CURRENT INDIAN TIME
DHAN DHAN BABA ISHER SINGH JI (NANAKSAR)
Sadh Sangat Ji, this is a modest attempt to give a glimpse into the grand spiritual personality and most inspiring lifestyle of the great saint Baba Isher Singh Ji of Nanaksar Kaleran, Jagraon, Punjab, India. Due to the impossibility for a mortal to narrate the glory of the eternal, in the sharing of these divine tales, sincere and humble apologies are offered for inadequacies and for a lack of words to describe the sheer greatness of this unparalleled soul.
Baba Isher Singh Ji was born in the village of Jhorran, Tehsil Jagraon, district Ludhiana on March 26, 1916 to the respected S. Bagga Singh Ji and Shm. Partap Kaur Ji. From birth Baba Ji’s soul merged with a higher spirituality and continuously mediated with a merciful, peaceful heart that was imbued with an unparalleled spiritual energy bestowed on his shoulders by Akal Purakh himself.
Baba Isher Singh Ji had four brothers and two sisters and from his earliest childhood he would not waste a breath talking or playing like other children. Instead he focused on a deeper, more superior existence, devoting his deeds to a lifestyle founded by Guru Nanak Sahib. From the earliest age, Baba Ji would assemble children of the same age and partake in spiritual discussions and the recitation of Gurbani and Path. When a little older, Baba Ji started helping his mother and father in running the household and performed traditional agricultural work but would forever attune his concentration to the intoxicating ambrosial nectar of Naam Simran to complete his tasks.
Throughout his childhood, Baba Isher Singh Ji continued to share his divine insights with local residents and worked rigorously to provide earnings, food and belongings to all in sight. Baba Ji saw God’s light in all, and forever yearned to be in the presence and sewa of a true GurSikh/Brahmgiani.
In 1929, Baba Nand Singh Ji of Nanaksar-Kaleran came to Village Jhorran to continue his Amrit Sanchar. It was during this visit that the inevitable destiny sent from the heavens took action to merge the paths of these two great saints. This initial visit was of an angelic nature. Baba Nand Singh Ji saw the light of Sikhi shine in the younger Baba Isher Singh Ji and instantly commenced his praise of the young saint. While residing at Village Jhorran, Baba Nand Singh Ji remarked that he needed a chief attendant who was young, pious and of a religious disposition from that village. He further added that the attendant should be a man of firm determination and capable of entertaining the fear and anger of the Master as well as love for him.
After this, Baba Isher Singh Ji resumed his duties to his family but increased his longing for Service and Simran. After their work on the family lands, each of Baba Ji’s brothers was granted a reward for their service in harvesting the wheat crop. However, Baba Ji used his entire share in preparing Parshad for the offering of Baba Nand Singh Ji at Nanaksar-Kaleran.
A short time passed during which time Baba Isher Singh Ji longed to devote his existence solely to the word of Guru Nanak Sahib. His ardas and prayers were answered when Baba Nand Singh Ji asked Baba Ji’s mother “how many sons do you have” to which she replied “five.” Immediately Baba Nand Singh Ji questioned whether she could “spare one for sewa” to which she affirmatively replied in hukam.
It was at this point that Baba Nand Singh Ji changed Baba Ji’s name from Inder Singh to Isher Singh. Baba Nand Singh Ji noted that the name of Inder denotes worldly grandeur and was unsuitable as Isher symbolizes one who’s everlastingly in touch with the Supreme Lord.
From this moment onwards, Baba Isher Singh Ji served as the most devoted Gurmukh Sewadar (personal attendant) to Baba Nand Singh Ji. Baba Ji’s sewa and responsibilities increased rapidly and at the mere age of 27, Baba Isher Singh Ji became the Hazoori (chief) Sewadar. Baba Ji’s soul was abundant in Naam Simran and he used this undying commitment to serve Baba Nand Singh Ji with an unmatched devotion. Baba Ji was always attentive while on duty as the Hazoori Sewadar and he performed his sewa through treacherous domains barefoot in the worst conditions without ever uttering a single complaint. He sacrificed all personal comforts and never sat or slept while on duty.
