Friday, May 31, 2013

Baba Banda Singh Bahadur ( 1670 – 1716 ) and the first coins of the Sikhs

A brief Introduction of the first coins of the Sikhs
by Saran Singh & Dalwinder Singh                                                                                               

On 3rd September  1708, Guru Gobind Singh Ji administered the vows and Amrit (blessed necter) to Madho Das, a Hindu Sadhu or ascetic, and gave him a new name,  Banda Singh. At the same time,  he gave Banda Singh a Nagara (war drum), Nishan Sahib (banner) and five arrows from his own quiver as symbols of Authority. Banda Singh was also accompanied by five Sikhs to assist him to build up his forces so as to repel the tyranny of the Mughal Empire.

After the martyrdom of Guru Gobind Singh Ji* (1666 – 1708), Baba Banda Singh Bahadur took over the leadership of the Khalsa Panth (Sikh League / brotherhood). To counteract against the Mughal rulers atrocities and religious persecution of the Sikhs, he decided to eliminate the rule of the Mughal power itself. Baba Banda Singh made a start towards the creation of an independent Sikh State (Punjab) and assumed political authority. His areas of control stretched from Lahore to Panipat in India. He appointed Sikh administrators to rule over the territories under his control.

Baba Banda Singh Bahadur’s Sikh forces defeated the army of Nawab Wazir Khan, the Subedar of Sirhind on 14th May 1710. Sirhind was the place where on the orders of the cruel Subedar, Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s  two youngest sons, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh Ji and Sahibzada Fateh Singh Ji, were bricked up alive in December 1705. To commemorate the conquest of Sirhind, a new era was declared by the Sikhs, starting with Samvat  Year 1  (14th May 1710 – 13th May 1711). **

Baba Banda Singh Bahadur
(Photo:Central Sikh Museum, Golden Temple complex, Amritsar)

In 1711, the Khalsa Panth, under the leadership of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, issued the  
first known 1 rupee silver coins bearing the Year 2  at Mukhlispore (renamed Lohgarh) near Sadhaura. A second issue of 1 rupee silver coins bearing the Year 3 were issued in 1712. However , the couplet of these coins is different from the couplet used on the seal of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur.

The aforesaid letter bears the seal of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur , in Persian, Deg-o-tegh-o-fateh-o-nusrat-bedrang yaft az Nanak Guru Gobind Singh (Abundance, power, victory and assistance without delay are the gifts of Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh)
Below the seal is the Hukamnama (edict or order) to the Sikhs of Jaunpur by Baba Banda Singh Bahadur on 12th December 1710.

Romanized English version of the Hukamnama

Ek Ongkar Fateh Darshan. Sri sache sahib ji ka hokum hai sarbat Khalsa Jaunpur ka Guru rekhega, guru japna janam savraega, tusi sri akal purakh ji ka khalsa ho, panj hathear banh ke hukam dekhdiya darshan awna. Khalsae di rahet rahena, bhang, tumakoo, hafeem, posthe, dharoo, amal koyee na hi khana, mas masheli paeaj na hi khana, chori jari nahi karni, asa satjug vertaeya hae aap vech pyar karna, mera hukam hae jo khalsae di rahet rahega tesdi Guru bahori kareaga. Methi Poh 12 samvat pahela satrathes.

Translation of the Hukamnama

Ek Ongkar Fateh Darshan. By the order of the true king, all the Khalsa of Jaunpur will be protected by Guru ji, Pray to the Guru for he will improve your life. You are God’s Khalsa, wear the five weapons and on being ordered, present yourself. You must obey the principals of the Khalsa. You are not to consume hemp, tobacco, opium, poppy seeds or alcoholic drinks. You are not to eat meat, fish and onions. You must not steal. We usher in a new era, Satjug – the Age of Truth. Love one another. This is my order, those who should live according to the principals of the Khalsa will be protected by God. Dated 12 Poh samvat pahela 1 (= 12 December 1710)

The significance of the Hukamnama

The interesting thing about this letter is that it has the date in Gurmukhi Poh 12 Samvat Pahela 1 (= 12 December Samvat Year 1, i.e. 1710) on the last line. The new Samvat era date on this letter further confirms that a new era (Samvat Year 1) was declared by Baba Banda Singh Bahadur after his capture of the city of Sirhind on 14th May, 1710.

It is possible  that Baba Banda Singh Bahadur could have issued the 1 Rupee coin bearing the Year 1. Should such a coin be traced in time to come, the two listed coins below would become the 2nd and 3rd issues of his short lived coinage.

 1 Rupee silver, Year 2 (1711)
 Diameter: 28 mm, Weight: 11.96 grammes

1 Rupee silver,Year 3 (1712)
Diameter: 23 mm, Weight: 11.84 grammes   

Obverse: In Persian “Sikka zad bar Har do alam , fazl Saccha Sahib ast , fateh
               tegh-e Gur(u) Gobind (Singh) shah shahan,  Nanak waheb ast”  
               (Coin struck for the two worlds by the grace of the True Lord, Victory of the
               sword of the King of Kings , Guru Gobind (Singh) , Nanak submits (says) that
               Almighty is the provider)

Reverse: In Persian “Zarb Khalsa Mubarak bakht ba-aman ad-dhar zinat al takht
               mashwarat shahr, sanah 2”
               (struck by the Khalsa of auspicious fortune at the refuge of the fate, the
                ornament of the throne (of Akal) the city of the council, year 2).

Baba Banda Singh Bahadur was captured near Gurdaspur and taken in chains to Delhi. He was horribly tortured before being executed on 9th June 1716 on the orders of the Mughal ruler, Farrukhsiyar.

*    Guru Gobind Singh Ji left for his heavenly abode on 7th October 1808
** Saran Singh – “The first coins of the Sikhs”, Oriental Numismatic Society Information Sheet
   Number 144 page 7- 8, Spring 1995. Baba Banda Singh’s edict dated 12th December 1710 to the                  
   Sikhs at Jaunpur in Gurmukhi script with the  year 1, published in Desh Pardesh, London, 1991,
   page 49.

1 comment: