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Debate Around The Martyrdom Of Baba Deep Singh


Mar 7, 2008
So I decided to make this post after reading a quote by MaiHarinderKaur in response to the thread entitled "ashamed to be a sikh"

In response to the author's suggestion of increasing the inquiry into dubious sikh stories and history. She responded saying:

"As to not believing our history, next you'll be trying to convince me that Baba Deep Singh didn't really carry his head in one hand and fight with his sword in the other. Be careful. Be very, very careful." - MaiHarinderKaur

However, as the following bit of text from wikipedia reveals:
Martyrdom - Two Versions

According to the Sikh legend, Baba Deep Singh had vowed to avenge the desecration of the Golden Temple by the Afghan army. In 1757, he led an army to defend the Golden Temple. The Sikhs and the Afghans clashed, in the battle of Amritsar, at the village of Gohalwar on November 11, 1757,<sup id="cite_ref-8" class="reference">[9]</sup> and in the ensuing conflict Baba Deep Singh was decapitated.<sup id="cite_ref-deol_9-0" class="reference">[10]</sup>
[edit] Version One

The first version has it that Deep Singh continued to fight after having been decapitated, slaying his enemies with his head in one hand and his sword in the other.<sup id="cite_ref-deol_9-1" class="reference">[10]</sup> In this version, only upon reaching the sacred city of Amritsar did he stop and finally die.<sup id="cite_ref-10" class="reference">[11]</sup> This tale recalls the words of the first Guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji:
Shouldst thou wish to play the game of love,
come unto my Path with thy head on thy palm.
And, once you step unto this path,
You may well give up thy head, rather than the cause.<sup id="cite_ref-11" class="reference">[12]</sup>
[edit] Version Two

In the other version it is said "Fighting bravely Singhs pushed the army back and reached village Chabba where General Attal Khan came forward and inflicted a blow on Baba Deep Singh ji which made his neck lean to one side. A Sikh reminded him, "You had resolved to reach the periphery of the pool." On hearing the talk of the Sikh, he supported his head with his left hand and removing the enemies from his way with the strokes of his double-edged sword with his right hand, reached the periphery of Harmindar Sahib where he breathed his last. The Singhs celebrated the Bandhi-Sor Divas of 1757 A.D. in Harminder Sahib".<sup id="cite_ref-12" class="reference">[13]</sup>
The Sikhs recovered their prestige by defeating the Afghan army and the latter were forced to flee.<sup id="cite_ref-13" class="reference">[14]</sup>
The spot where the legend Baba Deep Singh's head fell is marked in the Golden Temple complex, and Sikhs from around the world pay their respects there. Baba Deep Singh's 30 kg<sup class="Template-Fact" title="This claim needs references to reliable sources from February 2009" style="white-space: nowrap;">[citation needed]</sup>Khanda (double-edged sword), which he used in his final battle, is still preserved at Takht Sri Hazur Sahib, one of the five centers of temporal Sikh authority.


There are two counts of his martyrdom. And one account is vastly more believable then the other account. Inquiery into these kinds of stories would help the sikh community in general. I dont see why the majority of sikhs are so against the raising of these issues. Indeed, maiharinderkaur told the author of the previous thread to be very carful of what he suggests—but a simple google search reveals that there IS debate around the very example she (along with many sikhs) consider to be a matter of fact.

Would it be in poor taste for me to now suggest that instead of people having to be very careful about the criticism they lay on sikhi—shouldnt sikhs be very careful about the stories they willfully believe without researching?
May 24, 2008
Yes I agree , the second account is very believable & perhaps true . No harm in accepting it . It ( the first one ) is not a false account , just that the achievements of heroes are sometimes exagarated by the followers , nothing more .

Chaan Pardesi

Oct 4, 2008
London & Kuala Lumpur
The fact that more than one theory exists at once points to the fact that there is no such ONE fact as a fact that can be accepted.Let us today turn this unbelievable theory into a realistic believable one, so that a correct version is passed on from here onwards.

I would be inclined to agree with Veer Dalbirk ji.I would also agree that as most of Sikh history is based upon oral tradition, there is no doubt generous handfuls of exagaration has added on as it is passed on from one generation to the next.The Sikh poets and Dhadis have not helped at all, in fact fuelled such more than necessary.

Baba Deep Singh Ji left Damdama sahib in 1757,for Amritsar with five hundered Sikhs and at Tarn Taran faced an enemy that numbered five thousand.A Atai Khan on orders from Jahan Khan also joined in, and Jahan Khan managed also to gather two thousand more mujahids to fight the advancing Sikhs.They fought at Gohalwar half way between Tarn Taran and Amritsar.The Khaalsa fought with such force and bravery that the enemy fled in all directions.It was at this point, Atai Khan joined with his force and attacked the advancing Sikhs.Near Ramsar, Baba Deep Singh Ji recieved a MORTAL WOUND, to his neck , and was seen staggering for minutes, when a Sikh nearby shouted at him "..Baba Ji you had said in ardaas that you should fall martyr within the precincts of Darbar sahib, but you seem to be retiring from the fight here..."hearing this Baba Ji at once rallied, supporting with one hand his wound on the neck, he moved on cutting his enemies ...as he reached the Precincts of the Darbar sahib, he fell to become a martyr, as commited to in the Ardaas.

