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Bhai Dayala Ji

By | Famous Sikhs, Sikh Martyrs

bhai dayala ji

Bhai Dayala ji (died 1675) variously spelt as Bhai Dayala, Bhai Diala, was one of the earliest martyrs to the Sikh faith. Along with his companions Bhai Mati Das and Bhai Sati Das as well as Ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, Bhai Dayala was martyred at Chandni Chowk at Delhi in November 1675 for his refusal to barter his faith.

Bhai Dayala was one of the Sikhs who accompanied Guru Tegh Bahadur when the latter left Anandpur on 11 July 1675 to court martyrdom at Delhi, the other two were brothers—Bhai Mati Das, a Dewan and Bhai Sati Das, a Scribe at Guru’s court. Along with Ninth Guru ji, they were arrested under orders from Emperor Aurangzeb at Agra. On 9 November 1675 A.D, the Qazi pronounced his religious order that Bhai Dayala must either accept Islam or be prepared to embrace death by being boiled in a cauldron. Bhai Dayala heroically accepted the latter alternative and asked leave of the Guru. The Guru graced Bhai Dayala for his lifelong devotion as a true and dedicated Sikh and blessed him with glory and success. Bhai Dayala was put into a big cauldron full of water which was later heated to the boiling point. Bhai Dayala continued to his last breath to recite the Japjiof Guru Nanak and the Sukhmani of Guru Arjan.

Jassa Singh Ahluwalia

By | Famous Sikhs

Jassa Singh Ahluwalia

Jassa Singh Ahluwalia was born (1718-1783) at a village called Ahlu or Ahluwal near Lahore, established by his ancestor, Sadda singh, a devotee of Sixth Guru, Hargobind. Hence the name Ahluwalia stuck to him. His forefathers were kalals (wine merchants). Hence he is also called Jassa singh Kalal.

However such was the admiration he won of the whole Sikh community that Jassa singh kalal came to be known as ‘Guru Ka Lal’ (the beloved son of Guru). Son of Badar singh Jassa singh was hardly 5 yrs old when his father died (1723 A.D.). His mother entreated Mata Sundri, widow of Guru Gobind Singh ji, to take him into her care. Mata Sundri agreed to do so, and lavished much affection on him, instructing him carefully in the arts of war and peace. He studied Sikh scriptures under Bhai Mani singh. Later, Mata Sundri asked Nawab Kapur singh to take charge of the promising youth. Both he and his mother used to perform Hari-Kirtan before Nawab Kapur singh who much pleased at his supreme devotion to the faith and sense of duty and humility, appointed him as a storekeeper with his forces. As was natural, he participated in many combat as well where he displayed such qualities of leadership that Nawab Kapur singh appointed him his successor on the eve of his death in 1753. Elated at his successful helmsmanship, the Khalsa honored Jassa singh with the title of Sultan-ul-Qaum (king of the whole people), when they captured Lahore in 1761.

On Feb 5 1762, Sikhs were especially the target of Ahmad Shah Abdali Sixth invasion into India. News had reached him in Afghanistan of the defeat of his general, Nur-Ud-Din Bamezai, at the hands of Sikhs who were fast spreading themselves out over the Punjab and had declared their leader, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, king of Lahore. To rid his Indian dominion of them once for all, he set out from Kandahar. Marching with alacrity, he overtook the Sikhs as they were withdrawing into the Malwa after crossing the Sutlej.

The moving caravan comprised a substantial portion of the total Sikh population and contained, besides active fighters, a large body of old men, women and children who were being escorted to the safety of the interior of the country. Surprised by Ahmad Shah, the Sikhs threw a cordon round those who needed protection, and prepared for the battle. In this formationand continuing their march, they fought invaders and their Indian allies (Nawab of Malerkotla, Sarhind, etc. ) desperetely. Charat Singh, Hari Singh Bhangi and Jassa Singh Ahluwalia led their forces with skill and courage. Jassa Singh ahluwalia sustained sixty four wounds on his body and Charat Singh rode to exhaustion five of his horses one after another.

Ahmad Shah succeeded, in the end, in breaking through the ring and glutted his spite by carrying out a full scale butchery. His orders were for everyone in Indian dress to be killed at sight. The soldiers of Malerkotala and Sarhind were to wear green leaves of trees on their heads to distinguish themselves from the Sikhs. Near the village of Kup, in the vicinity of Malerkotla, about 20,000 Sikhs lay on that ghastly field at the end of a single day’s action (February 5, 1762). This battle in Sikh history is known as Wadda Ghalughara.

Jassa singh fought valiantly and received 64 cuts, but he survived. Even such a disaster as had overtaken them at Kup caused no despondency among the Sikhs. When the survirors of of the Great carnage assembled inthe evening for their prayers. A Sikh got up and said “No harm done, Khalsa ji! The Panth has emerged purer from the trial; the alloy has been eliminated.” Within four months of Ghalughara, Sikhs under Jassa Singh Ahluwalia inflicted and a severe defeat on the governor of Sarhind and were celebrating Diwali in Harimandir which the Shah had demolished, and were fighting pitched battle forcing him to withdraw from Amritsar under cover of darkness (October 17,1762).

