Kids Corner


Part II

Bhai VIR SINGH [Translated from Punjabi by INNI KAUR]




The following is a free translation of the opening chapter of Bhai Vir Singh’s “Baba Naudh Singh.”


Continued from yesterday …


One evening, sitting on the balcony facing the bazaar, Jamuna / Ghulam Fatima recognized a face from years gone by. She rushed downstairs.

“Ganga Bai?” she asked.

“Yes, I am Ganga Bai. But how do you know me? I don’t recognize you,” replied the woman.

“I will tell you everything when we are alone,” said Ghulam Fatima. “Do you have time to talk?”

“Not right now. I’m on my way to the gurdwara. I will talk to you when I return,” said Ganga Bai.

Ghulam Fatima nodded and anxiously awaited her friend’s return.

When Ganga Bai returned, she took Ghulam Fatima to her own home.

“Bhain (sister), you have recognized me, but I’m not sure who you are,” said Ganga Bai.

“I’m the unfortunate Jamuna, who was your playmate in school.”

“Jamuna, what have you done to yourself? Who has misguided you to throw away your noble faith?”

“There is no one to blame but myself for all that I have suffered. When one’s wits get twisted, then one falls into bad ways. I thought I was taking a good step, but it turned out to be disastrous. My husband died, and through my own folly, I lost my property and my family.”

“I’m so sorry to hear your suffering. Please tell me everything.”

Ghulam Fatima narrated everything, “Now, I have no shelter and no place to go. I feel like jumping into the river and ending my life. Who knows what more I have to suffer for the sins of my past births?”

“Hush! Don’t talk about ending your life. Human birth is precious, my Guru says.”

“Who is your Guru?”

“My Guru is the Guru Granth Sahib. After my marriage, I went to live in Punjab with my husband’s family. There I studied the teachings of the Guru. My husband and I then moved to Lahore for business. Here I have been blessed to have met Upkar Kaur, who is a great devotee of the Guru. In her sangat, my love for the Guru has grown.”

“So you have become a Sikh? I’ve heard bad things about the Sikhs at both the places where I have been. How come you have fallen under their influence?”

“The Sikh faith is noble. Truth is its first principle. If you attend a Sikh congregation, you will experience this for yourself. But I’m worried about you. I don’t want you to do anything foolish like killing yourself. Let’s go and meet Upkar Kaur, I’m sure she will be able to help you,” said Ganga Bai gently.

“I trust you. If you think she can help me, let’s go.”

Upkar Kaur welcomed them warmly and listened carefully to Ghulam Fatima’s story. “The Sikh path is simple. There are no priests and no superstitious beliefs. The paramount teaching is that Ik Oankar - the One Universal Creator is the Creator of the universe and is in all. The core tenets are to remember Ik Oankar in everything that we do; lovingly serve everyone; share with the needy and recognize the divinity in all. This in a nutshell is the path of Sikhi,” said Upkar Kaur affectionately.

“If I follow this path, will I see my beloved husband? Will I find peace and contentment?” asked Ghulam Fatima.

Tenderly, Upkar Kaur replied, “If your love for Ik Oankar is sincere and you live a life of truth and serve humanity, you will experience peace and contentment. Whether you will see your departed husband or not, is not for me to say.”

Ghulam Fatima sighed. Although Upkar Kaur’s words pleased her, the memory of her past experiences made her wary. She wasn’t willing to allow herself to trust anyone.

She left, saying, “I will come again.”

Exhausted from her emotional state of mind, Ghulam Fatima fell asleep. Voices interrupted her already disturbed sleep. News of her visit to the home of a Sikh family had reached the Maulvi. Plans seemed to be underway to prevent that from happening again.

That evening, the Maulvi’s colleagues -- now her friends and acquaintances -- came over and insisted that she join them on a holiday to Delhi. “A change of scenery will do you good,” they said excitedly.

Ghulam Fatima agreed, knowing fully well why this gesture was being made.

