S. Man Singh, Head clerk in No.36 Cavalery, was staying at Ambala Cantt. He was a devoted Gursikh and often used to pray with tearful eyes for spiritual orientation of his youngest son, Harbachan Singh. He would thank the Lord for all that was bestowed on him, as the worldly position, wealth and all the comforts. Harbachan Singh was his most beloved child, yet devoid of all spirituality while the rest of the family would pray daily both morning and evening. He would ridicule the family devotion and the Sikh Faith. He was sent to Khalsa College Amritsar with a view to expose him to religious environment that would possibly evoke his interest in the Faith. However inspite of his being educated there, he remained more of an atheist. S. Man Singh pleaded his helplessness towards reforming the boy to God and sought Divine intervention through his prayers to make Harbachan Singh God- oriented person.
He would make such prayers tearfully and finally these were answered. One day our humble Kirtani Jatha came to Ambala Cantt., attracted by the love of yearnings of our dear ones, Babu Mal Singh and Bhai Piara Singh. We were singing the Divine melody in great moods, when this young man passed nearby. As he heard the Divine Words of the music, he sat down right on the spot in the dust of the road as a shot down bird falls. The more he heard, the more was the piercing effect and his restlessness. He even lost his bodily consciousness. Meanwhile, the great Divine hunter, benevolent Vir, Babu Mal Singh, sensing the appropriate occasion, got him lifted in the same sitting posture and brought him to the assembly. This tearful, new aspirant of God-Love, was further subjected to the sally of Divine Kirtan. He just remained statue-like throughout. The one, who used to make so much fun of the Faith, was now under such a spellbound state! At the end of Akhand Kirtan, full recitation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Akhand Patth, started. It was like the continuous pouring of Blissful Rain day and night for 48 hours that imbued the soul of aspirant for Baptism. The mystic reciters further heightened the yearnings of Bhai Harbachan Singh for God Love. At 4:30 A.M. once again the Kirtan started just as the Patth recitation ended and yet he sat motionless with closed eyes. Knowing this to be an eligible soul and with Divine Prompting, the Baptising ceremony was planned. Bhai Harbachan Singh was given a full bath and dressed up in the Khalsa garb. He presented himself before the Chosen Five and begged to be baptised, with folded hands. Feeling the Divine Presence, he was enchanted with anticipation of the new event. As he received the first drops of ‘Amrit’ to drink and that were sprinkled in his eyes, his entire being got flushed with Divine Light and what followed was akin to:
ਦਰਸਨ ਦੇਖਤ ਹੀ ਸੁਧਿ ਕੀ ਨ ਸੁਧਿ ਰਹੀ
ਬੁਧਿ ਕੀ ਨ ਬੁਧਿ ਰਹੀ ਮਤਿ ਮੈਂ ਨ ਮਤਿ ਹੈ ॥
ਸੁਰਤਿ ਮੈਂ ਨ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਅਉ ਧਯਾਨ ਮੈਂ ਨ ਧਯਾਨ ਰਹਯੋ
ਗਯਾਨ ਮੈਂ ਨ ਗਯਾਨ ਰਹਯੋ ਗਤਿ ਮੈਂ ਨ ਗਤਿ ਹੈ ॥
ਧੀਰਜ ਕੋ ਧੀਰਜ ਗਰਬ ਕੋ ਗਰਬ ਗਯੋ ਰਤਿ ਮੈਂ ਨ ਰਤਿ ਰਹੀ ਪਤਿ ਰਤਿ ਪਤਿ ਹੈ ॥
ਅਦੁਭੁਤ ਪਰਮਦੁਭੁਤ ਬਿਸਮੈ ਬਿਸਮ
ਅਸਚਰਜੈ ਅਸਚਰਜ ਅਤਿ ਅਤਿ ਹੈ ॥੧॥੯॥
ਕਬਿਤ ਭਾਈ ਗੁਰਦਾਸ ਝee
At the very sight all consciousness was lost,
There was neither awareness nor comprehension,
Neither any memory nor contemplation,
Without any sense of knowledge, rendered motionless,
It was beyond endurance and all self-ego was gone,
Lost in Divine Love, devoid of separate existence,
This is wonder of the wonder beyond measure.
