Friday, May 14, 2010

Fateh Divas - Celebrating the Khalsa Raaj

This year marks the 300 years of the 'Fateh' (victory) of Sirhind and the establishment of the first Khalsa Raaj. Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Jee (1670 – 1716) is one the greatest heroes in Sikh history who in 1710 with the Khalsa uprooted the Mughal imperial rule in the Panjab and established the Khalsa Raaj. Baba Jee lived and died like a lion, whose faith in the Guru led to five-years of the Khalsa ruling Panjab.


Baba Jee, was born in a Rajput family in Jammu (Northern India) and named Lachman Dev. As a young man, he shot a deer and was shocked to watch the female deer and her unborn child die painfully, which emotionally moved him and made him become a Saadhu (recluse) and changing his name to Maadho Daas. In the company of Saadhus he finally arrived in Nander (Southern India) where through extreme meditation he gained occult powers (ridhia sidhia). However, after meeting Guru Gobind Singh Jee, Maadho Daas became a changed person and declared himself as the “Bandaa” (slave) of the Guru and hence became known as “Banda Singh”. After receiving the Amrit of the double-edged sword and becoming a Sikh of the Guru, he was blessed with the name "Bhai Gurbaksh Singh".


Despite promising Guru Gobind Singh Jee, Bahadur Shah, the Mughal Emperor, failed to deliver justice to punish those incharge of murdering Mata Gujar Kaur Jee, Guru Jee's elderly mother, and Guru Jee’s two young sons – aged 6 and 9. Guru Jee blessed Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Jee with the mission of ending the Mughal rule of oppression and persecution and restore justice in the land of Panjab. Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Jee was conferred the title of ‘Banda Singh Bahadur’. Supplied with five gold tipped arrows, a ‘nagara’ (war drum), a Nishaan Sahib (flag), a Hukamnama (letter of instruction from Guru jee), an advisory council of Panj Singhs (five devout Sikhs), and twenty-five soldiers, Baba Jee was sent to conquer the tyrant rule in Panjab.

Conquering Samana

Over a few months of marching through various villages and towns, Baba Jee’s army grew with an overflow of volunteers who wanted to join the Sikh army. When entering Panjab, Baba jee first marched to the town of ‘Samana’ where Saiyid Jalal-ud-Din, the executioner of Ninth Guru, and Bashal Beg, who had volunteered to decapitate the younger Sahibzaade, lived. Early on the morning of the 26th November 1709, Baba Jee and his army fauj Banda Singh and his men attacked Samana and overtook its control the town and it’s treasury. Baba Jee and his men carried on marching towards Sirhind. On the way they conquered Kurham, Thaska, Shahabad and Mustafabad, which all fell without much resistance.

Conquering Kapuri

The Mughal commander in charge of Kanpuri Qadam-ud-din was an evil person who was known for molesting, kidnapping and raping the local non-Muslim women. There was hardly any handsome Hindu woman in the area who had not been dishonoured by the evil tyrant. Hearing of this immoral rule that had been terrorising the innocent public, Baba Jee and the Singhs attacked Kapuri to punish the Mughal commander. The stronghold of Qadam-ud-din's immoral rule was reduced to ashes.

Conquering Sadhaura

Baba Jee next turned his attention to Sadhaura which was a notorious centre of oppression. The Hindus of this place were not allowed to cremate (burn) their dead. Osman Khan, the local ruler, was a fanatic and he had tortured to death the great Muslim saint Saiyid Badar-ud-din Shah, popularly known as Peer Budhu Shah, simply because he helped Guru Gobind Singh Jee in the battle of Bhangani. The tyrant was punished and justice was restored by the Khalsa’s conquest.

Joining of the Khalsa forces
Baba Banda Singh Jee was following this particular route so that the Sikhs from the regional areas of Doaba and Majha, whose passage across the River Satluj had been blocked by Sher Mohammad Khan of Maler-Kotla, could join his force before his attack upon Sirhind. While Baba jee occupied the Chhat, the Sikhs from the north defeated the Maler Kotla contingent near Ropar and joined him between Kharar and Banur on the Ambala-Ropar road.

