A brief life-sketch of Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji

by Sant Kirpal Singh (part I)
http://www.unity-of-man.org |


By the grace of God whose name did I mention
that the faculty of speech has begun to kiss my tongue.

Who is not acquainted with the name of that Messiah of the modern age, that living personification of the morality, the fountain-head of spirituality, who in the dark abyss of this material world helped many a helpless wanderer on the path of Truth and lighted their dark path. Just a little while ago we ourselves were witnessing the wonderful miracles and the instructive eye-opening incidents which are usually associated with the names of the past Saints and were the actual recipients of the great benefits from that Godman who lived and moved amongst us and showed the path leading to the reality.

His eyes were intoxicated with love of God and His hand was one with that of God. He was mouthpiece of God and God Himself spoke through that human throat.

This spiritual luminary assumed the garb of man on 27th July,1858 in a respectable Grewal Jat family of Mahmansinghwala, District Ludhiana, Punjab. His father Sardar Kabul Singh Ji loved the society of godly people and freely mixed with them, and his mother Shrimati Jiwani Ji was a living specimen of ancient simplicity, good-will and of resignation and contentment. Baba Sawan Singh Ji was the only son of his parents and was the cynosure of all their hopes and aspirations.

From his infancy he showed signs of great intellectual attainment and a high sense of understanding. Having matriculated from a school in Gujarwal, he served for two years as a teacher in the Military School at Farrukhabad. In 1884 he joined Thompson College of Engineering at Roorki. He was loved by all around him and was known for his diligence. After completing the Engineering Course he joined the military Engineering Service at Nowshera and spent the major part of his service in Nathiagali, Murree, Cherat and Abbotabad as a successful Sub-Divisional Officer. His winning manners and hard work won for him the love and affection both of his officers and his subordinates alike. He spent the leisure hours of his service in the study of spiritual books and in the company of saintly and devoted persons.

His father too – a lover of godly people as he was - would take him along with him whenever he got an opportunity to meet such people.

Sardar Sawan Singh Ji in his early life paid occasional visits to one Baba Kahan who was a holy faqir at Peshawar. One day he prayed to Baba Kahan for the gift of spirituality, to which Baba said: "You will certainly have a spiritual benediction from the hands of a perfect Saint but not from me." He enquired, "where shall I search for such a person?" The Baba replied, "All your efforts shall be in vain, but in the fulness of time that personage shall himself find you out."

The saintly life of his parents influenced him from the very beginning and he developed  qualities of contentment, forgiveness, humility, devotion etc., to a high degree. From childhood he was free from religious intolerance and narrow- mindedness. The study ot the basic principles of all religions was an article of faith with him. With his good knowledge of Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Persian and English, he studied the scriptures of Hindus, Mohammedans, Sikhs and Christians, and paid great attention and devoted serious consideration to the writings of the Saints, the Sufi problems, the fundamental principles of love and devotion and general ethical doctrines.

He was stationed in Murree hills for a long time and this afforded him opportunities of meeting all kinds of pilgrims bound for Shree Amar Nath (a place of Hindu pilgrimage). This constant search after God for a number of years was at last crowned with success. The prophecy of Baba Kahan was fulfilled. In 1894, one day, while he was engaged as usual in his official duties in the hills of Murree, Baba Jaimal Singh (the crest jewel among the disciples of Soami Shiv Dayal Singh Ji, the Saint who revived  the teachings of Sant Mat) passed that way with one of his disciples. Thinking him to be some petitioner on an errand of filing an appeal to the Commissioner, he paid no attention whatever towards Baba Jaimal Singh Ji (Baba Jaimal Singh Ji Maharaj was styled "Baba Ji"). Baba Ji addressing his companion said: "I have come here for this Sardar." This disciple was surprised and replied: "This gentleman had not even the courtesy to greet thee." Baba Ji smiled and said, "This poor fellow is not to blame. He is ignorant and does not know. He shall come to us on the fourth day from now."  Everything turned out exactly as Baba Ji had said and on the fourth day he came to the place where Baba Ji was staying, and for hours had a talk with him on spirituality. A few days´ association dispelled all his doubts and banished scepticism from his mind. The practical life and teachings of Baba Ji made so deep an impression on him that he looked upon Baba Ji as a beacon-light for his life's journey. The meeting of the Master like Jaimal with a disciple like Sawan was the greatest spiritual consummation. The Master dyed the disciple in his own fast and unfading colour.