That night, she did not sleep. The world appeared dark to her and a kind of dementia gripped her. She walked out of her home not knowing where she was heading.

*   *   *   *   *

Dawn was just breaking. On the banks of the River Ravi, sat a young pious-looking Sikh wrapped in a shawl. From time to time, tears would roll down his handsome face as he recited the Sukhmani Sahib. His eyes at times would close in ecstasy and then re-open. His recitation created an atmosphere of serenity and sweetness.

The breeze was gentle as he sat facing the rising sun. A floating body in the river stirred him from his concentration.

Immediately, he threw off his shawl, jumped into the water and dragged the body
ashore. The lifeless body of a young woman now rested on the banks of the river.

He quickly turned her around and pumped water out of her unconscious body. Closing his eyes, he gently removed her wet clothes and wrapped her frame with his shawl. With skill he shook her arms, rubbed the soles of her feet and her body began to breathe.

The sun warmed her frail frame. She opened her eyes and whispered, “Am I in the world of the living or the dead?”

“You are alive,” replied the man gently.

“I wanted to die. Why have you saved me?” she wailed.

The man realized that the woman he had saved had tried to commit suicide. Lovingly, he explained to her that life was a precious gift and to take one’s own life was a grievous sin.

His words had no effect.

The woman wept, but the man did not give up. His consoling words continued.

At last, she relented and revealed everything. The woman he had saved was none other than, Jamuna / Miss Dumaily / Ghulam Fatima.

“The best thing would have been to have committed sati on my husband’s pyre. Drowning in the waterfall would have been better than to have gone through the hell that I have been. Death is my only option.”

“Bhain, the world is cloaked in the darkness of evil. Man’s mind has become beastly. It is wrong to blame any particular faith. The five evils have gripped the senses of the followers of all creeds. The thirst of desire has gripped man’s mind like a fever and it is driving him mad,” said the man ever so gently.

“You appear to be a noble soul. But I’ve been caught in this error time and time again. I’m now disgusted with life. The entire world is full of greed. Some seek wealth, others body pleasures. No one has real sympathy for anyone, no one wants to truly help. Please, please let me die and go where my husband is.”

“Yes! You are right, men have lost dignity. Swayed by greed they have turned into beasts. Evil is prevails under the false guise of religion. All what you have said is true. But even in the dark night, the moon and the stars shine. Even in this world of bestial urges there are some men who are like the rare green shoots amongst parched plants. Even though you have not come across anyone who has curbed his mind of evil tendencies, do not give up hope.

“Remember, diamonds are not scattered like stones. Though the world is burning in the fire of evil, yet there is also the Himalayan snow of good to quench it. Your own quest is weak. Seek and you shall find. Seek not death; for such a death is evil.”

“Good sir! Who will support me? I cannot return to my parents’ home. My property, I have lost. I am destitute. Everyone I meet is like a bird of prey after my flesh. What should I live for? I am an unfortunate creature. But I have been faithful to my husband’s memory. My chastity I have protected at all costs and to save it, I am determined to die.”

“My daughter, your conduct is noble and pure. Your resolve to preserve your chastity is honourable, but I’m afraid you haven’t found anchor in Truth and Purity. You have gone through so much to protect your chastity, why then are you seeking support and worldly wealth? Your chastity and truth should be support enough for you.

“With Truth on your side, how can you be alone? Your actions are pure. Why do you consider yourself helpless? Waver not in your resolve to live truthfully. Seek not the crutch of sinful people. Truth and righteousness are imbedded in you; that is your anchor. Why are you seeking the support of those who are stimulated by desire, who despite their human birth live like animals? Get rid of this wrong notion and live fearlessly.”