Before Baba Nand Singh Ji went to his heavenly abode in 1943, he assembled his closest sewadars (associates) and uttered that Baba Isher Singh Ji had performed perfect sewa and was the only one entrusted to take the mission of Guru Nanak Sahib further. Baba Nand Singh Ji instructed them to show the utmost respect to Baba Isher Singh Ji in the future. Upon Baba Nand Singh Ji’s departure to heaven, Baba Ji could not bear the separation and returned to a place outside of Village Jhorran and devoted himself to seven years of continuous recitations of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Without the presence of a true master, Nanaksar turned into a different place. Initially, Baba Ji had no desire to occupy the location due to the misuse it encountered at the hands of selfish and irresponsible people. Furthermore, the sacred system of worship imprinted by Baba Nand Singh Ji had been tarnished by wrongdoers. In response to the decline of the shrine, humble devotees congregated at Village Jhorran to earnestly request Baba Ji to restore the sanctity of the holy place as it had become uncontrollable.
Baba Isher Singh Ji, acting on a heavenly message from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, moved to Nanaksar together with his devotees in the summer of 1950. The news quickly spread throughout Punjab and India that the real successor had arrived and thousands of devotees joined in for free service (Kar-Sewa). Within the first week, Baba Ji called the Sewadars (volunteers) one day after the Bhog of the Pooranmashi program and told them to get ready to start the digging for a Sarovar (pool of Holy water). The reason Baba Ji instructed the construction was because he wanted all the devotees to take a dip during the next Pooranmashi in the Holy Sarovar which meant this feat had to be completed within 30 days. The sarovar was to be 13 ft. deep with great length and width. The sangat was astonished as the engineers and the technicians alike stated that it could not be completed in less than a year; however, Baba Ji insisted that he had been instructed from above to release the water in it on the coming Pooranmashi (Full Moon). Thus Baba Ji started the construction of the Sarovar on the 13th Haar (the last week of June) and it was miraculously completed in 28 days and Holy water was released into it on the Pooranmashi – to the astonishment of all who witnessed it.
Baba Isher Singh Ji laid the foundation of the Nanaksar Thath on Sangrand of month Chet (March). A large number of sangat including carpenters, masons, and blacksmiths came to do the free sewa. The engineers and other experts came from all over to look after the design. Nanaksar was crowned with Golden Kalas (which are 39 feet round and 13 feet high) and the entire seven-story complex was completed in only six months. Not only was this short timeframe a remarkable engineering feat, it’s evermore remarkable considering Baba Ji’s strict Maryada of not asking for, or receiving a single rupee in donation. Looking back, many have talked about the completion of the building as an extraordinary feat, remembering the wonderful moments of nearly 500 masons and thousands of devotees working day and night voluntarily without any wages and it was a sight to be seen that hundreds of trucks were bringing bricks, river sand, cement, steel, iron and other material without any regard for monetary profit. Another astonishing achievement during the construction was the fact that all the food supplies for the volunteers were brought in by Sangis from near and far off places thrice a day without any announcement.
Baba Isher Singh Ji not only followed the course set by Baba Nand Singh Ji, he engraved a whole new chapter and set Nanaksar’s maryada in impervious stone. Through moving forward with the continuous recitations of Kirtan and Akhand Paths, Baba Ji established a foundation built on undying commitment and sewa. This is no more apparent than can be seen with Baba Ji’s everlasting devotion to Sukhmani Sahib, and how even today, this prayer has been recited continuously for over seventy years without a single break. In addition to the Kirtan and Akand Paths of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Baba Ji also started Nitnem and Kirtan at many other Gurdwaras situated at Jhorran, Bhadaur, Barnala, Barundi, Samadh Bhai, Dehradun, Ludhiana, and Seerah.
As remarkable as these implementations of Gurbani were on a global scale, none of these achievements compares to that which defines Baba Ji’s contribution to the house of Sri Guru Nanak Sahib Ji. The gift that Baba Ji prescribed to the masses was that of baptizing them as the son of Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj, and Baba Ji’s administration of Amrit is one unsurpassed in history and one which remains unrivalled even today.
