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Date: 19-Oct-2020

Purshottam literally means – Supreme Male. Mother was named thus by her biological parents, of their own consent, without any extraneous pressure or coercion. Whether she was named after observing her personality and traits, or she developed a persona to match the name, can be a topic for never ending debate. She started her education in boys’ school, in 1937, as there were no schools for girls in rural Punjab. May be that was the beginning of justification of her name.

Let me share with you few anecdotes from her extraordinary life.


1928. Village Bhadaur, Punjab.

It was a curious sight. Roda Singh was leading the mini procession. He was followed by the owner of the mare, with the mare in tow. Sitting atop the mare was Dhan Kaur, her head and face covered in a veil. Mare was the common means of transport for short travels in those days. A female riding a mare was a not common norm, so the mare man was asked to wait at the outskirts of the village. Roda Singh and Dhan Kaur had walked beyond the village boundary and from there the journey began.

Destination was about 10 km from Bhadaur. It was abode of one saint. Residents of nearby villages had immense faith in him. Dhan Kaur did not want to go the dera, but it was not the culture to say no to the elders in the family. So, she agreed to accompany her father in law Roda Singh to the saint.


Atma Singh was younger son of Roda Singh.

“Today onwards you will take care of buffaloes” Roda Singh told Atma Singh after the later had finished his fourth class in local school. “Take them out to fields in the mornings for feeding them, let them bathe in pond in the afternoon and bring them back in the evening.”

That was the culture at that time and Atma Singh followed suite. Those were the days when kids did whatever the parents wanted them to do.

“Why is Atma looking after buffaloes and not going to school?” query was raised by newly wed wife of Atma’s elder brother. She had come from an educated family.

So Atma Singh was again enrolled in the local school after three years of buffalo rearing. He continued till class eight when call of buffaloes again made him quit school.

School Principal called Roda Singh. “Atma is good at studies. Let him study further.”

 Atma Singh was able to mix buffaloes with books and was able to collect degrees equivalent to 10+2 and a bit further. That was enough to get him a teacher’s job in a government school.

It was then that he was married to simple, god fearing Dhan Kaur.

3 Years Back – 1925.

The couple was blessed with a daughter within a year of marriage. In the small and crowded houses in rural Punjab, opportunities of consummation of marriage were far and few and means of family planning unheard of.

The daughter fell ill at the age of eight months. There were no doctors at that time. All that was suggested by well meaning relatives and neighbors, was tried. She did not survive.

The incidence was accepted as God’s will.

Less than two years, Dhan Kaur was again pregnant. This time she prayed to God every day. A healthy daughter was born at the right time. Everybody got busy with the child. This child also fell ill at the age of eight months and did not survive.

Someone suggested to Roda Singh to seek blessings of the saint who lived around 10 km away.

“I have faith in my God and no one else” Dhan Kaur responded when the suggestion was passed on to her.

Atma Singh convinced her to go and visit the saint.

“Ok, but I won’t eat or wear anything, if that’s what he suggests.” She emphasized.

“Fine with me.” He replied.

Back to 1928.

Thus, the entourage to the saint’s place.

“She lost two daughters in three years, Baba ji, both at the age of eight months” Roda Singh pleaded to the saint while he touched feet of the saint.

The saint kept quiet for a couple of minutes. Dhan Kaur was standing still with her head and face covered.

“Recite Japji Sahib daily” the saint said finally. Japji Sahib is part of Sikh religious hymns.

Dhan Kaur was mighty relieved.

Roda Singh was not satisfied.

“Baba ji, please give some remedy” he was expecting some talisman.

The saint understood and smiled, “Take some ash from the community kitchen, apply it on the forehead of child in case of illness.”


Dhan Kaur and Atma Singh were blessed with a son. Everyone in the family was happy. Dhan Kaur had been reciting the hymns every day.

Eighth month of the child passed peacefully, and he survived. He was named Purshottam Singh.


The couple were blessed with a daughter. She also survived the eighth month. As was the wont those days, of keeping the same name for  brother and sister, she was named Purshottam Kaur.  

October 19, 2020.



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