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    Brief History of Sikh Misls

    Brief History ofSikh Misls


    1051/14, FIELD GANJ, LUDHIANA - 141 008

    Publication No.360

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    SIKH MISLSOrigin of Misls. During the second Uds of Guru

    Nanak, when he visited the Sidhs on Sumer Parbat, he wasasked on what foundation would he raise the edifice ofSikhism. Guru Nnak Dev Ji repliedOn two pillars; oneis Gur Sangat and Bn.* The respect for bn and sittingtogether in the form of Sangat helped raise the Sikhorganisatons and institutions. Both Guru Angad Dev Ji andGuru Amar Das Ji taught the Sikhs to respect the institutionof Sangat and declared Gur-Shabad as the heart of Guru.Words of wisdom propagated by other so called spiritualleaders than the Guru were branded as Kach Bn. TheSikhs were advised to leave such unauthentic sermonswhich had not come out of the mouth of true Guru. GuruRam Das Ji raised Amritsar as the centre of Sikhism thatbecame the pivot of Sikh Sangat. In order to safeguard theGuru Shabad and the institutions, Guru Arjan Dev Jisacrificed his life.

    When two Sikhs sit together, it becomes Sadh Sangatwhere as a lone Sikh is just a Sikh. Five Sikhs together isdeemed to have the presence of the Lord.** These viewslent much greater strength to the Sangat. During the periodfrom Guru Hargobind Sahib to Guru Teg Bahadur, therespect for bn and Sangat increased by manyfolds. Theenemies and opponents of Sikhism did much to reduce therespect of bn from the hearts of Sikhs, but they could notsucceed in their aim. During the Guru period, beside Sangatand Gur Shabad, the Guru person was also respected andrevered. A stage came when Guru Gobind Singh Ji

    contemplated that instead of the personality of Guru, theideology, Sangat and bn be made supreme. He had alsorealised that the Sikhs have become well aware not to fallinto the trap of the doubts and suspicions created byordinary mortals. Thus he merged his personality in theSangat, gave it the form of Khls and adopted its formhimself. It means the personality of Guru has now mergedwith Khls and the Khls will now be of Guru form. Duringthe last hour of his life, Guru Gobind Singh bestowed thehonour of Guruship upon Sri Guru Granth Sahib thus raisingits status to supreme level. Bn was revered as it is; butnow by issuing an edict Sabh Sikhan ko hukam hai Gurumano(n) Granth, he made it supreme removing all doubtsand suspicions. The body was Guru Khls where as thesoul resided in Guru Granth. Both together became GuruPanth. Thus Guru Gobind Singh Ji blessed the Sikhs withan eternal leader to lead them during its difficult period.Such a leader was omnipresent and beyond the cycle ofbirth and death. Thus the Sikhs never waivered.

    After the demise of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, Sikhsmade Amritsar as the centre of their struggle. Sikhs wouldassemble at Amritsar twice a yearonce on Diwali and againon Baisakhi. This assembly used to be called Sarbat Khls.They would pass resolutions and arrive at decisions in thepresence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. All resolutions werepassed unanimously and once passed, these were calledGurmats. The passed Gurmat was respected by Sikhs asthe will of the Guru. Everyone would rever it as such.

    Selection of Five Beloved Ones. Whenever the SarbatKhls would assemble, its proceedings would commenceafter an Ards (Supplication) to the Lord. Thereafterinvocatory command of the Guru (Sri Guru Granth Sahib)

    * Gur Sangat bn bin dj ot nah hai r-ee. ** Ik Sikh, doey sdh sang, panj Parmeshar.

    Brief History of Sikh Misls

  • Brief History of Sikh MislsBrief History of Sikh Misls 65

    would be read out. Then the name of a Sikh would beproposed and accepted by Jaikrs. Such a selected Sikhwas called by the name of Pir. Then this selected pirwould propose another name. On approval from all present,he too would be given the status of a Pir. If anyone everobjected, he would be appropriately answered after listeningto his side of the story. If the answer was not to thesatisfaction of the Sangat, his selection was cancelled. Insimilar fashion third, fourth and fifth Pir would be selected.This five selected used to be the recepient of all the honourof the Khls Panth. These five would then move to AkalTakht Sahib and sit in the attendance of Sri Guru GranthSahib. Then a Sikh from the Sangat would put up a proposalfor consideration. It would be discussed and passed asGurmat if found suitable for the good of the Panth andpublic at large. If ever some impediment would come up,the Panj Pirs would intervene and give suitable decision.The passed resolutions would virtually become the policyof the whole Panth which becomes binding on all. Forexample, matters like how to deal with Nawab of Patti, theNawab of Jalandhar who had accepted defeat; so howshould he be treated; what arrangements of defence orre-organisation are to be made in the case of invasion byAbdali; would it be in order to take possession of Lahore;when is the right time to punish Nawab of Kasur for theatrocities perpetrated by him etc etc. All such decisionswere taken unanimously.

