A Brief Account of how Bhai Sahib became Amritdhari
Bhai Sahib Jagtar Singh jee was born around 1936 as per the documents but this was not his exact year of birth. In olden days, there was no system of recording accurate time of birth. When Bhai Sahib was still a child, his mother died and he was raised by his father and step-mother. He was raised in a typical Punjabi rural way which involved consuming freeloads of milk and gheo. Even though his height was not that much, his body developed quite strong and sturdy.
Early in his years, he did not have any particular spiritual inclinations other than regular chanting of Mool Mantr and Gurmantr that Punjabi Sikh families teach their kids. Later on, when he came into the world of Gurmat, he developed mountain-faith in Gurbani and Naam but his first experience with the power of Gurbani and Naam was when as a child he felt burden on his chest. His father and others believed it was his mother who had died. They told him to do Mool Mantr or Gurmantr whenever he felt the burden on his chest. He did as told and the burden was lifted from his chest.
He himself did not talk too much about his non-Sikhi life because he believed that his real life started when he took birth in the house of Siri Guru Nanak-Dasmesh jee i.e. when he took Amrit and became a Khalsa. Education-wise, he studied to become a Civil Engineer and later on worked in the Public Works Department (PWD). Later on he took up the position of an Engineer in the Indian Army. Later on, in the early 70s or perhaps later 60s, Bhai Sahib came to Canada. Here, according to his own admission, he made one of the biggest mistakes of his life – he cut his hair.
(Bhai Sahib holding the newborn Bhujangan of Bhai Sukhpal Singh Maliyaan in 2006 or 2007. Notice how much love is showering from Bhai Sahib's countenance)
Shift towards Gursikhi
After he cut his hair, he felt really bad and it seems like this is the time when he started feeling some thirst for spirituality. He read lives of Mahapurakhs like Baba Karam Singh jee Hoti-Mardaan and was deeply affected by the pious and extremely devotional life of Baba jee. He once mentioned that Baba Karam Singh jee had extreme Kamaaee. At one point, the thirst for spirituality came so strongly within him that he thought of finding some Mahapurakh and dedicating his life to spirituality. He heard of a famous Sant and thought of becoming his disciple but was saved from doing so. Later on he jokingly used to remark that if he had committed the mistake of becoming a chela (disciple) of this Sant, he would have been left to wash his Kachherray all life and would have stayed far from Gurmat Naam.
It is said that when the student is ready, the teacher arrives by the work of Providence. Bhai Sahib’s Bairaag was increasing and it is around this time that he met senior Gurmukhs like Professor Udai Singh who used to teach Mathematics at the Sudbury University. Professor Udai Singh gave Bhai Sahib a copy of English version of Jail Chithiaan. Bhai Jagtar Singh jee used to mention that he had never heard about Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh jee and when he found out that Bhai Sahib jee had gone to jail, he thought that Bhai Sahib must have committed some crime that he had to go to jail. For this reason, he did not even bother to read Jail Chithiaan for quite some time.
Sardar Fulel Singh (father of famous lawyer T. Sher Singh) once asked Bhai Sahib where he was from and when Bhai Sahib mentioned his village in District Ludhiana, that Gurmukh right away said, “haven’t you heard of the very great Mahapurakh of your area – Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh jee?” It was then that Bhai Sahib was inspired to read Jail Chithiaan and was blown away by the book. He then also read Punjabi (original) version of Jail Chithiaan and his Bairaag for Vaheguru went out of control and he could not wait to attain Vaheguru. Bhai Sahib used to say that he used to think that attaining Vaheguru was a piece of cake i.e. extremely easy but later on when he discovered how hard it is to mend and control the mind, he realized that attaining Vaheguru is purely Gurprasaad.
Meeting Bau Mal Singh jee and becoming Amritdhari
When Bhai Sahib read Jail Chithiaan and other books of Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh jee, he was eager to become Amritdhaari. He went to India in 1976 with the purpose to take Amrit. He met some senior Gurmukhs of Jatha including Bau Mal Singh jee. Bhai Sahib used to narrate a funny story about one of his meetings with Bau Mal Singh jee. Bau jee Sehaj-Subhae (casually) asked Bhai Sahib about his village and family. Upon finding out that Bhai Sahib’s last name was Virk, Bau jee exclaimed, “Oye, Virk taa chor hunde aa” (Oye, Virks are known to be thieves).
Bau jee was from Majha and Virks are originally from Saandalbaar (area around Siri Nanakana Sahib including districts Gujranwala and Sheikhupura, now in Pakistan). Majhails (people of Majha) did not see Virks in good light and it was only with the emergence of Jathedar Kartar Singh Jhabbar that the rivalry between the Virks and Majhaels lessened. After the victory of Nanakana Sahib Gurdwara Sahib from Mahant Narainu, in which the Singhs of that area (who were mostly from Virk background) under the Jathedari of legendary Jathedar Kartar Singh Jhabbar, played a decisive role, one of the first marriage was done between the Majhaels and Virks. Jathedar Teja Singh Samundry asked Jathedar Kartar Singh to suggest a suitable boy for a Dola of Majha. In any case that’s a different story altogether.
Bau Mal Singh jee was very old at that time. He was well into his mid-90s but he was a Rangla Sajjan and one of the most exceptional Gurmukh whom Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh jee praised while he was alive. Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh jee wrote about Ranglay Sajjan only when they had done Akal Chalaana but for Bau Mal Singh jee he made exceptions and praised him at many places, while he was still alive in this world.
Bhai Jagtar Singh jee while narrating his story of how he became an Amritdhari used to say that he wanted to take Amrit but wanted Bau jee to do sewa in Punj. Normally, a seeker who has not yet taken Amrit has no right to choose the Punj Pyare but Bhai Jagtar Singh jee really begged Bau jee to do sewa in Punj. Bau jee had stopped doing Sewa in Punj, obviously due to his old age but at much insistence from Bhai Sahib, he agreed. So when Bhai Sahib jee took Amrit at Jalandhar Samagam, Bau jee was doing Sewa in Punj Pyare.
More memories as they come, at a later date.