“Bhai Vir Singh’s (1872-1957) art is of the highest, not for its power of story-telling; that conjures up past events in panorama, nor for the delicate grace of its purity and beauty; nor, even, for its great humanity. It is the deep realization behind it, so masterly in its imperial authority that the very stones, when called by his voice, move and offer a prayer of thankfulness to their Creator,” writes Prof. Puran Singh (1881-1931).
While trans-creating a chapter from Bhai Vir Singh’s book Kalgidhar Chamtakar, I was transported into another dimension. Prose and poetry blended effortlessly. And what I experienced was a glorious symphony, an unexpected beauty that touched the depths of my being.
This story seems to have been set around the period of the Battle of Bhangani (1688). The Hill Rajas had formed an alliance to fight Guru Gobind Singh Sahib. Suspicion and turmoil are in the air, which comes out loud and clear in this story.
However, this is not that story.
This story is about a woman – the rani of Raipur, who secretly loves the Guru in this turbulent time. Why secretly? Because her husband is not an admirer of the Guru.
Through the sensitive pen of Bhai Vir Singh, we too get to experience her anguish, her yearning, her deep love and her faith for the Guru.
This is truly a unique love-story.
The Rani of Raipur Pt. 2
It is now well past midnight. The Rani opens her eyes and sighs. Her eyes fall on her Prince-son and the saintly woman who are sitting nearby.
Seeing her son’s sad face, she says: “Dearest son, your mother was going to die today, but this virtuous being changed the course.”
Tears flow from the eyes of the Prince. Choked with emotion, unable to speak, he puts his head in his mother’s lap and closes his eyes.
After a while, the saintly woman lovingly says, “It is getting late. Let’s all get some rest.”
The Rani holds the saintly woman’s hand and says, “The mother who gave birth to me left me in this world-ocean without oars and without light. But you, my advice-giving mother, took me out from that world-ocean. O’ Mother! I was going to die today. I cried today. I know crying is a weakness. But to cry for Sidak, washes the dirt off the mind. Isn’t is so, Mother? Isn’t longing, yearning the medicine that cleanses the mind?”
“Child, the ones who have tasted Vahiguru’s (Awesome-Wisdom) love even once, they experience Vahiguru’s protection.”
“I lost control, I forgot. But it was beyond my control. I don’t know how the fragrance of my Sidak escaped. The last few days the neighboring hill-kings have been sending me messages of threat. That if I ever were to support the “Guru with the Plume,” they would seize my kingdom. Today, my own Minister said such malicious things, hoping that it would break my Sidak with my beloved Guru. His venom-filled words were said in such a manner that I would come to dislike the Guru. But Mother! I can’t even describe to you what I felt as I listened to all this. Why didn’t my ears burn, listening to all this?
“Even my friends and servants have joined in this poisonous slander. I had a sword with me. But, I am coward. Had I courage, I would have pierced my body with my sword and have left this world with pure ears at least. But I have no goodness in me. All I have is a small kingdom, isn’t it? But the ego of having a small kingdom is large. I am good for nothing. It is your grace that re-kindled the living-spark within me. That beautiful shining Diamond-Spark that my enemies were able to mask. Not being able to see the Light, put me in great distress. Darkness engulfed me. Fear entered. I felt totally alone. I was drowning. My own self became my demon, ready to devour me.
“I tried hard to lift myself out of this darkness. I tried to console myself that the worst thing that can happen is the loss of my kingdom. So, what? Isn’t losing a kingdom worth my love for my Guru? If Sidak and love are within me, then the comfort or pain of a kingdom or being in poverty should not make any difference. I tried to reason with myself but the pain in my kaleja (liver; seat of love in Panjabi idiom) did not decrease nor did the loneliness. But, your loving, sweet singing of the Sabad (verse from the Guru Granth Sahib), pulled me out of the hell-hole that I was in. O’ Mother! Why did I listen to their malicious talk? Even if I had listened, why did I not stand like a rock? Why didn’t I say that their talk was rubbish?”
“Dear Daughter, Sidak is a priceless Gift. It’s coming is difficult; it’s ripening is difficult; it’s sustaining is difficult. The world is a sphere of fear and anxiety. Overcoming fears and doubts is a stage of perfection. When fears and doubts leave the mind, then and only then, Sidak enters. When our Sidak is complete, then Gian (Wisdom) enters.
