Monday, Nov 14, 2005
The proud son of Bidar
Rishikesh Bahadur Desai
LOCATION: The site where the gurdwara will come up at Navadgeri in Bidar.
Bidar: The city of Bidar has a significant place in Sikh history. Bhai Sahib Singh, one of the Panj Pyare of Sikhism, was from Bidar. But it appears he has been forgotten. His memorial is incomplete and stray buffaloes wander around the structure.
The Panj Pyare, or the Five Beloved, are the men who, under the leadership of Gobind Singh (1666-1708), the last of the 10 Sikh gurus, were initiated into the khalsa or the brotherhood of the Sikh faith. They have a revered place in the Sikh tradition.
Daya Ram, a Khatri from Lahore, Dharam Das, a Jat from Delhi, Mohkam Chand, a washerman from Dwaraka in Gujarat, Himmat, a cook from Jagannath in Orissa and Sahib Chand, a barber of Bidar, form the Panj Pyare.
The website SikhCyber.com says Sahib Chand was born in 1662 in Bidar, in the then Nizam state of Hyderabad. He sacrificed his life in the battle of Chamkaur in 1704.
The Panj Pyare enjoy a place similar to the Panch Kanya in Hinduism. They are remembered every morning, before beginning a difficult task and on auspicious occasions. The memory of Sahib Singh is one of the reasons that draws nearly 500 Sikhs to Bidar every day. The other is the belief that Guru Nanak visited Bidar on his way to Sri Lanka in the 16th century.
On Baisakhi day in Anandpur Sahib in 1699, Guru Govind Singh asked a congregation whether there was anyone who would lay down his life for dharma? And Bhai Sahib Singh offered his life. The warrior saint defended Sikhism in times of crisis and died fighting for it. "We need to publicise this fact even more vigorously," says dental surgeon Narendra Singh, a Sikh who has made Bidar his home.
"But there is no information about Bhai Sahib Singh's house or village. We also don't know anything about his descendants. Earlier, we had plans to preserve his house. We looked for revenue records and historical evidence of his house or village, but failed. We then decided to construct a separate Gurdwara in his memory," says Sardar Balbir Singh, president of the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Jhira Prabhandak Committee. "We are constructing the Gurdwara at Navadgeri on Janawada road and hope to complete it soon."