BHASAUṚ SIṄGH SABHĀ, or to give its full name Srī Gurū Siṅgh Sabhā, Bhasauṛ, was established in 1893 -twenty years after the first Siṅgh Sabhā came into existence in Amritsar -at the village of Bhasauṛ in the then princely state of Paṭiālā. The Siṅgh Sabhā, a powerful reform movement among the Sikhs, was as much an urban phenomenon as it was rural. While there were very strong Siṅgh Sabhās in cities such as Rāwalpiṇḍī, Lahore, Shimlā and Fīrozpur, Siṅgh Sabhās flourished in small villages like Baḍbar and Bāgaṛīāṅ as well. Most dynamic of them all was the Siṅgh Sabhā located in the village of Bhasauṛ. Bhāī Basāvā Siṅgh, known as a virakat or recluse, was named the first president of the Bhasauṛ Siṅgh Sabhā and Bābū Tejā Siṅgh, then a sub-overseer in the irrigation department of Paṭiālā state, its secretary. They made a very good team. Basāvā Siṅgh was widely reputed for his piety and Bābū Tejā Siṅgh, a well educated person, became the ideologue and source of much of the dynamite that came from Bhasauṛ. He brought to the Siṅgh Sabhā renaissance a new verve and thrust. He was a puritan of the extremist kind and a fundamentalist in the interpretation of Sikh principles and tradition, and challenged much of the prevalent Sikh usage.
The Bhasauṛ Siṅgh Sabhā was, from the very beginning, forthright in the rejection of caste and Brāhmaṇical customs which had infiltrated into Sikhism. It openly advocated the acceptance back into the fold of those who had been led into forsaking the Sikh faith, and it willingly converted those from other faiths, who volunteered for initiation. As the records say, at the very first annual dīvān of the Bhasauṛ Siṅgh Sabhā held in 1894, thirteen Jaṭṭs, six Jhīvars (water-carriers), two bārbers, one Khatrī and one Musalmān (Mīrāṅ Bakhsh of Tahsīl Gaṛhshaṅkar who became Nihāl Siṅgh) were initiated into the Sikh faith. Tejā Siṅgh himself published in the press a report of a subsequent year saying, "By the power of the Word revealed by the Ten Masters and in accord with Akālpurkh's wish, the Srī Gurū Siṅgh Sabhā, Bhasauṛ, had administered the gurmantra and holy amrit to a Muslim woman and ushered her into Soḍhbaṅs (the family of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh who came of the Soḍhī clan; baṅs = family, line or clan). Her Sikh name is Kishan Kaur. A Sikh who had fallen by living with a Muslim woman had been baptized and renamed Ude Siṅgh. " At the dīvān convened in the village of Bakāpur near Phillaur on 13-14 June 1903 by the Bhasauṛ Siṅgh Sabhā, 35 persons including Maulawī Karīm Bakhsh and his family of four sons and a daughter received the rites of amrit.
The Bhasauṛ Siṅgh Sabhā set up Paṅch Khālsā Dīwān or Khālsā Parliament at Bhasauṛ under sanction of a Sikh synod held at Damdamā Sāhib on 13 April 1907. In 1909, a girls school called Khālsā Bhujhañgaṇ School was opened at Bhasauṛ. The Siṅgh Sabhā, Bhasauṛ, decreed that Sikh women tie turbans round their heads in the style of men. Rolling up, pressing or dyeing of beards was outlawed. It was stated that though the custom of splitting and rolling up the beards was not unknown in the Khālsā armies, it became firmly established only during British rule after an incident in 1868 in 15th Sikh Regiment when a Muslim Havildār's rifle got entangled in the flowing beard of a Sikh Havildār, Īshar Siṅgh, lined up next to him.
Against all evidence and authority, the Sikh term for God, "Vāhigurū", was replaced by "Vahugur. " The word kaṛāhprashād" for Sikh sacrament was substituted by "Mahāprashād". The Sikh code prepared by the Chief Khālsā Dīwān was repudiated, use of the Sikh calendar beginning from the birth of Gurū Nānak (AD 1469), and introduction of titles and honorifics such as Kirpān Bahādur, Kakār Bahādur, Dāhṛā Bahādur, Vidayā Ratan, Hitkārī and Bīr Jaṅg were propagated. A motion adopted by the Pañch Khālsā Dīwān disclaimed the Sahajdhārī sect of the Sikhs. Likewise, it was proclaimed un-Sikh to install the Farīdkoṭ Ṭikā by the side of Gurū Granth Sāhib. By a resolution of the Pañch Khālsā Dīwān (1928), the Chief Khālsā Dīwān of Amritsar was declared to be a body of men unfirm of conviction and Bhāī Vīr Siṅgh, the widely revered Sikh savant and scholar, was laid under penalty for what was called "his secret propagation of the cult of personal deification. " At the annual dīvān of 1921, exception had been taken to Sikhs seeking advice of non-Sikh leaders in their religious matters. The instance was cited of the Akālīs being in touch with Māhatmā Gāndhī at the time of the Nankāṇā Sāhib morchā.
In his literalist zeal, Bābū Tejā Siṅgh, the all-powerful man at the helm of affairs of the Bhasauṛ Siṅgh Sabhā, started garbling the Sikh canon. He changed the traditional Sikh ardās or daily prayer of supplication. He jettisoned the preamble most of which is derived from Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's composition called Chaṇḍī dī Vār. He advocated expunging of Rāgamālā from the Gurū Granth Sāhib as well as the compositions of the saints and bhaktas, especially those of the Bhaṭṭs. Tejā Siṅgh printed courses of reading for his school comprising the bāṇī contained in the Gurū Granth Sāhib, but he deleted from it the Savaiyyās by Bhaṭṭs and he added some of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's compositions. He also had copies of the Gurū Granth Sāhib printed without the Rāgamālā. This led to widespread protest in the Sikh community. Tejā Siṅgh was excommunicated on 9 August 1928 by an edict of Srī Akāl Takht Sāhib, Amritsar, the highest seat of Sikh ecclesiastical authority. Tejā Siṅgh now ceased to be the force he used to be and with the decline in his popularity set in the downfall of the Bhasauṛ Siṅgh Sabhā.
Sardār Siṅgh Bhāṭīā