Baba Banda Singh Bahadur : Guru Gobind Singh Ji

As we have seen, when the Guru lost hope of persuading the Emperorto suitably punish Wazir Khan, Nawab of Sarhind, who had beenresponsible for most of the sufferings of the Guru, he parted companywith him near Nander. The Emperor did much to win the Guru’s favourand to effect conciliation. For example, he had issued an order in favourof the Guru on the Nawab of Sarhind for payment of three hundredrupees a day. 1 But, as regards punishing the Nawab, the Emperor seemedto have avoided clinching the issue, though the Guru had been withhim for more than a year, and no doubts had been left in his mindregarding the cruelty and un-Islamic acts in the Nawab.

Hence, finding that no further good could be expected from theEmperor’s company and having found the man for whom he had comeso far, the Guru separated from Bahadur Shah, and proceeded to Nander.

In a beautiful spot near the river was situated the dera or ashramof a bairagi named Lachhman Dev alias Madho Das. This man wasbom on Katik Sudi 13, 1727 Bk/ October 27, 1670, at Rajauri in thePoonch district of western Kashmir. His father Ram Dev, was a Rajputploughman. He was named Lachhman Dev. He was very fond of theart of using arms and of hunting. At the same time, he was very tenderhearted. Once he shot down a pregnant she-deer. When he went near,he saw it dying and its young ones falling from its womb writhing todeath before his eyes. The sight went straight to his heart. He resolvedto become an acsetic. Accordingly, he became a disciple of a VaishnavSadhu named Janki Parshad. The latter gave him the name of MadhoDas. Wandering in the company of a group of bairagis, he reached thePunjab, and became a disciple of Sadhu, Ram Das. Then he travelledto the Deccan, and reaching Nasik on the banks of the Godavri, heentered the hermitage of an old Yogi named Aughar Nath. From himhe learnt occultism. After his guru’s death, he moved to Nander, in theNizam’s dominions, and established a monastry of his own. With the1. Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, op cit, p.78.

help of his occult, powers, he used to practise tricks of magic and toplay practical jokes on those who came to see him. He took greatdelight in doing so.

When the Guru visited his monastry in September 1708, he wasaway. The Guru went in. He quietly occupied the bairagi’s couch andasked the servants and sadhus of the place to give food to him and tohis followers. They refused to serve them until the bairagi had beenserved. Thereupon, the Master ordered his own men to take hold ofwhatever came to their hands in the ashram and prepare the dinner. Agoat was killed, cooked, and eaten. This was unpardonable sacrilege.

A disciple of the bairagi ran off to inform him about the strangeintruder.

The bairagi was out of himself with anger. ‘What,’ said he, I shalltell him what it is to profane my place in this way.’ He concentratedhis mind, uttered some meaningless words, and appeared to be exertinghis utmost stength to lift a heavy weight. For a long time he remainedin that posture of mind and body. He then shook his head and gaveup the effort. He had been trying to overturn the couch on which theMaster was sitting. It had shaken a bit, as if by a mild earthquake, buthad otherwise remained undisturbed.

The bairagi then came to the hut and made another effort atmagic. But he failed again. He tried no more. He felt that he foundhis Master. The following dialogue occurred between them, as recordedin Ahamad Shah’s Zikar-i-Guruan wa Ibtidai-i-Singhan wa Mazhab-iEshan :'”

Madho Das : Who are you ?

Guru Gobind Singh.: He whom you know.

Madho Das : What do I know ?

Guru Gobind Singh : Think it over.

Madho Das : (after a pause) : So you are Guru Gobind

Singh?

Guru Gobind Singh : Yes.

Madho Das : What have you come here for ?

Guru Gobind Singh : I have come to make you my disciple.

Madho Das : I submit. 1 am your Banda (slave).

Saying this, he fell at the Guru’s feet and expressed delight athaving, at last, found the Master for whom his soul had been yearningso long. The Master instructed Banda in the tenets of Sikh religionand, in due time, baptized him as a member of the Khalsa. From1. Taken from principal Teja Singh and Dr Ganda Singh’s A Short History of theSikhs.

Lachhman Das his name was changed to Banda Singh. But in historyhe is mostly known by the name by which he himself was pleased tocall himself, Banda, or the Master’s slave, or Banda Bahadur.

In the course of time, Banda Singh heard of the events in thePunjab which had preceded the Master’s journey to the south. Likeevery one else, he, too, wept copiously on hearing of the martyrdomof the Princes and that of the Sikhs at Anandpur, Chamkaur, Sarhind,and Muktsar. The Master’s Nectar and teachings soon had their effect.

The long dormant Rajput spirit of the new disciple obtained a new andmore invigorated life. He yearned to be in the battlefield as the Master’ssaint-soldier, and to punish the perpetrators of wrong and evil. At last,his wish was granted. The Master bade him to go to the Punjab andpunish the enemies of the Khalsa. He gave him a drum and a banneras emblems of temporal authority, and bestowed on him five arrowsfrom his own quiver as a pledge of victory. He deputed five of theSikhs (Baba Binod Singh, Baba Kahan Singh, Bhai Baj Singh, etc) toaccompany him and to help him with their advice and prowess. Healso gave him Hukamnama addressed to leading Sikhs in the Punjaband the general body of the Khalsa, calling upon them to help BandaSingh in every way.

At the time of parting, the Guru enjoined on him to remain purein conduct and never to touch another’s wife; to be true in word anddeed; to look upon himself as a servant of the Khalsa, who would bethe Guru in future ; to act as the temporal leader of the Khalsa andseek and follow the advice of the five Sikhs being sent with him; notto aspire to be the religious leader or Guru of the Sikhs ; not to setup any sect of his own ; to help the helpless, the poor, and the needy; to punish the oppressors and tyrants ; not to molest the innocent ; tohave full faith in God ; and to act always in accordance with the tenetsof the Sikh faith. As long as he would keep true to the Guru’s partinginstructions, victory would ever wait on his standard. If, it any time,he felt himself to be involved in a helpless situation, he was to thinkof God and the Guru, and s shoot one of the five arrows given by theMaster.

Banda Singh agreed to do as ordered and prayed that the Master’shelp and protection be vouchsafed to him. The subsequent history ofBaba Banda Singh Bahadur will be out of place here.

1. For a detailed account of the life and work of Baba Banda Singh, see GandaSingh’s Banda Singh Bahadur.