Under the guidance of Baba Ji, Sardar Sawan Singh Ji very soon passed both the stages in the path of theology viz. knowledge and reality and became the lodestar of the former. In 1903 when Baba Ji left his mortal frame, he consigned the work of spirituality to Sardar Sawan Singh Ji. People used to address him respectfully as "Maharaj Ji" or "Hazur Maharaj Sahib."  

From 1903 to 1911, though employed in service, Hazur (he was briefly addressed as such by thousands) spent most of his time in devotion and spiritual practice. In 1911 he felt the need of propagating spirituality so intensely that he retired from Government service long before he was due to retire and dedicated the rest of his life to the service of seekers after Truth.

At a distance of three miles from the railway station of Beas (on Eastern Punjab Railway) he founded a beautiful colony on the bank of river Beas - the foundation of which had been laid in 1891 by Baba Jaimal Singh Ji during his lifetime, and styled it after his Master's name as "Dera Baba Jaimal Singh". Here, beside pacca houses and bungalows, a huge and spacious hall (known as Satsang Hall) was also erected in1934-35 at a cost of about two hundred thousand of rupees. This hall is in the form of letter "T" with dimensions 40' x 120', the like of which can hardly be seen in the whole of Northern India.

The Master (Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj) was married in early life but his wife died even before gauna (marriage consummation ceremony). He was married again after completion of 25 years of Brahmcharya (celibacy). This time he married Shrimati Kishan Kaur and got three children - one of whom died in the prime of youth, while the other two, Sardar Bachint Singh and Sardar Harbans Singh are still alive (since died).

The entire life of such spiritually-minded personages is always replete with miracles. They are heralds of peace, truth and brotherhood. He obliterated all distinctions of high and low, caste, colour and creed, and showered a gentle rain of mercy upon the hearts of depressing and woe-stricken populace. In the days of India's partition when Punjab was a hot bed of communal strifes and evil forces were working havoc and destruction upon the life and property of innocent persons on all sides - when the madcaps burning with passions of hatred and ill-will were engaged in the nefarious activities of bloodshed and vandalism and were playing indiscriminately with fire and sword and the people were suffering untold miseries and privations - and imagine all this in the blessed name of religion - He (Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj) stood four-square to all the winds that blew and collecting together over hundred Muslims from the surrounding area gave them shelter in Dera Baba Jaimal Singh and made proper arrangements for their safe escort to Pakistan.

Hazur was a great reformer of unique importance. He was a pole star to the  entire humanity and always befriended those in trouble and tribulation. With the water of truth, brotherhood and equality, He with His own hands washed clean the malice and ill-will from the hearts of the people drenched through and through in the poison of materialism. He made each one drink the godly wine to his fill and always laid stress on an honest livelihood. He Himself depended for His maintenance on His own pension and never accepted any gifts or presents from anyone - not even from His disciples.

He revived the teaching of holy Saints and brought them into limelight. Like His predecessors Guru Nanak, Kabir Sahib, Tulsi Sahib, Paltu Sahib, Soami Shiv Dayal Singh Ji, Maulani Rumi, Shams Tabrez and others, He pulled up the aspirants from their deep slumber and put them on the path of "Surat Shabd Yoga" or "Sultan-ul-Azkar" (commonly known by this name among Muslim saints) which is the most ancient and eternal path leading to reality and which being natural is unchangeable from times immemorial and will ever remain as such without any modification whatever.

His teachings are esoteric and not exoteric. He taught:

God is in every heart. Spirituality is the common heritage of the entire world and humanity and is not reserved for any particular country or nationality. The be-all and end-all of spirituality is the union of the soul with the omnipotent Over-Soul. Man is the roof and crown of all creation and nothing else is greater then He. He is the direct manifestation of God and is the marvel of God's greatness. In the twinkling of an eye he can rise to Heaven and can come back. The sun and the moon, paradise and hell, the earth and the sky are his playgrounds. As is correctly said: "In short thou are next to God".

He is just like a drop from the Ocean-Creator. He is a ray of the Almighty sun. Both the drop and the ray feel restless so long as they are separated from their source and find rest only when they become merged in it.

Man is the noblest of God's creation and in his essence is made a perfect being. He can work on two planes - outer and inner. On the outer plane he has knowledge and science of the world to aid him in his endeavours to pass through but beyond the limits of all knowledge and philosophy on the inner plane he is quite unable singly to fathom the abysmal depths of the secrets of nature. With the help of learning religious scriptures he tries to attain the goal, but stumbles at every step. Very soon he realises that he has deficiencies in this respect and is helpless and unless and until he gets the guidance of a practical spiritual Master, the theology, the knowledge and the reality remain undecipherable conundrums and enigmas which baffle all attempts at solution. Spiritual living is acquirable, during our lifetime only from an awakened and really conscious Master. Such a Master is deep rooted in the reality and all the qualities of Godly Light are fully reflected and shine forth in Him in abundance. He is fully conversant with the narrow and slippery spots on the path leading to reality. He gives to aspirants a link of life impulse which is commonly known as "Shabd" or "Nad" amongst the Hindus, "Kalma" or "Kalam-i-Rabbani" among Muslims, "Sach", "Naam" or "Hukam" among Sikhs, and "Word" among Christians. Under His superintendence and guidance such a Master opens the inner eye of seeker and leads him from plane to plane until He places him at the feet of God - and all this during lifetime and not after death.

It is therefore of absolute importance for every intelligent person - no matter of what religion, colour or creed - to betake himself, like the living king or living physician, to the "Present Living Master of the age" if he wants to drink the nectar of immortality and to attain "life everlasting."

This is why Maulana Rumi says: "Take hold of the hand of the Master, for without Him the way if full of untold dangers and difficulties. Never for a moment get separated from the Master and never place too much confidence in thy own valour or wisdom." 

And the same is said in Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Book of Sikhs):

"Meet the Master and get initiation from Him. Surrender thy body and mind to Him and invert within. Thou shalt find the path only through analysing the self."

With the thoroughly realised spiritual knowledge Hazur was also full of physical beauty - His well-proportioned bodily frame, cyprus-like stature, respondent shining face, forehead, immaculately white long beard, spotlessly-white head turban, and a mole on the right cheek - all so lovely-attractive - were the focus of myriads of longing eyes. On His feet there was Padam-Rekha (lotus-line in Palmistry). The well-said Persian verse was eminently befitting in his case:

Husne Yusful, dame Isa, yad-i-baiza dari

Anche hama khuban darand to tanha dari

Thou hast beauty of Joseph, healing power of Jesus Christ, and brilliant hand of Moses. In short thou alone possesseth all these qualities of loveliness that constitute physical assemblage of graces.

Mere darshan of Hazur's person awarded calmness to the perplexed and disturbed mind, bestowed consolation to every heart and above all conferred the boon of concentration and the joy of internal satisfaction. His mode of expression and interpretation was extremely clear and impressive. Simple and illuminative words and phrases uttered forth by Him to unravel the problems or reality were peculiarly sweet and intoxicating. Ordinary pulpit-preachers when they deliver their addresses on the basis of intellect and reasoning simply betray that is only imitative art as if it is scattering scentless flowers, distributing wine un-intoxicating, beauty without attraction and body without soul. But Hazur unfolded the Divine mysteries with such an easy and facile grace that His words went home and penetrated deep down into the hearts and made ever-lasting impression.  This is possible only when a really competent personage with practical personal esoteric experience within expounds the truth of the actual spiritual experiments and has the compentency to infuse into the innermost recesses of the brain- not only mere words - but the results of His own vast spiritual experiments along with the pith of the essential principles thereof. In His speech there was an uncommon magical charm which captivated the hearts of His hearers.

This sacred and grand Master travelled throughout the length and breadth of the country and His spiritual messages worked like balm to hundreds and thousands of lacerated hearts. There is not a village or town in the Punjab where His followers are not found in large numbers. In different parts of India more than thirty Satsang Halls were constructed which formed centres for imparting spiritual practical knowledge. Despite reaching an old age, this venerable personality gave spiritual talks and discourses for hours and hours together - thus quenching the thirst of millions of spiritually-thirsty seekers.

At monthly congregations sixty to eighty thousand souls ran to Beas to derive benefit from this spiritual spring.

He spread His rays of spirituality far and wide throughout the world and inspired the spirit of spiritualism in the mind of people led astray by materialism. In His lifetime His public reputation travelled to different lands. His followers comprised about two hundred thousand units which comprised of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians of all status and positions - rich and poor, literate and illiterate, of various castes and creeds including Asiatics and Christians of European nationalities.

This magnetic personality of Hazur attracted aspirants even from European and American countries and they flocked to India to hear His piritual message. The number of His followers in America, Switzerland, England and Germany counts by few thousands and among them the names of Dr Brock, Dr. Johnson, Mr. Myers, Dr. Schmidt and Colonel Saunders are notable.

Hazur used to say: "All religions and all countries are mines and I love them equally."

His innate desire was to bring together all the religions on a common platform and to knit together the entire humanity in one thread and then to put them all on to the ancient prosperous path of spirituality which leads to the common goal of all religions.

cont.: Newsletter 09/2000

Newsletter 08/2000 from Unity of Man

UNITY OF MAN - Sant Kirpal Singh
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