Baba Makhan Shah Labana
Renowned Labana Sikh
|Location||North America, Punjab, and other parts of South Asia|
|Language||Labanki, Punjabi and its dialects|
|Religion||Sikhism and Folk Religion|
Labana Sikh is a sub-group of the Sikh ethnoreligious group from the Indian subcontinent. In past, Sikh Labanas engaged in traditional profession of transportation, but mostly became agriculturer and Landlords, with span of time. The large population of Sikh Labanas resides in Punjab Region. Labana is also written as Lobana, Lubana, Lavana.
Influence and Conversions into Sikhism
According to Gurmat Parkash, published by SGPC, Lobana means the one who wear Iron Dress, i.e. Military Dress and people belong to this community served in Guru's army. Guru Nanak met many Lobana Traders during his journey and guided the path of truth. Slowly, Many Labanas started impressed with Gurmat philosophy and became Sikhs. They also visit in different cities and preach Sikhism among other people. Slowly, they started served in Guru's armies and many attained martyrdom in different Battles. They continued to serve during Sikh Empire and adopted Sikh way of life in huge numbers during Sikh Rule and Singh Sabha Movement.
Early Sikh History
In an account of Bhai Bala Janamsakhi, during North Udasi, Nanak met a trader of Salt and guided him to be lowly. Following are some famous Labana people in Sikh History:
- First Sikh Labana recorded in Sikh History was Bhai Mansukh, who came in contact with Guru Nanak, accepted the Sikh thought and preached it around South India and Sri Lanka region. Bhai Mansukh told King Shivnabh about Guru Nanak.
- During Guru Angad times, Bhai Saunde Shah, with Lobana congregation, came to meet Guru Angad dev and bring many commodities on his oxen.
- Baba Dasa Lobana, Father of Makhan Shah Lobana, trade with African region who is believed to be Masand appointed by Guru Ram Das.
- Baba Hasna was a Lobana Sikh who was in charge of transport for carrying items for Langar during time of Guru Arjun Dev.
- Bhai Balu, Bhai Nathia, Bhai Dosa and Bhai Suhela were noted Lobana Sikh soldiers, who sacrificed there lives in battles of Guru Hargobind. Also Baba Takhat Mal Labana was a Hazuri Sewak of Guru Hargobind whom he met in Bajurgwal.
- Bhai Kuram was one more devout Sikh who served Guru Har Rai at Ajitgarh.
- After Guru Harkrishan, the eighth Guru of Sikhism, died in 1664, there was confusion about the identification of his successor. According to Sikh legends, Makhan Shah, a great merchant of the Labana tribe, identified Guru Teg Bahadur as the successor of Guru Harkrishan. Makhan Shah was very helpful to Guru Teg Bahadur during his pontificate. The Labanas participated in battles fought by the tenth Guru.
- Labana Sikhs, with Lakhi Shah Vanjara, also participated in Cremation of Guru Tegh Bahadur.
- Nadu Shah Labana was another devout Sikh who is known for his service of Guru Gobind Singh and Khalsa Army.
- Kushal Singh, Jawahar Singh and Hem Singh were Labana soldiers served in Guru Gobind Singh and sacrificed their lives in Battle of Chamkaur.
Banda Bahadur and Sikh Empire
- As per Prachin Panth Parkash, When Banda Singh Bahadur needs money then a Caravan of Labanas helped them, following is text from same source:
ਨਹੀਂ ਖਰਚ ਅਬ ਹਮਰੇ ਪਾਸ । ਆਵੇ ਖਰਚ ਯੋ ਕਰੀ ਅਰਦਾਸ ।
ਆਏ ਲੁਬਾਣੇ ਲਗ ਗਈ ਲਾਰ। ਦਯੋ ਦਸਵੰਧ ਉਨ ਕਈ ਹਜ਼ਾਰ ।
ਸੋਊ ਬੰਦੇ ਆਈ ਅਗੇ ਧਰਯੋ । ਕਰੇ ਅਰਦਾਸ ਬੰਦੇ ਹੇਠ ਫ਼ਰਯੋ ।
- During the Misl period, the Labanas joined the services of various "Misldars" and served in Bhangi, Ramgarhia and Ahluwalia Misls
- During time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Labanas were recruited into army and proved as good soldiers.
