The following are a series of articles and opinions of Gurdwara Nanaksar's Sangat.
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The End of Baba Banda Singh by Kanwaldeep Singh 08.2008
The following is taken from Ibratnama written by Mirza Muhammad. He was employed by Aurangzeb at the court in 1703. His work contains narratives of political events from 1703 to 1719. It is a long text but the following paragraph deserves some attention.
On this day [of their arrival] I went to the Salt Market to witness the event and accompanied them from there to the Imperial Fort. Of the people of the city there were few who did not come to see the humbling of those rebels. Large crowds gathered in every lane and market such as had seldom appeared before. The Muslims were in a happy and festive mood. Yet many of those ill-fated ones [the Sikhs], who had come as prisoners in this condition, insisted on standing fast by their villainy. There was no sign of humility and submission on their faces. Rather most of them riding on the camels backs kept singing and reciting melodious verses. If anyone in the lanes and bazaars reminded them of the cruelties they had committed, which brought them to this condition, they gave immediate and manly retorts, and attributed their capture and humiliation to the doings of fate. If anyone told them that they would now be executed, they replied 'Let them kill us! We do not fear death. Had we feared it, how could we have fought so many battles with you? We have fallen in your hands only because of hunger and lack of provisions; otherwise, you would have come to know of our bravery far more than has been witnessed till now.'
The following is an extract from letter of John Surman and Edward Stephenson from Delhi to Robert Hedges, President and Governor of Fort William, Council in Bengal, dated 10 March 1716. John and Edward received the details of Baba Banda Singh from Mughal officials which is why he calls him 'guroo',otherwise there is no proof that Baba Ji claimed such titles for himself. He always remained a devout Sikh.
The great rebel Goroo who has been for these twenty years so troublesome in the Subaship of Lahore is at length taken with all his family and attendance by Abdell Summed Cawn (Khan), the Suba of that province, some days ago they entered the city loaded with fetters, his whole attendance which were left alive being about seven hundred and eight all severally mounted on camels which were sent out of the city for that purpose, besides about two thousand heads stuck upon poles, being those who died by the sword in the battle. He was carried into the presence of the king, and from thence to a close prison, He at present has His life prolonged with most of his mutsuddys in hopes to get an account of his treasure in the several parts of his kingdom and of those that assisted him, when afterwards he will be executed. For the rest there are 100 each day beheaded. It is not a little remarkable with what patience they undergo their fate, and to the last it has not been found that one apostatized from this new formed Religion.
It is clear that Sikhs were bold and strong in their faith even in the face of death. The reason of their capture was that they ran out of supplies and when they were arrested they were 'men half dead' as Muhammad Qasim (in Ibratnama written in 1723) puts it. It is thus clear that capture of Baba Banda Singh and Sikhs was not because he turned his back on Guru Sahibs words but lack of supplies. Also, imperial forces were too strong for him. Sikhs never gave up their faith which proves that they were indeed absorbed in Naam and love for the true Guru. There are numerous other eye witness accounts which give lot more details about battles and activities of Baba Banda Singh but common misconceptions that he declared himself 'Goroo' and turned back on Sikhi are no where found in contemporary sources. He was a great gursikh and made a great sacrifice for the true cause. Let us not belittle his name.