18th August


1887 Sardar Thakur Singh Sandhwalia, the chief of Sri Guru Singh Sabha movement, and a chief proponent of Khalsa Raj, passed away.

==> SINGH SABHA, a reform group of Amritdhari GurSikhs who objectively sought the eradication of the wrong practices in re-establishing the true traditions of GurSikhism. Their initial efforts for religious propagation and education resulted in the establishment of Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Amritsar, in 1872. Sardar Thakur Singh Sandawalaia was the first chief, while the temporary offices and gathering facilities were organized at Guru Ka Bagh. The objectives of Singh Sabha, Amritsar, were to inculcate the principles of SIkh religion as preached by the Sikh Gurus among the Sikhs with a view to restoring Sikhism to its pristine purity, preach the principles of Sikh religion by word of mouth, by publication of historical and religious books, and through magazines and newspapers, encourage propagation of Punjabi, reclaim apostates and attract the sympathies of those highly placed in public adminsitration to the educational progress of the Sikhs. The Singh Sabha was to shun politics.

Next in 1879, another Singh Sabha was established at the Prakash place of Guru Ram Das Patshah, in Lahore. Diwan Buta Singh and Bhai Gurmukh Singh were the chiefs of this organization. The successful efforts of these Singh Sabhas resulted in several Singh Sabhas springing around the country. Singh Sabha had a clear perception of Sikhism as enunciated by the Sikh Gurus, and was determined to restore it to its original shape, without any compromise with Hindusim. A number of Singh Sabhas were established and affiliated to the Singh Sabha, Lahore. Amrit Prachar (administration of baptism) to all, including Muslims and lower classes, was an effective movement which, however, brought about conflict with certain Pujaris of the Sikh shrines. Gradually, the Singh Sabhas constructed their own gurudwaras with granthis, ragis, and updeshaks, and they became centres of new rivivalism.

The warming up of the Singh Sabha activity was discernible by a decision to establish Khalsa Diwan at Amritsar. This came into being in 1883 to oversee the functioning of over three dozen Singh Sabhas. There were, however, differences over the provisions of the conmstitution of the Khalsa Diwan. These resulted in a break, with Lahore Singh Sabha spearheading a Khalsa Diwan at Lahore with a membership of all except three of the Singh Sabha affiliated to it. Suffices to say that the Singh Sabha Lahore, became the focal point of the Sikh reform movement.

The Singh Sabha movement played its historic role by exposing the evils which had crept into the social and religious life of the Sikhs. It reclaimed Sikhism from a state of utter ossification and inertia and articulated the inner urge of Sikhism for reform and gave it a decisive direction. It not only checked the relapse of the Sikhs into Hinduism but also retaliated by carrying prosewlytsing activities into the Hindu camp. A large number of Hindus were baptised and the Sikh population which was 17,06,165 in 1881 rose to 21,02,896 in 1901 and never dwindled again. Thus the Singh Sabha movement proved to be the elan vital in the regeneration of the Sikh society.

In 1888, Khalsa Diwan was established in Lahore. Subsequently, on Nov. 10, 1901, Shiromani GurSikhs gathered at Ramgarhia Bunga, Amritsar, and laid the foundation of Chief Khalsa Diwan. This organization actively corrected numerous traditions in GurSikhism and continues to do so til today.

-Ref. Mahan Kosh (pp. 193)
The Sikhs in History, by Sangat Singh, 1995.

1922 Karam Singh of Jhingar, Master Dalip Singh of Gossal and Kishan Singh Gargaj visit Montgomery jail to meet Master Mota Singh.