Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sakhi Series : 78 ( MOHENA - SOHENA ) [ PART II ]

From Kalgidhar Chamatkar by Bhai Sahib Bhai Vir Singh ji

Punjabi to English Translation by Bimal Inderjit Singh


Mohena and her husband Sohena ji reached Anandpur Sahib with only their meager belongings. They were an educated, artistic and cultured couple and under different circumstances they would have been honorably received in Guru ji's 'darbar'.  But they knew this could not be. They had come with the burning desire to serve Guruji with all their love and devotion, and to receive His forgiveness.

With this in mind, they met the chief gardener, Kesra Singh, who looked after Guruji's estate.  They loved plants and had sufficient experience through working in their own gardens. Kesra Singh was impressed with their knowledge and after a few days trial he engaged them as his assistants and allotted a small hut for them to live in.   Their artistry soon brought about a change in the gardens.  One day Guru ji was taking a stroll and happened to see the flowerbeds which were in Mohena and Sohena's care.  He looked very pleased and congratulated Kesra Singh.

Kesra Singh respectfully bowed his head and with folded hands, said, "Maharaj ji, this is not my work but that of the new 'mali' and his wife. They work diligently and seem to have the power to coax the plants to grow and flower better than ever. They are a very unusual couple."

At these words, Guru ji's expression changed.  His eyes became somber and he looked heavenwards. Then lowering his eyes he said softly. "He will not give you his 'darshan'!" and turning, He went back.
Later in the day, Kesra Singh met Sohenaji and related the whole incident adding, "Guruji has especially asked that you must not see Him nor be seen by Him.  But you can continue to work, if you like."

This incident convinced them further that Guruji was truly omniscient and knew of the suffering they had caused to his beloved Sikh.  But they were grateful that they had been given permission to continue working for Him.
Humbly and respectfully Sohenaji said, "We are here to serve and not to demand.  We shall be happy to obey each and every command of the Master which you convey to us.  But we don't know if we can kill the yearning for Guruji's 'darshan' from our hearts," and his voice choked with emotion.

Kesra Singh was deeply moved by the simple sincerity and the pain behind these words.  Reassuring them to carry on with their tasks he returned to his work.
And thus, a new way of life, a new form of worship started for Mohena and Sohenaji.  A life of untold wealth and luxury was exchanged for one of simple living and service, and adoration of a living god but without the joy of having the beloveds 'darshan'. Yet they were content and grateful.

Guru Gobind Singh ji's wife, Mata Jito ji was a pious and devoted lady. She used to wake up in the early hours of the morning to say her prayers and to meditate. When Guru ji used to leave for the 'darbar' where Sikhs from far and wide congregated, she would touch His feet and place a garland of fresh flowers around His neck. It was Kesra Singh's duty to bring these flowers every morning.

One day, Mata ji stopped Kesra Singh and said, "The flowers you brought yesterday were beautiful.  Sri Kalgidhar ji was very pleased."
    Kesra Singh   : "Ammi ji, those flowers were not grown by me, but by a poor couple who have started working here recently.  Sadly they are not allowed to have Guru ji's 'darshan'."
    Ammi ji  : "Why"?
    Kesra Singh   : "It is Guru ji's wish."
    Ammi ji  : "Then why do you bring me flowers grown by them?"

    Kesra Singh   : "Ammi ji, Guru ji has given them permission to work, but not to come into His presence."
Ammi ji thought for a moment and said, "Guru ji must be deeply fond of them. Some wrong is being set right."  That evening when Guru ji returned, Mata Jito ji asked Him about Mohena and Sohena.
Guru ji said, "A young and devoted Sikh spoke these words for them in great distress:  'He will not give you His darshan.'

"If a Guru punishes, His Sikhs can plead and obtain forgiveness for the wrong –doer, but when a Sikh makes such a pronouncement, the Guru cannot overturn it  - this is an eternal truth.  Mohena, Sohena are dear to me but I am bound by the dying words of my Sikh. Had he been alive, he could have taken his words back.
Now, they must work out their salvation.  When they are spiritually awake and have got rid of the fear of death they will be free of these fateful words."

