An immortal soldier who continued to guard the borders even after his death, that is Baba Harbhajan Singh for you. Living with the spirit of a soldier never dies, the legend of Harbhajan Singh is now folklore in military mythology.
Every soldier is important for the country. His sacrifices, triumphs and losses are that of the nation, not just of an individual. In case of Harbhajan Singh, the sacrifice was turned into a godly deed. Overtime people started worshipping the soldier as a saint. Till this day, those in the forces feel Harbhajan Singh now Baba for all is guarding them at every step.
Born in a Punjab village in 1941, Harbhajan Singh entered the army in 1956. Having been commissioned that very year, he was posted to serve the 14 Rajput regiment. In the year 1967, near Nathu-La pass, Singh made the supreme sacrifice for his nation after slipping and drowning in a glacier while leading a column of mules carrying supplies.Three days later the body was recovered and cremated with due honors. But the question of did he really die still haunts.
As per popular legend, it was his ghost that led the search party to his body. He later is believed to have appeared in the dream of his friend and asked him to erect a shrine in his memory. A shrine dedicated to Singh was built.
Even today, jawans at the Nathu-La post believe that Singh’s ghost protects them. Soldiers have tremendous faith in the spirit of Singh, which they say warns them of an impending attack atleast three days in advance. Even the Chinese, during flag meets, set a chair aside to honour Harbhajan Singh. The water from his shrine is believed to act as healer for soldiers. Singh’s shrine is guarded by barefooted soldiers. His uniform and boots are cleaned on a daily basis. Stories about his ghost coming to camps and waking up those sleeping on duty are massively popular.
Every year on 11th September, a train carries ‘his’ belongings for his hometown accompanied by fellow soldiers, and goes right till his home’s doorstep. Until his recent retirement, Singh was steadily promoted up the ranks and retired as an Honorary Captain. His salary has, without fail, been sent to his family. Singh is seen as a holy saint.
The Nathula Pass interestingly on the Indo-China border in the state of Sikkim is a strategically important location for the Indian Army. It is one of the four Border Personnel Meeting points for the Indian and Chinese armies.
Units of Indian Army posted here seek Baba’s blessing with various plates dedicated to him lining the shrine’s walls.