In every faith and every land, whenever men become corrupt, despotic and tyrannous, God sends a scourge like me to punish them and teach them a lesson". Thus spoke Banda Singh Bahadur a great Sikh hero in reply to a question put to him by Mohammad Amin Khan, the author of Siyarul-Mutakherin when he went near him to ask as to why he was waging war against Mughals. Banda Bahadur was tortured to death by order of Mughal King Farrukh Siyar on June 19, 1716 in Mehrauli near Qutab Minar. Earlier he was taken through the streets of Delhi to the Shrine of the Sufi Saint Khawaja Bakhtiar Kaki in Mehrauli. He was paraded around the tomb of Emperor Bahadur Shah. He was offered the usual choice of death or conversion to Islam but like all his companions he chose death. He was ordered to kill his own four-year-old son Ajai Singh but he refused. Thereafter they butchered the innocent child. His heart was taken out and thrust into Banda's mouth.
Banda's eyes were gouged out with a knife. His left foot was cut off. His flesh was torn off, his body pierced with red-hot pincers and afterwards was hacked to pieces limb by limb.
Exactly three years later namesis overtook Emperor Farrukh Siyar who had brutally murdered Banda and his companions. He was deposed, imprisoned, blinded and ultimately killed in a very ignominous manner on April 28, 1719.
Banda Bahadur's courage was unparallel. He possessed most fearless and undaunted spirit. Mr M. Gregor wrote that Banda Bahadur was a man of undaunted valour and bravery. The coolness with which he met his death, earned praise for Banda even from historans like Khafi Khan.
Banda Bahadur took over the leadership of the Sikhs after the death of Guru Go bind Singh. On embracing Sikhism he became a staunch amritdhari follower of the tenth Guru, and followed the teachings of the Gurus in theory and practice. He lived a pure and simple life.
During his time followers of Sikh faith increased. He also baptised a number of Muslims and brought them into the new faith. Nawab Amin-ud-Daula writes in the third Ruqat-I-Amin-Ud-Daula as follows - "Many Hindus and Musalmans adopted their faith and rituals. And their chief (Banda Bahadur) captivated the hearts of Musalmans who came in contact with him. He addressed them with the title of Singh. Accordingly, Dinder Khan, a powerful ruler of neighbourhood was named Dinder Singh and Mir Nasir-ud-Din as Mir Nasir Singh. In the same way a large number of Musalmans abandoned Islam and adopted the path of Sikhism."
A newswriter reported to Mughal Emperor about the activities of Bandai Bahadur in the following words-"The wretched has his camp in the town of Kalanaur up to 9th instant. During the period he promised and proclaimed, 'I do not oppress Muslims'. He fixed a daily allowance and wages and looks after them. He has permitted them to read Khuiba and Nam&z. As many as 5,000 Musalmans have gathered around him. Having entered his friendship, they are free to shout their call and say prayer in the army of the wretched."
This newsletter of Mughal official speaks of the Banda's liberal mindedness and that too in spite of the fact that the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah, who had ascended the Delhi throne with the help of the Sikhs, had on December 10, 1710 issued an imperial ordinance to the effect that "every Sikh wherever found should be put to death without any hesitation and without any further thoughf'.
Banda Bahadur established the first independent sovereign state with its own coins and seal. Although it was short-lived but it put the Sikhs on the path to establish their own rule subsequently. Sri Gokal Chand Narang writes in his book entitled. "Transformation of Sikhism" that personal magnetism of Banda Bahadur was too great and his undaunted courage and extraordinary valour knit his followers closely to him. The fact that not a single Sikh out of thousands captured and executed by the Mughal Government renounced his faith to save his life was no less due to the exemplary piety and lofty character of Banda Bahadur.
The nobel laureate and great poet Rabindra Nath Tagore, has vividly portrayed the heroism of Banda's martyrdom in his poem 'Banda Bir' which is memorised by almost every Bengali school boy. The following lines of this poem are worth noting-"In the arms of Banda the Brave, the Qazi flung his little babe, tender and innocent was the babe. He ordered Banda to kill his own child. Silently Banda looked at the child. Passionately he embraced the Child. Lovingly he blessed the child, tenderly he kissed the babe, looking fixedly at his face, then in his ear he softly whispered,
'Say, 'Glory unto the Guru my little one,
Fear not death my son,
Inspired by these words,
The child's face was aglow with fearlessness,
With tender but Srill speech,
He shouted loudly;
Guru Ki Jai,
Kichchu nahi Bhai,
Hail to thee, Guru hail to thee,
From fear of death I am free,
With his eyes beaming with mighty courage,
He looked at his father's face,
On his left side struck deep the knife,
"Glory unto the Guru" shouted the child,
As he breathed his last breath,
On the earth he fell dead'
The 50-foot high pillar made of stone over-looking the Dargah of Khwaja Bakhtair Kaki now houses a Gurdwara in the memory of the supreme sacrifice made by this great Sikh hero. The pillar still has a steel hook from which it is believed he was hanged and his skin was pealed off.
There is another Gurdwara in an improvised room in the courtyard of an adjoining site. It lies amid ruins.
Gurdwara Banda Bahadur Sahib is situated near Post Office, Mehrauli, New Delhi. It is about one and a half kms away from the Qutab Minar.
This Gurudwara marks the site of the martyrdom of Banda Singh Bahadur. Banda Bahadur was earlier known as Madho Das. He was a miracle mongering yogi and he used his powers to impress other people. When Guru Gobind Singh reached the Deccan, he met with Madho Das, who tried in vain to subdue the Guru with his occult powers. Humbled, he fell at the Guru's feet and became his disciple.
Guru Sahib named him as Banda Singh Bahadur and was sent to Punjab to fight for Sikh rights. Banda Bahadur and his army overran Punjab and held sway over a large part of the area. Finally, Banda Bahadur was defeated and captured in 1715. He and his followers were brought to Delhi and, on the orders of Emperor Farrukhsiyar, brutally killed. Banda himself was mercilessly tortured and slain
The Secretary, Management Committee,
Gurdwara Banda Bahadur,
Near Qutab Minar,
Mehrauli, New Delhi