Shaheed Singh Martyrs of Sikh History

History of Martyrdom in Sikhism During the 1700s

A shaheed is a Sikh martyr. During the 1700s, shaheed singhs attained martyrdom when their faith and right to worship faced challenges. 18th-century Sikh martyrs met death on the battlefield, and when imprisoned and tortured at the hands of Islamic Mughals bent on forced conversion.

Sahibzade, Four Martyred Sons of Guru Gobind Singh (1705)

Sahibzadey Animated Movie DVD.

Photo © [Courtesy Vismaad / Sikh DVD]

Each of Tenth Guru Gobind Singhs four sons achieved martyrdom within a single week:

  • Elder Sons - Vada Sahibzada
    Chamkaur - December 7, 1705 A.D. Ajit Singh, age 18, and Jujhar (*Zorawar) Singh, age 14, the elder sons of Guru Gobind Singh, volunteered for service against overwhelming odds and fell, one after the other, battling Islamic Mughal oppressors.
  • Younger Sons - Chote Sahibzada
    Sirhind Fatehghar - December 13, 1705 A.D. (13, Poh, 1762 SV) Zarowar (*Jujhar) Singh, age 9, and Fateh Singh, age 7, the younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh, escaped from the battle site with their grandmother Mata Gujri, but while fleeing were betrayed. Offered life if they convert to Islam, they refuse to convert. Islamic captors, Nawab Wazir Khan and his Qazi, ordered the innocent children enclosed brick by brick until they died of suffocation, and then had them beheaded.

*As per research of historian, Aurthur Macauliffe

Martyr Mata Gujri, Mother of Guru Gobind Singh (1705)

Mata Gujri and Chote Sahibzade in Tanda Burj the Cold Tower
Mata Gujri and Chote Sahibzade in Tanda Burj the Cold Tower. Artistic Impression © [Angel Originals]

Mata Gujri, the mother of Guru Gobind Singh suffered the martyrdom of her husband, Guru Teg Bahadar in November of 1675.

In December of 1705, Mata Gurjri was captured by Mughals along with her two youngest grandsons, imprisoned in an open tower overnight in Sirhind Fatehghar, and subjected to exposure from the elements. The boys were taken from her, bricked alive, and then decapitated. On December 12, 1705 A.D. Upon seeing the heads of her innocent martyred grandsons she suffered heart failure.

Shaheed Banda Singh Bahadar (1716)

Banda Bahadar Rise of The Khalsa Animated Movie DVD.

Photo © [Courtesy Vismaad / Sikh DVD]

Born October 16 (27), 1670 A.D. in Rajauri Kashmir, Punchh Dist as Lachhman Dev, son of Ram Dev Sodhi, he became a renunciate at age 15. Renamed Madho Das, he practiced yoga with Agur Nath establishing a monastery on Godavari River bank at Nanded where he met Guru Gobind Singh on September 3, 1708. He proclaimed himself the guru's Banda, or slave was initiated as Khalsa and named Gur Bax Singh. Sending him on a mission against tyrannical Mughal forces, the guru gave Banda five Singhs, five arrows, a drum, and flag. Banda Singh fought a series of battles before being captured December 7, 1715, after an 8-month siege at Gurdas-Nangal. Refusing to accept Islam, Banda Singh saw his son dismembered before being blinded and dismembered June 9, 1716.

Shaheed Bhai Mani Singh (1737)

Ancient Guru Granth Sahib
Ancient Guru Granth Sahib. Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

Born March 10, 1644 A.D. and martyred June 14, 1737 A.D., Bhai Mani came from a Dullat family of Jatt lineage living in the village of Kambhol. A scribe in the court of Guru Gobind Singh, Bhai Mani Singh's own hand wrote the finalized compilation of Guru Granth Sahib. After the death of Guru Gobind Singh, Mughal rulers refused to allow Sikhs in Amritsar. Bhai Mani Singh agreed to a tax so that Sikhs could celebrate Diwali in Harmandir Sahib. Unable to pay the stipulated amount, he was arrested and ordered to convert to Islam. When he refused, the order was given to sever his limbs. Bhai Mani Singh insisted the executioner begin with his finger joints.

Shaheed Bhai Taru Singh (1745)

Bhai Taru Singh Animated Movie DVD
Bhai Taru Singh Animated Movie DVD.

Photo © [Courtesy Vismaad / Sikh DVD]

Bhai Taru Singh obtained martyrdom and became shaheedi July 1, 1745 A.D. in Lahore (modern-day Pakistan). Born in village Phoola of historic Punjab (present day Amritsar, India) in 1720, he lived with his sister and widowed mother during a time when Sikhs were persecuted. When arrested by Mughals for rendering aid to fellow Sikhs, Bhai Taru Singh fed his captors before going to jail. Bhai Taru resisted conversion to Islam refusing to cut his hair (kes). It is said that his hair, like his resolve, became as iron and could not be cut. His merciless captors peeled his scalp from his skull removing his hair intact. The governor who ordered the deed suffered excruciating pain and died after 22 days. Only then did Bhai Taru Singh succumb to his injuries.

