20. Baba Deep Singh ji
Deep Singh Shahid (26
1757), is one of most honoured martyrs in
Sikh history. He was the founder of the
Misl (group). He was the first head of
He was an exceptionally brave Sikh.
bold and fearless
saint-soldier he was ever ready to risk his
life for the
Panth. Baba ji was born on January 26, 1682
(some records register this as January 20) and died fighting at
Amritsar on November 11, 1757 when he was
about 75 years old. From about 12 years of age, he grew up around the tenth
Guru Gobind Singh.
spent most of his life as a custodian of the Panth (Sikh community). He and
Banda Singh Bahadur are recognised as the
most honoured martyrs of the
Panth who, together set a unique and
amazing example for the community to follow for many generations. Not only
was Baba ji a brave and fearless soldier but a very intelligent scholar who
had mastered several languages.
the time when Guru Gobind Singh came to
Damdama Sahib, Baba ji was responsible for
the distribution of the
Guru Granth Sahib to other parts of the
world and was the "head granthi" (head priest) of Damdama Sahib in
Baba ji was a great Sikh scholar who became
a soldier and martyr for the defence of
Anandpur Sahib where he spent about 8
Bhai Mani Singh along with the art of
horsemanship, archery as well as other arms training.
At the age of eighteen, he received Amrit
Panj Pyare at
Anandpur Sahib in the presence of
Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
Between 1705 and 1728 Baba Deep Singh and
Bhai Mani Singh produced a number of hand
written copies of the
Sri Guru Granth Sahib for distribution
among the Sikhs.
Baba Deep Singh became head "Granthi"
Fought in various wars - In about 1709, Baba
Deep Singh Ji joined
Banda Singh Bahadur to fight in the
battle of Sirhind. Baba Deep Singh was
also a survivor of the
Chotta Ghalughara (Small Holocaust) in
1755 when 10,000 Sikhs were killed.
On the outskirts of
Amritsar, Baba ji and a group of heavily
outnumbered Sikhs fought two fierce battles against a
Mughal force of 20,000. In the second
engagement Baba Deep Singh in the course of battle was beheaded, but
having vowed to die in the precincts of the
Golden Temple. He kept his promise by
continuing after picking up his head and carrying it on his palm, whilst
continuing to fight. He then left for
Sach Khand with his severed head resting
on the parkarma of
Harimander Sahib on 11 November 1757.
at the same spot, just south of the norteast corner of the parkarma, a large
marble octagonal tile marks the spot where his head landed. Many pilgrims
stop and pause here daily, as they have since his death, to sprinkle rose
pedals and lay garlands on the tile as they pray in his honor.
Ji was born January 26, 1682, (14 Maagh Sunmat 1739) the son of Bhai Bhagata
Ji and Mai Jeoni Ji,) a Sikh couple living in Pahuvind, a village 40 km
Amritsar.] Baba Ji's parents were hard
working Sikh farmers. Their first born he was to be their only child. He was
named Deepa (light). An only child, his parents lavished him with much
devotion and affection.
Deepa was twelve, he traveled with his parents to
Anandpur Sahib to meet
Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Sikh guru.
They stayed in the Guru's city for several days, doing
Sewa (service) with the Sikh community.
When his parents were ready to return to their village, the Guru asked the
12 year old Deepa to stay with him at Anandpur.
readily accepted his Guru's request and began serving the Sikh community of
the city. While at
Anandpur Sahib, he immersed himself in his
studies of Sikh philosophy and the
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the
Sikh holy book of scriptures. He learned
Gurmukhi (Punjabi script) and several other
languages from Bhai Mani Singh and other Sikh scholars. It was here that he
also learned the art of horsemanship, hunting and the use of the bow and
the age of eighteen, he received
Amrit from the
Panj Pyare at
Anandpur Sahib on
Vaisakhi day and took an oath to serve as
Waheguru’s warriors (Akal Purakh dee fauj).
With his new name, Deep Singh also learned that Sikhs are to always help the
weak and needy, and to fight for truth and justice.After receiving the vows
Khalsa, he stayed on in Anandpur to
continue his studies of the sacred texts under
Bhai Mani Singh. He soon became one of the
Guru's most beloved Sikhs staying in Anandpur for a total of about eight
about 1702 Guru Gobind Singh ji requested that he return to his village to
help his parents. He was married that same year. In 1704, about two years
after his return to Pahuwind, a Sikh messenger arrived to inform him that
Guru Ji had left his fort in
Anandpur Sahib after fighting with the
Hindu hill Rajput Rajas for six months. He
also learned that the Guru's two young sons and his mother, Mata Gujri, had
become separated from the Guru during the battle.
