Thursday, November 28, 2019

ਜਥੇਦਾਰ ਭਾਈ ਰਘਬੀਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ (ਯੂ.ਕੇ.) ਦੀ ਸੰਖੇਪ ਜੀਵਨੀ । A short biography of Jathedaar Bhai Raghbir Singh Ji (UK) [Part 2]

(PART 2)

Financially helping Gursikhs
The Rehatnama (code of conduct) scribed by Bhai Desa Singh Ji (p. 130), records the Hukam (command) of Guru Gobind Singh Ji as: ਆਪ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੋ ਰਾਜਾ ਹੋਈ । ਨਿਰਧਨ ਸਿੰਘਨ ਪਾਲੈ ਸੋਈ ।੪੦। (“If one Sikh is well off, they should try to help other Sikhs who are less fortunate.”). Bhai Sahib Ji lived up to this. He had no attachment to money. Every time Bhai Sahib or Mata Ji heard of a Gursikh was buying a house, they would offer financial support without any expectations for being paid back or charging interest. They would even help non-Amritdharis where needed. They helped others with unconditional love. They could not tolerate to see another Gursikh financially struggle. If a Gursikh was able to financially stand on their feet, he or she could help other Gursikhs and help Sikh causes financially. Once, Bhai Sahib came to know that a Gursikh doing Seva was only working in the household. On top of this, this Gursikh was doing Seva of the Sangat but would not ask for money. After visiting the family, Mata Ji discreetly handed over a sum of money to the family and said "this is for you and to contribute towards the costs of your home." The family member receiving said, "This is not necessary Mata Ji." However, Mata Ji insisted that Bhai Sahib had asked for it to be given. However, truly the family appreciated how the Guru works through his Gursikhs to get through hardships and ensure no shortcomings come in serving the Sangat and doing Seva.
ਬਿਲਛਿ ਬਿਨੋਦ ਆਨੰਦ ਸੁਖ ਮਾਣਹੁ ਖਾਇ ਜੀਵਹੁ ਸਿਖ ਪਰਵਾਰ ॥੧॥
O Sikhs and brethren! Revel in it, delight in it, be happy and enjoy peace, and live long. ||1||
(Sorath M:5, Ang 618)

Memorising Gurbani
In 1989 Bhai Sahib went on a world trip for 5 weeks with Bhai Rama Singh Ji (Southall), Bhai Jarnail Singh Ji (Leamington Spa) and other Gursikhs from Akhand Kirtani Jatha UK for the purpose of spreading the message of Sikhi. They travelled from UK to Singapore, then Australia and New Zealand. From there they travelled to North America. During their trip to Canada they were returning back to Vancouver from a Kirtan programme held in Calgary with a Jatha (group) of 12 Singhs led by Bhai Malkit Singh Ji. It was journey of 12 or 13 hours at night.  Bhai Sahib Ji was reciting Gurbani aloud. An elderly person looked back to see if a cassette player was on, as he was wondering who was doing Paath in the darkness at night. He was suprised that there was no light, so who was reciting Bani for three or four hours non-stop. Bhai Sahib told the elderly person, "By the Grace of the Guru I had been able to memorise a lot of Bani. When I was young, I was very keen on wrestling. Seeing my interest, my father bought a sack of almonds as part of my strength building diet." Bhai Sahib believed that along with the Guru's Grace, the diet of almonds had helped his memory power. Singhs of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha had the minimum expectation that Singhs and Singhnian (Sikh men and women) would have memorised their Nitnem Banis (daily prayers). Those who were able to, memorised more. Some Gursiksh claims that Bhai Sahib knew all Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji from memory. It can be surely be said that Bhai Sahib could correct or know the Shabad being read during an Akhand Paath Sahib.
ਹਰਿ ਕੀ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਦੇਖਹੁ ਸੰਤਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਨਿਮਾਣਿਆ ਮਾਣੁ ਦੇਵਾਏ ॥
O Saints! Look and see the glorious greatness of the Lord! The Lord blesses the dishonored with honour.
(Soohee M:4, Ang 735)

Dedication to preaching Sikhi
Bhai Raghbir Singh Ji along with Bhai Rama Singh Ji, Bhai Jarnail Singh Ji (Leamington Spa), Bhai Sohan Singh Ji (Slough), Bhai Onkar Singh Ji (Leicester) and many other Singhs and Singhnis used to travel around the UK and abroad to do Seva of Amrit Sanchaars. During the holidays, people call others over for dinner or watch television, but Gursikhs dedicate themselves to Seva and Sangat. During these Seva tours, Bhai Jarnail Singh Ji would drive the whole night and do Naam Simran continuously. Bhai Raghbir Singh Ji and other Gursikhs would join Bhai Jarnail Singh Ji in doing Naam Simran. When they reached their destination, they would do a Rainsbaaee Kirtan (all-night continous singing of Gurbani) and preach to the Sangat to follow the Guru's teachings. They would say, "If you do not accept the Guru's Word (i.e. become Guru wale), then you will re-enter the cycle of birth and death." Bhai Sahib Ji stressed that taking Amrit alone is not enough and that keeping Rehat is compulsary. Bhai Sahib echoed Gurbani's teaching that without waking up Amrit-Vela and without doing Naam Simran one cannot call themselves a Sikh of the Guru, even if one has taken Amrit.
ਗੁਣਕਾਰੀ ਗੁਣ ਸੰਘਰੈ ਅਵਰਾ ਉਪਦੇਸੇਨਿ ॥
The virtuous accumulate virtue, and teach others.
(Soohee M:3, Ang 755)

Panthic activism
Bhai Raghbir Singh Ji never forgot his promise to his comrades that he made in June 1984. Till his last breaths he showed concern for the future of the Sikh nation and was always ready to be of service in any way. Bhai Sahib was dedicated to fulfil his duty to rejuvenate the Khalsa Panth in the West through encouraging others to take Amrit, Jap Naam and become good Gursikhs. Bhai Sahib, without fail, attended every Shaheedi Conference. He strongly believed that Sikhs should never forget their Shaheeds (martyrs), whether they are from the past or modern history. Bhai Sahib would regularly attend the June freedom rally and 1984 remembrance march that would take place in London. Even in his old age, he would attend these events. Bhai Sahib would tell the Sangat to give Daswandh (one tenth of their earnings) for the betterment of the Panth that includes helping the families of Shaheeds. Bhai Sahib did not shy away in his support for Khalistan, an independent state for the Sikhs that he deemed necessary for becoming a global voice for Sikhs and protecting Sikhi from religious attacks. However, he believed this was part of the bigger picture for Khalsa Raaj, which would is beyond borders and boundaries and will see the glory of Akaal Purakh manifested through the Khalsa shine boldly across the whole world.
ਧਰਮ ਚਲਾਵਨ ਸੰਤ ਉਬਾਰਨ ॥ ਦੁਸਟ ਸਭਨ ਕੋ ਮੂਲ ਉਪਾਰਨ ॥੪੩॥ 
(I have been born) to spread Dharam, and protect the saints, and uproot tyrants and evil-minded persons.43.
(Bachitar Naatak P:10, DG p.134)

