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)
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 activismBhai 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 CoventryOn 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)
Amrit-VelaBhai 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...