Prof. Karamjeet Singh
26 January, marks the birth anniversary of the legendary warrior and scholar of the Sikh/Khalsa, Baba Deep Singh. The birth of Baba Deep Singh is recorded as January 26, 1682 (as per the western calendar) at Pahuwind, District Tarn Taran. His father, Bhagta and mother Jiuni, were devout followers of the Sikh faith and Guru Gobind Singh. They would go to Anandpur Sahib often to seek blessings of the Guru. On one such visit, young Deep Singh then aged 18 accompanied them.
There was an instant connection between Deep Singh and the Guru which led to the former staying back in Anandpur Sahib as a dedicated Sevadar (disciple) of the Guru Ghar. Henceforth, he was known as Baba Deep Singh. Guru Gobind Singh understood the intellect and dedication of Baba Deep Singh and he took special interest in the tutoring of the young man in military training, education and most importantly study of the Gurbani.
In a few years, Baba Deep Singh gained proficiency in martial arts, and in study of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Once he was ready, the Guru sent him back to his native place with the task of propagating Sikhi.
When Guru Gobind Singh reached Talwandi Sabo after his many battles for the cause of justice and righteousness, he called for Baba Deep Singh to assist him in the propagation of Sikhi at Shri Damdama Sahib (Guru’s Kashi).
The original copies of Guru Granth Sahib had been destroyed in the many wars or were in the custody of the Sodhi imposters to the Guru Gaddi. This apart, there were many Beeds (copies) in circulation that had incorporated text other than the original prepared by Guru Arjan Dev.
Guru Gobind Singh initiated the preparation of an authentic Sri Guru Granth Sahib at Sri Damdama Sahib. The task was given to Bhai Mani Singh who was assisted by Baba Deep Singh.
When Guru Gobind Singh left Talwandi Sabo, he directed Baba Deep Singh to stay back to propagate Sikhi and explain Gurbani to the Sikh followers. Baba deep Singh prepared many more handwritten copies of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
In 1709, Baba Deep Singh joined Baba Banda Singh Bahadur during the Battle of Sadhaura and the Battle of Chappar Chiri. In later times when the Khalsa were organised into Misls (warrior groups) by Nawab Kapoor Singh, Baba Deep Singh was made the leader of the prestigious Saheedi Misl.
The Saheedi Misl was instrumental in contesting the march back of Ahmed Shah Durrani at Kurukshetra. It wrested back the loot from the invader and also released many captive women. In order to teach the Sikhs a lesson Ahmed Shah ordered the occupation and desecration of Sri Harmandir Sahib.
Ahmed Shah Durrani left Punjab under the command of his son Timur Shah with the support of ten thousand men under General Jahan Khan. General Jahan Khan continued the desecration of Sri Harmandir Sahib and the killing of innocent Sikhs in villages.
Baba Deep Singh vowed to avenge the desecration of Sri Harmandir Sahib and other atrocities by the Afghans. In 1757, he collected and led an Army of the Khalsa to defend the Gurdwara. The Sikhs and the Afghans clashed in the Battle of Amritsar on 13 November 1757. The Khalsa forced the vastly superior forces of Jahan Khan to retreat. Baba Deep Singh, though mortally wounded on his neck, continued to fight till he reached Sri Harmandir Sahib.
Given below are the lessons that one needs to learn from the life of Baba Deep Singh:-
- Be Physically strong and mentally tough – Even at the age of 75 years, he could fight with a heavy Khanda (sword) and create fear amongst his enemies.
- Have Strong determination – Once he took a pledge that he would reach Darbar Sahib, he did so despite being mortally wounded. He defeated even death to achieve his spiritual purpose.
- Living with dignity and do not succumb to injustice by the oppressor – Baba Deep Singh’s martyrdom motivated the Sikhs to fight for their right and helped create the Sikh empire within a few decades years of his martyrdom.
- Never tolerate violation of the sanctity of Sri Guru Granth Sahib or the Guru Ghar (Gurdwara) as Guru Granth Sahib is everything for us.
- Have unflinching faith on the teachings of Shri Guru Granth Sahib which is our source of guidance.
On the auspicious occasion of the birth anniversary of Baba Deep Singh let us all pledge to follow and propagate his life in order to carry his noble thoughts and accomplishments to the entire world.
(Prof. Karamjeet Singh is Vice Chancellor of Jagat Guru Nanak Dev Punjab State Open University)