Friday, February 02, 2007
Baba Deep Singh - Saint Soldier
Baba Deep Singh was the saint soldier who weilded the holy sword and who called out the real man among the herds of humanity Deepa of Phuvin, a village in the district Amritsar, born as Bhai Bhagatu Ji's son in January 1682 A.D. (14 Marh, Samvant 1739) was the blessed son of Punjab, who became the defender of the national honour.
In a way his entire life had been a preparation for his ultimate martyrdom in 1765. Let us go back to 1699, the Baisakhi, when Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave us a new lease of life. The Khalsa Panth was founded with the holy Guru's invocation to the Singhs among men to step forward and sacrifice their lives, give Seesh in the service of God. The consecrated Amrit infused in the youth the lenging to dedicate themselves to the teaching of Dashmesh Pita, the preceptor and our father divine.
The ensuing Baisakhi witnessed throngs of Sikhs at Anandpur Sahib. Among them was the eighteen year old Deepa, accompanied by his parents. Once again the consecrated water was stirred accompanied by recitation of Gurbani by the Panj Pyaras and Dashmesh Pita, leading the five beloveds as their Jathedar, their leader. Deepa was blessed with this nector divine, the Amrit and intiated into the Khalsa Panth, known as Deep Singh.
The impact of community worship and community meal, partaken with the recitation of the holy hymns, the shabads, was so great that Deep Singh found himself drawn to the holy precints of Anandpur Sahib. With the permission of his parents, he implored Guru Maharaj to give him the privilege of staying there for some time and imbibe the tenets of Sikhism.
Baba Deep Singh was quick in learning Gurmukhi. He tood to the Gurmukhi alphabet instinctively, and before long, he had developed a beautiful hand writing. Bhai Mani Singh initated him into learning to holy scrputure, the Bani and the keen learner, Deep Singh lost no time in learning the hymns, the Bani, by heart.
Equally adept at horse riding and weilding the weapons, Baba Deep Singh distinguished himself in hunting with Satguru Sahib, he shot a lion and credited himself as a brave hunter. Barely 20 or 22 of age, Baba Deep Singh was a scholar and a valient soldier.
Baba Deep Singh was summoned by his parents to his native village for his marriage, with the permission of the Tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Before the marriage could be performed, news was received at their village that Guru Ji had left Anandpur Sahib and his four sons and many Sikhs had fallen as martyrs while fighting against the armires of treacherous Hindu Hill Kings and Mughal rulers.
On hearing about these events, Baba Deep Singh left his home and riding his horse, proceeded in search of his beloved Guru. His earnest search proved fruitful when he found Guru Gobind Singh Ji at village Sabo ki Talwandi (Now Damdama Sahib in the District of Bhatinda). Tears rolling down his eyes, Baba Deep Singh lay at the feet of Guru Ji asking for-giveness for not being present at Anandpur Sahib during the siege. Guru Ji blessed Baba Deep Singh and told him that he was being assigned special duty of preparing copies of Adi Granth Sahib. He was asked to assist Bhai Mani Singh Ji in this literary task of utmost improtance. They would act as preachers of Sikhism while at the sametime, participate in battles to be fought in the defence of the faith.
The reafter Baba Deep Singh remained at village Sabo ki Talwandi (then renamed as Guru Ki Kanshi), for the rest of his life, preparing copies of Adi Granth Sahib and preaching the teaching of Sikh Gurus. These copies of Adi Granth Sahib were prepared and sent to Sikh centres far and wide. After Guru Gobind Singh Ji had left for his heavenly abode, Bhai Mani Singh was assigned duties at Amritsar Sahib by Mata Sunder Kaur, wife of the Tenth Guru. Baba Deep Singh had to manage the aggairs of Sikh community at Sabo ki Talwandi, which had become a centre of Sikh studies and preaching. He caused number of Sikhs becoming scholars of Sikh Phillosphy. He arranged preaching of Sikh way of life in the entire Malwa area, in very systematic manner. On various occasions, he led the brave Sikhs for punishing the cruel officers of Mughal rule of the area whenever complaints were received about their cruel acts. His frequent expedition to punish the excesses committed by culprits infused fighting spirits in the oppressed. In the year 1709 A.D., when Baba Banda Singh Bahadur arrived in Punjab to fulfil the mission of punishing the cruel rulers assigned to him by Guru Gobinb Singh, Baba Deep Singh led a large group of brave Sikhs and helped in the conquest of Sadhaura and other towns, by Baba Banda Singh Bahadur.
In 1746 A.D. Yahia Khan Governor of Lahore sent his Hindu chief Lakhpat Rai to lay a siege of Kahnoowan jungle, where the Sikhs had taken refure. Baba Deep Singh was also present in that jungle among his Sikh brother. Fed up with surprise attacks of sikhs from within the thick jungle on his army, Lakhpat Rai, throwing all civilized norms to the winds, got the jungle set on fire. Thousands of sikhs parished in the jungle fire and in the adjoining river. This battle of Kahnoowon jungle is known in Sikh history as Chotta Ghaloghara the small holocast.
Baba Deep Singh, alongwith his brave companions came out of the jungle and attacked the enemy soldiers, like hungry tigers and fought their way out towards Malwa.
Later when Sikhs were organised into twelve misals, Baba Deep Singh was appointed Jathedar of Misal Shahedaan (Martyrs Misal). Many among his group were scholars writers and ragis.
