Kids Corner

Columnists

Patience:
Letter & Spirit # 52

YUKTANAND SINGH

 

 

 

 

 

Baba Farid has said, “Patience is such a virtue. O man, when you sustain it you grow into a great river and you do not break off into a tiny stream” [GGS:1384.6].

Having patience is difficult. We often want to see immediate results, argue with those who do not agree with us, and we are quick to show off what we know. We lack the patience that Baba Farid desires.

How do we develop patience?

Patience comes naturally when we practice sehaj. The bow of the mind that was unnecessarily tense is then relaxed. As we discussed in the last instalment, whenever possible we practice being in the presence of Waheguru, accept the past exactly as it has been, accept the present exactly as it is now, and enjoy the present without expecting any meaning from it.

The mind thus freed can then engage in naam simran.

Before something can be put into a pot, it needs to be emptied. In Sukhmani Sahib, Guru Sahib has given this same instruction, unshackling ourselves from our mind’s constant activity, with these words: “Give up the fleeting ripples of expectations” [GGS:295.5].

When the mind is emptied of its extra baggage, the amrit of naam simran can then enter it and give it rest.

Gurbani tells us to sow naam in the field that we prepare in this manner. Is there an easier way to plant naam than filling our mind with the essence of gurbani? Gurbani is naam. Bhagat Kabir instructs us thus: “Let the shabad fill the vessel (of your mind and your body)” [GGS:478.8].

Living in hukam dissolves the haumai or the “I” in us. Naam then, takes over. Hukam, and haumai or the notion that “I am the doer” - cannot coexist. When we are living in hukam we will naturally exclaim ‘Waheguru’ (Wow-Guru!) at each turn and each opportunity.

God does not need us to obey His will. He does not need us as His slaves. We enter the slavery simply that we can get close to him and see Him. Living in the hukam or living in God’s will, takes us close to God.

It was impossible to include all the qualities of God in just a few words of the Mool Mantar. But Guru Nanak made sure to include the words ‘nirbhau’ (sans fear) and ‘nirvair’ (sans rancor) in the Mool Mantar, to remind us that God does not suffer from human traits, needs, and whims.

So, let us remember that, God has no desire to see us as His slaves. Accepting His hukam we become aligned with His will or with His love. When we are aligned with His will then we are able to hear His call or His command which Guru Nanak has called hukam. Gurbani says that the hukam is naam and naam is hukam.

*   *   *   *   *

Some religions are just like those get-rich-quick schemes that look good in theory, but the profit lies only in selling that scheme to others down the chain of command. One is ranked by how many one can convert, or even kill.

In Sikhi, on the other hand, as Bhai Gurdas says that, “Having received the gur-shabad ‘Waheguru’, a Sikh drinks the intoxicating cup of love, but remains quiet about it” [Vaar 4.17.4].

Baba Farid adds that we need to have the patience of a tree. A tree quietly waits for years to bear fruit. It sprouts new branches even if we keep cutting it, tap its trunk, or peel its bark. At a later day, it even surrenders itself be used and be consumed for fuel.

The gurmukhs similarly burn in God’s love but they do not let anyone know about it. Out of sheer compassion they share a drop from this ocean with us. A drop is about all we can endure. The love hidden in gurbani then becomes palpable. Its tale becomes our own tale. The arrows of gurbani pierce our heart. Often we sob uncontrollably and something inside us changes forever.

When the fragrance of naam spreads in the air, it eliminates the fire burning inside us. We are then more efficient in everything else we undertake. All our acts and good deeds are then truly fruitful. The world around us is then truly saved.

O brother, a gurmukh saves countless others by sharing just a droplet of naam” [GGS:608.16].

In such a state, we then want to be lost in gurbani, die, and disappear into the Guru. There is a problem, though. All this has to occur on the Guru’s terms, not on our terms. The patience then takes a deeper, a spiritual meaning. Baba Farid says that patience is then the bow and arrow as well as the act [GGS:1384.4].

This is indeed difficult to understand.

