Misal Shaheedan


Misal Shaheedan (earlier known as Jatha Shaheedan) was one of the most honoured and brave Jatha of Khalsa Panth. To be part of this Jatha, one had to be highly disciplined, parpakk (firm) in Rehat Maryada and Naam Baani Abhyaasi. Singhs of this Jatha carried titles of Shaheeds and Nihangs and to reach the state of Shaheed or Nihang, one had to sacrifice his ego and his self at Guru's feet.

They fought for Guru and Dharam, for poor and helpless, not for riches or kingdoms. They were servants of Panth who had dedicated their lives for Charhdi kala of Panth. These Singhs were guardians of Khalsa Panth's great principles, as enshrined in Baani of Guru Granth Sahib ji Maharaj and Sri Dasam Granth. They served as custodians and keepers of Guru Darbars and Guru Maryada. Whole of Panth respected them and whenever Panth met, it was Shaheeds who were given the prominent place and utmost respect. The glow on their faces reflected the shine of Naam and Baani, the purity of thoughts and deeds in their hearts.

Misal Shaheedan was led by Sri Maan Baba Deep Singh ji Shaheed for 52 years, from 1706 to 1758. This was the time when Panth fought the bloodiest battles for its survival and freedom. It was necessary to keep the numbers of Sikhs growing as there were Shaheediya everyday. Babaji and his Jatha held regular Amrit sanchars in countryside of Punjab. Historians have neglected the fact that it was not only Singhs from Majha or Malwa regions of Punjab who were fighting for Panth in Punjab, Singhs from Pothohar region, from Kabul, Kandhar, Southern Punjab and Delhi also took part in this movement. It was due to parchar and sewa of Gursikhs of those times that Sikhi maryada was not compromised even in most difficult times. It was Jeevan of parcharks of that time which attracted thousands everyday to join Khalsa Panth, despite the fact that thousands died everyday.

Jatha Shaheedan was renamed Misal Shaheedan in 1748. Its Headquarters were at Sri Damdama Sahib, but Shaheeds did sewa and parchar by remaining chakkarvarti also. This Misal didn't enter into internal feuds with other Misals of Khalsa Panth after Mughals and Afghans were thrown out of Punjab by Dal Khalsa. While other Misals fought over territories, Singhs from Misal Shaheedan concentrated on Sikhi parchar and upholding Panthic ideals of Sewa, Simran and Sacrifice. It was due to this very reason that in 1737, after winning Barnala area, Baba Deep Singh ji handed it over to Baba Ala Singh. In 1751, Misal won Sialkot area but Baba Deep Singh ji handed over administration of area to Baba Natha Singh ji and Baba Dyaal Singh ji. Whatever revenue was collected was used for building Gurudwara Babe di Ber in Sialkot where Guru Nanak Dev ji visted Bhai Moola Khatri thrice and where Maharaj gave him bachans to liberate him in Tenth form.

In 1753, ruler of Jalandhar,Nasir Khan, attacked Gurudwara Thamm Sahib in Kartarpur and burnt it down. Sodhi Vadbhag Singh ran away to mountains and sent a letter to Baba Deep Singh ji to help him. Babaji, along with Baba Jassa Singh Ahluwalia took a promise from Sodhi that he would take Amrit and join Khalsa Panth. Sodhi Vadbhag Singh did as asked and took Amrit from Panj Piare and became a part of Khalsa Panth. A United Khalsa Fauj of Misal Shaheedan and Misal Ahluwalia attacked Ruler of Jalandhar and he was killed in the ensuing battle. After the revenge was over, time to share the territory came. Doaba was a prosperous region and some Singhs advised Baba Deep Singh ji to take over the area as it would be betterment for Misal's fortunes, but Babaji refused and instead handed over the entire region to Baba Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. It may be mentioned that Baba Jassa Singh ji respected Baba Deep Singh ji a lot and had taken his Vidya from Baba Mani Singh ji, Baba Deep Singh ji and Baba Kapoor Singh ji. Baba Jassa Singh ji served Khalsa Panth as Nishanchi Singh under Baba Kapoor Singh ji and after Babaji's demise in 1753, he was appointed Jathedar of Buddha Dal (confederation of Five Misals). Whenever Baba Deep Singh ji came to Jalandhar area for Parchar and Sewa, Baba Jassa Singh ji used to accompany Babaji. He was like a Son to Baba Deep Singh ji, for this reason Babaji gave away Doaba region to Baba Jassa Singh ji Ahluwalia, where Babaji set up city of Kapurthala and made it his capital.

