This new page in Sikh History was created in Amritsar, on Vaisakhi day, April 13, 1978.
Over 1 million Sikh pilgrims had assembled at Amritsar on the Vaisakhi day of 1978. At the same time, the Nirankari-called Sect of bohemians from Delhi and other parts of the Indian sub-continent held a procession and a conference at Amritsar. During their Conference the speakers made venomous attacks on Sikhism, Sikh Gurus, Sikh scriptures, etc. A few Sikhs, under the command of Bhai Fauja Singh, marched from the Darbar Sahib to protest against this fake Nirankari procession in which Gurbachan Singh Nirankari had seated himself on a higher position than Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the prevalent Guru of GurSikhs, is always respectfully seated at the highest platform in any congregation. Anyone seated on a platform higher than that of Sri Guru Granth Sahib is considered disrespectful and sacrilegious among Guru Khalsa Panth.
Further, the Nirankaris were hurling grave and malicious insults against the GurSikhism religion, beliefs, and sentiments. Oblivious to the GurSikhs, the Nirankaris had other plans, including a para-military platoon armed with lethal weapons, guns, revolvers, acid-filled bottles and mechanical propellants for shooting poison-tipped arrows, all well positioned behind a row of trucks. The GurSikh protestors were persuaded by the police officers on duty into believing that steps were being taken to stop further provocations of GurSikhism sentiments. Then the voice of Gurbachan Singh, Nirankari chief, was heard over the sound system, saying "these Sikhs think they can stop us from freely carrying out our program. Let them know today, how mistaken they are. Time has come to be active for those, who have come here for this job". Suddenly the para-military platoon briskly advanced toward the GurSikh protestors. The police on duty hurled tear-gas bombs against the unarmed GurSikhs, converting them into sitting ducks for their hunters. Even some Hindu police officials like O.D. Joshi joined the Nirankaris' attacks on the protesting GurSikhs. When it was all over 13 lay dead and over 50 were seriously injured. The batch of protesting GurSikhs were from Akhand Kirtani Jatha and Bhindranwala Jatha, led by Bhai Fauja Singh, included the following 13 who laid their lives:
Bhai Amrik Singh
Bhai Avtar Singh
Bhai Darshan Singh
Bhai Dharamvir Singh
Bhai Fauja Singh
Bhai Gurcharan Singh
Bhai Gurdial Singh
Bhai Harbhajan Singh
Bhai Hari Singh
Bhai Kewal Singh
Bhai Piara Singh
Bhai Raghbir Singh
Bhai Ranbir Singh
The 13 Sikhs were cremater together
The irony of the Sikh situation was this that Punjab was being ruled by a so-called Sikh Party; Amritsar was one of the holiest cities of the Sikhs; one minister, Mr Jiwan Singh was also present in the city; the city was the headquarters of the Akali Party and the Sikh Parliament (SGPC) and the Nirankaris had long been attacking the Sikh religion and this was known in the Government. Furthermore all the killers of the Sikhs escaped from the Punjab safely, even with the help of officials of the Punjab Government (including Niranjan Singh, an official of the Punjab and, allegedly, the Chief Minister of the Punjab).
Throughout the world the Sikhs exhibited their fury. However, the Akali ministers of Punjab province bowed before the Central (Hindu) Government and refused to ban the activities of this gang of bohemians. Meanwhile these ministers addressed various Sikh congregations and spoke against the Nirankaris so that the Sikh masses should not become furious against them for their indifferent (or pro-Nirankari) attitude.
Thus this became the starting point of the new phase of the struggle of the Sikh nation. The lead was given by the Sikh Youth under the guidance of the Sikh intelligentsia. They had to fight various platforms: the Hindus, the Communists and some of the pseudo-Akalis, who loved their office more than their nation.
This Amritsar massacre was one of the most significant incidents of this century for GurSikhs. It led to the murder of Lala Jagat Narain, the rise of the Khalistan demand, attack on the Golden Temple and Sri Akal Takhat, and enormous destruction of lives and properties in Punjab, Delhi, and other locals of GurSikh population. It should be noted that although Gurbachan Singh's movement call themselves Nirankaris, they do not have anything in common with the original Nirankari movement that made enormous sacrifices and significant contributions for Gur Panth’s reform.
On October 6, 1978, a Hukumnama bearing the seal of Sri Akal Takhat (by the Jathedar of Sri Akal Takhat, Amritsar) was issued, calling upon GurSikhs all over the world to socially boycott these fake "Nirankaris" and not allow their faith and creed to grow or flourish in the society. This Hukumnama was prepared by a committee comprising of the following:
Giani Gurdit Singh
Giani Lal Singh
Giani Partap Singh
Giani Sadhu Singh Bhaura
Sardar Kapur Singh
Sardar Parkash Singh
Sardar Satbir Singh
Through this Hukumnama, all GurSikhs were asked to stop "roti beti di sanjh", food and marital relations, with the fake Nirankaris. Gurbachan Singh was subsequently killed by the GurSikhs on Apr. 24, 1980. However, the repercussion of the initial event continue to persist.
On the 24th December, 1705, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh Ji and Sahibzada Fateh Singh Ji along with Jagat Mata Gujri Ji (mother of Guru Gobind Singh Ji) were arrested by Kotwal Jaani Khan of Morinda at Kheri, the native village of Gangu Ram also called Ganga Dhar Kaul (ancestor of Nehru and Indira Gandhi). Gangu was a servant of Guru Gobind Singh who was allured by the money and jewellery which Mata Gujri Ji carried and, thus, informed the Kotwal of Morinda about their presence in his house. Jaani Khan brought them as prisoners to Sirhind. Faujdar Wazir Khan of Sirhind imprisoned them in the Thanda Burj (cold Fort).
Baba Moti Ram Mehra was a servant in the Hindu kitchen of the Faujdar. He used to serve food to the Hindu prisoners. Jagat Mata Gujri Ji refused to accept the food of the Mughal kitchen as well as that which came from Diwan Sucha Nand’s house. Baba Moti Ram Mehra was a great follower of Sikh Gurus. He used to serve the Sikhs on their way to Anandpur Sahib and back to their homes. The Sikhs took rest at his mud house, where the mother of Baba Moti Ram Mehra and Bibi Bholi Ji, wife of Mehra Ji, prepared food for these Sikhs.
When Jagat Mata Gujri Ji refused to accept the food, Baba Moti Ram Mehra could not bear the Sahibzadas sleeping hungry. He came home and told his family that he would serve milk and fresh water to these great prisoners. His mother and wife were scared and tried to persuade him not to take such a step. Bibi Bholi, his wife, told him that the Wazir Khan had made an announcement in the town that whoever tried to help and serve any type of food to the sons of the tenth Guru, he along with his family would be crushed alive in a Kohlu, (the oil squeezer). This information could not change the resolve of Baba ji. His mother told him that there were so many followers of the Guru in the town; they could have dared to serve the Sahibzadas. Baba Moti Ram Mehra humbly, but with determination, told his mother that those followers feared the ruler.
“Aren't you scared, my son?” asked the mother. Baba Mehra ji humbly replied, “Dear mother our Guru is fighting against injustice of the Mughals. I will serve the great mother and the Sahibzadas. I don’t fear the punishment of the Faujdar. The history will not forgive us if we do not serve the great prisoners."
Sensing his determination, his wife gave him her silver jewellery and some coins and requested him,” Please bribe the gate man of the Burj and request him to keep this act a secret.” Baba ji praised his wife for participation in the great cause. Baba Moti Ram served milk and water to the Sahibzadas and Mata Gujri Ji for three nights.
