Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale

From New World Encyclopedia
Revision as of 22:08, 8 February 2023 by Rosie Tanabe (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale
BornFebruary 12, 1947(1947-02-12,)
Rode, Faridkot, Punjab, India
DiedJune 6 1984 (aged 37)
Akal Takth Complex, Amritsar, Punjab, India
OccupationJathedar of Damdami Taksal
Spouse(s)Bibi Pritam Kaur
ChildrenIshar Singh and Inderjit Singh[1]

Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale or Jarnail Singh (Punjabi: ਜਰਨੈਲ ਸਿੰਘ ਭਿੰਡਰਾਂਵਾਲੇ; February 12, 1947–June 6, 1984) lead the Damdami Taksal, a Sikh religious group based in India.[2] Bhindranwale carried heavy influence among many Sikhs in Punjab. He tried to spread the original values of Sikhism and persuaded young people to follow the original rules and tenets of the religion. He became well-known for his support for the creation of the proposed Sikhism-based theocratic state of Khalistan.[3] In 1981, the government arrested Bhindranwale for his suspected involvement in the murder of Jagat Narain, the proprietor of the Hind Samachar Group. He willingly surrendered to police who later released him due to lack of evidence; they kept him on close watch.

Part of a series on


History of Sikhism
Sikh beliefs

The Sikh Gurus

Sikh Bhagats

Other Important People

Beliefs and principles
Underlying values
Technique and methods
Other observations · Bani

Sikh practices · List

Guru Granth Sahib
Adi Granth · Dasam Granth

Practices · History
Family of the Sikh Gurus
Places · Politics

Articles on Sikhism
Portal: Sikhism

Bhindranwale achieved greater notoriety for his involvement in Operation Blue Star in which he and other militants occupied the Akal Takht complex, including the Golden Temple, in Amritsar.[4] The Indian Army killed him on orders from Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to kill separatist Sikh militants inside the sacred temple. Since his death, Bhindranwale has remained a controversial figure in Indian history. Some view him as a martyr who fought for the best interests of Sikhs, and others see him as a militant and an extremist.[2]

Early life

Bhindranwale, born in the village of Rode, in the Faridkot District of Punjab, India, grew up on a farm with his family. His father, Joginder Singh, worked as a farmer and a local Sikh leader.[1] Jarnail Singh, the seventh of eight brothers, lived on a strict vegetarian diet with his family.[5] Bhindranwale took up farming until 1965, when he joined the Damdami Taksal, a traveling Sikh university, near Moga, Punjab, then headed by Gurbachan Singh Khalsa.[1] Under the guidance of Gurbachan Singh Khalsa, Bhindranwale began a year long course in scriptural, theological and historical Sikh studies. A year later, Bhindranwale went back to his village and settled back to farming. He married Bibi Pritam Kaur, daughter of Bhai Sucha Singh of Bilaspur.[1] His wife bore him two sons, Ishar and Inderjit Singh, in 1971 and 1975, respectively.[1] Bibi Pritam Kaur died of heart ailment at age 60, on September 15, 2007 in Jalandhar [6]

Rise to popularity

In Punjab, Bhindranwale went from village to village as a religious missionary talking with Sikh people. He asked Sikhs to live according to the rules and tenets of Sikhism. He would give long speeches and encourage numerous youths to take Amrit, the holy nectar. Bhindranwale preached to young Sikh men who had lost their path, encouraging them to return to his path of Khalsa by giving up vices like sex, drugs, and addictions. His focus on fighting for a cause made him a hero in the eyes of young Sikhs. The successor to Gurbachan Singh Khalsa, Kartar Singh Khalsa, who died in a road accident on August 16, 1977, mentioned Bhindranwale as being the new leader of the Damdami Taksal.[1] Bhindranwale received a formal election at a bhog ceremony at Mehta Chowk on August 25, 1977.[1]

Politics and movement for Khalistan

In response to questions about his political ambitions Bhindranwale once said:

If I ever become president of the Akali Dal or the S.G.P.C. [Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee], an M.L.A., a government minister, or a member of parliament… I shall deserve a shoe-beating by you.[7][8]

Despite those statements, Bhindranwale participated in some behind-the-scene political work. In 1979, Bhindranwale put up forty candidates in the SGPC elections for a total of 140 seats, all but four lost.[9] A year later, Bhindranwale campaigned actively for Congress in three constituencies' during the general elections.[10] Due to his lack of success in election politics, Bhindranwale personally decided against seeking any political offices. As stated in a 1984 Time Magazine article, Bhindranwale had become so popular that he had usurped the authority of the Shiromani Akali Dal, a Punjab-based Sikh political party.[11] Bhindranwale wielded a great deal of power and the political factions in Punjab refrained from committing to any major action without seeking about Bhindranwale's advise.[12]

