The founder of the Sant Nirankari Mission, Baba Buta Singh Ji was born in the year 1873 at Village Headwal, Distt. Kaimalpur (Pakistan) in the family of Shri Vishan Singh Ji and Smt. Mayawanti Ji. He had spiritual leaning from the very childhood and had developed a special aptitude for reciting Gurbani (holy verses from the Adi Granth). A good orator on Gurbani, he was equally sincere and serious in understanding the same. This trait helped paving his way to reach and realise the Truth. It is said that whenever he used to recite Gurbani or sing the same, he would be so lost in it as to forget even his physical self. He was so clear headed and strong-minded in his concepts that nobody could utter even a single word to negate his view point.
One day, while singing, he repeated the following line four times:-
"MOHAN GHAR AAVO, HAUN KARON JODARIYA"
(O Lord, come home, I humbly entreat.)
Those sitting in the congregation were enjoying the delightful recitation. One of them, Bhai Sahib Kahan Singh Ji, who was also listening to Baba Buta Singh Ji with rapt attention, noted the repetition of the above line. After the programme, he could not resist approaching Baba Buta Singh Ji. He asked him politely, "Bhai Buta Singh Ji, where is your Mohan (Lord) whom you want to meet?" and added hastily, " First know Him, otherwise your calling Him will have no effect." These words had a piercing effect on Baba Buta Singh Ji. He clearly understood that the person did possess some spiritual secret. He followed him for knowing the Truth. Bhai Sahib Kahan Singh Ji tried to put him off, but ultimately he had to yield to the former's humility and strong urge to know the Secret, but with a suggestion that he would not share it further with any one. Baba Buta Singh Ji pleaded humbly," Kindly don't impose any restrictions. The world is as thirsty as I am. People are suffering badly for want of God-knowledge. Let there be no conditions." Bhai Sahib Kahan Singh Ji explained that Truth is never accepted by the world readily. Intoxicated by materialism and afflicted by pride, it would not listen to a devotee of God and believe him without reluctance. There would be criticism, there would be opposition, there would be resistance. Vested interests would always create hurdles in the path of Truth. He, however, appreciated the keenness on the part of Baba Buta Singh Ji and revealed the Secret with a practical hint. To his utmost delight, Baba Buta Singh Ji found himself surrounded by the omnipresent God. 'Mohan' did come 'home'!
At the time of receiving Brahm Gyan or God Knowledge, Baba Buta Singh Ji was 40 years old. For about 15 years he remained quiet, assimilating what he had come to know from Bhai Sahib Kahan Singh Ji and comparing it with the vast knowledge of Gurbani he had. Thereafter Baba Buta Singh Ji started revealing the Divine Secret to whosoever was found interested. The approach was, of course, cautious and selective.
Baba Buta Singh Ji and his esteemed wife had a simple life having not many demands. They had no children. Future, therefore, was never a cause of worry for the couple. Even otherwise, being a staunch devotee of God, Baba Buta Singh Ji would not like to think of worldly requirements beyond what was necessary for 'present'. For livelihood, he depended on his skill of tattooing. It enabled him not only to maintain the small family, but also to serve his guests, mostly the God-loving people.
Baba Buta Singh Ji would spend most of his time in discussing spiritualism with friends and other acquaintances. He would not mind even visiting them. Those who had the occasion to meet him bear witness to the fact that he had to labour hard and even face trouble while trying to convince people that whatever he sought to convey was reality, the Truth. It is said that he had a providential escape when somebody tried to kill him by poison. Baba Buta Singh Ji was, however, always kind and forgave his opponents and the critics.
The Sant Nirankari Mission had its formal beginning in May, 1929, when Baba Avtar Singh Ji received God-Knowledge from Baba Buta Singh Ji and joined him in taking the spiritual light to as many people as possible. The two formed a spirited team until Baba Buta Singh Ji breathed his last in 1943 and the Satguru manifested himself in Baba Avtar Singh Ji.
Baba Avtar Singh Ji was born in a small village named Latifal in Jhelum District (Pakistan) on December 31st, 1899 in the family of Shri Mukha Singh Ji and Smt. Narayani Devi Ji. He was being brought up with due affection and indulgence, but when he was just 6 years, his father fell ill and breathed his last. This untimely loss was a big jolt to the family. The burden of looking after the family fell on Mata Narayani's shoulders. The boy Avtar was entrusted to the care of Shri Nand Lal, a local priest, for education as there was no school in the village. In a short span of time he was able to study scriptures. Avtar proved to be extraordinarily intelligent and always spoke sweet language.
