Life and martyrdom of Shaheed Sant Baba Deep Singh: One of the greatest ever Gursikhs
Today on the 10th February 1758, one of the most outstanding and piv-otal figures in Sikh history attained shaheedi, whilst fighting in Amritsar. Sant Baba Deep Singh Jee was an embodiment of perfect virtues and epitomised the character of a Sikh. His life and what he achieved was nothing short of remarkable, and although he is primarily known for his unmatched feat in the Battle of Amritsar, his en-tire life is inspirational to Sikhs around the world.
How did a Singh, aged 76 years old, pick up a sword weighing 16kg, and despite having his head severed, still continue to fight? It sounds unbelievable but all it takes is a look at his life to realise that this is indeed the truth. What was Baba Deep Singh Jee doing throughout the course of his life that gave him the power to display this "superhuman‟ miracle? All will be uncovered in this week‟s Sikhi Explored...
Sant Jee was born in a village called Pahuvind, and his mother, Mata Jeoni Ji and father, Bhai Bhagat Ji named their only son Deepa. At the time of his birth, his mother wished three things for her beloved son: 1) May my son be clothed well, even if I wear old clothes 2) May my son always eat good food, even if I stay hungry 3) May my son only encounter good people in his life, who wish well for him.
All three of these wishes came true in Baba Jee‟s life, but none more so than the third one. Growing up, Deepa spent a lot of time working as a farmer. The heavy manual labour, strengthened Deepa and his hands and body became strong from the continuous physical work. Naturally he was a tough boy, but these fifteen to twenty hour shifts on his father‟s land, gave the great warrior-to-be a sturdy frame.
Alongside this, his parents made sure that Deepa learnt Gurmukhi, the written script of Gurbani and was taught horse-riding. Deepa‟s parent had love for Sikhi, so they gave him a strong foundation in the teach-ings of the faith and encouraged him to read as much Gurbani as he could. The young saint would use his spare time to read the holy compositions of the Gurus, and contemplate on their meaning. His soul was drawn to the truth and beauty in which they spoke to him, keeping his mind focused on the holy Shabad. Aside from this, Deepa had a love for weapons and he would practice for many hours the correct way to con-trol a sword. From an early age, he had a kind and sweet nature, with people in the village beginning to call him Bhai Deepa out of respect.
At the age of 18, Bhai Bhagat Ji and Mata Jeoni Ji took Bhai Deepa to Anandpur Sahib so they could be blessed with the sight of Guru Gobind Singh Jee. On the day of their arrival, Sikhs from various places had come to celebrate the festival of Hola Mohalla. They watched in awe as the Khalsa army displayed its un-matched skills in weapon control, horse-riding and sword-fighting displays.
It was an incredible demonstration, and Bhai Deepa already having a great interest in martial arts, was inspired to learn this mastery of weapons and become a warrior like the Singhs he was watching.
For 3 months, Bhai Deepa‟s family stayed in this holy city, and enjoyed the daily sermons of Guru Jee. They were inspired by the grandeur of His darbar (court) and the beautiful kirtan that was played. In the congre-gation of the Sikhs, they experienced the true benefits of the holy hymns, and their minds were refreshed by the Gurus words.
Bhai Bhagat Ji, being so impressed came to Guru Gobind Singh Jee with folded hands and asked Him to give his family Amrit. The impact of being in the company of Gursikhs had evoked such happiness in the family of Bhai Deepa that their only desire was to become Amritdhaari Gursikhs and remain in this bliss forever. Guru Jee granted their wish and it was after this Amrit sanchar ceremony, that Deepa was renamed as Bhai Deep Singh.
Soon after this, it was time for the family to leave Anandpur and return back home. Bhai Bhagat Singh came to Guru Jee and asked for permission to leave. Guru Jee blessed them all, but saw in Baba Deep Singh‟s mind a longing to stay in Anandpur Sahib. Guru Jee himself wanted Deep Singh to remain behind, as he could see that he had the potential and character to be a great Gursikh.
