Many souls were enjoying the spiritual bliss at Ambala Cantonment. Akhand Patths and Akhand Kirtans were being held with great dedication and Divine-Love in series for long. Sri Babu Mal Singh Jee was serving there in No.36 Rasala and was engaged in enlightenment of many others with Divine-Naam. Another dedicated faithful, Beloved of Guru, Bhai Piara Singh Jee was also stationed there as an officer in another army unit. He too was enjoying delight of intense spirituality. Pull of yearning love, emanating from these two loved ones, had brought here the Jatha, which was embodiment of Soulful Kirtan. These events have been referred in another chapter in detail.
Those days’ Sikh units of cavalry, artillery, infantry, etc., happened to be based at Ambala Cantt. All units had their separate Gurdwaras, Akhand Patths and Akhand Kirtans were being performed in all these Gurdwaras in turn by the Jatha. Many were the miraculous events that took place and many immaculate beings with spirituality of high destiny got revealed and baptised. One such person was Sepoy Arjan Singh, serving in No. 36 Cavalry unit. His youthful appearance had newly growth of beard. In this early age he was thirsting like rain-bird for Divine-Love. Obviously he was a great soul, who had made strivings in spirituality in his previous life. His spiritual craving made him a close follower of the Blissful Kirtani Jatha, in ceaseless pursuit. He was seeking to get baptised at the earliest so as to establish his relationship with Guru as Gursikh and make fast progress towards highest spiritual union. The yearning of his love was limitless, yet the knowing adepts of the Jatha wanted to further heighten this feeling of Love and cement the genuineness. The date of his Baptism got postponed on various Samagams, though he would come prepared every time in anticipation. In his relentless seeking he would ignore freezing cold of winter as also sizzling summer heat. He went around bare-footed as a possessed man and thought only of God-Realization, the ultimate objective. His intense Love would find outlet as free flow of tears. Ready to make the ultimate sacrifice of his head for the sake of Love for the Lord, he presented a rare example among seekers of Baptism of Double-Edged Sword. He had absolutely no hesitation to offer his all, his self and all that he could call his own, in Name of the Guru. His close associates feared that he would abandon all worldly attachments and Government service immediately after Baptism and take to asceticism. He was explained time and again the strict Gurmat discipline and code of living, but his single-minded obsession would accept all. Ultimately his transparent sincerity of purpose moved the hearts of entire holy Sangat and all pleaded for his being Baptised. ‘The Chosen Five’ accepted him. No sooner he received Baptism, his spirit soared to great heights and he went into trance. It was in his state of trance that leaving him to his friends, the Baptizing Jatha took leave.
It is impossible to narrate the yearnings of love that Vir Arjun Singh went through. He could not continue in Government Service for long and left it in spite of the advice offered by Babu Mal Singh Jee and Bhai Piara Singh Jee to the contrary. Arjan Singh was married prior to his Baptism, but he was remarried to his wife according to Anand Karaj Ceremony. Yet Bhai Arjan Singh remained chaste all his life and he was devoid of any inclination for family life. He was ever looking forward to join holy congregations, SatSangat. He went into trance just as soon as he was baptised. His sittings in meditation would continue for hours, unaware of hum-drum of life around. Such was his daily practice, untouched by worldliness. For weeks he would remain in meditation in midst of uninhabited forests, where he would originally proceed to collect firewood for Guru-Ka-Langar. He would lose all self-consciousness to remain in meditational trance. If he got news about Akhand Kirtan by Jatha, he would proceed there directly on foot. He would sit in deep meditation at the place of keeping shoes. He would avail of listening fully to Asa-Di-Var Kirtan. He would then proceed to fetch heavy loads of firewood, carrying on head and feed fuel to the burning hearths with his own hands. He had sweet words for all and the ladies were particularly touched by his words. These strange happenings at such early age were source of real wonderment. Some events of his life, witnessed by Bhai Surjan Singh, are given under.
