Golden History of the Lakhi Shah Banjara
Present Research study focuses on contribution of Lakhishah Banjara to the GDP of the Indian economy as well as to the history of the Sikhs in 16th Century.
In the history of India from the ancient to the medieval period and till the first half of the modern period, the Banjara primitive tribes were wealthy, philanthropists, justice loving, and sacrificing tribes. The Gorbanjars made a great contribution not only in India but to the world’s business and transportation. As long as the Gorbanjaras contributed to the national-international import-export, India’s economy was at its peak as a developed economy in the world as recorded by several historians.
In the report sent by the British officials to Queen Victoria and her Governor-General about the Banjara tribes, its details have been given clearly. The national and international highways are situated today on the same path through which the Banjara tribal nomadic tribes have been carrying of their business called Ladeni on the back of bullocks. Also known as Laman Marg. Historians like Thomas Koriot have given a glorious description of this in a letter to their mother about Banjara Ladeni (Caravan). In this letter, a description of sixteen months of migratory business and travel has been written in the 16th century. That letter and travel description is a very important document in this context.
The history of the contribution of the Gor Banjaras in the field of commerce and economy was hidden from us for a couple of years. Before the arrival of the British, the Gorbanjara and the nomadic tribes had a large share in the area of transportation and business. Due to their contribution, the Indian economy was the largest in the world.
Banjaras had the largest share in the field of trade during the Moghal period. In Sikh Banjara history, they have given a good message to Indian culture with body-mind-wealth and sacrifice. After studying such nomadic primitive Banjara tribes, the British government had imposed a Criminal Tribe Law on them. To reduce the sway of such war-skilled tribeJamati, by the British Government, they had been declared a criminal tribe for eighty-one years. The rich merchants of Gorbanjara, Ballu Rai Banjara, and the world’s largest merchant, Lakhishah Banjara, built hundred of step-wells, ponds, and Lohgad Forts. The golden history of India disappeared from the eyes of the world due to the British government considering such patriotic wealthy Jamat as born criminals. Because of that, India remained under slavery for many years.
Lakhishah Banjara was one of the biggest Beoparis (marchants) of the world. Lakhishah Banjara was born on 4 July 1580 in Raisina Tanda, Delhi. His father’s name was Godhu and grandfather’s name was Thakurdas Banjara who belonged to Chandravanshi Gotra Badatiya. Lakhishah Banjara had brought the sacred headless dead body of Ninth Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur to his own house in Delhi’s Rakabganj, burnt his house and cremated Guru’s body. After quarreling with emperor like Aurangzeb, he offered eight of his sons to then Sikh Guru (Guru Tegh Bahadur) ready for making any sacrifice and attaining martyrdom in defence of his faith. Godhu Thakur, father of Lakhishah Banjara, had a business of Ladeni. In 1396 AD, there was a severe drought in India. During the drought, when thousands of people were starving, the Banjaras had been feeding the people by bringing paddy from countries like Nepal, China, Tibet, Burma, Iran, Kabul etc. As a result, the Banjara community had a great reputation. It was at that time that the Banjaras knew all the roads of the country. Today’s highways also run along the same Laman route. The Banjara tribe also became a tribe fighting against injustice in order to resist the robbers they met on the way while doing Ladeni (Cargo business).
The objective of this paper is to study and describe the lineage of Lakhishah Banjara, his contribution to India's GDP and economy and his contribution to Sikh history.
In the 17th century Bhai Lakhi Shah was a rich trader of Delhi. He belonged to a Banjara family. He was supplying goods for the Mughal Army. He had four Tandas (fleet of bullock carts) each with 50,000 bulk carts and 100,000 armed forces for the protection and management of tandas. He used to import and export goods from Central Asia to India. Bhai Lakhi was involved in inter-regional exchanges in agriculture products, construction materials and livestock.
Bhai Lakhishah’s name emerged in Sikh history at a time when Aurangzeb’s atrocities against Hindus were at its peak. Every day, the sacred thread (Jeneu) of Hindus in large quantities were burnt down after forcibly converting them to Muslims. When the Kashmiri Brahmins came to Anandpur Sahib and prayed to Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji to protect their religious symbols (Tilak Janeu), the Guru told the Brahmins that a great man’s sacrifice was needed to check this menace of forcible religious Hindu conversion. On hearing this, his son Gobind Singh came to him and said to his father that there was no other greater man than him at that time. He must carry on this task himself to protect them. So Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib ji was very happy to listen to his son Gobind Singh and decided to sacrifice. When Guru Tegh Bahadur left Anandpur Sahib to offer sacrifice in Delhi to protect Tilak Janeu (holy Threads), he was taken captive along with three devout Sikhs. After spending three months in Bassi Pathana jail in Punjab was brought to Delhi in 1732 Maghar Vadi Tarodsi, and the three Sikhs brought with Guru Ji were martyred by inhuman torture before Guru’s execution. Then Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was martyred by being beheaded in Chandni Chowk Delhi. To create terror among the Hindus, the Guru’s severed head and body were kept there in the open under a vigilant guard of the army. Nobody dared to go near holy body of Guru Ji or to perform its cremation. At night, the Sikhs of Delhi Mohalla gathered at the house of Nanu Chimba and started thinking. Bhai Nanu Chimwa said that the holy body of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was lying in Chandni Chowk and asked the gathering to somehow pick it up from there.
