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From a Weed to a Rose


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From a Weed to a Rose

Transformation of a humbled man

I was born and raised in a Hindu family. At the age of 33 I became a Sikh in Los Angeles after taking Amrit. I was so new to Sikhi and there were few resources and Gursikhs back then. Due to listening to and following unwise advise regarding Gurmat given by a local Granthi I committed a transgression against the Guru. A few months later, realizing the full impact of the latter on my fledgling spiritual life, I presented myself in front of the Panj Peearey and SGGSjee to pesh for my mistake. I hoped to redirect my spiritual life through the wisdom and blessing in Gurujee’s Dargah. It is at that time that I received Naam Drir and was given instructed on the code of Tat Gurmat by which I was to live my life as a Gursikh.. When I came back to Los Angeles I immediately put those instructions into practice. During that time, by the blessing of the Guru, my spiritual life blossomed exponentially. I lived this way several years after which I then moved to Sacramento.

One morning when I was sitting in Amritvela September 2003, I had a vision. I saw my eldest brother standing outside my door wearing his normal clothes, nylon sandals and carrying some of his clothes in a bag. He said to me: “I have come to your house because I got fed up being with all the family members there. I thought if I came here you would keep me with you. This is why I have come.” I was surprised to see him here. I had not called him to stay here. I had no idea how he came here. I called Fateh to Gurusahib, bowed before the Guru and went to open the door. When I opened the door I saw no one there. I came back to Babajee’s room and was shocked at the vision Gurusahib had shown me. I did my Nitnem and did Prakash of Gurusahib. I then offered a short Ardas to Gurusahib for my brother. I knew that his health had been slowly deteriorating. I had done many times Ardas for his health before. This time I told Gurusahib: “I know now that You sent my brother’s soul to come to this house for the last time. I only ask you humbly that, as you have bestowed Your grace on me to become your Sikh that should also be granted to him Amrit so that he may also be blessed. In this way he may also be freed from 8.4 million lives. Please somehow make a way for him to take Amrit in Delhi. Please make our way for us to be there during his last days. Please extend his life long enough for me to get there and that he take the Amrit.” I then took Hukamnamma from Gurusahib. It was: “Gur poorey meri raakh laee.” It took us three months for us to organize our trip to go to India. Despite numerous baffling and seemingly impossible obstacles it seemed Gurujee effortlessly opened the doors one by one. We went to India in November 2003.

On previous trips to India, Gurbani so many times had impacted in a positive manner my brother’s life. This angry deeply troubled man glowed with peace and serenity after having heard either Gurbani paatth or keertan. Once, we had keertan done at his house. We had brought Guru Granthi Sahib there. Members of the Akhand Keertan Jatha of Delhi were performing the sevas of keertan and Sarabloh Langar. The keertan was simple but so moving and melodious that the house felt like heaven on earth. My brother became totally immersed and in love with the beautiful keertan sung that day and his face glowed with a beautiful reddish color and a delicate light. I will never forget that expression.

Another time, while he was very sick with anger and dangerously high blood pressure, he became calm and his blood pressure came down to normal without medication because my wife simply read Sukhmani Sahib.

Whenever we visited India and did keertan at home he would come, cover his head with a scarf, sit with us and play kartaley. Through the years, during our visits, he would accompany us to Bangla Sahib, Sis Ganj Gurdwara and Rakab Ganj. We also managed to visit Darbar Sahib together one year.

After arriving at New Delhi last year, we went to his daughter’s house. He was so thin and sick looking that he no longer resembled the man I knew. I knew then that his death was imminent. He was the eldest and I the youngest brother. When he saw us from across the room he fell at our feet and cried: “The Guru has come to my house.” He was sobbing uncontrollably saying: “ Now my brother has come to take care of me. I will be fine now.” We were so embarrassed and asked him to please stand up.

