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Ideal Granthi - Bhai Sahib Chanchal Singh

Author: Kulbir Singh

BHAI SAHIB CHANCHAL SINGH JEE

After the shaheedi of Bhai Mani Singh jee, Panth gave the responsibility of
granthi of Siri Harmandir Sahib to a great gursikh of that time Bhai
Chanchal Singh. Bhai Chanchal Singh was the perfect embodiment of Gurmat.
There are many stories related to his great moral and spiritual character
but here we are going to list couple of them, for the benefit of cyber
sangat.

Before becoming the head granthi of Siri Harmandir Sahib, Bhai Chanchal
Singh jee was known for his strictness on following Gurmat. He was an
accomplished warrior and participated in numerous battles along with the
Singhs of that time. Another great quality that he possessed was hakeemi i.e
medical knowledge. His hands contained such divine grace (shafa) that
whoever took medicine from him became free of diseases. It was known that if
Bhai Chanchal Singh treated someones wounds, they healed very fast.

History stands witness to the fact that Bhai Sahib used to recite Siri
Sukhmani Sahib all the time. He used to do chaur of Siri Guru Granth Sahib
jee all day long, and kept doing paath along with it. His life was totally
devoted to Guru Sahib. His eyes stayed teary while he recited Siri Sukhmani
Sahib and doing chaur on Siri Guru Granth Sahib jee.

CHALLENGING THE SODHI AND BEDI PRINCES

In those days, the Sodhis and Bedis (belonging to the birth-caste of Guru
Sahib) were widely revered by Sikhs because of their background. These
Sodhis and Bedis widely abused the respect given to them. They considered it
their right on any offerings made to Gurdwaras. Some of the Sodhis were very
greedy and their avaricious acts greatly hurt the Sikh sentiments. Khalsa at
that time was busy defending itself from the oppressors like Pathaan, and
Mughals, and could not pay too much attention to the wrong happenings at
Gurdwaras.

Once a rich Gursikh from Kabul, presented a very beautiful chandoya
(chaananee that is hung on top roof of Siri Guru Granth Sahib jee) at Siri
Harmandir Sahib. The chandoya was extremely beautiful and befitting to be
hung on roof on top of Siri Guru Granth Sahib jee. Bhai Sahib Chanchal Singh
jee was very pleased to see the new Chandoya and immediately had it hung at
Siri Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar Sahib.

Incidently, a Sodhi prince arrived at Harmandir Sahib and noticed the
beautiful Chandoya hanging inside Darbar Sahib. He got tempted to take it
away and sell it to a king and get a fortune in return. He asked one of his
men, who were accompanying him, to get the chandoya. His servant, a Sikh
himself, was hesitant in getting the chandoya as he too thought that such
beautiful chandoya deserved only to be at Darbar Sahib but muted out of fear
for his master.

While he hesitated, the Sodhi prince, ordered him in front of Bhai Chanchal
Singh and other sangat to immediately remove the chandoya. He said that it
was their (of Sodhis) birth right to have anything offered at the Sikh
Gurdwaras and that Khalsa had given them right to do so.

Bhai Chanchal Singh jee was not an ordinary gursikh and was a player of high
spiritual states. First he was going to say something but then thinking
something he just closed his eyes. He kept quiet and was in some different
spiritual rang (colour) that day. As the servant removed the chandoya, tears
dropped from Bhai Chanchal Singh jees eyes. These were such tears that must
have brought storms and tempests in the unseen world. These storms were soon
going to manifest in the seen world. But alas, the Sodhi prince blinded by
ignorance did not realise what a big mistake he was committing.

Even after witnessing the condition of Bhai Sahib, the Sodhi prince did not
falter in his resolution to get the chandoya and eventually brought the
chandoya home. His servant could not hide his sentiments and expressed his
reservations at this infernal act. He mentioned to the Sodhi prince, how
Bhai Sahib Chanchal Singh was a very chardi kala waala Singh and how he had
tears in his eyes at their act. The Sodhi instead of realizing his mistake
spoke ill of Bhai Sahib. The Sodhi was too much in haume (ego) to accept his
mistake.

