Sunday, 12 June 2011

Baba Jagat Singh: Gatka Master

Baba Jagat Singh jee who led an exemplary Gursikh life recently passed away peacefully in Toronto. Baba jee was a well known Gatka Master in India and abroad. He learned Gatka from the legendary Grandmaster Baba Gyana Singh and hundreds of Gursikhs learned Gatka from Baba Jagat Singh jee and his son Baba Jaswant Singh jee.

Baba jee was born in a village near Nawanshahar in 1909 to Mata Labh Kaur jee and Sardar Lehna Singh jee. He got married to Mata Swaran Kaur jee around the age of 20 years. Mata Swaran Kaur jee was inclined towards Gursikhi and she inspired her husband to become a Gursikh.

Baba jee first got interested in Gatka around 1935 when he attended the yearly Gatka Samagam at Siri Nanakana Sahib. There he saw the legendary Gatka Grandmaster Baba Gyana Singh jee perform Gatka and he got greatly impressed by his martial skills. He requested Baba Gyana Singh jee to teach him Gatka. Baba Gyana Singh jee and Baba Jagat Singh jee developed so much pyaar for each other that Baba Jagat Singh jee brought Baba Gyana Singh jee to his village and learned Gatka from him full time. Later on he also learned and practiced with Sardar Darshan Singh Malwa who too was a very good Gatka master of his time.

Baba Jagat Singh was totally obsessed with Gatka and he always stayed tyaar bar tyaar. He used to wear a White Chola and a Blue dumaala all the time. He was never seen without a big Siri Sahib and a dhaal. He used to practice endlessly and at the height of his fitness he used to do 1000 Dands and Baithaks (pushups and squats) Once a known Badmash, a saansi of his area challenged everyone to fight with him. This Saansi used to taunt and harass people. When Baba jee heard about this, he faced him up. This Saansi was a good player of spear and Baba jee was an expert in the use of Siri Sahib. Baba jee had shown him only a trailer of his skills and the Saansi backed off and fled.

In due time, Baba jee started teaching Gatka to Sikh aspirants of his area and countless people learned Gatka from him. He used to attend Holla Mahalla every year with his team. At the time of partition, he along with Sant Mela Singh strived to maintain peace in his area. He stopped unnecessary attacks on innocent Muslims and escorted many of them to safety. During the time of Punjabi Suba Morcha, he was jailed for taking part in the Morcha and his son was terminated out of NCC for this. Baba jee always stayed with Panth and participated with his body mind and soul in all Panthak activities.

Baba jee never got up later than 2am and his nitnem included Siri Sukhmani Sahib, Chandi ki Vaar and Siri Asa kee Vaar kirtan along with the 7 prescribed Baanis of Nitnem. During his last days he said nothing but “Vaheguru Vaheguru”. “Vaheguru Vaheguru” could be heard from his mouth all the time. He never felt pain. No matter how much pain was inflicted on him he never said “hai hai”. He used to say that he does not feel pain because he had given his body to Guru Sahib and Guru Sahib was taking care of it.

His advice to every student was to stay strict in Gursikhi and to speak the truth. His son Baba Jaswant Singh jee taught countless Gursikhs Gatka and most Gursikhs in Toronto have learned Gatka from Baba Jaswant Singh jee. In 2004 at the age of around 95 Baba Jagat Singh jee performed fabulous Gatka at Gurdwara Tapoban Sahib.

Baba jee had a very peaceful passing away. One doctor remarked that she had never seen a more peaceful death in her life. Baba jee was sitting with his family when he just passed away and no one around found out about it until much later.

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