Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Episode 9 of India Travels: Arriving at Sri Damdama Sahib (Part 1)


I wanted to learn how to correctly read Gurbaani, so I decided to spend a few weeks at Takht Sri Damdama Sahib in Sabo Ki Talwandi, district Bathinda (South Panjab), which is one of the Five Takhts (seats of authority in the Sikh Panth), which is where Guru Gobind Singh Sahib Ji stayed for about a year and compiled Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. At this place Guru Ji started "Damdami Taksal," literally meaning a "minting factory", where the Sikhs would mint and prepare weapons, and mint the mind with the Shabad through teaching the correct meanings and pronunciations of Gurbaani.


On Sunday 27th July 2003, day 32 of my India trip, my cousin and I set off to go to Sri Damdama Sahib. We set off at 7.45am on the bus. It was a long and BUMPY journey! Throughout the whole journey I could feel the bus shaking (I was just hoping the bus doesn't fall apart on the way). We arrived at the Takht Sahib at 2pm.


We did Matha Tekh and then went to meet the Singh Sahib Balwant Singh Nandgarh, the Jathedaar (head) of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib. His family and he were very friendly and he assured me that my stay would be welcoming. I was given a room with a bathroom, which was very nice.

Afterwards we listened to Keertan and Sodar Rehraas and then ate Langar. My cousin left the next day to go back home at 7.15am. I went to see the Singh Sahib and enjoyed a nice cup of chaa (tea). He gave me a book to read about the history of the Takht Sahib and arranged for my Gurbaani Santhiyaa (class to learn Gurbani pronunciation and grammar) with the Granthi Singh in charge of teaching Gurbaani.

In the afternoon I went for a walk and found a cyber-café (well I am not too sure about the café part because there was nothing there apart from computers!). The man in charge of the internet shop was a clean shaven young man who was studying at the local college. His friends and he were SURPRISED firstly that I was BORN ABROAD (from my appearance of wearing traditional dress and being Amritdhari) and secondly, that I was ABLE TO USE A COMPUTER and INTERNET! lol.


On the way back I thought I would buy some FLIP-FLOPS as it would be more easier to move around especially as I would be taking my shoes off and on frequently while my stay at the Gurdwara Sahib. So I went to the shop and bought a pair. When I got back to the Gurdwara I went to listen to Keertan. It was a good day and met loads of Sewadaars and introduced myself. The local Sangat who are regulars in doing Sewa in the Langar Hall and JoRa Ghar (where the shoes are deposited) were very friendly and became my friends. We chatted for a long time and they ensured I had everything I needed.

I thought I would nip back to my room, so I go to find my shoes. However, I couldn’t find my NEW FLIP FLOPS. O deary me! I looked everywhere. All the Sewadaars started looking around for my flip-flops. I thought “O well! They are only flip-flops.” So I walked back to my room BARE-FOOTED and went back to the shop wearing my normal shoes to buy another pair of flip-flops.

Just as I was coming back from the shop, the Pehredaar (guard) of the Gurdwara asked me what I had been up to. I explained that my flip-flops had been STOLEN or LOST and so I had to buy some new ones. The Pehredaar smiled and said that he placed my flip-flops in a SAFE PLACE as I was from abroad and he didn’t want anyone to walk off with them. Lol. What drama!

I thought “What am I going to do with TWO PAIRS of flip-flops”. The Pehredaar (guard) kindly walked with me to the shop and he asked the man to return the flip-flops. The shopkeeper was happy to return them and gave me the money back. On the way he took me to his friends shop to have a cup of chaa (tea). (You will notice that there are a lot of TEA BREAKS in India!).


More about what happened at Sri Damdama Sahib coming soon…
(Stories from Sri Damdama Sahib include how I choked on an Ahloo Tikki).

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your stories from India can never fail to make me smile.

anonymous said...

:O paaji
u have a very good memory especially as you remember all of the nitty gritty

whats ur secret to a perfect brain?
(no this is not a joke!!)

anyways i cant wait to hear the rest
n the tea cups in india are tiny :( so u have to have a lot of tea breaks :)

anonymous said...

