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The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism throughout Sikh History
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Bhai Randhir Singh da Jatha/Akhand Kirtani Jatha cont'd

As to how Randhir Singh began to doubt the authenticity of 'Raagmala', Giani Gurdev Singh of Samparda Bhindra commented:

‘Bhai Randhir Singh, as I told you before - they were new [to Sikhism], they had great enthusiasm. A new person as he gets caught up in whatever place he becomes like that. They, the five Singhs said a prayer and pledged not to read ‘Raagmala’ all their lives. Ok, now Bhai Randhir Singh went to jail and Teja Singh [Bhasauria] began to preach that ‘Svaiya’ (scriptures from Adi Guru Durbar) are not scripture. ‘Bhagat Bani’ (scriptures from Adi Guru Durbar from Sikh, Hindu and Muslim saints) that to is not scripture. Other texts, which are not directly [Guru’s text] are [also] not scripture. Only texts of Sikh Guru’s of the first, second, third, fourth, fifth [and ninth] are scripture. He [Teja Singh Bhasauria] got his own Guru Granth published for he had his own printing press. When he published the Granth and the people found out then an edict from Akal Takht was issued against the Bhasaurias, stating no one was to have any contact with them. That anyone having contact with them would be excommunicated from Sikhism……Now, if Bhai Randhir Singh appreciated that he [Teja Singh Bhasauria] has attacked even the Sikh scriptures. ‘Bhagat Bani’, ‘Svaiya’, ‘Saehskirti’ and many others [Sikh texts in Adi Guru Durbar] then he [Teja Singh Bhasauria] was also wrong with regards to ‘Raagmala’ [As he was with regards to these aforementioned scriptural texts]. But Bhai Sahib [Randhir Singh] did not think like that. Now, Bhai Sahib could sing Sikh religious texts. He also had great spiritual power. Because all day in jail, he was kept in isolation there, he contemplated “Va-eh Guru Va-eh Guru”. In this way he had great spiritual power. Sant Baba Gurbachan Singh [of Samparda Bhindra] and Bhai Randhir Singh had a meeting for three hours at Panjkhora Sahib. Understand. Only them two sat inside for three hours and talked. Bhai Randhir Singh said he accepted that: “From now on I will not say anything to anyone that someone read or not read [Raagmala].”
Second, the holy being [Baba Gurbachan Singh] said…The holy being then said when he came back:
“He [Randhir Singh] has done great study of scripture so as he may attain salvation. But he will have to take one more birth so as he may read Guru Granth with ‘Raagmala’ then he will have salvation.”
Here he [Randhir Singh] doubted the Guru. He who doubts the Guru, no matter how great a Sikh he is----- At the end [on death bed] Bhai Sahib greatly suffered. His end was of great suffering it should not have been like this.’
Giani Gurdev Singh, transcript of interview on October 2001


Bhai Randhir Singh Narangwal
Due to Bhai Randhir Singh's anti-'Raagmala' stance, many affiliates
of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha refuse to accept that the 'Raagmala' was indeed written by the Gurus

Randhir Singh’s followers had begun to organize in gatherings whilst he was in jail during 1916-1930. They named themselves as ‘Bhai Randhir Singh Da Jatha’. Bhai Randhir Singh eventually passed away in 1961. His followers were devote Sikhs who, though possessing no classical Indian music Raag training, spread the message of Sikhism as they understood it to be, through their enthusiastic ‘Kirtan’ (singing of Sikh religious hymns). In time, the ‘Bhai Randhir Singh Da Jatha’ came to be known as the ‘Akhand Kirtani Jatha’ due to their practice of holding extended sessions of singing Kirtan known as ‘Rensbai’ (all night) ‘Akhand Kirtan’ (unbroken singing of Sikh religious hymns).


Akhand Kirtan
An photograph of Bhai Randhir Singh Narangwal (with harmonium) and his followers singing Kirtan

The A.K.J. also came to be known by other Sikhs as ‘Randhiris’, ‘Bhasaurias’, ‘Akhand Kirtanis’, ‘Akhand Kirtanias’, ‘Pakhand Kirtanis’ (a derogatory term used by those who consider A.K.J. as going against Sikh principles of singing Kirtan in classical musical Raag meters), ‘Pakhandis’, etc.

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
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