Monday, 17 November 2008 and Bhasauria

Could it not be that the people behind are followers of Bhasauria after this post?
Singh Sabha Bhasaur
Wednesday 21st of February 2007
Dr. Harbans Singh
The Singh Sabha crusade for enlightenment reached its culminating point in a huge Sikh convention held on June 14, 1903, at the village of Bakapur, in Jullundur district. The occasion marked the conversion to Sikhism of Karim Bakhsh, born Muslim, and his family of 4 sons and a daughter. Some Hindus of that village as well as Sikhs from among the audience were also initiated on that day. The ceremony was marked by considerable fanfare. The sponsors were the Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Bhasaur, which, under the leadership of Babu Teja Singh (1867-1933), then a sub-overseer in the Irrigation Department of Patiala state, was very active in purifying Sikh ritual and re-establishing its autonomy.
The Bhasaur Singh Sabha, located in a little village, in Patiala state, was among the more energetic of the Singh Sabhas in those days. The dynamite came from the personality of its secretary, Babu Teja Singh. He possessed a fertile mind and was an untiring campaigner. By his stern resoluteness and limitless capacity for innovation, he brought to the Singh Sabha renaissance a new verve and thrust. He was a puritan of the extremist kind, and a fundamentalist in the interpretation of Sikh principles and tradition. He challenged much of the prevalent Sikh usage.
The Singh Sabha in the village of Bhasaur was established in 1893. This was 20 years after the first Singh Sabha came into existence in Amritsar. Bhai Basawa Singh, known as 'virakt' or recluse, was the first president of the Bhasaur Singh Sabha and Babu Teja Singh was its first secretary. The Bhasaur Singh Sabha was, from the very beginning, forthright in the rejection of caste and Brahmanical customs which had infiltrated into Sikhism. It openly advocated the acceptance back into the Sikh fold of those who had been led into forsaking their faith. It went further and willingly converted members of other faiths who volunteered for initiation.
A Shuddi Sabha had been established by Dr Jai Singh in Lahore on April 17, 1893, with the object of "reclaiming those Sikhs and Hindus who had apostatized themselves by contracting alliances with Muslim men or women." The Bhasaur Singh Sabha was critical of the limited objective of the Shuddi Sabha and questioned its very designation which, it said, was only an imitation of Aarya Samaj vocabulary. From its very inception, it had accepted for conversion Muslims and those from lower Hindu castes. As the records say, at the first annual divan of the Bhausaur Singh Sabha held in 1894, 13 'Jats' 6 'Jhivars' (water-carriers), 2 'barbers', 1 'Khatri' and 1 Musalman (Miran Bakhsh, of Tahsil Garshankar, who became Nihal Singh) were initiated into the Sikh faith. Babu Teja Singh himself published in the press a report of a subsequent year saying: "By the power of the word revealed by the ten masters and in accord with Akalpurakh's wish, the Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Bhasaur, has administered the Gurumantra and holy amrit to a Muslim woman and ushered her into Sodhbans (the family of Guru Gobind Singh). Her Sikh name is Krishan Kaur. A Sikh who had fallen by living with a Muslim woman has been baptized and renamed Ude Singh."
Karim Bakhsh was born of Muslim parents, Nathu and Barsi, at Bakapur, in 1860. He was of a religious turn of mind. This disturbed his family, who, to detract him from his lonely ways, married him when he was barely 12. At the age of 15 Karim Bakhsh's quest for spiritual company took him to a Sikh Saint, Bhai Kahla Singh, of Banga at whose feet he spent 2 years. After Bhai Kahla Singh's death, Karim Bakhsh sought solace in the service of his disciple, Bhai Dula Singh of Thakurwal. For 12 years, he presented himself once every week in the holy sangat at Thakurwal, 32 kilometers away from his village.
Karim Bakhsh spent most of his time reciting Gurbani from memory. He used to welcome the Sikhs with the Khalsa greeting and made regular visits to Amritsar to bathe in the sacred pool. He suffered ostracism and insult at the hands of his coreligionists. Gradually, his wife was also converted to his way of life and, as the report says, he established conjugal relations with her only after he was convinced of her faith in Sikhism.
The story of the Bakapur family reached Bhasaur through Bhai Takht Singh of Ferozepore, pioneer of women's education among Sikhs. This was corroborated by some other members of the Singh Sabha who supplied further details of Karim Bakhsh's interest in Sikhism. The Bhasaur Sabha decided to make its own investigations. Kahla Singh, who made a secret visit to Bakapur, confirmed the story. This led the Sabha to offer to convert the Bakapur family at its annual divan of 1901, but it had to give up the plan owing to the outbreak of plague in the country. In 1902, Maulavi Karim Bakhsh attended the large annual divan of the Sikhs at Bhasaur, but returned empty-handed owing to a controversy that had arisen among them.
The Bhasaur Singh Sabha sent its emissaries - Bhai Teja Singh of Maingan, Sardar Bishan Singh and Bhai Takht Singh - to visit Bakapur by turns and assure Karim Bakhsh that his heart's wish must be fulfilled. Finally, Babu Teja Singh went himself. At Bakapur, he learnt that Maulavi Karim Bakhsh's wife had passed away less than a week earlier and that the last rites had been performed strictly in accordance with the Sikh injunctions. There was the Guru Granth Sahib Ji kept with true reverence in a room in the house and the Sikh kirtan was performed daily.
