Sant Baba Karam Singh Ji

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Sant Baba Karam Singh was a Parcharak (preacher), a spiritual leader of Sikhs, who founded Dera Hoti Mardan.

Birth

Mahaan mahapurush Baba Karam Singh Sahib Ji was born in 1826 A.D. in the early morning hours to Mata Suba Devi and Sri Kirpa Singh Ji in a village called Kazia, district of Rawalpindi India (now part of Pakistan). Towards the end of the eighteenth century and in the beginning of the nineteenth century, in this predominately Musalman (Muslim) area, there were a few Hindu and Sikh families. Amongst those families was one Gurmukh, lover of God's name, Bhai Kirpa Singh. God had blessed him with three daughters, but yet he constantly prayed to God for a son.

Kazia was a beautiful village with greenery all around with beautiful streams flowing through it. The beautiful and serene surroundings of this place had, since anyone could remember, attracted Sadhus to set up Deras at this place. Once Sri Maan Sant Sahib Singh, along with his followers, set up a dera there. Sant Sahib Singh was the eleventh successor to the throne of Baba Lakhmi Chand (son of Guru Nanak Dev Ji). A complete Mahapurush (very, very great being) Sant Sahib Singh, would help alleviate the physical and mental problems of people who flocked to him from far and wide seeking his blessings.

Baba Karam Singh Ji's aunt (Masi ji), Kartar Kaur Bedi heard of the advent of Sahib Singh Ji. When she saw people getting the blessings of Sant Sahib Singh Ji, she thought that since her sister was also unhappy (over her failure to deliver a son) why not take the entire family to Sant Sahib and maybe he would make their wishes come true.

Chaar padhaarathh jae ko maagai ||
One who prays for the four cardinal blessings
Saadhh janaa kee saevaa laagai ||
should commit himself to the service of the Saints.
Shabad by Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Page 266 SGGS

With such thoughts in her mind she inspired her sister's entire family to go to Sant Sahib Singh Ji's dera and seek his blessings. The family with a lot of love and devotion presented offerings to Sant Sahib Singh Ji and bowed to him. Sant Sahib then said, "Welcome Gurmukhs! Tell me the reason for your visit". On hearing this, Bibi Kartar Kaur hesitated a little and then said, "Baba Ji! You know everything, this Gurmukh family has come to your feet as it seeks your blessings for the deliverance of a son". On hearing this, Baba Ji closed his eyes and went into a samadhi (a state of deep meditation). After some time, he opened his eyes. The condition of his body was in a amazing state. There was a divine light in his eyes, noorani chamak (a heavenly glow on his face) on his face. All of a sudden he said:

"You'll have a son, but..."
On hearing - "but.." , the Gurmukh family's faces went pale and all them, while gazing at Baba Ji's face, wondered just what "but.." meant.

Noticing the delicate state that the family had been left in by his incomplete sentence, Baba Ji ventured to explain, "Gurmukhon! Don't worry! Concentrate on the lotus feet of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. What i meant by 'but..' was that if the son is born in the afternoon, he will grow up to be a great warrior, if he is born in the evening he will be a great daani and if he is born in the early morning hours, he will be a great Sant Mahatma, who will distribute God's name amongst crores of people. He while uttering God's name will merge into the same. He will make thousands of people love God's name. After this, it is upto God's play himself."

On hearing this, happiness flowed though the entire family and all of them while taking leave of Sant Ji, bowed to him again. Sant Ji told them to spend all the time they could, uttering God's name and as they left, he bestowed blessings from Guru Nank Dev Ji's house.

