The Way of the Sikh: YUKTANAND SINGH
Letter & Spirit # 11
Bhai Vir Singh Ji was a brahmgyani, a saint-poet. Most people saw him as a writer.
In the coming weeks, I will be posting an informal and abridged translation of the audio series, ‘Gurmukh Sikhia’ by Bhai Vir Singh. Consisting of 28 parts, it was recorded during the year 2010 in the voice of Giani Joginder Singh ji Azad.
Part I - INTRODUCTION
Bhai Vir Singh was a picture of sehaj, describing unreachable secrets, a poet whose heart and pen flowed with gurmukh emotions and love of God’s creation. He was also a source of great spiritual guidance to the seekers within his circle of sangat.
Countless Sikhs flocked to his darshan, to ask questions to help untangle their spiritual knots, and to understand gurmat from him.
During these meetings, Bhai sahib, being soaked with supreme love, diffidently answered various questions in the light of gurmat … e.g., re recognition and darshan of ‘karta purakh’ (The Creator-Doer), how to understand one’s own mental state, our worldly obligations and relationships, and how to obtain Guru’s mercy, etc.
Some gurmukh seekers noted down those replies. This series is a collection of some of those notes, approximately from the years of 1951-57. Some items have also been extracted from Bhai Sahib’s writings.
They are all presented here without any title or in any particular order.
“ratan laal ja ka kachhoo na mol” [GGS:186.2] - ‘(gurbani is) an inexhaustible and immeasurable storehouse of priceless jewels and rubies.’
Some seekers asked about the meaning of these sacred words in relation to simran.
Bhai Sahib replied:
Simran means love of God and losing one’s distance from the Lord, and thus becoming one with the Lord. If we can grasp this, mere verbal repetition is like an act of a dead soul.
Kirtan ignites the necessary emotion. Thus, kirtan helps awaken the love between us and God. Just as pieces of wood are joined together with glue, in the same manner, love joins us with God.
Making the mind unpolluted is very important. When the mind is clean then our condition is the same as, “Lord follows after me, calling, Kabir! Kabir!” [GGS:1367]. When a flower regains its fragrance, then the bumble bees spontaneously seek it and gather around it. The real act is having a clean heart.
People deluded with various other ways are simply playing with the spirit world. Instead of attempting to see Guru Nanak materialized in a physical form, or we could say that instead of seeking vision of Guru Nanak, we only need to lift our own character. It is most important that we have a clean heart to welcome Guru Nanak in it. How can a king visit a dirty house?
Real virtue is naam-simran. People see it as a minor act and don’t take it seriously. They prefer to do yoga practices. But opening of the ‘tenth-door’ or solving the ‘kundalini’ is accomplished spontaneously (sehaj) and easily in gursikhi through naam simran.
One who engages in simran needs to also rise above the desire for wealth, personal fame or spiritual powers. They are hurdles on the path. One needs to completely surrender oneself to God. Then He protects and nurtures us, just as a cat nurtures her small kitten.
A fakir (mendicant) trusts God for everything. Having eaten today he must not worry about provisions for tomorrow. ‘sir-sir ri-jak sam-bahay thaakur’ [GGS:10] - “The Lord Master provides sustenance for each and every person, why then the anxiety?“
There was a fakir, and the king wanted to marry his daughter to him. The fakir said, “A princess raised in a palace will not be able to live the simple life of a fakir. She wears silk and velvet. I wear rags and I rely only on God.” But the king admired and trusted him. His daughter also had become attracted to a life of simplicity and poverty.
The fakir married her and brought her to his hut made of mud and straw. One day, the king’s daughter saved a small piece of stale bread for the next day. When the fakir noticed it, he became sad. He said, “We need to rely only on God. A fakir who saves and hides food for tomorrow, still lacks trust in God’s sustenance: The birds and the dervishes never pack food. Those who seek God, they always get their sustenance.”
These discourses progressed to the next level: Looking for some light behind the eyes or seeking vision of Guru Sahib in one’s samadhi is like self-hypnosis or a circus-play assisted by the spirit world. Even if someone has power to revive the dead, it has no value.
The real value lies in inner peace.
Simran changes our character: “Even a cat does not eat flesh placed in front of her, a fierce butcher throws his knife away’ [GGS:898.15].
With touch of his toe, King Ram (who, in Hinduism, was an incarnation of God) emancipated one ardent seeker, Ahallya, who had been transformed into a rock due to her husband, sage Gautama’s curse. But raam-naam emancipates countless individuals. Bhagat Tulsidas describes it this way: How can I describe the greatness of raam-naam, even Ram (God) cannot sing praise of naam (one has to be a human first).
(In the beginning), naam needs to be repeated with the tongue. As long as we are in a physical body, a spiritual act needs to be associated with a physical act. The tongue is for that purpose. Naam repeated with the tongue gradually descends into the heart and it takes us there with it and dwells in our breath. When we place a lamp in the foyer it sheds light both ways, inside and outside the house. Similarly, a verbal repetition illuminates our inside and outside.
Introspection and simran need to go together. Simran has power. If someone who is angry and does simran, it will strengthen the anger. For this reason, it is important that we examine our each thought and each act.
