Though Sardar Nidhaan Singh jee had only two hands but he was called “Punj Hath Jarnail” meaning the general with 5 hands. Sher-e-Punjab Raja Ranjit Singh gave him this title after the Nashaura war with the Pathaans.
It was the battle of Nashaura where one of the greatest Sikh leader – Akali Phoola Singh jee attained martyrdom. Akali jee was the Jathedar of Akali army of Khalsa Panth. He was also the Jathedar of Siri Akal Takhat Sahib.
When Akali jee moved forward with handful of his Akali Singhs, despite pleas from Raja Ranjit Singh to stop, the Khalsa army was having hard time standing there watching their Akali brothers fighting the enemy with much greater strength, on their own. Actually Akali jee had performed an ardaas to proceed to the battlefield but right after the ardaas, Raja Ranjit Singh got information from his spy about the real strength of the enemy. Raja Ranjit Singh at that time thought it was more prudent to hold on until more Sikh reinforcement from Lahore. But Akali jee refused to wait as he had performed the ardaas and wanted to honour ardaas at all costs.
Akali jee moved forward without caring for his life. His few thousand men were nowhere near the tens of thousands of enemy army. The Akali Singhs were greatly outnumbered by the enemy but Akali Phoola Singh jee had firm faith in Vaheguru and wanted to fulfil his ardaas at all cost. As they were galloping ahead, the enemy opened fire and the Akalis started falling. The Khalsa army that was waiting for the order of Raja Ranjit Singh, was getting increasingly impatient at the slaughtering of their Akali veers. They were having hard time being mere spectators and getting their brothers slaughtered by the enemy.
As the battle enraged, Raja Ranjit Singh could not hold himself back any longer. He ordered his general, Sardar Nidhaan Singh to move forward behind the Akalis. Sardar Nidhaan Singh jee’s happiness knew no bounds when he got signal from Raja Ranjit Singh to move forward. With full force he moved forward with his brave men. He fell on the enemy like lightening. They successfully opened the enemy encirclement around the Akalis. So strong was their attack that the enemy had to back off.
The enemy soon came back with reinforcement and a fierce battle ensued thereafter. From behind the mountains, the enemy was firing bullets like heavy rainfall. One of the bullets hit Sardar Nidhaan Singh’s horse and his horse died on the spot. Before he could move to a new horse, the enemy from all sides surrounded him and started attacking him. Such moments in battlefields result in sure death but Sardar jee was not an ordinary soldier. He was an amritdhaari tyaar bar tyaar Khalsa of Guru Gobind Singh jee. Before they could kill him, Sardar jee quickly took out his sword to defend himself.
At this time, he was surrounded by dozens of pathaan warriors. We should realize that Pathaans too are very brave soldiers. They are known for their valour. The Singhs were trying to get to their general but he had gone too deep inside the enemy force. Sardar jee fought with such splendid war skills and bravery that the enemy had to take a step back. Raja Ranjit Singh who was watching this fight from a hilltop was very pleased at Sardar jee’s performance.
As he was fighting, five Ghazees (Muslim veteran fighters) challenged him. It seemed that Sardar Nidhaan Singh had taken an embodiment of angel of death for Pathaans. His movements in this battle reflected the Taandav (Taandav is the dance that Shiva is said to perform before destroying the world) of Shiva. Sardar jee with a loud Jaikaara accepted the challenge of 5 Ghazees. The battlefield became still to watch the battle between Sardar jee and the 5 Gaazees.
Sardar jee was blocking their attacks very diligently and swiftly; at the same time attacking them. He killed the first Gaazee and placed his sword near his feet. Then he cut of the wrist of the second gaazee and placed that along with his sword too near the previous sword. This way, Sardar jee seized swords from all Gaazees and martyred all of them.
After killing the 5 great gaazees of Pathaans, Sardar jee challenged other pathaans for fight. No one moved forward. By this time the Khalsa army reached him and he was taken back to a safe spot. Khalsa won this battle but the price it paid was very heavy. Akali Phoola Singh jee attained martyrdom in this battle.
Sardar jee’s status in the Sikh army got elevated greatly after this battle. He was given the title of “Punj Hatha Jarnail” meaning the General with 5 hands.
Today, it is hard to find warriors of Sardar jee’s level. The Khalsa Panth is known for it martial skills and if we lose these skills, I am afraid we will lose our distinctiveness.