“Child, our intelligence lives in doubts. When we get rid of our doubts then Sidak enters. When Sidak enters, the mind becomes centered, then quintessence knowledge materializes. Between intellectual knowledge and quintessence knowledge resides Sidak. In essence, when Sidak enters, quintessence knowledge transpires. Just think what an elevated thing Sidak is. The one who has Sidak becomes Sadak (Sidaker or Sidak-bearer). And in that Sadak, the Eternal Light is revealed.”
“Beyond my birth Mother, you my love-filled, ocean-crossing Mother, tell me how to get rid of these doubts. In order, to get rid of these doubts, I’ve given charity, kept fasts and cried in repentance. I’ve tried my best to push these fears and anxieties out of my mind but I have not been successful. I believe that you have the magic that will rid me of my doubts.”
“O’ Daughter! Our Guru has lovingly explained how to overcome doubts and has given us the medicine to cure this illness.
ਕਰਮੀ ਸਹਜੁ ਨ ਊਪਜੈ ਵਿਣੁ ਸਹਜੈ ਸਹਸਾ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥
ਨਹ ਜਾਇ ਸਹਸਾ ਕਿਤੈ ਸੰਜਮਿ ਰਹੇ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਏ ॥
ਸਹਸੈ ਜੀਉ ਮਲੀਣੁ ਹੈ ਕਿਤੁ ਸੰਜਮਿ ਧੋਤਾ ਜਾਏ ॥
ਮੰਨੁ ਧੋਵਹੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਲਾਗਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਸਿਉ ਰਹਹੁ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਇ ॥
ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਸਹਜੁ ਉਪਜੈ ਇਹੁ ਸਹਸਾ ਇਵ ਜਾਇ ॥੧੮॥
Intuitiveness does not emerge through rituals,
without intuitiveness, doubt does not leave.
Doubt does not leave by other methods,
give up ritual performing.
Being is polluted in doubt,
which way to be cleansed?
Cleanse mind, soak in Sabad,
focus consciousness on the All-Pervasive.
Through Guru’s grace intuitiveness emerges,
this dispels doubts. – Guru Granth Sahib, 917
“My sweet Mother, how can I connect with Sabad? How can I experience Truth and Guru’s Grace?”
“Sweet, Daughter! Your love for Gurbani (Guru Granth Sahib) is increasing day by day. This love is taking you closer and closer to Sabad. Gurbani reveals ways one can experience the magnificence of Sabad; the benefit of Sabad; the inspiration from Sabad; as well as how to reside in Sabad. Gurbani’s nature is to attach its own lover to Sabad. When you recite Gurbani with awe and love, the mind softens, enabling Sabad to bring Nam (Divine Identification) to dwell in the heart. Reflecting on Gurbani is the true way to realize Sabad. When Sabad begins to dwell in the heart, Truth will begin to abide within. Satguru (Eternal-Guru) has graced you with the desire to walk this path. You are already in love with Gurbani. Satguru is going to enter your home. Just wait!”
“Mother, this is the fruit of all your blessings, for I am unvirtuous. But you are right, Gurbani is sweet and cools my mind. Today, I made a mistake. I forgot to remember to recite Gurbani. Had I recited Gurbani, I would have experienced this coolness sooner.”
“In the play of destiny, sometimes one forgets. But think, at the end, it was the sound of Gurbani that lifted you out of the darkness.”
“Yes! That is absolutely the truth. The sound of Gurbani and the company of a lover of Gurbani saved me. You are a saint worthy of worship.”
“Again, you’re saying the same thing! The thing that I can only hear being said about my Beloved’s glory.
ਹਮ ਰੁਲਤੇ ਫਿਰਤੇ ਕੋਈ ਬਾਤ ਨ ਪੂਛਤਾ ਗੁਰ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸੰਗਿ ਕੀਰੇ ਹਮ ਥਾਪੇ ॥
I was roaming lost. No one talked, no one asked.
Through Guru, Eternal-Guru’s company,
I, a worm became exalted.
– Guru Granth Sahib, 167
“My condition was even lower than this.”
“Mother, I forgot. Because I am forgetful. Please forgive me. I did not say it intentionally. It just flowed because of the intense gratitude that I am feeling. But, there is something I am uncertain about. Yes! It is another doubt. Please can you help me overcome it. Ever since I have met you, I have found comfort in you. You have made yourself worthy of worship, yet you don’t like to be acknowledged for that or to be called saintly. Then, how can sinners like me be liberated?”