Bhindranwale had been widely perceived as a supporter for the creation of a proposed Sikhism-based theocratic state of Khalistan. In a BBC interview, he stated that if the government agreed to the creation of such a state, he would accept, reflecting deliberate ambiguity. Other quotes attributed to Bhindranwale include "we are not in favor of Khalistan nor are we against it." Responding to the formation of Khalistan he has been quoted as saying, "We won't reject it. We shall not repeat 1947."[13] To which he added, "if the Indian Government invaded the Darbar Sahib complex, the foundation for an independent Sikh state will have been laid."[14]

Role in the Militancy

On April 13, 1978, a few GurSikhs of Akhand Kirtani Jatha went to protest against Nirankaris. The confrontation led to the murder of thirteen members of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha and three Nirankaris. The FIR named twenty-two persons, several had been known associates of Bhindranwale. When the government implicated the victims, Sikhs felt further infuriation. On April 24, 1980, the leader of Nirankaris, Gurbachan Singh, had been killed. The FIR named nearly twenty people involved in the murder, most of whom had ties to Bhindranwale.[15] The government subsequently implicated Bhindranwale in ordering the assassination. A member of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, Ranjit Singh, confessed to committing the assassination three years later, receiving a sentence of thirteen years at the Tihar Jail. The police later released Bhindranwale, Indian courts citing inability to charge him due to a lack of evidence.

On September 9, 1981, an assassin shot Jagat Narain, the proprietor of the Hind Samachar Group, dead near the Amaltas Motel.[5] Lala Jagat Narain had been a prominent opponent of Bhindranwale. Two days after his assassination, police issued warrants for the arrest of Bhindranwale. A police search in Chando Kalan, a Haryana village, failed to produce an arrest. Upon seeing that, Bhindranwale publicly announced that he would surrender on September 20.[16]

On September 20, 1981, the police arrested Bhindranwale on charges of orchestrating Lala Jagat Narain's murder. Over the next 25 days while Bhindranwale stayed in custody, sporadic fights erupted in areas where Bhindranwale's accomplices had gathered. Bhindranwale went free on bail on October 15 as India's Home Minister, Giani Zail Singh announced in the Parliament that the courts lacked evidence against Bhindranwale.[17]


On June 3, 1984 Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi initiated Operation Blue Star and ordered the Indian Army to surround the Golden Temple complex to kill the militants in the complex. The media reported widely that Bhindranwale died during the operation, thus elevating him to the level of "martyr" among the Sikhs.

According to Lieutenant General Kuldip Singh Brar, who commanded the operation, a number of agencies, including the police, the Intelligence Bureau and Sikh fighters in the Army's custody identified the body of Bhindranwale.[18] Bhindranwale's brother also reportedly identified Bhindranwale's body.[19] Pictures of what appear to be Bhindranwale's body have been published in at least two widely circulated books, Tragedy of Punjab: Operation Bluestar and After and Amritsar: Mrs Gandhi's Last Battle. BBC correspondent Mark Tully also reported seeing Bhindranwale's body during his funeral.

People who maintain that he survived the operation include Dilbir Singh, the Public Relations Advisor at Guru Nanak Dev University.[20] He stated that Bhindranwale had been injured on the right side of his temple. He stated, "a government doctor verified he was captured alive. He was tortured to death." [21][22] R.K. Bajaj, a correspondent for Surya magazine, claimed to have seen a photograph of Bhindranwale in custody.[23] That claim has been strongly contested, especially by Bhindranwale's son who has now become a prominent figure within Sikh politics. Some within the Damdami Taksal claimed he still lives.[20][2] The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee pronounced Jarnail Singha martyr at a function in 2003.[24]


