In December 2004, this Daas had the good fortune of travelling to Siri Hazur Sahib and Siri Patna Sahib, along with many Gursikhs. Presented below are some of the experiences we had along the way. The facts stated in this article are as of December 2004.
Our Visit to Agra
The Gurdwara Sahib at Agra is one of the best managed Gurdwara Sahib we saw. Sangat going go Hazoor Sahib stops on its way at Agra. We left from Punjab at night and crossing through Delhi at Amritvela we made our first stop at Agra and did our religious ablutions (ishnaan etc.) there. They gave us rooms and access to washrooms as required and I very proudly state that the Sikhs are managing their Gurdwaras quite well as compared to shrines of other religions. I have not seen any other religious shrine giving free accommodations and langar to adherents of their faith as Gurdwaras are open to Sikhs and others likewise. They were very receptive of sangat coming from outside and the rooms and washrooms were maintained very well. They were clean and enough for a lot of sangat.
The Agra Gurdwara Sahib is connected to Siri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib jee Maharaaj. Siri Guru jee was on his way to Delhi to talk to Aurangzeb but as per royal decree (Shahi hukam) Siri Guru jee was arrested in Agra. There are basically two Gurdwara Sahibs in one compound to mark two incidents related to Guru Sahib. First Gurdwara Sahib is in the memory of Guru Sahib’s arrest and the second one is to remember the place where Guru Sahib stayed for 9 days. Siri Guru jee was kept in a bhora (underground room) there and as we entered the serene atmosphere of the Bhora, we could experience the serenity and the placid environment of that place. Indeed Guru Sahib had stayed there. It was a very peaceful place. Sangat touched their foreheads on the floor seeking dust of Guru Sahib’s Charan Kamal.
Meeting a Bihari Bhujangi Converted to Khalsa
There in Agra, they run a school where they teach Gurbani Paath, Kirtan, Katha and other aspects of Gursikhi life. Most of the students are Hindu converts from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. As we were walking through a very well-maintained green garden with beautiful flowers we saw two young bhujangis coming our way. They were in full baana including a Dumaala. We said fateh to each other. One of the Bhujangi had an accent that did not sound Punjabi. He was about 5 feet and 6 inches tall and had a very shining Krishna like complexion. Small curly beard around his face looked really beautiful. His eyes had a certain shine and he had a smiling round face. All this prompted me to ask him where he was from. He told me that he was from Bihar. I was very interested as soon as he told me this. I asked him how he got into Sikhi. The story he told me was the most fabulous.
Narrating his story he told us that he was from a remote part of Bihar where there is a significant population of Muslims as well. A few years ago, a Gursikh came to live in that area and when he first came to live in that area, people were apprehensive about him but slowly they grew fond of him. In the village he was residing, the whole village converted to Sikhi and took Amrit. The lad who met me was from the neighbouring village and he told me that in the adjoining 4 villages a lot of Biharis had become Gursikhs. This Bihari Veer had taken amrit about couple of years ago and was now attending this academy or taksal to learn Paath and Kirtan.
I asked the Bihari Veer the occupation and financial situation of Sikhs there and what he told me was very sombre and dismal. The sangat in those 4 villages had recently established a Gurdwara Sahib but since they were living in dire poverty they could not afford proper building for the Gurdwara Sahib. The Gurdwara Sahib was made out of mud and grass, and the roof was made of dry leaves. During rainfall, water starts leaking and dripping down inside the Gurdwara Sahib. Hearing this I got very emotional and begged him to give me his address or a contact number of some responsible person, so that we may fund the construction of a proper building for the Gurdwara Sahib. He said that there was no phone connection in his village and he could not give me proper address of his village. He gave me the address but no contact name as he was not sure who to name. I left my phone number with him and told him to ask some responsible Gursikh from their villages to contact us with respect to the building for Gurdwara Sahib.
Meeting Two Nihung Singhs
We had a good half an hour to 45 minutes talk with that bhujangi and then we had a very interesting talk with a Nihung Singh who was in pure chardi kala. The Nihung Singh told us that the future belonged to Khalsa and no one else but Khalsa. He said that there will be a Khalsa Raj very soon. Another Singh who was with us had a more detailed conversation about Nihungs and he asked him many questions about Nihungs. I appeal to that Singh to write what questions he asked him and what answers he got. This Nihung was anti-bhang and anti-Meat I think.
As we were about to leave, a Nihung Singh on bicycle came towards us. He had a very dishevelled look. He was wearing a dusty baana and his turban was full of dust as well. We said fateh to each other and he told us that he had been bicycling from Siri Amritsar Sahib and was on his way to Hazoor Sahib. Sensing his devotion, some gursikhs gave him some money he could use on his way to Hazoor Sahib. We later heard that many Singhs travel to Hazoor Sahib on foot. I was amazed to hear that. I know Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh and at a different occasion Sant Attar Singh jee Mastuanaewale travelled on foot to Hazoor Sahib but I did not know that Singhs were still doing this practice.
On our way to Gwalior
We left for Gwalior around noon time expecting to reach there by the evening, before sunset. One of the Singhs informed us that he knows a shortcut to Gwalior. We started following him but later on we regretted following his so called shortcut. The road was in horrible conditions. It was an absolute disaster. We travelled for at least 2 hours at the speed of a snail. Anyway, we reached Gwalior before sunset. It was a wonderful experience. The fort of Gwalior is an amazing sight to behold. The walls are very thick and very high. It is built on the top of a mountain and most of fort and its walls were actually carved out of stone. No wonder the fort of Gwalior was known for being the toughest fort to win over after Bharatpur and Mewar of Rana Sangha fame.