“Liberate? Child, to liberate is the nature of the Creator, who is also the Doer. The cosmic law of the Creator is generosity, for the Creator is also the nurturer and the liberator. This is my understanding. In other words:
Vahiguru’s action is to create.
Vahiguru’s religion is to nurture.
Vahiguru’s nature is to liberate.”
“But, Mother, Vahiguru is formless, limitless, colorless and beyond any religious sect, so how can we attain liberation from Vahiguru?”
“To create the Universe, the Creator did not need anyone’s assistance, likewise to nourish the Creator does not need advice or help from anyone. Similarly, to liberate the Creator is not dependent on anyone’s counsel. The Creator alone creates, nourishes and liberates.”
“But, Mother, when we begin to feel the love and protection of the Creator, then a desire arises to see and meet the Beloved. But how? For the Beloved is imperceptible, inaccessible and we are not at that stage, so how can we meet?”
“Child, look at it in this way: There is a kite with a really long string flying in the sky. It flies so high, that you can no longer see it. The kite is beyond your sight, but your hand is holding the string that is attached to the kite. You feel the pull of the string, so, you know that the string is still attached to the body of the kite, even though your eyes don’t see it. Similarly, a “pull” within us arises to meet the Beloved. Realize that the emergence of this “pull” in itself is Grace. For the Beloved has put this “pull” within you. Those who feel this “pull” ought to know that the Beloved is protecting and liberating them.”
“What you have said is true. How are you able to clear my innermost doubts? But still, Mother, this thirst for a vision makes me restless. When it arises, the desire to meet is intense. One day, you had said, “When the thirst for a “meeting” arises, one must not remain inactive.” The desire is there to meet, then why is the body lazy?
“Mother, two doubts have arisen. I know that Vahiguru is the form of Ik Onkar (1 Force), and that Vahiguru is Supreme; Fearless; without animosity; the living Light and the Giver of endless love. Because of this endless love, Vahiguru is the Nourisher as well as the Liberator. But who is going to tell us about this endless love and these virtues? If you had not shared this with me, my desire for a “meeting” would not have arisen. And the second doubt is, when the desire has arisen and the effort to “meet” is also undertaken, how does one “meet?” Because you say, “All is through Grace.””
“Child, you have to look at Vahiguru in this way: You see the Light. But what is that brightness? Brightness is that stage, where we see, realize and recognize that everything is from Vahiguru. But, if we don’t have the brightness in our eyes, what can the outside brightness do? So, the inside brightness-desire, the Grace filled-brightness is not to just see things. In that brightness you have to recognize Vahiguru’s marvels, blessings and gifts that are all around us.
“This Liberator, Vahiguru has put raza (order; cheerful-acceptance of it) in our consciousness, and brightened it enabling everything to flow in natural ease. But, because we don’t understand raza, a curtain arises before us. For, we have turned our backs on the Razai (Order-Bearer or Order-Giver) and have gotten immersed in the illusions and attachments of the world. We have gotten so attached to the things that we see in this brightness, that we have forgotten the Light of this brightness. No longer are we grateful to this brightness for the material things. Therefore, we are incapable of reaching the Light through this brightness. The brightness was there to bring us to the Light that is within us.
“For this reason, from time to time, the Liberator Vahiguru sends a Beloved Savior to the world in a human form, but whose virtues and behaviors are above humans. The Beloved that Vahiguru sends is just like Vahiguru, whom we lovingly call Guru Nanak ji. Guru Nanak ji came and told us about the virtues, the nature, the compassion and the endless love of Vahiguru. Listening to them, a desire arose within us to get rid of our vices; to think of this world as temporary and to consider loving the Beloved lovingly so that we can realize and experience the Beloved here. This is what Guru Nanak ji told us. To fulfil this desire, Guru Nanak ji revealed the Bani (Teachings; included in Guru Granth Sahib); gave us the pristine guidance of prayer and of singing the virtues of Vahiguru. Then the loving Satguru bestowed on us the Gift of Sabad.
ਸਬਦੋ ਸੁਹਾਵਾ ਸਦਾ ਸੋਹਿਲਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਸੁਣਾਇਆ ॥
The beautiful Sabad, the eternal Glory-Song, the Eternal-Guru revealed.
