Khalsa jee, below is a wonderful discussion between Husband & Wife, Himmat Singh & Basant Kaur, who are the parents of the heroine Satwant Kaur in Bhai Vir Singh Jee's beautiful short novel Satwant Kaur (Translated by Mrs Bimal Kaur Jee) about a young girl who is abducted from Gursikh family in Panjab to near slavery in far off Kabul, Afghanistan.
In a village in far-off Punjab, daylight was fading and as darkness began to spread, the birds retreated into their nests, and the people to their homes where earthen lamps brightened the interiors. Stars began to twinkle in the dark sky. Slowly the moon arose, casting a cool, silvery light all around. It was a scene to soothe the eyes and bring peace to the soul. But for one person, it was a time of stark suffering. A woman sat lost in her thoughts, tears flowing from her closed eyes. She wiped these occasionally as she desperately prayed for some semblance of peace and restoration of faith in God's will. But the love and longing for her daughter brought a fresh wave of emotion and she began to sob uncontrollably.
After a while, she wiped her eyes, looked up at the sky and began to talk to her missing daughter:
My darling daughter, sitting in some strange land, may be you too are looking at the moon. This is the only contact I have with you. Alas! This separation is breaking my heart. When will it be over? 0 my Lord, how my faith wavers! I am not able to accept Your will, nor have I been able to cut my emotional ties. May be if my child had died, I would have been able to swallow this bitter pill, and learnt acceptance with Your grace ¬Oh God! Why have I not received any news of my daughter? Child, you have left me so bereft-captured and taken to a land from which no one returns. Please someone, bring me news that my daughter died, pure and innocent as the day was born! I would rejoice, and compare the event to doing ishnaan (taking holy dip) at Sri Amritsar or going to Hazoor Sahib for darshan. But who is to tell me whether my daughter is suffering untold miseries on this earth, or is in the high heavens? Blood of my blood, heart of my heart-ah! How she was torn away from me! What untold pain! And she began to chant a lament of her unbearable sorrow and need to see her lost daughter's face just once to get some solace. At the end, she again burst out crying, and finally closed her eyes from sheer exhaustion.
In the next instant she saw a hillside, and a stream flowing nearby, the water making soft rippling sounds as it ran over the pebbles On one side of the stream there were a number of trees covered with vines. Through the thick green leaves. bunches upon bunches of black grapes were visible ender one of the trees she saw Satwant Kaur sitting with bowed head. At times she sighed deeply, then tears rolled down her cheeks. She began humming to herself and her mother heard the heartbreaking words of a song about a girl separated from her parents, brothers and sisters who remembers the small daily incidents shared with them, and conveys her loneliness and deep longing to be back with them, The mother moved forward and eagerly tried to take her daughter in a tight embrace, but there was nothing - no warm and loving daughter-only the empty courtyard, the same courtyard where her child grew up, running around and playing games! The scene vanished, and with it the beloved face. The mother heaved a sigh and said:
Ah, it was only a dream! But child, are you alive?
Oh God, what am I to do? So many days have I waited without news; even Santji has not sent any message, Guruji, please guide me, Should I go to Kabul? Can I find her there? My instincts will surely lead me to her, and if I am unsuccessful, I shall die in the attempt. Oh Lord, either send back my child or send me death"
"What? Asking for death? What kind of thankless words are these?"-a deep, serious voice spoke from the doorway. Startled, Basant Kaur stood up and quickly moved forward to greet her husband. He came up to her and placed his hand on her shoulder, saying, My dear, why this loss of faith? The Almighty creates and destroys, it is as He wills. Who are we to dictate to Him? Is our thinking wiser than His? You have always been very patient and strong, and were accepting this loss with full faith. What happened to make you lose control like this?