On 27th December 1705, the Sahibzadas were slain after the attempt at bricking them alive in the foundation of the wall failed. Mata Gujri ji also breathed her last. Raja Todar Mall of Sirhind performed the cremation. He told Baba Mehra ji to arrange a cart of Chandan wood, which he brought from the forests of Atta Ali. After some time, Pumma, the brother of Gangu, told the Faujdar that his servant (Cook) had served the prisoners with milk and water.
Baba Moti Ram Mehra, his mother, wife and a little son were arrested. He did not conceal his act and boldly told the Faujdar that, it was his dharma to serve the young children and the aged mother of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. So, Baba Moti Ram Mehra along with his father was sentenced to death by being squeezed in a Kohlu (oil press). His sacrifice was first sermonized by Baba Banda Singh Bahadur ji.
Bhai Kanhaiya (1648-1718), was a Sikh of Guru Tegh Bahadur and was the founder of the Sevapanthi or Addanshahi samparday (brotherly orders) of the Sikhs. He was born in a Dhamman Khatri family of Sodhara near Wazirabad in Sialkot district (now in Pakistan) and even though his father was a wealthy trader, he was of such a strong religious bent of mind that he left home when still very young and roamed about with saddhus and ascetics in search of spiritual peace.
His quest ended when he met Guru Tegh Bahadur and accepted initiation as a Sikh at his hands. Kanhaiya established a Dharmshala at Kavha village in the present Attock district of Pakistan which he turned into a preaching centre. His special mission was selfless service of humanity with no distinction of nationality, caste or creed. In 1704/5, he was on a visit to Anandpur when the city was attacked by a combination of Rajput hill troops and their Mughal allies.
During the frequent sallies and skirmishes between the Sikhs and the enemy around Anandpur, Bhai Kanhaiya was often seen carrying a mashak (a goatskin water pouch), serving water to anyone who was thirsty, quenching the thirst of the dying and wounded soldiers. He did this sewa (selfless service) with love and affection without any discrimination, giving water to both friends and foe. His acts of compassion stirred up stern criticism amongst his fellow Sikhs, who complained to Guru Gobind Singh Ji, pointing out that Bhai Kanhaiya Ji was even serving the fallen Hindu and Mughal attackers. They were especially annoyed because the city had been surrounded, stopping the supply of food and water, and here was Bhai Kanhaiya sharing what little water they had. They had tried to stop him many a time, but he would not pay them any heed.
Bhai Kanhaiya's benevolent actions eventually led to a summons by Guru Ji who explained that he had received a complaint about his actions on the battlefield.
Guruji said, “These brave Sikhs are saying that you go and feed water to the enemy and they recover to fight them again – Is this true?”
Bhai Kanhaiya Ji replied "Yes, my Guru, what they say is true. But Maharaj, I saw no Mughal or Sikh on the battlefield. I only saw human beings. And, ... Guru Ji, .. they all have the same God’s Spirit? – Guru Ji, have you not taught us to treat all God's people as the same?"
The Guru was very pleased with the reply. Bhai Kanhaiya Ji had understood the deep message of Gurbani correctly. Guru ji smiled and blessed Bhai Kanhaiya. Guru Ji said, "Bhai Kanhaiya Ji, you are right, you have understood the true message of Gurbani". He then told the Sikhs who had complained that Bhai Kanhaiya had understood the deeper message of the Gurus' teachings correctly and that they all would have to strive to learn lessons from the priceless words of Gurbani.
Guru also gave Bhai Kanhaiya Ji some medical balm and said, “From now on, You should also put this balm on the wounds of all who need it”'
Then turning to the sangat Guru Ji said, Saadh sangat ji, Bhai Kanhaiya is a God-fearing saintly soul. His impartial and non-biased behaviour towards others has led him to achieve Sehaj-avastha. Let him carry on with his mission. Many more will follow in his footsteps in the years to come and keep the tradition of Nishkam sewa alive."
Bhai Kanhaiya giving water without discrimination
The Kanhaiya Principles
This Sakhi has a deep message for the Sikhs. In times of Human Suffering, a Sikh must adhere to the following guidelines as promoted by their Tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh:
SERVE SELFLESSLY: The Sakhi tells us that we should serve Humanity selflessly (Nishkam) and with complete dedication; To open our minds to see divinity in all beings
TREAT ALL EQUALLY: To Serve All of Humanity Equally without discrimination; provide help and assistance to everybody without prejudice or indifference; make on distinction between friend or foe;
SERVE WITH COMPASSION & LOVE: It tells us how we should treat even our fallen enemies (when they do not have their swords drawn) with respect, compassion, humility and Love.
THE FIVE WEAPONS: The Five Weapons to destroy the five internal Thieves - Deep level of Compassion (Daya), Complete compliance to Truth (Sat), Inner Contentment (Santokh), Overflowing Humility (Nimrata) and Total Love (Pyar). The Sakhi puts into practise the 5 major virtues promoted by Gurbani
SHARE WITH OTHERS: To Share ones wealth with the people who are suffering to reduce their suffering and pain. Remembering the Three Pillars of Sikhism – Naam Japo; Kirat Karni and Wand kay Shako.
SEWA: To carry out whatever Sewa that we are able to, to help make life more comfortable for anyone who is hurt, in pain, is suffering or otherwise in a bad way. This is part of Sikhism's Two Pronged Dedication to God of Simran and Sewa.
Maharaaj Singh was a saintly person turned revolutionary who led an anti-British movement in the Punjab after the First Anglo-Sikh war, was born Nihal Singh at the village of Rabbon, in Ludhiana district. He had a religious bent of mind and came under the influence of Bhai Bir Singh of Naurangabad. After the latter's death in 1844, he succeeded him as head of the Naurafigabad dera and was held in high esteem by a vast following, including most of the Sikh chiefs and courtiers. Maharaj Singh's revolutionary career started with the Prema conspiracy case involving him in a plot to murder the British resident, Henly Lawrence, and other pro-British officers of the Lahore Darbar. Maharaj Singh, whose movements were restricted to Naurangabfid by the British, went underground. The government confiscated his property at Amritsar and announced a reward for his arrest.
Bhai Maharaj Singh intensified his activities against the British when he came to know that Diwan Mul Raj had in April 1848 raised a standard of revolt against them at Multan. He left for Multan with 400 horsemen to join hands with Mul Raj. But soon differences arose between the two leaders, and Maharaj Singh left Multan for Hazara in June 1848 to seek Chatar Singh Atarivala's assistance in his plans to dislodge the British. In November 1848, he joined Raja Sher Singh's forces at Rimnagar and was seen in the battlefield riding his black mare and exhorting the Sikh soldiers to lay down their lives for the sake of their country. Thereafter he took part in the battles of Chehanvala and Gujrat but, when Raja Sher Singh surrendered to the British at Rawalpindi on 14 March 1849, he resolved to carry on the fight single-handed.
He escaped to Jammu and made Dev Batala his secret headquarters. In December 1849, he went to Hoshiarpur and visited the Sikh regiments to enlist their support. Bhai Maharaj Singh, who carried on his head a price of 10,000 rupees was arrested on 28 December 1849 at Adampur. The Guru is no ordinary man," wrote Dr Vansittart, the Jalandhar deputy commissioner, who had arrested him. He is to the natives what Jesus is to the most zealous of Christians. His miracles were seen by tens of thousands and are more implicitly believed than those worked by the ancient prophets" Vansittart was so greatly impressed by Bhai Maharaj Singh's personality that he recommended special treatment to be accorded him, but the government did not wish to take any risks and deported him to Singapore where after several years of solitary confinement, he died on 5 July 1856. He had gone blind before the end came.