The family then spent time uttering God's name, reciting Gurbani, listening to kirtan in the Gurudwara and performing seva with true devotion. They would wash Guru Granth Sahib's rumaalaas with their own hands, serve the saadh sangat and derived great pleasure in doing so. On doing so, they pleased the Almighty and as the fifth Guru Nanak has recited:

Sathigur hoe dhaeiaal th saradhhaa pooreeai ||
When the True Guru is merciful, then your desires will be fulfilled.
Sathigur hoe dhaeiaal n kabehoo(n) jhooreeai ||
When the True Guru is merciful, you will never grieve.
Shabad by Guru Amar Daas Ji, Page 149 SGGS

As the lines of Gurbani above mention, with the grace of Satguru Sacche Patshaah, the pleasure of the Saadh Sangat and with Mahapurush Sant Sahib Singh Ji's blessings, Mata Suba Devi became pregnant. As Guru Arjan Dev Ji has mentioned in GurBani:

Oudharai maahi aae keeaa nivaas ||
He came to acquire a home in the womb,
Maathaa kai man bahuth bigaas ||
And his mother's heart is so very glad. ||
Shabad by Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Page 396

On becoming pregnant, Mata Suba Devi's nature changed. She acquired a divine countenance, always had a smile on her face, humility showed through, an intense love for God's name and an eagerness to serve the sadh sangat developed. As the True Guru's bani says:

Dasi Maasi hukam baalak janam liyaa|| Mitiya sog mahaa anand thiya||

Dispelling Superstitions

Baba Karam Singh Ji even as an infant had a very pleasing countenance. People would consider it a privilege to hold the infant in their hands. They would derrive immense pleasure in showering affection on the young one. The young one was the cynosure of all eyes and everyone who saw him fell in love with him.

Some superstitious ladies poisoned the mind of Mata Suba Devi telling her that since the infant got so much attention, it would fall ill or something bad would happen ( nazar lag jaana ). On hearing this, Mata Suba Devi changed her behaviour. She would not let people meet the infant on some pretext or the other.

Sri Kirpa Singh noticed this change in his wife and questioned her about it. She then told him everything about the superstitions. On hearing this, Sri Kirpa Singh tried to explain to her that these things were not true but it failed to have any effect on Mata Suba Devi.

One afternoon, Kaka Karam Singh Ji was playing and his mother was busy with some household work. All of a sudden a sweet voice said, "Sat Kartar", "Sat Kartar". On hearing this sweet voice, Mata Suba Devi turned around to see a God loving, bani da rasiyaa, tall Gurmukh Mahatma with a white beard wearing white clothes standing at their door. On seeing such a Godly figure, Mata Ji immediately requested Mahatma ji to sit on a manji. As he sat down, Mahatma Ji lifted Kaka Karam Singh Ji and put him on his lap and began showering affection on the little child.

He then said, "O mother of the young one! Your son is a Sant Mahatma. He will dispel a lot of superstitions from the minds of people and will spread God's name far and wide. People who have forgotten God's name will be put back on path by him. Don't hide the infant from people. Let them love the young one and derive pleasure from doing so. Nothing bad will happen to him. Don't believe in such superstitions."

After saying this, the Mahatma said "Sat Kartar" and immediately left the house. Mata Suba Devi immediately ran after him but as she went out, she couldn't see anyone. Mata Ji repented for her behaviour and fell into a depression. When Sri Kirpa Singh came home and saw the gloomy demeanor of his wife, asked her what the matter was. When he heard what had happened said, he said that "This was the play of God. In order to make us understand the truth, he performed this miracle. As the fifth Guru Nanak states:

"Kot paradh humaare khandeh, anik bidhi samjhaweh||"

The Almighty has many ways to dispel superstitions. This was one of his ways to make us understand that we should not believe in superstitions". Soon after this incident, Mata Ji changed her behaviour and happiness returned to the Gurmukh parivaar.

Almighty Performs Duty for his Son

Kazia village was a very beautiful, serene place and hence attracted many Saints who often set up deras there. Baba Karam Singh Ji ( now 15 years old ) would serve the Sants with all his mind and heart and receive their blessings. Once Baba Ram Singh Ji ( a complete Mahapurush ) visited Kazia. He inspired Baba Karam Singh Ji to serve his parents ( stating that this was the best form of seva ). Baba Karam Singh Ji decided to take up a job so that he could serve his parents financially.

He took up a job in Maharaja Ranjit Singh's army. But after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Sikh empire did not last very long. Then, Baba Karam Singh Ji took up a job in the British army. There he performed acts of such bravery and compassion that he soon became very popular amongst his fellow soldiers. All this while Baba Ji continued to meditate on the Lord's name. He would inspire his fellow soldiers to remember God's name. British officers too, held him in high esteem.

