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The Robin Hood of Panjab: Dulla Bhatti

"No honorable son of Punjab will ever sell the soil of Punjab"

A true son of Panjab – and again so little known about him. In our smaller Indianized east Panjab, all we do his recall him on Lori and sing a few half memorized lines once a year. Again a true casualty of a divided culture – even the Robin Hood of Panjab cannot rob and give us all our beautiful culture back to us in one shot.

But reading about him can truly give us back a crucial piece of history. This made me ponder and inspire in me the greatest respect for this ‘freedom fighter’. A true warrior, a Sirdar, a Muslim Chief of many villages which he inherited from his rebellious father – being freedom fighter was perhaps in the blood.

According to Ishwar Dayal Gaur, he was "the trendsetter in farmer insurgency in medieval Punjab",

The true Panjabi spirit which I could see in the current farmer’s protest – some of it we owe to the son/robin hood of Panjab.

We have clubbed all Muslims under one Banner which all religious groups do each to the other without true knowledge. Yes, he was a Muslim, a true, proud muslim Panjabi and guess what: He rebelled against the Muslim Mughals and unlike many Rajputs of Jaipur did not make an alliance with them? He rebelled against the ‘foreign rule of the Mughals’ he fought against Akbar like a tiger before even our revered Sikh Gurus.. A true rebel for the betterment and freedom for the rights of the local farmers and citizens of Panjab.

A little family history:

Imagine this great lineage: both his father, Farid, and his grandfather, were executed for opposing the new and centralized land imposed by the Mughal emperor Akbar. Therefore he was born an orphan – born four months after his father, a Muslim Rajput, was martyred,

He was a rebel with a cause, anti-authoritarian, with an inherent problem with the Akbar regime and there foreign, anti-farmer exploitative policies.. Bhatti saw this, says Gaur, as a "farmer’s class war’ against the imperial outsiders. He took from the rich and gave the poor. A great horseman and warrior ; he achieved a legendary status by saving young girls from abduction and being sold as slaves. Like a true large hearted noble at heart he even arranged marriages for them and provided their dowries ( which, by the way, Robin Hood never did).

He imbibed true Panjabi values of equality and freedom and a right to liberty and rights for all.

But when you fight dictators your end is always near.

The government, not unlike many populist leaders of today, hoped to shut his mouth and contain his revolutionary actions and make an example of him with a public execution. Akbar hoped this true Panjabi Lion would shake with fear – but Dulla was unflinching and in 1599 he was hanged in Lahore.

Shah Hussain, his admirer and contemporary, recorded his last words as being:

"No honorable son of Punjab will ever sell the soil of Punjab"

How apt these lines are today – recorded over four hundred years ago – much before the birth of the Khalsa. We have so much to learn from this Muslim Chief proud of his Panjabi heritage and love for the farmers.

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