Monday, June 04, 2007

Bhagat Puran Singh Jee - Epitome of Seva

Today is the birthday of one of the most prominent Gursikhs of the 20th century - Bhagat Puran Singh jee. He gave most of his adult life to the total selfless service to terminal and mentally ill patients, who in most cases had been abandoned by their families and society at large. He gave his life to provide the last hope for these desperate patients. It is recorded that whenever and wherever he saw a deserted dead body (human or animal), he would immediately prepare by his own hand a grave and give the corpse a deserving burial or cremation as a sign of respect for the dead body. He is recorded to have said, "Dignity in death is a birthright of each living thing." Dhan Hai Guru, Dhan Guru Ke Piaare.

Adapted from article on

On 4th June 1904, Bhagat Puran Singh jee was born in the house of Bhai Chaudhari Chibu Mal and Bibi Mehtab Kaur at Rajewal, district Ludhiana. As a child Bhagat jee was named "Raamjee Daas" was raised in a Hindu household. Due to poverty he had to leave school and his parents made him do seva at Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj and Gurdwara Dera Sahib. From an early age, Bhagat jee's mother had taught and inspired him to help others and to do Nishkaam Seva (fee selfless service). Bhagat jee wrote: "From my childhood, my mother had asked me to do personal service to all the creations of God. This tender and distinct feelings of virtuous tasks was ingrained in my mind. My mother had taught me to provide water to the animals, plant trees and water newly planted saplings, offer feed to the Sparrows, Crows and Mynahs, pick up thorns from the paths, and remove the stones from cart tracks. This had embedded the Name of the Almighty in my heart. She had entrusted me to the custody of Gurdwara Dera Sahib [in Lahore] and started me on a path of virtuous living. By following this path your mind can never waver."

Becoming a Sikh
In his early life Bhagat jee used to travel a lot from village to village and would stay at a Mandir (Hindu Temple). One day when he was staying at a Mandar (Temple) and the Brahmins (Hindu priests) told him to clean the temple and then when he was done they sat in front of him and ate the food without offering any to him. Incidentally the next time he had to stay at a Gurdwara Sahib, the Gurdwara Granthi Singh not only gave him good food (Langar) but also a cot and a glass of milk afterwards, without asking for any seva (service) for the Gurdwara in return for the hospitality. After this incident of recieving indiscriminate pyaar (love) and affection from the House of Guru Nanank, Bhagat Puran Singh jee embraced Sikhi without thinking twice. Bhagat jee wrote: "Every night 25-30 travellers would come to the Gurdwara to stay; they were all served food from the common kitchen. This culture of the Gurdwaras deeply affected me"

Dedication to the Cause of Humanity
In 1924, at the age of 19, Bhagat jee he vowed a life dedicated to seva and serving humanity. Since then Bhagat jee tirelessly carried out seva barefooted, day and night in scorching heat and biting cold, in rains and under dust storms, undeterred by adversities, undaunted by criticism, and unruffled by the obstacles that crop up on the path of social service. Friend of the abandoned, helper of the helpless, a ready nurse for a patient of any disease however loathsome, infectious, unmindful of his personal health; safety or convenience, making not the slightest distinction on the basis of caste, creed or community regarding the person in need of his service; this single man has, by his example and precept, inspired many and with their co-operation has, in a short space of nine years, built from a scratch what may justly claim to be an institution. Bhagat jee served and cared for both humans and animals.

Institution of Pingalwara
In 1947, Bhagat jee founded the institute called "Pingalwara" meaning "The Home of the Cripple" with a few discarded cripple or sick patients. The word "Pingal" means "Cripple" and "Waaraa" mean "Home". Today, this institute which is run by Bibi Dr Inderjeet Kaur jee cares for over 1000 patients.

Environmentalist & Writer
Bhagat jee was also writer as well as publisher and an environmentalist. Bhagat jee's contribution in spreading awareness about the global dangers of environmental pollution, increasing soil erosion, etc are now well recognised. For his dedication and unreserved service to humanity was awarded with many honours from many quarters. Prestigious among these was the "Padamshri Award" in 1979, which he surrendered in the wake of the army attack on the Sri Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple) and the bloodbath in Panjab in 1984.

Bhagat jee left for his heavenly abode on 5th August 5 1992, aged 88 years. Bhagat Puran Singh jee's life practically shows Guru Nanak Sahib jee's divine words:
ਭਾਉ ਭਗਤਿ ਕਰਿ ਨੀਚੁ ਸਦਾਏ ॥ ਤਉ ਨਾਨਕ ਮੋਖੰਤਰੁ ਪਾਏ ॥੨॥
Bẖā­o bẖagaṯ kar nīcẖ saḏā­ė. Ŧa­o Nānak mokẖanṯar pā­ė. ||2||
With loving devotional worship, abiding in humility, O Nanak, salvation is attained. ||2||
(Ang 470)

Bhagat Puran Singh would echo Guru Nanak Dev... "I have learnt by the light shed by the Master, perfectly endowed; Recluse, hero, celibate or sanyassi - No one may expect to earn merit without dedicated service — Service which is the essence of purity."

May Guru Sahib do Kirpaa on us all. Bhagat Puran Singh jee's life exemplifies a life of Seva and Simran who practically made a difference in the world through letting Guru Sahib do seva through him. Dhan Hai Guru, Dhan Hai Guru Ke Piaare.

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Anonymous said...

wow u have a lot of time to be writing so much? anyway good job

upinder kaur said...

Very nice effort!
Thanks for giving in so much time,I am sure it must have been hard to take out time for this post. I wanted to congratulate you for your wonderful interview(at SikhSangat news) but there was no input for comments there!
I decided to visit your blog and tell you that it was really heart warming to go through the interview

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

Thanks for the kind comments.

This post was based on a few a different articles where I extracted the information from and adapted - so it didn't take too long :)

Anonymous said...

Great article, I am inspired!-

TejiKAur said...

Guru Fateh ji
i just wanted to say congradulaiotns I saw your article on Youth of the MOnth.Gud job ji u earned it Keep up the Gud work :-)
Teji Kaur