After the 1857 mutiny was quelled by the British, the British gave a free hand to their soldiers to indulge in looting and arson. On seeing the terrible state of people, Baba Ji suddenly became very quiet and totally withdrew into a shell. He would appear to be sad and lost, always on the verge of tears. His fellow soldiers became very concerned and asked him repeatedly as to what the matter was. He replied that the problem did not invlove worldly affairs but was more spiritual in nature. On hearing this, his followers grew quiet. Baba Karam Singh Ji was now totally possessed with a desire to be united with God. He wanted to give up all material bondings and devote his life to serving the Almighty. His yearning for a sight of the Almighty had crossed all limits and boundaries.

As is mentioned in Gurbani:

"Ghat ghat ke anter ki jaanat, Bhale bure ki pir pachanat ||"

The Almighty knew the lofty feelings of Baba Karam Singh Ji and he performed the following miracle for the sake of his son. One day Baba Karam Singh Ji (in civilian clothing) went to a quiet place to recite Rehraas Sahib. While reciting Rehrass Sahib, Baba Ji recited the following lines

"Tere bhagat tere bhagat salaahan tudh Ji,"
"Har anik anek ananta||"

Baba Ji drew so much nectar from these lines, that he kept on reciting these lines again and again while keeping his mind on the Almighty's lotus feet. Baba Ji grew so lost in reciting the hymn that he lost all track of time and forgot that he had to report for duty.

A muslim subedar who was always on the lookout to harm Baba Ji, saw that Baba Ji had not reported for duty. He looked around and saw that Baba Ji was deeply engrossed in meditation. He saw this as a good opportunity to harm Baba Ji's reputation. He rushed to the British Commanding Officer and informed him that Baba Ji was neglecting his duty and was absent from his post.

But the Subedar had forgotten about God's love for his own beloved ones. The Almighty always protects his loved ones from the harmful intentions of bad people. He is always present to preserve the honor of the ones who love him. The Subedar had managed to convince the Commanding Officer that Baba Ji was absent from his duty. Convinced, the Commanding Officer, went along with the Subedar to investigate the matter. Here as the Commanding Officer stepped out to investigate the matter, from the other end Almighty himself proceeded to preserve the honor of his loved one. As the King of Shaheeds, the Fifth Guru Nanak has said

                                 "Apne sevak ki aape raakhe,
                                  aape naam japaave            ||
                                  Jeh Jeh kaaj kirat sevak ki taha taha uth dhaave,
                                  Sevak ko nikti hoye dekhaave||"

When the Commanding Officer and the Subedar reached the place where Baba Ji was supposed to be on duty, they saw that Baba Ji was indeed there, present for duty and was undertaking it in a very diligent manner. On seeing this, the Commanding Officer thanked Baba Ji profusely for carrying out his duty in such a diligent fashion, whereas the Subedar grew extremely nervous and nearly lost his senses on seeing Baba Ji present for duty. The Commanding Officer reprimanded the Subedar and said "You have in the past too, tried to harm the reputation of Baba Ji without any valid reason. You shall face severe punishment this time". The Subedar was now besides himself with bewilderment. He just couldn't comprehend what was going on. He ran to the place where he had seen Baba Ji meditate. To his great astonishment and dismay, he saw Baba Ji still deeply involved in meditation. He then ran back to the place where Baba Ji was to be on duty and behold! he saw Baba Ji diligently performing his duty as well.

The Subedar could now no longer contain himself. He went to the Commanding Office and pleaded him to accompany him and see the miracle for himself. The Commanding Officer thought that the Subedar had lost his senses beacuse of the fear of punishment. But the Subedar continued to persist with his request. On seeing this, the British officer finally relented ( as he had previously heard stories about the divine nature of Baba Ji ). The British officer along with the Subedar then went and indeed saw that Baba Ji was present at both places. After cross checking Baba Ji's presence at both places , the British Officer bowed respectfully in reverence to Baba Ji and went back to the base station.