Guru Jee, already knowing everything in the minds of his Sikhs, asked him, “Deep Singha, would you also like to leave or do you want to remain here?!” .
Baba Deep Singh replied “Maharaj (king), I am your devotee, wherever you ask me to go, that‟s where I shall be”.
With this response, his father felt very proud that his son spoke with such respect to Guru Gobind Singh Jee, and said that “If my son is permitted to stay in the presence of the true King, and be given the chance to serve your Sikhs, than there is no one as fortunate as me”.
Baba Deep Singh was extremely happy to stay in Anandpur Sahib with all the other Sikhs and was anxious to start learning Shastar Vidya (knowledge of weaponry), Saanthiya (Correct pronouciation of Gurbani) and perform seva in the presence of Guru Gobind Singh Jee.
Day and night, Baba Deep Singh stayed in a rush-to-serve as many of the Guru‟s Sikhs as he could. There was never a time that Baba Deep Singh just relaxed, he was constantly finding some way to make sure that the time he had, was used to the benefit of the Guru. Sometimes he would wash the dishes in the langhar hall. At other times, he would wipe the floor, prepare food for the langhar or even recite Gurbani to other Sikhs. He just made sure that he was busy at all times.
This lifestyle of service to others, being immersed in Gurbani and meditation satisfied him. He loved being around the company of Sikhs and teaching the younger ones how to read properly. Guru Gobind Singh Jee observed Baba Deep Singh and was happy with his dedication, tired-less seva to others, and the sweet manner in which he spoke to everyone. Guru Jee was thoroughly pleased with his actions and began to keep him near at all times. His most important work was en-trusted to Baba Deep Singh and all the Sikhs began to respect Baba Jee. Out of this admiration they began calling him Bhai Sahib, which is a term that is widely thrown around today, but in those times, was a title only given to worthy individuals.
Baba Deep Singh become a strong, powerful warrior and was looked up to by all the Sikhs, and despite this respect, he remained humble. His seva to all continued, and he spoke to eve-ryone with the same kindness and love as when he first arrived.
By being around Guru Gobind Singh Jee at all times and carry-ing out his personal errands, the connection between them grew. Baba Deep Singh began to learn many things from Guru Jee himself, and lots of the vidya (knowledge) Guru Jee had, was bestowed on Baba Deep Singh.
After staying with Guru Jee for a long period and being in his duty, his parents returned to Anandpur Sa-hib. They were proud to see their son look so handsome in the Guru‟s court. The shastar vidyra training had given Baba Deep Singh muscular physique and he had become a seasoned warrior.
With great happiness they examined the beautiful dumalla (turban) on their sons head, the glistening shas-tar (weapons) he was carrying, the bright bana (robes) and the glow in his face. They watched as their son, Deep Singh, displayed all the skills he had learnt. He raced his horse with expert control and wielded his sword with lightening speed, everyone was in admiration of the disciple of Guru Gobind Singh Jee.
The villagers who had come with Bhai Bhagat Singh and Mata Jeoni Kaur, heaped praises on Baba Deep Singh. They couldn‟t believe that the boy they used to call Deepa had become such a great Sikh and was living the life of a saint-solider.
For one month the villagers and Baba Deep Singh‟s parents stayed with Guru Gobind Singh Jee. They all engaged in seva, some would collect wood for the langhar, and others would sit and listen to the katha. At the end of their stay, Bhai Bhagat Singh made a humble request to Guru Jee and asked if they could take their son back to their village.
Guru Jee looked at Baba Deep Singh, He did not want to let him go. He had become such a trusted disciple of Guru Sahib that He didn't want to see such a loving Gursikh leave. However, Guru Jee couldn‟t refuse the request of his parents and gave Bhai Bhagat Jee permission to take Baba Deep Singh back.
