On this Baisakhi, TatavGyan Humanity Foundation Salutes the Khalsa Panth that has been doing waterbody remediation for centuries as “Kar Sewa” for the “Sarovars” in Gurudwaras, as a part of the Relegious practise.
The Religion of Water Remediation
We have over 30,000+ Gurudwaras in Punjab alone, over a 1000+ in Haryana, about 5000+ in whole of India, a few above 250 in Asia, a 300+ in United Kingdom & another 100+ in mainland Europe, some 100+ in Canada, over 50+ in US, about 10+ in Oceania & Africa each. And all the major Gurudwaras have a Sarovar (Lake) in the premises, wherein the devotees are allowed to get bathed before Darshan.
Cleaning, painting and maintenance of Gurudwara premises as well as remediation and upkeep of the waterbody is done regularly for over centuries now, as a part of the process of “Kar Sewa” – that’s the beauty of Sikhism.
Kar Sewa is one of the main teachings of Sikhism which means selfless service of others. A tradition set forth with the clear understanding that there is God within all of us; thus by serving humanity you are serving Gods creation. Kar Sewa is also performed further by offering service for a religious cause, often for constructing & maintenance of a place of worship serving the One Creator. A volunteer for Kar Sewa is called a Kar Sewak. Historically, Kar Sewa is a Sikh tradition. Kar Sewa is derived from Sanskrit words “Kar”, meaning hands or work, and “Sewa”, meaning service. In Punjabi, the word “Sewa” also means “to worship, to adore, to pay homage through the act of love.” In the writings of Sikh Gurus, these two meanings of seva (service and worship) have been merged. Sewa is expected to be a labour of love performed without desire and intention, and with humility. Kar Sewa is often translated as “voluntary labour.”
History of Kar Sewa
Kar Sewa is a voluntary service contributed by devotees without any selfish motive for upkeeping of any relegious place. if we look at the Sikh history, we’ll come to know that in place of the Amrit Sarovar at Harmandir Sahib, there used to exist a natural pool of spring. Shri Guru Ramdas ji, got it dug deeper and gave it the shape of the present Amrit Sarovar – that was considered to be the 1st Kar Sewa of the Amrit Sarovar. Post that there have been many a time when the group of saint have done Kar Sewa at the Amrit Sarovar, for cleaning the sludge from the bottom of the lake. Baba Gurmukh Singh Ji is respected as the originator of the concept of Kar Sewa. He became a true desciple of Baba Veerangdas ji in his childhood days itself, after twelve year of service, Baba Gurmukh Singh Ji was asked by his Guru to go to Amritsar and perform Sewa at Darbar sahib that he performed. In 1918, when Santokhsar Sarovar was suffering from eutrophication, the then British Government did an announcement to the public that either someone should take responsibility and the legal heirship for the said pond or else they would get the pond dumped with land fill. If no one claims this, and communicates with the government on the subject, Government would get it filled and acquire the land. Baba Gurmukh Singh ji, took the responsibility and got the Kar Sewa started for restoration of the Santokhsar Sarovar in 1919. By the year 1920, cleaning and upkeep of Gurudwaras & Sarovars became almost a revolution.
Baba Gurmukh SIngh ji, left this world for the heavenly abode in the year 1948. After him, Baba Jeevan SIngh ji & Baba Dilip Singh ji, took the responsibility of keeping the flow of Kar Sewa on. They further added to the Kar Sewa responsibility to not just being limited to the upkeep of Gurudwaras & Sarovars, but also approachability ease to the Gurudwaras by making raods and bridges for the sake of ease of approachability.
In the year 1971, Jathedar Mohan Singh invited Baba Jeevan Singh ji to Shri Taran Taaran Sahib. Baba ji observed that the Sarovar in Taran Taaran Sahib had about 5-6 ft of sludge, and the last Kar Sewa had happened about 50 years back, in 1924-25. on 31st march 1973, Baba ji started the lake remediation for five different lakes at one go, which included Shri Harmandir Sahib Amrit Sarovar. After Baba Jeevan Singh ji,Baba Hari Singh ji took over the reins of Kar Sewa in 1973 and got the Kar Sewa done across Gurudwaras in India.
In 1983, the responsibility of Kar Sewa was showered upon Baba Jagtar Singh ji. Under his leadership hundreds of Gurudwaras have been constructed, expanded and maintained, across the country. In year 2004, a complete new system for a consistent water remediation for the Amrit Sarovar at Darbar Sahib, Amritsar was started. This mechanized cleaning system was installed at a cost of INR 7 crores donated by Sikh families in US & Australia and the reconstruction work was carried out by Kar Sewaks, its and American system for water filtration, recycling and cleaning.
Kar Seva Groups
In 1578 CE Guru Ram Das excavated a tank, which subsequently became known as Amritsar (Pool of the Nectar of Immortality), giving its name to the city that grew around it. In due course, Shri Harmandir Sahib, was built in the middle of this tank and became the supreme centre of Sikhism. Its sanctum came to house the Adi Granth comprising compositions of Sikh Gurus and other saints considered to have Sikh values and philosophies, e.g., Baba Farid, and Kabir. The compilation of the Adi Granth was started by the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev ji.
According to tradition, Guru Hargobind ji had the Akal Takht (the seat of God) at the Golden Temple built through Kar Sewa. When the Mughal emperor Jahangir visited the site, he offered help for the construction. The Guru is said to have politely refused the offer stating that the Akal Takht should be constructed by the followers of the faith through their own hands. Since it involves voluntary work by the community, Kar Sewa is considered the most respected method for constructing Gurudwaras.
The first Kar Sewa of cleaning the Amrit Sarovar was undertaken in 1918 by Baba Gurmukh Singh Ji and later regularized on June 17, 1923, after the inception of the SGPC (Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee). The seva was started by Sham Singh of Atta Mandi, Amritar, Gulab Singh Gholia (Moga), Fateh Singh, head granthi, Golden Temple, Baba Kharak Singh, the then SGPC president and S Teja Singh Sammundari. Another main organizer of Kar Sewa for Gurudwaras is the “Kar Seva” organization of Baba Harbans Singh ji and others based in the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara in Delhi. They have several offices in Punjab and Haryana, and organize the construction and refurbishment of a large number of Gurudwaras in India. The organisation is said to extensive financial donations from abroad. The Guru Nanak Nishkam Sevak Jatha based in Birmingham, UK, organizes Kar Sewa in the UK as well as India. It was established by Baba Puran Singh ji in 1976, who moved from Kericho, Kenya to the UK a few years earlier. The group constructed the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Birmingham and several others in the UK as well as India. Its projects include the refurbishment of the gold exterior of the Darbar Sahib in Amritsar.
#WASHwater – Easiest way to clean Sarovars
In order to help Gurudwara Prabandhan Committees to maintain the Sarovar, like regular floor cleaning, utensil cleaning and other regular activities, TatavGyan Humanity foundation would like to introduce #WASHwater therapy that makes removal of sludge from the Sarovar, as easy as a regular activity.