Bhai Shingara Singh jee (Birmingham) passed away on Thursday 30th June 2011 at the age of 88. His nephew who looked after him went in to his room the next morning and Bhai Sahib had already passed away. He was one the pioneers of Akhand Keertani Jatha UK.
In Loving Memory of Bhai Shingara Singh Jee
Taken from an article written by Bhai Gurpal Singh (Bradford) on www.GurmatBibek.com
Taken from an article written by Bhai Gurpal Singh (Bradford) on www.GurmatBibek.com
Bhai Shingara Singh came from a very Chardi Kalaa village. His parents were Akaalis (devout Sikhs) and so was the rest of the village. When he was young he went to the local Gurdwara and heard Kathaa on Guru Nanak Dev Jee’s coming into Kalyug. He explained the Shabad, ‘math dek bhooloo veesare tera chith naa ave naao’. From that day he started making greater efforts in his Sikhi.
Joining the Army
At the age of 14 Bhai Sahib went to register for the army but they told him that he was too young. A couple of weeks later Bhai Sahib returned back to the army and said he was 16 so that he could join the army. In the army he would go to sleep at 10pm and wake at 1am, without the help of anyone. He would recite Bani that he had memorised until sunrise. Banis such as Salok Mahalla 9 and Shabad Hazaare. He was always the first ready for the army parade in the morning. He still didn’t even have a beard then and was very young.
Bhai Sahib received Amrit when joining the army as it was a requirement to join the Sikh regiment. However, he went pesh (presented himself) to the Panj Pyaare at An Amrit Sanchaar during an Akhand Kirtani Jatha Smaagam in Jalandhar. Bhai Sahib said after receiving Amrit in Jalandhar "pher gal banee" (that is when I got sorted - i.e. obtained spiritual intoxication). The Panj Pyaare were spiritual kamaaee wale Singhs. The Jathedaar of the Panj Pyaare was Master Sunder Singh jee, who was very chardikala. Master Surinder Singh jee would sit through keertan programmes from early evening till morning without moving a muscle.
Getting arrested in the Army
At one point Bhai Sahib was arrested because a mischievous Hindu chief in the army. He was sentenced to 2 months in prison. One day in prison he was standing in line for food, and one of the officers said something and Shingara Singh spoke back. The officer told Bhai Sahib to get down and do some press ups as punishment for having his sleeves rolled up. He said "No I am Khalsa, do you know what Khalsa is?" The officer replied, "I know very well what Khalsa is". Bhai Shingara Singh said "No you don’t, today you will find out what the Khalsa is! Today we will sort you out!" He chose not to eat until he gave the officer a good lesson. He was backed by another Gujrati who was in jail. Bhai Shingara Singh ended up breaking his arm, and dislocating his shoulder. Then the other guard smacked Shingara Singh with lanterns on the head, the lanterns broke but Bhai Shingara Singh didn’t feel anything, the other guards ran. As it was dark he couldn’t find an escape route and was caught. He was punched and beaten and hit with stick in his thighs. But he said he didn’t feel any pain as he was very strong. He said "my body was like iron". He was imprisoned for 2 years for this. However, he used to read a lot of Bani and chant Naam. When he got tired he wouldn’t stop, but would stand up and carry on.
Darshan of Guru Gobind Singh Jee
One night Bhai Shaib was chanting Naam with his mala and he fell asleep. The mala fell on the floor. That night Bhai Sahib said Guru Gobind Singh Jee came on his horse and told him "Today you will be freed". So later that day, when there was the list being read out for people being freed, his name was also read out, even though he just begun his 2 year sentence. Bhai Sahib spoke how Guru looks after his Gursikhs.
Fighting in World War II
Bhai Shingara Singh fought in the war in Burma. During his time fighting in the World War he memorised most of his Banis (prayers). He said that he memorised as much Bani as he had in his previous life and even got more memorised.
Working in a factory
When in India he went to apply for a printing press job, it was night shift work. He met a mona who worked there and asked him his name. The mona said "Gursharan Singh". Shingara Singh, said is that really, and what makes you a Singh, the puraatan Singhs had their scalps cut off and didn’t ever cut their hair, and you have cut it yourself! After this Gursharan Singh kept his kesh and got into Sikhi. His family was so happy that they all went to thank Shingara Singh.
