Tikana Bhai Jagta Ji Sahib

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Tikana Bhai Jagta Ji

Tikana Bhai Jagta Ji Sahib is the most prominent center of the Seva Panthi Mission and home of the Chief Preceptor of the Seva Panth is located in the most beautiful part of Bathinda District in Punjab, in a haven called 'Goniana Mandi'.

The Chief Preceptor of the Tikana Sahib is a most kind, generous, compassionate saint Mahant Kahan Singh Ji, the thirteenth spiritual descendant of Bhai Kanhaiya Ji. He was anointed as the Chief Assignee of the Tikana Sahib by Mahant Baba Tirath Singh Ji on January 15, 2008.

History of the Tikana Sahib

Bhai Seva Ram Ji's first Dharamsala

This Tikana was originally established in Nurpur Thal in West Punjab (now part of Pakistan) by Bhai Seva Ram Ji in 1688 AD, who was Bhai Kanhaiya Ji's first and most prominent disciple. Bhai Seva Ram Ji, on a missionary tour as Bhai Kanhaiya Ji's disciple, arrived at Nurpur, which was an arid part of then District Sargodha. Noticing the the local population was suffering from an acute shortage of water, he soon learned that people had to trudge several miles to procure water for their daily needs. He resolved to alleviate their pain by getting a well dug in the area, and further resolved to start a Dharamsala to preach Gurbani to the people. While supervising the construction of the Dharamsala, a young man approached him for his blessings. Bhai Ji was tired and he asked the man if he would massage his aching feet, having the spirit of 'Seva' within him, the young man started without hesitation. He stopped only when Bhai Ji was aching feet were relieved. Bhai Ji then asked him what his name was and the young man replied, "People call me Sehja". Bhai Ji was very pleased to hear his name and thus spoke, "If you forsake your worldly ambitions and involvements and attend the holy congregation with devotion daily, you will surely attain the state of "Sehaj" (Equipoise) that your name suggests. The boy, summoning all his courage, humbly admitted a moral dilemma. Tormented by the fear that he would succumb to the vice of sexual desire one day, he felt that he was unfit for a holy congregation. Bhai Seva Ram listened to him patiently and then said, "O Sehja, if this vile affliction abandons you, will you then promise to attend the holy congregations regularly." The young man excitedly exclaimed, "Surely, my master surely, I will entirely dedicate my life to your service and serve humanity with all my heart." Bhai Seva Ram Ji was very pleased at Sehja's response and cast a gracious glance at him, reciting the following verse from the Guru Granth Sahib:

ਨਸ ਵੰਝੋ ਕਿਲਵਿਖੋ ਕਰਤਾ ਘਰਿ ਅਾਿੲਅਾ ॥

"Flee all sins, The Creator has come to my home."(Asa M.5, Page 460)

This had a remarkable effect in calming Sehja, who later became known as Bhai Sehaj Ram Ji. Bhai Sehaj Ram Ji's acquired spiritual education from the Nurpur Thal dharamsala and he became a proficient reciter of Gurbani, a wonderful raagi, and an expert at exegesis of the Granth Sahib.

Bhai Seva Ram Ji blessed five other very prominent disciples, like Bhai Rana ji, and in 1710 AD, Bhai Seva Ram Ji came into contact with Bhai Santokha at village Khahi, brought his vices under his control and blessed him with Divine Naam. He was followed by Bhai Budhar Ji, Bhai Sahib Ram Ji and Bhai Addan Shah Ji. And when he left his physical frame in 1728 AD, he passed the torch on to Bhai Addan Shah Ji, who though never resided at the Nurpur Thal dharamsala, had complete control over it.

Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji is the chosen one

Tikana Sahib Deodi

Bhai Addan Shah Ji sent many sadhus to manage the dharamsala and generate the necessary expenses for its upkeep, after Bhai Seva Ram Ji. However, under one pretext or the other, every one of them returned unsuccessfully. He was concerned about the welfare of the the dharamsala and wondered who out of his 250 chelas/sadhus he could assign to manage it. One day as he was quietly thinking about the subject, Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji walked in. Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji, well known for placing the interests of others, before his own, was totally selfless and completely devoted to his path; yet he was a positive thinker, full of self-confidence. Seeing that Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji had all the qualities he was looking for, Bhai Addan Shah Ji was certain that if Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji accepted the assignment, he would be successful in managing the Nurpur Thal dharamsala. So in a very pleasant and kind tone, he asked, "Bhai Bhalla Ram ji, will you accept the duty I grant you today?" "It will be a matter of great honor for me, my master. I will consider it a great blessing," replied Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji. Bhai Addan Shah Ji then said, "You know that the most primal establishment of Bhai Seva Ram Ji, the dharamsala at Nurpur Thal, is lying vacant and unattended to for a long time. It is my wish that you consent to the management of the dharamsala. You will receive my blessings as well as those of Bhai Seva Ram Ji as well. Now, I understand that separating from me will be hard for you and that is why I am asking for your consent. If you give it to me , I will make you the assignee of the dharamsala and make all arrangements. Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji patiently heard his master and then humbly replied, "O Cherisher of the poor! I am your your slave. What ability does a bought slave have to dare express his views? I am your humblest servant and you are my benign support. Your wish is my command and I accept your command with pleasure." Bhai Addan Shah Ji was very pleased with Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji's response and asked him to take a seat. He called in Bhai Swai Ram and Bhai Balak Ram, two other sadhus and ordered them to accompany Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji to Nurpur Thal. They, unhesitatingly obeyed as well.

Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji did not ask for a penny for his new endeavor. All he needed and did receive was a blessing from Bhai Addan Shah Ji. Other sadhus before him had been sent to Nurpur with thousands of rupees for provisions and expenses. So some other sadhus came to Bhai Addan Shah Ji and suggested that he provide some funds to Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji, but Bhai Addan Shah Ji declared, "My friends, it is not the funds provided by me that will sustain the Nurpur Thal dharamsala. It will be Almighty Vaheguru and Bhai Seva Ram Ji himself that will help him manage the dharamsala. besides, Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji is a saint of great distinction, and he is devout, benevolent and kind. His own splendor will prevail upon the local population and she shall greatly assist him in this noble cause. He will be successful in his mission. Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji and the other Sadhus, made obeisance and kissed Bhai Addan Shah Ji's feet and with his permission left for their new mission.

They reached Nurpur unimpeded and went straight to the Dharamsala, paid their respects to the memory of Bhai Seva Ram Ji. The news of their arrival spread all over town. People began to talk about the newly arrived Sadhus, especially noticing the new assignee, his noble spirited and peaceful personality. They flocked to seek his blessings and brought offerings, as well. Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji immediately took a tour of the complex and determined that the building was in need of substantial repair. Without any delay, he started the reconstruction. The local population was very pleased, and the donation and offerings poured in, and many people began to help in reconstruction. When the project was completed, Karah Parshad was distributed among all those who volunteered, and the holy congregation, three times a day, was recommenced. Gurbani Nitnem, Kirtan and Katha were re-started. The morning darbar was from 3 AM to 10 AM, the afternoon darbar was from 3 PM to 5 PM and the evening darbar was from 7 PM to 9 PM. The evening darbar was concluded with the recitation of Kirtan Sohila. The local population benefited immensely from the holy congregation and many renewed their faith. the glory of Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji grew from day to day. He started going on missionary tours and would also travel to Amritsar to pay his respects to Harmandir Sahib. The Seva Panthis have always been great devotees of all the Gurus, but especially loved Guru Ram Das Ji.

Bhai Jagta Ji comes to seek the Sanctuary of Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji

Bhai Jagta Ji, along with his brother Bhai Channa Ji, worked as a day laborer in the market at Maghiana, his home town, in Jhang district in West Punjab(now in Pakistan). One inauspicious day, someone stole an expensive rosary with pure gold beads, from a place where they were loading carts. The owner, a wealthy trader, made efforts to locate the rosary, but was unsuccessful. Ultimately the blame came to the two brothers. They were accused of the theft. They professed their innocence and defended their position, but the owner of the rosary was unconvinced. They were produced before the chief of area who the the judging authority. He tried to make them confess, with all sorts of threats, but the two brothers humbly kept pleading innocence. The chief was now angered and became more stern. The brothers, seeing the situation turn for the worse, finally said, we own just these two woolen shawls that we cover ourselves with in the winter. You may sell these to cover the loss of the rosary. The chief, took this offer as a taunt and flying into a rage, announced her verdict that the two brothers be blinded by inserting hot rods into their eyes. The order was to be carried out immediately, When the executioner brought the red hot iron rods closer, Bhai Jagta Ji burst into a laughter. The chief was completely nonplussed. "O fool!, what makes you left at this terrible moment? Don't you realize that you are going to lose your sight forever? Bhai Jagta Ji, smilingly, "I am wondering who will get to embrace the Divine Will first. The younger or the elder brother?" The simplicity of his response, fascinated the Chief. The straight-forwardness of Bhai Jagta Ji startled the Chief and made him wonder him if the brothers who believed in Divine Will would steal the rosary. He re-assessed the situation, promptly called the executioner to stop and acquitted Bhai Jagta Ji and his brother. After their release from captivity, the brothers wondered about their future. They realized that this world was a dark place and a reservoir of pain and sorrow. The rich and the powerful, blinded by their ambitions and greed, could resort to any heinous deed and persecute others at a whim. They were being blinded for no fault of theirs. They thought, "What is the use of striving in this unworthy and perplexing material world? Instead we should work towards a higher spiritual goal and beatitude, which could only be achieved by devotion to God and in service of the holy. They immediately thought of Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji and started for Nurpur, and left Maghiana, for good.