- The Labanas of Lower Indus, Gujranwala and Jhang, settled as cultivators during Sikh rule under Diwan Sawan Mall, and mostly were Sahajdhari Sikhs.
Conversions during British Raj
The Labanas (along with many other groups) saw the highest conversions into Sikhism during 1881–1891. In 1881, population of Labanas was 48489. 69% were Hindus, 25% were Sikhs and 3% were Muslims. In 1921, the population had grown to 56316 Lubanas. The Sikh Labana population rose to 77%, Hindu Labanas were reduced 15% of the population and Muslim Labanas increased to 7%. In this era, many HIndu Labanas were converted to Sikhs under Singh Sabha Lehar. In Punjab, Labanas started leaving merchant work and shifted to agricultural professions which turned them into a landholding community.
According to the census report of 1891, there were 18 thousand Labana Sikhs out of a total population of 56 thousand, and many of them were Sahajdharis or Nanakpanthis.
Originally, Labanas were traders and Carriers and were nomadic, like Banjaras, Lambadis. Since they came in touch with Sikhism, They continued in Animal-Powered transportation and move with entire families, cattle and dogs, around the country. They also engaged in Water Transportation. The famous Sikh is Makhan Shah, who had ships for transportation. Lakhi Shah Vanjara, famous Labana Sikh use Bullocks for Land Transportation during Mughal Rule.
They were employed by various empires for transportation of War material. They served under empires of Mughals, British, Sikhs etc. Due to political disorders, it became difficult for Labanas to continue traditional occupation and began to settled around rivers. During Maharaja Ranjit Singh tenure, they entered into agriculture.
The major setback to their traditional profession is introduction of Motor and railways by British, so there dependence on agriculture increased. For additional Income, they adopted military profession and served in both world wars and got lands and appreciation for their performances.
Notable Sikh Labana personalities
- Makhan Shah Labana: Devout Sikh, who searched Guru Tegh Bahadur and bring it before world.
- Sant Baba Prem Singh: was an important social, political and religious leader of the Labanas, and worked for the uplift of the Labana community, has established Tusi dam which helped in agricultural and social growth near a major area of kapurhala and hoshiarpur
- Bhai Harjinder Singh Srinagar Wale: A prominent Sikh Kirtani from Madi Tanda village, District Gurdaspur
- Bhai Balwinder Singh Rangila: A prominent Sikh Kirtani, from Begowal, Kapurthala.
- Sant Bawa Harnam Singh : was the succeder of the religious infrastructure (dera Sant Baba Prem Singh) established by Sant Baba Prem Singh, Bawa Harnam Singh was an important social, political and religious leader, established schools and colleges
- Sant Bawa Varinder Singh : is an important, a religious leader. Succeder of Dera Sant Baba Prem Singh.
- Major Sardar Singh Pelia : The first Labana to serve in the British army as a Major in the World War II. He also was the Sarpanch of his native village Subhanpur (presently in Punjab,India).
- Lakhi Singh Chaudri : Former MLA from Urmar Tanda. He along with Sant Baba Prem Singh opened many schools in this area.
- Balbir Singh Miani : He is the son of former MLA Lakhi Singh Chaudri and he himself has been an MLA from Tanda Urmar (Near Hoshiarpur,Punjab) and has also been the Education Minister (Punjab) from the Akali Dal Party.
- Jagir Kaur : First woman to be elected for the second time as the president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC),
- Rattan Singh Ajnala: Member of the 15th Lok Sabha of India and represents the Khadoor Sahib constituency of Punjab
- Balwinder Singh Fidda: Also called Fiddu, Rustm-e-Kabaddi, Kabaddi da Betaaz Badshah(Crownless King Of Kabbadi), Bakan Khiladi, Kabaddi Da ladla puttar (Son of Kabaddi), was a great kabaddi player who won the Arjuna Award for the game of Kabaddi
- Giani Chet Singh: Former Jathedar Akal Takhat and former Head Granthi Sach khand Shri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar.
