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Appendix II - The Successors of Banda Singh

For a quarter of century vigorous persecution of the Sikhs was continued under the govemment of Abd-us-Samad Khan Diler-i-Jang and his son and successor Zakriya Khan Khan Bahadur. Driven out of towns, caught and massacred in their villages, hunted down like wild beasts in the jungles, and burnt to death in their hiding-places in the Punjab. They were reduced to great extremities and were forced to take refuge in the eastern and north-eastern hills, in the Lakhi Jungle tract of the Malwa Districts and the sandy deserts of Bikaner. But, as mentioned before, Banda Singh's second wife Sahib Kaur and her son Ranjit Singh remained safe in the hills.

Ranjit Singh

Unlike his father Ranjit Singh was a quiet natured man. He did not stir out of his mountain recess during these perilous days. The tide of Bandei Khalsa, therefore, fell to the lowest ebb, and they were confined to a few families here and there in the hills and plains. Ranjit Singh led a very pure life, always absorbed in the study of the Guru Granth Sahib, and propagated Gurbani and the sacred Name. He was only a titular head of the Dera with a normal following. He ended his days in oblivion and died in the Dera on the afternoon of Sawan Vadi 9th, 1810 Bikrami, 1753 A.D.

Jujhar Singh

Ranjit Singh had two sons, Jujhar Singh and Zorawar Singh, and the former succeeded him to the office of the Dera by virtue of his primogenitary right. Jujhar Singh was famous for his generosity and kind-heartedness, and is said to have once bestowed his own pair of bangles upon one Pandit Dila Ram who occasionally recited the Holy Granth Sahib to him. The times had now changed; the power of the Mughal in the Punjab had been broken and the Sikh Misals were extending their conquests throughout the country. This was a favourable opportunity for Jujhar Singh to extend his religious influence. He came as far as the Majha on a missionary tour and added a considerable number to his following. He built a new stately mansion for his residence and planted a beautiful garden at the Dera, where he died on the early morning of Monday, Sawan Vadi 14th, 1864 Bikrami, 1807 A.O., in the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Lahore. On his death-bed he inculcated the study of the Bani of the Gurus and the repetition of the sacred Name of 'Wahiguru'.

Fateh Singh

Jujhar Singh had two sons Fateh Singh and Suchet Singh. The elder Fateh Singh became the Mahant. The circumstances were very favourable for the extension of his influence. The Khalsa was now supreme in the Land of the Five Rivers and the Kingdom of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was expanding on all sides. Fateh Singh availed himself of the opportunity and paid several missionary visits to the Punjab during which the numerical strength of the sect was greatly multiplied. In fact 'all the Bandei Sikhs, that we see now, came into the fold during his time,' wrote the late Sardar Karam Singh in 1907.

The building of the Gurdwara known as the Durbar, in memory of Banda Singh Bahadur was the next item on his programme. With this object in view he undertook two extensive tours in the south-wes1: as the Sindh, and collected large sums of money from the illaqas of Hyderabad, Larkana, Multan, Bahawalpur, and Jhang. There was signs to show that many Sikhs had gone towards Sindh and the south-western deserts and jungles of the Punjab during the perilous days that followed the death of Banda Singh. His memory was fresh amongst them and it largely contributed towards the success of Baba Fateh Singh's mission in these districts. He also built several houses for his own residence at Riasi, Aklmur, Jammu, Purmandal, Wazirabad, Amritsar, Hardwar and other places. He generally spent six months in touring and the greater part of the remaining six months at Wazirabad, the residence of his favourite wife Guiab Dei.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh very favourably received the request of Baba Fateh Singh for a jagir. He had great regard for the selfless sacrifices of Banda Singh Bahadur, who had sacrificed his all for the mission of Guru Gobind Singh and had laid the foundation of the Sikh Empire a hundred years before him. He also knew that the practices at the Dera conformed to the tenets of the Sikh Religion and it brought multitudes of people into the fold of the Khalsa. He was pleased, therefore, to offer the following villages in jagir to Fateh Singh for the maintenance of the Dera :

  1. Mikhanwala, Tehsil Daska, District Sialkot, yielding Rs. 315/- per annum.
  2. Buddha Razada, Tehsil Wazirabad, District Gujranwala, yielding Rs. 525/-
  3. Two wells at Wazirabad.
  4. 14 villages in the ilaqas of Akhnur and Udhampur (Jammu).

In addition to this, Raja Guiab Singh, Governor of Jammu, at the suggestion of his master Maharaja Ranjit Singh, granted to him on the 16th Phagan, 1890 Bikrami, February 1634, rent-free proprietary right of the village of Thanaur including the lands of the Dera Sahib.

