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Bhai Joga Singh of Peshawar


Bhai Joga Singh Gurdwara Interior

Bhai Joga Singh Gurdwara Interior

Photo © [Courtesey S. Harpreet Singh Hpt_Lucky SikhiWiki]

Joga Singh of Peshawar:

Joga Singh of Peshawar (in present day Pakistan) lived during the reign of Guru Gobind Singh. The exact date of his birth and demise are unknown, however the youth served the tenth guru faithfully in Anandpur sometime between the years of 1675 through 1708. It is apparent from the suffix of Singh in his name that Joga most likely had been initiated as a Khalsa warrior, and fought in battle alongside the guru.

The Marriage:

Joga Singh's parents arranged a marriage for him and visited Anandpur to request him to come home to Peshawar for his wedding. Guru Gobind Singh granted Joga Singh permission to take leave from Anandpur on the condition of his immediate return, should he be needed. Joga Singh made the two day journey home with his parents to Peshawar. The family busied themselves with the customary wedding preparations, feasting, festivities, and meeting of the prospective bride's family. On the day of his wedding, midway through the ceremony, a courier arrived with a letter from the Guru requesting Joga Singh's return.

The Courtesan:

Joga Singh read the letter from Guru Gobind Singh and departed immediately after completing only two of the four nuptial rounds despite the protests of his parents and the wedding party. Joga Singh felt proud of his obedience to his Guru and rode until dark stopping for the night at Hoshiapar. Nearby his encampment he observed a beautiful courtesan dancing and began to think about how he had forgone the pleasures of his nuptial bed. As she passed by on the way to her room, the woman caught his eye and beckoned to him with a look that promised him the enticements he had looked forward to sharing with his bride.

The Watchman:

Joga Singh wrestled with his desires as he thought about the wife he'd left behind and how she should have shared the comforts of his bed had he not been called away. Unable to sleep he rose and began to walk restlessly until he found himself outside the courtesan's room. He stood at the step ready to enter when a night watchman addressed him and asked about his appearance. Bhai Joga Singh explained that he kept his beard and wore a turban because he served Guru Gobind Singh. Remembering his vow of chastity, to consider all women other than his wife as his sister, Joga Singh walked on.

The Long Night:

A little later Joga Singh once more found himself outside the courtesan's room. He could see the outline of her shape in the window where her lamp flickered. She seemed to be waiting for him. He raised his hand to knock at her door and felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned and the night watchman greeted him again and asked him to tell him more about his Guru. Joga Singh walked with him a way before turning back to his bed. His wandering footsteps betrayed him and he again found himself with his hand upon the courtesan's door. As he lifted the latch, he heard the night watchman call to him and turned away.

The Dawn:

The first pink rays of morning illuminated the night sky as the approaching nightwatchman hailed Bhai Joga Singh. He called out that his shift had come to and end and he would be returning home. Joga went to meet him, "Remember me to your Guru, when you see him next," the night watchman requested, his eyes twinkling. Looking into their depths, Joga Singh saw the dawning light reflected and thought how very much their luminance resembled the illumination of his Guru's eyes. Bhai Joga Singh mounted his horse, and rode on to Anandpur Sahib.

Return to Anandpur and the Guru:

Bhai Joga Singh had time for reflection as he completed his journey to Anandpur. By the time he arrived he had become convinced of his Guru's miraculous intervention. When he reached Guru Gobind Singh's camp he leapt from his horse and told the story of how the night watchman had repeatedly saved him from falling prey to his desires, by calling his Guru to mind. He knelt at his Guru's feet and offered his abiding fealty.

Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh of Peshawar:

Bhai Joga Singh's story became known far and wide and has been told over and again through the centuries. A gurdwara built in Peshawar bears the name of Bhai Joga Singh to honor and commemorate the legacy of his memory. Bhai Joga Singh Gurdwara has lasted throughout the turmoil of the centuries and has been tended by the few remaining Sikhs in Pakistan since the time of partition. In the present day it has welcomed Sikhs visiting Pakistan on pilgrimage and harbored fugitives targeted by the Taliban regime.

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