I immediately took control of his diet and inquired about his health matters and could see there had been a lot of neglect by family and shameless profiteering by greedy physicians by the ordering of unnecessary procedures. Within a week of overhauling his health regimen, he was feeling better and color was coming back to his face. He was at least comfortable and a bit stronger. At some juncture, during a conversation, I told him that if he wants to be free from all his karmic accounts that he would have to take Amrit. I told him that only through this way he would he be set free from Maya and worldly attachments. He would have to become a Sikh like me. He did not realize the implications of rehnee behnee, (codes and conduct) of Amrit. His actions and speech made it clear that he simply wanted the blessing without the responsibility of being a Sikh. I told him that there is no way around this. He would have to become a Sikh like me. He would have to stop cutting his kesh everywhere on his body. He would not be able to eat meat and eggs or eat out wherever he felt like it. I told him he would no longer perform Pooja to idols and calendars. The only place where he would be bowing his head would be in front of Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Holy Scripture. After listening all this, his family members panicked as to how he was going to be able to keep this discipline. After thinking about it for a while he then said: “I quit smoking a long time ago. I don’t eat meat but only take eggs because the doctor told me I needed protein. If that is the case, I will stop eating those as well. I will stop cutting my beard and hair now.” I gave him 3 weeks to allow his hair to grow. I again did Ardas to Gurusahib and asked Him to keep him in reasonable health till he takes Amrit. Then my wife and I went to a yatra from Delhi to Amritsar and Patna Sahib.

When I came back his health remained in a stable though still serious condition. He bravely had kept his word and did not cut any bodily hair and not eaten any eggs. I then, sometime in November, approached the Delhi Akhand Keertan Jatha Singhs to arrange an Amrit Sanchaar for him. They said they would discuss it among themselves and then give their decision.

In the meantime, one day, my wife and I decided to sing Asa Di Vaar after an Amritvela at home. We thought of doing 5 of its 24 parts (chakkey). I was playing the tabla and my wife was playing the harmonium. There was no one else there. We somehow really got into the spirit of it and kept singing past the 5th part. We were half way through the entire Asa di Vaar when we heard a loud knocking at the door. I went to open the door to let my brother in as my wife continued to sing. He sat next to me and started playing kartaley. As we were singing he fell back and lost consciousness. We did not realize until later why this had happened. Out of concern I got several large sofa pillows and a thick blanket and made him lie down to listen the rest of the keertan. He promptly fell asleep. Asa di Vaar kept running with shabads and simran. My wife opened her eyes briefly to check on him. She saw him repeating the name in Saas Grass. His whole body rhythmically moved in the timing of the simran. His face was reddish and bright. She closed her eyes and kept singing. A bit later she looked at him again and he was still in the same condition she saw him that first time. She smiled and just thanked Gurusahib. After the Asa di Vaar he came into his normal conscience but did not remember a thing. All he knew is that he felt peaceful, in high spirits and with an amazing sense of wellbeing. Then he asked that keertan be done at his home before the Amrit Sanchaar. He was not aware of delays being created by doubting Singhs initially charged with this responsibility.

We arranged for the keertan at his home. So much sangat came that a neighbor opened her house so that the Sarabloh langar could be served to the sangat. It was supposed to last 2 hours but lasted in Chardhikala 4 hours and a half. Had it not been for the fact I had brought Gurusahib from a local Gurdwara and promised the Granthee to bring Gursahib by that night, the program would have turned into a Ren Sabhai as was the wish expressed by the Singhs in attendance. My brother’s face was radiant and red and he had the most beautiful smile I have ever seen on his face. He told us he felt like someone pushed millions of watts of energy into his body. He felt like he could do anything. His body felt so light.

My wife went back to the U.S. Two weeks past and no one gave me an answer regarding Amrit for my brother. I then called Gurbachan Singh (Tellwalla), a main organizer of keertan programs in Delhi and all I got were excuses such as: “How is he going to keep his Bibek and Sarabloh. How is he going to keep a Sikhi life if he does not know much about the Sikh way of life.” Knowing full well that my brother’s condition was very grave, and death imminent, he kept stalling. There was no compassion in his heart. He kept insisting that I take him to Ludhiana or Jallandhar samagam, to Akal Takhat Sahib or to Sis Gang Gurdwara instead. I told him that my brother was no longer able to travel such long distances by train and that he passes bloody stools every hour sometimes. How could he endure such a trip? I did not want my brother to take Amrit where he would not receive the blessing of the Naam, so I declined to take him to Sis Gang. I wanted to be sure he received Nam Drir. The Delhi Singhs still did not listen. I became extremely discouraged. My wife urged me to keep at it when I called her one night. I then left for Amritsar in December.

