BABA JAI SINGH KHALKAT JI
The great martyr Baba Jai Singh Khalkat Ji, Ravidasia by caste was born in the village Mughal Majra which was situated on Sirhind-Patiala road at a distance of about 25 kms from Sirhind and about 6-7 kms from Patiala in Tehsil and District Patiala of Punjab. Currently, this village is no more in existence. It is said that because of the anguish against the cruel killing of Baba Jai Singh Khalkat Ji and the members of his family the prominent Sikhs of the area devastated the village Mughal Majra. But at a distance of about half a mile from the ruins of this village the village named Baran was established which also falls in the Tehsil and District Patiala. In this sacred memory of Gurdwara Shaheed Baba Jai Singh Ji Khalkat has constructed here. Baba Ji's father was a devout Sikh of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji and had been baptized by Guru Sahib himself. As a child Baba Ji used to accompany his father to Anandpur Sahib the birth place of Khalsa and also got baptized. As ill fate would have it, in 1758 in the desi month of chet (which corresponds to midMarch to mid-April), on the tenth day of the light paksh of the moon, the Pathan Abd-us Samad Khan the Governor of Sirhind who was on his way from Sirhind to Patiala reached the village Mughal Majra along with his kotwal Nizamudin and other courtiers. On reaching this village he ordered his soliders to bring a Sikh man to his presence. His soldiers brought Baba Ji. On seeing Baba Ji Khan asked him angrily as to why he had not shown him respect when he and his caravan passed by him. In fact, when the caravan had passed by him, he was reciting paath. It was the tradition of that time that when a Mughal Nawab passed through any locality, the residents would bow before him respectfully. Also as per tradition, the luggage of the Nawab was carried from one village to the next village by the local people. The kotwal Nizamudin ordered Baba Ji to carry the bundle of Khan which visibly included a hookah (smoking pipe). Baba Ji vehemently refused to carry the bundle of Khan which included a hookah saying that he was a baptized Sikh and therefore would not carry the bundle which included a hookah. He further added that our Guru Sahib has forbidden us even to touch tobacco. How can I carry it on my head? The kotwal became furious and ordered the soldiers to beat him with a flexible stick until his skin in peeled off. The kotwal said that after beating him I will ask him what is his religious conviction. The soldiers started beating Baba Jai Singh Ji with a flexible stick. Baba Jai Singh Ji bore the torture peacefully and continued to recite the paath of Japuji Sahib. Khan also threatened Baba Jai Singh Khalkat Ji in several ways and told him in derogatory words that Sikhs at that time were considered outlaws and the punishment for outlaws is death sentence. But when Baba Jai Singh Ji remained steadfast in his belief Khan tried to lure him by enlisting the luxuries he will attain if he gets converted to Islam. Khan said that if you get converted to Islam in this world as well as hereafter you will be surrounded by luxuries and goods and also by becoming a Muslim you will go to heaven. The kotwal said that we have a maulvi with us who will immediately convert you to Islam religion. Baba Ji retorted that I do not need any luxuries. Baba Ji asked can one evade death by becoming a Muslim? Don't the Muslims die? Khan as well as the kotwal became very furious at the answers given by Baba Jai Singh Ji Khalkat. Seeing that Baba Ji was steadfast in his religious conviction khan said that you will have to accept one of the two options - either carry the luggage to the next place of halting i.e. Patiala or adopt Islam. If you do not accept any of these two options the final decision is that your skin will be peeled off by hanging you upside down. The blood stained pages of the 18th century Sikh history are replete with a series of gruesome tortures inflected upon the Sikhs by Afghan and Mughal rulers and their touts. During the 18th century Sikhs were tortured so much that the incidents of their martyrdom became part and parcel of their daily Ardas and thus their deeds of heroism and sacrifice were recounted by the Sikhs in their Ardas. Among the Sikhs, Ardas is like a ritual which is recited in the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the recitation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, as well as, when any venture is undertaken by them. For about two centuries the Sikhs paid their tribute to these martyrs in the following words: "Charkharian te charhe, bannd bannd katwai, khoprian lahaiyan, puthian khallan lahaiyan, sikhie sidak nahin