Later, when Baba Ji arose from meditation he realised that he had missed his duty. He then went to his fellow soldiers and asked them whether the British Officer had come on a round to check the presence of soldiers. The fellow soldiers got confused as to why Baba Ji was asking them this question as Baba Ji himself was present on duty when the British Officer had come on the round. Baba Ji thought the soldiers were making fun of him and early next morning he proceeded to the base station to report his absence from duty the previous day. When Baba Ji reached the base station, the British Officer had already told his fellow officers of the previous days happenings. On seeing Baba Ji, all the officers stood up in respect. Baba Ji then told the Commanding Officer that he was sorry for not being able to attend duty the previous day. But the Commanding Officer said, that Baba Ji was present for duty and showed Baba Ji the attendance register where Baba Ji's signature was present. He also told Baba Ji that he had seen him at two places simultaneously ( in meditation as well as present for duty ). On hearing this, Baba Ji thanked the Almighty for saving his honor. He then went into a deep reverie for some time and on waking up later said that since "The Almighty has undertaken so much trouble for me, I will now give up my job and spend the rest of my life in remembering him, performing seva and indulge in the company of the sadh sangat".

On hearing this the British officer said "Baba Ji, we will make you an officer very soon and we refuse to cut your name of the rolls". Baba Ji, said "I have vowed to spend my life serving the Almighty, I do desire or need any official titles". Despite the best efforts of the British, Baba Ji refused to continue in his job. One British officer then said "If we don't cut your name from the official rolls then what can you do?". Baba Ji said "When the Almighty has done so much for me, i will leave this decision upto him. If he wants me to continue serving the Army, then my name will be found in the registers, else if he wishes me to serve him, then my name will not be found in any register". On hearing this, the officers started searching for Baba Ji's name in the registers. Meanwhile Baba Ji closed his eyes and started praying to the Almighty

                                           "Jiv Jiv Hukam, tive tiv kaar||"

"If your desire is that i should spend my life in Naam Simran or i should continue with my job; whatever is your wish O Almighty! i shall follow it". And lo! Baba Ji's name was not found in any register. There was no official record of Baba Ji whatsoever. On seeing this miracle, the British officers were left spellbound and couldn't say anything for a few minutes. Eventually, one officer mustered enough courage and said "Baba Ji, we have lost the bet, but we still have one request. During the day you may go anywhere and meditate on the Lord's name, but during the night please grace us with your presence. Also, as this area is a Pathan infested area, it may not be very safe for you". Baba Ji while acceeding to this request said "I promise that i will visit the regiment every night, but for how much time to come is something i cannot promise. As far as my safety is concerned, i am not worried on that front".

Baba Ji, then proceeded to leave the Army forever and proceeded to the banks of the river Kala Pani which was three miles away from the city. He would spend his day meditating on the Lord's name and during the nights he would go back to the platoon and rest.

Never try to test a Sant:-

One day BabaJi was sitting with the sangat and they were talking about spiritual matters. Sangat from village Rustam arrived and after seeking Baba Ji's blessings said "Maharaj Ji! With inspiration from you and the Almighty, we have decided to hold a Yag but will do so only if you bless us with your holy presence". Touched by the humble and respectful request BabaJi agreed to visit the village on the day of the Yag.

The villagers then began preparations and with great devotion began the Akhand Path of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. As promised, BabaJi arrived and after partaking the langar, with a few devotees proceeded to a quiet place to meditate on the Lord's name. Baba Ji went a little furthur away and started meditating alone.

After some time, the son of the village nambardar Makhmood Shah, reached the place where the devotees were meditating. For some time, he quietly heard them sing praises of Baba Karam Singh Ji. Then he said, "I will consider him to be a Saint only if he feeds with me Karah Parshad, i.e without going to the village or sending a message". Everyone present there requested him not to utter such words, but instead of heeding their words, he started speaking out against BabaJi in a loud voice.

BabaJi on hearing the commotion called a devotee and asked him as to why was there so much noise. With deep regret and remorse, the devotee said "BabaJi, a Pathan who is filled with ego is saying that he should be fed with Karah Parshad without sending a message to the village". BabaJi said, "Go and tell him to wait for some time and the Almighty will fulfill his request".