Guru Jee knew that if He let him go, he would spread Sikhi in his own village and teach the people about the true way of living. Baba Jee was sad to be leaving his Guru, and tearfully asked Guru Gobind Singh Jee to still keep an eye on him from afar. Guru Jee grabbed Baba Deep Singh with both arms and lifted him up with such a tight embrace, that all Baba Jees anxiety vanished.
He said to him “Deep Singha, are you not my son, that I will not look over you? Just remember one thing Bhai Deep Singha, keep your nitnem (daily prayers) strong at all costs. Never forsake the amritvela (early hours of the morning, when a Gursikh should wake, and take a bath), read the five compositions of Jap Jee Sahib, Jaap Sahib, Tav Parsad Savaiye, Chaupai Sahib and Anand Sahib)”. Guru Jee said, “read Rehraas Sahib on time and before you sleep, recite Kirtan Sohilla. Maintain your recitation of panj granthi (includes the prayers of Shabad Haazare, Sidh Gosht, Bavan Akhan, Dakhni Oaankar, Sukhmani Sahib and Asa Ki Vaar) as well as your mool mantar”
If you just reflect on all of the compositions it is astounding how much Baba Deep Singh used to pray on a daily basis. The above was just the bare minimum commanded by Guru Jee to Baba Deep Singh! I apologise because I have understated how much Gurbani Baba Jee used to recite daily. It said in the katha by Giani Thakur Singh Jee, that Baba Jee would just sleep for 1 or 2 hours a day! The rest of the time he would be immersed in seva, simren, Gurbani uchaaran, shastar vidya and katha. One source even says that Baba Jee used to read JapJee sahib 101 times before he even put a single piece of food in his mouth.
This is the level of discipline and love for Gurbani Baba Jee had. Later in this article I will narrate how Baba Jee fought the Durrani army even after his head had been severed, which to many of us will sound impossible! However it will only be those people that have no belief in Bani, Guru and God, that will doubt this could happen! If we could get our daily nitnem even 1/1000th to that of Baba Deep Singhs, than we would understand that true Sikhs can achieve anything. It says in Jap Jee Sahib, Manne kī gaṯ kahī na jāe || Je ko kahai picẖẖai pacẖẖuṯāe. The spiritual state of the faithful cannot be described || One who tries to describe them, shall regret the attempt. It truly is beyond our comprehension to describe these Sikhs.
Anyhow, Baba Deep Singh returned to his village with his family and the news spread quickly that the boy Deepa had returned. Just as a scented candle, brings fragrance to all those around it, the personality of Baba Deep Singh uplifted all the people that came to see him. The glow from his face and the calmness that radiated from him was there for all to see. Baba Jee began katha and taught the villagers about Sikhi. All became engrossed in Gurbani and changed their lives to enjoy the fruits of Gursikhi Jeevan (life). Returning to his life of farming, Baba Jee never missed his Nitnem, and continued to recite the Name of God all day and night. He had many compositions, kant (memorised) and he would remain in high spirits reciting these while he worked.
After staying in his village for a while, Guru Gobind Singh Jee sent messengers to bring Baba Deep Singh back to him. The Guru was now at Damadama Sahib and a special task needed to be done by Baba Deep Singh Jee. Along with another great Sikh, Bhai Mani Singh (first jathedar of Sri Harmandar Sahib, see Sikhi Explored 6 ), they were both appointed the seva of preparing the Guru Granth Sahib Jee, which would be dictated by Guru Gobind Singh Jee.
Guru Arjan Dev Jee had already completed the Adi Granth, which contained the hymns of the first five Gurus and other holy saints in 1604. But the holy Granth was cunningly seized by Dhir Mal (older brother of Guru Har Rai Sahib Jee) whom refused to return the Adi Granth to Guru Gobind Singh Jee.
Therefore in 1705, almost 100 years after the Adi Granth was scribed by Bhai Gurdaas Jee, Guru Gobind Singh Jee dictated the whole of the Adi Granth from memory. Bhai Mani Singh was the scribe and Baba Deep Singh was responsible for providing the ink and paper, as well as performing other sacred seva.
