“Baba Maharaj Singh ji was elected next Jathedar and he continued to lead Sikhs in battles against British and dogras. He was a Mukt-Aatma who believed in Freedom of SIkh panth and supremacy of Khalsa Raaj.”
One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru:
(6) Baba Maharaj Singh Ji
Baba Maharaj Singh Ji was born in the year 1780 at village Rabbo Tehiseel Paiel (Ludhiana). Baba Ji’s name at birth was Nihaal Singh. During childhood, Baba Maharaj Singh Ji learnt Gurbani Santhya and studies on Sikh History from the village Gurdwara. It was after completing these studies that Baba Ji continued their Sikh studies at Theekreewale Baba Tota Singh Ji, Nirmale Sant Dera in the presence of Baba Samund Singh Ji. Baba Samund Singh Ji commanded Baba Maharaj Singh Ji to go and stay the Dera (base) of Baba Bir Singh Ji Naraungabaad Wale. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji had acknowledged and manifested a lot of deep philosophical Sikh beliefs in a short amount of time. It was through the deep thoughts and questions Baba Maharaj Singh Ji asked, that Baba Samund Singh Ji soon realised that this young wise man would quickly rise in his spiritual journey and level. Baba Samund Singh Ji yearned for the opportunity to join this young Sikh with the current leader of the Bhai Daya Singh Ji Samparda.
One day, Baba Bir Singh Ji arrived at the village Marhaanhe. Baba Samund Singh Ji told Baba Maharaj Singh Ji that ‘Odeh Bhaag Jaage Neh’ (A Punjabi saying for you have good fortune) and that they would recieve Darshan (blessed vision) of a true Sikh Saint. Upon receiving Darshan of Baba Bir Singh Ji, Baba Maharaj Singh Ji’s became extremely happy and the excitement inside them was evident from the glow on their face. It was as if Baba Maharaj Singh Ji had achieved something, but to the astonishment of surrounding Sikhs, it was unclear what it was. Baba Bir Singh Ji closely watched Baba Maharaj Singh Ji’s face and felt bliss.
As per tradition of the Bhai Daya Singh Ji Samparda, Baba Maharaj Singh Ji was given Langar Seva. Mahapurkh Sant Baba Maan Singh Ji Pehowa Wale often say that the foundation of Sikhi is self-less service of the Sikh Sangat. It’s serving them food, washing their dishes and cleaning their shoes where true Sikhi starts. Baba Bir Singh Ji then ordered for a Amrit Sanchaar to be taken place, in order to initiate young Nihaal Singh into the Sikh Panth, in which they themselves were the Jathedar of the Panj Pyare. Baba Bir Singh Ji then told Baba Maharaj Singh Ji – “A true Sikh, is that, who leaves his lifestyle of being a Manmukh and follows the lifestyle of the Guru. A Sikh accepts every command of his Guru, he partakes in service of the congregation, he chants the name of Waheguru, respects and see’s the illuminating light of Waheguru in all.” Following this, Baba Maharaj Singh Ji became a ‘Laangri’ in the Langar, and dedicated their life to serving the Sikh congregation. They would speak less and on the rare occasion they would speak, it would be soft, sweet and loving words. They would always imbue themselves in Seva and Simran and humbly address every member of the congregation as ‘Maharaj’ (king of kings). It was at this point, that Baba Ji’s name was changed from Nihaal Singh to Maharaj Singh.
Baba Maharaj Singh Ji would recognise all beings as the image of Waheguru and would practise Langar Seva day and night. Baba Ji was never seen sleeping on their back and would always remain in a Kachera, small Dastar on their head and a ‘Kafni’ (small chola) to cover their body. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji would arise every day at 1am and after bathing themselves, would warm water and bathe Baba Bir Singh Ji. After partaking in such intense seva, Baba Ji’s body had become conditioned to pain and their diet was extremely low. At first Baba Maharaj Singh Ji would consume 2 Prashaade (chapattis) at 2 times during the day. Slowly this decreased to once a day and to the point where they would consume nothing at all. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji would then only wash the dishes of the Saadh-Sangat, Baba Bir Singh Ji was extremely happy at this extreme service and meditation.