After some time, three devotees carrying trays of Karah Parshad arrived at the place where BabaJi was meditating. On seeing them arrive, everyone smiled. BabaJi then told the devotees to place one tray in front of the Pathan and told him to each as much as he could and alongwith sing the praises of Allah. But the Pathan had lost his senses, his face had turned white. His body had turned still and with bewildered eyes would sometimes look at the Parshad, sometimes at the devotees and then at BabaJi. The devotees then said "Now, what are you waiting for ? Why don't you eat to your heart's content ?". Instead of replying to their questions, the boy got up and started walking away. He somehow managed to reach home and immediately fell down. Everyone at home, gathered around the boy and asked him what was wrong. All he could utter was "Baba Karam Singh ........". On hearing this, everyone present understood that the boy must have done something wrong.

The elders of the village then got together and went to BabaJi. They humbly said "Fakir Sahib! According to rule, the devotees of God don't hold anything against people who have spoken against them if forgiveness is asked for. You too, please accept our humble request". BabaJi, who had forgotten about the incident said "Why are you talking in a roundabout manner ? Please put forward whatever you want to say in a straight manner". On hearing this, the elders proceeded to tell BabaJi about what had happened to the nambardar's son. Baba Ji said "He had asked for Karah Parshad, but he didn't eat anything, instead he got up and walked away". But the elders continued to plead and BabaJi who was an ocean of compassion, said "Never try and test a Sant because the Almighty himself comes and saves the honor of his devotees. Now go home and while taking Khudah's name, sprinkle water on the boys face".The elders then followed BabaJi's instructions and the boy immediately recovered.

As night fell, Sant Maharaj reached the village. After listening to Path and partaking of langar, he meditated till early morning hours. He then met the sangat and gave them the following recipe for all their troubles

                             "Sarab Rog Kaa Aukhad Naam||"

Bhai Sant Singh who had organised this Yag, alongwith with his family bowed in front of BabaJi and sat down. BabaJi called out to him and said "Bhai, is there something that you wish to say?". Bhai Sant Singh said "BabaJi, i have married three times, but still have not been blessed with a son which was the very reason behind marrying three times. With God's grace i have all the material comforts one can ask for. If you request the Almighty to grant me a son, i shall be associated with this world". BabaJi replied "Bhai, everyone comes to this world with his destiny preordained. But if he serves the Sadh Sangat with complete devotion and earns their blessings, the Almighty takes care of him. I will pray to the Almighty along with the Sadh Sangat tomorrow". Bhai Sant Singh said "BabaJi, whatever you have said is 100% right, but if you grant me this boon with your own words, i will be completely relieved and can then go home in peace". BabaJi gave him a fruit and said "Almighty will bless you. Keep remembering him at all times. He will bless you with a child".

BabaJi never claimed to do anything himself. He always encouraged everyone to remember God and said aspirations of people were fulfilled with the blessings of the Almighty.

BabaJi now began preparations to go back to the Dera. But the sangat requested him to stay back for some more time. On seeing the love and devotion of the sangat, BabaJi accepted their request. He asked them for a secluded place where he could spend the day in meditation. The sangat said, "there is a quiet place amongst some hills nearby, but there is no arrangement for water". Almighty has his own ways of enforcing faith of people in his loved ones. BabaJi now insisted on seeing the place and on reaching there immediately took a liking to it. He requested the sangat to start digging at a particular spot and said that with the grace of God, they would find water. On digging 4-5 feet, the sangat heard a loud sound and immediately shrunk back. BabaJi said, "Premi Jano! Don't worry, Waheguru is sending water for his dear ones". On going back to the hole, the sangat saw clear, sweet water. On seeing the water, the sangat started saying, "Dhan Baba Karam Singh Ji!". BabaJi stopped them and said "Chant the name of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Guru Gobind Singh Ji". BabaJi then blessed that place and naming it Baoli Sahib said "Whoever with complete devotion, takes bath here and meditates on God's name will be cured of all mental and physical problems".