Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sham Singh Attari

Sham Singh Attari
By S. Avtar Singh Gill

It is recorded in the history of Punjab that if the test of patriotism is to lay down one's life for one's country knowingly and willingly then surely Sardar Sham Singh Attari was one of the greatest men of India, who, careless of worldly benefits and personal comforts, sacrificed his all to save the Punjab's independence. He preferred death to thralldom and by his own example made it clear to his countrymen that nothing was more precious than independence and freedom from the foreign yoke.

Sham Singh's father Sardar Nihal Singh was very loyal to his master Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Nihal Singh's son Sham Singh had caught Ranjit Singh's eye at an early age by his dash, vigor and soldierly qualities. Soon he made his name in his first campaign when in command of a battery of guns at the siege of Multan in 1818 and in spite of being wounded, he was the first to storm the breach in the fort and take it. Thereafter he served with distinction in many other campaigns in the North and gained as great a name for courage as his illustrious father.

In the absence of a strong hand after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the rot which set in the Kingdom of Punjab is too well known to the students of Sikh history. The intrigues of selfish and treacherous dogras at the court so disgusted Sham Singh that he retired from the court and settled down at Attari to spend the last days of his life in prayer and meditation. The intrigues at the Lahore Durbar culminated in a plan to divert the powerful Khalsa Army towards the British. Sham Singh was called by Maharani Jindan for advice. He strongly protested against this mad venture but to no avail.

Historians are of the opinion that the battle of Sabraon of the First Anglo-Sikh War (1846) where Sham Singh was in command of troops should never have been lost. The morale of the soldiers was high, some were seasoned veterans of many campaigns, and were led by devoted soldiers. But that was not the intention of the traitors at the Durbar who did everything possible to starve them of ammunition and other administrative support.

The night previous to the battle,. it had rained heavily and the river Sutlej was in spate. (traitor)Tej Singh, a court noble, came to Sham Singh's camp at night and tried to persuade him to beat a retreat while the pontoon bridge was still intact. Sham Singh was infuriated. At this Tej Singh taunted him by saying that if he considered himself so brave and upright why doesn't he take a pledge to fight till the last. Sham Singh bowed to Guru Granth Sahib ji and standing before in all humility took a vow that he will return victorious or perish. But again ... Lal singh and Tej Singh had already given British their positions of guns, etc.

As the dawn was breaking, the troops moved into attack. Sham Singh ji along with Ranjodh Singh Majithia and Ajit Singh Ladwa's forces decided to move in.

Sham Singh, tall and handsome with flowing grey beard, donned saffron robes, the garment of a shahid, and mounted his white charger. Drawing the sword in his right hand and shouting Sat-Siri-Akal, he charged at the enemy, with his followers at his heels. For a moment the British troops were flabbergasted for they had never seen anything like this charge before. Soon they recovered their wits and the firing became intense. Sham Singh's followers started dropping and soon mere handfuls were left. The old Sirdar fell at last. When his body was examined, seven bullets had pierced his chest. His courage inspired the Sikhs to make a determined bid to save the day, but the odds were against them. Sham Singh fell fighting in the foremost ranks. So did his dauntless comrades. The battle of Sabraon was lost but out of respect for the gallant adversary, the British ordered ceasefire and allowed Sham Singh's followers to take his body away.

Cunningham, who was present as an additional aid-de-camp to the governor-general, describes the last scenes of battle vividly in his book History of the Sikhs : "...although assailed on either side by squadrons of horse and battalions of foot, no Sikh offered to submit and no disciple of Guru Gobind Singh asked for quarter. They everywhere showed a front to the victors, and stalked slowly and sullenly away, while many rushed singly forth to meet assured death by contending with a multitude. The victors looked with stolid wonderment upon indomitable courage of the vanquished..."


General Thackwell, who had personally led his dragoons in the battle wrote in The Second Sikh War (1851): "It is due to the Sikhs to say that they fought bravely, for though defeated and broken, they never ran, but fought with their talwars to the last and I witnessed several acts of great bravery in some of their Sirdars and men". Henry Hardinge, Governor General of India, who, alongwith Hugh Gough was rewarded with peerage, had seen the action. Arthur Hardinge, son of the Governor General, wrote: "Few escaped;.no one, it may be said, surrendered. The Sikhs met their fate with the resignation which distinguished their race." Hugh Gough, the British Commander-inChief could not suppress his admiration of the bravery and resoluteness of Sikhs and paid rich tributes to the Punjabis : "Policy prevented me publicly recording my sentiments of the splendid gallantry of a fallen foe, and I declare, were it not from a conviction that my country's good required the sacrifice, I could have wept to have witnessed the fearful slaughter of so devoted a body."

The hard, Shah Mohammad, immortalised the heroic stand of the men of Sham Singh Attariwala at Sobraon thus :

'They squeezed the blood out of the Whites,

As one squeezes juice out of a lemon;

If only Ranjit Singh were there,

He would have been proud to see,

How the Khalsa wielded their swords.

About the sad result of the compaign, he wrote;

'Oh Shah Mohammad, without Ranjit Singh, such was our plight

We won the battles, but lost the fight.'

The traitors to the Khalsa were not only taken note of by the British or the Khalsa themselves, but were immortalised in doggerel verse punning on their names:

'Lallu dee Lallee gaee, Teju da gia tej

Ran vich pith dikhaike modha aie pher.

'Lallu lost the blush of shame, Teju lost his lustre, by turning their Backs in the field, they turned the tide and battle yield'.
Please note the TRUE comments by the British..on the Khalsa Forces Bravery under great odds....Simialr TRUE comments have been made by the MUSLIM Historians...Even the ENEMY couldnt stand aside and NOT admire the Khalsa Spirit...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bhai Sudh Singh's first meeting with Bhai Vir Singh jee

Bhai Sudh Singh's first meeting with Bhai Vir Singh jee

Bhai Sudh Singh had gone to China to collect funds for a Sikh orphanage and while staying there he read Bhai Vir Singh jee's famous book Rana Surat Singh and developed extreme Bairaag. He used to cry in Bairaag while reading it and anyone else who read Rana Surat Singh too would cry while reading it. When it was first published, Bhai Vir Singh did not allow his name to be written as author and for this reason most people did not know who the author of this book was.

Bhai Sudh Singh came to Siri Amritsar Sahib and met his friend Bhai Sohan Singh Rahi who was also a companion of Bhai Vir Singh. He mentioned to Rahi jee about Rana Surat Singh and asked him if he knew who the author was. Rahi jee knew the author but since Bhai Sahib had strictly stopped his companions from disclosing his name, Rahi jee kept quiet. Bhai Sudh Singh asked three times but Rahi jee kept quiet. When Bhai Sudh Singh got a bit upset, Rahi jee said that he can't disclose the author's name but he can take him to the author.

Incidently, Bhai Vir Singh came to the place where they both were standing and from the respect that Rahi jee accorded to Bhai Vir Singh, Bhai Sudh Singh figured out that this person was the author of Rana Surat Singh. After spending some time with Rahi jee discussing some important issues, Bhai Vir Singh directly addressed Bhai Sudh Singh, "So did you save China or drown it?"

"Who am I to drown or save China. I went to there to collect funds and that's what I did", Bhai Sudh Singh responded humbly.

Bhai Vir Singh noticed that Bhai Sudh Singh was suffering from flu and asked him that he looked sick. Bhai Sudh Singh responded by confirming his sickness. At this Bhai Vir Singh said, "Shahpuriye (residents of Shahpur) are not supposed to get sick."

Bhai Sudh Singh responded, "Sukh and Dukh come as part of this body. How can Shahpuriye escape them?"

Bhai Sahib jee said, "90 out of 100 residents of Shahpur do paath of Siri Sukhmani Sahib and how can the diseases come to ones who recite Siri Sukhmani Sahib?"

Bhai Sudh Singh replied, "Siri Sukhmani Sahib cuts only mental and spiritual diseases. What relationship can it have with cutting diseases of the body? The diseases of the body occur as a result of our Karma."

Bhai Sahib lovingly asked, "So you don't do paath of Siri Sukhmani Sahib? Go read the first Ashtpadi of Siri Sukhmani Sahib."

Bhai Sudh Singh obeying Bhai Sahib's hukam started doing Siri Sukhmani Sahib. He had just read the first two Pankitis of the first Ashtpadi - ਸਿਮਰਉ ਸਿਮਰਿ ਸਿਮਰਿ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਵਉ ॥ ਕਲਿ ਕਲੇਸ ਤਨ ਮਾਹਿ ਮਿਟਾਵਉ ॥ - that Bhai Sahib stopped him. Bhai Sahib said, "The Pankiti says ਤਨ ਮਾਹਿ and not ਮਨ ਮਾਹਿ which means that Siri Sukhmani Sahib takes care of diseases of the body as well."

Bhai Sudh Singh realized that even though he did do Paath of Siri Sukhmani Sahib but in actuality he did not do Paath of it because he did not absorb the teachings of this great Baani. Bhai Vir Singh jee continued showering spiritual teachings of Gurmat for another half an hour or so. Bhai Sudh Singh realized the greatness of Siri Sukhmani Sahib and thus concluded his first meeting with Bhai Vir Singh jee.