Baba Deep Singh ji served Khalsa Panth as a humble servant for 57 years and after such great sewa, Baba ji attained Supreme Shaheedi in Battle of Amritsar Sahib for freedom of Darbar Sahib Sri Amritsar and laid down his head in Parkarma of Darbar Sahib.

After Baba Deep Singh ji's Shaheedi on 10th February 1758, Baba Sudha Singh ji became Jathedar of Misal Shaheedan. He was nephew of Baba Deep Singh ji and equally Charhdi Kala Gursikh. He attained Shaheedi in 1760 for protection of Darbar Sahib.

Jathedar Baba Karam Singh ji was third Jathedar of Misal. He came in Misal at very young age and took his vidya from Baba Deep Singh ji. He was the one who led Misal Shaheedan during the 'Vadda ghallughara'(bigger holocaust ) of 5th Feb 1762. Eight misals fought in this Jang under command of Baba Jassa Singh ji Ahluwalia, who himself took 22 cuts on his body in this Jang. It's often said that Beerhs of Guru Granth Sahib ji were lost in this Jang, but according to Mahapurakh Baba Hardev Singh ji, Singhs had safely sent Saroops of Maharaj to a Dera near Kharar before Ahmed Shah could attack Khalsa Panth. Baba Karam Singh ji led Misal Shaheedan for 21 years. He was Grihasthi and during his time, he marked an area in Ambala named Shahzadpur to be colony of Grihasthi Singhs of Misal. So while Grihasthi Singhs settled in Ambala area after Singhs took over Punjab in 1774, the Bhujang Singhs remained Chakarvarti serving Guru Darbars and doing Parchar.

After Baba Karam Singh ji left for Sachkhand in 1781, Buzurg Baba Natha Singh ji became Jathedar of Misal Shaheedan. He was the one who had remained with Baba Deep Singh ji all his life, serving as incharge of Sialkot and Jalandhar area when Babaji was doing sewa of Gurudwara Babe di ber and Gurudwara Thamm Sahib.

Akali Baba Naina Singh ji headed the Misal in 1784, after demise of Baba Natha Singh ji Shaheed. Babaji stayed at Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib as Baba Jassa Singh ji had gone to sachkhand and other Misaldars were busy increasing their territories, fighting each other sometimes in process. It came upon Singhs of this Jatha to take care of Guru Darbars. Babaji started staying at Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib and looked after political affairs of Panth, including working as mediator sometimes between various Misals. It was during Babaji's time that term 'Akali' was used for Nihang Singhs. Babaji served Khalsa Panth for 16 years and went to Sachkhand in 1800 A.D

Jathedar Akali Baba Phoola Singh ji was 6th Jathedar of Misal Shaheedan. He was son of Bhai Isher Singh ji. Bhai Isher Singh ji got fatally injured in a battle and asked his friend Baba Naina Singh from Shaheeda di Misal to look after his son. Babaji adopted Baba Phoola Singh ji and gave him Gurmat Vidya and Shastar Vidya. Babaji was sent to Sri Anandpur Sahib by Baba Naina Singh ji to do sewa. Legend has it that British had planned to take over Punjab in the restless period of 1798-1799. As a 8,000 strong British Army camped on east bank of River Satluj, Baba Phoola Singh ji camped on west bank. One Singh reported to Babaji about the British plans to enter Punjab, which infuriated Babaji. He took out his Tega and ordered his Bhujang Singhs to get ready. Singhs asked for Babaji's orders, upon which Babaji ordered 'Chatka do' (finish them in one blow). Nihang Singhs attacked British regiment and within hours, 8000 soldiers were cut down. The General, badly wounded saved his life with couple of soldiers and reported to the Governor General that till the Akalis of Punjab are strong, no one can win over Punjab. Wait till they are weakened or decimated.

