Reminiscences: Meeting Bhai Fauja Singh Ji
This Section Features The Firsthand Accounts Of Sikhs From Across The World, All Of Which Had The Privilege Of Spending Time With Bhai Fauja Singh Ji.
His daily routine began when he’d wake up at two in the morning during Amrit Vela. After having a bath he would begin Naam Simran meditation. After reciting Nitnem and following Satguru’s Darshan he would sing Kirtan in the Sangat and then he would be happy doing Sewa all day long.
Bhai Fauja Singh’s house was very close to Siri Darbar Sahib that meant that for many years countless Gursikhs would visit him when going there. The couple lived on the third floor where there were no facilities for water. Every night, before going to sleep, Bhai Fauja Singh would serve the overnight Sangat staying at his house by filling buckets of water from the water pump down below and taking these upstairs for Amrit Vela Ishnaan. These three flights of stairs were so narrow that it was difficult even just walking up them without carrying anything. When we asked him to install basic facilities for accessible water, he would laughingly reply; "Sister, if some other facilities were made available then I would not be able to do this Sewa anymore".
We used to talk at home back in America amongst ourselves that this was a soul of a Shaheed sent here for a particular reason; and when that event took place, this soul wouldn’t remain on this planet for much longer. Guru Sahib gave His blessings and made Bhai Sahib offer Shaheedi to awaken the sleeping Panth and to re-instil the Khalsa spirit, love, devotion and respect for Satguru. This Gursikh was always ready to obey the Guru’s order and it was this spirit of devotion and sense of duty towards the Guru that made Bhai Fauja Singh immediately get up from doing the Sewa of Langar and present himself for the ultimate sacrifice. He completed the Sewa that Satguru had sent him to do. Bhai Fauja Singh and the other twelve Gursikhs gave their lives to remove the Panth’s complacency.
Bibi Harsharan Kaur. Jullundhar, Punjab
I know he was a fierce and brave warrior of the Guru, but I remember him mostly as a gentle and kind teacher. We were so young and so new to Sikhi; we were so ignorant. Bibi Amarjeet Kaur and Bhai Fauja Singh treated us as their spiritual children, and patiently taught us and inspired us upon the Guru’s Path. They would write the sweetest letters to encourage our devotion to Waheguru. He never chastised or humiliated us for the hundreds of thousands of mistakes we made every day. Instead, his pure love would gently correct and immediately forgive every mistake.
Bibi Shanti Kaur Khalsa. America
Standard of The Khalsa
As we got off the bus in Gurdaspur, Bibi Amarjit Kaur told me to go onwards to the jail. The mid-afternoon sun was as blinding as the entry way was dark. I just stared at the man dressed in perfect white Bana. He opened the barn-like door of the prison, so I naturally assumed he was a warden or perhaps even the jailer. He was smiting at all the Akhand Kirtani Sikhs as they came in and as it turned out, he was the prisoner sentenced to life imprisonment for defending a woman who had been mercilessly gang-raped.
This incident illustrates why Bhai Fauja Singh could never be contained within a prison cell. He was the host of the jail, generating Chardi-Kala and the Akhand Kirtani Sikhs were in soaring high spirits when they met him.
His wife Bibi Amarjit Kaur led the American Sikhs on a tour of the prison. It was a tremendous relief to see that Bhai Fauja Singh was under such light security, that he could organize me prison’s Gurdwara. He proudly showed us his private cell and the cell next to it for the devoted Sewadars. Such a leader of righteousness could never be imprisoned.
He fought and fasted to attain his cell for meditation. It was a dark square-shaped room containing a huge mattress. There was a little hole in the roof but otherwise no windows. The door opened out into a private yard where he set up a stove (one rectangular oil tin) with a round steel water pot on top. This was where he prepared his own food. The walls were painted yellow. This cell contrasted greatly to the modern red brick walls holding back shorthaired men who ganged together at the opening of the wall to stare at us.
Bhai Fauja Singh was the light of the prison, an inspiration for the prisoners as well as us! The men who
rediscovered Sikhi under his influence were elevated from prison life. Their faith in Dharam took them beyond their situation. They were eternally grateful to their leader for their new beards. His concern for his fellow inmates was so deep and intense that when he left jail, they were still a major concern for him.
