Bhai Gurbaksh Singh ji (1688-1764)
Baba Deep Singh ji Shaheed martyrdom in 1757 at Amritsar Sahib was not the last one, in fact it inspired thousands more. In 1757, Baba Deep Singh ji took a vow to evacuate Amritsar Sahib which was in control of Afghani Durrani (Abdali) forces and started his march along with about 500 or so disciples and fulfilled his vow by breathing last at Parikarma periphery of Darbar Sahib Amritsar Sahib. His martyrdom inspired countless others; one of them was Bhai Gurbaksh Singh.
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 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 Gurbaksh 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 Deep Singh and after the latter’s martyrdom in 1757 at Amritsar, organized his own Jatha or fighting band. In battles against Durranis (Afghanis) and Mughals his dera usually formed the vanguard carrying the banner, and won renown of its acts of gallantry.
In November 1764, Ahmad Shah Abdali at the head of 30,000 afghanis 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 Harmandar Sahib, 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 Ratan Singh Bhangu, prachin Panth Prakash “Bhai Gurbaksh Singh with garlands around his neck and sword on his shoulder, 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, though throughout in the forefront, also fell. Giving an eyewitness account of the action, Qazi Nur Muhammad, the chronicler who was in the train of the invader, writes in his jangnamah when the king and his army reached the chakk (Amritsar Sahib), they did not see any infidel kafir there. But a few men 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 a kafir) and spilled their blood in the process. Thus all of them were slaughtered and consigned to the seventh [hell].
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.