September 21, 2007 Gobind Sadan, New Delhi.
Gobind Sadan, Delhi, a unique model of interfaith community established by Baba Virsa Singh in 1968, is organizing a 3-day celebration on the birthday of Baba Siri Chand Ji, the great mystic saint and elder son of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, that will be marked by continuous prayers, kirtan, poetry, and a major seminar on his life and impact of the Udasis on Sikh history with papers presented by research scholars from Amritsar, Chandigarh, and Patiala.
In recognition of Baba Siri Chand ji’s immense contribution towards communal harmony and overcoming religious conflict during his well-documented life span of 149 years from 1494 to 1643, the Govt. of Punjab has declared a public holiday on September 21, on his 514th birth anniversary.
“Celebrating Baba Siri Chand ji’s birthday gives us the opportunity to return to the core teachings of Guru Granth Sahib. Wherever he went he carried Guru Nanak’s message of communal harmony and religious pluralism and cooled the fires burning in the world of his day,” said Baba Virsa Singh
The concluding function on the afternoon of September 23, will see Chief Minister, Punjab, Sardar Parkash Singh Badal, Sri Ashok Singhal, Sri Kuldeep Nayar, and Russian dignitaries, Andrei Bielyaninov, Russian Minister of Excise and Customs, and Svetlana Smirnova, M.P. and Duma Deputy, join Baba Virsa Singh in offering their praise for Baba Siri Chand ji. (program attached)
Baba Siri Chand Ji, was born in Sultanpur Lodhi, district Kapurthala, Punjab. A thin layer of ash covered his body at birth and his right ear lobe extended into a natural ring. Many consider him an incarnation of Lord Shiva. While he was Guru Nanak Devji’s true follower, learning meditation and spiritual truths at his father’s feet, to supplement his education, Guruji sent him to Srinagar to study in the school of Pandit Parshotam Das Kaul. When Guru Nanak Devji returned from his fourth Udasi, Baba ji accepted the responsibility from his father Guru Nanak of uniting the various spiritual schools of India. Associated with many miraculous events, Babaji was revered by Muslims and Hindus, ascetics and householders alike. He carried Guru Nanak’s message of religious harmony and peaceful co-existence from Sindh to Srinagar and from Kandhar to Kabul. Babaji was held in great esteem by the ensuing five Sikh Gurus. In fact, both Guru Amar Das ji and Guru Hargobind Sahib ji offered their sons in service to Babaji. Most notably, Guru Hargobind Sahib ji’s son Baba Gurditta is widely regarded as the patriarch of the Udasi Semperdaya. It was also with Babaji’s blessings that Guru Arjan Dev Ji obtained the Guru’s bani to compile the Adi Granth. And it was Baba Siri Chand ji who named the Holy City, Amritsar. At the time of the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan, the census showed that Baba Siri Chand Ji had the greatest following throughout his kingdom.
Baba Virsa Singh (born 1934) established Gobind Sadan on the outskirts of Delhi at Gadaipur in 1968 and following Baba Sri Chand Ji’s example, created a living model of Guru Nanak’s teachings of combining prayer with hard work, communal harmony and love for all religions. At Gobind Sadan, the holy Guru Granth Sahib is recited day & night and the havan burns continuously on the same spot where it was established in 1968, Nimaz is offered 5 times a day at the mosque and the Lord’s prayer is recited before a life-size image of Jesus every evening by devotees comprising all faiths, including foreigners. Mandirs dot the hillside, the Sh’ma place marks the covenant between God and Abraham, and Lords Buddha and Mahavir welcome people for meditation. Baba Virsa Singh does not feel poverty should exist and has successfully demonstrated practical means of poverty reduction by turning barren and flood-ravaged banks of Mata Ganga at Garh Mukteshwar, UP into high-yielding fertile farm lands (now called Shiv Sadan) through sheer hard work and determination, resulting in socio-economic uplift of the poverty-stricken local population. The model has found wide appreciation among development experts and organizations, including UNDP’s Commission on the Legal Empowerment of the Poor. Baba Virsa Singh has a great following in Russia where in 2004 he was hosted by Moscow Mayor Lushckov and invited to the Duma (Russian Parliament) where he addressed leading committee members.