Gurdwara Singh Sabha Coventry
On 9th September 1998, the foundation was laid for a new Gurdwara, Gurdwara Singh Sabha, in Coventry, UK. The foundation was laid by Five Singhs which included, Bhai Raghbir Singh Ji, Bhai Jarnail Singh Ji (Leamington-Spa), Jathedaar Bhai Rama Singh Ji (Southall), Bhai Sohan Singh Ji (Slough) and Bhai Gurdev Singh Ji (Coventry). Giani Amolak Singh Ji also attended and gave his blessings for this new Gurdwara Sahib that would be dedicated to Gurmat and encouraging the youth towards Gurbani and Naam. This was one of the first Gurdwaras where Bhai Sahib and the rest of the Jatha Sangat contributed a large part of their time, money and energy. For the past 21 years, there have been regular Amrit-Velas, Smaagams, monthly Kirtan programmes, Amrit Sanchaars and youth camps at this Gurdwara. Bhai Sahib regularly attended the Amrit-Vela programme at Singh Sabha Gurdwara. He would wake up at 12am and do his personal Amrit-Vela from 12am to 2am. Then he would attend Gurdwara Singh Sabha Coventry from 2am to 4am for Naam Abhiaas (meditation on Naam).  When there were no other programmes, Bhai Sahib would attend the Sunday divaan at Gurdwara Singh Sabha Coventry. Sangat was everything for him. Although he had experienced a higher spiritual state, he still believed that it one's religious duty to attend the Sangat (congregation) in order to motivate and encourage others to step on the Guru's Path, rather than become a recluse.
ਸਤਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਿਲਿ ਹਰਿ ਸਾਦੁ ਆਇਆ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਪਛਾਤਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
One who joins the Sat Sangat, the True Congregation, and enjoys the divine-taste of the Lord, through the Guru they form a deep relationship with the Lord. ||1||Pause||
(Maalee Gauraa M:4, Ang 984)

Bhai Sahib would wake up 12am without fail and go to the bathroom to have his Amrit-vela ishnaan (body wash). The only arguments he has had with Mata Ji (his wife), has been over whose getting in the bathroom first at Amrit-Vela. If Mata Ji would get up first at 12am and go to the bathroom, Bhai Sahib would say, "It's my turn my first. How can you do have Ishnaan first? You know you turn is after me." Mata Ji would then sometimes go to do Ishnaan at 11.45pm, thinking Bhai Sahib would not realise, but he would would call out from the bedroom, "It's my turn first!" Bhai Sahib had so much love and enthusiasm for Amrit-Vela. For those who thought waking up Amrit-Vela is hard or tiring, Bhai Sahib's love and dedication for Amrit-Vela was uplifting and inspiring. In 2002, two young Singhs were travelling with Bhai Sahib to Pakistan from the UK for Yatra (religious pilgrimage). Bhai Sahib had a heavy cold and fever at the time. Due to the flight delays and changing airports, the journey from home to Gurdwara Panja Sahib (Hasan Abdal, Pakistan) took nearly 30 hours. The 2 Singhs were exhausted and worn out, and Bhai Sahib looked even worse. When arriving at Gurdwara Panja Sahib both Singhs were longing to have a rest and relax. At this point, Bhai Sahib asked for the time. The young Singhs replied, "11.30pm". Hearing this, Jathedaar Ji's eyes lit up and said, "Come, let's have a shower and then sit down together for Naam Abhiaas (practise of repeating the Lord's Name)." Once, Bhai Sahib asked a Singh, "Do you wake up Amrit-Vela?" He said, "I do usually, but not when I am ill." Bhai Sahib then smiled looking at the Singh (who was large in shape) and said, "Do you eat food, when you are ill?" The Singh said, "Yes." Bhai Sahib then said, "If you can forget not to eat when you are ill, then you shouldn't forget Amrit-Vela when you are ill!"
ਫਰੀਦਾ ਪਿਛਲ ਰਾਤਿ ਨ ਜਾਗਿਓਹਿ ਜੀਵਦੜੋ ਮੁਇਓਹਿ ॥
O Fareed! If you do not awaken at Amrit-vela (in the early hours before dawn), although you are alive (physically), you are (spiritually) dead.
(Salok Fareed Ji, Ang 1383)

To be continued...

Monday, November 25, 2019

ਜਥੇਦਾਰ ਭਾਈ ਰਘਬੀਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ (ਯੂ.ਕੇ.) ਦੀ ਸੰਖੇਪ ਜੀਵਨੀ । A short biography of Jathedaar Bhai Raghbir Singh Ji (UK) [Part 1]

ਜਨਮੁ ਰਤਨੁ ਜਿਨੀ ਖਟਿਆ ਭਲੇ ਸੇ ਵਣਜਾਰੇ ॥
Those who fulfill and earn the jewel of this human life, are the most excellent of merchants of life.
(Raamkalee M:3, 917)

A very brief biography dedicated to the late Jathedaar Bhai Raghbir Singh Ji, the former Jathedaar (Head) of Akhand Kirtani Jatha UK. He was a role model Gursikh that I was blessed to meet and spend some time with in the Sangat. Jathedaar Ji left this world to the Guru's abode on 19th November 2019.


