Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh

(July 7, 1878 - April 16, 1961)

In the first two decades of the twentieth century, when the cry of freedom was a distant dream, decadence and demoralization had corroded the foundations of religious, social and political integrity of our people, Bhai Randhir Singh emerged as one of the most brilliant stars of a new epoch, an apostle of Sikh faith, who did not lecture or sermonize but poured his thoughts and experiences through stirring divine songs; a reformer who did not change society by precepts but by example; a revolutionary, who threw away the pride and position of an upper class family and plunged into the most daring revolt against the British Imperialism at a time when even radical politicians did not dare to raise their little finger for freedom and liberty.

Only half a century earlier the Sikhs had lost an empire, the sudden loss of which left the Sikh community tottering in moral and cultural ruins. After the collapse of Sikh Empire, a number of dedicated souls rose to revive and restore the true spirit of Sikhism, one of them was Bhai Randhir Singh.

Parentage and Childhood

Bhai Randhir Singh was born on Sunday, July 7, 1878 and was named Basant Singh. His father, Sardar Natha Singh son of Lambardar Basawa Singh of village Narangwal, District Ludhiana, started his career as a Primary School teacher and through hard work and passion for higher studies rose to be High Court Judge and acquired fame for seasoning justice with mercy. While working as the Law Translator of Patiala State, he translated the Indian Penal Code Act 45 of 1860 under the title “Hind Dandavali” which was hailed as a valuable addition to Punjabi literature.

Bhai Randhir Singh’s mother, Sardarni Punjab Kaur was the descendent of a very eminent saint, Bhai Bhagtu, a disciple of Guru Arjan and Guru Hargobind. While his father Sardar Natha Singh was a stern, judicious, liberal and profound scholar, his mother Sardarni Punjab Kaur was extremely sensitive, strong-willed, pious and abstemious. Bhai Randhir Singh inherited his learning and scholarship from his father, but he imbibed the piety and abstemious traits of his mother. He inherited the qualities of the head from his father and the qualities of the heart from his mother. He was a very stout lad, bubbling with energy and playful spirit. At the age of seven or eight he fell from the top of a two storied building with face downwards. He was taken in critical condition to the Civil Hospital, Ludhiana. For three days he struggled for survival and regained consciousness on the fourth day. “He will be a terrible fighter and a man of great will power”, said the Civil Surgeon to his father. 

A Sensitive School Boy

Randhir Singh had most of his school education at Nabha. He showed exceptional intelligence and a quick grasp over his studies. A lover of beautiful things, compassionate to the poor and helpless, he was an extremely sensitive lad with strong likes and dislikes.

Once, on the way to school, he saw a beautiful flower in the garden of Maharaja Hira Singh. He was so enchanted by its colours and beauty that every day on the way to and back from school, he stood there admiring and feasting on the beauty and colours of the flower. He asked the gardener to take the utmost care of that particular lovely flower and not allow anyone to pluck it. Early one morning on his way to school Bhai Randhir Singh found the flower missing from the garden. The gardener pathetically told him that one of his schoolmates, son of an important State official, had plucked it, probably to tease him. Sighing for the lost flower he fainted. He could not bear the thought that the most enchanting thing that he had seen in life had disappeared forever. This sensitiveness to things beautiful and sublime remained an ingrained trait of his character all through his life.

He had a compassionate and forgiving heart and throughout his life he went out of the way to persuade wrong doers and sinners to give up the path of evil. A servant once stole gold ornaments from his father’s house. He was arrested and imprisoned. Feeling compassion for the servant, Bhai Randhir Singh urged his father to get the servant released. He was employed again to accompany Bhai Randhir Singh to Lahore where he was to join college. But at Ludhiana railway station this ungrateful servant robbed him of all his belongings and disappeared never to be found again. When asked why he gave such a long rope to evil doers, Bhai Randhir Singh said, “It is God alone who can judge who is really virtuous and who is really a sinner. The greatest sinner can become the noblest saint. Our attitude towards evil doers should be one of compassion and not of hatred. Only those who are wilfully cruel should be severely dealt with or avoided.”

A Poet and A Sportsman in College

In his college days Bhai Randhir Singh was energy personified. His athletic form, square shoulders, broad chest, stout and well-built body with muscular arms was trained to all kinds of sports. He was a student at Government College, Lahore and of Mission College, Lahore. He took keen interest both in academics and sports. Playing hockey was a passion with him. For a year or two he was the captain of the college team. Having a prodigious memory, he had memorised many passages from Persian and Punjabi poetry and could freely quote Hafiz, Rumi and Punjabi Sufi Poets. While in college, he wrote poetry in Urdu and Punjabi about the events and incidents, which moved his deeply emotional soul. Love and friendship, devotion and the spirit of sacrifice are major themes of these poems.

Although he took some interest in studying the Bible, for the teaching of which there was special arrangement in the Mission College, he took practically no interest in religion or God and he knew nothing about Sikhism beyond the traditional knowledge which Sikh boys get by their upbringing. Later on, the revolutionary and cataclysmic events of his life smothered the poet and sportsman in him. The poet diversified to a writer, a theologian, the singer and bard of God and the sportsman changed into a relentless fighter for freedom.

Lahore at that time was a hotbed of pseudo-religious monstrosities devoured by morbid passion to proclaim the superiority of one’s own religion. Idlers, buffoons, fishers in troubled waters and religious charlatans played havoc with the sentiments of illiterate and sentimental Punjabis. In such a pungent atmosphere, Bhai Randhir Singh found nothing that could attract his soul.

The Call of the Spirit

His father, Sardar Natha Singh, knew that out of all his sons Basant Singh (Randhir Singh) was the most promising. He was conscious of his special gifts and talents. From time to time he wrote letters, tendering affectionate advice to his sensitive son. One such letter changed direction, temper and purpose of his life completely.

“You have to appear in B. A. and B. L. examinations this year,” wrote Sardar Natha Singh to his son, “If you want to clear both these examinations, you must recite Japji in the morning and Rehras in the evening everyday.” A Gutka (prayer book) accompanied the letter. Bhai Randhir Singh had never read Gurbani or any other literature on Sikhism up to that time. Whether the recitations of prayers helped him to pass the examinations or not, it certainly brought about a sudden change that can ever occur in human experience. “This was the miracle,” writes Bhai Randhir Singh,[1] “which the Lord worked upon me, when I started reciting prayers with the selfish ends. My swan-like soul, which was passionately thirsting for the pearl drops of love, got its real food and forgot everything else.” In his eager search for truth and the light of wisdom he was attracted by a Yogi, but Yogi’s obnoxious habit of smoking disillusioned him and his tender faith in the saintliness of the Yogi was shattered.

