Saadh Sangat jeeo, please take time to read the jeevan of one of the greatest warrior and gursikh ever to be born in Sikh Panth. Bhai Tara Singh Vaan is not as well known as he should be but the memorial in his memory still stands today at Vaan Pind in Siri Amritsar. Please read this most magnificent story of Bhai Tara Singh jee Vaan. We are lucky that a great deal about his shaheedi is written in Pracheen Panth Parkaash, a 18th century book by Rattan Singh Bhangoo:
Baba Banda Singh jee Bahadur got shaheed on June 08, 1716. After his shaheedi, despondency prevailed in Sikhs in general. The chardi kala singhs always stay in chardi kala but generally the Sikhs were very concerned about what was going on and what the future held for them. A whole generation of Sikhs had gotten wiped out with and after Baba Banda Singh jee?s shaheedi.
At that time (around 1726) still some Sikhs used to stay in villages and did kheti (farming). One of such chardi kala singh was Bhai Tara Singh jee Vaan. He lived in a village called Vaan in district Amritsar (then Lahore) of Punjab. Bhai Tara Singh jee was very chardi kala waaley Singh. His shaheedi is one of the greatest of all times in Sikhs. Brave and strong singh like him has never come again in this world. Fortunately history records the details of his shahidi and we today can get some idea of what he and the singhs with him were like.
BHAI TARA SINGH VAAN AND HIS PERSONALITY
Bhai Tara Singh jee Vaan was a fully rehitvaan, tyaar bar tyaar Singh. It is written in history that he used to wear only blue clothes and his body used to be adorned with many shasters (weapons). He had profound love for Gurbani and was found doing paath all the time. He had full faith in Guru Sahib and his concentration always remained at the lotus feet of Guru Sahib. His bhagti had reached such level that anything he uttered came out true. His bachan never went waste because there was massive bhagtee of Naam and Gurbani behind him. Out of all warriors of that time, he was said to be the top one. He had no fear of death and was always prepared to die in the battlefield.
Bhai Tara Singh built his bunga (house) like a fort and he always had 10-12 tyaar bar tyaar singhs with him. All singhs knew about Bhai Sahib jee and they used to stay at Bhai Tara Singh jee's bunga while travelling. Singhs used to do farming together and any earnings they made used to go towards langar for singhs. Singhs living with Bhai Sahib used to do Gurbani paath all day long and when they were not doing paath together, they were doing shastar-abhyaas (martial arts practice). Some singhs staying with Bhai Sahib used to help him out with farming. Singhs used to come and leave but at any given time Bhai Sahib always had 10-12 singhs with him.
START OF THE PROBLEM
Not far from Bhai Tara Singh jee's village Vaan, there is a village named Nashaura Pannu. In those days, the chauadhary of this village was a very egoistic and bully kind of person called Sahib Rai. He used push around other villagers and everyone was scared of him because he was friends with the Lahore government of Mughals. In this village two singhs lived with their families and they did farming there.
Chauadhary Sahib Rai hated the singhs living in his village and never let go an opportunity to humiliate them. The chauadhary used to let his horses graze in the fields of the singhs, damaging their crops. The singhs did no want to start a fight with him as they feared their families' safety but they were getting increasingly weary of his treatment of singhs.
One day, the singhs saw the horses grazing in their fields and they could not take it anymore. They decided to talk to the Chauadhary about it. They went over to the chaudhary and told them about his horses grazing their fields. Listening to this, the chaudhary got very upset. He was a patient of haume rog (ego) and as thus he got even more angry. He threatened the singhs with dire consequences if they stopped his horses from grazing in their fields.
The chaudhary then said to the singhs something that no one should dare say to a singh. He threatened them saying that he would cut their hair using urine, if they tried to touch his horses. Hearing this the singhs felt like volcano erupting from within. Their eyes turned red and they felt their biceps trembling with Bir Rass. They somehow managed to contain their emotions and came back without saying anything further to the Chaudhary.
SINGHS TAKE AWAY CHAUDHARY'S HORSE
The first thing the singhs did when they arrived home was packing up. They packed up and sent their wives along with their kids to their in-laws i.e. wife's parent's house. Then the singhs called upon Baghel Singh and Amar Singh for help. These two singhs were known warriors of their time. They discussed the problem and decided to get even with the chaudhary. They took away one of the horse of the Chaudhary that was grazing in their fields and travelled all night to arrive at Hari Ke Pattan (where rivers Ravi and Beas meet). At Hari ke Pattan, Lakhmir Singh was waiting for them Bhai Baghel Singh and Bhai Amar Singh gave him the horse who sold the horse in Malwa region (across from Hari ke Pattan).