(a) I met Sant Jee (Bhai Arjun Singh) in 1912, when he was bringing firewood on his head for Guru-Ka-Langar. Earlier Sant Jee had listened to complete recitation of Sri Akhand Patth in one sitting. He had chosen a closet, where none would enter. This was a secluded construction of olden times, where one could neither lie down nor stand up. Sant Jee sat there in meditation and got up only after the Bhog ceremony.
(b) The Second meeting took place during pilgrimage to Sri Nankana Sahib by the Jatha on foot. He had a taborin that he played upon while singing Kirtan. He would sit night long in solitude in forest near Nankana Sahib in deep meditation. In 1915 the entire Jatha was arrested. Sriman Sant Arjun Singh Jee was also called to Khanna Police Station by the police. He was questioned, “Do you know Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh Jee?” He fearlessly replied, “I know him very well. Many times we have recited from Sri Guru Granth Sahib together. In fact the entire creation is acquainted with Sriman Bhai Sahib Jee”. The police tried to get him around by saying, “You turn into prosecution witness and you will be set free.” Sant Jee replied, “Who can ever withhold my freedom? I am ever free.” Police ordered him to remain seated in the station compound. Sant Jee rolled a tree-stump lying near by and ignited it to provide heat and kept a pitcher of water for use. He had a steel bowl with him already. He took his position near the fire and was lost in meditation. He would put some ash of the stump in the bowl after five or six hours interval and drink it mixing with water. He remained seated thus for five or six days. All the policemen shivered in fear of the holy and regretted their action for getting on his wrong side. Fearing wrath of the godly person, all the policemen including officer- in-charge stood before him with folded-hands in apology, saying, “Sant Jee, please pardon our wrong-doing. We wrongly held you here.” They made offerings of sweets and fruits. Sant Jee would not even look at them and remained self-engrossed. While the policemen were anxious to get rid of him, he was lost in deep meditation. He was not paying any heed to their remorseful words. Finally they brought a prominent Gursikh from Khanna. After great persuasion Sant Jee came out of the trance. He then enquired, “What have you to say?” The policemen pleaded, “Please grant us forgiveness. We wrongly held you here.” Sant Jee enquired, “Do I need to come back here?” They promptly replied, “We shall never call you again.” Sant Jee got out of the Police Station and left for a place of his own choice.
(c) During Akali agitation to gain control of Sri Harmandar Sahib at Sri Amritsar, the keys were in possession of the Deputy Commissioner. Sant Arjan Singh Jee walked straight into his official residence and confronted him saying, “Who are you to hold keys of Sri Darbar Sahib?” D.C. got flabbergasted with this courageous challenge to his authority. Sant Jee had the look of an ascetic. He had a shawl on his head for turban and was bare-footed. Meanwhile Police force arrived and took Sant Jee by the arm, leaving him outside D.C.’s residence. They explained to D.C that, “He is just way-ward person. It would be of no use arresting him.” Those days Guru Panth was engaged in taking control of their holy Gurdwaras in view of the corrupt practices of priests. Sriman Sant Arjan Singh extended his full support. During agitation for Gurdwara GangSar at Jaito, he joined the Jatha of 500 Singhs to enter the Gurdwara. Many of the Jatha were shot dead and the remaining were confined in the fort at Jaito. Thus Sant Jee was arrested and remained in Nabha Jail for two years. After his release he roamed about in Patiala area. He narrated his self-experience of those times thus:
“I had wandered to a village near Ropar and stayed at a Gurdwara. I started feeling pull of a yearning soul, making me restless due to inner goading. I was contemplating about this strange phenomenon. It was 10:00 PM when my restlessness became unbearable. I had a small wound on one foot. I experienced that if I proceeded northward, pain would increase and if the direction was changed to South, the pain would subside. I started running southward and kept running whole night. I stopped at the door of one house in a village early in the morning. I could not proceed further and knocked at the door. The door was opened and I entered. Just as I entered, a young lady fell flat on my feet and became unconscious. I then understood that this Bibi had exerted the spiritual pull. Her fall generated tingling sensation in my body, causing intoxication. I too dropped to the ground unconscious. I do not know how long we remained unconscious on the ground. A person put us in separate beds. This feeling of intoxication persisted for long. This village was named Kalaur and Bibi was niece of Giani Gurbakhsh Singh ‘Bhadal’. She was married to S. Mehar Singh of the village, who was an official of Patiala state. This Bibi had put milk in two glasses and left these on a table. She then resolved in her mind that she would take milk only after Sant Arjun Singh took the other glass. With this resolution, she sat in deep meditation early morning. Her miraculous pull brought me there to partake milk.”
