Akalis: a class of fanatics calling themselves Immortals, and who are also known as Govind-sinhis. These are still distinguished by the blue colour of their garments and by carrying steel in the form of the chakar or discus always about their persons. Goroo Govende Singh added to Baba Nanak’s book a millitary code, in which he laid down rules for carrying on war; and he formed a complete military knighthood…’ -’Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society’ (Vol IX) called ‘Civil and Religious Institutions of the Sikhs’. 1848
“When I recall that day, I tremble with the fear of the Doomsday.” “Do not call the dogs (the Sikhs) dogs, because they are lions (and) are courageous like lions in the battlefield. How can a hero, who roars like a lion be called a dog? (Moreover) like lions they spread terror in the field of battle. If you wish to learn the art of war, come face to face with them in the battlefield. They will demonstrate it (art of war) to you in such a way that one and all will shower praise on them. If you wish to learn the science of war, O swordsman, learn from them. They advance at the enemy boldly and come back safely after action. Understand, Singh is their title, a form of address for them. It is not justice to call them dogs; if you do not know Hindustani language, then understand that the word ‘Singh’ means a lion.”Truly, they are lion in battle, and at times of peace, they surpass “Hatim” (in generosity ). When they take the Indian sword in their hands they traverse the country from Hind to Sind. None can stand against them in battle, howsoever strong he may be. When they handle the spear, they shatter the ranks of the enemy. When they raise the heads of their spears towa-rds the sky, they would pierce even through the Caucasus (in the process). When they adjust the strings of the bows, place in them the enemy killing arrows (and) pull the strings to their ears, the body of the enemy begins to shiver with fear. When their battle axes fall upon the armour of their opponents, their armour becomes their coffin. – Qazi Nur Mohammed, a Muslim cleric in the service of Ahmad Shah Abdali, the Emperor of Afghanistan who invaded India numerous times in the mid 1700’s.
“The Sycks are Deists in the strictest sense of the word, and of course, perfectly tolerant and harmless; although as soldiers, they are, like the Marhattas, merciless plunderers, and incessant skirmishers. The ceremony of the reception of a Proselyte consists in no more than these two articles: to put on a short dress, of a blue colour, from head to foot; and to let one’s hair grow from head to foot, without ever cutting or clipping or shaving it. One day I got within one of their temples, invited thereto by the tingling of the cymbals: on appearing within the door, an old venerable man bid me leave my slippers, as none could enter, but bare-footed. This admonition I obeyed, and went into a hall covered with carpets, at the northern part of which, there were several cushions covered with a yellow veil, under which, I was told lay Nanec-Shah’s book, who is their legislator. At the southern end of the hall, there were fifteen or twenty men all in blue, and with long beards, sitting, some armed and some not. At the eastern side, but very near to it, two old men with a small drum and a pair of cymbals, were singing some maxims of morality out of that Book, and this they did with a deal of enthusiasm and contortion. On getting within the hall, I saluted the company, which returned the salute, and returned it again when I came out”. – Mir Ghulam Hussain Khan “The Review of Modern Times” 1763, Translated by M. Raymond 1789.
The Nihang Singhs troops under Akali Phoola Singh and Akali Baba Sadhu Singh were key Generals in the campaigns of the Maharaja, such as those of Kasur (1807), Multan (1818), Kashmir (1819) and Nowshera (1823). In 1818 Maharaja Ranjit Singhs forces surrounded the Afghan impreganable fortress of Multan. Maharaj Ranjt Singh had shoot at the Fortress walls but had not made a breech.
The oral tradition is that Akali Baba Sadhu SinghNihang hand picking Nihang warriors made a fervent dash on one of the walls. He managed to blow open the wall and breech it, killing anyone who dared to face him. Keeping open the breech Akali Nihang Sadhu Singh and the other Nihang Singhs kept the breech open to take the fort.
Henry Thoby Prinsep writes:
While matters continued in this state, an Akalee fanatic, Sadhoo Singh, on the 2d of June, advanced without orders with a few companions, and attacked sword in hand, the Afghans in the Dhool-kot, who, being at the time asleep or negligent, were overpowered. The men in the Sikh trenches, seeing this, advanced simultaneously on the impulse of the moment to support the attack, and the entire outwork was carried with a slaughter of those defending it. Flushed with this success, the assailants attempted the fort, and found ready entrance by the breaches made,- the garrison not expecting assault, nor being prepared for a consistent and determined resistance. The citadel was thus suddenly carried, Mozuffur Khan with his four sons, and household, made a final stand at the door of bis residence, but fell covered with wounds. Two of his sons, Shah Nuwaz Khan and Huq Nuwaz, were also killed on the spot, and a third was left badly wounded. Surfuraz Khan, the fourth, who had been vested by his father with the government under himself, was found in a vault or cellar, and taken prisoner. The citadel was now sacked, and an immense booty fell to the troops engaged in the assault.
This was also noted by Sir Lepel Griffin and other commentators.