The Golden Sparrow

In the beginning of the 20th century, the bubonic plague spread in an epidemic form in Punjab. The British Government took special measures for its eradication. Bhai Randhir Singh was appointed Naib Tehsildar and posted as personal assistant to Dr. R. W. Fisher, the Plague Inoculation Officer. He joined duty on October 5, 1920 and served for about a year till the end of Inoculation work. Bhai Randhir Singh has given in detail his experiences during his work in the Inoculation Department in his autobiography. He had written in detail about the rampant corruption therein and as to how he tried to put an end to it. Bhai Randhir Singh had joined the Government Service as his father advised him that “the service of humanity is in fact the service of God and it pleases Him. This can be best done by joining the Government service.” But seeing the corruption rampant at all levels he was greatly upset, and he found it hard to believe that the Government Service can ever be the service of humanity. In fact, it appeared to him “a cursed slavery of imperialism.” “To sell your soul and damn your faith” being its only reward. Dr. Fisher and the then Deputy Commissioner of Ludhiana were highly impressed by his talent, judicious administration, nobility and frankness. After about a year the inoculation department was wound up. On the recommendations of Dr. Fisher, the Government agreed to offer him the regular post of Tehsildar, but he refused even to put in a formal application. When, in the presence of his father, Dr. Fisher and the Deputy Commissioner of Ludhiana asked him for the reason, he said: 

        “Firstly, I believe that to serve humanity is to serve God and this the best way to please Him an individual can do so only by joining some welfare organisation. Innocently I also thought that the Government is such an organisation and I thought that to serve in this ‘company of public servants’ would be spiritually rewarding. But I had a bitter experience, and I have come to the sad conclusion that this Government is a torture organisation. Even the highest official claims to be a Public Servant but does service to none. Everyone is a thief here. So, I have given up the idea of joining such a misleading service.

        “Secondly, I can serve as Tehsildar in the true sense of service and acquit myself well only if I could do justice. While in Government service one cannot respect truth and do justice in the true sense of the word. It is possible to do moral justice only if everyone connected with dispensing justice is virtuous and righteous in the religious sense.

        “Thirdly, as long as the present Law of Evidence is in force, there could be no justice. I do not know when this Law of Evidence was first introduced and since how long it has been in force, but I do believe that when it was first introduced the people must have been habitually truthful and of high moral values. Nowadays falsehood prevails and very few people tell the truth. There are some people who have made lying a profession. Generally, on the evidence of such professional liars all kinds of civil and criminal cases are decided. Every village, every town and every city have such professional witnesses who give evidence for payment. If you check the files of all the cases decided during the last twelve years, you will find that in every case such professional witnesses had appeared and on whose false evidence the judgements had been passed. I have a list of such professional witnesses from many villages. In most cases one finds the persons from this list appearing in the courts of Munsif, Extra Assistant Commissioner, District Magistrate and Sessions Judge. If you have doubt you can check the record of various courts, since what is on record is self-evident. They are professional witnesses and give false evidence for a few annas or a few rupees and tell blatant lies. How can they differentiate between a falsehood and truth when they give evidence for paltry sums? Their conscience is dead. Do you think the officers who decide the cases on the basis of such false evidence are being judicious? Are they performing or can they perform their duty of judging in the true sense of justice? No, never. At the most a God-fearing Judge and who wishes to know the truth, may go for on the spot investigation.

“Suppose a murder has been committed in a village and I go for on the spot investigation, as a result of which I find the real murderer. If at least two witnesses are not available and I give the judgement on the basis of my on-the-spot enquiry, it will be struck down. On the other hand, a judgement based on the basis of two false witnesses convicting an innocent person is considered sound and valid. All the higher courts uphold it. This means that on-the-spot investigation is of no use. Higher courts will strike down all the judgements given by me on the basis of on-the-spot investigation without involving at least two false witnesses. I would be labelled as incompetent and would at least be demoted if not removed from the service altogether. If in fear of being downgraded and in trying to give the false impression of being judicious I base my judgements according to the law of evidence, I shall be failing in justice. Joining this organisation of swindlers, the Government, shall be a moral and spiritual loss. I shall reap only repentance and nothing else. The Guru ordains:

        “ਐਸਾ ਕੰਮੁ ਮੂਲੇ ਨ ਕੀਚੈ ਜਿਤੁ ਅੰਤੁ ਪਛੋਤਾਈਐ॥”

        aisaa kanm moolae n keechai jith anth pachhothaaeeai

        “Never do such a deed, Which ultimately ends in repentance.”[2]

I would like to obey the command of my Guru. The same is the situation with the Criminal Investigation Department (C. I. D.) of Police. They indulge in all kinds of underhand means like falsehood, threats, and third-degree methods to solve the cases. The pleaders are also not interested in justice. By taking the shelter of Law of Evidence they get an innocent person hanged and prove the real culprits to be innocent. Those who are morally sound a nd lead a righteous life only can do the real justice. What can one or two righteous persons do in the Government where all officers from top to bottom are corrupt? I am, as yet, an aspirant for the clean religious life through which I want to please my Creator and I do not want to begin my life in such a way where I would be doing all those things which displease God. So, I do not want to do something where I will be a loser.”

On getting this reply from Bhai Randhir Singh, The Deputy Commissioner and Dr. Fisher said to Bhai Randhir Singh’s father, “Sardar Sahib, we are sorry that your son is neither of any use to you nor to us. Not only have we lost him, even you will not get him. It is very sad that the Government shall be losing a golden sparrow. It is also very sad that your wishes have not been fulfilled. We are also very much disappointed because neither Law of Evidence can by done away with nor will he accept the Government job”

The “golden sparrow” felt a deep sense of injury when its wings fluttering for the freedom of the firmament struck against the glittering bars of the golden cage of British Imperialism. His restless soul was struggling to break through the bars or else break the cage itself. Little did anyone expect that Guru Gobind Singh's Amrit of double-edged sword would change this gentle sparrow into a relentless fighter against the hawks of oppression and tyranny.

Taking the Pahul

For Bhai Randhir Singh initiation into the Khalsa Holy Order by taking Pahul of Khanda (Amrit) was not just a formal ritual, but a spiritual rebirth. He had spent full three years in preparatory self-discipline and study of Sikh Scriptures and doctrines. The study of Sikh theology and history moulded his mind and soul according to the Sikh code of conduct.

