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Kulbir Singh

I was born in a typical Punjabi family. Some in my family subscribed to the Communist ideology and as thus did not believe in any religion. In our pind (village), Stalin’s picture used to hang on one of the walls. My hair were cut from my childhood and they used to say that when I grow up, I will wear a pagg automatically (they were right). It was hard for them to take care of my long hair so they cut my hair.
I was very fond of my grandmother, primarily because she used to tell me a baat (bedtime story) everyday. Some of the stories she told me were hilarious. I remember laughing so much that I used to lose breath. One of her most funny stories was the story of “Sonn-Chirree”. This story was absolutely hilarious. I used to ask her to narrate this story to me everyday. Then there were Kaan-Chiree (crow and bird) stories too and those were very interesting as well. She also used to narrate to me traditional Punjabi stories that all mothers told their sons like story of King Porous (who fought Alexander the great), Pooran Bhagat and Roop Basant.
Above all, my grandmother narrated to me stories of Guru Nanak Dev jee and Guru Gobind Singh jee, with great shardha. I developed great love for Guru Gobind Singh jee after hearing those great stories. She used to talk about how great a warrior he was and how skilled he was in fighting with bow and arrow. I developed a great bond for Guru Sahib.
As I grew up, in Ludhiana and studying in a Convent school there, my Sikhi pyaar got less and less. I was never taught anything about baani and did not know any baani at all. The schools in India are designed to make a person non believer in any religion. Sikhi was never discussed at school and none of the students I knew in school had any interest in Sikhi or any other dharam.
Recently I found my old diary (from Grade 5), and I found my list of my heroes in there and was shocked to see that Guru Gobind Singh jee was number 10th or so. My heroes were Subhash Chander Bose, Rana Partaap, Rana Saanga, Bhagat Singh, Udham Singh, Shiva jee Maratha, Mangal Paanday, etc. I even had Jawahar Lal Nehru as my hero and I can’t believe how badly we (the students in Punjab) were brainwashed into considering these above stated persons as our heroes. I am not saying that these persons are bad people. They are good people but to include Guru Gobind Singh jee in a list where I had these people as my heroes was totally wrong. But I did not know any better and when I talk to other school going kids in India, their ideology is exactly what mine used to be. They consider Gandhi as their father and Nehru as their chaacha. What a shame!
After my 10th grade I went to my pind to live for about 2 months. There I met a person, who was longing to meet Vaheguru. He was a Udaasi or a Nirmala and for the first time I heard the word “Naam” from him. He told me that if one gets up early morning, and does ishnaan, that in itself is a great punn (good deed). I started hanging out with him. I asked him how I can get naam and he told me that one has to find a mahapurakh who can give naam. After his sangat I started getting up at 2am but since I did not have naam or read baani, I used to go back to sleep after doing ishnaan, thinking that I had done a big punn. I continued for some time and then came back to my regular life style i.e. getting up at 10am in the morning.
Then when we moved to Canada, I lost all memories of Sikhi. I used to support the Sikh cause but religiously I had no idea. I did not have hair and considered hair and pagg as a superstition. I used to say that we should become modern and should have Sikhi in our hearts. I used to argue in the favour of meat and used to eat all kind of meat, including beef.
As I grew older, I started keeping beard. My father, though he was a clean shaven himself, stopped me from shaving. He told me to keep beard and not shave. As per his wishes I maintained small trimmed beard. Then I started hanging out with Mussalmaans from Pakistan. Since our ancestors had come from Pakistan, I had great curiosity to meet Pakistanis. They became my best friends and in their sangat, one day I shaved my beard also. My father got very upset and I answered saying that why was he stopping me from shaving when he himself shaved his beard. He did not say anything to me after that.
One day I saw an article in Chardi Kala newspaper, which was written by Mahapurakh Baba Gurbachan Singh jee Bhindranwaale. In that article Baba jee spoke about narak and swarag. He wrote that ones who smoke tobacoco have to eat dog waste (excretion) in hell and ones who drink sharaab have to eat dog’s pishaab. I was pretty shocked to read that. I liked his writing and bought one of the books of Taksal and read it with great interest.
The book of Sant jee had effect on my for some time but then I went back to my old ways. I did the worse one day. I was with my friends at Eaton Centre, Toronto, that we all decided to pierce our ears. I hesitated for a bit but then agreed. I had earrings in my ears. I received mixed reaction from my friends and relatives. One of my relatives told me that I had become a kanjar. I told him that I was only following the latest fashion and did not see anything wrong in wearing an earring. Anyway, they gave up on me.
When I was in Grade thirteen, studying at Bathurst Heights Secondary School in Toronto, I one day met a guy named Sukhjinder. There were no Punjabis in that school and I was glad to meet him. We introduced ourselves and I was taken aback when he said that he was a chooRaa (so called low caste). He had a bad experience before when some Punjabis stayed away from him for being a chooRa.
I told him that I did not care and that we could still be friends. He did believe in Sikhi but was a monna. His brother Ravi was also going to this school. I and Sukha became very good friends. He was a good guy. He had a certain pyaas for meeting Vaheguru. He told me that he had adopted his father as his Guru. He used to talk about Naam a lot. He told me that his father had stayed with a Mahapurakh and did his sewa for 17 years before getting naam from him.
I had heard about Naam only once before meeting Sukha and when I asked him how I can get Naam, he told me that I will have to do sewa of a true Guru for years and years and only after that I could get naam. Since we were both teenagers and he was my best friend, he told me that there are only two true Naams and those are as follows:
He told me that he prefers Sohang. At that time I had no idea about the Gurmat Naam. I met his father. He had an untidy look and used to talk very less. He was supposedly a Mahapurakh and as per Sukha he had some power. If he said anything, it always came out true. Company of Sukha was good for me and I learned a lot from him.