The money that Lakhmir Singh earned as a result of selling the horse, was matha-tekked at the Bunga of Bhai Tara Singh Vaan. On the other hand when the chaudhary discovered that his horse was missing, he called in the khojee (detective) to track the lost horse. The khojee pointed finger at the singhs living in Chaudhary's village. When the singhs heard that they had been indicted in the theft of the horse, they left their village and came to live with Bhai Tara Singh Vaan the great singh who had no fear of death.
SAHIB RAI ARRIVES AT BHAI TARA SINGH'S BUNGA
Following the singhs, Sahib Rai along with his private security guards, arrived at the bunga of Bhai Tara Singh jee Vaan. He came with full ego and angrily demanded Bhai Tara Singh jee to hand over his thieves to him. Bhai Tara Singh who was a fearless warrior, told him that the real thief was Sahib Rai himself because he used to let his horses graze in the singhs' fields, thereby stealing their crops.
Hearing such answer, the stupid chaudhary, started using foul language with Bhai Tara Singh. Now Bhai Tara Singh did not tolerate too much of his rubbish and slapped him on his face. Then the other singhs beat up the security guards who tried to help the chaudhary.
Bhai Tara Singh told Sahib Rai clearly that he was going to sacrifice his body fighting the Turks (Muslim rulers) and that he did not care about his life. Saying this he slapped the Chaudhary right, left and centre. The Chaudhary along with his security guards ran away from there crying. He felt few of his teeth missing and nose broken.
THE CHAUDHARY ARRIVES AT PATTI RULER
The chaudhary having humiliated like this in public arrived crying at the ruler of Patti, a small town near Siri Amritsar Sahib. There he told the administrator of Patti everything that had occurred with him. He told the ruler that while the Mughals were sleeping and lost in luxuries of life, Bhai Tara Singh Vaan was about to take over Lahore. He told many false stories about the singhs and prompted the ruler to send his army to capture Bhai Tara Singh jee and other singhs.
The ruler asked the chaudhary, how many singhs were there at Bunga of Bhai Sahib. The chaudhary replied saying that the bunga did not have more than 20 singhs and that some have swords while others have spears. The ruler took the matter lightly but still sent 25 soldiers from cavalry (soldiers on horseback) and 80 from infantry (soldiers on foot). The order to the soldiers was to reach Bhai Tara Singh jee's bunga during night time and to go slowly without making noise so that singhs do not escape. They wanted to capture the singhs alive and send them to Lahore for punishment.
SOLDIERS ARRIVE AT VILLAGE VAAN TO CAPTURE SINGHS
The government soldiers, about 100 in total, reached the outskirts of village Vaan just at amritvela. At that time Bhai Baghel Singh, one of the singhs present at Bhai Tara Singh jee's bunga, was doing Gurbani paath. After ardaas, he went out to get some wood for preparation of degh. He had a sword and a Safajung (axe) in his hand.
As he walked little distance from the bunga, he noticed a group of the imperial army. He wanted to go back and let the singhs know of the arrival of the army. At the same time he thought that if he went back, singhs were going to ask him why he came back without encountering the army. He feared that the singhs might think that he got scared. Thinking this, he moved forward and assured himself that once he starts fight with the army, the singhs would find out from the noise of battle.
He moved forward and challenged the imperial army. As he moved forward, Sahib Rai the chaudhary recognized Baghel Singh and cried out to Hakim Khan the leader of the army, telling him that this singh Baghel Singh was a big trouble-maker among the singhs and that he should not be allowed to escape. He said that Baghel Singh was the thief who stole his horse and that if he gets killed, the singhs strength will be reduced by half.
Hearing this Hakim Khan quickly moved forward with his soldiers and Baghel Singh too jumped forward eagerly to fight off the army. It was quite dark as it was still amritvela. They tried to shoot him down with gun and arrows but he very quickly just entered the group of soldiers. In darkness, they could not find him, while he was right within them. He injured several and killed the nephew of Hakim Khan, before he was shot in the leg.
Singhs in the bunga heard the gun shots and they too came out with weapons. They fought so valiantly that within few moments there were several dead and injured. Hakim Khan lost his vigour to fight after his nephew died and he pulled back and fled from there. The singhs won the first battle of Pind Vaan.
SINGHS CHALK OUT STRATEGY FOR THE FUTURE
After Hakim Khan left, some singhs came to Bhai Tara Singh jee Vaan and asked him to leave this place and not to enter direct confrontation with the imperial forces of Lahore Darbar. They said that they had made the point by beating up Chaudhary Sahib Rai and then beating the Patti force of 100 soldiers. They suggested that it would be prudent to leave this bunga and go somewhere else for some time and return later when the things cool down.