Sikh religion had come under the influence of Hindu caste system. The untouchables who took Pahul were still looked down upon and were not allowed to enter the Gurdwaras. It was inconceivable that a Muslim could take Pahul and may become a respectable member of the Sikh community. On June 13 and 14, 1903 a special Diwan was held at village Bakapur near Phillaur in Jallandar district to initiate a Muslim Divine Maulvi Karim Bakhsh and his family into Sikh faith. In the afternoon Diwan on June 13, 1903 a call was given for persons who wished to be initiated into the fold of Khalsa along with the family of Maulvi Karim Bakhsh the next morning. Four persons: Sardar Basant Singh Tehsildar of Narangwal, Bhai Bharpur Singh, Jat of Narangwal, Bhai Bhana Ram, Carpenter of Bakapur and Sardar Hari Singh F. A., Khalsa College Amritsar responded to this call in that order. In all 35 persons including Maulvi Karim Bakhsh his daughter and four sons received Pahul on June 14, 1904. Sardar Basant Singh was renamed as Randhir Singh. Maulvi Karim Bakhsh was named Lakhbir Singh[3].

Educational Activities and Reforms

 

Bhai Randhir Singh was perhaps the first outstanding leader of the times who not only baptised the untouchables but once they became disciplined Khalsa, he treated them as his kith and kin in the fraternity of Guru Gobind Singh. The result was that he began to be treated as an outcast who, in the eyes of Sikhs under the influence of Hindu caste prejudices, had degraded himself socially by mingling with low caste people. From day one, when he took Amrit along with a Muslim, many orthodox people in his own village labeled him as an outcaste and stopped taking water from the well situated in his house half of which could be assessed from the street and was quite essential for use by the other families living in the street. Bhai Randhir Singh vowed not to take food cooked by a person who had not taken Amrit, a principle, which he followed in prison as well even at great peril to his health and life.

Bhai Randhir Singh worked as Head Clerk at Abbottabad (now in Pakistan) in the year 1905 and as Superintendent, Khalsa College School Boys Hostel (Nabha Hostel) Amritsar in 1906-07. In 1908 as the Founder Secretary of Khalsa Diwan Sri Damdama Sahib (Talwandi Sabo) he established Khalsa School. In April 1909 Panch Khalsa Diwan started a school for girls, Bhai Randhir Singh was appointed Headmaster.

Bhai Randhir Singh's experiences with the Chief Khalsa Diwan Management convinced him that this organisation which at that time had a considerable hold on urban Singh Sabhas, could never lead the Sikh masses in any positive direction. The aristocrat Sikh leaders would never come out of their ivory towers of luxurious mansions and the mental prisons of unstinted loyalty to British Imperialism. Nor could they carry out any reforms in the historical Sikh Shrines, which the Mahants and Pujaries (priests) considered their hereditary property. They started installing the idols and images of Hindu gods and goddesses with the sole aim of increasing the offerings. Going against the Sikh teachings and traditions, the Mahants stopped accepting the offerings from Sikhs born in so-called low caste families or whosoever associated with them and did not allow them to enter the shrines.

One day Bhai Randhir Singh and some Singhs were sitting near two Nishan Sahibs pujaries of Akal Takhat tried to remove them from there to which Bhai Sahib protested and refused to go away. A heated argument took place. On the intervention of Baba Sham Singh who performed Kirtan in Harmandir Sahib for 75 years, pujaries were forced to apologise for their behaviour and Bhai Randhir Singh was requested to perform Kirtan in the sanctum sanctorum of Akal Takht. People were so thrilled by his Kirtan that they showered money on him. Without taking a single penny out of the heap of money lying about him he quietly left the place. After this whenever he went to Amritsar the greedy and calculating Pujaries were too eager to invite him to perform Kirtan.

Gurdwara Sudhar

 

By exerting such compulsive moral influence, entirely free from ambition, power or possessive control, he conducted reforms in many shrines. He objected and stopped a ragi, who had been boycotted for misconduct, from doing kirtan at Fatehgarh Sahib during Shaheedi Jor Mela in December 1910. He compelled the Management of Chamkaur Sahib at the time of Shahidi Jor Mela 1914 to open the doors to all devotees irrespective of caste, creed or colour. He helped the management of Anandpur Sahib Gurdwaras to restore traditional respect and sanctity of the shrines driving away the drunkards and bad characters floking during Hola Mohalla Celebrations.

Rakabganj Affair 1913-14

 

When Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib was beheaded on the orders of Aurangzeb in Chandni Chowk, Delhi his body was carried away by one of his disciples Lakhi Shah to his residence at Rakabganj. He torched his house to cremate the body and later placing the remains in a metal urn buried it at the exact spot of cremation hoping to build a shrine there at some later date.

For the first time the Sikhs invaded Delhi on Dussehra day October 1, 1778. In this predatory expedition into Delhi, the Sikhs went to the Guru's bungalow near Rakabganj. The Sikhs stayed in the city for about a month.[4] On March 8, 1783 the Sikh armies again attacked Malika Ganj and Sabzi Mandi and created a tumult in Delhi by entering through Ajmeri Gate. Expecting an Afghan attack the Misal Sardars went to Punjab leaving Sardar Bhagel Singh to build the Gurdwaras of Rakabganj, Sis Ganj, Bangla Sahib, Bala Sahib (cremation place of Guru Harckrishan Sahib) and the Samadhis of Mata Sundari and Mata Sahib Devi.[5] Ever since then the sanctity of these shrines had been maintained by the successive rulers.

With the transfer of the Capital from Calcutta to Delhi in 1911, it was proposed to build the Viceregal Lodge (the present Rashtarpati Bhawan) near Gurudwara Rakabganj. The Government acquired whole land lying between the Gurdwara and the outer wall of the Gurdwara. "On January 14, 1914 the British Indian Government razed the wall of the Gurdwara to the ground on the pretence of making the road straight. The wall was 400 ft. long, 2 ft. thick and 11ft. high. The bricks of this wall were hammered into pieces and were used for the construction of the road. Fifty bighas of the land belonging to the Gurdwara was also taken over for the purpose of constructing a road and a sum of Rs. 8000 was deposited to take possession of the garden within the wall. This wall too was razed to the ground."[6]

The Sikhs were shocked and had justified fears that ultimately the whole of the shrine may be demolished in due course. The Chief Khalsa Diwan, which was considered as the sole representative body of Sikhs by the British Government, seemed inclined to acquiesce to the Government position and was of the view that the Government was doing so not to injure the feelings of the Sikhs but to improve the outlook of the Gurdwara.

