Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sakhi Series :- 101 (Bhai Bhota Singh and Garja Singh)

Bhai Bhota Singh and Garja Singh

( source:


Sawa lakh se ek laraoon
Tabe Gobind Singh Singh Nam Kahaoon


In 1739, Zaikriya Khan launched an all out campaign of persecution of Sikhs. Rewards were offered for the capture and extermination of Sikhs. It was declared law-ful to plunder Sikh houses and to seize their property. The whole machinery of the government, including chaudhris and zamin-dars, were put into motion to crush the Sikhs. Thousands of Sikhs were murdered. Cartloads of their heads were taken to Lahore for obtaining rewards from Zakariya.

Under such conditions of persecution, Sikhs took shelter in the Shivalik hills, Lakhi jungle, and the sandy deserts of Rajputana. A few, who still chose to remain in Majha, had to pass their days in local forests, bushes, or by taking shelter in Khulasa (Sa-hajdhari or slow adopting Sikhs) houses. Sometimes Muslims, and even Hindus, would boast that Sikhs were afraid of appearing in the plains. Such taunts would cause some daring Sikhs to come out of their hiding places and make their presence felt.

The Sikhs, as a collective body, refused to oblige the enemy by venturing out of their hideouts in large numbers. However, individual Sikhs made history by openly challenging governmental authority. One of them was Bota Singh, from the village of Bharana. He, along with Garja Singh, brought much ridicule to Zakariya Khan. In spite of the Governor's ban on Sikhs visiting Amritsar, these two would time and again come to have a dip in the holy tank in the night and then disappear into the bushes near Taran Taran.


One day, a party of wayfarers noticed Bota Singh and Garja Singh near Noordin.
One of the wayfarers said, "Look, there in the bushes are two Sikhs." The other way-farer replied, "They can't be true Sikhs. They must be some cowards who are afraid of showing their faces in the open. The Sikhs are not afraid of coming out."
This remark stung Bota Singh and Garia Singh. They knew that a Sikh of Guru Gobind Singh Ji is as brave as a lion. So, Bota Singh and Garja Singh decided to come out and make their presence felt even to the government. They took a position on the Grand Trunk Road, near Sarae Noordin, and as a show of bravado, began to collect a toll of one anna per cart and one paisa per donkey-load.

None dared to refuse the demand and nobody reported it to the government. Bota Singh's aim in collecting the toll was to prove to Zakariya Khan that in spite of all his efforts to exterminate Sikhs, they were very much in existence. He therefore informed the Governor, through a letter, of his new pastime. In the Panjabi folklore, this letter is still sung as follows: Chithi likhae yun Singh Bota, hath hai sota; vich raah khaIota; Anna Iaiya gade nu, paisa Iaiya khota; Akho Bhabi Khano nu, yun aakhe Singh Bota.

Thus writes a letter Singh Bota. With a big stick in hand, on the road I stand. Levying an anna for a cart; and a paisa for a donkey. Tell my sister-in-law Khano; thus, says Singh Bota

The Governor, highly incensed, sent a force of one hundred horsemen to arrest him. But, the two Sikhs refused to surrender and died fighting after nearly demolishing the Mughal soldiers. Their only weapons were big sticks cut from kikkar trees.


jo jan loojhehi manai sio sae soorae paradhhaanaa ||

Those humble beings who struggle with their minds are brave and distinguished heroes.

 - Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 1089


Truth is stronger than a gun.
Millions can be defeated by one.





Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sakhi Series :- 100 ( Guru HarGobind Sahib and the Limitless Langar )

Bibi Santi

( Source: "Nau Visheshtaiyaan Sri Sukhmani Sahib jee" by Bhai GurIkbaal Singh )

During the time of Guru Hargobind Sahib, there was a Sikh woman, Bibi Santi, who was married into a family in the village of Butala. Bibi Santi's parents were Sikhs but due to circumstances, found herself married into a family that believed in Sakhi Sarvar (a Muslim Pir). Bibi Santi read Gurbani daily and had a deep love for the Guru. Her mother-in-law however, could not tolerate this faith in Sikhi. Eventually, Bibi Santi was asked to leave the family's house and was made to live in a hut outside.


Bibi Santi was in a way happy that now she would be able to read Gurbani without anyone objecting. Slowly she was able to influence her husband through stories of the Guru and he too became a Sikh.


After some time, a son was born to Bibi Santi who was named Pulla. The happiness in the small family was short lived however as Bibi Santi's husband died quite suddenly.


Faith in Satguru Jee

Bibi Santi did not lose her faith and kept walking on the path of Gurmat. She taught her son stories of the Guru and also Gurbani. Bhai Pulla too developed a love for the Guru and had a deep desire to one day have Guru Sahib's darshan. He would ask his mother when Guru Sahib would come to them and Bibi Santi would reply, "Satguru jee is antarjami (all-knowing). Wherever his Sikhs remember him, he will certainly come to meet them."


Young Bhai Pulla now had a non-stop longing to cast his eyes on his Satguru. Bhai Pulla was convinced that Guru Sahib would come to him and so he wanted to be ready for the moment. Though he and his mother were very poor, he decided the best offering he could give to Guru Sahib was GuR (sugar-jaggery). Wherever he went, Bhai Pulla carried the guR with him, tied in a cloth, not knowing when Guru Sahib would hear his ardaas and give his darshan.



