QUIRKS OF ARMY

Harbhajan baba

Today I am once again back with a story of Patriotism which goes beyond life. Yes! A Jawan who I should say was not ready to let go of his duty even after death. I am talking about Harbhajan baba, some of you might have heard about him, those who do not know would find todays story which I would say is a depiction of love towards once own motherland. 

This is a story of 1965. Harbhajan Baba when alive was a soldier of an infantry battalion of Indian army. It was at that time posted somewhere around Nathu-la in Sikkim. Once while carrying supplies to his battalion in the high altitude area ( at 14000 ft) he encountered a flash flood and disappeared. He and the other soldiers with him got scattered. Most of them managed to climb up on the higher reaches of the surrounding mountains. But rifleman Harbhajan was nowhere to be located.

The legend which prevails in complete Sikkim says, after his disappearance and untiring, fruitless search by army,he appeared in one of his battalion soldier’s dream who happened to be his best friend. He told him where his body was lying along with his weapon. When the soldier told about his dream, people did not believe him at first; but still they went to search. The body and the weapon were found lying at the exact location. Later he appeared in the dream of the GOC (General Officer Commanding, rank- Maj. General, senior most officer of that area) and gave him some information important for our army, related to Sikkim border. Once again when the GOC checked, the information happened to be true. This happened several times. In one of his dreams to the GOC, Harbhajan Singh told him that the operation alert which takes place for two months all over Indian army, at various times of the year; in Sikkim it should be held when he would go on leave, till then the GOC should not worry as he would be guarding the borders well. So the time of the operation alert was changed. 

Since then it is said that if some Jawan dozes off during the sentry duty or the patrol duty, he experiences a slap on the face, which of course alerts the Jawan back to his duty.  This legend has grown to exponential proportions, a number of jawans claiming that they were hit on the face when they dozed off. Even the Chinese soldiers claimed that they could see something of an apparition from their side on various Indian posts and roads. 

Due to these experiences though paranormal in nature the Indian army has given recognition to Harbhajan Baba. As he helped the Indian Army even after death in form of some very vital tips the GOC of Sikkim division started promoting Harbhajan Singh.  In a symbolic gesture, a railway reservation was made in his name when he went on two months leave, a helper took his baggage in the train and took it to his home in Punjab.

In 2003-04 when my husband was posted in North Sikkim, I was told that Harbhajan Baba who was eventually promoted to the rank of Captain was soon going to retire. He had once again appeared in the then GOC’s dream (GOC’S keep on changing after every 15 months) and had told the GOC that he wanted his own battalion in Sikkim and he would hand over his charge to his own battalion jawans.  

There is a huge temple of Harbhajan Baba at Nathu-La in Sikkim maintained by army.  Next to the temple is a room maintained for Harbhajan Baba with his bed and other things. A helper maintains his dress, which is said does not require any cleaning up There is a free langar arrangement, which runs the whole day for everybody who comes to take darshan of Baba Harbhajan.

Initially I used to think that army does not believe in supernatural things, as they have lead a very difficult life, stay at very unusual places, they face so many difficult situations that the army becomes devoid of such beliefs. But my ideas, thoughts changed after I heard this story. I was surprised and asked my husband, that how could the officers believe in these kind of events. At that time my husband told me, ‘It is not about mine or your belief, it is the belief of the soldiers.’ He further told me, that, any army in the world runs on its stomach. Food which gives energy to our body should be aptly given to the army then only they can function well, and let me tell you all that Indian army does take good care of its soldiers. (Do not go by the things said or written on TV Channels or newspapers) But apart from food they also function efficiently on faith and belief. Faith on government that it would take good care of their families even if they are not there. Faith and belief in the family members that once they reach home there family will give them lots of love and peace.

Faith in their juniors and seniors that they would watch there back if they get stuck in a sticky situation. Lastly if they all believe that one of them even after his death is guarding the borders and helping them out to stay awake, then that’s it. Then we all have to accept it.


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