Bhai Rup Chand
– Virasat Ate Vansh Parampra –
A Review by Gajindar Singh*
Author: Dr Paramvir Singh
Publisher: Publication Bureau, Punjabi Unversity, Patiala
Price : Rs. 150/-; Pages: 110
The author has laboured hard to gather material for this monograph regarding the life of one of the front ranking Sikhs who had the good fortune to live long enough to deal with more than one Guru. He was Bhai Rup (Chand) Singh, who, along with his sons, had the distinction to be baptized Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh himself along with members of his family.
The story of Bhai Rup Chand begins with his family’s deep devotion to Guru Har Gobind Sahib and his steady elevation to be awarded the service of starting Guru ka langar at the village Bhai Rupa, a spot blessed and so named by Guru Har Gobind and the responsibility of missionary work entrusted to him in the whole of Malwa region. It was hard task to attract people who were, for generations, staunch followers of Sakhi Sarvar. For it, his location was well appointed and he gained in stature with his hard work and complete loyalty to the Guru and the sangat. He was also the collector of tithes from the Malwa area which he regularly submitted twice a year on visits to Guru Sahib, and rendered accounts of the langar expenses. Guru Hargobind Sahib, in appreciation, bequeathed gifts and mementos to him, reverentially kept safe by his family. Guruji visited Bhai Rupa many times and stayed with him for long durations while covering the Malwa region. An interesting detail is about recovery of the horse by Bhai Bidhi Chand from the Lahore Fort, seized by government officials from the Kabul sangat en route, which he delivered to Guru ji at village Bhai Rupa. Besides the collections, he responded with horses, arms and men whenever called upon by Guru Har Gobind and the successor Gurus.
Bhai Rup Chand had the distinction as a special invitee on the marriage of (Guru) Tegh Bahadur. He and his sons attended on Guru Har Rai and Guru Tegh Bahadur during their travels and were actively engaged in their service. His relations with Guru Gobind Singh reached the highest level when he offered two of his sons, Param Singh and Dharam Singh to permanently stay in attendance on the Guru. He continued to render tithe collections, including war stores, men and whatever was commanded to him. At this point, the author does not seem to give due importance to the change of name of Rup Chand to Rup Singh which he has accorded in the case of Param Singh and Dharam Singh on baptism by the sacred hands of Guru Gobind Singh along with his family members. Bhai Rup Singh proved his intense devotion and loyalty to the Guru when he told his two sons to go back to serve the Guru, who had returned them to serve their father in his old age. He could not meet his son Param Singh again as he died on his way back from Nander to Bhai Rupa. Bhai Rup Singh could not bear the news of the assassination of Guru Gobind Singh and breathed his last, saying, there was nothing left to live for.
The author has provided copies of Hukamnamas preserved by the family of Bhai Rup Singh. An interesting observance is about the contents of the Hukamnama of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, annexed to the book at page 100, addressed to Bhai Dharam Singh and Bhai Param Singh and others of Rupe ke to join him with war materials and men. The Hukamnama does not bear any date but it can be safely inferred that it was part of his arousing prominent Sikhs to join him for the struggle culminating in the victory over Sirhind Sarkar. He was obviously not aware on his arrival in Punjab that Bhi Param Singh was no more. Therefore, it cannot be of a later date. Bhai Dharam Singh and his other brothers eagerly responded and were given important assignments.
In that Hukamnama, another point to be noted is the use of the phrase “Fateh Darshan”. This Hukamnama pertains to the earlier period of Banda Bahadur’s Khalsa career. It proves that the said slogan was not a deviation of a later period as is generally alleged. It is also uncharitable to charge him of compromising the Khalsa greeting of Waheguru ji ki Fateh. He merely coined a morale-boosting catchphrase on the way to Punjab and it means, “Objective Victory.” He was within his rights to adopt it and any other slogan, as the accredited commander of the Khalsa. It also proves that he had not replaced or distorted Sikh slogans in later days.
The author has physically visited various locations to collect vital material about this book besides the available literature on the subject concerning Bhai Rup (Chand) Singh and his descendents who are flourishing at Bhai Rupa, Dyalpura and Bagrian. Bhai Dharam Singh’s descendents set up their base at Dyalpura Bhai ka, and later shifted to Bagrian. However, Guru ka Langar still flourishes with devotion and love at all these locations.
Bhai Rup (Chand) Singh had seven sons from two spouses. Interesting details of their descendents are given by the author. Their relations with the Guru’s House are amply seen in the Hukanamas of Guru Gobind Singh ji and Mata ji. The seed of piety, godliness and service planted by the Sixth Guru Hargobind has remained steadfast and they continue to be fully committed to Sikhism in more than three hundred years. The House of Bhai Rup Chand has remained as important an institution as Baba Buddha ji during the times of Guru Nanak-Guru Hargobind. Successive devout Bhais in whose favour the mantle of langar, service and missionary work has been bestowed have increased the glory of Sikhism and service of the community. Many details have been provided by the present incumbent, Bhai Ashok Singh Bagrian, a fact acknowledged by the author.
It would have further enhanced the value of the book if a detailed account was furnished of all historic artifacts, gifts and memorabilia available at the three locations for posterity.