– Guru Granth Sahib, 917
“So, Child, this is the way, that the Timeless Being liberates us intuitively. You just need to recognize this. But, know this: This recognition also comes through Grace.”
“Mother, forgive me. There is no disbelief in my mind, only a longing to meet. And that longing is intensifying. At times, I don’t even know what I am saying, so please forgive me. It is with your blessing that I read Gurbani, prayed, listened to kirtan (Gurbani-singing) and then devotion arose within me. Every part of my being yearns to meet Vahiguru. You have said, that the beautiful, joyful, blissful message of love in Sabad, Satguru has revealed. So, therefore there is such a strong force within me, to meet Satguru, that at times I get distressed. The longing to meet Satguru, the one whom Vahiguru has sent to connect us disconnected beings back to our True Home surges like a tidal wave within me. But, Mother, if you had not blessed me, how would I have been graced with this longing to meet Satguru?”
“It is Satguru’s nature to liberate, to nurture, to grace. Wanting to see Satguru in a human form or not in a human form is confining. My Child, Satguru is beyond time and space; beyond physical and unseen forms. Satguru is living divinity. To experience the nature of Satguru and to meet Satguru, remember:
ਗੁਰੁ ਮੇਰੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਦਾ ਹੈ ਨਾਲੇ ॥
ਸਿਮਰਿ ਸਿਮਰਿ ਤਿਸੁ ਸਦਾ ਸਮ੍ਹਾਲੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Guru is with me, always with me.
Eternally keep that remembrance. Reflect.”
– Guru Granth Sahib, 394
“Mother, please explain this further, so that I can clearly understand.”
“Get rid of this thought that Satguru is not here or is far away from you. Believe that Satguru is with you at all times. Make this thought a part of your remembrance. Think to yourself that Satguru is ever-present and let your remembrance reflect that.
ਸਤਿ ਕਰੇ ਜਿਨਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਪਛਾਤਾ ਸੋ ਕਾਹੇ ਕਉ ਡਰਦਾ ਜੀਉ ॥੩॥
Those who recognize Guru practice Truth, so why should beings be afraid?
– Guru Granth Sahib, 101
“Those who recognize Guru as Eternal and Omnipresent know that, they have the support of Satguru. This support aids them in becoming fearless. Till today, have you not fallen at the feet of Satguru? You have not seen Guru? But, do you not feel that Satguru is yours and that you are Satguru’s?”
“Mother, if this feeling ever left me,
I would die right away.
Satguru is mine.
I am Satguru’s.
I am the dust of Satguru’s Feet.
“O’ Mother! Pray that I become a captive of Satguru.
O’ Satguru! I am Yours.
O’ Liberator! I am Yours.
O’ Loving Satguru! I am Yours.
Take me as Your own.
Make me the dust of Your Feet.
Say that this devotee is My slave standing at My door.
O’ Satguru! Give me the service of Your Own Home.
Make me Your own.
O’ Wearer of the Plume!
O’ Liberator! Make me the dust of Your Feet.
O’ Beloved! Say that we are Yours.
Good or bad, we are Yours.
Wandering in forgetfulness, we are Yours.
O’ Beloved! We are Yours.
O’ Beloved! Keep us close to You, for we are Yours.”
Love-immersed tears flow from the Rani’s eyes. She goes into a deep trance. After a while, her eyes open and she says, “Mother, what else?”
“Child, that’s it! Recognize Satguru as close and near. This closeness, this nearness is the meeting of Satguru. This longing creates the bridge between us and Satguru and through this bridge Grace enters our home.”
“Sweet Mother, you have explained everything so well to me. I do love you so much. But you still call yourself a nobody?”
“Child, I am not a nobody. I am somebody who loves the Feet of Satguru; somebody who joyously utters the sayings of Satguru, but nothing more than that. Satguru’s lovers are those in whom Satguru resides. They are the saints and their company is fruitful. But, Child I am not a saint and not worthy of worship.
“However, our doctrine is that Vahiguru sent Guru ji to the world to liberate us. Similarly, Guru ji has given us Gurbani and satsang (Eternal or true-congregation). The Wisdom that Vahiguru blessed Guru ji with, Guru ji revealed in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Scriptural Cannon). This True, priceless Supreme Cosmic-Wisdom, is the heart-body of the Guru. Do you know that Guru Arjan Dev ji bowed before this Granth? The Tenth Guru revered it and gifted it to us. To spread the message of the Granth, satsang has been given to us. With the support of satsang, this blessed opus flows.