Baba Phoola Singh ji came to Sri Amritsar in 1800 after Baba Naina Singh ji left for Sachkhand and his Jatha lived at what we today know as 'Burj Baba Phoola Singh ji ' in Sri Amritsar. He was the one entrusted with Sewa of Akaal Bunga. This was the times of Panth's Charhdi kala. Where all other Misals had taken Jagirs from Maharaj Ranjeet Singh and accepted his supremacy, Misal Shaheedan remained free from authority of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, owing allegiance only to Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji and Khalsa Panth. When Akali Babaji refused to take any territory for Singhs as Jagir, Maharaja Ranjeet Singh ji fixed a monthly amount of rations and money for sewa of Singhs, as they were the armed custodians of traditions of Panth. Grihasthi Singhs of Misal from Shahzadpur area regularly sent sewa for Chhaunis based at Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib and Sri Damdama Sahib. It was with Hukam of Singhs like Baba Sahib Singh Bedi and Baba Phoola Singh ji that Kingdom of Punjab was called 'Khalsa Raj' or 'Sarkar Khalsa' and not Maharaja Ranjeet Singh's Raaj. It was on this condition that Akali Nihangs assisted Maharaja Sahib in every Jang and won every Jang they fought, including Jang of Kasoor, Jang of Peshawar, Jang of Multan and Jang of Hazara. In 1823, battle of Naushera, Akali Baba Phoola Singh ji attained Shaheedi fighting in frontlines. And thus fell the first pillar of Khalsa Raaj.

After Baba Phoola Singh ji, Buzurg Baba Hanumaan Singh ji became Jathedar of Misal Shaheedan. Babaji was not much active in politics and dedicated his life serving Panth and Guru Darbars. It was during this time Dogras took over main positions in Lahore Darbar and became powerful. Akali Nihangs were mostly confined to sewa of Gurudwaras and Parchar. After death of Maharaj Ranjeet Singh in 1839, there was a time of chaos. The Singhs who had seen the battles of Khalsa, who had built Khalsa Empire with their blood, saw it going down to in-fighting between family of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh. There was no one whom the heirs of Shere-Punjab listened. Baba Phoola Singh ji, Baba Sahib Singh ji, Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa had gone after serving Panth, Sardar Sham Singh had left the Army of Shere Punjab after he made Dhian Singh Prime minister of Khalsa Raaj. It was Khalsa Raaj just for name, actually Dogras ruled over it. This pained the Gursikhs who had shed their blood for Panth. In 1844, Baba Bir Singh ji Naurangabad wale were Martyred by Hira Singh Dogra and his Army. Sikhs killed Hira Singh and Duleep Singh was made Emperor of Punjab, at age of 6. British had been waiting for this moment from last 45 years, to strike at Punjab. First Anglo-Sikh war started in 1845 and Khalsa Army was defeated in battle of Ferushehar. In the battle of Mudki, Maharani Jind Kaur requested Baba Hanumaan Singh ji to fight for Khalsa Fauj. Babaji upon her benti entered the battlefield with his Akali Fauj and crossed over Satluj River into East Punjab, which was under British rule. On this Bank, British suffered heavy causalities and retreated. As Akali Fauj saw British retreat, they thought that battle had been won and moved over deeper into Malwa area. On the other hand, after Akalis moved in Malwa region and Khalsa fauj on west bank came bank to their camps, British army re-appeared and claimed victory in battle.