Upon completion, the Granth was named Guru Granth Sahib Jee and was sealed by Guru Gobind Singh Jee, after He listened to the whole of the holy Granth being read back to him.
Guru Jee stayed at Damdama Sahib and gave Santhya of Gurbani to the Gursikhs. There were many Sikhs in the sangat who used to come and listen to katha but 48 Singhs stayed and listened to it from start to fin-ish. Guru Ji finished this seva in 9 months and after that, an Akhand path (continuous recitation) was held. On the day of the Bhog (completion) when the saloks of Guru Teg Bahadur ji were being read, Sikhs in the sangat started leaving their bodies and merged their souls with God, as the teaching of Guru Sahib had liberated them. Sant Baba Deep Singh ji was sitting on the left side of Guru Gobind Singh Jee and Sant Baba Mani Singh ji was sitting on right hand side of Guru Jee. A time came when these two Gursikhs also were about to leave their bodies. At this point,Guru Gobind Singh ji opened his eyes and pulled both Gursikhs towards him. Maharaj asked, “Singho, where are you going?”
Baba Mani Singh ji replied, 'Maharaj, we were not going anywhere ourselves, Baani was pushing us to sachkhand” .Maharaj smiled and said “Singho, you both will go to Sachkhand, in fact, you already are na-tives of sachkhand but still there is lot of seva left on this planet for you and only you can to do that seva”
Both Gursikhs bowed their heads at the feet of Maharaj. Guru Jee than ordered Baba Mani Singh ji to look after seva of Sri Harmandar Sahib, Amritsar and carry out teaching in that area. Baba Deep Singh ji was ordered to stay at Damdama Sahib and start Taksal, where all the Vidyas (sciences) were to be taught in-cluding Gurbani Santhya, Katha, Kirtan, Parchar and Shastarvidya to the students of Khalsa Panth. This Taksal was to be the nursery of the Sikhs, where Naam abhyaasi Sant Sipahi Gursikhs were to be created in 'Mint of Guru Shabad'.
They would then go out into different lands and spread the message of Akaal Purakh as delivered by Ten Gurus and their Baani.¹
Leaders of Damdami Taksaal have led the Sikh na-tion since then. They have been some of the most highly spirited, humble and kindest people to have walked on the Earth. They have set perfect examples on how to live life in accordance with the eternal Guru Granth Sahib Jee.² Since Baba Deep Singh Jee‟s Shaheedi, there have been 13 Jathedars (leaders of Taksal) including more recently, Sant Giani Jar-nail Singh Jee Khalsa Bhindranwale.
¹Passage adapted from www.jathashaheedan.com
Baba Jee spent all day, every day teaching Sikhi to students, both young and old. He kept his own strict daily Nitnem, and engaged in preparing Pothiyan (sacred books that contained Gurbani) in his spare time. These Pothiyah were sent out far and wide, so that Sikhs had a reliable source of Gurbani to read from. Because Guru Gobind Singh Jee had given Baba Deep Singh and Bhai Mani Singh a word-by-word explana-tion of Gurbani, their spirituality was unmatched in the world. They had attained the knowledge needed to be detached from this world and hence had the ability to remain focused on teaching others the divine mes-sage of God.
When Guru Gobind Singh Jee gave Gurgaddi (passed on the Guruship) to Guru Granth Sahib Jee, Baba Deep Singh Jee was present at this time and listened to the last sermon of Guru Jee.
As daas described in last week‟s edition (Sikhi Explored, Issue 6), times became very hard for Sikhs, as they were in constant battle with the corrupt and unjust rulers of the time. Guru Gobind Singh Jee had given Baba Banda Singh Bahadur the task of uprooting the tyrants in Sirhind and neighbouring places. In this time of warfare, Baba Deep Singh left the peaceful life of teaching and making copies of Gurbani, to join the Khalsa Army. He had displayed the saintly side of his life and now was the time to show soldier aspect.