    This method remained in vogue till 1733. Thereaftermany Jaths came up. But whenever Sarbat Khlsassembled, the individuality of the Jaths never existed.Then there became two Jaths. One known as Tarun Dalwhile the other was called Budh Dal. Budh Dal

    remained at Amritsar to protect it while Tarun Dal wenton campaigns. All Jathedrs used to render their accountbefore Sri Akal Takhat to an appointed person by NawabKapur Singh. S. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia performed this dutyfor sometimes. They could draw from there according totheir mind. Thus Taruna Dal further divided itself in fiveJaths. S. Shm Singh, Baba Deep Singh,S. Karam Singh, S. Dn Singh, S. Dasaundh Singh andS. Bir Singh were appointed the Jathedars. Gradually, thearea of influence of the Sikhs increased and therefore thenumber of Jaths also increased. By 1748, The strength ofDal Khalsa had gone up to 63. Had it not been arrested,it would have crossed all boundaries. Nawab Kapur Singhfelt that in view of the threatened attack of Abdl, there isa need to unite into one. So he told everyone to break theirJathas. It was accepted by all. Tarun Dal and Budh Daltoo were broken. For the protection of Sri Darbar Sahib,Amritsar, Akalis were appointed. The entire organisationwas named as Dal Khls. Its command was handed overto S. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. Nawab Kapur Singh retiredfrom active service of the Panth. Dal Khalsa was split intoeleven Jaths. Each Jath was placed under a Jathedr.The area of jurisdiction of each Jath was also defined sothat there was no inter Jath discord. The eleven Jaths andtheir Jathedrs were as under

    1. Bhang (Bh Bhm Singh and his son Bh HarSingh)

    2. Nishn wl The flag bearer. Bh DasaundhSingh)

    3. Shahd (Bb Br Singh and Bb Deep Singh)

    4. Rmgarh (Bh Hards Singh and then S. Jass

  • Brief History of Sikh MislsBrief History of Sikh Misls 87

    Singh who converted Ram Raoni into Ramgarh.)

    5. Naka (Bhi Hr Singh, Nath Singh)

    6. Ahlwl (S. Jass Singh of village Ahl)

    7. Kanahy (S. Khushl Singh and S. Jai Singh)

    8. Faizalpur or Singhpur (Nawab Kapur Singh)

    9. Dalewl (S. Gurdial Singh, village Dalewl)

    10. Shukarchak (S. Charhat Singh, villageShukarchak)

    11. Krorh Singh (S. Krorha Singh, S. Baghel Singh)

    These Jaths became famous by the names of the Misls

    Naming Jaths on the Names of Misls. Initially, theseeleven groups were called as Jaths but very gradually, theword Jath got replaced with Misl. A file of every Jath waskept at Amritsar. It used to contain the exploits of its Jathedrand soldiers. Whatever loot was brought by a Jathedr, heused to have it recorded in his file and then deposit it withthe treasury. Everyone would say, Please write my detailsin the Misl (file.) Thus the word Jath dropped from theirnames and the word Misl got added. So much so that theSikh soldiers started refering each other by Misls. Even ifsome one brought anything in his individual capacity, hewould ask the incharge to record it in so and so Misl.

    The Tasks of the Misls. Although from the looks, mislsbecame separate, they were still attached with each other.During emergent situations, they used to come together andoffer a combined front to the enemy. They could neverimagine separating themselves from Dal Khls. They puttheir loot in a common coffer and shared their exploits.

    There was no selfishness and no mine and ours.Whenever they assembled at Amritsar during Diwl andBaiskh, they never sat under their flag but that of DalKhls. They felt proud calling themselves Sarbat Khls.They took many joint decisions. They often held jointfunctions. Dealing with invaders and those who wereagainst them were common matters for them. Physicallythey were separate, yet their hearts beat in unison. Soldierswere at liberty to express their views, yet they honoured thedecision of their Jathedrs.

    Secondly; there was no high or low in the misl. Therewere no gradations, nor sequences. All were equal. AJathedr was a soldier first and a soldier was as importantas a Jathedr. He who enjoyed the confidence and trust ofall was normally appointed as Jathedr. Yet his wish wasnever final. Every soldier could reach his views upto theJathedr. Maulw Wal Illh Siddiqu has writtenEve