No one has lived this tale, a tale that cannot be told, better than Guru Amar Das. In his old age he quietly kept hauling water from the river every night. The all-knowing Master, Guru Angad, would talk to him only occasionally and ask him about his welfare just a few times in a year, until one day …

One poor tongue cannot utter the unutterable tale of Guru Amar Das" [GGS:1406.7].

Seeing gurbani in action, or being in sadh sangat lends insight into the intent of gurbani. Sharing this insight, discussing the spirit of gurbani without contaminating it with our own haumai, is an impossible task. Prayer and blessing of the sangat can make such attempts worthwhile.

*   *   *   *   *

Guru Sahib instructs us to observe the trees and flowers. Entire vegetation exudes naam. It displays the beauty of patience and sings the song of a lover’s separation. Gurbani in Raag Basant, a raag of the spring season, inspires us to remain progressive, to keep growing towards our love, and to continue to blossom just as the flowers in the spring season.

A heart imbued with gurbani becomes as delicate and fragile as the petals of a fresh flower. The pain of others makes us cry. As we read in Japji, dharam is born out of compassion, if we are still stone-hearted and if the pain of others is not our pain, we are missing the message of gurbani.

A heart that is soaked with gurbani’s love makes the trees and flowers bloom also. In the presence of a gurmukh the trees and bushes grow with vigor as if they were freshly irrigated.

This is why we read: “Wherever my Guru came and sat down, that land became lush and green. Those beings who went and saw my Guru they too became lush and green” [GGS:310.6].

Sikh farmers used to till the land while reciting Japji and Jaap during the wee hours. Within a couple of crop cycles they turned lime-saturated clay into lush fertile land of Punjab. This is perhaps why gurbani has also said: “The entire land was rejuvenated and the grain grew in abundance” [GGS:1250.14].

*   *   *   *   *

The word Yug (‘Ju-gg’ in gurbani) or era occurs in gurbani mostly to indicate a period or a very long interval, not to impress upon us the Vedic cosmological mythology of the Four Yugs.

At one place the body is compared to a chariot. Its spiritual state is the charioteer, and in this respect each ‘jug’ corresponds to the spiritual state predominant during a period. In Kaliyug or ‘kaljug’ the chariot is made of fire, falsehood and deceit are its driving forces or the charioteer.

In some places, a ‘jug’ is also compared to a season. Gurbani stresses that a seed must be appropriate for the season. In the season of kaljug only the seed of naam survives. All other seeds, reform, charity, good deeds, yoga, etc., will not survive if naam was not planted.

The water of naam extinguishes the fire in us. When we are dominated by falsehood we burn with desire, anger, conceit, etc. Gurbani then becomes secondary, even irrelevant, to us. Some individuals are thus destined to remain dry, just as deadwood does not blossom forth even if it had rained day and night.

Here is the shabad that we have discussed above:

Behold the flowers flowering, and the blossoms blossoming!
Renounce and abandon the “I”
Grasping His lotus feet
Meet with God, O blessed one
O my mind, contemplate upon the Lord. ||Pause||

Robust is the fragrance of tender young petals
Some others remain dry like deadwood
The season of spring has come
Keep blossoming forth
Now, the KaliYug is here
Plant only the seed of naam
It is not the season to plant other seeds
Do not be lost in doubt and delusion

One who has it written on his forehead
Shall meet with the Guru and find the Lord
O my mind, this season is of the naam
Nanak says the glorious praises of the Lord ... Har, Har, Har, Har


Guru Arjan, Raag Basant [GGS:1185.4]

[Please CLICK here to hear this shabad -- “dekh phool phool phoole …”]


July 1, 2015

Conversation about this article

1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), July 02, 2015, 5:02 PM.

Yuktanand Singh ji: Most grateful for your painstaking effort to translate 'Gurmukh Sikhia' and 'Gurmukh Jiwan'. These two are handbooks par excellence on Sikhi, which I keep plodding to be read. I do hope that these are available as e-books. Still, there is no guarantee that they would be read. Some of them don't even know that such a man as Bhai Vir Singh walked this earth. Another book waiting to be translated would be 'Parsangliaan', a first-hand account of people who were touched by Bhai Sahib's life-work.

