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A Conference on Banda Singh Bahadur at 29-5-2010

A day-long conference on Baba Banda Singh Bahadur - Achievements and Khalsa Values was organized by Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh on 23rd January, 2010 at its headquarters in Gurudwara Singh Sabha, Kanthala, Indl. Area Phase II, Chandigarh. Dr Jaspal Singh, Vice Chancellor, Punjabi University Patiala. Bibi Harjinder Kaur Ji, Ex-Mayor, Chandigarh, Dr Kirpal Singh, Eminent Historian, Lt Gen Kartar Singh Gill PVSM, Dr Madanjit Kaur and Dr Sukhdial Singh were the distinguished speakers in the Conference.

In the welcome address, S Pritam Singh Kohli, President IOSS briefly touched upon the main focus on the Achievements and Khalsa Values of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur. Given below is a brief synopsis of the various speeches.

Dr Jaspal Singh VC, Punjabi University, Patiala
Dr Jaspal Singh stated there no eye-witness to the meeting between Guru Gobind Singh and Banda Singh Bahadur.  He gave up his past life of a Bairagi and became Singh after taking Amrit.  Guru Gobind Singh sent him on a mission to root out cruelty of Punjab rulers with a Nishan Sahib, Nagara, Five Arrows, Five Sikhs and Hukamnamas for Sikhs of Punjab.  His achievements in Punjab changed the direction of history. He further explained that this was the first time the rule of lowly common man was established, who had till then been considered the dredges of society.  He quoted extensively from the Guru Granth Sahib on the political concept of the Gurus of giving power to the lowly in society.  He said not a single Sikh deceived the generalship of Banda Singh Bahadur and loyalty to Sikhism.  He quoted Rabendra Nath Tagore’s poem Bandi Bir - The Captive Hero (Legends), which was written in 1899.

Bibi Harjinder Kaur
She brought out the personality of Banda Singh Bahadur.  She compared the meeting of Guru Gobind Singh with Banda Singh Bahadur to the meeting of Guru Nanak Dev and Bhai Lehna.  She further stated that these days every Political Party is competing to give political power to the lower classes, but it was Banda Singh Bahadur who was the first one to give a practical shape to the ideals and message of the Gurus.

Dr Kirpal Singh
Dr Kirpal Singh presented the keynote address in the seminar.  In his address, Dr Singh traced the history of the Sikh movement from the times of Guru Nanak, who had protested against the political tyranny and the atrocities committed on the people during Babar’s invasion. Banda Singh Bahadur’s objective was to end the cruel domination of the rulers.  The second objective of Banda Singh Bahadur was to elevate the lowly.  Through this objective he fulfilled the mission of Guru Gobind Singh, who had created Khalsa by amalgamating the high and low castes.  How Banda Singh Bahadur elevated the lowly classes has been described by William Irvine in his book “Later Mughals”.  Usually conquerors used to strike coins in their own names, but Banda Singh struck coin, in the name of Gurus and ruled in the name of Khalsa.

Lt Gen Kartar Singh PVSM
He started by asking the question as to who was this valiant Sikh who could dare to defy the might of the Mughals who possessed a well trained standing Army of horsemen and foot soldiers equipped with the latest weaponry of the period? Historians depict him as a converted Sikh from a Bairagi militant Sadhu, who was bestowed with strength and motivation by the will of Guru Gobind Singh. The Guru tasked him with the mission of liberating Punjab and it’s peasantry from the crushing rule of the Mughals. All that he was armed with were the Guru’s five arrows, a Nishan Sahib, a Nagara (War drum) and Hukamnamas to Sikh headers from the Tenth Guru. In today’s world this sounds like a fairy tale difficult to believe. What then made Banda to accept this near impossible task?
Gen Gill goes on to solve this riddle by stressing upon the personal leadership qualities of Banda Bahadur with particular stress on the strategy and tactics that Banda ingenuously applied to defeat the Mughals in battle after battle against unequal forces.

Dr Sukhdial Singh, Pbi Univ., Patiala
While depicting the role of Banda Singh Bahadur in history, it is necessary to realise that with the demise of Guru Gobind Singh, the Guru period ends and Banda Bahadur initiates a new beginning which may be called as Khalsa period.  After the Gurus, Banda Bahadur was the first leader of the Sikh community who led the Khalsa towards such a revolutionary path which made the Khalsa master of its destiny of Khalsa Rule and also made the Khalsa capable to bestow the ownership of land to the tillers of the land, thus fullfilling the basic tenets of Sikh Religion.  Though these blessed times were short lived but it goes to Banda Bahadur credit that he set a unique example of continued armed struggle till his last breath.  His martyrdom signified the continuance of his mission. This cannot be construct, that annihilation of Banda’s struggle crushed his mission too.  The wheel of struggle was followed by Nawab Kapur Singh who successfully steered the movement to be followed by other Sikh leaders. A book on the Battle of Chappar Chiri by Prof Sukhdial Singh was also released on the occasion.

Dr Madanjit Kaur
Her presentation was on the contemporary evidence in the form of a Hukamnama dated samvat Pahla Poh 12 (1767 BK/12 December 1710 AD) issued by Banda Singh Bahadur addressed to the Sikh sangat of Jaunpur.  The date indicates the first regional year of the Sikh Raj introduced by Banda Singh Bahadur after his glorious victory against the Mughal forces in the battle of Chappar Chiri on 12 May 1710 AD.  This historical document is written in Punjabi language in Gurmukhi script.  It is authenticated by the official seal of Banda Singh Bahadur in Persian script.  
            The call for armed volunteers in this Hukamnama by Banda Singh Bahadur is a documentary proof of his sincere pledge to fulfill the mission of armed struggle against the Mughals for which he was especially commissioned by Guru Gobind Singh in 1708 AD at Nanded to go to Punjab and lead the Khalsa against the tyranny of the Mughals and to punish Nawab Wazir Khan, Governor of Sirhind who was responsible for the killing of the two innocent sons of Guru Gobind Singh and inhuman atrocities inflicted upon the Sikhs.
            This Hukanmana announces the advent of a new era which has been defined as satyug by Banda Singh Bahadur.  The text reads – asan sat yug vartaya hai, meaning thereby I have established the rule of truthfullness/rule of justice / a welfare state. It is confirmed from the historical sources at our disposal that Banda Singh Bahadur founded a welfare state supported by establishing an egalitarian society. 
Others who spoke on the occasion included Dr M S Chandla, Prof Kulwant Singh, S Gurpreet Singh,  and Col Parminder Singh. Sanman Patras were presented to Bibi Baljit Kaur and S Zora Singh for their outstanding efforts to identify Jhiri, Chhappar and the sand dunes which formed the central zone of the battle of Chappar Chiri and establish Memorial of the victory over the Sirhind Mughal forces.


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