    Ammi ji  : "Will it be all right if I meet them and try to help them?"
    Guru ji   : "That would be a great kindness indeed, and it will make me happy.
Our Father has said :
Jan Nanak Dhoorh Mangaiy Tis Gursikh Ki
Jo Aap Japaiy  Awreh Nam Japawaiy

 (says Guru Nanak ji - He wants to touch the dust of the feet of that Sikh who, not only  recites the Lords name himself, but also encourages others to do the same).
 "To enlighten someone and fill his dead spirit with new life, is dear to the heart of Waheguru ji.  A person becomes alive only when his inner being comes alive to Waheguru ji's presence :
So Jeevaih Jis Man Vasiya Soy   Nanak Avar Na Jivas Koy
 (Only he has lived in whose heart lives the Lord, says Guru Nanak ji, the others have not truly lived).
  Hor Mirtak Hai Sansar     (The rest of the world is like the dead).

"Those who are in tune with the Lord, are like the lower strings of the sitar, which vibrate when the larger ones are played upon. Their spirits have become one with the Creator.  Hence their every word and action resonates to His will. That is why the Sikh's words are eternal."
     Ammi ji  : "Maharaj ji, it is your nature to be loving and to forgive the faults of us humans.  You have given us the gift of spiritual life.  I do not ask you to break your vow, but if it pleases you, guide me so I can help this couple to regain your grace."

     Guru ji  : "Jit0 ji, may Waheguru ji grant you the strength to relieve their suffering."
Mata Jito ji began to call Mohena to the house and sometimes, when she went for a stroll in the garden, she would stop by her hut and spend some time with her.  She became very fond of Mohena.  With her gentle words and kindly presence, Mata ji brought about a marked change in her personality.

Slowly, Mohena and her husband began to experience the joy and peace which comes from single-minded devotion.  "Waheguru! Waheguru!" was constantly on their lips and in their hearts. They stopped thinking of themselves as cursed beings, burning with self-recrimination.  They began to feel the surge of a new life, a new and deeper contentment than they had ever known before.

The desire for Guru ji's 'darshan' was keener than ever.  However there was no accompanying feeling of depression, but a slow spreading of hope, of conviction almost, that all would be well.  Their tears were now caused by " Shukrana" (thankfulness) and their beings were steeped in gratitude for Ammi ji's blessed presence.
Time passed and gradually Mohena and Sohena began to understand that there is only one Creator whose creation stretches along both banks of the river of Death.  It is according to His will that a person stays on this side or that.  Death is not painful, neither is it final destruction nor eternal parting. They realized that for people who are immersed in 'SIMRAN', there is no separation – not from their Creator, nor from His creation.  They began to lose the fear of Death and to appreciate the beauty and joy of Waheguru ji's gift of life.

Their spirits were up-lifted and as a result, they saw only the splendor of Waheguru ji's creation, and thought of Him as a loving Father, (PITA), Mother (MATA), Friend (BANDHAP), Brother (BHRATA); a Protector and Saviour(RAKHA), whose presence destroyed doubt and fearfulness.

One day, a wandering 'fakir' (sadhu) came into the garden and after walking about, stopped at Mohena's door, and called out: "Malan, Aulakh! A 'fakir' has come to your door.  Make some offering!"
Mohena quickly went in and brought some millet flour from the bin, and offered it to the fakir.  He gave her a disdainful look and began to sing, and as he sang, he shook the rod he carried in his hand.  He chanted that he was a special minion of the Lord and could work miracles, but if he was displeased he could be as vengeful as the black cobra.  She should not try and get rid of him with excuses but give him what he asked for.  In return he would shower them with his blessings.  He did not want money – he was not a beggar - he was Roda Jalali !
Mohena watched his antics nervously, as he rolled his red-rimmed eyes and his bald pate shone in the sun's rays.  When he stopped, she folded her hands and said, "Swamy, be merciful in what you ask.  We are not the owners, but poor servants.  Whatever is ours is yours."

Roda  : "O Malan, what is this that you are keeping hidden under this glass casing?  Ah, ha! Such beautiful flowers and in this season!  I like them.  I like them all and I shall have them."
Mohena was dumb-struck.  A tremor shook her body, and she slumped to the ground in a dead faint. The Roda waited awhile but when the Malan did not move, he left the garden singing and dancing the way he had come.

A short while later Sohenaji came home and was shocked to see Mohena lying on the ground.  He sprinkled some water on her face and when she revived, he asked, "Dear, what happened?"
Mohena told the whole story in a strained voice, "These flowers, which are being grown especially on Ammi ji's instructions for Sri Guru ji's Gurpurab…, a 'fakir' came… he …he frightened me with his singing and dancing. He would not take the flour I offered.  He gave one look at the flowers and said he wanted them, otherwise he would curse us. I didn't know what to do. Once earlier we had refused someone's request…. and now when this holy man asked for the flowers I was afraid to say no, but… but how could I give them to him? They belong to Ammi ji. The fear that what we were doing for her was going to be destroyed ---I couldn't bear it!  I thought that I had died but now I see that I am still alive and this problem is still in front of us."