Sham Singh Attariwala, was born in 1790's in the house of well known Sikh farmers in the town of Attari (Few kms from the border of Indian and Pakistan punjab in India). At his early he was educated in Gurmukhi and Persian. When Ranjit Singh became maharaja of Punjab he got himself at his disposal. Ranjit Singh knowing his qualities and fighting abilities made him a jathedar of 5000 horsemen. He participated actively in many campaigns, notably like the campaign of Multan, campaign of Kashmir, Campaign of the frontier province.
For a brief period of 3 years Maharaja Ranjit Singh made him governor of Kashmir. Later, Maharaja Ranjit Singh recalled him to Lahore, since he was trusted aide of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Maharaja feared treacherous dogras. It is said that Sham Singh Attari and Maharaja Ranjit Singh were good friends. Sham Singh Attari could be called truly, one of the unofficial ministers of Ranjit Singh's court. Later, he educated himself to read and write English. Lord William Bentick's meeting with Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Ropar, on the bank of the Sutlej, in the spring of 1831 October 15 was an occasion of an impressive ceremony and display. Both sides met on the either side of Satluj with their full forces. Sham Singh Attariwala was in the forefront everywhere. Kharak Singh was declared the heir apparent of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Kharak Singh's son Nau Nihal Singh was sixteen years old in 1837 when Sham Singh Attariwala proposed the marriage of his daughter to Nau Nihal Singh, grandson of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Maharaja agreed. Marriage was held at Amritsar in the month of April. It was a gala event. Almost all the rulers of India were invited as well as those of Kabul, Iran, etc. The two days of festive and merriment is still remembered by the people of Amritsar and Lahore. In honor of Nau Nihal Singh's wedding, Ranjit Singh started an Order of Merit that was known as Kaukab-i-Iqbal-i-Punjab, star of the Prosperity of Punjab. But... all was not well.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh died in June 1839. The powerful Dogras from Jammu, Gulab Singh Dhian Singh and Suchet Singh- played a subtle role and put into motion a chain of proceedings which brought about the demolition of Sikh power. At the time of Sikh ruler's death. Dhian Singh was Prime Minister of Punjab to Kharak Singh, son of Ranjit Singh. Gulab Singh and Suchet singh also held offices under Dhian Singh dogra. They were not content with this. They had their eyes on the throne itself and the main object of their grand strategy was to crown Dhian Singh's son, Hira Singh, king of the Punjab. One night, Suchet singh led his men into Maharaja Kharak Singh's chamber and killed his trusted aide and tutor, Chet Singh Bajwa. Kharak singh was removed from the Fort and remained virtually prisoner in the hands of Dhian Singh. Sham Singh Attariwala and other good officers were sent to far places like Kashmir, northwest frontier provinces, just like Nau Nihal Singh. Nau Nihal Singh knew about the treacherous dogras. He did not come to Lahore until the day his father Kharak Singh, died due to slow poisoning by Dogra brothers. On the same day of his father's cremation, a huge concrete piece fell on Nau Nihal Singh and he also died. It is said that Dogra brothers hatched this conspiracy. English doctor of Lahore that operated on prince, later reported that prince was alive and wells after injury but mysteriously next day his skull was found crushed. Dhian Singh then openly suggested Maharani Chand Kaur to adopt his son and declare him Maharaja of Punjab, she refused and was put in house arrest. The maidservants also killed her. Gulab Singh carried away all the money and valuables belonging to Maharani. Then the next Maharaja other son of Ranjit Singh, Maharaja Sher Singh was put to death by the Sandhawalia sardars, they were together with Dogra brothers.
English saw the opportunity and they attacked. Sham Singh Attariwala, who was more of a soldier than a politician., got the troops together. But he was not assigned the general, rather a small number of horsemen was put under his command. Generals like Lal Singh and Tej Singh led the Khalsa forces. They did not attacked British at Ludhiana but waited until their reinforcement arrived from Delhi. On December 13, 1845 Governor General Lord Hardinge issued a proclamation, announcing war on the Sikhs. Lal Singh, the Prime Minister of Sikhs was in treasonable communication with Captain Peter Nicholson, the Assistant Political agent. He advised Lal Singh too not to attack Ferozepur Sikhs could have won it easily. Sikhs came into contact with British on December 18 1845 at Mudki, a Battle took place. Lal Singh who headed the Sikh attack, deserted his army and precipitately fled the field when Sikhs stood firm in their order fighting in a resolute and determined manner. The commander's action disturbed the ranks and Sikhs retired with the loss of 17 guns, British suffered heavy casualties of 872 dead. Among the dead was General Robert Sale, the defender of Jalalabad. Sham Singh Attariwala did not took part in this action he was deployed at another point. The second battle of Mudki was fought and it seemed that Sikhs had won it easily. Here is what the British commander in chief acknowledged "We were in critical and perilous stage". But Lal singh and Tej Singh came again to the rescue of the English. They both deserted the Khalsa army, Sikh soldiery without their leaders was stood waiting for orders and lost the battle once ammunition was done. In this battle British lost 1000 men 1721 were wounded, Sikhs lost about 2000 men and about 73 pieces of guns. Sikh Sardars were alarmed. A Sikh Sardar named Ranjodh Singh Majithia crossed the Satluj in full force along with another Sardar named Ajit Singh Ladwa. They marched to Ludhiana and burned down the British cantonment. Sir Henry Smith who was sent to intercept them was defeated at Baddowal on January 11. Then the last battle of the Anglo Sikh wars was fought at Sobharaon. It was do or die for the Sikh Sardars like Ranjodh Singh, Ajit Singh and Sham Singh Attariwala. Sham Singh Attariwala who was about 60 years of age vowed before Guru Granth Sahib to fight unto the last in battle rather than retire in defeat. But... Lal Singh and Tej Singh had already given British their positions of guns, etc. Gulab Singh Dogra stopped sending rations from Lahore. Tej Singh fled on the very first day of the action. Sham Singh and Ranjodh Singh led the forces. Sham Singh Attariwala clad in white silks and riding a white steed, the gray bearded hero went unto the field of action, pledged to victory or death. He rallied the ranks depleted by traitorous desertions. His courage inspired the Sikhs to make a determined bid to save the day, but the odds were against them. Sham Singh fell fighting in the foremost ranks. So did his dauntless comrades. Cunningham, who was present as an additional aid-de-camp to the governor-general, describes the last scenes of battle vividly in his book History of the Sikhs: "...although assailed on either side by squadrons of horse and battalions of foot, no Sikh offered to submit and no disciple of Guru Gobind Singh asked for quarter. They everywhere showed a front to the victors, and stalked slowly and sullenly away, while many rushed singly forth to meet assured death by contending with a multitude. The victors looked with stolid wonderment upon indomitable courage of the vanquished..."
The great Sikh General, Jathedar Akali Phoola Singh, was born in 1761. His father Ishar Singh was fatally wounded during the great massacre of Sikhs (Wada Ghalughara) in 1762. Before his death he charged Bhai Narain Singh of Misl Shaheedan with the responsibility of raising his infant son.