The restriction for the Bandeis to give their daughters in marriage only to those who belong to their own fold owes its origin to Baba Fateh Singh. During one of his tours in the south­ west, a Bandei lady of Khanewal, in the district of Multan, invited him to dinner in her house. At the time of the dinner, the sangat in the train of the Mahant exceeded far beyond the expected number. As the meals had only been prepared for a limited number. The male members of the house, who were not Bandeis, locked the house and went away. On the arrival of the Mahant at the house, the lady explained the position to him. The sangat was, however, satisfied with what was ready. But Fateh Singh took it very seriously and enjoined that the daughters of the Bandeis should not,. in future, be married to non-Bandeis.

Fateh Singh had four wives, first Kishni, daughter of a Tuli Khattri of the village of Singial in the district of Sialkot, second Guiab Dei of Wazirabad, third Bhag Bhari, daughter of a Sahni Khattri of Ahmadpur in the district of Jhang, and the fourth Narain Dei of the village of Chariai in the ilaqa of Udhampur (Jammu). Fateh Singh had only one son, Sahib Singh, from his first wife, but he died very young.

Successors of Fateh Singh

On the death of Fateh Singh on 2nd of Har (Jeth Sudi, 2nd), 1902 Bikrami, mid-June 1845 A.D.,-his younger brother Suchet Singh having died issueless-the direct line from Ranjit Singh to Jujhar Singh ended with him and the control of the Bandei Khalsa passed on to the line of Zorawar Singh, the second son of the first Mahant Baba Ranjit Singh. Under ordinary circumstances, Kharak Singh the elder son of Arjan Singh, son of Zorawar Singh, should have been elected. But, in the dispute that arose for the succession, his younger brother Amir Singh, the nominee and the adopted son of the late Mahant Fateh Singh's favourite wife Guiab Dei, was declared successful. Amir Singh had only one son Pahar Singh, who died issueless; the high office, therefore, was transferred to Daya Singh, the only son of Kharak Singh. A lengthy litigation ensued on the death of Daya Singh between his sons Teja Singh and Attar Singh, when, at the suggestion of the Court, the Sangat of the Bandeis held a conference and decided in favour of the elder brother Teja Singh with monthly allowances for the other three brothers, Attar Singh, Sohan Singh and Sujan Singh. Teja Singh was succeeded by Attar Singh, who, in tum, bequeathed his heritage to Bhai Sardul Singh, the son of his youngest brother, Sujan Singh.

Baba Sardul Singh, the present head, is a promising young man of progressive views. He is an old student of the Shahid Sikh Missionary College, Amritsar, and is well-versed in the history and philosophy of the Sikh Religion.

The practices at Dera Baba Banda Singh up to the present day (1935) are strictly in accordance with the tenets and traditions of the Sikh religion. The Sikh Scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, is installed in both the Gurdwaras, Dera Sahib and Bangla Sahib, and the divine service of Rahiras, etc., are followed by the usual Ardasa of the tenth Padshahi1 ending with the dohiras:

Agya bhei Akal ki tabhi chalayo Panth,

Sab Sikhan ko hukam hai, Guru manyo Granth; Guru Granth ji manyo, pragat Guran ki deh,

Ja ka hirda sudh hai, khoj Sabad men leh,2

the salutation:

Wahiguru ji ka Khalsa Sri Wahiguru ji ki Fateh,

and three to five shouts of

Sat Sri Akal.3

Notes and References

  1. The names of Banda Singh and his three descendants, Baba Ranjit Singh, Jujhar Singh and Fateh Singh, are mentioned after the names of the Sahibzadas of Guru Govind Singh in the same manner as the names of the well-known Sikh Martyrs are sometimes recited in the prayer.
  2. The Command came from the Timeless. Then was created the Panth; And all Sikhs are enjoined; To accept Granth as their Guru- Accept the Granth as Guru; It is the embodiment of the Guru; Whosoever is pure in heart shall find in the Holy Word.
  3. In the evening, this is generally followed by the following recitation;

Wah Wah Guru Govind Singh Ji Tu hi Tu hi Guru Govind Singh Ji,

Chakar Tere Guru Govind Singh Ji Tere Guru Govind Singh Ji

FauJan Terian Guru Govind Singh Ji Sangtan Terian Guru Govind Singh Ji

BaJan wala Guru Govind Singh Ji Kalghian wala Guru Govind Singh Ji

Darbarwala Guru Govind Singh Ji Bangale wala Sahib Ranjit Singh Ji

Mahalanwala Baba JuJhar Singh ji Sangtiwa;a Baba Fateh Singh Ji

Wah Wah Guru Govind Singh Ji Tuhi Tuhi Guru Govind Singh Ji

The above is based on the personal observations of the author during his visit to Dera Baba Banda Singh from 29th January to 1st February 1935.