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Bhai Vir Singh Birth Centenary Volume - Book By Ganda Singh
Summary of 'Bhai Vir Singh Birth Centenary Volume' By Ganda Singh
Bhai Vir Singh was a brilliant product of the Sikh renaissance in the Punjab and was an inspiring spirit behind it for over fifty years during the present century. Born on December 5, 1872, in an intensely religious family, with traditions of learning on both the paternal and maternal sides, he devoted the whole of his life to the dissemination of knowledge in the light of the Sikh scriptures and of the lives of Sikh saints and sages, heroes and martyrs.
The historical importance of the family goes back to the middle of the eighteenth century when Diwan Kaura Mall, son of Wallu Mall Chugh, won name and fame among the Sikhs as well as the Mughal officials of Lahore by averting a deadly clash between them during the siege of Ram Rauni at Amritsar in November 1784. In the autumn of the following year, he led an expedition against Shah Nawaz Khan at Multan and won for the government of Lahore a signal victory with the help of the Sikh Sardars headed by Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. Kaura Mall was then honoured by Nawab Mir Muin-ul-Mulk, popularly known as Mir Mannu, with the title of Maharaja Bahadur, with his name inscribed on a slab put up at the Delhi gate of Lahore, and was appointed the deputy governor of Multan.
During this period he built at Nankana Sahib the Bal-Lila gurdwara in memory of the events connected with the childhood of Guru Nanak. He also built a large fort at his native village which is still known as Garh-Maharaja, to the west of Shorkot, in the district of Jhang in Pakistan. In February 1752 Kaura Mall returned to Lahore in response to the urgent summons of Muin-ul-Mulk to defend the country against the third invasion of Ahmad Shah Durrani and was killed in the final battle of Mahmood Booti on March 6. According to Sohan Lal Suri, the author of the Umdat-u-Tawarikh, Kaura Mall was a man of God, a brave soldier and an experienced administrator capable of great things. In the words of George Forster in his A Journey From Bengal to England "the preservation of the Sicques from the effects of Meer Munnoo's success [against them] appears to have been largely promoted by the interference of his minister Korah Mui who, being himself a Sicque, naturally became a trusted advocate of the sect" [pp. 284-85].
Mannu issued strict orders to the hill raj as to seize the Sikhs and send them in irons to Lahore. These orders were obeyed and hundreds of Sikhs were brought daily to Lahore and butchered at the Nakhas, or Shahidganj, outside the Delhi gate, in sight of multitudes of spectators. The young Mannu became an irreconcilable foe of the Sikhs, and was determined to extirpate the nation; but the influence of his minister, Kaura Mal, who was himself a Sikh of the Khalsa [Khulasa] sect, withheld him from carrying out his resolution."
For this invaluable service ofKaura Mall to the Sikh community, his son Hari Singh had to pay very heavily in his flight to Jammu, then governed by Ranjit Dev. The latter had been treated with sympathy and kindness by Kaura Mall during his campaign of Jammu in the summer of 1748. But after the death of Ranjit Dev, his son and successor Brij Raj Dev not only had his own brother killed but also imprisoned Hari Singh, plundered his cash estimated at some five lakhs of rupees and confiscated his property.
There was then no other alternative for Hari Singh and his family but to leave Jammu and settle down in the Panjab, practically in oblivion for the students of history.1
I. For a more detailed study of his life see Maharaja Kaura Mall Bahadur by Ganda Singh, 1941; and Balbir Singh, Sri Charan Hari Visthar, Vol. i, pt. i, 1945.