Akali Singh And The Lion
This is a great story of an Akali Singh of Raja Ranjit Singh's time. It tells us a lot about how fit and fearless the Singhs of olden days were. It also tells us how much paath they used to do and how age did not seem to reduce their strength. Their strength came from Naam and Gurbani.
AKALI SINGH AND THE LION
During the times of Raja Ranjit Singh, there used to be chardi kala waalay, Akali Singh jee. His name has not been recorded in history and for this reason we are going to refer to him as Akali Singh hereafter in this story.
Akali Singh jee was quite old and used to live in Lahore, the capital city of the Sikh kingdom. Maharaja Ranjit Singh held darbar at Lahore where all his government officials and the public would gather to run the day to day activities of the kingdom. The prime minister of the Sikh kingdom was a Hindu Dogra – Dhyaan Singh. Dhyaan Singh, a trusted friend of Ranjit Singh, was from Jammu. He was, as history has proved, a man who had ulterior motives, while he served as his Maharaja's prime minister. It turned out to very unfortunate that Raja Ranjit Singh placed men (often non Sikhs) who coveted his power and even his kingdom, in such important and powerful positions.
The only Sikh, of high rank, was Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa, but after his shaheedi, there was no Sikh Officers commanding any units of the Khalsa. The foreign minister and internal affairs minister was Farid Azizudin, a Muslim. Other important ranks in Raja Ranjit Singh’s government were all held by Muslims, Hindus and even a few European Mercenaries.
The Sikhs, particularly the Akalis, whose jathedar was Akali Phoola Singh jee, understood that it was very wrong to have non-Sikhs in such high positions but seemingly the only person who never understood this was the one who had the last say was Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Maharaja Ranjit Singh was not bad at heart and was quite intelligent too but I guess in this case his intelligence betrayed him.
The Akalis were very fearless and did not recognize anyone’s authority besides Guru Akal Purakh. They never recognized Raja Ranjit Singh as their king and always recognized only the government of Vaheguru. It is possible that deep inside Raja Ranjit Singh craved for the honour and respect that a king should get and since he could not get this from the Sikhs, who considered him to be their equal, he favored the Dogra Hindus and Muslims who fulfilled his craving for the fake worldly honours they lavished upon him.
During the Darbar proceedings, our Akali jee used to attend the darbar whenever he could. Whenever Raja Ranjit Singh entered the court, all would stand except the Akali jee who would remain seated while they said fateh. The Dogra prime minister did not like this and one day he questioned Akali jee in the darbar as to why he did not get up from his seat to honour him and Raja Ranjit Singh. At this Akali jee declared, roaring like a lion that he only recognized Sachi Sarkar—The True Commander and true authority (Akal Purakh). He further said that Ranjit Singh was Jhooti Sarkaar (Fake worldly authority) and as such he did not feel the need to get up and say fateh to him.
Raja Ranjit Singh had a big heart and he did not mind at all when Akali jee called him “Jhooti Sarkaar”. He humbly declared that indeed he was Jhooti (false) Sarkaar and that Akali jee was “Sachee Sarkaar”. The prime minister Dhyaan Singh got very upset when he heard Ranjit Singh bowing before Akali jee but he felt helpless and did not do anything further at that time. After that day, big-hearted Raja Ranjit Singh started calling Akali jee “Sachee Sarkaar”. On the other hand, after this incident Dhyaan Singh started looking for an excuse to insult or hurt Akali jee. Akali jee in his natural way, continued his practice of critically analyzing the daily affairs of the government and did not hesitate to criticize Dhyaan Singh or anyone else for that matter. This made Dhyaan Singh madder but he could not do anything about it.
One day, Raja Ranjit Singh and Dhyaan Singh made plans to go out hunting. Dhyaan Singh contrived an evil plan and asked Akali jee to come along with them. Akali jee sensed some ulterior motive behind Dhyaan Singh’s offer but nevertheless agreed to come along. Akali jee had a mountain of faith in Akal Purakh Vaheguru.
The whole party, all were on horseback, went to the thick forest. Entering the dense forest they came to a very quite area, when the roar of a lion suddenly thundered forth. Surprised everyone stopped in their tracks. Behind the bushes, they spotted a lion who stood his ground and did not try to sneak away. Raja Ranjit Singh challenged his companions to move forward and fight the lion. The lion was a very fierce looking lion and no one answered his call. The Akali Singh stayed absorbed in baani paying no attention to what was going on around him.
When no one answered the challenge of Raja Ranjit Singh, he himself decided to move forward to engage in a fight with the lion. Just as he was about to move, Dhyaan Singh mockingly said to Raja Ranjit Singh that why should he the jhooti sarkaar (false authority) move forward in the presence of the Sachee Sarkaar Akali jee. Raja Ranjit Singh just smiled and did not say anything. Dhyaan Singh had said this to get even with Akali jee and avenge the previous insults he had endured from the truth-speaking Akali jee. He wanted Akali jee to feel embarrassed as he thought that Akali jee was too old to fight the lion and would be forced to say no. Dhyaan Singh waited for Akali jee to say no, so he could then, make fun of him for the rest of his life.
But! Akali jee was not an ordinary man. He was from the 1700s and had seen very tough times. He was a great fighter and on top of all this he had always done massive paath and Naam abhyaas. Akali jee accepted the challenge and said that Dhyaan Singh was right in pointing out that in the presence of Sachee Sarkaar (Akali jee), there was no need for jhooti sarkaar (Raja Ranjit Singh) to go forward. Saying this he jumped down from his horse. Seeing this, Raja Ranjit Singh pleaded with him to not go forward as he did not want him to get hurt. Ignoring the Maharaja's pleading, Sachee Sarkaar moved forward toward the menacing lion.
At this Raja Ranjit Singh asked him to at least remount his horse as he would be safer. Hearing this Akali jee responded that it would not be fair to the lion if he stayed on the horseback while the lion was on the ground. Raja Ranjit Singh felt helpless and grew a bit angry at Dhyaan Singh. He asked his soldiers to keep a close eye on the fight and to intervene if Akali jee’s life was in danger.
Akali jee, on the ground, again started to move forward. Akali jee had a sword in his hand and he had wrapped a double kamarkassa around his waist with his kambal (shawl). Akali jee thought of something and then even dropped his sword, saying that it was not fair for him to fight with a sword because the lion did not have any weapon. Raja Ranjit Singh was really worried but Akali jee did not care about anything.
Now, Akali jee now without a sword removed his shawl from his waist. The lion too came forward seeing Akali jee coming toward him. Their eyes were now locked and they looked fearlessly into each other’s eyes. The lion and Akali jee were looking deep in each other’s eyes waiting for their opponent to make their move. They stayed like this for few moments. To each of them the time seemed move slowly. It seemed as if they were testing each other’s mental strength and fearlessness through their eyes. This lion was a man-eating lion and it was imperative that he be slain. Since this lion was a man-eater (aadami-khor) he did not try to hide or get away. He had no fear of humans as other animals do.
The lion could not wait any longer and jumped forward at Akali jee. Akali jee was just waiting for him to make the move. Though he was old (he was a huge person with a very solid body) his strength had not left him. He possessed great fighting skills in hand to hand combat. As the lion jumped at him he, like a lightening bolt, moved aside and tied his shawl around the face of lion. This happened so fast that the lion too did not get any chance to think or do anything. Before the lion could realize what to do, Akali jee landed a massive blow on the lion’s back and hurt it badly. The lion dropped to the ground and laid there helplessly no longer moving.
Akali jee then came back and remounted his horse. Raja Ranjit Singh and everyone present were awed at the skill of Akali jee. Akali jee had subdued the lion in a very short time and they all paid homage to him. Raja Ranjit Singh gave a bag full of gold to Akali jee as a reward. Seeing the reward, Akali jee thundered saying that how could Sachee Sarkaar accept something from a Jhooti Sarkaar.
Akali jee said to Raja Ranjit Singh that this was his last fateh to him. He said that he was leaving to spend the rest of his life in doing bhagti of Vaheguru. He warned Raja Ranjit Singh that he was surrounded with serpents like Dhyaan Singh who were going to rob the Sikhs of their kingdom one day. He urged Raja Ranjit Singh to work to ensure that the Sikh Raaj lasted for a long time.
Saying this he left the bewildered Raja Ranjit Singh. The predictions of Akali jee came true and we all know that the raaj of the True Sachee Sarkaar was destroyed with the aid of the power hungry Hindu Dogra Brothers that our Maharaja had trusted all too well.
Akali jee was never seen by anyone again.