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More Memories - Trip to Chicago
								

Presented below is my memory related to the 1998 Chicago trip with Bhai Jagtar Singh and other Singhs. The memory is a personal memory (and a funny one too) that won't be incongruous to write here.

Our Trip to Chicago

In 1998, Gursikhs from Toronto went to Chicago to do a Siri Akhand Paath Sahib. The Gursikhs who went there included Bhai Jagtar Singh and this Daas, along with many more Gursikhs from Toronto.

One our way to Chicago, we were fortunate enough to sit just beside Bhai Jagtar Singh jee. We were sitting on a bench seat of the van. I was in the middle, Bhai Sahib was on my right and Shirimati jee was on my left. Our son was in our lap. This was the first time Shirimati jee (my wife) met Bhai Sahib in such detail. Our first son was not one year old yet and Bhai Sahib gave him a lot of love. Bhai Sahib was very fond of kids and because of the love he showered on the kids, kids too used to become very fond of him. For hours Bhai Sahib played with Nihaal Singh.

While travelling to Chicago, at evening time, when it was time to do Siri Rehraas Sahib, Bhai Sahib immediately removed his Dastaar, lar by lar, and then did chin (Teh launi) of his Dastaar the Gurmat way. Then he combed his hair and beard very meticulously ensuring that none of his hair got removed or get damaged, other than normal wear and tear. After that he collected all his hair that had fell on his Hazooriya and placed them in his pocket. This is when I found out that before doing Siri Rehraas Sahib, one should comb his or her hair. In the morning one must comb one’s hair before doing Ardaas for morning Nitnem and Abhyaas.

Beginning of Siri Akhand Paath Sahib

Upon reaching Chicago, Siri Akhand Paath Sahib started at Amritvela and Bhai Sahib stayed in the Akhand Paath Mandal pretty much the whole time. At night, he used to do Bishraam for hardly couple of hours and then again used to come in the Akhand Paath Mandal. Some of the Paathis were a little less fluent than others, and Bhai Sahib helped them out if they got stuck on some Paath.

The first day passed and the second day arrived. Before afternoon, I was talking with this one Singh in the room where we were resting. Kalyug or Maya or call it whatever you want, befell upon us. This Singh and I started pillow-fighting. It must have gone on for perhaps 30 seconds but look at our Kismet that right when we were in action, Bhai Sahib came and caught us. We wished that Earth would crack and let us hide but nothing happened. Bhai Sahib was very upset. He said to us, “Tuhanu Sharam nahi aundi” (don’t you have any shame). He said many other such things. We were very embarrassed and were staring the ground. Then he gave us the Hukam that we were not to eat anything that day. We meekly accepted the verdict and went to Guru Sahib’s room to listen to Paath.

The Hunger-Mice in our stomachs start Dancing

We had only Garam-Jal for breakfast and were already feeling very hungry. We were worried, how we would survive till the end of the day. We were used to having 3 full meals a day and had never fasted or otherwise stayed hungry. By 5pm or so, we were in bad shape. The hunger-mice in our stomachs were causing havoc. Our faces went pale. Shirimati jee was feeling very sorry for us but could not do anything to help us.

Both of us Singhs were now sitting in Maharaj jee’s room and the expression on our faces was so sympathy-invoking that it would have made the Himalayas melt but our Pyare Bhai Sahib jee did not even look at us. He was engrossed in listening to Gurbani. He was Mast in Naam and Gurbani. It was as if he did not remember that we were hungry. He himself hardly ate anything during the whole Samagam and therefore, probably did not realize what was going on in our bodies.


A Ray of Light

Shrimati jee never ate food without first having me eat. That day too, unbeknownst to me, she had not eaten anything since I was hungry. On top of this, she was pregnant with our second child. When I found out that she was hungry, I saw a ray of light for us too. I asked her to talk to Bhai Sahib about the situation that she was hungry and could not eat without first having her husband eat.

She went to talk to Bhai Sahib and informed him about the situation. Bhai Sahib asked her why she was hungry and she told him about her Maryada of not eating without feeding her husband first. She cited an example from the life of Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh jee whereby Mata Kartar Kaur jee (wife of Bhai Sahib) did not used to eat without her husband first eating. Now Bhai Jagtar Singh jee was faced with a dilemma. If he left me hungry, it would also leave Shirimati jee hungry. If he asked her to eat, it would break her Maryada.

