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Sikh Martyr Shaheed Bhai Gurbakhsh Singh (1688 - 1764)

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Sikh Warriors Charge

Sikh Warriors Charge

Photo © [Courtesy Jedi Nights]

Birth:

*Gurbakhsh was born on April 10, 1688 in village Lil of Amritsar, India to Mai Lachchhami and her husband Bhai Dasaundha.

Initiation and Education:

In the year 1693, at about five years of age, Gurbakhsh moved with his family to the town of Anandpur. At age 11, Gurbakhsh took the name Singh when he was initiated as a Khalsa warrior during the Anandpur Vaisakhi festival of 1699, which took place in April, where Guru Gobind Singh held the first Amrit baptism ceremony. The scribe Bhai Mani Singh undertook the education and instruction of Gurbakhsh Singh in religious studies.

Warrior:

Gurbakhsh Singh joined the warrior scribe Baba Deep Singh in the Shaheed missal which was formed in 1745 and mustered between 2,000 - 5,000 horsemen. Following the martyrdom of Baba Deep Singh at Harmandir Sahib in 1757 Bhai Gurbakhsh Singh formed his own small band of warriors who acted as advance guard and carried the battle standard into the fight against Mughal and Durrani forces. The warrior band became famous for their daring acts of bravery and fearlessness in battle.

Invasion:

In November of 1764, Ahmad Shah Durrani (formerly known as Ahmad Shah Abdali) launched a seventh invasion of India with 30,000 Durrani troops. He made a fresh assault on the Harmandir Sahib Gurdwara complex which had suffered damages in 1762 during a previous campaign and was under renovation. Bhai Gurbakhsh Singh and a small band of warriors who were quartered in Amritsar at Harmandir Sahib helped to evacuate all the women, children and elderly from their fortress. Gurbakhsh Singh remained with only a few men to protect the Sikhs holy center. The Durrani troupes advanced steadily towards Amritsar without meeting with any significant resistance to oppose them.

Bridegroom:

Gurbakhsh Singh and 30 dedicated warriors prepared to meet the advancing horde of 30,000. With sword in hand, and festive garlands wreathed about his neck, Gurbakhsh Singh dressed for battle like a bridegroom readying himself for marriage with death as his bride. His warriors formed the gala wedding party of groomsmen. With spirits high, they waited impatiently for the impending battle.

Shaheed Martyr:

**On December 1, 1764 the Durrani invaders reached the outskirts of Amritsar. With Gurbakhsh Singh as their leader, the 30 warriors charged the enemy lines rushing forward to meet the 30,000, chortling the battle cry, "Sat Siri Akal," meaning the truth is supreme and undying. Each of the valiant warriors fought fiercely, taking a ferocious toll on the enemy onslaught before at last succumbing to their own wounds. Gurbakhsh Singh, the last to fall, is remembered for undying courage in the face of overwhelming odds.

Evidence:

*According to oral evidence in a statement by Singh Sahib Giani Kirpal Singh and ancient manuscript kept in the Amritsar Sikh Reference Library until the 1984 Indira Ghandi invasion of the Golden Temple Harmandir Sahib provided written records about the birth of Gurbakhsh Singh.

**Eye witness Qazi Nur Muhammad of the Durrani army recorded an account of the battle in his chronicle Jangnamah which describes the valor of Gurbakhsh Singh and his 30 companions.

Memorial:

Bhai Gurbakhsh Singh is also known as Gurbakhash Singh, Shaheed and Gurbakhash Singh Nihang, after the sect and missal division of warriors he fought with. His body was cremated after the battle behind the Akal Takhat where the present day Shaheed Ganj memorial tomb stands.

Important Dates and Corresponding Events:

Dates correspond to the Nanakshahi or Sikhism calendar.

  • Birth: Village Lil - April 10, 1688 A.D.
  • Initiation: Anandpur - April 14, 1699 A.D.
  • Martyrdom: Amritsar - December 1, 1764 A.D.

Source: Harbans Singh The Encyclopaedia of Sikhism

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