Kabit Bhai Gurdas Jee
It was three days and three nights that Bhai Harbachan Singh had remained in deep meditation. Just as the Kirtan was non-stop, so also was the meditation. The place was full with the holy congregation and the newly Baptised Khalsa was seated at the rear, behind everybody, imbued in Naam. Whereas his family had earlier been worried about his lack of religions interest, they were now worried for restoring him to a normal state of ordinary life. Only his deeply religious father, a Gursikh, S. Man Singh Jee remained unperturbed. He was in fact in a thankful mood to see his son in advanced state of spiritualism. The Kirtan was in full swing, when suddenly from his sitting posture, the young lovebird flew over the heads of the assembly straight to lie prostrate in front of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee. His head touched ground, while his body swayed in the air like a winged fish jumping to fly in mid-air. This was a rare and wondrous scene, which held surprise for all. The Kirtan was at the peak and this scene also held on. Once again on Divine Prompting, the Kirtaniyas started to sing the Lavan, the hymns for a Sikh marriage. This was a marriage between a realized soul with the Divine Lord. The captivating Kirtan on that occasion was never heard before or since. All the spiritual beings experienced strange blissfulness. Just as the Divine couple made love, the holy congregation and the Kirtaniyas were also lost in Rapture. Soon after Kirtan of Lavan, the song of Divine worship, Aarti was sung. With this a sense of deep Bliss prevailed. As the words, “Gopal Tera Aarta” (O, Lord, Thy servant seeks Thy Shelter), the belly swaying in mid-air came down to earth and the newly wed remained motionless in prostrate meditation.
All got stunned with premonition. To dispel all fears and anxiety, the chosen Five brought Bhai Harbachan Singh to his consciousness. With loving care, he was taken to the adjoining room for rest. General access was restricted and the family got reassured of his well-being. Resting for the night, he was still enjoying his Simran. He took his morning bath along with others, meditated and recited daily prayers. Asa-Di-Var Kirtan started, with Bhai Harbachan Singh in attendance. Moved by the Kirtan, he laid prostrate while doing loud Simran. Along with the Kirtan, he kept his Simran in tune. In this Divine Rapture, all sense of time was lost. On distribution of Karah Prasad, Vir Harbachan Singh’s hunger for Divine Love was satiated with the Prasad. Meanwhile the touring party, ‘The divine friends who had arrived at home’ took leave to continue their sojourn. All departed, leaving behind the Love Lorn, Bhai Harbachan Singh all alone. Following this, whenever there was an occasion for a Samagam, this divinely prompted, Bhai Harbachan Singh would also come. His spirituality remained at the same peak. He never showed off his high state and remained a humble householder and a true renouncer.
Bhai Harbachan Singh was highly compassionate and large hearted. Very few equal him as unknown benefactor. He would think nothing of sacrificing his all for a good cause. Whenever it was thought of selecting him among the Chosen Five during baptising ceremonies, he would remain humble in offering his services. He was never stubborn and also abided by the general decisions. He never yearned for any position. He was divinely blessed and enjoyed Divine favour. This continued for many years.
The march of times took him to foreign countries as member of the army before I was jailed in 1915. This was during the World War. It was a Divine Coincidence, that Babu Mal Singh Jee also accompanied him. While I enjoyed meditation during my life imprisonment in the jails, these two remained imbued in Naam even in the war torn foreign lands. The great souls like Bhai Harbachan Singh, Babu Mal Singh and young divine, Sant Maghar Singh Jee got involved in the war effort. Probably that sustained the bureaucratic government of the British or else it would have fallen due to the injustice meted out to many jailed spiritualists. There is no denying that sufferings of the holy ones, subjected to slavery of foreign rule and vicissitudes of the War, were much more than the sufferings of those of us, dedicated to freedom struggle, in the dark dungeons of Indian jails. I heard about the hardships under gone by Bhai Harbachan Singh that can be better described by the personal witness, Babu Mal Singh Jee. I can only say that when I met him on his return after the War, his face shone with even greater glory than I had known before. Though the military doctors and the well-known civil medical practitioners had confirmed his suffering from a terminal disease, that could prove fatal any moment, yet this God-oriented, splendid personality remained in high spirits throughout. He was never seen wearing a worried look, in anger or unduly concerned. A picture of tolerance and peace, he was always in meditation, touching new heights in spiritual glory.
The incidents of his spiritual experiences are best known to his long- time associate, Babu Mal Singh Jee. How much to write about his divine virtuous character! One can go on and on. He was a true picture of an ideal Gursikh. Whenever I read the mention of accomplished Gursikhs in the Vars and Kabit Sawiyas of Bhai Gurdas Jee, I picture my dear, Bhai Harbachan Singh Jee, whose life bears close resemblance to the description. Even though he has bodily departed from this transitory world, yet I have never felt that he has left us. He was detached from Worldliness, like the lotus flower in water. Untouched by the worldly attachments or by the bodily sufferings, he left in a whiff for his heavenly abode. However his spiritual presence is always felt by the ones united with him in spiritual ties, as though he never departed.