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A Portrait Of Sewa & Simran - History Of Bhai Kanhaiya Ji

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
source: http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Bhai_Kanhaiya


A Portrait of Sewa & Simran - History of Bhai Kanhaiya Ji

Long before Florence Nightingale, Clara Barton (pioneers in nursing wounded soldiers) and before Henry Dunant chanced upon the battlefield of Solferino, where 34,000 men of the opposing sides lay dead or dying Bhai Kanhaiya had seen the need of tending to the dead and dying independant of whether they were Sikhs (his faith) or members of the opposing (enemy) forces. for he saw that all were children of God. It was Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji who planted the seed for sewa in the heart of Bhai Kanhaiya Ji. Later in life this virtue would earn him the blessings of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, and it is here that our story begins.

During Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s time, many wars were being waged to protect the poor and the innocent. Loss of life was immense, and those injured were equal in proportion. Amidst the horror of war, the compassion of Bhai Kanhaiya Ji emerged. He would walk the battleground and give water to the wounded, not only to the Sikh’s however, but to everyone. The Sikh warriors reported these incidents to Guru Gobind Singh Ji. They complained that while they were trying to defeat the enemy, Bhai Kanhaiya Ji was nurturing them back to life. When confronted by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Bhai Kanhaiya Ji simply replied, "I only see you; I see you in the Sikhs, I see you in the enemy, so then how can I not at least help other humans?" (Bhai Kanhaiya Ji saw God manifested in the Guru, and saw the Guru’s reflection in every living being).

Guru Gobind Singh Ji was very pleased with this answer, and went on to give Bhai Kanhaiya Ji ointment and bandages, so that he could complete his role in delivering medical aid to all the wounded, friends and foes alike. He also told Bhai Kanhaiya Ji that there would be a mission by name which would be dedicated to sewa and Simran. Long before the establishment of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

This Bhai Kanhaiya Ji mission later became known as the Sewa Panthi Sampradaye, of which today there are many centres throughout India. These centres are located in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh (Una). These centres provide free dispensary, free education to children relating to Sikh religion, and also serve as a meditation centre, and a guesthouse. And largely because of Bhai Kanhaiya Sikhs in many cities set up watering stations to quench the thirst of pilgrims and their fellow citizens.
One scene in the American TV series the Amazing Race featured a Gurdwara in Delhi where the contestants had to hand out water to the passing crowd. (Nov. 2008)

Thus Bhai Kanhaiya Ji voiced the need of providing aid and comfort to wounded and dying soldiers, no matter their side in the battle, long before Durant would write his paper, A Memory of Solferino which led to his suggestion that a neutral organization should tend should exist to provide care to wounded soldiers. This led to the signing of the Geneva Convention and eventually his ideas and efforts led to the founding of the International Red Cross Movement. Having spent a majority of his time and money to advance his causes he went bankrupt and this led to his living the life of a pauper hounded out of his own country, yet he was the recipient of the very First Nobel Prize. The official congratulations which he received from the International Committee finally represented the rehabilitation of Dunant's reputation:

<DIR>"There is no man who more deserves this honour, for it was you, forty years ago, who set on foot the international organization for the relief of the wounded on the battlefield. Without you, the Red Cross, the supreme humanitarian achievement of the nineteenth century would probably have never been undertaken."