Criticism of Banda Singh Bahadur

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The article is based on Historical facts from several recognised Sikh sources.

Banda Singh Bahadur, is recognised by most Sikhs as a well respect and eminent personality in Sikh history. However, what is less known is the fact that after 1715, he turned into a rebel and acted contrary to the orders given to him by Guru Gobind Singh in 1708 at Nanded. This fact is supported by most historical books of Sikh history. The main article on Banda Singh Bahadur shows the step that he took as revenge for the Martyrdom of the young sahibzadas from subedar of Sirhind but there is another side to his personality which is not told about him.

Although he was already a fake bairagi, was not following Bairag Panth and made a dera, Guru Gobind Singh converted him and sent him along with five Khalsa Singhs to Punjab in about September 1708. However, he indulge in unnecessary occupying of places, killing muslims unnecessarily, kept his Gaddi, changes salutation and fixed many rules against Khalsa rites. Due to these practises, the Singhs loyal to Guru Gobind Singh kept their distance from Banda Singh Bahadur and Bandai Sikhs. These Singhs were named Tatt Khalsa.

Points of Contention

There are various reasons due to which Banda Bahadur is criticized. Following are some points:

  1. Creation of his own Panth called Bandai Khalsa parallel to Khalsa and declared himself Guru,
  2. Modified Khalsa rites and code of conduct,
  3. Unnecessary self willed battles and killing of innocent Muslims
  4. Abusive and rude letter to Mata Sundri,
  5. Womanizer and sexual relationship with prostitutes termed a Bujjer Kurahit and
  6. Surrendered to Mughal army with 700 personnel, considered as coward act in history of Khalsa.

All early Sikh historical resources including later scholars like Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, Giani Gian Singh, Historian Karam Singh etc. mentioned these facts. Nihang Ratan Singh Bhangu gave a detailed criticism of Banda Bahadur. Early historians like Koer Singh Kalal, Sarup Dass Bhalla, Kavi Seva Singh also few of accept above facts.

Historical Sources

Gurbilas Patshahi 10 (1751)

Gurbilas Patshahi 10 is the first recorded Sikh history which mentioned details about Guru Gobind Singh's life completed by Bhai Koer Singh Khalsa in 1751. The author mentioned in brief regarding breaching code of conduct of Khalsa by Banda Bahadur in Egotism. Below are lines taken from this Manuscript regarding mentioned subject:

ਤਬ ਬੰਦਾ ਗੁਰ ਆਈਸ ਪਾਏ॥ ਪਾਛੇ ਕਰੇ ਯੁਧ ਮਨਿ ਭਾਏ ॥

Then Banda came to feet of Gur(Gobind Singh), who later on had skirmishes of his own will (when sent to punjab)

ਕਛੁਕ ਮਾਨ ਭਇਓ ਤਾ ਮਨ ਮਾਹੀਂ ॥ ਰਹਿਤ ਭੰਗ ਕਛੁ ਕਰੀ ਤਹਾ ਹੀ ॥
He got ego in his mind and breached code of conducts thereafter

ਅਹੰਕਾਰ ਤੇ ਗੁਰ ਨਾ ਸਹਾਈ ॥ ਤਾ ਕਰ ਗਇਓ ਸੁਰਗ ਕੋ ਧਾਈ ॥

Gur does not help egoistic and he left his holy abode in egotism

-(Banda Bahadur, Gurbilas Patshahi 10, Bhai Koer Singh Kalal

Mahima Parkash (1776)

Mahima Parkash was written by Sarup Das Bhalla in 1776, which mentioned whole incident of Gurdas Nangal, where Banda Bahadur made comments against Guru's wishes. Facts against Banda Singh Bahadur is:

  1. He himself committed at Delhi that he have't followed the saying of Guru Gobind Singh.
  2. He turned womanizer, more over he was interested marrying again and again.
  3. He stood against Khalsa and tried to pretend himself biggest of them.
  4. He surrendered.

Baba Binod Singh spoke against him and a clash happened inside fort. Baba Binod Singh and other left the fort and Banda Bahadur surrendered later on. He even confessed at Delhi that "ਕਿਸੀ ਕੀ ਕਿਆ ਮਕਦੂਰ ਥਾ ਜੋ ਮੁਝ ਕੋ ਮਾਰਤਾ॥ ਪਰ ਸਤਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਆਗਿਆ ਮੇਰੇ ਸੇ ਭੰਗ ਹੁਈ ਹੈ ॥". Mata Sundri, who was already in Delhi fetched out Baba Kahn Singh from the prisoner group.

Shahid Bilas Bhai Mani Singh (Late 18th Century)

In a composition by Kavi Seva Singh, he mentioned a discourse between Guru Gobind Singh and Bhai Mani Singh. In this section are includes lines against Banda Singh Bahadur which reiterate the fact that he [Banda Singh] is not 11th Guru but the holy Granth was 11th Guru of Sikhs.