On return, Babu Teja Singh issued a public notice signifying that a big divan of the Khalsa would be convened in the village of Bakapur on June 13-14, 1903. The letter was sent on behalf of the Bhasaur Singh Sabha to all the leading Sikh societies and individuals inviting them to participate in the proceedings. The letter included a note on the Bakapur family and its zeal for the Sikh faith.
The invitation widely circulated evoked a ready response. On the appointed day, batches of Sikhs converged on Bakapur from places such as Lahore, Amritsar, Gujranwala, Gujjarkhan, Katani, Narangwal and Ludhiana. An elderly uncle of Sardar Sundar Singh Majithia, Baba Hira Singh, led a jatha from the Amritsar Khalsa College. The group included Bhai Jodh Singh (distinguished Sikh theologian and educationist of modern times), who was then a student of the final B.A. class, Tara Singh, who had just joined college and who later became famous as a political leader, and Man Singh, who rose to be the president of the Judicial Committee in Faridkot state.
On the morning of the opening day of the proceedings, Maulavi Karim Bakhsh rose at 2 in the morning, performed his ablutions and came to the site of the divan. He sat in a room rapt in meditation. The Asa-ki-Var was sung after which different jathas took turns at kirtan. They included the Singh Sabha of Gujjarwal, Sardar Basant Singh [Bhai Sahib Bhai Randhir Singh] and Munshi Anup Singh of Narangwal and the Youth Leage of Ludhiana. For a while, a group of women also led the kirtan. Chanting of the sacred shabad went on until it was time for Guru-ka-Langar or community meal. The afternoon divan was addressed by Babu Teja Singh, who explained the purpose of the convention and sought from the audience names of those who would wish to be baptized. First to volunteer was Basant Singh, a former Panjab University student, of the village of Narangwal, in Ludhiana district, who, after initiation, was named Randhir Singh and who became known as a revolutionary and, later, as a saintly personage of much sanctity among the Sikhs.
To conduct the initiation ceremonies the following day, the five Piare designated were Bhai Teja Singh of Rawalpindi, Takht Singh, Zinda Shahid (Living Martyr), of Ferozepur, Bhai Basant Singh of Bappiana (Patiala state), Bhai Sohan Singh of Gujjarkhan and Bhai Amar Singh of Raja Ghuman,. Bhai Jodh Singh was named granthi for the ceremonies.
In all, 35 persons received the Sikh baptism the following morning (June 14). Maulavi Karim Bakhsh, 43, was named Lakhbir Singh after initiation. His 4 sons Rukan Din, 15, Fateh Din, 12, Ghulam Muhammed, 6, and Khair Din, 4, became Matab Singh, Kirpal Singh, Harnam Singh and Gurbakhsh Singh, respectively. His daughter Bibi Nuran, 9, was given the Sikh name of Waryam Kaur. Lakhbir Singh won wide esteem in the Sikh community as Sant (saint) Lakhbir Singh. He migrated to Amritsar, where his daily routine began with a visit to the Golden Temple. He would reach there soon after midnight, before the doors of the Harimandir were opened, and recite the Sukhmani while circumambulating the shrine. His holiness was commonly acknowledged and he counted among his admirers men like Bhai Vir Singh and Sundar Singh Majithia (1872-1941). H is son, Matab Singh, founded a society called Khalsa Baradari and played a pioneer role in the campaign for the reformation of the Sikh sacred places. Matab Singh's son, Gurcharan Singh Sakhi, took his Bachelor's degree at the Khalsa College at Amritsar, and edited, among others, a Sikh religious journal until he died suddenly in the Golden Temple ambulatory in 1973.
The Bakapur divan marked a high point in the Singh Sabha resurgence. It was a visible expression of the new urges which moved the Sikh community at that time. A sweeping religious fervour, a new sense of identity and unity and a decisive breach with the recent past dominated by customs and practices which had no sanction in the tradition were the characteristics of contemporary Sikhism. These dramatically highlighted at Bakapur.
Singh Sabhas were now springing up in all parts of the Punjab, those at Amritsar, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Jullundur, Ludhiana, Ferozepur, Patiala, Nabha, Faridkot, Bagrian, Bhasaur, Kapurthala, and Simla being notably active. To coordinate the work of the Amritsar Singh Sabha and the Lahore Singh Sabha, established by Bhai Gurmukh Singh in 1877, a joint board called the General Sabha was formed. The General Sabha was subsequently replaced by the Khalsa Diwan which was set up at Amritsar in 1883. The lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab and Raja Bikram Singh of Faridkot were its Patrons. Baba Khem Singh was made president and Bhai Gurmukh Singh chief secretary. This Khalsa Diwan became the affiliating centre for all the Singh Sabhas. But owing to differences between Amritsar Singh Sabha and Lahore Singh Sabha brought to a head by the style in which the Amritsar leader, Baba Khem Singh, was apotheosized by his followers, a schism occurred. Bhai Gurmukh Singh and his colleagues established a separate Khalsa Diwan at Lahore in 1886.(Extract from 'Heritage of the Sikhs' by Dr Harbans Singh)

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