(PART 1)

Calling from the Guru
Bhai Raghbir Singh Ji was born on 1st July 1942 in Rawalpindi in Punjab (which later became a part of Pakistan). He came to England in the 1960s and lived and worked in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. He married Bibi Nirmal Kaur Ji in May 1968 and was blessed with a son and daughter. Bhai Sahib used to have cut-hair, drink alcohol and was a keen wrestler. However, one-day in 1975 he had a calling from the Guru. He said to his wife, "I want to take Amrit." Mata Ji was pleasantly surprised that Bhai Sahib wanted to take Amrit but thought he may still be drunk from the night before. Mata Ji told me that Bhai Sahib would bring friends and guests over in the evening after work to have a drink and Mata Ji would have to cook meat for them. Mata Ji said that she prayed that instead of drunkards, may Vahiguru Ji bless her with the Seva of Gurmukhs and may Gurmukhs visit her house and make the house blessed. She felt her Ardaas had been heard by Vahiguru with Bhai Sahib's sudden thirst for taking Amrit.
ਬਹੁਤੇ ਫੇਰ ਪਏ ਕਿਰਪਨ ਕਉ ਅਬ ਕਿਛੁ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਕੀਜੈ ॥
This poor soul has wandered through so many cycles of reincarnation. Now, Lord, please bless me with Your Grace!
(Dhanaasree M:3, Ang 666)

In search for Amrit
Bhai Sahib Ji never went to the Gurdwara Sahib and there were not many Amritdharis in his town at that time. He went to his local Gurdwara Sahib in Leamington Spa, thinking that perhaps the Granthi Singh can give him Amrit (not fully knowing that Panj Pyaare give Amrit). When approaching the Granthi about taking Amrit, he didn't get much response. So he then approached a local Gursikh who was at the Gurdwara Sahib, the late Bhai Prahlad Singh Garewal Ji. Bhai Prahlad Singh Garewal Ji said to Bhai Sahib, "First make your appearance ready for Amrit?" Bhai Sahib responded, "What does that look like?" Bhai Prahlad Singh Garewal Ji said, "Keep your Kesh and beard! You need to wear a Dastaar, a Kirpaan held in a Gatraa, a Kachheraa and Karhaa. You should be doing Nitnem if you want to take Amrit..." When Bhai Sahib was about to leave the Gurdwara, Garewal Ji said to Bhai Sahib, "Come with me! I will give you a Kachhera from my home." Bhai Sahib at the time was a wrestler and a big build. Not paying much regard to Bhai Sahib's physique, Garewal Ji took Bhai Sahib to his home and give him a spare Kachhera he had. When Bhai Sahib went to the bathroom to put it on, it got stuck at his calves.  He kept pulling it up but it got stuck so he opened the door asked Garewal Ji, "How do you put this on?" Garewal Ji said, "Take it off! I will get you one when you go to the Amrit Sanchaar!"
ਹੁਤੀ ਜੁ ਪਿਆਸ ਪਿਊਸ ਪਿਵੰਨ ਕੀ ਬੰਛਤ ਸਿਧਿ ਕਉ ਬਿਧਿ ਮਿਲਾਯਉ ॥
I was thirsty, yearning to drink Amrit, the Divine-Nectar; to fulfill that wish, the Guru laid out the way.
(Svaiyye M:5, Bhatt Nall, Ang 1400)

