In 1708 while on his travels in the Deccan Guru Gobind Singh Ji had tried for many months to persuade emperor Bahadur Shah to take action against Wazir Khan who had committed such atrocities against the Sikhs and had executed Guru Ji’s two youger sons Sahibzada Zorawar Singh Ji and Sahibzada Fateh Singh Ji as well as their grandmother Mata Gujri Ji. As the discussions bore no fruit Guru Ji continued with the negotiations but decided to send one of his followers back to the Punjab to do the work. Although there were many old and trusted disciples the choice fell on a comparative stranger whom Guru Ji had met just a few weeks. His name was Lashman Das, who had spent the last fifteen years of his life as a sadhu on the banks of the River Godavari.
Born in 1670 at Rajauri to well off Rajput parents Lashman Das grew up to be a strong and intelligent youth. While on a hunting trip he shot a doe who happened to be pregnant. As he approched the dying animal it gave birth and both mother and fawn died. This had a devestating effect on his tender heart. He withdrew into himself giving away all his possessions much to the dismay of his parents. One day a group of bairagi sadhus (holy men) came by his town and Lashman Das joined them and left home. Under the influence of a vaishnava hermit Janaki Prasad he was given a new name of Narayan Das alias Madho Das. He travelled south with Baba Ram Thamman and spend many years in Hindu monistries in centeral India. During these wondering years he was captivated by an old yogi Aughar Nath in Maharashtara in the Panchbati forest learning all manner of Trantric Mantras. He finally settled down near a town called Nanded. As time went by he aquired disciples of his own and his attainments made him haughty and he began to show disrespect to visiting hermits and sadhus, his awe spread throughout the surrounding land and was regarded by locals with apprehention. Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/sikh-personalities/3974-baba-bandha-singh-bahadur-1670-1716-a.html
In September 1708 the all knowing Guru, wondered into the ashram of Madho Das. At the time the hermit was away bathing in the river, Guru Ji ordered his Sikhs to slaughter a buffalo grazing near by. Upon hearing this Madho Das returned to his ashram with great anger and fury. Upon setting eyes on Guru Sahib Ji, Madho Das faultered and went down to his knees. But still the anger of the killed animal welled within him. “My ashram has been desicrated by the blood of this buffalo” he said.
“The animal was killed in a corner of your compound, how does it desicrate the whole of your ashram?” enquired Guru Sahib Ji.
“This is my land, and blood has been spilt upon it” answered Madho.
“Rivers of blood are flowing all around you. Your fellow man is being subjected to untold attrocities, is this not also on your land ?” Guru Ji said. With this the realisation dawned upon Madho Das and he fell at Guru Sahib Ji’s feet. “O’Lord, I am your Bandha, command me as you will “ he said.
Madho Das was initiated into the Khalsa by taking the amrit of the double edged sword administered by Guru Sahib Ji. Thus Madho Das became a fully fledged Sikh and was given the name of Gurbakhsh Singh, but he became known as Bandha Singh Bahdadur, the brave.
Bandha was an inspired choice of leader for the impending confrontation with the Mughals.
Once converted to Sikhism, Bandha projected a sense of formidable power that witnessed the emergence of militant Khalsa assertiveness. When he left the south for the long journey to the Punjab, however, he only had twenty five Sikhs with him – the five, Binod Singh, Kahan Singh, Baaj Singh, Daya Singh and Ram Singh and twenty others.
His strength of course lay in Guru Gobind Singh Ji's blessing and the hukamnamas (directives) to the various Sikh sangats, directing them to rally around Bandhas banner. As symbols of authority Guru Ji had given him five arrows from his own quiver, a nishan Sahib (flag) and a nagara (war drum). Armed with these the handful of men left Nander to seek their destiny in the northern reaches of Hindustan at the end of 1708.
Cautiously making their way through Delhi after a journey of several months Bandha headed for the Punjab where is emissaries had already delivered Guru Sahibs hukamnamas to the Malwa, Doaba and Majha regions, as a result a steady stream of Sikhs had started to join him. After several small scale military actions Bandha headed towards Samana, a town of bitter memories for all Sikhs. It was the home of Sayyad-Jalal-ud-Din, the person who had beheaded Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji, and Shashal Beg and Bashal Beg the executioners of Sahibzada Johrawar Singh Ji and Sahibzada Fateh Singh Ji the two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Sumana was a heavily defended and fortified town with a resident garrison. The military commander was scornful of the rag-tag force that was descending upon them. On 26th November 1709 they were in for a surprise.
