Kids Corner


Furrow Thy Mind
A Garden Will Rise

by JASWANT SINGH NEKI. Translated from Punjabi by RAVINDER SINGH




TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: The following is a chapter from Dr. Jaswant Singh Neki’s 'Jinnaah Disandharriyan Durmat Vunjey'. The book is a compendium in Punjabi that speaks of people who have come into the author's life over the years and left an indelible impression on him. The memory of these encounters has helped him reinvigorate his faith when in doubt and taught him life lessons to live by. There are lessons for us as well. Let's reflect on them. [Ravinder Singh]



In our village lived Bhai Swarna, an illiterate farmer.

He was a regular visitor to our house, coming every day, to learn the Punjabi alphabet (painti akhri - the Thirty Five Letters) from my grandfather.

In time, he was able to read and write Gurmukhi. When he first inscribed his name, his joy knew no bounds. He broke into a dance, exclaiming, “Today, Swarna has become Swaran Singh!”

Thereafter, Swaran Singh’s visits to our house continued, but were devoted to the recitation of the Japji Sahib. His goal was to learn the entire text by heart, memorizing one stanza (paurri) every week, but allowing more time for the longer passages.

Within a year, Swaran Singh had committed to heart the entire bani of Japji Sahib.

But things did not stop there. Swaran Singh was also interested in exploring the meaning of the bani that he recited everyday. The daily sessions with my grandfather now graduated to vichaar, that is, an exposition of the meaning behind the words (arth) and their essence.

This went on for a while. Then one day, Swaran Singh did not turn up. We learnt that he had been taken ill. My grandfather went to look him up and found Swaran Singh resting on a cot, recovering from a fever that had now abated. He planted himself on the cot beside Swaran Singh.

“I have a mind to stop farming,” Swaran Singh said, turning to my grandfather, “ I wish to handover the farm to my children so I can sit without a care.”

“That is all very well,” my grandfather assured him, “your children are grown and can surely tend to the fields,” but also admonished him, saying, “Swaran Singh, don’t just sit around and do nothing. There is a field inside of you that requires your attention and cultivation as well.”

My grandfather then went on to explain to Swaran Singh how this inner field is to be cultivated: “Furrow it with the plough of one-pointed attention (dhyan), and then sow the seed of naam. Irrigate it with the water of contentment. The flowering that you will see will be beyond anything you have known or imagined.”

Bhai Swarna’s children took over cultivation of their fields. They worked hard and also mechanized the farm by replacing the oxen with a tractor. Providence smiled and Bhai Swarna’s family prospered.

All this while, Swaran Singh continued to follow my grandfather’s instruction, tending to the inner field with care and attention. A few years went by.

During this time, our family moved to the city of Quetta, where my grandfather had invested in a new business. One evening, I heard a knock on the door. As I looked out, there stood Swaran Singh, the farmer from our village. I led him to my grandfather’s room. As was the custom, he touched my grandfather’s feet as a mark of respect and squatted on the floor beside him.

After the initial pleasantries, my grandfather asked Swaran Singh what brought him to the city. Swaran Singh responded:

“That field you had asked me to cultivate? Well, it seems to have borne fruit. I couldn’t contain myself and just had to come to have your darshan (lliterally, to see) and to be able to tell you about my experience.”

My grandfather was all ears, saying, “Then tell me all about the garden that you have cultivated inside.”

"When I first turned my attention inwards,” Swaran Singh started, “I could see no land - or plough, for that matter. What was I to do, I thought? But I persisted and stayed attentive. Soon, a vast sky opened inside. I imagined it to be land and began to till it with attention (dhyan). As I did, I could smell the dampness of furrowed land. Then I sowed the seed by repeating, 'Waheguru! Waheguru!' The water of contentment was a little difficult to understand, so I watered it with my tears instead. The tears that fell from my eyes began to clean this inner sky until it began to shine and blaze forth in a myriad of colors. What can I say, my life just turned. I couldn’t understand what was going on, so here I am, to ask you about what is going on?”

My grandfather put his arms around Swaran Singh in a bear hug and said, “O gurmukh! Your effort has met with the Guru’s approval. Today I am witness to a tap mushkia – a true, fragrant worshiper!"



February 3, 2012

Conversation about this article

1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), February 03, 2012, 12:44 PM.

Through innocent love, the Lord is met. "bholay bhaa-ay milay raghuraa-i-aa" [GGS:324.15]. Again, at 487.16 - "Namdev's mind was absorbed in God ... Gobind, Gobind, Gobind. The calico printer worth half a penny became worth millions. Abandoning weaving and stretching thread, Kabir enshrined love for the Lord's lotus feet. A weaver from a lowly family, he became an ocean of excellence"!

2: Harpreet Singh (Delhi, India), February 03, 2012, 1:34 PM.

Can I, if always engrossed in the ego and haumai and never obeying His Hukam, be able to experience such grace, kirpa. "kirpa karo deen ke daatey mera gun avgun na bichaaro koee ..."

3: T. Sher Singh (Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada), February 03, 2012, 2:09 PM.

Harpreet ji: The answer is in your own note. If you really understand the shabad you've quoted and are sincerely applying it to your life, then you are practicing humility, and making a serious attempt at grappling with your ego/haumai. You are then indeed inviting His Grace. If you ignore the shabad and insist on abiding by the first half of your note, then you're not even seeking Grace ... so, the question then becomes redundant or mere chaturta.

4: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), February 03, 2012, 2:31 PM.

Of all the tasks we do in life and the journeys we take, of all the knowledge we acquire and the success and failures we garner, nothing can beat the yearning for the One, as described by Guru Nanak.

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A Garden Will Rise"

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