The pinnacle of love is to sacrifice yourself for your beloved. The Punj
Pyare gave their heads to the Guru and the 40 Muktas also proved their love
by sacrificing their lives. This is the highest echelon of love.
During the mid-80s, the movement for a free state for the Khalsa was in its
early stages. Scores of Singh's were shot and killed with each passing day.
Thousands of bright young men and women came forward to take up arms and
fight the Brahmanical oppressors, who were bent on decimating Sikhi forever.
The events of 1978 and 1984 had a deep impact on the psyche of every Sikh,
this ignited a passion for Sikhi and transformed them into saint-warriors.
One such youth was Bhai Gurpal Singh Jee from Bhuccho Mandi, district
Bhai Gurpal Singh Babbar was born on November 24, 1965. His father is Bhai
Jagjit Singh and mother Bhupinder Kaur. Bhai Sahib had one younger brother
as well. Bhai Sahib came from a very educated, rich, and prosperous family.
Both of Bhai Sahib’s parents were teachers and taught at nearby schools.
Bhai Gurpal Singh spent the first five years at Bhuco Mandi with his
grandmother. Bhai Sahib’s entire family was amritdhari for some generations
and so he received his love of the Guru in his heritage.
Bhai Sahib was very devout. He would go to the Gurdwara daily and listen to
nitnem there and only then eat anything.
Bhai Gurpal Singh graduated from high school in 1980 and then went to Punjab
Agriculture University in Ludhiana to study for his Bsc. in agriculture. He
was very intelligent and attended school on a scholarship.
Becoming Amritdhari And Sarblohi
Bhai Gurpal Singh’s love for Sikhi continued to grown and in 1981, he
received amrit at the Ludhiana Smagam organized by the Akhand Kirtani Jatha.
From that day he kept Sarbloah Rahit of the Khalsa. When he came home that
night, on his shoulder he was carrying a boari, a sack filled with sarbloh
battae and other vessels. He immediately took all the china and glassware
and threw them in the garbage. Bhai Sahib told his parents, “We will cook
and eat in sarbloh from now on. This is the guru’s rahit.” Bhai Gurpal Singh
began preparing his own meals.
Before going underground Bhai Sahib generally wore the Khalsayee bana, with
a damala and chola. Bhai Sahib was very strong and had a good physical
Bhai Sahib excelled in education was one of the most intelligent students
that the University had ever seen. Along with their education however, the
young Singh's at the university did regular sat sang at the university
dorms. Many students were inspired by Bhai Sahib’s example. Bhai Gurpal
Singh and other young Singh's used to learn gatka and martial arts and
talked about being ready to serve the Panth. When doing let stretches for
martial arts classes, Bhai Sahib and his companions used to take each other
to the limits and joke about the police using the same methods for torture.
Bhai Sahib had a very strict nitnem. Every day, beyond his seven bani
nitnem, he would also recite Sukhmani Sahib, Baranmaha, and Savaiyay. He
memorised 16-17 banis, At the Delhi Akhand Kirtan Smagam, Bhai Sahib took
part in the Gurbani competition and won Rs. 960. He also won a similar
competition in Ludhiana.
Bhai Sahib And The Jatha
Bhai Sahib very much enjoyed doing keertan and playing joree. He had
memorized about 50 shabads, Whenever he would come home, he would play a
tape and play joree with it for practice. He would do his Rehras Sahib as
keertan and would also do Asa Di Vaar keertan with great love.
Bhai Sahib was a very good laridaar akhand paathi. To read shudh paath, he
would consult with older Jatha Singh's. The Singh's in the Jatha respected
him very much and he was greatly loved.
When the yearly Ludhiana Smagam would come, he would abandon everything and
do seva in the langar day and night. Even school would become secondary.
Eventually the Ludhiana Sangat assigned Bhai Gurpal Singh the seva of
preparing Degh. The seva of Degh is a very big seva and is given only to
those Singh's who keep the strictest Sarbloh Bibek and also have a strong
spiritual jeevan. At first Bhai Sahib was very inexperienced and the Degh
did not turn out right. The Singh's gave him a tankhah. But by his keen
interest and Guru Sahib’s blessings, Bhai Gurpal Singh became very good and
was even nicknamed “Degha Vala Singh”.
Bhai Sahib had total faith in Gurbani. He was dedicated to the principles
espoused by the Akhand Kirtani Jatha and would go to the Jatha’s major
Smagams in Amritsar, Anandpur Sahib, Delhi etc. Usually he could be seen
sitting on stage play the khartaals. All night he would sit in one position,
listening to the Ransabaiee.
Joining The Movement
Bhai Gurpal Singh’s every pore was filled with love of the Guru. He was very
anxious to preserve the anakh (honour) of the Panth. The 1978 Nirankari
Massacre in Amritsar had a deep effect on his mind. Bhai Gurpal Singh felt
that the Singh's had been brutally slaughtered and there was no justice to
Bhai Sahib felt the desire to serve the Panth so in February 1984, he left
for Amritsar. Someone asked Bhai Sahib what would happen to his family, Bhai
Sahib Replied, “We are two brothers in the family. Now treat us like there
is only one” (Bhai Sahib’s younger brother is still alive today).
Bhai Gurpal Singh’s father Sardar Jagjit Singh went to Amritsar and forced
Bhai Sahib to return. He insisted Bhai Gurpal Singh continue his studies.
Bhai Gurpal Singh returned but at this point began to secretly take part in
operations against the Indian Government. Bhai Sahib felt that his sacrifice
was needed to protect the Panth and fight against evil. He believed that the
best way to use his life was to sacrifice it for the cause of the Guru.