ਨੀਲਾ ਬੰਦ ਕਰਾਇਆ, ਅੰਬਰ ਪਹਿਨਣਾ ॥
ਸੂਹਾ ਅੰਗ ਲਗਾਇਆ, ਏਹਦੇ ਸੇਵਕਾ ॥
ਮਾਸ ਮੱਛੀ ਨਹਿ ਖਾਣ, ਬਣ ਗਏ ਵੈਸਨੋ ॥
ਪਯਾ ਵਿਖਾਂਧ ਸੀ ਆਣ, ਮਧ ਇਮ ਖਾਲਸੇ ॥
ਮਾਤ ਸੁੰਦਰੀ ਲਿਖਾ ਸੋਚ ਵਿਚਾਰ ਇਹ ॥
ਦੋਹਾਂ ਦਲਾਂ ਦਾ ਮੇਲ, ਕਰਨ ਕਰਾਨ ਲਈ ॥
ਸੇਵਾ ਹਰੀ ਸੀ ਪਾਤੀ ਬਾਚੀ ਖੋਲ ਕੇ ॥
ਮਨੀ ਸਿੰਘ ਮਿਕਾਏ ਝਗੜਾ ਦੋਹਾਂ ਕਾ ॥੧੪੩॥
ਅਮਰ ਸਿੰਘੀਏ ਆਖਦੇ, ਦਸਮ ਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਆਪ ॥
ਬੰਦਾ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਕੋ ਗਿਆਰਮਾਂ, ਗੁਰੂ ਗਏ ਸੀ ਥਾਪ ॥੧੪੪॥
ਅਕਾਲ ਪੁਰਖੀਆ ਇਉਂ ਕਹਿਆ, ਸ੍ਰੀ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਫਰਮਾਨ ॥
ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਪੰਥ ਗੁਰ ਮਾਨੀਯੇ, ਤਾਰੈ ਸਕਲ ਕੁਲਾਨ ॥੧੪੫॥
ਮਨੀ ਸਿੰਘ ਜਬ ਦੇਖਣੋ ਆਈ। ਝਗੜਾ ਬਹੁਤ ਵਧਤ ਹੈ ਜਾਈ ॥
ਤਬ ਤਿਨ ਦੋਨੋਂ ਕੋ ਸਮਝਾਇ। ਪਤੀਆ ਲਿਖ ਦੀ ਤਾਲ ਸੁਟਾਇ ॥
ਜਿਸ ਕੀ ਤਰੈ ਉਹ ਜਾਨੋ ਸਾਚਾ। ਡੂਬੇ ਜਹਿ ਕੀ ਉਹ ਜਾਨੋ ਕਾਚਾ ॥
ਡੂਬ ਗਈ ਬੰਦਈਅਨ ਕੇਰੀ। ਤਰੀ ਨਿਹੰਗਨ ਕੀ ਸਬ ਹੇਰੀ ॥
ਸੇਵਾ ਹਰੀ ਕਰੈ ਅਰਦਾਸ। ਹੇ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਮੈਂ ਤੇਰਾ ਦਾਸ ॥੧੪੬॥
(Line ੧੪੬, ਸਹੀਦ ਬਿਲਾਸ ਭਾਈ ਮਨੀ ਸਿੰਘ, Kavi Sewa Singh Bhatt)

Sketch of Sikhs (1812)

Sir John Malcolm

Among several valuable works John Malcolm completed Sketch of Sikhs in 1812 and mentioned about Banda Bahadur in his writing here under:

Though the Sikhs, from being animated by a similar feeling, and encouraged by his first successes, followed Banda to the field, they do not revere his memory; and he is termed, by some of their authors, a heretic ; who, intoxicated with victory, endeavoured to change the religious institutions and laws of Guru G6vind, many of whose most devoted followers this fierce chief put to death, because they refused to depart from those usages which that revered spiritual leader had taught them to consider sacred. Among other changes, Banda wished to make the Sikhs abandon their blue dress, to refrain from drinking and eating flesh ; and, instead of exclaiming WaheGuruji ki Futteh ! Waheguru ji ka Khalsaji ki Futteh ! the salutations directed by Govind, he directed them to exclaim, Futteh fully propagated his doctrine. [1]

Malcolm directed same fact that Banda Bahadur breach panthic salutations and formed new code of conduct.