2: Arjan Singh (USA), July 03, 2015, 7:36 AM.

S. Sangat Singh ji: Your suggestion to publish all of Bhai Vir Singh's works as e-books is apt. It is our fault that we have not celebrated his works at the International level. I can assure you that in the homes where art is celebrated and literature consumed, Bhai Vir Singh is known well and alive. His writings sought to revitalize the cultural identity of the Sikhs. He pioneered, inter alia, the genre of the historical/romance novel in the Punjabi language.

3: Yuktanand Singh (Michigan, USA), July 04, 2015, 9:51 AM.

S. Sangat Singh ji: thanks for your loving notes of encouragement. But I lack the patience. Over 300 years have passed. I cannot tolerate to quietly watch the mass-confusion that still prevails regarding essentials of gurmat. I am trying to go beyond mere repetition of what we hear in the gurdwara ... trying to magnify portions that have failed to sink-in ... trying a logical discussion of the relevance of gurbani, in modern terms. I intend to translate some more gems after writing on a few more topics. But we would be transformed, and not need to read further if we carefully read the 39 installments posted from Bhai Vir Singh Ji's book 'Gurmukh Sikhya' so far. These chapters probably should be published in the Sikh Review and other Sikh magazines. What are we waiting for? I do not like beating my own drum as my name appears on them, even though I merely translated them.

4: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), July 04, 2015, 2:28 PM.

S. Arjan Singh jio: Generally, I just present a snap shot of reading habits. Those who would read remain in minority. I was lucky to be born in a well-read family and was weaned on Bhai Sahib Vir Singh ji at an early age. It must have been in the early 40's when every 'Veervaar' -- Thursday -- my sisters would wait for the postman to deliver the weekly Khalsa Samachar and also tracts that would serialize, for example, 'Rana Surat Singh'. In between my phatti (bat) and worn out tennis ball knocking against the wall, I would hear whatever was being discussed. By the way, Bhai Vir Singh was always addressed most respectfully in our family as 'Pita ji'. By mid 50's, my elder sister was reading 'Guru Nanak Chamatkaar' and one particular episode, 'Pyarae da Pyara' moved me so much that whenever I needed to recharge my batteries, to this day, I go back to it. In the meantime, S. Guldeep Singh Sethi in USA started to produce excellent audio books and I pestered him relentlessly to go for 'Pyarae da Pyara' and finally wore him out. A few months later, I got a call from him: "Uncle ji, 'Pyarae da Pyara' already done!" I also got a copy in the mail and immediately got scores of copies made and distributed them to the 70+ satsangis who meet here every Sunday. Unfortunately, only 2 or 3 heard it. That was my lament in my earlier comment. 'Pyarae da Piara' is also now freely available on the net. Despite the ubiquity of mobiles to supplement reading devices, these nuggets remain unread and unheard. "Hain virlay naahee ghanay fail fakarh sansaar" [GGS:1411.9] - 'The true devotees are few and far between'. Especially the reading type.

5: Arjan Singh (USA), July 06, 2015, 6:24 PM.

We need to share with the readers (especially the younger generation) that one of the leading banks, Punjab & Sind Bank was founded by Bhai Vir Singh, Sir Sunder Singh Majithia and other prominent public figures to help the weaker sections of society. Therefore, Bhai Vir Singh was not only a writer and mystic but also a 'Progressive' in the truest sense. Ironically, the Progressive movement swept USA from 1890s to 1920s; and among other goals this movement brought social activism and efficiency in the industry.

6: Aryeh Leib Lerner (Israel), July 07, 2015, 1:22 AM.

Yuktanand ji, you seem to have an uncanny ability to know just when I need a dollop of inspiration - for which I remain in your debt. It's an amazing seva that you're doing. How would I go about collecting the 39 installments of "Gurmukh Sikhya" that you've translated so far and offer them to other publications? That they deserve to be read by a wider audience is beyond question.

7: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), July 07, 2015, 1:46 AM.