Basant Kaur : Forgive me, Sardarji. A woman is emotional and that makes her weak. We are like animals and as Guruji has said, Chaunay soyna paayeeaiy chun chun khawaiy ghaas (SGGS 143) (Even if gold is offered to animals, they will eat only grass.) Even if we are educated our basic self remains the same. With your company, I had learnt a great deal. But since you were away, my patience and tolerance deserted me, my faith wavered, and left me feeling weak and helpless. Like ordinary women, I have cried and lamented for my daughter today. I have seen her crying. I have cursed my fate and myself and felt life to be too bitter and have wanted to die. I realize that in all this I have shown the gravest disrespect for our ever-loving Lord. I am not fit to be the wife of a true Sikh. Send me to Kabul please! Let me try and find my daughter. And if this does not happen, I’ll break my head on the rocks and kill myself (and she began to cry bitterly).
He continued in a gentle voice:
Just think, dear, we have already lost our daughter, and now we are turning our back on our faith as well. You know that she was a gift from Waheguru, and now He has taken this gift back. The pain we are feeling is for the suffering she must be undergoing. But if we think for a moment, we don't know what condition she was in before she came into our family. If we could not know nor do anything about it then, the same situation exists now. We have tried everything possible to trace her and have failed. The constant worry is only for her physical and moral purity. If she is alive with her faith intact, then it is a matter of joy, and if she has died with her faith and purity intact, then that too is a matter of joy.
I have full confidence that she will never show any weakness. She cherishes the pride of being a Sikh. You too must have this faith
You must keep your thoughts positive and remain in charhdikala. If you begin to think that your daughter has lost her purity. These negative thoughts will surely reach her and create negativity in her thinking. Trust in the fact that your child is strong and facing the challenges staunchly. Then pray with complete faith to the Guru to come to her aid.
Jahan jahan Khalsa ji Sahib
Tahan tahan rachhya riayat. (ardas)
(Your protection reaches all places wherever the Khalsa resides).
With these actions you will help you daughter's spirit to remain hopeful and positive.
Don't limit your perceptions to the visible world only, because what we cannot see is much larger than what we can. The principles of the unseen world are more subtle, but extremely strong. Your wishes and thoughts have a definite identity in the invisible world. Like arrows they fly in the space, find their mark and make an impact to uplift or bring about a downfall, to create or to destroy, depending on our state of mind.
Because of your unhappiness today, you saw your daughter weeping in distress. Now when you think abou t her, picture her as being in Charhdi Kala! Send her the blessing-Child, may you never lose your optimistic spirit.
Every day we perform the ardas for those women and children who are lying in captivity in far-off lands, that they may hold on to their faith. And we firmly believe that not even one of our children will fall from grace. Why do you let your spirits slide into disbelief?
Remind yourself of the numerous Sikhs who were captured along with Baba Banda Singh. Some were part of his troops, but quite a few were mere passers by. Yet, not one of them compromised in the matter of his religion. We remind ourselves of such incidents not to become arrogant but to keep doubt, fear and disbelief away from us and strengthen our faith that if it is Guru's will then our wishes shall be fulfilled.
Basant Kaur : What you say is so true, but at moments I feel overwhelmed by a sudden wave of emotion. When I sit down to eat, the thought comes unbidden. Has my daughter eaten or is she sitting hungry? Before I sleep, I wonder if she is lying on the cold ground in some lonely place, and while churning butter I remember how she used to sing asking for stale roti and fresh butter.
My dear husband, I get a lot of strength and comfort from your wise words. It makes me contemplate how the Lord makes provision even for the new-born child. In the same way, He must have planned for my daughter. I know she is brave like a lioness and will face all troubles courageously. I also tell myself that some good will come out of this because we believe that whatever Waheguru does is for our good. May be something needed to be done in Kabul, which only Satwant could do and that is why she has been sent there. How can we know why things happen? For us it is enough that we keep faith. With these thoughts I feel strong.
This morning I began to realise that I was so unhappy because it was my daughter who was missing. So many raids have occurred and so many young girls carried away. I have felt a pang but never this heart break and misery!
I remembered these lines from Sri Guru Granth Sahib:
Jab lag meri meri karai
Tab lag kaaj eik nahi sarai
(As long as one is caught in the web of 'me' and 'mine', nothing worthwhile can be achieved).
