A great devotee of Sikhism, Baba Nand Singh Ji was born in 1870 A.D. at Sherpur Village, Jagraon, in Ludhiana District of Punjab. His father was Sardar Jai Singh while his mother was Sardarni Sada Kaur. Right from childhood days, he had an urge for devotion to God. His nature was that of a hermit, a “Yogi” but he had an extra glow on his face. Upon seeing the glow on his face, one could feel that he was a great soul sent by God into this world to deliver the message of Ultimate Truth. At the age of five, he often used to wake up in the middle of the night and go out for meditation. Once his parents on not seeing him in his bed got worried and started looking for him. They were surprised to see him sitting on the edge of the well with his eyes closed and in deep meditation. He was perched precariously and any slight movement due to his sleepiness/drowsiness would have resulted in his falling into the well. Upon seeing the glow on his face and the manner in which he was in deep meditation, the apprehension of the parents disappeared. The whole episode led them to believe that their child was a great soul who would one day become a great saint and who will show the way to Ultimate Truth to the world.
Baba Nand Singh Ji, in his youth, adopted the profession of his fore fathers, but in reality he was deeply devoted to God.
Baba Ji left his house and started to do “sewa” at Gurdwara Sahib in Ferozpur. There he met Sant Baba Harnam Singh Ji, Bhuchon Wale. Sant Ji observed that the young Baba Nand Singh had the characteristics that must have been acquired by long and deep meditation and devotion. He also seemed to possess the spirit of sacrifice and always ready to serve. This made Sant Harnam Singh Ji show the young Sant Baba Nand Singh the way to complete devotion and the correct path to divine knowledge leading to the ultimate Union with God. Sant Ji also made him realise that only that part of the life which was spent in the devotion and service to God was considered successful. He further stressed that one should do good deeds for the welfare of humanity and that the youth age once passed never returns in life while old age never leaves. Therefore youth should not be wasted but one should make the maximum use of it to do service to God and mankind.
The above advice and instructions changed the life of Baba Nand Singh Ji and made him to go to the forest for further meditation. He commenced his meditation without considering the local weather conditions. Furthermore he did not go anywhere for his food. He believed that He, “Waheguru” on whom he was devoting and meditating, shall definitely take care of all his needs. With this strong belief in mind, he sat in deep meditation. Somehow the food came from one source or other at the required times.
After a period of meditation, he returned from the forest and camped just outside the village and continued with his meditation irrespective of the local climatic conditions. The villagers upon observing this built a temporary house for him. After sometime the people from Kalera Village came and requested him to visit their village. He accepted their invitation and set out for Kalera. On the way he stopped at a well which was between Kaunke Village and Kalera and decided to camp there. The villagers over there made a small hut for Baba Ji and Baba Ji started his meditation.
Baba Nand Singh Ji later established his “Dera” (centre) near Kalera in Punjab. He led a simple life and continued with the same principles of deep meditation. The food for the “Dera” would come from different devotees though no cooking was done at the “Dera” itself. This practice is still continued by the “Dera” now popularly known as Nanaksar. The food, “langar”, is not prepared at Nanaksar but it is sent by the nearby villages and no matter how big the congregation, never ever has has there been a shortage. No monetary offerings are ever made in front of the Guru Granth Sahib at Nanaksar, as the usual practice is at other Gurdwaras, but never a shortage of funds has occurred there. Baba Ji did not use any money on himself. He always served the community with true love and affection. It is said that once Maharaja Bhupender Singh of Patiala came to offer one lakh rupees for the Gurdwara fund but Baba Ji politely refused the offer. This was the first time someone had ever declined the offer of accepting money for a religious place from a Maharaja and of course the Maharaja felt bad and told Baba Ji, “You will not find a donor like Bhupender Singh”. To this Baba Ji replied, “You will not find another person who is prepared to sacrifice everything and yet be fully committed like Nand Singh”. This made the Maharaja humble and respectful and he bowed his head before Baba Ji. Baba Ji left for his heavenly abode in 1943 (13 Bhadron Sanmat 2000) at the age of 73.
” Be True Sikh ” Do charity, speak truth and embrace humility ” Emphasized on Naam Simran (Meditation) ” Have faith on Akalpurkh alone ” Choose a charitable cause and pursue it with selfless devotion ” Have Love for all and every one ” Have faith and respect the Holy Body of Sri Guru Granth Sahib as the Living Sikh Guru. ” Praise only Guru Nanak Dev Ji and criticise and condemn only oneself. ” Pray before Guru Granth Sahib only for all blessings and effacing of sufferings.