Upto now, Sikhs forces were divided into 65 jathas Nawab Kapur singh reorganised them into Eleven bands, each of course with its own name, flag and leader. These bands or Jathas, which came to known later on as Misls (lit. equal, also an example) together were, however, given the name of Dal Khalsa (or the Khalsa force), under over all charge of Jassa singh Ahluwalia.

It is a miracle of Guru Gobind singh that everyone irrespective of Caste, region or station accepted the decision of their venerable old leader with a clean and good heart. Here is what Bhangu Ratan singh has to say ‘Ape Raj, ape Mujdar, Bade bhujangi, dil ke sur. Ape pisen, ap pakwan, to bade sardar Kahawan. koi kare na kise sheereka, koi na sunawe nij dukj ji ka.’ which means ‘They were all brave of heart. They themselves ground their corn and cooked their own food. It is through such dedicated service that they became great Sardars. None felt jealous of another nor ever gave vent to his own privations or personal grief.

The fear of his Indian empire falling to the Sikhs continued to obsess the Ahmad Shah Abdali’s mind and helet out another campaign against Sikhs towards the close of 1766. This was his eighth invasion into India. The Sikhs had recourse to their old game of hide and seek. They vacated Lahore, but faced squarely the Afghan general, Jahan Khan at Amritsar, forcing him to retreat, with six thousand Abdali’s soldiers killed. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia with an army of about twenty thousand Sikhs roamed in the neighbourhood of the Afghan camp plundering it to his heart’s content. Never before Ahmad Shah Abdali had felt so helpless, his dream of capturing the whole of India was dying before his own eyes. In the words of a contemporary writer: “The Shah’s influence is confined merely to those tracts which are covered by his army. The Zamindars appear in general so well affected towards the Sikhs that itis usual with the latter to repair by night to the villages where they find every refreshment. By the day they retire from them and again fall to harassing the Shah’s troops. ” Jassa Singh was also called “Bandi Chhor”, (The delivered) for having rescued 2200 beautiful Hindu women made prisoner by Abdali for his harms.


Source :

Copyright © Harbans Singh “The Heritage of the Sikhs.”

Khushwant Singh “History of the Sikhs.

Baba Bota Singh Baba Garja Singh

By | Famous Sikhs

Shaheed Baba Bota Singh Baba Garja Singh ji

After the death of Qazi Abdul Razak and Mufti Abdul Rehman at the hands of the Singhs in 1738 A.D., Zakriya Khan, the Governor of Lahore put Abdul Samad Khan Yusufi at the head of an army patrol. Wherever that patrol came across a Singh, they killed him there and then. One day, Abdul Samad Khan fell into the hands of Nawab Kapoor Singh. He tied him head down, behind a horse and ran the horse at a gallop which caused his death. After that, the Governor began rewarding those coming with the heads of Singhs. A large number of Singhs left Lahore and went to other provinces. .

Zakariya Khan had taken vows to destroy the Sikhs, root and branch. Orders were given that all Sikhs-men, women, and children were to be put to death. It was declared lawful to plunder their homes and seize their property. Their houses were to be looted and plundered. They were to be haunted down like wild beasts. Not only government officials, but even notable Hindus and Muhammadans, vied with one another in this cruel campaign of loot, arson and murder. Special rewards were offered for the capture and destruction of the Sikhs. It was announced, ‘Any parson giving information which leads to the arrest of a Sikh, will get ten gold coins. Fifty coins will be rewarded to him who brings the head of a Sikh. Eighty coins will be given to him who captures and brings a Sikh alive.’ It has to be borne in mind that eighty coins in those days would be equal to a few thousand dollars today. So, the rewards were tempting indeed. The whole machinery of the government was put into motion to crush the Sikhs. Even non-official Zamindars were made to lend a hand in this campaign of ruthless genocide. Some Zamindars used to send cartloads of heads to Lahore. This campaign was the most virulent in the Majha tract.

As a result of this fierce persecution, most of the Sikhs left the plains. They took shelter in places away from human habitations. These places were the Shivalik Hills, the Lakhi jungle, and the sandy deserts of Rajputana. The few who still chose to remain in the Majha, had to press their days in bushes and forests, here and there. Sometimes, some persecutors and evil wishers of their would boast that the Sikhs were afraid to appear in the plains. Such taunts would cause some daring Sikhs to come out of their hiding places, and make their presence known and felt. One such daring Sikh was Bhai Bota Singh. He was a GurSikh of Bharana, now in Pakistan. He had a companion named Bhai Garja Singh. They used to come occasionally to Amritsar at night in order to bathe in the sacred tank. They spent the rest of the day in the bushes near Taran Taaran. Bhai Bota Singh was a deeply religious man. He passed his life in reciting the Guru’s sacred hymns and meditating on God. By nature, he was a peace loving saint. But, at the same time, he could be a mighty soldier, if necessary.

