Bhai Kartar Singh had gone over to Canada at the early age of seventeen. He was spiritually oriented as a consequence of his previous births. Even in the far off country, Canada, he availed of the holy company of a Gurmukh devout, Bhai Waryam Singh at Vancouver Gurdwara. Thus he retained his religious fervor and practice to be continually in Chardi Kalaa (high spirits)! He took lead in acts of benevolence and religious duty. When the ship Kamagata Maru headed for Canada with hundreds of Sikhs on board, the British government of Canada did not allow the ship to dock ashore. It remained at the high sea for months with all the passengers. Bhai Kartar Singh rendered a unique and tireless service during this period of trial.
He was taking a significant but non-conspicuous part as a member of Vancouver Khalsa Diwan and the Gurdwara. Among the Gursikhs there, he had the best command over the English language. There was a Mr. Hopkinson who got many dedicated Sikhs prosecuted and got them killed under false pretences. Bhai Kartar Singh could argue so well with Hopkinson, that the latter was left speechless. He never hesitated to settle matters with such government agents and informants. He always remained fearless and forthright and never shirked from an opportunity to subdue enemies of the Khalsa. Finally he was arrested and deported to the Punjab along with others. In the Punjab he got prosecuted for some old case in Canada and was also charged in the Third Lahore Conspiracy Case along with Bhai Balwant Singh from Doaba. Both were awarded the death sentence. While five were actually executed, including Bhai Balwant Singh, Bhai Kartar Singh's sentence got reduced to life imprisonment. He joined me in Hazari Bag jail. With the very first meeting we were drawn so near that we remained inseparable. It was a case of long separated souls from previous births that suddenly met in Hazari Bag jail. Through commonness of Gurmat thoughts we soon developed deep love for each other that proved life-long.
He was born in village 'Nawan Chand' in district Ferozepur. There was another well-known freedom fighter by the same name. That was Sardar Kartar Singh Sarabha who was also sentenced to life imprisonment in the First Conspiracy Case. Bhai Kartar Singh had left for Vancouver at an early age. He was engaged to be married before his departure, but he wrote back from Vancouver that he did not intend to get married and the girl should be married off to his brother. This was done. He thus remained single and chaste all his life and a faithful devout. He was always keen to undertake selfless service and was full of love for the country. His natural bent was pure spiritualism in the light of Gurmat. All his service of religious devotion or sacrifice for the country was dedicated to the Guru, without a shadow of selfhood or personal ego. Once we came together, we remained so throughout life to our mutual delight. He got transferred from Hazari Bag jail to Raj Mundri along with me, in Madras state and then again to Nagpur jail. However from Nagpur to Lahore we reached separately one after the other, but did get joined once again. In the book of my autobiography,
'Jail Chithhian', I have written good deal about him.
He could quote a lot of Gurbani from memory. He used to recite Sri Sukhmani Sahib and Sukhmana Sahib to me and while doing so go into trance. He was very well acquainted with my family. He would love my family members and unknown members of the Jatha as if he knew everybody since long. Our common interest in spirituality made our close association very pleasant during the jail period. According to Divine-Will, I was released from Lahore jail in 1930, but he stayed back for many more years. Yet his detention in jail could not hold back his soul that gave me company. Finally he got released from Montgomery jail and joined me in person. He remained under surveillance for some time after release. He was allowed free meetings and permission to visit. He developed strong ties with my nephew, Bhai Sajjan Singh, and his family during this period. He even stayed after full release from jail with Bhai Sajjan Singh in Montgomery like a family member. There was so much of mutual love and trust that Bhai Kartar Singh was given complete responsibility to manage household affairs. From this remote place, he remained united with me in spirit. However when the pull of personal attraction became irresistible, he came to abide with me and forever remained so.
He was on very intimate brotherly relations with prominent members of the Jatha. His contribution in foreign activity was mostly concerned with his thoughts on Gurmat, Guru's teachings. He was an outstanding thinker and writer on religious thought. He was inconspicuous practitioner of Gurmat Naam-meditation. He was enjoying the highest spiritual experiences of 'Dasam Duar' and 'Unhad Shabad', hilarious joy of ceaseless contemplation of Divine-Naam at the highest body-center in human brain, unknown to others. He developed the occult power to know minds of others. However this was all his personal secret. After coming out of jail he took to homeopathic practice free of charge. His treatment of patients was very effective. Whatever cases he handled, those patients were fully cured. He therefore came to be known as Doctor Kartar Singh. He suffered from a whimsical mania occasionally that used to drive him mad. Though he was very successful in homeopathic treatment he also got interested in Greek medication. I used to discourage him strongly so as not to use the recipes of mineral extraction, yet he could never stop. This would turn friends into enemies and enemies into friends for him. However his close friends understood his weakness in him and ignored this wrongdoing. I used to discipline him quite a bit and often stop him from ill-advised activity. He too would listen and obey me.
But for this temporary mania, Bhai Kartar Singh was pure gold and highly influential. He was given to the highest research in spirituality and surprised many advanced Gurmat scholars with his original findings. His acceptance of Divine-Will, patience and thankfulness during his long period of imprisonment was exemplary and unparalleled. Initially he was sentenced to be hanged, but subsequently given life imprisonment. He was completely innocent of the charge for which he was tried and punished. Inspite of his not being guilty, he never thought of himself as free from blame. He mentioned to me that he was guilty of unintended spiritual wrongdoing in this birth and he had to suffer for this in this very life. He had firmly resolved to write religious account of the history of Canada and Kamagata Maru ship near Vancouver that was not permitted ashore. He had just started, when he received the Divine-Call that ended his life at an early age. He had premonition of his death and had disclosed to me well before the event. He said that his life journey could end at an early date. He desired me to be around at his moment of departure, yet he departed unannounced. No sooner the news was received; all his admirers and close associates proceeded to the place of his death. However before our arrival, last rites had been performed. In answering my queries, his relatives also came to believe that he was still in highest spiritual trance and the breath was still held at the Dasam Duar when his body was cremated. They told me that even though they believed he was dead yet the glow on his face was unbearable. Well, Divine-Will was done! While he was gone, rest of us sulked in memory of his virtues. It is not often that such precious, noble souls are born.
Bhai Kartar Singh was rare shining example of a Gursikh who brought the Sikh Nation and Gurmat religion to its highest glory. Whatever life he spent, Bhai Kartar Singh remained above selfish love for worldliness. He will always live in cherished memories of his many close friends and associates. I too miss him a lot, though I still feel his nearness. Many a times his soul has helped me through many problems and provided valuable hints.