HOW WAS THE PLACE OF NANAKSAR Takhat selected BY BABA NAND SINGH JI?
One day BABA JI asked S. Rattan Singh of Kaleran village (located a mile from Nanaksar Thath) to select a place where he can stay for a few days. BABA JI said that the place should be an open one, which should not have a road nearby and the area must be dry. S. Rattan Singh replied that such a place is “KARRARI KA THEH”. This place was surrounded by the boundaries of three villages (Galib Kalan, Galib Khurd, and Sherpura). Here a “Mathh” was erected in the memory of a childless, unmarried girl of the mahajans (karrarr); the people were emotionally attached to this place. Dhan Baba Ji refused to stay at this place. This led the followers to tell about a place near Gujran Di Patti, but again Dhan Baba Ji declined to stay there.
Then Baba Ji himself pointed to a place, where there was a well. This place belonged to Agwar Lopo of Jagraon. Baba Ji then brought a horse and road it to the newly discovered place, and his followers took spades and karahis and followed Baba Ji. The land was full of ant holes and recently diseased animal carcasses were scattered throughout the land. Snake holes were seen everywhere, and people began to suspect that this land was a place of ghosts. The herds of deer ran hither and thither. The wild cows ran amuck and at night wolves would howl for hours.
Nearby, there was a deserted well. They took some water out of it, but it was black in color. The followers drank some of it, and described it as being bitter like poison. But Baba Ji said that the water was good and ordered to take some buckets of water out of it, which prompted the villagers to immediately withdraw water. Suddenly, the water became very sweet and pure. Baba Ji did not want to move to another place even though it may be near a road. Baba Ji liked this place and decided to stay here.
What was the real reason to select this place? About a mile from this place is the historical gurdwara of Gurusar, where SAHIB SRI GURU HARGOBIND SINGH JI stayed there for some time. GURU SAHIB used to hunt in the forest there and GURU SAHIB himself took water from that well. The ANTARJAMI BABA JI selected this place for that special reason.
The villagers dug a deep pit about six feet in length and built a boundary wall about six feet high made of katcha (bricks). It was covered by local grass.
Baba Ji uttered this salok of Bhagat Kabir Ji ( ang 1376 ) :——–
‘Kabeer, why kill yourself for your love of decorations of your home and mansion? In the end, only six feet, or a little more, shall be your lot’
Then Baba Ji said that it was a royal palace and even there was no need of bread here.
Mai Bhago, also know as Mata Bhag Kaur, was a sikh woman who led sikh soldiers against the Mughals in 1705. Mai Bhago was born in village of Jhabal Kalan, now known as Amritsar district of Punjab. Mai Bhago was descendant of Bhai Pero Shah, teh younger brother of Bhai Langah a Dhillon Jatt, a chief of 84 villages who had converted to Sikhism during the time of Guru Arjan Dev Ji (1563-1606). She had 4 brothers, who were also Staunch Sikhs. She was married to Bhai Nidhan Singh Varaich of Patti. Mai Bhago was a staunch Sikh by birth and upbrining. Her parents took her to Anandpur Sahib, when she was young to have glimpse of Guru Gobin Singh Ji.
Mughals and hilly chiefs had surrounded Anandpur and were demanding it be evacuated. They announced that any Sikh who would say that “he/she is not anymore a Sikh of Guru Gobind” will be left untouched while others will be done to death. A group of 40 Sikhs, led by Mahan Singh Brar told Guru Gobind Singh that they were not his Sikhs anymore. The Guru told them that they will have to write it in a document that says, “We are not your Sikhs anymore” and sign it. All forty Sikhs wrote their names on this document but one of then declined to sign; ‘Bedava’ and left Guru Gobind Singh. Mai Bhago was distressed to hear that some of the Sikhs of her neighbourhood who had gone to Anandpur to fight for Guru Gobind Singh had deserted him under adverse conditions. Hearing her taunts, these Sikhs were ashamed at their deed. She rallied the deserters persuading them to meet the Guru and apologize to him. she set off along with them and some other Sikhs to seek out the Guru, then travelling across the Malva region.
