Sant Kartar Singh Ji Khalsa was born in 1932A.D., according to Samvat Bikrami in 1989 in village Purane Bhure, Tehsil Kasur, District Lahore. Now Bhure Kohne (Purane Bhure) is in tehsil Patti, District Amritsar. His father's name was Jathedar Jhanda Singh and mother's name was Bibi Labh Kaur. Jathedar Jhanda Singh was a true Sikh who adhered to traditional Sikh way of living very strictly.
He had his primary education from Government Middle School, Khemkaran, did his ninth and tenth class from National High School Bhikhiwind and has higher education from Khalsa College, Amritsar. Along with the traditional worldly education, he had his religious schooling at the beginning from Baba Bagga Singh who belonged to the same village. With the grace of the great Satguru he learnt by heart the five Banis of the morning as well as Rehras and Kirtan Sohila at an early age. He was still a student when in 1948 he went to Sant Gurbachan Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale at village Bhindran and got himself baptized with the eternal nectar of Khanda Bata from five beloveds i.e. Panj Piaras. After this ceremonial baptism he became a favourite student of Giani Gurbachan Singh Bhindranwale.
During his education at Khalsa College, Amritsar, he would devote maximum time to the recitation of Sikh scripture. Apart from routine recitation of the Banis, he would read many other portions of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. He got married according to Anand Karaj when he was of eighteen, in 1950. With the permission of his mentor, Baba Gurbachan Singh Bhindranwale, and according to the wishes of his father he served for sometime as a Patwari, but resigned from this post in 1957 and joined the Jatha permanently. He served as an attendant (Garwai) of Baba Gurbachan Singh for some time. He used to recite before his mentor Baba Gurbachan Singh the five Banis, Var (ballad) of Jaitsri, Var (ballad) of Sata Balwand, 25 pages of Sri Guru Granth Sahib daily. In the evening he would recite the full Panj Granthi, both the Bara Mahas and Jap Ji Sahib many times as a routine. He remained at the service of his mentor for twenty-four hours and would never refuse him anything.
He was always deeply absorbed in recitation of Gurbani. He would always think about the betterment of the Sikh Panth and Qaum (nation). He would always brood upon this bitter truth, why our Qaum (nation) the Sikhs are going away from the traditional Sikh way of living ? Have the Sikhs forgotten the sacrifices made by the martyrs ? Have we forgotten the great service done by our great Gurus for the mankind ? He would consult the wise men among the Sikhs, how the message of the Sikhism should be spread among the masses. He used to work late at night up to 12 of midnight or till 1a.m. and would wake up next morning at four and would perform his routine recitation of Sikh scriptures. He used to say, "The God has blessed us with beautiful and good-looking bodies. He gives us nice things to eat. Above all we are lucky to have born in a Sikh family, then why we should not devote our full time for the spread of Sikh religion ? Why should we waste away our time while sleeping or doing other idle things ? In fact it is of no use living or we do not have the right to live like this."
He used to give religious discourses during the day many times. In fact he always felt happy when the number of such discourses would be more. It would keep him look more healthy and happy. He wished that every human being should be baptized. Such a love he did have for Sikhism in his heart! He wished he should see the baptized Sikhs only around him. His religious discourses were in a great demand. His health deteriorated to such an extent that at Gurdwara Nabha Sahib he could ascend the stairs with the help of the Sikh devotees only. But when the devout Sikhs of Chandigarh came at ten at night and said, "Sant Ji, the Dewan is going on. The whole congregation is waiting for you. Please come along and may speak even for ten minutes." In spite of the interruption from his attendants and well wishers, Sant Kartar Singh Bhindranwale accompanied the Sikhs and reached Sector 19-D, Chandigarh. There he delivered his religious discourse for two hours. He was perfectly in the form and no one could say that he is ailing. On the other hand he would say, "Khalsa Ji, who knows when he will be called back by the Akal Purkh ! therefore one must serve the Sikh Qaum whole-heartedly before breathing one's last."
He used to say that in order to spread the message of Sikhism, the preachers should lead an ideal Sikh life. They should be perfectly adorned in the traditional robes of Sikhism. He impressed upon the need that every Sikh who speaks from the religious rostrum must be baptized. He prevailed upon the management of Sri Patna Sahib and a Hukamnama, an edict, was issued to this effect. Afterwards 36 Dhadi Jathas and many preachers got themselves baptized with the holy nectar. He was pleased with it and gave these Jathas the robes of honour.
On 7th October, 1976 A.D., Sant Kartar Singh Bhindranwale delivered a lecture on the martyrdom of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur for two and half an hour at Gurdwara Bir Baba Budha Sahib. People not only listened him spellbound but out of a congregation of about two lakh and fifty thousand people, five thousand people got up and pledged that in future they would not take liquour and would not trim their beards as well. He would never go to the home of such a person who indulged in drinking or who would insult his own hair, until he promised that in future he will not do so. He would refuse any invitation from such people. He would never eat or drink from the home of a drunkard or of such a person who would disrespect his own hair.