Coming to the UK
Bhai Sahib migrated to the UK in 1963. He was known as Nihang Singh because he was one of the first people to wear baanaa in the UK. During this time there were no Sikhs. The Gurdwara Committees consisted of cut haired Panjabis. Bhai Sahib informed the Gurdwara Committee that the Committee should be Sikhs, however it had little affect on the situation. Bhai Sahib began to stand to serve Langar and each he served Langar he would preach Gurmat.
First Akhand Kirtani Jatha organized Amrit Sanchaar
Bhai Shingara Singh jee arranged the first Akhand Kirtani Jatha organized Amrit Sanchaar in the UK. He had brought a sarbloh baataa (bowl) over from India and had to find big Kirpaans for the Amrit Sanchaar and gather Gursikhs for doing seva in the Panj. In that Amrit sanchaar Bhai Sahib said there were two very chardikala Guriskhs. One of the Singhs was Bhai Paramjit Singh jee, who when he recited Naam became light and his body would begin to float to the ceiling.
Bhai Sahib maintained Sarbloh Bibek (eating food prepare in iron utensils by Amritdharis) for many years of his life. Bhai Sahib strongly believed that Sikhs should keep a basic level of Bibek Rehat of at least eating only from Amritdharis and preparing one's own food. But then again he said that the person should be practising Nitnem and be focussed on Naam, otherwise it defeats the point of Bibek. Bibek Rehat is meant to spiritually guard one's spiritual wealth and keep one in discipline.
No short comings
Bhai Sahib said Gursikhs must live a householder's life, earn an honest living and never eat food that been begged for, as Sikhs should have honour and work hard for what they have. Guru Nanak Sahib Jee worked 18 years in the farm fields, which he used for the langar. Bhai Sahib used to work 12 hours a day in factories when he used to work. Bhai Sahib said that Guru Sahib never let his money run out and that he always had too much, no matter how much he spent. His daughter worked in a bank and she wanted some money from her dad. She checked in his account there was £250. So he wrote a check for £2000. Later they checked and there was £10,000 in the account. Also in India he bought a tractor so that his nephew could start doing some labour and stay away from the drugs in Panjab.
Advise on Occult Powers
His cousin told him that she was very scared whenever she went to sleep. He told her to keep a big kirpan by her bedside to help. But later she told him that when she used to pray she would ask for riddhya siddhya (occult powers). He confirmed that was the reason of her fear, and explained that a Sikh should only pray and ask Guru for Naam and the opportunity to get closer to God.
Importance of Gurbani and knowledge
Bhai Shingara Singh jee expressed how important it is to do Sehaj paatt, and that Akhand paatths have become a business and there is little benefit of them. He said that once his daughter completed two Sehaj Paatths and then she rang him and said that now she understands what Gurbani is. He said that is because in a Sehaj Paatth it is at a pace were it’s easier to understand Gurbani. Bhai Sahib had Larrivaar Saroop (where the writing is joint-up without spaces) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee. He used to perform a Sehaj Paatth everyday from around 3pm-7pm followed by Rehraas Sahib and Sukhaasan. In addition to this he had pothis (small volumes) of Sri Dasam Granth from which he would study and recite. He used to read a lot of books and was very knowledgeable and believed that one should know about what is happening in the news.
I've had the pleasure of briefly meeting Bhai Shingara Singh jee on two or three occasions. Bhai Sahib was very pleased at seeing other Gursikhs keeping Bibek Rehat and said that one needs to make sure that they keep Naam as their focus to ensure the Rehat has value. On another occasion Bhai Sahib stressed that each Sikh should keep Shastars in their homes and ensure they protect their homes and families. Bhai Sahib said that each Sikh should at least have a 3 foot Kirpaan in their home. I've heard some stories about the spiritual experiences of Bhai Sahib as well. From what I've seen and heard, Bhai Sahib had a high character, strong minded and disciplined Gursikh. May Guru jee bless us all with the love of Naam, Baani and Rehat.
Dhan Hai Guru! Dhan Hai Teree Sikhee!