Sohenaji was extremely worried at this turn of events.  He had put his knowledge of horticulture to good use and created a glass house in one corner of the garden, so that the 'Motia' (Jasmine flower) and other unseasonal flowers could grow in a warm and protected environment.  As a result, all the bushes were laden with buds.
Now, this situation had arisen and they could not see a way out of their dilemma.  Mohena could sense that this Roda Jalali was a different type of person, but he was God's man and it would be unforgivable to refuse him. The whole night was spent in discussion.  With the first light of dawn, the Roda re-appeared, dancing and singing the same song.

Sohenaji addressed him politely but firmly, "O Holy one, this garden and everything in it belong to the Master.  We are only the servants and have no right to give away anything without His permission.   Please meet the head 'mali' Kesra Singh and ask him for whatever you want.  But please forgive us, for our duty is only to grow these plants, not to pluck them."

Roda Jalali began to jump indignantly and to shout threats that he would take the flowers anyway and present them to Guruji himself.
Sohenaji  : "Fakir ji, I beg you, take anything you like from my home – it is all yours.  But the Master's properly is His, and only He can decide what to do with it."
Roda Jalaji was furious by this time.  Scowling darkly, he flung a curse at them, "May you be destroyed and nothing of yours survive!"  And he walked off in a huff.
Sohena and Mohena looked relieved, "He has blessed us!  We don't want anything of ours to survive," they thought.  With light hearts they sat down to sing 'Kirtan'. The incident had wasted a lot of time and created a break with 'Simran'.  But as they went about their daily chores, their spirits revived and they began to feel more at peace.

Early next morning after completing their prayers, they came out of their room and were horrified at the sight which met their eyes.  The specially erected glass-house lay shattered, and not a single flower remained on the stems. The marigold plants had been viciously torn and a few flowers and leaves now hung, forlorn and limp.
Mohena and Sohena stood as if turned to stone.  Like sharp needles the thought pierced their hearts – "What will we tell Ammi ji?  We could not do even this one small service for her, when she has given us so much love and support!  Cursed sleep!  Why didn't we stay awake and keep watch?"
They could not bear the over-whelming feelings of shame and regret.  In that moment they felt as if their hearts had broken and they fell to the ground; two lifeless figures lying among the ruined plants.

 Guru ji was sitting in the 'darbar'.  From far and near people had come – intellectuals, poets, writers and "Sadhus" of various faiths.  Everyone enjoyed the soothing 'Kirtan', and at its completion, they moved forward to greet Guru ji and offer Him gifts.
One 'fakir' came and placed a basket full of beautiful fresh flowers near Guru ji's feet.  Usually this man came bare-headed but today he wore a tall hat.
Guru ji looked at him and asked, "O holy one, who are you?"
Fakir  : "I am Roda Jalali, Sache Patshah!"
Guru ji : "Jalali?  If you are truly Jalali (powerful) then why haven't you brought a more substantial gift?"

Fakir : "As a broken pot cannot hold water, so a beggar cannot hold wealth, and without wealth one's hands are always empty."
Guru ji : "Then you should have come with empty hands for they are becoming to a 'fakir'".
Fakir : "True, but it is also against tradition to go empty-handed to meet a 'Maha Purakh'." (a great man)
Guru ji  : "What meaning has tradition for a person who has nothing?"
Fakir  : "Call it the whim of a 'fakir'."
Guru ji  : "Whim or style?"
Guru ji signaled to a Sikh sitting near Roda Jalali.  The man reached up and knocked off the hat from Roda's head.  Along with the hat a handful of gold and silver coins fell tinkling to the ground.  Everyone began to laugh and the Roda's face became ashen.
Guru ji  : "Roda Jalali!  Are you Roda with the 'Jalal' of divinity or of wealth? And why did you remove these beautiful flowers from their stems?"

The Roda was speechless.
Guru ji : "These flowers were nurtured with such love and devotion!  With whose permission did you pluck them?" Roda bowed his head and remained quiet.
Guru ji : "Ah! These blooms do not emit fragrance, but an oppressive air of fear and sadness; their very beauty marred by pain!  Whose is this fear and whose is the pain?"
Guru ji closed His eyes.  After a while two tears rolled down His cheeks.  Frowning slightly, He looked towards Roda.
Guru ji  : "O Rodiya! It is not flowers which you have destroyed but two hearts which you have broken; two spirits you have devastated!"
And Guru ji got up and began to walk quickly.  His steps moved faster and faster and soon He was running, saying, "My children! My beloved children! I am coming."