Victory of Sirhind

Fearing defeat from the Sikhs, Wazir Khan's Hindu courtier, 'Sucha Nand', sent his nephew to betray the Sikhs by joining them and to later flee the battlefield. Although doubtful, Baba jee gave the benefit of doubt and allowed him to join the Sikh camp. On 12th May 1710 Wazir Khand and his army entered the battlefield and the battle began. As suspected, the traitor and his army fled the battle hoping to cause confusion, however through Baba Jee’s leadership and tactful strategy the Khalsa army was brought under control and led on to a bold attack. Wazir Khan fell under the sword of Bhai Fateh Singh Jee and the battle was won. On 14th May 1710 the city was entered and occupied by the Khalsa. Baba jee gave strict orders not to kill a single animal there and not to attack any place of worship.

Conferring power in the different territories

Other places of importance offered no resistance and the whole of the province of Sirhind fell into the hands of Bab Banda Singh Jee. Bhai Baj Singh Jee, a member of the Khalsa Panchayat (council of five), was appointed the Subedar (head) of Sirhind, with Bhai Ali Singh Jee as his Naib (deputy). Using the Khalsa tradition of ruling under the authority of Panj Singh (five devout Sikhs), the Khalsa Raaj was estalished in the Punjab. Baba Jee ensured that the power structure of the past was overturned. After taking Amrit and becoming Sikhs, the lowest people in the feudal system became empowered as the rulers of the land. Hearing of the Khalsa's glory and power, the wealthy and higher classes accepted the common people becoming the master's of the land. No person dared to disobey Baba Banda Singh jee or any of the Sikhs.

Gurmat Parchaar and conversion to Sikhi
While at Sirhind and other places, Baba Banda Singh Jee inspired many Hindus and Muslims into becoming Gursikhs. Seeing the Khalsa’s high ideals, character and compassion, many Muslims abandoned Islam and embraced Sikhi. The Mughal writers of the time write that the the hearts and minds of many Hindus and Muslims were captivated by Baba Jee, which led to them receiving Amrit of the double-edged sword, adopting the name ‘Singh’ and embracing the Khalsa way of life.

Establishment of the Khalsa Raaj

With the establishment of the Khalsa Raaj, Baba Banda Singh Jee assumed something of a regal state. He repaired the old Imperial fort of Mukhlispur in Sadhaura and gave it the name of ‘Lohgarh’ (Iron Fort) and established the Khalsa Raaj’s capital there. Although he was like a king, in accordance to Gurmat Baba Jee gave all credit of his victory to Guru Jee and ruled through the system of the Panj (Five) and set up Panchayats (authority rested in five) in villages and towns across Panjab. A Sarpanch, (representative of the five) would be the forefront. Just as there are calendars based on emperors and rulers, Baba Banda Singh Jee introduced his own calendar that starts in the year of the Khalsa’s victory at Sirhind. As a firm declaration of the Sikh sovereignty, coins were struck in the name of the Sikh Gurus and used throughout thr Raaj. The ‘Nanak-Gobind Singh’ coin has inscribed in Persian:
Sikka zad bar har do alam Tegh-.i-Nanak wahib ast, Fateh Gobind Singh Shah-i-Shahan Fazal-i-Sacha Sahib ast.
'Struck coin in the two worlds, by the grace of the true Lord, Victory to Gobind Singh, the King of Kings; The sword of Nanak is the granter of desires.'
On the reverse were the words:
Zarb ba aman-ud-dahar, masawwrat shahar, Zina t- u- takht-i-mubarak-bakht.
'Coined at the refuge of the world, Model (painting) of city, the
Ornament of the Fortunate Throne.'
These were the titles and epithets assigned by him to Lohgarh, just as each imperial city had its appropriate honorific name. He also introduced an official seal for his Hukamnamas (letters) and Furmans (orders). It bore the inscription.
Deg-o-Tegh- o-Fateh Nusrat-i-bedirang, Yaft az Nanak Guru Gobind Singh.
'Kettle (the means to feed the poor), Sword (the power to protect the weak and helpless), Victory and Unhesitating Patronage (are) obtained from Nanak Guru Gobind Singh.
Dhan Hai Guru, Dhan Hai Teree Sikhee!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That first image is by the RSS.

This: is the correct one/story.