Family hardships made Avtar very strong and determined. He was on the look out for some job to earn livelihood. Once his maternal uncle came from Rawalpindi and Avtar, who was about 12 years old, also accompanied him to Rawalpindi. This was a step that marked the beginning of Avtar's life of determination and firm faith in goodness. In Rawalpindi, Avtar worked as domestic servant and also as a porter at railway station. There, he incidentally came in contact with Seth Sawan Mal, who had a Bakery. Impressed by his integrity and hard work, Seth Sawan Mal employed Avtar in his bakery and eventually handed over the whole unit to him. While showing due progress in the business and devotion to worship, he also got linked in the rising surge for the freedom of his country. He participated in a procession related to freedom movement in Amritsar in 1919. In the mean time, there was an Akali Movement and Avtar was sent as a leading member of the morcha at Jaiton, which led him to jail. While in jail he had an urge to know the self. He used to devote spare time in meditation. On being relieved from jail after two and a half years, he was a changed man. Quest for truth made him restless. Meanwhile, he was married to Budhwanti Ji.
Baba Avtar Singh Ji recited Gurbani regularly. Impressed by his interest, Dhanna Singh who used to supply milk at the bakery persuaded him to meet Baba Buta Singh Ji. And the holy meeting took place on the 25th of May, 1929. Baba Buta Singh Ji found him so keen to know the Truth that he revealed God-Knowledge to him instantaneously. Baba Avtar Singh Ji felt fully convinced of the Reality. Ecstasy took hold of him and he was all praise for the Master and Nirankar, the Formless God all around. He surrendered himself completely to Baba Buta Singh Ji and said that hereafter his life would be the same as Baba Buta Singh Ji would like it to be. He declared that he had found his destiny at the holy feet of Baba Buta Singh Ji. Baba Buta Singh Ji was also happy because he found in Baba Avtar Singh Ji the kind of devotee he had been looking for since long, a person who would surrender his body, mind and material assets at the altar of divinity and take the spiritual light to the masses and share the eternal bliss with those who were otherwise fumbling in the darkness of ignorance. So, both Baba Buta Singh Ji and Baba Avtar Singh Ji worked together and the movement gathered momentum. As expected, they faced a lot of opposition from the orthodox elements, but this failed to deter them from the path of truth. The two were together for about 14 years. On many occasions, Baba Avtar Singh Ji's honesty, sincerity, devotion and dedication towards his True Master and the Almighty was put to test. Every time, he proved upto the mark and won praise from the True Master.
Before Baba Buta Singh Ji breathed his last at Murree in 1943, he removed the white scarf from around his own neck and put it around Baba Avtar Singh Ji's neck, indicating that hereafter he would like Baba Avtar Singh Ji to head the Mission. He, however, told him in the presence of other devotees, "This white scarf may not be taken as a sign of decoration. It is a chain of sharp razors. If you keep your neck straight, the razors will not cause any harm, but as soon as you turn your neck, it would be suicidal." Baba Avtar Singh Ji bowed his head at the feet of Baba Buta Singh Ji and accepted his command. He knew that what he meant was not to divert his attention from the path of Truth at any time and under any circumstances thereafter.
Baba Avtar Singh Ji succeeded Baba Buta Singh Ji and preached the divine message during the period 1943-62. He was all out for the uplift of mankind through dissemination of the divine word. He faced opposition from different fronts in carrying out his missionary obligations, but he remained moulded and welded to the Truth. He appeased the flood of opposition with his humility and love. He possessed wonderful skill to convince his critics, provided they chose to listen to him. There are many instances where critics, after listening to Baba Ji, joined the Mission and dedicated their lives to the propagation of its message.
Following the Partition of India in 1947, Baba Avtar Singh Ji had to shift from Rawalpindi to Delhi. Baba Ji settled at Paharganj. Devotees migrating from Pakistan also maintained their link with Baba Ji and sought rehabilitation in and around Delhi. In order to meet the requirements of the children of the devotees and others, Baba Avtar Singh Ji opened Sant Nirankari School in Paharganj, (which is now a Senior Secondary School). Subsequently, he also established Sant Nirankari Colony in North Delhi and shifted the Headquarters of the Mission there. Santokh Sarovar was also dug near the Colony.
To give an organisational outfit to the expanding Nirankari Mission, Baba Avtar Singh Ji founded Sant Nirankari Mandal in 1948 and got it registered with Headquarters at Delhi. Establishing branches in various cities with Pramukhs-incharge also came in the priority agenda of the Master for streamlining the spread of the Mission. For this very purpose, Sant Nirankari Sewa Dal also came into being. Publication wing was set up for books and periodicals. Books containing philosophy of the Mission were attempted by scholar missionaries with deep inspiration from the Master. Avtar Bani has been a unique contribution by the Master himself.