Receiving Amrit
Bhai Sahib was told by Bhai Prahlad Singh Garewal Ji that an Amrit Sanchaar is being held on 14th November 1975 at Ramgarhia Gurdwara, Graham Street, Birmingham. At that time, Soho Road Gurdwara Birmingham had not been built. Baba Puran Singh Ji (Kericho wale) had moved to the UK from East Africa and had held 5 Akhand Paaths at Ramgarhia Gurdwara, ending with an Amrit Sanchaar. Forty more individuals from Leamington Spa got ready to take Amrit along with Bhai Sahib. That day 500 individuals had come to receive the gift of Amrit. Guru Sahib poured his blessings that day. The Gursikhs doing Seva in this particular Amrit Sanchaar included Baba Puran Singh Ji (Kericho wale), Giani Amolak Singh Ji (companion of Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh Ji), Bhai Harbhajan Singh Sagoo (who had the privilege of meeting Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh Ji), Bhai Kulbir Singh Ji and Bhai Shadi Singh Ji. Bhai Didar Singh Ji was doing the duty of Granthi Singh. When the Panj Pyaare gave the first 'Choola' (handful) of Amrit, Bhai Sahib fell backwards in a trance and his whole body began doing Saas-Giraas Simran (inhaling and exhaling the Lord's Name). Bhai Sahib said with the first 'Choola' he recieved Naam-Drir (i.e. Naam became instilled within him) without the Panj Pyaare physically putting their hand on his head. This is a rare happening, and showed how Bhai Sahib's Bhagti (devotional worship) and good Karam (actions) from his past lives had come forward to bear fruit. Seeing this spiritual experience, Giani Amolak Singh Ji introduced him to do the Akhand Kirtani Jatha and a year later Bhai Sahib presented himself at an Amrit Sanchaar at a Rainsbaaee Keertan held in Southall. The late Bhai Shingara Singh Ji (Birmingham) and Bhai Joginder Singh Ji (Leicester) did seva in this Amrit Sanchaar. Although Naam was flowing through Bhai Sahib even before this Amrit Sanchaar, he became further immersed in the power of Naam.
ਪੂਰਬ ਕਰਮ ਅੰਕੁਰ ਜਬ ਪ੍ਰਗਟੇ ਭੇਟਿਓ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਰਸਿਕ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ॥
With the sprouting of one's seeds of good karma of past actions, they have met the Lord who is both sitting within all as the Enjoyer and also detached as the Renunciate.
(Gauree M:5, Ang 204)

Longing to see the Guru
After taking Amrit, Bhai Raghbir Singh Ji would everyday before going to work visit his local Gurdwara in Leamington Spa to have darshan (holy-sight) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Bhai Sahib thought that it is Hukam (command) of the Guru to have his darshan everyday, however, it would be easier if Guru Sahib would be able to bless them at home. Mata Ji and Bhai Sahib would do Ardaas everyday that may Guru Sahib come to their home and bless them with their holy-company. At times they would become emotional when doing this Ardaas. Bhai Sahib would have dreams of Guru Granth Sahib Ji blessing him with their holy-company. Within one-year of taking Amrit, one-day 5 Gursikhs came knocking at Bhai Sahib's door. Bhai Sahib was at work at that time. Mata Ji answered the door. She had never seen these Gursikhs in her life before. They had with them Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and said we have come to bring you Maharaaj (the Great King). When Bhai Sahib arrived back from work both he and Mata Ji cried at how merciful the Guru was that he sent his Sikhs to give us his darshan and chance to do his seva (service). Till this date, no one knows who those 5 Gursikhs were and where they brought Maharaaj's Saroop from.
ਸੇਵਕ ਕਉ ਤੁਮ ਸੇਵਾ ਦੀਨੀ ਦਰਸਨੁ ਦੇਖਿ ਅਘਾਈ ॥੨॥
Your servant, whom You bless with Your service, is satisfied and fulfilled by having Your Darshan (holy-sight). ||2||
(Sorath M:5, Ang 610)