Nanu Rai Chimba suggested to ask Nayak Bhai Lakhishah Banjara and his Tanda who had come from Narnaul the same day. Sikhs walked back and forth to Lakhishah’s Tanda and came to Raisina village and told him all the things about the martyrdom of three Sikhs and Guruji. Bhai Lakhishah and his family were devout followers of the Guru expressed his sorrow at this tragic event. He told the Sikhs that he had brought lime from Narnaul that today and he was ready to do whatever they asked for. It was midnight while they were discussing it. Bhai Lakhi Shah along with his Tanda drove his bullock carts from the fort towards Kotwali, which caused a lot of dust to blow up there. Bhai Nanu Rai, Bhai Jaita, Bhai Udha Rathore and Adnya Ram reached there. It was in the midest of this blinding dust that when Bhai Jaita took away the holy head of Guru ji, Bhai Lakhi Shah, with the help of his sons Nagahia, Hadi, Hema, Dhuma Bijlaut and other Sikhs, picked up the holy body of Guru ji on a bullock cart and and came to Rasina. No one knew that the holy body of Guru ji was placed on the charpoy with respect and cremated setting his house on fire. In this way, he cremated the Guru’s holy body and went outside and started making noise that there was a fire in his house. In fact, after doing this kind of work, he himself was very happy that during his lifetime, he had done a virtuous deed by cremating the body of his Guru.
The account of Bhat Book Vahi Yadobansis in Badatiya Kanaunt is as follows:
“Lakhia son of Godhu, Hema Hadi son Lakhia’s Yadovansi Barteye Kanaut, Naik Dhuma son of Kane’s Tumor Binjlot, took away the corpse of Mahal Nawan,Guru Tegh Bahadur ji on 1732 Manghasar Sudi Chhath was cremated on Thursday in the village of Rasina”.
A study of Bhat Vahis shows that Bhai Lakhi Shah’s father’s name was Godhu Rai and grand father’s name was Thakur Das, Bansh Purushottam’s Chandrabansi Yadav, gotra Baratiya Kanaut who were among the Gor Rajput banajars. The name of the wife of Baba Lakhishah was Paro Devi aka Kanto. Who was the daughter of Gor Banjara Kale of Gorambani gotra. Lakhi Rai had eight sons Nagahia, Heman, Hadi, Situ, Pundara, Bakshi, Bala and Jawahar. He had a daughter, Sito Bai, who was married to Shaheed Bhai Mani Singh. At the time of Sito Bai’s marriage, Lakhi Rai’s Tanda was in Khairpur Sadata, Tehsil Alipur, District Muzaffargarh (now Pakistan).
Keso Bhat presented this piece in praise of Bhai Lakhishah and his family:
“Dhan paran dei grambani, putra janmiya nigahiya, panch sou hadi mar bhgae. Guru ki loth uthae liyani, jas jag me paya, pita put purshan bhaye aaye. Jas gaau taju Lakhie Godhu Thakur ka, taji bandhe bar, utho bailo ki sohe lar, brahman bhatto ko diya dan, bel teri ko guru bdhaye. Jas jod keso bhatt bhaniya, sal satra se adtiya “Rakab Ganj” ke mahlan, Kangnai ki jodi, mohro ki mala Bhato ko pahinaye.” (Source: Bhat Bahi Jadobansi Badtiya)
Bhai Lakhishah was a big businessman who owned thousands of oxen, camels and horses and in Sikh history he is known as Lakhishah Banjara. Bhai Lakhishah’s area of business ranged from Multan (present day Pakistan) to Bombay all over India. On this road, he had built Sarais (resting homes) for his rest at many places, where his entire Tanda caravan stopped and rested. In this way, the Sarais related to Lakhishah Banjara can be still seen as archaeological sites.4 Villages along with Raisina Delhi belonged to Baba Lakhishah, where today Gurudwara Rakabganj Sahib, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament and New Delhi occupy a large part. In return for the acquisition of some portion of this area, the government gave him land in Mintgumri and Sheikhupura districts in Pakistan at the time of partition, which was later changed to 252 acres in village Fatehabad and 29 acres in Tehsil Bhatukalan in modern Haryana. Apart from this Sarai land, Banjara Lakhi shah had a pond in 6 acres near Rajpura, Babri or water reservoir in Isargarh Kurukshetra, Mata Maisar temple in Kaithal, pond and temple in 15 acres at Balliani in Rohtak, Babri in Sarita Bihar Delhi, Sarai and Chhatri in Hansi. Apart from these properties, many Chhatris, Sarais, Ponds, bavdis, etc. are still maintained though in poor condition in the whole of Hindostan which were built by Lakhishah Banjara and his descendants. Because of the neglect by the state governments and because no records of land were recorded at that time, these lands have been taken over by custodian department as Shamlat lands and allotted to people later on.
It follows from the following verse by Kesho Bhat, the Tanda of Lakhishah lived in Raisina village (Rakab Ganj) at that time.
“Simar Bhat Tausatiguru Apna, Dhanadhgala Gadadhara.
Hukam hua sache sahib ka, lakhi badatiya savrag sidhara.
Aath bete huye ekaththe, kaj karne ki wara,
Nigahia, Hema, Hadi Aaye, Aya Situ te Pundara.
Bakshi Bala Jawahar Aaye. Bande Barthi Qamar Katara.
Manhinge mol Unt mangaye, chadhane ko dhode kaano me bara,
Nagahia sir pag bandhaie, Bans Thakur ka bhaya ujiyara.”
According to Bhat Bahi Ataila, Pargana Kaithal, Baba Lakhi Rai agreed to go to Guru Charan at Rasina village (Rakab Ganj) on 1737 Bikami (28 May 1680 AD) Jeth Sudi Ikadasi.
It further states that his sons performed the last rites of Lakhi Shah Banjara after his demise perhaps at Hardwar by his eight sons and daughter:
“Lakhi Rai son of Godhu’s grandson Thakur Das’s son Purusottam’s Chandravansi Yadav gotra, Bardiya Kanout year 1737, Jeth Sudi 11, Rakab Ganj’s Malhan Delhi city, village Rasina.”
Nigahia, Hema, Hadi, Situ, Pundara, Bakshi, Bala and Jawahar bete Lakhi Rai pote Godhu ke padpote Thakar Das ke Chandrabansi, ulad Parshottam ki Badtiya Kanaut sal 1738, bhadrav mas ki amavs ke din Nagahiya ganga ji aaya, ful pita Lakhi Rai ke lekar sath Hemchandra aaya, sath mata kanto aaie.”
About Baba Lakhishah Banjara based on the notes of Bhat Vahis given in Kavi Sewa Singh Bhat’s composition “Shaheed Bilas Bhai Mani Singh” (edited Giani Garja Singh Chauhan) and written by Swaroop Singh Kaushish, “Guru Kiya Sakhian” (edited by Prof. Pyara Singh Padam), According to the information found in the details of the family of Lakhishah Banjara are as follows:
Birth- Shravan Vadi Ashtami was born on Bikami 1637 (4 July 1580) in Khairpur Shadat, Tehsil Alipur, District Muzaffargarh.
Married - Sammat 1665 (1608 AD) to Kanto Bai daughter Kala (Gotra Goramba).
Death- Jethshudi died on 11 May 1737 in Raisina Delhi. (28 May 1680).
In (Vahi Multani Sindhi Vadityo Village Attila, District Kaithal - Page-51) The details of Lakhishah ji’s children are recorded as follows:
1. Nigahiah was born on Chaitshudi 10th May 1668 (1611 CE)
2. Hema was born Fagnavadi Saptami Samat 1671 (1614 CE)
3. Hadadi was born in Hadavadi Naumi: 1674 (1617 CE)
4. Situ was born Maghushudi Chhath Sammat 1678 (1621 CE)
5. Padanara’s birth of Saunavadi Panchami 1682 (1625 CE)
6. Birth of Vakshi Saunshudi Chauth Samt 1685 (1628 CE)
7. The birth of Vala Chaitavadi Naumi Sammat 1690 (1633 CE)
8. Jawahar was born Asusudi Panchami Sammat 1694 (1637 CE)
9. Sito was born Bhadoshudi Naumi Samit 1698 (1641 CE)
These Bhat Vahis contain all the details of lineage of Lakhi Shah Banjara
1. Thus, Lakhishah Banjara has made a great contribution to the history of the Sikhs.
2. Lakhishah Banjara made a huge contribution in India’s GDP as well as Asia’s trade in those times.
3. Lakhishah Banjara had contributed a lot to improve the Indian economy by doing business in Asia.
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