Baba Puran Singh
Baba Puran Singh ji (1898 - 5 June 1983), also affectionately called "Kericho wala Babaji" or simply "Bapuji". "Kericho wala" because Bapuji lived most of his adult life in this rural Kenyan town, where now stands a very impressive Gurdwara. Baba ji influenced and changed the lives of many in the UK from 1974 until Babaji passed away on 5 June 1983.
Baba ji was born in 1898 in the Punjab village of Gurah also sometimes spelt Gura, Jallandar District, Punjab, India and belonged to a family which had long served great holy men of the region. Pind Gurah is near village Bara Pind and about 7 km from Goraya. When travelling from the GT road (Highway NH1) at Goraya, Gurah is in a north-westerly direction from this town. The maps location can be found here.
Baba ji was married at a young age in Punjab; he placed strong emphasis on the Sikh principle of gristi jeevan, living the life of a householder, will all its responsibilities to the family and society, rather than choosing a reclusive life of meditation. Although Babaji used to spend many hours meditating and engaging in reciting Gurbani, he always placed his duties as a householder at the forefront of his life.
Baba ji was a great Gursikh who reached the lives of many people across several continents. He practised the purest of love for the congregations and if you got that magic touch of Baba ji, it would surely change your life forever. His first love was Gurbani - Everything that he taught was from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib and the lives of our Gurus. Kericho is a small town in Western Kenya, Africa.
During a highly spiritual life spanning 84 years, Baba ji travelled the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. Most of his adult life was spent mainly in Kenya and England with many visits to India. From a very early age, Baba ji took Amrit and lived a life of a baptised Sikh; his life was dedicated to Sikhi, his family and the Sangat. Many gained inspiration to become Amritdhari Sikhs from Baba ji.
Baba ji life in Kenya
Emigrating to Kenya in 1916, he soon set up ‘Kericho Wagon Works’ in the small town of Kericho and focused on earning a living, being a father to his family and helping others in the town, notably through municipal improvement schemes, such as the renovation of hospitals, schools and churches. His civic contributions were officially recognized by naming the Town square as Sant Puran Singh Square.
He also devoted himself to a private life of meditation and maintaining a Sikh way of life, demonstrating that modernity and spiritual growth need not be contradictory. In 1952, Baba Ji’s spirituality was given open recognition by a visiting saint, Sant Baba Mani Singh Ji, from India. Thereafter, his immense compassion and connection to God drew thousands to Kericho. His message was not just a philosophy of words; he was a personification of the proverb ‘practice what you preach’.
Adapt to the times, but don’t compromise on your religious duties, or your love and respect for parents and family. Stay in awe of the Creator and respect the Guru’s teachings, channel this into action by coming and bringing your children to the sangat. Learn humility and respect for others by serving the sangat, whilst also being engaged in meditation. Learn your prayers and aspire to take Sikh baptism.
In addition, Baba Ji called for all religious service to be Nishkam – totally altruistic, a principle he applied resolutely to himself at all times. In the 1970s, he came to England, where many significant, often unprecedented events were made possible through his divine guidance. This included a historic and highly spiritual Sampath Akhand Paath, an 11-day programme of prayer which set the pace for others in years to come.
Permanent move to England in 1974
Due to the need to spread the message of Sikhi in UK, Baba ji moved here permanently in 1974; first staying in Streatham, South London and then from 1977 in East London at a suburb called Goodmayes in Essex. During his stay in London, Baba ji would travel to various parts of the UK and most notably to Leeds, Birmingham and West London where eventually the Jatha's Gurdwaras were established. Many smagams were held all over the UK to spread the message of Sikhi and bring the Sangat back into the Sikhi way of life; thousand of Sikhs took Amrit at these events.
In 1982, Baba ji endorsed a peaceful mass campaign in connection with the ‘Turban Case’, where a petition handed to Downing Street led to a ruling which would protect Sikh rights of identity under British Law. A similar mass campaign to resolve the growing problems for Sikhs in India was held in May 1983, with a petition to the India High Commission. Just a week later on 5 June 1983, Sant Baba Puran Singh Ji left for his heavenly abode, leaving a legacy of exemplary Sikh practice which is the inspiration for all endeavours of the GNNSJ.
“Presently the copper sheeting with gold plating was removed and replaced by real gold sheeting. This exceptional work was undertaken by Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha of Birmingham, England. This jatha was founded by Bapuji of Kericho (Kenya) [Kericho wala Babaji], who was a very devout Sikh saint. It is because of his spiritual powers, which are flowing in his followers, that the Jatha has been able to achieve these impossible tasks. The Jatha is doing a lot with some other neglected Gurdwaras also.”
