Baba Banda Singh Bahadur (16 October, 1670 - 9 June, 1716) (Lachhman Dev alias Madho dass Bairagi), originally from the Jammu region, is revered as one of greatest Sikh warriors as well as one of the most hallowed martyrs of the Khalsa Army. The Khalsa were engaged in a prolonged fight against the cruel Mughals, who were practising their tyranny and terrorism. His confrontation with the Mughal administration in Northern India, though brief, was strong and vigorous enough to shake the foundations of this evil empire. The agrarian uprising that he led in the Punjab was the underpinning on which the Dal Khalsa, the Sikh Misls and Maharaja Ranjit Singh built the edifice which finally culminated with Ranjit Singh capturing Lahore in 1799 and establishing the Sikh Kingdom of the Punjab. This resulted in the end of a dark period in the history of India. Baba Banda Singh Bahadur was born in a Minhas Rajput family on October 16, 1670 at Rajouri in the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir, Northern India; he was named Lachman Dev. Wrestling, horseback riding, and hunting were his major hobbies. He was a very active and energetic child. However, as a young man, he shot a doe and was shocked to watch the mother and her aborted fawn writhing in pain and dying. After this gloomy scene, he had a change of heart. This experience moved him so much that he completely changed his outlook to life. He left his home and became a recluse. Soon, he met a Bairagi Sadhu, Janaki Das and became his disciple. The Sadhu gave him the name, Madho Das. In the company of the Sadhus he travelled through Northern India and then finally arrived at Nanded (in present-day Maharashtra) in central India, situated on the bank of the river Godavari, where he built a hut to meditate upon God.
Madho Das meets Guru Gobind Singh
In September 1708, Guru Gobind Singh, who had come to the Deccan along with the Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah, happened to go to Madho Das’ hut while hunting. Madho Das was away. The Guru ordered his disciples to cook food immediately as the Sikhs were hungry as they had not eaten for days. News of this reached Madho Das, who was enraged. He had mastered Tantra and tried some of his tricks to humiliate the Guru. But none had any effect on Guru Gobind. The Guru then asked him, “Who are you?”
Madho Das, who having tried all his occult powers had my now accepted defeat, said with great humility, "I am your banda (slave)". The Guru inquired, if he knew who he was talking to. Banda said he was none other than Guru Gobind Singh. The Guru then had a long conversation with Banda. He encouraged him to give up his present recluse lifestyle and the lonely way of living. The Guru asked him to resume the duties of a true warrior to fight for righteousness and justice before God.
Banda Singh Bahadur's mission
Guru Gobind Singh had hoped that Emperor Bahadur Shah would fulfil his promise and do justice in the Punjab by punishing the Governor of Sirhind, Nawab Wazir Khan and his accomplices for their crimes against the common people including the deaths of the Guru's mother, Mata Gujri and his two younger sons, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh. Finding him reluctant, the Guru deputed Madho Das Bairagi, under the leadership of five Sikhs, to end Mughal persecution of innocents in Punjab. In a few days, the Guru held a darbar and on 3 September 17081, baptised Madho Das with Khanda di pahal and conferred the title of Banda Singh Bahadur on him. He appointed him as his military lieutenant and invested him with full political and military authority as his deputy to lead the campaign in the Punjab against the evil Mughal administration and to punish Nawab Wazir Khan and his supporters. Banda was supplied with five gold tipped arrow and a nagara (drum) as symbols of temporal authority. He was given an advisory council of five devoted Sikhs (Hazuri Singhs), who on their arrival in the Punjab were to assure the Sikhs that Banda was...
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