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sevapanthi mahapursh (utham singh/javahar singh)


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I have been feeling the longing to reacquaint myself with gurmat sangeet and being totally imbued with loving devotion to guru sahib through kirtan. I get most of my knowledge from the sant ameer singh ji sainchi of guru granth sahib ji...and to my surprise I was given a glimpse of some saintly figures from the sevapanthi samparda. I have been touched by the simple/pragmatic and merit-based lessons which have been subtely passed on. When people talk about the honest and simplicity of gursikhs..this is what I see (I am a far cry from this in actuality, but it melts me seeing that people successfully lived this way). Please accept this rudimentary translation of pages 9-12 from the sainchi as a starting point of uncovering more information...it may even encourage others of us to learn or bring out resources which can further help redevelop and consolidate our traditions!

Mahant Baba Utham Singh Ji

At the age of 4, utham singh became sick. His parents tried many different remedies to alleviate the pain and sickness. They were unsuccessful. His parents decided that they should go to a saintly person and ask for advice (one must remember that it was culturally normal to respect elders; the masses were not educated and very few actually felt they had the capacity or the opportunity to perceive or live a life of spirituality; so the perception of going to a spiritually inclined individual was compounded according to today’s litmus test).

They went to srimaan 108 mahant hari singh ji, who was the 7th janasheen ( figurehead of the organization). He suggested that they leave utham singh with him at the dera. He said that utham singh’s remedy lies in the seva of the gurdwara sangat. The parents gave their son, utham singh, to mahant hari singh and said “you’ve given him life and made him healthy; please take care of him…it will keep us happy and healthy tooâ€.

Utham singh’s seva over the next 12 years consisted of and included:

1) bringing water from wells for langar

2) serving and hosting sangat, mahapurash’s, and other gurughar dignitaries

3) washing blankets/chaddars/clothes

4) washing dishes

5) preparing langar

Utham singh spent the rest of his time learning gurmukhi and had the following bani’s commited to his memory

1) japji sahib

2) shabad hazaaray

3) rehraas

4) kirtan sohila

5) anand sahib

6) sukhmani sahib

7) asa ki vaar

Utham singh’s darbari seva included

1) reading raihraas sahib during the darbar

2) preparing degh (kraah parshaad)

At the age of 16, Utham singh had the benefit and fortune of meeting bhai javahar singh ghandharb. Bhai javahar singh had the seva of doing asa ki vaar and shaam ki chaunki (probably prior to raihraas) wherever he went to do kirtan. He spent 22 days at the gurdwara sahib doing his nitnem of 2 chaunki’s, and mahant hari singh ji asked bhai javahar singh to take utham singh as his student of gurmat sangeet.

Mahant hari singh gave the following direction to utham singh

1) do seva of your elders and those who impart wisdom upon you

2) make sure that you always demonstrate true respect and honor for your teachers

3) after today, you will accept bhai javahar singh as your teacher

On their way to bhai javahar singh’s destination (as it was a sign of respect and example of humility to go to another’s dwelling/dera/gurdwara); they met a passerby who asked “where are you taking this child� Mahant hari singh said “ I am taking him to a great soul so that he can impart the following virtues;

1) etiquette in obtaining more virtue (learning raag vidiya)

2) he will learn and later teach others and keep the sangat’s attuned to gurmat

The passerby retorted “if he leaves your company and learns a skill he may go astray and be of no benefit to youâ€. Mahant hari singh said “if he isn’t of any use to me with his new skill;he’ll at least be independent and of use to himself. Those who actually get sent off by saints are betterâ€!

Utham singh was brought to his living quarters in amritsar, which was right across from dera sato gali. The quarters were handmade by none other than sant ameer singh of dera sato gali. The janasheen of sant ameer singh was sant gurdit singh. Thereafter it was sant jawahar singh. The quarters were simple and rudimentary. There were only 1 or 2 places where people could sleep. They pretty much had to squeeze a hammock-like cot in that area. Utham singh was indifferent because he was imbued with the love for guru! J

Utham singh served javahar singh like a son serves his father/teacher… He learnt how to read nanak prakash (a historical text) from both bhai javahar singh and kavi santokh singh’s student).

Javahar singh would take utham singh to darbar sahib in the morning and listen to the kirtan and then pass the sarandha (A traditional sikh instrument used by guru ram das ji, and guru arjun sahib ji) to utham singh. The sangat would be mesmerized by the sweet and spiritually imbued voice of utham singh.

Utham singh was once given some money by someone in sangat and bhai javahar singh saw him take the money and put it in his own pocket. When the chaunkee ended, it was customary to go to har ki pauri (in the darbar sahib precinct) to get amrit. Bhai Javahar singh asked utham singh “what were you givenâ€. Uttham singh answered with “a gold pieceâ€. Javahar singh said “ heyta amrit, upar sona <loosely translated as “you’re going down to get amrit, yet you have gold in your pocket…and have kept it higher†He further said to utham singh “throw your gold coin into the sarovar…you’re not to accept any money from this seva/endeavor†(this was a principle, not a one-time test).

Javahar singh used to make the trip to una sahib for holla mahalla yearly ( I can mention the route, but it is probably insignificant); He would do kirtan and it was common for people to go into samaadhi and a state of bairaag while he’d sing.

This is the impact of javahar singh’s bhagtee and bhaav (devotional worship and loving intention. He donated whatever money he had to making the parkarma of baba bakala bigger and he also donated money for the nishaan sahib.

Many people who were famous ragi’s of that time were always in hopes that javahar singh would take them on as students.. here is a list of the names and the conclusion to this part of the post

1) bhai shankar das ji, (mahant from shahpur)

2) bhai sant das ji (mahant from chak moosay)

3) bhai das ram ji (chavreeya vallay)

4) sant javahar ram ji (shahpur vallay)

5) sant jodh singh ji

6) bhai javahar singh ji soordas (taran taaran)

7) bhai sucheyt singh (dargahi shah)

8) bhai hari singh ji, shah jeevan wallay

9) bhai kahn singh ji bhaaga dey (used to do kirtan at una sahib and stay with mata narain devi)

10) bhai sobha singh ji amritsar (used to stay at the samaadh of baba bikram singh)

11) sri maan sant baba utham singh ji

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the previous post is discussing the era which was there prior to 1888,

Darbar sahib kirtan maryada

asa ki vaar was done by bhai cheyt singh, bhai raam singh, bhai jassa singh. Whenever bhai javahar singh would go to darbar sahib, he was respectfully asked to sit in front of the ragi singh's, by the aforementioned.

Bhai javahar singh would obligingly do 1 shabad for the kirtan hazaaree (as he was respected that highly, that the kirtanee themselves would deem it an honor for him to do kirtan while it was their duty). Bhai javahar singh would sit back after his one shabad and would remain in the darbar till bhogh..then he would go back to dera sato gali.

in 1888, the dera's authority was given to sant utham singh ji...who by this time had become very wise/learned etc.

Sant Uttam singh wrote and completed a full bir of guru granth sahib ji, as writing and reading gurbani had been his forte since his younger days in seva. He once got sick while writing guru granth sahib ji, and no one was willing to take on the seva as writing was difficult and the responsibility was high. Sant Uttam singh proceeded with a requisition from sant ameer singh who said "you might overcome your sickness if you just continue in this endeavour" (up until today, you can see the prakaash of this hath likhat bir on sangrand at dera sato gali).

he made it mandatory for all the learners of the dera to attend asa ki var, do 1 shabad and come back after hukamnama.

Sant Sham singh addanshahi is a gurmukh/saint who lived 120 years, but did kirtan seva for 75. His daily duty was to do the first chaunkee..he did this dilligently with his sarandha.

The love between sham singh and uttam singh was so high, that sham singh would give his sarandha to uttam singh to do one shabad in his chaunkee! (imagine the love/ the musical skill/ and mostly the naam-presence. Shaam singh and uttam singh had a sevadar appointed to have the sarandha brought back and forth from each other during this engagement :). When the sarandha had some faults or needed fixing, sant sham singh would go himself to fix the sarandha! (remember he was really old at this time). Sant shaam singh kirtan at darbar sahib till he was 110..without fail!

Sant uttam singh had 2 shahgirds. one was sant ameer singh, the other was sant jivand singh. sant jivand singh had requested that he not be given the responsibility of the dera, and he was blessed with a bachan of jivan muktee...sant ameer singh became the dera head (not that he wasn't qualified).

Sant jivand singh lived the rest of his life doing seva of sant uttam singh, he died after completing the japji sahib paat at the conclusion of a many multi year katha of guru granth sahib ji in 1947.

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drawrof, this is one amazing post, please do make a back up of this post in your computer. This is really nice sakhi of mahapursh which give us inspiration in the path towards vahiguroo... just look at the hard work (Seva) sant uttam singh ji did..this is true example of murid which bhai gurdas ji mentions in his varan: Murda Hoi Na Murid Gali Hov Na ||

Dhan Dhan Guru Pyarae :D :D

please keep posting inspirational stuff like these.

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