Baba Maharaj Singh Ji was elected the next Jatheydaar. Sikhs led in battles against British and Dogras by him. He was a Mukt-Aatma who believed in freedom of Sikh Panth and supremacy of Khalsa Panth.
Baba Maharaj Singh Ji was born at Rabbo Tehsiel Paiel (Ludhiana) in the year 1780. The Baba Ji’s birth name was Nihaal Singh. Baba Ji learnt Gurbaani Santhya and Sikh History from village Gurudwaara in his childhood. After completing these studies, Baba Ji continued his studies at Theekrewaale Baba Tota Singh Ji, Nirmal Sant Dera under the guidance of Baba Samund Singh Ji. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji was commanded by Baba Samund Singh Ji to go and stay at the base (Dera) of Baba Bir Singh Ji (Naurangabad). A lot of deep intellectual Sikhi faith was manifested and acknowledged by Baba Maharaj Singh Ji in a very short period of time. It was through deep thoughts of Baba Maharaj Singh Ji and the questions asked by Baba Samund Singh Ji, that Baba Samund Singh Ji realized that this young man will quickly rise in spiritual level and journey. Baba Samund Singh had a strong desire to join this young Sikh with the current leader of Bhai Daya Singh Ji Samprada.
One day, Baba Bir Singh Ji visited the village Marhaanhe. Baba Samund Singh Ji told Baba Maharaj Singh Ji that ‘Ohdey Bhaag Jaagey Ne’ (A Punjabi is saying for you have good fortune) and that they would receive blessed vision (Darshan) of a true Sikh Saint. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji became extremely happy and excited which was apparent from the glow of Baba Maharaj Singh Ji’s face on Darshan of Baba Bir Singh Ji. It was like Baba Maharaj Singh Ji had received something from Baba Bir Singh Ji but was not clear for the astonished Sikhs standing around Baba Maharaj Singh Ji. Baba Bir Singh Ji watched Baba Maharaj Singh Ji’s face and felt pleased.
Baba Maharaj Singh Ji was given Seva of Langar as per tradition of Bhai Daya Singh Ji’s Samprada. The holy man Sant Baba Mahinder Singh Ji Harkhowal Waale often used to say that, “Selfless service of Sikh Sangat is the foundation of Sikhi. The true Sikh philosophy starts where dishes are washed with hands, shoes are cleaned and serving the Sikh Sangat with Langar. Baba Bir Singh Ji then said that young Sikh Nihaal Singh should be blessed with the gift of nectar Amrit in order to initiate him in Sikh Panth. Baba Bir Singh Ji was himself a Jatheydaar of Five Beloved Ones. Baba Bir Singh Ji then explained to Baba Maharaj Singh Ji that, “The one who departs himself from the lifestyle of Manmukh and lives his life in accordance with the word of Guru Maharaj. A Sikh never denies any command given by his Guru, takes part in serving the Sikh Sangat, meditates on the name of Lord Waheguru, respects and tries to see Waheguru in one and all. Following the words said by Baba Bir Singh Ji, Baba Maharaj Singh Ji started leading his life in serving the Sikh Sangat and became a ‘Laangari’ in ‘Langar’. He always used to speak the soft and sweet words of love, but the occasions were rare when he uses to say something. He indulged himself most of time in doing Seva and Simran and humbly called every person in Sikh Sangat with the name of ‘Maharaj’ (king of king) due to which Sikh Sangat started calling him ‘Maharaj Singh’ instead of ‘Nihaal Singh’.
All the beings were recognized as the image of Waheguru Ji by Baba Maharaj Singh Ji and would practice Langar Seva day and night. Nobody had ever seen Baba Ji sleeping on his back, he would always wear a small turban on his head, wear a Kachera and a Kafni (a small ‘Chola’) in order to cover their body. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji would arise every day at 1 am and would get bathed himself. Afterwards, he would warm water and bathe Baba Bir Singh Ji. Due to taking part in such intense Seva, Baba Ji’s body started paining and he started taking extremely low diet. Initially, Baba Ji used to consume 2 Parshaadey (chappatis) at two times a day, then he started taking 1 Parshaada a day and to this point Baba Ji has stopped eating anything. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji would just do Seva of Sangat that came to eat Langar. Baba Bir Singh Ji was very pleased seeing Baba Maharaj Singh doing self-less service to such an extent.