The battles were being fought to free India from oppression and Baba Deep Singh was in the frontline of all the fights. He was the jarnail (leader) of the time, and fearlessly engaged with the enemy. Nobody could even come close to the power of Baba Jee, his supreme physical size and mastery of Shastar Vidya, made quick work of even the bravest soldiers. There was a never a time when Baba Jee held back and allowed other Sikhs to go first into a war, but he led the Khalsa to victory after victory from the forefront.
After some differences with Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, he soon returned to Damdama Sahib and restarted his teaching. Countless Sikhs learnt from Baba Jee and all of his students, admired the nature of Baba Deep Singh. He was brave to fight in battles and humble to educate all those around him. One day a group of Gursikhs, decided that more copies of Guru Granth Sahib Jee should be made and sent to distant communi-ties so they can learn from this holy Granth.
After an ardaas, this seva was carried out by Baba Jee and some other Sikhs. The Guru Granth Sahib Jee has 1430 angs, and to handwrite every page with complete care, focus and love was an illustrious task. But soon the seva was complete and 4 Saroops of Guru Granth Sahib Jee were completed. Baba Deep Singh. de-cided that One would be sent to each of the Takhts (centres of authority in Sikhi). i.e Sri Akal Takht Sahib (Amritsar), Takht Patna Sahib, Takht Sri Hazur Sahib, and Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib. The fifth Takht is at Sri Damdama Sahib (which already had the Dam-dama Vaali Bir).
After special preparations were made, the Sikhs carried the Guru Granth Sahib Jee to all these places with great care.
Baba Deep Singh then went to Kartarpur and the Sikhs were curious to see if the Adi Granth compiled by Guru Arjan Dev Jee was the same as the Guru Granth Sahib Jee written at Damdama Sahib (referred to as the Damdama vaali Bir). Baba Deep Singh met the great Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia and under his hospitality, he inspected both the Granths. The Sikhs wanted to see if their Guru Gobind Singh had accurately dictated the whole of the Granth by heart and if there were any differences.
Baba Jee carefully looked at both Scriptures, and announced they were one and the same. Jakaare (Bole So Nihaal!) rang around the city, and people sang the praises of Guru Gobind Singh Jee and Guru Arjan Dev Jee. There was no difference in the Bani, aside from the fact that Guru Gobind Singh Jee had added the Shaloks of his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Jee.
At Kartarpur the Sikhs paid great respect to Baba Deep Singh and were honoured to accommodate him. On his time of departure, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia and many Sikhs went some distance with Baba Jee to warmly bid him farewell.
During this time, battles were being fought on a daily basis, with the Khalsa at war with the Mughal forces. But regardless of their heavy losses and constant struggle, the Sikhs continued to fight with dignity and honour. Zakriya Khan realised he was not going to beat the Khalsa and diplomatically offered Nawabi (highly respectable title) to the Sikhs. So in 1733, Bhai Subeg Singh brought this offering to the Khalsa Panth. All the leaders of the panth were present in the court of Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj and Bhai Mani Singh asked the community for their opinion on this matter. Jathedar Baba Darbara Singh ji, who was Military leader of Khalsa Panth, refused to take any position or any other favour from Mughals. He said “Guru Gobind Singh Jee promised us sovereignty, we cannot be content with mere nawabi”³
But some learned Sikhs advised to take the nawabi, not for individual au-thority or betterment, but for betterment of the whole Panth. Baba Darbara Singh ji said that Nawabi of Mughals would be given to a Sevadar Sikh, who'll serve Khalsa Panth as a servant and not rule over panth as nawab. All the eyes fell on Bhai Kapoor Singh ji, who was lifting horse-dung of horses. Bhai Sahib was called and conferred Nawabi by five re-spected Sikhs including Baba Deep Singh.¹
Nawab Kapur Singh was a humble and devout Sikh. He had the vision to unite all the Sikh Jathebandis (groups) into one single force. This was termed the Dal and was further strategically divided into two sections. One section was the Budha (wise) Dal, which consisted of elderly Sikhs. They had the task of making sure that Gurdwaras were looked after, the teaching of Sikhi continued and ar-ranged Amrit-Sanchar ceremonies. The other section was the Tarna (youth) Dal, which was the fighting arm of the Khalsa. It was divided into 5 sections and each had a leader. The first group was Shaheedan Jatha, and Sant Baba Deep Singh was appointed its leader.