They arrived at the dharamsala and surrendered themselves to the service of Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji. Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji besides being a holy man, was a seer and a clairvoyant. He immediately caught a glimpse of greatness in Bhai Jagta Ji and decided to accept his services. The construction of dharamsala was on at the time, and Bhai Jagta Ji immediately joined a group of masons as a laborer, but without any remuneration. He would sift dirt and clay and prepare mortar, and carry pans filled with mortar on his head to the construction site. In the evening, he would take jute fibers and twist them into twine. He would sell the twine to earn money for his subsistence. His brother did likewise. For many months, Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji remained indifferent, though keeping an eye on them. They were not even asked to partake of the langar(the free meals). These devoted, faithful brothers were there to serve and never cared for appreciation or a reward. Soon, they increased their hours of labor during the day and would work late into the night making twine. Though their income was little, they soon started contributing to the langar and prepared refreshing nutritious drinks for the sangat, everyday. Bhai Jagta Ji not knowing how to cook, ate half baked millet bread. One day, Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji, noting his progress, came to bless him and gave him permission to take his meals in the langar hall. He had passed his tests and was accepted into the Seva Panth.

Bhai Jagta Ji was a true humanitarian and serving mankind in every way possible, was his sustenance. With his kind, equalitarian nature as a true gnostic, over some time, he had begun to make an impression on the local population, including thieves and bandits. He saw God in everyone and during his night strolls, he would take meals and water to thieves who were hiding there, and serve them with total respect. The sangat around the dharamsala, held him in great esteem.

Bhai Jagta Ji's service is acknowledged

One day, Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji, had a great yearning to visit Harmandir Sahib. He decided to leave the management of the dharamsala in the care of Bhai Jagta Ji. He enjoyed his stay at Amritsar listening to kirtan and when he was completely satiated, he decided to return to Nurpur. On the way back, he and his companions, travelling through a dense forest, noted that they were being followed. Soon armed bandits surrounded them. As they closed in they discovered that their prey were a group of Sadhus. They then asked Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji if they were all from Bhai Jagta Ji's Dharamsala. Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji replied, "Indeed, we are all from Bhai Jagta Ji's dharamsala." The bandits then reverently bowed before them and begged for permission to leave. This left a great impression in Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji's mind. When the people of Nurpur heard of Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji's return, they flocked to the dharamsala. Bhai Jagta Ji, on seeing his master, was overjoyed and tears flowed from eyes as he prostrated himself at his feet. Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji patted his back and said, "Bhai Jagta! Today we were saved by your good graces, otherwise the bandits would have stolen our clothes as well." Bhai Jagta Ji listened to his master with the same humility and same reverence, as before, unchanged. Then for the next few days Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji tested Bhai Jagta Ji, by giving him several commands, one after the other, before he had time to finish the previous task. As Bhai Jagta appeared before him, with unfinished tasks, he reprimanded him, "Bhai Jagta, I have asked you to do so many things, but so far, all your tasks are incomplete and undone. Why is that?" Bhai Jagta Ji replied with tears in his eyes, "My master, I am a senseless, illiterate simpleton and totally indisposed and ignorant of how to serve my master. I am a complete failure. You are a cherisher of the poor and I am an imbecile who makes a mistake every minute. Please forgive me, kind master! I humbly beg your pardon!"

Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji was now convinced that Bhai Jagta Ji was untouched by pride and was devoid of pretense and deception. He was a sincere and humble person and a true equalitarian. With great emotion, Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji got us and embraced Bhai Jagta Ji, and his touch enlightened Bhai Jagta Ji with Divine knowledge and equipoise descended on him, endowing him with beatitude. "You are a great man, Bhai Jagta," said Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji. "You are indeed, a winner. You have successfully crossed the deceptive world ocean." After a short stay, Bhai Bhalla Ram Ji entrusted the care of the Nurpur dharamsala to Bhai Jagta Ji, and said, "You are now in charge of the Dharamsala, and I will soon be travelling to install a new one."

Bhai Jagta Ji became the new assignee of the Nurpur dharamsala. His spirituality, his benevolence, his glory, and his fame, in accordance with his feats, grew from height to height. All the rulers and chieftains, Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs in Punjab, made obeisance to him, including Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who actually met him three times, paid his respects most reverently, and obeyed his every command. A direct descendant of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, through Baba Lakhmi Das, Baba Sahib Singh Ji Bedi of Una Sahib, who was responsible for uniting the 12 Sikh Misls and their chieftains against the Afghans and Mughals and was responsible for the ascendancy of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to the throne and the true architect of the Sikh empire, regarded Bhai Jagta Ji as the foremost saint of his time.