“Satguru is the Love incarnate of Vahiguru. Those immersed in Guru-Love, Satguru says, “They are mine; they are my form.”
“Our Beloved Satguru is great! Our Wonderous Satguru is great,” chants the Rani.
“So, Child! The Liberator, the Timeless Being is the Satguru.
ਗੁਰੁ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਪਰਮੇਸਰੁ ਆਪਿ
Guru is Transcendent Supreme-Owner Oneself.
– Guru Granth Sahib, 387
“Sweet Mother! Today my evil ears heard malicious and vicious things about our beloved Guru ji, which caused me great distress. But being in your company and hearing about Satguru’s greatness, vastness, compassion and endless love has saved me. Your friendship is life-giving.”
“Child! Slanderous gossip has brought great misery to this world. It has destroyed temples of Sidak and trust. It has created estrangements between true friends as well as between husbands and wives. That is why Satguru says that slanderous gossip is a colossal transgression that we must refrain from. And we must never lend our ears to it. But if it comes continuously, we must keep our mind firm like a rock. And if it causes distress, then take the sanctuary of Gurbani and satsang.”
“Mother, what you say is true. But, forgive me for asking again, when do we get a glimpse of our Beloved Guru?”
“The time is approaching. Beloved Guru will visit us soon.”
“Mother, I can hardly wait. May your words come to fruition soon!”
“Tell me, Child, has fear left your heart?”
“There was one fear. The fear that the neighboring hill-kings would attack the kingdom, once they found out that I am Satguru’s Sikh. But the two advices that you gave me helped me get rid of this fear. The first one was the Sabad you recited:
ਜੌ ਰਾਜੁ ਦੇਹਿ ਤ ਕਵਨ ਬਡਾਈ ॥
ਜੌ ਭੀਖ ਮੰਗਾਵਹਿ ਤ ਕਿਆ ਘਟਿ ਜਾਈ ॥੧॥
If You give a kingdom, what will be so great?
If You make me to beg, what will be reduced?
– Guru Granth Sahib, 525
“When Satguru is going to immerse us in the bliss of Nam, the biggest treasure, then what is a kingdom and what is begging?
“The second advice, is what you just said:
ਸਤਿ ਕਰੇ ਜਿਨਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਪਛਾਤਾ ਸੋ ਕਾਹੇ ਕਉ ਡਰਦਾ ਜੀਉ ॥੩॥
Those who recognize Guru practice Truth, so why should beings be afraid?
–Guru Granth Sahib, 101
“So, when our religion is to recognize Satguru as ever-present, then to fear is not the right way. I need to take the sanctuary of Guru and be in the stillness of love-filled remembrance. I need to leave fears and anxieties to Satguru.”
“Child, when stillness is within, when Nam is within, then our consciousness definitely attains the stage of fearlessness. Those who have been graced, why should their minds fear those who are living with fears and anxieties? Those who are fearless—their fearlessness has an effect on others. Vices of those living in fear tremble when they encounter the sacred fire of fearless beings.”
“Mother, you are right. You have spoken the truth.”
“I have repeated whatever I have heard from Satguru.”
The Prince who had been silently listening to the conversation now said, “Revered elder Mother, when will we get a glimpse of Satguru?”
“My sweet Prince, Satguru has left Paonta. For the last 10 or 12 days, Satguru is staying in the Nahan forest region. I am certain, Satguru will soon pass through our region as well.”
“Revered elder Mother, are you sure Guru ji will come to this region? If you have even the slightest doubt, maybe we should send a message to Guru ji?”
“My glorious Prince, there is no need to send a message, nor have anyone tell Guru ji about your love. It is Guru’s nature to provide sanctuary and to take care of the ones who are in the sanctuary. The pull of your love is so strong, that it will be impossible for Guru ji not to pass through your region and grace you.”
“Mother, what you’ve said is true. Our love is just budding. Your graciousness is what we are pinning our hopes on—that Guru ji will definitely come to bless us. To send a message would be sacrilegious. How can we unvirtuous ones dare to invite Pure Radiance? But, Mother, if Satguru Graces us, then our coming into this world will be fruitful.”
“Child, Satguru will definitely come to Grace you. This is my trust.”