It is a bittersweet moment when Gurmukhs do Akaal Chalana, sweet because it is a celebration of a Gursikh who has made his life worthwhile by japping Naam and having darshan of Vaheguru, and bitter because we, the people of the world, are separated from a Gurmukh soul who inspires one to jap naam.
Bapu Preetam Singh Jee was born in what is now modern day Pakistan. Bapu jee took Amrit at the young age of around 10-12 years old. Rangle Sajjan Dr. Basant Singh Jee was doing seva in the Punj at the time. No doubt it was a chardikalaa Amrit Sinchaar in which a lot of kirpa happened. Bapu jee and Dr. Basant Singh Jee became close friends and Dr. Jee had a lot of love for young Preetam Singh.
Crossing a River with Dr. Basant Singh Jee
On one occasion Dr. Basant Singh Jee and Bapu Preetam Singh Jee were walking together to get to a smagam of some sort, in their path the River Ravi (or Beas) was in flood. There was no apparent way to cross the river. Dr. Jee paused for a moment. Both Dr. Basant Singh Jee and Bhai Preetam Singh jee were wearing karhave (puratan slippers) on their feet. Dr. Jee said to Bhai Preetam Singh follow me and no matter what you do, don’t look backwards. Dr. Basant Singh Jee proceeded to step out onto the flooded river water as if it were a marble walkway, Bhai Preetam Singh carefully followed and held on to Dr. Basant Singh jee from behind. Both Gurmukhs karhave were still on their feet and they casually walked across the water, they had nearly crossed the river and Bhai Preetam Singh was really amazed at this miraculous event that Guru Sahib was displaying through Dr. Basant Singh Jee, they had nearly crossed over the river when it entered Bapu Preetam Singh’s mind why not have a look and see what phenomenon is happening right now, he turned around to look at the other bank they had just walked across from, no sooner had Bapu jee done this that he sank like a stone straight into the river, his karhave fell off into the river, Dr. Basant Singh Jee grabbed hold of Bapu Preetam Singh and dragged him across to the other bank of the river they had nearly crossed over to. Dr. Jee then lovingly said, “I did tell you not to look backwards!” and then laughed. In this way these two Gurmukhs effortlessly crossed the flooded river.
Dr. Basant Singh Jee’s jeevani is written by Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh Jee in Rangle Sajjan. Dr. Jee had extreme respect for Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh Jee; despite being a spiritual Gurmukh himself Dr. Jee would not have the strength to even have Bhai Sahib’s darshan. Dr. jee would become stiff as a plank and had to be supported and almost forced by 2 Singhs, one grabbing each shoulder, to meet and say fateh to Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh Jee. Such was the massive kamayee and great spiritual state of Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh jee.
It is already written in Rangle Sajjan that at the time of partition of India and Pakistan, Dr. Basant Singh Jee sacrificed his entire family for the sake of helping other families cross the border. The family of Bapu Preetam Singh jee was one such family that Dr. Basant Singh Jee rescued and helped cross the border. It is difficult to praise Gursikhs like Dr. Basant Singh Jee. Vaheguru.
Darshan of Panja Sahib after Partition
After the partition of India and Pakistan, Bapu jee felt the urge to cross the border and have darshan of Gurdwara Panja Sahib, the famous Gurdwara Sahib that Sri Guru Nanak Dev Sahib Jee with His bare hand stopped a boulder rolled by Wali Kandhari down a hill.
Bapu jee wandered across the border, which was not as strictly policed as it is today, and arrived at Panja Sahib. Due to the partition, the Gurdwara Sahib had fallen into a state of disrepair and neglect, Bapu jee was so saddened upon seeing the condition of Gurdwara Panja Sahib that he immediately removed his Dastaar and began using it as a cleaning cloth to tidy up the Gurdwara Sahib and Darbar Sahib. After doing seva for a while, the time for Rehraas Sahib arrived and Bapu jee recited Rehras Sahib and did Ardaas. After Ardaas, Bapu jee shouted a jaikaara with great vigour, it was so loud that the sound travelled across to the Muslim authorities who were stationed nearby. The sound attracted their attention and they went to investigate. They found a single Singh, sava lakh, Bapu Preetam Singh jee inside Gurdwara Panja Sahib. They arrested and questioned Bapu jee. The authorities questioned, “Who are you?”, “I am a Sikh of the Guru” Bapu jee replied. “Oh you are a Sikh… we have also heard of a Sikh… his name was Bhai Taru Singh, if you are a Sikh then you should also be able to pass a test like Bhai Taru Singh did” the fanatics mockingly said. “Do as you wish” Bapu jee replied.
