Gobind Sadan Institute
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Members say their philosophy is Kirat Karo(Do work) Naam Japo(Do meditation) and Vanndd Chhako(Share your food with others), i.e. philosophy of Guru Nanak Dev, under the leadership of Baba Virsa Singh Ji (Babaji), and that they are being transformed through love, meditation, faith, devotions, and service. The program is modeled on the practical philosophy of Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru: working hard, sharing with others, and always remembering God. This program is seen as universal, rather than sectarian. People of all faiths are encouraged to find God through their own prophet, and at the same time to appreciate the prophets of other religions.
Neither Babaji nor Gobind Sadan claim to seek charity or followers; most of the staff are volunteers. Income generated by the farms helps to support Gobind Sadan's charitable work and spiritual outreach, as well as academic seminars and publications sponsored by the Gobind Sadan Institute for Advanced Studies in Comparative Religion.
The farms on which Gobind Sadan is built are reclaimed from land that was previously less abundant, some of it wasteland. Followers of the movement consider the farms' existence proof of the reality of God.
Devotions at Gobind Sadan continue around the clock, based on the teachings of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, in the Darbar Sahib (place of the sacred scripture), and in various places, including an eternal sacred fire (havan), mosque, "Jesus' Place," "Sh'ma Place," and temples to many Indian deities. Gobind Sadan also holds large-scale and joyous celebrations of the holy days of many religions.
Babaji’s communities in the US and India are also informal schools where students’ minds are trained toward love and faith in God. A place of regular pilgrimage from all over the world, Gobind Sadan attracts people year-round to participate as volunteers and worshippers of God.
Gobind Sadan India was founded in 1967 on an area of South Delhi that was considered by all to be nearly worthless. Before the arrival of Babaji and his sevadars, the land was treeless, arid, gutted with ravines, thorny, and uninhabited. Now, through what is considered by many to be a miracle of God, Gobind Sadan is a productive farm with thriving fields of vegetables and forage crops, gardens, trees, free community kitchen, sacred places, and living quarters.
Currently, a small staff of volunteers from all over the world with a wide variety of religious and social backgrounds lives and works at Gobind Sadan. Many more people come each day seeking the blessings and guidance of Babaji, as well as the opportunity to volunteer their services.
Gobind Sadan in Delhi is not the only site that Babaji has transformed from an uninhabited and barren area to a thriving farm and spiritual community. The largest such area is known as Shiv Sadan and is located in a previously flood-prone area in Uttar Pradesh on the banks of the Ganges.
Baba Virsa Singh Ji has also developed farms and spiritual communities in other places around India, including his native village Sarawan Bodla, Punjab and Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh. The former is considered an especially sacred site, where people from every part of the world make pilgrimage to volunteer and sit in meditation under the Ber tree where Babaji meditated as a youth. The fruits of the tree are prized for their healing properties.
Gobind Sadan USA is a farm in Palermo, New York that was founded by Babaji, through his devotees, Ralph Singh and Joginder Kaur, to provide to the community in Upstate New York a similar service as that of Gobind Sadan India.
Arson in New York
On November 18, 2001 Gobind Sadan USA was the victim of an arson attack committed by 3 local teens who saw the Sikh's turbans and mistakenly associated the name with Osama Bin Laden. While the 100-year-old main structure was completely destroyed, inexplicably, the Guru Granth Sahib, the 1,430 page holy book, remained unharmed, though surrounded by charred wood and ash. All three teens were later arrested and charged with committing arson as a hate crime. They have been supported by Gobind Sadan in their rehabilitation.
In a statement transmitted through Ralph Singh, Baba Virsa Singh Ji forgave the teens and called for forgiveness for those involved in the crime. Rather than a tragedy, it became a teachable moment to rebuild the broader community based on love and understanding. The event, with all the media coverage it received, became an opportunity to rise above the post-9-11 fear and ignorance. Diverse groups from across the region and country rallied around the call for unity, and many joined in the rebuilding of the devotional center.