Meanwhile, Guru Gobind Singh had to evacuate the fort of Anandpur, his children were lost in the confusion. Two youngest one’s Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, went along with their grandmother (mother of Guru Gobind Singh). While elder one’s Ajit Singh and Jhujhar Singh were with their father. Then at battle of Chamkaur Guru’s elder sons attained martyrdom, Guru was saved by five Sikhs and he evacuated Chamkaur and was travelling in Malva region, being pursued by Mughal forces of Aurungzeb. Travelling day and night in the Jungles of Malva region, imperial Mughal forces were in constant pursuit of Guru. Guru Gobind Singh reached village of Khidrana, when Mai Bhago and the men, she was leading stopped near the dhab or pool of Khidrana where an imperial army in pursuit of Guru Gobind Singh had almost overtaken him. They challenged the pursuing host and fought furiously forcing it to retreat. All forty Sikhs attained martyrdom in this pitched battle, in which Guru himself was supporting them with a shower of arrows from a nearby high ground, found all the men except one Mahan Singh, killed when he visited the battlefield. Mai Bhago and Guru Gobind Singh ji were the sole survivors of this fiercely fought battle.
Mahan Singh, who had been seriously wounded, also died as the Guru took him into his lap. Guru Gobind Singh blessed those forty dead as the Forty Liberated Ones. He took into his care Mai Bhago who had also suffered injury in the battle. She thereafter stayed on with Guru Gobind Singh as one of his bodyguard, in male attire. After the death of Guru Gobind Singh at Nanded in 1708, she retired further south. She settled down at Jinvara, 11 km from Bidar in Karnataka where, immersed in meditation, she lived to attain a ripe old age. Her hut in Jinvara has now been converted into Gurdwara Tap Asthan Mai Bhago. At Nanded, too, a hall within the compound of Takht Sachkhand. Sri Hazur Sahib marking the site of her residence is known as Bunga Mai Bhago.
Warrior Princess Mai Bhago and the 40 Liberated Ones:
Guru Gobind Singh was joined by warriors of the Brar clan continued the fight against the Mughals who had mercilessly slaughtered his innocent children and countless other Sikhs. The Guru pressed westward pursued by the Mughals.
Bhag Kaur and her husband Nidhan Singh lived in the Majha region where the deserters of Anandpur had returned home. After hearing of the Guru’s plight, Bhag Kaur urged her husband to accompany her to the Guru’s side. Donning warrior’s attire, mounting her horse and raising her sword high, Bhag Kaur roused the sentiments of the deserters and rallied an eager army. Gathering forces along the way, Bhag Kaur was joined by many Sikhs including Mahan Singh, a Sikh deserter from the village of Sur Singh Wala, and a few influential leaders from Lahore who hoped to negotiate with the Mughals on behalf of the Guru. Bhag Kaur’s army met up with Guru Gobind Singh not far from Khidrana, a natural reservoir.
Forty of the former deserters joined the Guru in the ensuing battle. Greatly outnumbered, every one of Bhag Kaur’s regiment succumbed to the heavy combat and fell around her. The last one standing, Bhag Kaur fought courageously. She managed to procure a lance and speared several of her opponents until, overwhelmed by the enemy, she too fell. After the battle, Guru Gobind Singh found only Bhag Kaur and Mahan Singh alive. The Guru tended Bhag Kaur’s wounds and held Mahan Singh as he died, promising to pardon the deserters and tear up their papers of resignation.
The widowed Bhag Kaur stayed with Guru Gobind Singh’s army in his camp at Nanded attired as one his warriors. She was given a place in his personal body guard of ten soldiers, traveled as part of his entourage and was with him when he recruited Banda Singh Bahadar. Mai Bhago remained in Guru Gobind Singh’s service until the Guru’s death in 1708. She then made her home in Jinvara not far from Bidar of Karnataka where she lived in a humble dwelling.
Mai Bhago passed the remainder of her days in austere meditation living to an advanced age. Her place of residence in Jinvara has been converted into the shrine Gurdwara Tap Asthan Mai Bhago. In Takhat Sachkhand Sri Hazur Sahib of Nanded, the shrine, Bunga Mai Bhago, has been dedicated to her memory. Mai Bhago’s legacy of warrior princess continues to be an inspirations figure to Sikh women around the world. The deserters that she led in to battle are known as the Chali Mukte, or 40 liberated ones, who achieved spiritual emancipation from the ego based cycle of birth and death with their martyrdom.
Have you visited the historic gurdwara Tap Asthan Mai Bhago, Bunga Mai Bhago, or Muktsar shrines honoring the 40 liberated ones? We’d love to hear about your visit. Please share your experience and any photos you may have with our readers, and find out what others have to say about the historic shrines commemorating Mai Bhago and the Chali Mukti.