24th December marks the Barsee (death anniversary) of Gurmukh Pyaare, Baba Thakur Singh jee, who passed away in 2004. I haven't had the good fortune of meeting Baba jee, however I have read about his Jeevan on the Internet and heard things from Gursikhs. From all I have read on various websites, forums and things I have heard from Gursikhs it seems Baba Thakur Singh jee's life was dedicated to humble Sevaa of Gurbani and Langar. Baba jee spoke very little but has left fond memories in the hearts of those who had the good fortune to see him.
A SHORT GLIMPSE AT THE LIFE OF BABA THAKUR SINGH JEE
Baba Thakur Singh jee was born in 1915 in village Eechogill, District Lahore (now in Pakistan). Both his parents, Baba Bahadur Singh jee and Mata Prem Kaur jee, were Amritdhari Gursikhs, who had great devotion and faith in Gurbani. After the 1947 partition they came to India and settled in the Sadaruala , near Makhu, District Ferozepur. From birth, Baba jee was religious hearted, had a peaceful and loving nature, and firm faith in Guru jee. Baba Jee used to share his earnings, food, and belongings with others and inspired others to pursue sewa and simran.
Joining Jatha Bhindran
Baba jee always sought the Sangat of Mahapursh (an elevated soul). One day Baba jee heard from someone that Baba Gurbachan Singh Jee along with the other Jatha Bhindran Singhs were doing Sikhi Parchaar. Baba jee left his home and went to village Bhindra in Dist Moga to meet the Jatha Bhindran Singhs, where he was blessed with the gift of Amrit from the Guru-roop Panj Pyaare. Baba Gurbachan Singh jee was pleased with Baba Thakur Singh jee and made him in charge of Langar. After two and half years of tireless sevaa, Baba Thakur Singh was accepted as a member of Jatha Bhindran. Everyday without fail, Baba jee would wake up early at Amrit-Velaa (around 2am), do Naam Abhiyaas (repetition of the Divine-Name, recite Nitnem of Panj Granthi, and then they would begin to start preparing Langar for all the Singhs.
Sevaa with Baba Kartar Singh Jee
Up until Baba Gurbachan Singh jee passing away, Baba Thakur Singh jee did seva of Garveye (close associate) for 22 years. There after, Baba jee carried on seva of the Sangat and Langar with Baba Kartar Singh jee whilst imbued with Naam and Baani. During the political hard times when Baba Kartar Singh jee was doing sevaa of awakening the Sikh Sangat through Sikhi Parchaar, he had said, "If the government arrest me, then after me Baba Thakur Singh jee will be responsible for Damdami Taksaal. They can give the sevaa of leadership to whom they please." After Baba Kartar Singh jee passed away, Baba Thakur Singh jee appointed Baba Jarnail Singh jee the Jathedaar (leader) of Jatha Bhindran.
Sevaa of Gurdwara Gurdarshan Parkaash, Mehtaa
In July 1982 Baba Jarnail Singh jee began the Dharam Yudh Morcha and made Amritsar their permanent residence. During this time, Baba Thakur Singh jee was given the sevaa of managing Gurdawara Gurdarshan Parkaash Mehtaa. In June 1984, Sri Akaal Takht Sahib and Sri Harmandir Sahib were attacked by the forces and countless Guru Ke Singh and Singhnian became Shaheed (martyrs). After Operation Bluestar, the Damdami Taksaal seva was given to Baba Thakur Singh jee by the Sangat. Under the guidance of Baba Thakur Singh jee, Jatha Bhindran continued with their Sikhi Parchaar through Santheaa (teaching Gurbani) and Amrit Sanchaars, as well as helping Gursikhs in jails and Shaheed families.
Arranging the Sarbat Khalsa
The Gurmat institution of Sarbat Khalsa, whereby all the Khalsa gathers to discuss Panthic affairs and deliver decisions with the consent of the Panth based on the guidance of Sri Guru Granth Sahib jee, was stopped by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh. However, the old tradition of Sarbat Khalsa was revived for the first time in the 20th century in 1986, under the sevaa of Baba Thakur Singh jee. Thereafter, the reconstruction of Sri Akaal Takht Sahib was begun by the Khalsa Panth.
Damdami Taksaal & Akhand Kirtani Jatha
Baba Thakur Singh jee was strong in his beliefs, however at the same time he had the utmost respect for Abhiyaasi (practicing) Gursikhs. Baba Thakur Singh jee met up with (late) Bhai Sahib Raam Singh jee, the former Jathedaar of Akhand Kirtani Jatha and they shared great pyaar. Baba Thakur Singh would make Gursikhs sit on his manjaa (bed) and he would do their sevaa. Baba jee showed respect and love for other Gurumukh Pyaare and their Jeevans (spirituality) regardless of small differences in vichaar
Importance of Amrit-Velaa
Some of the students at Taksaal sometimes got lazy and would miss waking up Amrit-velaa. Baba Thakur Singh jee found out about this. He would lovingly tell the Singhs about the importance of Amrit-velaa and he would beg them never to miss it. If those Singhs still missed Amrit-Velaa, Baba jee would go to their rooms and start to massage their feet and legs. When the Singhs who were asleep felt Baba jee massaging their feet they would immediately jump out of bed. They would sees Baba jee standing with his hands folded together begging them to get up and do their Nitnem. Baba jee would say to the Singhs, "What else could an ‘old man’ do to get you Singhs up for Amrit-velaa?"
In the Summer of 1998, Baba Thakur Singh jee and the Jatha Bhindran Singhs travelled to Malaysia. Baba jee talked very little and talked only if necessary. The Jatha Singhs told Baba jee that (the now late) Bhai Sahib Rajinder Singh jee (Dudley), from the Jathedaar of Chalda Vaheer Jatha (and a member of Akhand Kirtani Jatha), who was also visiting Malaysia for Sikhi Parchaar, had come to meet him. As soon as Baba jee heard this he rushed to the door to greet Bhai Sahib. Baba jee had a long conversation with Bhai Sahib, which was quite unusual for him as he talked littled.
On 24th December 2004, at the age of 89, Baba jee passed away at a private hospital in Amritsar. There was an audio recording online of Bhai Baljeet Singh, who was by the side of Baba jee when he passed away. I remember listening to the recording (I can't find the link now) and Bhai Sahib said that Baba jee was slowly Japping Naam and repeating "Waheguru" as he breathed his last. Waheguru.