Bhai Sahib comes up with the Solution to the Dilemma

It was about 9pm by now. Bhai Sahib came to us and said that because of Shirimati jee, we were going to be saved. He had this very sweet smile on his face while he was talking. His face was radiant and shining because of Gurbani he had listened to. He gave me permission to eat only one Parshada and this too because my wife was hungry. All my hopes of extinguishing my hunger were now destroyed. All those scenes of delicious foods started popping up in my head. Normally I used to eat at least 10-12 Parshaday a day and now I was to eat only 1 Parshada. How would this satisfy me?


My Solution to my Problem

Bhai Sahib did not wait for our reply and went back to Guru Sahib’s room. I then thought that something was better than nothing. The other Singh too resigned to fate. He got his Parshaada first and when I saw the size of the Parshada he got, I was disappointed but then all of sudden, like a lightening, a great idea flashed my mind. I thought to myself, “the condition is to eat one Parshada but there is no restriction on the size of the Parshada.”

I quickly rushed to the kitchen and asked Shirimati jee to make one Parshaada with Aata (flour) of 4 Parshaaday. In other words I asked her to make a Parshaada that’s like an inch thick and as big as it can be (bigger than the Thava if possible). Shirimati jee protested saying that it would be deceiving but Satan had taken over my mind and I said, with a Satanic smile, "everything is fair in love and hunger". grinning smiley I said that I was not breaking any rule but I was just being smart. What could she say? She knew I was desperate.

When the other Singh who had eaten a much smaller Parshada, saw my Parshaada, he got jealous. I would too, if I was in his situation. How could he tolerate me having such good time with that huge Parshaada. I am pretty sure that he went to Bhai Sahib and complained about me. Sooner than later, Bhai Sahib came and saw the Parshaada (which I had eaten almost half of it). When I saw Bhai Sahib looking at the Parshada, I got stuck right there. My hand which was quickly moving towards my mouth with a big morsel, stopped right there and stayed hanging in the air. I did not know what Bhai Sahib was going to say but after being serious for few seconds, he smiled and said that I was a smart guy. I was glad that Bhai Sahib was not upset and that I had fulfilled my hunger too.

We came back after the Samagam and this Samagam became very memorable for me. It brought me closer to Bhai Sahib and on our way, Bhai Sahib answered our many Gurmat related questions. Bhai Sahib showered immeasurable love while talking. Soon after this incident, we started doing Santhiya that brought us very close to each other.

More memories to come as they flash in the mind.

Bhul Chuk dee Maafi jee.

Daas,
Kulbir Singh

 
 
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Presented below is my memory related to the 1998 Chicago trip with Bhai Jagtar Singh and other Singhs. The memory is a personal memory (and a funny one too) that won't be incongruous to write here.

Our Trip to Chicago

In 1998, Gursikhs from Toronto went to Chicago to do a Siri Akhand Paath Sahib. The Gursikhs who went there included Bhai Jagtar Singh and this Daas, along with many more Gursikhs from Toronto.

One our way to Chicago, we were fortunate enough to sit just beside Bhai Jagtar Singh jee. We were sitting on a bench seat of the van. I was in the middle, Bhai Sahib was on my right and Shirimati jee was on my left. Our son was in our lap. This was the first time Shirimati jee (my wife) met Bhai Sahib in such detail. Our first son was not one year old yet and Bhai Sahib gave him a lot of love. Bhai Sahib was very fond of kids and because of the love he showered on the kids, kids too used to become very fond of him. For hours Bhai Sahib played with Nihaal Singh.

While travelling to Chicago, at evening time, when it was time to do Siri Rehraas Sahib, Bhai Sahib immediately removed his Dastaar, lar by lar, and then did chin (Teh launi) of his Dastaar the Gurmat way. Then he combed his hair and beard very meticulously ensuring that none of his hair got removed or get damaged, other than normal wear and tear. After that he collected all his hair that had fell on his Hazooriya and placed them in his pocket. This is when I found out that before doing Siri Rehraas Sahib, one should comb his or her hair. In the morning one must comb one’s hair before doing Ardaas for morning Nitnem and Abhyaas.

Beginning of Siri Akhand Paath Sahib

Upon reaching Chicago, Siri Akhand Paath Sahib started at Amritvela and Bhai Sahib stayed in the Akhand Paath Mandal pretty much the whole time. At night, he used to do Bishraam for hardly couple of hours and then again used to come in the Akhand Paath Mandal. Some of the Paathis were a little less fluent than others, and Bhai Sahib helped them out if they got stuck on some Paath.