Usually Shaheed was a title given in honour to those Sikhs that had died for their faith. But the Jatha of Baba Deep Singh was very highly respected as Guru Gobind Singh Jee himself had conferred the title of Shaheed on Baba Jee. He had seen that Baba Jee had risen above all worldly desires, and was detached from lust, greed, anger and ego. As he had already given up his life for Sikhi, he was deemed to be a living Sha-heed. His group members had also risen to this supremely spiritual state, and therefore the whole jatha was known as Jatha Shaheedan.
Out of all the groups formed, this was the most honoured and brave jatha of the Khalsa Panth. To be a member of this group, a Sikh needed to be highly disciplined and solid in their code of conduct. They needed to have a firm attachment to Gurbani and of course, be highly trained warriors. They fought in many battles and with many different enemies but this was never to acquire, land, riches or any other material goods.
Ahmed Shah Abdali changed the course of history with his invasions of Punjab from 1748 to 1765. On seven different occasions he tried to bring Punjab under his Durrani empire. His organised onslaught on the Sikhs, made the Dal Khalsa reunite and reform to stay alive. On Baisakhi, March 29th 1748, Sikhs passed a gurmatta (Guru‟s resolve) to form the Sarbat Khalsa.
60 armed jathas that had emerged in the struggle were organised into eleven associations called misls. These were collectively under the leadership of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. One of the misls was the Shaheedi Misl, which was of course under the command of Sant Baba Deep Singh.
The sikhs accomplished a great deal through this new setup. But as Sikhs became more powerful, Abdali became increasingly scared. He witnessed the daring exploits of the Sikhs and to teach them a lesson he de-stroyed the heart and centre of Sikhi; Sri Harmandar Sahib. Jahan Khan was sent by Abdali to invade Am-ritsar and all the Sikhs that came in his way were killed. The holiest shrine of the Sikhs was demolished and the bodies of dead animals were thrown into the holy sarovar. Jahan Khan, then made sure that no Sikh even stepped foot in Amritsar. A decree was issued that stated any Sikh even seen to advance near Amritsar was to be shot on sight. Sikhs heard about this massacre and were deeply upset to hear what had happened to their beloved Harmandar Sahib. Just listening to the damage done to their spiritual home, struck a nerve with all the Sikhs and they began preparing to free Sri Harmandar Sahib from his clutches. Baba Deep Singh heard about this sacrilege as well and left everything he was doing at once.
He got up and first did an ardaas to Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee. He said “Sri Guru Dasmesh Pita, your Sikhs are being massacred in their thousands. The holy land of Sri Amritsar has been defiled. The enemy has drawn near and made a pact to finish the Khalsa you created. You gave us Amrit, the knowledge of Shastar Vidya, the command to die for what is right and you said you will protect our dharm at all costs. Please now give us one more thing. The power and strength to actually do it! With your grace, let us be successful in freeing Harmandar Sahib from the hands of the enemy”.
