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Ranglay Sajjan Baba Ram Singh jee

by G. Nahar Singh in Ranglay Sajjan
Translated by Admin tapoban.org

Other Information on Baba Jee’s Life

Baba Ram Singh jee was one of those beloved and faithful Singhs who made their time on this earth worthwhile by having unwavering faith in Guru Sahib, the desire to serve, meditating on naam and enduring the hardships of prison. However, he never once concerned himself with his praise or fame . For such gursikhs, these words of the Guru truly apply:
Koi na jaanai koi na maanai say pargat har-duaaray.

Although Baba jee is no longer in this world, his lifestyle, service of his religion and country and the hardships he faced in prison all warrant that his life story be written and published so that such a gurmukh’s actions can serve as a historical example for the future.

Baba Ram Singh jee was a resident of Phalewal in district Ludhiana. His father’s name was Bhai Sahib Singh. In his early years, Baba Ram Singh helped his father in farming, but at the age of 18, he went to the capital of Jeend State, Sangroor and enlisted in the army. After 15 years of service in the army, Baba jee resigned from his post and returned home. Baba jee was a top player at gatka and was the most advanced in this art. He received a prize of RS 36 and one sword.

Encounter with Jeeonaa Mourh and Eye Witness to the death of Dogar

There was a daring bandit in the Malwa area by the name of Jeeonaa. He was of village Mourh, nearby Sangroor in the state of Jeend. Because he was a resident of Mourh village and because his last name was Mourh, he became famous as Jeeonaa Mourh. His generosity and bravery and other qualities gave rise to many stories in our country. Many poets have written works on Jeeonaa Mourh based upon baseless information; especially regarding the death of Dogar which has been totally misrepresented. Jeeonaa’s short history is that his older brother, Kishanaa was a bandit who was friends with a man named Dogar. Dogar betrayed Kishana to the police and thus Kishana was sent to the famous prison of “Kalaa Paanee” (Black Waters). From the prison, Kishanaa sent his brother Jeeonaa a letter in which he encouraged his brother to take revenge from Dogar. Because of this, Jeeonaa and Kishanaa’s son became bandits. Ordinarily, this would certainly not have been the path they would have chosen.

It is well known amongst the people that Jeeonaa would not harm ordinary citizens. His desire was not to rob but only to kill Dogar and take revenge for his brother. How Dogar was killed was recorded by Baba Ram Singh jee, as he saw what happened in person.:

“In the days when Jeeonaa Mourh and other bandits had influence in the Malwa area, an Englishman by the name of Mr. Warburton was the Police General in Patiala. In particular, Mr Warburton had been appointed to capture the well known bandits in the area.

To arrest Jeeonaa, police officers and soldiers from Jeend’s army were sent in parties of ten or fifteen men. Warburton used to stay in a hut by the gate to Mourh village and there was a tight police cordon of the village so Jeeonaa could not attack. Even in the village there was quite a police presence. Regardless of these measures, the people of the village continued to keep contact with Jeeonaa and he used to often come to his home and despite the police presence would spend the entire night and leave in the morning.

That thanedar with whom we were riding was a kind and religious old Sikh with a long white beard. He always had a rosary with him. One day, Dogar came to him and lodged a report that “today Jeeonaa is in the forest and he can be captured if you hurry. I will accompany you.” The thanedar said “We don’t have enough strength and not nearly enough men. Without reinforcements, it isn’t possible to combat him” Dogar was insistent so the thanedar and we, the rest of the party had to go with him to the forest.

Dogar was riding ahead of us and when we reached the specified spot, we say Jeeonaa, his nephew and another man sitting together. Their horses were grazing at the time. Jeeonaa saw us and then said to his nephew: “What are you looking at now? They have arrived!”

Upon hearing this, the nephew took his gun and fired at Dogar. From our side, horseman had also fired a shot but our guns were useless because we had not cleaned them due to how much we were travelling. Our man’s shot missed but the nephew’s shot hit its target and dispatched Dogar to the hereafter. They fired only one bullet and when the saw Dogar fall, they got on their horses and rode off. The thanedar said to us, “We tried to convince this fool that the time wasn’t right. He wouldn’t listen and now he has lost his life. Go circle into the forest and then go back to Dogar’s village with his body. I’ll go now to the village and file a report with the officers.”

After this, Jeeonaa was captured at the festival of Nainaa Devee and was hung in Hissar Jail. His nephew was also imprisoned.

