Banda Singh Bahadur

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Banda Singh Bahadur

There was a resurgence of Sikh uprisings against the Mughal Empire.

Lachman Das, popularly known as Banda Singh Bahadur, became the leader in the new struggle of the Sikhs. Banda Singh Bahadur was born in 1670.

When Guru Govind Singh died, a new disciple named Banda Bahadur was also by his side. A message was sent to the Sikhs in the Punjab that although the present body of the Guru had come to an end he would reappear at the appropriate moment.

In the meantime, Banda Bahadur made his appearance in the north. He declared that he was Guru Govind Singh himself and was coming to assume the leadership of the Sikhs. The news ran like wild fire and as his appearance bore a great affinity to that of the Guru, even his intimate associated were deceived. The number of his followers soon became a legion.

Banda Bahadur also drew strength from the support of Jat zamindars and peasants and lowly placed nondescript communities like scavengers, the leather dressers and other low-born. A large number of Jats had acquired wealth and were then looking for social recognition of their status to match their economic position. In the teachings of Sikh religion found avenue to advance and promote their claims.

A large number of the zamindars along both sides of the River Beas and the Ravi sympathized and acted in collusion with the Sikhs of Banda. The zamindars supplied arms and horses and food grains for the Sikhs.

Hs first success was secured against the faujdar of Sonipat. Next he moved upon Sarhind and defeated the local faujdar Wazir Khan.

The victorious Sikhs now fanned out to occupy the whole of the Sarkar of Sarhind and they soon captured Samana, Sunnam, Kaithal, Kuhram, Ambala, Thaneshwar, Machhiwara, Ludhiana and other important centers at each of which they established military outposts, under capable officers.

By the end of 1708, after he had established his seat at Lohagarh, he had conquered many territories and issued coins and hukumnamas and governed these through his deputies.

In the meantime, Bahadur Shah had returned to the north after defeating Kam Bakhsh.

From 1710 to 1715, the resources of the empire were employed against Banda. The imperial agents captured Sikh strongholds like Sarhind, Lohgarh and Sadhora. But fighting continued.

It was during the reign of Farrukh Siyar that Abdus Samad Khan was entrusted with the task of suppressing the revolt of the Sikhs under Banda Singh Bahadur. Mughal canon attacks forced Banda and his followers to take refuge in the fort of Gurudaspur. The fort was seized. Banda was arrested and brought to Delhi and finally sentenced to death in June 1716.

Khafi Khan, a Muslim chronicler bears eloquent testimony to Sikh valor, steadfastness and devotion to their Guru and remarks that among the victims there was none who wore a depressed face or who did not heighten the glory of his order by his exemplary conduct.

It was these qualities of the Sikhs which had enabled Banda to withstand the organized might of the empire for so many years.

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