“Holy sir! Your words are soothing and give me hope. But I remember a couplet of Kabir’s:

The burnt wood in the forest cries out to God:
Deliver me not to the blacksmith
Lest he burn it again as charcoal

“Listen, chaste lady, I’m neither a saint nor a blacksmith. I’m only sharing what I know. The animal nature, no doubt, is prevalent in the world. If man looks closely at his deeds he will see that his urges and actions are lower than even those of the animals. The animal stops after it is satisfied, but man stops nowhere. The world is under the pall of a dark night. Reformers, educators and preachers are crying themselves hoarse. Appeals are being made in the name of love.

“Despite all this, man’s nature remains like that of an animal. Yet, things are changing slowly. There are still a few rare souls who are devoted to the truth. Once you get out of your pessimistic thinking; you will be filled with hope. The optimist never attempts to destroy life. So, hate not mankind. Be not alienated from the whole world. Fleeing the world and living in forests will only bring in desperation and anger. Renunciation of the world will also mean renunciation of the good. Keep the company of good people.”

“I have not even met one good person.”

“Your search has not been adequate. In despair you have been seeking to destroy your body. Raise your consciousness and realize that the world is created by Ik Oankar -- the One -- and some good people live in it too. You will find someone who has mastered the five evils and loves Truth.”

“I left home in search of good people, and look what happened. A woman is like grain, subject to rats in a storehouse, and pecked by crows when thrown out. How should I even search for good people? I see greedy eyes everywhere.”

“The One has blessed you with fidelity to your marriage, yet you lack faith. True faith is higher than Truth itself. Truth you have, but it has not inspired you. This is why men seek you in lewd ways. No one would dare cast an evil glance on a pure woman. Your doubt is wrecking you and tearing you apart. Where faith is weak; there doubt exists. You have preserved your chastity in the midst of all this suffering. Now, throw away your fear and give yourself the strength that chastity brings.”

“Holy, holy sir, can I, a weak woman, live in this world alone?”

“The one who has faith and purity within, is not alone. The One is always by their side.”

“I understand what you are saying, but I am not totally convinced. May be my faith is not that strong. I do not feel the protection of the Creator.”

“How have you kept faith in your departed husband?”

“My faith in my husband is there, though I cannot explain it. Your words have brought joy to my heart and have encouraged me, but I am still shaky.”

“As you have faith in your husband, similarly put your faith in the Creator. Faith is within you, but it lacks firmness. Truth too is within you, but the source of the Truth is not yet lodged within you. I pray that the Divine comes to abide within you, for only then will you find true life.”

“What can I do for that to happen?”

“Know that the Divine is within. As you have cherished the memory of your departed husband and your faith in him has stood unshaken, similarly cherish and contemplate the Divine within. As your contemplation gets deeper, you will become fearless. Then you will neither stand under anyone’s fear, nor impart fear to another. When your mind becomes fearless, your outlook will change. This world will no longer appear poisonous, but will emerge as the image of the Divine. You will see Divine Light permeating universally. Rise and discard your doubts and illusions, and the darkness of ignorance in which your mind now abides. Forget the pain inflicted on you by others, else its memory will make your own mind impure with the spirit of revenge. Joy and bliss are experienced when the mind is in poise. Joy lies within, look not for it outside.”

“I’m blessed to have met you. Tell me, are you a Hindu, Muslim, Christian or an Arya Samaji?”

“I am not fit to be called a performer of good deeds. I’m a mere seeker of the true life from that teacher Guru Nanak and am known as a Sikh. I’m struggling to follow the teachings of my Guru. Remember, true religion leads to union with the Divine. The rest is a mere illusion. When Truth illumines the mind, one radiates
with the Light of Truth.”

“Your discourse has brought peace to my mind. But please tell me, whose support should I seek to pass the rest of my days?”

With eyes full of compassion, the man replies, “I do not have an ashram; nor am I a householder living amongst relatives. I cannot offer you anything. I move from place to place, I consider all places as mine. The earth is my bed. All food and drink on earth is mine, for I belong to the Divine and the entire world belongs to the Divine. Divine Love is my only support and I’m never alone. I urge you to put yourself under the Divine’s protection.

