Early Gursikhs:Bhai Bidhi Chand
Bidhi Chand was born in Sursingh village of Lahore district to Vasan Jat. He practised thieving and robbery. Mohsin Fani writes:
“Bidhia dar awwal duzd bud.”
[In the beginning Bidhia was a thief.]
One day he lifted many buffaloes and was conveying them through a jungle to his relatives at a distance. Guru Hargobind was also hunting in that jungle. He saw Bidhia driving the cattle hurriedly. The Guru engaged him in a talk and advised him to give up this bad profession. Bidhia declined. The Guru said: ‘If you cannot abandon stealing, then steal to serve the needy. Do not rob the innocent. Do not steal from a person whose salt you have eaten, nor practise thieving for self-indulgence.”
Bidhia offered to become a Sikh if the Guru would not object to his following the profession by subjecting the high Mughal officials and nobles to his nefarious activities. After some time he became an honest disciple of the Guru and began to live with him.
When the Guru was involved in a war with the Mughal Government, he had to leave Amritsar and settled in the northern parts at a place founded by Arjan called Sri Hargobindpur. Some of the vacant land of Bhagwan Das Khatri was also occupied. Bhagwan Das objected to its seizure. The Guru offered him its price. The Khatri declined to part with it. He insulted the Guru. Bidhi Chand gave him four hard slaps on his face. He reeled on the ground and rose no more.
About this time the Guru had sent one of his Sikhs named Sadh to purchase fine horses in Central Asia. Sadh went to Balkh, it found no suitable horses there. From there he went to Iraq and bought three horses of the finest breed. On his return journey he was joined by Mohsin Fani at Kabul where he was waiting for a caravan on its way to India. In those days people could not travel alone. They travelled together from Kabul to Lahore. At Lahore, Khalil Beg, Governor of the place with his son visited the caravan in which the merchandise were open for sale. They were fascinated at the sight of Sadh’s horses. They asked their price. Sadh said they were not for sale. The young man forcibly took possession of two horses, while Sadh managed to escape by riding on the third. Mobsin Fani writes:
“Eventually he brought three Iraqi horses. The brutal Khalil Beg saw them and carried them off. The horses did not prove him lucky. Within a year his son who was responsible for that act died, and the Governor himself fell into disgrace and degradation.”1
Bidhi Chand undertook responsibility to recover these two horses. He went to Lahore and put up with a Sikh named Jiwan. He put on the dress of a grass.cutter and with a spade and a sheet went to the river Ravi, and from its bank he cut green and soft grass. With a load he came to the gate of the Fort and offered his grass for sale. The attendants purchased it for a paltry sum. This grass was so fresh and nutritous that it was served to the two new Iraqi horses seized from Sadh.
Bidhi Chand repeated his performance the following day. He was asked to bring such a fine quality of grass every day. After some time he was taken in service of the stable of horses. Bidhi Chand was a strong and sturdy young man. He easily controlled all the horses and looked after two Iraqi horses so well that the head of the stable reposed full confidence in him.
Bidhi Chand adopted a peculiar practice. Concealed in his grass he would bring a big stone. This was thrown in the night over the parapet into the river Ravi flowing below the walls of the fort. The stone produced a loud noise which was considered as the splash of a crocodile. Thereby he was preparing the Fort people to get accustomed to the sound which was to serve him in good stead later on.
Bidhi Chand displayed deep love for the two horses which were named Gulbagh and Dilbagh. In consequence they developed a great attachment to him. One dark night Bidhi Chand took out Gulbagh and rode on it for a while inside the compound. Then he led it to the place from where guns were carried up to the turret. After facing the horse towards the river he applied spurs, and the horse jumped clear into the river. With the help of stars he rode in the direction of Hanka-Patan where he reached before dawn. On crossing the river he halted at Daroli village in the house of a Sikh. He spent the night there. ~he following morning he presented the horse to Guru Hargobind who was staying in village Rupa. Gulbagh grew sad at separation from its companion Dilbagh. It refused to eat anything and tears trickled down its eyes. The Guru asked Bidhi Chand either to bring Dilbagh also or leave Gulbagh back in Lahore.
Bidhi Chand returned to Lahore. This time he stayed in the house of another Sikh. He decided to play the role of a soothsayer. He disguised himself as such and walked into the market-place. Many men and urchins gathered around him. They directed him to the Fort where they said his services could be of any avail. The keeper of horses asked him if be could tell how and where Gulbagh had disappeared.
Bidhi Chand examined the place, visited the stable and caressed Dilbagh who responded by low neighing. Then he sat in meditation. After a time he said he would ride the horse in the compoud to see if it could jump up as high as the fort wall. Just at that very place he kicked the horse and it plunged into the river over it. He made for the Guru and produced it before him at village Kangar in Malwa. The Guru was highly delighted and observed.
Bldhj Chand Chhina
Guru ka Sina
Prem bhagal lina
Kade kami na
Bidhi Chand spent his life in the service of Guru Hargobind. He passed away at Devnagar village 50 kilometres from Ayodhya on the bank of river Gomti in September, 1638 AD. Bidhi Chand was a great warrior, and rendered meritorious services to the Guru in his wars against the Mughals. He deserves the rank of being the first Sikh musketeer of a high order. He occupies a permanent place among Sikh heroes for his boldness, bravery and daredevilry. Dr Trilochan Singh rightly calls him the Robin Hood of Majha.