On Monday, after my lecture I went to the library and looked at some Sikhi books. I came across one book edited by Bhai Kharak Singh jee. It contained an essay by 90-year-old Gursikh, Bhai Karnail Singh jee, on the life and achievements of Jathedaar Kartar Singh Jhabbar. I ended up reading about the Singh Sabha Movement and Jathedaar Kartar Singh Jhabbar jee for two hours until I eventually realised the time. I had never heard of Bhai Kartar Singh Jhabbar jee until Monday, and after reading about him it reminded me of what a Sikh's jeevan should be like and what we should strive towards.
The story of Jathedaar Kartar Singh Jhabbar jee is of a Gursikh who played a key role in the epic struggle for the Khalsa to gain control of the Gurdwaras from the Mahants (Nirmala and Udaasi Saadhus heavily inclined towards Brahmanism and Brahamical teaching learnt from Banaaras). Originally Mahants managed the Gurdwaras during the time the Khalsa had to leave the villages and cities to live in jungles and deserts due to a campaign of indiscriminate killing of all Sikhs seen. However, the Mahants had managed to assume possession of the Sikh Gurdwaras. Most of the Mahants were not only corrupt and immoral but indulged in distorting Gur Maryada (the religious traditions). The Mahants plotted and organised heinous and violent acts employing hooligans and paid workers to retain their hold on the Gurdwara Sahibs. Reading about the state of the Gurdwaras during this period had some relevance to the poor state of today's Guru Ghars and the issues which have been raised in recent years in regards to Beadbi and wrong management.
The mass participation of the Sikh Sangat in the Gurdwara Reform Movement was a great degree due to the inspiration and leadership provided by Jathedar Kartar Singh Jhabbar. There were some Sikh leaders of that period who may have got entrapped by politicians to divert the Movement from reform of Gurdwaras to confrontation with the British government for securing independence and for delaying the reform in Gurdwaras till after the independence. However, Jathedar Kartar Singh Jhabbar played a crucial and farsighted role in avoiding such an entrapment. Reading the full account of Bhai Sahib's jeevan and struggles provided inspiration in a world where we the problems of the past are resurfacing in new forms. I was overwhelmed reading about the Sikhi Sidq (steadfastness) and Chardikalaa outlook of Bhai Sahib and my mind asked the question, "How unfortunate I was that I didn't know about this person before?"
You can read about his life on www.Sikh-History.com:
On Tuesday, on the way back home from Birmingham I sat on the train. I looked to my side and found a smartly dressed young black man who looked like he had come from abroad. He turned to look at me and said, "Tuhaadaa Kee Haal Chaal Hai jee" (How are you?). I was pleasantly shocked to hear the Kaala speak Panjabi. I thought perhaps he has learnt one or two lines from a Panjabi friend or work colleague. I asked him where did you learn Panjabi? The whole 45 minute conversation was ALL in Panjabi. He replied that he had a Panjabi aunty in Walsall who he lived with for two years. He said, "Saadaa Virsaa BaRaa Mahaan Hai - Maharaaja Ranjeet Singh jee ta Guru Naanak - Kithnaa Sohnaa Ithihaas." He told me he was a studying A-Levels and that he has come from Jamaica. Then he asked me, "Tusee Granthi han?" lol.
I eventually found out that he was a Jehovah Witness who spoke Panjabi and did Parchaar in Panjabi. I was impressed. The man was polite and friendly and said that his main aim was for people to remember God rather than convert. We had a good conversation we talked about visiting Panjab and Sikh culture, and then we went on to discuss the concept of Evil and Satan, and Daas asked him about his beliefs. Also he asked about eating meat and killing animals. We had to end our conversation because he had to get off at Leamington Spa station. It was refreshing to talk to someone in Panjabi for a full conversation and they were NOT PANJABI, yet sometimes our own people struggle speaking or maintaining a conversation in Panjabi. "God works in mysterious ways" - is true. It's amazing how Vaheguru causes us to meet strangers.