Sardar Harchand Singh and Sardar Harbans Singh Attari, however, tried to raise the issue of demolition of the Rakabganj wall at the Sikh Educational Conference of the Chief Khalsa Diwan held at Jalandhar in January 1914. The Chairman of the Conference Raja Sir Daljit Singh, a staunch loyalist, did not allow the discussion and had the audacity to say that whatever the British Government was doing was in the interest of Sikhs. Sardar Harchand Singh and Sardar Harbans Singh lodged their protest by saying that the Chief Khalsa Diwan by its abject submission to the dictates of the British Government was treacherously betraying the Sikhs and walked out of the Conference along with their supporters. They held a separate meeting in which demolition of the Gurdwara Rakab Ganj wall was condemned and it was decided to mobilise the Sikhs to save the shrine. 

The Chief Khalsa Diwan came under fire and was squarely blamed for allowing the Government to commit this sacrilegious act. While the ultra-loyalists like Arur Singh, Raja Sir Daljit Singh and Gajjan Singh of Narangwal supported the Government and wanted it to go ahead with its plan, Sir Sunder Singh Majithia and his Chief Khalsa Diwan executive soon realised that they had committed a blunder. The Chief Khalsa Diwan, through its resolutions Nos. 371 and 372 dated February 1 and March 22, 1914 respectively, appealed that the further demolition should not take place till the Chief Khalsa Diwan had acquired the consent of the Sikh Panth in its general gathering.

Bhai Randhir Singh took up the cause seriously in co-operation with Sardar Harchand Singh. He sent the first telegram of protest against the demolition of the wall on the behalf of Jatha the Tat Khalsa Sangat, Narangwal[7] to the Viceroy. "Revolutions are not trifle but begin from trifle," said Aristotle. The efforts of Bhai Randhir Singh awakened the Sikh masses to the grim reality of the situation and a startling revolutionary spirit was aroused. For the first time the Sikh masses identified the Chief Khalsa Diwan as an organisation of servile Sikh Aristocrats, which politically had become an appendage to the British Government and hence unfit to represent the Sikh interests.

Bhai Randhir Singh organised a Panthic Conference at Patti (District Amritsar) on Baisakhi day April 13, 1914. The response was overwhelming. It was said that since the British occupation this was perhaps the largest and most representative gathering of the Sikhs. A resolution was passed that a strong agitation would be launched, to prevent desecration of the historical shrine. In case the Government persisted in its sacrilegious designs, Bhai Randhir Singh announced, he along with a Shahidi Jatha would go there to prevent the demolition and desecration of the historical shrine.

Unnerved by the mood of the Sikh masses, the Chief Khalsa Diwan called a meeting of Singh Sabhas owing affiliation with it. Some 245 representatives attended this meeting held in Town Hall Amritsar on May 3, 1914. Amidst uproar, protests and dissenting voices the organisers pressed some resolutions. The main resolution read like this:

"That the Government be humbly requested to restore the land and the enclosure wall of the Gurdwara Garden to their original condition, but if for the reasons of state, it is considered essential to change their form, then in the opinion of this committee it will be acceptable, if without reducing the total area of the land, the whole place is given a rectangular shape and Gurdwara comes in the middle of it with roads running on both sides. The entire work, however, should be entrusted to a Managing Committee of Sikhs who should be helped by the Government financially for the purpose."

Through another resolution it was requested that the Sikhs be allowed to visit the Gurdwara at all times of day and night and reside there.[8]

As the Chief Khalsa Diwan had left everything to the sweet will of the British Government through these resolutions, Bhai Randhir Singh and his supporters organised a conference at Langa Mandi Lahore on May 30, 1914 the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev. There was a strong reaction against the stand taken by Chief Khalsa Diwan. The representatives of Chief Khalsa Diwan were also present. When the resolutions were put forward for discussion, Sardar Man Singh[9] tried to support the stand of Chief Khalsa Diwan and went on arguing for a long time. Bhai Randhir Singh went up to him and said, "We have had enough of this nonsense, will you now sit down?" Sardar Man Singh felt sorry and sat down. All the resolutions condemning the British action were passed unanimously and not a single amendment was proposed to any resolution.

This whole episode had brought about a wide awakening and a shocking realisation in the mind of Bhai Randhir Singh that the political and material subjugation of India was inexorably leading to the moral, cultural and spiritual enslavement of Indians. The successive attacks on religious institutions would demoralise the people and would be destructive for the religious beliefs and culture. He awakened the Sikh masses to their collective responsibility and great heritage and wrested the religious, political and cultural leadership of the Sikhs from the handful of aristocrats who unashamedly accepted the British Imperialism as the Divine right of the British and declared that whosoever opposed the British was not a Sikh.

 

 

Ghadr Movement

The Rakabganj affair was a prologue to much more far-reaching encroachments, searches, arbitrary arrests, expulsions from home and country and all imaginable forms of humiliation. The shooting of the passengers of Komagata Maru and indiscriminate arrests of returned emigrants further embittered him[10]. From preaching the gospel of truth, he turned to espousing the gospel of freedom. His work in the fields of religion and education from 1905 to 1913 had awakened in the Sikh masses a sense of pride of their glorious past and consciousness of the grandeur and distinctive identity of Sikh way of life.

When the Ghadrites arrived in India they found that the people were not prepared for rebellion. In order to get mass support, they openly exhorted the people to join hands with them in the religious congregations at Amritsar, Nankana Sahib and Tarn Taran but did not evoke much response. No political leader or party expressed any sympathy with their plans. While these inspired revolutionaries were preparing for a mass uprising and armed revolt, the major political party the Indian National Congress pledged its wholehearted support to the English in war. Supporting the British war effort Mahatma Gandhi prescribed the "duty to offer to serve in war." He argued, "England's need should not be turned into our opportunity, and that it is more becoming and far-sighted not to press our demands while the war lasts. I had hoped to improve my status through the British Empire… It was my duty to offer to serve in the war."[11]

Some time in September or October 1914 Ghadr leaders Baba Nidhan Singh Chugha, Bhai Uttam Singh Hans, Bhai Ishar Singh Dhudike, Bhai Kartar Singh Sarabha, Bhai Gandha Singh and Bhai Arjan Singh met Bhai Randhir Singh who agreed to join them. "In the Malwa Tract of Punjab the efforts of revolutionaries to enlist the help of the people received valuable help from a local religious leader, Randhir Singh of Narangwal, Ludhiana. This man has had a university education and is the son of Natha Singh an important official of Nabha State. He had locally a great reputation for sanctity and constantly toured about the Malwa Tract officiating at religious meetings for which he was in great demand. He appears to have been an ordinary loyal citizen until the beginning of 1914, when the agitation over the Rakabganj Gurdwara worked on him to such an extent that he became an active seditionist."[12] All writings on the Ghadr Movement conclude that only two local leaders who offered to participate in the battle for freedom were Bhai Randhir Singh in Malwa Tract of Punjab and Baba Bogh Singh Mahant of Jhar Sahib in Amritsar. Bhai Randhir Singh was the only Sikh leader with mass support who was won over by the revolutionaries, who offered to participate and was able to collect men for revolution.[13]