One day Baba Maharaj Singh was doing meditation of Waheguru with a peace of mind near the fire. Approaching near Maharaj Ji, a sevadaar started shouting as loud as possible, “Where are the large spoons Baba Ji? We need to cool down Degh by stirring it as it is boiling at extreme temperatures. Baba Ji’s calm nature was maintained and after looking around, he reached the Degh. Seeing that there was nothing to stir the Degh with, Baba Ji put his arm in the boiling pot and it became calm. The Sikhs were astonished after seeing all this and narrated the whole story to Baba Bir Singh Ji. When a doctor witnessed at the same place, the Sikhs and the doctor saw that Baba Ji was sitting in a peaceful state meditating on Waheguru with no signs of burning. The doctor told the whole story to Baba Bir Singh Ji. Listening to this, Baba Bir Singh Ji called upon Baba Maharaj Singh Ji with a large number of Sikh Sangat. Baba Bir Singh Ji began to say, “You have started showing miracles Baba Maharaj Singh. Don’t you know! Miracles are not allowed in Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s house.” At this Baba Maharaj Singh Ji replied with folded hands, “Baba Bir Singh Ji, I am yours. This whole body is yours. Who am I to show any kind of miracle? I am just a small servant of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s house. I saw the pot of Degh boiling and immediately thought of what to do! Then I thought what should do with this body if it cannot be used in doing the Seva of Sikh Sangat? That is why I put my arm in the pot thinking that some useless can be put to some profit in serving to the Guru’s Sikh Sangat. Dear Baba Bir Singh Ji, it was you who saved me from the burning pain. So, what is my fault and how can I do any miracle? If now also you think that I have done something wrong, then please forgive my mistake and grant your grace upon me.”
Then, Baba Bir Singh Ji said, “Waah! Baba Maharaj Singh Ji! You have found a short cut to the long route of Sikh belief. Is there anyone else who can put their body at stake in order to serve Sadh Sangat? You are blessed with the fruitful service of Guru Sahib- May Waheguru always be with you. I know that you can go several days without eating anything doing Seva of Saadh Sangat. But, now I request you to eat a regular diet for your well being and good health. Our bodies must serve their purpose and experience their fortune and destiny. It this is stopped, then one will have to do in another incarnation. It is through this body that you have done Seva of Saadh Sangat. So, it is important for you to stay healthy. After listening to all this, Baba Maharaj Singh Ji realized that well being and good health are also essential and promised to follow the words of Baba Bir Singh Ji. However, Baba Maharaj Singh Ji told Baba Bir Singh Ji that he was not able to understand the words said by Baba Bir Singh Ji about reincarnation. To this, Baba Bir Singh Ji replied, “If accepted the Sikhi of Satguru Ji and then taking shelter of such amazing Mahapurakhs like you, we have to be reborn, then it is equivalent to the killing of lambs who are in the laps of lions by hi-hyenas. Therefore, please remove the fear of death from the mind by blessing us with your grace. May life and death be one and may we live in accordance with faith, truth and bliss till our last breath.”
After such humble words, Baba Bir Singh Ji aroused and embraced Baba Maharaj Singh Ji in a hug. Baba Bir Singh Ji did not take in account that after doing Seva Baba Maharaj Singh Ji’s clothes were covered with mud. Baba Bir Singh Ji explained through loving words to Baba Bir Singh Ji that his faith and ability to not spirituality fall has made him unbeatable and that higher powers will loose after trying to defeat him. Baba Bir Singh Ji then said, “Many will be saved with your words. No one will ask ‘Lekha’ from you as you yourself are the image of Lord Waheguru. Bhai Daya Singh Ji and the great holy men before me shall always be with you. Waheguru Ji will always support you and you will always be in bliss with His blessings.”