Akali Ji, by the age of ten, could recite Nitnem and other Gurbani hymns. At Anandpur Sahib, he always kept himself busy doing sewa or reading Gurbani, and he became very popular with the sangat. Because of his scholastic attitude and commitment to Panthic welfare, he was made the leader (Jathedar) of the Misl after the death of Bhai Narain Singh. In 1800, he came to Amritsar and made the Mahants improve the management of the Gurdwaras. The major credit for extending the boundaries of the Sikh Raj goes to Akali Ji, the legendary general of the Sikhs.
Respected by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh
In 1802, Maharaja Ranjeet Singh sent his army to take over Amritsar and annex it to his kingdom. On the advice of Akali Phoola Singh, the Maharaja agreed to give an estate to the Bhangi Misl, then ruling Amritsar. He also ordered the army not to loot the inhabitants of the city.
In 1807, Phoola Singh was, for the first time, involved in a major battle against the Nawab of Kasoor, who had the protection of a strong fort. The Sikhs fought bravely and were finally able to demolish a section of the wall. The Nawab was arrested. The Sikhs took pity on him and allotted him an estate near the Satlej river. The bravery of Akali Ji during the battle very much impressed the Maharaja.
In 1808, a British representative was sent to Amritsar for talks for developing better relations between the two governments. A Muslim platoon with the British emissary organized a procession to celebrate their festival chanting loud slogans. When passing near the Akal Takhat, they were advised not to create noise, because it disturbed the Sikh congregation. However, the leaders of the procession insulted the Sikhs instead of listening to their suggestion. On hearing this disturbing news, Akali Ji himself went to settle the matter with the British platoon. The soldiers apologized and behaved respectfully in the future. No more noisy processions were taken near the Gurdwara again.
Loss of faith in the Maharaja
The internal political policy pursued by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh went against Sikh interests. Major points of differences were that the Maharaja had:
1. Delegated too much authority of the government to Dogras who were insincere and disloyal to the Sikhs.
2. Appointed relatives of his cronies to important posts instead of selecting competent persons.
3. Developed misunderstanding with his sons by listening to the misinformation given by the Dogras.
Note: Later, it was found that Akali Ji was right and justified in asking the Maharaja not to place all his confidence in the Dogras alone. The Dogras had a secret understanding with the British, who had already taken control over much of India. The Dogras caused the downfall of the Sikh Raj. They were made the rajas of Kashmir as a reward for helping the British infiltrate the Sikh raj. The Dogras also informed the Kabul regime about the Sikh army and they planned the murder of the hero of the Sikh raj, Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa, who was considered a terror by the Afghans and Pathans.
When Akali Phoola Singh Ji went to discuss domestic policies of the government with Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, the Dogras did not allow the meeting to take place. Akali Ji forced his entry into the palace and was warmly received by the Maharaja. Showing his hospitality, the Maharaja offered Akali Ji a splendid meal. Akali Ji declined his offer stating that unless the Maharaja changed his policies, and realized his own entrapment by the Dogras, this was to be their last meeting. After delivering this message to the Maharaja, Akali Ji left for Anandpur Sahib.
The Prince of Jind state (Jind was then part of the British Raj, now a part of the Haryana state of India.) developed differences with the British raj. He moved to Anandpur Sahib and took protection under Akali Ji. The British desired the Prince to be handed over to them. They approached the Maharaja when Akali Ji refused to surrender him to them. The Dogras misinformed and misguided the Maharaja and accused Akali Ji of creating enmity between the British and the Sikh raj. The army at Phillaur was, therefore, instructed to arrest Akali Phoola Singh. The army, however, declined to obey the Maharaja recognizing that Akali Ji was the holiest man amongst the Sikhs.
The British also tried to capture Akali Ji by ordering the Nawab of Malerkotla and Raja Jaswant to attack Anandpur Sahib and arrest Akali Ji along with the Prince of Jind. Both of them knew of Phoola Singh’s goodness and greatness. They also endorsed his stand and refused to cooperate with the British. Finally, Maharaja Ranjeet Singh thought of another plan to get Akali Ji on his side. He sent Baba Sahib Singh Bedi, a close friend of Akali Phoola Singh, to escort him with honor to Amritsar where a spectacular welcome was arranged by the Maharaja. The two were finally reconciled. Unfortunately, the Maharaja did not take advantage of his advice to keep the Dogras away from the helm of administration.
Protector of the Sikh Faith
Some administrators of the Kashmir area broke their agreement. Akali Phoola Singh and General Hari Singh were sent to punish them. In 1816, Akali Ji lead his forces against the rebels in the west and south of Punjab, including the Nawab of Multan who had not paid his taxes. In 1817, Phoola Singh was sent to Hazara to recover the taxes. The administrator paid his dues and was, therefore, allowed to continue in his position by Akali Ji.
The Nawab of Multan again declined to pay his taxes to the state. When the army was sent to collect the dues, he defeated the Lahore army. The Maharaja then sent his son with a strong force who pushed the Nawab into the fort, but could not achieve his mission. At last, the Maharaja came to Amritsar and humbly requested Akali Phoola Singh to help the Khalsa Panth. Akali Ji angrily asked: “O supporter of the disloyal Dogras, why did you not tell me earlier?” Akali Ji took his men to Multan. They demolished the wall of the fort. A bloody hand to hand battle followed. The brave Nawab, his five sons and 12,000 soldiers lost their lives in the battle. Akali Ji was wounded. On his return to Amritsar, Akali Ji was honored and given the title “Protector of the Sikh Faith.”
Battles for Peshawar
In 1818, the Maharaja himself led the expedition to bring the rebellious Pathans under control. A pontoon bridge was constructed across the river Attock and a small Jatha was sent to assess the situation, but it was attacked. This enraged the Maharaja. He sent Akali Phoola Singh and general Hari Singh Nalwa against the rebels. As soon as the Sikh army was within firing range, they were showered with a rain of bullets. Akali Ji ordered a tactical retreat. This made the rebels come out of their bunkers to follow the retreating Sikhs and push them out of their area. When the enemy was in the open battlefield, Akali Ji ordered a severe attack and then encircled them. Their commander Feroze Khan accepted his defeat and requested the Sikhs to end the battle.
The next target of the Sikh army was to retrieve the control of Peshawar. The rebels decided to obstruct their path to the city. When Akali Ji was informed about this he immediately attacked them before they could gather and organize a coordinated resistance to his advance to Peshawar. This strategy proved useful. The Ghazis (Muslim fighters) did not dare to face the Sikhs and ran for their lives. The road was left open for the Sikhs to proceed to the city where they raised their flag on the fort. After the Sikhs took control of Peshawar, Yar Mohammed Khan sent gifts to Maharaja Ranjeet Singh to express his loyalty. The Maharaja accepted the gifts and made him the Governor of Peshawar. But Khan, too, proved disloyal to the Sikh raj.
Battles for Kashmir
In 1819 Akali Ji was deputed to discipline the ruler of Kashmir who had broken the agreement made with the Maharaja. Unable to proceed through the Pass protected by the army, the Sikhs were instructed to follow footpaths through hilly terrain. By this tactical move they took over all the outer defense posts without much difficulty. After heavy fighting, they captured the strong fort as well.
The Sikh army was unable to make further progress, as the route to Pir Panchal Pass was blocked by the Pathans. The Pathans, occupying the sides of the path, rained bullets on the Sikh army. Akali Ji directed his soldiers to get on the mountains, instead of moving through the Pass. The Sikhs fought the Pathans hand-to-hand and continued their journey through the Pass.
The next battle took place with Jabar Khan, who had built a strong army with thousands of Afghans. Diwan Chand ordered the Sikh army to open gun fire on Afghan positions, but it did little harm to them. He then directed his men to advance their guns to get closer to the defenses for effective firing. As soon as the Sikhs stopped firing in order to move their guns, the Afghans came out of their bunkers and attacked them, capturing several Sikh guns.
