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Naam Simran:
The Way of The Sikh -
Letter & Spirit # 45





Translated from ‘Gurmukh Sikhia’ by Bhai Vir Singh



People want to see Waheguru.

When we have extreme thirst to see Him, then the Formless One assumes a form to grant us a vision. But this vision is fleeting, here now and gone the next moment.

For example, the tale goes that Waheguru appeared to Bhagat Prahlad in the form of a humanoid lion (Narsingh). That visit lasted only for an instant.  Waheguru did not stay as a man-lion wandering everywhere with Prahlad.

*   *   *   *   *

Some time ago I was traveling to Kashmir. On my way I came across a lady in Rawalpindi. She was a widow. She was visibly in pain because of the loss of her husband. She was the daughter-in-law of my hosts. At one point she brought water to wash my hands. As she was pouring water on my hands, I felt that her body was burning. I felt that she was extremely distressed.

I asked her family about her situation. When she came with water again, I told her I had a message for her from someone. "What message? Who would send a message to a wretch like me?" she retorted with indignation.

"The one to whom everyone belongs as His own, He has sent you that message," said I.

"Who is that?" she asked.

I said, "The True Guru Baba Nanak has sent a message to you, that you were not created as a tool for making children. You were created to repeat naam."

"What is naam?" she asked.

I then explained to her how to do simran on the 'Waheguru' mantar.

She accepted this. Within a few days she became happy, because her heart was at peace now. After that she had no further questions about naam and she continued its practice with zeal.

After some time I saw her again. She told me that her father-in-law resented even her eating at their house. I advised her to go to school and to find a job. She started to study and quickly sat for the Junior Cambridge exam. Some girls exclaimed, "You did not study much, how will you pass the exam?"

She replied to them, "The one who is going to pass me is someone else, not the examiner."

She passed the exam.

After the Partition of Punjab, she moved from her village to Delhi and applied for a job. There were so many applicants. People remarked, "Who will accept you where no one knows you?" She replied, "The one who has to accept me will take care of it. He does all the worrying for me."

She got the job. Her pay is enough to cover her expenses and she is also quite attractive.

She has such strong faith in the Guru's presence. This faith looks after her through all difficulties. Now she repeats naam and earns her own livelihood. She even takes care of her brothers.

*    *    *    *    *

Someone who repeats naam accumulates inner strength.

There is a Sikh narrated in our history who worked as a mill grinder. His employer was a missionary appointed by the Guru. One day, this missionary's son and another servant were arguing over something the Guru should have or shouldn't have done something.

This Sikh heard that and he could not restrain himself. He told them that the Guru cannot err and it was not proper to doubt Guru's judgment. The son admonished him to not interfere in their conversation.

"Go, get away from us," the son said to the Sikh.

The Sikh said, "I can accept abuse from you without any fuss but please do not criticize the Guru."

The son said, "We will say whatever we please, you go and do your work."

The Sikh exclaimed, "Why are you so bloated? It is only the Guru who has given you your status."

At this both those slanderers of the Guru became bloated. No treatment would help them. The Guru also came to know about their affliction. He came to see them.

They prayed to the Guru, "We are dying. Please forgive us."

The Guru explained, "No, you’re not dying at present. But you have been cursed by the mill worker Sikh's words. He said that 'you were bloated'. His words came true. If you seek his forgiveness, in humility, you will be cured. Only someone whose words brought this misery can release you from it.

“He uttered those words -- ‘you were bloated’ -- instinctively, without malice, meaning that you were consumed by pride. He repeats Waheguru's naam. This has infused power in his speech and you thus are indeed suffering from bloating."

"But he is our servant. Are we supposed to apologize to our servant?" they asked.

The Guru said, "Yes. This individual is a connoisseur of naam. He has repeated 'Waheguru ... Waheguru' while he was tuning the millstone all day and thus he has become powerful."

A similar account is found in the epic-myth Mahabharat where the Pandavas had arranged a yagya. (a Vedic fire ceremony, a ritual of chanting from the scriptures followed by gifts and feast for the Brahmins and giving alms to the poor.) It was said that if a yagya was complete then the conch horn sounds by itself at the end. But this time the conch did not sound. The Pandavas became worried. They asked Lord Krishna, "Lord, even you were present at the feast. Why then did the conch not sound? Where was the deficiency?"

Lord Krishna said, "Feeding me will not fulfill the yagya. There is a poor man who goes by the name of Balmiki. He cleans your houses and toilets and you consider him as untouchable. When he eats from the feast, then the yagya will be complete because he is a connoisseur of naam. All others are the egotistic so-called 'brahm gyanis'."

The Pandavas fetched Balmiki and fed him, the conch sounded spontaneously and thus the yagya was completed.

Calling Waheguru's name, even once, does not go unnoticed.

"He does not overlook even an iota of effort" [GGS:784.13].

October 12, 2014

Conversation about this article

1: Dr Yuktanand Singh (Michigan, USA), October 12, 2014, 10:24 AM.

The Lord Krishna episode cited above reminded me of the words from Japji: "Waheguru is supreme, His abode is the highest, but higher than the highest is His naam" [GGS:5.10]. Because without naam Waheguru would be unknowable, remaining in a sunn (shoonya=zero) state. Just as a couple does not exist until they communicate and join each other to become one (1). The desire for naam has resulted in this creation, various worlds and solar systems, and all these scriptures, says gurbani in Sukhmani [GGS:284.13].

2: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), October 12, 2014, 2:29 PM.

