25 January, 2021

Once Upon The River Love

For this godman, the road to salvation is through cleanliness. Kali Bein river has already seen how.

Sanjoy Ghosh
Once Upon The River Love
At a time when godmen come dime a dozen in rural Punjab, Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal stands out for doing things differently. Cleanliness, his teachers had taught him at the village school, is next to godliness. Today he’s teaching his followers the path to salvation—by cleaning and mending the sewage-ridden, weed-choked rivulet Kali Bein.

Today Kali Bein, sacred to the Sikhs for its association with Guru Nanak Dev, flows clean and proud. But it was not like this a couple of years ago. The stream emerges from a spring near Hoshiarpur, flows through Kapurthala and Sultanpur Lodi, to meet the Sutlej near Harike Pattan. On the way, it gathers industrial waste and sewage from all the towns it meanders through. The Bein was choked with weeds, particularly water hyacinth, to such an extent that at Sultanpur Lodi the water wasn’t even visible.

Balbir Singh, a college dropout from Sultanpur Lodi, became a self-proclaimed godman after he took charge of his guru’s dwellings in his native village Seechewal. From the beginning, his preachings stressed on the tenets of the...



To read this piece, and more such stories in India's most exciting and exacting magazine, plus get access to our 25-year archives goldmine, please subscribe.

Latest Magazine

February 01, 2021

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section