Finding the Afghans in the open battlefield, Akali Ji responded with a lightning attack by his men, who were considered the best swordsmen. Jabar Khan was wounded and he fled. The Khalsa won the battle and took control of the Kashmir state.
Defeating Kabul forces
In 1823, Mohammed Azim Khan, the ruler of Kabul, made plans to take over Peshawar. Yar Mohd Khan, the Governor of Peshawar, appointed by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh was his brother. He agreed to help the Kabul regime by withdrawing from the city and leaving it unoccupied. The Khan’s army came and occupied the city without firing a single bullet. Local administrators and communities were instigated to rebel against the Sikh raj. They occupied all the routes to Peshawar making it very dangerous for the Sikh army to go there.
When this news reached Lahore, the Maharaja called General Hari Singh Nalwa and sought his advice. He suggested that Akali Phoola Singh must join him to recover the state from Khan. Nalwa immediately left for Peshawar, with the Maharaja and Akali Ji following him. When they reached Attock, they found that the pontoon bridge had been destroyed to stop the Sikhs from crossing the river and helping Nalwa.
General Nalwa and his forces were engaged in a bloody battle on the western side of the river while the Maharaja and the main Sikh army were delayed on the eastern bank. Hearing the fight across the river, the Sikhs became more worried and distressed at their situation. A messenger, who swam across the river, informed Akali Phoola Singh and the Maharaja that unless Nalwa and his soldiers received help, he would most likely lose the battle. Hearing this, Akali Phoola Singh got on his horse and crossed the river followed by the Maharaja and the rest of the forces. The news of the arrival of the Maharaja demoralized the opponents and they lost all hope of winning the battle. They ran to save their lives and took shelter behind their second defense line, Nawshehra fort, to prepare a strong defense.
After reorganizing their forces, the Sikhs decided to move forward to take over the fort. Having said their prayers, the Jathas started marching, when a scout brought the news that a new army of 10,000 men with forty guns had arrived to support the rebels. The Maharaja wanted to wait for their own guns to arrive but Akali Ji said, “The Khalsa has started its march after prayer, now no one can stop them!”
When the Sikh army was within their range, the Ghazis opened fire on the Sikhs. Akali Ji ordered them to move forward suddenly and engage them in hand to hand combat, an art in which no army could match the Khalsa. Bullets were coming from all sides, but Akali Ji was moving forward with his men. His horse was killed by a bullet. He immediately boarded an elephant to continue his advance on the Ghazis. Watching the daring deeds of the Akali platoons, the Maharaja could not resist joining them. Meanwhile the Akali men had reached the firing lines and started fighting with their swords. The Afghans were no match for the quick swords of the Sikhs. Fresh Sikh army and gunmen also reached the battlefield by that time and the Sikhs claimed another victory.
The Sikh Nation bereaved
Unfortunately, the Sikhs sustained a grievous wound: the death of Akali Phoola Singh. A Pathan, hiding behind a boulder, shot Akali Ji from close range as he was pressing the Pathans to retreat.
Thus, the Sikhs lost their great General, a true Sikh. He was a fearless and skilled commander. He maintained the Sant-Sipahi (Saint-Soldier) tradition of the Khalsa. Akali Phoola Singh Ji remains a role model for all Sikhs.
Sardar Hari Singh Nalua, the typical product of his age was born at Gujranwala now in the West Pakistan in A.D. 1791 in Uppal family in the house of Sardar Gurdial Singh to Dharam Kaur. He was the only son of his parents. The ancestors of Nalua Sardars were originally from Majitha town situated in the vicinity of Amritsar. His grandfather Sardar Hardas Singh engaged in the service of Sukarchakia Misl was killed in an expedition undertaken by the Misl in A.D. 1762. Gurdial Singh, the father of Sardar Hari Singh Nalua followed the profession of his father and took part in various campaigns of Sukarchakia Sardars - Charat Singh and Mahan Singh in the capacity of Deradar .
He expired in 1798 when Hari Singh was only seven years of age and was thus looked after with care and caution by his maternal uncle who took him to his house. In those days training in the feats of war was deemed necessary and physical education attracted much attention. Accordingly, Hari Singh who was physically quite stout and strong and impressive too in appearance when grew up, learnt the art of warfare. It is said that he was indefatigable and could sit on horse back for long hours. Hari Singh received his preliminary education in languages of Gurmukhi, Urdu, Persian. Baron Charles Hugel states that Hari Singh besides his general knowledge about the statistics of many of the European states, was well versed in Persian. He impressed him extremely with his overall achievements.
Hari Singh was administered Pahul when grew up and assumed the responsibility of supervising the affairs of his father's jagir. Hari Singh presented himself before Maharaja Ranjit Singh in his open darbar which he used to hold for a week or so on the eve of Basant fair every year. The Maharaja was so impressed by the feats of chivalry shown by him that he was taken in the royal service as a personal khidmatgar or an attendant. Maharaja commissioned him in 1804 A.D. by granted him a command of 700 footmen and horses with the honour of Sardar. Why Hari Singh is called "Nalua" and not Uppal. The reason is that he came to be know by the said title by way of an incident which took place during the early days of his joining the service of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. During the course of hunting expedition he happened to be a victim of a sudden attack of a tiger. The attack was so suttle and unexpected that he did not gain time to pull out his sword. Sardar Hari Singh Nalua faced the crucial situation with such boldness that he managed to catch hold of the jaw of the beast forcefully with his hands and pushed it away with the prowess of arms arranging thus to kill it with his sword. Baron Charles Hugel says he was called Nalua for 'having cloven the head of a tiger who had already seized him as its pray'.
The Sikhs often passing through a series of vicissitudes, first establish themselves as a political power in the Punjab in 1765 A.D. But their mode of fighting then was desultory and hardly suited to the requirements of a well-settled state, However Maharaja Ranjit Singh 'Built up a strong , centralized and effectively controlled military system by amalgamating the best elements in foreign with best elements found in the indigenous fighting mechanisms. Hari Singh Nalua's significant military campaign was that of Kasur, the so called 'mythological rival of Lahore', in 1807 A.D. Hari Singh Nalua along with Sardar Jodh Singh Ramgarhia, Sardar Nihal Singh Attari, Baba Akali Phula Singh, Fateh Singh Ahluwalia, Dhanna Singh Malwai, and Sardar Fateh Singh Kalianwala marched on to Kasur to subjugate its Afghani owner Kutab-ud-din Khan. Sikhs laid siege for three months after which Kutab-ud-din Khan surrendered. Hari Singh Nalua, of course, was the first to march inside the city gate of Kasur with his division called 'Sher-Dil-Rajman.' The troops under him caught Kutab-Ud-Din alive and presented him before Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Maharaja Ranjit Singh made him retire to a territory of Mamdot as a jagir, subject to his supplying 100 horsemen for service when required.
Sardar Hari Singh Nalua's next significant military achievement was to reduce to submission Sardar Jiwan Singh, the ruler of Sialkot who was asked by the Maharaja to surrender his possessions. Jiwan Singh gave tough fight for two days after which he raised his hands in peace. The strategic significance of Sialkot lay in the fact that it was a very fertile tract extending its dimensions up to Jammu. Moreover, Maharaja Ranjit Singh after bringing to submission a major part of the Central Punjab made it a centre of his further political aggrandizement.
