(Book Review by Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)
Book: Itihaas Damdami Taksaal (Sankhep)
Editor: Didar Singh Khujaala
Second Edition, October 1999
Price: Rupees 40.
Publisher: Damdami Taksaal (Jatha Bhindraan), Gurdwara Gurdarshan Parkaash, Mehta, Amritsar.
Printer: Printwell, 146, Industrial Focal Point, Amritsar.
This book is an effort to bring out the history of Damdami Taksaal. The book says that Guru Amardas Ji appointed 22 ‘Manjis’ and 72 ‘Peerhaas’ to preach the Gurbani. Guru Arjan Dev Ji edited ‘Beerh Sahib’ (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji). Baba Sri Chand started preaching the Gurmat. After Sri Chand, Baba Gurditta Ji was famous ‘Mahatma’ of Udasi sect. There were four disciples of Baba Gurditta Ji. Their names were ‘Baalu Hasna’, ‘Phoole Shah’, ‘Goyenda’ and ‘Almast’. They established four ‘Dhooney’ of Udasis. The four ‘Dhooney’ and six ‘Bakhsishaan’ are called ‘Das Naam Udasi’. All the Udasis belonging to these ‘Dhooney’ and ‘Bakhshishaan’ established hundred of ‘Deras’, ‘Akhaarhe’ and centers. During the hard days of Mughal rule, Udasis, Nirmalas and Seva Panthis continued to preach Sikhi. The book tells that many chiefs of Sikh ‘Misals’ adopted Sikhi under influence of Udasi, Nirmalas and Sevapanthis.
During the ‘Singh Sabha Movement’, Udasis and Nirmalas established idols of Sri Chand and removed Sri Guru Granth Sahib, or they installed other books of Hindu religious books along with Guru Granth Sahib, so that their ‘deras’ could not be taken over under new Gurdwara Act. The book says that Udasis used not to cut their hair/beard, but frightened by Singh Sabha movement, now ‘Jataa-dhari’, ‘Mundit’, ‘Bhasmadhari’, ‘Nange’ and those, who wear russet clothes, can be seen.
According to the book, Bhai Gurdas Ji, Bhai Budhha Ji used to do the ‘katha’ of Gurbani. During the time period of Guru Hargobind Sahib to Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, Sikh-scholars used to ‘Katha’. When Guru Gobind Singh came to ‘Sabo Ki Talwandi’, Guru Ji sent Baba Deep Singh alongwith 25 Singhs to Dheer Mal to bring the ‘Gurbani Beerh’, which was compiled by Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Dheer Mal refused to do so.
The writer is mistaken here. When Guru Gobind Singh Ji arrived Sabo Ki Talwandi, Dheer Mal was not alive at that time. He had been died, so it is wrong to say that he refused to give the Gurbani ‘Pothi’.
The book says that Guru Gobind Singh Ji started to recite the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and Bhai Mani Singh ji had been writing it. In the morning, Guru Ji used to recite Sri Guru Granth Sahib and Bhai Mani would write it. In the evening Guru Ji would teach its meanings to 48 Singhs. From ‘Kattak Sudi Pooranmaasi’, Sambat 1762 Bikrami to 23 ‘Saavan’, 1763 Bikrami, in 9 months and 9 days, Guru Ji completed the work.
According to the book, Bhai Mani Singh started the ‘Taksal’ at Sri Amritsar and Baba Deep Singh Ji started it at Damdama Sahib. The names of 48 Singhs, who were educated by Guru Gobind Singh Ji at Sabo Ki Talwandi, have been given in this book.
Then, the brief biographies have been given of Taksal-chiefs. Baba Deep Singh Ji was the first chief of Damdami Taksal. It is written in this book that when Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave ‘Guruship’ to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Bhai Mani Singh ji was doing the ‘Chaur’ over Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Baba Deep Singh Ji, Bhai Dharam Singh Ji, Bhai Hari Singh Ji, Bhai Santokh Singh Ji Bhai Gurbaksh Singh were present there as ‘Panj Piyare’.
The writer did not quote to any of old Guru-history books to prove his statement that Baba Deep Singh Ji was present there in Sri Hazoor Sahib, Nanded, when Guru Gobind Singh Ji left for his heavenly abode. Instead, he quoted to ‘Sri Gurmukh Parkash’, written by Giani Gurbachan Singh Ji Khalsa (Bhindran wale), who himself was the chief of Damdami Taksal (Jatha Bhindran). It is not an old book.
The book says that Baba Deep Singh helped Baba Banda Singh Bahadur in every battle and movement. When Baba Banda Singh Bahadur came to Anandpur Sahib, Baba Deep Singh stayed with him for three months. Baba Banda Singh was impressed to listen the ‘Katha’ by Baba Deep Singh. Here again, the writer did not give reference to any of old books.
