BUDDH SIṄGH, BĀBĀ (1819-1906), to his followers 'Gurū' Harī Siṅgh, was the younger brother of Bābā Rām Siṅgh, founder of the Nāmdhārī or Kūkā movement. He was born on Assū sudī 3, 1876 Bk/22 September 1819, the son of Bhāī Jassā Siṅgh and Māī Sadā Kaur of Rilpur Rāīāṅ (now Bhaiṇī Sāhib) in Ludhiāṇā district. He lived the life of a householder in his native village till the time his elder brother, on the Baisākhī day of 1857, formally declared himself to be the initiator of the Nāmdhārī movement. Buddh Siṅgh was among the first batch of disciples to be initiated by Bābā Rām Siṅgh, and he undertook the responsibility of looking after the ever increasing stream of devotees who flocked to Bhainī Sāhib to have a glimpse of the new leader and to receive 'nām' or initiation into the new sect. Bābā Rām Siṅgh had no male offspring. Therefore when he was seized by police on 18 January 1872 for transportation to Burma, Bābā Buddh Siṅgh took over the reins of the nascent community as its caretaker religious head. It was during 1874 that one Darbārā Siṅgh, a Kūkā devotee, met Bābā Rām Siṅgh at Rangoon and brought from there the latter's hukamnāmā or written order formally nominating Buddh Siṅgh as his successor and renaming him Harī Siṅgh.
With the ruthless suppression by the British of the Nāmdhārīs, banishment of Bābā Rām Siṅgh, and posting of a police picket at Bhaiṇī Sāhib, the movements of Bābā Buddh Siṅgh (Harī Siṅgh) were restricted to the village itself. While this limited active religious preaching by him, he did not abandon the anti-British policies and programme of his predecessor. The boycott of British goods, courts and educational institutions by Kūkās continued and contacts with the rulers of Kashmīr and Nepal, already established, were maintained. These contacts had not been fruitful because the British were too powerful for these insignificant local states to be partners in any plot against them or to permit any anti-British activity within their territories. However, a new situation was developing across the northwestern borders of India of which Bābā Buddh Siṅgh decided to take full advantage. Europe's sleeping giant, Russia, had risen from a long slumber and was stretching its limbs to the West and the East. After her ambitions in the West had been frustrated by her defeat at the hands of the British in the Crimean War (1854-56), Russia diverted her attention to Central Asia. Bokhārā became a dependency of Russia in 1866, Samarkand was acquired in 1868, followed by Khīvā in 1873. A new province of Russian Turkistān bordering on Afghanistan was formed and a Russian base established at Tashkent. British involvement in the second Anglo-Afghān war from 1878 onwards brought the British face to face with their strong rival, Russia. Bābā Buddh Siṅgh deputed Sūbā Gurcharan Siṅgh, a Kūkā preacher who knew Pashto and Persian, to contact the Russians. It is not known how many times and with what success Gurcharan Siṅgh visited the Russians, but a letter from a British spy, Gulāb Khān, confirms his return from Central Asia to Afghanistan on 1 May 1879, and his being honoured by the Russians during a subsequent visit on 1 October 1879. He was told on this latter occasion "to return to the Punjab and strengthen the friendship between the Russians and the Kūkās. " A later statement of the spy mentions that "on 9 April 1880 Gurcharan Siṅgh sent another letter to Samarkand. . . This was from Bābā Rām Siṅgh, but in the handwriting of his younger brother (Bābā Buddh Siṅgh alias Harī Siṅgh). " Gulāb Khān, the spy, met Gurcharan Siṅgh at Peshāwar and won his confidence posing as a Russian secret agent and got from him two letters for Russian officers which he made over to the Commissioner of Peshāwar. Gurcharan Siṅgh, however, was not arrested there and was allowed to return to Bhaiṇī Sāhib, in India, and was ultimately apprehended at his native village Chakk Pirāṇā (or Chakk Rāmdās) in Sialkoṭ district. Gulāb Khān also met Bābā Buddh Siṅgh on 3 January 1881 and won the latter's full confidence. The detention of Gurcharan Siṅgh did not dampen the Bābā's enthusiasm for secret negotiations with the Russians. These continued through another Kūkā missionary, Sūbā Bishan Siṅgh. Upon the arrival of Mahārājā Duleep Siṅgh in Russia in 1887, Bishan Siṅgh met him and the two together made up plans to secure Russian support for invading the Punjab. The invasion, however, never took place, and Bābā Buddh Siṅgh's plans aborted.
From 1890 onwards, Bābā Buddh Siṅgh diverted his attention to preaching Nāmdhārī doctrines and consolidating the Kūkā movement in the Punjab. He died at Bhāinī Sāhib on Saturday, Jeṭh vadī 10, 1963 Bk/ 19 May 1906.
M. L. Āhlūwālīā