Hari Singh Nalua's next significant military achievement was the conquest of Multan. before annexing Multan in 1818 A.D., six expeditions were sent by the suzerain of Lahore. Resultantly tribute was collected every time, annexation was never visualized and attempted. Hari Singh contributed in all of these six campaigns as well as conquest of Multan. Multan had a great commercial and strategic importance having been the gateway of Afghanistan. It is stated that working boats from the Jhelum, Ravi and Chenab were forced to work for invariable supply of provisions. Illahi Bux of the artillery forces of Ranjit Singh made conspicuous arrangements for battering the forts of Multan. During Mughal rule it was an important headquarter and fell into Afghan custody after the fall of empire. After Multan, Sardar Hari Singh also subjugated the territories of Mitha Tiwana, Rajauri, Naushera, etc. from which strip tribute was realized for the kingdom of Lahore.
Then Maharaja turned towards Kashmir. Hari Singh Nalua's regiment was in forefront in campaign to get back Shah Shuja from the Governor of Kashmir, Shah Shuja's wife Wafa Begum had promised Kohinoor Diamond for Maharaja if her husband was to be freed from prison of Kashmir. In 1814 A.D., Hari Singh forces routed Kashmiris forces. Shah Shuja gave Ranjit Singh Kohinoor Diamond, from that day on till his death Maharaja Ranjit Singh wore that Diamond on his right shoulder, it was his pride. Hari Singh Nalua was appointed Governor of Kashmir. Immediately, he ordered to ban cow slaughter, such was an effect that to this day, Kashmiri Muslims don't eat beef. Jaziya, etc , the taxes which Hindu and Sikh population had to pay to their Muslim rulers for "not being a Muslim" were eradicated. For these obvious reasons, several Muslim historian had labelled Hari Singh Nalua as a tyrant. His rule they called "Sikha Shahi" or the "Rule of Sikhs." But no matter what, Hari Singh Nalua and his forces never destroyed any Mosques or abducted Muslim Women, etc. all those atrocities which Mughals and Pathans had committed on the local non-Muslims population. (It was around 1700's A.D that majority of Punjabi population became Muslim owing to the atrocities by Aurangzeb the sixth Mughal emperor) .
The Afghanis of North West region across river Indus around Peshawar were divided into several tribes (They still are). They were sort of savage people which would not obey any rule. From time to time the Punjabi forces from Lahore were sent there to put them down. Each time they would offer some tribute and then again revolt. To totally take control of these areas Maharaja Ranjit Singh give command to Hari Singh Nalua. Also to stop the attacks of Afghanis on Punjabi soil, Maharaja Ranjit Singh and others decided to put a series of forts to built up the defenses of the Punjabi frontier. From Attock to the Khyber Pass series of small forts were built under Hari Singh Nalua to keep Afghanis in check. The most important part of this fortification was to put a complete halt at invaders who had attacked India entering from Khyber pass in West, starting with Greeks in 500 B.C So after 2300 Years of constant defeat and humiliation of Punjabi and Indian people Maharaja Ranjit Singh was able to totally shut down this historic route of invasion into India. It had been used by Greeks, Turks, Arabs, Mughals, Mongols, Tatars, Afghanis, etc. And on top of that there is no denying fact that Maharaja Ranjit Singh was quite conscious of the significance of North West frontier province for the defense of his territorial acquisitions.
A significant battle was fought here by Hari Singh Nalua when he defeated and caught the self styled Rajput chief Ghulam ali and send him over to Lahore. Maharaja was so happy that he allowed Hari Singh to strike a coin in his name in Kashmir. Then in the tract of Pakhli and Dhamtur Nalua with his usual sagacity and vision, was able to pacify a revolt against the Lahore court arising in the region. This is also acknowledged by Syed Mohd. Latif, a biased famous Punjabi Muslim historian. Henry Lepel Griffin in connection with Sardar Nalua in Pakhli states "obedience was not an easy to Hari Singh for wild mountaineers to the number of 20,000 opposed to his passage, on this way to mankera and at Pakli he was compelled to halt with his force of 7,000 men. Pakli has long been a spot dreaded by merchants, for the hillmen of that place were accustomed to demand a toll on shawl, wood and other merchandise. Hari Singh after vain efforts to induce the enemy to yield him a passage, attacked them with vigor, and storming their blockades defeated them with great slaughter. After this he imposed a fine of Rs 5 on each house in the district.
Since virtually peace in Punjab was only possible by sealing the border of Kabul, and Peshawar being geographically situated in its close proximity was an indispensable asset for Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Thus, ultimately the strip of Peshawar became the bone of contention between Maharaja and Afghanis. After the conquest of Attock, Maharaja's solid and concrete target of conquest was Peshawar as the exigency of time so demanded.
The murder of Wazir Fateh Khan of Kabul in A.D. 1818 provided Maharaja the desired opportunity to attempt the conquest of Peshawar as consequent to his murder the two major factions of the Afghans-The Sadazui's and Barqzai's-came to be seen at dagger's drawn with each other. Moreover, the possession of Peshawar except as a step to further acquisitions, does not appear to have been advantageous to Ranjeet with additional evil of leading Sikhs into constant collision with the savage tribes of Afghanis.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh availed himself of anarchy in Kabul and made as invasion of Peshawar, the South-West-Eastern frontiers of Peshawar with Punjab having been neglected by Sultan Yar Mohammed Khan and Dost Mohammad Khan, the then Afghan governors of Peshawar who found themselves helpless and vacated the city. Punjabi forces with Mian Ghausa and Diwan Mohkam Chand leading the charge With Sardar Nalua as general of Cavalry didn't had to face any fight what so ever. Maharaja appointed Jahan Dad Khan, ex governor of Attock as new governor of Peshawar in November 1818.
Then in 1822, Dost Mohammad Khan and Yar Mohammad Khan were able to expel the Maharaja's nominee Jahan Dad Khan from Peshawar and thus another expedition was undertook by Punjabi forces. This time the forces were being led by cavalry by Sardar Hari Singh Nalua, Foot soldiers by Dhanna Singh Malwai, and Jagat Singh Attariwala, Artillery by Mian Ghausa. Dost Mohammad Khan managed to reconcile by paying a handsome nazrana to Maharja and by accepting the submission to Khalsa kingdom rather than to kingdom of Kabul. In Jan 1823, Muhammad Azim, the Kabul wazir occupied Peshawar with the assistance of large army. Ranjit Singh sent another expedition, the battles of Jahangira and Naushera were fought in March 1823 where Sardar Nalua, Akali Phula Singh, Gorkha Bal Bhadra, Mian Ghausa, Misr Diwan Chand, Sardar Attar Singh marched in the battle field at the head of their divisions and gave a defeat to the Afghans in the battle of Jahangira but a more serious and awe inspiring battle was fought at Naushera which is also known as the battle of Tibbi Tehri. General Allard and Ventura's participation in this battle with their divisions and trained army of Lahore kingdom with Akali division of the army had absolutely no match for untrained militia who although surpassed in sheer numbers, Afghans after a great massacre submitted and Naushera was captured. Albeit, the Lahore troops lost an indispensable commander, Akali Phula Singh whose dashing feats of warfare had surprised one and all. Hari Singh Nalua played a conspicuous role first by inflicting a crushing defeat upon the enemy and secondly by pursuing the enemy after the defeat in order to be sure about the victory of the Lahore troops. The battle of Naushera made it evident to the frontier tribesmen that the Afghan militia was weaker than those of Lahore troops. This battle sealed the further prospects of Muhammad Azim of Kabul and established the Sikh supremacy over Peshawar.
