Thursday, October 27, 2005

Saka Panja Sahib - Story of Sacrifice for Sewa

On the 8th August 1922, during the British Raaj in India, the police arrested five Singhs for cutting Acacia wood for Guru-Ka-Langar (free community kitchen) from uncultivated land attached to Gurdwara Guru Ka Bagh, Sri Anandpur Sahib. Under the British Raaj law, everyone was sentenced to a fine of fifty rupees and imprisoned for six months on the charge of stealing wood from the land of the Hindu Mahants, who had taken management and control of the Sikh Gurdwara from the time the Sikhs had fled to the jungles during the barbaric rule of the Mughals. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee started an agitation against the decision of the Government. It was Gurdwara land and Sikhs had the right to cut down wood from it for Langar. The additional police superintendent started beating the Sikh protestors with clubs. On the 13th September 1922, the beatings and abuse were stopped, with the help of Reverend C.F. Andrews and after a number of Singhs were arrested and sent to prisons.

One day a squad of army pensioners led by Subedaar Amar Singh Dhaliwal from Kapurthala district courted arrest. Magistrate Aslam Khan sentenced those Singhs to imprisonment of two and a half years and fined them each one hundred rupees each. Those Singhs were boarded on a train from Amritsar to Attak on the night of the 29th October 1922. The train stopped at Rawalpindi on 30th October and moved on after change of train staff, and fueling up the train with water.

That day, the Sikh Sangat of Gurdwara Panja Sahib prepared to do sewa of the Jatha of Singhs who were held as prisoners on the train. They prepared food and planned to serve food and drink to the prisoners. On the morning of 31st October, the Sikh Sangat took the Langar to the railway station and stood waiting for the train to arrive. The stationmaster at Panja Sahib announced to the Sikh Sangat waiting to serve Langar to Singhs on the train, "The train shall not stop at this station. You have made these arrangements for nothing." Bhai Karam Singh Ji replied, "Baba Nanak had stopped a mountain with one hand. Can his Sikhs not stop a train?"

At ten o'clock, seeing the train approaching, Bhai Karam Singh Ji lied down on the railway line. Bhai Partap Singh Ji joined him on alongside Bhai Ganga Singh, Bhai Charan Singh, Bhai Nihal Singh, Bhai Tara Singh, Bhai Fakir Singh, Bhai Kalyan Singh and many other Singhs and Singhnian squatted on the track. Seeing the Gursikhs laying down on the track, the train driver blew the whistle time and again but the Gursikhs did not falter, they did not budge as if they had not heard the whistle at all. "Waheguru, Waheguru, Waheguru…" (Wondrous Lord…) could be heard repeated and and vibrated the air. The train engine grounded the bones of Bhai Karam Singh Ji and Bhai Partap Singh Ji to pieces and the other Gursikhs suffered injuries. The train had stopped!

Bhai Partap Singh Ji told the Sangat trying to tend his injuries, "Serve Langar to the hungry Singhs on the train first. You can take care of us afterwards." The train halted for one and a half hours. The Sangat of Panja Sahib served the Singhs on the train whole-heartedly and then turned to the injured. Bhai Karam Singh Ji, thirty year old son of Bhai Bhagwan Daas Mahant of Sri Kesgarh Sahib died after a few hours. On the next day Bhai Partap Singh Ji, twenty-four years of age, son of Bhai Saroop Singh, a goldsmith of Akaal Garh, Gujranwala, attained shaheedi (martyrdom). Before attaining shaheedi he recited the Salokh (on ang 1365 of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji):
ਕਬੀਰ ਸੰਤ ਮੂਏ ਕਿਆ ਰੋਈਐ ਜੋ ਅਪੁਨੇ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਿ ਜਾਇ ॥
Kabīr sanṯ mū­ė ki­ā ro­ī­ai jo apunė garihi jā­ė.
O Kabeer! There is no need to cry or feel sad at the death of a Saint (Gurmukh); because he is just going back to his home where no-one can remove him (meaning, the Gurmukh is now forever absorbed in the Presence of Waheguru).

ਰੋਵਹੁ ਸਾਕਤ ਬਾਪੁਰੇ ਜੁ ਹਾਟੈ ਹਾਟ ਬਿਕਾਇ ॥੧੬॥
Rovhu sākaṯ bāpurė jo hātai hāt bikā­ė. ||16||
(If you wish to cry or feel sorry then) cry for the wretched, faithless cynic, who is separated from Waheguru, (in exchange for his bad actions) he is sold from store to store (meaning, he suffers in reincarnation). ||16||
(Ang 1365)

And he instructed his 18 years old wife that never cry over his death otherwise his sacrifice would be wasted. It is said Mata Ji, wife of Shaheed Partap Singh Ji, never cried her whole live and bravely recited Gaddi the Chhand, poetry, written in honour of these great Train Shaheeds and was also engrossed in 'Naam Simran'.

When the train-driver was asked the reason for stopping the train, he replied, "When the train hit the Singhs lying on the track, vacuum lever dropped out of my hand and the train stopped. I did not apply the brakes."

May we all learn and be inspired by the courage and dedication of the Sikhs of Panja Sahib in this incident (Saka). Look at the love these Sikhs had not just for their Guru, but for the Sikhs of their Guru. Seeing a poor man’s mouth as the Guru’s Golak (deposit box) they want to the extreme and willingness to give up their lives but not falter in their duty to feed the hungry and help their fellow Sikh brothers. We can all learn something from this.

Let us look at our own lives, let us look at the state of our Gurdwara and local Sikh community. What is it that those Sikhs at Panja Sahib had, but we don’t have today? We all love the Guru, but how far are we willing to follow and respect the Guru? Those Sikhs had the power, support and strength of Amrit, keeping Gurmat Rehat (Sikh discipline), Naam Abhiyaas, not just reading Gurbani but contemplating and enshrining Gurbani within their hearts, and full faith & allegiance to the Guru Granth Sahib and the Guru Khalsa Panth.


Reeta Kaur said...

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ki Ki Fateh,

The sacrifice of these souls is truly inspiring! It makes one think of todays society...would we be able to do this act of kindness for other Sikhs of the Guru? Even in the past, when a Singh met another Singh, they would always help each other as brothers. These days, we seem to only care for ourselves...remember, we are all children of God, all brothers and sisters <3

Thank you for posting this story, I was always so curious behind the story of this! And thanks for this blog, I find it truly inspiring!

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

ashok sharma said...

I read and saw this true history and pic on Wed, 28th Nov. 2012 on great day GURUNANAK JAYANTI in a Gurudwara of Nagpur city. This Langarsewa Story of the morning of 31st October 1922, has really touched deeply and saved in my bottom of heart.

ashok sharma said...

I read and saw this true history and pic on Wed, 28th Nov. 2012 on great day GURUNANAK JAYANTI in a Gurudwara of Nagpur city. This Langarsewa Story of the morning of 31st October 1922, has really touched deeply and saved in my bottom of heart.

Wah ho Guru Granth Sahib...

Frankly said...

Hi I am making a correction that Father of Shahid Pratap Singh ji Sardar Saroop Singh was Thanedar ( Police Inspector ) of Akal Garh please correct his profession in the article. I am Grand Son of Shahid Pratap Singh ji now living in New Zealand his only daughter whos is alive and healthy also lives with us and she is 91 years asked me to make this correction. Regards HP

Unknown said...

Please pass on my deepest love and respect to her..She is a true inspiration to us all.
B Singh Masaun UK England.