Sikh history is replete with stories of bravery and self sacrifice. One such tale is of the renowned fighter Banda Singh Bhadur (the brave). To understand the significance of Banda one must revert to the period of Moslem rule in the 17th and early 18th century. This was a period when the Hindus were the subjects and were treated cruelly by the Moslem rulers. Their women were captured and raped and the Hindus forcibly converted to Islam.
The foundation to oppose this tyranny was laid by Guru Gobind Singh with his famous creation of the Khaltsa or militant Sikhism to opposethe bigotry of the Moslems. Bu the death of Guru Gobind Singh in 1708 in the Deccan left the Sikhs leaderless. But before he died Guru Gobind Singh sensing that his time was near appointed Banda, a Raj put to lead the Sikhs. There are many stories of how Banda met Guru Gobind Singh, but suffice it to say that he became a follower of the Guru and pledged to fight the Tyranny of the Moslem rulers in the Punjab. Banda was a resident of hamlet on the river Godavari and he became a follower of the great Guru. He also took an oath to revenge the merciless murders of the four sons of Guru Gobind by the Moslem Nawab of Srihand.
Banda set forth from the Deccan to the Punjab, a distance of 1200 miles. As Banda sped towards Punjab, the common people both Hindusand Sikhs heard about him and one by one joined his force. The Moslem rulers came to know of the coming of Banda and decided to stop him. But the Moslem army was ineffectual and to the cries of 'Sat Sri Akal', Banda entered the Punjab. The Nawab who had murdered the sons of Guru Gobind Singh decided to oppose Banda.
In 1712, the famous battle of Srihand took place between the Sikh Fauj led by Banda and the Moslems. It was a furious battle but the superior leadership of Banda carried the day. The Moslem army was defeated and the Nawab captured. Subsequently he was executed as a punishment for having engineered the murders of the two younger sons of Guru Gobind. and done to death.
Banda continued his war against the Moslems and for once the Moslems had the element of fear in their ranks. The Punjab became his playground. However Banda was betrayed and brought to Delhi, by the Mughul emperor and tortured to death. But the legend of Banda as the bravest of the brave will remain. He was the man who laid the foundation of the Sikh empire and he is revered in Sikhism as a man of infinite courage, who gave self respect to the Hindus and Sikhs. For this alone Banda has his name carved in letters of gold in the pages of Sikh and Hindu history.