Baba Isher Singh Ji’s legacy coupled two fundamental tenets which hold the key to salvation in this life and beyond. In the first, Baba Ji stressed the ceaseless message of Guru Nanak Sahib concerning universal brotherhood and doing well for all. He emphasized the eternal spirituality of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and explained that in order to escape the clutches of physical and emotional suffering, one must confine in the teachings and recognize the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as the living divinity of our ten Gurus and that one should never distinguish between the divine scripture and our Guru Ji’s as they are of an identical roop, jot and atma (body, light and soul). The second legacy specifies the necessity of giving your head to Guru Gobind Singh Ji through taking him as your father through the process of Amrit and attaining true liberation to surpass the fear of death.
Baba Isher Singh Ji placed a giant emphasis on the need to become Amritdhari. He would visit countless villages and cities throughout India to advance his Amrit Parchar, and the scenes witnessed at these locations were truly staggering as entire villages would come to a halt, and all persons (young or old) would flock to his diwans in the masses to take the holy nectar from the Panj (five) Pyare. Upon completion of the diwans, Baba Ji would ask the entire congregation to recite the principle truth of his discourse – “Khande Da Amrit Pee Lai, Je Milna Kalgian Wale Nu” (take this holy Amrit, if you want to meet Kalgidhar Patshah, the 10th God.) Thousands upon thousands would come together to change their lives forever, and in 13 short years, Baba Ji administered Amrit to over 750,000 Sikhs – which is a record unparalleled in history. At the end of every discourse every day without fail he announced, “Always have company of that person who unites you with the GURU. Avoid the person, who takes you away from the GURU, as you will suffer in the long run.”
Baba Isher Singh Ji had such a magnetic attraction in his saintly eyes that one would totally surrender after his holy darshan. Many non-believers came to him for discussion and to debate their ideologies but in an instant they fell at his holy feet and begged for sanctuary in the house of Guru Nanak Sahib. There were always huge gatherings in the lacs (hundreds of thousands) wherever he held his diwans (from Northern, Eastern, Western, and Southern India). Baba Ji always began his discourses with a shabad and he would follow the kirtan with bachans for the next couple of hours. Everyone in the audience would state that they got their questions answered immediately upon the completion of the regular bachans. Baba Ji continually declined the role of maya in Sikhi and held zero regard for anything monetary. During Baba Ji’s last diwan, on October 6, 1963, he astonished the audience by telling them how he has never seen or touched a monetary bill throughout his life. Furthermore, Baba Ji always said that if a saint accepts money, then he is wearing a string of blades around his neck and that a true saint never thinks about his family, never accepts money, and is fully devoid of ego.
Baba Isher Singh Ji’s mission was to propagate Bani (Daily Prayers) and Bana (Becoming an Amritdhari Sikh). To give one example, Baba Ji once went to Kanpur, and the devotees came out there with an industrialist, who owned acres of lands and many factories. The devotees spoke very highly of this individual and informed Baba Ji of his great wealth and financial achievements. After their discussion, Baba Ji asked the businessman about how much time he devotes to Gurbani. He replied that he has no time since he has a very busy schedule due to his business ventures. After hearing his response, Baba Ji responded back in an instant, “The devotees were telling me that you are very wealthy and gifted, however, in my opinion, you’re nothing more than bankrupt.” After hearing this, the industrialist cried aloud and explained that no-one ever cared to mention this to him before, and how every other saint would usually shower their praises on him as their eyes were solely on his wealth.