When I got there, I was given the seva to clean inside Darbar Sahib in the Amritvela. I was wiping the floor with my bare hands and gave silent Ardas to Guru Amardasjee while weeping profusely and asked: “ I came to India so that my brother can receive the Amrit. Why are you making it so difficult for him to receive it? Please take 10 years of my Naam Kamai and give it to him so he can have the Amrit.” Afterwards I came and sat for simran with Bhai Pooranji and Bhai Sahib Maan Singhji. I mentioned afterwards to them about my brother’s predicament and that he really needs to take Amrit. Next Amritvela, Pooranjee offered Ardas for his health and for him to receive Amrit. Pooranji said he would call Gurbachan Singh of Delhi to arrange for Amrit Sanchar. He did just that and kept doing Ardas daily for my brother. I came back to Delhi and a week later Pooranji came as well. However, still the Delhi Singhs were not moved. Nothing happened.

Pooranji, Bhai Jeewan Singh, Bhai Maann Singhji were all staying at Obrai’s mansion in New Delhi. I went there to visit Bhai Jeewan Singhjee not knowing the Amristar Singhs had arrived. I also went there to see if I could somehow inquire about someone doing Ardas for the same brother’s wife who has just fallen and fractured her hip. When I got there, I was really happy to see all the Singhs there. After Sodar da paatth and keertan, I asked Bhai Maan Singh to do Ardas for my sister-in-law. He did so on my behalf. I again requested that Pooranji look into why the Delhi Singhs were dragging their feet in organizing an Amrit Sanchaar for my brother. At that moment, amazingly, Gurbachan Singh called Pooranji on the phone for a different reason. I answered it as Pooranji was in the restroom at the time. When Pooranje came, I requested that he ask Gurbachan Singh to arrange for the Amrit Sanchaar for my brother. I told Pooranje:” If my brother passes away without the Amrit, all of you will have to pay for this cruelty in Guru’s Dargah. Hearing this, Pooranji said to Gurbachan Singh: “You will announce in a nearby Gurdwara that there will be an Amrit Sanchaar and collect suitable Singhs from Delhi to do the seva. We don’t want to be accountable for this lekha in Guru’s Dargah. This very devout soul has come from America for a very good cause to make sure his brother received the Amrit. We should have arranged an Amrit Sanchaar much earlier. So much time has passed.” Within a week the Amrit Sanchaar date was set. The announcement was made at Motinagar Gurdwara that there would be an Amrit Sanchaar. Eighteen new people also came forward to take the Amrit.