Bandhas lightening assault that morning was so swift that the attackers were in the town before the defenders had time to close the gates. A fierce battle ensued in the streets with the long oppressed peasantry joining forces with Bandha and wreaked vengeance. In quick succession Bandha next stormed Ghuram, Thaska and Mustafabad. Each Sikh victory added to Bandhas mystique and gave the populace confidence in its own power, a discovery made by Bandhas fearless feats.
When on his way back from Mustafabad, Bandha heard of the indecencies which Qaddam-ud-din, the ruler of Kapuri, inflicted on the regions Hindu population, he decided to punish him. Kapuri was destroyed and Qaddam-ud-din punished with it. The prosperous town of Sahaura, which had an equally infamous ruler, Osman Khan, was Bandhas next destination. Osman had tortured and killed the Muslim divine Pir Buddhu Shah because he, his four sons and five hundred of his men had aided Guru Gobind Singh Ji in the battle of Banghani. The Sikhs anger was further honed by reports of Osman Khans atrocities against the local Hindus. Ironically Sadhaura, the abode of sadhus, once a Buddhist holy centre was raised to the ground.
Sirhand, the principle town of the south-east Punjab was the goal. To Bandha as to all Sikhs, it represented the bestiality of its governor Wazir Khan, who had bricked up Guru Gobind Singh Jis youngest sons before putting them to death.It was clear to every Sikh that the time had come for Wazir Khan to get his just dues. Writes James Bowne of the India Tract, “ Of all the instances of cruelty exercised by the Moghals this is the most barbarous and outrageous. Defenceless women and children have usually escaped, even from religious fury. No wonder then that the vengeance of the Sikhs was so severe. "
Though the Sikhs were fewer in numbers and arms and the well equipped Mughal force with its muskets, heavy guns, mail armour, cavalrymen and war elephants was more superior, Bandhas force excelled in swordsmanship and hand to hand combat, backed by archers and spearmen. What fuelled them was the impeccable sense of purpose, which their foe lacked. Wazir Khans army is estimated to be in the region of 20,000, while no records exist of the Sikh force it is generally regarded to be much fewer in number. The two forces clashed on the plain of Chappar Chiri, ten miles from Sirhand, on 22nd May 1710. Not unexpectedly the ferocity of the fighting outstripped all previous encounters between Sikh and Mughal forces. Wazir Khan and several of his commanders were killed and according to Khafi Khan, a chronicler of the time ‘not a man of the army of Islam escaped with more then his life and the clothes he stood in. Horsemen and footmen all fell under the sword of the infidels (Sikhs) who perused them as far as Sirhand.’ The defences of Sirhand were breached two days later. Although Sirhand paid a heavy price, it was spared total destruction after its Hindu population appealed to Bandha Singh. Its reprieve was short lived, as a little over 50 years later Jassa Singh Ahluwalia would be less forgiving of the towns past misdeeds.
Taken from another forum...
The general message being that Banda Singh Bahadur’s memory was not well revered amongst the Sikhs of that time (as continues to be amongst the Nihangs to this day) and the following assertions were made amongst others as to his ‘true’ character:-
-He was not Amritdhari.
-He was not in charge of the Dal Khalsa Panth.
-He betrayed the Guru Khalsa with his views on the use of alcohol and meat.
-He fought and raided all Muslims indiscriminately and up turned graves of the dead.
Presented below are some questions that arise from these assertion:-
1. Kesar Singh Chibber in his Banasivalanama has indicated that Banda Singh Bahadur did in fact Khande Bata da Amrit. This is a source far more contemporary than those used during the lecture to indicate otherwise. This account certainly does not speak ill of Banda Singh Bahadur.
2. Guru Ki Sakhia relay the account of Banda Singh Bahadur, explain this 2 meetings with Guru Sahib (at the second he was given the title Bahadur by Guru Sahib as defiance against the same title bestowed upon Aurangzeb by his father and also given Amrit). Incidentally, this is the same text used by the Nihangs when discussing the Keski and the requirement for a Blue Keski.