hearing such disheartening news, Baba Deep Singh Ji immediately left
Pahuwind to meet with Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Baba Deep Singh Ji caught up
with the Guru at
Damdama Sahib in
Talwandi. Here, he learned that the two
older sons of the Guru, Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh, had lost their lives in
the battle of
Chamkaur. Guru Ji also told him that his
two younger sons,
Zorawar Singh and
Fateh Singh and with grandmother were
betrayed by a former family servant and arrested. After refusing to convert
to Islam they were cruelly murdered at the orders of
Wazir Khan. Having pre-known the fate of
younger Sahibzadas, their grandmother Mata Gujar Kaur left for heavenly
abode in thanda burj in which she and the two princes were held at
The Missions off Baba Deep Singh Ji &
Deep Singh Ji had been summoned to Damdama Sahib to work with Bhai Mani
Singh Ji preparing the final text of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Gobind
Singh Ji recited the entire Granth Sahib to them while they wrote out the
text. After its completion Baba Deep Singh Ji continued, for several years,
to hand write four additional copies of the holy scriptures.
four copies were dispersed, a copy each to: Sri Akal Takhat Sahib, Sri
Takhat Patna Sahib, Sri Takhat Hazur Sahib and Sri Takhat Anandpur Sahib.
Later the learned scholar inscribed another copy of the Sri Guru Granth
Sahib in Arabic script. It was sent to the Middle East.
1706, before Guru Gobind Singh Ji traveled to the Deccan with Bahadur Shah,
Guru Ji placed Baba Deep Singh in charge of Damdama Sahib. He sent Bhai Mani
Singh Ji to head the Sangat at Harimander Sahib in Amritsar. Baba Deep Singh
Ji spent many years at Damdama Sahib preaching Sikh values and teachings and
doing service for the community. He was always ready to serve those in need
and to fight for justice. Baba Ji also continued to write gutkas (books of
hymns) distributing them to the Sikh community.
about 1709, Baba Deep Singh Ji joined
Banda Singh Bahadur, the Jathedar appointed
by the dying Guru Gobind Singh to fight for the freedom of Punjab. They
fought together in the battle at Sirhind—the city in which Guru Gobind Singh
Ji's younger sons had been killed. Although the Muslim army outnumbered the
Sikhs significantly, the Sikh army was able to easily defeat the Muslim
forces. During the battle, Wazir Khan was killed closing the chapter of
tyranny of this Mughal leader.
1732, he went to the rescue of Sardar Ala Singh who had been besieged in
Barnala by Manjh and Bhatti Rajputs in collaboration with the faujdar of
Jalandhar and the nawab of Malerkotla. In 1733, when the Mughal governor of
Lahore sought peace with the Sikhs offering them a nawabship and a jagir,
Baba Deep Singh and his jatha joined Nawab Kapur Singh at Amritsar to form a
joint Sikh force, the Dal Khalsa, which was soon divided for administrative
convenience into the Buddha Dal and the Taruna Dal, the latter being further
split into five jathas.
Singh, now reverently called Baba, was given the command of one of these
jathas which in 1748 were redesignated misls. It came to be known as Shahid
misl. As the leader of the Shaheedi misl, he achieved numerous victories for
the Sikhs. The Shahid misl had its sphere of influence south of the River
Sutlej and Baba Deep Singh's headquarters remained at Talvandi Sabo. The
tower in which he lived still stands next to the Takht Sri Damdama Sahib and
is known as Burj Baba Deep Singh Shahid.
the invitation of Mughlani Begum,
Ahmed Shah Abdali invaded
India for the fourth time during the years
1755-56. On his return journey Abdali was accompanied by his soldiers who
carried enormous stores of gold, silver and other valuables looted from the
towns of Mathura, Bindraban,
valuables were loaded on the backs of horses and other animals. In addition
thousands of beautiful unmarried girls and married women, from both Hindu
and Muslim communities, were being forcibly taken against their wishes, to
serve as maidens and slaves of Abdali, and to be auctioned in open market.
They were herded together in bullock carts and bound to prevent their escape
the leaders of the Khalsa Panth (Misaldars) came to know of this caravan
passing through the
Punjab, they decided to intervene with
force, to free these girls and women and save their honour and that of the
country. The cries for help of these unfortunate women fell on deaf ears and
nobody dared to rescue them till the caravan arrived near Kurukshetra.