Meanwhile, the Mission attracted people from all castes and communities. On the one hand, its ideology was easy to understand and follow in practical day-to-day life. The Mission prescribed no cumbersome rituals or costly ceremonies. It liberated them from all kind of taboos. Then, it loved all and hated none. And on the other, the masses had just experienced the havoc that communalism and religious intolerance could play with the mankind. They had gone through the misery before Partition and suffered from the agony even thereafter. They had not only seen the disease of casteism in its full swing, but felt the sting also. So, they welcomed the Mission where all of them were treated as equally respected and dignified members of the one human society. They found here what they really needed--the spiritual balm to heal their worldly wounds, the inner strength to bear the sorrow and the morale boosting to continue their journey of life. So, the number of people attending Nirankari congregations went on increasing day by day under the spiritual mastership of Baba Avtar Singh Ji.
One of the unique things related to Baba Avtar Singh ji is that during his life time itself he took a decision to revert from the Satguru to an ordinary devotee. While addressing a congregation in Delhi on December 3rd, 1962, he took the gathering by surprise as he said that hereafter they should address Gurbachan Singh Ji as Baba Ji. He asked them to no longer address him as 'Seth Ji' or 'Bhapa Ji' but show him the same respect as they had been showing to himself. With this the Satguru stood manifested in Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji. The next Annual Nirankari Sant Samagam which opened on November 5th, 1963 was, of course, the first occasion when the devotees from all over the country saw Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji as the Spiritual Head of the Mission.
As a devotee, Baba Avtar Singh Ji became an example to others. He showed full reverence to the Satguru of the time, Baba Gurbachan Singh ji. In all matters related to the Mission, he would take the decision of Baba Gurbachan Singh ji as final. Many times missionaries and devotees whould come and seek his advice. He would express his opinion, but advise them at the same time that they should go by the final decision that is taken by Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji himself.
It would be interesting to recall that during the first Mussoorie Conference convened by Satguru Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji in 1965, it was Baba Avtar Singh Ji who as one of the Missionaries put up a proposal that the Mission should have its own Satsang Bhawans at as many places as possible. He argued that this was necessary in view of the increasing number of devotees. They must have a common place for regular congregations. Baba Avtar Singh Ji also suggested that the devotees may be encouraged to contribute a small amount towards Building Fund on monthly basis. The proposal was, of course, accepted and approved by the Conference. And today we realise the significance and appreciate his far sightedness with gratitude.
It may be mentioned that in 1968 Baba Avtar Singh ji visited U.K. While Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji's tour the previous year had been devoted to simple familiarisation, Baba Avtar Singh Ji utilised his visit for an intensive communication of the message of the Mission. Instead of holding congregations in the open, he preferred to contact individuals on person-to-person basis. The result was that many people came forward to seek God Knowledge. Once they were blessed with the divine light, they would be keen to take it to others and help them come out of the spell of ignorance.
In 1969 Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji and Rajmata Ji planned their second tour to U.K. But they were reluctant because Baba Avtar Singh Ji was not well. It was the latter, however, who persuaded them not to abandon the proposed tour. He was conscious of the excitement of the devotees in U.K. So he would not like to frustrate the same by asking Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji to stay back for the reason of his own ill-health. Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji, accompanied by Rajmata Ji, left for U.K. The tour had, however, to be cut short because of sudden deterioration in the health of Baba Avtar Singh Ji who breathed his last after a few days of their return. In any case, Baba Avtar Singh Ji had proved how keen he was to see the Mission find roots abroad for which he himself had been able to sow the seed. His benign gesture to send Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji and Rajmata Ji to U.K. in spite of his illness, will always remain unforgettable.
Those who used to meet Baba Avtar Singh Ji during his illness, recall that he would never say that he was unwell. Whosoever enquired about his health, including the doctors, his reply was, "I am alright. Only my body has some problem......." This shows that he wanted to convey to the devotees that it is not the body that they should attach importance to, it is the Soul that they should value. And the Soul which is a particle of Super-Soul is above all ailments. No wonder, Baba Avtar Singh ji breathed his last without showing any sign of worry that usually looms large on the face of a dying person.
The message of detachment was further confirmed by Satguru Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji who decided to perform the funeral without any show off. Going by worldly norms, having been the spiritual head of the Mission for about 20 years and having lived the life so richly, Baba Avtar Singh Ji deserved a grand funeral with sandal wood etc. And his vast family of devotees had no dearth of the resources to arrange the same. But Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji explained that a dead body is just a dead body whether it belonged to an ordinary person, an intellectual, or even a holy man. So Baba Avtar Singh Ji was given a simple funeral at the electric crematorium in Delhi.
