Khalsa Baradari

KHALSA BARADARI was a social organization of Sikhs belonging to backward classes, founded in 1914. The moving spirit behind it was Bhai Mahitab Singh Bir, whose father, Maulawi Karim Baksh had, along with his children, embraced Sikhism in June 1903 and become famous as Sant Lakhmir Singh. Bhai Mahitab Singh convened a meeting of the Sikhs from backward classes in 1914 in Bhai Dasaundha Singh's dharamsala neal Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar, at which it was resolved to establish a society called Khalsa Baradari Witll tlle ot)ject of preaching Sikh tenets among them, bring them into the Khalsa fold by administering to them the rites of amrit and reforming their social customs such as the giving of dowry and ostentatious display at weddings. Ishar Singh of Sarhala Qazian, Jalandhar district, was chosen president and Mahitab Singh general secretary. Besides the central office in Amritsar, branches of Khalsa Baradalri were opened at several places in the districts of Amritsar, Lahore, Sialkot and Sheikhupura. Bhai Mahitab Singh also launched a weekly journal in Punjabi, the Bir, to promote the interests of the Baradari and to campaign especially against caste and untouchability.

On 11 and 12 October 1920, the khalsa Baradari held a big religious gathering in the Jallialivala Bagh at Amritsar which was attended hy some professors of the Khalsa College. Elixir of the Khalsa was administered to a large number of Mazhabi and Ramadasia Sikhs. At the end of the ceremonies on 12 October the congregation proceeded to the Darbar Sahib where the newly initiated Sikhs were to make offering of karah prasad, the Sikh sacrament, for distribution among the sangat. The priests of the Darbar Sahib refused to accept the karah prasad and recite ardas on their behalf. Protest was raised against this discrimination towards the Sikhs from certain castes. A compromise was at last reached and it was decided that the Guru's word be sought. The Guru Cranth Sahib was, as is the custom, opened and the first verse on the page to be read was "He receives the meritless (lowly) into grace, and puts them in the path of righteous service" (G.G.S 638). The Guru's verdict was clearly in favor of those whom the clergy would not accept as the full members of lhe community. The group thereafter marched to the akal takht to offer prayers, but found that the priests had disappeared, leaving the shrine unattended. The reformists Bhai Kartar singh Jhabbar and Bhai Teja Singh Bhuchar, filled the gap and a committee of 25 sikhs including the members of backward classes was formed to take over the control of Akal Takht. In this way the Khalsa Baradari indirectly heralded the Gurdwara Reform Movement for wresting control of Sikh Shrines from the hands of the effete priestly order, securing at the same time recongnition for the so-called low caste Sikhs as equal members of the community.

During the 1939-1941, Khalsa Baradari organized a series of conferences urging members of the backward classes to enlish themselves as Sikhs at the ensuing census(1941) and demanding reservation of seats for them in the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak committee, a representative body of the Sikhs for managing Sikh shrines. It also demanded enrolment of Mazhabi and Ramdasia Sikhs in the armed forces. With most of its demands conceded in course of time, the Baradari became redundant. It virtually ceased to exist after the death in 1960 of its founder, Bhai Mahitab Singh Bir.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

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