Bhai Pulla's ardaas day and night bore fruit one day. Guru Sahib arrived in village Butala with some Sikhs. Most of the villagers were followers of Sakhi Sarvar and so no one paid Guru Sahib any respect. Guru Hargobind Sahib and his Sikhs however went directly to where Bhai Pulla was sitting and stopped their horse in front of him. Bhai Pulla recognized that his Satguru had finally come and was overjoyed. He remembered the guR he had tied in the cloth and began to fumble with the knot so he could offer it to Guru jee. Bhai Pulla tried, but could not open the long-tied knot. Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib cast his loving eye on his Sikh and said, "Pulla! Here, let me open your knots…"


sathigur sikh kae ba(n)dhhan kaattai || gur kaa sikh bikaar thae haattai ||

The True Guru cuts away the bonds of His Sikh. The Sikh of the Guru abstains from evil deeds.


sathigur sikh ko naam dhhan dhaee || gur kaa sikh vaddabhaagee hae ||

The True Guru gives His Sikh the wealth of the Naam. The Sikh of the Guru is very fortunate.


sathigur sikh kaa halath palath savaarai ||

The True Guru arranges this world and the next for His Sikh.

Guru Granth Sahib, Ang286


What a blessing Guru Sahib gave to Bhai Pulla. What more could Bhai Pulla ask?


Guru Sahib opened the knot and Bhai Pulla humbly placed the guR before Guru Sahib and bowed. Satguru jee then said, "Pulla! My Sikhs and I are hungry. Take us to your home and give us langar."


Bhai Pulla could not contain his happiness and quickly lead Guru jee and the Sikhs to his small home. Mata Santi upon seeing Sri Guru jee's darshan, lost all awareness. Bhai Pulla shook his mother and said, "Guru Sahib wants to have langar. Prepare langar for him."


Villagers and the Langar

The villagers of Butala were bitter and went on to their rooftops to see what was happening. They saw that Guru Sahib and his Sikhs were waiting for langar and began to laugh that Bibi Santi and Bhai Pulla who sometimes could not even manage one meal a day for themselves were now being asked to cook for so many. The villagers decided amongst themselves that no one would help the two Sikhs nor give them any loan to help buy rations for the langar. They would see the humiliating scene when Bibi Santi and Bhai Pulla would tell Guru Sahib that they could not make the langar and have the opportunity to laugh at them.


Satguru Hargobind Sahib knew all and saw the crowds on their rooftops looking at them. Guru Sahib said to Bhai Pulla, "Pulla! Go invite all the villagers to have langar here as well today." Bhai Pulla obeyed the hukam and went to all the villagers and asked them to come to their home for langar. The villagers laughed and said that today the humiliation would be double what they expected. The mother and son could hardly feed themselves let alone all the Sikhs and now all the villagers.


The Miracle

Guru Hargobind Sahib called Bhai Pulla and gave him two kerchiefs and told him to put one on the flour and one on the daal. Mata Santi should not look underneath them after that.


Bibi Santi had prepared all the flour in the house for parshadas but it was still very little. There was also a little daal she had prepared. The two kerchiefs were placed on each and Bibi Santi began to prepare the parshadas while Bhai Pulla did the seva of distributing them. To their amazement, all the Sikhs and all the villagers had their fill of langar and still the parshadas and daal under Guru Sahib's kerchiefs were not finishing.


The villagers were awe-struck and fell at Guru Hargobind Sahib's feet. They had wanted to see the humiliation of the two poor Sikhs but Guru Sahib had shown that he would never let his Sikhs be humiliated in such a way. The faith of the villagers in Sikhi was born that day and Bibi Santi and Bhai Pulla's faith was rewarded.


ijin syivAw iqin pwieAw mwnu ]
jin saeviaa thin paaeiaa maan ||
Those who serve Him are honored.

Japji Sahib



Monday, July 07, 2008

Sakhi Series :- 99 ( Naam Simran )

Bhai Sahib Vir Singh jee

(Source: )


kehi kabeer kishh gun beechaar ||

Says Kabeer, think of doing some good deeds.


chalae juaaree dhue hathh jhaar ||4||2||

In the end, the gambler shall depart empty-handed. ||4||2||

Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 1157


Bhai Sahib Vir Singh jee, perhaps the greatest modern Sikh spiritual writer, once was sent a message from his old college friend who he had lost touch with since college. His friend was in the hospital and asked Bhai Sahib to visit him there urgently. Surprised and also eager to serve, Bhai Sahib promptly went to the hospital. His friend was dying and the doctors had given him a few weeks to live.


His friend was not at all spiritual oriented. Seeing Bhai Sahib he started weeping and said: "I have led a wasteful and useless life. Now death approaches and I am afraid."

Bhai Sahib was very soft hearted (read his books and you will attest to this) and said: "There is always mercy in the Guru's house - start meditating on the Guru's Word - SatNaam WaheGuru".


It is a common saying that a drowning man will hold on to a twig with all his might. So his friend dived deeply into Word meditation. Bhai Sahib came back home and gradually forget about his friend (he was never close to him during college years).

A few weeks later, Bhai Sahib had a dream about his friend. His friend was sitting atop the berry tree at the Golden Temple in Amritsar and was joyfully eating berries. He looked down at Bhai Sahib and said: "Guru Nanak has taken me in. I am free! Here - have a berry...", and threw one at Bhai Sahib. This startled Bhai Sahib jee and he woke up.


Bhai Sahib was a deep researcher into spiritual matters. He realized this was no ordinary dream, therefore he noted down the day and time in his diary - it was 1:16 am. He also resolved to visit his friend that day.


Later that day, Bhai Sahib jee went to the hospital and found his friend's bed empty. Upon inquiry, he was told that his friend died at 1.16 am that morning.


gur baanee kehai saevak jan maanai parathakh guroo nisathaarae ||5||
If His humble servant believes, and acts according to the Words of the Guru's Bani, then the Guru, in person, emancipates him. ||5||

Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 982