- Volume 3, Page 2, A Glossary of the tribes and castes of the Punjab and North-West frontier. H.A. Rose
- Page 171, THE LUBANAS OF PUNJAB, Kamaljit Singh, Guru Nanak Dev University
- Page 2, Volume 3, A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province. HA Rose
- SGPC Parkash. Gurmat Parkash. SGPC. p. 80.
- Sakhi 72, Bhai Bala Janamsakhi
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- Bhai Bala Janamsakhi
- Mahankosh, Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, Page 949
- Bhai Veer Singh, Asht Gur Chamatkar, Bhag 1, Page 18
- Historian Harpal Singh Kasoor Research on Sikh History of west
- Page 152, Baba Makhan Shah Lubana, Mercantile Press, Harnam Singh
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- Page 833, Bhai Khan Singh, Mahankosh
- Mahankosh, Kahn Singh Nabha, ਰਕਾਬਗੰਜ - rakābaganja - रकाबगंज ਸ਼ਹਨਸ਼ਾਹ ਸ਼ਾਹਜਹਾਂ ਦੇ ਹਮਰਕਾਬ ਰਹਿਣ ਵਾਲਾ ਅਸਤਬਲ ਦਾ ਇੱਕ ਅਹੁਦੇਦਾਰ, ਜਿਸ ਨੇ ਸ਼ਾਹਜਹਾਂਨਾਬਾਦ ਪਾਸ ਇਸ ਨਾਉਂ ਦਾ ਪਿੰਡ ਵਸਾਇਆ। ੨. ਰਕਾਬਗੰਜ ਗ੍ਰਾਮ ਪਾਸ ਸ਼੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਤੇਗਬਹਾਦੁਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਦਾ ਪਵਿਤ੍ਰ ਗੁਰਦ੍ਵਾਰਾ, ਜਿੱਥੇ ਲਬਾਣੇ ਸਿੱਖਾਂ ਨੇ ਗੁਰੂ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਦੇ ਧੜ ਦਾ ਸਸਕਾਰ ਕੀਤਾ. ਸੰਮਤ ੧੭੬੪ (ਸਨ ੧੭੦੭) ਵਿੱਚ ਜਦ ਦਸ਼ਮੇਸ਼ ਦਿੱਲੀ ਪਧਾਰੇ, ਤਦ ਇਸ ਥਾਂ ਮੰਜੀਸਾਹਿਬ ਬਣਵਾਇਆ. ਫੇਰ ਬਘੇਲਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ਨੇ ਸੰਮਤ ੧੮੪੭ (ਸਨ ੧੭੯੦) ਵਿੱਚ ਗੁੰਬਜਦਾਰ ਮੰਦਿਰ ਬਣਵਾਇਆ. ਹੁਣ ਇਹ ਅਸਥਾਨ ਨਵੀਂ ਦਿੱਲੀ ਵਿੱਚ ਗੁਰਦ੍ਵਾਰਾ ਰੋਡ ਤੇ, ਵਡੇ ਸਰਕਾਰੀ ਦਫਤਰ ਪਾਸ ਹੈ. ਦੇਖੋ, ਦਿੱਲੀ ਦਾ ਅੰਗ ੨.
- pp.133-136, Harnam Singh, Lubana Itihas
- Retrieved from Page 7, The Lubanas of Punjab, Kamaljit Singh, Guru Nanak Dev University
- Page 380, Encyclopaedia of Untouchables Ancient, Medieval and Modern, Raj Kumar, Gyan Publishing House
- Punjab di Lobana Biradar, Dr. Jaswant Singh
- Page 55, Sikhs, Atlantic Publishers & Distri
- Transformation of the Sikh Society (Ethene K. Marenco) p. 120
- W. Hunter, The Imperial Gazetter of India, Vol. I, Truber & Co., London 1885, pp.181-82.
- Studies on military transport By George Armand Furse P. 215
- Photographs:Balwinder Singh
- Photographs: Balwinder Singh - Kabaddi.org