While the Ghadrites drew their inspiration primarily from the Ghadr of 1857, Bhai Randhir Singh was inspired by the Sikh history and ideals of Sikhism. He realised that peaceful methods would never succeed with British Imperialism who have started interfering in religious and cultural matters thus undermining all fundamental freedoms. He believed in the revolutionary ideal of Guru Gobind Singh, who wrote to Aurangzeb "When all means fail, it is lawful to resort to sword." Bhai Randhir Singh maintained his contact with the central command through Baba Nidhan Singh Chugha, Bhai Kartar Singh Sarabha and Bhai Gandha Singh who used to meet him almost every week.

The inner circle of Jatha held the first closed door meeting in September 1914 at Khanna which was followed by the meetings at Chamkaur Sahib (19th January 1914), Lohatbadi (20th January 1915), Narangwal, Gujjarwal (12th February 1915). To give a call to the younger generation to join the revolution, he asked one of his companions, Giani Harbhajan Singh, to put up the following poster on the gates of Khalsa High School, Ludhiana.

The Feringhis have looted the country and laid it waste

The people are harassed greatly, O People;

They have taken all the riches of India,

And have sent them to England, O People;

These dacoits are looting us day and night,

The poor cultivators are starving, O People;

Good pay is paid to the White-man

To eat drink and be merry, O People;

All the rest soldiers, Sikhs or Muslims

Have only grams to eat, O People;

The white men shrink back on the battlefield,

Standing at a safe distance they issue orders, O People;

To fight and get killed, we are pushed to the front,

In Egypt, Africa and Persia, O People;

The English are not a great power,

Fight and defeat them, O People;

When will ye, Khalsa draw the sword?

And slay the White-man, O People;

Make preparation for mutiny soon

To destroy the rule of the tyrants, O People.

The Ferozepur Raid - February 19, 1915

Bhai Randhir Singh had worked apart from the main revolutionary group at Lahore and was able to motivate a considerable number of persons fully prepared to plunge in the revolt. He had some influence in the armed forces as well. There were some devoted friends in the 36th Jacob's Horse[14] and 8th Hudson's horse at Ambala and 35th Sikh Regiment. On February 14, 1915 Bhai Randhir Singh along with some members of his Jatha was proceeding to Dhandhari to perform an Akhand Path (continuous recitation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib). Kartar Singh Sarabha met him near the village Gill and informed him about the change of date for revolt from 21st to 19th February 1915.[15] Bhai Randhir Singh and Kartar Singh Sarabha discussed in detail the plan of action on D-day. The meeting lasted about two hours and they decided to meet at the outskirts of Ferozepur Cantonment on 19th February 1915 after sunset.

A closed-door meeting of the inner circle was held at Dhandari on 17th February 1915. The question was thoroughly discussed. The men present at this meeting were Bhai Attar Singh, Bhai Dalip Singh, Bhai Harbhajan Singh, Bhai Karam Singh of Kotla Ajner, Bhai Lal Singh, Mahinder Singh of Majri, Bhai Ram Singh, Bhai Santa Singh, Bhai Surjan Singh and Inder Singh Khanna (Prosecution Witness). One of his companions, Bhai Surjan Singh, argued that the Jatha being a religious one should keep away from politics and not indulge in power games. Bhai Randhir Singh asserted that Jatha is not going after political power but being Sikhs of Guru Gobind Singh, it was our unfailing duty to fight for freedom. A Sikh should not tolerate slavery in any form. He was not prepared to discuss the pros and cons of the consequences. "When we are fighting for freedom" he argued, "our duty is to be prepared to fight till we succeed. A soldier does not concentrate on speculations of what might happen. He fights for victory." After this it was unanimously decided to proceed to Ferozepur, and all were asked to assemble at the residence of Bhai Randhir Singh at Narangwal on the morning of 19th February 1915. Bhai Santa Singh, Bhai Karam Singh and Teja Singh of Samrala (a prosecution witness who was present at Dhandari but was not present in the meeting) were asked to go to different places for collecting the men. Inder Singh of Khanna also offered to bring men from Bar. Actually, this was an excuse to avoid going to Ferozepur. There again a meeting was held, and all present agreed to go to Ferozepur. Each one was given a piece of Khaki cloth to cover the blue-black turbans traditionally worn by the Jatha members. Bhai Randhir Singh along with his companions boarded a train from Mullanpur at 6.00 p. m. for Ferozepur. "Some of this gang were armed and fortified with a Harmonium."[16] Other revolutionaries like Bhai Nidhan Singh, Bhai Gandha Singh, Bhai Ishar Singh, and others also joined them during the train journey. They all alighted at Ferozepur Cantt. Railway Station. They were received by Bhai Kartar Singh Sarabha and were guided to the place of assembly on foot. The government had come to know about this date also. It had also identified 8 sepoys who were to lead the troops and had discharged them. Five of them were marched to the railway station and entrained for their homes. After waiting till midnight Kartar Singh Sarabha went to the cantonment to enquire about the delay in the start of the rebellion. There he came to know about the above facts from one of the five soldiers who had returned to inform the revolutionists. Kartar Singh Sarabha came back and asked the assembled revolutionists to disperse. Bhai Randhir Singh and party got caught train at Phime ki Khai Railway station and returned to Narangwal on the morning of 20th February.

Arrest and Trial

 

The police also raided the two houses of Ghadr Party in Lahore to nab the revolutionists on 19th February 1915, wherefrom some documents etc. were recovered. One of these was a paper written in the hand of Rash Behari Bose. Among other things it contained the following text:

         Nidh to Ich.

         Randhir, Uttom, Jagar = Send those must [illegible word] join.[17]

         Another paper with the following names written with pencil was also recovered[18]

         In English

             Udham Singh

             Dalip Singh

             Sudh Singh

             Roor Singh

         In Gurmukhi

             Mit Singh

             Uttam Singh

             Randhir Singh

             Roor Singh

Some time during investigations the police came to know about the importance of these slips. Approver Ichhra Singh of Lohatbadi[19] explained the meaning of these notes.

