BEDAVA, lit. disclaimer (be=without + dava = claim). The term came to be used by Sikh chroniclers in reference to an episode Kelating to the last days of Guru Gobind Singh *s battle at Anandpur during the winter of 1705. As, in consequence of the protracted siege of Anandpur, hardships of the besieged Sikh garrison increased, a few of the Sikhs wavered in their resolution and asked the Guru`s permission to leave the Fort.
The Guru told them that they could go if they were prepared to disown him. A few of them, it is said, recorded a statement disowning him and left. This statement came to be termed as bedava.As Sikhs who had deserted Guru Gobind Singh reached their homes, their womenfolk charged them with pusillanimity, and chided them for betraying their Guru in the hour of need. They offered to go and take to arms if the men would not rejoin the Guru. One of the ladies, Mai (mother) Bhago, of the village of Jhabal in fact donned a warrior`s dress and weapons and exhorted them to follow her if they had still any sense of honour left.
The men became remorseful. They were preparing to return to the Guru when news spread in the countryside of the evacuation of Anandpur.When they leamt that Guru Gobind Singh had himself survived the holocaust and was reorganizing the Khalsa somewhere in the Malva region, they, at once set out in search of him, Mai Bhago still with them. They caught up with the Guru just when he faced a strong force led by the Mughal faujdar of Sirhind, Wazir Khan, in hot pursuit of him.
They challenged the invading host at Khidrana, now Muktsar, but at that time a small pond, the only water reservoir in that vast desert. They fell fighting almost to a man, but forced the enemy to retreat. See MUKTSAR and CHALIMUKTE.As quiet prevailed over the battlefield at sunset. Guru Gobind Singh came down from the high ground from where he had been raining arrows on the enemy to find all the Sikhs lying dead except one, Mahan Singh, at his last gasp. The Guru sat beside him and.
placing his head on his lap, asked him for his last wish. Mahan Singh`s only desire was that the Guru should annul the bedava he and his companions had written at Anandpur. As if the Guru had anticipated the return of the truants, he had kept that deed of renouncement with him throughout those troublous days and months since leaving Anandpur. He now pulled out of his pocket the bedava and tore it up to the immense satisfaction of Bhai Mahan Singh, who then died in peace.
1. Kuir Singh, Gurbilas Patshahi 10. Patiala, 1968
2. Santokh Singh, Bhai, Sri Gur Pratap Sura/ Granth. Amritsar, 1926-37
3. Macauliffe, Max Arthur, The Sikh Religion. Oxford, 1909