S. Arjan Singh ji and Dr. Yuktanand Singh ji: It could not be easier but this was made possible by S. Guldeep Singh Sethi in USA for undertaking this project and shied away to take any credit for this monumental effort. This is now just a click away and would relieve you the effort to read. It tells all about Bhai Vir Singh. The site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhJsphTTdBc It is professionally produced. 'Baba Naud Singh', I suspect, was actually modelled on Bhai Vir Singh himself, who in actual life always chose to remain out of the limelight. In his famous autobiographical poem, "Binafsha Da Phul": 'meray chhuppay rehan di chah hai puri hondi nayee" and wrote: 'I lie low in their highways, and make no moans ... I seek to live in solitude, And wither and cease ... But the eyes of the scent crusher seek me, And break my peace". That was Bhai Vir Singh. He lives with us through eternity and sang so majestically. As S. Arjan Singh has mentioned, Bhai Vir Singh was a polychromatic personality which realized itself in diverse fields of activity. But, he remained a bard and lived the teachings of Guru Nanak in his own life and in his writings and utterances.

8: Manjeet Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), July 07, 2015, 5:09 AM.

Although I had heard of Bhai Vir Singh ji, it was Sardar Sangat Singh ji who patiently fed me with short articles and extracts from Bhai Sahib's works. Sangat ji was relentless and would present some writings each week. He would pose a small query from the previous week's article and I would squirm rather uncomfortably if I had not read it. I found it easier to read than try to evade Sangat ji. I gained tremendously from Bhai Vir Singh's works. To understand Bhai Sahib to the optimum, one must have a fairly good background in gurbani. He cleverly disguises his own spiritual experiences as stories, especially in dreams which appear in many of his works. Unfortunately we have few who are prepared to read such works. Even the vidoes on youtube are watched by a rare few.

9: Raman (USA), July 07, 2015, 3:30 PM.

Thank you for doing such a wonderful seva. I have started to compile the writings you have written in pdf form. I do not have all the translations yet but am working on them. If you could send me your email address so that I can send you my first draft for your consideration. [EDITOR: The whole series is under Dr Yuktanand Singh ji's column, which appears in its entirety on the COLUMNISTS page of sikhchic.com.]

10: Dya Singh (Melbourne, Australia), July 07, 2015, 8:32 PM.

Wow, the topic was Patience and what follows is a mountain of information, especially about Bhai Vir Singh ji. Hard not for anyone to sit up and take notice. I too have to moved Vir-ward. Perhaps like Sangat Singh ji, to set Veervaar aside to do further readings or hearings from Bhai Vir Singh ji. Thank you, Sher Singh ji, for allowing these comments to continue.

11: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), July 08, 2015, 4:44 AM.

Nearly complete work of Bhai Vir Singh ji's books are available at the following site: http://www.vidhia.com/index.php?q=f&f=%2FBhai+Veer+Singh+Ji. If this site does not open try: www.vidhia.com. A lot of them are also translated in English. All waiting to be read.

12: Yuktanand Singh (Michigan, USA), July 08, 2015, 2:07 PM.

Aryeh ji (#6), the articles #11 thru #49 are chapters from Part 2 of Bhai Vir Singh ji’s ‘Gurmukh Sikhya’. My plan was to go through the rest of that book and add some portions from Part 1 before compiling them into a book form. But the articles can be reproduced as they are, without my name, with permission from sikhchic.com, I guess.

13: Yuktanand Singh (Michigan, USA), July 08, 2015, 2:13 PM.

Raman ji (#9), thank you for your help. My public email is yasingh@yahoo.com. Please send me a copy of what you have. I will then reply to you from a private email address. I will need to make a few minor corrections in the translation. Everyone, please feel free to point out any errors that you may notice.

Comment on "Patience:
Letter & Spirit # 52"









To help us distinguish between comments submitted by individuals and those automatically entered by software robots, please complete the following.

Please note: your email address will not be shown on the site, this is for contact and follow-up purposes only. All information will be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy. Sikhchic reserves the right to edit or remove content at any time.