Baba Budha Ji (the wise old man) was such a towering figure in the Sikh history that he ceremonially anointed the first six Gurus by applying Tilak on their foreheads and he was the first Granthi of the Harmandir Sahib, fondly called Golden Temple, yet he lived with such an exemplary simplicity that he was pleased to eat bread with raw onion. Even today ‘bread with raw onion’ is served as consecrated food in the Gurudwara in his memory. He was so devoted and committed that he lived all his life in close contact with and service of the first six Gurus from 1524 to 1631. He was so closely associated with the Gurus that at the time of his death Guru Hargobind was at his bedside and he shouldered his bier.
Baba Budha was born on October 6, 1506, in the Village Kathunangal on the way from Amritsar to Batala. Originally named Boora by his parents, he was renamed Baba Budha by Guru Nanak when he met him while he was grazing his cattle in the forest where Guru Nanak accompanied by Bala had halted to take rest on their way to Kartapur in 1524. Impressed by Boora‘s desire to know the way to salvation, Guru Nanak called him Budha for talking like an old wise person in his young days. Hence his name changed from Boora to Budha. Then onwards he became a sincere disciple of Guru Nanak and spent much of his time with him. In the absence of Guru Nanak from his home, Baba Budha stayed in the service of Guru Nanak’s wife Mata Sulakhani and sons Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das.
To declare Bhai Lehna ji as his successor, Guru Nanak invited Baba Budha to apply the ceremonial Tilak on his forehead. Bhai Lehna was renamed as Angad Dev. Hence, Bhai Lehna took over as the second Guru Angad Dev. After the death of Guru Nanak, Guru Angad Dev left Kartarpur to settle in Khadur Sahib near the river Beas while Baba Budha continued to live at Kartarpur. The site where the ashes of Guru Nanak was buried was developed in to a village named Dera Baba Nanak. The foundation of the first building of the village was laid by Baba Budha.
Being a contender for the succession, Guru Nanak’s elder son, Sri Chand, was not happy over the succession in favour of Bhai Lehna i.e. Guru Angad Dev . To evade the conflict, Guru Angad Dev went into seclusion for about a year and an half. The Sikhs could trace Guru Angad Dev and persuade him to give up solitude only with the help of Baba Budha.
Guru Angad Dev ji invented Gurmukhi script and to popularise it, he started teaching it to the children. Baba Budha also learnt it and then started to teach it others. Following the tradition Baba Budha applied Tilak to anoint the third, fourth, fifth and the sixth Guru.
Prithi Chand, the elder brother of the fifth Guru, was jealous of and hostile to him. As the Guru had no child for many years, Prithi Chand proclaimed that the Guru was not destined to have any child, and hence he would eventually be the next Guru. But with blessings from Baba Budha, who by then was living in the forests near Basarke Village, Mata Ganga gave birth to her only child Hargobind who became the sixth Guru. Mata Ganga had served Baba budha with bread, raw onion and butter-milk. Pleased by this gesture, he gave his blessings to Mata Ganga.
When the Adi Granth was compiled and installed in Harmandir Sahib on 16 August 1604, Baba Budha was appointed the first granthi or the high priest of the Sri Harmandir Sahib. The first recitation of the Adi Granth was carried out by Bhai Gurdas.
While applyingTtilak of guruship to Guru Hargobind, the sixth Guru, Baba Budha adorned him with the two swords on his both sides, which the Guru promulgated as the symbols of Miri and Piri..
Baba Budha laid the foundation stone of Akal Bunga and Akal Takht. The sacred tank at Amritsar and the baoli at Goindval were excavated under his supervision. The ber tree (Jujube) under which he used to sit while supervising the excavation of the Sarovar at the Golden Temple still stands in the Golden Temple precincts.
He spent his last days at the village Ramdaspura founded by his son named Bhana, where the family had settled after leaving their native village Katthu Nangal. He passed away on November 16, 1631. The Gurudwara Tap Asthan Baba Buddha Ji and the Gurudwara Baba Buddha Ji Samadh in Ramdaspura commemorate the life of the simple, devoted and committed Sikh saint Baba Budha Ji.