Sikhs in the court, bellowed Jakaare and got their weapons together. The lions had awoken and were hun-gry to put an end to this disrespect. Baba Deep Singh called Sikhs from far and near, and told anybody who could not tolerate the destruction of Sri Harmandar Sahib to get ready for the battle. He told those Sikhs that were ready to listen to this command of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Jee, to come join him:
jo tho praem khaelan kaa chaao || sir dhhar thalee galee maeree aao | If you desire to play this game of love || Then step onto My Path with your head in your hand. (SGGSJ Ang 1410)
Before leaving Damdama Sahib, an Akhand Paat (continous reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee) was carried out and Baba Deep Singh addressed the Sikhs. He told them that the place they were going to would probably be the last place they visit. He said “Whoever wants to die with me, come forward. Anybody who still has attachment to their family, the desire to live, love for their worldly affairs, please remain behind, because this is not a battle for you”
Baba Deep Singh then prepared himself for the fight. He put on a beautiful blue dastaar and laid chakkars (flat steel disc with sharp edges) over it. Carefully he selected his Sri Saabs (Swords) , Dhal (shield), Kataar (armour piercing dagger) and finally his Khanda. Baba Deep Singh‟s primary weapon was his beloved Khanda. Weighing 16kg alone, only the strongest warriors alive could handle such a heavy weapon. But dhan Baba Deep Singh, who despite being 76 years old, wielded such a sword.
The Sikhs were small in number when they left Damdama Sahib, but on route many Sikhs joined the Shaheedan Jatha. They were inspired by the sight of Baba Deep Singh, and were full of courage when they saw Baba Jee in his warrior attire. At Tarn Taran, preparations were made for the Singhs to have langar and have a bath in the pool before they made the last stage of their journey. It was at Gurdwara Lakeer Sahib, that Baba Deep Singh Jee did his final Ardaas. In front of all 5000 Sikhs that had now gathered, he told his Guru that he would not rest until he bowed his head in the pakarma (walkway) of Sri Harmandar Sahib. He asked the Guru for his blessings, so he could become successful in this battle.
After this, with a glowing red face, Baba Jee drew a line in the sand. With a bellowing voice , and the war drums (nagaare) thumping in the background, Sant Baba Deep Singh told only those Singhs that had no fear of the enemy to pass this line. Any of those Sikhs that had even the slightest fear in their minds were told to go back. No Sikh backed down. All the Sikhs roared Bole So Ni-haal, and the ground literally shook with the noise. They raced forward and wanted to quickly get to Sri Harmandar Sahib and face the enemy. All the Baani that evoked courage and strength such as Chandi Di Vaar, Chandi Charittar, Bachittar Natak etc were being recited.
Jahan Khan became aware of the proceeding Sikhs and assembled a massive army of 20000 soldiers, all well equipped and with elephants. The armies finally clashed at Goharwal and the battle to restore Sri Harman-dar Sahib began..
The Singhs pounced on Jahan Khans army like hungry lions. The Afghans were no match for the Naam Abhyaasi Gursikhs. Jahan Khan‟s men fought for money, and the Singhs fought for their religion. How could they stand up to them? Swords clashed with shields and a bloody battle ensued. Arms, legs and heads were hacked off, with soldiers from both sides fighting bitterly.
Baba Deep Singh led the way and despite his old age, his heavy khanda, laid into all those that came into his way. Ferociously Baba Deep Singh battered the enemy and none dared to fight him alone. The singhs were especially on the look-out for Jahan Khan, the general, so they could put an end to his actions.
Bhai Dayal Singh spotted him on an elephant and called him down to fight. The bold and fearless invitation from Bhai Dayal Singh frightened Jahan Khan and he tried to quickly escape. Bhai Dayal Singh pur-sued and made his horse jump to the same height as the Afghan general, and with one swing of his sword he chopped Jahan Khans head off. From all four directions, Jaakare echoed!! Sikhs were proud of the bravery and feat of Bhai Dayal Singh. The war had been declared, with a truly epic start.
More soldiers from Lahore poured into the battle to fight the Khalsa. But the Sikhs did not care about be-ing outnumbered, their goal was set, and anyone who tried to contest them, regretted it.