(d) I happened to go to Rajpura once. I overheard two persons talking about an ascetic performing penance in the area of their village ‘Pilkani’. I enquired whether the ascetic was in Safforan robes or a Sikh. They replied he wears shawl and Sikh-type breeches, ‘Kachhera’. I decided to have a glimpse of the Saint. In my search, I came into a forestland with thick wild growth. I stopped at a straw-hut at a distance, with variety of flowers planted around. I approached the hut, removing my shoes outside and walked noiselessly towards the entrance. There I could see Sant Arjan Singh facing away from the entrance and entry was blocked with heavy thorny branches. Thinking that he was in meditation, I sat outside the hut in wait. After few minutes he came out and embraced me affectionately. He assured me that thorny blocking did not apply to me but was meant to keep out unwelcome intruders, who kept pestering. He offered to construct another hut for me and thus give him company. I agreed. Both of us then were living in the forest. We would rise at 1:00 AM and after our ablutions sit in our separate huts for meditation. Sri Guru Granth was enshrined in Sant Jee’s hut at a higher level while he rested on the floor. One night I heard loud pleading by Sant Jee at 2:00 A.M, “I do not need these commodities. I seek only Divine-Vision.” I enquired what it was about. He explained, “I have been instilled with all kinds of Gifts- Divine. The occult powers of Ridhis and Sidhis have entered within me. I am praying that all these may be taken away from me, yet these are being thrust on me. This is the problem I am facing.” I could only say that understanding of such matters was beyond my comprehension, which remained to be sorted out by Sant Jee alone. He had on-going recitation of Sampat Patth to be completed in a period of five and half months. On completion of this and Bhog ceremony I returned to my village Gujerwal.
(e) There is a village near Rajpura, named Uksee, where Sant Jee performed penance. I had been there to see him. Away from the village, Sant Jee constructed his straw-hut and sat there for his meditations. He would remain engrossed in Divine-Naam all the twenty- four hours. One Bibi used to bring hot water for Sant Jee’s bath at 2:00 A.M. daily from the village. She would bring food for him in daytime. Thus she served him whole-heartedly. One day a slanderer aroused anger of her father with falsehood of slander. In his fury, the father kicked Bibi in her side and she fell unconscious. The next day the leg that had kicked her developed pain. In matter of a few days it got infected with worms. Many persons carried Bibi’s father to Sant Jee and pleaded for forgiveness. Sant Jee was unaware of the story behind this. Bibi had never mentioned this to Sant Jee. He told people that this affliction was not due to his curse but a case of Divine punishment and Lord only knew about it. Finally man died of this affliction. Sant Jee left the place after some time.
(f) He then came to Nand Pur Kalaur, where Nineth Guru had visited. He told the priest and priestess that they were to hand over the historic Gurdwara to the local committee. They agreed. A village Committee was formed and Sant Jee served personally in Gurdwara. I paid a visit there. Sant Kartar Singh was then appointed to serve in Gurdwara. He was running Guru-Ka-Langar with self-cultivation of land and devoted fully to the service. After his demise, Sant Jawala Singh is currently incharge of the service and is a great devotee of Gurumat Naam.