Singh jee (as Bhai Tara Singh was addressed by singhs of that time) responded by telling them that he had no fear of death and had no attachment to this worldly body of his. He said that he had attachment with only one thing and that was Gurbaani/Naam. He said that he had received hukam to get shaheedi from Satguru himself (Jim kar Satgur daiyo hai bhaakh ? Panth Parkaash). He further said that a true Singh never fears death. He said that he was going to get shaheed right there in the bunga and was not going to flee anywhere.
After responding to those singhs, Singh jee (Bhai Tara Singh jee) addressed all the singhs present there and gave them choice to leave or stay. He said that ones who stay were going to get shaheed for sure. He said that ones who don't leave right away would not be allowed to leave later. Hearing this about half of the singhs left but the other half who stayed were fully determined to get shaheed with their beloved jathedaar.
Then Singh jee sent messages to other singhs throughout Punjab to inform them of his stand to get shaheed at his bunga and asked them if they wanted to join him in confronting the Turks (Muslims). Hearing this the top notch singhs from around Punjab came and joined their dear jathedar Bhai Tara Singh jee Vaan:
Vasaava Singh and Kuyer Singh joined from Brahmanshaahi village.
Samund Singh and Jhaad Singh joined Singh jee from Multan.
Soora Singh who did wood work, decided to join Singh jee and get shaheed.
Lakhmir Singh said his last fateh to his family and joined Singh jee.
Ali Singh of Sandhu village and Gurbaksh Singh Bhalla joined Singh jee.
Bheem Singh and Badal Singh or Ratoki village joined Singh jee to get shaheed.
Megh Singh of Madra pind and Haata Singh of Chungo village joined Singh jee to get shaheed.
Bulaaka Singh of Sanghan and Jodh Singh of Narovaal joined Singh jee to get shaheed.
Bhogad Singh and Rasaal Singh of Peshawar joined Singh jee to get shaheed. They two decided that their time to join Guru Sahib for shaheedi had come now.
Amar Singh the great warrior was already with Singh jee. This way in total 22 Singhs got together at the Bunga of Singh jee.
SINGHS WAIT FOR THE IMPERIAL ARMY
They solidified the bunga and constructed defenses around the bunga. After getting all set, they just sat there together and did massive paath and bhagtee. They used to do paath all day long and since they knew that their time was near, they had no other thoughts coming to them. All they cared about was paath, paath and more paath. One or two singhs out of them did up the langar work and the rest just stayed immersed in paath.
They had already chalked out the strategies to combat the Turks and they had assembled any weapons they could find. Many days passed before the army moved in and all that time singhs accumulated a huge Naam and Gurbani treasure for themselves.
SITUATION AT LAHORE DARBAR
The Patti army went straight to Lahore and narrated to the Nawab all that had occurred with them. They told the Lahore ruler how Hakim Khan?s nephew got killed by Baghel Singh and how others got injured and killed.
Hearing this the ruler of Lahore got furious. He said that he had thought that he had got all rebelling singhs killed, then where did this (Bhai) Tara Singh come from. He said that he had got tired of killing the singhs who just would not finish. More he killed them, more strong they were getting.
According to Panth Parkash, the Kaazi replied by saying that with every drop of blood that falls on the ground, one singh was born as a result of it. He said that it would be best to kill them in some other way. He said that it would be best to capture them alive and imprison them instead of killing them.
Hearing this remark from the Kaazi, one of the soldiers who knew how hard it was to capture singhs alive, said that it would be most suitable if the Kaazi himself took the lead and captured some singhs. He said that the Kaazi had no idea what kind of fighters the singhs were. If he had any idea, he would not have talked about capturing them alive.
Hearing this from the soldier, the Kaazi (Islamic law-maker), got very embarrassed and went quiet. He knew that he could not face any singh in the battlefield. His head went downwards in shame.
After this the Nawab of Lahore, challenged all to volunteer to capture Bhai Tara Singh jee Vaan. He challenged asking them if there was any warrior who would be willing to capture or kill Bhai Tara Singh jee Vaan. When no one volunteered to come forward, the Nawab chose Moman Khan to take lead and capture or kill Bhai Tara Singh jee Vaan.
MOMAN KHAN MARCHES TOWARDS SINGH JEE
Moman Khan had the best of the Lahori soldiers - 2200 in total, all cavalry. He himself was seated on an elephant. He moved out of Lahore and camped just outside Lahore to chalk out strategy to fight Bhai Tara Singh jee Vaan.
