Akali Nihang Baba Mit Singh Maharaj In the illustrious history of the Buddha Dal Knights of God, perhaps no Saint has been more revered for their devotion, piety, austerity and divine power as Baba Mit Singh Maharaj,Early Life Baba Mit Singh Maharaj was born in the village of Marrayani which is located in the Mulanpur Dakha District near Ludhiana, Punjab. Born in the year 1886 to his pious mother Karam Kaur and his father, the learned Sardar Karam Singh, the young Mit Singh was lovingly inculcated in the glories of the Sikh Religion by his well-cultured father early on. Baba Mit Singh was also spiritually educated by the erudite Nihang Baba Varyam Singh who was himself a Knight of God of Buddha Dal and whose residence was at the Holy Shrine of the Sixth King—Damdama Sahib Patshiah Chevian. Being extremely well acquainted with the traditions of the Khalsa Path, Baba Varyam Singh taught all he knew to his astute pupil who bore all the marks of a saintly personality which was greatly sanctified by his teacherly influence. Indeed from a very early age, Baba Mit Singh ji was immensely predisposed to seeking immersion in divine meditation as he spent much of his time absorbed in contemplating God while sitting beneath a banyan tree, which to this day is preserved by the local villagers of this region. Baba Mit Singh ji also meditated at a Holy Shrine of Martyrs commemorating their sacrifices, and it was at this place where he had many divine experiences of communion with the blessed souls of those said martyrs who from time to time would materialize a consecration of ambrosial food (karah prashad) into his palms as was witnessed by some of the local village children. Around this time of his youth, Baba Mit Singh ji expressed a desire for sacred baptism at the hands of the Five Beloved Ones, being as he was completely detached from worldly pursuits with deep spiritual longing. Though he unfortunately had to wait until the arrival of the Knights of God from Buddha Dal to administer the said baptism upon returning from their nomadic procession. In a mood of deep yearning for grace Baba Mit Singh ji remained absorbed in a meditative trance for many days at a time, and as his intense devotion reached it's peak, he was overcome by a spiritual vision of blinding white light in which a host of divine martyrs clothed in lustrous blue robes descended from the heavens and appeared before him. These celestial souls had been sent from the heavenly throne of Guru Gobind Singh Maharaj to themselves bestow the sacrament of divine baptism upon the young saint in reverence of his consummation of loving devotion to God. They also adorned him in radiant blue garments before returning to their divine abode. On another occasion when it was God's grace to bestow his mercy on Baba Mit Singh ji, a spiritual host of divine martyrs again descended to earth in their angelic forms to grant a blue plume (farla) to Baba Mit Singh ji. Now, as the bestowal of blue plumes amongst those of the Order of the Knights of God can only be given by the supreme pontiff of the garrison (jathedar) many worldly people assumed that the childly Mit Singh ji had merely affixed the blue plume to his turban of his own volition. Though the all-knowing Baba Varyam Singh dissuaded such unenlightened people from meddling in these divine affairs ordained by God for his saints. In this way the divine martyrs had a constant celestial interchange with Baba Mit Singh ji throughout his life.
In the inimitable Sikh spirit of divine service to humanity, Sardar Karam Singh ji, the father of Baba Mit Singh ji , sadly passed away in 1903 while freely administering medicine to plague victims in the region. Baba Mit Singh ji was also briefly infected with the deadly plague, though he was marvelously healed by God's holy touch. Meeting the Head of Buddha Dal In and around the year 1907, a procession of the Knights of Buddha Dal passed through the vicinity of Damdama Sahib, Rakhba—where Baba Mit Singh ji resided. Amongst this divine army was Jathedar Teja Singh—the supreme pontiff of the Holy Sikh Faith. Baba Mit Singh ji was so wonderstruck by the stoic splendor of these Knights of God that he immediately joined their ranks and accompanyed the battalion on their journey. In adjusting to his new life in the Buddha Dal garrison Baba Mit Singh ji met his lifelong spiritual companion—Baba Dharam Singh, a saintly minded youth with whom they young Mit Singh ji practiced meditation and selflessly served the holy congregation of saints night and day. The two spiritually minded youths also practiced the dietary austerity of iron utensil practice (sarbloh bibek) whereby one only consumes food or drink from iron vessels blessed by baptized Sikhs which is an extremely orthodox and ancient practice sanctified by the early Khalsa warriors. Service at Hazur Sahib In this way many years of meditation and humane service passed. And so it was that in the year 1918 with the blessings of Jathedar Teja Singh, Baba Mit Singh Maharaj was sent to the Holy Shrine of Hazur Sahib located in Southern India in the vicinity of Nander, Maharashtra where the Mausoleum of Guru Gobind Singh is situated. So stoic was the young saint that he advised his traveling companions that they would make the arduous trek from the uppermost north of India on foot! And without asking for rations, they would subsist only on what it was God's will to give them. Such was the spirit of Baba Mit Singh's asceticism that many senior Knights of God marveled at his frugal mendicant nature, chief amongst them was Jathedar Baba Sahib Singh Kaladhari who affectionately referred to Baba Mit Singh ji as being disciple incarnate.