Bhai Jagta Ji was a tireless humanitarian, from saving animals from slaughter, feeding animals and birds and providing them shelter, protecting the honor of thieves and criminals, taking up the cause of the poor and the down trodden to their rulers and chieftains, arranging to have wells dug for people in need of water, to caring for people from the lowest echelons of the society to actually sacrificing his own assets, including the dharamsala for the benefit of the unfortunate and poor, he was a true messiah of kindness, equality and generosity.

His tenure of service was so profoundly inspiring and he influenced so many monarchs, chieftains, common folk, thieves, criminals, sadhus, pirs and devotees, whether, Sikh, Hindus or Muslim that his disciples, subsequent assignees of the Nurpur dharamsala and other Seva Panthis and the local population started referring to it as Tikana Bhai Jagta Ji. The fifth spiritual descendant of Bhai Kanhaiya Ji, by his life of great kindness, benevolence, equipoise and god like merciful attitude, had set the bar very high and changed the face of saintliness in West Punjab, forever.

Assignees of Tikana Bhai Jagta Ji after him

Bhai Jagta Ji, left for his heavenly abode in 1811 AD. He chose Bhai Hazari Ji to succeed him as the 5th Assignee of the Nurpur dharamsala or popularly known as Tikana Bhai Jagta Ji. Bhai Hazari had been in-charge of the Langar of the Tikana. Bhai Jagta Ji convinced to take charge. Bhai Hazari Ji left his mortal body in 1826 AD and passed on the torch to Bhai Sahai Ram Ji. Bhai Sahai Ram Ji, after 18 years at the helm, in 1844 AD chose Bhai Ralya Ram Ji to succeed him, and Bhai Ralya Ram Ji remained the chief assignee of the dharamsala for 26 years. Before he left for his heavenly abode he selected Bhai Lakhmi Das Ji, a very devout, kind and spiritually enlightened soul, who was perfect for the job. The people of Nurpur were very happy during his tenure.

Bhai Lakhmi Das Ji accepts young Bhai Gulab Singh Ji to serve him

Mahant Bhai Gulab Singh Ji was born in 1881 AD, in the village Fazil, District Mianwali, now in Pakistan. His father Bhai Khazan Singh was a cattle trader and both he and his wife Seva Bai were devotees of Bhai Jagta Ji and the Tikana Sahib. Once while visiting Nurpur to pay homage to Bhai Lakhmi Das Ji, he was so impressed that on his way back, he made a vow that if he had another son, he would dedicate him to the service of the Tikana Sahib. Almighty God granted his wish and Bhai Gulab Singh Ji was born. When young Gulab Singh Ji was two years old, his father became unwell and realizing his end was near, he called his nephew Nidhan Singh and his wife and disclosed the promise he had made, and asked them not to defy his will and break his vow. When Gulab Singh Ji was ten, he was sent to the Tikana Sahib. Bhai Lakhmi Das Ji cared for the child and young Bhai Gulab Singh Ji started receiving spiritual training. When he became a sturdy teenager, Bhai Lakhmi Das entrusted the care of Tikana Sahib's cattle to him. The young lad would perform his duties diligently while constantly reciting Japji Sahib. In a few years he learnt a lot of Gurbani and learnt to manage most affairs at the Tikana. Bhai Lakhmi Das Ji, realizing his end was near, sent for Mahant Bhai Bhagat Singh Ji of the Mitha Tivana dharamsala and the village council members and after a conference, decided to anoint Bhai Gulab Singh Ji as the the new assignee of the Tikana Sahib. The young man was bathed, dressed in new clothes, a turban of succession was tied on his head and a saffron mark was applied to his forehead in front of the sangat and he was formally given charge of the dharamsala in September 1908.

The Partition of India and the re-establishment of the Tikana Sahib at Goniana Mandi

In 1947, the British partitioned India and riots between Muslims on one side and Hindus and Sikhs on the other broke out. Mobs of Muslims started attacking religious institutions to loot valuables. A crowd of 5000 people had gathered in the Tikana Sahib under Mahant Gulab Singh Ji's care and by God's Grace, Mahant Sahib brought everyone of those people to the Sargodha camp in Pakistan and then to Amritsar, with the assistance of the army. He then chose Goniana Mandi, in District Bathinda, to re-establish the Tikana Sahib and in 1948 he purchased land and had a small ashram constructed. He left his mortal body in 1950, choosing Mahant Bhai Asa Singh Ji to succeed him. Within 24 years, Mahant Asa Singh transformed the Tikana Sahib into a huge complex with a school and a college for young women. This college was the first of its kind in Southern Punjab. Mahant Tirath Singh Ji after him expanded the Tikana Sahib further, started dozens of schools, colleges and a few hospitals, and after 34 years at the helm, chose Mahant Baba Kahan Singh Ji to succeed him as the Mahant of Tikana Bhai Jagta Ji Sahib.

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