Some residents of Lahore who sympathized with the Singhs heard that Moman Khan was about to leave Lahore to capture Singh jee. They decided to send a messenger to Singh jee to evacuate the Bunga and come back later, once the matters cooled down. These messengers reached the Singh jee and pleaded with him to evacuate his bunga and leave.
When Singh jee heard this, his face became red with Bir Rass. He said that he could not wait to combat the Turks. He said that he was having hard time waiting for the Turks to arrive. He said that he was not going anywhere and would attain shaheedi right at his bunga. He declared that Satguru jee had shown him clearly that his time to attain shaheedi had come.
Hearing such fearless response from Singh jee, the messengers came back little depressed thinking about the shaheedi of their beloved singh Bhai Tara Singh jee Vaan. The singhs with Singh jee got in even more chardi kala when they heard Bhai Tara Singh jee in such high spirits.
MOMAN KHAN REACHES SINGH JEE?S BUNGA
Moman Khan decided to attack the singhs at midnight, hoping to catch them while sleeping. As the army reached the outskirts of Pind Vaan, they met a Jatt of Uppal caste, who was a big enemy of the singhs. He assured the imperial army of leading them to Singh jee.
Moman Khan was leading the army but he did not want to fight the Singhs. He called two of his confidants and asked them to go and tell Singh jee that it would be best if they avoided any clash and that the imperial army would return back, if they did not find him there. The two confidants arrived at the Bunga and pleaded with Singh jee to leave the Bunga and that the army would return back immediately. They asked him why he wanted to lose his life for nothing.
Singh jee whose face was shining because of constant paath of Gurbani and Naam Abhyaas responded to them by saying that maybe what they were saying was correct but that he had made up his mind for shaheedi and that he was not willing to leave his bunga out of fear of anyone. He said that now the eyes of whole panth were on him and that if he backed off, he would not be able to show his face to the singhs again. Saying this he sent them back with full respect.
HUMAN BODY GETS PURIFIED WITH WOUNDS FROM WEAPONS
A Singh too reached Bhai Tara Singh jee and pleaded with him to leave. He said that he was only concerned about one thing. He said that he did not care dying or living but he had one wish in his mind. He said that Bhai Tara Singh jee had done a lot of sewa of Singhs visiting with him and that it was now turn of singhs to do sewa of Bhai Tara Singh jee. He said that many singhs wanted to do sewa of Bhai Tara Singh jee and this way get their body purified.
Singh jee whose face was so bright that day that it was hard to even look at it, did a very precious bachan (saying). He declared that the bodies of Singhs and warriors get pure and sacred when they are cut by the weapons in the battlefield. In Panth Parkash, it is quoted as follows:
TAU SINGH JEE, UNN KAHEE SUNAAYE||
DEH PAVITTER HOYE, SHASTER LAGAAYE||
He further said that when the weapons cut the body of a singh in the battlefield, the sins of the singhs are washed away as a result of this.
SINGHS BEAT THE NAGAARA TO DECLARE WAR
After hearing Bhai Tara Singh jee, all singhs said a huge jaikaara and beat Nagaara along with that. Their jaikaara was so loud that it reached the Turks who were quite away from there. Many of the Turks felt their senses failing them after hearing the jaikaara of the singhs. Many wanted to leave as they did not want to lose their lives fighting off the Singhs. Conscience of many soldiers was pricking them for killing innocent Singhs for no reason.
On the other side, Singh jee ordered the Singhs to leave the bunga and stand in the battlefield, ready to face the Turks. From both sides the warriors got ready to fight to death.
HAND TO HAND COMBAT BEGINS
First of all, Bhai Bulaaka Singh moved forward to stop the advancing army. He fought very valiantly and killed many. Finally he was killed by a arrow that hit his chest.
The singhs now stood behind their first defense line and as the Turks moved forward, the Singhs pushed them back. It was still midnight and it was hard to see clearly and this went in the favour of the singhs. Then the Turks decided to move forward using their cavalry. They moved forward with full force and destroyed the first defense of the singhs but the singhs still fought them back and fell back to the second defense. Many Turks died in this first attack. All singhs except for Bulaaka Singh were still alive.
The imperial army was extremely hesitant to move forward and do hand to hand combat. They started shooting from far and some singhs got shaheed this way.
