Bhai Sahib Bhai Vir Singh ji is best described as a savant-poet. As a poet, even his prose takes on a mystical, lyrical quality. The physical effect of reading his works is like a shikara (light, flat-bottom, roofed boat) gently bobbing along an open river. Mentally, he stretches not just your imagination but also your understanding. Emotionally, he shakes you to the core. His words carry the weight of profound experiences. Written with deep conviction, their impact on the reader is inevitable.
But what of the savant?
It is through compilations of personal letters in Piare Jio, (O’ Beloved) that we get a glimpse of the man, the father-figure he was. Lovingly and clearly, he explains the steps of meditation, which takes lifetimes to master, namely nam japna, simran karna and sadhna (repeating/perfecting Nam, remembrance and disciplined practice).
He consoles a recently young widowed woman, “Kaki ji, sher bano attey nam japo” (“Kaki ji, be brave and repeat Nam”); Sikhi is not for the faint-hearted, nor is life. Through her pain she must rise and find strength to immerse herself in simran. To give purpose to one who has lost all from a worldly perspective is no small feat. But he is able to do that with hope and love.
Bhai Sahib’s letters carry the consolation of shared grief, the empathy of one who understands your pain and your quandary because he has lived through it. Reading his letters is akin to having a friend who makes you realize that there is a way through the despair, no matter what.
January 1, 1914
I read your letter. The description you have given of your state of mind echoes the lessons learnt by your subconscious. These are lessons that take life-cycles to learn and imbibe. One lesson is of Nam—the four syllables of Va-Hi-Gu-Ru – takes lifetimes to solidify. To strengthen it, one must be continuously connected, for this is ‘Jap;’ this is the way where a connection is made, and the word (Va-Hi-Gu-Ru) solidifies…
ਨਾਮ ਤੁਿਲ ਕਛੁ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ
nam tul kachu avaru na hoi.
Nothing else compares to Nam!
Gurbani reinforces this lesson of nam japna and simran karna (when the audible continuous recitation of Nam is ingrained within, and subsequently becomes a part of one’s consciousness).
Gurbani is the Hukam (Order/Divine Will) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji. We must follow this Hukam in its entirety. This is because the householder’s life is full of ups and downs and therefore, it hinders the flow of ras (flavor/taste/essence). The reason is not the lack of Guru’s Grace but our own preoccupation with our anxieties.
If we remain connected or consider to keep Guru Nanak Dev Ji above all, then our mind keeps rubbing off Him and the ras keeps flowing. When the mind is attracted to someone or something else—either fear or the lure of enmity or entangled in a thought-process—it becomes a reflection of that personality.
Where, then, is Vahiguru’s ras?
- Vir Singh
April 15, 1910
Pavittra Atma Jio,
It was heartbreaking to hear the news of my dear friend and your husband’s demise. In this most difficult time we must keep in mind that this has occurred in our Master’s Hukam; returning us to our eternal, real home, for this is where we all have to go to.
Without a doubt, these are challenging times, especially for you. There is but one way out: Hold on tightly to Vahiguru ji, and remember Him with every breath. Let Him support and protect you throughout your life. Be under His love.
Remember, a Sikh does not die. A Sikh is the personification of seva (service) and simran. He is steeped in Nam. He lives in Nam and so, he lives…It is merely his form that changes. So, do not think of Sardar ji (honorary title of a Sikh) as dead; he has only discarded his earthly robes. Pick up your strength. Do simran so that you may also reach there when you leave this world.
This world is transitory so make these days worthwhile. Try to bring your mind in tune with the Creator. It is difficult, but we are servants. He is the Master and the duty of the servants is to obey the Master’s orders. In such times His Hukam carries the sharpness of the sword’s edge. But He is our Master. We are His willing slaves, bonded and bound to Him. It is our duty to accept and honor His Will.
Sukh and dukh (happiness and suffering) are the fruits of our karm (actions/deeds). However, He has the capacity to grace us with strength and peace. He has the balm for our wounds should we seek it. In Him we find freedom from pain. In Him we find peace.
Do not think of yourself as being alone. Immerse yourself in Nam. Vahiguru ji is with you. The Guru loves his Sikhs more than his own children. He lovingly protects us. He is our Mother and we are His children. Consider His harshness as a mother’s slap. When a mother reprimands her child severely, without understanding his fault or anything else, the child clings tightly to his mother. The more she scolds, the tighter his hold. So, we too must follow our basic instincts and hold on tightly to our Mother when we are confused and hurt.
We grieve our loss of parting with loved ones. However, this life, this world is transitory and so, our separation is temporary. According to Sikhi, death is separation from nam. A nami (Divinely) Sikh does not die. In Hukam, he returns to his eternal home. So, my dear, be lion-hearted and immerse yourself in nam. Align your mind, to the Divine Light. Lead a life like your husband’s so that when you discard these robes, you too find yourself at Vahiguru ji’s feet along with him.
This is Sikhi. In difficult times we deepen our connection, so, do more simran and joyfully honor His Hukam.
My Ardas (prayer) is with you. I pray your dear husband and my friend finds his place in Sachkhand (realm of Truth), our true home. We will be keeping Sri Akhand Path Sahib (complete uninterrupted reading of Guru Granth Sahib) for the comfort of his soul.
Please covey my deepest respects to Mata ji and read this letter to her. Ask her to continue to deepen her prayer. May Vahiguru ji be with you, keep you, and bless you with purity, love, (Nit)nem (daily discipline), simran and sabad (Guru’s word/Gurbani) for the remainder of your life.
- Vir Singh
Satbharai Kaur is a writer based out of Toronto.