The artist in his painting has depicted the first peaceful freedom movement led in 19th century by Namdhari Guru Ram Singh (1816-1885) and also major events happened during the movement.
The painting is tribute to Namdhari Guru Ram Singh and Tuk from Gurubani :- “ XzB ihU fsj e' ir w?, w[y s/ jfo fuZs w? i[X[ fpuko?. “
Meaning” Blessed are the people who always remember God and are ready to fight for good cause.”
Baba Ram Singh belonged to Ramgharia family and was gunner in Sikh Regiment of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. After the defeat of Sikh army in battle of Mudki in 1845, he came back to his native village Bhaini , Distt., Ludhiana and started preaching.
He started peaceful independence and non-co-operation movement to force British to leave India and also wanted reforms of ‘Mahants and priests’. He preached ‘worship of eternal God, giving up eating of meat, keeping away from intoxicants, no dowry in marriages, marriage at one place to reduce expenditure, widow remarriage etc. Shortly, thousands became his followers. He came to known as ‘Namdhari’.
With these reforms, he led movement to boycott the system from where British earn revenue and stressed to increase in indigenous way to develop own systems. Namdharis boycotted British post, railway, judicial system and established local system of post, travel, transport and panchayat to settle various issues. They also boycotted imported goods including clothes and use local made items. His movement spread very fast and British rulers became furious. Namdharis were canned and sent to jail but they remain peaceful. Namdharis did peaceful protests to free prisoners from jails.
Under divide and rule policy, the open permission for slaughter of cows in the Punjab given to the Muslims in 1870 by the British was resented bitterly by all sections of the non-Muslim population. Cow-slaughter in Amritsar was banned during Sikh rule. Desecration of the Golden Temple and other Gurudwaras had already led to the sacrifice of Namdhari Sikhs in 1871– hanged without trial in Amristar, Ludhiana & Raikot.
In Malerkotla, the Namdhari Sikhs could not control themselves and on 13 Jan. 1872, about 150 Namdhari Sikhs proceeded to Kotla to avenge the wrong done of cow-slaughter. . Fighting took place between the Sikhs and Malerkotla officials and many lives were lost. The Namdhari Sikhs voluntarily surrendered themselves to the authorities. The DC, Ludhiana. Mr. Cowan ordered that the Namdhari Sikhs be brought before him and ordered that they be blown to bits without any trial. On 17 Jan.1872, 49 Namdhari Sikhs were blown away with cannon guns. 12 yrs old Master Bishan Singh was 50th. Namdhari Sikh 12 yrs old Master Bishan Singh was 50th. Namdhari Sikh martyr,who grabbed hold of Cowen's beard and did not let go till he was chopped to bits. This is also shown in painting. Next day, further 16 Namdhari Sikhs were blown to their deaths.
The British seized this opportunity to arrest Satguru Ram Singh and many of his subas. They were put under arrest on the night of 17 Jan. 1872 and next day taken to Allahabad. No trial against Satguru Ji took place. Satguru Ram Singh was exiled to Rangoon( Burma) in March 1872. He left heavenly abode in 29-11-1885 in jail of Margee Island.
Mahatama Gandhi in a speech in 1930 said he has followed peaceful freedom and non co-operation movement of India started by Namdhari Guru Ram Singh.