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Image below, first from bottom - painting of Bhai Jaita, by S. Jaswant Singh.

Our Heroes

New Stamp Honours A Hero: Bhai Jeevan Singh




A new postage stamp, released by India on December 23, 2010, honours the memory of an extraordinary 17th/18th century hero and martyr. 


BHĀĪ JĪVAN SIṄGH (1649-1705) -  Bhāī Jaitā before he had received the rites of initiation at the hands of GurÅ« Gobind Siá¹…gh in 1699 - was a Sikh belonging to the scavenger community who was given by GurÅ« Gobind Siá¹…gh the epithet of 'Raá¹…ghreṭā, GurÅ« Kā Beṭā' (proclaiming the young man as the GurÅ«'s own son) when he brought the severed head of GurÅ« Tegh Bahādar from Delhi where the latter was executed under the orders of the emperor.

Bhāī Jaitā was born on 30 November 1649 to mother Karmo and father Sadā Chand. At the time of his birth, he was named Jāg Chand, shortened to Jāgū or Jotā. He and his younger brother, Bhāg Chand, also called Bhāgū, were the disciples of Gurū Har Rāi, Nānak VII.

From Kīratpur, in the Śivālik hills, where the Gurū then resided, they moved, along with their parents, to the village of Jhaṇḍā Rāmdās where they stayed with Bhāī Gurdittā (1625-1675), the great-great-grandson of Bhāī Buḍḍhā.

As Bhāī Gurdittā was detained in Delhi following the arrest of Gurū Tegh Bahādar, Jaitā was sent by the family to bring news of him. He was in Delhi when Gurū Tegh Bahādar was beheaded in a public thoroughfare (11 November 1675), and as no one came forward to claim the bodily remains for fear of reprisals, he succeeded in evading the guards and escaping with the severed head to Anandpur where he was received with much honour by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh.

He thereafter lived at Anandpur, becoming the first nagārchī or beater of the drum when the Gurū set up the Raṇjīt Nagārā.

In 1691, he was married to Rāj Kaur, daughter of Sujān Siṅgh of the village of Riāṛ, near Amritsar, and they had four sons.

He received the rites of initiation when Gurū Gobind Siṅgh inaugurated the Khālsā on 30 March 1699.

Jaitā was then renamed Jīvan Siṅgh.

He became famous as a marksman and trained the two elder sons of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh in the art of warfare. He himself took part in all of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's battles against the hill chiefs and the Mughals.

Bhāī Jīvan Siṅgh fell a martyr in the battle of Chamkaur on 7 December 1705. A burj or a tower stands on the site as a monument to his memory.


[Bio of Bhai Jeevan Singh, courtesy - The Encyclopaedia of Sikhism, Edited by Harbans Singh]

January 2, 2011

Conversation about this article

1: Ravinder Singh Khalsa (U.S.A.), January 07, 2011, 10:37 AM.

Great to see a stamp brought out in India depicting a Sikh with a turban. The Indian government should also pursue an international effort to bring respect to the turban internationally, especially in France, USA, etc. Sikhs are an honorable people, unfortunately we are misunderstood and often misunderstand ourselves what Sikhism represents ...

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