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The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism throughout Sikh History
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Bedis cont'd

Baba Sahib Singh died acknowledged a great holy man a great Guru of the Sanatan Sikh world in 1834. In his life time he initiated many into the 'Sehajdhari' (non-Khalsa) Sikh and Khalsa Sikh faith.

Baba Bikram Singh Bedi succeeded his father as the head of the Bedi clan. After the first Anglo-Sikh War, the Lahore Durbar conceded Una’s neighboring district Jullundur to the British. Baba Bikram Singh fearing British encroachment on his own territory protested against this action of Lahore Durbar. On attaining Jullundur the British moved to disarm all Punjabis who were considered a threat to the British. Baba Bikram Singh was asked by the British to hand over his forts cannons to the British. Baba Bikram Singh refused.

Tripartite Treaty of 1838
The treaty as signed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the British forces and the Afghan nobles

The British gave Baba Bikram Singh an ultimatum to comply within seven days to their wishes. When Baba Ji did not respond to the British threats the British confiscated his 'Jagir'. Thus in time when Moolraj rebelled Baba Bikram Singh also rebelled against the foreign British. Along side Chutter Singh and his son Sher Singh, Baba Bikram Singh surrendered to the British in Rawalpindi on the 10th of March 1849. The elderly Baba Bikram Singh was not allowed to return to Una. He was interned in Amritsar. That is where he died in 1863.

After Baba Bikram Singh his grand nephew Baba Khem Singh Ji was a Bedi of note. It was Baba Khem Singh Ji who along with Baba Thakur Singh Sanduwallia kicked started of the Sanatan Singh Sabhia movement against the encroachment of Victorian Christianity on Sanatan Sikhism (for more information on the Sanatan Singh Sabha, click here).

Baba Khem Singh Bedi of Kullar
Photographed by Lafayette Ltd of Bond Street, London in 1902, Baba Khem Singh
Bedi was the official representative of the Punjab during the coronation of King Edward VII

Later as the British Raj backed radical Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhias emerged. Baba Khem Bedi came under vehement attack for maintaining a 'Gurugadi' (seat of Guru) for himself and his family. This Gurugadi tradition was nothing new. It was a long established Sanatan tradition but in the eyes of British Raj educated Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhias the 'Dehdhari Guru' tradition, Baba Khem Singh espoused, was an affront to Sikhism.

Baba Khem Singh Bedi of Kullar
An etching from The Illustrated London News of Baba Khem Singh Bedi at Warwick Castle in 1902 surrounded by English aristocracy such as as Lord and Lady Warwick and General French

In Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhia thinking only Guru Granth was Guru. Through out his life Baba Khem Singh, considered 'Guru' by many Sanatan Sikh followers of his, kept up the ideological fight against the neo-Sikhs of the Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhia.

At present Baba Sarbjot Singh, sixth in succession from Baba Sahib Singh, is a Bedi of note. He is the son of Baba Masoodan Singh Ji the last of the Bedis who, unmindful of modern Sikh sentiment, kept up fully his families 'Dehdhari Guru' traditions. Baba Sarbjot Ji has of recent sojourned into Punjabi public religious and political fields. He is the nominated head of the recently 1990’s formed 'Gurmat Sidhant Parcharak Sant Samaj' (Preachers Of Sikh Fundamentals A Society Of Sikh Saints).

Damdama Baba Sahib Singh Bedi and the Samadhi of Baba Kaladhari in Una
Restoration of the building that marks the site where Baba Sahib Singh Bedi was
cremated in Una (top left). Detail of the restored parapet of the Dam Dama and the
walls depicting scenes from Sikh and Hindu legends (bottom left). A panel depicting Guru
Nanak with Bhai Bala and Bhai Mardana (top right).The exterior of the Dam Dama (bottom right)

Though the Bedis in public no longer present themselves as 'Grehsti Gurus' of the Sikhs. Yet in private a good number of Sikhs still treat them as such. The age old Bedi tradition of smearing ash on before a wedding and dressing like a Udasi Sadhu is also still to be found amongst them. An idol of Baba Siri Chand is still to be found in the private residence of Baba Sarbjot Singh before which he in private as all Bedis pays homage.

(For more information on the Damdama Baba Sahib Singh Bedi and Samadhi of Baba Kaladhari please click here)

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