“With each breath of yours keep the Divine in your mind. Do not feel discouraged. The fruit of this devotion will appear gradually. As your contemplation gets deeper, your actions will emit love, and you will radiate Divine Love. Have faith, my child, have faith. What is your name, dear child?”

“The unfortunate Jamuna.”

“That phase is now over. You are now the fortunate Jamuna.”

“Where am I now? Where should I go? I need not ask you what I should do, for your words have penetrated my consciousness. A new life has come to me. I shall do as you have said, for your Master, Guru Nanak will guide me. Of that I am sure of; but please tell me where am I now? Where is my abode?”

“You are a Divine being. You have found life in the purity of the Divine; you are in the Divine; be absorbed in this Divine Presence and abide in it,” replied the man tenderly.

His words saturated the air.

Jamuna’s eyes closed.

Waves ebbed and flowed. Her awareness remained. She opened her eyes only to see that the man was gone. 

Time seemed to be come to a standstill. Her eyes closed once again. The echo of Waheguru began to resound within. Divine intoxication flooded her every pore and she was totally immersed.

The afternoon sun was beginning to set.

A tall peasant woman stood in front of Jamuna with a bowl of milk. “Good lady, in the name of the Divine on whom you are meditating, please drink this and grace our simple home. Your presence will purify it.”

“The abode of the Divine is all-pervading. I abide in the Divine,” uttered Jamuna with love.

“Daughter, you radiate divine presence. Trust me and please come to bless my home.”

“Mother, I will come with you,” replied Jamuna.


[The translator, Inni Kaur, is the author of a children's book series, “Journey with the Gurus” –]

August 25, 2014


Conversation about this article

1: Harinder Singh (Bridgewater, New Jersey, USA), August 25, 2014, 7:45 AM.

Inni Kaur ji trans-creates the opening chapter of "Baba Naudh Singh" whose universal question is evident today while we witness global perversion: "Man's mind has become beastly. It is wrong to blame any particular faith." A Sikh response to this, in a simple yet emotional tone, sometimes raw, is what's revealed to Jamuna by Bhai Vir Singh via a living Sikh, so she can start "flowing" again, having been violated by men ... men of religion.

2: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), August 25, 2014, 7:44 PM.

Bhai Vir Singh ji's message in his every writing encapsulated the message of Sikhi in its intrinsic form. Inni ji, your concluding lines do just that: "A tall peasant woman stood in front of Jamuna with a bowl of milk. 'Good lady, in the name of the Divine on whom you are meditating, please drink this and grace our simple home. Your presence will purify it. Daughter, you radiate divine presence. Trust me and please come to bless my home." "Mother, I will come with you," replied Jamuna."

3: Navi (Pennsylvania, USA), August 26, 2014, 7:16 AM.

There is a part of Jamuna's vulnerability in each of us as we make our efforts and long to abide in the One Truth. Thank you, Inni ji, for bringing Jamuna to us.

4: Gurmeet Kaur (Atlanta, Georgia, USA), August 26, 2014, 10:44 AM.

So so beautiful and worth remembering for Jamuna is inside all of us. "... But even in the dark night, the moon and the stars shine. Even in this world of bestial urges, there are some men who are like the rare green shoots amongst parched plants."

5: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), August 26, 2014, 3:49 PM.

Those who talk of God and ignore the service of down-trodden humanity are not religious, and take His name in vain. Evey true religion must express itself in humanism. There is so much of suffering in this world: unlimited poverty and diseases alone should mold the mind of a person to tend care. Jamuna was a truly God conscious person. She was being exploited by so-called 'religious men' in all walks of life. As luck would have it, with the Grace of God she came across a gurmukh (man of God) who practiced Sikhi in his life doing naam simran and service to humanity.

6: Satbir Kaur Chadha (Delhi, India), May 31, 2015, 4:15 AM.

Inni ji, your writing is very powerful, despite the use of simple language and soft words. The translation does full justice to the spirit of Bhai Vir Singh ji's stories, enthused in Sikhi.

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Part II"

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