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Bhagat Puran Singh

Bhagat Puran Singh
(June 4, 1904 - August 5, 1992)

Bhagat Puran Singh, born at Rajewal, Distt. Ludhiana on June 4, 1904, at the house of Chaudhari Chibu Mal and Mehtab Kaur. He set out in life for the service of the humanity. He founded Pingalwara in 1947 with a few discarded patients. He was a writer, publisher and an environmentalist. Bhagat Puran Singh's contribution in spreading awareness about environment pollution, and increasing soil erosion also are commendable. He was honoured by Government of India with Padma Shri award in 1979, which he surrendered in the wake of the Indian army attack on the Golden Temple in 1984. He left for his heavenly abode on August 5, 1992.

When he was just 19, young Puran Singh was moved to tears at the sight of a four-year-old cripple who was abandoned on the steps of gurudwara Dehra Sahib, Lahore. The year was 1924, and the young lad he saved and nursed would go on to be his life-long companion. "I became a mother to him," Bhagatji would recall nostalgically, "and he has been a son to me since." This experience led Puran Singh to social work and charity. And there were opportunities aplenty, what with millions lavishing on the streets and dying like dogs.Bhagat ji, or Puran Bhagat would, later in his long life, serve many such persons in need. Pointing at an ailing farmer he once remarked, "I haven't seen God, nor do I need to. But this old man is a living God".

Bhai Puran Singh ji is undoubtedly the single Sikh Hero of this century who worked totally selflessly all his life to provide the last hope to the mentally and terminally ill patients. Whenever he saw a deserted dead body, he would prepare a grave and offer an honorable cremation or burial. Bhagat Puran Singh was to Sikhism, what Mother Teresa was to Catholics. Against the backdrop of violence and poverty in 1947 he established an institution, Pingalwara, which takes care of sick, disabled and forlorn persons.

Taking into account his meritorious work, the government honoured him with a Padam Shree, which he actually returned after Operation Blue Star. His admirers lobbied on his behalf for the Nobel Peace Prize that he richly deserved, but unfortunately he was not considered. But great men like Bhagat Puran Singh do no work for awards and recognition. The greatest reward for him was the smile on the faces of the poor. "We are all human beings. All of us suffer and all of us need help."His life story is a saga of grit, determination, faith in the almighty and unending love for the suffering humanity.

Here are some of the quotes of Bhagat Puran Singh ji: