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Bhagat Puran Singh Ji- Barsi 5Th August


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Bhai Puran Singh (4 June, 1904 - 5 August, 1992) was born at Rajewal, in district Ludhiana on June 4, 1904 to mother, Mehtab Kaur and father, Chaudhari Chibu Mal, who was from the Hindu faith. During childhood, Bhai ji was a Hindu and his original name was Ramjidas.

He started his education at Khanna, Punjab and then later joined Lahore's Khalsa High School. He used to perform "sewa" in Gurdwara Dera Sahib and Gurdwara Shahid Ganj of Lahore where he would help with cleaning, cooking and serving food; he also tended to the aged, infirm and sick who came to the Gurdwaras to pay their respect to Guru Granth Sahib.

In an interview with Bhai Patwant Singh, Bhagat Puran Singh discloses how he became a Sikh. In his early life he would travel a lot from village to village and would stay overnight at Hindu Temples. One day when he was staying at one such temple, the Brahmins told him to clean the temple and then when he had done that, they sat in front of him and ate food without offering him anything.

The next time, he took shelter at a Gurdwara and the Gurdwara's Giani ji ("priest") not only gave him good hot food but also a cot and a glass of milk afterwards and all without asking for any sewa (service) for the Gurdwara. Bahi Sahib ji wrote: "Every night 25-30 travellers would come to the Gurdwara to stay; they were all served food from the common kitchen. This culture of the Gurdwaras deeply affected me". Following this incident, Ramjidas, the Hindu, decided to take Khanda-da-Amrit and became a Khalsa Sikh in 1923.

Bhagat ji is one of the most prominent Sikh heroes of this century. He gave most of his adult life to the total selfless service to terminal and mentally ill patients, who in most cases had been abandoned by their families and society at large. He gave his life to provide the last hope for these desperate patients. It is recorded that whenever and wherever he saw a deserted dead body (human or animal), he would immediately prepare by his own hand a grave and give the corpse a deserving burial or cremation as a sign of respect for the dead body. He is recorded to have said, "Dignity in death is a birthright of each living thing."

In 1947, Bhagat ji founded the institute called Pingalwara meaning "the home of the crippled" with a few discarded crippled or sick patients. The word "Pingal" means "Cripple" and "wara" mean "home". Today, this institute which is run by Bibi Dr Inderjit Kaur cares for over 1000 patients.

Bhagat ji was also writer as well as publisher and an environmentalist. Bhagat Ji's contribution in spreading awareness about the global dangers of environmental pollution, increasing soil erosion, etc are now well recognised. For his dedication and unreserved service to humanity was awarded with heaps of honours from many quarters. Prestigious among these was the Padamshri award in 1979, which he surrendered in the wake of the army attack on the Golden Temple in 1984.

Bhagat ji left for his heavenly abode on August 5, 1992 aged 88 years.

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"Bhagat Puran Singh was no ordinary mortal but undoubtedly the most loved and revered man in the world. I once described him as the bearded Mother Teresa of Punjab. Mother Teresa had the backing of the powerful Roman Catholic Church, the English press and innumerable foundations to give her money. Bhagat Ji Had nothing except his single-minded dedication to serve the poor and the needy. And yet he was able to help thousands of lepers, mentally and physically handicapped and the dying. His name will be written in letters of gold in the history of the world".

Khushwant Singh on Bhagat Ji

Quotes by Bhagat Ji:-

The thoughts of great men are the common heritage of humanity and let our countrymen receive inspiration and guidance from these thoughts."

"Freedom is not an achievement but an opportunity."

"Those who die for their country are martyrs and those who live for their country are greater martyrs."

"Dignity in death is a birthright of each living thing."

"All Punjabis should sow trees of "Bohar"(Banyan), "Pippal" and "Neem", which are essential to our eco-system."

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