MELA SINGH, SANT
MELA SINGH, SANT (1784-1854), holy saint and preacher of the Sikh faith, was born in 1784 at Kotchari, a village in Bagh tahsil of the present Punchh district of Jammu and Kashmir. He was only eleven years of age when his father, BhaT Makkhan Singh, a pious Sikh convert from a Brahman family, died. Soon after, his elder brother, Fateh Singh left on a pilgrimage to Nanded, sacred to Guru Gobind Singh, and never returned home. He made Amritsar his permanent abode, dedicating himself to a life of prayer and service.
Young Mela Singh was much affected by his brother`s example.He had a melodious voice and sang devotional songs on his dotard, a simple double string instrument, as he grazed cattle in the bush around his village. His recitation attracted the notice of Sant Rocha Singh, an elderly saint much revered in those parts, who once happened to pass by. The holy man entered the village and asked Mela Singh`s mother to entrust her son to him.
He took over the young boy as a disciple of his and brought him up under his personal care. He was so deeply impressed by his pious devotion that, before his death in 1803, he nominated Mela Singh, then scarcely 20 years of age, to be his successor. Sant Mela Singh set up his ded, along with a gurudwara and Guru ka Larigar, at a place 5 km to the east of Punchh, and named it Santpura Nagali after nagdl plant that grew in abundance in that tract close to the Durarigali rivulet.The derd was endowed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who visited it during his Kashmir campaigns in 1814 and 1819.
Gulab Singh, the Dogra ruler, also assigned to it the revenue of several surrounding villages. While Nagali, reverently called Nagali Sahib, was his principal seat, Sant Mela Singh frequently went out preaching across different parts of Punchh, Hazara, Kashmir valley and the Punjab. He initiated many into the Sikh faith, established gurudwaras and instructed people in the pious and upright way of life. He also had admirers among Hindus and Muslims whom he enjoined truly to adhere to the tenets of their own faiths. Sant Mela Singh died on 5 November 1854, Sant Manna Singh succeeding him in the holy seat at Nagali.