Banda Singh Bahadur
Banda Singh Bahadur (Punjabi: ਬੰਦਾ ਸਿੰਘ ਬਹਾਦਰ)(1670–1716) aka Lacchman
Das was a Sikh Military Commander and martyr. He became part of
struggle against the Mughal Empire in the early 18th century, after
meeting Guru Gobind Singh. Guru Gobind Singh gave him the new name of
Banda Singh Bahadur. He is best known for the sack of the Mughal
provincial capital, Sirhind, and is revered as one of the most
hallowed martyrs of the Khalsa.
His agrarian uprising against the Mughal administration in Punjab was
a critical event in the development of the Dal Khalsa and the Sikh
Misls, which eventually led to Ranjit Singh capturing Lahore in 1799
and establishing the Sikh Kingdom of the Punjab.
After establishing his authority in Punjab, Banda Singh Bahadur
abolished the zamindari system, and granted property rights to the
tillers of the land.
1 Early life
2 Banda's Mission
3 Banda's strategy and tactics
4 Banda in present-day Haryana
4.6 Samana: Mobility, surprise and economy of Banda's force
4.7 Treacherous Ranghar Muslims of Samana, Ghuram and Thaksa Destroyed
4.9 Mukhlisgarh becomes Lohgarh
5 Banda's kingdom
6 The battle of Sirhind
6.1 Banda's Troops
6.2 Wazir Khan's preparations
6.3 The Battle of Chhappar Chiri
6.3.1 Lessons learned
220.127.116.11 Concentration of Force
6.4 Pursuit of fugitives
6.5 The province of Sirhind occupied
7 Banda advances towards Lahore
8 Banda versus Mughals
8.1 Mughal King Bahadur Shah Issues Farman to Kill all Sikhs
8.2 Retreat and Regains by Banda
9 Torture and execution
10 Criticism of Banda Bahadur
12 See also
15 External links
There are different views regarding origin of Banda Singh Bahadur:
According to prominent sikh Historians such as Dr. Ganda Singh,
Harbans Singh Bhatia, Khushwant Singh, Sir Gokul Chand Narang, Dr Hari
Ram Gupta and some other scholars, he was born to a farming family of
Hindu Dogras. According to
this version, he was born on October 16, 1670 at Rajouri in the Jammu
region of Jammu and Kashmir. He was named Lachman Dev. Wrestling,
horseback riding, and hunting were his major hobbies. As a young man,
he once shot dead a doe and was shocked to watch the mother and her
aborted fawn writhing in pain and dying. After this gloomy scene he
had a change of heart. He left his home and became a disciple of a
Bairagi Sadhu: Janaki Das, who gave him the name: Madho Das. In the
company of the Sadhus, he travelled through Northern India and finally
arrived at Nanded (in present-day Maharashtra), situated on the bank
of the river Godavari.
In the Mahan Kosh, a Sikh encyclopedia written by Bhai Kahan Singh
Nabha, (Bhasha Bibhag Punjab, Patiala), it is stated that he was
Minhas Rajput, either from Rajouri in Jammu region or Doaba region of
P.N. Bali calls him a Mohyal Brahmin.
Hakim Rai calls him a Punjabi Khatri/Rajput.
Giani Budh Singh a noted scholar of Poonch in his famous book "Chhowen
Rattan" described Banda Bahadur as "Brahmin".
Also a book released by the All India Brahmin Federation described him
J.D Cunningham labelled him a native of South India.
Major A.E. Barstow called him a runaway Peshwa Maratha.
Major James Brown thought he was a native of Punjab.
Dr. Harjinder Singh Dilgeer in his book 'Sikh Twareekh
(1469-2007)' (published by Singh Brothers Amritsar, in 5 volumes in
2008) narrates that Banda Singh was a Rajput, born in 1670. At the age
of 16 he left his home and joined the party of wandering Hindu
ascetics (sadhu). He spent two years with two saadhus (Janki Das and
then Ram Das)and then joined Baba Lunia, near Burhanpur. In 1696, he
met Guru Gobind Singh at Kankhal, near Hardwar but this was a short
meeting. After this, Sri Guru Gobind Singh visited him in August 1708.
Guru Gobind Singh hoped that Emperor Bahadur Shah would fulfill his
promise against the Governor of Sirhind, and his accomplices for
persecuting the people of Punjab. It was the Governor of Sirhind who
had captured and murdered the Guru's mother, Mata Gujri and his two
younger children, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh,
for their continued refusal to convert to Islam. The promise was made
by Bahadur Shah to the Guru earlier, when Shah asked the Guru to help
him consolidate his rule over India, following the death of his
father, Emperor Aurangzeb. Guru Gobind Singh had rendered help to
Bahadur Shah in the war of succession after the death of Aurangzeb, in
which Bahadur Shah emerged as a victor. Bahadur Shah never carried out
his promise. He may have been reluctant to do so or unable to do so
during his delicate rule. The Guru was disappointed with duplicity of
new Muslim ruler even though he and his Sikhs had been traveling with
the Emperor to the Deccan, the Guru decided to part ways with the
Muslim ruler for once again betraying Sikhs. Earlier 9th Sikh Guru had
been brutally murdered by Bahadur Shah's tyrant and fanatically
orthodox Islamist father Aurangzeb.
In a few days, the Guru held a darbar and administered Pahul
(ceremonial initiation into Khalsa) to Madho Das and naming him
Gurbaksh Singh (beloved by the Guru). He appointed him as his jathedar
(military commander) and invested him with full political and military
authority as his deputy to lead the campaign in the Punjab against the
Muslim and Mughal administration, to avenge the murders of Sikh gurus
and their families and innocent civilian followers by Muslims, and to
punish Nawab Wazir Khan and his supporters for these inhumane crimes.
The Guru gave Banda five arrows from his quiver by as a symbol of
temporal authority. He was given an advisory council of the following
five devoted Sikhs (Hazuri Singhs), who on their arrival in the Punjab
were to assure the Sikhs that Banda was the Guru's nominee and deputy
and to organize them in order to lead an expedition against Muslims
and Sirhind to avenge the atrocities against Sikhs:
Bhagwant Singh Bangeshri, a cousin of Bhai Mani Singh
Baj Singh, brother of Bhagwant Singh Singh
Kuir Singh singh, brother of Bhagwant Singh Singh
(These names appear in 'Guru Kian Sakhin' written in 1790 by Swarup
Twenty five soldiers were to accompany Banda from Nanded to Punjab. A
Hukumnamah (edict) by the Guru, instructing Sikhs to join Banda
Bahadur in his struggle against Muslim tyrant Wazir Khan (Mughal
Goverener of Punjab) was provided. As an insignia of the temporal
authority vested in him, the Guru also gave Banda Bahadur his own
sword, green bow, nagara (War drum) and a Nishan Sahib (Sikh National
Flag). Three hundred Sikh Risaldari ( cavaliers) in battle array
accompanied Banda up to a distance of eight kilometres to give him a
final send off.
Banda's strategy and tactics
Banda’s strategy was to reach Punjab after avoiding the dangers en
route, to mobilize an army of volunteers, and arm and train them in an
impossibly short period, and then by the tactics of, what I term as
the "Crumbling Process", bite into the mighty Mughal administrative
centers one by one. This process was the only way to achieve the
Guru’s mission of punishing a powerful enemy who was committing crime
after crime against his people. Banda must have mentally and
theoretically made grandiose plans during his long journey of nearly
one year from Nander to Punjab. Whatever these dreams, this born
leader of men executed them to perfection with a masterly application
of the crumbling process. One by one the Mughal bastions, SAMANA,
GHURAM, THASKA, MUSTAFBAD and SADHAURA were captured, until he reached
the outskirts of SIRHIND. His main target was to revenge the ruthless
torture and killing of the brave and innocent SAHIBZADAS.
Instinctively, Banda Bahadur adopted the vital principles of war -
Surprise Flexibility, Offensive action and Concentration of Force at a
point to gain local superiority. He overcame garrison
after garrison by brilliantly applying these to perfection[citation
needed]. Even Muslim authors of the time such as Qazi Noor Mohammad,
Ghulam Hussain Mohammad, Qasim Kamwar Khan and Khafi Khan grudgingly
praised the Tiger-like fighting quality of the Sikh Soldier.[citation
needed] In an article of a magazine it is not possible to trace Banda
Bahadur's entire campaign, so as to highlight his brilliant strategy
and tactics. Yet it would be worthwhile amplifying this by select
Banda in present-day Haryana
Here, Banda Singh Bahadur witnesses first-hand, the complete
destruction of the Satnami sect which had risen in revolt against the
Mughals. Men, women and children, one and all had been wiped out of
existence. It was here that Banda Singh Bahadur suppressed some
dacoits and robbers.
He was well received by local Hindus and Sikhs as a leader and a
deputy of Guru Gobind Singh. Liberal offerings were made to him, which
he distributed among the poor and the needy.
Here, Banda Singh Bahadur issued letters to the Sikhs of Malwa, to
join him in his crusade against Wazir Khan of Sirhind.
Banda Singh Bahadur made proper arrangements to escort Mata Sahib Kaur
to Delhi. From Kharkhauda about fifty kilometres north-west of Delhi,
Mata Sahib Kaur was sent to Delhi under armed escort, to join Mata
Sundari, who was acting as the head of the Khalsa after the death of
her husband, Guru Gobind Singh.
At Sonepat, fifty kilometres north of Delhi, early in November 1709
Banda Singh Bahadur commanded about five hundred followers. He
attacked the government treasury, plundered it and distributed it
among his retinue. This was his second success against the government
and it considerably raised his prestige. Marching slowly, he advanced
Near Kaithal, about a hundred kilometres further north, Banda Singh
Bahadur seized a government treasury, which was being sent from the
northern districts to Delhi. He kept nothing out of it for himself and
gave it away to his rank and file.
Samana: Mobility, surprise and economy of Banda's force
Samana, India was strongly fortified. It had a wall all around, every
Haveli was a fortress and the Mughal force was well armed and had
deployed guns for the towns defence. Banda Bahadur's plan on 26 Nov
1709 was to lie up at a distance the previous day thus lulling the
defenders into a feigned lack of will and intent to attack. That night
the Sikh force did a brilliant rapid approach from some miles, entered
the town from all directions before the gates could be closed and
after negligible opposition totally captured and sacked SAMANA by the
next day’s nightfall. Thus the three main principles of war of
Surprise, Mobility and Economy of Force (he took least casualties)
were applied with brilliance.
Samana is fifty kilometres farther north, was the native place of
Jalal-ud-din Jallad - the professional executioner who had beheaded
Guru Teg Bahadur. While Jalal-ud-din Jallad son had beheaded the two
younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh. Ali Hussain, who betrayed Guru
Gobind Singh by making false promises to lured Guru Gobind Singh to
evacuate the fort of Anandpur also belonged to Samana. Samana was an
accursed place of betraying Muslims in the eyes of the accepting and
The entire Sikh peasantry of the neighbourhood was now up in arms and
sided with Banda Singh, such was the centuries old accumulated anger
of native Sikhs against Muslims that peasant army following Banda
Singh had risen to several thousands. Banda Singh Bahadur fell upon
the Samana town (present day Jind District in Haryana state of India)
on November 26, 1709.
At that time, Samana was the district town and had nine Parganas
attached to it. It was placed under the charge of brave Sikh warrior
Fateh Singh. Samana was the first territorial conquest and was
established as the first administrative unit of Banda Singh Bahadur.
Treacherous Ranghar Muslims of Samana, Ghuram and Thaksa
Then, Kunjpura (Karnal district of Haryana, India), Ghuram, and Thaska
inhabited by Muslim Ranghars were destroyed. Ranghars
are current age Muslims who were once original honorable Rajputs but
forced to convert by Muslims.
Usman Khan, the Muslim chief of Sadhaura, about twenty-five kilometres
away, had persecuted Sayyid Budhu Shah for helping Guru Gobind Singh
in the Battle of Bhangani. On the approach of Banda Singh Bahadur's
army, the leading Muslims of the town gathered in a big and strongly
built mansion. They were all quickly put to death by Sikhs to
establish native rule of kings with native religion with tolerant
views. This building where Sikhs avenged by killing all occupants has
come to be known as Qatal Garhi (the Fort of Murder). Banda Singh
Bahadur destroyed the Muslim dominated quarters of the town.
A contemporary Muslim historian, Khafi Khan, wrote: "In two or three
months time, four to five thousands horse-riders, and seven to eight
thousand warlike footmen joined him. Day by day their number
increased, and abundant money and material by pillage of muslims fell
into the hands hands of Hindu and Sikh warriors. Numerous muslim
villages were laid waste and Banda Singh bahadur appointed his own
Sikh native police officers (thanedars) and established his
sovereignty by setting up of the collectors of revenue (Tahsil-dar-e-
Mukhlisgarh becomes Lohgarh
The ultimate aim of Banda was to punish Wazir Khan and conquer
Sirhind. It required time to consolidate his material and territorial
gains. He also wanted to study the military resources of Sirhind. He
was anxious to see what steps the government would take against him.
He therefore established his headquarters, in the beginning of
February 1710, at Mukhlisgarh situated in the lower Siwalik Hills
south of Nahan, about twenty kilometres from Sadhaura. His fort stood
atop 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
defence. All the money, gold and costly material acquired in the
expeditions were deposited here. He minted coins and issued orders
under his seal. The name of Mukhlisgarh was changed to Lohgarh (Fort
of Steel), and it became the capital of the first Sikh state.
Sirhind, the Principal Town of SE Punjab was Banda Bahadur's goal. To
all Sikhs it represented the cruelty of its Governor, Wazir Khan had
to render an account for this bestial act. James Brown, the British
Historian described it as most barbarous and outrageous. No wonder
then that the Sikhs were thirsting for his blood. Wazir Khan sent a
strong force under Sher Mohammed Khan of Malerkotla towards ROPAR to
prevent a large force of Sikhs from Doaba and Majha joining Banda’s
main force moving from BANUR. After a very fierce battle the valiant
Sikhs prevailed. It was the bloody hand to hand battle on the
battlefield, in which Sikhs dominated, which won the day. Thus Banda
succeeded in concentrating his force for the final battle.
Banda ruled over the region bounded on the north by the Shiwalik
hills, on the west by the river Tangri, on the east by the 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 peasant proprietorship, and
won the 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
The battle of Sirhind
Banda Singh Bahadur devoted three months in organizing his civil and
military administration. Bahadur Shah was still away only less than
100 km from Delhi, yet the weak and nominal Muslim rulers of Delhi of
Mohgul origin had no strength to confront Banda Singh Bahadur.
Wazir Khan of Sirhind was making his own preparations independently to
meet the danger from Banda Singh Bahadur.
Banda's troops were mostly untrained Sikh peasants, raw levies and not
fully armed. Banda possessed no elephants, no good
horses and few guns. His followers had immense Sikh pride coupled with
burning desire to avenge against Muslims, armed only with matchlocks,
agricultural spears, swords, bows and arrows. According to Khafi Khan,
the number of Banda's troops rose from thirty to forty thousand.
Muslims mohgul completely lost the control of areas in current day
Harayana and Panjab. Assisted by his Sikh peasant army, Banda Singh
Bahadur established complete and popular sovereignty, implementing
agricultural land ownership reforms and accumulating volunteer Sarv-
khap based Sikh forces to fight to over throw Muslims controls. Jats,
Gujars and Rajputs supported by all other castes belonging to Hindu
and Sikh played a vital part, even to the extent of eliminating
converted Ranghars who mainly cow-towed and submitted to their
conquering Muslim rulers.
Wazir Khan's preparations
Wazir Khan had proclaimed a jihad or a holy war against Banda. He was
joined by the Nawab of Malerkotla, other Muslim chiefs and jagirdars
as well as Ranghars in large numbers. The 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 Wazir Khan's troops was about thirty thousand.
Banda advanced from Lohgarh and halted at Banur, near Ambala, fourteen
kilometres from Rajpura. Banda sacked the town, and then went towards
The Battle of Chhappar Chiri
It is said that like Napolean, Banda Bahadur observed the battlefield
from a high and prominent area. He kept in hand an elite reserve ready
to be committed in a lightning strike in the most vulnerable area in
order to achieve a breakthrough. At Chappar Chiri the Mughals were far
superior in numbers, Weapons and Guns. Banda’s soldiers had long
spears, arrows, swords and of course indomitable courage. He lost men
in the early phase of the battle but broke through by launching
himself and his lion like reserves at a vital moment in a weakened
salient on the plains of Chappar Chiri's wide open battlefield. So
fierce was this, that as described by Khafi Khan, horses, elephants
fell in the hands of the infidels horsemen and footmen in large
numbers fell under the swords of the infidels, who pursued them as far
as SIRHIND. Wazir Khan fell from his horse and was captured alive. The
Mughal army was completely routed but Banda Bahadur lost nearly 5000
soldiers killed and his men carried out the last rites of the fallen
Sikhs at the battle site before entering SIRHIND. Wazir khan was
killed and his body hung from a prominent tree upside down. This tree
still stands as a symbol of the fate that is reserved for tyrants.
The battle was fought on May 12, 1710 at Chhappar Chiri, twenty
kilometres from Sirhind. On the Mughal side, Sher Muhammad Khan, the
Nawab of Malerkotla was the leader of the right flank. Wazir Khan was
in command of the centre. Suchanand, Diwan of the Nawab was put on the
left. Suchanand instigated the death of Guru Gobind Singh's youngest
two children. On the Sikhs' side, Baj Singh and Binod Singh (two of
the five Sikhs sent by Guru Gobind along with Banda to the Punjab)
headed the right and left flanks respectively while Banda commanded
the centre facing Wazir Khan's army.Bhai Dharam Singh And Bhai Karam
Singh Rupe ke (Sons of Bhai Roop Chand(Singh) were also jathedars of
Banda bahadur who fought with others (Ref. Ganda Singh)
Suchanand could not withstand Baj Singh's attack and fled. 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. Wazir Khan was rushing upon Banda who stuck
fast to his ground and discharged arrows relentlessly. Baj Singh and
Binod Singh now joined Banda. During their combined assault, Wazir
Khan was killed.
