Friday, 1 July 2011

In Loving Memory of Bhai Shingara Singh

In Loving Memory of Bhai Shingara Singh
Bhai Shingara Singh (Birmingham) passed away last night. His nephew who looked after him went in to his room this morning and Bhai Sahib had already passed away. He was one the pioneers of Akhand Keertani Jatha UK. I  have made an attempt to document his life.

•He was 88 years old.

•He was also known as Nihang Singh because he was one of the first people to wear baanaa in the UK. He encouraged everyone to become shasterdharee.

•He had a shaunk (interest) in shooting bullets and warfare, as he was of strong build.

•When he was 14 he went to register for the army, they told him that he was too young, so he went back a couple of weeks later and lied and told them he was 16, so that he could join the army.

•In the army he would go to sleep at 10pm and wake at 1am, without the help of anyone. Then he would recite Bani that he had kantt until sunrise. Banis such as Salok Mahalla 9 and Shabad Hazare.

•He was always the first ready for army parade in the morning. He still didn’t even have a beard then and was very young.

•He still only slept about 3 hours a day.

•The pind he was from was very chardi kala, his parents were Akaalis (believers in God) and so was the rest of the pind. When he was young he went to the local Gurdwara and heard some katha on Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s coming into kaljug. He explained the Shabad, ‘math dhaek bhooloo veesarae theyra chith naa avae naao’. From that day he started making greater efforts in his Sikhi.

•He came to the UK in 1963.

•He fought in the war in Burma. Here he said is where he got most of his Bani kantt, he said he got just as much Bani as he had in his previous life kantt very easily, and he even got more Bani kantt.

•At one point he was arrested because one of the Hindu chiefs in the army was a sly person and got him arrested. He was sentenced to 2 months in prison. But once in prison he was standing in line for food, and one of the officers said something and Shingara Singh spoke back. The rule then was that you must wear full clothes and socks to prevent being bitten by the maccharr (mosquitos), even in the full heat. But he had his sleeves rolled up as it was too hot. So the officer told him to get down and do some press ups as punishment. He said ‘No I am Khalsa, do you know what Khalsa is!?’, the officer replied, ‘I know very well what Khalsa is’, Shingara Singh said ‘No you don’t, ajj pathaa lagoo gaa kee khalsa yaa, today you will find out what the Khalsa is, ajj theyraa sooth karnaa, today we will sort you out’. He chose not to eat until he gave the officer a good lesson. He was backed by another Gujrati who was in jail. That night he purposely wore fewer clothes so that the officer would get annoyed. An argument broke out, and Shingara Singh hit the guy on his back of neck. The guy fell to the ground and then he kicked him twice. They brawled and Shingara Singh ended up breaking his arm, dislocating his shoulder and smashing his skull. Then the other guard smacked Shingara Singh with lanterns on the head, the lanterns broke but Shingara Singh didn’t feel anything, the other guards ran. As it was dark he couldn’t find an escape route and was caught. He was punched and beaten and hit with stick in his thighs. But he said he didn’t feel any pain as he was very strong. He said to me ‘meara sareer lohay vangu see’ his body was like iron.

•He was imprisoned for 2 years for this. However, he used to read a lot of Bani and jap naam. He used to use a malaa to jap naam. When he got tired he wouldn’t stop, but would stand up and carry on.

•One night he was japing naam with mala, he fell asleep and the mala fell. That night he said Guru Gobind Singh came on his horse and told him ‘ajj mafee milnee ya’. ‘Today you will be freed’. So later that day, when there was the list being read out for people being freed, his name was also read out, even though he just begun his 2 year sentence. He told me how Guru looks after his Gursikhs.

•He said that Guru Sahib never let his money run out, and that he always had too much, no matter how much he spent. His daughter worked in a bank, and she wanted some money from her dad. She checked in his account there was £250. So he wrote a check for £2000. Later they checked and there was £10000 in the account. Also in India he bought a tractor for many millions of rupees so that his nephew could start doing some labour and stay away from the drugs in Punjab.

•His mamas daughter told him that she was very scared whenever she went to sleep. He told her to keep a big kirpan by her bedside to help. But later she told him that when she used to pray she would ask for riddhya siddhya (occult powers). He confirmed that was the reason of her fear, and explained that a Sikh should only pray and ask Guru for naam and the opportunity to get closer to God.

•When he woke up for ishnaan he started by reciting ‘Raamdas sarovar naathay’, and ‘Thathee vaao naa lagee’ and many other shabads.

•He spoke about the need for Amrit, talking about how a baby in Bhai Sahibs time died after receiving Amrit, and the soul came out and explained to the father that it was a very high sidh but couldn’t get into Sachkhand because he had not received Amrit.

•He explained that there are 3 bodies, the physical one, one that is 1 ft wider and the other 3 foot wider, called sukhsham sareer. He said after the body dies these other 2 bodies go with you. But a Gursikh should destroy all three bodies through japing naam.

•When he came to England he said there were no Sikhs. They were all monay, and the monay ran the Gurdwaray too. He brought this up with the Gurdwara comitee but they didn’t like him for that. And then he used to stand in the serving line for langar and when serving langar he used to do parchar at the same time.

•He organised the first AKJ Amrit sanchar in the UK. He had brought a baataa over from India and had to hunt down big kirpana for the Amrit sanchar and got together the Panj. In that Amrit sanchar he said there was 2 very chardikala Guriskhs. One called Bhai Paramjit Singh, who when japs naam becomes light and his body floats to the ceiling.

•He took Amrit in the amry, because to become a member the Sikhs had to be amritdhari. But he said that when he went for pesh at the AKJ Smagam in Jalandhar ‘phaer gal banee’. And said the panj pyaray have to be kamayee vaalay. He said the Jathedar of the panj pyaray was Master Sunder Singh. Who was very chardikala. He would sit through keertan programs without moving a muscle.

•He also expressed how important it is to do Sehaj paat, and that Akhand paats have become a business and there is little point of them. He said that once his daughter completed two sehaj paats and then she rung him and said that now she understands what bani is. He said that is because in a sehaj path it is at a pace were it’s easier to understand the bani. He said a Singh of nowadays had Darshan of Guru Gobind Singh, and asked him about akhand paths, Guru Sahib explained that he did not start akhand paths and it was the Singhs afterwards.

•He also said it is very important to do Ardas after Nitnem and reading Bani. As that way it is recorded. A Singh had Darshan of Guru Ji and Guru sahib told him to do Ardas after. The guy said he thought that it was ok not to because Guru is all knowing. But it is important to do the Ardas after reading Bani.

•He was a strong believer in the power of aula/amla powder. As he has been taking it for the last 5 years. And said it benefits the eyes, gives strength and makes you youthful and energetic. He said this is one of the reasons why at his age, he still did not need to use glasses to read paat.

•He explained how people will laugh and mock those that jap naam. And if this happens, accept it as a blessing as they are taking away your paap, and actually helping you. So continue to jap naam even more.

•He said Gursikhs must live grishti jeevan. And earn living. Never to eat food that has been begged for, as Sikhs should have honour, and work hard for what they have. As Guru Nanak Sahib worked 18 years in the farms with crops, this was used for the langar.

•He used to work 12 hours a day in factories when he used to work.

•When in India he went to apply for a printing press job, it was night shift work. He met a mona who worked there and asked him his name. The mona said Gursharan Singh. Shingara Singh, said is that really, and what makes you a Singh, the puraatan Singhs had their scalps cut off and didn’t ever cut their hair, and you have cut it yourself! After this Gursharan Singh kept his kesh and got into Sikhi. His family was so happy that they all went to thank Shingara Singh.

•He said that this Sikhi is not just from this life, but he was also a very high spirit Khalsa in his previous life, that is why he has been blessed in this life.

•Once some Muslims came to his house, handing out leaflets and religious text. He told them that he has read it; they said were have you read this? He asked them, do you know were God is? They said yes, he’s up there, pointing to the sky. He said no, God is inside you, and he explained the character of God. They never came back again.

•About Bibek, he said that Sikhs should keep some level of Bibek, as in eating from only Amritdharis. But then again he said that the person should be Nitnemi and a kamayee vaalaa Gursikh, otherwise that is going against the point of Bibek. So it is even better to make the food yourself and eat it.

•When I met him he said that nowadays he was doing sehaj path everday from around 3pm-7pm followed by Rehras Sahib and sukhasan.

•He had full larrivaar saroop parkaash at his home, and was a very good paati.

•He stressed to me the importance of correct pronunciation, as to exaggerate the pronunciation in order to get it correct.

•He also had senchees(in part) of Dasam Granth sahib at his home.

•He had also read the Hindu scriptures.

•He used to read a lot of books and was very knowledgeable. He told me that it is important to read everything so that you can make comparisons to Sikhi. And he also encouraged me to read the newspaper every day.

•He was very much against akhand paths of nowadays, when people pay for them and do not listen to the path. He said it’s more fruitful to do a complete sehaj path yourself. An example is one of his relatives in India was very ill. She started listening to full recitation, whenever she wanted to go to the toilet or eat she would tell the granthi to stop. And then continue on her return, so that she would be able to listen to the entire Guru Granth Sahib recitation. After this, all he illnesses disappeared. This being the power of Gurbani.


  1. Thank you for writing such a lovely tribute for our father Shangara Singh Randhawa, born on 19th December 1924.

    He will be dearly missed, he had such a big impact on our lives and we have only realised now how much of an impact he had on everywhere else.

    Funeral details are:

    2.30pm - Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Edward Street, West Bromwich
    4.00pm - West Bromwich Crematorium

    His daughters

  2. Thanks for the reply. He had a huge impact on my life, and I think everyone that met him. As he treated everyone as his own....
    Funeral will take place Monday 11th July.

    The body will be brought to Edward St Community Centre, West Bromwich, B70 8NP at 2:30pm

    and then leave for Sandwell Crematorium, Newton Rd, at 3:30pm.

    Program afterwards will be at Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Edward Street, West Bromwich. B70 8NP