It was toward the end of 1739, when one day, a party of wayfarers noticed Bhai Bota Singh and his companion near Nurdi. The two were returning from a secret pilgrimage to the darbar Sahib at Amritsar. ‘Look There’ said one of the wayfarers, ‘there goes the pair of Sikhs’. ‘O , no’, said another. ‘They can’t be Sikhs. there is no Sikh left anywhere in the neighborhood. All of them have been either killed or driven away. Zakriya Khan has proudly proclaimed that he has exterminated the Sikhs that no Sikh exists in the Punjab.’ But, said the first man, ‘I am sure that they are Sikhs.’ ‘In that case,’ said the other, ‘they must be a pair of cowards, jackals, hiding about to save their skins. The Sikhs are not subject to such fears.’ These taunting remarks stung Bhai Bota Singh. A Singh of Guru Gobind Singh was, to him, as brave as a lion. That a Singh or lion should be called jackal was more than he could stand. The Guru’s Khalsa, he felt, could not be exterminated. Zakriya Khan must be made to realize that his boast was empty, that the Khalsa was in existence and would ever continue to exist, in spite of all that he and his ilk might do. Indeed, the taunt awoke the soldier in that saint. He decided to come out into the open, make his presence felt, by Zakriya Khan and his government, and to maintain the prestige of the Khalsa. His companion was of the same view.

Bhai Bota Singh and his companion came out from the bushes. They took their position on the then Grand Trunk Road near Nurdi, a few miles west of Taran Taaran. In those days, this road connected Delhi and Lahore. As mere bravado and show of courage, Bhai Bota Singh began to collect toll tax of one anna per cart and one pice per donkey load. None dared to refuse his demand. All paid it readily and quietly. Nobody dared make a report to the government. Their weapons were big sticks cut from kikkar trees. This went for some time. Bhai Bota Singh’s presence was, no doubt, felt by those who used the Grand Trunk road. But it had not yet been felt by the government. Bhai Bota Singh did not like it. He had not taken this position merely for collecting toll. His object was only to prove to the fanatical rulers that, in spite for their all-out effort to exterminate the Sikhs, the Sikhs were still very much in existence. Therefore, he wrote direct to the governor, Zakriya Khan, at Lahore, announcing himself and the tax he was levying on travelers. He gave it to the traveler bound for Lahore and asked him to do deliver it to the governor there. The traveler undertook to do so. The letter was, of course, in Punjabi. Its words were as follows:

“Chithi likhi Singh Bota,

Hath hai sota, Vich rah khalota,

Anna laya gadde noo, Paisa laya khota,

Akho Bhabi Khano nun, Eeun akhe Singh Bota”

In English the words would read:

“Thus writes Bota Singh a letter,

With a big stick in hand, on the road I stand,

Levying an anna for a cart, And pice for a donkey load.

Tell sister-in-law Khano,

That this is a message from Bota Singh.”

The letter was a clear and daring challenge to the governor. He was red with rage. Immediately he, sent a detachment of on hundred fully armed horsemen under the command of Jalal Din, to arrest Bhai Bota Singh. On approaching Nurdi, they saw the two Sikhs standing on the road. They held big kikar sticks in their hands. They had no other weapon; no axe, no lance, and no sword. Approaching them, Jalal Din called upon them to surrender. Bhai Bota Singh replied, ‘Sikhs know no surrender. We are not used to that sort of act. You would certainly like very much to take us alive to your governor and earn his good opinion. He would like very much to see me cut into pieces, limb by limb, like Bhai Mani Singh. But we refuse to oblige you and your governor. We shall give up our lives, but we shall charge a heavy price for them. We shall die fighting. But we shall kill many before we die. Come on, and taste our big sticks. Send four of your best strongest swordsmen against us two big-stick wielders. Come on ! “Sat Sri Akal”.

Jalal Din sent four his bravest and strongest soldiers. He said to them, ‘Fall on these beasts, and fell them with your sharp swords.’ They advanced, crying, ‘Ya Ali’. Bhai Bota Singh and Garja Singh struck them repeated blows with their big sticks. Thus thrashed, the four Mughals soldiers were fell to the ground. Another batch of four met the same fate. Then Jalal Ding ordered all his soldiers to make a joint attack. Bhai Bota Singh and Garja Singh were surrounded by shouting swordsmen. The unequal fight could not last long. The brave Sikhs fell martyrs at last; but only after over a dozen Mughal soldiers had been dispatched by them to hell. Thus did they make their presence felt by the government of Zakriya Khan. Thus did they demonstrate that they were not cowards, but bold and daring saint soldiers of Guru Gobind Singh; that they were not jackals, but lions. Thus did they show Zakriya Khan that his boast of having exterminated the Khalsa was altogether empty; that the Khalsa was very much in existence, and would continue to exist, in spite of all that he and his ilk might do.  This happened in the year 1739.

Source : Sikh History Book 5 by Kartar Singh.