A general named Jamal Shah entered the battle on the losing side and unlike his allies, he was a fearless soldier. He killed many Sikhs and soon encountered Baba Deep Singh. He was astonished when he saw how youthfully, Baba Jee was fighting despite his age. Jamal Shah being in the peak of his military career at the age of 30, moved his horse forward to challenge Baba Deep Singh. He said to him “I can see old man, that you have entered this battle looking to marry death, and have killed all my companions. I am well aware that this battle is lost, and we are no match for you. But still, I don‟t want to leave. I want to die in this battle. Why don‟t you come face me old man? But I want this to be a fight between only me and you, keep your singhs back and we will duel”.
Baba Deep Singh pushed his chest out and laughed. He replied, “O nirbhau one (fearless) I have also come to die. Step down from your horse and we will battle. I agree to your condition and promise that no one will interfere from my side” Jamal Shah agreed to this and with great spirit jumped off his horse to engage in a fight to the death with Baba Deep Singh.
Before the fight started, Baba Jee said “O soorme (Warrior), as you can see I am old now. This might be my last battle, I don‟t want to die through old age or any meagre illness. Even though I guarantee that no Sikh will assist me, I have no problem if you bring ALL your companions to help you fight me.”
Baba Deep Singh and Jamal Shah advanced towards each other, and an epic battle was fought. Their swords moved ferociously and both attacked without fear. Even when Jamal blocked the blows from Baba Deep Singh, the weight of his khanda shook the body of the brave general. The fight continued for a while, until the equally matched warriors each struck a blow that severed the others head off. Jamal Shah fell to the floor first and breathed his last. But as Baba Deep Singh was about to fall to the ground, next to his head, a Sikh cried out to Baba Jee.“O Baba Jee, you promised us that you weren‟t going to rest until your head rested in the pakarma, how can a Gursikh go back on his word?!”
Sant Baba Deep Singh heard the true words of the Sikh and immediately lifted his head of the ground, and holding it with his left hand began to fight once again.
None of the enemy soldiers could believe what they were witnessing. How could a man still be alive without his head?
They ran away from the battlefield claiming there was no way that they could kill someone that should already be dead.
The singhs however were not amazed or shocked by this feat of Sant Baba Deep Singh.
They had lived with this great Gursikh, and witnessed his su-preme lifestyle. None had more love for God than this Sikh, and when a disciple was this pleasing to his Guru, how could the Guru not support him? Baba Deep Siingh had prayed to Maharaj Guru Gobind Singh Jee to protect the sanctity of Sri Har-mandar Sahib, and when a plea is made with this devotion and love, they can never be turned away. The Guru can do anything for his Gursikh –even allow him to fight without his head!
Following this, there was never any difference between what Sant Jee said and what he did. If his head was going to bow in the parkarma in Sri Harmandar Sahib, then that was going to happen, and nothing could stop it.
Slowly, Baba Deep Singh Jee made it to Sri Harmandar Sahib. Oral tradition dictates that Baba Jee, circumambulated three times around the holy Darbar Sahib before finally resting his head down, to seal his word.
Sometimes Gursikhs will come onto this Earth and change the nature of the game. Baba Deep Singh was such a person. His entire life has given Sikhs the blueprint in which to live and as Sant Jee gave so much to Sikhi, lets never forget him.
Dhan dhan Sant Brahmgiani Mahapurakh Baba Deep Singh!! Bole so Nihaaal! Sat Sri Akal.
Please forgive daas for all the mistakes made in describing Sant Jees life.
Account predominantly based on the Katha by Giani Thakur Singh Jee Damdami Taksaal, parts 1 to 16.
Additional information from
Giani Pinderpal Singh's katha http://www.shabadvichar.net/KathaVichar.aspx
¹Early history of Jatha– www.jathshaheedan.com
²Leaders of Damdami Taksaal– www.damdamitaksaal.org
More articles in the Sikhi Explored series for Students can be found at www.kclsikhsoc.wordpress.com Fateh, Jaspinder Singh.