300 years of Martyrdom

Dr Mandeep Singh Azad and Dr Manmeet Motan
Before reading about Banda Singh Bahadur, just ask yourself that have     you ever heard before this name. After reading him, think that whose fault is this that you are unaware about the name of the Man whose greatness is much bigger than Napoleon of France, Hannibal first Caesar of Rome, Alfred           of England and any other European        conqueror. How big would be that father whose sons liver is put in his mouth       during torture and he remains their       sitting in peace and only taking god’s name .Such a great man cannot be a      normal human being he  surely might         be some pure divine soul.
Baba Banda Singh bahadur famous sikh general was such a great warrior. The executioner tried everything to break Baba Ji but nothing broke him. Banda Singh was 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 body 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.
The executioner then stepped forward and thrust the point of his dagger into Banda’s right eye, pulling out the 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).
Banda’s original name was Lachhman Dev. He was born in October-November 1670, Rajouri (J&K) four years after the birth of Guru Gobind singh. 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. Once he hunted a pregnant deer. The dying animal gave birth to two kids who died in front of his eyes. Lachhman was shocked to the core of his heart and thus became a sadhu. He became a disciple of many but none could provide him peace of mind. Later, he inclined to tantric sadhus and acquired some riddhis and siddhis (miracle powers). Thus, he became quite popular among simpletons, near the area around his ashram on the bank of river Godavari. Though, none benefitted from his powers, he used them to humiliate religious leaders and other saints who ever happened to visit his ashram. Whenever, any such saint visited, he would overturn the cot using his powers. Guru Gobind Singh after leaving Punjab travelled towards South India along with some Sikhs, visited Lachhman Das’s ashram and sat on his cot in his absence. Accepting defeat, Lachhman Das Bairagi fell at the feet of Guru Gobind Singh and sought forgiveness and said, “O, Guru Ji, I am your Banda. Show me the right path.”
Guru Gobind Singh taught him the basic principles of Sikhsim and baptised him. Lachhman was given the name ‘Banda Singh’. He transformed from a proud bairagi to a humble and brave Sikh of Guru. Banda Singh is known to have abolished or halted the Zamindari system in the time he was active and gave the farmers proprietorship of their own land. It seems that all classes of government officers were addicted to extortion and corruption and the whole system of regulatory and order was subverted. Guru sent Banda Singh on a mission to Punjab to punish the guilty and cruel rulers of the time. He was also provided with five brave Sikhs as advisors and necessary weapons. Banda Singh was soon joined by thousands of Sikhs in his crusade against the wicked rulers. Within a short span of time, Sikhs under Banda Singh’s leadership put an end to life of many tyrant rulers, including Nawab Wazir Khan, the main culprit behind death of younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji . Banda Singh captured large part of Punjab and established Sikh rule there. He also minted coins in the name of Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh. In the meantime, Faruksiyar became Delhi’s emperor. Angered by defeat at the hands of Banda Singh and Sikh forces, he sent a large force from Delhi and mobilized from elsewhere in Punjab to defeat and capture Banda Singh.
Sikhs were surrounded by large number of Mughal forces in the fortress of Gurdas Nagal. They fought valiantly under Banda Singh’s command. They fought valiantly but due to depleting ration, they ultimately became too weak to fight with the enemies. Ultimately, the brave general Banda Singh Bahadur was arrested along with seven hundred Sikh soldiers and brought to Delhi, after eight months. Inside the fortress, Sikhs survived on leaves, trees, and even bark of trees.With the martyrdom of Banda, Khalsa leadership was taken up by new warriors like Baba Deep Singh, Nawab Kapur Singh, Chhajja Singh, Bhuma Singh, Hari Singh Dhillon, Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Budh Singh, Naudh Singh and Charhat Singh Sukerchakia and others. Within ninety years, Mahraja Ranjit Singh had established Sikh kingdom.
No doubt, Banda Singh was immortalised forever in the history of Sikhs, he is also known and much celebrated in Bengal after Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote a poem titled ‘Bandi Bir’.
Banda Singh Bahadur ruled only for 6 to 7 years. This broke the yoke of 700 years rule of the invading forces from the Arab countries. Their myth of power was broken by him. The sacrifices of Banda Singh and his men did not discourage the Sikhs but prepared them for the worst future fights. Passing through very difficult times for the next 40 years, the Sikhs ruled at Lahore under the leadership of Nawab Kapoor Singh and then by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia in 1756. Later on they ruled all over Punjab in the form of 12 Sikh Misels (groups) under different names. This ultimately led to establish Khalsa Raj under Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1799 AD. On the eve of 300 years martyrdom of  Baba Banda Bahadur, a Shaheedi Yatra started on May 31, 2016 from Dera Baba Banda Bahadur Reasi and will reach Shahidiasthan  Mehroli Delhi on June 9.Baba Banda Singh Bahadur’s 10th successor Baba Jatinder Singh Sodhi will lead the Yatra.