Simran must not be forced beyond the comfort level. We need to kill the haumai by walking on the path shown by a gurmukh in the light of gurbani. First, simran removes the dirt from our heart. Then simran makes Waheguru dwell in the heart thus cleaned.
Daily simran, even for a short period, gradually turns into ‘liv’ (a constant flow) that strings into an eternal link. Our true Guru did not make his Sikh a rat in a rat hole, someone hiding in the mountains to attain samadhi.
We are householders who live within the world. We feast and drink, play and laugh, but we stay in a spiritual sphere that is above the traps of worldly attachments. Thus, by living in a higher spiritual state, we become a gurmukh.
October 10, 2012
Conversation about this article
1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), October 10, 2012, 7:22 PM.
Yuktanand Singh ji, I have distributed those audio CDs on a regular basis. The latest audio addition is "Baba Naudh Singh" with some 23 hours of recording and of 101 files. It is an incomparable handbook of Sikhi first published in 1907. I have been weaned on Bhai Sahib's work way back to my early 40's. This brahmgyani brought about a literary renaissance in the language of the soil like no one else. The credit for all this audio seva goes to Guldeep Singh (USA) and the impeccable voice of Giani Joginder Singh. I hope you will also touch on Dr. Balbir Singh, Bhai Vir Singh's younger brother whose prose, be it in Punjabi or English, remains unmatched. This chapter of "Letter & Spirit" is something closest to my heart.
2: Harpal Singh (Sydney, Australia), October 10, 2012, 7:35 PM.
Dear Yuktanand Singh ji: Just like our existence, which is incomplete without an insight/ understanding of the worlds "without" and "within" us, so would be sikhchic.com without these jewels of the inner sanctum that you and other gurmukhs alike, keep bringing to us. I eagerly await further postings in this series.
3: Sarjit Kaur (Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.), October 11, 2012, 5:33 PM.
Are there any online editions available of "Sri Guru Nanak Chamatkar" and "Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji de Jiwan Vichon Kujh Chamtkar", both by Bhai Vir Singh?
4: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), October 11, 2012, 7:30 PM.
Sarjit Kaur ji: Yes, indeed, Bhai Sahib's books, both in Punjabi as well as in English translations, are readily available on the net. There are also audio books in impeccable voice also available. Try the following site: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/id7crkcslzi3e0p/41gu_FGGcQ/Bhai%20Vir%20Singh-Books-English-Punjabi In case you have difficulty, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
5: Jaswinder Kaur (United Kingdom), October 12, 2012, 9:51 AM.
I am intrigued by the comment in Yuktanand Sing's otherwise lucid commentary on simran that if a person does simran when he or she is angry, it strengthens the anger. This seems counter-intuitive to me as the whole purpose of being in remembrance of God (doing simran as lovingly as possible), as Bhai Vir Singh says, is to wash the dirt/ego off our minds. Any explanations?
6: Yuktanand Singh (USA), October 13, 2012, 11:34 AM.
Sangat Singh ji, thanks for posting a link to the books. I remember reading 'Baba Naudh Singh' as a teenager and I have been exposed to Bhai Sahib's poetry. But, during those years I regarded these writings as simply, sweet emotional expressions of a poet who had fallen in love with God but not much different than any poet or an artist in love. Sadly, many adults see them, including gurbani, in the same light. But poetry, love or love of art, is an option. Loving God or naam-simran is not an option, nor is sadh sangat an option. The thrust of my own writings was analyzing why in our heart we continue to regard them as optional and why do we not yearn to meet spiritually alive Sikhs.
7: Yuktanand Singh (USA), October 13, 2012, 11:36 AM.
"uttam salok saadh ke bachan" [GGS:295]. Jaswinder Kaur ji, the above words (Part I, Part II and the segments to follow) are not my words. They are translated from the audio in Punjabi. The audio is from notes that may be sometimes inaccurate. The word 'simran' in that paragraph appears to be used loosely. It refers to 'jaap' as mentioned in "jaap taap gyaan sabh dhyan" [GGS:265]. Jaap (repetition of a word), and taap (heat or energy produced by restraint or abstinence - including fasting - that is not followed by feasting) accumulate energy. This energy can be used in either direction but it is not conducive to simran. The simran advocated in gurbani includes jaap but with mindfulness of God's presence. Such simran cleans our mind of anger, etc.
8: Sarjit Kaur (Bethel Park, PA, USA), October 14, 2012, 12:51 PM.
Thanks so much, neighbor, for the links. I am from Singapore kampung:)
9: Sarjit Kaur (Bethel Park, PA, USA), October 14, 2012, 6:52 PM.
Sangat Singh jio: Can something be done about the print of the online books on the link you provided, please?
10: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), October 14, 2012, 7:47 PM.
Sarjit jio: Once you open the online book, please save it as a PDF file. As an example, I would attach Guru Nanak Chamatkar for you. It is great to have nearly all of Bhai Sahib's book online. Please do not hesitate, should you encounter any problem.
11: Sarjit Kaur (Bethel Park, PA, USA), October 15, 2012, 6:52 PM.
Sangat Singh jio: The English version print is very blurred ... that is the issue I am referring to.
12: Rose Khalsa (USA), November 08, 2012, 2:40 PM.