:O paaji
u have a very good memory especially as you remember all of the nitty gritty

whats ur secret to a perfect brain?
(no this is not a joke!!)

anyways i cant wait to hear the rest
n the tea cups in india are tiny :( so u have to have a lot of tea breaks :)

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

Anonymous 2 jee,

I kept a diary with me while I was in India where I noted down things and made notes everyday.

People have said to me before that I remember RANDOM things and sometimes NON-USEFUL things, which other people don't pay attention to. Chalo, Guru Di Kirpaa.

Rab Rakha.

Anonymous said...

well,i am a girl living in delhi, INDIA . i read ur story about ur visit to india u said that the cyber cafe owner was surprised to know that even u r from abroad you are amritdhari. even i am also surprised as here people think that the younger generations of sikh families living abroad do not follow the religion as they cut their hair or guys trim their beard. this also prevalent in some parts of punjab. this is very sad. but it was nice to know that my belief about sikh families living abroad was wrong.
waiting for your other stories on......
WAHEGURU JI KA KHALSA WAHEGURU JI KI FATEH!

Sifar said...

Anonymous said...
"well,i am a girl living in delhi, INDIA"...

There is no hard and fast rule that how many percent are Gursikh Amritdharis in India and abroad. All I know is that a pooran Swroop Grusikh is equal to 125,000. I have seen people who make a joke of being a Sikh in US/Canada as they cut thieir hair and on weekends show up at the Gurdwara with shaved beard and sporting a turban looking like clowns. Similarly girls who will cut their hair make their eyebrows, wax thier arms and legs wear short dresses will show up at the Gurdwara wearing suits and every inch of their body covered. On the other hand I have seen puran swaroop Singhs/Singhnees (including white americans) coming to Gurdwara in complete Bana... Same is true for India as well... All in all, it is one who has been blessed by SatGuru is able to attain the state so that he can mantain his/her swroop.

People who are born Sikhs donot consider the value of being born into a religion class apart. On the other hand the converts who found thier goal by becoming Sikhs value nothing else as compared to what they ve found in Sikhism.

Anonymous said...

Veerji....How long did it take you to finish Gurbaani Santhiyaa ? Would you recommend it to your needy brothers & sisters?

Waheguru !!!!

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

Anonymous Jee,

Takht Sri Damdama Sahib is a fairly relaxed place. By that I mean there is no rush, over-crowding or a lot of sangat. Therefore it was a very peaceful and relaxed environment to learn Gurbaani.

I used to attend to lessons twice a day. First lesson would be at 7am and second lesson would be at 4pm. In between these times daas would do sewa and do sangat.

Approximately it took me one day per Bani (prayer). However, I had prior knowledge of Gurbani (i.e. I could read Gurmukhi fairly fluently). So it depends on each individual's pace and familiarlity with the Bani.


I had planned to go to Mehta Chownk in Amritsar District after my stay at Sri Damdama Sahib to pursue my Gurbani education, however daas fell ill.


The lessons at Sri Damdama Sahib were "informal". You would sit in the Gurdwara (which is next to the Takht Sahib) and read SLOWY and CLEARLY the paath. Giani Ji would stand there and listen. If there were more students, he would walk up and down the gurdwara diwaan and listen to each person and walk on, when he heard wrong words he would stop the person. He would then spend individual time with each student. I would keep repeating the Baani over and over again loudly, until Giani Ji was satisfied that the Bani is pronounced correctly.


To learn Gurbani, you can go to the following places:
* Mehta Chownk, Amritsar district
* Baba Attal Rai Gurdwara, Amrtisar (near Sri Darbaar Sahib)
* Takht Sri Kesgharh Sahib
* Takht Sri Damdama Sahib

I only have experience of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib. However one would get benefit wherever they go if they have enthusiasm to learn.

Anonymous said...

veerji,
when will you tell us about your other Stories from Sri Damdama Sahib that how the police wanted to take ur photo & details, and how u choked on an Ahloo Tikki.
eagerly waiting for the rest of it.

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

You'll have to wait till Tuesday for the Ahloo Tikkhi story :)

(Probably won't post up the story about the police. waheguru.)