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Life and Exploits of Banda Singh Bahadur - Book By Sohan Singh

Publisher: Punjabi-University-Patiala
Authors: Sohan Singh
Page: 107
Format: Hardbound
Language: English
Product Code: ESE130
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Foreword To The Book 'Life and Exploits of Banda Singh Bahadur' - Book By Sohan Singh

The post-Guru period in the Sikh history is marked by a long-drawn struggle against their persecution by the oppressive Mughal governments which prepared ground for the political ascendency of the Sikhs. Attempts were made at their total extirpation and prices were fixed on their heads. The most outstanding and yet enigmatic personality of this period undoubtedly has been Banda Singh Bahadur - a Rajput by birth, an ascetic by choice and playful by temperament, but whose personality and vision underwent a complete metamorphosis at a mere glimpse of the Tenth Master to whom he submitted himself as a slave (Banda), received initiation in the Khalsa-fold and provided political leadership to the Khalsa during the most turbulent period of its history.

Banda Singh fascinated both Hindus and Sikhs equally during the period of renaissance that the Punjabis witnessed during the early period of twentieth century and books were brought out mostly in Urdu and Punjabi to project Banda as hero on either side. The first work on Banda by a Sikh, was Karam Singh's biography of Banda Bahadur (1907) in Punjabi. Karam Singh accepted norms and constraints of the then emerging trends of modern historiography. Sohan Singh's Life and Exploits of Banda Singh Bahadur (1915) is the first work on Banda in English. He too displays a high sense of historical enquiry and he ascertains all facts by cross­checking them with the available material and critically examines the events to arrive at the truth.

I am happy that Professor Prithipal Singh Kapur and Dr. Dharam Singh, both of the Department of Encyclopaedia of Sikhism, voluntarily undertook to edit the work so as to make it available for younger generation of scholars so that they could be able to appreciate the handicaps and limitations of their predecessors. They have added a prologue to the book giving, in brief, the historiography of Banda Singh Bahadur. Herein they have surveyed and closely scrutinized the entire literary corpus on Banda, bringing out in the process the distinct shade and tenor of each work. They have also appended valuable footnotes so as to highlight what later researches have brought out.

I appreciate their endeavour which has made a very valuable book accessible to students and researchers in the field of Sikh history and that too in the year of the Tercentenary of the Khalsa.

Punjabi University, Patiala .                                                                       Dr. Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia 
15 March 2000                                                                                                                Vice-chancellor

Preface To The Book 'Life and Exploits of Banda Singh Bahadur' - Book By Sohan Singh

In my case, it is my own family traditions that actuated me to take up my pen to write this piece of Sikh History. Sikhism in my family began with my great-great-grand father, Bhai Mansa Singh of Khem Karan, who having received amrit joined the Budha Dal, and afterwards accompanied Sardar Charat Singh to Gujranwala. He adhered to the great Sardar till his last breath. He had two sons, Bhais Amar Singh and Karam Singh. The former was killed while fighting under Ranjit Singh against the Chathas of Ram Nagar, and his samadh exists down to this day at the Shahid Ganj situated in the premises of Sardar Charat Singh's samadh at Gujranwala. The latter, my great-grand father, was one of the greatest religious scholars of his time. He was as pious as he was learned, and, therefore, the Lion of the Punjab appointed him a religious tutor to his family. This duty was inherited by my grand father, Bhai Sant Singh, who was a soldier too. But after fighting in the battle of Chillianwala, he took to service as a Punjabi Teacher to the civil and military English officers at the Sialkot cantonement, all of whom have paid a very high tribute to his abilities and character. His younger brother, Mahatma Sujan Singh, was a boy of twelve when while writing with his own hands, the holy Adi Granth, he met a Shabad which caused him such an ecstacy that he stopped speakingand ever since remained absorbed in meditation from which he never recovered the state of a worldly man. His memory is still revered as g, and ever since remained absorbed in meditation from which he never recovered the state of a worldly man. His memory is still revered as far as Peshawar like that of any true devotee of Waheguru, My father had inherited all the spirit of a Sikh, but he was too circumstanced to be called a great religious man. But his sermons on Sikhism and loyalty to the British were unsurpassed in impressiveness.

Thus, I was but a child when I had drunk deep the whole Sikh history. The lives of the 10th Guru, Banda Bahadur, Akali Phula Singh and Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa were my favourite study when I was a mere student of IV Upper Primary. But the knowledge of history that I had inherited and acquired from my father enabled me to distinguish between fact and fiction. And it is with this knowledge that I have ventured to write this small work which, like a gardener presenting a bouquet to his benefactor, I beg to offer to the Guru-Panth in the hope that overlooking my faults in style and diction, my brethren will accept it as a thing worth their perusal.

In arranging facts, I have had to refer to almost all the great writers of the Sikh history, such as Cunningham, Malcolm, Wheeler, Latif, Santokh Singh, Rattan Singh, Gyan Singh, G. C. Narang, Kanhaya Lal, Madan Gopal, Kaur Chand, Karam Singh, Kartar Singh, Khazan Singh, Labh Singh, Daulat Rai, Jodh Singh and others, who owe their information to the Moslem writers of the time, such as Khafi Khan, Iradit Khan, Mohammad Kasim, Syar-ul-Mutakhrin and others. 

My special thanks are due to Bhai Narain Singh Gyani (whom I have given the rights of publishing this book) who supplied me with all the books that I stood in need of, to Shriman Bhai Takhat Singh, the martyr in life of the Panth, Bhai Lal Singh Updeshak of Gujranwala, Bhai Ishar Singh (Manager, Khalsa Parcharak Vidyala, Tarn Taran) and Sant Swami Ramindra Singh Ji Virakt for their evincing interest in the work.

I don't intend stopping my labours here, as I hope some important works on Sikh Religion, Sikh Martyrdom and Sikh History will follow this within short intervals one after the other, if Almighty so willed.

Due to haste, which has been observed in bringing out this book on the occasion of the 8th Sikh Educational Conference, I have not been able to revise it thoroughly. Therefore, any omission in it will be supplied in the next edition.

30 March 1915                                                                                                                 SOHAN SINGH



Table Of Contents 'Life and Exploits of Banda Singh Bahadur'  Book By Sohan Singh

  Foreword vii
  Editors' Note :  
  Historiography of Banda Singh Bahadur  ix
  Preface xxv
  Introduction 1
I Birth, Parentage And Early Life 5
II Visited By Guru Gobind Singh 9
III Advent in the Punjab 21
IV A Brief Outline of the Situation 25
V Preliminary Operations 28
VI Pillage of Samana 31
VII Difficulties of the Majha Sikhs 36
VIII Conquest of Sadhaura 40
IX Battle of Ropar 51
X Sirhind 54
XI Punishing the Masands And Further Progress 65
XII Conquest of Saharanpur and the Surrounding Tract 68
XIII Reversion 72
XIV Regaining the Last Position 79
XV Further Fights with the Kasuri Pathans 85
XVI Plunder of Kalanaur and Batala 88
XVII Retrogession and Distruption 91
XVIII Captivity and End 98
XIX Conclusion 104


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