Uptill this time government was not aware of involvement of Bhai Randhir Singh and his Jatha. When Ichhra Singh revealed that Bhai Randhir Singh was one of the leading revolutionaries, the British government asked the Maharaja of Nabha to keep Bhai Randhir Singh in custody till further investigations as he was staying with his father Sardar Natha Singh, a High Court Judge of Nabha State. Bhai Randhir Singh was arrested on May 9, 1915. He was handed over to British Government on June 19, 1915. He was kept in Ludhiana Jail till he was sent to Lahore to face trial in Supplementary Lahore Conspiracy Case. The case was filed against 102 persons and was committed to trial by the Special Tribunal by the order of the Lieutenant Governor Punjab, dated the 22nd October 1915, on the complaint of Mr. H. V. R. Hare-Scott, Superintendent of Police, C.I.D. The trial opened on 29th October 1915. Bhai Randhir Singh was listed as accused No. 69 in alphabetical order. Four approvers, Sunder Singh of Asa Majara, Anokh Singh, Udham Singh of Hans, and Bhagat Singh deposed against him. The prosecution produced eighteen witnesses against him. He was served the following charge sheet[20]: -

We, A. A. Irvine, T. P. Ellis and Pandit Sheo Nrain, Commissioners under Act IV of 1915, hereby charge you, Randhir Singh, accused No. 69, as follows: -

(1)  That you in course of a war waged against the King at

    Amritsar on the 30th May 1914

    Khanna in September 1914

    Chamkaur on or about 19th January 1915

    Lohatbadi on or about 20th January 1915

    Gujjarwal on or about 12th February 1915

    Dhandhari on or about 17th February 1915

    Narangwal on the 19th February 1915

    Ferozepore on the 19th February 1915

        (i)          waged war, or

        (ii)        attempted to wage war, or

        (iii)       abetted the waging of war

against the King-Emperor and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 121 of the Indian Penal Code;

(2)  That you, at the some of these places, conspired to wage war against the King-Emperor and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 121A of the Indian Penal Code;

(3)  That you, at the same times and places, abetted the commission of mutiny by soldiers in the army of the King-Emperor resulting in the commission of mutiny by Sowars Ishar Singh and Hazara Singh of the 12th Cavalry and by Sepoys Phul Singh of the 128th Pioneers at Meerut, by Balwant Singh, Lachman Singh, Sucha Singh. Maharaj Singh, Budh Singh, Puran Singh, Wasawa Singh, Ganda Singh and many other Sowars of the 23rd Cavalry at Lahore, by Sepoys Harnam Singh, Kirpal Singh, Labh Singh and Phuman Singh of the 26th Punjabis at Ferozepore, by Naik Dilla Singh of 7th Rajputs at Benaras, by Military Choudhri Harnam Singh at Fyzabad and Pala Singh of the 30th Sikhs at Dhudike and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 132 of the Indian Penal Code;

(4)  That you, at the same time and places, abetted the attempts to seduce soldiers of the army of the King-Emperor from their allegiance and duty at Hong Kong, Lahore, Ambala, Ferozepore, Fyzabad, Lucknow, Allahabad, Meerut, Benaras, Agra and Dhudike and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 131 of the Indian Penal Code;

(5)  That with the aid and in pursuance of the said conspiracy to wage war, and in the waging, or attempting to wage, or in abetment of waging war, men, money, arms, ammunition and chemicals for bombs were collected, bombs were manufactured, seditious literature was circulated and dacoities for the purpose of obtaining funds to wage war as aforesaid were committed by members of the said conspiracy, and you thereby committed offences punishable under section 122/109 III of Indian Penal code;   

(6)  That with the aid and in pursuance of the said conspiracy seditious literature, Ghadr, Ghadr Sandesa, Ghadr-di-Gunj and Ilan-e-Jung, was printed and circulated by members of the conspiracy with the intention of exciting or attempting to excite disaffection towards His Majesty the King Emperor and the Government established by the law in British India and you , as a member of the said conspiracy, thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 124 A/109 III of the Indian Penal Code;

(7)  That with the aid and pursuance of the aforesaid conspiracy and in waging war , or attempting to wage, or in the abetment of waging war

    (1)  a dacoity, accompanied by the murder of Khushi Ram , was committed on the 23rd January 1915 at Sahnewal;

    (2)  a dacoity was committed on the 27th January 1915 at Mansuran;

    (3)  a dacoity , accompanied by the murder of Beli Ram, was committed on the 2nd February 1915 at Chabba;

    (4)  a dacoity was committed on the 3rd February 1915 at Rabbon;

    (5)  Head Constable Hashum Ali Shah was murdered on the 20th February 1915 at Lahore;

    (6)  an attack, accompanied by murder of Naik Chatter Singh and Sepoy Phul Singh of the 42nd Deoli Regiment and the carrying off of six rifles and ammunition guard on the Walla Canal Bridge near Amritsar;

    (7)  Chanda Singh, Risaldar, was murdered on 25th April 1915, at Nangal Kalan;

    (8)  Achhar Singh was murdered on the 4th June 1915 at Jagatpura;

    (9)  Kapur Singh was murdered on the 2nd August 1915 at Padri;

    (10) Bisharat Ali, Sub-Inspector of Police and Jawala Singh, Zaildar, were murdered on 27th November 1914, at Misriwala;

by the members of the said conspiracy, and insurrection and you thereby committed an offence under Section 302,395/109 III of the Indian Penal Code;

All which offences are cognisable by this Court and we direct that you be tried on the said charges.

A. A. IRVINE

President Commissioner.

T. P. ELLIS

Special Commissioner.

 

SHEO NRAIN

Special Commissioner.

 

Charges read out and explained to accused.

Accused pleaded "Not Guilty" and states he desires to call evidence in defence.

 

T. P. ELLIS

Special Commissioner.

The 3rd February 1916.      

The defence produced well over a hundred witnesses. The case was decided on March 30, 1915. The Commission found him guilty under sections 121 A, 121 Indian Penal code and sentenced him to transportation for life and forfeiture of property.

While pronouncing the judgement the Tribunal observed that

“--- he is one of the most important accused and has the biggest dossier.”

“ --- we do believe that this accused was a person with a certain amount of religious influence, .... . In our opinion, he was the more dangerous on account of that influence, which he misused, and which caused him to be sought by men like Kartar Singh of Saraba.”

