Sant Teja Singh earlier named Narahjan Singh, was born on 14 May 1877 in a Mahita Khatri family ( father: Ralia Singh : mother: Sada Kaur) at the village of Ballovali, in Gujranwala district of the Punjab (now in Pakistan). Teja Singh completed his schooling at Fazilka and then went to Lahore where he received his Master’s degree in English literature in 1900 from Panjab University. Studying at Government College, Lahore he also took the Law degree. His first appointment was as headmaster of the Anglo-Sanskrit High School, Bhera. He was vice-principal of the Khalsa College at Amritsar when he received the rites of initiation at the hands of Sant Atar Singh of Mastuana (1906), receiving the Name of Teja Singh.
Sant Atar Singh sent him abroad, along with four other young Sikhs, for higher studies. In August 1906 Teja Singh joined the University College, London, but left it without completing the course to join the Teachers College at Columbia University, in New York City, U.S.A., to train as a teacher. From Columbia, he transferred to Harvard when he got his A.M. in 1911. Along with his academic work, Teja Singh had continued preaching the gospel of Guru Nanak. To this end he had, when in London, established a Sikh Jatha, and when in the U.S.A., lectured extensively in that country as well as in Canada.
Returning to India, he settled down at Mastuana, the headquarters of Sant Atar Singh. Briefly he was at Bhasaur, not far from there, teaching at the Sikh women’s college. He served as principal of the Guru Nanak Khalsa College from 1917-19. For a brief spell he also worked as principal of Teachers’ College at Banaras Hindu University (1920-21). He was the founder principal of Akal Degree College, Mastuana, an institution, aiming, as Sant Atar Singh had willed, at combining humanistic study with crafts and mechanics.
Sant Teja Singh attended, in 1910, the Congress of Free Christianity and Religious Progress at Berlin, set up by the Unitarian Church of Chicago. In 1956, he participated in the 8th Conference of Religion for World Peace held in Japan contributing a paper entitled, “The Way to Establish World Peace.” His major publication was a biography in Punjabi of Sant Atar Singh ( Languages Departmtent, Patiala, 1970).
SERVING SIKHS IN CANADA
Teja Singh Ji met a Canadian passenger on the train, on his way to Vancouver, who told him, ” Mr., Singh, a big misfortune is looming large on the Sikhs in Canada. By making one or the other excuse, Canadian government is planning to pack them all in a ship and dispatch them to Honduras in South America. It is a very bad land, infested with yellow fever and without any employment opportunities. You, a scholar and a lawyer, can save them from that misery. I wish you to help your fellow brothers.”
This time an unexpected arrival of Professor Teja Singh Ji in Vancouver was a pleasant surprise to everyone in the Gurdwara Sahib. After praying and reading a hymn from Guru Granth Sahib to get the blessing of the Almighty, the Sikh leaders discussed the situation from all aspects. They explained their problems in the following words, “The government is throwing baseless blames on our community. They say that we have no jobs and no other sources to support us. Our living is not clean. Actually they are jealous of us. We have contributed about $20,000 to build our Gurdwara Sahib and have joint langars to feed any needy person. All of us earn a good living. We live well and take our bath everyday while they don’t take shower for days together.”
” A week ago, a Commissioner from Ottawa took Bhai Satnagar Singh and Bhai Sham Singh Dogra with him to Honduras. With his influence and wrong pressure, he will get a fake report signed by them that Honduras is a good country. They will use that report to rope us all and ship us like sheep to that country. Our Gurdwara Sahib building will be taken over by them and the Sikhs flag uprooted.”
Professor Teja Singh Ji assured them, “The Almighty is on their side as revealed just now by the hymn read from Guru Granth Sahib. Maybe the Almighty wanted me to serve the Sikhs that this unexpected visit to Canada was arranged according to His Will.” Guided by Teja Singh, Sikhs approved to register a Mining and Trust Co. and purchase land for building Guru Nanak town. They agreed to buy one-fourth share of the gold mine in Jacksonville and sent money to Mr. Crawford. They also decided that lectures should be arranged to tell people about the truth regarding Sikhs in Canada and expose the fake propaganda made by the Canadian government against their community.
A couple of lectures were delivered in a week which were published in the newspapers. This built a correct image of the Sikh community. Many European also got interested in learning more about the message of Guru Nanak for humanity. Among them two important persons, Doctor Knapp and Mrs. Campbell Johnson became devotees of Guru Nanak.
BY-LAWS DRAFTING :
Professor Teja Singh Ji drafted and finalized the rules, regulations and by-laws of the Khalsa Diwan Society, Vancouver and the organization was got registered in BC He also drafted by-laws for the Guru Nanak Mining and Trust Co. and it was got registered within a week. With the assistance of Dr. Knapp, a real estate man, a block of 250 acres near Eagle Harbour was purchased for $25,000. A down payment of $10,000 was made for that bargain. The stipulated money $15,000 was also sent to Mr. Crawford.
After doing all this, a big gathering of the people was held in Vancouver and they were informed about the firm position of the Sikhs in Canada. Their strong financial strength was made public. This sent a wave of good image of the Sikhs not only in the province of British Columbia but also through out Canada and the world. The fake propaganda made by the Canadian government against the Sikhs was thus exposed.
(Later on, before leaving California, Teja Singh Ji also prepared by-laws for the Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society and got it registered. This was done to avoid any problems later in building more Gurdwara Sahibs or conducting Gurmat teachings in the state.)
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