In 1827, Sayed Ahmad Bareli who claimed himself to be the messenger of Prophet Mohammad inspired the tribesmen by fervent appeals to recover their territory from the "kafir" or "Infidel" kingdom of Lahore. Yar Mohammad Khan also joined these crusaders. These forces captured the Peshawar. Maharaja Ranjit Singh sent Hari Singh Nalua to recapture the Peshawar as well as major parts around khyber pass. Sardar Hari Singh Nalua gave blow to the rising power of Syed Ahmad Bareli Griffin states that when Sayed Ahmad roused all the fanatic power of Yusafzais for a holy war against Sikhs and was joined by the Barkazi chief of Peshawar, Sardar Hari Singh Nalua with his 25,000 men prevented Syed Ahmad from crossing Indus. Then Lahore troops crossed Indus and invaded Peshawar, Syed Ahmad and his crusaders were butchered. Hari Singh gave Sayed a great setback. Peshawar was pillaged, Palaces were destroyed, tribute of Peshawar was increased and the son of Yar Mohammad Khan was carried away by Hari Singh as hostage. Then again, in 1830, Maharaja had to sent Prince Sher Singh to Peshawar to get tribute from Sayed Ahmad which was paid.
Hari Singh was put to call of duty in 1834 A.D for annexing Peshawar to the dominion of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. On 6th May 1834, Peshawar was made part of Punjab and Hari Singh Nalua was made his first non-Muslim governor. But most of Hari Singh time was spent at Lahore, his division was situated in Lahore. A year after annexation of Peshawar, Dost Mohammad, now the Afghan ruler of Kabul attempted to regain his supremacy over strip of Peshawar. Tribesmen from Yusafzai, Mohmmand and Khatak tribes of the vicinity were appealed in the name of religion to jump into holy war or jehad against Sikhs in order to oust them from their region. But due to unknown reasons these Afghan troops retreated long before confrontation.
Dost Mohammad Khan did not rest contented and after mobilizing all his resources dispatched his son Akbar in A.D. 1837 to recover Peshawar which he did. Resultantly, Sardar Hari Singh Nalua was sent at the head of Lahore troops to face Afghans. He got his forces to Peshawar. Jamrud turned out to be the field of battle this time where a formidable battle was fought. Sardar Hari Singh Nalua had earlier build a fort on the entrance of Khyber pass called fort of Jamrud, this fort was being commanded by Sardar Mahan Singh Mirpura. For want of man and war material Nalua strove extraordinary hard, inspite of this he did not loose his heart. Urgent messages were sent to Lahore and Peshawar for materials. For want of timely help the Sardar was of course, killed but the Afghans could not dislodge the 500 Punjabi troops from the fort of Jamrud. General Hari Singh Nalua give his last command to his men to not to disclose his death and continue giving enemy a good fight.
Sir Lepel Griffin, gives a detailed and comprehensive account of Sardar Nalua's campaign of Jamrud. He points out that Sardar was directed to build a fort at Jamrud situated at the entrance of Khber pass from the walls of which Maharaja might glance Jalalabad in Afghanistan. Sardar got built a small port which was quite impregnable to the artillery fire and could hold on for several weeks of pounding. The Dost Mohammad Khan, with 7,000 horse, 2000 matchlock men and 18 guns. His three sons with their forces and a force of 12,000 to 15,000 of Khaibiris joined the main force and started pounding the fort. Mahan Singh Mirpura requested help from Peshwar where Hari Singh Nalua was ailing with fever. While giving an account of the march of Sardar Hari Singh Nalua at the head of Lahore troops to give fight to the Afghans at battle of Jamrud. Hari immediately sent some horsemen to Lahore for more reinforcement and he along with his soldiers went to Jamrud. Reinforcement under Hari Singh Nalua give a new life to the garrison and attack of Afghanis was repulsed with vigor. Griffin further states that when Hari Singh Nalua along with about five of his companion went outside of the fort to inspect a breach in a wall, he was struck by two balls, one in the side and the other in stomach. Inspite of them understanding that he was mortally injured, the Nalua Sardar managed to ride as far as his camp lest the troops be discouraged. Then laying on floor he gives his last order to his few trusted men, that was to not to disclose the secret of his death.
Hari Singh further imparted instructions to his soldiers to cover his dead body after lifting it from the ground and placing it on a cot. Thus the great Sardar Hari Singh Nalua, with the terror of whose name Afghan mothers used to quite their fretful children attained his martyrdom.
Baba Ram Singh was born at village Bhaini Raiyan, district Ludhiana on the 3rd February, 1816 A.D. His father Bhai Jassa Singh, was a carpenter. His brother-in-law, Sardar Kabul singh was a gunner in the artillery of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. In 1837 A.D., He took Baba Ram Singh with him to Lahore and got him recruited in the regiment of Kanwar Naunihal Singh. On the 18th December, 1845 A.D. the Sikh army suffered a defeat in the battle of Mudki due to mean settlement of some Dogra Generals of Sikh army with British. Baba Ram Singh could not bear the defeat of the Sikh army in this manner. He left the service of the army at Mudki and came straight to his village Bhaini.
On arrival at his village, Baba Ram Singh started preaching, "Worship of eternal Being, giving up worship of the dead, keeping off the intoxicants, giving up meat, minimum expenditure on marriages and widow remarriage etc." He used to say, "I am only a messenger or a reporter and not a guru." His followers starting calling themselves 'Namdharis'. Baba Ram Singh was a supporter of reform of the 'Mahants' and priests of the gurudwaras as a result of which they were against him. Every year, on the occasion of Diwali or Baisakhi fairs he used to go to Amritsar and put his views before the congregation. The number of his audience used to touch twenty thousand. He started a movement in 1848 A.D., to force the British to leave India. He called upon his followers to boycott foreign goods and Government departments due to which people stopped buying imported cloth, gave up taking their disputes to courts and started deciding these in villages.
The boycott movement of Baba Ram Singh had great effect on the work of the Government. In 1863 A.D., the Government setup a police post at his village Bhaini. Cow Slaughter was banned in Amritsar during Sikh rule. In 1870 somebody spread a false rumor in Amritsar that the Government was about to give permission to the butchers to slaughter cows in the holy city of the Guru. On the 14th June, 1870 A.D., a group of Namdharis beheaded four butchers at Amritsar. Four Namdharis were hanged and two were imprisoned for life for that crime. On the 15th July, 1872 A.D., some Namdharis had quarrel with the butchers of Malaud and Malerkotla over cow-slaughter in which ten people were killed and seventeen were injured. The deputy commissioner of Ludhiana, Mr. Crown pronounced death sentence on sixty-eight Namdharis. Forty-nine of them were blown by cannon fire and nineteen were hanged. Baba Ram singh was exiled to Burma. He went to his heavenly abode on the 29th November, 1885 A.D., in jail of Margee Island. Although the Government crushed the Namdhari movement, yet they could not extinguish the light of freedom lit by Baba Ram Singh.
Chali Mukte, lit. forty (chali) liberated ones (mukte), is how a band of 40 brave Sikhs who laid down their lives fighting near the dhab or lake of Khidrana, also called Isharsar, on 29 December 1705 against a Mughal force in chase of Guru Gobind Singh are remembered in Sikh history and daily in the Sikh ardas or supplicatory prayer offered individually or at gatherings at the end of all religious services. Guru Gobind Singh, who had watched the battle from a nearby mound praised the martyrs' valour and blessed them as Chali Mukte, the Forty Immortals. After them Khidrana became Muktsar - the Pool of Liberation. Etymologically, mukta from Sanskrit mukt means 'liberated, delivered, emancipated,' especially from the cycle of birth and death. Mukti (liberation, emancipation) in Sikhism is the highest spiritual goal of human existence, and mukt or mukta is the one who has achieved this state of final beatitude. Mukta, also means a pearl, and the word would thus signify a title or epithet of distinction. It was probably in this sense that the five Sikhs, who on 30 March 1699 received the vows of the Khalsa immediately after the first five Panj Piare (q.v.), were blessed with the title mukta, plural mukte.
