Rangle Sajjan - The imbued ones (2nd Edition)

Translated by: Bh. Jaspinder Singh Jee
Bhai Sahib Bhai Randheer Singh Jee

Chapter 16: A Great Saint Sriman Bhai Harbans Singh Ji “Munishar”

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The title of ‘Munishar’, The Great Ascetic, was bestowed by members of Akhand Kirtani Jatha on Bhai Harbans Singh Jee. He was highly economical with words and would mostly remain self-engrossed in thoughts-divine.  Thus he was a complete practitioner of ‘golden silence’ in accordance with Gurmat.  Being head-and-shoulders high above general ‘Munnis’ self-contained holies, he came to be known as ‘Munishar’, greatest of them all! He kept his composure with rare distinction about his high spirituality, without making any show of it or sense of bloating over it.  His breath-by-breath Divine-Memory, ‘Simran’, was a ceaseless automatic process. He was blest with Naam-Glory and his face shone in splendour-Divine. Rarest of the rare was his case of delving in ‘Gurmat’ at such an early age.  He was personification of selfless service to others in need. He was untiring as practitioner in study of Gurbani and cover-to-cover recitation of ‘Sri Gruru Granth Sahib’.  Whenever a Singh in hard financial situation needed help in reciting ‘Akhand Patth’, he would volunteer himself. He never accepted any offering for such service, not even the meals in spite of all the requests. He was observing the self-discipline of eating in iron utensils, ‘Sarab-Loh’, and take self-prepared meals only once in a day. He rendered this kind of service during ‘Akhand-Patths’ very frequently. Once he got wind of the news, he would be the first to reach and start off ‘Patth’ recitation after making prayers all by himself. He would keep reciting for seven hours at a stretch, before others could join in to take turn of recitations.

There is a village, ‘Mehma Singh Wala’, at a distance of one mile from Narangwal. Bhai Harbans Singh belonged to this village. He would visit me every morning and evening. He was always keen to join me during outside Samagams. Though young in years, yet his well- matured personality earned him respect of one and all in Jatha. He was a great devout and got Baptised at very early age. His father, Bhai Dharam Singh had proceeded to North America, where his services to the community were highly acknowledged. The family had good landed property. The land was cultivated by Bhai Harbans Singh’s elder brother.  Bhai Harbans Singh joined the army at the age of sixteen. There he came to enjoy the holy company of a ‘Gurmukh Head Granthi’ Bhai Kahan Singh Jee of No. 15 Sikh Platoon.  His marriage was proposed at an early age, yet his spirit of renunciation never let him indulge in family life. It would not be an over statement to say that, he remained chaste all his life. His thoughts were always focused on ‘Naam’ and ‘Gurbani’. He had the spiritual power to know inner and unexpressed thoughts of others. He was a great companion to me. It was my repeated experience that at the very occurrence of certain thought to me, he would start implementing it in action. Though blest with this unique power, he would never show off but remain self-contained.  He was a very rare specimen of most unfatigable selfless service, endowed with all Gurmat virtues and ever blissful.

My first meeting with Bhai Harbans Singh Jee was in 1915, when I was under arrest in Mutiny case and being transferred from ‘Lohat Vadi’ to Ludhiana. Lohat-Vadi falls in Nabha State at about 20 Kms from Narangwal. I was held in custody there for about one and a half months. When I was informed of being Challaned to Ludhiana, I sent a telepathic message to my close spiritual friend in village Gujerwal. I requested him to join me at Kila Raipur railway station during my journey from Ahmed Garh to Ludhiana. Complying with my request Vir Sri Surjan Singh Jee joined me in the same rail-compartment of the train.  My escorts, a Police Sergeant and one Sepoy, were very considerate in allowing Bhai Surjan Singh to sit next to me. He had a young companion, whose growth of beard was just appearing. His face was radiant with spiritual glory that was unbearable to behold. It was sign of his high spirituality that his automatic ‘Simran’ of Naam with every breath was audible. He held all my attention beginning with the very first look at him. His sight induced Nectarian taste of Naam and made me forget all my worldly concerns. So engrossed I became with this young Living-Emancipated Bhai Harbans Singh that I ignored the purpose of my calling Bhai Surjan Singh in the first place. I enquired about his identity.  Bhai Surjan Singh explained that Bhai Harbans Singh of ‘Mehma Singh Wala’ village had been released from military services and was new entrant into Jatha. He further told about his desire to offer himself for the highest sacrifice in pursuit of Jatha’s ideals.  This was the brief glancing of beaming and spiritually brimming ‘Vir’ Harbans Singh. In all humility I conveyed my message to all members of Kirtani Jatha through Bhai Surjan Singh to remain non-conspicuous and keep out of trouble in the turbulent political times. This request was also made applicable to Bhai Harbans Singh Jee at that time.