To give another example, Baba Isher Singh Ji went to Patna Sahib during his voyage to Calcutta. There was an individual who came for the first time to have Baba Ji's darshan and listen to his holy discourses. He was a clean shaven man whose name was Bakhshi Singh. He was a very wealthy and successful businessman who owned his own transport company. He was immediately awestruck by the depth and substance of the discourses received. After the initial encounter, Bakhshi Singh started coming to Baba Ji’s diwan everyday as he longed to hear more anecdotes to improve his existence. However, after a couple of days, Baba Ji announced at his diwan that he would be continuing his journey to Calcutta. In front of the entire sangat, Bakhshi Singh stood up and requested Baba Ji with folded hands to give both the town and himself another week. Baba Ji told Bakhshi Singh he would agree to his request only if he makes some contribution to him. Bakhshi Singh thought that since many saints had come and gone from Patna Sahib, he could use his previous methodologies and give a lump cash amount in return for another day or week. Realizing that he was very wealthy and that any offering was in his range, Bakhshi Singh agreed to give Baba Ji any donation.
At his agreement, Baba Ji said, 'Bakhshi Singh, What you have thought of in your head is nothing compare to what I'm looking for. My offering is way more than you could ever imagine". Bakhshi Singh was startled by Baba Ji’s statement, but again thought of doubling his last offer and once more spoke in front of the entire sangat that he was in complete agreement with Baba Ji's bheta (offering). However, Baba Ji again questioned Bakhshi Singh's contribution, and said “our demand is way more than what you have thought of this time around also.” Again, Bakhshi Singh agreed to whatever bheta Baba Ji would ask, and again reiterated that he would definitely give the donation, and said he “will not back away from his word.” Baba Ji again asked (one final time) "Bakhshi Singh, you’re giving me your word in front of everyone, so think once again, and don't back out." When he agreed for the last time, Baba Ji shocked him by telling him, "I'm not here to collect your money, I'm asking you to become an Amritdhari along with your family so you could devote your time to the Guru as in spite of your wealth and business, I’ve never met a man as poor as you." Immediately, Bakhshi Singh in awe and disbelief at what had just happened (as for the first time in his life, his wealth was considered worthless) started to cry and touched Baba Ji's charan (feet) and pleaded for eternal forgiveness. The local community was shocked, as a man who was considered an atheist had changed his lifestyle in a split second and upon the fulfillment of the request, Baba Ji stayed at Patna Sahib for another week and administered Bakhshi Singh and his family with the holiest gift imaginable – Kaligdhar’s Amrit.
In Baba Isher Singh Ji’s diwans, he frequently informed the sangat about future happenings. One example pertains to the events prior to Sri Guru Teg Bahudar Ji taking his throne. During that time, society sprang up 22 fake Manjis (pretenders) who laid false claims as the new Guru. Baba Ji stated that a time in the near future will come when there will be countless Manjis (pretenders) who will lay fake claim to the house of Guru Nanak Sahib. Baba Ji stated that these dishonest individuals will fuel a generation of disbelief when dharma (religion) will disappear and 'adharam' (irreligion) will roam rampant. During this time, individual groups will overcome religion, and money will overshadow everything. However, Baba Ji incessantly affirmed that Sikhi cannot be demolished by anyone, in fact, those who try to demolish Sikhi will get annihilated themselves.
In spite of the hundreds of thousands of people to witness Baba Isher Singh Ji’s Amrit Parchar at any given time, there were strict orders in place for no advertising or announcements to be made prior to Baba Ji’s holy narrations. Baba Ji’s bachans transcended boundaries and combined mankind with one universal message. Nowhere was this more apparent than in Baba Ji’s diwans where people of all shades and walks of life (rich or poor) came together to be blessed with his presence. Among the endless list of eminent personalities who sought Baba Ji's blessings included: The President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad (who specifically requested Baba Ji to grace the Rashtripati Bhavan with his blessing), former President of India Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Defence Minister of India S. Baldev Singh, Spiritual guru of Sanatan Dharmi sect of the Hindus Goswami Ganesh Dutt, Chief Minister of Punjab S. Partap Singh Kairon, Lieutenant General Maharaja Yadevindera Singh of Patiala, Maharaja of Faridkot, Deputy Defense Minister of India S. Surjit Singh Majithia, Sant Fateh Singh, Shromani Akali Dal President Master Tara Singh, S. Lachhman Singh Gill (future chief minister of Punjab ), (Advocate General ) S. Gurnam Singh Tir, (Additional Adocate General of Punjab ) S. Harbans Singh Doabia, Ex-Chairman Railway Board S. Karnail Singh, Honorary Magistrate Lala Dhanpat Rai ,Birla Seth and countless others.