Shaheedi Mothers, Martyrs of Lahore (1752)

Artistic Impression of Lahore Jail
Artistic Impression of Lahore Jail. Photo © [S Khalsa

Following a defeat in battle on March 6, 1752 A.D., Mir Mannu, governor of Lahore (modern-day Pakistan), retaliated by rounding up the Sikhs of his district and confiscating their holdings. He ordered Singhs beheaded. Sikh women and children were imprisoned in the Lahore jail, a suffocatingly dry and dusty enclosure, having one or two small bare brick rooms, with open barred windows. Starving women were forced to operate heavy grindstones. Mughal guards gruesomely massacred over 300 infants and children, impaling them on spears. Dismembered limbs were strung about their mother's necks. Women flung themselves into an open well in the yard to escape their captor's atrocities. Survivors were rescued after the death of Mir Mannu November 4, 1753.

Shaheed Baba Deep Singh (1757)

Sikh Comics " Baba Deep Singh" Cover.

Photo © [Courtesy Sikh Comics]

Born, January 20 (26), 1682 A.D., Baba Deep Singh, a warrior of Guru Gobind Singh's court, was also a scribe responsible for making handwritten copies of Guru Granth Sahib. After the Guru's death, a 12 missal system was implemented. Baba Deep Singh was appointed the head of Shaheed Missal. While engaged in freeing women captives from Islamic invader Ahmad Shah Abdali, Baba Deep Singh received news that Abdali's son, Timur Shah, had invaded Harmandir Sahib and was destroying the gurdwara. November 11 (13), 1757 A.D. Vowing to reach Harmandir Sahib dead or alive, Baba Deep Singh at age 75, gathered 5,000 Sikh warriors. Suffering a fatal wound to the neck, Baba Deep Singh valiantly fought the Mughals holding his severed head in place to fulfill his vow.

Lesser and Greater Sikh Holocausts (1746 & 1762)

Holocaust Ghallughara
Holocaust Ghallughara. Photo Art © [Jedi Nights]

Lesser Sikh Holocaust March 10, through June of 1746 A.D. Seeking revenge for his brother's death, Mughal Lakhpat Rai orders all Sikhs in Lahore executed. With a company of 50,000 he pursues Sikhs through the countryside ambushing and slaughtering men, women, and children. In about 14 weeks time, more than 7,000 Sikhs are killed, 3,000 captured and tortured to death. Some estimate 20,000 attain shaheed in the ​Chhota Ghallughara (Lesser Holocaust).

Greater Sikh Holocaust Early February (3-5), 1762 A.D. Between 10,000 and 12,000 Sikh warriors are killed in battle. As many as 25,000 Sikh women and children martyrs are massacred and become shaheed in the Vadda Ghallughara (Great Holocaust).

Shaheed Gurbakhsh Singh (1688 - 1764)

Sikh Warriors Charge
Sikh Warriors Charge. Photo © [Courtesy Jedi Nights]

Born April 10, 1688, Gurbakhsh Singh was initiated as a Khalsa warrior as a youth. He joined with the Shaheed missal led by Baba Deep Singh. Gurbakhsh Singh mustered a small force of dedicated warriors after Baba Deeps Singh's martyrdom. Ahmad Shah became known as Durrani and led yet another campaign into Punjab. Gurbakhsh Singh and 30 Sikh warriors resisted an invasion of 30,000 Durrani troupes who stormed Amritsar. Gurbakhsh Singh and all his warriors were martyred on December 1, 1764.

Sikhism Martyrs of the 17th Century: Gurus Era

Guru Arjun Dev Artisitc Impression
"Imprison" Artisitc Impression Guru Arjun Dev. Photo © [Jedi Nights]

During the 1600s two Gurus achieved martyrdom.

Fifth Guru Arjun Dev became the first martyr of Sikhism. Ninth Guru Teg Bahadar along with three of his disciples suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Mughal Empire. 

Sikh Heros and Martyrs: British Raj Era

Sikh Comics "Saragarhi" Back Cover. Photo © [Courtesy Sikh Comics]

Heroes and Martyrs of the British Colonial era include Sikh Regiment soldiers who fought in World Wars I and II, as well as religious and political agitators seeking to regain control of historic gurdwaras and shrines.

Modern Era Martyrdom in Sikhism

No Justice Banner
No Justice Banner. Photo © [S Khalsa]

In Hindu-dominated India's recent history, Sikhs have been victimized by hate crimes, rioting, and attempted genocide resulting in mass martyrdom. The challenge of religious intolerance continues be a threat to innocent modern-day Sikhs.

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Your Citation
Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "Shaheed Singh Martyrs of Sikh History." Learn Religions, Apr. 5, 2023, Khalsa, Sukhmandir. (2023, April 5). Shaheed Singh Martyrs of Sikh History. Retrieved from Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "Shaheed Singh Martyrs of Sikh History." Learn Religions. (accessed June 5, 2023).