Akhand Kirtani Jatha UK
Bhai Sahib had joined Akhand Kirtani Jatha UK through the Sangat of Giani Amolak Singh Ji. The Akhand Kirtani Jatha is a group founded by the saint-scholar-warrior Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh Ji that is dedicated to doing Kirtan (singing the Word of the Guru) and living in accordance to the Guru's instructions. Bhai Raghbir Singh Ji become close friends with Bhai Jarnail Singh Ji, a Sarblohi Singh from Leamington Spa. At that time the prominent Gursikhs in Jatha were Giani Amolak Singh Ji, Bhai Rama Singh Ji, Bhai Shingara Singh Ji (Birmingham), Bhai Joginder Singh Ji (Leicester), Bhai Gurmej Singh Gill etc. The Jatha was quite small at this point. Some Gursikhs of the Jatha lived in Southall, others in Gravesend etc. Bhai Sahib for some years would drive to Gravesend with Mata Ji, Bhai Jarnail Singh Ji etc, to do Amrit-Vela with the late Bhai Nirmal Singh Ji, one the first Sarblohi Singhs to came to the UK. They would drive at least two and half hours to arrive Gravesend, do Simran together, then drive back another two and half hours back to Leamington Spa and then go to work as a truck driver.  Bhai Sahib would also drive to Southall to do Sangat and Amrit-Vela with the late Bhai Sahib Rama Singh Ji.
ਗੁਰਸਿਖਾਂ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਵਰਤੈ ਜੋ ਸਿਖਾਂ ਨੋ ਲੋਚੈ ਸੋ ਗੁਰ ਖੁਸੀ ਆਵੈ ॥
Deep within the hearts of His GurSikhs, the True Guru is pervading. The Guru is pleased with those who long for His Sikhs.
(Gauree M:4, Ang 317) 
Joining the Sikh Freedom Struggle
Bhai Raghbir Singh Ji played a pivotal role in the modern-day Sikh freedom struggle. In 1978, the Nakli-Nirankaris had massacred 13 Gursikhs on Vaisakhi day in Amritsar. This stirred the spirit of the Khalsa throughout the world. This episode and the increasing injustices against Sikhs had an influence on Bhai Sahib. In 1981 Bhai Sahib travelled to India and joined the Sikh freedom struggle. He had the Sangat (company) of Jathedar Bhai Sukhdev Singh Ji Babbar and other Gursikhs and was impressed by their devotion to living the Sikh lifestyle and upholding the ideals of the Sikh Gurus giving in Gurbani. In 1983, Bhai Raghbir Singh Ji visited India to do Panthic Seva. At the time he was working in the Ford factory in Leamington Spa, and had taken 2 weeks annual leave from work. Two weeks had passed and Bhai Sahib had not met the Gursikh he intended to meet, and therefore he extended his trip for an extra 4 days to ensure he completed his Seva. These extra 4 days were not booked holidays from his workplace, and Bhai Sahib thought he should go back to work and first apologise. When Bhai Raghbir Singh Ji returned back to the Ford factory, 4 days later than scheduled, he apologised to his employer. His manager said, "What are you apologising for? You attended work for the past 4 days." Bhai Sahib's faith in Gurbani and doing Panthik Seva increased. Bhai Sahib prioritised Panthic Seva before everything else, whilst continuing to work for livelihood and supporting his family. His thirst and devotion for Gurbani and Simran further increased.
ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦਿ ਸਦਾ ਮਨਿ ਵਸਿਆ ਸਭਿ ਕਾਜ ਸਵਾਰਣਹਾਰਾ ॥
By Guru's Grace, all the affairs are resolved of one in whose mind the Lord dwells. 
(Sorath M:3, Ang 638)