Babaji was 70 at that time, and with remaining True Warrior Sons of Guru Gobind Singh ji, who had been fighting for Panth from last 140 years, from time of Baba Deep Singh ji, entered Patiala area, and came to the Gurudwara which we today know as Gurudwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib in Patiala. Here Babaji camped with his Jatha of Nihang Singhs , but Raja Karam Singh of Patiala and British Army attacked Khalsa Fauj here with canons. As hundreds of Singhs attained Shaheedi, Khalsa Fauj started withdrawing to country side. There were three main battles in this period of three days. First one was at Bageechi Baba Bamba Singh in Patiala, second near Morh Shaheeda (Near rajpura) and Third and final battle fought by Misal Shaheedan was at Sohana where Jathedar Baba Hanumaan Singh ji and his 500 brave soldiers attained Shaheedi fighting thousands of British and Patiala Army.

Some Singhs including Jathedar Baba Prehlad Singh ji, who numbered around 20, survived this massacre critically injured. There was no place left for these Singhs as by now, whole of Punjab had been captured by British and there was no safe place for Singhs. Singhs planned to head south towards Sri Hazoor Sahib, stay there for a while and return to Punjab to launch war against British Empire. But as this small Jatha of Singhs reached near Sri Hazoor Sahib, Pujaris of Hazoor Sahib led by head Pujari Ala Singh, who himself dressed up as Nihang Singh,but were heavily influenced by Udasi, Nirmala and other Hindufied sects attacked this small Jatha of wounded and tired Singhs. In the ensuing battle, Jathedar Baba Prahlad Singh ji and his Jatha attained Shaheedi, but not before killing Ala Singh and many from his group.

This was the final battle of Misal Shaheedan in 19th century. Misal carried the honour of being the supreme Jathebandi of Khalsa Panth, with Gursikhs always ready to fight for and lay down Lives for honour of Guru and Panth. These Gursikhs were the one who had overcome worldly attachments and were deeply imbued in Naam Baani and Sewa. They were Sarablohi Shastardhari Khalsa Warriors who fought like Lions in Battlefield, were humble like Doves, served others as Servants of Guru and led a life full of compassion and piety. For them, Guru Granth Sahib ji Maharaj, teachings of Ten Gurus and great principles of Sikhi were the supreme, much higher than rites and rituals of Hindus and Muslims. For Guru they lived and for Guru they died. Their real power came from their highly pure Gursikhi jeevans, which they had through Naam kamaai, Sewa, Simran, dedication towards Guru and faith that their Guru is always Ang-Sang.

Some Singhs from this Misal, who lived separately from Dal with their families survived this massacre and carried on legacy of Great Warriors of Khalsa Panth, who according to tradition, had been blessed by Guru Gobind Singh ji to be Immortals and come again and again to serve Sikhi of Guru. The Holy blood of Great Khalsa Warriors, the brave Akali Nihangs has coloured Land of Punjab from early 18th century. There is not even an inch of Punjab's land where blood of these brave warriors hasn't been spilled. They laid down their lives for Panth whenever called upon, without worrying about their own self, their bodies, their families and children. 85% Shaheeds in earlier period of Jatha were Bhujangis (bachelor),such was their dedication and commitment to Guru and Panth. We have stories of Singhs who were born in jungles, grew up in Jungles, lived their youth in jungles and attained Shaheedi in Jungles. Who never had any dream in their eyes except Charhdi Kala of Panth. They didn't fight for their Raaj or Kingdom; they fought for Kingdom of Guru, of Peace, for equality and purity.

As said by many Mahapurakhs, A day will come when these Naam Baani Abhyaasi, Sarablohi, Shastardhai Khalsa warriors will rise again from within Panth with Guru's Kirpa,unite again and walk on path of Shaheediya, spill their blood, destroy Evil and establish Khalsa Raaj on this planet fulfilling bachans of Guru Gobind Singh ji.