Southall pays tribute to Pandit Gopal Singh Ji:
On Saturday 14th June, Namdhari sangat Southall honoured and remembered one of the most celebrated members of the Namdhari paanth – Pandit Gopal Singh Ji. Pandit Ji left for a heavenly abode on 11 June 08. The news of his passing touched everyone’s heart.
The customary weekend program in Southall’s community centre was dedicated to the life and times of Pandit Ji. Ustad Harbhajan Singh, General Secretary Ajeet Singh Anjan and Pradhan Gurtejpal Singh were among the persons who paid tribute to the great pandit. During the naam simran, the congreation heard to a recording of one of Pandit Ji’s diwaan. After the ardas Ajeet Singh took the stage and paid his respects. He mentioned the well known incident which took place at the Hola of 1963 in Delhi in which a diwaan by Pandit Gopal Singh lasted till 2am despite a curfew on the use of public address systems after 10pm. After this mystified diwaan over 500 people shunned meat and alcohol and took the ‘Naam’ and promised to lead a life as true devoted Sikhs. Pandit Ji’s ability to convince audiences was a marvel in itself. Next Ajeet invited Ustad Harbhajan Singh to pay a musical tribute. Ustad Ji was accompanied by Ustad Gurdev Singh (tarshahnai) and Raju Ryaat & Sarbjit Singh (on tablas). Ustad Harbhajan singh started with a few words on Pandit Ji – he narrated to the congregation the strong bond between Sri Satgurus’ Pratap Singh Ji & Jagjit Singh ji and Pandit Ji. The ragis then performed the shabad ‘raj na chahu mukth na chahu‘. It was a fitting tribute for a gur-sevak who spend his entire life within Satguru Ji’s hukam.
Next on stage was Shaam Kaur Bhuller, who for the benefit of the younger generation, spoke in English. She shared with the sangat a short life-sketch of Pandit Ji, which was posted on the Namdhari-World web site. (See below for full text).
Southall is proud to state that the only known biography of Pandit Ji was written by Mata Harbhajan Kaur Chana, a member of the local sangat. Mata ji was next on stage and shared her private moments with Pandit Ji, which occurred while she was researching for the book. Mata ji went in considerable detail of Pandit Jis interactions with the sangat both in the UK and East Africa.
The evening was running late but the congregation was calm and collected. Next the projector screen was pulled down and Sant Kirpal Singh ji showed the sangat a dvd recording of one of the last Diwaans by Pandit Ji. It was pure bliss for the next 45 minutes. Such was the personality of Pandit Ji – surely a divine light has extinguished forever but his legacy is evergreen.
Tribute to Pandit Gopal Singh Ji by www.namdhari-world.com : On the morning of Wednesday 11th June , 2008 a divine light extinguished forever in the world of Namdhari Sikhs. It is with great sadness that we gather today to mark the passing away of Pandit Gopal Singh Ji. He had the blessing to serve two Satgurus. His devotion to Satguru Ji and the Namdhari paanth will probably never be sur-passed. Almost everybody in this room has interacted with Pandit Gopal Singh ji either personally or via videos and recordings. He was a man with a dynamic personality, which manifested in his diwaans. Away from the diwaans he was as calm as the sea after a storm.
It is a remarkable fact that Pandit ji was not born in a sikh family yet he spend his entire life as a devoted sikh of Satguru Pratap Singh Ji and Satguru Jagjit Singh Ji. Pandit Gopal Singh ji was born in a Brahmin family in January of 1918 in the village of Basra, Sham-ae-vala district, Sialkot. His parents were Mata Maalan Ji and Pandit Nathu Ram Ji. He was the youngest of three brothers and also had a sister.
His lifes work was sealed in his conscious very early on in his life. Diwans by Gyani Nihal Singh’s jatha were held regularly at the home of a neighbor, Sant Kaan Singh Namdhari. Pandit Ji attended these diwans. Eventually Pandit Gopal Singh started playing the dholak for Gyani Ji’s jatha. Despite being a brahim, Pandit ji won a shabad competition at the local Khalsa School – his immense talent was already apparent. As a student at the local Khalsa School, he soon learned a lot about Sikhism. But his interaction with the Namdhari Sikhs gave him a almost magical desire to seek knowledge about the sikh religion. During a tour of Satguru Pratap Singh Ji, He was given the NAAM by Suba Bhagat Singh Ji. This event was witnessed by Southall’s Sant Bachan Singh Bhuller (who used to play khartala with the jatha). Sant Bachan Singh ji was blessed with the ‘naam’ on the same day.
In 1935 he finished his schooling and he spend time with Pandit Jagat Singh Khunduwalia, where within a year he mastered the entire Adi Granth Sahib, including the meanings of all the verses. With Pandit Jagat Singh he gained knowledge of all the vedaas and many other scriptures. Here he was also baptized as a Namdhari Sikh.
In 1937 he married Shanti Devi, later called as Charan Kaur. His marriage was conducted in full Namdhari marayada. His family was made up of 3 sons and 2 daughters. With the blessing of SatGuru Pratap Singh Ji and Satguru Jagjit Singh Ji, Pandit Gopal Singh Ji was elevated to the supreme jathedhar, lecturer and sevak of the Namdhari paanth. His command, knowledge, humour, vigour and style of presentation was unsurpassable. His short shabads were the molding factors in many a youngster.
He accompanied Satguru Pratap Singh Ji and Satguru Jagjit Singh Ji on all their tours to Africa, Europe, East Asia and Americas. He has left his legacy in the form of recordings and videos which will educate Sikhs in many years to come. His diwaans were unique events not to be missed. Countless Namdharis and others have received the ‘Naam’ through Pandit Ji. During the Hola of 1990 in Sri Bhaini Sahib, Satguru Jagjit Singh Ji conferred upon him the honour of supreme teacher and jathedar – the Gian Martand. Indeed the Namdhari Paanth has lost a divine light – forever.
(All articles from Namdhari Sikh Sangat Southall Committee)
(picture of Pandit Gopal Singh Ji from Darshan S Matharu, Vancouver, Canada)