Baba Harbhajan Singh - Ghost of the brave Indian Army soldier who guards India’s border

Jan 28, 2022 4 min read
Baba Harbhajan Singh
@Flickr

The warmest story of courage and bravery in the history of the Indian army takes place in one of the coldest regions. The Nathula pass which constitutes the Indo-China border is located in the state of Sikkim. The heavy snowfall in winter turns it into a quagmire of snow but never enough to engulf the spirit of our brave defenders. One such person, the legendary Baba Harbhajan Singh is said to be the hero and invisible defender of this border personnel meeting point for Indo-China. Born into a Sikh family on 30th August 1946 in a village in the district of Kapurthala, he enlisted as a soldier in Amritsar and joined the Punjab Regiment.

With the lion’s pride, he wore the uniform and stepped into the field with a brave heart. He was serving at the front with his unit in 1968 when a terrible incident took away his dream of serving his homeland. On October 4 while escorting a mule column from Tuku La to Dongchui La, he accidentally fell off in a nullah and the cold, bone freezing water carried his body two kilometres downstream.

Three days later, when his body was discovered, everyone pitied the loss of this young soldier, who had died just at the age of twenty-two. The soon to become hero of the twenty-three Punjab Regiment was cremated with full military honors and prestige. From his death onwards, the greatest mystery unfolds in the history of Indian Army.

When the young blood joins the armed units across the world, the biggest desire which lurks in the hearts of these soldiers is to sacrifice their lives for the cause of their motherland. When the great Baba Harbhajan Singh joined the army, he had far-reaching goals, which transcended even life and the soul. Long after his death, Baba appears in the dreams of the recruits. He informs them of the impending danger, the war that is looming in the background, and the threat that constitutes the border of India.

The invisible guardian warns them, three days in advance of any threat. This throws light into what we may never know today. What was the motivational spirit of Baba Harbhajan Singh regarding his homeland? He keeps on serving through various modes even after his death which shows that he believed in the ultimate service of his homeland, the one which is unhindered by the decay of the body.

A lot of pilgrims who believe in the mystic stature of Baba Harbhajan Singh visit the holy temple dedicated to his memory and spirit. The devout believers come to seek purification from various ills and ailments. ‘‘If you drink the holy water from Baba Jee’s shrine your sickness will leave your body’’ the faithful would explain. Even the temple is inspired by a great story of the soldier’s dreams.

Many soldiers reported that late Baba Harbhajan Singh would appear in their dreams. Following many such reporting, a temple was erected by his unit just nine kilometres from the place where the present temple stands. His spirit turns even the appointed soldiers into the devotees, who seek his blessings before engaging in any military activity. The success that results from their devotion to Baba strengthens their faith in the existence of his brave spirit.

The shrine which is enacted in his name comprises a living room, a storeroom, and finally an office, everything catered to his needs as if the place harbors a living officer of the army. A lot of soldiers who used to visit the place reported that they had witnessed crumpled bed sheets and muddy boots in his room. All the necessities such as slippers, a water bottle, an ironed uniform, and shoes are kept ready and tidy for his use. In fact, at no level is he regarded as a spirit but rather as a living person. While such notions and practices may seem less realistic to far-off audience, they are the greatest source for igniting the faith of Baba’s believers.

Following the services of his Baba Harbhajan Singh, the army started to recognise the existence of Baba’s spirit. How could they deny reverence to their savior? They promoted the late soldier to the rank of honorary Captain of the Indian Army and a paycheck of the same designation was sent to his family. They never took him for a martyr because they always behaved as if he was an active, alive party of the regiment. This extended to granting Baba an annual leave on the start of 14th September every year.

With pomp and show his belongings were escorted by the soldiers to Kapurthala by way of a train, where a berth was reserved for the hero. Until his retirement, the same procedure was repeated every year. It has led to a popular saying among the soldiers that when Baba is on leave, the army is on high alert because when he is on active guard, they can just focus on other activities without fearing any offensive at the border.

His soul is revered by according him a ceremonial stature. He is recognised and revered by even the enemies of the motherland. Whenever flag meetings were initiated along Nathula, an empty chair was left for Baba as a token of respect and recognition. Such honor has been unprecedented in the culture of any military in human history. People have therefore gone on to study him and revere him. Even a popular Youtuber, Bhuvan Bam, created a short film in 2018, depicting the story of the late Baba Harbhajan Singh. Such projects are now consciousness even among the youth who remains oblivious of our epic hero.

When all is said and done, Baba Harbhajan Singh can be seen from another perspective to silence any criticism which may be levied against him. Everything that Baba’s dreams inspire is related to love, service, and national integrity. His shrine serves as a healing temple for the devotees, a major part of who are civilians. His love extends not only to the military but to all the people of the motherland. This establishes a divine and mystic image of Baba in the hearts of millions of believers. He debunks the idea of death and in with practical actions shows how a martyr never dies but continues to live.

However, Baba’s love for his country is superior to even the heavenly realms. His spirit stays on the same cold plains at Nathula, faithfully fulfilling his years' old duties as if there is no greater purpose to life or death other than the service of one’s motherland. This could be defined as the bigger dream of our Baba Jee, which is very diverse from what is normally associated with the services of this national hero.

India has always been a country of great unsolved mysteries, which puzzle scientists even today. If you are interested in reading some great unsolved mysteries of India, you should checkout our stories here https://www.prachin.life/tag/mysteries-of-indian-history/

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