hariya tinah di kamai da dhian dhar ke bolo ji waheguru! "Those, men and women, who laid their lives in the cause of faith, who suffered themselves to be cut up limb by limb, had their scalps scrapped off, were broken on the wheel, were sawn or flayed alive and yet were uttered not a single moan from their lips and remained firm in their Sikh faith to the last and retained their hair (kes) up to the last breath, think of their sweet resignation, and stay, Vahiguru Glory be to God!" Thus, we paid tribute to those Sikhs who remained firm in their faith and suffered for the cause of Sikh religion even in the face of gruesome tortures. Thus, we pay tribute to those Sikh men, women and children who laid their lives in the cause of faith, whose suffering was unbearable and is beyond description, we think of their sweet resignation and say Vehiguru, (Glory be to God). In this Ardas, when we said those who were flayed i.e. whose skin was peeled by hanging them upside down, we directly paid a tribute to Shaheed Baba Jai Singh Khalkat Ji and Shaheed Bhai Gulzar Singh Ji both of whom were flayed by hanging them upside down. Bhai Gulzar Singh Ji was flayed in Lahore now in Pakistan at the same time when Bhai Mani Singh Ji was martyred by cutting him limb by limb. But unfortunately, a few decades ago 'for reasons unknown' the words 'puthian khallan lahaiyan' i.e. skin was peeled off has been deleted. Because of this deletion a vast majoring of the Sikhs are not aware of the exemplary shaheedi of Baba Jai Singh Khalkat Ji who was martyred along with his wife, two sons and one daughter-in-law in his village Mughal Majra now called Faran village, which fell on the Patiala-Sirhind road at a distance of about 25 kms from Sirhind and 7 kms from Patiala. Because of this deletion in the Ardas as well as carelessness of the Sikh historians this exemplary martyrdom of this brave has not been highlighted. By way of background of the martyrdom of Shaheed Baba Ji. It may be mentioned that Ahmad Shah Abdali invaded India eight times during 1747-67 and during his fourth invasion on India when after looting. Delhi and some cities of Uttar Pradesh in March 1757 he dispatched his army towards Lahore carrying the booty in three detachments. One detachment which was headed by Abdali's 11-year-old son Taimur Shah (1746-1793) was looted by Sardar Alla Singh Ji at Sanaur and at Malerkotla. In May 1757 Abdali appointed Taimur Shah as Viceroy of Punjab and Jahan Khan the commander-in-chief as his guardian and deputy. On assuming the charge of Viceroyship Taimur Shah appointed a Muhammad Zai Pathan Abdus-Samad Khan* as Governor of Sirhind. Khan proved to be as cruel as his predecessor Governors. He continued torturing Sikhs. It was under his orders that Baba Ji's was flayed i.e. his skin was peeled by hanging him upside down. Baba Jai Singh Ji Khalkat humbly replied that the sons of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji aged 7 years and 9 years did not get lured by such ideas how can I as a grown-up person get lurved. Rather than forsaking my religion I accept death. Khan also gave the option that if any member of his family carried his luggage to Patiala, his punishment will be waived off. But all the members of his family remained steadfast in their religious conviction and refused to carry the luggage which included a hookah. Seeing that Baba Jai Singh Ji Khalkat was steadfast in his decision he called two butchers from the village and ordered them to hang him upside down by the twin trees of Pipal (botree) and Borh (banyan tree) and peel his skin from to tip toe. The two butchers first of all took off his kirpan and clothes except for his underwear and hanged him upside down with the twin trees and starting with the toes, they peeled off his skin. Baba Ji continued reciting the paath of Japuji Sahib. These trees are still in existence. When the family got the news that the whole family is to be butchered to save the family from extinction it was decided to send away Raj Kaur daughter-in-law of Baba Ji, the wife of Bhai Kharak Singh Ji who was pregnant. Thus she went to relatives in Ambala where she gave birth to a son, whose descents are living in Ambala and Mohali Tehsil Mohali, Distrist Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar, Punjab. The martyrdom took place at a distance of about half a mile from the village Mughal Majra. Baba Ji's wife Mata Dhan Kaur Ji and his two sons elder named Karaka Singh Ji & the younger son Kharak Singh Ji were all were butched to death there and then and Bhai Kharak Singh Ji's wife Bibi Amar Kaur were butchered. After Khan left this place the villagers cremated the bodies of the five martyrs and at the place of martyrdom built a small mati in their memory. With the passage of time when the prominent Sikhs of the area learnt about this whole incident, they devastated the whole village of Mughal Majra. Later, near the ruins of the village and the members of his smadhi of the martyrs the village named Baran was established. Some bricks had been placed at the place of martyrdom of Baba Jai Singh Ji Khalkat and family. In the rainy season this place being low-lying got filled with water. All the bricks got immersed in water but one brick kept floating. One day a woman named Bibi Gurdial Kaur Ji went towards this place and she was astonished to see one brick afloat. She informed the villagers about this fact and the villagers. gathered there man who entered the 3 feet deep water trough saw that one brick was really afloat. Thus it got confirmed that this was really the place of martyrdom of Baba Jai Singh Ji Khalkat and members of his family. In due course of time when the water got dried up Sardar Waryam Singh made this smadh pakka. But being a low-lying area in every rainy season the smadh got immersed in water. The sangat raised the area surrounding the smadh but the smadh remained in the low lying area because the villagers did not want to disturb the smadh itself. After some time the villagers sought the advice of Baba Sukhdev Singh Ji Alauhran Wale, the follower of Sant Baba Ishar Singh Ji of Rara Sahib and Ludhiana who suggested that over the existing smadh they should construct a higher level bigger smadh and construct a Gurdwara at this place. As per the advice of Baba Sukhdev Singh Ji, a Gurdwara Sahib in the sacred members of Baba Ji named Gurdwara Baba Jai Singh Khalkat Ji has been constructed at this place. Every year sudi dasvin (the tenth day of the light half of the lunar month falling in the desi month Fagun which corresponds to mid-February to mid-March a Jor-Mela is organized to pay homage to the brave Shaheed Baba Jai Singh Ji Khalkat. Recently, to highlight the great sacrifice of Baba Jai Singh Ji Khalkat and beautification of the village Baran a in addition to committee has been constituted in which the President and Secretary of the Gurdwara Committee and the Sarpanches of both the Panchayats of the village Baran have been included. The twin trees with which Baba Ji was hanged upside down for peeling off his skin off are still extant. The daughter-in-law of Baba Ji Bibi Raj Kaur wife of Bhai Karaka Singh Ji gave birth to a son. Some of her descendents left Triveni Mohalla a in Ambala and settled in Morinda district and some in Mohali, District Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar. On 01.08.2011 a life size picture of Baba Jai Singh Khalkat Ji was gracefully placed in the Central Sikh Ajaib Ghar, Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar. At Gurdwara Mehdiana Sahib, Tehsil Raikot, District Ludhiana, the life size statue of Baba Ji has been established. It may be added that at this place the statue of Sikh Shaheeds as well as prominent Sikh generals have been constructed. It is unfortunate that in the case of some Sikh martyrs the exact date and year of martyrdom is not available. This information is deduced from secondary sources such as the Governor of that time or other countries. This in the case of Baba Jai Singh Ji Khalkat a couple of writers have given 1753 as the year of his martyrdom. But the fact is that it was only in May 1757 that Ahmad Shah Abdali appointed his son Taimur Shah as Viceroy of Punjab and Jahan Khan the Commander-in-Chief as his deputy and it was after assuming the charge of Viceroyship that Taimur appointed Mohammadzai Pathan Abdul Us-Samad Khan as Governor of Sirhind under whose orders Baba Ji was martyred. On the basis of the this fact it can be deduced that the martyrdom of Baba Ji could not have taken place before May 1757.In the sacred memory of Baba Jai Singh Khalkat ji every year as per tradition at the Gurdwara Baba Jai Singh Khalkat ji a comprehensive programme is organised on Faggan sudi dasvin. Faggan is the last desy month which corresponds to February-March of the Gregorian calendar. At this time Sikh sangat comes from far and near to pay homage to this brave shaheed. The Muhammad Zai Pathan Abdus-Samad Khan should not be confused with the Mughal Abdus-Samad Khan who was Governor of Lahore during 1713-26 and played a major role in arresting Shaheed Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji in the village Gurdas Nangal, Tehsil and District Gurdaspur of Punjab and who died in 1737. For all times to come of the Sikh community will remember Baba Ji with deep fervour and will remain indebted to him for showing the true Sikhie Marg to the future Sikh generations.