(g) Sant Arjan Singh Jee then moved over to Gurdwara ‘Dukh Niwaran’ Patiala. Here also Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib had visited. Maharaja Patiala Bhupinder Singh was against construction of this Gurdwara, yet Sant Arjan Singh and ‘Nihang Singh’ Ram Singh Jee started the construction work. A lot of work was completed during lifetime of Sant Arjan Singh. While engaged in this holy service, he left for Abode-Eternal, ending his life-sojourn.
(Narrated by Surjan Singh)
Bhai Arjan Singh performed highly dedicated service at the four historic Gurdwaras, which will be remembered forever. After my imprisonment, he came in contact with Gurumukh, S. Gurdit Singh ‘Magistrate’, a great devotee of The House of Guru. This appeared to be an act of Divine-Will. S. Gurdit Singh had come to inherit Divine- Love through his family and was the very personification of dedicated Love. He had great inclination for research of historic Gurdwaras. This got further boost when he came in contact with Sant Arjan Singh. They both started devoting their energies for this cause. Magistrate S. Gurdit Singh was an official of Patiala State. He started his research work in the state. He was always looking for old records referring to old history. These two persons commenced their work with prayer to The Lord. They came to know of a Muslim family in the state, who were engaged in profession of record-keepers of land generation after generation. Contacting the current records-keeper, ‘Patwari’ of this family, they searched through old records, held since long. It was through Divine-Blessing, that they could find four land-demise papers written in Gurumukhi Script pertaining to the period of Guru Teg Bahadur Jee. These were preserved in a tin container and thus saved from deterioration. On examining these, they were thrilled beyond measure. These pertained to the unknown, uncharted Gurdwaras of the Nineth Guru:
Gurdwara Sahib Nandpur Kalaur
Gurdwara Nathana Sahib
Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib
Gurdwara Muktsar Sahib
With discovery of this information the two devout Gursikhs got into their service work with rare dedication. Dear, S. Gurdit Singh soon left for Abode-Divine, yet high spirits of Sant Arjan Singh never got dimmed. He kept up his yeomanly service at Nandpur Kalaur. The hidden seat for enshrining Sri Guru Granth Sahib, according to the demise papers was located deep below. Some rivulet had made its course over the place and it had stagnant water around that made the place very muddy. Sant Arjan Singh Jee called for Volunteer-Service to fill up the place with earth and started leading the service. He carried basketful loads of earth on his head. His efforts bore fruit. Hundreds of cart-loads of earth filled up the place. Gurdwara’s new construction was now on quite a raised ground. The old seat after excavation is located below at lower ground and is in good shape. The new building is beautifully built on a large scale. Landed property was attached to the Gurdwara. Sant Jee took pains and moved the officials to form a local Gurdwara committee and handed over control of the Gurdwara to the Committee. This system is still working.
After successful completion of his task at Gurdwara Sahib Nandpur, he moved to the service at Nathana and then on to ‘Dukh Niwaran Gurdwara Sahib’. He started locating the place as per the gathered record, ‘Patta’. I here refer to my own experience and happening in this context.
Before my imprisonment, I used to visit my dear friend, Gurumukh Sri Bhai (Late) Joginder Singh Jee, every year at Patiala; I would stay with him for weeks together, sharing our personal thoughts. It was in 1913 that we were walking along the canal away from city and I felt the urge to ease myself before evening prayers, Rehras. Bhai Joginder Singh Jee proposed to head towards a thick forest on right side of the canal. At a little distance we noticed a large Bunyan tree with very inviting cool shade. It occurred to us to sit in meditation there for a while. However we got so engrossed, that we did not feel like leaving the place. Thus we remained till it was time for Rehras. We lost the urge to ease ourselves, the purpose we had set for. Bhai Joginder Singh Jee was adept in interpreting Divine hints and concluded that the place must be related to some special past spiritual events. Lehal village was nearby. He gathered three very elderly persons of the village, who were beyond the age of eighty. They were requested to narrate any special occurrences pertaining to the Banyan tree. They told us that the near by pond is known as ‘Pond of the Akalis’ and is blessed with special healing powers. Irrespective of age or Faith, all persons hold the pond as very holy. We have personal knowledge that newly born anemic babies from Hindu and Muslim families got healed to glowing health with Nectarine water of this pond. This panacea is also efficacious in the case of sick animals that have been getting restored to normal health with sprinklings from the pond. On every fifth day of the waxing moon period many pilgrims of all Faiths from distant places come here for fulfilment of their cherished wishes. We have been witnessing these Divine-Miracles throughout our lives. However this place had not yet attained its due recognition.
