Friday, September 30, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

Shaheed Bhai Avtar Singh Ji


Shaheed Bhai Avtar Singh Ji was born in 1912 in the village of Kurala in the district of Hoshiarpur. His mother's name was Ohan Kaur and his father's name was Bhagwan Singh. In his early years he was educated at Moolak Kula primary school. His father was in the army and due to his bravery was awarded land in the village of Mintgomary in Pakistan, and so the whole family moved there. He completed his secondary education there and was married to Bibi Gurbachan Kaur. Bhai Avtar Singh was involved in agricultural work there until Pakistan was formed in 1947. He then returned back to his old village of Kurala and continued farming.

He came to meet Bhai Harnam Singh and Bhai Pritam Singh from Oasuha, and with their Sangat started to read Bhai Sahib Bhai Randhir Singh's inspirational books. Upon reading he felt a strong urge to take Amrit and lead a Gursikh way of life, and he also began going to Gurmat Smagams around Talwara and Oasuha with other Gursikhs. He also went to Model Town Ludhiana and met Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh.

Bhai Avtar Singh finally took Amrit with his wife on 13th April 1961, at the Vaisakhi Smagam in Ludhiana. He started wearing the Khalsa uniform (Bana) and also took up the strict Rehat of eating in Sarbloh (iron utensils), which he carried on until the end of his life. Many families were influenced by his high standards of Rehat-Rehni and were inspired to take Amrit.

Bhai Avtar Singh used to visit all the places where the Akhand Kirtani Jatha Smagams were held to enjoy the Kirtan and Naam-Bani. In 1969 the Akhand Kirtani Jatha organised a Yatra to Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib by buses and Kirtan was performed at Gurdwaras along the route. Bhai Avtar Singh also took part in that Yatra and also took part in the Sewa of the Panj Pyare in the Smagams.

He had such a desire to do Bhagti that he left the accommodation of his village and erected a hut on his farmland far away from his village, where he performed Guru Granth Sahib's Parkash and started living there until his last days. He would get up at 12 o'clock in the night and after having Ishnaan would start doing Naam-Abyass and continue this until daylight.

He started making arrangement to go to the Vaisakhi Smagam being held in Amritsar by the Akhand Kirtani Jatha. He said farewell to his family and told them to always follow a Gursikh way of life and to love one another and that he was not going to return. Bhai Sahib had decided to leave his home and to stay at the Khalsa farm in Gurdaspur and to accompany the Jatha to do Sikhi Parchar in the nearby villages. He arrived at the Vaisakhi Smagam at Amritsar and was the first person to give Shaheedi.

The Gurmukhs who eye-witnessed his Shaheedi say that when a bullet from the Nirankaris stuck him he immediately fell on the floor. But he quickly regained his composure and sat up cross-legged and started doing Nam-Abyass very loudly and then went into a deep meditative state. As he was sitting there, the Nirankaris smashed lathis on his bare head. Bhai Sahib remained sitting there upright and motionless until his last breath.

Shaheed Avtar Singh Ji has five sons and one daughter whose names are: Bhai Kirpal Singh, Bhai Harbaksh Singh, Bhai Iqbal Singh, Bhai Rattan Singh, Bhai Harbhajan Singh and Bibi Surjeet Kaur.A spear and a bullet also injured Bhai Iqbal Singh in one of his legs.

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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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