Prachin Panth Prakash (1841)

Prachin Panth prakash was completed by Nihang Ratan Singh Bhangu in 1841 is considered as most important resource mentioned detailed information of Banda Bahadur.[2] He mentioned that Banda Bahadur created his panth parallel to Khalsa Panth and made his own code of conduct. He criticized on varoious points including Banda being a Womanizer, Egoistic, deserter and coward attitude of Banda Bahadur.[3]

Kahn Singh Nabha, Mahankosh

Kahn Singh Nabha

Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, a great scholar and lexicographer mentioned in Mahankosh :

.....ਪਰਭੁਤਾ ਵਧ ਜਾਨ ਪਰ ਬੰਦਾ ਬਹਾਦੁਰ ਨੂੰ ਕੁਝ ਗਰਬ ਹੋਇਆ, ਆਪਣੀ ਗੁਰੂਤਾ ਕੀ ਅਭਿਲਾਖਾ ਜਾਗ ਗਈ | ਜਿਸ ਪਰ ਉਸ ਕੇ ਕਈ ਨਿਯਮ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਵਿਰੁਧ ਪਰਚਾਰ ਕਰਨੇ ਚਾਹੇ ਜਿਸ ਤੋਂ ਪੰਥ ਦਾ ਵਿਰੋਧ ਹੋ ਕੇ ਖਾਲਸੇ ਦੇ ਦੋ ਦਲ ਬਣ ਗਝ......

  • He turned arrogant and got a desire to become Guru, After became famous among people.
  • He preached code of conduct against Gurmat leads to division of Khalsa Panth.

Twarikh Guru Khalsa

Giani Gian Singh mentioned in detail in Twarikh Guru Khalsa that he tried to establish himself as a Guru in later stages.

....ਗੁਰੂ ਕੇ ਸਿੰਘ ਤਾਂ ਪਹਿਲੇ ਹੀ ਬੰਦੇ ਤੋਂ ਜੁਦਾ ਹੋਣਾ ਚਾਹੁੰਦੇ ਸਨ , ਕਿਓਂਕਿ ਓਹ ਸਿੰਘਾਂ ਦੇ ਦਰਬਾਰ ਵਿਚ ਤੇ ਗੁਰੂ ਅਸਥਾਨਾ ਵਿਚ ਗਦੇਲਾ ਵਿਚ ਕੇ ਬੈਠ ਕਰ ਚੋਰ ਸਫਾ ਕਰਾਉਂਦਾ ਤੇ ਦਰਸ਼ਨੀ ਫ਼ਤਹਿ ਬੁਲਾਉਂਦਾ ਸੀ |....

Banda Singh Bahadur, Giani Kartar Singh

In 1914, Bhai Kartar Singh had written a book on life account of Banda Singh Bahadur, in which he mentioned that Mata Sundri clearly instructed Khalsa in form of letter to not follow Banda Bahadur's commands. Khalsa assured her that they will not accompany Banda Bahadur anymore.

It is mentioned that Banda Bahadur got angry after hearing and reading this letter from Mata Sundri. Banda Bahadur replied to Mata Sundri that he had fulfilled his promise of helping in punishing Wazir Khan and now ownwards he is not bound to follow Khalsa and Guru Gobind Singh wordings. In letter, Banda Bahdur abused and written rude to Mata Sundri calling her a Dumb woman.

Bharat Mat Darpan, 1926

By Pandit Ganesha Singh Nirmala, he wrote that:

‘They initiate through ‘Charna Amrit’, keep ‘Janju’ (Hindu caste string signifying Brahmin lineage), wear white clothes, black or green clothes they never wear, they wear breaches coming below knee. On meeting they say, ‘Darshan Ji Ka Khalsa Darshan Ji Ki Fateh’. At the end of their name they either have title of Singh or Das.’

Historian Karam Singh

Buddha Dal - Nihung Jathebandi

Buddha Dal, the confederated army of the Sikhs, also says that Banda Singh Bahadur was a rebel.

  • Banda was overwhelmed with false pride and became arrogant.
  • His mistreatment of the Khalsa, and alterations of the Guru-ordained Khalsa traditions, resulted in the Khalsa warriors loosing respect for him.
  • Banda declared himself a Guru.
  • Banda Singh altered Khalsa salutation, stopped wearing blue, etc.
  • The mighty Khalsa, lead by Baba Binod Singh and his son, Baba Kahn Singh opposed these Hindu Vairagi innovations of Banda.

Recently, Nihung Dharam Singh of Buddha Dal openly said in a video that Banda Bahadur was a apostate and Khalsa should not regard Banda Bahadur and celebrate any Festivals related to him as he gone against Khalsa, Mata Sundri and Guru Gobind Singh.

Questions By Bandai Khalsa

See also


  1. ^ Page 83, Sketch of Sikhs, John Malcolm. Sektch of Sikhs, Read Online
  2. ^ thesikhencyclopedia DOT com/scriptures/nineteenth-century-literature/prachin-panth-prakash Sikh Encyclopedia on Prachin Panth Prakash
  3. ^ Prachin Panth Prakash, Rattan Singh Bhangu