 Invasion of Sri Harmandir Sahib
Bhai Sahib had given up his mind, body and worldly attachments to serve and defend the Panth, and was committed to establishment of Khalsa Raaj in accordance to the description given in Gurbani. During his third trip to Punjab, Bhai Sahib stayed at Sri Harmandir Sahib for some time. During this trip the Indian army had invaded Sri Harmandir Sahib and other Sikh shrines across Punjab. On 1st of June 1984, Bhai Mehnga Singh Ji Babbar became Shaheed (martyred). Bhai Sahib helped to bring the Bhai Mehnga Singh Ji Babbar's body down from Baba Attal Rai Gurdwara Sahib and assisted with the Seva of washing the body and witnessing the last rites. June 1984 is considered the 3rd holocaust in Sikh history. Baba Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale had made a declaration in his speeches before the attack that the day the Indian army invades Sri Harmandir Sahib the foundation for Khalistan will be laid. Bhai Raghbir Singh Ji was in Punjab at the time and was on the way to returning back to Sri Harmandir Sahib. However, the Indian army curfew meant that no one could enter or leave the area around Sri Harmandir Sahib. Bhai Sahib was around 2 miles away from arriving back to Sri Harmandir Sahib, when Gursikhs stopped him on the way and asked him to leave India and return back to the UK. The Gursikhs told Bhai Sahib that if everyone dies here it would never benefit the cause, and instead he should do Seva of doing Amrit-Sanchaars in the West, work to expand and uplift the Khalsa Panth and bring closer the dream of Khalsa Raaj. Bhai Sahib had desired Shaheedi (martyrdom), however accepting the Hukam of the Panj (Five) Singhs, Bhai Sahib got on a train from Amritsar to Delhi and then came back to the UK to fulfill his promise to those who later became Shaheed (martyred).
ਪਹਿਲਾ ਮਰਣੁ ਕਬੂਲਿ ਜੀਵਣ ਕੀ ਛਡਿ ਆਸ ॥
(The message from the Lord is- O human!) First, accept death, and give up any hope of life.
(Maaroo M:5, Ang 1102)

Seva across the West
Bhai Raghbir Singh Ji along with other Gursikhs of Akhand Kirtani Jatha UK would travel across UK and Europe in Bhai Sahib Jarnail Singh Ji's van. All the Gursikhs of the Jatha had a strong work ethic, worked hard and lived as householders, however they also were committed to serving the Panth and the Guru. Whilst working hard during the week-days, the weekends were dedicated to travelling and spreading the message of Sikhi to the far and wide places. Gursikhs would do nishkaam (without any monetary desire) Keertan and an Amrit Sanchaar would be held. Many places in Europe in 1980s had no Gurdwaras at that time, and therefore Amrit Sanchaars were held in homes. Thousands of people were joined to the Khalsa, women donned Dastaars (turbans), began waking up Amrit-vela, japping (meditating upon) Naam, and joined in the service of the Khalsa Panth. Bhai Sahib like his companions never got tired of Seva. He prioritised Sikhi and Seva of the Khalsa Panth over all other things. He reminded Gursikhs that Guru's Sikhs don't live to work, but work enough to keep things going. Countless non-Amritdharis were inspired to take Amrit and follow Sikhi seeing Bhai Raghbir Singh Ji and the rest of the Jatha's faces glowing with Naam, donned in Khalsa attire and immersed in Gurbani. This Seva extended to North America.
ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰਤ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਹਕਾਮੀ ॥ ਤਿਸ ਕਉ ਹੋਤ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਸੁਆਮੀ ॥
One who performs Seva (selfless service), without thought of reward, gets to meet the Lord-Master.
(Gauree M:5, 286)

To be continued...

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Short Gurpurb message to share with work colleagues...

Subject: Good wishes to all 
on the Birthday of Guru Nanak Sahib Ji
12th November 2019 marks the Birthday of the founder and the first Guru of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak Sahib Ji, This year is a special year as it is the 550th birth Birthday celebration.

The message, teachings and love of Guru Nanak Sahib Ji is not just for Sikhs, but for all of humanity.His three golden principles for a fulfilled life are:
  • Naam - having mindful awareness and connection with the Divine Presence that is everywhere and within all.
  • Daan - being selfless in sharing the gifts of life with others.
  • Ishnaan - keeping the mind and body pure through good deeds and spiritual practice.

Good wishes to all on this happy occasion and may we all be inspired to spread peace, love and positivity.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

ਜਰਮਨੀ ਦੇ ਗੋਰਾ ਅਤੇ ਗੋਰੀ ਨੇ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਪਾਨ ਕੀਤਾ । German couple takes Amrit...

Yesterday's Simran Jaap ended with an Amrit Sanchaar. These are a white German couple who especially travelled all the way to UK via France on a ferry to take Amrit.


