Warriors of Faith

Baba Phoola Singh Ji - 3 (Shaheedi)

Immortal Jeevan

He was the one who always saw his life as debt of Panth, forever ready to lay it down at altar of Dharam. He was the real Nihang- above the filth and impurities of this world, imbued in Naam of Waheguru, with a divine glow on his face and shine in his eyes, forever ready to protect Deen-Dharam. He was part of Khalsa Fauj, but was not under command of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, instead he always lived as Soldier of Guru, directly under command of Guru Gobind Singh ji, maintaining his freedom and sovereignty as Army of Akaal Purakh.

           He is, till today, most honoured and respected Jathedar of Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib. For him, Sikhi values and principles mattered most, more than his life or anything else. He didn’t fear anyone, whether it was Maharaja Ranjeet Singh or British (who tried to capture him with help of princely states of Patiala and Nabha when he came to Sri Anandpur Sahib in 1804). Guru and Sikhi was everything for him and protecting Sikhi and propagating teachings of Gurus was main mission of his life. He loved the peace, the purity and sanctity of Darbar Sahib Sri Amritsar sahib so much that, during a meeting of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh and British officials in Amritsar, Shia soldiers of British Army took out their Moharram Procession in Amritsar and when their procession passed from the lane behind Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib, Babaji sent some Singhs to request Muslims to pass silently from near Darbar Sahib as their cries and screams were disturbing peace of Sri Darbar Sahib. But the Muslims instead became aggressive, upon which Babaji asked Singhs to teach them Khalsa way of Peace. There was a fight and 25 Muslims were killed by Akali Singhs in this clash. Upon hearing news of fight, Maharaja Sahib and British officers reached the spot and seeing Mahakaal saroop of Babaji and his Akali warriors, asked Babaji for forgiveness.

The Vision of a Mighty Akaali Baba Phoola Singh ji, holding a Giant Tega in his hand was enough for enemies to shiver with fear. For Babaji, distinct identity, freedom and prosperity of Khalsa Panth was of utmost importance. He was born at a time Panth was struggling for existence and he saw how elders of Panth had given their lives and shed their blood for Charhdi Kala of Sikhi and he took it upon himself that this Kingdom created after a million sacrifices was protected at any cost. (And there have been people who claimed to be descendants and rightful heirs of Akali Baba Phoola Singh ji, but never stood for Sikhi, Sikh identity and freedom or took any action against enemies of Sikh Panth, instead, sided with enemies of Panth who demolished Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib in 1984 and later ,during Sikh Freedom struggle, fought in lines of enemies of Panth against Sikh Freedom Fighters.)

When Maharaja Ranjeet Singh planned to marry a Muslim dancer, Moran, Babaji was furious. Maharaja had agreed to give half of his kingdom to Moran and there was uproar and every possibility of a revolt against him by Khalsa Fauj. Babaji, in his power as Jathedar of Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib, summoned Maharaja to Takhat Sahib and gave him Tankhah (punishment) for having relations with Moran. Maharaja Ranjeet Singh was tied to a tree near Akaal Takhat Sahib and Babaji himself gave him 25 cane-beats, a punishment which Maharaja humbly accepted. After that Singh Sahib Babaji reminded Ranjeet Singh that this Kingdom was result of thousands of Sacrifices by Sikhs and it didn’t belong to him, but to entire Khalsa Panth and he was just a servant who was given Kingship by Panth. There were tears in eyes of Maharaja Sahib and he was ashamed of his deed. This was the Jeevan, the courage, the determination which made him the most honoured figure of 19th century. Elders of Panth saw in him light of Baba Deep Singh ji. While Baba Deep Singh ji (first Jathedar of Misal Shaheedan) was the pillar of Sikh struggle and ideologue in 18th century, Baba Phoola Singh ji (Sixth Jathedar of Misal Shaheedan) held the same position, power and respect in 19th century.


In March 1823, Pathan tribes of North West frontier province (then known as State of Peshawar) revolted against Khalsa Raaj with help from Afghan Ruler, Dost Mohammed Khan.  A 40,000 strong Pathan Army, with help of Aghan Artillery ravaged through parts of Northern Hills, killing innocents and murdering Sikhs living there. Maharaja Ranjeet Singh ji quickly moved with Khalsa Fauj to take on Pathan Army with Generals like Akali Babaji, Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa and Kanwar Kharak Singh ji. Sardar Khushal Singh was ordered to bring Heavy Artillery from Lahore while Hari Singh Nalwa commanded elite forces. Akali Baba Phoola Singh ji, who generally used to stay at Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib on New year day ( Chaittar Di Sangrand), decided to lead Misal/Akaal Regiment in this Battle.

   At Amritvela, on 14th March 1823, standing in Hazoori of Guru Granth Sahib ji with Maharaja, Sikh Generals, soldiers and his loyal Akali Warriors, Babaji did Ardas at feet of Satguru Granth Sahib ji to bless Khalsa Fauj with Fateh and Shaheediyan, and also asked for Hukamnaama for Army to move. After Hukamnaama, Babaji readied to move to battlefield. Battle Standards were raised and as Akali Fauja beat battle-drums to move to battlefield, Maharaja Ranjeet Singh told Babaji that heavy Artilley had still not reached and Sikh army was around 25,000 against Afghan Army of 40,000. He requested Babaji to wait for a day as till then more Army and Artillery would reach, but Babaji angrily reprimanded Maharaja Ranjeet Singh for forgetting his Ardas. Babaji said ‘ Shere Punjab, you can wait for artillery and Army, I can not. I have done ardas at feet of Satguru Granth Sahib ji and I will not back off from my ardas. Its not in tradition of our Misal to back off after Ardas, so no matter what, I will go to battle with my Fauj, if you wish, you can follow. No matter what, Victory will be ours’’. These words were enough to infuse spirit in Maharaja’s heart and he ordered entire Sikh Army to move to battlefield. Legend has it that when Sikh Army neared River Attock, it was flooding and there was no chance that Sikhs could cross the river. Babaji asked Maharaja Ranjeet Singh to do Japji Sahib Paath and Ardas, and as Maharaja Ranjeet Singh did Paath and Ardas and moved his horse in river, Attock became silent and water level fell miraculously.      