Wazir Khan's death is variously described. According to the most
accepted view Baj Singh rushed upon Wazir Khan, who threw a spear at
the Sikh. Baj Singh caught hold of it and 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, before rushing upon him with his
sword. At this juncture, Fateh Singh came to Baj Singh's rescue. It is
related that he swung his sword with such force that Wazir Khan was
sliced from shoulder to waist.
Concentration of Force
Banda Bahadur did not attack Wazir Khan's Army until he was able to
join up with the Khalsa re-inforcements from Majha and Doaba. This he
did, in spite of knowing that the enemy was digging in and preparing
formidable defences at Chapper Chiri. He hid his forces from effective
artillery fire in the thick grove of trees behind small hillocks.
This time Banda knew that surprise had been lost and, this was now a
battle between a large, well-equipped Mughal army with guns, which
would decimate his force in a frontal attack. He now changed his
tactics and ordered commando raids at night to first silence the
artillery, which were causing heavy casualties even under cover. Once
this was done, his archers and musketeers, who were under cover,
caused heavy casualties to the enemy cavalry, and the elephants ran
riot. In this confusion his own cavalry must have attacked the flanks
and rear, while his valiant marching troops launched early-morning
frontal attacks. They still took casualties, as the Mughal firepower
was still effective until hand-to-hand fighting was joined. Here Banda
timed his master stroke to perfection. Observing the whole scene from
a high Tibba, he launched himself and his reserves - a brilliant
strike into the Mughal vitals. Sikhs were masters of hand-to-hand
fighting. Once the Mughal lines broke, there was no stopping the
offensive force. It was indeed brilliant victory for a brilliant
Commander. He had not violated a single principal of war.
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. Sirhind's troops on
beholding the Nawab's head took alarm, and fled in dismay and despair.
The Sikhs fell upon them and there was a terrible carnage. The Sikhs
reached Sirhind 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 at night. Wazir Khan's family
and many Muslim nobles fled to Delhi at night.
By the next afternoon, the 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. Banda
Singh Bahadur purified several Muslims (who were earlier forcefully
converted to Islam from Hinduism) by letting them to embraced Sikhism
by their free will. For example, Dindar Khan son of Jalal Khan Rohilla
purified himself by purging himself of Islam by embracing Sikhism by
changing his name as Dindar Singh. Same way Mir Nasir-ud-din the
official newswriter of Sirhind, purified himself by shunning Islam and
reconverting with new name as Mir Nasir Singh.
The province of Sirhind occupied
Sirhind was the economic and provincial capital of Mughals.The entire
province of Sirhind consisting of twenty-eight paraganas and extending
from the Satluj to the Jamuna and from the Shiwalik hills to Kunjpura,
Karnal and Kaithal, yielding Rs. fifty-two lakhs (one lakh = one
hundred thousand) annually came into Banda's possession. Baj Singh was
appointed the governor of Sirhind. Ali Singh was made his deputy.
Their chief responsibility was to be on guard against the Mughal
troops from Lahore and Jammu. Fateh Singh retained charge of Samana.
Ram Singh, brother of Baj singh became the 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 Sirhind. The Zamindari system was abolished in the whole province
in one stroke.
Banda advances towards Lahore
Having set up an administrative machinery, Banda advanced from Sirhind
to Malerkotla in June, 1710. 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 whose faujdar had handed
over Guru Gobind Singh's Mother and His two younger Sons to Wazir
Khan. Then he visited Kiratpur and Anandpur to pay homage to shrines.
He took Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar. Banda crossed the Beas into Majha,
and fell upon Batala. After this, he went on a pilgrimage to Dera Baba
Nanak. At Amritsar, Banda made large offerings. He invited young men
to embrace Sikhism. Many from Majha joined the Khalsa. Banda marched
towards Lahore. Sayyid Islam Khan, the Governor, mounted guns on the
walls of the city. Banda laid a siege, but was unable to scale the
walls of the fort. Lahore could have fallen, but Banda was in a hurry
to look after his new government.
Only the Lahore Fort, owing to its fortifications, and housing the
Moghul elite, could escape Banda Bahadur. The rest of the city and
suburbs were destroyed by the army of Banda Bahadur.
Banda versus Mughals
Banda's rule, that drained the Mughal empire, had a far-reaching
impact on the history of the Punjab. With it began the decay of Mughal
authority (eventually relegated to within the walls of their Delhi
force and bulk of their territory taken over by Ranjit Singh &
Marathas, and later by British) and the demolition of the feudal
system of society it had created.