Deep Singh's Jatha (army) was assigned duty near the river Markanda. When he
and his brave companions heard the wailings of the helpless children and
women, they stormed out of the surrounding jungles (forests) and pounced
upon Abdali's caravan, like lightening bolts from an angry sky. While some
of them attacked Abdali's soldiers, others captured and drove away many
bullock carts laden with the children, women and looted valuables taking
them to the safety of their nearby jungle hideouts.
little thought of their own safety or lives, the Sikhs had rescued about 300
women and young girls as well as 100 boys from the clutches of Abdali. The
freed boys, girls and married women both Muslim and Hindu, were escorted
safely to their homes by the Sikh soldiers. Men whose moral character was of
the highest order even in those difficult days.
Rajput and Maratha Khatris had failed to mount any attempt to rescue the
prisoners. But the saints-soldiers of Guru Gobind Singh were made of other
stuff. Ahmed Shah himself wondered at the Sikhs' daring, how could their
Gurus take sparrows and turn them into Hawks and Eagles, did naming a man a
Lion turn him into one.
Because of the dare devil tactics and noble
acts of the Sikhs, the captured women and children took to singing:
"Moreen Baba Kachh Walea
Chhai Naheen Taan Ran gai Basre noon gai"
'O' brave Sikh wearing
Kachah (an undergarment), liberate the
would be taken to Basra.
this invasion of
Ahmad Shah Durrani annexed
Punjab to his Afghan dominions and
appointed his son, Taimur Shah, viceroy at
Lahore, with the veteran general Jahan Khan
as his deputy. Jahan Khan invaded
Amritsar in May 1757, razed the Sikh
fortress of Ram Rauni and defiled the sacred pool.
Baba Deep Singh Ji was seventy-five years old, he still had the strength of
a young warrior. He gathered a large group of Sikhs and advanced towards Sri
Harimander Sahib. By the time they reached
the village of
Tarn Taran, about ten miles from
Amritsar, their numbers had risen to about
five thousand. At this time, Baba Ji drew a line on the ground with his
khanda, and asked only those who were
willing to fight and die to cross the line.
All of the assembled Sikhs crossed the line
eagerly. Baba Deep Singh Ji then recited the Shabad:
"Jo to praym khaylan ka
chaao, sir dhar talee galee mayree aao."
Those who wish to
play the game of love (to follow the Sikh path), come to me
with your head in
"It maarag pair dhareejai,
sir deejai kaan na keejai."
If you wish your
feet to travel this path, don't delay in accepting to give your
news of Baba Deep Singh Ji's intentions reached Jahan Khan, he immediately
mobilized an army of 20,000 men and proceeded towards
Tarn Taran. Baba Deep Singh Ji's army
intercepted Jahan Khan's forces near the village of Goharwal, about five
Amritsar. At this point, there was a clash
between the opposing forces.
Deep Singh Ji fought with his 15kg (about 32 lbs.)
khanda (double-edged sword). Each Sikh
fought with such great valor and courage that the enemy was almost defeated.
During the midst of battle, a large army of reinforcements arrived for Jahan
Khan's men, turning the odds against the Sikhs. Yet, the Sikhs with Baba
Deep Singh Ji as their head continued fighting and advanced towards
the clash, one of the Mughal commanders, Jamal Khan, attacked Baba Deep
Singh Ji. As they fought, both men swung their weapons with great force,
leaving both of their heads separated from their bodies. After seeing this
scene, a young Sikh warrior called out to Baba Ji, reminding him of his vow
to reach Sri
hearing this, Baba Deep Singh Ji immediately stood up, holding his severed
head upright on his left palm while holding his
khanda in his right hand. He then continued
fighting and moving towards Sri
Harimander Sahib. Upon seeing the sight of
Baba Deep Singh's headless body tearing through their numbers, most of the
men in the
Mughal army fled away in terror.
Deep Singh was able to continue fighting and reached the periphery of Sri
Harimander Sahib from where he flung his
severed head which came to rest at the parkarma (rectangular walkway) of
Gurdwara and lay there as promised. The
Sikh Army continued to fight the fleeing Mughals until victory was achieved.
Baba ji is remembered by all Sikhs as a brave and courageous martyr with an
unflinching dedication to the Sikh principles.
shrines now commemorate the martyr, one on the circumambulatory terrace of
Sarovar surrounding the
Harimander Sahib where he finally fell and
the other, Shahidganj Baba Deep Singh Shahid, near
Gurdwara Ramsar, where his body was
cremated. The places where Baba ji drew the line, engaged in battle, lost
his head, threw it, and where it landed are all marked by
Punjab. Baba Deep Singh Ji's actions
encouraged the Sikhs to continue to fight against the tyrannical and
Mughal Empire for many years. Even today,
his life serves as an example for all
Sikhs on how to live and die with dignity.