That is very believable and hardly a miracle or the distorted story that we hear these days.Such bravery is plausible and has been repeated many times within Sikh history, where one has fought against many odds to succeed.

At the place where he was WOUNDED, stands today Gurduara Sahid Ganj.

The head "comming off the body etc is a figmentation of the mind" and artists like Sobha Singh!Sikhism does not condone such miracles either.

Christianity is full of miracles.So is islam.How does one explain that Allah has promised 70 virgins and glasses of free wine in heavens after a shahada following jihad?No science supports such but millions believe that and have caused so much unaccountable problems in the world for the non- muslims and those muslims who correctly practice their religion in peace.

For anyone to suggest that islamic view is scientifically supported while that in Sikhism cannot be sustained in science is nothing more than water running off a ducks back.The Guru Granth sahib certainly outshines science itself when it says 'lakh pataala patal...lakh ogasaan ogaas..Orak orak bhaal thake na ek vaar...'Only last week scientist at last claimed and established that unending universe and planets exist out there...five hundered and forty five years after Baba Nanak ji said that.There are countless other clear statements found in the Granth sahib that science is only trying to support in recent times.I wont go into all that.

A modern zen philosopher once said...The whole of Christianity lives in a paranoia that if anybody finds out some truth,then what is going to happen to ...that they go on propogating?

What one Jesus sat as an example through martyrdom to the rest of the world hundereds of thousands of Sikhs sat out the same as part of daily living to the same world, through much more pain and hardship.There is no science about these two similar issues, but certainly that sikhism is much more solid and such martyrdom is not restricted one but any Sikh that follows the teachings of the Guru Ji.

My own view is that the fall outs of Sikh religion will ask what they deem as justified questions,but we should not be shaken from our eschatological meanings found solidly in the Guru Granth sahib; as these meaning become very intelligible and practically real, when viewed in the light of the imminent cataclysm of Sikhi expections.

The conflict lies not in Sikh religion but the understanding among Sikhs;unlike islam and Christianity where the conflict lies clearly in the versions of Mohamad's and God's presence solely in Mecca and no where else,signifies that it should only be praticed and is valid within mecca and no where lese upon the earth.While in Christianity the conflicts in old and new testments are not only apparent;but the many ever changing goals and conflicts of morality regards sexes and women and church hold no singular foundation of religion.On the other hand ..Guru Granth sahib is solid and stable and clear.

Just do not misinterpet it and mix oral history and traditions.If one does , then one is simply confused.

Chaan Pardesi

Oct 4, 2008
London & Kuala Lumpur
caspian Ji there is nothing but to agree to facts.Sikhism is unfortunately generously loaded with a baggage of uneducated preachers and leaders who the followers are simply happy to follow blindly ...without any individual thinking about the consequences from another angle.

I too thought the same at an young age .., but made an effort to find out and learn, as I stood my ground against others trying to convert and convince me ...


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Sakhis probably should not be offered to children because of the intricacies of matching the legend to different historical narratives. A person grows up feeling intellectually tricked and cheated because of the problems that surface. This is followed in adolescence and adulthood by anger, shame. derision, cynicism and even loss of faith by many. Of course there is always more to the story but few take the time to discover what that is.

Caspian I have to thank you for doing the research to make a point. Real mental energy that I appreciate.

btw - I do think Mai ji was being facetious.

Tejwant Singh

Jun 30, 2004
Henderson, NV.
Yes, the second Sakhi is more believable than the first one but is it feasible? Baba Deep Singh had a mortal wound on his neck and his neck was tilted which means the arteries were cut and the blood was gushing out like the Old Faithful. With this kind of mortal wound, can one use his weapons with force to kill the enemies?

If the above were feasible, then Guru Teg Bahadur could have walked out after he was beheaded with his head on his hand.

But the Sakhi does not end here. The legend says and it is quite recent as far as Sikh history is concerned that Baba Deep Singh held his head on his hand while fighting all the enemies and defeating them. When he had done with all that, he threw his head from what is now Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj to all the way towards Darbar Sahib,which is several miles away. It is categorically accepted and shamelessly promoted that the head landed in the parikarma of Darbar Sahib. As a matter of fact, there is a little marker there and this story is pasted on the board where the marker is for devotees to stop there and chant Vaheguru while reading the whole made up story, hence making it a miracle, which is a shame and an insult to Sikhi ideals given to us in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, our only Guru. I have seen some people matha tak at the marker.

It is also disheartening to notice that the honchos of Sikhi promote this kind of nonsense just to fool the ignorant especially in the sanctum sanctorum.

This also undermines the bravura that Baba Deep Singh fought with which was miraculous in a way. He fought while being heavily wounded. There is no denying in that.The inner strength of Sikhs is shown in other Sakhis like Bhai Mani Singh, Bhai Taru Singh and many others.

All the Sakhis that contradict Gurmat ideals of Sri Guru Granth Sahib should be discouraged in the Gurdwaras during kathas and also at Sunday schools where they are promoted to the young kids. Only a few Sakhis which compliment Gurmat should be told. Katahvacahaks should be warned about this before taking the stage.

My two cent worth.

Tejwant Singh

Randip Singh

May 25, 2005
United Kingdom
It really matters not whether Baba Deep Singh's head actually came off.

The point is he made a vow and kept it!

People get caught up in the miracles rather than the moral.

Like Bruce Lee says in Enter the Dragon "don't concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory" :)
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