Saturday, March 21, 2015

Story of Bhai Vijay Singh...

As a child I had no interest or concept of religion. My family would attend the gurdwara now and then and I actually had no idea which religion I belonged to. Life revolved around families, which on the surface seemed very close knit. However I have only recently become aware of the differences and disagreements which I was oblivious to 25 years ago. 

Growing up, again I had not interest in religion and would make fun of keshdhari (unshorn hair) children at school. I would make fun of the way they looked, make fun of their names and also make fun of their religion. Members of my close family would regularly get in trouble with the police and many spent time in prison. I still hung around with them and much of their characteristics and persona rubbed off on me. I began behaving, talking, walking like them but one thing I had, which they didn't was a mother who was devoted to Gurbani. She would listen to Kirtan and do paath everyday. I feel that this is one of the main reasons I didn't fall into such bad ways. I know now that she would do ardas for me, that I'm happy and live a successful life. 

I spent sometime studying in Germany and this was really an eye opening experience. As I left, my mum gave me a gutka and wrote a shabad on a piece of paper. She said, "Whenever you feel down read this." It was:
ਅਉਖੀ ਘੜੀ ਨ ਦੇਖਣ ਦੇਈ ਅਪਨਾ ਬਿਰਦੁ ਸਮਾਲੇ ||
"He does not let His devotees see the difficult times; this is His innate nature."
(Dhanaasree M:5, 682)
In Germany was where I began to start the Sikhi journey. Prior to this I had multiple relationships, engaged in smoking, drugs, excessive drinking etc. I also played dhol for a group, my brothers were DJs and we would regularly do gigs across the country. On returning to UK I began a relationship. We decided very early on, that we wanted to get married. As we were engaged, I kept feeling this pull towards Sikhi.

I remember my mum calling me to come upstairs, because there were some young people talking about Sikhi on Panjab radio. The show was 'Sweet Sikhi'. I called the show and said, I played tabla and asked whether they had any programmes coming up. They said, come to Park Avenue Gurdwara on the last Saturday of the month. I arrived there in jeans and a ramaal (head covering). I was given the opportunity to play tabla, which was a great honour. That day I met Bhai Manvir Singh, who became a lighthouse for my journey towards the Guru. A lighthouse directs those towards the safety of the shore and in the same way the Gursikhs direct people to the safety of the Gurus sharan (court).

From there I kept in touch with Bhai Sahib and was introduced to many other gursikhs. They became my role models. I wanted to become like them. I had so many questions and would wait anxiously to ask and give responses. At that time I also learned another valuable lesson. Just because someone dresses religiously or does Kirtan/tabla seva, that doesn't mean they are holy inside. I found some gursikhs (mainly youngsters) to be rude, unhelpful and very dismissive of a Mona (me) trying to come into Sikhi.

As I moved towards making physical changes I realised that I had a huge obstacle, I was engaged to be married. What shall I do? Break off the engagement? We had been dating for 2 years and our connection was very strong, so I made a decision to wait before I make the physical change. I felt that what greater service could it be, for someone to help them come into Sikhi. We got married in a typical panjabi way, although the gyanis who performed the wedding were slightly surprised to see a Mona groom singing the Laavaa as he goes around.

The hurdle now was to try to encourage my wife to build an interest in Sikhi. I would do ardas (pray) many times a day and consult with gursikhs about what to do. Many have differing opinions. I was quite determined for us to change, however recognized that taking Amrit should be a decision someone makes, because they want to, not because they have to, that way the individual is a lot likely to keep their Amrit.

I then tried a different approach by taking the wife to Kirtan programmes and camps so we could build our knowledge and pyaar (love). I could see, that she was moving slowly towards a gursikhi lifestyle. I would ask gursikh bibian to talk to her about Sikhi saroop (image), dastaar (turban) and Kes (hair), so she could feel support in this. I have lost touch with many of the people, who supported us on our journey but I am very grateful and indebted to them for the time and effort they put into us. I would hate the thought of cutting my hair and it became more and more of a struggle for my wife to get me to the barbers. I would put it off, she would eventually stop talking to me. These were very difficult times. I continued waking up at amritvela everyday and did simran (meditate) and Nitnem (daily prayers). I was basically living as an amritdhari (baptised Sikh) but without Kesh.

I recall the final time I went to the Barbers. A Muslim woman was cutting my hair and spotted my Kara. She said, "You're a Sikh!?" I said, "Yes." "Aren't Sikhs supposed to keep their hair?" I replied, "Yes" but felt very embarrassed. From here I began telling her about Sikhi. She was very impressed and she even started feeling guilty about her lack of devotion, for her own faith. By the end of the haircut, she said something which shocked me. She said, "After all you have told me about your religion you seem very much into it, I don't expect to see you here again." It was a WOW moment, where I felt this comment had a driving force behind it. I went home and told my wife what happened and from there she realised that this is a clear sign. From there I kept my Kes. Now the challenge was encouraging my wife to get into it. She had made some progress but was still having the same old demons inside.

The birth of our child Amrita Kaur led to a change in her. A jeevan-vala (highly spiritual) gursikh said to us recently, that you and your wife became gursikhs as a result of your daughter's kamaaee (accumulation of spiritual wealth) from her previous lives. Now our journey towards Amrit was to step up. With Guru's Apaar Kirpa, my wife started keeping her Kes and one thing she noticed was she felt incomplete without a dastaar. She slowly started doing her full Nitnem and in Dec 2009 we were blessed to become part of the Khalsa (pure) Family.

I have no regrets as every mistake, every good decision, all shape our current destiny. Although we still have a huge distance to travel, Guru Sahib, through the Sangat, has laid a clear path ahead. I am eternally thankful to Guru sahib and our Gursikh family for embracing this nobody and bringing him from the dying cold outside, to experience the warmth of the Gurus lap. May guru sahib bless us all with his love.

Guru Sahib Ji has now blessed veer ji, with the Seva (service) of touring the world to educate/inspire many others, on this extremely beautiful spiritual path of Sikhi. Veer ji does this whilst living in girhast (householders life), with a family and a full time job. Guru Ramdas Ji says,
ਹਮ ਰੁਲਤੇ ਫਿਰਤੇ ਕੋਈ ਬਾਤ ਨ ਪੂਛਤਾ ਗੁਰ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸੰਗਿ ਕੀਰੇ ਹਮ ਥਾਪੇ ||
"I was rolling around in the dirt, and no one cared for me at all. In the Company of the Guru, the True Guru, I, the worm, have been raised up and exalted."
(Gauree M:4, 167)



Note: Thank you to Bhai Vijay Singh jee for writing his personal story and sharing it with the Sangat.


Gagandeep Singh said...

He is amazing! _/\_ Bhai Sahib naal mil ke bhoot khushi hoi. Waheguru ehna nu chad di kla ch rkhn. Akal.

Gagandeep Singh said...

He is AMAZING! _/\_ Bhai Sahib naal mil ke bhoot khushi hoi. Waheguru ji ehna nu chad di kla ch rkhn. Akal.