When Bhai Sahib’s family began to build a new house, he would say to his
father, “What is the benefit of these bricks? The Panth is locked in life
and death struggle and our money should go to maintain our Panth’s honour.”
Bhai Sahib encouraged his family to give their Dasvandh to the Sikh
Bhai Sahib's final picture after he had gone Underground.
Eventually Bhai Sahib went completely underground. Bhai Gurpal Singh jee
soon took part in big operations such as the rescuing of Bhai Anokh Singh
Jee from the Ludhiana Court houses. He worked together with all
organizations of Singh's.
Bhai Sahib was always in chardi kala and had a tremendous nitnem. No matter
what duty brought, he always did two Sukhmani Sahib paths before eating his
evening meal. Singh's that saw him talk about the red-Gurmukhi glow that was
present on his face. One Singh I talked to who did seva with Bhai Gurpal
Singh said that Bhai Gurpal Singh could do Sukhmani Sahib very quickly and
with great concentration. The Singh's used to talk amongst themselves and
say that he was of a very high avastha and some Singh's even thought he was
Bhai Sahib became central to the operations conducted in the Malwa region.
In early 1987 Bhai Sahib came to see his parents. Bhai Sahib asked his
father to do Ardas that his Sikhi would last intact to his final breaths.
Seeing his mother very sad, Bhai Sahib said, “Guru Gobind Singh jee
sacrificed his four sons for us. We are two brothers. Can’t you give just
one son to the Panth?” Bhai Sahib asked his family to have his final rites
performed by Rehitvan Singhs from the Jatha.
Bhai Gurpal Singh was not able to meet his family again but sent them a
final letter which is translated below:
Vaahiguru jee ka Khalsa Vaahiguru jee kee fateh!
By Guru Akaal Purakh’s supreme grace, I am in total Chardi Kala and Anand.
I have no troubles at all. But I am sad about one thing that you are all
depressed. But at the same time I was glad to know that Father is in Chardi
Kala. There is no reason to be depressed. I wanted this fate. You can
certainly be depressed, weep and wail if I ever betray the Panth, or act
like a coward or if I commit any immoral crimes. And please do weep the day
I give up my weapons before this evil government. But if by the grace of the
Satguru, like countless of my brothers, I am successful in breathing my end
with my kesh and Sikhi intact, then please do not weep.
Read Bani and jap naam and do ardaas before Satguru that he lets us pass
this exam with his grace. Countless others die. Some die by taking drugs,
others die in countless honourless ways commiting shameful acts. Be grateful
that Sachay Pathshah has brought your son to his side.
Our love exists only if you stay in the limits of Sikhi and talk about
love of Sikhi.
Everything else is fine. There is no need to worry. Every day you do
paath and know that Dukh is medicine and Sukh is a disease. Please give my
roaring Fateh with hands clasped together to [all family members and
Vaahiguru jee ka Khalsa Vaahiguru jee kee fateh!”
The time Bhai Gurpal Singh Babbar was eagerly awaiting finally arrived on
Monday May 11, 1987. Bhai Gurpal Singh had found out that another prominent
Singh in the Movement, Bhai Jarnail Singh Halwara, the assassin of Harchand
Singh Longowal, had cut his kesh in order to conceal his identity. Bhai
Sahib was firmly against compromising Sikhi to save one’s life. He decided
he would go meet with Bhai Jarnail Singh and encourage him to keep his kesh
again and get peshed at the next possible amrit sinchaar. Even in the thick
of battle, with the Indian Security Forces hot on his trail, Bhai Gurpal
Singh was willing to take a risk to help a fallen brother on the Path of
Shaheed Bhai Jarnail Singh Halwara
Bhai Gurpal Singh and another Singh met Bhai Jarnail Singh at village
Haripur in Sangrur. They had a long discussion and decided to spend the
night at a small hut in the fields. Somehow the Security Forces received
word that these most wanted Singh's were in the area. Bhai Sahib had risen
for amrit vela when at 4am, the hut was surrounded Bhai Sahib heard some
noises outside and immediately knew what was happening. They came out
fighting and after a heated battle with the police, Bhai Sahib and Bhai
Halwara were silenced. Bhai Gurpal Singh took the bullets in his chest and
did not run. When he fell, Guru Sahib did one final kirpa on his Shaheed:
Bhai Gurpal Singh’s head rested on an elevated water canal. Even in death,
Guru Sahib did not let his Singh’s head bow before the enemy.
Bhai Sahib’s family was not aware of the Shaheedi until some days later.
They finally found out about the Shaheedi from someone who mentioned seeing
a picture in the newspaper.
Shaheed Bhai Jarnail Singh Halwara
After their Shaheedi countless Singh's gathered at Bhai Gurpal Singh’s house
and did an akhand paath and akhand kirtan, which was done in great
chardikala. The village of Halwara made a new gurdwara in honour of Shaheed
Bhai Jarnail Singh Jee Halwara. In Bhucho Mandi even today there is a
Gurdwara Sahib that has the pictures of Bhai Gurpal Singh Babbar and is kept
in his memory (though the name of the Gurdwara has been changed since).
Bhai Gurpal Singh Babbar was a chardi kala sarblohi warrior. Even today his
family keeps his old batay as his mementos. Bhai Sahib sacrificed his life
in the highest of Khalsa traditions in order to fight against oppression and
to maintain the honour of the Panth. When the Panth needed his head, he did
not back down. Bhai Sahib’s example is one that we can all learn from today.