Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism
One of a series of campaigns in the Sikhs' agitation in the 1920's for the reformation of their holy places. Gurdwara Sangat Sahib, located in Mien ke Maur in Lahore district, about 15 km from Chhanga Manga railway station, dedicated to the memory of Bhai Pheru (1640-1706), a masand or parish leader in the time of Guru Har Rai who was honoured for his devotion by Guru Gobind Singh with the titles of Sachchi Dahri (True Bearded) and Sangat Sahib, was an important shrine, with 2,750 acres of land attached to it, and was being managed by Mahant Kishan Das.

After the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, a representative society of the Sikhs, had taken over management of some of the major shrines and mahants or priests had started voluntarily handing over gurdwaras, under their control, Mahant Kishan,Das, on 28 December 1922, transferred Gurdwara Bhai Pheru to the Committee. He later went back on the agreement he had signed and petitioned the government to have the shrine and the lands restored to him.

On 7 December 1923 the police arrested the manager, Jagat Singh, and eleven other representatives of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. The possession of the shrine and the estate was restored to the Mahant and his tenants. However, the decision of the deputy commissioner of Lahore on the Gurdwara lands went in favour of the Shiromani Committee and, as its representatives arrived to take charge of these, Mahant Kishan Das and his tenant Pala Ram, brother of Mahant Narain Das, of Sri Nankana Sahib, lodged a complaint with police that the Akalis were forcibly taking possession of his property.

Police arrested 34 Akalis on 2 January 1924. The government revised its earlier decision given in favour of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and passed fresh orders declaring Pala Ram to be temporarily in possession of the land. Akalis launched a morcha in. protest even as the morcha at Jaito was still continuing. Jathas or batches of Akali volunteers started marching to Bhai Pheru from different parts of the district.

On 5 January 1924, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee took the campaign into its own hands. By 10 September 1925, the number of arrests had reached 6,372. An unsavoury incident, however, led the local organizer, Arjan Singh, to suspend the morcha on 20 September 1925. The Gurdwara and the lands attached to it came under the Committee's control after the Sikh Gurdwaras Act of 1925 was passed by the Punjab Legislative Council, and the court case too was decided in the Committee's favour in June 1931.

Source:Encyclopaedia of Sikhism - Harbans Singh

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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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