The German lady, Bhenji Sahib Kaur Ji, did a small speech requesting all Punjabis to become Gursikhs by taking Amrit and not waste away this golden opportunity to merge with Vahiguru and enjoy divine happiness. Below is a video of them talking to the Sangat.

Friday, November 01, 2019

੧੯੮੪ ਦੇ ਸਰਕਾਰੀ ਕਤਲੇਆਮ ਨੂੰ ਕਰਦਿਆ । Remembering the 1984 Sikh Genocide...

1st November marks the anniversary of the Sikh Genocide of 1984, which was orchestrated by then then government after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, who was responsible for the June 1984 Sikh holocaust. 

Although Mohandas Gandhi (known as Mahatma Gandhi) was assassinated by Nathuram Godse, a hardliner Hindu (part of the RSS), there was no black-lash against any particular religion or community. When Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991 by Thenmozhi Rajaratnam, a Hindu Tamil lady, there was no black-lash against a particular religion or community. 

However, when on 31st October 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards, Sikhs across North-India were systematically killed, looted, raped and their property and Gurdwaras attacked and burnt. This bloody violence lasted for 3 days and was so well-planned and organized that it was evident that a genocide of Sikhs had been planned even before Indira Gandhi had been killed. I would recommend reading the books “I accuse...” written by Jarnail Singh ji and “Government-organised carnage, November 1984” written by Gurcharan Singh Babbar ji. 

How can Sikhs forget this dark chapter of India’s history? May we never fail or shy away in remembering genocides and massacres. By remembering them and still standing strong with our dastaar (turban) proudly tied on our head that had then been ripped off by the then perpetrators; with the sanctity of our Kes (unshorn hair) kept intact that had then been forcefully cut by paid barbers by the then perpetrators; our heart and soul filled with Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji that had been burnt and desecrated by the then perpetrators; our mouth and mind absorbed in the Divine’s Name that was thought to have been silenced by the then perpetrators; and our hands and feet forever ready to selflessly defend and serve humanity that were thought to have been destroyed by the then perpetrators... then we can become a testimony to the truth that at the end evil was not allowed to win.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

ਦਿਵਾਲੀ ਅਤੇ ਬੰਦੀ ਛੌੜ ਦਿਵਸ । Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas...

Diwali has been celebrated by people before Sikhi, like Vaisakhi. However, from Guru Nanak Dev Ji, such public or religious days of the prevailing traditions of the time were used an opportunity to spread the message of Truth and break people from falsehood. From the time of Guru Amar Das Ji, Diwali and Vaisakhi were chosen days for the whole Sikh community from far and wide to gather for some days and engage in Gurbani, Kirtan, Seva and Katha to become spiritually strong that Sikhs did not assimilate or become absorbed in the empty rituals, superstitions and false customs of the times. 

These gatherings were called Jorr-Melas. Jorr means “to connect or unite” and mela means “gathering”. These were gatherings with a purpose and objective, ie to get closer to Vahiguru, join with Gurbani and unite as a sovereign nation. Today we must ask ourselves whether such prevelant holidays, whether Diwali or New Years eve are just Melas (gatherings) or are we using these community days as “Jorr Melas”. 

Later, this day also become an opportunity to remember and celebrate Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji leaving the Gwalior prison and freeing with him 52 kings who were political prisoners and had no hope of leaving alive. According to Bhatt Vehi historical account (Guru Kian Sakhian pg 30-31), Guru Ji left with the prisoners on Tuesday 26th October 1619, which was one day before Diwali that year. 

Guru Ji arrived in Amritsar according to Bhatt Vehi on Thursday 28th December 1620 and another account says February. It was common for the Sikhs of Amritsar to welcome Guru Ji with oil lamps (deevay) after long periods of being away on travels. So it was not a one-off when coming back from the Gwalior. Dates and days is not a big thing in Sikhi. The main thing is remember and learn from history and get closer to becoming better Sikhs of the Guru through Gurbani, Simran, and Seva. 

May Guru Ji bless us all with freedom from our demerits, negativities, and vices and also free our nation and homeland from the shackles of oppression, assimilation and destruction.

Reflections on Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas