Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Shahid
Sikh history has been enriched by the martyrdoms of Sikhs and Sikh Saints. Sikh gurus themselves lead their Sikhs with their noble examples of martyrdom. The first Guru to be martyred by the Mughals was Guru Arjan Dev ji, the fifth Guru. Guru Arjan Dev ji who had compiled the Guru Granth Sahib (then called the Adi Granth) by collecting hymns of all the Sikh Gurus before him. It is probably only in Sikhi that so many of the founding teachers were not only great fighers and saints but also great writers and poets. Hymns written by Guru Nanak dev ji, Guru Angad Dev ji, Guru Ramdas ji, Guru Arjan Dev ji, Guru Tegh Bahadur ji, Guru Gobind Singh ji easily surpass the criteria of current noble prize for literature, then their examples of supreme sacrifices after achieving so much fame, etc is incredible. But then only Gurus are perfect, we Sikhs (disciples) may excell in literature, the martial arts, hunting or sportsmanship, even as martyrs, but we are not the masters of each as were our Gurus.
As you know in this site you are reading about "Great Sikh Warriors", about Sikhs who fought for the survival of their way of life and their freedom of religion. Many Sikhs, and Indians of other religions have achieved much in other fields across the world, but that was possible only after Great Sikh Warriors played their part in ridding India of the Mughal's religious persecution. Just imagine what the Punjab of today might be like if not for the sacrifices of so many Great Sikh Warriors?.
Baba Deep Singh ji Shaheed's martyrdom in 1757 at Amritsar was not to be the last, in fact it inspired thousands more. In 1757, Baba Deep Singh ji took a vow to celebrate the festival of Diwali at Amritsar, which was under the control of Ahmed Shah Durrani's Afghan forces, Baba Deep Singh started his march along with about 500 or so Sikhs and fulfilled his vow by breathing his last at the Parikarma of the Harimandir Sahib. His martyrdom inspired countless others, one of them was Bhai Gurbaksh Singh.
Bhai Gurbaksh Singh (1688-1764), also known as Gurbaksh Singh Nihang or Shaheed, hailed from the village of Lil, in Amritsar District. According to an old manuscript which was preserved in the Sikh reference library, Amritsar, until it perished in the Government of India's Army action in June 1984, and which is quoted by Singh Sahib Giani Kirpal Singh, he was born on Baisakh Vadi 5, 1745 Bk i.e. 10th April 1688 (father Dasaundha Singh, Mother Mai Lachchami). In 1698, the family shifted to Anandpur where Gurbakshash Singh took pahul of the Khalsa on the historic Baisakhi day of 1699. He completed his religious education under Bhai Mani Singh. He later joined the Shahid Misl under Baba Dip singh and after the latter's martyrdom in 1757 at Amritsar, organized his own Jatha or fighting band. In battles against the Durranis and Mughals his dera usually formed the vanguard carrying the banner, and won renown with its acts of gallantry.
In November 1764, Ahmad Shah Durrani (also known as Ahmed Shah Abdali) at the head of his 30,000 afghan warriors invaded India for 7th time, Bhai Gurbaksh Singh happened to be stationed at holy Shrine at Amritsar. The Durrani (abdali) advanced up to the town virtually unopposed and entered the partially reconstructed Harimandir, which he had demolished two years earlier. Bhai Gurbaksh Singh who had already evacuated from the precints women, children, and the aged, had with him only thirty men. According to Sikh historian Ratan Singh Bhangu, Prachin Panth Prakash "Bhai Gurbaksh Singh with garlands around his neck and sword on his hand, dressed himself as a bridegroom, his men forming the marriage party, waiting eagerly to court the bride-death." As soon as they saw the Afghan king and his hordes, they swooped down upon them.
This was an unequal fight - thirty pitted against thirty thousand. All thirty Sikhs were killed before Gurbaksh Singh always in the forefront fell. Giving an eyewitness account of the action, Qazi Nur Muhammad, the chronicler who was in the train of the invader, wrote in his jangnamah when the king and his army reached the chakk (Amritsar), they did not see any infidel kafir there. But a few men who had stayed in a fortress were bent upon spilling their blood and they sacrificed themselves for their Guru. They were only thirty in number. They did not have the least fear of death. They engaged the Ghazis (i.e. in Islamic terminology, a Ghazi is a muslim person who had killed an infidel or as they called non-Muslims, a kafir) and spilled their blood in the process.
Thus all of them were wed to death, the bridegroom and his marriage party.
This happened on 1 December 1764. Bhai Gurbaksh singh was cremated behind Takht Akal bunga, later a tomb was built on the site which is now known as Shahid Ganj.