According to the book, after the death of Divan Darbara Singh, in 1734 AD Tarna Dal and Budhha Dal were organized. Tarna Dal was divided in five groups. One of these groups was headed by Baba Deep Singh. There were 2,000 horsemen in his group.
When Jahan Khan filled up the ‘sarovar’ of Sri Amritsar Sahib, Baba Deep Singh came forward to rescue. In a battle, Baba Deep Singh’s head was cut off. He put his cut head on his palm and continued to fight. Bhai Mahit Singh and Baba Naudh Singh also fought there without heads.
Baba Gurbaksh Singh Ji was the second chief of Damdami Taksal. He was son of Bhai Dasaunda Singh and Mother Lachhmi Ji of village ‘Leel’, near Khemkaram, Distt. Amritsar. According to this book, the ‘Janamsakhi Giyan Ratnaavali’ was recited by Baba Gurbaksh Singh Ji and was written by Bhai Surat Singh. During Abdali’s invasion, Amritsar was attacked. Baba Gurbaksh Singh was martyred in the battlefield. Baba Gurbaksh Singh’s head was cut off. He started to fight without his head.
The writer says that after the martyrdom of Bhai Mani Singh, the ‘Katha’ in Sri Harmandir Sahib was stopped, which was restarted by Baba Gurbaksh Singh Ji. The people used to call him ‘Nihang Singh’.
Giani Bhai Surat Singh was the next chief. He belonged to village ‘Chann-kot’, Distt. Jhang (Pakistan). He wrote the ‘teeka’ of first ‘Vaar’ of Bhai Gurdas Ji. Bhai Surat Singh took over the control of Sri Harmandir Sahib in 1765 AD. He used to do ‘Katha’ in Sri Harmandir Sahib.
Born in Sambat 1825 Bikrami, Bhai Gurdas Singh Ji was the next chief of Damdami Taksal, according to this book. He was elder son of Bhai Surat Singh Ji.
After the death of Bhai Gurdas Singh Ji, his younger brother Bhai Sant Singh became the next chief of Damdami Taksal. The writer says that Bhai Sant Singh was the teacher of great poet Bhai Santokh Singh Ji and poet Megh Singh Ji. Bhai Sant Singh Ji expired on ‘Haarh Sudi’ 8, Samvat 1889 Bikrami.
Sant Dya Singh Ji was the next chief. After his death, Sant Giani Bhagwan Singh became the chief. The writer says that Sant Bhagwan Singh accepted 14 ‘Gupt Avtaars’. These are the 14 ‘Gupt Avtaars’: –
- Baba Sri Chand Ji
- Baba Lakhmi Chand Ji
- Baba Mohari Ji
- Baba Mohan Ji
- Baba Anand bhagat Ji
- Baba Gurditta Ji
- Baba Sooraj Mal Ji
- Baba Ani Rai Ji
- Baba Atal Rai Ji
- Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji
- Sahibzada Jujhar Singh Ji
- Sahibzada Zorawar Singh Ji
- Sahibzada Fateh Singh Ji
- Ramrai Ji
Sant Harnam Singh Bedi was the next (9th) chief of Damdami Taksal, who was succeeded by Sant Bishan Singh Muraale wale. Sant Bishan Singh expired on ‘Maagh’ 15, 1962 Bikrami. Sant Sundar Singh Bhindrawale was the next chief of Damdami Taksal, who was born in 1883 AD (1940 Bikrami Samvat) in village Bhindar Kalaan, Distt. Firozpur. Sant Gurbachan Singh Bhindrawale, who was born on February 12, 1902, succeeded Sant Sundar Singh.
The biography of Sant Gurbachan Singh Bhindrawale in this book has been written by Sant Kartar Singh Bhindrawale. It is the longest part of this book.
The next chief of Damdami Taksal was Sant Kartar Singh Bhindrawale, according to this book. He died on August 16, 1977 AD. He was succeeded by Sant Jarnail Singh Khalsa (Bhindrawale).
Sant Jarnail Singh Khalsa was born in 1947 AD in village ‘Rode’, Distt. Faridkot. This book tells about his role during ‘Nirankari and Sikhs dispute’ in Amritsar, Nirankari-chief Murder case, Lala Jagat Narayan Murder case, ‘Akali Morcha’ etc. Interestingly, this book does not give any details of ‘Operation Blue Star’, which was a big episode of Sikh history. The writer says that Sant Jarnail Singh Khalsa went to an un-told place after the ‘Operation Blue Star’.
Brief biography of Sant Baba Thakur Singh Ji has also been given in this book, who is acting chief of Damdami Taksal. A brief description of Gurdwara Gurdarshan Prakash, Mehta has been given on last pages.