Bibi Harikrishan Kaur. Espanola, New Mexico
Detached Like A Lotus Flower
Bhai Fauja Singh was a completely carefree soul. He did not care for his own self or for luxuries, which we all seem to be gathering in these modern times. I remember watching a Gathka fight take place; Bhai Sahib and his opponent wielded swords. Bhai Sahib received a cut to his leg. When some Singhs came to look at the cut, Bhai Sahib told them not to bother about it, but it was clear to everyone that the cut was a serious wound. It was about four inches long and one inch deep. However, to everyone’s amazement, he continued to fight as if nothing had happened. This was the everyday life of this most special Gursikh.
Master Niranjan Singh. Gurdaspur, Punjab
Towards the end of my stay in Amritsar, while walking around the Parkarma one morning, I noticed a Singh ahead of me. I admired the strength of his projection and noticed the chakar around his head and thought to myself how great it looked on him! No sooner than the thought came into my head, he turned around quickly, folded his hands and bowed saying, "Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ke Fateh" and then placed his chakra over my turban as I also bowed. What a surprise indeed!
I felt a little bad for thinking such a thing and tried to give it back to him, but he insisted I keep it saying; "It is yours my sister".
All I could say in return was "Waheguru". There is a true bond of friendship we established that would always remain unbroken. I am happy that I was able to enjoy this beautiful chance to be with him.
Bibi Krishna Kaur. America
Sowing the Seeds Of Sikhi
Bhai Fauja Singh was like a gardener who selflessly and joyfully planted seeds in the Punjabi villages in the hope that the spirit of the Khalsa would be re-awakened.
Bibi Rajbir Kaur Khalsa. Oregon, America
I had travelled to Amritsar alone and spent most of the first parts of my stay there very much alone except for the growing friendship with my only true friend.
When things were down and darkest and my body and soul were crying out for help, a man in a black turban appeared and in his company my spirits soared. He was a shy and very humble person. He later told me when the Guru sees one of his Sikhs in trouble he always sends another to help. This is a Truth!
This Singh inspired me to become a Sikh of the True Guru – it was Bhai Fauja Singh. He showed me by his love and devotion how to truly live as one.
Throughout my time I have seen many jathedars, leaders, Parcharaks and so on. However, I have never met anyone as Chard i-Kala as Bhai Fauja Singh – he was a living example of Gurmat. Let me give you just one example of his true greatness, reflected through his humility.
The jatha would hold well-attended Smagams throughout India. These were usually held in the big parathan (old/ancient) Gurdwaras. I regularly booked leave from my airbase and attended these Smagams.
Bhai Fauja Singh was highly respected by all of us naujawans; he was a natural leader and we were all in awe of him. He was a great general. Day and night he would spend in Naam Abyass, while doing Sewa for the thousands of Sangatan.
Back in the 1970’s, very few of these Gurdwara Sahibs had modern facilities. The Sangat would go into the nearby fields to relieve themselves. After the Smagam, Bhai Fauja Singh gathered all the naujawans and told us how pavitaar (special/pure) these places were. The Guru-ghar should always be immaculate he would tell us and we should not only clean the Gurdwara premises, but the fields around it as well. He gave us all buckets and told us to follow him into the fields. I saw him with his bare hands pick up faeces and put them in the bucket. Here was one of the great generals of our Panth, a renowned leader, and yet here he was displaying immense nimarata (deep humility).
How many of our contemporary leaders, parchaaraks and so-called sants would have the humility to do Sewa like that? He was a Nawab Kapur Singh of the modern era.
Bhai Amolak Singh. Australia
As a young boy, Bhai Fauja Singh had taken Chulla (a sip of Amrit given to Sikh children) from the Panj Pyare. He spent time deeply engrossed in Naam-Abyass. The family and other villagers were at times distressed by his wayward attitude. He would sometimes disappear for days and deeply engross himself in Abyass. People would go out looking for him assuming that he was lost, only for him to return smiling absolutely free from worldliness.
Sometimes at night he was seen in the local cemetery sitting in a meditative position. When asked what he was doing there at such a late hour, he once replied to another Gursikh; "I was challenging the ghosts and spirits with the Guru’s Naam". This was the belief and spirit of Bhai Fauja Singh as a young child.
Master Niranjan Singh. Gurdaspur
After the Guru Ke Mehal incident in the early seventies, Bhai Fauja Singh became very famous in Panthic circles. He was very highly respected. The Akalis organised a huge conference at Teja Singh Samundri hall at the Harmandar Sahib complex, shortly after the incident. Here they gave Bhai Fauja Singh a Siropa for his gallant Seva.
When Bhai Fauja Singh went onstage he delivered a forceful speech, completely lambasting the Akalis. He told them that they should die of shame because they couldn’t even stop our Guru being disrespected. He warned them that this weak leadership would go on to cost the Sikh nation dearly.
