Believe it or not, military mythology is a thing. Maybe when it comes to serving your nation, the soldiers never actually die. This is the story of Baba Harbhajan Singh, an Indian Army soldier, who died in 1986 but his ghost is believed to still be protecting his brothers-in-arms at the border.
Born in a village of Punjab in 1941, Harbhajan Singh enrolled himself in the Indian Army in 1956. In 1965, he was granted a commission and was posted to serve with the14 Rajput Regiment. It was in the year 1967, near Nathu-La pass, that Singh met his end after slipping and drowning in a glacier while he was leading a column of mules carrying supplies to a lonesome outpost. His body was recovered after three days and cremated with due honors. But did he really die?
Legend has it that it was his own ghost that led the search party to his own dead body. Soon after cremation, it is believed, he appeared in one of his friends dream and asked him to erect a shrine in his memory.
Even today, jawans posted at the Nathu-La post firmly believe that Singh’s ghost protects them. Soldiers even believe that his ghost warns them of any impending attack at least three days in advance. Even the Chinese, during flag meets, set a chair aside to honour Harbhajan Singh. The water from his shrine is believed to heal ailing soldiers. Singh’s shrine is guarded by barefooted soldiers, and his uniform and boots are cleaned on a daily basis. Stories about his ghost visiting the camps at night and even waking up the soldiers who sleep while on watch, are massively popular and very regular.
The belief about his paranormal existence is so firm that every year on 11th September, a train carrying ‘his’ belongings departs for his hometown accompanied by fellow soldiers, and goes right till his home’s doorstep. Moreover, until his recent retirement, Singh was steadily promoted up the ranks and retired as an Honorary Captain. His salary has, without fail, been sent to his family up until his retirement. Singh is looked up to as a holy saint today and soldiers often refer to him as ‘Baba’. Guess patriotism never really dies!