One day Baba Maharaj Singh Ji was sitting near a fire in bliss as they were practising Simran. A sevadaar approached Baba Maharaj Singh Ji and began to shout as loud as possible – “Baba Ji, where are the large spoons? The Degh is boiling at extreme temperatures and we need to cool it down by stirring it!” Baba Ji maintained their calm nature and after having looked around approached the Degh. After seeing there was nothing to stir the Degh with, Baba Maharaj Singh Ji chanted Waheguru and put their arm inside the boiling pot! The boiling Degh immediately became calm. Surrounding sevadaar’s were astonished at what they had witnessed and assumed Baba Maharaj Singh Ji’s arm had burnt and so narrated what had happened to Baba Bir Singh Ji. A doctor was then administered to treat Baba Maharaj Singh Ji. Upon arriving at the scene of Baba Ji, they witnessed them sitting in a peaceful state of mind, praising the Lord Waheguru through Simran and showed no evidence of burning. The doctor then also told Baba Bir Singh Ji what he had seen.
Baba Bir Singh Ji ordered Baba Maharaj Singh Ji to come to them, this too in a large gathering of congregation. After listening to what had happened, Baba Bir Singh Ji began to say – “You have started showing miracles Maharaj Singh? In the house of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, miracles are considered poison, what are you doing?” Baba Maharaj Singh Ji, then folded their hands and humbly said, “Baba Ji! This body is yours, the responsibility and welfare of it is yours! I myself have nothing, therefore what miracles may I show? What miracles can I speak of? I have considered myself a servant of the house of Guru Nanak. I noticed the Degh boiling and immediately thought to myself about what was to be done. I then thought, what is the profit of this body, if it can not be used to serve the Saadh Sangat? It was through this belief that I placed my arm, in what belongs to the Guru and thus something useless was used in a profitable manner. Oh Baba Bir Singh Ji! It was you who has saved me and allowed me to do the Guru’s seva without suffering any pain, so please explain to me, how it is my fault? Where I am wrong? However, if through this thinking and actions, I have turned my face from the Seva of the SaadhSangat, then I am guilty. I am foolish, please grant your grace upon me and forgive me for my mistake!”
After listening to this, Baba Bir Singh Ji said – “Wah! Maharaj Singh! You have truly found a short cut route to this limitless long path of faith! Is there anyone else capable of literally putting their body on the line whilst serving the SaadhSangat? You are blessed. Your service is fruitful – the true Guru shall always be with you! I know you go several days without eating due to the fact that you spend so much excessive time serving the Sangat, however, I request now that you consume a regular diet of food in order to maintain your body’s well being and good health. Our bodies must serve their purpose and experience their fortune and destiny. If this is stopped, then one will have to do so in another incarnation. It is through this body that you are able to commit good deeds and serve the Sangat, and so it is important you stay healthy.”
After listening to this, Baba Maharaj Singh Ji accepted that it was important to maintain good health and promised to follow the words of Baba Bir Singh Ji. However, Baba Maharaj Singh Ji told Baba Bir Singh Ji that they were unable to understand what they had said about reincarnation. They said – “If accepting the Sikhi of Satgur Ji and then taking refuge in the shelter of such amazing Mahapurkhs as yourselves, we have to be reborn, then it is equivalent to hi-hyenas killing lambs who are in the laps of lions! Henceforth, please bless us with your grace, and remove the fear of death from mind. May death and life be one and may we live in accordance to truth, faith and bliss until our last breath.”
After hearing such humble, loving and respectful words, Baba Bir Singh Ji arose and embraced Baba Maharaj Singh Ji in a hug. Baba Bir Singh Ji had forgotten and did not take into account that the clothes of Baba Maharaj Singh Ji were drenched with flour and mud. Through loving words Baba Bir Singh Ji told Baba Maharaj Singh Ji that his faith and ability to not spiritually fall has made him unbeatable and that higher powers will lose after trying to defeat him. Baba Bir Singh Ji then said – “Your words will save many. You are the form and image of Waheguru, no one will be able to ask ‘Lekha’ from you. Bhai Daya Singh Ji and the great Mahapurkhs before me shall forever be with you! You will enjoy the bliss of Waheguru’s blessings and they shall always be with you and support you.”
Baba Maharaj Singh Ji were an amazing Sant and at the same time a Sipahi (Soldier). Baba Ji would time and time stress on the necessity of re-establishing the Sikh Empire and to save the successor of the Sikh Empire, the last surviving son of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh – Maharaja Duleep Singh. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji had made it very difficult for the traitor Heera Singh and for the British Government to sleep without worry. An arrest warrant was sent out for Baba Ji and a request made that he be presented to the Lahore Darbar. Upon searching for Baba Maharaj Singh Ji, the British forces arrived at Amritsar. However Baba Ji had already left the Amritsar Dera. Baba Ji was aware of all the plans made by the British Government as high-ranking officers of the British forces, were devout servants of Baba Ji. The government raided Baba Ji’s Dera in Amritsar and sold it for 6,000 Rupees, all animals owned by Baba Ji were given out for free and Baba Ji’s Pehradaar was accused of allowing Baba Ji to escape.