Mughal King Bahadur Shah Issues Farman to Kill all Sikhs
Weakened and nominal Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah tried to counter
Banda's increasing influence. Bahadur Shah journeyed northwards from
the Deccan to punish the Sikhs. Instructions were issued to the
governors of Delhi and Oudh and other Mughal officers to march towards
the Punjab. Prohibitory laws against Sikhs were passed. On December
10, 1710, Emperor Bahadur Shah I issued a general warrant for the
faujdars to "kill the worshippers of Nanak (the Sikhs), wherever they
were to be found." (Nanak Prastan ra Har ja kih bayaband baqatl
Retreat and Regains by Banda
A massive Mughal force drove the Sikhs from Sirhind and other places
to take shelter in the fort of Lohgarh in the hilly region. Banda
married the daughter of one of the hill chiefs. Further reinforcements
arrived and sixty thousand horse and foot soon surrounded Banda's hill
retreat. For want of provisions, the Sikhs were reduced to rigorous
straits. When they could stand up to the numerically superior enemy no
longer, they made strategic nightly sallies to escape into the hills
of Nahan, only to regroup later.
He again started his campaigns against the Mughals, coming down from
the hills to the plains, but was overwhelmed by the superior numbers
of Mughal forces. Sikhs came out of their mountain haunts to recover
their lost territories and once again occupied Sadhaura and Lohgarh.
Farrukhsiyar, who came to the throne of Delhi in 1713, ordered against
them the sternest campaign yet launched.
They were hounded out of the plains and their main column of about
4,000 men under Banda were subjected to a terrible siege at the
village of Gurdas-Nangal, about six kilometers from Gurdaspur. For
eight months the garrison resisted the siege of 100,000 Mughal troops
under gruesome conditions (1 Sikh against 25 Muslims). Towards the
end, an unfortunate dispute arose between Banda and one of his most
trusted advisers, Binod Singh. This man along with Baj 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 vailant Banda wished to fight Muslims out there. Binod
Singh was senior in age, and when this difference of views flared up
into an open quarrel, Banda agreed to let 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 December 17, 1715, Abdus Samad Khan, one of the Mughal
commanders, 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 seven hundred were captured alive and
handcuffed in twos. Banda had chains round his ankles and his wrists,
and was then locked in an iron cage. The 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, before
proceeding towards Delhi. Zakarya Khan, the son of the Lahore
Governor, then ordered his men to lop off more Sikh heads on the way.
The prisoners were first taken to Lahore, and thence to Delhi. Thus
Muslims made a spectacle of killing sikhs and displaying their heads
in most humiliating manner.
Torture and execution
This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help
improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (December 2010)
The cavalcade to the imperial capital was a grisly sight. Besides 740
prisoners in heavy chains, it comprised seven hundred cartloads of
Sikh heads with another 200 stuck upon pikes. On February 26, 1716,
the 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 city. On February 29, the citizens of Delhi
lined the streets, to get a good sight of the procession..
First came two-thousand soldiers, each holding a Sikh head impaled on
his upright spear. Next followed the elephant carrying Banda in his
iron cage, still with two Muslim guards guarding him, with their
swords unsheathed. A gold-laced red turban was placed on his head, and
to add further mockery to his plight, a brightly printed scarlet robe
was slipped on his body. Then came 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, Abdus Samad Khan, his son Qamar-ud-Din
Khan, and his son-in-law Zakaria Khan. Their men lined both sides of
For seven days, executions were carried out, until all the ordinary
captives had been disposed off. 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. The jailors next turned their attention to the 20 major
leaders, including Baj Singh, Fateh Singh, Ali Singh and Gulab Singh.
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, June 9, 1716. Banda's cage was again
hoisted on top of an elephant, and he was dressed in the mock attire
of an emperor, with a colourful red pointed turban on his head. His
four-year old son, Ajai Singh was placed in his lap. The twenty chiefs
marched behind the elephant and this procession then passed through
the streets of Delhi, and headed for the mausoleum of Bahadur Shah,
near the Qutub Minar. On reaching the graveyard, the captives were
again offered a choice of two alternatives: conversion to Islam or
death. All chose death. They were tortured again before being
executed. Their heads were then impaled on spears and arranged in a
circle around Banda who was now squatting on the ground. There were
hundreds of spectators standing around watching this scene.
Banda Singh Bahadur was then given a short sword and ordered to kill
his own son Ajai Singh. As Banda Bahadur sat unperturbed, the Muslim
executioner cut the child with his sword. Then pieces of th dead
child's flesh were cut and thrown in Banda's face. His liver was
removed and with force thrust into Banda Singh's mouth. Banda Singh
did not show any emotions. 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 is said to have replied, "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 pulled out Banda's eyeballs with his dagger.
