SAT GURU RAM SINGH JI(12TH GURU)
Twenty five kilometres from Ludhiana is located a small village of Sri Bhainee Sahib which embodied a rural life typical in the land of the five rivers. Around its fields, there existed a corporate life led by simple, God-fearing and innocent people In Such a village was born the great Guru of the Namdhari Sikhs n the year 1816 This was the day when the fields were green with the crops and the yellow flowers were dancing majestically from the stems of the plants.
Like many other great souls and Saints, Guru Ram Singh had a pious mother who reared him up by Singing to him the verses from the Holy Granth, and by narrating to him the lives and adventures of the Gurus and other Epic heroes.
Jassa Singh the father of Guru Ram Singh, held a key position in the village and was greatly respected.
Guru Ram Singh grew up in such a house. He learnt Gurmukhi from his mother and he memorized many parts of the 'Bani.' At the age of 9 Guru Ram Singh began to help his father in many works. While the other boys sang the village folk songs, this promising child always sang verses from the Granth. The others felt amused, then felt interested, and finally joined the religious-minded Guru Ram Singh in reciting the holy Verses.
These were the days of his political education. He saw before his eyes, how the English were advancing towards the Lahore State and encircling it from all sides: sowing seeds of dissension, promoting treason amongst the ranks of the Khalss: and trying to fulfil their long-cherished ambition.
He saw the internal weakness of his community as welt as the external danger from the imperialists. Service in the army failed to extinguish the religious flame in his heart; he remained regular in his prayers, forthright in his dealings and elevated in his character.It was while serving in this regiment that he came under the influence of Guru Balak Singh. It is believed by the Namdhari Sikhs that The Guru ship was conferred by the Tenth Gum on Gum Balak Singh of Huzro who passed it on to Guru Ram Singh.
SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS REFORMS TO WIN FREEDOM
In the year 1879, Guru Ram Singh wrote from his exile and prison in Burma: "I maintain friendship only with those, who devote themselves, whoever they may be, to worship and prayer." In the above words can be traced the philosophy and the origin of the new movement initiated by Guru Ram Singh. After Guru Gobind Singh, Sikhism had passed through many storms and difficulties. All this gave it maturity as well as a sense of struggle and permanency. The Sikhs had lost their character and had abandoned their original unity and purity. Their food and their dress had undergone a change due to the influence of Westerns. They did not possess those qualities which were associated with the word 'Khalsa'. Their forthrightness, the striving for truth, goodwill towards others, and the reading of the holy verses, had completely waned.
The Hindus were equally devoid of religious practices. Both the Hindus and Sikhs practiced rituals and sold their daughters. In such circumstances, it was absolutely essential that the work of religious revival should be undertaken.
Guru Ram Singh was a clear-headed leader who launched a crusade for religious reform and revival. He discerned that political independence had disappeared from the Punjab and the rest of the country because true religion had become extinct in the hearts of the people. He had witnessed with his own eyes how moral and religious decline went hand in hand with political shame, defeat and enslavement in the land of the five rivers.
That is why he reached the crucial decision that he should reform the Sikh and Hindu society as an important precondition to freedom. The result of his decision can be seen in the Namdhari movement, which was launched by him in the fluid atmosphere of the Punjab. For this purpose, he had already established a new centre at Bhaini as the radiating point of his views.
"Guru Gobind Singh's Granth is the only true one written by inspiration, and is the only sacred writing. Guru Gobind Singh is the real Guru. Any person irrespective of caste or religion can be admitted a convert."
According to a Govt. Report:
"He abolishes all distinctions of caste among Sikhs; advocates indiscriminate marriages of all classes; enjoins the marriage of widows, all which he performs himself; he never takes alms himself and prohibits his followers from doing so; enjoins abstinence from liquors and drugs… He exhorts his disciples to be cleanly and truth-telling and it is well that every man carries his staff; and they all desire to live; become the dust of the earth; and then come to me."
The practice of Chandi-Path was also introduced because it promised physical strength for the sake of the defense of the religion. The assembly for Chandi-Path generally lasted for two or three days.
In June 1863, Guru Ram Singh issued a special circular in which he prohibited the sale of daughters as well as infanticide. The circular, according to the official records said: "Whoever makes money by the marriage of his daughter is a rascal. Whoever commits infanticide is equally so."
"Be meek, if any one strikes you even then be meek; your protector is God. Always hide your good deeds. Look upon the daughters and sisters of the others as your own."
The marriages of almost all the Gurus including the one of the Tenth Guru, they say, were performed according to Brahmanic rites. They admit, the marriage of even Guru Ram Singh himself, was performed by the family priest in the traditional way. Guru Ram Singh launched his programme of Anand Marriages in the first week of June 1863 in the village of Khote where a large number of Namdhari disciples collected under the inspiration of the Guru.
People felt greatly interested to see the performance of such marriages by the Guru. But the Brahmans who had been acting as the priests of village families for a long time raised a powerful cry of protest. But the Namdhari leader refused to yield.
Guru Ram Singh introduced a simple and social and religious change in the community. He saved the Sikhs from the growing influence of the English. He taught them the ideals of clean living, honest earning, equality of human beings, simple dress, celibacy and tolerance. He finished, from the ranks of his disciples, the practices of Sati, infanticide, child marriage, trading in girls, borrowing, lies, adultery, stealing and drinking. It is said that once a drunkard and opium eater named Darbara Singh approached the Guru for wine and opium. Guru Ram Singh said, he could intoxicate him with God's name. He was directed to come after bathing. When he returned, the Guru put his sacred verses in his ears. The man was totally transformed. He broke his wine and opium jars at home and became one of the most reliable disciples of Guru Ram Singh. Such transformations among the Sikhs were numerous.
A NEW LIFE OF PURITY & SIMPLICITY
Lastly, it may be pointed out that the Guru himself practiced what he preached. He kept up his religious practices in the purest form even as a prisoner of the English. He wrote to his brother Guru Hari Singh from his exile.; "Give food, drink and clothing as much as you can to poor and the hungry. Continue taking God's name with all your strength as all blessings are derived from It. I searched In vain for comfort everywhere and took to several occupations for this purpose but when I got under Guru's protection, I found every comfort….." "Brother Hari Singh do not have ill feeling against any one... as the people do, so will they be rewarded... Go on with you prayers and continue to feed the hungry. Who is better to me than my Sikhs? I pray day and night: Oh! Guru keep me while I live and let me die in the midst of my Sikhs who obey you...l send herewith Rs. 151 in cash to be used in feeding the poor."
Such was the Guru who reformed the Sikh society In the second half of the l9fh century, giving them a moral basis which they had altogether lost; bestowing upon them a new life of purity, simplicity, fearlessness and love, which they needed badly, cured them of all their corroding maladies and immoral living.