BABA DEEP SINGH SHAHID ANA (1682-1757). founder of the Shahid Misl or principality as well as of the Damdami Taksal or Damdama school of Sikh learning, was born in 1682 into a Sandhu Hindu Jat family, the son of Chaudhari Bhagata and Mai Jiuni. They living in Pahuwind, a village 40 km southwest of Amritsar. He received the vows of the Khalsa at Anandpur where he stayed for some time to study the sacred texts under Bhai Mani Singh. He rejoined Guru Gobind Singh at Talwandi Sabo in 1706 and, after the latter`s departure for the South, stayed on there to look after the sacred shrine, Damdama Sahib.
He, at the head of a small group of warriors, joined Banda Singh Bahadur in his campaign against the Mughal authority, but left him in 1714 when the Takht Khalsa rose against him (Banda Singh). Retiring to Damdama Sahib at Tatwandi Sabo with his band of warriors, he resumed his study and teaching of the Scripture and training in martial skills. In 1726, he had four copies of the Guru Granth Sahib made from the recension prepared earlier by Bhai Mani Singh under the supervision of Guru Gobind Singh during their stay at Damdama Sahib. In 1732, he went to the rescue of Raja Ala Singh who had been besieged in Barnala by Manjh and Bhatti Rajputs in collaboration with the faujdar of Jalandhar and the nawab of Malerkotla.

In 1733, when the Mughal governor of Lahore sought peace with the Sikhs offering them a nawab ship , Baba Deep Singh and his jatha or fighting band joined Nawab Kapur Singh at Amritsar to form a joint Sikh force, the Dal Khalsa, which was soon divided for administrative convenience into Buddha Dal and Taruna Dal, the latter being further split into five jathas. Dip Singh, now reverently called Baba, was given the command of one of these jathas which in 1748 were redesignated misls. It came to be known as Shahid Misl after its founder met with the death of a martyr (shahid, in Punjabi).

The misls soon established their authority over different regions under rakhi system which meant, like chauth of the Marathas, collection of a portion of the revenue of the region for guaranteeing peace, protection and security. Shahid Misl had its sphere of influence south of the River Sutlej and Dip Singh`s headquarters remained at Talwandi Sabo. The tower in which he lived still stands next to the Takht Sri Damdama Sahib and is known as Burj Baba Deep Singh Shahid. During his fourth invasion of India in the winter of 1756-57, Ahmad Shah Durrani annexed the Punjab to the Afghan dominions and appointed his son, Timur, viceroy at Lahore, with the veteran general, Jahan Khan, as his deputy.

Jahan Khan invested Amritsar in May 1757, razed the Sikh fortress of Ram Rauni and filled up the sacred pool. As the news of this desecration reached Dip Singh, he set out with his Jatha towards the Holy City. Many Sikhs joined him on the way so that when he arrived at Tarn Taran he had at his command a force of 5,000 men. Jahan Khan`s troops lay in wait for them near Gohlwar village, 8 km ahead. They barred their way and a fierce action took place. Dip Singh suffered grave injury near Ramsar, yet such was the firmness of his resolve to reach the holy precincts that he carried on the battle until he fell dead in the close vicinity of the Hari Mandir.

This was on 11 November 1757. A legend grew that it was Baba Deep Singh`s headless body holding his severed head on his left hand and wielding his khanda, double edged sword, with his right hand that had fought on until he had redeemed his pledge to liberate the holy shrine. Two shrines now commemorate the martyr, one on the circumam bulatory terrace of the sarovar surrouding the Golden Temple where he finally fell and the other, Shahidganj Baba Deep Singh Shahid, near Gurdwara Ramsar, where his body was cremated.

References and Sources :-

  • Bharigu, Ratan Singh. Prachin Panth Prakash. Amritsar, 1914
  • Gian Singh, Giani, Panth Prakash [Reprint]. Patiala, 1970
  • Thakar Singh, Giani, Shahid Bilas Baba Dip Singh Ji. Amritsar, 1904
  • Cunningham, Joseph Davey, A History of the Sikhs. London,1849
  • The Sikh Encyclopedia
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