SatSangat, Meditation and Service of the Panth

After Baba jee returned to his village, he began to farm but maintained this daily discipline: he would get up early in the morning and would enjoy the bliss of reciting hymns and meditation. He was one of Bhai Randheer Singh’s beloved friends. At akhand paaths and samaagams, he would always stay with Bhai Sahib. The arrangements for the langar were always in Baba jee’s control and he would do this service with great love. He would never tire, no matter how many problems arose. He would always serve with a content mind. Although Baba jee’s body was old, he was still very strong and active. His attitude was soft towards all and his personality was calm and sweet. Baba Jee would think long and hard about all matters. His body was short and thin, he had a long beard and his face had the influence of calming others. His words were filled with the nectar of sweetness and love.

Imprisonment

After enjoying the benefits of many akhand paaths and keertan samaagams, ten years had passed. Finally that time arrived in which he was to serve the nation and in connection with the Rakab Ganj affair had to endure imprisonment in the final years of his life. In 1910, the question of Gurdwara Rakab Ganj was raised and many American and Canadian Sikhs came back to the country and many were imprisoned. Many were tried in the first, second and third Lahore Conspiracy Cases and were sentenced to death or life imprisonment etc. In this matter, Bhai Sahib Randheer Singh jee was imprisoned on May 19, 1915 in Nabha and was transferred on June 14 to Ludhiana. Along with Bhai Sahib, many others were also arrested. Baba Ram Singh jee was arrested in July of 1915. First he was kept in the Ludhiana police station but was transferred to Ludhiana jail, where he spent four months. During this time, for a month, he remained ill with an illness of the bowels. Although Baba Ram Singh was extremely ill, he was still kept in his jail cell. It was such a time, then, that there was great subjugation in the prisons. The political prisoners were not taken to hospital even if they were sick. Bhai Randheer Singh’s experience in jail is recorded in the second half of the book Jail Chittiaan .

On October 27, 1915, Bhai Sahib Randheer Singh jee and Baba jee’s other companions were taken from Ludhiana to Lahore Central Jail and the whole group, numbering about 100 Singhs, were tried in the Second Lahore Trial. Three judges heard the cased and the decision was handed down on March 30, 1916. According to section 121A, Baba jee was sentenced to life imprisonment in Kalaa Paanee and the seizure of all his property. On April 4, 1916, he and his companions were transferred to Montgomery Central Jail. Baba jee was always locked in his cell but he continued to encourage his companions to be strong and steadfast. He endured his imprisonment with great strength. At one point Baba jee became terribly sick with pneumonia, but he survived. Because of his old age, Baba Ram Singh had his sentence commuted to only two years and in the winter of 1918, he was released. At the time of his release, he was not allowed to meet any of his companions.

After Jail

After his imprisonment, Baba jee returned to his village and again began to serve the Panth. He would attend congregations and serve the sangat. When the First Shaheedee Jathaa going to Jaito was fired upon, Baba Jee went to Sree Amritsar to join the Second Shaheedee Jathaa. The Shromani Committee refused to allow him to join the Jatha. To this, Baba Jee said,

“Are you refusing to send me with the Jatha because of my old body? I’m much stronger than many of the youths included. I can run five miles and I can lift 80 Kg. I’ve been to jail and I was never released by asking for forgiveness. I never put a stain on the name of Sikhee. Give me the opportunity to achieve martyrdom! I’ve lived long enough!”

These words were published in the SGPC’s tract “Jaito News.” Baba jee was honoured by the Shromani Committee for his willingness to serve in the Jaito and Guru kaa Baagh agitations.

Passing

Baba jee had a great desire to see Bhai Sahib Randheer Singh again. When he heard that Bhai Sahib had come to Lahore Central Jail, in 1930, he was very happy. But fate was such that he could not meet with Bhai Sahib because he was sick with a fever. He remained ill for three or four months and then that day came when the Divine called him for. On June 11, 1930, at the age of 67, at 4:00 AM, Baba jee left for Gurpuree. On June 20, the sangat of Phalewal had an akhand paath in his memory.

Baba jee’s wife, Maaee Prem Kaur was very religious just like her husband and always helped Baba jee in serving the sangat. Three years after Baba jee’s passing, Maee jee also passed away. This couple was a true example of Sikh faith and belief and lived a true life that can serve as an example for all. In the life of a householder, this couple left a great ideal. They had no child however.

Baba jee had been the recipient of a hereditary position in the Village Council but when he received the position, he went to the courts and had it transferred to his nephew. Baba jee’s nature was spiritual and aloof from worldly attachments. The courts also insisted, “Baba, why do you give up your position. Why do you give your lands to your nephew? What will you do if he doesn’t serve you?: Baba jee said that his nephew was going to inherit everything anyway, so why not give it to him while alive? “If my nephew doesn’t serve me, then it will be his decision.” This was the embodiment of love Baba jee was. His memory still moves us, his friends. In Montgomery Central Jail, he had stayed with me.

(Nahar Singh Gyaanee)