Sree Maan Akali Kaur Singh jee
By Bhai Sahib Bhai Randheer Singh jee
Oh! My Divinely Coloured Friend Akali Kaur Singh!
(Sreeraag M:1, p. 23)
My first imbued sight of this beloved friend came in 1907 at the Rehraas divan outside the Khalsa College Amritsar Gurdvara, when I worked as a Superintendent there. After the ardaas for Rehraas Sahib, a distinct looking young man in Akali garb rose and began giving a lecture. From the very start, whatever words came from this person’s mouth were like flowers. Every word was completely rooted in Gurmat and was a marvel. All the listeners upon hearing these words were completely fixated. My consciousness was also completely attached to the lecture.
Before this time, I had never enjoyed anyone’s lectures and got up and left, or myself stopped the lecturer. I could not bring myself to do either here.
When I looked at his face, I was left astounded. The entire Sangat, everyone, were looking at him and becoming intoxicated. His light complexion, spiritually intoxicating eyes, stunning blue dress and the beautiful black whiskers of a new beard around his face made him look like a heavenly being. This individual kept speaking for about 15 minutes.
And then, suddenly the lecture stopped and just as suddenly the individual disappeared, leaving all the listeners thirsting for more. All voices were full of praise and gave wonderful remarks. His new fans were told that this was some newly discovered beloved of the Guru, who left everyone in an awe-struck state and then, just as he had suddenly arrived, he secretly disappeared. But some of the College nerds began to say that this was some CID agent. They began to search for him with the aim of beating him and roughing him up. I tried to explain to them that they shouldn’t do this and that thinking in such away about a beloved of the Guru is a supreme sin. Anyways, that flown bird could not be found, nor could his admirers ever see him again.
In our hearts, we wondered when we should ever see him again and have the opportunity to have a discussion. And this was also a mystery: who was this person? And then one kind Sikh told us that this was Akali Kaur Singh. He could tell us nothing more. After so deeply affecting our hearts, he had left. But the desire to meet him again also took residence within us.
It so happened that the next day I had the opportunity to go to Patiala. In Patiala, I went to the compound of the late, beloved Bhai Joginder Singh jee. He had just come in from outside and he remarked that he had just had the opportunity to see a new Akali Nihang. “I’ve just come from seeing him now. He’s staying at a Gurmukh’s home.”
Bhai Joginder Singh took me then to that home. This was the second time I saw that Gurmukh. We communicated just through seeing each other. No one spoke any words. With the thought that we would return the next day, we then left. The next day, we found out he had left for Hazoor Sahib. Perhaps this was his second journey to Hazoor Sahib as he had the appearance of a wealthy individual. Even though his baNa was blue, it was of very good fabric. I got the impression at that time, that this was some unaffected yogi, who had been born in the lifestyle of a householder, but had had not been touched by it at all.
My third sight came after many years in the Parkarma of Sree Amritsar Darbaar Sahib. But this time his face seemed down, and his colour and demeanor were not like before. His face had a certain sadness upon it. After asking those who knew him what was the matter, I found out that one of his enemies had made a baseless accusation against him and because of this, he was depressed. I said the following to him and then took my leave:
“ਸੋਡਰੈਜਿਪਾਪਕਮਾਵਦਾਧਰਮੀਵਿਗਸੇਤੁ ॥” (Sree Raag Kee Vaar, p. 84)
My Fourth Meeting
In May of 1930 I had been released from Nagpur jail and was coming towards Lahore jail. I got off at Ataarsee Station to buy some fruit and as I was walking on the platform, I felt a very tight hug, filled with love around me. When I saw the Gurmukh who was hugging me, I saw a white bearded Akali who had grabbed me so tightly, that he would not let me go. I said to him “say something!” When he spoke, I immediately recognized him as Akali Kaur Singh, whom I had thirsted for years to see again. Then what? Then we became inseparable. We spoke and discussed so much. We traveled to Delhi together. The entire conversation can be found in Jail Chitheeaa(n).
Going to Chakaar Kashmir
I was released and returned home. After some years, I received an invitation from Chakaar that said “Come, have a tour of Kashmir.” The invitation also had a request in the form of GurbaaNee:
“ਆਇਬਸਹੁਘਰਦੇਸਮਹਿਇਹਭਲੇਸੰਜੋਗ ॥ (Bilaavaal M: 5, p. 807)
Then, we left for a trip to Kashmir to meet beloved Akali Kaur Singh jee. The feeling with which Akali jee called us and the love with which he kept us (the Jatha) at his Chakaar Ashram for a month is indescribable. Sitting in the Chakaar Ashram’s gallery, Satguru jee gave me the seva of writing the book “Anhad Shabad Dasam Duaar”. And Akali jee also gave us his composition, "Index of Gurbani", at this time as well.
