Kids Corner


The Doughty Defender of Harmandar Sahib
Part III





This is the seventh of a series of works on by the author to mark the 30th anniversary of the Indian Army’s desecration of the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Continued from yesterday …

It was a time of great turmoil. The peril was grave and imminent. A large, well-armed force was about swoop down upon the Harmandar Sahib.

In its path stood a young man of steely resolve. A man who had decided to resist. Many had fled. Only a few stood shoulder to shoulder with him.

The invading force arrived. It was even larger and more fearsome than had been rumored, but the young man stood his ground. The battle began. The ferocity of the defenders shocked the invading force. Their resistance became the stuff of legend ...

This is the story of Baba Gurbaksh Singh, the 18th Century Akali warrior who dared to defy the might of the Afghan hordes.

His tiny band was outnumbered. Outgunned. And yet he embraced death like a bridegroom joyously bound for his wedding.

The account is translated from its original Punjabi from Episode 156 of Rattan Singh Bhangu’s opus, Sri Guru Panth Prakash.


The Gilji horde just swells and swells

Fresh fighters now their ranks enhance

With fury fall upon the Singhs

And rend their foes with spear and lance

The Warrior mighty swings his sword

Slices through many a lance

The Giljis dare not come too close

Away from flashing sword they prance

Not one Singh did that day retreat

Nor cast his eye towards the rear

No one shall ever dare to say

That even one ran from the fray

Warrior assailed! So many spears!

As the Giljis strive to make him yield

And though he’s fallen on his knee

They cannot from his hand sword free

He grips his sword in bloody hand

But his mind is now roiled by doubt

If I cast my sword on the sand

Will they spare me a man unarmed

If I yield I’m sure I will live

But all this blood will be for naught

This glorious moment for sure will pass

The time to sacrifice is now

Thus The Warrior girds his loins

Makes up his mind to never bow

May my head from my trunk be cleaved

Hither! Sweet sword! No one bereaved

He picks up his sword; mightily roars

A challenge to the Gilji horde

His neck is bare begs to be hacked

Just like was Ninth Master attacked

A Gilji bravo swings his blade

The Warrior’s head is no more nigh

The Lord is kind: a promise made

The Singhs can hold their heads up high

Of warriors past and martyrs’ sprites

Their joyous ranks The Warrior joins

Into their waiting arms he’s borne

Chariots divine with pennants flying

They come for him on prancing steeds

Bejeweled saddles! There is a slew

Beating war drums flying flags

In dazzling robes of electric blue

Music majestic spirits make

Accompanied by lute and drum

The Warrior joins the magic throng

Oh glorious and noble groom

Oh look in the throng! Bhai Mani Singh!

The sage does songs from the scripture sing

Bhai Taru Singh! He is here too

Like dogs he leads a tyrant leashed

The tyrant is being thrashed with shoes

And for his evil deeds is flayed

Of evildoers a wicked crew

Is chastised till its black and blue

The Warrior the spirits greet

And in a warm embrace engulf

With happiness joyously meet

Brace of brothers who are long lost

With folded hands The Warrior prays

His mind his Master contemplates

Thank you, My Lord! The Warrior says

And homage to his Master pays

My Lord! My King! Giver of life

For eons we have lived with strife

These brutish dogs of Khorasan

Shall meet the fate of Wazir Khan

This evil king has caused us grief

We will eject him from our fief

Give us the strength to fight; prevail

Sweep them away like a mighty gale

This land is ours! Its bounty ours!

Why should we let them steal from us

The Master hears The Warrior’s plea

It will be thus my son! You’ll see

The Afghan king will soon to hell

The Singhs will merrily sound his knell

But there is more of the tale to tell

Of how his Gilji followers fell

The Giljis sleep in a makeshift camp

By the ramparts of the Bhangi fort

In dead of night the Singhs do stir

Stealthily creeps vengeful cohort

Tired Giljis in slumber deep

The Singhs make off with many a steed

And on their camp they fiercely sweep

Writhing in the dust the Giljis bleed

At break of dawn the Giljis flee

Make haste to catch up with their king

In the light of day the Singhs behold

Brethren in heaps their bodies cold

And as the beaten foes retreat

More Singhs appear upon the scene

It looks as if the earth has bled

Or colored red by the warriors dead

The Singhs come up with a common plan

With honor they will treat every man

By the Timeless Tower a pyre is lit

By dancing flames Singhs solemnly sit

On the mighty fire are the martyrs laid

Fallen comrades gallant band

The Singhs prepare a sacred feast

Received humbly by every hand

Ashes to ashes dust to dust

Their bodies fallen heroes leave

Their souls rise up to meet the Lord

And join the martyrs’ eternal horde

The Singhs joyously chant in praise

Blessed are fathers, such sons who raise

To the warriors is built a glorious shrine

Wishes are fulfilled every day

Such is the glory of this shrine

Many a malady has it cured

And so great is its power benign

Forgotten is all pain endured

But hark! The tale is not yet done

The Singhs have joyous odes to sing

The Warrior’s prayer, his dying breath

A miracle yet it is to bring

The fallen Warrior’s eternal soul

Comradeship with martyrs seeks

Earnestly he begs the Lord

With them may I live in accord

The Master in his wisdom deep

Bestowed upon his slave a boon

The Warrior, did the Lord decree

Another life, for sure, would see

Of love of life, the man who’s free

Would the leader of a thousand be

O mighty chief who scoffed at flight

You did not bow to the Gilji might

Clamored then the martyrs’ sprites

Hear us Lord of we may be so bold

For a dozen years let him dwell here

Then send him back into the world

All of us, our Lord you blessed

For the chance to savor your grace we beg

For a dozen years let us all dwell here

Then send us all back with a mission clear

So be it! Then spoke the Lord

It shall be as you ask of me

I will not cleave you from my side

Forever joined with me you’ll be

Upon hearing these gracious words

The martyr’s hearts they swell with joy

The Warrior though is bold to ask

For me, my Lord, what is your plan?

You my son, I now will bless

In you I place my powers thus

A sovereign now is every Singh

And you shall be their mighty king

Sovereign of all within your sight

None shall stand before your might

He who dares to draw your ire

Will be scorched as if by fire

The mightiest most defiant foe

At your feet will his weapons throw

Tell, my Lord! Your slave would know

The name of the house where my soul will go

You will be born to a warrior bold

Before whose might the Gilji’s fold

A warrior who is known to all

To evil who will never fall

A warrior willing to sacrifice

For the good of all, his very life

Speak up spirits of martyrs brave

If you have heard of such a man

Oh Lord, where else can you send a king

But to the house of Charat Singh

In eighteen hundred twenty two

One Rattan Singh did tale this brew

Some of it came from what he knew

And some from ballads sung anew

Yes wisdom can be found in tomes

It’s true it may be bought and sold

But wisdom that lies deep within

Priceless! If I may be so bold


July 13, 2014

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Part III"

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