Life at Gurdwara Mata Sahib Devi
In 1922, Baba Mit Singh ji and his holy congregation took up the service of the worshippers at Gurdwara Mata Sahib Devi. Though he was elected pontiff of the temple, Baba Mit Singh ji performed many menial tasks of day-to-day service with his own hands in a humble spirit of loving devotion. As there were few rations with which to fed the holy congregation, Baba Mit Singh ji and the other parishioners (sevadars) would often starve themselves to feed the daily worshipers who began to arrive in droves. This was in accordance with Babaji's personal belief that one should always remain content with whatever the will of God provides to one. In fact, at one point the lack of rations was so great that a parishioner asked Babaji for permission to put two of his horses out of their misery due to their pitiful starvation. The all-knowing Baba Mit Singh ji, ever in a deep spiritual trance heartily assured the parishioner that if he could not bear their suffering he should wait yet one more day to see what God's will in the matter was. When the next day came, lo and behold, a worshipful Sikh soldier personally handed 16 rupees to Babaji, immediately after this a farmer selling crops and animal rations accepted the aforesaid sum and thus the starving horses were fed by the prescient Baba. Indeed, the love with which Baba Mit Singh ji cherished animals as God's blessed creatures was so great that to this day a shelter for deer and monkeys is present at the temple complex.
A Legacy of Humble Sainthood
As time passed, and the legends of this pious saint spread, many more worshippers and helpers flocked to have the divine sight of Babaji and many small huts were constructed to accommodate them. It must be noted that though Baba Mit Singh ji occupied an exalted position of high status, he never forced his authority upon anyone. In fact, if the need ever arose that some service should be performed, Babaji would never adjudge this task to anyone but would carry out the duty himself. Even during the monsoon and rainy seasons, Baba Mit Singh ji would take it upon himself to fetch barrelfuls of water and heavy sand for cleaning and such from the distant Godavari river, managing the heavy load with his very hands, for, as a plume-wearing (farladhari) Sikh he could not carry it over his head as is the custom of simplicity. It was only due to the kind consideration of the caring Singhs that he was relived of this difficult duty. Even as he approached an advanced age, it was not unusual for Babaji to walk for six kilometers in the sweltering heat to distribute the donations of the holy congregation when necessary. In fact, as time went on, the younger Singhs began to worry that Babaji was overexerting himself, thus they held a meeting in which they humbly requested that Baba Mit Singh ji kindly redistribute the necessary daily duties amongst them thus relieving his burden. As this request came from the Guru-Incarnate Khalsa, Babaji meekly accepted this arrangement, though he continued preparing the sacramental food for the congregation for the rest of his life. Baba Mit Singh Maharaj was highly regarded and loved by all as he was clearly a God-Conscious individual with a radiant brow and peace-permeated eyes, though he never exercised his divine powers to make a worldly show for others as in the Mansion of Guru Nanak humility is greatly treasured and cherished above all else. This principle can be easily evidenced from the incident where a Sikh had lost his horse and had asked Babaji to use his powers to locate it, Babaji humbly replied that he himself had lost his own horse and therefore had not since located his own steed. Upon the death of Jathedar Teja Singh, there were two strong contenders who sought to lead the Buddha Dal Knights of God; these were Baba Sahib Singh Kaladhari and Baba Ram Singh. All of the garrisons decided to have the divinely inspired Baba Mit Singh ji mediate the situation and select the next Chieftain. They thus set off from Punjab to Maharastra and the five head pontiffs convened with Baba Mit Singh ji who announced that Baba Kaladhari would be the next Chieftain if he agreed to resurrect the tradition of holding the Festival of Durga (Dusshera). Baba Sahib Singh Kaladhari emphatically agreed and the gathered Knights thundered with loud rejoicings (jakaray). As a firm and devout Knight of God, Baba Mit Singh ji followed the ancient traditions of the Khalsa guru-ordained theocratic doctrines which recognize only the authority of Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Scriptures of the Sikhs) and Shiromani Panth Akali Buddha Dal as invested by the Tenth King, Guru Gobind Singh Maharaj. This is in stark opposition to many weak-minded and unfortunate Sikhs of the time who bowed to the worldly courts and the false officialdom of the British Raj. The perpetual law governing the true Sikhs is the divine justice of the sword to protect the afflicted and the downtrodden—this is the only God-ordained law followed by Baba Mit Singh ji.