Then I befriended a guy who was a total atheist. He used to drink sharaab. He asked me to try but I was hesitant. He finally convinced me to drink and I got totally sharaabi after drinking one or two glasses. I had a great headache after I got up after sleeping. I also got very sick after that. I then remembered Guru Sahib and thought that I probably got punished for drinking. I decided not to drink after that.
Then one day Dharminder, Sunny Deol and other actors came to Toronto to do a show. I decided to go along with my friend. One of my friend knew that I don’t drink. He told me that if I agreed to drink, he would arrange for a personal meeting with the actors and actresses. I thought for a moment and thought that it was worth it. I agreed to drink and after drinking, I started feeling that Guru Gobind Singh jee was gusse with me. I got really depressed. I got so down that I decided not to go with them.
Remember that I was still a big manmukh at that time with earrings and no paath at all. Just had love for Guru Gobind Singh jee. I came back home and when I lied down on my bed, I had a strange experience. I felt that I was getting beaten up by someone. I could not believe it. I was getting hurt but could not see anyone beating me. I folded my hands and asked Guru Gobind Singh jee for mercy and promised that I would never drink again.
Around the time of this incident, I met an amazing singh, whose name I am going to hold for now. He was a very chardi kala singh. He got shaheed soon after we met. I still remember that the first day when I went to see him, he greeted me with great love. We had a heart to heart talk. Then all of sudden he stopped talking and said that it was time for Rehraas Sahib. I had never heard of Rehraas Sahib before and got baffled. I told him what that meant and he told me that it was time for the evening paath. I was very impressed. We did paath together and then he did ardaas. I had a great experience. I was a monna but felt baani.
This singh was not part of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha but had read books of Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh. He gave me three books: Jail Chithiaan, Gurmat Naam Abhyaas Kamaayee, and Gurmat Bibek. I said to myself that there was no point in read chithiaan as this book would only talk about Bhai Sahib’s personal problems and I had no interest in them. So I started reading Gurmat Naam Abhyaas Kamaayee. I liked the book very much and the concept of Naam was explained in that book in great detail. I used to think that Naam can be obtained only from some Mahapurakh but Bhai Sahib had explained that Naam can be obtained only from Punj Pyaare.
Around this time I met another guy. I met him in a mall in Rexdale. He was a very darshani guy. I was a monna and he was a sardaar but not amritdhari. We met and became good friends. He too used to do paath. He had no guidance from anyone and as a result of bad sangat was thinking of cutting his hair. He told me that he wanted to have a girl friend. I asked him if it was important to cut hair to have a girl friend. This is funny but as he was thinking of cutting his hair, the next day, a girl walked up to him saying that she liked him. They became friends. He came to me later that day and told me that he did not have to cut his hair any longer as he had found a girl friend without cutting his hair. We both laughed a lot at this.
Soon as a result of reading Bhai Sahib’s books and attending the Nagar Kirtan in downtown Toronto, I stopped cutting my kesh and started wearing a dastaar. In July of that year, I went to Malton Gurdwara, where the sewadaars announced that there would be amrit sinchaar the following day. The organizers were from Taksal. They asked me to take amrit and after their much insistence I agreed to come the following day. I had never read baani or kept kakaar but they told me that all would fall in place. The following day, I went to the Gurdwara Sahib and Guru Sahib blessed me with amrit. Amrit chhak turned my life upside down. All my friends left me and I left them. My life changed for good.
By the kirpa of Guru Sahib, I was able to keep the rehit that the punj pyaare had told us to keep. Then I read more books of Bhai Sahib and felt that I wanted to get pesh in jatha. Most of my friends were Taksali singhs and they discouraged me but I and 4 of my friends pretty much made up our mind to get pesh in jatha, on the condition that they would not order us to not read Raagmala. Back then I was a staunch supporter of Raagmala.
In those days (late 80s), jatha was virtually unknown in Toronto. So I called UK to find out about amrit sinchaar. I asked them if the punj pyaare were going to order us to not read Raagmala. I am not sure who I spoke to in England but that singh told me to read literature on Raagmala. I vehemently protested and said that I was not willing to hear anything against Raagmala. He asked me for my address as Bhai Madan Singh of UK was going to send me his book Gurmat Karam Philosophy, written by Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh. Along with the book, they also sent me a tract on Raagmala. I read that tract and after more research got convinced that Raagmala was not baani.
About couple of years after I first took amrit, I got pesh in jatha and got naam drirh from punj pyaare. It was a turning day in my life. When I first came in Toronto jatha, there were only 2 or 3 families active in jatha here. Dr Darshan Singh jee used to live around Weston/Finch area and I used to pick him up to go to Saturday samagams, every week. He used to answer my gurbani related questions. I was pretty amazed that he had a very good understanding of Gurbani. I still remember that I and my friends were unable to find satisfactory meaning of the following pankiti:
Dr Sahib very diligently explained the meaning of this pankiti to me. He explained that if our mind does not stay in it’s house (nij ghar) then all the world where he tries to fit, is a pardesh for him.
Then there was another pankiti that goes as follows:
I did not understand how a patwaari can bite us. Dr Sahib laughed a lot and then explained that normally a Patwari is the most dreaded officer amongst the jats (farmers) and just as the farmers dread patwaari, our mind too is like patwaari that gives us too much trouble.
In short this is my story of how I came to Sikhi and became part of Akhand Kirtani Jatha.
Kulbir Singh