Even though Baba Isher Singh Ji had countless politicians, businessmen and public figures as his followers, his diwans always composed an impartial makeup, with Baba Ji giving an equal amount of love and time to poor and needy individuals. Baba Ji stressed to the sangat that in order to make Guru Nanak Sahib happy, one must come to the doors at Nanaksar without any ego or pride in the same way as a pauper would approach a king’s castle. Baba Ji’s actions always reflected his ability to never discriminate as he paid no attention to a person’s race, religion, caste, sex or creed. One time, Baba Ji was passing through Jagraon in a procession when he stopped at the area of very poor people and informed them that, “Our love for you is way more than others.”
Baba Isher Singh Ji started giving indications about his pending departure to his heavenly abode many years prior to the actual date. Baba Ji’s recorded bachans give countless hints about the future, and one of the main things he stressed was the shortness of time he had to influence the masses. He would continuously inform the sangat that there are many things which need to be accomplished; however, God had given him a very short lifespan.
Baba Isher Singh Ji visited Saproon (Shimla Hills) on September 7th, 1963. Baba Ji held religious gatherings (diwans) at Saproon twice a day for 10 days. After that, Baba Ji moved out to Shimla and held diwans twice a day for the next 10 days from Septemeber 17th to September 26th. Baba Ji stayed a night at Pinjore Gardens on September 26th. He made his way back to Nanaksar on the morning of September 27th. Upon notification of Baba Ji’s plans to return to Nanaksar, the sangat at Chandigarh immediately arranged for a make shift diwan and requested Baba Ji to give them at least one month’s time. Baba Ji declined and after continuously pleading the sangat changed their request from a month to a week. Upon their instance, Baba Ji replied with “you are asking for a week, but I have no time at all. I have to return to Nanaksar immediately as the Pooranmashi is fast approaching.” As a last resort, the sangat requested Baba Ji to stay for a few hours and at least have langar, but again Baba Ji replied that there was no time, and at in the insistence of the sangat, Baba Ji agreed to take the langar along with him to Nanaksar and pass it along to the sangat there. At the time, no-one understood why Baba Ji took such a swift course to Nanaksar, but the upcoming days (in early October) would reveal why this final Pooranmashi function was so vitally important.
Detailed below are a few more examples of the forecasts Baba Isher Singh Ji made about his imminent future. Baba Ji’s devotee, Advocate General Gurnam Singh Tir, came to Nanaksar on October 7, 1963 and requested Baba Ji to provide pathis (priests) as he was planning for the recitation of Guru Granth Sahib Ji at his residence in Chandigarh. Baba Ji asked him, “Which route did you take when coming here to Nanaksar?” He replied that he came “from the Amritsar route.” Then Baba Ji questioned Gurnam Singh Tir about the water level at the rivers of Harike. To this question put forth by Baba Ji, Gurnam Singh responded that “the water level is very high at Harike Pattan.” After a while, Baba Ji put the same question about the water level at Harike Pattan. Gurnam Singh Tir did not know that Baba Ji was to go to that place after his merging with the Almighty soon after. Baba Ji continued the discussion by telling his devotee to “move the recitations to another day.” To which he answered back, “Baba Ji, I have already printed out the cards and distributed them to my relatives, so I can’t move the recitations (path) to another day.” At this point, Baba Ji gave a solid indication about the pending future by saying, “Gurnam Singh, go ahead and take the pathis (priests), however, we’ll soon call them back over the phone.” Gurnam Singh Tir didn’t think twice about this conversation and took the pathis along with him in two separate cars. However, upon reaching Chandigarh, he immediately received a phone call from Nanaksar informing him that Baba Ji had left for his heavenly abode. Gurnam Singh Tir was completed shocked and remembered Baba Ji’s bachan about the phone call. He and the pathis immediately returned to Nanaksar.
