Rangle Sajjan - The imbued ones (2nd Edition)

Translated by: Bh. Jaspinder Singh Jee
Bhai Sahib Bhai Randheer Singh Jee

Chapter 08: Jathedar Bhai Ram Singh Ji (Gujerwal)

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Jathedar Ram Singh Jee was the moving spirit behind the Jatha. From the very conception of Jatha, village Gujerawal, at a distance of three kilometers from Norangwal, was the center of Gurmat Samagams at the residence of Bhai Ram Singh. He was the spokesman of Jatha ideals. Though he was an illiterate person, but he was a dedicated being and always ready for any sacrifice.  He would break the shackles of caste and get individuals of all castes Baptised without any reserve.  He would encourage Sikh marriages, Anand Karaj, without consideration of caste. This was an outstanding service in the cause of faith. In fact he set an early example in the case of his own marriage out of caste and then kept helping others.

This was a period when a very few in Sikh Panth followed high ideals of the Faith like social equality. Most of the preaching remained unpracticed, even though Gujerwal had a branch of Singh Sabha from the very onset of the movement. The old tradition of caste system was still very strong. The general people ridiculed members of the Singh Sabha and opposed them. It was to set a personal example of breaking caste-barrier, that Jathedar Jee got married out of caste following Sikh rites of Anand Karaj. The majority, following the Hindu tradition, was opposed to this marriage and was holding out threat of social boycott of the Jathedar. Bhai Ram Singh came alone to Narangwal and narrated the events to me. This was our first meeting.

Finding Jathedar’s stand based on high principles of Sikh Faith in accordance with Guru’s teachings, I gathered Kirtani jatha and accompanied him to Gujerwal. There the on-going Sehj Patth was nearing completion at his residence.  Kirtan of Asa-Di-Var was performed in high spirits. Bhai Ram Singh Jee and his would-be wife were duly Baptised and Anand Karaj ceremony performed to solemnize the marriage.  After the marriage Bhai Ram Singh himself declared publicly boycott of Hindu-minded village society. He thus broke away from his old brotherhood completely.  He kept relationships and dealings only with Gurusikhs and thus set first example of its kind. All prominent members of Gujerwal Singh Sabha became close associates of Bhai Ram Singh. It was this bold stand that earned him the title of Jathedar and he gained social prominence. Bhai Ram Singh had no fear of any opponent and was always forthright and outspoken. He had an aura of authority about him that commanded respect and fear. Many of those talking big to oppose him, paled away in his presence. He had a strong healthy body all along. After the above Smagam, his face had a special glow and it was almost unbearable to face him. Leaving his old neighborhood, he constructed a new house in an independent open area. There were so many Smagams held at that new place, that Bhai Ram Singh earned the good-will of a large number of people from surrounding villages.  However he maintained his dealings only with like-minded, Baptised Gurusikhs. In those days rare people offered to be baptised. Those who did so, made great gradual progress under leadership of the Jathedar.

Gujerwal is a fairly big village. None of villagers of different beliefs ever dared to create trouble. Nobody could think of betrayal in the garb of Sikh. The non-believers were totally irrelevant.

Bhai Ram Singh was ever ready to make supreme sacrifice in the pursuit of worthy causes in the name of Guru and in light of Guru’s wisdom, Gurmat. His house became hub of Akhand Kirtan Smagams and activities. Very few Singhs in the village shared his Gurumat thoughts. Lying between Phalewal and Narangwal his new house in Gujerwal became the central place for essence of Gurmat. Ah! I still cherish the memory of those times, when many departed past souls renowned in Gurmat, also visited to join the highly surcharged spiritual environment during Smagams at this house. Bhai Ram Singh was a self-cultivator of his land. This produced sufficient income for his sustenance.  During the congregational Samagams there was plenty of Divine help in terms of wealth. There were many Baptising ceremonies held here that defy full description of the spiritual events.

The last Akhand Patth Samagam was held in the absence of Jathedar Ram Singh and that was unique. Bhai Ram Singh was a reservist soldier from one army platoon. During the war all reservists were recalled to serve in the battlefront.  This religious Samagam at his house was reported by unethical C.I.D staff as a political gathering. Bhai Ram Singh being on field service in army remained untouched and unchallenged.  However many of those who attended this Samagam were arrested and sent to jail. While the cases against the arrested persons were going on in the courts, Bhai Ram Singh returned from his field service. The service he rendered to the jailed person with mind, body and wealth resources available is worth writing in Golden letters. In producing defense witnesses and making available all other required help, he kept busy days and nights. He had no personal care or fear doing all that. His elder brother, who was on a visit from America, was also roped in this court case. Jagat Singh had differences and did not have good relationship with Bhai Ram Singh. He did not merit any help, yet Bhai Ram Singh returned ill will with good will. He strived to save Jagat Singh from life imprisonment and got his sentence reduced to few years in Jail. He extended full help to another co-villager, Bhai Surjan Singh. Bibi Joginder Kaur a devout Gursikh, wife of Bhai Surjan Singh received lot of support from him.  He warded off all her troubles in absence of Bhai Surjan Singh.

I can never repay adequately for Bhai Ram Singh’s acts of kindness. I was sentenced to life imprisonment and all my property was forfeited. My wife, Srimati Kartar Kaur Jee was overwhelmed by problems. She was deprived of all belongings and property. Even the articles gifted by her parents were to be auctioned away. Bhai Ram Singh displayed manly courage and took away whatever he could from my house and dispersed such to safe places in Gujerwal and Phalewal just a night before. He kept extending support in many ways in this period of trial that was invaluable. Only a man of his mettle, courage and devotion could do what he did. Narrations of these events by Srimati Kartar Kaur and compliments to Bhai Ram Singh for his selfless and sacrificing deeds of service are most unforgettable. He lived for sixteen years after my release from imprisonment. He was the happiest person out of all my associates and friends on my return home.

There were lots of visitors for many years to our house at Narangwal to meet me after release.  Bhai Ram Singh took all the heavy responsibility to look after the visiting congregations.  His devotion was par excellence. In the surrounding villages Jathedar Ram Singh Jee was most respected and acknowledged figure. He ever remained embodiment of selfless service day and night, without tiring. He was particularly caring for poor and needy and rid them of their troubles and poverty. It was customary for him to carry lot of milk supply on his head to the Gurumat Samagams and personally serve to the holy congregations. He was picture of health and personal strength and bravery. Those visiting from far off places were personally massaged by him in their sleep and never knew about this. Such was the selfless service of love and faith. His life was a tale of such untiring and selfless service and bravery in the mould of olden Gurusikhs. There was never a chance for anyone to serve him. He maintained his daily association with me, coming from Gujerwal to Narangwal. He found it hard to part. Yet when he ended his life sojourn, he did not even give me a hint nor were there any parting words. None could ever guess his untimely departure in view of his fine health. He left many of us to grieve his loss and cherish his memory. This is a brief tribute to his memory.

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