Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib Patiala

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Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib Patiala

Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib: This shrine is situated in what used to be the village of Lehal, now part of Patiala city. According to local tradition, supported by an old handwritten document preserved in the Gurdwara, one Bhag Ram, a jhivar of Lehal, waited upon Guru Tegh Bahadur during his sojourn at Saifabad (now Bahadurgarh), and made the request that he might be pleased to visit and bless his village so that its inhabitants could be rid of a serious and mysterious sickness which had been their bane for a long time.

The Guru visited Lehal on Magh sudi 5, 1728 Bikram/24 January 1672 and stayed under a banyan tree by the side of a pond. The sickness in the village subsided. The site where Guru Tegh Bahadur had sat came to be known as Dukh Nivaran, literally meaning eradicator of suffering. Devotees have faith in the healing qualities of water in the sarovar attached to the shrine.

Raja Amar Singh of Patiala (1748-82) had a garden laid out on the site as a memorial which he entrusted to Nihang Sikhs. Records of a court case in 1870 mention a Guru's garden and a Nihangs' well being in existence here. In 1920, during a survey for the proposed construction of Sirhind-Patiala-Jakhal railway line, it appeared that the banyan tree under which had sat Guru Tegh Bahadur would have to be removed. But men charged with felling it refused to touch it.

Ultimately, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh ordered cancellation of the entire project. No gurudwara building had, however, been raised. It was only in 1930 that a committee was formed to collect funds and commence construction. The Gurdwara when completed passed under the administrative control of the Patiala state government. It was later transferred to the Dharam Arth Board of the Patiala and East Punjab States Union and eventually to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

The sarovar adjacent to Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran, Patiala

The building complex sprawls over several acres. The two storey gateway has a collapsible iron gate and black and white marble floor. On the left of the pathway leading to the principal building is a small marble shrine marking the site where Guru Tegh Bahadur had sat under the banyan tree. The central two storey building, with a domed pavilion on top, is on a raised base having an octagonal domed chamber at each corner. The pinnacled lotus dome on top has a round sun-window on each side with a curved coping, projected horizontally at the ends. There are decorative domed pavilions at the corners and lotus blossoms in leaf in the middle on top of the walls.

The interior is paved with marble slabs in white and grey against black and white of the outer platform. The walls and pillars are also panelled with white marble slabs. The ceiling is decorated with stucco work in floral design. The Guru Granth Sahib is seated under a square canopy at the far end. The 75metre square sarovar, since considerably extended, is on the right and Guru ka Langar on the left as one enters. The Gurdwara is administered by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. A big gathering is held on the fifth day of the light half of each lunar month. The festival of the year is Basant Panchmi which marks the day of Guru Tegh Bahadur's visit.

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The Notice board at Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran outlining the historical signifance

Bhai Sahib Randir Singh & Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Bhai Sahib Randheer Singh jee in Ranglay Sajjan "Sant Arjan Singh" Translated by Bhai Jaspinder Singh jee

Before my imprisonment, I used to visit my dear friend, Gurumukh Sri Bhai (Late) Joginder Singh Ji, every year at Patiala; I would stay with him for weeks together, sharing our personal thoughts. It was in 1913 that we were walking along the canal away from city and I felt the urge to ease myself before evening prayers, Rehras. Bhai Joginder Singh Ji proposed to head towards a thick forest on right side of the canal.

At a little distance we noticed a large Banyan tree with very inviting cool shade. It occurred to us to sit in meditation there for a while. However we got so engrossed, that we did not feel like leaving the place. Thus we remained till it was time for Rehras. We lost the urge to ease ourselves, the purpose we had set for. Bhai Joginder Singh Ji was adept in interpreting Divine hints and concluded that the place must be related to some special past spiritual events. Lehal village was nearby.

He gathered three very elderly persons of the village, who were beyond the age of eighty. They were requested to narrate any special occurrences pertaining to the Banyan tree. They told us that the near by pond is known as ‘Pond of the Akali’s’ and is blessed with special healing powers. Irrespective of age or Faith, all persons hold the pond as very holy.

We have personal knowledge that newly born anemic babies from Hindu and Muslim families got healed to glowing health with Nectarine water of this pond. This panacea is also efficacious in the case of sick animals that have been getting restored to normal health with sprinklings from the pond. On every fifth day of the waxing moon period many pilgrims of all Faiths from distant places come here for fulfillment of their cherished wishes. We have been witnessing this Miracles-Divine all this time of our lives. However this place had not yet attained its due recognition.

The darbar sahib at Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran, Patiala

After listening to villagers, Bhai Joginder Singh Ji brought few other Singhs for a prayer by Five Singhs, ‘Ardasa’ in the ordained manner. The prayer was to ask for Boon-Divine to reveal the true history of the place. This was done with utmost religious fervor and reverence. I returned home after this. With moving times and Will-Divine I was imprisoned in Jail dungeons. The ‘Pattas’ were discovered by Magistrate S. Gurdit Singh and Sant Arjan Singh in 1927-28, as narrated earlier. This proved to be the place where Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib had visited. I cannot reproduce the full text of the ‘Patta’, but the salient features were as follows: Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib had rested for sometime under the Banyan tree on his way to Delhi.

There is reference to the miraculous power of ‘The pond of Akalis’. There was a prediction, that in times to come a great city would flourish in the area. (Patiala city was not in existence then.) The pond would be transformed into a large, beautiful tank. Many would get healed of their afflictions on bathing here. A majestic Gurdwara Sahib building would be constructed.

When Sant Bhai Arjan Singh Ji came to see Bhai Joginder Singh at Patiala and showed him the discovered records, Bhai Joginder Singh was extremely thrilled. He was filled with gratitude to the Lord for having granted our prayer in 1913. Though a State-official, yet he always had close relationship with Gurumukh Spiritualists. Sant Arjan Singh was his associate since long and was engaged in service to Gurdwaras with promptings-divine. With Bhai Joginder Singh as his help-mate, he became still more enthusiastic. They got into the job with full earnestness. Sant Ji remained engrossed in meditation day and night for months together. He remained lost in deep meditation at the forlorn place with his bare body, come winter or summer. Such was the auspicious effect of his penance, that the place acquired fame.

Map of Patiala click to enlarge
(courtesy Yahoo! map India)

S. Atma Singh, nephew of Bhai Joginder Singh, also joined the project. As an engineer, S. Atma Singh, produced a map of marvelous architecture for the Gurdwara Shaib building. It appeared that Hand-Divine was behind this. The map covered quite a few acres of surrounding land. This was occupied fearlessly by the dedicated workers. When I got released from Jail in 1930, Bhai Joginder Singh Ji took me to Patiala. That is the first time I got the news of Divine-Acceptance of our prayer. He showed me the work in progress. Akhand kirtan Samagams were held at the place and first Sri Akhand Pathh by the Jatha performed most enthusiastically with great devotion.

Jathedar Bhai Ram Singh of Budha Dal also joined bringing Singhs of his Jatha. He too became a keen help-mate of Sant Arjan Singh Ji. With ceaseless efforts of these two renowned persons for selfless service and dedication, Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib acquired high acclaim and fame. Main hurdle was opposition by Late Maharaja Bhupinder Singh in the place becoming a Panthic center of activity. However his opposition only furthered the glory of the Gurdwara Sahib at an astonishing pace.

Maharaja transferred S. Atma Singh, Engineer to a far off place from Patiala, yet he kept guiding the project secretly. The building got fully constructed in accordance with the designed map. When we reached there for the Akhand Kirtan and Akhand Pathh Samagam, Sant Arjan Singh was there in the garb of a recluse. He joined us in Kirtan. When I noticed him in that garb, I chided him quite a bit, “How dare you put on this funny garb as a Gursikh?” He immediately removed his outer garb that was only a cloak for his inner wear of Khalsa insignia and thus proved his abiding Faith as a Gursikh. He told me smilingly, “With blessings of this garb, constant offerings of money keep pouring for Gurdwara Sahib. If you permit, I may keep this cloak over my dress of Five Kakkars.” I was pleased to give my consent. He had barely put on the garb again, when two queens from Royal Palace arrived in great devotion. Both made offerings of Rupees five hundred each for Gurdwara Sahib to Sant Ji. Everybody around had a good laugh. Within hearing of the queens Sant Ji commented. “This is magic of the holy garb. The worldly Rajas, Ranis and other moneyed people are impressed by holy garb alone. They make handsome offerings and I keep dedicating all these to the service of the Guru.”

Sant Ji got busy in construction of the tank, Sarovar, sides. I went around the wondrous sight of Gurdwara Sahib to my great delight. However I was saddened to see great Banyan tree reduced to a mere stump. All the top branches and their vast expanse were gone. The memorable ‘Patta’ was reproduced on fixed board there. This truly was satisfying and pleasing. Charged with these emotions I held dear Vir, Sant Arjan Singh Ji in tight embrace. He being a man of great humility said, “It is all Blessing of Guru Sahib. This is made possible by the generous and untiring service of ‘Gurmukh Sangat’, congregations of holies. What can a poor non-entity person like me do by myself?” Full of gratitude to Power-Divine, he let his emotions flow freely in the form of uncontrolled tears. Humility of spirit filled all his being. He never relished the title of ‘Sant’ that people bestowed upon him. He led all his life in the spirit of poverty. It is very rare to find a chaste and righteous being in the mould of Vir Arjan Singh.

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