Dr Darshan Singh. Ex-Dean Punjab University.
Protector Of The Oppressed
I remember when Bhai Fauja Singh moved to our area and set-up the Khalsa Farm. It had a dramatic impact because young Singhs would come wearing Bana. This was rare in our area. Apparently, the daily routine he instilled amongst the naujawan was very strict. You could see all of these young boys becoming strong and having the presence of Akal Purkh Ki Fauj.
In our local area there was a thug who bullied everyone like a warlord. He would use extortion and get money from all the businesses in the area. Everyone was absolutely afraid of him. He would regularly assault people in the streets and the police would say nothing to him. He was over 6 ft 5 inches tall and very strong. He had heard Bhai Fauja Singh had moved to the area. One day, he assaulted one of the young boys who had come to Khalsa Farm. After beating up the young boy he told him to tell Bhai Fauja Singh to come and fight him if he was a real man.
The next day, Bhai Fauja Singh came to the town. Youths from the farm accompanied him. The thug walked forward and confronted Bhai Fauja Singh. Bhai Fauja Singh proceeded to scold the young lad who had previously been assaulted by the thug. He said to him that he should be ashamed that he wore the dastaar of Guru Gobind Singh Ji and was beaten-up. He then said to the thug that he was a strong man and this was a gift from God. He told him to give up his negative ways and to become a Sikh of the Guru. But the thug was abusive and hit him. Bhai Sahib remained calm and once again told the thug to stop his evil ways. Instead of listening, he pulled out a weapon and attacked Fauja Singh. A fierce fight ensued which ended with the thug losing his life. Everyone started cheering and hugged Bhai Fauja Singh. They were overjoyed that their oppressor was finally dead.
However, Bhai Fauja Singh was unhappy. He said that the man was brave but sadly he had chosen the wrong path. He told us that if this thug had become a Sikh he could have helped many people.
Bhai Fauja Singh had to leave the area as the police were after him. The police never did anything about the thug when he terrorised the local people, but they were now after Bhai Fauja Singh. He went to Amritsar and then went to the police station and handed himself over. The people of our area will never forget him. He was a great soul.
During the spring of 1978, many Premi Gursikhs and myself went to Punjab. We were in high spirits and attended the Vaisakhi Akhand Kirtan Smagam. The Sangat that had travelled from the UK was large yet Bhai Fauja Singh begged us all to stay at his house. He begged to do the Sewa of all the Gursikhs. We happily went along to his house.
In the afternoon, we were all talking about the need to do Parchaar in Punjab. Bhai Fauja Singh stated that not only Parchaar was needed but also the flower of the Panth also needed to be watered with the blood of Gursikhs. He said that the cycle of hardship had turned full-circle and the Khalsa needed to become strong by immersing itself in Naam.
I was most impressed by his personality because he had so much Khalsa Spirit. We did Rehras Sahib together and then, during the next day at the Smagam, I heard Bhai Fauja Singh had become Shaheed – fulfilling the prophecies of the previous day. He was a true son of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
The Late Bhai Rama Singh. Jathedar Of Akhand Kirtani Jatha (UK)
After the Gurdwara Bhai Salo Ji and Guru Keh Mehal Ji incident, Bhai Fauja Singh had to spend some time in Jail. Coincidentally, the fascist right-wing Hindu thugs of Jan Sangh (now BJP) who tried to desecrate the Gurdwara were also in the same prison. They complained of the harsh conditions and spent their days crying for tea. However when the Sangat found out the Bhai Fauja Singh and his companions were there, they flocked to the prison with Langar and fruit. The fascists looked-on in despair as the Sangat did Sewa of the Gursikhs, tending to their injuries. These were mainly burns to their legs and feet, which were caused by the acid bottles.
The Gursikhs spent their time engrossed in Naam and Bani. The warden of the prison, as well as the officers, realised the Gursikh nature of Bhai Fauja Singh and held him in high regard. In one of the warden’s letters, he mentioned how he saw this Sikh sit in meditation all night long and wondered where he attained his strength. Although the warden was a Hindu, Bhai Fauja Singh fascinated him. Many other prisoners started to develop a Gursikh nature thanks to the Sangat.
Many of them wanted to take Amrit. Bhai Fauja Singh made a request to the Warden asking if the Jatha could come to the prison and perform a Rainsbhai Kirtan and Amrit Sanchaar programme. The request was approved and the Sangat was allowed into the prison. Many took Amrit and came into the protection of the Guru’s Charan. One of these new Khalsa was the warden himself.
Bibi Shanti Kaur Khalsa. America