At the invitation of Mughlani Begum, Ahmedshah Abdali invaded India for the fourth time in the year 1756 A.D. On his return journey Abdali was accompanied by his soldiers who carried enormous stocks of gold, silver and other valuables looted from Mathura, Bindraban, Agra and Delhi towns. These valuables were loaded on the back of horses and other animals. In addition thousands of beautiful unmarried girls and married women, both of Hindu and Muslim communities, were being forcibly taken against their wishes, to serve as maidens and slaves of Abdalis, and to be auctioned in open market. They were herded together in bullock carts and tied to prevent their escape enroute.
When the leaders of Khalsa Panth (Misaldars) came to know of this carvan passing through Punjab, they decided to intervene with force, to free these girls and women, to save their honour and that of the country. The cries for help of these unfortunate women fell on deaf ears and nobody dared to rescue them till the caravan arrived near Kurukshetra. Baba Deep Singh's Jatha (army) was assigned duty near river Markanda. When he and his brave companions heardd the wailings of those slave girls, boys and women, they came out of the surrounding jungles and pounced upon Abdali's caravan, like a lightening from the sky. While som of them engaged themselves in fighting the Abdali's soldiers, other drove away many bullock carts laden with women and valuables to the nearby jungles hideouts. They were successful in rescuring about 300 women/girls and 100 boys from the clutches of Abdali. None among other brave communities such as Rajputs and Marhattas could dare attack Abdali's carvan to rescue these crying and helpless slaves, but saints soldiers of Guru Gobing Singh dared to attack Abdali's carvan and frees the unfortunate sons and daughter of the country, risking their own lives. These freed boys, girls and married women whether Muslims of Hindus, were escorted safely to their homes by the Sikh soldiers whose moral/charcter was of the highest order ven at those difficult days.
Other Sikh leaders who were assigned duties close to river beds of Satluj, Beas, Ravi, Chenab, Jhelum too rescued thousands of more slaves and deprived Abdali's caravan of many valuables as well.
Because of these dare devil and noble acts of Sikhs, slaves used to sing Moreen Baba Kachh Walea Chhai Naheen Taan Ran gai Basre noon gai i.e. 'O' brave Sikh wearing underwears, liberate the enslaved Women, otherwise they would be taken to Basra.
On his way back home, Ahmedshah Abdali appointed his son, Tamur Shah, as Governor of Lahore and Jahan Khan as army chief with the orders to destroy Sikhs and their holy shrines. Jahan Khan, commanding a large army raided Amritsar. Baba Gurax Singh and his 30 Sikh companions laid down their lives to protect the sanctity of Sri Hari Mandir Sahib. Jahan Khan after overcoming the resistance of these brave Sikhs not only got the building of Harmandir Sahib pulled down but also got the sacred water tank around Harmandir Sahib filled with garbage.
The news of this descration of Harmandir Sahib and sacred sarover was flashed to Baba Deep Singh at Damdama Sahib by some residents of Amritsar. The news sent shock waves through the hearts of brave Sikhs. Baba Deep Singh declared his intention to take revenge for this brutal and unholy act of enemies of Sikh community. This decision of Baba Deep Singh was flashed from village to valiant in the Malwa belt. Sikhs in large numbers answered this valinat call of Baba Ji by placing their services at his disposal. Mothers blessed their young sons, wives their husbands and sisters their brother and sent them happily to punish the brute rulers for their unholy act.
Many brave Sikhs with whatever weapon they had with them collected at Damdama Sahib. Baba Deep Singh drew a line on the ground with his double edged Khanda, weighing 18 and addressed the gathered Sikhs, Only those should cross this line who are prepared to die but not turn back to the enemy in the battlefield.
Five hundred Sikhs crossed the line drawn by Baba Deep Singh and started towards Amritsar under his leadership. Enroute many maore joined them. By the time they reached Taran Taran Sahib, their number had swelled to 5,000.
The news of march of these brave Sikhs determined to take revenge for descration of their holiest shrine and to restore its sanctity, reached the rulers in Lahore. Jahan Khan commanding an army of 20,000 soldiers proceeded towards Amritsar. Five miles from Amritsar, the two opposing forces confronted each other. The Sikhs fought with sch bravery that soldiers of Jahan Khan's army ran for their lives. Hundred of soldiers of either side fell dead in the battle field. Bhai Dayal Singh, companion of Baba Deep Singh leading a posse of 500 Sikhs, attacked Amir Jahan Khan's force and succeded in cutting Amir Jahan Khan's head.
After this victory, the sikh forces arrived at Ramsar. By that time General Attai Khan, commanding a huge army of soldiers arrived at the battle scene, to augment the government forces. Baba Deep Singh attacked the enemy soldiers with his 18 Kg. double edged sword and surged forward, putting scores of enemy soldiers to death. However, he too received a number of injuries from enemy attacks.
Amman Khan a Mughal General surged forward to stop the advancing Baba Deep Singh, but Baba Deep Singh felled him to ground with a severe blow of his 'Khanda'. However Amman Khan's sword also simulfaneously cause a severe blow to Baba Deep Singh and his neck was partially cut. As such, Baba Ji's head tilted towards one side.
One of the sikhs, close to Baba Deep Singh, reminded Baba Ji of his resolve to lay down his life only in the precints of Harimandir Sahib. Baba Deep Singh held his head partially cut with one hand and started wielding the double edged sword more severely than before. When he finally reached Ramsar, Baba Deep Singh fell martyr on the edge of the sacred tank.
This way Baba Deep Singh and Sikhs under his leadership put to death thousands of cruel ruler's soldiers and commanders and took revenge for the descretion of Harimandir Sahib. They showed to the world that Sikhs do not tolerate descretion of their holy shrines lying down and offer numerous sacrifices to maintain their sanctity even against superior numbers. The perpetrators of descretion would also not get away, unpunished for their misdeeds.