Finally on January 20th 2004, his day came to take Amrit. I told him to take a full shower and wear clean clothes. I gave him a new kacchera and tied a new turban on his head. He was a bit nervous. He gave me a big hug. I could feel his body shivering. I started slowly and softly doing simran while I held him in my arms. I felt his body getting calmer and his shivering dissipating by the calming effect of the Naam. Some Singhs came and took us in their van to where the Amrit Sanchaar was taking place in Raanibagh. When we got there Sukhmani Sahib was running. After Sodar da Paatth and Ardas, Singhs made preparations for the Amrit Sanchaar seva. I desired to be at my brother’s side when it was his time to pesh in front of a Guru as he was rather weak and was likely to need moral support. However the Singhs from inside the Guru’s Darbar called me inside during the interview process, now in progress, done to select suitable Singhs to participate in the Panj Peearey seva instead. They commanded me that I take seva in Panj Peearey. I folded my hands and humbly said that I wanted to be next to my brother when it was time to present himself as a candidate for Amrit. They said he would need to ‘pesh’ alone but I was to do the seva. I could only listen to the will of Singhs and do as they told me to do. When it was time, my brother sat with all the other candidates who were to pesh in front of Gurusahib. Daasra was given seva in the Panj itself. Knowing the delicate protocol of Panj Peearey seva, having done this seva so over the years, dass stood at such a position that my brother would not be influenced so much by my physical proximity there. When he came inside, he bowed his head to Gurusahib and repeated ‘Waheguru’. Since he could not stand well on his own, the Panj gave him permission to lean against the wall to complete the interview. The Panj Peearey asked him why he had come to Gurusahib’s court. He answered:” I have come to pay my debts with Guru Gobind Singh. I am an akritghan (ungrateful) Hindu who has overlooked the kurbanee-sacrifice of Guru Gobind Singh and Guru Nanak dev jee’s teachings. Guru Gobind Singh has given his 4 sons sahibzaadey, his army and himself for Hindustan and we as a nation turned our faces from Gurusahib. If my body skin were made into chappals (sandals), I could not repay the dues for what he has given to us and to Hindustan. I came here in Dargah to ask for his apology and be forgiven the sins I have done to him. Maybe Guru, in His kindness will take me out of this Hindu ‘joonee’ (lifetime or existence) and bless me with his Amrit that I may serve Him as a Sikh. I have for years been watching my youngest brother growing spiritually so far from us as an Amritdharee baptized Singh. I have been watching his love and devotion developing and observed him changing so much from who he was before. He became a very pious soul now. I want the Guru to kindly grant me the same baksheesh (blessing) so that in this life and coming lives I can serve Guru Gobind Singh and perhaps repay my debt to him.” Hearing his plea, the Panj Peearey became very sentimental and taken aback. I also was stunned and tears welled in my eyes. I had no idea where within him this came from. I had never said anything of this ilk to him. The Panj Peearey asked him if he would sacrifice his life and head to Gurujee. My brother answered:” If my body is cut piece by piece I still am not be able to repay the dues of Guru Gobind Singh. Kaadrey hardhaar Guru Gobind Singh, Be Khasaaraa yaar Guru Gobind Singh.” He kept going and on about the virtues of Guru Gobind Singh. I was standing at a distance listening to his painful heartfelt discourse. I had never suspected the incredible love that was sitting in his soul for Guru Gobind Singhjee. The Panj Peearey decreed he be given full Amrit and, among other instructions, he was not to cut his hair for his remaining life. He gave his promise to Gurusahib, did Matatek and went outside.

He was called later with all those who were taking Amrit. Finally, he was given the blessed Amrit. The Panj Peearey had to teach him to call Fateh properly as he did not know how. When he got the first chullah in his mouth, his body became very rigid and his muscles very tight. Panj Peearey asked him what happened. He said:” It felt like a very powerful current was going through my body. I am feeling incredible strength in my body.” Some of the Singhs smiled as they gave him the rest of the holy nectar sips. When they put their hands on his head to do Naam Drir, he did simran so strong and in such a way as if he known how to all his life. I was amazed and so thankful to the Guru. After he received the Amrit he was allowed to sit next to the wall to do simran with the other new Singhs. His face and eyes were shining and glowing with Naam. The Panj Peearey gave their teachings as he listened intently. He was extremely elated. He stood up and requested the Panj change his present name of Narotam Saroop be changed to Naunihal Singh Khalsa. The Panj explained to him that the first letter of the Hukamnamma determines which letter the name will start with. The final Hukamnamma of the Amrit Sanchaar was Tilang Mahela 1 ghar 3: “ Eh tan maaya paahiaa peearey leetrra labh rangaaey….” The Panj Peearey then said to him: “ Ishwar brought you here. Ishwar has given you Amrit. You are a Singh of Ishwar. Your name will therefore be Ishwar Singh.” He replied: “ Ishwar Singh Khalsa.” Panj Peearey smiled and called the Jaikaara. He stood up and fell at the feet of the Panj Peearey in front of the Guru and said: “O Shehan Shah Guru Gobind Singh, thank you, thank you, thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me a new life. As long as my life is on this earth, grant that I may keep chanting the Name. The only other request I have is this. Please bring my children and other family members to your feet as well.” Two Singhs helped him stand on his feet and he left with them to be among the rest of the sangat.