A WARRIOR CHALLENGES SINGH JEE
Moman Khan was getting increasingly impatient at the foot-dragging of his army. A very brave officer under Moman Khan sensed Moman Khan's impatience and moved his horse forward. He loudly challenged Singh jee to come out and fight him alone. He moved his horse forward fearlessly. Singh jee asked his singhs not to attack him and loudly asked him to come forward and that he would meet him soon.
As he was moving forward, he saw Singh jee. He took out his bow and shot an arrow aiming Singh jee's Dumaala. Singh jee was too fast for the warrior. He came forward like a lightening and caught hold of the horse?s reins. He noticed that the officer's body could not be seen as it was covered with armour all over. The only thing that was without cover was the small part of his face. Singh jee hit his mouth area with his sword and managed to give it a deep cut there. The officer fled back.
TARA SINGH IS GIVING OUT FREE PAANS?
When Moman Khan saw his officer's mouth red with blood, he jokingly said, "Are you eating paan". Paan is a leaf that non-Sikhs eat. It makes one's mouth red and one spits out the red residue of Paan. It is a very popular candy for non-Sikhs. When others heard this remark they all started laughing.
The officer felt insulted and shot back at Moman Khan saying, "yes I am eating Paan. Tara Singh is giving out free paans and if you want one, you too should move forward to get it. Why are you talking standing so far from the battlefield". He said it in such a hilarious way that the whole imperial army started laughing. This dialogue became so famous in Punjab that to date it is remembered by all Punjabis, particularly the people of Majha zone (around Amritsar, Lahore).
SINGHS BATTLE THE TURK ON ELEPHANT
Another one of the officers who too had an elephant, thought of moving forward and killing the Singhs by crushing them under the elephant. He and another warrior got on the elephant and moved the elephant forward very fast.
When the singhs saw the elephant coming towards them, they got excited over getting an opportunity to fight off an elephant. The Turks on the elephant were shooting arrows at the Singhs. Bhima Singh moved forward like a lion moving to hunt. Bhima Singh was so strong that he caught hold of the elephant by his ear and made him sit right there. Then with his sword he killed the driver (mahaavat) of the elephant. The driver too hit back Bhima Singh before dying and Bhima Singh got unconscious with the blow. The Singhs pulled him back to the Bunga.
The elephant got up again and moved towards the Singhs. Now Singh jee said to Bhai Lakhmir Singh, "do you not remember those days when we both used to graze cows and buffalos together? You used to jump across lining up two buffalos. How big is this elephant anyways? Why don?t you jump up on the elephant and kill the Turks sitting on it?.
Bhai Lakhmir Singh responded, "This exactly what I was thinking Singh jee. If you look at me with an eye of grace, I will do just what you have said".
Saying this Bhai Lakhmir Singh jee jumped on the elephant and killed the two turks sitting on it. The elephant got scared and ran back towards to imperial army. When Moman Khand saw the elephant without the turks, he knew what had happened.
MOMAN KHAN CALLS IN POORBIYE (RESIDENTS OF BIHAR, UP)
Moman Khan decided to test his Poorbiye soldiers who were known for their valour. Their name were Mansha Ram and Daiya Ram and their titles were 'ikk Hazaari' (officer to whom one thousand soldiers report). They both moved forward along with a group of selected soldiers to fight the Singhs. Three Singhs came out to combat them. These three singhs killed both Mansha Ram and Daiya Ram and the army that came with them fled after that.
SHAHEEDI OF BHAI TARA SINGH JEE AND OTHER SINGHS
After the fall of Mansha Ram and Daiya Ram, the soldiers of the imperial army got depressed and did not want to fight. Moman Khan could not have gone back empty handed. By now, sun had risen and there was more light now.
The Turks now could see the singhs more clearly and they decided not to move forward but shoot the singhs from far. Most of the 22 singhs by now had gone shaheed. The remaining Singhs decided to attack the imperial army voluntarily.
When Bhai Tara Singh jee entered the imperial army, there was a storm in there. He killed countless before he was shot from far. He still would not fall and kept fighting and slicing the soldiers. It was felt as if he was accompanied by thousands of more hands. He sent several to Dharam Rai and finally attained shaheedi there.
The shaheedi of Bhai Tara Singh jee rejuvenated the dejected Sikhs after the shaheedi of Baba Banda Singh jee and many came into the fold of Khalsa and regrouped again to fight off the foreign rule in Punjab. Bhai Tara Singh jee will always be remembered by Khalsa and a memorial in village Vaan has been errected in his sweet memory.
END OF SAAKHI
The story of Bhai Tara Singh jee Vaan is most inspiring to the Sikhs. Bhai Sahib was greatest of all and it is hard to describe even the dust of his Charan (Feet). Sangat Baksh lave.