Prof. Karamjit Singh Rai returned to India in 1999 after 40 years as Professor of Biological Sciences at University of Notre Dame in USA. He founded S. Jaswant Singh Rai Memorial Charitable Public Trust in the same year, which happened to be the Tricentenary of the founding of Khalsa Panth. The Trust was established in the name of our father, and to perpetuate the memory and legacy of our late parents ( Father, S. Jaswant Singh Rai; Mother, Mata Tej Kaur and Grand Mother, Mata Basant Kaur). They passed away on December 26,1975; March 15, 1983; and May 17, 1967 respectively. Their personal lives were devoted to and based on Guru's teachings, Nam Simran , hard and honest work , sharing every thing, their home and their meager resources with others, and voluntary public service. Till his retirement in the mid fifties, Bapuji was employed in the office of the Commissioner, Jalandhar division, which in the undivided punjab had administrative jurisdiction over five districts of Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Amritsar, Ambala and Ferozpur. Our ancestral home, Basant Niwas, named after our grandmother, and constructed by our father in 1935, is located approaximately 50 yards from the northern boundary of Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar.
Basant Niwas, with its convenient location very near both the central Bus Stand, and the Railway Station in Jalandhar, has been home not only for the immediate family, but also provided accomodation , food and comfort, both physical and emotional, to needy irrespective of caste , creed and religion, particularly to the rural community from villages in districts of Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur, in the decades of 40's, 50's and 60's. Relatives , friends, aquaintances, would often arrive at Basant Niwas unannounced, at all hours of the day or night, served meals by our parents and our grand mother cheerfully and without ever a wrinkle on their foreheads. The visitors would attend to their business, be it pursuing a court case , to do shopping for marriages or numerous other chores with Basant Niwas as their transient headquaters. Then too, classmates of six sons were often milling through Basant Niwas, usually in search of snacks to eat and a place to rest, during recess periods, after schools, and /or following school games/matches. Moreover, there were frequent kirtans, and several Sikh Saints graced Basant Niwas with their visits, often overnight.
Also, those were the days when good schools and medical facilities hardly existed in the villages of our dadke's and nanke's. As a result, essentially all our grown cousin brothers and sisters and even distant relatives received their high school, and in some cases even college education while living at Basant Niwas. Equally importantly, several relatives who needed medical help and suffered from various ailments , including acute and terminal stages of the then almost untreatable tuberculosis,stayed at Basant Niwas and were completely cared for, and nursed by , our parents and our grandmother.As a result , Basant Niwas in those days served as a sort of cross-roads and had the look and feel of a vidyala, dharamsala, and a quasi.health-care facility combined, rather than a private residence with a strictly personal domain.
Undoubtedly, our father, mother and grandmother lived every breath of their lives according to the edicts of the Gurus which exhorts the sikhs to serve the needy with complete devotion and commitment, and that of Bhai Gurdas to regard the poor person's mouth as the Guru's cash offering box.(golic). It was certainly not a coincidence that following the death of our father on December 26, 1975, the Hukumnama on three separate venues at Kiratpur Sahib immediately following the immersion of his ashes around noon, the one following raihras sahib at Gurudwara Ananadgarh Sahib in the late evening, and the early morning Hukamnama of that day at Takhat Shri Kesgarh Sahib was the same. It was:
hir min qin visAw soeI] jY jY kwru kry sBu koeI]
It is this legacy of the lives of our parents, with total subservience to Guru's will and commandments, which the Jaswant Singh Rai Memorial Trust is resolved to upholding and propogating with pride,dedication and humility.