Banda Vairagi - Brave as well as Reclusive

29 Dec 2017 16:01:20



It is extremely difficult to find in the entire world, let alone India, such an example of sacrifice as set by our main character here. Whose life we are reading about, is popular as “Banda Vairagi” in the history. He was born at Rajouri in the Punch district of Jammu Kashmir in 1670 AD. He was named Laxman Singh and the name of his father was Ramdev. Like his father, Laxman Singh had a skilled hand with bow and sword. Born in a Rajput family, hunting was natural for him. It so happened once that he shot an arrow targeting some animal. The arrow hit straight in the abdomen of a doe (female deer). The doe was pregnant and two fawns came out of her torn stomach. The sight made him deeply regretful. He abandoned his bow and arrow, and became a recluse. The recluse Laxman Singh decided to assume austerity. He was as much a man of determination as he was of majesty.


He wanted to wash away his culture of violence. Therefore he went towards south to assume austerity. He set up his hut at a nice place at the riverside of river Godavari and became deeply absorbed in his austerity. He even assumed a new name that reflected reclusiveness itself – Madhavadas. Besides the spirit of gallantry that he already had, the state of reclusiveness also grew fast in him. His personal needs were very little, and he never hoarded whatever little things he needed. Being immersed in penance all day long was all his daily routine. Gradually, his fame began to spread near and far. His beaming face looked even more attractive in his ocher clothing. People used to buzz about his fair colour and strong built.


At the same time in Northern part of India, Islam was spreading fast by all possible means. The fundamentalist Muslim rulers considered it their religious duty to convert people to Islam using whatever means possible. As they were in charge of administrative powers, it was common for them to implicate innocent people in false cases and force them to convert to Islam. Those who refused were humiliated and tortured, then finally executed. At many places, they were inhumanely tortured before being killed so that the rest of society could convert to Islam out of terror. In November 1675, Guru Teg Bahadur was beheaded at Chandni Chowk in Delhi. Before that, his disciple brother Matidas was sawed alive, and Satidas and brother Dayala were burnt alive. Setting new examples of barbarism, two young sons of Guru Gobind Singh were cemented alive in brick walls for not converting to Islam. The ages of Guru's sons were only 8 and 11 years. Destruction of temples, breaking statues had become common incidents. Like the honour of temples, the dignity of mothers and daughters was also in constant peril. The tyrants were not averse to forcefully corrupt and dishonour them. In such extreme conditions, Guru Gobind Singh established Khalsa Panth and rekindled courage and valor in his disciples. His famous quote showing his resolution is - “I will only be truly called Gobind Singh if I could defeat a hawk with doves”. He said every Khalsa should be able to dominate one lakh enemies in battle. Hawk was his symbol, which he also used to wear on his body.


Spreading awareness and motivation in society and raising numbers of his supporters, Guru Gobind Singh moved ahead towards south. It was there when he heard of a stunning recluse. The recluse was none other than Madhavadas himself. They had intensive discussion about the grave conditions of the country and its society. Guru Gobind Singh inspired Madhavadas that it was time he should come out of his austerity meant for his personal salvation, and become active for security of the society. Inspired by Guru Gobind Singh, the recluse devoted himself to the welfare of the society. He assured the tenth Guru - “I am your 'Banda' (disciple), and shall work according to your will and directions”. Guru Gobind Singh embraced him and since then he came to be known as 'Banda Vairagi'.

Vairagi once again assumed his arms. After some good practice to refresh his old skills with bow and sword, he moved forward to challenge the tyrants. First, he decided to punish the Nawab of Sarhind who had ordered to cement the two young children of Guru alive in wall. He started joining warriors with him and soon had a small army ready. In 1708 he challenged the Nawab of Sarhind for battle. Even though the army of the Nawab was huge compared to that of Vairagi, the soldiers of Vairagi were fighting for a mission and were highly motivated. Vairagi himself killed the artillarymen of the Nawab. Seeing their comrades dying like that, some of them got terrified and escaped the battle. When the army of Nawab saw their artillerymen escaping the grounds, they also considered it to be in their best interest to quit the battle. Being in a dominating position now, Vairagi started tearing the enemy apart with his sword. Seeing this dire form of Vairagi, the Nawab too ran away, but was caught. Vairagi found some peace only after taking revenge of the sacrifice of Guru's sons by executing the Nawab. Before execution, Nawab Wazir Khan was humiliated by parading him the entire city with his face blackened.


Vairagi continuously marched for 8-9 years while punishing the tyrants. Then he camped in the fort of Gurudaspur and collecting all his force, started planning to attack Lahore. On the other side, the Muslim rulers were getting anxious about the growing strength of Vairagi. But none of them had the courage to directly engage with him. In the last they managed to somehow break away some of his companions using diplomatic moves and roped them to join their side. During the huge Baisakhi festival of Amritsar in 1716, an organization named “Datt Khalsa” was organized with the motivation, help and support of Muslim rulers. When Vairagi attacked Lahore, its Nawab Aslam Khan panicked at first. But then he took help of strategy and put 5000 men strong Datt Khalsa army forward under leadership of Sardar Meer Singh. The troops of Lahore had been defeated before the arrival of Datt Khalsa army. However, Vairagi refrained to attack the army of Datt Khalsa. Considering them his brothers, he decided not to engage in blood-shed with them. He returned from the battlefield and secured his army and himself in the fort of Gurudaspur. The enemy took advantage of the opportunity and surrounded the fort with a huge army of 30,000 soldiers. After holding on for quite sometime, Vairagi decided to sacrifice himself in the last.


In 1719 he was brought to Delhi. He and his companions were asked to convert to Islam, refusing which their death was the other alternative. Rather than giving in to become Muslims, he and his companions chose to stick with their religion and sacrifice themselves instead. The captors tried to change their minds showing various kinds of temptations and fears to them, but they were immutable. Hundreds of Vairagi's companions happily laid down their lives to protect their religion. Vairagi was executed in the last in the most barbarian manner. First his four-year old son was killed and his heart thrown at Vairagi's face, but he stayed calm. Then his body was pierced with red-hot tips of spears, his flesh was tore off with hot pincers, but Vairagi did not let even a sigh out. At last, he was killed by crushing his fleshless body under feet of a mad elephant.


Thus a gallant, glorious, defender of his country and religion, a mighty son of his motherland was sacrificed in a way that will be an inspiration for ages to come. As already written in the beginning, it is hard to find an example of such a brave sacrifice elsewhere.


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