Baba Maharaj Singh Ji was amazing Sipaahi and surprising Sant at the same time. Baba would re-stress from time to time on the necessity of re-establishing the Sikh empire and to save the successor of Sikh empire- the son of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh Ji, Maharaja Duleep Singh Ji. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji has made it very difficult for the British government and traitor Heera Singh to sleep without worries. A request made that Baba Ji be presented at Lahore Darbar and an arrest warrant was sent out for Baba Ji. In search of Baba Maharaj Singh Ji, the British forces reached Amritsar. However, Amritsar Dera was already left by Baba Ji. High-ranking officers of British forces were devotees of Baba Ji so he was already aware of all the plans of British government. The animals owned by Baba Ji were given out for free and Baba Ji’s Dera was sold out for 6,000 rupees. Baba Ji’s Pehredaar was accused of allowing Baba Ji to escape.
A state of emergency alert was put over the region of Majha. The British government was getting strict and decide to punish all those who were assisting or helping Baba Maharaj Singh in any kind. As the British officials would listen about Baba Ji’s existence, soon that place would be raided by British officials. Whenever Baba Ji would get face to face with British officials, there would occur a ruthless battle as there were brave soldiers in the company of Baba Ji. Soldiers existing with Baba Ji were skilled horsemen and would travel via horse wherever they decided to visit. Baba Ji came to know during the struggle that Deevan Raaja Mool Soobha Multal had planned to make an uprising against the British government. In assistance of his devotees Baba Ji began to travel towards the direction of this uprising. The forces of Baba Maali Singh Ji began to follow Baba Maharaj Singh Ji as the news reached Lahore Darbar. Another set of forces was sent to capture Baba Maharaj Singh Ji on the other side. Before it came to their knowledge, it seemed as if Baba Ji was surrounded from all the four corners. It was so intense that once a British following Baba Ji became extremely close.
It seemed like a dead end. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji was standing in front of the river which was too surrounded by soldiers of Baba Maali Singh. The Sikhs forces of Baba Maharaj Singh Ji started a battle with surrounding forces. A heavy bloodshed occurred and a lot of Sikhs attained martyrdom. Baba Maali Singh was shot in the knee during the battle. Without their general, Baba Maali Singh’s forces became a victim of Sikh forces. Not wasting any more time, Baba Maharaj Singh Ji quickly crossed the river along with thousands of ‘Saint Soldiers’. On reaching the town of Kameela, Baba Maharaj Singh Ji’s forces were engaged again in a battle against British officials. With Waheguru Ji’s grace, Baba Ji’s ‘Saint Soldiers’ again attained victory. Baba Ji’s forces now wanted to travel towards village Jhang. But the Britishers blocked all means of transport and routes towards Jhang. Baba Ji then decided to reach Sher Kot and through a back route reached village Jhang. The locals of that village requested Baba Ji to start a Dharam Yudh Morcha and told him that they will also assist him in the Morcha by all means possible. But Baba Ji told them that he has to travel in the forward direction and thanked them for helping him and his soldiers in such a time of need. Baba Ji after reaching Deewan Moolchand, spoke about the rebellion against the British.
Baba Ji then left the Malwa region and while travelling to visit the historical places named Muktsar, Damdama Sahib and Anandpur Sahib. Then they entered Rawalpindi through the district of Jammu. Raja Sher Singh, Raja Soorat Singh and Raja Chatar Singh Manjeethiya and other prominent leaders decided to do a war against the British government in the village Chillia, Gujarat. From Rawalpindi, Baba Ji supplied a large amount of Langar to Sikh fighters. When the battle had raged on, Raja Sher Singh along with his alliances surrendered and requested for peace. After seeing all this Baba Maharaj Singh Ji said, “Remember that whites (Britishers) are not going to give you immediately what you want. The conditions you are surrendering to, are downfall and dark well of death. It is better for us all to carry on this war and die as martyrs. Rather than dying as a dog, it is better dying as martyr.”
All the Sikhs were inspired by these words of Baba Maharaj Singh Ji and decided to die like martyrs. The prominent Sikh leaders were avoiding all forms of conflicts and have accepted their defeat in a way. Only two leaders named Baba Bikram Singh Ji Una Sahib Wale and Colonel Rachpal Singh Ji Poorbie with their forces supported Baba Maharaj Singh Ji. With Baba Maharaj Singh Ji, there were about 1000 Sikh fighters. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji announce that for the ‘Laaj’ of ‘Sant Naam’, for the sake of ‘Punjab’ and with the Ardaas accepted by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the right way for us is to die in the battlefield fighting against the cruel tyranny. There was heavy bloodshed and many Sikhs attained martyrdom. The main target for Britishers was Baba Maharaj Singh Ji, but Baba Ji maintained to escape each and every trial of British government. But, Baba Bikram Singh Ji was arrested and sent to Amritsar.