After listening to villagers, Bhai Joginder Singh Jee brought few other Singhs for a prayer by Five Singhs, ‘Ardasa’ in the ordained manner. The prayer was to ask for Divine-Boon to reveal the true history of the place. This was done with utmost religious fervor and reverence. I returned home after this. With changing times and Divine-Will I was imprisoned in Jail dungeons. The ‘Pattas’ were discovered by Magistrate S. Gurdit Singh and Sant Arjan Singh in 1927-28, as narrated earlier. This proved to be the place where Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib had visited. I cannot reproduce the full text of the ‘Patta’, but the salient features were as follows:
-Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib had rested for some time under the Banyan tree on his way to Delhi.
-There is reference to the miraculous power of ‘The pond of Akalis’.
-There was a prediction that in times to come a great city would flourish in the area. (Patiala city was not in existence then)
-The pond would be transformed into a large, beautiful tank.
-Many would get healed of their afflictions on bathing here. A majestic Gurdwara Sahib building would be constructed.
When Sant Bhai Arjan Singh Jee came to see Bhai Joginder Singh at Patiala and showed him the discovered records, Bhai Joginder Singh was extremely thrilled. He was filled with gratitude to the Lord for having granted our prayer in 1913. Though a State-official, yet he always had close relationship with Gurumukh Spiritualists. Sant Arjan Singh was his associate since long and was engaged in service to Gurdwaras with promptings-divine. With Bhai Joginder Singh as his help-mate, he became still more enthusiastic. They got into the job with full earnestness. Sant Jee remained engrossed in meditation day and night for months together. He remained lost in deep meditation at the forlorn place with his bare body, come winter or summer. Such was the auspicious effect of his penance, that the place acquired fame. S. Atma Singh, nephew of Bhai Joginder Singh, also joined the project. As an engineer, S. Atma Singh produced a map of marvelous architecture for the Gurdwara Shaib building. It appeared that Hand- Divine was behind this. The map covered quite a few acres of surrounding land. This was occupied fearlessly by the dedicated workers. When I got released from Jail in 1930, Bhai Joginder Singh Jee took me to Patiala. That is the first time I got the news of Divine- Acceptance of our prayer. He showed me the work in progress. Akhand Kirtan Samagams were held at the place and first Sri Akhand Patth by the Jatha performed most enthusiastically with great devotion. Jathedar Bhai Ram Singh of Budha Dal also joined bringing Singhs of his Jatha. He too became a keen help-mate of Sant Arjan Singh Jee. With ceaseless efforts of these two renowned persons for selfless service and dedication, Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib acquired high acclaim and fame. Main hurdle was opposition by Late Maharaja Bhupinder Singh in the place becoming a Panthic center of activity. However his opposition only furthered the glory of the Gurdwara Sahib at an astonishing pace. Maharaja transferred S. Atma Singh, Engineer to a far off place from Patiala, yet he kept guiding the project secretly. The building got fully constructed in accordance with the designed map. When we reached there for the Akhand Kirtan and Akhand Patth Samagam, Sant Arjan Singh was there in the garb of a recluse. He joined us in Kirtan. When I noticed him in that garb, I chided him quite a bit, “How dare you put on this funny garb as a Gursikh?” He immediately removed his outer garb that was only a cloak for his inner wear of Khalsa insignia and thus proved his abiding Faith as a Gursikh. He told me smilingly, “With blessings of this garb, constant offerings of money keep pouring for Gurdwara Sahib. If you permit, I may keep this cloak over my dress of Five Kakkars.” I was pleased to give my consent. He had barely put on the garb again, when two queens from Royal Palace arrived in great devotion. Both made offerings of Rupees five hundred each for Gurdwara Shaib to Sant Jee. Everybody around had a good laugh. Within hearing of the queens Sant Jee commented. “This is magic of the holy garb. The worldly Rajas, Ranis and other moneyed people are impressed by holy garb alone. They make handsome offerings and I keep dedicating it all to service of the Guru.”
