Baba Banda Singh Bahadur

Context: PM paid tributes to Baba Banda Singh Bahadur on his 350th Jayanti.

  • “He is remembered for his sense of justice. He made many efforts to empower the poor”, the Prime Minister said.

Analysis

Crusade of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur

  • Just before his death, the tenth and last Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh, who was in exile in Nanded (in present-day Maharashtra), sent Banda Singh Bahadur to Punjab to offer resistance to the Mughal force in Punjab.
  • The first meeting between Guru Gobind Singh and Bairagi Madho Das (later known as Banda Singh Bahadur after baptization by the Guru) took place at Nander, on the banks of the river Godavari, on 3rd September 1708.
  • The Sikh tradition believes that the main clause of his mission was to teach a lesson to Wazir Khan, the Subedar of Sirhind, who was responsible for bricking alive the two younger sons (Sahibzadas)
    of Guru Gobind Singh
    .
  • There, Banda Singh rallied Sikh volunteers to form an army, and with them established a large but temporary kingdom between the Sutlej and Yamuna Rivers.
  • He captured many important cities in the region including the Mughal provincial capital of Sirhind in 1710.
  • The Muslim chieftains of these areas were devastated and their land holdings were distributed to cultivators of their lands.
  • This was a revolutionary step in the history of India when the feudal system was abolished in Punjab.
  • The Sikh army under Banda Singh was not a regular army but they were highly motivated to defeat and destroy the oppressive regime of Mughals.
  • Wazir Khan (MughalGovernor of Sirhind) confronted Baba Banda Singh at Chappar Chirri (near Present day Chandigarh).
  • Chappar Chirri was a historical battle fought on May 12, 1710 in which mighty Mughal army was defeated by the Khalsa and Sirhind was captured.

Foundation of Khalsa Raj

  • Banda Singh chose a place called Mukhlisgarh (renamed Lohgarh) in the Shivalik hills of Nahan state as his capital.
  • But this Khalsa glory was short-lived. The Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah himself led the Mughal army and attacked the Lohgarh fort, but Banda Singh had a narrow escape and could not be captured alive.
  • The Khalsa army re-assembled to conquer areas of Jallandhar Doab. He re-captured Lohgarh again and hoisted the Khalsa flag.

Capture of Banda Singh Bahadur

  • Mughal Emperor Farukhsiyar appointed Abdus Samad Khan, the Subedar of Lahore, to capture Banda Singh alive.
  • Abdus Samad Khan captured Banda Bahadur from a fortress at Gurdas Nangal near Gurdaspur (Battle of Gurdas Nangal) after cutting off all food and fodder supplies for 8 months (7th April 1715 to 7 December 1715).
  • It is unfortunate that fissures appeared in followers of Banda Singh Bahadur. They split into two groups: Bandais and Tat Khalsa.
  • This may be one of the reasons of their defeat at the hands of Abdus Samad Khan.
  • Earlier, Banda Singh wrote letters to Rajput Maharajas to join his crusade for uprooting the Mughal Empire. He wrote a letter to Mirza Raja Swai Jai Singh on September 11, 1711 but got no moral or physical support.
  • In campaign of Lohgarh and Gurdas Nangal, Hindu Rajas of Shivalik hill states supported the Mughal army by men and materials.
  • Banda Singh and 700 Sikh soldiers of his army were brought to Delhi in chains and massacred in 1716.

Highlights of Banda Singh Bahadur’s Campaign

  • Baba Banda Singh created the first Khalsa commonwealth of Guru Gobind Singh ji’s dreams in Punjab.
  • He abolished feudal system of Jagirdari and established democracy and Panchayati raj.

Sikh Coins of Banda Singh Bahadur (1710)

  • The first-ever Sikh coins are credited to the great Sikh warrior and commander of the Khalsa army, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur.
  • Up until then, Mughal coins were in use during the reign of the ten Sikh Gurus (1469-1708 CE).
  • The first Sikh coins came with the establishment of a Sikh kingdom by Banda Bahadur and his associates, within a few years of Guru Gobind Singh’s passing away somewhere around 1710 CE.
  • They were inscribed in the prevalent Persian language but, unlike other kingdoms in which the bust or name of the king along with the period of his reign was mentioned, these Sikh coins bore the name of the Sikh Gurus and the Almighty.
  • The coins followed the indigenous Bikrami (Vikram Samvat) and Nanakshahi Samvat (base year 1469, the birth year of the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak) calendars to mark dates.
  • The coins of Banda Bahadur, however, issued till 1713 CE, after which the war with the Mughals intensified.

Gobindshahi Sikka (1765)

  • The first Misl-period coin, made of silver, was issued in 1765 CE.
  • It was inscribed in Persian in the name of Guru Gobind Singh, just like Banda Singh Bahadur’s coins.
  • These coins were known as ‘Gobind Shahi’ coins and were issued from the Lahore mint up to 1775 CE.

Nanakshahi Sikka (1775)

  • In 1775 CE, the Sikh mint was transferred to Amritsar.
  • The coins produced here were known as ‘Nanakshahi’ coins (in the name of the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak) and were similar to the early Sikh coins.
  • After this triumph in Lahore, Ranjit Singh issued various coins, which reflect his ideology and the political climate during his reign.

Fateh Burj

  • Fateh Burj, the memorial of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur at Chappar Chrri village in Punjab.
  • This 328 feet high Burj is India’s tallest victory tower, even taller than the famous Qutub Minar of Delhi.
  • It was constructed to mark the 3rd centenary of the historical battle of Chappar Chiri.

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