The 'Sangat' was astonished and intrigued and began to follow Guru ji.  One of the Sikhs, realizing instinctively that the basket of flowers had something to do with the incident, picked it up and hastened after them.

Meanwhile, Guru ji had rushed through the garden and reached the farthest corner.  He came to the flower-beds which had been so lovingly nurtured and now, so ruthlessly torn apart!   Mata Jito ji too had arrived and was shocked at the scene which confronted her eyes.  But before she could help the two people lying there, Guru ji sat down on the damp ground and with great tenderness placed the heads of the couple in His lap.  He caressed their foreheads, murmuring gently, "Awake, my children, awake!"   But their eyes did not open.

What strange twist of Nature was this?  These two, who had been banished from the Lord's presence by the words of a dying man, and for whom it had become their sole wish in life to receive forgiveness and the Lord's 'darshan', are lying here, unseeing, while the Lord's chosen one is beseeching them to open their eyes.
Mata ji began to massage Mohena's hands, urging her to wake up. The congregation of people stood all around, looking on in wonderment as another facet of Guru ji's personality was revealed.

Kesra Singh now stepped forward and offered a mug of water to Guru ji, who sprinkled some of it on Mohena and Sohena's faces and let a few drops trickle into their mouths.  Within minutes Mohena and Sohena's eyes flickered open, and as understanding dawned, their faces became radiant with happiness. They tried to get up so as to prostrate themselves at Guru ji's feet, but the effort was too much, and their eyes closed again.  Then Mata ji said, "Children, be strong and open your eyes."

Guru ji's loving caresses on their back and His smiling face, caused a magical vitality to flow through their limbs, and they sat up, looking at Guru ji with adoring eyes.  Gradually Sohena and Mohena became aware of their surroundings, and that Guru ji was sitting on the muddy ground.  They could not bear this and with moist eyes and folded hands Sohena spoke in a choked voice, "Please forgive us.  We are sinners and do not deserve…."
Guru ji smiled understandingly.  He got up and with Mata ji by His side, went inside the hut, while the rest of the 'Sangat' sat down on the ground outside.

Sohena and Mohena quickly offered seats to Guru ji and Mata ji but could not think what else to offer them.  Nothing had prepared them for this joyous moment and they were still in a daze.  Mata ji could understand their confusion.  She smiled at Mohena and nodded towards the 'Saroda'.  At once Mohena brought it down and after running her fingers over the strings, began to sing a 'Shabad':
"Jo Teri Sarnai Har Jiyo Tin Tu Rakhan Joag,
Tudh Jevad Main Awar Na Soojhay    Na Ko Howa Na Hoag"
( Prabhati Mahala 1)

It was a moment of pure joy for Mohena and Sohena. Their faces radiated contentment and peace.  After a while Guru ji got up and blessing them once again He left.  Mata ji gave the basket of flowers to them, telling them gently, to present it to Guru ji themselves on the following day.

'Gurpurab' day dawned, and a joyous air filled the town of Anandpur Sahib. Throngs of people came to the 'darbar' to have Guru ji's 'darshan' and to offer their gifts.
 Mohena and Sohena made exquisite garlands from the flowers and with light hearts and soaring spirits, they approached Guru ji and placed their offerings at His feet.
 Guru ji smiled and made them sit near Him.  He told the congregation about their sacrifice and devotion. Then turning towards them, He said, "Tell me if you have any special wish."
 Sohenaji said humbly, "Patshah, all our wishes have been fulfilled. But we have one request if it pleases you."
 Guru ji nodded and Sohena continued," Patshah, Roda Jalali has been locked up. We are all full of weaknesses and faults, and need your guidance to show us the right path.  Please forgive Roda and bless him also."
 At these words, Guru ji cast a loving glance at them and sent for Roda to be brought before Him.  "You are a fakir, so your wrong actions are forgiven," He said, "But you must be strong and truly 'Jalali'.  May Waheguruji's blessings be with you and may you never forget His name."   Roda fell at Guru ji's feet, and, with Guru ji's hand on his head, he got up a changed man.

When the congregation learnt how Sohena and Mohena had given up a life of wealth and comfort, and worked as menials under Kesra Singh, to atone for their wrong action, their affection for the couple new no bounds.  Sohena and Mohena, hearts overflowing with gratitude and love for Guru ji, continued to live in Anandpur Saheb in a simple and frugal manner, serving Him and the 'sangat'.

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