While Banda sat still, the executioner took his sword and slashed off
his left foot, then both his arms. Finally, they tore off his flesh
with red-hot pincers and cut his body up into pieces. These details of
the torture are given in full, by the following writers: Mohammed
Harisi, Khafi Khan, Thornton, Elphinstone, Daneshwar and others.
Criticism of Banda Bahadur
In all historical texts, it is mentioned that Banda Bahadur went
against wishes of Guru Gobind Singh by occupying places unnecessary
for his kingdom, and turned egoistic. Firstly, let us assume that Guru
had stipulated for the every leaf of grass in the India whether it
should or should not be in his kingdom. Secondly, as a guru, he was
able to criticise the Banda even after his death. We must believe
both. Because if they are untrue, there would be no reason to
mentioning all of this in this article. And even if you think this is
vague, you will suffer to read it. Because we think they are the best
sources available today (religious texts full of POV and 18th century
historians) and thus this article was based on such available sources.
The bullet points of criticism are here under:
Gur Bilas Patshahi 10, by Koer SIngh Kalal, in 1751, had written that
he turned egoistic so he was not helped by Khalsa and let dead in
Mahima Parkash, by Sarup Chand Bhalla, mentioned this fact that he
went against Guru Gobind Singh's wishes and argued with the Khalsa.
The Khalsa left him in the fort as a result.
Shahid Bilas Bhai Mani Singh States that people started believing Baba
Banda Bahadur, as the 11th Guru of the Sikhs and Bhai Mani SIngh
resolved this issue that he was not guru.
Sir John Malcolm, in Sketch of Sikhs (1812), an English historian
mentioned about Banda Bahadur that:
...he was a heretic; who intoxicated with victory, endeavoured to
change the religious institutions and laws of Guru Gobind Singh. He
changed salutations to fateh dharam fateh durshun. Banda made many
confirm to his orders
Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha mentioned in Mahankosh that:ਗੁਰੂ ਕੇ ਸਿੰਘ ਤਾਂ
ਪਹਿਲੇ ਹੀ ਬੰਦੇ ਤੋਂ ਜੁਦਾ ਹੋਣਾ ਚਾਹੁੰਦੇ ਸਨ, ਕਿਓਂਕਿ ਓਹ ਸਿੰਘਾਂ ਦੇ ਦਰਬਾਰ ਵਿ
ਤੇ ਗੁਰੂ ਅਸਥਾਨਾ ਵਿਚ ਗਦੇਲਾ ਵਿਚ ਕੇ ਬੈਠ ਕਰ ਚੋਰ ਸਫਾ ਕਰਾਉਂਦਾ ਤੇ ਦਰਸ਼ਨੀ ਫ਼ਤਹਿ
ਬੁਲਾਉਂਦਾ ਸੀ |
With Banda's death, 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. The Age
of the Dal Khalsa and the Sikh Misls (principalities) had dawned.
Within ninety years, Ranjit Singh Sukerchakia united the Misls,
captured Lahore and established the Sikh Kingdom of the Punjab.
Banda is known and much celebrated in Bengal, thanks to a famous poem
by the poet-philosopher, Rabindranath Tagore, titled Bandi Bir (The
Valiant Prisoner). The poem outlines the heroic Sikh rebellion and
resistance of Mughal atrocities. Here are portions of the first and
last parts of this phenomenal poem (in Bengali, written phonetically
Pancha nadir tirey
Beni pakaiya shirey
Dekhite dekhite Gurur mantre
Jagiya uthhechhe Sikh
Hajar konthe Gurujir Joy
Dhoniya tulechhey dik
Nutan jagiya Sikh
Nutan ushaar Surjer paane
Sabha holo nistabdha
Banda'r deho chhinrilo ghaatak
Shanraashi koriya dagdha
Sthir hoye Bir morilo
Na kori ekti katar shabda.
Darshak-jan mudilo nayan
Sabha holo nistabdha.
Here is an approximate translation:
The Mughals and Sikhs together kicked up
the dust of Delhi thoroughfares;
Who will offer his life first?
There was a rush to settle this;
In the morning hundreds of heroes
offered heads to the executioner,
calling "Glory be to Guruji";
The Kazi put into Banda's lap one of his sons;
Said... must kill him with own hands;
Without hesitation, saying nothing,
slowly Banda pulled the child on his breast;
Then slowly drawing the knife from the belt, looking at the boy's
"Glory be to Guruji", in the boy's ears.
The young face beamed;
The court room shook as the boy sang,
"Glory be to Guruji;"
Banda then threw the left arm around his neck
and with the right plunged the knife into the boy's breast;
The boy dropped on the ground,
smiling, saying "Glory be to Guruji".
