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P. Singh

My story is quite long, but please bear with me…the things I’m going to write about are relevant, although they may not seem so at first glance…please read on, I would really like to share my experience with everyone…

I was born into a family (UK) in which there were not many religious people at all, my mum always did path from before I was born, but there were no gursikhs in my family. Both me and my twin brother had kesh (gutia/jooreh), and so did my 3 thia’s (dads older brother) sons, but we wanted to cut our hair. My cousins went to India when they were young and when they came back to England, they decided to get their hair cut, so all three of them did so. Me and my brother wanted to get our hair also, because of other reasons as well, like we were teased at school etc

Our parents said that we could cut our hair, but only once we had been to India, some place there where they cut some of your hair first (its weird, Indians for you!), anyways, when we got back from India, shortly after we both had our hair cut. At this stage we were around 7 years old.

Later on, when I was around 10 years old or so, I started to become interested in sikhi, there was a singh (quite older than me) who lived not far from us (he was a relative of my cousins), and he gave me some books about Sikhi which I took and started to read. I even went to the extent of growing my hair and started tying a pag (turban), in the mornings I would go to this singh’s house before school started and he would tie my pag for me. At first it was all good, although sometimes I felt alone at school, I remember sitting in the playground on my own looking around at what was going on.

Basically, what happened was that gradually, I went back to my old self, as I was only young (most people might say that it isn’t really that young) and the thing was hat I didn’t get any solid support from my family. No one really said that I couldn’t do what I was (tying a pag, going into sikhi etc) but there was no one to help me etc.

So I dropped everything and came back to this mona lifestyle (as so was willed by God). I was a typical ‘mona’, I used to listen to bhangra/hindi music, I used to like wearing sona (gold) and even got my ear pierced, although that phase did not last long, I took it out after about a year and a half or so…after having wanted it done for soo long…

My mum always told me and my brother to do path from a young age, and said regardless of anything else, you should always do path, and remember Waheguru. I never liked meat from when I was born, but my bibi used to tell my mum to feed it to me as otherwise I wouldn’t grow! Its pretty funny listening to that, as its totally ridiculous! My mum did tell me that I used to cry repeatedly when given anything with meat in it, I simply didn’t want it! But due to what my bibi and others said, I was forced to eat it basically, well, that was when I was a baby anyways.

I always had an interest in Sikhs, but always felt stuck in between the lifestlye I had (that of a mona) and the sikh lifestlye, sometimes I would think about going into sikhi, but then I would think, I cant do so and so thing, and basically would be put off by it all. Throughout my teenage years (13-16) I had a good friend at school, he was a singh born in a gursikh family, although he didn’t actually take amrit until he was 18 years old, but we used to talk about sikhi and related matters. (my mum took amrit when I was around 15 years old, and my bibi did some years before that). Then I left school and went to college when I was 16 years old, I sort of lost contact with my friend from school, as he stayed on at school. While I was at college I saw loads of ‘bad’ things going on, a lot of boys and girls were drinking and smoking, going out with each other etc the list is endless. But with Guru’s kirpa, I never smoked cigarette’s or drank alcohol while at school or college, even though there was enough peer pressure, the thing is, people may look soft from the outside, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are, not on the inside anyways, all that I can say is that God protected me throughout, there was nothing on my behalf (I’m just a moorakh).

So I stayed away from bad company throughout college and just got on with my work. When I was in my last year of college (this was before I turned 18) I had to sit my A Levels, which are really hard exams which you have to take and determine which university you get into and also helps when you go for employment, as they usually ask what grades you have. Basically, the time of my exams was really really really stressful, I used to get really depressed and get sad and stressed out, as I knew I ad to do well, but it all seemed like too much. I didn’t get much support from anyone at this time (please forgive me, I don’t know the exact lines, but in the SGGS ji, it states that when in trouble, everyone leaves you, this is very true). I used to do my japji sahib in the mornings everyday without fail (even though I did it as it were piece work, i.e. really quickly, once again showing my manmukh traits), and do ardas that I would do well in my exams.

Actually, an incident took place which is really strange, I was predicted the grades: A, B, D, for my A Levels, but I went to see my tutor and asked if he could change the D to a C, as it was incorrect. Basically these grades were put onto my university application form, and we received a copy of the form with the grades on it. When I received my copy, it had the grades: A, B, B on it, so knowing that this was incorrect, I went to see my tutor and explained they were wrong, he told me not to worry about it, but I was annoyed as I ‘knew’ that I wouldn’t get these grades EVER! I kept the form and put it away and basically forgot about it, and everyday I would do my ardas and ask God to help me get through my exams. When I got my results, I was really really shocked, I got the grades that I had been predicted, but which I thought were totally wrong (Waheguru’s kirpa, who can measure thy extent?). I was really happy and thanked waheguru for blessing me in this way. This was in august 2001, and I started university in October 2001. I had been at uni for like a month and then one day, all of a sudden I just ‘woke up’, as usual but the day had a different turn for me.