Himmat Singh nodded and said:
It's true that pain is caused by our ego and possessiveness. but it is not easy to control these. Also, there is another aspect to remember. There is a very fine distinction between 'ego', which causes suffering and 'pride', which is the core or basis of a human being. If this is given up then there can be no happiness. Some people take their weakness to mean that they have conquered their 'ego'. In fact, what they have done is to give up their right to make decisions and to take action accordingly. The cause of your pain is self-respect or self-worth which refuses to accept and give in to the evil actions of another. We Indians had lost this spirit, and Sri Guru Gobind Singh revived it. You wish your daughter to die with her self-respect intact. This arises from a higher love, which is supported by strength of character and true religious fervour. This is something to be proud of. As to the conquering of the sense of 'me' and 'mine', one cannot get rid of it merely by talking. In spite of great efforts, it raises its head again and again. The Guru has therefore shown us that the cure for it is through a deep and abiding love for Waheguru. As our love for Him increases, we shall feel closer to Him. A sense of belonging will fill our souls. 'I am His and He is mine'-this relationship will become all¬encompassing, drawing us away from the ephemeral attractions of this world.
And as we continue to remember Waheguru, a day will come when we shall feel His love being showered on us. This will wash away the fine veil of our ego, and enable our purified soul to become one with the all¬loving Father. Strengthened by His touch, it will form an eternal bond with Him which can never break. We are at the stage of effort, of trying to uplift ourselves to reach for oneness with the Lord. The way of the world is to believe: 'everything is mine, only the Lord is not'. But the Guru's path is of loving devotion which forges close bonds with Waheguru. When these bonds are weak, the love of others pulls us away to non - belief. You must fight this. Don't listen to the complaints of wordily people. Also be careful not to be influenced by words of hollow wisdom.The effort should be to start at the bottom rung and gradually move upwards. Begin by reminding yourself daily, as many times as possible: Waheguru is ever-present even though I can't see Him, so that slowly the awareness of His presence remains with you at all times.
Next, ask yourself, 'Where is He?'
And tell yourself: 'He is with me, and all around me'.
Then think, 'What is His relationship to us?'
To this you reply: 'He is our Father and He loves us'.
Once you are convinced of His love, then your devotion and love for him will became absolutely firm. You will feel that you are constantly surrounded by the radiance and joy of His presence. Your spirits will always be uplifted.
In this way, a person who has conquered his ego creates an aura of goodness. Whatever he does benefits others. His mind stays at a higher level; he respects Waheguru, our intentions will bear fruit. However, if someone recites naam for a show, then that is another matter!
Basant Kaur: Oh! why do I get so confused? Why doesn't love for Waheguru fill my heart?
Himmat Singh : There could be a good reason for this. There is a strong belief among people that Waheguru is an autocratic and strict judge, who must be feared. How can then one have a loving relationship with Him?
But the Guru has given us an entirely different picture of Waheguru as :
Nirbhau (Without fear)
Nirvair (Without enemity)
All these donate loving and caring qualities.
Thus when we see Him as Aapay Preet Prem Parmesur SGGS 1330), (God puts His love in man and blesses him with His grace.) it becomes easy to love Him. We lose our diffidence, our sense of awkwardness when approaching Him, and begin to feel the closeness, which was being denied to us by our own fear and doubts.
Basant Kaur: Why do we feel shy or awkward with Waheguru? I am not clear on this.
Himmat Singh : In our heart of hearts we are only too aware of our weakness and wrong-doings. As long as we believe that Waheguru will judge us and find us wanting, we hesitate to pray to Him, because we feel that He will not love us.
I’ll explain this in another way. Once the cub of a lioness became sick, and no remedy worked. Someone told her to pray to the Almighty, but she was hesitant. 'How can I pray for His mercy when I have killed countless of His creatures?' she thought. Similar thinking makes us feel ashamed to face our Lord. We have to realize that He is an all-pervading power, whose inherent nature is goodness and love. We are troubled and unhappy because of our own actions, but when we go near Him. we feel the comfort of His love. Then it becomes easy to pray to Him, to recite naam, to sing His praises and be grateful for all His blessings.
