Kids Corner

Image of the Nishaan Sahib and of Banda Singh Bahadar are details from painting by Kanwar Singh []

Our Heroes

Rabindranath Tagore's Tribute to Banda Singh Bahadar


BANDI BIR - The Captive Hero

from Katha (Legends), 1899


This poem is based on the anthology of the British historian Todd. The facts narrated by Todd have not been distorted in this poem. However, this is one of the poems where Nobel-Laureate Tagore upholds that the seeming defeat of the Sikhs was a victory in the test of history. It as the victory of their spirituality over the brutal force they had to encounter. That is why Sikh ideal survives as a dynamic force, one f the noble heritages that will propel the Indian nation forward. And what happened to the omnipotent rulers (Mughols) who had let the hell oose on this beautiful earth, cultivated cruelty and inhumanity at its highest and appeared invincible? In the words of the Poet - "With blood stained sword in hand, with their bloody look, They hide face in the children's lesson book ..." [Rajat Das Gupta]



On the banks of the five rivers,
Up rise the Sikhs spontaneous;
With hair coiled above their head
Inspired by the Mantra their Guru spread
Fearless and unyielding.....
"Glory to Guruji" - thousands of them
Resound the horizon;
At the rising sun of the dawn
The Sikhs stare with deep emotion
With new awakening.

"Alakha Niranjan!" (means 'Holy Spotless'= God)
The war cry of the rebellion;
Let loose their chilvalry;
On their ribs clank swords luminary;
In wild joy was Punjab's insurrection
"Alakha Niranjan!"

There came a day,
Thousands of hearts were on their way
Without any binding or fear,
Life and death at their feet slaves mere;
There on the banks of those rivers
The tale of that day still shivers.

At the tower of the Delhi palace,
Where the Sikhs are apace -
The Badshajada' s drowsy spell

Time and again they quell;
Whose voices there, the dark sky tear?
Whose torches set the horizon afire?

On the banks of the rivers five,
For supreme sacrifice was their dive,
Unleashed there was the flood
Of the devotee's blood.
From thousands of hearts torn apart
For destination divine in their lark -
The heroes putting their sacred blood mark
On the forehead of their motherland
There around the five rivers so dear and grand.

In the Mughol and Sikh battle
Their embrace to each other throttle
Like the fight between the eagle and snake,
Deep bruise one to the other did make.

In the fierce fight of that day -
In blood craze "Din Din" the Mughols bay,
"Glory to Guruji" - was the Sikh's commotion
In their divine devotion.

At Gurudaspur castle
When Banda was captured amidst all bustle
In the hands of the Turani troop,
As if a lion fettered with his group;
To capital Delhi they were taken,
Alas, at Gurudaspur Banda was beaten!

The Mughol soldiers march ahead,
Kicking up the road dust in sneer,
Hoisting the Sikh's chopped head
At the blade of their spear.
Follow them Sikhs seven hundred,
Tinkles their chain,
Throng people on the road widespread,
Windows open - a glimpse they fain,
"Glory to Guruji", the Sikhs roar,
For fear of life none is sore,
Sikhs with the Mughols to-day,
Stormed the Delhi road all in gay.

Started the scurry,
For lead in the carnage was their hurry;
They line up at the dawn
Defiant till their execution.
"Glory to Guruji" was their slogan
Until they were done.

Thus over a week,
The arena turned bleak;
With seven hundred lives gone -
Upon the martyrs' immortalization.
On the last round of cruelty
Banda was ordered by the Kazi
To kill his own son,
At ease to be done.

In mere teen was the boy,
With hands tied thrown as a toy
Into the lap of Banda and without a word
He drew him close to his heart.
For a while he put his hand on his head,
Just once kissed his turban red.
He then draws his dagger,
Whispers in the child's ear -
"Glory be to Guruji - fear not my son"
A virile in the boy's face did burn -
In his juvenile voice the court did ring
"Glory to Guruji" as he did sing.
With his left hand Banda held the boy,
With right struck the dagger in his ploy,
"Glory be to Guruji", was all he did implore
As he took to the floor.

Silence fell in the court,
Guruji's inspiration still not abort.
Then with tong red hot
Banda's body was pieced apart;
A word of moan he uttered not
And all in calm did he depart.
As stopped his heart throb
Witnesses closed eyes - silence choked pin drop.


May 15, 2010

Conversation about this article

1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), May 15, 2010, 10:14 AM.

Rabindranath Tagore's befitting tribute in his Bengali poem, 'Bandi Bir', eulogizing the great warrior and the faithful 'Banda' of Guru Gobind Singh had such a lightning effect that it became the anthem for the revolutionaries of Bengal during the freedom struggle of India.

2: Irvinder Singh Babra (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), May 15, 2010, 7:13 PM.