We, having discharged our duty of conducting the Amrit Sanchaar, then changed into our regular clothing. I came outside. I gave him a big hug and congratulated him on taking the Amrit. I held him tight in my arms and he broke into tears. He was overjoyed and overwhelmed with the experience he had in Gurusahib’s Dargah. He fell to my feet and started kissing them madly. I was extremely embarrassed that my eldest brother is kissing my feet and immediately pulled them away and lifted him again in my arms. The whole sangat was witnessing how he was behaving with me. He said to me: “ Today I realized the power of the Amrit. Now I realized in the truest sense where you have reached. You have gone millions and millions of miles away from us. When I saw your face among the five in Panj Peearey, I was seeing Guru Gobind Singh’s image in it and the faces of the other in the five. Today I saw how Guru Gobind Singh looked when he was here on this earth. You are the youngest brother in our family and now you have become the highest of all its members. I am not even the dust of your feet. I apologize to you for all the years I have mistreated you.” I held him, kissed his forehead. And replied: “This is why I came from America to make sure you take the Amrit.” He addressed all the stunned sangat standing there:” This is my youngest brother who is now the highest of the high in our family. Now I am now the youngest in my family.”

Another strange thing happened that day. The Amrit itself was incredibly sweet. So many patashey were mixed in the water. It was pretty dark yellow from the high sugar concentration. I am a diabetic. I had not taken my diabetic tablets beforehand. Yet, out of extreme thirst I drank so much of the Amrit. I had two handfuls of equally sweet Sarabloh Degh and a bowl of very sweet gajrella. I was hungry still and so had langar of two prasadey, 4 oranges and ½ bowl (battaa) full of very sweet kheer. I thought for sure my blood sugar would be extremely high after all this having taken no medication to keep it in check. I checked my blood sugar the next day when I got back at 0800 am. To my surprise it was only 137 and just about normal. I was shocked by Gurusahib’s kirpa. My brother slept all day peacefully which he had not done in years. He woke up late in the evening and told me he had had the best sleep in so many years after the Amrit. His body felt so relaxed and calm. He was a very angry frustrated person before the Amrit. He had deeply changed.

I stayed with my brother an entire week after he took Amrit. I would prepare langar for him in Sarabloh. He was very happy to eat whatever I made him. He said to me one afternoon: “You have helped me so much throughout my life. You have made me debt free and you got me Amrit from Gurusahib. All the Gurbani related literature you had brought from a precious trip to Amritsar in Urdu language I had read. You have helped me more then my own children. You are more then a brother to me. You are my father and my Guru as well. I am very grateful that Bhagwan has given me an opportunity for me to meet you one last time.” He was fond of poetry and could make up stanzas and sing them spontaneously. He sang : “ Guru ka bolava ayaa hai. Guru leyney ayaa hai.” (Guru sent his message to me,Guru is coming to take me away.” He sang this in complete unfettered joy. He no longer had to fear death. He would listen all day to CD’s of Nitnem, Sukhmani Sahib and Gurbani on a CD stereo system I bought for him. He would do this all day long alone in his room.

After that week I left for a keertan yatra. I came back on February 2nd 2004 to Delhi. I saw him at my niece’s house. He still had his long hair and beard and wearing his kirpan. He looked very ill and his chest was hurting. He had fallen somewhere and fractured his ribs. I came to Gurgaon to stay with my sister as my flight back to the U.S. was on February 7thth and I had to pack. The next day I was sitting in Amritvela, I had a foreboding premonition about my brother. In my Amritvela I came to know that the 7th would be his last day on this earth. I went to Conaught Place and had my flight date changed to the 24th of February. That same evening I got a call from my nephew that a vein had burst in his leg and he was bleeding profusely. I told him to take his father to the hospital immediately. They procrastinated till the next day. He was very ill, and having difficulty great breathing. He received oxygen through a mask. It was February 5th. I went to see him that day. He was overjoyed to see me. His legs were extremely swollen and he was having a very hard time to breathe. He was in severe heart failure therefore water had entered his lungs. To be in that condition feels like one is drowning with every breath taken. As short of breath as he was, we talked about all kinds of things and he joked. He expressed his desire to eat Degh so I went to Bangla Sahib Gurdwara and did Ardas to Guru Harkrishanjee. I asked him that, as his time has come, to please let him die peacefully without suffering. I brought Degh to the hospital and gave it to him and other family members present. I told my brother and my family that his time had come for him to go. He will not survive beyond 2 days. On February 6th in the evening I went home to sleep a bit and other family members remained behind. They were still under the illusion that he would not die but get better. On February 7th after Amritvela I offered a final Ardas for him. I thanked Gurusahib for giving me this last opportunity to be with my brother and to serve him. I came to the hospital by 0730am and he was elated to see me. I washed his face and combed his hair. I cleaned his teeth. I gave him 2 or 3 spoonfuls of suji to eat. I then made him listen the Nitnem CD. After the Nitnem, I did Ardas for his Nitnem. I made him to chant Gurusahib’s Name. He was in very high spirits and scanning the ceiling, his face beaming. He was definitely seeing something wonderful. He was full of joy. His blood pressure was dangerously low. His family was trying to keep him quiet that he might conserve his energy. He just took both arms from under the blanket and started vigorously pumping them in rhythm with loud Saas graass Simran. The family was very puzzled. What was he doing anyway? He held my hand and said: “Jagdish, thank you for everything and he kissed my face.” A few minutes later Bhai Ishwar Singh peacefully left his body.