The story perhaps would not be complete if we did not mention that Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji decided not to have any commemorative function or congregation on the 17th of September, the day when Baba Avtar Singh Ji breathed his last in 1969. Instead he exhorted the devotees to pay homage to Baba Avtar Singh Ji on the 15th of August when they were already paying tributes to Jagat Mata Budhwanti Ji. The 15th of August was subsequently named as 'Mukti Parv' i.e. Spiritual Libaration Day. While the nation celebrates the Independence Day and expresses its gratitude to those who laid down their lives for freedom, the Nirankaris add another dimension, stressing the need for spiritual libration of man, the libration of Soul, and remembering those who dedicated their lives for this noble cause.
Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji was one of those great masters who lived and died for the noble cause of human unity through spiritual awakening. Throughout, he endeavoured to transform the demoniac face of human society and inculcate the spirit of peaceful co-existence, love and harmony. He was pained to find people quarrelling and suffering because of hatred generated by ignorance, blind faith and superstition.
Fortunately, Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji did not have to go out to learn the real purpose of human life, the reason for man's suffering and answer to his problems. His father, Baba Avtar Singh Ji and the founder of the Sant Nirankari Mission, Baba Buta Singh Ji blessed him with spiritual awakening and provided ample opportunity to him to imbibe and practise the noble traits of selfless service surrender to the divine will and truthful living, free from any kind of hatred or jealousy. This turned his life into a practical version of spirituality, a living example of divine truth, so much so that Baba Avtar Singh Ji chose to see the Satguru manifesting himself in him and preferred to live as an ordinary follower of the Mission for the rest of his life.
Baba Gurbachan Singh was born on December 10, 1930 in Peshawar, now in Pakistan. He received boundless love and affection from his parents, Baba Avtar Singh and Jagat Mata Budhwanti as also from the True Master Baba Buta Singh, then residing with the family. Right from his infancy, the child Gurbachan manifested rare and remarkable qualities. These qualities comprised sensitiveness to human sorrow and suffering, sympathy for the afflicted, avoidance of all disputes, discords and malice as also appreciation of fine traits in others.
Gurbachan was a shining student. After doing his middle schooling from Peshawar, he matriculated from the Khalsa School, Rawalpindi. He, however, could not pursue his studies further, because of the turmoil leading to Partition of India. He, however, acquired rich and rare experience of practical life by his wisdom and intelligence.
During the turbulent days preceding the Partition, every parent wished to be relieved of his pressing responsibilities as quickly as possible. Accordingly, Bhai Manna Singh solemnised the marriage of his daughter, Kulwant Kaur Ji, with Gurbachan Singh Ji on April 22nd, 1947, at a simple ceremony. Kulwant Kaur Ji who subsequently became popular as Nirankari Rajmata, marched shoulder to shoulder with her husband. Surely, the couple had been united by the Almighty for the well being of humanity.
During the bloodshed following the Partition, the Hindus and Muslims forgot their centuries-old co-existence and amity. Leaving their hearths and homes, they migrated to India or Pakistan. Forced by the circumstances, even the Nirankari devotees, who believed in Universal Brotherhood, had to migrate to India. For the migrants of the Rawalpindi area, a camp was set up at Wah. The Camp Officer entrusted to young Gurbachan the job of looking after the inmates of the Camp. The step had a deeper significance. It was actually a test of his spirit of selfless service, self-sacrifice and sense of justice. which was displayed by him admirably. One day it was announced on behalf of the Government that those desirous of migrating to India, could do so by aeroplanes, then available. All the devotees accordingly left for India, leaving their belongings to the care of Gurbachan Singh Ji. A few days later, he loaded all the belongings of the devotees in a goods train and reached India.
Following the migration, while Baba Avtar Singh Ji resumed the Mission's activities, Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji started business in auto-parts, first in Jalandhar in Punjab and later in Delhi. Simultaneously, he took keen interest in congregations. He would drive Baba Avtar Singh Ji to the places of congregations both in the morning and in the evening. Besides being at the service of the Satguru, he attended to devotees also.
On December 3rd 1962, while addressing a gathering of devotees at Paharganj, Delhi Baba Avtar Singh Ji declared that hereafter they should address Gurbachan Singh Ji as Baba Ji and extend him the same respect they had been extending to him. Accordingly, Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji started presiding over the Mission from December 3rd, 1962 and the entire Nirankari world saw the Satguru manifested in him on November 5th, 1963 when they assembled in Delhi for the 16th Annual Nirankari Sant Samagam. Immediately thereafter Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji speeded up the tempo of preachings, thus attracting large numbers to the Mission. The resultant increase necessitated some organisational reforms. For this purpose, Baba Ji convened the First Mussoorie Conference on July 17th & 18th, 1965, which was attended by the organisers and the preachers of the Mission. A number of important decisions were taken to accelerate the pace of preachings. To this end, the country was divided into four zones. On a suggestion from Baba Avtar Singh Ji who attended this conference as one of the missionaries, it was decided to start Building fund for setting up Satsang Bhawans to enable devotees to hold congregations regularly. As suggested by the devotees from foreign countries, it was also decided to undertake missionary tours abroad.
This Conference proved very fruitful and its results were evident very soon. The organisation functioned more efficiently and the missionary activities picked up considerable momentum. Devotees all over India began to contribute towards Building Fund and the construction of Satsang Bhawans started. Through world-wide tours of Baba Ji and his missionaries, the message of the Mission spread all over the globe. In this way, the campaign for human redemption and spiritual enlightenment hitherto confined to the boundaries of India, acquired global dimensions. Baba Ji vigorously pursued his missionary activities in distant countries and a series of foreign tours for regeneration of mankind were undertaken from 1967 to 1977 almost every year.
The 25th Annual Sant Samagam in 1972 was celebrated as the Silver Jubilee Samagam. To express their faith and devotion in their True Master, Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji, the devotees weighed Baba Ji and his consort, Rev. Mata Kulwant Kaur Ji, against currency notes. The spectacle was watched ecstatically by hundreds of thousands of devotees. While appreciating this rare gesture of devotion and dedication, Baba Ji announced, " Not a single penny out of this amount would be spent for the personal use of any member of my family; all the money would be used for public welfare. Earned by the sweat of brow of the devotees, the money would bestow happiness and bliss for whatever noble cause it is utilised",
Baba Ji convened the Second Mussoorie Conference on May 14th, 15th and 16th, 1973. About 500 delegates from India and abroad participated in it. Baba Ji desired that everyone should express his/her views freely and frankly and invited suggestions for further popularisation of the Mission among masses. The Conference turned out to be a watershed in the history of the Mission as it proposed a code of conduct for the missionaries. It was also decided at this conference that while we may not hate others on account of their diet-habits, we ourselves should abstain from all kinds of intoxicants. Another decision was to observe austerity in marriages and other social functions and not to show off dowry, etc.
Baba Ji gave a clarion call to the youth to implement the above decisions. He also exhorted them to come to the fore for propagating the Mission vigorously and combating the social evils. He advised the older generation to give full encouragement to the youth in this direction, failing which they would not only themselves lag behind but also hamper the progress of the Mission. Interestingly, Baba Ji's son Hardev (the present Head of the Mission) and daughters Niranjan, Jagjit, Mohini and Swaran all joined Sewa Dal as its Primary Members. Subsequently all of them made their own mark as disciplined and selfless volunteers, while taking part in different wings of the Sewa Dal.
Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji had his own peculiar style of working. Generally, people spend a long time in framing detailed plans and projects. However, Baba Ji believed in prompt implementation. That is why he was able to turn the apparently impossible into the possible. A little ahead of the Sant Nirankari Colony, the Mission had a large piece of wasteland. In 1965, when the country was facing a severe shortage of foodgrains, Baba Ji thought of contributing his mite in this direction by bringing the said wasteland under cultivation. The poor and arid condition of the soil did not, however, permit its cultivation. According to all the neighbouring cultivators, accumulated salinity had rendered it unfit for cultivation. The experts of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi too considered the land unproductive. This seemed to be the general consensus, but undeterred by such pessimistic verdicts, the enterprising and innovative Baba Ji took up the challenge. A little away from the land in question, the Government had set up a Water Treatment plant. The effluent from this plant made the surrounding area quite unhygienic. To kill two birds with one stone, Baba Ji chalked out a project to divert the effluent to this barren land. Thousands of devotees worked day and night for digging a long drain to divert the flow of this effluent from the plant to this land. In due course, the wasteland was transformed into a lush green field. The neighbouring farmers were amazed. The officials of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute too were wonder-struck when invited to see the wasteland yield a rich crop. They remarked that it was indeed a miracle. Baba Ji, however, said that even an impossible task could be accomplished, given dedication, firm faith and hard work. The Baba distributed the quality seed produced in this piece of land among his farmer devotees to enable them to step up production. Incidentally, the following year was proclaimed as the year of "Green Revolution". The land in question topped in production of foodgrains in the area.
Likewise, keeping in view the scarcity of petrol facing the country, Baba Ji with a knack for innovation, converted the petrol engines of the Mission's vehicles into diesel ones. Interestingly, the entire work was done in the Mission's own workshop under Baba Ji's supervision and guidance. All this was a message to the world that hardwork and sincerity of purpose were the master key to achievement.
Though not a qualified architect or engineer, Baba Ji himself conceived and designed the plans of the Bhawans. This is a testimony to his genius. The imposing hall at the first floor of the Nirankari Satsang Bhawan in Sant Nirankari Colony, Delhi, is an example of his architectural skill. Dispensaries and schools were also set up in various Bhawans. Buildings of two Senior Secondary Schools in Delhi and a Degree College at Sohna, Distt. Gurgaon, Haryana were also constructed as per Baba Ji's plans. Baba Ji took keen interest in homeopathy also.
Quite predictably, the voice of truth first raised by Baba Buta Singh Ji and Baba Avtar Singh Ji and now spread by Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji was opposed by the orthodox. The rapid progress of the Mission under the divine leadership of Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji, in fact, upset these elements to the level of desperation. Baba Ji called upon them to first understand the Mission and then point out if there was anything wrong. But all his gestures fell flat on them. Nirankari congregations were disturbed at many places. Violent attacks were also reported from several centers. The worst in the chain was the attack on the Baisakhi Samagam in Amritsar on April 13th, 1978. Baba Gurbachan Ji was scheduled to address the Samagam. But before he arrived, about 200 fanatics attacked the congregation. The police opened fire. Eighteen precious lives were lost. The incident was followed by a court case. Several Nirankari saints remained in judicial custody for more than two years before they were acquitted honourably. The case was declared to be false and fabricated. The court passed severe strictures against the then government for filing a totally false case against innocent Nirankaris. The court held fanatics responsible for brutal attack on peaceful Nirankari congregation.
While the case was on, Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji did not sit back due to the turmoil. He declared that such opposition Truth had always to face and the greatest quality of the saints is that they do not feel frustrated realising that the Truth is on their side and it must triumph in the long run. There was, therefore, no let up in the activities of the Mission.
The opposition, however, did not end with the historic Karnal verdict in the Amritsar case, acquitting all the accused Nirankaris, including Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji, honourably. The fanatics made Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji personally the target of their violence. They made an attempt on his life first in Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh and then near Durg in Madhya Pradesh. Ultimately, Baba Ji fell to their bullets in Delhi on April 24, 1980. Naturally, every peace-loving person lamented and condemned the senseless act of the fanatics as an attack on love and peace by the forces of hatred and violence. " An Apostle of God's glory, a Messiah of human unity and a true social reformer, had fallen prey to religious intolerance", commented newspapers. It was another blot on human history, said the intellectuals. And the peace-loving humanists felt that humanism had been ravaged.
Mere condemnation of the brutal act would, however, not suffice. The entire Nirankari world was in dismay. Their sense of tolerance as also the patience was under severe stress. It was only for His Holiness Baba Hardev Singh Ji Maharaj to come to their rescue. He put aside his own worldly sentiments usual for a son on the tragic demise of his father and consoled every follower of the Mission to face the tragedy boldly and without any feeling of vengeance.
His Holiness Baba Hardev Singh Ji Maharaj was born on February 23, 1954 in Delhi. It was a divine gift to the divine family of the then Nirankari Baba Avtar Singh Ji and Jagat Mata Budhwanti Ji. As grand parents, they showered all the worldly as well as spiritual blessings on the child Hardev. His parents Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji and Rajmata Kulwant Kaur Ji were equally affectionate.
With the growth of child Hardev, grew his thoughtfulness and sobriety. He saw every object and observed every event with due curiosity but used to keep silent. Respect, regard for elders and trait of humility could be noticed in him from the very childhood. Interest in congregations and listening to discourses also became conspicuous in him. The kind and pure hearted child Hardev was always open hearted and emotional. He was mostly seen tight-lipped, rarely using his tongue. He also started taking keen interest in photography.
Hardev Singh Ji received his elementary education at home. With his sharp intellect, he learnt alphabets of Hindi, English and counting very quickly. Thereafter, he was sent to Rosary Public School, Nirankari Colony, Delhi, where by sweet nature and intelligence he cast spell on teachers and fellow students. They say that boy Hardev was often found in the class sitting thoughtfully with eyes half-shut. But he was always discovered to be fully attentive and responsive to what the teacher taught.
In 1963, Hardev Singh Ji was sent to the residential Yadvendra Public School, Patiala, an institution of national fame, from where he passed the high school examination in 1969. His co-operative and compassionate nature made him popular with the teachers and the fellow-students alike. His school education was equally supplemented and cemented with spiritual touch received through the letters of his affectionate mother, Rajmata Ji.
During his stay in the school, Hardev Singh Ji also developed keen interest in mountaineering. With his class-fellows and even alone, he would cover difficult terrains to reach certain places. This hobby added the trait of patience and perseverance in his life. He was never found tired or worried. He was also very skill-ful in vehicle driving and horse riding.
On completion of school education at Patiala, Hardev Singh Ji returned to Delhi and started further education under Delhi University and also took keen interest in the socio-spiritual activities of the Mission. He became very regular in Sangat and Sewa. His humility earned him the name 'Bhola Ji'.
In 1971, Hardev Singh Ji joined the Nirankari Sewa Dal as its primary member and enjoyed himself serving in cotton Khaki uniform. He organised "Youth Forum" in 1975, which focused on promoting truthful and simple living, service with devotion and love, refraining from incurring undue expenses and practising prohibition.
During the Annual Nirankari Sant Samagam in Delhi in 1975 Hardev Singh Ji was married in a simple ceremony to Sawinder Ji, daughter of devoted saints Shri Gurumukh Singh Ji and Smt. Madan Ji of Farrukhabad (UP). Born on January 12, 1957, Mata Sawinder Ji is well educated and duty conscious.
Baba Hardev Singh Ji Maharaj became the spiritual mentor of the Mission under tragic circumstances. On April 24, 1980 the orthodox fanatics had snatched from the Mission the Satguru and a crusader for peace and tranquility from the world, Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji. Young Hardev had lost not only the Satguru but his beloved father also. This was the moment when forbearance, patience and tolerance of every follower of the Mission was under severe stress and a grave test. The very future of the Mission had been challenged. Nirankaris who had been taught to surrender to the will of God were finding it difficult to accept the verdict of 'destiny' that sounded to them as a deliberate violation of 'divine law'.
At the same time, every Nirankari believed that the Satguru is an ever-living entity which must manifest itself in some other physical frame or human body. They had, however, not to wait for long. Immediately after the funeral of the mortal remains of Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji at the electric crematorium in Delhi on 27th April, 1980, Hardev was greeted and hailed as the Head of the Mission and everybody present witnessed the Satguru manifesting in him. Hardev who was known for his quiet nature, addressed the devotees as a perfect spiritual master.
His Holiness declared, "Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji's martyrdom is the will of God. Perceptions differ from people to people . The ignorant say that it may lead to bloodshed but the devotees believe that being a supreme sacrifice, it shall usher in peace and harmony. Imbibing such lofty ideals, we should continue to spread the Mission with a greater zeal."
Baba Hardev Singh Ji Maharaj ruled out even the remotest thought of vengeance saying that 'it would go contrary to what Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji lived and sacrificed his life for'. He exhorted devotees to carry on his message of compassion, goodwill, love and Truth and pray for the welfare of one and all. The result was quite instantaneous and healthy. Nirankaris remained non-violent even in the face of serious provocations from mis-guided fanatics and extremists.
The supreme sacrifice of Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji and the first holy discourse by Baba Hardev Singh Ji had far greater and much deeper significance. The former showed that the Mission had paid the heaviest price for peace. Earlier, more than 60 leading missionaries’ forbearance was put to the hardest test when they were compelled to undergo the agony of judicial custody for about two years for the fault that was found to be not theirs at all. Now the Mission lost its spiritual mentor whose only fault was that he preached Truth and peace. Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji showed utmost respect to the saints, Gurus and prophets of the past. He held the holy scriptures in highest esteem. The only thing that he pointed out and stressed was that one must know the God he or she worships. Mere reading the religious books was not sufficient, he said. He wanted that their believers must follow the teachings in practical life, whosoever be the great master they believe and whatsoever the holy scripture they worship. His critics, however, did not try to verify the Truth he proclaimed, nor did they see how he sought to preach it. And he became a victim of their fanaticism, their ignorance.
Coming to the first holy discourse by Satguru Baba Hardev Singh Ji Maharaj and the message contained therein, one must appreciate that the words came from a youth of 26 years whose loving father had been assassinated brutally. Ordinarily, such a youngman must be burning with feeling of vengeance. In this case, he had all the resources at his disposal. He had only to give a hint that could cause riots and disturb peace for the entire country, may be many countries. But Baba Hardev Singh Ji chose to accept the price the Mission had been required or called upon to pay for peace. And with his call to Nirankaris to continue to spread the voice of truth while praying for goodwill of all, a disastrous mishap stood averted. No doubt the followers of the Mission continued to suffer both in terms of life and property here and there, the voice of Truth spread far and wide carrying with it the message of peace, love, humility and tolerance.
In order to translate his commitment to peace, love and universal brotherhood into action, Baba Hardev Singh Ji lost no time and undertook extensive tours within the country and abroad. He was also conscious of the fact that Nirankaris all over India and elsewhere in the world needed to be pacified and consoled over the sudden disappearance of Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji from their midst in physical form. The situation being what it was, it was not an easy affair to travel far and wide and organise mass congregations on a large scale. Even then, Baba Ji went to the remotest areas and encouraged one and all to keep the flag of love, peace and human unity flying.
Though the spiritual tours of Baba Hardev Singh Ji sought to cover vast areas with long distances, his approach was at the same time intensive and intimate. He travelled mostly by road and met people as they were, where they were. He would mix up with them, sit with them, dine with them, so that he could know them as intimately as possible. Naturally, wherever he went, people found him sharing their pleasure and pain as a member of the family. In fact, Baba Ji showered his blessings just like any head of the family.
Baba Ji’s tours abroad also took him to almost every part of the world. He was welcomed and received by large number of people as ‘apostle of peace and Universal Brotherhood.’ People from different states and countries would assemble at one center and listen to His Holiness. Besides Indians, many others took interest in what the Mission sought to preach or Baba Ji wanted to convey.
|At Seal Beach (USA)||At Titwa (Maharashtra - India )|
The people including those connected with administration, particularly law and order, also did not take long to understand the reality. Baba Ji's discourses in different parts of the country and abroad and the over-whelming response from the masses they received convinced them that the Mission stands for peace and non-violence, progress and prosperity and lasting happiness based on spiritual enlightenment. After 27 years today, when one looks back and realises the new heights the Mission has touched, feels fully convinced that Baba Hardev Singh Ji has lived upto his commitment of carrying those lofty ideals to every nook and corner of the world for which Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji had laid down his life.
The Mission has found tremendous expansion in all directions during the past 27 years. The ever-increasing number of participants in the Samagams in Delhi and other places bears testimony to the fact that the message of the Mission is going home and attracting the seekers of truth. The attendance at the regular congregations is also growing thicker and thicker.
A number of new branches of the Mission have been set up and so is the case with Satsang Bhawans. Many new Missionaries have been appointed in order to reach out places far and wide. The North Eastern and Southern States of India are also now fully familiar with the Mission and its philosophy and branches are functioning regularly in the various parts of these areas.
Baba Hardev Singh Ji is quite meticulous in his approach to the organisational requirements of the fast expanding Mission. He convened a conference in Delhi in 1987, on the lines of the two Mussoorie Conferences convened by Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji in 1965 and in 1973. It reviewed the decisions taken at Mussoorie and re-emphasised the areas that were considered relevant in the contemporary perspective. In addition it was decided to organise blood donation camps at different places on the occasion of Manav Ekta Diwas as a gesture of selfless service to humanity and a humble acknowledgement of the supreme sacrifice of Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji for the noble cause of human welfare. Another important decision of this Conference was to set up a full-fledged Department of Social Welfare and place it under the charge of a Member of the Executive Committee of the Sant Nirankari Mandal.
In order to encourage the participation of devotees in the expansion of the Mission, the organisation was decentralised. Today Delhi has 30 Sectors, while the country is divided into 50 Zones. There is a provision of constant co-ordination at every level as also between the Headquarters and the smallest branch of the Mission. The tours of the missionaries are planned and organised in such a way that the benefit of their talent gets distributed over the widest possible area. The list of Pracharaks (preachers) was also reviewed in 1994.
The Santokh Sarovar Complex in Delhi has been developed into a center of attraction not only for Nirankari devotees but others also. With its 5-acre reservoir of neat and clean water and another 20 acres of lush green lawns with rows of beautiful flower plants, the Complex is a valuable anti-pollution gift to Delhi's ecology. A new museum by the name of Journey Divine has also been setup for the spiritual benefit of the Mankind. Quite close to the Complex, the Mission proposes to have a general hospital, for which 10 acres of land have already been acquired.
The Mission has found considerable expansion in other countries also. The followers of the Mission have spread out to almost every part of the world. In almost every salvation tour of His Holiness some new areas or countries are included. Consequently, in addition to the better known areas of U.K., U.S.A. and Canada, the countries like Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Philippines, Spain, Sweden and several others have also received Baba Ji’s blessings. The number of Sant Nirankari Satsang Bhawans abroad has multiplied manifold during the past 27 years.
Baba Hardev Singh Ji has paid special attention to the youth abroad. Born in the countries of their residence, they stood cut off not only from their parental language, but the noble values for which the Indian culture has been known in the world, also. Baba Ji attracted them to the forum of the Mission and reminded them that they could adopt these values without coming into conflict with their environment. Today the Nirankari youth is an example for others.
|At Paravoor (Kerala - India )||At Thanjavur (Tamil Nadu - India)|
As a matter of fact, the Mission has never been orthodox and against scientific and technological advancement provided it is meant for human welfare. It believes that man must endeavour to make life more and more comfortable. Today Baba Hardev Singh Ji is utilising the latest technology even for the spread of the Mission’s message.
Thus we find that the Mission which began as a small effort towards spiritual enlightenment has become today a mass movement of God-Knowledge and Universal Brotherhood. Every Nirankari considers himself or herself fortunate to have Baba Hardev Singh Ji Maharaj as the divine motivator for taking the message of the Mission to every doorstep. According to Baba Ji the Mission must work as a deep reservoir of peace, love and understanding to stem the wild fire of hatred, jealousy and ill-will. Hence the stress on our own behaviour based on spiritual enlightenment. The Mission is certainly poised for greater and greater heights since the peace and tranquility, love and faith it preaches and practices is exactly what the trouble-torn world needs today.