Great GurSikh Warrior : Shaheed Bhai Tara Singh Vaan (Part 1)
Source: Translated by Bhai Kulbir Singh Ji from 'Panth Parkash'
Baba Banda Singh jee Bahadur became a shaheed on June 08, 1716. After his shaheedi, despondency prevailed in Sikhs in general. The chardikala Singhs always stay in chardi kala but generally the Sikhs were very concerned about what was going and what the future held for them.
A whole generation of Sikhs had gotten wiped out after Baba Banda Singh jee’s shaheedi. At that time (around 1726) still some Sikhs used to stay in villages and did farming. One of such chardikala Singh was Bhai Tara Singh jee Vaan. He lived in a village called Vaan in district Amritsar (then Lahore) of Punjab. Bhai Tara Singh jee was a very chardikala waley Singh. His shaheedi is one of the greatest of all times in Sikhs. A brave and strong Singh like him has never come again in this world. Fortunately, history records the details of his shaheedi and we today can get some idea of what he and the Singhs with him were like.
Bhai Tara Singh jee Vaan was a fully rehitvan, tyar bar tyar Singh. It is written in history that he used to wear only blue clothes and his body used to be full of shasters (weapons). He had a great love for Gurbani and was usually found doing patth most of the time. He had full faith in Guru Sahib and his concentration remained at the lotus feet of Guru Sahib. His bhagti had reached such a level that anything he uttered came out true. His bachan never went to waste because there was a massive bhagtee of Naam and Gurbani behind him. Out of all the warriors of that time, he was said to be the top one. He had no fear of death and was always prepared to die in the battlefield.
Bhai Tara Singh built his bunga (house) like a fort and he always had 10-12 tyaar bar tyaar singhs with him. All singhs knew about Bhai Sahib jee and used to stay at Bhai Tara Singh jee’s bunga while travelling. Singhs used to do farming together and any earnings they made used to go towards langar for Singhs. Singhs living with Bhai Sahib used to do Gurbani patth all day long and when they were not doing patth together, they were doing shastar-abhyas (martial arts practice). Some Singhs out of the Singhs staying with Bhai Sahib used to help him out with farming. Singhs used to come and leave but at any given time Bhai Sahib always had 10-12 singhs with him.
START OF THE PROBLEM
Not far from Bhai Tara Singh jee’s village Vaan, there is a village named Nashaura Pannu. In those days, the chaudhary of this village was a very egoistic and bully kind of person called Sahib Rai. He used push around other villagers and everyone was scared of him because he had friends in the Lahore government of Mughals. In that village two Singhs lived with their families and they did farming there.
Chaudhary Sahib Rai hated the Singhs living in his village and never let go an opportunity to humiliate them. The chaudhary used to let his horses graze the crops of the Singhs. They did no want to start a fight with him as they feared for their families’ safety but they were getting increasingly weary of his treatment of Singhs.
One day, the Singhs saw the horses grazing in their fields again and they could not take it anymore. They decided to talk to the Chaudhary about it. They went over him and told him about his horses grazing their fields. Listening to this, the chaudhary got very mad. He was a patient of haume rog (ego) and as thus he got more anger than most. He threatened the Singhs with dire consequences if they stopped his horses from grazing in their fields.
The chaudhary then said to the Singhs something that no one should dare say to a Singh. He threatened them saying that he would cut their hair, if they tried to touch his horses. Hearing this the Singhs felt like a volcano erupting from within. Their eyes turned red and they felt their biceps trembling with Bir Rass. They somehow managed to contain their emotions and came back without saying anything further to the Chaudhary.
SINGHS TAKE AWAY CHAUDHARY’S HORSE
The first thing the Singhs did when they arrived home was packing up. They packed up and sent their wives along with their kids to their in-law's house. Then the Singhs called upon Baghel Singh and Amar Singh for help. These two Singhs were known warriors of their time. They discussed the problem and decided to get even with the chaudhary. They took away one of the horse of the chaudhary that was grazing in their fields and travelled all night to arrive at Hari Ke Pattan (where Ravi Beas rivers meet). At Hari ke Pattan, Lakhmir Singh was waiting for them. Bhai Baghel Singh and Bhai Amar Singh gave him the horse who sold it in the Malwa region (across from Hari ke Pattan).
