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Bhai Tara Singh

Bhai Tara Singh was a GurSikh resident of village Van, in the district of Amritsar. He was truly a saint-soldier. He was a highly religious man, with a kindly, generous heart. At the same time, he was a strong, brave, and fearless fighter. He was very popular with the Sikhs. He was always in the forefront of every Panthic undertaking. He had already won laurels in the campaign of Baba Banda Singh. He was most energetic and fearless in helping his brothers in faith, as well as others in need. His doors were open to receive everyone in need or trouble. He ran a free kitchen for all. Sahib Rai, Lambardar of Naushera, was proud, cruel, and haughty. He was a tyrant. He used to let loose his horses in the green field of the Sikhs. No one dared to drive them out. The Sikh peasants bore this quietly for a long time. Then they decided to meet him and request him to give up letting loose his horses in their fields. they said, 'Your horses eat away our crops. We have no other means of making a living. We are being driven to starvation. If you desire, we shall supply green fodder for your horses every day. Please don't let them loose in our crops.' 

The Lambardar became furious. 'What is all this nonsense?' said he. 'You are really an ungrateful lot. Don't you know what attitude the Muhammedan rulers have towards you Sikhs? It is indeed risky for me to let you live in my village. I give you shelter in spite of the risk. What thanks do I get from you? Be careful. My horses will go about at their free will. If you misbehave again, I shall report against you to the Mughal authorities. Then you will learn what it means to insult a Lambardar of their. You talk of my horses trespassing into your fields. Take care lest my scissors should trespass into your beards and long hair.' By this he meant that he would cut off their hair and beards. The poor Sikh peasants were convinced that the Lambardar would not change his ways. He would not let them live in peace. They felt that continued stay in village meant want, hunger and starvation. He might even do something far worse. So they decided to leave the village. Bhai Tara Singh heard of their sad plight. He sent for them. He undertook to give them food and lodging until they could make some suitable arrangements for themselves. They readily accepted his invitation and hospitality. They came to live in his village. 

Sahib Rai's horses continued to graze freely in the peasants' green fields. But peasants did not dare complain. Some daring Sikhs from Bhai Tara Singh's village decided to punish the haughty Lambardar. They drove away his horses in broad daylight. They sold them in a far off place. The money so obtained was used towards meeting at expenses of feeding the refugees from Naushera. Thereupon, Sahib Rai lodged a complaint with Mirza Jaffer Beg, Faujdar of Patti. He said to him, Tara Singh is an old rebel. He is very dangerous. He gives shelter to thieves, dacoits, and bad characters. The commit raids all over the land. The lives and property of the people are insecure. An example must be made of this dangerous rebel. Otherwise others will begin to imitate him. A widespread unrest will be the result.' The faujdar chose to believe every word spoken by Sahib Rai. He was a cruel, fanatic Muslim. He was always on the look out for an excuse and opportunity to haul up and punish Sikhs. He sent a detachment of 25 mounted soldiers and 80 foot soldiers to proceed against Bhai Tara Singh. They intended to take the village by a surprise attack at dead of night. But their plan was foiled by a brave saint-soldier, Bhai Baghel Singh.

This brave Khalsa happened, at that hour, to be out in the jungle near the village. He saw the soldiers approaching the village. He immediately understood what their mission was. He decided to block their way so that Bhai Tara Singh and his companions should not be taken by surprise. With a shout of 'Sat Sri Akal,' he suddenly fell upon the advancing soldiers, as a tiger would fall upon a flock of sheep. With a one stroke he cut off the head of a nephew of Jaffer Beg. Other nephew met the same fate. Many more soldiers were cut down by him before he was overpowered. He died fighting like a true saint-soldier. The noise of fight roused Bhai Tara Singh and his companions. They rushed out to meet the invaders. But the latter took to their heels before Bhai Tara Singh could give them battle. Mirza Jaffer Beg hurried to Lahore and reported the whole matter to Khad Bahadur Zakriya Khan, governor of Lahore. The latter at once dispatched a strong force against Bhai Tara Singh. It consisted of two thousand and two hundred fully armed horsemen. They had forty cannons and five elephants. The force was under the command of Momin Khan. With all that force, Momin Khan was to proceed against Bhai Tara Singh and his 22 companions. Such was the terror which the brave Sikhs inspired in the Mughal rulers' hearts. The news of this expedition was conveyed to Bhai Tara Singh by a secret messenger from the Sikhs of Lahore. Another man, named Ghumanda, offered to act as a scout for the Lahore army. At the same time, he sent information to Bhai Tara Singh. 

Some men went to Bhai Tara Singh. They advised him to go away and take shelter in the jungle. But he refused to save his life by flight. He thought that to run away would be a cowardly act, unbecoming of a Khalsa. He was determined to face death with boldness, and sell his life very dearly. The invaders came at nightfall. They surrounded the village. As they advanced to attack, they were greeted with a rain of shots and arrows. Bhai Tara Singh and his 22 companions held the army at bay during the night. They were able to inflict heavy losses on the enemy. The invaders were very near losing their hearts. They got the impression that Bhai Tara Singh had a very large force with him. They began to doubt their own power to succeed against him. But the rising of the sun betrayed the true number of Bhai Tara Singh's men. The invaders regained courage. They renewed their attack. Bhai Tara Singh and his men fought with wonderful bravery. One by one, his men fell martyrs after performing wonderful feats of valor and swordsmanship. At length, Bhai Tara Singh was left alone. He sprang to the enemy's ranks, roaring like a lion. With his sword he cut his way to the spot where Momin Khan was. The latter was riding on an elephant. Bhai Tara Singh aimed a heavy blow at Momin Khan. But as he leapt up to reach the man, he surrounded by a large number of Mughal soldiers. They fell upon him from all sides and cut him to the ground. Thus did Bhai Tara Singh die gloriously after a valiant fight against heavy odds. He fell in a noble cause. He sacrificed his life in order to serve and save his brothers in faith. He was thus a true martyr. His memory is cherished by the Sikhs, as of course, it richly deserves to be.

His martyrdom occurred in the year 1727 A.D.

Source - Sikh History Book 5 by Kartar Singh, Hemkunt Press, New Delhi