After the battle of Chamkaur(1704) , the Mughals were confident that they’ll be able to crush the Sikh community. But their dream of conquering the Lions(सिंह) was ultimately shattered when Baba Banda Singh Bahadur ,who was the Disciple of Guru Gobind Singh Ji relentlessly subjugated the Mughals for almost 6 years repeatedly and established the first Sikh Raj.
Formative years & Transformation from a Dogra Rajput to Sikh Commander after meeting Guru Gobind SIngh Ji
Baba Banda Singh Bahadur was born on 27 October 1670 CE in a Hindu Rajput (Dogra) family in Rajouri, Jammu. Lachman Das was his real name at time of birth.
Despite being heavily outnumbered in military ,man power & war resources, he stood against the tyranny of the Mughals and was able to sack their provincial capitals. It is belived that due to the rise of Banda Singh Bahadur ,the Marathas and the Rajput warriors got enough time to reclaim their lost territories.
From a very young age ,Baba Banda Singh developed his interest towards hunting. A story from his young days goes as follows.
He had shot a female deer, and his arrow tore the belly of the deer. When he went near it he saw it was pregnant.He was shocked that he killed and unborn fawn and his mother. Soon after this incident he decided to become an Ascetic. He then travel toward Lahore and became the disciple of Sadhu Ram Das.
Sadhu Ram Das gave him the name Madho Das. Later he moved from place to place until he reached Punchavati (Nasik) in Maharashtra.
He set up his own Ashram at Nander and many people started following him. Due to his popularity among common people he became proud and arrogant.
On the other hand, Guru Gobind singh Ji along with his few followers arrived at Nander on September 1708.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji arrived at Madho Das (Banda Singh’s) Ashram. At that time Mahdo Das was not there. Guru Gobind Singh Ji without the taking permission of the Ashram’s people ordered his followers to cook food.
After hearing this news Madho Das tried to humiliate Guru Gobind Singh Ji by using Tantra. But all his effort went in vain. After this Madho Das realize his mistake and offered himself as his Sevak (Banda).
The Guru later introduced Madho Das to Sikhism and gave him the name of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur and appointed him as his military commander to finish the tyrant Wazir Khan (who had mercilessly killed two sons of the guru) and the ongoing Mughal persecution of the innocent Sikhs. He also appointed 5 Sikhs for counseling they were
- Daya Singh
- Binod Singh
- Kahan Singh
- Bijay Singh
- Ram Singh
A total of 10 battles were fought by Banda Singh
Battle of Sonepat, Samana, Chappar Chiri, Sadhaura, Lohgarh, Jammu, Rahon, Jalalabad, Gurdas Nangal, and the Sirihind.
After this , Baba Banda Singh Bahadur with few thousands soldiers went towards Punjab to fight against the Mughals. By now the Nawab of Sirhind (Wazir Khan) sent two mercenaries to murder Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
The two spies treacherously stabbed Guru Gobind Singh while he was taking rest. The Guru bravely retaliated and killed one of them while the other one was killed by his followers.
But due to the deep wounds the Guru attained martyrdom on 7 October 1708.
Hearing this news, the whole Sikh army became even more motivated to fight the Mughals.
In 1708 Baba Banda Singh Bahadur with his small and brave Sikh army marched towards Khanda village of Sonepat. At this time this area was under the Mughals.
Under Baba Banda Singh the Sikhs were able to defeat the Faujdar and distributed the treasury wealth amongst the poor and for the first time in almost 150 years (After second battle of Panipat 1556) the Mughal capital Delhi was threatened again.
Later these brave Lions went towards Samana in 1709. Samana was an important city for the Mughals. The Sikhs captured Samana, killed every single tyrants.
Then, the confident army of Banda Singh marched towards Sadhaura (in north Haryana) in1709 and captured it.
Battle of Chappar Chiri
After conquering Sadhaura Baba Banda Singh Bahadur decided to attack Wazir Khan at Sirhind (Fatehgarh) on May 1710. The Sikhs were heavily outnumbered and don’t even had war elephants while on the other hand the Mughals had musketeers, artillery support, war elephants and guns.
