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The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism throughout Sikh History
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Bandai Khalsa cont'd

According to various Sikhs historical texts such as 'Pracheen Panth Prakash', 'Suraj Prakash', and Budha Dal oral tradition as told by the elderly Baba Mehr Singh, etc., Banda Bahadur, although a Sikh, was never initiated as Khalsa as modern Sikhs believe.

Nihang Baba Mehr Singh
The learned Baba Mehr Singh (left), a one-time student of Baba Gurbachan Singh
Khalsa 'Bhindrawaley' with Mahant Harbhajan Das Udasin (right) at an Udasi Ashram in
Nanded, Maharastra. In the background is an idol of Baba Sri Chand Maharaj (center), flanked
on either side by Adi Guru Durbar (left) and Sri Bhagvad Gita (right), surrounded by images of demigods

In 1709, Banda and the Akali Nihangs entered Punjab disguised as merchants. Armed with letters from Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh, and backed up by the Akali Nihangs, he quickly gathered a large Sikh army. This army became the scourge of the Moghal regime in the Punjab. In a short span of seven years Banda near enough eradicated all Moghal rule in the Punjab and established the first Khalsa Raj in name of ‘Guru Nanak Gobind’.

Banda Bahadur
An early painting (circa late 19th century?) of Banda Bahadur

According to orthodox Sanatan Sikh tradition and Budha Dal oral tradition as recounted in Pracheen Panth Prakash, over time, Banda was overwhelmed with false pride and became arrogant. His mistreatment of the Khalsa, and alterations of the Guru-ordained Khalsa traditions, resulted in the Khalsa warriors loosing respect for him. Banda declared himself a Guru, advocated teetotalism (a throwback to his earlier life as a Vairagi), altered the Khalsa salutation, stopped wearing blue, etc. The mighty Akali Nihang Singh Khalsa, lead by Akali Nihang Baba Binod Singh and his son, Akali Nihang Baba Kahn Singh opposed these Hindu Vairagi innovations of Banda. Such was the fighting that the Akali Nihang warriors risked martyrdom in order to oppose Banda:

Banda wished to make Sikh abandon their blue dress, to refrain from drinking and eating flesh: and instead of exclaiming Wa! Guruji ki Futteh! Wa! Khalsaji ki Futteh! The salutations directed by Govind, he directed them to exclaim, Futteh D’herm! Futteh dersan! Which means, ‘Success to piety! Success to the sect!’ These innovations were very generally resisted: but the dreaded severity of Banda, made many conform to his orders. The class of Acalis, or immortals, who had been established by Guru Govind, continued to oppose the innovations with great obstinacy: and many of them suffered martyrdom, rather than change either their mode of salutation, diet or dress: and, at the death of Banda, their cause triumphed. All the institutions of Guru Govind were restored.’
‘Sketch Of The Sikhs’, by J.C. Malcolm, 1812, P. 83

Aside from confusing the Sikh salutation, everything stated by Malcolm in the quote can be collaborated by Akali Nihang oral tradition, Rattan Singh Bhangu’s 'Pracheen Panth Prakash', and Giani Gian Singh Nirmala’s 'Naveen Panth Prakash'. Banda was eventually declared an apostate and excommunicated from the Sikh faith. With this split within the Khalsa, two factions arose – the followers of Banda became to be known as ‘Bandai Khalsa’, and the Akali Nihang Khalsa came to be referred to as the ‘Tat’ (pure) Khalsa or ‘Akal Purkhieh’ (those believing in the Immortal Almighty).

Akal Purkhieh
A fresco from the walls of Qila Mubarak depicting Akali Nihang Guru
Gobind Singh Ji with his 'Ladlee Fauj' (Beloved Army) who would later oppose Banda Bahadur

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