He reformed so many Sikhs who used to be earlier led astray and had fallen prey to bad habits like drinking etc. Thus he concretized the foundation of Sikh religion.
The 300th martyrdom year of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur was specially chosen by him for the spread of Sikhism. During that year he addressed so many gatherings in various schools and colleges and other educational institutions and motivated the youth to adopt Sikh way of life. In this connection 37 big processions were also organised at different places. The success of these processions is beyond description. He did not care for the emergency which was being imposed by the central government under the leadership of Smt. Indira Gandhi. The whole of the Sikh community was awakened by such programmes. He used to lecture for fifteen hours daily in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. He asked the Sangat of each village to shout the following slogan :
/ may sacrifice my head but not Sikhism.
The Nirankari Deputy Commissioner of Gurdaspur had let loose a reign of terror among the people. The Sant made a special programme of taking out the procession there. One police officer came to the Sant with an official letter which read that the main road should be free from any obstacle by 9 a.m. as two ministers are visiting. The Sant said that the minister of the Punjab government must be intimated that the procession of the Saviour of India, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur is going to pass through this road. The ministers should put off their shoes and stand on the roadside with folded hands to pay respect to the great Guru. The road should be free from any obstacle so that the procession may pass peacefully.
He was invited to Ludhiana to lay a foundation-stone of the Guru Tegh Bahadur Charitable Hospital. When the Sant reached there, about fifteen to twenty people got up from the gathering and wanted to garland the Sant. Seeing this the Sant came back. The organisers went behind him and asked for the reason. The Sant replied, "To get up from the gathering and to garland an individual in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the direct insult of our great Guru." On this all the organisers apologised. All of them were sent to the congregation by the Sant and he himself went alone. First of all he bowed before Sri Guru Granth Sahib. He told them that none is greater than Sri Guru Granth Sahib, does not matter he may be on some very high official position.
The 300th martyrdom day of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur was celebrated on 7th December 1975A.D. in Ram Lila Ground, Delhi. There was a gathering of about 22 lakh people. Everybody got up when Smt. Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India came there. It was only Sant Kartar Singh Ji Bhindranwale who did not stand up and kept sitting. He condemned it in strong words from the same stage. Certain people spoke from the rostrum and said that Smt. Indira Gandhi has established relationship with Punjab. The then Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi said, "The same Delhi Darbar which had martyred Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur is bowing towards him on his 300th martyrdom day."
The Sant spoke after Smt. Indira Gandhi. He started his speech with the slogan : I may sacrifice my head but not Sikhism.
He said in his speech, "In medieval period Rajputs used to get bounties after giving their daughters. Today this will be a curse on the Sikhs if they follow them suit. Therefore none should give his daughter to such a person who has himself insulted his hair." He said the following lines from the Rahtnama 'One who gives daughter to a Sikh and does not take anything, only he is my Sikh and would go to heaven.'
In an other sentence the Sant said, "We want to ask Indira Gandhi, who has managed the throne of Delhi for you ? If you have come to bow before Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur this is not a favour to anybody. Had Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur not sacrificed himself, some Muslim might have been on the throne of Delhi, who must have been circumcised. There would have been Islam on every side and Bibi Indira might have under some veil.
"If the Prime Minister sacrifices her head as many times as there are hair on her body, even then she cannot pay off the debt of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur's sacrifice. Howsoever big a Prime Minister might be, he is not bigger than our great Guru. Such a big Prime Minister should bow before Sri Guru Granth Sahib and we should not get up to greet him."
There were slogans on all the four sides on these words of the Sant. Only these words were the main reason of the tussle between the Damdami Taksal and Srimati Indira Gandhi. The Sant would never tolerate anything against Sri Guru Granth Sahib. That is why he threatened the false Nirankaris in strong words and afterwards took action as well.
We are like a river and know our art
We will make way in which direction we may go.
Sant Kartar Singh preached the Sikh religion tirelessly during the eight years he was the chief of the Damdami Taksal. In 1977 A.D., on 3rd August, while he was on his way from village Malsihan (Jalandhar) to Solan, his car collided with a tree near Adda Hussainpur (near Ludhiana). He was injured very seriously. He was admitted to CMC Hospital, Ludhiana. But the wounds proved to be fatal. So he left for his heavenly abode on 16th August 1977 A.D. i.e. according to 1st Bhadron 2034 Brkrami. The Gurdwara he had built in the memory of his mentor, Sant Giani Gurbachan Singh Khalsa under the name of Gurdarshan Parkash at Mehta Chowk, in the same Gurdwara Gurdarshan Parkash the mortal remains of his body were put to flames.