Bhai Vir Singh (1872-1957)
The Singh Sabha Movement of the early Twentieth Century brought back the long-awaited spirit of Gursikhi to the Khalsa Panth. Initiated by just a handful of devoted Gursikhs, in reaction to wayward practices and beliefs within the Panth, the Singh Sabha Movement enriched the lives of many with the publication of numerous books, pamphlets, newspapers, and even schools all of which focused on clearing up the misnomers in Sikh practice and instilling Gurmat values within the Panth. Fearless sevadaars took it upon themselves to challenge their English counterparts, Hindu countrymen, as well as various other political, social, and religious groups of the time. Gurbani was researched, Shabad keertan was enhanced, Gurmukh traditions were renewed. It was an effort to educate and spread the word of Gursikhi.
But this is not entirely in our past.
Even today, we witness a great divide among members of the Khalsa Panth. There is an increasing need to educate ourselves and the rest of the world of the Gursikh identity. This isn't so different from the same need 100 years ago:
Just as we do not see any "Buddhists in the country except in images, in the same fashion, the Sikhs, who are now, here and there, visible in turbans and their other religious forms like wrist bangles and swords, will be seen only in pictures in museums. Their own sons and grandsons turning Christians and clad in coats and trousers and sporting toadstool-like caps will go to see them in the museums and say in their pidgin Punjabi: Look, that is the picture of a Sikh - the tribe that inhabited this country once upon a time.
Through programs like Cincinnati Smaagam, the Singh Sabha Sevadaars aim to focus on Panthic Unity and Gurmat Lifestyle. We hope to continue to learn and educate ourselves in the same spirit as the original Singh Sabha Sevadaars. If only a handful could do so much back then, imagine what we could all accomplish together.
In Chardi Kala,
Goals of the Original Sri Guru Singh Sabha
- To promote a Guru-centered lifestyle and restore Sikhism to its pristine glory;
- To edit, publish, and circulate historical and religious books focusing on Gurmat;
- To propagate current knowledge using modern Punjabi as the medium and to start magazines and newspapers in Gurmukhi;
- To reform and bring back apostates into the Sikh fold.