Many Sikhs praised Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale as a martyr, [25] but other Sikhs considered him a terrorist.[2] Bhindranwale some hail him for his efforts to preach the philosophy of the Guru Granth Sahib to the Sikh people.[25] Famed Indian novelist Khushwant Singh stated that "[Operation Blue Star] gave the movement for Khalistan its first martyr in Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale."[26] In 2003, at a function arranged by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Joginder Singh Vedanti, the present jathedar of the Akal Takht made a formal declaration that Bhindranwale became a "martyr" and awarded his son, Ishar Singh, a robe of honor.[27] Harbans Singh's The Encyclopedia of Sikhism describes Bhindranwale as "a phenomenal figure of modern Sikhism."[28] Vir Sanghvi, one of India's leading political commentators said, "[Bhindranwale] remains a martyr in the eyes of many Sikhs. Even today, rare is the Sikh politician who will dare to call him what he was: a fanatic and a murderer."[29] Others feel Bhindranwale wanted to rise to fame and create the theocratic nation of Khalistan. Some hold Bhindranwale responsible for the instigation of Operation Blue Star after he took refuge in the Akal Takht in Amritsar.[30]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Sandeep Singh. "Saint Jarnail Singh Bhindrenwale (1947 - 1984)" Sikh-history.com
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale: Five Myths" The Sikh Times Puneet Singh Lamba. 2004-06-06 [1] accessdate 2007-06-25
  3. Chand Joshi. Bhindranwale: Myth and Reality. (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1985. ISBN 0706926943), 129
  4. Naunidhi Kaur. "Flashbacks: Golden Temple attack" BBC News 2004-06-03 [2] access 2007-03-28
  5. 5.0 5.1 Tavleen Singh. "An India Today- 100 People Who Shaped India." India Today 2002-01-14
  6. "Bhindranwale’s widow dead." [3].Tribune India.
  7. Ranbir Singh Sandhu. Struggle for Justice: Speeches and Conversations of Jarnail Singh Khalsa Bhindranwale. (Dublin, Ohio: Sikh Educational & Religious Foundation, 1999. ISBN 0967287405), 285
  8. Mark Tully and Jacob Satish. Amritsar: Mrs Gandhi's Last Battle. (New Delhi: Rupa & Co., 1985 ISBN 0224023284), 113
  9. Khuswant Singh. 2005. A History of the Sikhs: Volume II: 1839-2004. (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0195673093), 332
  10. Tully and Satish (1985), 177.
  11. Laura Lopez. June 1984. "India, Diamonds and the Smell of Death." TIME(June 25, 1984)
  12. Jeffrey Robin. 1994. What's Happening to India? (New York: Holmes & Meier Publishing, ISBN 0841913501), 146-147
  13. Sandhu (1999), LVI.
  14. Sandhu (1999), LVII.
  15. Ranbir S. Sandhu, "Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale - Life, Mission, and Martyrdom." Sikh Educational and Religious Foundation. 1997-05 [4] access 2007-06-25
  16. K.S. Chowla. "Tributes to a peacemaker." The Tribune 2003-10-18 [5] accessdate 2007-06-25
  17. Tully and Satish, (1985), 69.
  18. K.S. Brar 1993 Operation Blue Star: The True Story. (New Delhi: UBS Publishers. ISBN 8185944296), 114
  19. M.J. Akbar. 1996 India: The Siege Within: Challenges to a Nation's Unity. (New Delhi: UBS Publishers, ISBN 8174760768), 196
  20. 20.0 20.1 Naunidhi Kaur. "The enigma of Bhindranwale." Frontline 2001-06-23 [6] accessdate 2007-03-17
  21. Joyce Pettigrew. 1995 The Sikhs of the Punjab: Unheard Voices of State and Guerrilla Violence. (London: Zed Books, ISBN 1856493555), 34-35
  22. Pettigrew (1995), 51.
  23. Inderjit Singh Jaijee. 1999 Politics of Genocide: Punjab (1984-1998) (New Delhi: Ajanta Publications. ISBN 8120204158), 59
  24. "Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale: Unclear Legacy." The Indian Express 2003-06-09[7] accessdate 2007-03-27
  25. 25.0 25.1 "Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale." Shaheedi Immorality [8] accessdate 2007-03-27
  26. Singh (1999), 378.
  27. "Takht accepts Bhindranwale’s death." The Tribune 2003-06-06 [9] accessdate 2007-06-25
  28. Harbans Singh, (ed) 1996. The Encyclopaedia of Sikhism (Patiala, India: [Punjabi University]], ISBN 817380530X), Vol. 2
  29. Sandhu (1999), XL.
  30. Martin E. Marty. 1995. The Fundamentalism Project. (University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0226508781), 596-597

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Jaijee, Inderjit Singh. 1999. Politics of Genocide: Punjab (1984-1998) New Delhi: Ajanta Publications. ISBN 8120204158
  • Joshi, Chand. 1985. Bhindranwale: Myth and Reality. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, ISBN 0706926943
  • Marty, Martin E. 1995. The Fundamentalism Project. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226508781.
  • Pettigrew, Joyce. 1995. The Sikhs of the Punjab: Unheard Voices of State and Guerrilla Violence. London: Zed Books. ISBN 1856493555.
  • Singh, Khuswant. 2005. A History of the Sikhs: Volume II: 1839-2004. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195673093.
  • Tully, Mark and Satish Jacob. 1985. Amritsar: Mrs. Gandhi's Last Battle. New Delhi: Rupa & Co. ISBN 0224023284.

External links

All links retrieved March 24, 2018.


New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License (CC-by-sa), which may be used and disseminated with proper attribution. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats.The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here:

The history of this article since it was imported to New World Encyclopedia:

Note: Some restrictions may apply to use of individual images which are separately licensed.