Family members were wailing. I just sat quietly next to the side of his bed close to his head, recited Keertan Sohila and offered Ardas to Gurusahib for the departure of this Gursikh from this earth.

The family members brought the now empty and useless shell of the body home. A few family members stated to me that they understood my sentiments as a Sikh but that since he had lived his entire life as a Hindu that the family members would perform his rites according to that custom. They fruitlessly did that and I could only smile. When it was time to go to the cremation ground I did a short Ardas before they lit the pyre. I then circumbulated his platform for about an hour repeating mool mantr paatth as they performed their rituals as his body burned. Then I went quietly far in the corner and did Japji Sahib Paath and one more Ardass. One of my brothers approached me and said that today he at least really understood the power of the Amrit and asked if he would one day take it too. I told him that one day Amrit would be granted to him as well. I told him Amrit is for everybody and that one who surrenders his will to the Guru and follows the teachings of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh can have His grace. Then I came home.

After the third day, when his ashes were to be collected, I was doing Amritvela in my sister’s house. I had a nervous flutter in my stomach and a dark unsettling feeling in my body. I saw in a vision that my family members were going to be involved in a severe car crash. I did Ardas for their safety and safe return. That same day they all left with my brother’s ashes for Haridwar. I kept one handful to take back with me to the U.S. When they came back in the evening the next day, my elder brother told me that four times they came razor close to being involved in a major car crash but that some strange force protected them. When I heard that I just smiled and gave thanks to Gurusahib.

I took a very emotional and physical heavy toll ending up in the hospital for a week with high blood pressure and severe chest pain I had never experienced before. When I was discharged from there, I immediately arranged an Akhand path for Ishwar Singhji. It passed in incredible Chardhikala. Bhai Jodh Singh of Delhi, who read the Hukamnaana, said that this one comes rarely and only for very Chardhikala souls. I was still ill at the time and unfortunately do not recall what is was. Two days later I came back to California and disposed of what ashes I had of his in the American River after a final Ardas according to Sikh tradition.

Sadh Sangatji, this is a factual story. None of it is untrue, exaggerated or colored. It is not meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable but was told as it happened. Satgurujee, always listens to the humble Ardas of His Sikhs. Some of us are very fortunate to be born in a Sikh family and have the company of other Singhs, family members who are Singhs, know Gurmukhi language and have open access to the rich Sikh spiritual tradition. Be thankful not only that you are born in a Sikh family and but that you have been given the opportunity follow the tradition of our Gurus and live their lessons daily as Gursikhs. My wife, my brother and I came from outside this spiritual culture. We treasure what Gurusahib taught and gave us. Please love your Guru from the core of your heart, never take Sikhi for granted and humbly serve him well. With every breath you take be thankful to him for the gift of Sikhi.

I offer my humble thanks to all the Sadhsangat of US, Canada, New Delhi and Amritsar who did Ardas for this poor humble soul who in doing so helped him to reach his destiny. A final ardas was done for all the Delhi Singhs last year at California Samagam program 2004. Please forgive daasra for any errors and omissions.

In Memory of my respected eldest brother Ishwar Singh Khalsa who came into his Guru’s arms on January 21st 2004 and left for the Guru’s abode February 7th 2004.


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