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KHALSA BARADARI, a social organization of Sikhs belonging to backward classes, founded in 1914. The moving spirit behind it was BhaT Mahitab Sirigli Bir, whose father, Maulawi Karim Bakhsh had, along with his children, embraced Sikhism in June 1903 and become famous as Sant Lakhmir Singh. BhaT Mahitab Singh convened a meeting of the Sikhs from backward classes in 1914 in BhaT Dasaundha Singh`s dharamsald near Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar, at which it was resolved to establish a society called Khalsa Baradari with the object 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.

Tshar Singh of Sarhala QazTari, Jalandhar district, was chosen president and Mahitab Singh general secretary. Besides the central office in Amritsar, branches of Khalsa Baradari 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 uniouchability. On 11 and 12 October 1920, the Khalsa Baradari held a big religious gathering in the Jalliarivala Bagh at Amritsar which was attended by some professors of the Khalsa College. Elixir of the Khalsa was administered to a large number of MazhabT and Ramdasia 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 kardh prasad, the Sikh sacrament, for distribution among the sangat. The priests of the Darbar Sahib refused to accept the kardh prasad and recite ardds on their behalf. Protest was raised against this discrimination towards Sikhs from certain castes. A compromise was at last reached and it was decided that the Guru`s word be sought. The Guru Granth Sahib was, as is the custom, opened and the first verse on the page to be read was: "He receiveth the meritlcss (lowly) into grace, and puts them in the path of righteous service..." (GG, 638).

The Guru`s verdict was clearly in favour of those whom the clergy would not accept as full members of the community. The group thereafter marched to the Akal Takht to offer prayers, but found that the priests had disappeared, leaving tlie shrine unattended. Tlie reformist Sikhs, BhaT Kartar Singh Jhabbar and BhaT Teja Singh Bhuchchar, filled the gap and a committee consisting of 25 Siklis including a few members of the backward classes was formed to take over control of the Akal Takhl.

In this way the Khalsa Baradari indirectly licralded the Gurdwara Reform movement for wresting control of Sikh shrines from the hands of the conservative and effete priestly order, securing at the same time recognition for the so called low caste Sikhs as equal members of the community. During 1939-41, Khalsa Baradari organized a scries of conferences urging members of the backward classes to enlist themselves as Sikhs at the ensuing census (1941) and demanding reservation of seats for them in the ShiromanT Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, a representative body of tlie Sikhs for managing Sikli shrines.

IL also demanded enrolment of MazhabT and Ramdasia Siklis in tlie armed forces. With most of its demands conceded in course of time, tlie Baradari became redundant. It virtually ceased to exist after the death in 1960 of its founder, BhaT Mahitab Singh Bir.

References :

1. Pratap Singh, Giani, Gurdwdrd Sudhdr nrthdt AkdR Lahir. Amntsar, 1975
2. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1983 P.S.G.

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