive for anyone to say either that Jahangir, by this execution of Guru Arjun, converted a simple, peaceful and innocuous movement into a military organisation, or that the reaction of the Sixth Guru to his father s execution was overzealous, especially when we know that by the very nature of the Gurus’ thesis, sociopolitical developments and activities were an integral part of their spiritual life. The Fifth and the Sixth Gurus had done nothing beyond the extension and development of the foundations laid and the organisation built by Guru Nanak.

Gupta calls Guru Arjun an original thinker, an illustrious poet, a practical philosopher, a great organiser, an eminent statesman and the first martyr of the faith. He completely changed the external aspect of Sikhism.”

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 training_Sikhsmother 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. Lahore_fortElated at his successful helmsmanship, 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 formationand continuing their march, they fought invaders and their Indian allies (Nawab of Malerkotla, Sarhind, etc. ) desperetely. 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 survirors of of the Great carnage assembled inthe 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).

Upto 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. Sikh_HorsemenThese 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 helet 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. War_sceneThey 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 itis 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.
Salute to great Sikh Warrior Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia.