The fans of Banda Bairagi have always complained to the historians that Banda Bairagi was not given a proper place in history. However, his journey from a hut to becoming a great warrior and king was wonderful and unique.
Of course, we may have this complaint from historians, but world-famous litterateurs of different languages have given him a lot of respect and tribute through his poems. The names of three prominent poets come to mind: Nobel laureate, author of the national anthem and best Bengali language writer Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, freedom fighter and Marathi language litterateur Veer Savarkar and Hindi poet Maithilisharan Gupta known as Rashtrakavi.
Rabindranath Tagore has presented the sacrifice of Banda Bairagi in a very touching manner in the poem “Bandi Bir”, written in Bengali.
The subject matter of Veer Savarkar’s poem “Immortal Dead” in Marathi is similar to that of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s, in which he has depicted heroic patriotism and devotion to the religion of this great warrior. National poet Maithilisharan Gupta in his poem “Veer Vairagi”, includes the talks of Madhav Das Bairagi and Guru Gobind Singh Ji in his poem.
On Sunday, June 9, 1716, religious warriors known as Lakshman Dev, Madhavdas, Veer Banda Bairagi and Banda Singh Bahadur, following the path of truth, patriotism, valour and sacrifice, sacrificed their lives for human upliftment.
The victorious journey of this great warrior started from Nanded in Maharashtra after meeting Guru Gobind Singh Ji in September 1708 and on February 21 1709, in a village named Sehri Khanda near Sonipat Nimbark sect and Nirmohi Akhara of Sant Mahant Kishore Das of Nirmohi Akhara. He made the monastery his first military headquarters. From this place, on the orders of Guru Gobind Singhji, he sent Sikhs to Punjab and formed his army in a span of just eight months.
On November 2 1709, he attacked the Mughal treasury at Sonipat from this place and arranged financial resources for the army’s expenses.
This is where the authentic and documented history of Banda Bairagi begins. Prior to this, his life story is based on the speculations of public memory and historians.
The poem “Amar Mrit”, written in Marathi by Veer Savarkar on Banda Bairagi, is based on a book by British historian Todd. In those days, the representatives of the East India Company, two English officers, John Sarman and Edward Stephenson, were stationed in Delhi and sent reports of every important event to the headquarters of the East India Company, Kolkata.
He was an eyewitness to the sacrifice of 720 soldiers of Banda Bahadur from 5 to March 12 1716. These British officers were also present at the time of the martyrdom of Banda Bairagi and some of his companions near Qutub Minar in Delhi on June 9, 1716, and based on the report they sent to the East India Company in Kolkata, British historian Todd mentioned this incident.
Veer Savarkar had also mentioned his poem “Amar Mrit” while describing the heroism of Banda Bairagi in his book, “Bharatiya Ititratil Saha Soneri Pane”, written in Marathi on Indian history. In this book about Banda Bairagi, he wrote that the name of that brave martyr can never be erased from Hindu history; who not only opposed the atrocities on Hindus by the Mughals but also armed attacks on them.
Veer Savarkar wrote that Banda Bairagi was originally a Vaishnava saint who met Guru Gobind Singh Ji near Nanded and came to know from Guru Gobind Singh Ji how the Mughal rulers were persecuting Hindus and Sikhs in Punjab. When he heard about Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s sahibzadas being laid alive in the wall by the Mughals, his blood boiled, and he decided to take revenge on the Mughals. Thus this brave warrior marched toward Punjab against the oppression of Hindus in inhuman ways by the Mughals.
Veer Savarkar further writes how he regrets that his growing age does not allow otherwise he would have written in more detail on the atrocities committed on children and women by the Mughals in Punjab and the lessons taught to them by Banda Bairagi.
Veer Savarkar, in his book, expressed deep anger at the inhuman and abominable act of the Mughal rulers burying alive the sons of Guru Gobind Singh ji in a wall. Savarkar further writes that a large contingent of Sikhs under the banner of “Tatt Khalsa” separated from Banda Bairagi’s army, due to which the army weakened. Had this not happened, the war’s outcome would have been different.
In this book, Veer Savarkar also wrote that intellectuals must read the poem of the sacrifice of Banda Bairagi written by him in Andaman jail.
Some excerpts from Veer Savarkar’s poem “Immortal Dead” are as follows:
Cruel Lohapanjranta or Neerundasha
Sharp sule! – Iron teeth drink blood
Tenvi Shivshivat, Sada Detina Muli
Tanusi Tayachiya with little interest!……
In this poem, he narrated the incident when Banda Bahadur and his army were arrested by the Mughal army on December 7, 1715, at Gurdaspur Nangal ki Garhi, while fighting the Mughal army for several months. Banda Bairagi was locked in an iron cage that was used for lions in a circus.