The first day passed and the second day arrived. Before afternoon, I was talking with this one Singh in the room where we were resting. Kalyug or Maya or call it whatever you want, befell upon us. This Singh and I started pillow-fighting. It must have gone on for perhaps 30 seconds but look at our Kismet that right when we were in action, Bhai Sahib came and caught us. We wished that Earth would crack and let us hide but nothing happened. Bhai Sahib was very upset. He said to us, “Tuhanu Sharam nahi aundi” (don’t you have any shame). He said many other such things. We were very embarrassed and were staring the ground. Then he gave us the Hukam that we were not to eat anything that day. We meekly accepted the verdict and went to Guru Sahib’s room to listen to Paath.

The Hunger-Mice in our stomachs start Dancing

We had only Garam-Jal for breakfast and were already feeling very hungry. We were worried, how we would survive till the end of the day. We were used to having 3 full meals a day and had never fasted or otherwise stayed hungry. By 5pm or so, we were in bad shape. The hunger-mice in our stomachs were causing havoc. Our faces went pale. Shirimati jee was feeling very sorry for us but could not do anything to help us.

Both of us Singhs were now sitting in Maharaj jee’s room and the expression on our faces was so sympathy-invoking that it would have made the Himalayas melt but our Pyare Bhai Sahib jee did not even look at us. He was engrossed in listening to Gurbani. He was Mast in Naam and Gurbani. It was as if he did not remember that we were hungry. He himself hardly ate anything during the whole Samagam and therefore, probably did not realize what was going on in our bodies.


A Ray of Light

Shrimati jee never ate food without first having me eat. That day too, unbeknownst to me, she had not eaten anything since I was hungry. On top of this, she was pregnant with our second child. When I found out that she was hungry, I saw a ray of light for us too. I asked her to talk to Bhai Sahib about the situation that she was hungry and could not eat without first having her husband eat.

She went to talk to Bhai Sahib and informed him about the situation. Bhai Sahib asked her why she was hungry and she told him about her Maryada of not eating without feeding her husband first. She cited an example from the life of Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh jee whereby Mata Kartar Kaur jee (wife of Bhai Sahib) did not used to eat without her husband first eating. Now Bhai Jagtar Singh jee was faced with a dilemma. If he left me hungry, it would also leave Shirimati jee hungry. If he asked her to eat, it would break her Maryada.

Bhai Sahib comes up with the Solution to the Dilemma

It was about 9pm by now. Bhai Sahib came to us and said that because of Shirimati jee, we were going to be saved. He had this very sweet smile on his face while he was talking. His face was radiant and shining because of Gurbani he had listened to. He gave me permission to eat only one Parshada and this too because my wife was hungry. All my hopes of extinguishing my hunger were now destroyed. All those scenes of delicious foods started popping up in my head. Normally I used to eat at least 10-12 Parshaday a day and now I was to eat only 1 Parshada. How would this satisfy me?


My Solution to my Problem

Bhai Sahib did not wait for our reply and went back to Guru Sahib’s room. I then thought that something was better than nothing. The other Singh too resigned to fate. He got his Parshaada first and when I saw the size of the Parshada he got, I was disappointed but then all of sudden, like a lightening, a great idea flashed my mind. I thought to myself, “the condition is to eat one Parshada but there is no restriction on the size of the Parshada.”

I quickly rushed to the kitchen and asked Shirimati jee to make one Parshaada with Aata (flour) of 4 Parshaaday. In other words I asked her to make a Parshaada that’s like an inch thick and as big as it can be (bigger than the Thava if possible). Shirimati jee protested saying that it would be deceiving but Satan had taken over my mind and I said, with a Satanic smile, "everything is fair in love and hunger". grinning smiley I said that I was not breaking any rule but I was just being smart. What could she say? She knew I was desperate.

When the other Singh who had eaten a much smaller Parshada, saw my Parshaada, he got jealous. I would too, if I was in his situation. How could he tolerate me having such good time with that huge Parshaada. I am pretty sure that he went to Bhai Sahib and complained about me. Sooner than later, Bhai Sahib came and saw the Parshaada (which I had eaten almost half of it). When I saw Bhai Sahib looking at the Parshada, I got stuck right there. My hand which was quickly moving towards my mouth with a big morsel, stopped right there and stayed hanging in the air. I did not know what Bhai Sahib was going to say but after being serious for few seconds, he smiled and said that I was a smart guy. I was glad that Bhai Sahib was not upset and that I had fulfilled my hunger too.

We came back after the Samagam and this Samagam became very memorable for me. It brought me closer to Bhai Sahib and on our way, Bhai Sahib answered our many Gurmat related questions. Bhai Sahib showered immeasurable love while talking. Soon after this incident, we started doing Santhiya that brought us very close to each other.

More memories to come as they flash in the mind.

Bhul Chuk dee Maafi jee.

Daas,
Kulbir Singh
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