Over time the Knights of Buddha Dal had ownership of much property and land, this earned the ire and jealousy of the Marathas who duly sent a band of miscreants to wrongfully reclaim this holy land. Seeing the mounting force from a temple tower, Babaji took the blessings of God and faced down the Marathas with a gleaming sword in hand, he bravely challenged them and they stepped down steeped in cowardice. The Nizam (king) of Hyderabad received many complaints from informants and traitors against Babaji, and on one such occasion even issued an arrest warrant for him. The warrant was served by the deputy commissioner and a soldierly brigade of officials, the lead complainant prostrated himself before Babaji and handed him the edict, Babaji offered them seats in the Guru's service for the poor and explained that as a Sikh of the Guru, he is only beholden to the edict of God thus dismissing them. Indeed these and many other officials learned a great respect for Babaji's saintly character and spiritual prestige as can be illustrated by the incident wherein a local Nihang executed a Muslim for desecrating a holy place with his unyielding tobacco use. Initially, the British and Hyderabadi officials condemned the Singh to death, but upon seeking Babaji's intervention in the affair, it was decided that the Singh would merely be exiled to the Punjab. Baba Mit Singh ji was also an erudite scholar, philanthropist and an avid connoisseur and preserver of ancient saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Sri Dasam Guru Darbar and Sri Sarbloh Guru Darbar. It had long been a personal mission for him as a calligrapher to restore, preserve and amend written texts of the Guru's divine words as with the pothi which he sent to Baba Sahib Singh Kaladhari. Babaji himself made many handwritten copies of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Perhaps the longest standing monument of memory erected by Baba Mit Singh ji has been his legacy as a preacher of Sikh Theology and Ideals.
The 13th Jathedar of Shiromani Panth Akali Buddha Dal, Baba Santa Singh had gained the majority of his learning at the holy feet of Baba Mit Singh ji who taught him the history of the Khalsa, army traditions and religious education. It is legendary amongst the ranks of elder Knights of Buddha Dal that Baba Santa Singh imbibed the teachings of Mit Singh through his telepathic grace rather than through mere words, as was the case with the religious schooling of in musical measure of Bhai Nihal Singh. It is further notable that many great Nihangs such as Bhai Daya Singh—Jathedar of the illustrious Bidhi Chand Dal and Giani Kirpal Singh who is the learned biographer of Baba Mit Singh ji and who has affirmed the fact that he received full knowledge of Ad Guru Darbar, Dasam Guru Darbar and Sarbloh Guru Darbar from the divine twinkling of the lotus eyes of Baba Mit Singh ji sufficient to teach discourses of full import. Under the inspired leadership of Baba Mit Singh ji, the Guru's liberal kitchen flourished with the practice of iron utensil discipline (sarbloh bibek), and those preparers of food where very strict in their adherence to this dietary code, washing their hair (kesh ishnaan) fully before participating, and keeping their mouths covered while reciting Gurbani hymns with hearts full of devotion, the Mool Mantra was also ardently recited by all in the hall repeatedly, no oils with the exception of Desi Ghee were used there. The War Drums (Nagara) were sounded when the holy food was prepared and the draught of martyrs (non-intoxicating Shaheedi Degh) was served at about 3pm.
On October 17th, 1944, Babaji left his mortal coil for the heavenly abode divine; before merging in the Infinite, he informed the holy congregation that his time had come, he covered himself with a pall cloth, lay on the floor and breathed his last leaving behind an immortal legacy of perseverance and humanity enshrined in the annals of the Knights of God. Indeed it was due in no small part to his efforts that Gurdwara Mata Sahib Devi has flourished overtime and even in the present day it steadily thrives, now under the divine leadership of Jathedar Baba Prem Singh ji; what's more, the Gurdwara Damdama Sahib in Rakhba where Babaji was raised has undergone great enhancement as well under the visionary tutelage of Panth Patshiah Jathedar Baba Joginder Singh ji—and it is there that to the present day the descendents of Baba Mit Singh ji continue to carry on this divine service to humanity. Even now the Nihangs of Nander, Maharatra enjoy a spotless reputation amongst the locales as they reflect the glorious luster spread by Baba Mit Singh ji, and it continues to be the prodigious tales and accounts of his saintliness that lead many Sikhs to follow the true Khalsa Path of Guru Gobind Singh Maharaj: The Shiromani Panth Akali Buddha Dal.
A small samadh of Baba Mit Singh ji can be found in and around Gurdware Mata Sahib Devan in Maharastra,this article will be featured on the upcoming website http://www.nihangsingh.org/ which is being produced by the Budha Dal sangat at Raqba, this website will contain many such bios of Nihang Brahmgyanis and is dedicated to the memory of Baba Mit Singh ji.
Article written by Valli Singh.