The region of Majha was taken into a state of emergency alert. The British began to make their rules and regulations stricter and gave an order that all those who are found or heard of, assisting Baba Maharaj Singh Ji in their resistance and rebellion against the Rule, in any way, will be given extreme punishments. Baba Ji would travel place to place. As soon as the British would hear of Baba Ji’s presence, they would raid the location with no result. Baba Ji had the assistance of Sikh soldiers with them and whenever they would encounter the British Government, they would engage in ruthless battles and carry on travelling forwards. The soldiers assisting Baba Ji, were skilled horsemen and would travel via horse wherever they would travel.
As the struggle continued, Baba Ji learnt that Deevan Raj Mool Sooba Multaan had planted a flag of revolution, uprising and rebellion against the British. Accompanied by their devotees, Baba Ji began travelling to the location of this uprising. News of this reached the Lahore Darbar and so the forces of Baba Maali Singh began to follow Baba Ji. On the other side, Kaahn Singh Majeetha was also sent to capture Baba Maharaj Singh Ji. On yet another side, another set of forces were sent to capture Baba Maharaj Singh Ji. Before Baba Ji knew it, it seemed as though they were surrounded from all 4 corners. It has become so intense, that at one point, a high ranking British officer following Baba Ji had become extremely close.
There was now, what seemed to be a dead end. In front of Baba Maharaj Singh Ji stood a river, that too which was surrounded via the forces of Baba Maali Singh. The Sikh forces of Baba Maharaj Singh Ji began to demonstrate their honour and raged a war upon the surrounding forces. A lot of Sikhs attained martyrdom and during the intensity of the battle, Baba Maali Singh was shot in the knee. With Baba Maali Singh unable to stand, his forces were unable to operate and became victim to the Sikh soldiers. Not wasting any time, Baba Maharaj Singh Ji quickly crossed the river, assisted by 1000’s of ‘Saint Soldiers’. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji continued to travel and upon arriving at the town of Kameela, Baba Ji’s Saint Soldiers yet again were to encounter British forces. With the grace of the Guru, Baba Maharaj Singh Ji yet again attained victory and wanted to travel to the village ‘Jhang’. The British blocked all means of transports and routes leading towards Jhang. Baba Ji then left for Sher Kot and through a back route arrived at the village Jhang. The villagers requested Baba Ji to begin a Dharam Yudh Morcha, and that they too would assist Baba Ji by all means possible. However, Baba Ji told the congregation, that they were in need of travelling further and thanked the villagers for supporting them during a time of such emergency and need. Baba Ji finally arrived at Deevan Moolchand and spoke of the rebellion against the British.
Baba Maharaj Singh Ji then left from there for the region of Malwa and whilst travelling visited Historical Sikh Sites such as Muktsar, Damdama Sahib and Anandpur Sahib. Then through the district of Jammu, entered Raavalpindee. Raja Chatr Singh, Raja Sher Singh, Raana Soorat Singh Majeetheeaa and other prominent leaders decided to rage War against the British in the village of Chillia, Gujrat. It was from Raavalpindee that Baba Maharaj Singh Ji supplied mass amounts of Langar to the Sikh fighters. The battle raged on and Raja Sher Singh along with his alliances, surrendered and pleaded for peace. Witnessing this Baba Maharaj Singh Ji said – “Remember this, the whites (British) are not going to give you anything immediately! The conditions you are surrendering to, are the dark well of death and downfall. It is better for us all to carry on raging this war against tyranny and die as marytrs. It is better dying as a ‘Shaheed’ then dying a dogs death.”
These wise words inspired the Sikh forces and all began preparing to fulfil the dream of dying as martyrs. In their hearts, the prominent Sikh leaders had accepted defeat and were attempting to avoid all forms of conflict. Only 2 prominent leaders along with their forces supported Baba Maharaj Singh Ji, these were Baba Bikram Singh Ji Oona Sahib Wale and Colonel Ratchpaal Singh Poorbie. There were about 1000 Sikh fighters with Baba Maharaj Singh Ji. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji proclaimed that for the ‘laaj’ of the Sant Naam, for the ‘Shaan’ of Punjab and with the Ardas accepted by Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the righteous way, is for us to die on the battlefield fighting oppression. The battle was very intense and numerous Sikhs attained martyrdom. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji was the main target for the British, however, Baba Ji cleanly escaped every danger of death and capture. Baba Bikram Singh Ji however was arrested and sent to Amritsar. Baba Bikram Singh was then blindfolded and tortured until their last breath.
