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Sant Attar Singh Lays The Foundation Stone Of Banaras Hindu University


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In the year 1875 Sir Syed Ahmed Khan founded 'Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College' at Aligarh, realizing the need for modern education on the pattern of University of Cambridge. Later the college was upgraded to University in 1920 and named Aligarh Muslim University.

And in 1904 Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya also thought of establishing a Hindu University and started working whole time for it leaving his lucrative law practice. During the same period Annie Besant and other leaders were also working for a similar cause and established Central Hindu College at Banaras. In 1911 all joined hands and formed “The Hindu University Society” under the leadership of Pandit Ji with its headquarters at Allahabad. Kashi Naresh Dr Vibhuti Narain Singh donated 1300 acres of land at Banaras for this noble cause.

In the second quarter of 1914, a meeting of the society was held. On the agenda was just one item “Whom should we invite to lay the foundation stone?”

All agreed that the foundation stone should be laid by a 'pious personality'.

Who is and where is such a saint? One of the members suggested that there is one in Punjab but he is a Sikh. Pandit Ji retorted, “Then what?” We shall get the foundation stone laid by him only.

In May 1914, caring little for the summer heat, Pandit Ji, with some of his followers, left for Sant Attar Singh's Ashram at Mastuana, at the border of the then Nabha and Patiala States. He traveled by train up to Sangrur, the capital of Jind State.

The Ashram was approximately at a distance of 8 Km. Pandit Ji removed his shoes at Sangrur railway station and started walking bare-foot on the sandy road. Some body asked him why he was doing so? He replied that he was going to meet a holy person for a holy cause and hence he should be humble and respectful.

The news that Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya was coming to Mastuana spread like a wildfire. One of Sant Attar Singh's followers, because of the summer heat and poor road condition, sent for a few mares, which the Pandit Ji politely refused.

On his arrival at the Ashram, Pandit Ji found Sant Ji reciting Kabir's hymns:

Awal Allah noor upaaia kudrat ke sab bande

Eik noor te sab jag upjeya kaun bhale ko mande. (1349)

(From the One and the same Light, the entire universe came into existence. How can there be good or bad among them?)

On listening Kabir Baani, Pandit Ji felt and expressed that he had come to the right place.

It was decided to lay the foundation stone of the university on 24 December, 1914.

Sant Attar Singh traveled to Banaras in the private royal train of Maharaja Ripudaman Singh of Nabha along with Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala and reached there a few days prior to the fixed date. At the railway station Pandit Ji in the company of Maharaja Vibhuti Narain Singh, Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner and the Maharajas of Indore, Gwalior, Alwar and Darbhanga received Sant Attar Singh. The railway station was tastefully decorated with buntings and flowers. There was a carpet from the train up to the specially decorated royal gold plated carriage of the Kashi Naresh. As the Sant Ji's carriage, pulled by the hosts (not by horses), passed through the Bazaars, the crowds showered flowers from shops and house-tops. Outside the city, the public climbed up the trees to have a glimpse of Sant Ji. This warm reception continued unto the proposed site of the University, where special tents were put-up for the guests' stay.

For 10 days there was continuous reading (Akhand Paths) of Guru Granth Sahib in a specially decorated tent. The Maharajas and public performed Sewa and Langar was distributed for one and all. Gurbani Kirtan was recited in the morning and evening. It was attended by all. Thirty-one

persons adapted the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib at the end of the 10-day prayers. On the 10th day, Kashi Naresh Vibhuti Narain Singh handed over a trawl made of gold to Sant Attar Singh and 11 bricks of Gold were handed over to Sant Ji by Pandit Ji and other Maharajas one by one, which were laid in the foundation dug for the building of the University.

In 1915 the University Establishment Ceremony was performed by Lord Hardinge, the then Viceroy and Governor General and the University Bill passed.

Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya requested Sant Attar Singh to spare his disciple Sant Teja Singh to head the Teachers' Training College.

At the end of the ceremony, Sant Ji took Pandit Ji aside and said, “When we started Khalsa College at Amritsar in 1893, we admitted one Hindu child, one Musalmaan, and one Sikh to start with.”

Catching the point, the great patriot replied, “By all means” and declared: “India is not a country of the Hindus only. It is a country of the Muslims, the Christians and the Parsees too. The country can gain strength and develop itself only when the people of the different communities in India live in mutual goodwill and harmony”.

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(Courtesy to Balwant Singh, Baru Sahib)

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