Chakaar’s Spirtually Inspiring Sights
At the peak where Chakaar Ashram is located, the spiritual bliss I felt day and night is indescribable. All around us were wonderful sights, the sights of mountains all around, sweet and cool winds, which took our consciousness in abhyaas to amazing heights. This was a great time to write the book “Anhad Shabad Dasam Duaar”, because we were always engaged in naam abhyaas. The sound of the waterfalls was so helpful in helping us attune our consciousness. Enjoying these divinely inspiring benefits of the Ashram, we could not help but automatically keep blessing and thanking Akali jee. Sree Akali Kaur Singh jee took us for a pilgrimage to Kalyaan Sar which was about seven or eight miles from Chakaar. This place was like a house, but it was very peaceful. I didn’t feel like leaving. Seeing my attitude, Akali jee arranged for tents and other arrangements for a comfortable stay. He was so insistent to do this for us, but how could we endure such troubles on his part? Akali jee had already done so much for us. Who could take more? Finally after pleading with him, we convinced him to let us leave the place. We said we’d spend one night here in whatever condition, and then return in the morning to Chakaar. The spring at Kalyaan Sar is very big and bursts from the ground. The stream of water, regardless of the season remains very thick. At one side there is a very small Gurdvara with mud walls. Sree Guru Granth Sahib jee remain parkaash there. The entire earth is very damp and seeps water. No one can sleep there in the day, even in the seated position. At night it is of course even worse. When the sun set, we began to find a house to spend the night. We fixed up the place enough to spend the night. At a short distance, we found a place, even though it was most rubble. Nearby, a mountain dweller felt some sympathy for us and brought us three or four beds. We had enough bedding to manage and we doubled up on the beds. Those who remained began to but their beddings on the ground. We were all hungry and so we managed to gather some food and prepare a very simple meal. From that meal, we enjoyed such bliss, that we didn’t enjoy even from a feast of delicacies
“ਰੂਖੋਭੋਜਨੁਭੂਮਿਸੈਨਸਖੀਪ੍ਰਿਅਸੰਗਿਸੂਖਿਬਿਹਾਤ ॥੨॥੩॥੪੨॥ ” (p. 1306) This was what we experienced.
At amrit vela, we all rose and bathed in the spring of Kalyaan Sar. The water was so cold that we could barely spend half a minute under it. And the stream of water was so thick that it was hard to bear. There was also a small pond in which the water would gather, but the depth of this pond was unknown, so no one took the initiative to enter.
Sree Akali jee told us that at one point Guru Sahib came here. There is a very long story involved with this, which hasn’t been written down. The elders have passed it down generation to generation so this oral history is even more reliable than the written one.
After completing our baths, we began to recite baaNee and proceeded back to Chakaar. The path was very dangerous but the sights of nature all around us were amazing. At so many places I felt like sitting down and meditating. Only by the third quarter of the day did the party arrive back in Chakaar. Sree Akali Kaur Singh jee had arranged mules for our use so the travel was not difficult. And wanting to stop to enjoy nature, we were not restricted. At so many places, we got off the mules to enjoy the bliss of meditation. We would lie down on the soft grass and the desire to say “wonderful!” “Vao!” kept rising
“ਨਾਨਕਬੈਠਾਭਖੇਵਾਉਲੰਮੇਸੇਵਹਿਦਰੁਖੜਾ ॥ ” (p. 1095)
The urge to use the khanda of naam came while standing, sitting and lying down. Sitting at such an extremely beautiful spot, I could not bring myself to rise again. I was totally lost and left everything behind. One beloved one, Dr. Basant Singh (who has now left for the abode of the Guru) stood with me. Those of our companions who proceeded to Chakaar prepared food in Sarbloh. After eating themselves, they sent food for us as well, right where they had left us. One kind friend, Bhai NaraiN Singh himself came to us and woke us. When we told Akali jee about this lovingly sent food, he became very happy. When he heard about our raN sabaaee [note. It seems Bhai Sahib stayed in this place all night doing naam abhyaas, but doesn't write this explicitly], he was completely astounded. Every one of our hairs was blessing and thanking Sree Akali jee, through whom we had the opportunity to enjoy such bliss. We couldn’t openly thank him, because Akali jee would have become annoyed at this. Hearing his own praise was very painful to him.