There are many ways of Naam Simran in Sikhism but Guru Nanak's Naam Simran and the true followers of Guru Nanak who copy this Naam Simran do it with the magic ingredient of love! Mechanically reciting gurbani or doing Naam Simran because of it being part of the Sikh code of conduct and a must do, is defeating the whole purpose of the exercise or of being a Sikh. When your mind, consciousness, and intelligence know you are happy and content to do Naam Simran for the sake of the Creator of the Universe whose breathtakingly beautiful creation we are in, our heart and soul wants to exclaim 'Waheguru, Waheguru, Waheguru!'

3: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), October 12, 2014, 3:40 PM.

We cannot thank Yuktanand Singh ji enough for the excellent translation of 'Gurmukh Sikhia' - truly a handbook of Sikhi getting down to business. Might I add Bhai Vir Singh ji's other books that are waiting to be translated. They are: "Gurmukh Jiwan", "Baba Naudh Singh" and "Parsangliaan". If you are going for a doctorate, then you have to read "Rana Surat Singh" in blank verse. A chance reading of the then published installment by Sant Sangat Singh ji of Kamalia brought him close to Bhai Vir Singh ji and to a life-long and incomparable association. A glimpse of this can be found in the copious correspondence between them in "Katriyah Santa" in 4 volumes. One day Sant ji tearfully related to his son -- later on to become Sant Kartar Singh -- the following: "One day Ranja was found crying and when asked, said I am crying for those wasted 18 years when I had not met Heer.Bachra, I too am crying for those wasted years when I had not met Bhai Vir Singh ji" [Ref. 'Abinandan Granth' presented to Bhai Vir Singh on his 80th Birthday, in 1954]. Yuktanand Singh ji, please speed up the translations, there is a lot more to be done. The other supplementary handbooks waiting to be translated are the books by Principal Satbir Singh ji. A tall order indeed for this journey.

4: Sukhbinder (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada), October 13, 2014, 5:15 PM.

Excellent. I have been following your columns. I am looking for vichaar on Japji Sahib in English. Can you please suggest a source?

5: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), October 13, 2014, 6:28 PM.

Sukhmani Sahib, Ashtpadi 2, Para 7: "prabh kae simran sehaj samaani". That is, "It is through simran on Waheguru's Naam that one achieves sehaj (equipoise)." The practice of simran induces a consciousness in one's mind and soul relating to the separation from Waheguru. And it produces a yearning to seek reunion with the Source. Inward looking becomes a habit and the ups and downs of life do not bother.

6: Sangat Singh  (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), October 14, 2014, 12:15 AM.

#4 Sukhbinder Singh ji: Khushwant Singh's translation in English is excellent. Most other translators tend to be flowery.

7: T. Sher Singh (Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada), October 14, 2014, 2:38 AM.

I particularly gravitate to W.H.(Hew) McLeod's translations: "Textual Sources For The Study of Sikhism." But my favourite is Nikky Guninder Kaur Singh's, which is to be found in a volume titled "The Name of My Beloved: Verses of The Sikh Gurus." Khushwant Singh's work, also excellent, can be found in, inter alia, his collection titled "Hymns of Guru Nanak."

8: Dr Yuktanand Singh (Michigan, USA), October 14, 2014, 9:29 AM.

Sangat Singh ji, I cannot believe that two years have passed already! My original intent was to translate selected letters from the audio called 'Piyare Jio'. Then I found the 'Gurmukh Sikhia' audio, and decided to translate it instead, because the content was already selected by its speaker. After I had posted a few installments then, thanks to you, I downloaded Bhai Sahib's books. So I decided to conform to the book rather than the audio. For the sake of completion, I intend to add portions missed from the book, somewhere before the end. You expect too much from me. I am not a writer, much less a poet, so I would leave the poetry to those who are better suited for it ... Nikki Guninder Kaur, for example.

9: Dr Yuktanand Singh (Michigan, USA), October 14, 2014, 9:32 AM.

People disdainfully add 'baba' to the word 'sant' but suppose all the milk we found had gone sour, would we stop drinking milk? Just as kheer may appear fine but we need to taste it. It is not kheer if we cannot taste its sweetness. But these days, the loudest voices insist that the words 'sant' or 'saadh' (such words can't and they shouldn't be translated) were meant only for Guru Granth Sahib. In this they reveal their lack of faith, that we must not expect or seek to meet any gurmukhs. In other words they express their strong "faith" in Guru Granth Sahib while also implying that Sikhi is dead today! Instead, we need to clear our own understanding and raise the bar on what sadh-sangat is and what the word gurmukh really means. Only then can we eliminate our ills. Our own desire and prayers will always force Waheguru to send some gurmukhs our way, during all periods.

10: Dr Yuktanand Singh (Michigan, USA), October 14, 2014, 9:35 AM.

Gurbani also expresses the remorse that Ranjha had felt after meeting Heer, the remorse that all spiritual lovers feel when they look back after meeting a gurmukh: "The life lived without meeting a saadhu was lived pointless" [GGS:810.13]. After meeting Sant Naranjan Singh ji, I realized why we continue to miss the learning that we expect from our Sunday visits to the gurdwaras. In fact, as a busy doctor who is also spiritually very poor, this is the only qualification I have. Close contact with a gurmukh augments the taste that is hidden in gurbani, overwhelming us, making it impossible to not taste it and not incorporate it in our daily life. Needless to say that gurbani insists on such saadh-sangat on each page. Bhai Vir Singh ji was a good example of the gurmukhs that we need to meet. We can live in the past and continue to admire tales of past gurmukhs but gurbani is best understood when its tale becomes our own tale. I prefer to explore why the Sikhs in general fail to make gurbani their our own tale.

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The Way of The Sikh -
Letter & Spirit # 45"

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