Sant Jee got busy in construction of the tank, Sarovar, sides. I went around the wondrous sight of Gurdwara Sahib to my great delight. However I was saddened to see great Banyan tree reduced to a mere stump. All the top branches and their vast expanse were gone. The memorable ‘Patta’ was reproduced on fixed board there. This truly was satisfying and pleasing. Charged with these emotions I held dear Vir, Sant Arjan Singh Jee in tight embrace. He being a man of great humility said, “It is all Blessing of Guru Sahib. This is made possible by the generous and untiring service of ‘Gurmukh Sangat’, congregations of holies. What can a poor non-entity person like me do by myself?” Full of gratitude to Divine-Power, he let his emotions flow freely in form of uncontrolled tears. Humility of spirit filled all his being. He never relished the title of ‘Sant’ that people bestowed upon him. He led all his life in spirit of poverty. It is very rare to find chaste and righteous being in the mould of Vir Arjan Singh.
Once a person given to jesting and practical joking engaged innocent being, Sant Arjan Singh, in talk at Ambala. Keeping him busied in talk, he led him to the area of prostitutes. All the prostitutes gathered around and tried to incite passion and seduce young Bhai Arjan Singh Jee. Finding himself thus entrapped, he got infuriated and in Divine fervor, he sang Gurbani Shabad in loud voice with heart-rending emotion. All the prostitutes were shaken into realization of their sinful lowliness. They now pleaded with Sant Jee, “O’ Beloved of Guru Nanak, Gurumukh Sant Jee! Please pray to the Lord for our emancipation too. We promise to give up our way of sinful living.” Sant Jee came out of the place saying, “All shall have to get baptised. Redemption lies only in Naam-Devotion.” They followed him with remorseful pleadings out into bazaar, but Sant Jee could dodge away from them. Many ladies in Patiala city worshipped Sant Jee for his holy garb and high spirituality. However Sant Jee kept all at a distance with his aloofness of spirit and never allowed touching of his feet. They used to lie prostrate at a distance to receive his words of solace according to Gurumat teachings. In spite of his best efforts, some would still manage to fall at his feet in his state of self-engrossed meditation. Sant Jee came to curse his own feet and towards his end suffered acutely due to affliction of his feet. He would smilingly comment, “I never regarded my feet as my own.” Yet he remained wary and shunning those touching his feet and inflicted a curse on his own limbs. May Guru Bless all guided by Godly dispensation!
He died young and yet his life set an excellent role model of Gursikhi. He had willed that his last rites should not be performed within the premises of Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib lest some persons set up a memorial and start worship against Gurmat tenets. However a good number of people wanted to cremate his body within the holy premises. A Divine-Provision was made to fulfil his last desire in keeping with Gurmat! The manager of Dukh Niwaran Sahib, Sardar Nirmal Singh, refused permission, against popular demand. Shortly thereafter I happened to visit there and asked the Manager about his reason for turning down popular demand for cremation of Sant Jee within premises of holy Shrine. He explained that it was to obviate chances of constructing memorial and its worship against Gurumat tenets. I appreciated this view and praised him for thus upholding Vir Sant Arjan Singh’s will. I prayed for Satguru’s Blessings for his Gurumat stand, but knew that people were alienated due to this decision and angered.
Sardar Nirmal Singh soon lost his well-paid job. Thereafter he could not find a good post and high salary, but wherever he worked he maintained uprightness of high principles. Such people are rare and Divinely Blessed, as it is not easy to oppose popular view to maintain high standard of following Gurumat in real life without Grace of Satguru.