The fort of Gwalior is the biggest fort of the world having a diameter of about 6 kilometres. Inside the fort is the Gurdwara Sahib and the place where Siri Guru Hargobind Sahib jee Maharaaj stayed for a short period of time. The cell or the bhora where Siri Guru jee stayed all this time had very powerful waves of Guru Sahib. It was definitely a great place to be. The Gurdwara Sahib is very well maintained and the building is very beautiful. It is a snow white building and there is also a sarovar there. They provide excellent and free-of-cost-accommodation and lodging there but we were short of time and had to leave that very night for Indore.
We saw the place where 52 Rajput kings were imprisoned. It was an absolutely stunning sight. There were just over 52 pillars there and all day the kings were tied to these pillars. They were allowed to leave only for ablutions and nature’s call. Guru Sahib had mercy on these kings and got them released from the clutches of Jahangir the Mughal emperor. One of the Sewadars of the Gurdwara Sahib took us to a walk few kilometers away from the Gurdwara Sahib but still within the fort to a place where Guru Sahib jee exited from at the time of his release. It was an amazing walk through the fort.
Our Visit to Indore
After coming back to the Gurdwara Sahib, it was decided to travel all night and reach Indore in the morning. The road condition to Indore was not very good but still tolerable. I pretty much slept through it as it was Sukhmandar Singh’s turn to drive. I had driven my share during the day time. We reached Indore and were received by Bhai Ratinder Singh of Indore. We had a fabulous meeting with this very dedicated Gursikh of our Panth.
Bhai Ratinder Singh is little known Singh but his contribution to our Panth is phenomenal. He stayed in jail for panthik activities and when he was tortured, they had him drink some slow poison that really made him very sick. He is almost blind at this time because his eyes were exposed to very bright 1000 watts bulbs for a long period of time and partly because of the slow poison he says he was given while in police custody. This Singh is very active in confronting the anti-Sikh elements like Kala Afghana and RSS agents. This Veer jee has incurred a lot of debt because of his activities related to Panth. I think this Veer is one of the rare jewels of Sikh Panth today who has the zeal and spirit of Sardar Karam Singh Historian a great scholar of last century.
Meeting a Snake Charmer at Indore
As we were waiting for langar, a woman knocked at the door of Bhai Ratinder Singh jee. She had a wooden box in which she carried a cobra. As I came to her, she opened the box and we saw a cobra but this cobra looked really sick. She touched him on his forehead and forced it to raise its hood. The cobra looked really mortified and spineless. Normally cobras are ferocious and attack but this particular cobra, that seemed equivalent of a teenager in human years, was totally mortified.
I asked the lady why the cobra lacked its usual ferocity. She told me that they had the cobra “Mantra-Mugad” i.e. enslaved through a Mantra. I asked her how did she do so? She replied back that it was their family secret. As she was telling me about mantras and Naags (cobras) I noticed that the mortified and half-conscious cobra had a red-mark near his lips. I immediately asked her if they had taken out the teeth of this cobra. She first said no but then I asked her to open the mouth of the cobra. I was disgusted to see how mercilessly they had taken out the teeth of this cobra. I felt great compassion for the poor speechless creature and refused to give her any money for her atrocity. I also gave her a lecture (as I was in anger) on the cycle of Karma and told her that there was no need for her to take out the teeth of the cobra. I had sensed that the cobra was in great pain and was just dying with pain. What a beautiful creature a cobra is. What beautiful skin it has and not to mention the scary eyes it has. It was appalling to see such piteous condition of the poor cobra. I refused to give her any money though she insisted a lot. I told her that if I gave her money for darshan of Cobra it would amount to my implicit condoning of the atrocity she had committed on the cobra. I think she cursed me and left.
Interesting Talk with a Keshadhari and a Monna
The next door to where we were staying, we noticed that a shop was owned by a Sikh but the name of the shop was named after a Hindu Goddess. He had a pictures of that goddess and other Hindu gods in his shop. I could not help myself and mentioned to the owner that it was a shame for him to worship the Hindu goddess while being a Sikh. I don’t think he was too appreciative of my comments but that did not bother me one bit. I had done my duty of informing a fellow Sikh of his obvious wrongdoing.
At Indore we had the good fortune of having darshan of the Gurdwara that exists out of memory of Siri Guru Nanak Dev jee Maharaaj. After paying obeisance at the Gurdwara Sahib we met a monna guy who approached us very respectfully. We too met him with love. Hearing him talk we judged that he was a Punjabi. He with watery eyes looked at us and with great humility told us that he too used to have kesh before and that he had to cut his hair because of his work. We asked him what work did he do that compelled him to cut his hair and reminded him of the Sahibzaaday of Siri Guru Gobind Singh jee Maharaaj. We reminded him of Bhai Taroo Singh jee and how he had his skull removed but not his hair. After hearing an emotional speech spoken from our hearts, he tearfully promised that he would never cut his hair from that day onwards. We thanked Guru Sahib for taking parchaar sewa from us.
From Indore we headed towards Hazoor Sahib