The money that Lakhmir Singh earned as a result of selling the horse, was matha-tekked at the Bunga of Bhai Tara Singh Vaan. On the other hand when the chaudhary discovered that his horse was missing, he called in the detective to track the lost horse. The detective pointed the finger at the Singhs living in Chaudhary’s village. When the Singhs heard that they had been indicted in the theft of the horse, they left their village and came to live with Bhai Tara Singh Vaan, the great singh who had no fear of death.
SAHIB RAI ARRIVES AT BHAI TARA SINGH’S BUNGA
Following the Singhs, Sahib Rai along with his private security guards, arrived at the bunga of Bhai Tara Singh jee Vaan. He came with full ego and angrily demanded Bhai Tara Singh jee to hand over his “thieves” to him. Bhai Tara Singh who was a fearless warrior, told him that the real thief was Sahib Rai himself as he used to let his horses graze in the Singhs’ fields, thereby stealing their crops.
Hearing such an answer, the stupid chaudhary, started using foul language with Bhai Tara Singh. Now Bhai Tara Singh did not tolerate too much of his rubbish and slapped him on his face. Then the other Singhs beat up the security guards who tried to help him.
Bhai Tara Singh told Sahib Rai clearly that he was going to sacrifice his body fighting the Turks (Muslim rulers) and that he did not care about his life. Saying this he slapped the Chaudhary right, left and centre. The Chaudhary along with his security guards ran away from there crying with a few of his teeth missing and a broken nose.
THE CHAUDHARY ARRIVES AT PATTI RULER
The chaudhary having been humiliated like this in public arrived crying at the ruler of Patti, a small town near Siri Amritsar Sahib. There he told the local administrator everything that had occurred with him. He told the ruler that while the Mughals are sleeping and lost in the luxuries of life, Bhai Tara Singh Vaan was about to take over Lahore. He told many false things about the Singhs and prompted the ruler to send his army to capture Bhai Tara Singh jee and his companions.
The ruler asked the chaudhary, how many Singhs were there at the Bunga of Bhai Sahib. The chaudhary replied saying that the bunga did not have more than 20 singhs and that some have swords while others have spears. The ruler took the matter lightly but still sent 25 cavalry soldiers and 80 from the infantry. The order to the soldiers was to reach Bhai Tara Singh jee’s bunga during the night and to approach slowly without making noise so that the Singhs did not escape. They wanted to capture them alive and send them to Lahore for punishment.
SOLDIERS ARRIVE AT VILLAGE VAAN TO CAPTURE SINGHS
The government soldiers, about 100 in total, reached the outskirts of village Vaan just at amritvela. At that time Bhai Baghel Singh, one of the singhs present at Bhai Tara Singh jee’s bunga, was doing Gurbani patth. After ardas, he went out to get some wood for the preparation of degh. He had a sword and an axe in his hand.
As he walked a short distance from the bunga, he noticed a group of the imperial army. He wanted to go back and let the Singhs know of the arrival of the army. At the same time he thought that if he went back, Singhs were going to ask him why he came back without encountering the army. He feared that the Singhs might think that he got scared. Thinking this, he moved forward and assured himself that once he starts fighting with the army, the Singhs would find out from the noise of battle.
He moved forward and challenged the imperial army. As he moved forward, Sahib Rai the chaudhary recognized Baghel Singh and cried out to Hakim Khan the leader of the army, telling him that this Singh – Baghel Singh was a big trouble-maker among the Singhs and that he should not be allowed to escape. He said that this Singh – Baghel Singh was the thief who stole his horse and that if he gets killed, the Singhs’ strength will be reduced by half.
Hearing this, Hakim Khan quickly moved forward with his soldiers and Baghel Singh too jumped forward eagerly to fend off the army. It was quite dark as it was still amritvela. They tried to shoot him down with guns and arrows but he very quickly just entered the group of soldiers. In darkness, they could not find him, while he was right within them. He injured several and killed the nephew of Hakim Khan before he was shot in the leg.
Singhs in the bunga heard the gunshots and they too came out with weapons. They fought so valiantly that within a few moments there were several dead and injured. Hakim Khan lost his vigor to fight after his nephew died and he pulled back and fled from there. The Singhs won the first battle of Pind Vaan.
To be continued...