On one occasion, during the period when Sardar Bahadur Jagat Singh was a professor in Punjab Agricultural College in Lyallpur, a student from Baluchistan did not pay his college admission fee, his monthly tuition, and his hostel fee for many months, in spite of repeated reminders. The amount due swelled to two hundred rupees, and so the college authorities decided to bar him from appearing for his examinations. When Sardar Bahadur Jagat Singh happened to learn about it, he asked the student why he was not paying the college fees.
The boy said that he had not received a cheque from his father so far. When Sardar Bahadur Ji told the boy to send a telegram to his father for the money, the young man, who was himself quite worried, replied, “Sir, you too are my father.” Hearing this, Sardar Bahadur Ji immediately deposited the money in the student’s account.
After a few days, the boy received the money from his parents. He went to Sardar Bahadur Ji and quietly placed the amount on his desk. Sardar Bahadur Ji gave it back to the boy, saying, “If I was your father then, am I not your father now?”
At another time, a student who is today a senior officer in the Government ran short of money when his father passed away – so much so that he had problems continuing his education. When Sardar Bahadur Ji came to know about this, he paid the boy’s college and hostel fee for three years and never mentioned it to anybody. While serving in the college at Lyallpur, Sardar Bahadur Ji paid the expenses of about 25 to 30 students for their entire studies. He would help to pay the students’ expenses through Pundit Lal Chand, and they never knew who was helping them. He sent two students abroad at his expense for higher studies. He sent his Lecture Table Assistant, M. S. Nasir, to study in England. Even Pundit Lal Chand was not aware of this. On his return, Nasir told him about Sardar Bahadur Ji’s graciousness.
Sardar Bahadur Ji, by nature was compassionate and forgiving. He had faith in the innate goodness of human beings. Once, a student from an affluent Bengali family had a very expensive camera, which was stolen by another student. The principal sent for Sardar Bahadur Ji and told him the theft would give the college a bad name. He felt that somehow the thief must be caught and the camera recovered. Sardar Bahadur Ji replied, “Sir, the camera will be recovered, but on the assurance that you will neither punish the thief nor ask for his name.” He then announced to the students, “This theft will ruin the reputation of the college. I appeal to the student who took the camera to put it in my laboratory. There will be no punishment.” The next day the camera was returned, but several faculty members insisted the student be punished.
The principal asked Sardar Bahadur Ji to reveal the name of the boy who had stolen the camera, but Sardar Bahadur Ji reminded him that the condition was that he would not be required to reveal the thief ’s name. The principal accused Sardar Bahadur Ji of protecting and encouraging a thief who must be punished for his deed. At this Sardar Bahadur Ji said, “I am not protecting a thief; I am trying to save the boy from becoming a confirmed criminal. Punishment will ruin his life, and instead of reforming him, it will have the opposite effect.”
The next day, the student who had taken the camera confessed to Sardar Bahadur Ji and asked for forgiveness. Sardar Bahadur Ji told him to forget what had happened and to put himself firmly on the path of honest living. Today the student has risen to a very high post in the Indian government.
Sardar Bahadur Ji was strict but at the same time loving in dealing with his students, and they adored him. His superiors, colleagues and subordinates held him in great esteem for his sincerity, large-heartedness and consideration. His punctuality, attention to duty, efficiency and spirit of dedication to the job of imparting knowledge to students inspired all other members of the staff. These qualities, along with his personal charm, had created an atmosphere of purity and serenity in the educational circles of Lyallpur. Although he never called on high government officers and had no contacts in the official circles, his contribution to the field of education could not go unnoticed, and the British Government conferred on him the title “Sardar Bahadur”.
Pundit Lal Chand often recalls the advice Sardar Bahadur Ji gave him when he joined the staff of the college in Lyallpur: “Always be truthful. If you are at fault, admit your mistake at once. Look upon your job as a service to the Satguru. Be punctual and never be slack in the fulfilment of your duties. Avoid negligence and shun dishonesty. Always respect your superiors.”
Heaven on Earth