Himmat Singh paused, smiled and asked: How do you feel now?
Basant Kaur: Wonderful! I have enjoyed every word you've spoken.
Himmat Singh: So, by accepting Him as the source of love we have taken the first step. Once we begin to feel love for Him, His presence remains in our hearts, night and day. It feels as if we have become connected to Him, and through this connection, His love and comfort is flowing into us.
This idea is beautifully depicted in the bani of Sri Guru Amardas, Anand Sahib, in which he says:
Ey mann meireiya tu sada raho har naaleiy
Har naal raho tu mann meireiy dookh sabh visaarnaa Angikaar oh kareiy tera kaaraj sabh sawaarna Sabhna galla samrath suami so kyon man oh visaareiy Kahaiy Nanak mann mereiy sada raho har naaleiy
(0 my heart, always remain close to the Almighty.
Remain close to the Lord, my heart, because in that way all suffering is forgotten. Once He owns you, He will take care of all your problems. He, the Creator, controls everything. Then why should one not remember Him? Says Nanak, urging his heart to always remain close to the Lord.)
As a friend looks after and cares for a friend, so the Almighty cares for those who love Him. He does this by giving them the gifts of His love and joy. Another benefit of closeness with the Lord is that slowly all other relationships lose their hold. One is no longer at the mercy of emotional involvement with others, which was creating a barrier between the Lord and oneself.
This does not mean that we cut ourselves off from all relationships, but accept them as Waheguruji's hukam ( Lord's will) and carry on doing our duty. This state is of true vairaag (detachment) and it removes the need to take sanyas and go into the jungles. The path of spirituality, which was dry and full of dangers in the past, has thus become a comfortable highway making our journey pleasant and full of joy.
Basant Kaur : You have made these abstract ideas so simple to understand:
> Waheguru is all love.
>Each being is a part of Him, and thus carries the spark of divine love in his heart.
»But we have turned this love towards the materialistic world. Thus, we have become completely engrossed in worldly possessions.
»This is leading us away from the beloved Creator. Now, if some change can be wrought in our nature, so that we can free ourselves from the hold of this world and turn towards the Lord, then we can achieve the right destination.
Only when we begin to believe that this world is His Creation and all that is happening is according to His will, which we must accept cheerfully, then, and only then, can we really be close to Him. This is the meaning of Hukam Rajaee Chalnaa (His will in born in us, ingrained, thou follow.) Am I correct?
Himmat Singh : Absolutely! My dear, some people are born with a consciousness of Waheguru's presence and are thus automatically attracted to a life of saisanq. Some see the Creator in the myriad beauties of Nature. Then there are others who go through some personal trauma and turn towards this path. Sikhs, who recite Gurbani and try to understand it, lead their lives in His presence
The type of company one keeps plays a big role. Wlth a bad companion, one sinks into a life of evil, and With a God -Ioving friend, one is drawn to the spiritual life. Everyone is aware that this world and its attractions are not lasting. Those we love are taken away from us by death. The possessions we collect and cherish are destroyed or stolen. At such moments we suffer the pangs ofloss, and then comes the desire for peace and lasting happiness-a blessed cure for all ills. This, we find in satsang.
We pray for:
Gurmukh da mail
Sadh da sang (ardas)
(0' God! Grant us the company of the true devotee and the society of the elevated one.]
For it is in their company that we learn to focus our love on Waheguru
Gura ik deih bujhayee Sabhna jiya ha ik dataa So main visar naa jayee
(This the Guru, my teacher taught, there is One protector and provider of all creation; forget Him not.)
After a while Basant Kaur said, "I am feeling at peace now and I want this feeling to continue. It would help if we could have satsang at home for some days."
Himmat Singh: Yes, this is a good idea. We can have akhand path of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. I’ll go and make the arrangements.
Messages were sent to all relatives and friends and the next day path began after praying for the well- being and safe return of those who were being held captive in distant Kabul. One after the other, five akhand paths were completed and during those days Bhai Himmat Singh's home became a paradise of spiritual joy.