The most prominent legend out of Sikh war history must be that of Baba Deep Singh, commonly picturing the warrior with a sword in one hand and his very own head in the other. His final battle defies all understanding and reason. He was one man you really wouldn’t want to face on any day.
Baba Deep Singh was born in 1682 in the village of Pahuwind, Amritsar. He went to Anandpur Sahib on the day of Vaisakhi in 1699, where he was baptized into Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh, through the Khande di Pahul or Amrit Sanchar (ceremonial initiation into Khalsa). As a youth, he spent considerable time in close companionship of Guru Gobind Singh, learning weaponry, riding and other martial skills. From Bhai Mani Singh, he learned reading and writing Gurmukhi and the interpretation of the Gurus’ words.
Baba Deep Singh was living a chilled life until the Durranis started messing around. Over the next few decades, he constantly fought against them in various campaigns. In fact, during Ahmad Shah Durrani’s invasion, it was Baba Deep Singh’s squad that pretty much waged all-out guerrilla warfare against his army, freeing his slaves and the booty he had stolen.
Ahmad Shah Durrani later appointed his successor as the governor of Lahore with the intention to “finish the Sikhs.”
Consequently, Timur Shah Durrani ordered the desecration of Sri Harmandir Sahib (or, The Golden Temple) and the complete demolition of Sri Darbar Sahib. This certainly didn’t go down too well with Baba Deep Singh. A quick and energetic speech later, five hundred battle-hardened Sikh soldiers followed Baba Deep Singh towards the retaliation. The Sikh platoon soon grew to 5000 in strength. And Baba Deep Singh pledged that they would celebrate Diwali in Sri Harmandir Sahib that year.
Upon hearing the oncoming Sikh platoon, Timur Shah sent an army of 20,000 to face them.
The Durrani army took position north of Amritsar and waited for Baba Deep Singh’s platoon. This took place in 1757 when Baba Deep Singh was 75-years-old. The clash between the armies began in Gohalwar on November 11, and Baba Singh’s army – one fourth of the opposing – managed to push back the enemy.
At this point the general of the Durrani army, Attal Khan delivered a blow to Baba Deep Singh’s neck that made it lop to one side.
In an absolute testing time, a comrade reminded him that he had resolved to reach the perimeter of Sri Harmandir Sahib. With absolutely no hesitation, Baba Deep Singh held his head back into place with his left hand and went berserk on the enemy with his khanda in the right.
He tore the enemies apart to reach the perimeter of the temple before he took his last breath. The Sikhs rejoiced Diwali in Harmandir Sahib that year.