Fresco of Baba Hanuman Singh Ji at Gurdwara Baba Atal Rai, Amritsar
Akaali Baba Hanuman Singh Ji, The 7th leader of the Budha Dal, was born to Baba Garja Singh Ji and Mata Harnam Kaur Ji in November 1755. Baba Ji fought in many great battles under the leadership of Akaali Baba Naina Singh Ji and Akaali Baba Phula Singh Ji (the 5th and 6th Jathedars of Budha Dal).
After the Shaheedi of Akaali Phula Singh Ji at Naushera in 1823, Baba Hanuman Singh Ji became the leader of the Akaali Nihangs, as well as the Jathedar of Akaal Takht Sahib at the age of 68 years old.
Akaali Baba Hanuman Singh Ji’s tenure as Jathedar of the Sikh nation came as the Panth was experiencing a very critical time. The Maharaja of the Punjab, Ranjit Singh died from stroke complications, his successors were murdered, the treacherous Dogra’s sold out the Lahore Darbar to the British, and the British were planning on annexing the Punjab.
Trusted Sikh general Sardar Sham Singh Attari came to the city of Amritsar and approached Jathedar Hanuman Singh for assistance against the British.
Meeting at the Akaal Takht, Sham Singh said to Baba Hanuman Singh “Baba Ji, I wish to fight against the British, but have no army. I have no more then myself and my sons.”
Baba Ji replied “Oh Singh Ji, who does this Akaali fauj belong to, if not to the Sikh nation.”
During the battle of Sabroan, Sardar Sham Singh Ji and many Sikh warriors received martyrdom fighting the British soldiers, inflicting huge losses to the invaders.
Baba Hanuman Singh Ji and the remaining Singhs went to camp out in the Sikh Princely state of Patiala. The King of Patiala, Maharaja Karam Singh upon receiving word that the knights of the Guru were camped out in his state, out of fear of retribution for his support to the British, Karam Singh informed the British of the whereabouts of the Jathedar and Sikh army.
The British army and their Sikh stooges opened up cannon fire on the Sikhs. 15,000 Sikhs attained martyrdom at the spot where Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran now stands in the district of Patiala. Budha Dal oral tradition states that 32,000 Singhs became shaheed during this battle.
Leader of the Sikh army, Jathedar Baba Hanuman Singh Ji and around 500 Nihang warriors survived this attack, and continued to fight the heavy cannon fire of the British, with swords, bows and arrows, axes and matchlock fire.
Finally after running out of gun powder and watching thousands of Sikh warriors achieve shaheedi, the brave Jathedar of the Guru’s beloved Khalsa, Akaali Baba Hanuman Singh Ji died fighting for the freedom of the people of Punjab at the age of 90.
After the martyrdom of Baba Hanuman Singh, Akaali Baba Prehlada Singh Ji became the 8th leader of the Akaali Nihang Singh Khalsa. The British implemented a shoot to kill order on the Nihang Singhs, and Baba Prehlada Singh left for the holy Takht Sahib at Nander to regroup the Akaali army. The few remaining Nihang Singhs, left with Baba Ji towards Hazoor Sahib, or moved camp to the jungles of Punjab and Rajputana to preserve the heritage of the Guru’s army.
Gurdwara Sohana Sahib Ji located in the Mohali district of Punjab, was built on the shaheedi asthan (place of martrydom) of Baba Hanuman Singh Ji, in memory of a brave leader of the Sikh nation.
Baba Ji lived the life of a true Khalsa, and embodied the teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.