TEJĀ SIṄGH, BĀBŪ (1867-1933), leader of the Bhasauṛ school of fundamentalism, was born on 20 January 1867, the son of Sūbadār Sudh Siṅgh and Jīoṇ Kaur of the village of Bhasauṛ in present-day Saṅgrūr district of the Punjab. His original name was Narāiṇ Siṅgh. Having received his preliminary education in Punjabi and gurbāṇī or the Sikh sacred texts under Bābā Fateh Siṅgh Virakt of Bhasauṛ (d. 1875), he studied in Government Primary School, Lang, near Paṭiālā, and matriculated from City High School, Paṭiālā, in 1882. He joined the Paṭiālā state army as a havildār (sergeant) in 1882, but resigned three years later to undergo overseer's training at Engineering College, Roorkee, and was after completing the course appointed a sub-overseer at Sirhind in the irrigation department of Paṭiālā state on 21 November 1887. The term bābū, a common mode of address for junior government officials, soon came to be prefixed to his name. While still in service, he started preaching the tenets of the Sikh faith as interpreted afresh by the Siṅgh Sabhā movement. In 1893 he established a Siṅgh Sabhā at his native village, Bhasauṛ, and in the following year he compiled and published Khālsā Rahit Prakāsh, a Sikh code of conduct. During that year he went on a pilgrimage on foot to Hazūr Sāhib, Nāndeḍ, where he received pāhul or the rites of the Khālsā and was renamed Tejā Siṅgh. By his dedicated work in the Siṅgh Sabhā, he won wide recognition and, when the Chief Khālsā Dīwān was established at Amritsar in 1902, he had the honour of saying the inaugural ardās or prayer. On 13-14 June 1903 he convened a largely-attended dīvān or religious assembly at Bakāpur, a small village in Jalandhar district, at which a Muslim family of seven and 28 others were administered pāhul. He was nominated a member of the committee set up by the Chief Khālsā Dīwān, on 20 October 1910, to draft a Sikh code of conduct, later published under the title, Gurmat Prakāsh: Bhāg Saṅskār. But Tejā Siṅgh's innate puritanism gradually asserted itself and he started drifting away from the mainstream of Sikh life. In 1907 he set up the Paṅch Khālsā Dīwān or Khālsā Parliament under sanction from a Sikh synod held at Damdamā Sāhib, Talvaṇḍī Sābo, on 13 April 1907. In 1909 he opened a girls school at Bhasauṛ called Khālsā Bhujaṅgaṇ School where the pupils were required to don turbans like men instead of the traditional women's dupaṭṭā or scarf. Bābā Tejā Siṅgh replaced the Sikh term for God "Vāhigurū," by "Vāhugur." The word kaṛāh prasād, Sikh sacrament, was substituted by mahāprashād. Tejā Siṅgh publicly repudiated the Sikh code published by the Chief Khālsā Dīwān, Gurmat Prakāsh : Bhāg Saṅskār in the preparation of which he himself had earlier participated, and issued his own code, Khālsā Rahit Prakash. He propagated the use of Sikh calendar beginning from the birth of Gurū Nānak in AD 1469, and introduced his own titles and honorifics such as Kirpān Bahādur, Kakār Bahādur and Dāhṛā Bahādur. A motion adopted by the Pañch Khālsā Dīwān (Khālsā Parliament) disclaimed the Sahajdhārī section of the Sikhs. In his literalist zeal, Tejā Siṅgh started garbling the Sikh canon and changed the traditional Sikh ardās or daily prayer of supplication. He advocated the expunging from the Gurū Granth Sāhib of Rāgmālā as well as of compositions of the Bhaktas and Bhaṭṭs. He printed courses of reading for his school comprising bāṇī contained in the Gurū Granth Sāhib, extracting from it the Bhaṭṭs' Savaiyye. He also had copies of the Holy Volume printed without the Rāgmālā. This led to widespread public protest and the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee, at its special meeting held on 31 March 1928, condemned the innovations introduced by the Pañch Khālsā Dīwān. At its meeting on 15 July 1928, the Committee appealed to the Sikhs in general to boycott Bābū Tejā Siṅgh and his colleagues of the Bhasauṛ Dīwān and to the Takhts to excommunicate them. Accordingly, the Akāl Takht at Amritsar issued the excommunication decree on 9 August 1928. Other Takhts followed suit, Takht Srī Hazūr Sāhib, issuing a hukamnāmā on 13 January 1929, Takht Srī Paṭnā Sāhib on 27 March 1929 and Takht Srī Kesgaṛh Sāhib on 22 August 1929. But Tejā Siṅgh was far from repentant.
Tejā Siṅgh suffered a sunstroke on 17 June 1933 and died on 29 August 1933.
Sardār Siṅgh Bhāṭīā