Baba Maharaj Singh Ji sent Baba Raam Singh Ji (Virakt) to Lahore and stressed the need of saving the last heir to the Sikh Empire’s throne – Maharaja Duleep Singh. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji suggested taking the heir to the throne to a mountainous region and continuing the empire and war against tyranny from there. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji travelled to Jammu and wrote a letter to Muhammed Shah Kabal in order to release imprisoned devotees of Baba Ji. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji said it was important that all old feuds be forgotten, that all forces unite, in order to defeat the oppressing tyrants. Baba Maharaj Singh began to form connections with all major Sikh locations and Hukamnamas began to be sent from Damdama Sahib, telling all Sikh forces to join with Baba Maharaj Singh Ji and to support them in any form and matter possible. Information was sent via messengers from Lahore to Sri Darbar Sahib, informing the mass sangat of current affairs in the resistance. In this manner, the strength of the Sikhs remained manifested. The Jatha of Baba Raam Singh Ji sent to Lahore to retrieve Maharaja Duleep Singh were staying in a DharamShala when they were caught. Baba Raam Singh Ji was however released as the British were scared of their spiritual capabilities and powers. From the village Jassowal and other neighbouring villages, Baba Maharaj Singh Ji visited the houses of Sikhs during the night time, informing them of the struggle and the need for them to be always prepared.
Baba Maharaj Singh Ji then selected a specific date which landed on a Wednesday. It was a date when the British would lead a procession throughout Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji told the Sikhs that this was there opportunity to raid and loot the British of all their weaponry and crown jewels. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji stressed that a war would be unable to be fought with home-made weapons and a few Rupees. They would require a large amount of resources. Baba Ji ensured that no innocents would be hurt during the looting.
The D.C. of Jalandhar received information of where Baba Maharaj Singh Ji was and informed the British Government of the location which was outside Aadhampur. And so, Minister Venstart along with his soldiers arrived at the location and arrested Baba Maharaj Singh Ji. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji was planning on leaving just a few minutes before the capture, and if had left earlier, they would have escaped safe and sound. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji was imprisoned in Jalandhar Jail, however, amongst all Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims came a sense of uproar and commemoration. 1000’s would join on a daily basis to support Baba Ji and their ideologies. The D.C. wrote in his letters, that Baba Ji was not an ordinary rebel and that with just one of their eye indications, 1000’s would rise against the British and attain martyrdom.
Lord Dalhoji wished to imprison Baba Maharaj Singh Ji in such a location, that their shadow would not caste upon a Punjabi. Baba Ji was arrested on the 18th of December 1849. After Jalandhar Chauni, Baba Ji was sent to Ilaahaabaad Fort, then sent to Ilaahaabaad Fort (Calcutta) and finally to Singapore. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji was kept in a dark cell along with their Param Sevak – Baba Kharak Singh, who would often engage in arguments and fights with the jail officers. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji then engaged in excessive remembrance of the Lord Waheguru for the duration of their sentence. This continued for 5-6 years. Baba Ji’s health began to deteriorate due to the fact that the cell they were staying in was very dark, warm and had no access to the outside world. n 1855 Baba Maharaj Singh Ji lost their eyesight, and the doctors claimed that Baba Ji had developed cancer in their throat and that they had several blood clots in their neck. The doctors requested that Baba Maharaj Singh Ji be given access to fresh air as soon as possible. The Governor of Singapore however did not respond until he received a response from the British Hind Government.
Baba Maharaj Singh Ji was tortured to such a state that they were denied any medical care and due to such excessive amounts of pain, unable to walk without the support of another person. Baba Ji was slowly given access to the outside world and allowed to roam around whilst being pushed in a wheelchair. In the month of April, Baba Ji was denied the access to food and would drink Lemon Juice alone. In the last few days of May, Baba Ji had become so ill that they were unable to consume liquid. And so, this Mahaan Punjabi KaramYogi, after fulfilling his promises and capabilities, Baba Ji continued not to show any signs of weakness, refused to surrender and refused to make alliances with the tyrants. On the 5th of July 1856 , Baba Maharaj Singh Ji left this earth. Until their last breath, Baba Ji continued to attempt to save the Sikh Empire, and continued to attempt to free India from the British tyrants.