Biography of Shaheed Martyr Baba Deep Singh (1682 - 1757)

Scholar Scribe Soldier Saint

Baba Deep Singh Commemorative Float Banner
Baba Deep Singh Commemorative Float Banner at Yuba City Sikh Parade. Photo © [S Khalsa]

Birth and Family

After 20 years of marriage without children, a son is born to Mai Jevaani and her husband Bhai Bhagtu, a farmer of Pahuwind, near Amritsar, India in Punjab:

  • Bedtime Stories - 7, Sikh Martyrs, author Santokh Singh Jadev, writes that Deep Singh is an only child.
  • Daljit Singh Sidhu, author of Baba Deep Singh, The Great Sikh Martyr and Scholar, and descendant of Baba Deep Singh's family, writes that the childless couple is visited by a saintly man who encourages them to recite scriptures in order to be blessed with the birth of a son, and that they eventually have a *second son.

    Education and Initiation

    Deep's parents take their son at age 12 to Anandpur to meet Guru Gobind Singh about 1694. The guru requests Deep to stay at court where he is given lessons in reading writing the Gurmukhi script  from the scribe Bhai Mani. He also receives training with weaponry, archery, and learns to ride horses. During the Vaisakhi festival at Anadupur of April, 1700, Deep is initiated at age 18 into the Khalsa order and takes the surname Singh. He continues studies as a scribe and in military training. Deep Singh is highly regarded by the Guru and his entourage during the eight year stay at court where he remains until about 1702.

    Marriage

    At about age 20, Deep Singh receives permission from the Guru Gobind Singh to return home to his parents and village in Pahuwind, where his *marital status is of concern to his family:

    • Bedtime Stories - 7, Sikh Martyrs, author Santokh Singh Jadev, writes that Deep Singh's parents arrange a marriage for him at about age 19 in 1703.
    • Daljit Singh Sidhu, author of Baba Deep Singh, The Great Sikh Martyr and Scholar, whose mother and her brother are directly descended from Baba Deep Singh's family, writes that Deep Singh refuses marriage at about age 26, electing instead to dedicated his life to the guru's service.

    Tragedy

    Deep Singh learns from a messenger in 1704 that that Guru Gobind Singh has departed the fortress in Anandpur after a six month siege and that the guru's mother Mata Gujri and her two youngest grandsons have been separated from the Guru during battle.

    Deep Singh journeys to Damdama Sahib of Talwandi to return to Guru Gobind Singh's court. Upon reaching the guru, he learns from him the tragic news that the guru's mother and every one of the guru's four sons have attained martyrdom.

    Scribe

    Joining Guru Gobind Singh in Talwandi, Deep Singh takes up duties as a scribe in 1705. He assists Bhai Mani Singh in recording the guru's narration of scripture. In 1706, the guru appoints Deep Singh headmaster of Damdama. By 1728, Deep Singh produces four hand-written copies of the entire 1430 page scripture in Gurmukhi, which are distributed to the supreme thrones and temporal seats of Sikh religious authority:

    • Akal Takhat Sahib
    • Takhat Patna Sahib
    • Takhat Hazur Sahib
    • Takhat Anandpur Sahib

    He produces a fifth copy of the Guru Granth hand written in Arabic, which is delivered to the Middle East.

    Warrior

    As his death nears in 1708, Guru Gobind Singh designates the scripture Guru Granth Sahib as his everlasting successor and appoints Banda Singh Bahadar to continue the fight for the Sikh's freedom from Mughal tyranny. In 1709 Deep Singh joins Banda Singh Bahadar in his mission. Together they they pursue, battle and defeat Islamic forces in Sahaura and put an end to Wazir Khan in Sirhind where Guru Gobind Singh's youngest two sons had been martyred.

    Dal Khalsa

    Deep Singh rescues Sardar Ala Singh of Barnala in 1732 saving him from siege when Manjh and Bhatti Rajputs, and rulers of Jalandhar and Malerkotla join forces to attack. In 1733, the governor of Lahore makes a gesture of peace offering ruler-ship to Sikhs and appoints Kapur Singh the Nawab of Amritsar. Deep Singh joins forces with the new Nawab. Their army is named Dal Khalsa. This force is divided in to the Buddha Dal and Taruna Dal. The latter force is separated into five divisions. Deep Singh is given the honorary title "Baba" and put in charge of one division which is eventually restructured into missals in 1748.

