Baba Balak Singh

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Baba Balak Singh (1785-1862), mentor of Baba Ram Singh, acknowledged to be the forerunner of the Namdhari movement, was born in 1841 Bk/AD 1785 to Dial Singh and Mata Bhag Bhari, in an Arora family of village Chhoi in Attock district, in Rawalpindi division, now in Pakistan. Balak Singh took from a young age to the family business of providing supplies to the garrison in the fort at Hazro, close to his native village. He was married to Mat Toti.

No more biographical information is available about him except that he was a man of religious disposition and while at Hazro he was deeply influenced by Bhagat Jawahar Mall. He soon attracted followers from among the inhabitants of Hazro and from among the garrison in the fort. Baba Ram Singh (q.v.), who succeeded him as head of the sect, was one of the garrison there. His study of Sikh history and letters made him well aware of the rot that was, at the time, corroding Sikh society. He took upon himself to lead a campaign against the evil and corruption of the tenet that had set in.

His religious and social ideas were shaped by the teaching of Baba Balak Singh, though the political edge his movement eventually acquired can only be traced to the advanced precept of Bhai Maharaj Singh (d. 1856). The religious and ethical code of conduct preached by Baba Balak Singh for his followers included constant meditation on Transcendental Reality; bathing at least thrice daily; not using a leather bucket for drinking water; performing marriage rites according to the Anand ceremony; offering as sacrament karahprasad worth one and a quarter rupee every month and eating no food unless it was cooked by Keshdhari Sikhs only.

The giving of a dowry, meat eating and use of alcohol were totally prohibited. Honest labour and truth telling were the virtues prized most. Baba Balak Singh built at Hazro a place where his followers would meet regularly. It was here that Baba Ram Singh, who had earlier moved southwards with the garrison, came to meet his spiritual mentor around 1860 and sought permission to instruct the people in his doctrine. Prominent among his other disciples were Bhai Kahn Singh, a son of his brother Manna Singh, and Bhai Lal Singh. The former is said to have occupied the gaddi at Hazro and the latter preached in the Amritsar area.

Baba Balak Singh died at Hazro on Saturday, Maghar sudi 15,1919 Bk/6 December 1862.


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