It was in 1910 that I had an irresistible call from my beloved Gurmukhs Sri Babu Mal Singh Jee and Bhai Piara Singh Jee. Accompanied by Akhand Patthis and Akhand Kirtani Jatha, I landed at Ambala Cantt. We had a prolonged session of Akhand Patths and Akhand Kirtans. In the Army Rasala No.18 Bhai Sunder Singh Jee was employed as Granthi. He was in his early youth with small, uniform growth of beard on his round, healthy face. Attracted spiritually by the Jatha programs, he was always seen along with another youthful Vir Arjan Singh (who became well known later as Bhuri wale Sant) following the Naam- imbued Jatha in a love-lorn state. He was highly strung with spiritual yearnings and his sleep had evaded him day and night. Such was the piercing of arrows of spiritual love. He had only one strong desire that he should get baptised by the Gurmukh Jatha at the earliest, so as to get similarly imbued with Naam.
Well versed in Gurmat tradition, Sri Bhai Piara Singh Jee (who has presently left for heavenly Abode) approached me with the request to include Granthi Sunder Singh Jee among the Patthis. He explained that Bhai Sunder Singh Jee’s recitation was fluent and faultless. In turn I lovingly explained that this Vir is as yet a candidate for Baptism, still in search of Naam-Nectar. How could he become a Pathi when he is still un-Baptised? This would be against the tradition of the Jatha. I realized that Bhai Piara Singh Jee was very keen to listen Patth from the Granthi and therefore assured that his desire would soon be fulfilled once Bhai Sunder Singh is a Baptised Singh. His love yearnings are still ascending so let these rise up fully. Hearing this Sri Bhai Piara Singh Jee had nothing more to say. Sitting nearby, Bhai Sunder Singh was listening to the above conversation. With folded hands he humbly submitted, “Truly I am not yet competent to become a Patthi of this Jatha. I am still a beggar at their door. I have listened to many Akhand Paths and participated in many. I could recite with great fluency. However the bliss I am enjoying in listening to the Akhand Patths of this Jatha, I have not experienced before. Every Patthi recites Gurbani as if shooting arrows that pierce hearts. This has changed the course of my dry life. It appears as if I am soon going to be reborn with the essence of Gurmat Nectarian life.”
Bhai Sunder Singh Granthi had the insight to evaluate the pure Gurmat principles of the Jatha and firmly decided to join it. After a few Akhand Patths, it was his turn to get baptised. Baptism ceremony was part of every Akhand Patth and the Jatha was frequent visitor to Ambala Cantt. Once the decision was made known for Granthi Bhai Sunder Singh to get Baptised, he adopted the discipline of Sarbloh, use of pure iron utensils in advance. He was selected among the candidates for Baptism. His joy knew no bounds. He had prepared his inner self to be imbued with Naam-dye. The arrow of Divine-Love immediately hit the bull's eye of the target. No sooner had the five beloved ones sprinkled drop of Nectar into the mouth of this thirsty rain bird was the initiation of Gurmantar heard, such was the piercing of this Divine Arrow that the highest spirituality was attained. Such was the shining glory on the face of dear brother Sunder Singh Jee that it was difficult to behold. The handsome face, imbued with the magical Nectarine Naam became highly splendorous. He had considerable proficiency in Kirtan earlier and when he got tuned to Naam-Bani after Baptism, it attained new miraculous heights. The arrow of Shabad Kirtan originating from his heart pierced through many other similar jewels. He lost all pride of rank as distinguished Army Granthi. He was happy to be humblest of the humble seeking dust of the holy congregation. He became the dedicated servant of the house of Guru. His dedication to service was such that he lost ego of being Baba Jee as Army Granthi. He was ever intoxicated with Naam-Nectar, unaffected by his surroundings. He was engrossed in the enjoyment of celestial bliss. He forgot all about eating and drinking needs and neglected dressing up as a well-groomed Baba Jee. He wore only the dress of a Gurmukh, that of Kachhera, a grey shirt, Kirpan with Gatra (belt across the body) and the double turban (lower one of Saffron colour and the top one black woolen). He abandoned the formal dress of Granthi Baba of tight Pajama, etc., yet he appeared resplendent and majestic. Today his recitation of Akhand Patth, regaling and blissful to the listeners, is beyond all praise. The recitation is like raining of fragrant Naam-Nectar. He is the most fluent Patthi today and yet most clear and flawless to the listeners. His recitation was uplifting and swaying the minds. He recited for hours together without any fatigue with ever-rising pitch. Alongside more and more glory shone on his face. His divine glow associated with Naam-Bani was unbearable for the beholders. The inner recitation of Naam went on with full force in unison with recitation of Akhand Patth. That is how the moon-like face shone with freshness and also kept the listeners fresh and attentive.
This was a great, priceless jewel, added to the Jatha. Wondrous was his glory. In the Army Rasala No.18 he was thus a high-spirited Akhand Kirtaniya, Akhand Patthi and one of the Baptizing Jatha of Immaculate Naam. Such was the divine blessing! The prevalent spiritual environment at Ambala Cantt. was so enriched that even the celestial angels would have been yearning for this. The Sikh Platoons, Rasalas, Regiments and Artillery happened to come together in this cantonment. This must have aroused the envy of even the stars of destiny, because this heavenly bliss was short lived. With change of historical circumstances, the army formations had to move away to new places of duty. With this, our visits to Ambala Cantt. also became rarer. The transfers of our Army friends ended the gatherings of love-lorn spiritual seekers. We accepted the coming events as the Divine-Will.
After my release from life-imprisonment the news I could get was that Khanjar walia Vir Sunder Singh was no more a Granthi in Army. He was now a Mahant of a Nirmala sect at village Lohgarh near Raikot. This was a hereditary position that Mahant Sunder Singh filled with distinction, preaching the essence of Gurmat. From Lohgarh he moved his base to the village Lohat Vadi. It became a centre for holy congregations with people joining from far and near. The environment of spirituality and rich feast of Nectarian bliss started attracting true lovers of Divine. The annual special gatherings included the Baptism ceremonies. Many were the beneficiary souls.
With my return to village Narangwal, there was continuous flow of countless holy ones, joining in holy congregations. That is the time that Vir Bhai Sunder Singh headed an impressive Kirtani Jatha from Lohat Vadi. He had the same personality of peaceful splendour, which I had known with a glowing face and black beard, like a cloud around the moon. However his body was not athletic but he had developed a paunch. We met as old friends after long separation, holding each other in tight embrace and separated yet again. I still remember parting words of Sri Beloved Vir Bhai Sunder Singh Jee. He said, “This is blissfulness of fleeting times. The next meeting shall await the destiny.” He returned to Loht Vadi. His continuous sitting in meditation had caused fatal piles disease. He died, leaving his mortal frame for his heavenly abode!
ਆਇਆ ਸਫਲ ਤਾਹੂ ਕੋ ਗਨੀਐ ॥
ਗਉੜੀ ਬਾਵਨ ਅਖਰੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੫, ਪ:੧੩ ।੨੫੨॥
Blessed is such a life.
Gauri Bavan Akhri M:5, P:13