Introduction

Bhai Sahib, Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh Ji (1878 – 1961), whose original name before baptism and initiation into the Khalsa fold was Basant Singh,was born in the village of Narangwal in the Ludhiana District of Punjab on July 7, 1878, to a family of a very noble and devout heritage. His father, S. Natha Singh, was a learned scholar of Punjabi, Urdu, Persian and English, who initially worked as a District Inspector of Schools but later rose to the rank of a Judge in the High Court of the State of Nabha. As a Judge, he became well known for combining justice with mercy, compassion and humanity. His mother, Sardarni Punjab Kaur, was a direct seventh-generation descendant of a very devout, eminent, and saintly Gursikh, Bhai Bhagtu, a very distinguished disciple of Sahib Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji and Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib (5th and 6th Guru’s of the Sikhs). Thus, Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh Ji inherited scholarship and strength of mind from his paternal side and qualities of piety and devotion from his maternal side.

He had most of his early schooling in Nabha and his higher education at the prestigious Government and Foreman Christian Colleges at Lahore (in 1896-1900 A.D.), which was, at that time, the capital of the undivided Punjab State. He was not only an intelligent and diligent student with respect to his scholastic pursuits, but was also a good sportsman, having once served as a Captain for the College hockey team. He had a prodigious memory, a fact clearly revealed from the way he has reproduced details of the happenings during his prison life. In his autobiographical letters from prison, he narrated his long conversations with the jail authorities minutely and distinctly. In his various books on Sikh theology he quotes very appropriate verses from Gurbani (holy verses from the Guru Granth Sahib – Sikh Scriptures) freely and with apparent ease. He had a deep insight and scholarly expertise in Punjabi, Brij Bhasha of Sri Dasam Granth, Persian, Urdu and English. He even distinguished himself as an Urdu and Punjabi poet during his college days.
Even a cursory look at his life, as revealed from his autobiographical letters and stories related by his close prison and post-prison comrades, clearly shows that he was one of the very few Gursikhs of the century who had full and unfalterable conviction of his faith in the teachings of the Satguru (Guru Granth Sahib), so much so that he staked his personal career, the safety and welfare of his wife and young children, his ancestral property and even his life in following the true path of Gurmat (ideals of the Sikh Gurus). He was one of the very few outstanding Sikhs of his time who, as one of the Panj Pyaras (5 beloved ones), blessed people of the so-called ‘lowest caste’ with the holy Amrit (Baptism of the Double Edged Sword). It may be recalled that those were the times when the Gurmat way of life had been almost completely overshadowed by Hindu orthodoxy or Brahminism. The Brahminic principle of untouchability regarding the low caste Hindus and Muslims had become ingrained in the minds of Sikhs to such an extent that some Sikhs would not even consider taking part in the Amrit ceremony in their company.

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