Ordeals in Jail

The Autobiography of Bhai Randhir Singh[21] tells the terrible tale of the sufferings in the prison. After the pronouncement of the judgement, the prisoners were asked to wear the jail uniform, which in those days included a cap as headgear and nicker as underwear. The Sikhs refused to wear these being violative of their religious precepts. The Jail authorities used brute force to remove their turbans, Kachehras and other Sikh religious symbols. Bhai Randhir Singh had taken a vow to take meals cooked by an Amritdhari only. During the trial he was getting fruit from outside on his own expense. After he was sentenced, this was prohibited, and he refused to take the jail food. On the second day the Jailor Nawab Beg sent some fruit through Chief Head Warder for him. He asked the warder to distribute it to other friends, as they also had not taken the food. This was his last meal in Lahore jail.

On April 3, 1915 they were sent to different jails of Punjab. Bhai Randhir Singh along with some others was sent to Multan Jail. Bhai Randhir Singh remained on hunger strike for 40 days. He did not take even water during this period. His weight was reduced to 96 lbs. It was reported in the press that the Jail authorities had killed Bhai Randhir Singh by denying food to him. Even after that he was not allowed to cook his own food. He was given fruit, sago or grams to eat. This was his food for about a year and half. The Political prisoners, who protested for their rights, were given the punishments like to tie their hands to something overhead, to make one stand in the open during daytime in summer and whole night in winter, to make one wear clothes made of Jute. Bhai Harnam Singh of Gujjarwal and Bhai Hari Singh of Kakar were given 15 and 30 floggings respectively.

Although 23 persons were sentenced to transportation for life, they were not sent to the Andaman Jail, the reason being that the convicts of the Lahore Conspiracy Case (First case), who had been sent there, were making trouble. So, the Andaman jail authorities refused to accept more prisoners from Punjab. The 32 persons who were sentenced to seven years and above in the Supplementary Lahore Conspiracy case were all sent to Hazaribagh Jail in July 1917. After about six months 12 persons convicted in the Second and Third Supplementary Lahore Conspiracy cases also joined them in Hazaribagh Jail. In this Jail also Bhai Randhir Singh had to go on hunger strike twice. In February 1918, eighteen of them were successful in breaking the jail from Hazaribagh.

Eighteen Political prisoners were released from Hazaribagh Jail after the war. In 1921 the remaining were sent to Jails of Madras, Andhra and Central Provinces. The prisoners of Lahore Conspiracy Case, in the meanwhile, were also transferred there. Bhai Randhir Singh was sent to Rajamondhry jail. On December 1, 1922 he, Bhai Kartar Singh Nawan Chand and Baba Prithvi Singh Azad were transferred to Nagpur Jail where he remained until May 13, 1930. The Nagpur Jail period was the worst period in the jail life of Bhai Randhir Singh. When he went on hunger strike, he was force-fed, and his teeth were broken. He was warned that if he still refused to take food, he would be force fed with beef soup and that he would be declared mad and that he would be sent to mental asylum after shaving his head. He was saved from all this humiliation, as he somehow was able to send all this information outside resulting in a loud public protest.

Creative and Missionary Work

After his release on October 4, 1930 the Takhats[22] of the Sikh Panth honoured him with Hukamnamas[23] blessing him and praising his sacrifices. Perhaps he is the only Sikh who had been honoured by all the Takhts. The Malwa Sudhar Society Stockton U.S.A., Malwa Sudhar Society Vancouver Canada and Khalsa Diwan Society Vancouver Canada also honoured him.  As long as he lived, he was a much-respected man in the Sikh community. He was among the Panj Pyaras who initiated the karsewa of Tarn Taran sarovar, laid the foundation stone of new Gurdwara building at Panja Sahib and Shahid Ganj Nanakana Sahib, and Akal Bunga at Patna Sahib[24].

Apart from his autobiographical work, he wrote around twenty books and as many pamphlets on theology, philosophy and mysticism. One does not find a more brilliant exposition of the mystical and theological doctrines from the Sikh point of view in the religious literature available during this period. He also wrote more than 50 essays for newspapers/magazines some of which have been included in four collections:

        1. Gurmat Lekh

        2. Gurmat Parkash

        3. Gurmat Vichar

        4. Naam tey Naam da Data Satguru

He has also written a book explaining the grammar of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, which differs considerably from the conventional grammar. He has discussed the controversial issues by applying uniform grammatical rules throughout this book.[25]

While in Nagpur Jail he wrote an epic comprising over 3000 lines. Having no paper and pen he wrote the complete epic in the margins and the other blank space available in another book with a copying pencil. He completed this gigantic work in seven days starting January 7, 1930. This work was published under three titles: “Jyot Vigas'', “Nirban Kirtani Jathe di Dastan'' giving a brief account of his close associates before he was jailed and “Sikhi Sidiq te Dharam Rakhiya”. Darshan Jhalkan is another poetical composition.

He was a family man but led the life of faqir. His agricultural land remained confiscated till 1950. He did not seek any honour or pension from the Indian Government as a freedom fighter. Immaculately dressed in the traditional Khalsa style he was a Singh of high spiritual morale.

 

Although much respected religiously, he did not establish any dera or institution, as is the case with other such people. In fact, he was an institution in himself. Anybody who came in his contact would become his friend. He did not give any particular name to the Jatha nor appointed office bearers.

 

The Jatha came to be known as “Nirban Keertani Jatha” as it performed kirtan of Gurbani, writings of Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Nand Lal only and did not mix self made couplets with it and later as “Akhand Keertani Jatha” because it performed keertan for long hours at a stretch. The telegram regarding the demolition of the wall of Gurdwara Rakab Ganj was sent on the behalf of Narangwal Sangat and not any Jatha.

A protagonist of separate identity of Khalsa Panth, he tolerated no compromise on Sikh Principles and Gurdwaras. At the time of partition in 1947, he asked the Panthic leaders to give a call to march towards Panja Sahib and he would lead the first Jatha. He also asked Maharaja of Patiala Yadvinder Singh to provide arms and funds for this purpose.

Last days Akal Chalana and Cremation

After the Gurpurb Poh Sudi Saptami, 5 January 1960, Bhai Sahib had an attack of Dysentery from which he did not recover completely and became very weak. But from his glowing red face, it was difficult to guess whether Bhai Sahib was ill at all.  On April 15, 1961 Bhai Sahib experienced some uneasy moments early in the night, Dr. Major Mohinder Singh attended on him. The Amrit Wela routine started as usual on April 16, 1961. Everything seemed to be normal until during Sukhmani Sahib Path the body of Bhai Sahib started shaking. The Doctor was called but Bhai Sahib refused any medication and passed away while doing Waheguru Simran at 7:30 AM.