    Shaheed Missal

    Baba Deep Singh leads a victorious squad known as Shaheed missal in a region to the south of River Sutlej. His main headquarters given the name of "Burj Baba Deep Singh Shaheed," are in a tower in Talwandi nearby Damdama grounds.

    In 1755 and 1756 Ahmed Shah Abdali begins a fourth campaign to invade India looting Mathura, Bindraban, Agra and Delhi, and capturing thousands of attractive Hindu and Muslim young men and women for auction at the slave market. Baba Deep Singh leads a rescue mission. He and his Singhs liberate 100 boys and 300 girls and women escorting them home unmolested to the safety of their families.

    Martyrdom

    Ahmad Shah Abdali (Durrani) appoints his son Timur Shah governor of Lahore, and admonishes general Jahan Khan to exterminate Sikhs. He attacks Sikh fort Ram Rauni (Ramghar). In Amritsar, the sarovar is defiled with debris. Hearing of the desecration, Baba Deep Singh musters a force of 5,000. In Tarn Taran, he etches a line in the earth urging volunteers ready to die to cross, and steps over. November 11, 1757, they are met in Gohlwar by Mughal troops and fight their way to Ramsar where Baba Deep Singh receives a mortal injury to his neck. Supporting his head with one hand, he fights his way on to achieve martyrdom in Harmandir.

    Important Dates and Corresponding Events

    Dates correspond to the Nanakshahi or Sikhism calendar.

    • Birth: Pahuwind (near Amritsar, India) - January 20 (Julian), January 26, 1682 A.D.(Nanakshahi) (Maagh 14, 1739 SV) Mother - Mai Jevaani. Father - Bhai Bhagtu. (*birth of younger brother unconfirmed in Encyclopaedia of Sikhism by Harbans Singh.
    • Education: Anandpur - 1694 A.D.
    • Initiation: Anadupur - Vaisakhi April, 1700 A.D.
    • Marriage: Pahuwind - 1703 A.D. (*marriage unconfirmed in Encyclopaedia of Sikhism by Harbans Singh).
    • Scribe of Guru's Court:
      • Talwandi - 1704 A.D. Returns to Guru Gobind Singh's court upon learning of the guru's martyred family.
      • Talwandi Damdama - 1705 A.D. through 1728 A.D. Appointed head scribe of Damdami learning center and inscribes by hand five copies of Guru Granth Sahib.
      • Nanded - Guru Gobind Singh's death October 7, 1708 A.D. and coronation of the scripture Guru Granth Sahib.
    • Military Accomplishments:
      • Sirhind - 1709 A.D. Joins Banda Bahadar Singh
      • Barnala - 1732 A.D. Aids in rescue of Sardar Ala Singh.
      • Amritsar - 1733 A.D. Joins Nawab Kapur Singh to form Dal Khalsa.
      • Talwandi - 1748 A.D. Baba Deep Singh is given command of Shaheed Missal.
      • Kurukshetra by Markanda River - 1756 A.D. Rescues 400 Hindu and Muslim girls and boys abducted by Abdali forces.
    • Martyrdom: Amritsar - November 11, 1757 A.D.. Attains martyrdom in the heroic act of leading 5,000 Sikh sworn to fight unto death in an effort to reclaim the desecrated grounds and sacred pool of Harmandir Sahib (site of Golden Temple and Akal Takhat) from 20,000 Mogul forces:
      • Bedtime Stories - 7, Sikh Martyrs, author Santokh Singh Jadev, writes that Deep Singh suffers a wound to the neck. Supporting his head with one hand, he fights his way to Amritsar (a distance of more than 3 miles) before succumbing to his injury.
      • Daljit Singh Sidhu, author of Baba Deep Singh, The Great Sikh Martyr and Scholar, and descendant of Baba Deep Singh's family, writes that Baba Deep Singh is decapitated, but rises and picks up his head. Carrying his head in one hand, while wielding a sword with the other, he fights his way to Amritsar.