A Couple of Quick Questions: JAGDEV SINGH KALRA (Translated from Punjabi by SANGAT SINGH)
Meeting Bhai Vir Singh
It was 1956, the month of October.
Bhai Vir Singh was about to leave his bungalow on Lawrence Road (Amritsar, Punjab) for some meeting when, unexpectedly, a tonga bearing a military officer appeared at his gate.
The visitor explained he had just arrived from Bombay and begged a meeting with Bhai Sahib. The latter told him that he was in a hurry and could only speak to him later in the day. The visitor said that he had just three or four questions to ask. They were troubling him, and a short conversation with Bhai Sahib would send him, the visitor, on his way. “I won’t be long if Bhai Sahib will please give me a few minutes.“
Always gracious, Bhai Sahib sat down with him. “Let’s begin at the beginning. Why do you think I can help you find your answers?“
The visitor replied that he had accidentally come across Bhai Sahib’s book, “Sundari” in the local library, and had been deeply moved reading it. There had been no notation on the book disclosing the name of the author. He had then gone on to read the other books on the same shelf: like “Baba Naudh Singh“, “Rana Surat Singh”, etc., but they too disclosed no author’s name.
“This rather perplexed me,” explained the visitor, “and I sought out the librarian who solved the mystery … and gave me your name and address. I promised myself that I would visit you at the first opportunity, which I’ve finally had some three years later. May I beg your indulgence and ask a couple of questions?”
Bhai Sahib nodded.
“My first question,” said the visitor, “is - ‘Can one reach Waheguru simply by meditating on his Name?’ ”
Bhai Sahib: “To meet someone you would like to know, you need to find out, a) his name and address, b) have the means to reach him, and c) follow the right path to his door. You have come here from Bombay, you tell me. If you had taken the train to Calcutta instead of to Amritsar, could you have arrived here?”
The second question: “Waheguru, as the Creator, does He ever meet those who remember Him?”
Bhai Sahib: “In the three years you have said you were waiting while looking for the opportunity to meet me, you were in a way remembering me most eagerly day after day, with no lapse of the remembrance of your mission. It became a sort of ‘simran’. If two humans could meet in this manner, why couldn’t one meet Waheguru, the knower of all hearts, the all-pervading One, the creator, given a proper road map. I have been visiting Bombay almost every year. If I knew you wanted to meet me, I could have saved you the trouble of this long travel. But, I cannot read minds. Waheguru, the knower of all hearts, hears each one of us and blesses us. antar baahar kaaj biroodhee cheet so baarik raaik-alay … [While a mother is at work, inside or outside the house, her thoughts are constantly on the child (GGS:972:17)]. Constant remembrance of Naam is the way.”
Bhai Sahib then quoted one more line, before he left:
“nanak laykhai ik gal hor ha-uma / jakh-naa jahaakh - O Nanak, only one thing is of any account: everything else is useless babble and idle ego talk” [GGS:467.15].
Republished on July 7, 2015
Conversation about this article
1: Kulwant Singh (U.S.A.), March 30, 2013, 9:36 AM.
What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell just as sweet.
2: Amy Yawanarajah (Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia), March 31, 2013, 2:35 AM.
Faith is in the heart of the devotee - no time or distance will deter one who has the name of God. It is engraved in his heart and mind and guides him all his life.
3: Jaspal Singh Kohli (Mumbai. India), March 31, 2013, 1:06 PM.
It is simply unique and God's gift to meet noble saints and brahm gyanis in one's life. The best tribute and homage to Bhai Vir Singh is to read his writings.
4: Narendra Singh (India), April 01, 2013, 12:38 PM.
One has to try with His blessings. Whenever we are ready, He will arrange for satsang with gurmukhs.
5: Ravinder Pal Singh Kalra (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), April 04, 2013, 9:20 PM.
Dear Sangat Mama ji, I remember this incident as I heard it first-hand from Papa (S. Jagdev Singh Kalra). Papa was blessed to have also enjoyed the company of Sant Sangat Singh Kamalia-wale who was a close friend of my dear Daada ji (Bhai Mukand Singh). Sant Sangat Singh took amrit after he met Bhai Vir Singh. The account of their first meeting was also narrated by Papa. When Sangat Rai ji(Sant Sangat Singh's original name) went to meet Bhai Sahib, he was asked to wait in a room where he experienced the spiritual presence of a sadhu in meditation. As soon as Bhai Vir Singh entered the room, Sant ji asked him about that experience, to which Bhai Sahib replied: "Oh, that was just me in my previous life". This incident brought Sangat Rai close to Bhai Sahib and he ended up taking amrit. As Sant Sangat Singh, he eventually guided a lot of souls into embracing Sikhi and developing their love for Guru Granth Sahib and gurbani (I could feel that effect in my father's life as he always respectfully treated Guru Granth as 'Partakh Parmesar').
6: Amy Yawanrajah (Seremban, NS, Malaysia), April 10, 2013, 3:52 AM.
The answer is the same to this one too. When one has the name of the Creator engraved in the heart, neither time, distance nor one's position is material. One will not need to search. Just meditate with eyes shut in a quiet environment and whatever the question is, the answer will be revealed and the seeker will be enlightened ...
7: Harinder Pal Singh (Patiala, Punjab), October 03, 2013, 8:16 AM.
This incident reminds me of a lesson I too learned once. My mother was a pious lady and thrived on meeting religious people and bringing them home for a meal. One day a very simple looking baba ji whom my mother met at a gurdwara was at our home when I came back home and my mother beckoned me to pay my respects to him. Quite cursorily I did the same when my mum started saying what moms do about their kids and in the end said: he is a very good son but doesn't do paatth. To that he told my mum that in a household not everyone goes for earning but the whole family lives off it. You do the paatth and they all would benefit from it! Emboldened by his defence, I got carried away and started sermonizing that deeds are more important than paatth and that I follow this principle. I was on my bragging trip when this genial man took my hand, gently squeezed it and asked: "Doctor sahib, tusi science de student ho na? - Doctor Sahib, you're a student of science, aren't you?" "Oh yes," I said. "Phir tusi theory parrhe bina practical te nahi kar sakde na? - Then, can you get into actual practice without first studying theory, can you?" he asked me. This simple and unassuming soul taught me a lesson of life and humility.
8: Arjan Singh (USA), July 08, 2015, 12:43 AM.
We must do more to introduce the works of one of the most influential poets of the Punjabi language to the world, just as Walt Whitman, the American poet, is known in most corners of the world for his free verse style of poetry. I have an idea on the lines of Project Gutenberg, that is, a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works and make them available for free to the general public. Project 1: Translate all of Bhai Vir Singh's works into western English. Project 2: Digitize all the works of Bhai Vir Singh and make them available in formats such as HTML, PDF, EPUB, etc. These works must not be for sale, but available for free.