 

Bhai Harkrishan Singh Jan Sukhala, Bhai Pritam Singh Bha, Bhai Santa Singh, Master Lakhmi Singh, Bhai Buta Singh, Bibi Bhagwan Kaur Puhla, S. Balbir Singh (son), Bibi Daler Kaur (daughter), Harinder Singh (daughter’s son), Sukhdarshan Singh (son of S. Balbir Singh), Dr. Trilochan Singh and his wife and more persons including Dr. Major Mohinder Singh were present at Bhai Sahibs' bedside.

As the news of Bhai Sahib's demise spread, hundreds came to pay to have the last glimpse and pay their respects. Kirtan and Sukhmani Sahib path was performed continuously until the morning of April 17, 1961.

The Funeral procession started from Ludhiana for Narangwal on Tuesday April 17, 1961 and reached the Maleana Dhab[26] at 11:00 am. This place is in Gujjarwal Village area  near its boundary with Narangwal. It was at this place that Bhai Sahib meditated and performed kirtan along with GurSikhs continuously for long hours over many years and Bhai Sahib had wished to be cremated there. A large gathering (estimated 10 thousand sangat) assembled to pay their last respects to Bhai Sahib. Kirtan was continuously being performed from Ludhiana. 

 

At 11.45 am  the Deputy Commissioner of Ludhiana paid his respects on behalf of S. Partap Singh Kairon the Chief Minister and Government of Punjab. A contingent of Punjab police presented arms and sounded the last post. The funeral was well attended from all parts of society, including religious spiritual personalities and good representation from the civil administration.

 

Babu Mal Singh Ji performed the Ardaas and Bhai Balbir Singh (son of Bhai Sahib) lit the pyre at 12 noon. After Sohila Sahib Paath and Ardaas, the Sangat assembled at the Haveli of Bhai Sahib for the Arambh (starting) of a Sehaj path. The Hukumnama at the start of paath was

ਧਨਾਸਰੀ ਮਹਲਾ 5 ॥

ਦੀਨ ਦਰਦ ਨਿਵਾਰਿ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਰਾਖੈ ਜਨ ਕੀ ਆਪਿ॥

ਤਰਣ ਤਾਰਣ ਹਰਿ ਨਿਧਿ ਦੂਖੁ ਨ ਸਕੈ ਬਿਆਪਿ॥1॥

 See Pictures from Apr 16, 1961

References

[1] Jail Chithian (Autobiography).

[2] Guru Granth Sahib, p. 918.

[3] He took up missionary work and gained prominence as Sant Lakhbir Singh. The eminent Sikh theologian Bhai Vir Singh and Sardar Sunder Singh Majithia the President of Chief Khalsa Diwan were among his great admirers. He died on November 10, 1935.

[4] G. R. C. Williams. The Sikhs in the Upper Doab, Calcutta Review 1875, Vol. IX, 35. Imperial Records, Secret Proceedings.

[5] Dilliyethil Raj Karnen (Marathi Record) Vol. I, P. 84.

[6] Ruchi Ram Sahni. Struggle for Reforms in Sikh Shrines. P. 58.

[7] Tat Khalsa Sangat Narangwal passed a resolution protesting the demolition of a portion of the wall surrounding the Rakabganj. Home political Proceedings, May 18, 1914. Deposit.

[8] Vide: Chief Khalsa Diwan Resolutions.

Also see Gurdwara Rakabganj - Statement of Chief Khalsa Diwan concerning proposed demolition of Rakabganj. Wazir Hind Press.

[9] Sardar Man Singh later became Chief Judge at Faridkot.

[10] "On 27th February 1915 there was a meeting of the Sikh gentry of the districts to which the emigrants belonged, at the Government House, Lahore. The Lt. Governor presided. The Sardars present advocated that all immigrants should be interned in jail, but Lt. Governor pointed out that it would be impossible to intern thousands. Sardar Gajjan Singh, a member of Provincial Legislative council and lawyer advocated that as delays in dealing with crime committed by revolutionaries had very bad effect, the usual procedure should be modified, and speedy and summary trials substituted." Isemonger and Slattery: An Account of Ghadr Conspiracy, p. 150.

[11] Gandhi: The story of My Experiment with Truth.

[12] Isemonger F. C., and J Slattery: An Account of Ghadr Conspiracy, p. 150.

[13] Bhai Nahar Singh and Kirpal Singh Struggle for free Hindustan - Ghadr Movement, Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, New Delhi p. 123

[14] Man Singh, Head Clerk, Deffadar, 36th Jacob's Horse appeared as defence witness for Bhai Randhir Singh. (D.W. 842)

[15] Giani Harbhajan Singh in his Autobiography Mein Ghadri Kiven Banya gives the details of this meeting. He was present during this meeting and was sentenced in SLCC. There is confusion about dates given in the judgement of the Supplementary Lahore Conspiracy Case. According to the prosecution the date of rising was changed from 21st to 19th February on 18th at Lahore and meeting at Dhandari took place on 17th February 1915. This was pointed out by the defence counsel as physically impossible. The Tribunal admitted of the difficulty of the situation but tried to overcome this piquite situation by concluding that the decision to change the date of rising was taken on 16th or 17th February.

[16] Home Political-A. Department. May 1916. Nos. 219-221. p.98

[17] Exhibit P. 98 A of Lahore Conspiracy Case and Exhibit P. 237 of Supplementary Lahore Conspiracy Case

[18] Exhibit P. 108 of Lahore Conspiracy Case.

[19] Ichhra Singh, actual name Achara Singh, was running a shop at Raikot (District Ludhiana). He was arrested on February 14, 1915 and became approver in the Lahore Conspiracy Case. The Magistrate at Ludhiana recorded his statement between April 14 and 17,1915. During the proceedings of the Lahore Conspiracy Case he revealed that Bhai Randhir Singh was actively involved in the movement.

[20] Home Political - A. Department, May 1916. Nos. 219-221. p 1047-1048.

[21] Jail Chithian

[22] The five historical shrines of Sikhs, Sri Akal Takht at Amritsar, Sri Harimandir Sahib at Patna (Bihar), Sri Kes Garh Sahib at Anandpur, Sri Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo and Sri Sachkhand Sahib at Nanded are recognised as Takhts.

[23] Hukamnamas are the rolls of Honour or edicts concerning the Sikh way of life issued by the Jathedars of these shrines.

[24] Among the “Five Chosen-ones” (Panj Pyaras) entrusted to with the initiation of Kar Sewa of Taran Taran Sarover and laying the foundation stone at Panja Sahib as many as three were Ghadrites, the other two being Baba Nidhan Singh Chugha and Sant Baba Wasakha Singh Dadehar (both of L. C. C), symbolising the veneration for these veteran crusaders of the worthy cause.

[25] Gurbani Lagan-Maatran di Vilaakhanta (Punjabi).