Anyway, as he opened up the chandoya, at his home, to examine the beauty of
it, he felt sudden severe pain in his stomach. So great was the pain that he
fell on the ground and starting wailing out for help. The servant gave him
water and tried different things but things only got worse for the Sodhi
prince.

One of his truthful servants chided his master and told him that he was
being punished by Guru Sahib for acting so greedily and for disregarding
sanctity of Siri Harmandir Sahib and sangat present there. The Sodhi, whose
ego had now clawed back to a much tolerable level realized his mistake. He
asked his servant to go in haste and beg Bhai Chanchal Singh for
forgiveness.

When the Sodhis men reached Darbar Sahib, they found Bhai Chanchal Singh in
same position as they had left him. He was doing chaur, his eyes were closed
and shedding tears, his head was upwards, and his chola drenched in his own
sweat. The rest of the sangat too was in shock and many were extremely upset
at the autocratic act of the Sodhi prince. The servants were very
apprehensive of disturbing him but somehow found audacity to inform Bhai
Sahib of their master's pitiful condition. They entreated before him and
begged for forgiveness.

At this point Bhai Sahib addressed them in full Bir Rass, Go tell your Sodhi
princes that the kind of shameful behaviour they are displaying is not
acceptable to Guru Sahib. Their shocking disregard for Guru Sahib and sangat
was an unpardonable sin that will make their lok-parlok (this world and the
next world) miserable. Tell your Sodhi prince to tie the Chandoya just as he
removed it from Darbar Sahib. Only then he will be pardoned for his
diabolical act.

The Sodhi prince's pain now knew no bounds. He came pleading to the darbar
of Guru Sahib implored for forgiveness for his sin and returned the chandoya
with full respect. From that day the practice of taking away offerings at
Gurdwaras by Sodhis and Bedis totally stopped.

ENCOUNTER WITH BABA SAHIB SINGH BEDI

Baba Sahib Singh Bedi was the most revered Sodhi/Bedi prince of his times.
All Sikh sardars and even Raja Ranjit Singh used to bow before him. Out of
respect many ill-informed, uneducated and ignorant Sikhs even started
addressing him as "Guru jee". Baba Sahib Singh too did not object to this
title, as history stands witness to it. With so many people giving him undue
respect and and performing silly acts like bowing before him, he got very
egoistic. He really started considering himself as the real Guru.

Having this silly thought of being the true Guru, Bedi reached Amritsar
Sahib and thought of establishing a parallel gaddi in Siri Harmandir Sahib.
When Bedi reached Siri Harmandir Sahib, Bhai Sahib Chanchal Singh jee as
usual was doing chaur sewa of Siri Guru Granth Sahib jee. Bedi had a large
following along with him, which numbered many hundreds of followers. As he
reached Harmandir Sahib, his disciples established a manji to the west of
Siri Guru Granth Sahib jee.

Just as Sahib Singh Bedi was about to get seated on this newly established
manji (throne), Bhai Sahib Chanchal Singh who was doing chaur, stopped doing
chaur and like a lion roared at the Bedi prince, Listen up Bedi! If you dare
to establish your gaddi, parallel to Siri Guru Granth Sahib jee, in Siri
Harmandir Sahib, then my hand will reach my sword. My sword will surely fix
you up. You cannot do such a deplorable act as long as even one Khalsa of
Guru Gobind Singh jee is alive.

Baba Sahib Singh Bedi was not expecting any resistance from anyone because
no one had dared talk like this to him before. Even kings bowed before him.
He was totally taken aback by the daring and audacious act of Bhai Sahib
Chanchal Singh. He had already heard about the spiritual power of Bhai Sahib
Chanchal Singh and had heard of the incident of the Sodhi prince who had
taken away the Chandoya of Siri Harmandir Sahib. Baba Sahib Singh Bedi soon
realised that he too could meet similar fate. He immediately changed his act
and with a sheepish smile bowed out of the despicable act he was going to
perform.

Today we need such preachers and granthis who have jeevan like Bhai Sahib
Chanchal Singh jee. The reputation of our granthis in panth has suffered a
lot in the twentieth century. We need to restore this reputation.

Daas,
Kulbir Singh