Akali Phoola Singh
The early morning congregation took place on 14th March 1823. The entire army and the generals attended the assembly. Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the generals had already discussed about the impending battle. The Jathedars opined that if they delayed the attack a little longer, it would enable the enemy to muster their army in large number. So it was decided to launch an attack immediately. Accordingly, supplication (Ardas) was made before the Guru and the victory drum sounded. Every contingent of marched past Maharaja Ranjit Singh and proceeding further on the shouts of Bole so nihal, Sat Sri Akal. Maharaja Sahib motivated all of them to fight to win. The band of Akalis had gone past and that of S. Desa Singh was crossing when a spy informed that ten thousand soldiers along with 40 guns have arrived from Kabul for the help of the enemy. Maharaja Sahib re-assessed the situation and felt, he should postpone the decision of attack to the next day, since the confrontation had now become tough and the Khalsa artillery was expected to join them next day.
When Akali Phoola Singh learnt that Maharaja Sahib was planning to change the morning decision made for attack on the army, he went to him and said very courageously. ”It is accepted that the enemy is in a stronger position today, but having resolved in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, it is against the principle of Khalsa. One may lose one’s head but never the respect of the decision made in the presence of Satguru Ji.” Maharaja Ranjit Singh said, ”There is no harm in taking cognisance of the situation. The statesmanship advises that if this attack is launched a day later, what difference would it make? We are not shirking from fighting a battle and will reach the battle field, but keeping the situation in view, it is not advisable to hurry.”
”Maharaja Sahib! our supplication before Sri Guru Granth Sahib was our pledge made with our Guru and we are not prepared to break this pledge even if the strength of the enemy go up ten times and we are to die in the battlefield. Kalghidhar pita is with us and he will help us stand by our pledge.” Akali Ji replied with much confidence.
Maharaja Sahib was in a fix. He was not prepared to go to battle without his artillery support. Maharaja Sahib kept deliberating the created situation in his mind but Akali Phoola Singh felt that he was losing precious time. He said, ”You are the Emperor, You may do whatever you feel like. But I shall advance now to fulfil my vow. I am not bothered if I die in the battlefield, but I shall not let enemy step on even an inch of our territory. God alone knows how many sacrifices had been made by our elders to free it from the tyranny of the foreign invaders? We shall not let all their fallen blood go waste in our life time.”
Before marching towards the battlefield, Akali Ji made an other Ardas (Supplication). Visualising the ten Guru’s and Sri Guru Granth Sahib before him, he said, ”Hey Satgur Ji, the strength of the enemy army is large. But this servant of your house is determined to attack the tyrannical and oppressive enemy who invades our land and take away the hard earned wealth of our people, their young wives, daughters and above all their respect. Hey Satguru Ji, grant us the strength that we may maintain the glory and grandeur of this Khalsa Raj even at the cost of our head. We had surrendered our head to you, the day we wore your apparel and took Khande-ki-Pahul. Losing my life is no worry for me but I shall never let your pious and holy name get tarnished even by a whisker and please do not let me live to see that day. So be kind and grant your Khalsa the boon of fighting gallantly in the battlefield.”
This Ardas made in the valiant mood had a miraculous effect on the Akali army. No sooner had the Ardas finished than the sky resounded with the shouts of ‘Sat Sri Akal’. The Akali army set out towards the battlefield to encounter the challenge of the enemy. Thirty thousand Ghazis blinded by the enthusiasm of Jehad let loose a volley of fire on the Khalsa army. Akalis kept advancing and wanted to take on the enemy in sword and lance battle. They were adept in their use and preferred it over the guns. Seeing the Akalis advancing fearlessly in the rain of bullets, Maharaja Sahib could not keep himself aloof from the scene of action. He ordered his army to march to the help of Akali brethren. He himself marched with his army. The Maharaja army attacked the Ghazis who were trying to encircle the army of Akali Ji and were looking to be succeeding. Akali army marched and faced the enemy face to face. The Jehadis were firing blindly. A bullet of the enemy penetrated the knee cap cover of Akali Phoola Singh Ji and entered into the body of the horse he was riding. The horse fell down. Akali Ji quickly mounted on his elephant. The Akalis now took the enemy in hand to hand combat. They used their swords to such an effect that the Ghazis forgot whether they were living or dead. Akali army was re-inforced by Maharaja. In the meantime, by an act of providence, the Khalsa artillery also reached the scene of action. The Pathans tried their best to gain a foot-hold but could not bear the sword of the Akalis. In the meantime, Prince Kharak Singh also reached there with his contingent. The battle raged the whole day. By evening, Ghazis ran away saving their lives.
The setting of the Sun brought the sunset on the courage of the Pathans. Akalis were marching towards a memorable victory. The Akalis chased the enemy so that they do not look this way again. Just then a Pathan sniper fired from close quarter and hit Akali Phoola Singh with his bullet. Akali Mahan Singh located his position and cut him into two. At last the battlefield fell into the hands of Khalsa army.
The great martyr Baba Phoola Singh who strived to keep the desires of keeping the fair and just regime of Khalsa alive in the minds of the youth even at the cost of his own life and fulfilling the vow made before his Satguru will always be a lighthouse of sacrifice, bravery, faith, confidence and will to succeed for the coming generations. Our leaders should draw a leaf out of his life history and emulate his qualities of Panthic love, sympathy, unity and desire to achieve glory of the Panth