Even against these odds, the military leadership of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur was able to defeat the tyrant Wazir Khan and his army. The governor of Sirhind Wazir was killed along with the Deewan Suchanand who were responsible for the martyrdom of the two youngest sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
To honour this victory of the Sikhs over the Mughals ,a 100 meter tall minar known as Fateh Burj (Victory tower) had been made at in Chappar Chiri.
Thus in 1710, the Sikhs having captured Sirhind, under the leadership of Banda Bahadur established the Sikh rule over Punjab with capital at Lohgarh (Mukhlisgarh).
He was now in control of territory from the Sutlej to the Yamuna doab. The Sikhs were able to break the backbone of the alternate capitals of the Mughals, which includes Agra, Delhi and Lahore.
Due to this, the Mughals frequently started losing their important territories.
Battle of Rahon
By this time, Banda Singh Bahadur had captured Punjab in the east of Lahore. He then defeated the Mughals at Rahon while he was advancing towards Jallandhar. All the efforts by emperor Bahadur Shah to defeat Banda Singh were unsuccessful.
Soon after winning these battles, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur abolished Zamindari system and granted property rights to the farmers.
He also started a Mint to make coins and stamps in the name of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh. Hill Rajas who were initially against Guru Gobind Singh, now accepted their subordinated status and paid tributes revenues to Banda Singh.
The Sikhs then defeated the Mughals in the battle of Jalalabad. The region between Lahore and Delhi fell to the Sikhs.
Suffering from continuous defeats the Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah decided to take the matter in his own hands and captured Lohgarh in December 1710.
Defeat at Gurdaspur and atrocities of Mughals on Banda Bahadur and Sikhs
Banda Singh retreated towards Jammu and prepared to attack the Mughals again. But Bahadur Shah died on 1712 and Jahandar Shah became the next Mughal emperor.
Banda Singh Bahadur established his new authority from Jammu to Sutlej. They Sikhs established a Dera there. Later in 1713, the Mughals were able to defeat the Sikhs at Jammu.
Due to this Baba Banda Singh retreated to Gurdaspur (Gurdas Nangal) in Punjab.
In 1715 the Mughals under Farrukhsiyar laid Seige of the village. The Sikh bravely defended the fortress for almost 8 months.
But on 7 December 1715 ,the Mughals arrested Baba Banda Singh Bahadur and mercilessly killed his fellow Sikh soldiers. The Mughals then put Baba Banda Singh Bahadur in an iron cage & relentlessly tortured 780 Sikh soldiers.
The Mughals pressurized the Sikhs to convert to Islam but the Sikhs refused. Everyday about 100 sikhs soldiers were executed but no one accepted Islam.
At last on 9 June 1716 the Mughals ordered Banda Singh to kill his 4 years old son Ajay Singh. He refused and the Mughal executioner pierced the chest of the innocent child.
Then the executioner took out the heart of the child and tried to put in into the mouth of Banda Singh. The barbaric Mughal then gave Banda Singh a proposal that if he accepts Islam they will spare his life but the great warrior Banda Singh refused.
Hearing this the Mughals tortured Baba Banda Singh to death.
They inserted hot sharp rods into the body of Baba Banda Singh, removed his eyes and his limbs were severed. Later they removed his skin.
But brave Baba Banda Singh Bahadur remained firm and attained martyrdom at age of 45.
Legacy of Banda Singh Bahadur and importance In Indian & Sikh history
Banda Singh Bahadur is one of the earliest Sikh Millitary Experts in a long line of warriors that followed him. After his death, others like Baba Deep Singh, Nawab Kapur Singh, Chhajja Singh, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Budh Singh took charge of the Sikh Cause. Years later, the Khalsa Raj, whose foundation Banda Bahadur had laid in 1710 , was achieved in its entirety by Maharaja Ranjit Singh who consolidated enitre Punjab and even areas outside Punjab under the Sikh Kingdom.
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