‘Dhillon Sahib’ – Late Sardar Ishwar Singh Dhillon
Ishwar (Bha ji to me) was born in a simple, middle-class family, with strikingly good looks and above average IQ. He grew up deeply believing in the positive thinking despite of the odds that life at times had thrown at him. He was a genuine positive genius. God had created him for bigger purposes in life than others of his background. He did not go to any fancy school or university, yet, he excelled whatever he was called upon to attend.
He always raised his voice in favour of the marginal & disadvantaged farmers. He made an enduring effort to the well being of farmers in general and for development of the rural area section of the population in particular. He always stood for peace, love and justice and for the struggle of the impoverished and the powerless. He wanted them to unite and regain their lost self-esteem & dignity. He raised his fist in triumph together with the troubled. He felt: Oh why can’t we be what we want to be we want to be freeing our thought and the human spirit? The confidence behind screamed for the vital human need for the recognition denied to the depressed. I am jotting down a few stray thoughts after the event of Bha ji’s passing away. But no script can depict the exact depth of my emotions, at the moment.
Bha ji was a man with remarkable ability to inspire personal loyalty and affection. He well deserved the tributes paid to him at the Bhog ceremony. The period (January 1966-January 14, 2011) I have spent in close proximity to him, have proved among my most stimulating, enriching and rewarding experiences. I will always recall the events of this period with a glow of pride and personal satisfaction as one of the most impacting ones. I held him in high esteem and loved him, because, he was worthy of it. I treasure my remembrance of him and have the satisfaction of knowing that even after his death, his memory endures to stimulate the noble traditions and values he has left behind.
Bha ji has left behind great and inspiring example of leadership to the community, not only as an individual, but also as an honest professional. He was a ‘can do man’. He was an enemy of prejudice and a firm supporter of the practices and policies affecting the down trodden. He practiced what he preached. He led by personal example not mere by slogans. He had the interests of the entire community close to his heart.
Ishwar had demonstrated a profound understanding of the ‘Rural’ problems and had always fought bigotry with zest, and courage and imagination. He had peoples’ deep respect and admiration, for he was a warm, sincere, compassionately committed to his personal convictions. He had a genuine commitment to and love for human beings. He had been active in stimulating employment generating programmes for justice, amity, understanding and cooperation among all peoples. He had done much to alleviate and where possible, to eliminate the prejudices which disfigure and distort social relationships. He was truly a good citizen and secular to the core in outlook. He had peoples’ esteem, respect and affection. Bha ji, was endowed with courage, vision, ability, and a profound faith in humanity. His compassion, his understanding, his love, embraced mankind as a whole. The world needs more people of Ishwar’s values and vision to build a better world-a world of peace human-brotherhood and understanding among peoples. There are a few, who showed more sympathetic love for their fellow men than he did. His interest in public affairs was profound. Once convinced of usefulness of a programme for masses, he pursued that with value, vision and velocity.
He would have had sense of great satisfaction in the splendid contributions he made to the advancement of human virtues. He effectively contributed for increasing goodwill and cooperation among people. He devoted his great abilities to high purposes. He had performed great things for the common man without fanfare and often without public recognition. Every now and then, a leader arises in the community who attains distinction because of his qualities of mind and character. Such a person was Bha ji- a vigorous champion of justice and equality for all. One can hardly say enough about and of Bha ji. He never sought glory. His one concern was the prosperity of the ‘aam aadmi’. To every position he held, he gave everything he had. He devoted his time without the slightest thought of compensation, other than the satisfaction of seeing others grow. He did much to give the poor, a sense of belonging and being wanted. He devoted himself conscientiously to strengthen the public dealing processes. He had little desire for personal acclaim.
He had the vigour of a man half his age and the wisdom that, at any age, comes to very few. He was a warm human being who had used his gifts and worldly possessions for the good of the needy. He had given much happiness to all those who had touched his life. His life had been strenuous and full. If, he ever had a selfish motive, I never knew of it. I know very few who have contributed more than he has, to the welfare of the Punjab farming community. Ishwar’s nobility of purpose, his native wisdom and devotion to the farming fraternity’s welfare earned him the admiration of many. It is a constant source of amazement to me how one man in 78 years has done so much for so many. He has not only made an invaluable contribution to the farming community, but by his warm personality, generosity, and loyalty he had enriched the lives of his friends also.
I have had the privilege of knowing Ishwar from close quarters for 45 years (1966-2011) and my admiration and affection for him only grew with the passage of time. Those of us, who had the privilege of knowing him, realize why he stood for everything that is good and wonderful. Answer is, because it came to him naturally. His interest in community welfare and his dedication to helping those who needed that marked him as an exceptional human being. He was a fearless champion of all that is good and right. His achievements and accomplishments have been the result of his inherent strength of character and intelligent application to issues. There are a few who could state the truth more bluntly or with less fear of consequences. He was a man of great qualities-integrity, balance, common sense, courage and above all, simplicity.
His grace and rural wisdom were equalled only by the courageous determination with which he strived for a better life for the farming fraternity. He had brought courage and new hope, literally to thousands of under privileged and the needy. He was a leader in the fight for recognition of the rights of the individual. His zest and vision were always available for causes that would better humanity. No man could more readily than him understand the-range of problems and go right to their core for resolving them. His untiring industry, sound sense, and unswerving fidelity attracted those who happened to deal with him. Whoever sought his services and followed his advice, did not fail to profit from it. His theory of life was that- He was going to pass this way but once and if, during passing, he could add any pleasure to the lives of those he met, he would do it. He loved people and people loved him. He had no desire for ease or for accumulation of great wealth.
He impressed everyone with his physical and natural vigour and energy. Whatever he touched, he brightened and bettered that. Bha ji, believed with a deep-seated conviction that the test of conscience of an individual was in his attitude towards the aged, distressed and the sick. He would snatch a moment to share their pain. He was a symbol of the intelligent, informed and independent minded officials. He was a man of rare personal attraction, of a genial, generous nature and full of kindness. He was of noble spirit, possessed of humanitarian principals and with a compassionate understanding of others suffering. He was saintly in character, liberal in spirit and vigorous in mind. He was kind and generous, and his manners were stamped with gentleness and honesty of his nature. His fidelity and loyalty to his friends was one of his greatest traits. His personality radiated charm and sweetness. I know that the impress he has left upon me personally is a durable one. I don’t think there is any man, who came in contact with him and did not add to his own determination to be better and more sympathetic and generous towards others. He had an enviable ability to see straight and think clear. He was intolerant of any lapse of personal integrity. He firmly believed that talking is always better than fighting unless of course fight is thrust on you.
He was fair-minded and of an unimpeachable integrity. He firmly believed, that everyman has an inherent dignity and integrity that must be respected and safeguarded, He would often say, that the most obscure boy and girl should not be denied the right to succeed, because, of poverty or for accident of birth.
I treasure my remembrance of Bha ji, & have the consolation of knowing it that even after death, his memories would endure to stimulate the noble traditions of the community. I often pause to reflect on his many accomplishments in helping the needy individuals to render them self-supporting and economically independent. Today, many beneficiaries of his dedicated and steadfast support are reaping the rewards.
We have sustained a grievous loss in the passing away of Ishwar Dhillon. It is difficult to quantify our loss. The community, we live in seems poorer and less hopeful without him. The death of Bha ji is a heavy misfortune for us personally as well as for the community. Though, death has taken him away from amongst us, but not the essence that who Ishwar was. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
Amrik S. Gill