Sunday, February 11, 2007

Banda Bhadur

Banda Bhadur

Lakshman Dev was born in Kashmir in 1670 A.D. He was a Minhas Rajput and lived as an ascetic at Nander on the banks of Godavari in Maharashtra.

Banda Bhadur

Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru of Sikhs, met Lakshman at his hermitage and encouraged him to give up his ascetic way of life and resume the duties of a real Rajput. Guruji gave Lakshman a new name: Banda Bhadur and asked him to lead Khalsa, the Sikh army to punish the Governor of Sirhind, Wazir Khan, who was personally responsible for the death of Guruji's family and thousands of Sikhs and Hindus. When Banda was on his way to Punjab, Guru Gobind Singh was assassinated by Pathans on the orders of Wazir Khan. Banda Bhadur was not disheartened by this news rather the fire of vengeance started burning stronger in his heart. He continued his journey and raided the Mughal treasuries at Sonepat and Kaithal and used it to strengthen his army. He then destroyed the Mughal armies at Samana, Kunjpura, Ghuram, Thaska and Mustafabad. At Damla the Pathans were routed. When on his way from Mustafabad to Sadhaura (which literally means the abode of Sadhus, was a buddhist holy centre), he heard of indecencies which Qadam-ud-din, ruler of Kapuri, was prone to inflict on the Hindu population, the ascetic Banda decided to punish the Muslim ruler. Kapuri was destroyed and Qadam-ud-din perished.

Lohgarh fort.

At Sadhaura the well garrisoned Mughal fort was stormed and the ruler Osman Khan, who committed atrocities against Hindus was killed. In February 1710 he established the first Sikh Kingdom with its capital at Lohgarh, 20 KM south of Nahan. His kingdom was bounded in the north by Shivalik hills, on the west by river Tangri, on the east by river Jamuna and in the south by a line passing through Samana, Thanesar, Kaithal and Karnal. He abolished the Mughal control of land in his kingdom and made the peasants owner of the land. Guru Gobind Singh's dream of political sovereignty was realized by Banda Bhadur within one year of his death.

Banda's name struck terror in the hearts of Muslims, lawless people and dacoits. Robbery, thefts and persecution of Hindus and Sikhs became a thing of the past. His army kept growing and finally he attacked Wazir Khan, the governor of Sirhind. Wazir Khan's army consisted of 30,000 men and Banda had about 15,000 men. Banda first stormed Banur, near Ambala, as the Muslims of this town used to seize cows and oxen of Hindus and slaughter them in there presence. Battle was fought on May 12, 1710 A.D. at Chappar Chiri, 20 KMs from Sirhind. Wazir Khan and several of his commanders were killed in the battle and his army completely destroyed. Khafi Khan, a chronicler of the time records
. . . not a man of the army of Islam escaped with more than his life and the clothes he stood in. Horsemen and footmen fell under the swords of the infidels [Sikhs] who pursued them as far as Sirhind.
Sirhind was stormed and thus Banda avenged the murder of Guru Gobind Singh and his sons by killing Wazir Khan. Soon other towns were won by Banda and his army. Rai Kot, Saharanpur, Jalalabad, Ludhiana, Jullundur, Hoshiarpur, Batala, Kalanaur and Pathankot were won. The Mughal King of Delhi tried his best to suppress Banda Bhadur but "There was no nobleman daring enough to march from Delhi against them", comments the Mughal source.

Banda Bhadur attracted a lot of people from the plains of Haryana and Punjab to the fold of Sikhism as he gave them an opportunity to fight against the tyranny and unjust oppression of the Muslim rulers.

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