On Monday 22nd December 2008, Gurmukh Pyaare Bhai Surat Singh jee (known as 'Pooran Jee') left this earthly abode. I wished that when I next go to India I would have the opportunity to have darshan of Bhai Sahib and other Chardi Kalaa Gurmukh Pyaare. Sadly, that's another Mahapursh gone that I haven't had the good fortune of meeting. However, with Guru Sahib's Kirpaa I have heard a lot about Bhai Sahib's jeevan (life) from other Gursikhs who have met him. Waheguru. It seems that 'Pooran Jee' was the embodiment of humility and kindness and had great pyaar for Naam & Baani.
A SHORT GLIMPSE AT THE LIFE OF BHAI SURAT SINGH JEE
Bhai Surat Singh jee was born on 24th December 1924 in Mitha Tiwana (now in Pakistan). He devoted himself completely to Akaal Purakh after receiving the gift of Amrit at a very young age. His spiritual status became very high when he started doing Sangat with Bhai Sahib Randheer Singh jee, Bau Mal Singh jee, and other Naam-imbued members of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha. Bhai Sahib Randheer Singh jee named Bhai Surat Singh jee as "Pooran jee" (meaning "complete") due to his high Gursikh character and lifestyle.
Sevaa through Amrit Sanchaars
Due to his pious nature, he was blessed with the sevaa of Panj Pyaare. Bhai Sahib did sevaa in Amrit Sanchaars in India and abroad. By profession, he was a government officer, and therefore he would get transferred to different cities. Bhai Sahib used this an opportunity to do Gurmat Parchaar and encouraged others to take the gift of Amrit and become loving devotees of Waheguru. Later in life he got married to Bibi Bhupinder Kaur jee who would serve the Sangat through singing Gurbani Shabads in Keertan.
Sadly, in 1982 Bhai Surat Singh jee's two sons (Bhai Rupinder Singh "Rupi" and Bhai Varinder Singh "Vinny") passed away in a motor-cycle accident (Bhai Manjit Singh from Glasgow survived the accident). Bhai Sahib accepted the Divine-Will sweetly and did not allow the death of his beloved children to steer away his dedication and love for Waheguru. The day he heard of the accident, even then Bhai Sahib did not miss his Amrit-vela. During the Bhog (funeral) programme Bibi jee (Bhai Sahib's wife) was so badly distraught that she could not walk on her own into the Guru's Darbaar. She was helped along by the Sangat as they had requested her to do Keertan. She sat down and the Sangat took over from there. Later Bhai Sahib jee talked to Bibi jee about being strong, and accepting Guru Sahib's Divine-Will. He said to her, “Do you think I am not upset that I have lost both of my arms in this tragedy?” (relating to his sons) Bhai Sahib exemplified what it meant to lead the Gursikh way of life. He said to his wife, "Waheguru gave his two gifts, and now the Giver has decided to take them back."
In 1982, after the death of his 2 sons, Bhai Sahib shifted to Amritsar. Here his daily routine was entirely connected to Sri Harmander Sahib, Amrit-vela and Keertan Samaagams. Having reached a high spiritual state, he treated every individual with love and affection. Bhai Sahib was full of love for everyone and hugged one and all whenever he met in Sangat, such that every individual thought that Bhai Sahib loved him the most. He never ever had any negativity towards anyone in his entire life. He encouraged every individual in Sangat to learn and recite Gurbani and explained how this would make a positive difference in their lives.
"Cats and Dogs are Awake by Now"
In 1998 Bhai Surat Singh jee visited Toronto. A group of Sangat went from UK to Canada for a Keertan Smaagam (event). When Bhai Surat Singh jee saw the sangat, he literally lied down and rolled towards the Sangat from UK. The Singhs from UK obviously grasped Bhai Sahib and lifted him up and he was smiling as always. The Singhs heard that Amrit-velaa would start early but were left shocked when Pooran Jee came inside the room where the Singhs were staying at 12am precisely. He said, "Cat's and dogs are awake by now!". (In India dogs never start barking during the night). It was so comical, everyone just jumped up grabbed their towels and kachhere and went to do ishnaan.
Do Simran from Within
During the Toronto visit in 1998, Amritvela started and the josh (enthusiasm) of the youth in doing Naam Abhiyaas (Practice of the Divine-Name) was somewhat too loud for the liking of Pooran Jee. During Naam Abhiyaas, Pooran Jee would recite Sukhmani Sahib and some of the UK Sangat were not aware that the sound level of the Abhiyaas should lower than the volume of Sukhmani Sahib da paatth. Pooran Jee in a loving way said "Andhro karo" (do it from within). Some of the Singhs thought what is happening as they were used to repeating Naam loudly and fast. But then they began to all listen and learnt. The experience was something different and enjoyable. A Gursikh explained that when Pooran Jee said do Simran from within, he was referring to the sound and how it should resound through the whole body. He said it was hard to explain but gave an example. He asked the Singh to put his fingers in his ears and then listen to the Naam Simran. He said when you do Amrit-vela in the morning alone, you won't hear the goonj (echoes) of Sangat. The emphasis is that Naam Simran is strong inside as well as out. He also said that doesn't mean you sit there with your fingers in your ears :), the more you do Amrit-vela with the emphasis on listening to the sound the more it will vibrate through your body, and thus when walking, talking or sleeping it will continue.
Appointed Jathedaar of the Jatha
On 2nd March 2006, after the passing away of Jathedaar Bhai Raam Singh jee, Bhai Surat Singh jee was selected as the next Jathedaar (chief) of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha. Singh Sahib Bhai Ranjeet Singh, former Jathedaar of Sri Akaal Takht Sahib, bestowed a Siropa to Bhai Sahib.
Undying Love for Amrit-Velaa
Despite his physical condition, Bhai Sahib didn’t make his sitting much comfortable. Even in the weakest of his conditions he never stopped his Amrit-velaa programmes. Everday Bhai Sahib would have full keshi ishnaan (bath of body and hair) and be ready at 12:00am to join the Saadh Sangat at the Parkarma of Sri Hamandir Sahib, Amritsar. Bhai Sahib would lead Sukhmani Sahib and Naam Abhiyaas (repetition of Naam) programme within the Parkarmaa of Sri Harmandir Sahib. Till his late, Guru Sahib never let his Pyaar (love) for Amrit-Velaa and Sukhmani Sahib slacken, till his last breath!
For the last few days Bhai Sahib's health was weak and Amrit-vela was held at their residence in Amritsar instead of the parkarmaa at Sri Darbaar Sahib. On the last day, the Amrit-vela at their residence was attended by a lot Gursikhs. As always Bhai Sahib gave pyaar to everyone. During the day Bhai Sahib was feeling unwell. While being looked after by 2 Gursikhs in his room at aprox 5.30pm (India Time), accoriding Guru's Sahibs Hukam this earthly abode.