GURMUKH SINGH, SANT (1849-1947), with titles such as Patialevale, Karsevavale or simply Sevavale commonly added to the name as a suffix, was born in an Arora family in 1849 at the village of Dialgarh Buna, in the princely state of Patiala. His parents, Karam Singh and Gurdet, were a pious couple. From his father, Gurmukh Singh learnt to read the Guru Granth Sahib. He was of a quiet nature and spent most of his time reciting gurbdm.

As he grew up, he was married and a son was born to him. For a short time, he served in the elephant stable of the Maharaja of Patiala and later in the British Indian army. Taking his discharge from the army, he retired to a forest, five miles outside of Patiala, and practised austerities and meditation for twelve long years.Accompanied by a number of devotees, he undertook a pilgrimage on foot to Nandcd, in the South, with the Guru Granth Sahib, on a bullock cart leading the procession.

In 1903, Sant Gurmukh Singh moved to Amritsar where he took up lodgings in the Malval Buriga. While in Amritsar, he came under the influence of Sant Sham Singh , celebrated for his piety as well as for his mastery of Sikh music. Besides ndm simran, he made sevd or manual community service his daily habit. With a broom in one hand and spade in the other, he spent many an hour every day sweeping the steps and terrace around the sacred tank.

When he started his campaign in 1914-15 for cleansing by kdrsevd or voluntary service the holy pool, called Santokhsar, in Amritsar, he was launched upon the mission of his life which he pursued with unparalleled devotion and humility.Long drawn and thorough going kdrsevdvfas undertaken at several holy shrines and pools. During 1923-28, the sarovar at Tarn Taran was desilted and lined, and the channel bringing canal water into it, since Raja Raghbir Singh of Jind (1864-87) had it dug in 1883, was also paved and covered. The old hanstt or water channel at Amritsar constructed by Mahant Santokh Das and Mahant Pritam Das during the Sikh times having become choked, work was started on digging a new one.

Begun in 1923, it was completed by March 1928. During the next 20 years, the building of the main shrine at Muktsar was renovated, the pool was enclosed and lined and the parikramd, the circumam-bulatory passage around it, was paved with marble; a 20km metalled road was constructed linking Khadur Sahib and Goindval to Tarn Taran; Gurdwara Tapiana Sahib at Khadur Sahib was reconstructed and its sarovar desilted and lined and a covered water channel constructed to feed it; Gurdwara Dera Sahib and the sarovar at Jamarai, the ancestral village of Guru Nanak, were reconstructed; the sarovar at Baba Bakala was lined, the parikramd paved, and a link road to Gurdwara Mata GangaJi constructed; and at Nankana Sahib, Gurdwara Bal Lila and Gurdwara Kiara Sahib were rebuilt and a water channel to feed the sarovar laid out.Work on reconstructing the principal shrine in Nankana Sahib, Gurdwara Janam Asthan, was to begin when the Partition of August 1947 demarcating the new States of Pakistan and India intervened. Sant Gurmukh Singh returned to Amritsar, where besides participating in the task of widening the parikramd around the Darbar Sahib, he opened langars to feed the refugees, Hindu, Sikh and Muslim, stranded on either side of the Indo-Pakistan border. ]

Sant Gurmukh Singh died at the age of ninety-eight at Amritsar on 30 November 1947, and was cremated on the bank of the Upper Bari Doab Canal where he had been living in a hut. His was a life truly spent in the remembrance of God and in sevd.Gigantic renovation and construction works were undertaken at his instance and accomplished under his inspiration and guidance, all by voluntary donations. No donations were ever solicited.

Yet funds flowed in ceaselessly and effortlessly. Devotees volunteered the labour of their hands to take part in the holy enterprise. Over the vast operations presided the saintly figure of Sant Gurmukh Singh, on his lips the name of God all the time and his hands plying the broom or the spade. His work continues to this day at several places through his disciples popularly known as sevdvale babe or revered old men engaged in sevd.

GURMUKH SINGH, SANT (1896-1984), Sikh saint and preacher, was born on 6 January 1896 in a landowning family of tailors in the village of Dalel Singh vala, now in Bathinda district of the Punjab.His father`s name was Kalu. His own name, Babu, was changed to Gurmukh Singh when he converted a Sikh and received the rites of initiation at the hands of Sant Atar Singh of Mastuana in 1913. In 1914 he enlisted in the army where, because of his knowledge of Sikh scripture and tenet, he was entrusted with the duties of a regimental granthi or priest.

He had himself released in 1919 from the army to make preaching his vocation. He took part in the Shahidi Samagam of 1921 to honour the memory of Nankana Sahib martyrs which launched him into Akali agitation for the reformation of Sikh shrines. He preached the reformed creed of the Singh Sabha and the Akali movement and was listened to with eagerness at divans, especially in the countryside. For a speech he delivered at Mansa Mandl, in the then Princely state of Patiala, he was arrested and spent an year and a half in jail.

In 1935-36, he entered Dera Baba Jassa Singh at Patiala, then the seat of Sam Nand Singh. The Dera remained Gurmukh Singh`s headquarters for the next half century. His sanctity and rustic humour and eloquence shed their influence on audiences in farflung places, and he was constantly in demand at Sikh divans in India and abroad. In 1973, he was nominated a member of the Singh Sabha Centenary Committee.

For his lifelong devotion to spreading the message of the Gurus, he was honoured at a special ceremony at the Akal Takht at Amritsar on 16 September 1975. Sant Gurmukh Singh was on one of his tours abroad when he suddenly died in New York on 19 June 1984.

References :

1. Visakha Singh, Sant, Mdlvd Itihas. Kishanpura, 1954