When Tagore was a little known poet even in Bengal, Todd and a few other Englishmen, who were well versed in Bengali, are believed to have translated his poems, like this one on Banda Singh Bahadar, and placed them in the Times of London, which shot Tagore into prominence. This was told to me in Calcutta by the family members of the great soul. Thank you, Tagore ji for your tribute; his Bengali original is much more bahadar, powerful, than this one here!

3: Amritpal Singh (Jalandhar,Punjab), May 20, 2010, 2:35 PM.

Rabindranath Tagore was a great personality on the Indian scene. He was a spiritual man who often took inspiration from his visits to the Harmandar Sahib. I have great respect for him.

4: Balwant Singh (Jakarta, Indonesia), February 01, 2011, 6:50 PM.

Great site. We might use the info from your site for the sake of our younger ones in the first Gurmat school we are building in Jakarta -

5: Harvinder Singh Jabbal (Kolkata, Bengal, India), May 21, 2011, 11:51 AM.

The width and depth of Rabindranath Tagore is indeed unbounded. In this year of his 150th Birth Anniversary, he is fondly remembered and celebrated, as he rightly should be.

6: Daljit Sandhu (Canada), May 23, 2011, 6:27 PM.

A great personality, Rabindranath ji! I salute his memory on his 150th anniversary.

7: Rajat Das Gupta (Kolkata, Bengal, India), August 01, 2011, 10:22 AM.

Balwant Singh ji: Thanks for your compliment on my translation of the poem by Tagore, "Bandi Bir". I'll be very happy if you find it somehow useful for your first gurmat school in Jakarta. In fact I have a few more translated works of Tagore as a part of my book "THE ECLIPSED SUN", published in January 2002, an internet edition of which has recently been released from Jakarta, the link of which is: If you open up this link (Click 'Eclipsed' - on opening), in the index of the book you may locate the following captions relating to the Sikhs: A. Under poems group: (1) Bandi Bir, (2) Prarthanatit Dan, (3) Guru Govind. B. Under Essay group: Shivaji and Guru Govind Singh. You may pick up all of the above for your gurmat school, if you find them useful.

8: Dr Baljit Singh (Chandigarh , Punjab), April 19, 2012, 11:46 PM.

There is so much to talk about Rabindranath Tagore. One could also think of his life work as the fundamental rhythm of life and the universe. To my surprise, he was in touch with Punjab and its culture, the translation of Guru Nanak's Aarti in Bangla, writings about Sikhism, Banda Singh Bahadar, etc. I have immense respect for him.

9: Ravi Gursimranjit Singh (India), October 05, 2014, 6:36 AM.

Please help me with the translation of Guru Nanak's Aarti in Bangla by Rabindranath Tagore.

10: Dr Raj Singh (Sehri Khanda, Haryana, India ), June 12, 2015, 8:16 AM.

Banda Singh Bahadur was a great hero. The poem by Rabindra Nath Tagore describes the sacrifice of Banda Singh on 9 June, 1716 at Qutab Minar, Delhi. This poem is a great piece of literature.

11: Anupreet Kaur (Amritsar, Punjab), August 14, 2015, 7:47 AM.

Being such a great personality and a down-to-earth person, I salute his thinking, his unbounded reach of thoughts and ever inspiring literature. Thank you for giving us such wonderful poems.

12: J S Sidhu (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), August 20, 2015, 11:49 PM.

Please get his original Bengali version and then write it in Gurmukhi also, along with this translation!

13: Parminder Singh Manchanda (Guwahati, Assam, India), June 17, 2016, 3:03 PM.

It's an honour that my son Jairaj Kabir Singh Manchanda is to sing the most spectacular poem, 'Bandi Bir' by Rabindranath Tagore at Connaught Circus on June 19, 2016 at 6:30 pm on the eve of the Fateh celebrations of the 300th anniversary commemoration of Baba Banda Singh Bahadar as a tribute. Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

14: Tathagata Roy (Agartala, Tripura, India), May 17, 2017, 11:11 AM.

I have been clamouring for a long time for translation of Tagore's poems eulogising Sikh and other heroes. I am very very happy that 'Bandi Bir' has found its due place among the international Sikh community. Please also translate his poems 'Guru Gobinda' and 'Shesh Shiksha', both abourt Guru Gobind Singh, and another one, whose title I forget, about Bhai Taru Singh, a Sikh martyr. All these poems are to be found in an anthology titled 'Katha o Kahini'.

Comment on "Rabindranath Tagore's Tribute to Banda Singh Bahadar"

To help us distinguish between comments submitted by individuals and those automatically entered by software robots, please complete the following.

Please note: your email address will not be shown on the site, this is for contact and follow-up purposes only. All information will be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy. Sikhchic reserves the right to edit or remove content at any time.