I remember the day well, it was a Saturday and I came downstairs, and after I while, I got up and said to my mum, ‘right, that’s it, I’m gonna stop messing around now’, she didn’t know what I meant, I told her that I was going to start following sikhi from now on. This change that took place is difficult to explain, it was like some type of self-realization, I sat and thought about everything I had achieved up to now, it was nothing at all! There was this need, as I said before, I was always interested in sikhi, but the mona lifestyle dominated. But I was being serious, I was sick of the life I was leading, there was nothing in it at all, it was a case of ‘birtha janam guiaah’ (wasting this birth). My mum didn’t really believe me, because everyone knew what I was like, into watching films, listening to Indian songs, wearing gold, liked my clothes etc, but I told my mum I was serious. I went to my room and took out all the tapes/CD’s I had, and put them into a bag, out of my sight in the bottom of my wardrobe, I got all my razors and got rid of them, I gave my aftershaves to my brother and basically took drastic actions that day.

My mum was kind of in shock, he wish was always that we (me and my brother would become gursikhs) would come into sikhi. I always thought that I would come into sikhi later on in life, once I had gotten married and had children etc so the aaass (desire) was always there in my mind. Well, that day it was like I was renouncing this manmukh living, I took off my gold and was saying to my mum, I don’t want it, she said, you don’t have to do everything at once, you can take your time and change slowly (she was worried that I would turn back, if I rushed too much), but I said ‘NO’, if I’m to do this, I have to do it now!! My mum was happy but afraid that I would turn back, she was so happy that she was crying! For a mother it’s a big thing for their child to embrace sikhi. For a few weeks she watched me, I would get up and having taken a shower, would do my path, I started to learn the 5 nitnem baaniya and rehraas/sohila. My mum was really happy, but always scared, in case I turned back again…but this time, there was no going back.

I started to keep my kesh, I was going to cut them one last time, as I had a presentation to do at university and didn’t want to look scruffy, but something inside told me not to worry, so I didn’t cut my hair again, or shave. At first I did look really scruffy, but then as my beard got longer etc I learnt how to tie a dastaar off my mamma in the Christmas holidays, so that when I went back to uni I was wearing a dastaar. Nobody said anything to me, it was as though God took care off everything, everything worked out fine. I really wanted to take amrit around Christmas time, but everyone said that I’m rushing too much and should wait until vaisakhi, and so I did. I learnt the baania and followed sikhi as much as I could, even though I’m still a papi in a lot of respects, but I really wanted to change and make this janam fruitful, as it was going to waste. The lines ‘ oh body of mine, what good hath thou done having come into this world, what good hath thou done oh body of mine, having come into this world’ Anand Sahib …particularly affected me, and still do, as they make you think a lot about what you have done and are currently doing…

What was strange was how things worked out, I was sort of introspecting my life (the day I decided to finally change once and for all, although it wasn’t really ‘me’ doing this, but Waheguru’s grace), and lloking over things. The thing was that I have been a vegetarian for like 8 years if not longer, I had never drank alcohol or done anything like that or wanted to either, and other things like I would keep my head cover on the weekends etc it was as though everything was working to Gods plan, as all these things apply to a gursikhi life. I listened to kirtan, esp. jatha kirtan and really enjoyed it a lot, and when I went to my first rehansbhai, I really liked it, the singhs/singhniaa were dedicated to sikhi and it was truly amazing, I remember Bhai Jeevan Singh doing kirtan.

People couldn’t believe I changed/was changing, as they didn’t see me in that light, they really couldn’t equate me with sikhi like that, but I was determined to stick to it. Last year (2002) there was a smagam here in the UK, and the rehansbhai was going to be at our local gurdwara (things just worked out too great, because I wouldn’t have to travel far to take amrit, as most rehansbhai kirtans are usually far out from where I live). So I got ready to take amrit and was blessed on that day, that was like the best day of my life, it truly was amazing, obtaining amrit and naam off the panj pyaareh…I was lucky enough to meet Bhai Sahib Bhai Rama Singh Ji on this day, this was the first and last time I got to speak to him, a true Gurmukh...blessed was that day. (unfortunately, Bhai Sahib died in August last year, when I was in USA...)

So as you can see, I haven’t been in sikhi for long, in fact it was a year on Sunday just gone (30th march 2003) since being blessed with amrit. I came to America last year and was staying with my massi in Pittsburgh, we drove to Toronto and stayed at some relatives house. While staying there, on one of the days, it was a Saturday, we went to the gurdwara (Dixie road) just to see what it was like etc and do darshan of Siri Guru Granth Sahib, while sitting in the langar hall, I heard kirtan, and it sounded like a rehansbhai, then I found out that it was and decided to stay for a few hours. It was amazing seeing the Toronto singhs/singhniaa and the kirtan was amazing too. Everything works out in gods plan, thing is that people like me think we know best, or that we are controlling things, when this simply isn’t the case. That day we were debating whether to go to the gurdwara on Saturday or Sunday, God so willed that I was able to join in with the sangat and hear melodious kirtan.