TATT KHALSA, lit. the Real or Pure Khalsa, as against the followers of Banda Singh Bahadur who came to be called Bandai Khalsa, was one of the factions in the schism which arose among the Sikhs after the passing away of Guru Gobind Singh. Guru Go bind Singh, while sending Banda Singh to the Punjab in 1708 to lead the Sikhs, had abolished the line of living Gurus bequeathing spiritual guruship to Guru Granth Sahib. Banda Singh in the flush of initial victories made some innovations which appeared heretical to the orthodox Khalsa.

Instead of the Sikh salutation of “Vahiguru JI ka Khalsa, Vahiguru ji ki Fateh” he introduced “Fateh Darshan”; discarding the traditional blue dress of the Khalsa warriors he adopted garments of red colour; and, what hurt the Sikhs most, he allowed his followers to treat him as Guru. Many Sikhs led by the veteran Binod Singh and his son, Kahn Singh, parted company with Banda Singh during his last defensive battle against the imperial army. They called themselves Tatt Khalsa, “ready” Khalsa. Banda Singh was put to death at Delhi in June 1716, but the schism persisted.

With the assassination of Emperor Farrukh Siyar in 1719, persecution of the Sikhs slackened somewhat and they began to gather occasionally at Amritsar.The differences between the two groups increased with the Bandai Khalsa claiming 50 per cent of the | income from offerings at the shrines and the I Tatt Khalsa refuting the claim as entirely ` baseless. When this state of affairs was brought to the notice of Mata Sundari at Delhi, she despatched Bhai Mani Singh with six other Sikhs for the management of the Darbar Sahib at Amritsar, and enjoined that the entire income should be spent on Guru ka Langar.

Matters came to a head on the occasion of Baisakhi in 1721 when the Bandais made fortifications around their camp and prepared for a confrontation.However, on Bhai Mani Singh`s mediation both parties agreed to seek guidance from the Guru. Two slips of paper, one with the words “Vahiguru ji ka Khalsa, Vahiguru ji ki Fateh,” written on it and the other with the words “Fateh Darshan”, were dropped into the sacred pool. Whichever slip came up on the surface first was to indicate the Guru`s verdict. It so happened that the slip Bearing “Vahiguru ji ki Fateh” surfaced first.

Many Bandais bowed their heads and came over to the camp of the Tatt Khalsa, but some questioned the propriety of the procedure adopted. It was then decided to settle the issue through a wrestling bout.The bout was held in front of the Akal Takht between Miri Singh, son of Baba Kahn Singh, leader of the Tatt Khalsa, and Sangat Singh, son of Lahaura Singh Bandai. Miri Singh won and the Tatt Khalsa was again declared the winner.

The bulk of the Bandai Sikhs joined the Tatt Khalsa and a few who remained adamant were driven away. Although the name of the sect, Tatt Khalsa, became redundant thereafter, the words continued to be used especially in the Singh Sabha days, to denote Sikhs fully committed and ever prepared for action in behalf of the community. This was in contrast to dhillar (Sikhs) connoting indolent, passive or ineffectual.

References :

1. Ganda Singh, Life of Banda Singh Ba.ha.dur. Amritsar, 1935
2. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi. 1983
3. Gian Singh, Giani, Pantft Prakash. Delhi, 1880
4. Bhangu, Ratan Singh, Prachin Panth Prakash. Amritsar, 1912