Baba Ram Singh Ji (Virakt) were sent to Lahore by Baba Maharaj Singh Ji and stressed to save the last successor of the Sikh’s Empire throne- Maharaja Duleep Singh. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji suggested to take the successor to a mountainous region and continuing the empire and war against cruel tyranny from there. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji then reached Jammu and wrote a letter addressed to Muhammad Shah Kabal to set free the imprisoned devotees of Baba Ji. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji said that it was necessary to forget all personal feuds, unite the forces and then fight against the British government. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji began to connect all the prominent leaders of Punjab and started sending Hukamnamas from Damdama Sahib and asked all of them to support them in any kind or matter possible. Messengers sent the information from Lahore to Darbar Sahib informing the Sikh Sangat of current affairs in the resistance. The strength of Sikhs remained manifested in this manner. A Jatha of Baba Ram Singh Ji was sent to Lahore to retrieve Maharaja Duleep Singh Ji. He was staying in Dharamshaala when he was caught. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji visited the houses of Sikhs at the night time in the Jassowaal village and other neighboring villages, informing them about the struggle and the need for them to be prepared.
A specific date was selected by Baba Maharaj Singh Ji which landed on a Wednesday. On this date, British would lead a procession throughout Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur. Sikhs were told by Baba Maharaj Singh Ji that this was a golden chance for them to make a raid and loot away all the weaponry and jewels. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji highlighted that they would be unable to fight a war with hand-made weapons and a few rupees. A large amount of resources would be required by them. Baba Ji ensured that no innocent will be hurt during the looting.
The D.C. of Jalandhar informed the British government, which was outside the village Adampur, about the location of Baba Maharaj Singh Ji. Therefore, Minister Venstart arrested Baba Maharaj Singh Ji by arriving at his location along with the soldiers. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji was thinking of leaving the place a few minutes before the arrival of the Minister. If he would have left, he would have escaped safe and sound. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji was imprisoned in Jalandhar jail. However, there was a big uproar and commemoration amongst the local Hindus and Sikhs because of this imprisonment. Thousands of locals would join daily to support Baba Ji and his ideologies. D.C., wrote in his letters that Baba Ji was not an ordinary rebel and with just one eye indication, thousands would rise against the British and attain martyrdom.
Lord Dalhoji wished to imprison Baba Ji in such a prison that their shadow could not have been cast upon a Punjabi. On 18th of December 1849, Baba Ji was arrested. After Jalandhar Chahuni, Baba Ji was sent to the Illahabad fort (Calcutta) and finally to Singapore. Baba Ji was kept along with Param Sevak- Baba Kharak Singh in a dark cell. Baba Kharak Singh would often engage in fights and arguments with the jail officers. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji then engaged himself in the excessive remembrance of Lord Waheguru during his sentence. This continued for 5-6 years. Baba Ji’s health was deteriorating with each passing day due to the fact that the cell in which they both were staying was dark, warm and had no access to the outside world. In 1855, Baba Maharaj Singh Ji lost their eyesight. Doctors claimed about cancer in Baba Ji’s throat and they had several blood clots in their throat. Doctors requested that Baba Maharaj Singh Ji must be given fresh air as soon as possible. But, the cruel Governor of Singapore however did not take any action until the orders of British government came.
Baba Ji was tortured to such an extent that Baba Ji became so weak that he was not even able to walk without taking a person’s help. Baba Ji was given a little access to the outside environment with a wheelchair. In the month of June, Baba Ji was given only lemon juice and no food. Eventually Baba Ji became so weak that he was unable to drink liquid in the last few days of May. At last, this Mahaan Punjabi Karam Yogi continued to show any signs of weakness to cruel tyranny. Baba Maharaj Singh Ji left this earth on 18th July, 1856. Baba Ram Ji continued to make India free from British tyrants and continued to save the Sikh empire.