The next example concerns another devotee, a professional photographer named S. Mohan Singh, who came to Nanaksar on October 3, 1963 to attend the Pooranmashi diwan. He stayed there for 2 nights and when the Pooranmashi program was completed, he asked for permission from Baba Ji to return back to his home at Dehradun (on October 5, 1963.) Baba Ji asked him to stay for a little longer and he agreed to Baba Ji’s bachan and stayed an extra day. The next day he again asked for permission from Baba Ji so that he could return to his family. Baba Ji again asked him to stay another day and being a true devotee, he listened to Baba Ji’s bachan the second time around and stayed another night at Nanaksar. On October 7, 1963 he came with folded hands again to ask for Baba Ji’s permission to return home. Upon his insistence, Baba Ji replied back by saying, “Well, if you have to go, go ahead, however, we’ll send a telegram for you to come back.” When S. Mohan Singh reached Dehradun; his wife informed him that there was a telegram waiting for him from Nanaksar. This telegram declared Baba Ji’s departure to heaven and Mohan Singh immediately came back to Nanaksar to have final darshan of the great saint. For years after, S. Mohan Singh continuously questioned himself for not listening to Baba Ji, as all he remembers is Baba Ji’s last bachans about staying another day and the subtle narration detailing how Nanaksar would never be the same.
On October 6, 1963, Baba Ji was on his morning walk along with the Prince of Patiala, Kanwar Sahib. It was here when Baba Ji questioned the Prince about which death he would you rather prefer, someone that leaves instantly without any suffering or someone who lingers on the bed at his/her last breath. To this question put forth by Baba Ji, Kanwar Sahib responded with the first choice. Baba Ji replied, “Kanwar Sahib, I like your answer, and I totally agree with you.” These are a small percent of the numerous clues given by Baba Ji about his departure to his heavenly abode. However, due to the shortage of space to mention all examples on this website, only a brief summary has been detailed. On the same day, Dr. Sant Singh of Jagraon had darshan of Baba ji and Baba Ji told him that he should come to Nanaksar as before even when he is not present here. That was a clear hint, but doctor sahib thought that Baba Ji might be going to some outside place.
Detailed below is one final hint regarding Baba Isher Singh Ji’s departure to heaven, which is a written document by highly qualified and renowned Dr. Harcharan Singh, who was a Resident Doctor of the Medical College of Amritsar. He was a classmate of Dr. Kulwant Singh of Jagraon, who was a sangi of Nanaksar. Both doctors decided to visit Nanaksar on October 6, 1963, and it was the first time Dr. Harcharan Singh visited Nanaksar and Baba Ji. At this initial meeting, Dr. Harcharan Singh repeatedly asked Baba Ji if he could examine him to get a complete physical checkup. Upon his continued insistence, Baba Ji agreed to Dr. Sahib’s request. While proceeding with the checkup of the great saint, Dr. Sahib was startled when Baba Ji stated “Dr. Sahib, do your checkup to clear your doubts, I don’t mind. However, Akal Purakh has delivered a message for me to leave this world. I’m ready to go; I’ve no attachments and no worries. I’m waiting on Guru Nanak Sahib’s final say, and at that moment I’ll leave without delay.” Not realizing the seriousness of the words, Dr. Sahib continued the checkup and reported that Baba Ji was in 100% health without a single worry.
Further to this encounter, below is written proof of Dr. Harcharan Singh’s letter to Dr. Kulwant Singh, and we’ve attached a copy of the original document underneath this article. These quotes are from the actual letter itself.
“When the very next day, Baba Ji actually went to the Lord, I was wonderstruck by his great forethought and initiations. He was really a great soul.”
Baba Ji addressed the congregation at Nanaksar in the Diwan of Pooranmashi on October 3, 1963. During this most divine discourse, Baba Ji gave countless indications that he would soon leave to merge in Guru Nanak Charna, but it was impossible to believe that the one who revived hundreds-upon-thousands of lost souls would succumb to a call from above. Three days later, on October 7, 1963 after the evening time kirtan, Baba Ji’s soul returned home at the worldly age of only 47 years in the twinkling of an eye leaving the world weeping and our lives changed forever.