3. This text (Guru Ki Sakhia) further describes Baba Binod Singh coming back from Nanded with Banda Singh Bahadur. This is interesting, as the Buddha Dal claim Baba Binod Singh to be the first Jathedar of the Dal Khalsa Panth, however there is no mention of him or of Baba Kahn Singh (another historical figure from the Buddha Dal) in either Gur Bilas P10 or Sri Gur Sobha or indeed, Mehma Parkash –all of which form the collection of primary and contemporary sources in terms of Sikh history.
4. Another issue, on the topic of the Buddha Dal is that Gyani Gyan Singh (again another commonly quoted source by the Nihangs and Sanatan Sikhs) states in his Twarikh Guru Khalsa that the Buddha Dal was formed in c.1734 –how does this reconcile with the Buddha Dal being synonymous with the notion put forth by the Nihangs that they are the Guru Khalsa Dal Panth? This text also does not lend support to the concept of the Dal ever being led by a single Jathedar.
5. The account of Banda Singh Bahadur upturning a grave relates to that of Bibi Anoop Kaur, who was kidnapped by the Nawab of Malerkotla. Having done with her, she was buried there by his men. Baba Banda Singh Bahadur upturned her grave in order to give to her a proper funeral cremation as per Sikh rites and honour her shaheedi. The only negative account I have seen of Banda Singh Bahadur upturning graves is a Moghul account, which unsurprisingly displays him to a culprit.
6. The aforementioned texts relaying the account of Banda Singh Bahadur also indicate that he did in fact stop his attack at Sirhind after delivering due justice to Wazir Khan and moreover ordered the Sikhs to stop looting at this stage.
It would appear from the foregoing that there is much in the way of reconciliation between the account presented by the Nihangs and that indicated in sources available prior to the British texts and those of the illustrious Gyani Gyan Singh.
Reply from a member...
Without having this slip into the usual ramblings on meat etc, the main points that come up when Banda Singh Bahadur is discussed tend to be:- Pro-Banda Camp:
-Excellent Warrior & Khalsa Singh of the Guru
-Appointed as leader of the Khalsa Army
-Upheld the much loved 'Vegetarian' ideals of many of today's Sikhs (although his ultra-Vaishnav diet often gets overlooked!)
-Did a great job in Sirhind
-Established the first major Sikh Kingdom with the striking of the coin (with the Persion Legend..."Fateh Gobind Singh Shahen Shah...) Anti-Banda Camp:
-Was he Amritdhari or not?
-Wore the wrong colours
-Didn't eat meat or partake in alcohol
-Shouldn't have got married
-Became obsessed with power and undertook hideous crimes against Muslims, Women and Children
Points concerning his initiation into the Khalsa and vile accusation of up turning graves etc, have already been addressed above by various posters, however, let's look at some of the other points:-
1. Why should Banda Singh Bahadur not have got married
? -Usually we hear of supposed Hukams from Guru Sahib in this respect, however where are there hukams? Moreover, why would such a hukam be made to Banda Singh Bahadur, given that Guru Sahib himself was married thrice?
2. What is the issue with the colour of clothing
? Without dwelling into Taksal-influenced issues on Red and Green colours, clearly the issue here is that he no longer exclusively wore Blue -the colour argued to be that of the Khalsa. If indeed this is the case and that Blue that the costume of a Nihang Singh is the only true form of the Khalsa, then why would Guru Sahib remove blue clothing following the Uch da Pir episode?
3. Is it necessary to eat meat and drink alcohol to be a Khalsa Singh?
(please note the question is not asking if meat/alcohol are OK, but if as the Tat Khalsa of the day enforced, is it necessary to be eating pork chops outside the Akal Thakt to prove oneself Sikh? -also, is the eating of Pork and Beef permitted for Sikhs?) Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=3974
4. If the vegetarism as Banda Singh Bahadur propagated is indeed the Gurmat ideal, why do Sikhs today, including those professing extreme commitment to Bibek include onions and spices in their diet?
5. Following on from (4), why do the supporters of Banda Singh Bahadur as a key figure of Gurmat ideals not use the salutation 'Fateh Darshan' or contemplate "Guru" as per his instructions?