   On one hand was Khalsa Fauj, and in front lines were standing Immortal Warriors of Akaal Purakh, dressed in Blue, with tall turbans decorated with Shastars, holding Khalsai Nishans  and in front of them stood the Legendary warrior, Akali Baba Phoola Singh ji. As the Akalis saw enemies, war cries of Bole So Nihal- Sat Sri Akaal- Gurbar Akaal- Har Har Akaal pierced through the skies and there was a heavenly roar, as gods were responding to war-cries of Akaali Nihangs.  Babaji pulled out his Tega and charged at enemies, as if he was going to meet someone beloved and his immortal warriors followed him. Pathans responded with canon fire, but Akali warriors, tore through the enemy lines and turned the gun barrels towards enemies. Rest of the Army followed, while Maharaja Ranjeet Singh saw battlescene from a distance. Some Pathan battalions were stationed atop hills looking at the ‘Battlefield of Tarki ‘, and they started firing canons at charging Sikh Army. Akali Nihangs played the game of death and blood in battlefield and each Sikh killed scores of enemies. Babaji, at age of 62, were fighting like a lion cutting every enemy coming in his way, when suddenly from hilltop, hundreds of bullets hit his body. Enemy had been looking for him, and as Babaji came into their hitting range, they hit him with a volley of bullets. But that barrage of bullets wasn’t enough to bring him down, as the battle ensued and blood flew from his body, Babaji got numerous cuts of swords from his enemies on his body, but with every cut, glow on his face increased. As if her mother was looking at her from heavens and saying ‘Son, I had wished this Shaheedi for you, and today Maharaj has fulfilled my wish’. There was a peace, a joy, a bliss in his heart, of being able to die as a Shaheed for Guru and Panth, of being worthy of Dasmesh Pita’s love after Shaheedi. With every passing moment, a bullet was hitting and a sword was cutting his body, but Babaji didn’t fall from his horse, till the enemy hadn’t retreated, till the victory flag was not raised, till ardas of ‘Waheguru ji ki Fateh’ hadn’t been fulfilled in battlefield.

                Enemy fled from battlefield of Tarki, and as Sikhs celebrated victory, Babaji came down from his horse and looking at his brave knights, fell on battlefield, as he wished to kiss the battlefield which honoured him with title of Shaheed. Maharaja, Generals and Akali warriors surrounded Babaji’s Holy body, purified by his holy blood, having hundreds of bullets and cuts in it. It was first time Maharaja Ranjeet Singh cried in Battlefield, each and every eye there was wet with tears of love, of devotion, of respect to great Sikh General of 19th century.  

 Babaji’s Antim Sanskaar was done on banks of River Landa in Naushera. A Gurudwara was built alongwith a cantonment of Nihang Singhs. Maharaja Ranjeet Singh attached vast Jagir(property) with this holy place, where Great Akali Babaji’s holy and pure memorial stood.

  Generations of Sikhs will come and go, but Legend of Baba Phoola Singh ji is and will be Immortal. He held the title of Akali- Immortal, and he is immortal.

    Sometimes I feel we Sikhs of today are in no way, even a percent, like those Sikhs. I rememeber, when I read Giani Kirpal Singh (ex-jathedar Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib) written book, Saaka Neela Taara (Blue Star), i was lost in Babaji’s memory. Kirpal Singh writes ‘’ As deafening sounds of Bombs and bullets rose on night of 4th and 5th June, I was worried about what was happening to Akaal Takhat Sahib, but I didn’t get out of my house as it was curfew and army could have shot me. I stayed with my family in Ajeet Nagar and waited for gunfire to cease’’.

    What type of Jathedar he or others who claimed to be Jathedars were? Are they , in any way, able to be called Jathedars of Akaal Takhat Sahib? Would Baba Deep Singh ji, Baba Gurbaksh Singh ji or Baba Phoola Singh ji stayed at their Bungas, hiding, while Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib was being demolished? Would Baba Phoola Singh ji have waited for destruction of Akaal Takhat Sahib to complete? No, they were the ones who would have defended Akaal Takhat Sahib, their Sikhi, their Panth with all the power, all the blood and breaths they had. Would Baba Phoola Singh ji have sided with someone who destroyed Akaal Takhat Sahib and killed thousands of innocent Sikhs? Would Baba Phoola Singh ji had defended the destruction of Akaal Takhat Sahib and killing of Innocents like some people, who claimed to be heirs of Babaji’s legacy, did?

Reading and writing about Jeevans of Shaheeds is useful if only we are ready to walk on their path, follow on their footsteps, try to do, at least one percent, what they did for Sikhi and Khalsa Panth, and if we did, our Jeevan, our blood, our breath, our Life will become worthy of being called a Human life.

Posted by Kamaljeet Singh Shaheedsar on Sunday, March 13. 2011

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