Pilgrimage to other Gurdvaras in Kashmir
Sree Akali jee understood our desire to do pilgrimage and then said to us, “let me take you on a pilgrimage of other Gurdvaras in Kashmir”. Wherever Guru jee set foot, Akali jee certainly took us. To describe this pilgrimage, I would need a whole book, but I’ll briefly describe Sree Akali jee’s kindness. After visiting Chakayree, OoRee, and all other places of the Guru, Akali jee took us to Baraa(n)moola. This Gurdvara of the Sixth Emperor is located at the banks of the Jehlum river. After seeing the resting place (Manjee Asthaan) and getting its holy dust, we also saw the houses beside the Darbaar. Our other friends were given a different place to stay, while I was given a wooden hut, by the river, designed for meditation. This hut was constructed for Sree Sant Attar Singh jee. I had the desire to spend some days at this spot. I saw some very famous Sikh Sardaars. We went to Manjee Sahib every day and enjoyed bliss there. Through the Shabads we sang for the Guru, we enjoyed unspeakable bliss.
From here, Akali Kaur Singh took us to Sree Nagar, Kashmir. He showed us the beautiful building of the Sixth Guru’s Gurdvara. All the visiting Sangat used to stay at this spot, but I didn’t feel like spending time in such a busy place. Sree Akali jee understood my desire. He found a place for us to stay somewhere else. By his kindness, we had the opportunity to have the wonderful sight of a Sikh family. This meeting was pre-ordained divine destiny, which was written to occur. Here begins another experience which came through the kindness of Akali jee, but it’s best to stop it here otherwise this article will become too detailed.
This wonderful meeting needed to be recorded, but the folds of time have enveloped it so completely, that I have no hope that those Sanjog will arise again. Nor will separated Akali Kaur Singh jee return to us and nor will those Sanjog come again. For years we kept coming to Srinagar and making trips.
Finally that time came when we had an argument on a certain Gurmat related issue [Trans. Note: see “Conversation with Akali Kaur Singh”]. We had quite an argument. Throughout all this however, I never lost the love or respect for Sree Akali jee from within me. This, despite the fact that I stopped seeing him at every trip to Kashmir. My inner love for him never broke.
I had a brief meeting with Akali jee after he had been uprooted from his nest-like Ashram by the individuals there. I heard that the Chakaar Ashram had been destroyed by certain vile people [Trans. Note, in 1947 Partition], and all the resident students and teachers had been murdered. I did not hear anything about Akali Kaur Singh jee however. Suddenly one day Akali Kaur Singh jee was in Punjab and came before me. I saw him and I began to weep. I heard what had happened from his own mouth and my heart was terribly hurt. But I was thankful that Akali jee was not caught in that devastation.
Today, Akali Jee’s leaving this world is a very painful event, but I am satisfied knowing he stayed true to the Guru. Everyone has to leave, but the departure of Gurmukhs like Sree Akali Kaur Singh jee is very special.
Whichever books Satguru jee has had me write, I have used Sree Akali jee’s Index for the references to GurbaaNee. This Index is a memorial to his kindness, which at every moment refreshes my memory of him. Some photographers in Kashmir took our photo together which remains with me even now. After returning from my stay in jail and under the orders of the Guru Panth I was in the Panj Pyaaray to set the foundation stones for historical buildings, I would see Akali jee, as he would also be included.
Sree Akali Kaur Singh jee’s Gurmat attitude was always focused on kindess and doing good for others. Because of his long stay at Sree Hazoor Sahib, he was very heavily affected by Nihang traditions. But after returning to Punjab and meeting the Singh Sabha, he turned away from the Nihang way of doing things. But a couple of Nihang practices were permanently lodged in him. He had his own way of thinking to a large extent. Akali jee always read “Ik Oankaar” as “Aykee Oankaar.” I discussed this with him at length but he continued in this practice. Leaving these disagreements behind, I had so much love and respect for his Gurmat qualities, which will remain forever. He was four years younger than me, but left before me. He didn’t let my turn come. According to the vaak:
“ਵਾਰੀਆਪੋਆਪਣੀਕੋਇਨਬੰਧੈਧੀਰ ॥ ” (p. 936) my turn to go to the hereafter is also nearby.
ਨਾਨਕਧੰਨੁਸੋਹਾਗਣੀਜਿਨਸਹਨਾਲਿਪਿਆਰੁ ॥੪॥੨੩॥੯੩॥ ” (p. 50-51)
Sree Akali Kaur Singh has left me with two eternal mementos, which will keep his memory fresh. One is the Index of Sree Guru Granth Sahib jee and the other is the Index of Bhai Gurdaas Jee’s Vaaraa(n) and Kabit Savaiyaa(n).