This group of corrupt officials then removed Bapu Preetam Singh jee’s Dastaar and prepared to cut his kesh. They got out a large pair of scissors and put them to the beautiful hair of Bapu Preetam Singh, they tried to clench the scissors together but every time they did so, the scissors would rebound like they had hit something very hard. What had happened, unbeknownst at the time to them, is that Bhagat Vacchal Vaheguru, as always, had kept the honour of His servants: each and every hair on Bapu jee’s head had turned into a rod of sarbloh and no matter how many times the scissors tried to cut, every single time they failed to cut the kes. The group of men were utterly shocked, they could not believe what was happening in front of them. They had invoked the name of Shaheed Bhai Taru Singh jee and now, right in front of them, they had seen the same miracle happen. They did not know what to do. (I am not sure how Bapu jee returned home and how Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh Jee was involved, I do not have the book by Professor Thakur Singh, if someone has it please post up the relevant section.)
Bapu Preetam Singh jee gets the charan dhoor of Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh Jee in an unusual way
The world will always be witness to the glory of Gursikhs. In fact, it is for this reason that the world was created in the first place: ਜਹਪਸਰੈਪਾਸਾਰੁਸੰਤਪਰਤਾਪਿ ॥ (ਅੰਗ ੨੯੨). Bapu Preetam Singh jee’s kamayee was advancing since he took Amrit at a very young age, he soon became known to local village folk and people from the local area. They would often come and visit Bapu Jee asking for boons, Bapu Preetam Singh jee was very kind and openly distributed blessings to the sangat. If someone had an unaccomplished task, or some other work outstanding, or someone wanted a child, Bapu Jee would openly and casually grant the blessings that don’t worry your desires will be fulfilled, your tasks will come to fruition, or you will have a child etc. The news of this soon reached Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh Jee. The next time Bapu Preetam Singh Jee met Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh, Bhai Sahib swung his foot back and kicked Bapu Preetam Singh Jee really hard and said, “Oye! Who do you think you are granting blessings like that!? Keep yourself to yourself!” Bhai Sahib did not want Bapu Preetam Singh Jee to become like a Sant-Saadh and wanted him to stay as a humble Gursikh without any special following of people, so in order to stop this from happening Bhai Sahib rebuked Bapu Preetam Singh Jee in this way. It was out of love and care that Bhai Sahib kicked Bapu jee and not out of anger. Bhai Sahib loved Bapu Preetam Singh jee a lot and even had a special name of “Mastana Sikh” for him, this was due to Bapu Jee’s very simple minded nature and straightforward personality. After this incident, Bapu Preetam Singh Jee would not grant blessings and boons so openly and casually but he would still do personal Ardaas for many people.
Bapu jee’s Life
Bapu jee never got married. One time some relatives tried to get him married and at that time he said he did not wish to get married, so the girl was married off to his brother instead. After that no one tried to get Bapu jee married again and he stayed single the rest of his life. Bapu jee said he never got the chance to be married after that first proposal because no one asked or arranged it again, so that is why he did not get married. Despite staying a biyungum Singh, Bapu jee recommended to sangat that they should get married and live a householder’s life. He himself worked in his fields for a great portion of his life and made his income through honest means in such a fashion. Bapu jee refused to eat food from someone who did not earn honestly. He also kept sarbloh bibek for almost a century. For most of his life, Bapu Jee wore blue bana, tied a blue dumalla low over his eyebrows, and had beautiful shiny eyes. He would never even raise his eyes to glance inappropriately at anyone. He was an expert Gatka player as well. Bapu Jee would not take any western medication, in old age he would occasionally take desi remedies for various ailments.
Bapu Preetam Singh jee had a motto before lying down to rest, or to sleep. That was “ਬਸਤਰ ਝਾੜ ਕੇ, ਕਿਲਾ ਤਾੜ ਕੇ” (Bastar jhaarh ke, qila taarh ke) “Dust off the bed sheets, and establish a fortress”. He encouraged all Singhs to follow this. This catchphrase means to make sure the place that one is about to lay down and take a rest in is safe and clean, and to lock up the doors and windows so that one is not susceptible to surprise attacks and caught off guard in any way.
Despite being in such old age of over 110 years old and in not so good physical health, Bapu Jee would still take ishnaan every day. If his relatives or someone else spread the word that look how amazing this is and someone came to see, Bapu Jee would then refuse to take ishnaan and would take it later on in the day. Bapu jee was not interested in self-aggrandisement or showing off, he also admonished his family members for establishing a school in his honour and using the word “Sant” in front of his name. If the greatest Gurmukhs like Baba Buddha Jee and Baba Deep Singh Jee do not have ‘Sant’ in front of their name, then what right does anyone else have?
As is often noted in other cases and throughout history, the majority of sangat who visited Bapu jee were after worldy gains of some sort, a house, children, land etc. For the few that would come with the intention of getting blessings that they also be able to Jap Naam, Bapu Jee would sometimes encouragingly say, “What’s stopping you!? Just go for it!”
Due to faulty memory or misunderstanding I may have written something incorrect above so please allow me to apologise for that.