The court was dead silent.
The executioner tore apart Banda's body
with a pair of red-hot tongs;
Standing still the hero died,
not uttering a sound of agony;
The audience closed their eyes;
The court was dead silent.
Sharan Kaur Pabla - Sikh martyr
Nanua Bairagi - Sikh warrior
Baba Deep Singh
Hari Singh Nalwa
Jassa Singh Ahluwalia
Jassa Singh Ramgarhia
Maharaja Ranjit Singh
Nawab Kapur Singh
Rattan Singh Bhangu
^ Ganda, Singh (1990) . Life of Banda Singh Bahadur : based on
contemporary and original records. Punjabi University/Khalsa College.
p. 1. OCLC 25748134. "His father Ram Dev was an ordinary ploughman
^ Sambhi, Piara Singh; W Owen Cole (1990). A popular dictionary of
Sikhism. Curzon. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-913215-51-7. OCLC 59977906. "Born
as a Hindu Rajput, he was a Bairagi yogi until his conversion to
^ Seetal, Sohan Singh (1968). Prophet of man, Guru Gobind Singh. Lyall
Book Depot. p. 366. OCLC 115772. "And he is commonly known as Banda
Bahadur. Banda Singh was, by his birth, a master of the Rajput
tradition and a dauntless temperament"
^ Chib, Sukhdev Singh (1977). Punjab. Light & Life Publishers. p. 15.
OCLC 3768858. ""Originally a Dogra Rajput named Lachhman Das, Banda
Bahadur was born in a farmer family at Rajouri.""
^ Singh, Khazan (1970) . History of the Sikh Religion. Dept. of
Languages, Punjab/Newal Kishore, Lahore. p. 211. OCLC 162514106. "He
was the son of Ramdev, a Rajput."
^ Duggal, Kartar Singh (2001). Maharaja Ranjit Singh: The Last to Lay
Arms. Abhinav Publications. p. 40. ISBN 978-81-7017-410-3. OCLC
48811299. "A Rajput of the Dogra tribe, his real name was Lachhman
^ Malik, Arjan Dass (1975). An Indian guerilla war : the Sikh peoples
war, 1699-1768. New York: Wiley. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-470-56576-6. OCLC
1339733. ""Banda Bahadur was a Hindu Rajput of Jammu province who had
become a monk. He came in contact with Guru Gobind Singh in the south
and embraced Sikhism.""
^ Deol, Gurdev Singh (1972). Banda Bahadur. New Academic Pub. Co.. p.
14. OCLC 730641. "Banda Bahadur was a Rajput and was a man of limited
^ Mahajan, Vidya Dhar (1964). India since 1526. S. Chand. p. 205. OCLC
3975743. "Banda Bahadur was a Dogra Rajput. He was born in 1670. His
original name was Lachhman Dev and he was very fond of hunting. Later
on he became a Bairagi and went away to Deccan."
^ Madhok, Balraj (1985). Punjab Problem, the Muslim Connection. Vision
Books. p. 25. OCLC 12361473. "Banda Bahadur was the seion of a Rajput
family of Poonch area, now in Jammu and Kashmir State."
^ Singh, Mian Goverdhan (1982) . History of Himachal Pradesh.
Yugbodh Pub. House. p. 141. OCLC 9063139. ""He was a Dogra Rajput/
Khatri who was born at Rajouri in Kashmir.""
^ P. N. Bali. History of Mohyals.
^ Hakim Rai. Legend of Lachman Das,disciple of Guru Gobind Singh
^ J. D. Cunningham. History of Sikhs
^ A.E. Barstow. Handbook on Sikhs
^ James Brown. India Tracts 2.
^ Bandi Bir
^ The Glory of Sikh Heroism
Harbans Singh "The encyclopedia of Sikhism.
Hari Ram Gupta "The Heritage of the Sikhs.
Sohan Lal Suri "Umdat-ut-Tawarikh"
Khushwant Singh "A History of the Sikhs, Volume I"
Dr. Ganda Singh "Banda Singh Bahadur"
Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgeer "Mahan Sikh Jarnail Banda Singh
Bahadur" (Punjabi) 2010
Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgeer "Great Sikh General Banda Singh
Bahadur" (English) 2010
Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgeer "Mukammal Sikh Twareekh" (in V volumes)
Chopra, R. M., Glory of Sikhism (English), 2001, Sanbun Publishers,
Banda Singh Bahadur at allaboutsikhs.com
Banda Bahadur at sikh-history.com
Banda Singh Bahadur at rajkaregakhalsa.com
full biodata of banda bahadur ji 
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