See also: Guru Nanak NSJ, Soho Road, Birmingham and Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha and Guru Nanak NSJ, Kericho
Above extract from www.sikh-heritage.co.uk
“I first met Babaji in 1975 in Streatham, South London. It was a magical moment. Babaji had a huge personality. He was extremely loved by the Sangat and in return the Sangat was blessed and guided in the best possible way. – He would always hold his hands together to say the Fateh to anyone and everyone – Even to a young off-the-path Sikh like me. Babaji was a great help in my early years treading the path of Sikhism and I was helped at every corner to walk on the correct Sikhi path. For this I will forever by in debt to a most wonderful guide, relative, friend and enlightener” Hari Singh
"The small town of Kericho is home to Africa’s largest Gurdwara or Sikh place of worship. It is a ‘living’ monument, lovingly dedicated to the memory of one of the greatest Sikh saints of the 20th century outside India, a saint who lived in Kenya for 57 years of his total 84 years of life (47 of those years were actually spent in Kericho). The saint, fondly remembered as ‘Baba Puran Singh Ji of Kericho’, has immortalised the humble town of Kericho, changing for the better the lives of hundreds of thousands of Sikhs worldwide as well as uplifting the local community through many development initiatives within the town itself.
Baba Puran Singh Ji propagated faith with immense simplicity, across class, creed, denominations, gender and status, through utmost humility, compassion, selflessness and infinite love. He is the founder of the international charitable organisation, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, which promotes the spirit and practice of selfless service (‘nishkam sewa’) in the name of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of the Sikh faith.
The spacious and monumental Gurdwara, which has become a stunning architectural landmark in the region, envelopes Baba Puran Singh Ji’s modest family residence as well as workshop – the ‘Kericho Wagon Works’ – which is still operating 79 years on since it was founded in 1925. The site has been gazetted by the Government of Kenya as a place of spiritual significance."
Above extract from www.commongood.info
“Bhai Gurmit Ji’s life took a significant turn during the summer of 1976 during a series of religious programmes led by Sant Baba Puran Singh Ji (Kericho Wale). His wife, Mata Mohinder Kaur, was particularly struck by the event and insisted on continuing to attend the programmes. During these programmes, Gurmit Ji sometimes accompanied the Raagi Jathas during Kirtan in the presence of Baba Ji. During one of these accompaniments Ustad Ji felt, he says, the presence of an amazing energy within him, experiencing something that he had never felt before.”
Above extract from www.tablaonline.com
“By L.Muthoni Wanyeki
Kericho houses Africa’s largest gurudwara, a Sikh place of worship, in honour of Baba Puran Singh Ji, a Sikh who lived in the town. When he left for the UK, he founded an international charitable organisation called the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, which built the gurudwara, together with the Nisham Puran Technical Institute – an interfaith technical training facility for young Kenyans.
Last week, the institute hosted an international interfaith conference on globalisation. It turned out to be an interesting discussion on the relationship between ethics and business and economics and politics from a myriad religious and theological standpoints.
There was also a discussion on the importance and challenges of interfaith dialogue in the context of globalisation. Professors Michael Chege, Ali Mazrui and Anyang’ Nyong’o were present. Mazrui spoke on "God and Globalisation." He noted that five forces have historically driven globalisation processes – religion, technology, economy, warfare and empire. On religion, he asked what Africa’s triple religious heritage (indigenous, Christian and Muslim) had that could inform globalisation. In his opinion, three answers are obvious.”
Above extract from www.nationmedia.com
“Many highlights marked the one-week Parliament. Among the most striking was the remarkable demonstration of hospitality shown by the Sikh community. Three hundred Sikh followers, many from Birmingham, England and others from India, served free meals throughout the whole Parliament to all who accepted their open invitation. This act of culinary generosity is called “langar” or open kitchen and is always available at Gurdwara’s around the world. In Barcelona, langar was in celebration of the four-hundredth anniversary of the Geru Granth Sahib, the Sikh sacred scripture. Several large tents were erected at the edge of the Forum area. Diners were outfitted at the entrance with a white head covering before being seated cross-legged on the ground in long rows while servers passed though the aisles ladling nourishing vegetarian cuisine onto waiting plates. This act of selfless service on behalf of the Sikh community amazed participants at the Parliament and seemed to permeate the whole event with a sense of generosity and kindness.” Above extract from www.cpwrglobal.net
“We also met Bhai Sahib Mahinder Singh Ji, head of the Nishkam Sewak Jatha and looking after the affairs of Sant Baba Puran Singh Ji of Kericho, Kenya - based in Birmingham. We are hoping to do a Sikh youth camp at the Gurdwara Sahib in Kericho, Kenya in August this year. Bhai Sahib was very warm to the idea and gave his blessings. We were also pleasantly surprised to meet Sri Singh Sahib Jathedar of the Akal Takhat, Bhai Joginder Singh Ji Vedanti who happened to be staying at the Gurdwara Nishkam Sewak Jatha, Soho Road, Birmingham.”
Above extract from www.sikhpoint.com
- Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha
- Guru Nanak NSJ (Kericho)
- Bhai Norang Singh
- Bhai Mohinder Singh
- Baba Puran Singh Ji Kerichowale
- GREAT LEADERS AND SONS OF THE WORLD AND PHILANTHROPISTS: DR BHAI SINGH AND THE LEGENDARY BABAJI an article by Kanini Evans Kariuki, September 19, 2009
- rajkaregakhalsa.net Katha by Baba Puran Singh
- News item on Barsi of Baba Puran Singh
- Sant Puran Singh