Next I met Bhai Harbans Singh on my release after sixteen years of jail period. Full beard now adorned his face. Thereafter he became my constant companion. During Akhand Kirtan Samagams his single- minded devotion led his soul to high spiritual flight and highest Bliss. He was an excellent Kirtaniya and would sing in soaring spirits. He would observe silence for long hours after Kirtan. He spent his entire life in environment of ‘Gurmat’, blest with limitless Divine-Grace of Guru. Ever since I started coming to ‘Kumar Hatti’ hills for Naam- meditation, he used to be with me as ‘True Munishar’. He was full of love for service.  He would lose himself totally in engrossment of Divine-Meditation at top of the hills, without any body awareness. There is a clean piece of rock in those hills where he often sat in meditation. This has come to be known as ‘Munishar’s Stone’. He was beloved of every member of the Jatha, cherished by one and all. He would not allow any lethargic drowsiness in himself during meditation, standing on one leg nightlong. He was a man in hurry for merger into Divine and a ‘Devoted-Lover’. This kind of single-minded Divine-Love was an act of Grace of the Lord at an early age. He had been a great devout in his earlier lives and in this life too; he was totally devoid of worldliness. Evil in thought, word or deeds was unknown to him. He was a man of transparent simplicity, honesty of purpose and princely bearing as Prince-Divine!

His earlier associate, Bhai Kahn Singh Granthi, happened to comment once that Bhai Harbans Singh must leave behind his posterity and proposed marriage for him. The suggestion found his acceptance, but he wanted a like-minded religious devout as a match. After coming in contact with me, this thought was abandoned by him. He always said that he was spiritually wedded to Lord Divine and there is no scope for another relationship. Blessed was this Provision-Divine, because he did not have to live for long. His fast approaching end could never be guessed by anyone. He suffered great bodily afflictions before death, yet he bore those with dignity and without murmur.

Many people approached me to say, “Why is such a pious being subjected to such serious terminal afflictions? There must be held a common prayer for him.”  However I would picture the historical end- event enacted in the life of a great devout, Bhai Bhagtoo Jee, beloved Gursikh of Fifth King-True, Guru Arjan Dev Jee.  This great soul, embodiment of Gurmat, too underwent acute suffering due to dysentery. Whenever his well-wishers expressed concern and surprise about his suffering. Bhai Bhagtoo Jee would say, “I am going to end all my sufferings here in this life and not take even an iota to be carried over.” If some people persisted, “you are a close devotee of the Guru Sahib. If you pray before him for complete riddance of affliction, surely His Glance of Grace can end the sufferings.” Bhai Bhagtoo would reply, “O’ blessed ones: It behoves not to make such a petty demand on Guru Sahib. A Gursikh is supposed to put up with all physical pain and hardships. It is a great weakness to make a show of these to Guru through prayer.” Similar was the state that Bhai Harbans Singh Jee ‘Munishar’ went through, departing finally for Abode-Divine. The Gurbani quote as ordained by Sri Granth Sahib following his demise is as follows and clearly refers to his highest achievement of objective in human life:

ਚਲਿਆ ਪਤਿ ਸਿਉ ਜਨਮੁ ਸਵਾਰਿ ਵਾਜਾ ਵਾਇਸੀ ॥
ਮਾਣਸੁ ਕਿਆ ਵੇਚਾਰਾ ਤਿਹੁ ਲੋਕ ਸੁਣਾਇਸੀ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਆਪਿ ਨਿਹਾਲ ਸਭਿ ਕੁਲ ਤਾਰਸੀ ॥

ਸੂਹੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੧ ।੭੩੦॥

Departs the devotee in glory after successful life with Divine-Honour. What to talk of humans,
his fame shall be heard in all corners of the universe.
Says Nanak, not only the devotee is blissful
but all his tribe shall be redeemed.

Suhi M: 1 [730]

The events that came to pass during ‘Akhand Patth Samagam’ by the Jatha to observe his passing away were unique and surpassing all glory. It is not possible to forget such close associate in spiritual life. When I envision him and similar Gurumkh Virs awaiting me in the hereafter, ready to guide me there, I feel greatly blest.  Left behind among worldly relations of Bhai Harbans Singh Jee was his Gurmukh aunt, Sister Gurdial Kaur Jee, as the lone worldly reminder of ‘Vir Munishar Bhai Harbans Singh Jee’.  She too has passed away obliterating all visible memory of him, yet he shall ever be remembered in the spheres of Jatha. The blessed souls shall meet him in the hereafter in ‘Gur- Puri’, Abode-Divine. Thus there is nothing to despair in view of Grace of Guru and His Bounty. It is a service to write this obituary in respect of this ‘Beloved-Friend’ with promptings of the Guru.  May Guru fulfil the objective behind this labour of love and may the coming generations of evolved souls derive benefit from this exemplary life!

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