The murder of Chand Kaur, widow of former Namdhari sect head Satguru Jagjit Singh, has only brought the war of succession into the limelight. But, behind the raging war in the two centuries-old Namdhari sect --- which has properties and donations running into hundreds of crores and is a power centre of religion and politics --- are two generations of brothers. The last sect chief Satguru Jagjit Singh and his younger brother Maharaj Bir Singh had long fallen out over the control of influential Namdhari empire. While Jagjit Singh, widely-recognised among Namdhari followers as the real spiritual chief, was based at Bhaini Sahib, the sect headquarters on the Chandigarh-Ludhiana highway, Bir Singh took over the sect’s over 200 acres of land at Jeewan Nagar in Sirsa, Haryana and made it his parallel seat of power. Bir Singh, who died in 2008, had two sons – Thakur Dalip Singh and Uday Singh. Satguru Jagjit Singh passed away in 2012, without a male progeny or naming his successor.
Before Satguru’s death, Dalip Singh was banished from Bhaini Sahib in 2009. History repeated itself after Satguru’s widow Chand Kaur anointed Uday as Satguru four years ago, deepening the bad blood between the two siblings. A section of Namdharis coronated Dalip as their parallel spiritual head at Sirsa. Both brothers have since been locked in a bitter power duel for supremacy in the Namdhari sect.
Monday’s murder of 85-year-old Chand Kaur, though still a mystery, is seen as a violent fall-out of the sibling rivalry. In an interview to assistant editor Sukhdeep Kaur, incumbent Satguru Uday Singh says as brothers they were poles apart and he could not have let the guru gaddi pass on to the wrong person.
Q: It is ironic that a spiritual dera has witnessed a murder most foul of an 85-year-old matriarch. Is it a spill-out of the bitter war of succession?
A: It is not a war of succession between two brothers but between good and evil. As brothers, we were poles apart and unlike him, I had never aspired for the guru gaddi. I was happy handling my business in Bangalore and accepting the gaddi is no less than a sacrifice. It has put me and my family’s life in danger but I could not have let it pass on to the wrong people.
All these intrigues and conspiracy theories have been planted by him. When Satguru Jagjit Singh’s health started deteriorating, my elder brother started holding meetings at Mandi, Ludhiana, Chandigarh and Delhi from 2006 to provoke the community against whom he described as the Satguru’s powerful coterie. It was said the Satguru was being administered heavy sedatives, his wife Chand Kaur was being kept in confinement and they were restricting access to the Satguru. Pictures of helpless Satguru were circulated. There were rumours against his son-in-law Jagtar Singh that he beats his wife. You have to understand the psychology of my brother. All he has been trying to do to is provoke clashes in the community. He recently asked his followers to keep the kirpan (sword), which goes against the teachings of Namdhari gurus. Now, he is trying to align with the Akalis and trigger clashes between Akalis and Namdharis.
Were you hinting at involvement of your brother in the murder of Chand Kaur when you said everyone knows who is behind it?
That is for the police to investigate. All I am saying is that we should understand who stands to gains by keeping the community on the boil.
But why were your parents supporting your elder brother when your mother was banished from Bhaini Sahib?
My parents stayed with me whenever they came to Bangalore and not with him (Dalip Singh) though he had a sprawling bungalow there. Though I was closer to Satguru Jagjit Singh, I have always served my parents. But since there were differences between my father (Maharaj Bir Singh) and Satguru Jagjit Singh, they too kept away from Bhaini Sahib.
It is believed that behind all power struggle is the huge business empire and properties of the Namdhari dera. Is it true?
We do have lot of properties but we have set up schools, hospitals and colleges. We do much more charity than the donations we receive. The Satguru Partap Singh Hospital alone provides free treatment and medicines to the tune of Rs 2 crore every year
Thakur Dalip Singh says he is not after the guru gaddi, and unlike you, never had a flourishing business. What do you have to say?
If he does not want the gaddi, why did he start holding meetings since 2006? And why is he instigating people of the community? As for doing business, he has never believed in working. We both have different temperaments but it does not mean we cannot live together or serve the community together. But he believes in confrontation and has a mind of an anarchist. He created a Facebook page by the name of ‘namdharidarbarbhainisahib’ and posted a fake ‘hukumnama’ from me that I have asked Namdharis not to consider Guru Granth Sahib as their holy book. We have registered a complaint in this regard with the police.