The term Chali Mukte is also used sometimes for the martyrs whom a huge arrny, in pursuit since the evacuation of Anandpur by Guru Gobind Singh during the night 5-6 December, caught up with and encircled at Chamkaur on 7 December, and who engaged the enemy in small sorties throughout the day with the result that the Guru with three other survivors was able to escape during the following night. While there is no unanimity over the names of the martyrs of Muktsar and Chamkaur Sahib, the five Muktas who comprised the first batch of Sikhs to receive amrit at the hands of the Panj Piare are given in Rahitnama by Bhai Daya Singh as Ram Singh, Fateh Singh, Deva Singh, Tahil Singh and Isar Singh. No other details of these five are available except that an old manuscript of Bhai Prahlad Singh's Rahitnama is said to contain a note associating Ram Singh and Deva Singh with the village of Bughiana, Tahil Singh and Isar Singh with Dall-Van and Fateh Singh with Kurdpur Mangat. According to Bhai Chaupa Singh, his Rahitnama or code of conduct was drafted by muktas. The text is said to have received Guru Gobind Singh's approval on 7 Jeth 1757 Bk / 5 May 1700. It appears that the title of mukta was bestowed subsequently also on persons other than the original five. The number of muktas is recorded variously in old Sikh texts. For instance, Kesar Singh Chhibbar, Bansavallnama Dasan Patshahlan Ka, mentions 14, and Kuir Singh, gurbilas Patshahi X, 25.
But muktas universally celebrated in the Sikh tradition are the forty martyrs of Muktsar who earned this title by sacrificing their lives for the Guru and who redeemed their past apostasy of having disowned the Guru and deserted him driven to desperation by the prolonged siege of Anandpur by the hill chiefs and Mughal forces by having their disclaimer torn by the Guru. They were led by Mai Bhago and Mahan Singh Brar.
Mata Gujari was the daughter of Bhai lal Chand Subulikka and Bishan Kaur, a pious couple of Kartarpur, in present-day kapurthala district of the Punjah. Lal Chand had migrated from his ancestral village, Lakhnaur, in Ambala district, to settle at Kartarpur where his dauggter Gujari was married to (Guru) Tegh Bahadur on 4 February 1633. The betrothal had taken place four years earlier when Tegh Bahadur had come to Kartarpur in the marriage party of his elder brother, Suraj Mall. Bishan Kaur, the mother, had been charmed by the handsome face of Tegh Bahadur and she and her husband pledged the hand of their daughter to him. After the marriage ceremony, the couple came to reside in Amritsar. Bride Gujari won the appreciation of everyone "Like bridegroom like bride" records Gurbilas Chhevi patshsahi. "Gujari is by destiny made worthy of Tegh Bahadur in every way " In 1635, Mata Gujari left Amritsar with the holy family and went to reside at Kartarpur, in the Sivalik foothills. After of Guru Hargobind left this world in 1644, she came with her husband and mother-in-law, Mata Nanaki, to Bakala, now in Amritsar district of the Punjab. There they lived in peaceful seclusion, Tegh Bahadur spending his days and nights in meditation and Gujari performing the humble duties of a pious and devoted housewife. After he was installed Guru in 1664, Guru Tegh Bahadur, accompanied by Mata Gujari, went on a visit to Amritsar, travelling on to Makhoval, near Kiratpur, where a new habitation, named Chakk Nanaki (later Anandpur) was founded in the middle of 1665.
Soon after this,Guru Tegh Bahadur along with his mother, Nanaki, and wife, Gujari, set out on a long journey to the east Leaving the family at Patna, he travelled on to Bengal and Assam. At Patna, Mata Gujari gave birth to a son on 22 December 1666. The child was named Gobind Rai, the illustrious Guru Gobind Singh of later day. Guru Tegh Bahadur returned to Patna in 1670 for a brief stay before he left for Delhi, instructing the family to proceed to lakhnaur, now in Haryana.
Mata Gujari, accompanied by the aged Mata Nanaki and young Gobind Rai, reached, on 13 September 1670, Lakhnaur where she stayed with her brother Mehar chand, until she was joined by her husband. An old well just outside Lakhnaur village and reverently called Matta da Khuh or Mata Gujari da Khuh still commemorates her visit. From Lakhnaur the family proceeded to Chakk Nanaki where Guru Tegh Bahadur rejoined them in March 1671 after spending some more time travelling through the Malva region and meeting sangats. At Chakk Nanaki, 11 July 1675 was a momentous day when Guru Tegh Bahadur left for Delhi prepared to make the supreme sacrifice. She showed courage at the time of parting and bore the ultimate trial with fortitude. Guru Tegh Bahadur was executed in Delhi on 11 November 1675, and, Guru Cobind Singh then being very young, the responsibility of managing the affairs at Chakk Nanaki, initially, fell to her. She was assisted in the task by her younger brother, Kirpal Chand.
When in face of a prolonged siege by hostile hill rajas and Mughal troops Chakk Nanaki (Anandpur) had to be evacuated by Guru Gobind Singh on the night of 5-6 December 1705, Mata Gujari with her younger grandsons, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, aged nine and seven year respectively, was separated from the main body while crossing the rivulet Sarsa. Thc three of them were led by their servant, Gangu, to the latter's village, Saheri, near Morinda in present day Ropar district, where he treacherously betrayed them to the local Muslim officer. Mata Gujari and her grandsons were arrested on 8 December and confined in Sirhind Fort in what is referred to in Sikh chronicles as Thanda Burj, the cold tower. As the children were summoned to appear in court from day to day, the grandmother kept urging them to remain steadfast in their faith. On 11 December they were ordered to be bricked up alive in a wall, but, since the masonry crumbled before it covered their heads, they were executed the following day. Mata Gujari ji were prisoned on top of a tower which was opened from all sides without any warm clothes in very cold month of December. She continued the tradition of Sikhism and without complaints give her body singing guru ki Bani. Mata Gujari ji attained martyrdom the same day as her grandsons. No doubt Guru Nanak Dev ji had said "Why isn't woman equal to man when she is who gave birth to kings, and protectors of Dharma". Mata Gujari ji through upbringing of her grandsons played such an important role in Sikhism that as sikhs, we can owe our existence to her. It was due to her teachings that 6 year old and 9 year old did not bulge from their Dharma and attained martyrdom., thus continuing and emphasizing the institute of martyrdom in Sikhism. Seth Todar Mall, a kind-hearted wealthy man of Sirhind, cremated the three dead bodies the next day.
At Fatehgarh Sahib, near Sirhind, there is a shrine called Gurdwara Mata Gujari (Thanda Burj). This is where Mata Gujari spent the last four days of her life. Ahout one kilometre to the southeast of it is Gurdwara Joti Sarup, marking the cremation site. Here, on the ground floor, a small domed pavilion in white marble is dedicated to Mata Gujari. The Sikhs from far and near come to pay homage to her memory, especially during a three-day fair held from 1113 Poh, Bikrami dates falling in the last week of December