Thursday, 14 April 2011

My Inspiration: October Smaagam, 1953

By Pr. Gurmukh Singh in Soora, March 1992

In the Ardaas, there are many deep and meaningful concepts, and if our consciousness focuses on them, a lot of bliss can be achieved.

For the first time, in October 1953 at Dussehra, I along with Col. Piara Singh jee went to Delhi for the annual Akhand Keertan Smaagam. The Sangat that was attending the smaagam, including Bhai Sahib Randheer Singh jee, were staying at the home of Daar jee Bhai Darshan Singh jee (Food Commissioner).

At Amrit Vela, around 1:30AM or 2, the sounds of Singhs doing Ishnaan and Nitnem began to be heard. This was all a wonder to me. By 4AM, all the Sangat had taken their morning meal and were leaving for Sree Sees Ganj Sahib. Bhai Sahib at that point would do keertan for four or five hours and still not feel any fatigue. This was despite the fact that his age was 74. Bhai Darshan Singh jee Dilrubaa, Bh. Mehar Singh, Bh. Harminder Singh; Sindhan Bibi Meeraa(n), etc. are some of the keertanees I remember. Bhai Sahib's poster used to lovingly record all the names of the Jathas:

"Bibi Mahinder Kaur's genuine Jatha, Col Piara Singh jee's amazing keertan, etc."

Those Singhs who met Col. Piara Singh, would embrace him and then for so long would keep doing abhyaas. When they would say Fateh, their eyes would be filled with tears. This was the first time I had seen Puraatan Singhs meet in this way with loving embraces and teary eyes. I was amazed and knew that this way of meeting was good, but I couldn't understand why everyone who met Col Piara Singh began to cry or get vairaag?

I understood later, after a long time when I myself would feel this vairaag. Bhai Sahib Randheer Singh jee had such a magnetic personality that all the Singhs around him who were in the keertan akhaaRaa also got this magnetism. I shouldn't stray from the topic at hand though.

In 1961 I was in Dhooree. I had the sevaa of holding a Sree Akhand Paath Sahib and Ran Sabaaiee. Veer Dr. Surinder Singh jee was our guide for this. He himself did a lot of sevaa and guided us on how to do sevaa as well. Countless Sangat had arrived form Ludhiana and Ambala.

When Bh. Harcharan Singh jee from Ambala Cantt. arrived the night of the RaN Sabaaiee, he met Veer Surinder Singh in an embrace. I don't know what happened, but Veer Surinder Singh lost all consciousness in that hug. Until the next morning, he just lay in the keertan hall, off to one side. When the Ardaas began the next morning, he himself got up. From this aside, I want to say that Singhs who met in such loving naam hugs got so much out of it. But naam hugs are now lost. From these embraces we find out that those Singhs were after what we do ardaas for every day "ਸੇਈ ਪਿਆਰੇ ਮੇਲ, ਜਿਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਮਿਲਿਆਂ ਤੇਰਾ ਨਾਮ ਚਿੱਤ ਆਵੇ "

My next point will about keertan. I used to see Ragi Singhs doing keertan. They used to put a lot of effort into playing their instruments and on the alaaps to show their knowledge of raag. They used to be very protective of their throats. After all, they called themselves 'artists'. But those who are divinely inspired to sing keertan, they follow the instructions "Thaakur gaaieeai aatam rang." They don't care about their throats and no concern about showing off any art. Their consciousness is always immersed in divine colours. For many many hours, at the highest notes, they sing keertan and it gives their consciousness even more speed. They take food for their souls from the keertan.

" ਅਖੰਡਕੀਰਤਨੁਤਿਨਿਭੋਜਨੁਚੂਰਾ ॥ ਕਹੁਨਾਨਕਜਿਸੁਸਤਿਗੁਰੁਪੂਰਾ ॥੮॥੨॥ " (p. 236)

Most regular ragis stay hungry from this food.

But I was talking about the 1953 October Smaagam. Bhai Sahib was doing keertan in the Tilak Nagar Gurdwara Sahib and Chanee jee was playing tabla. All the other companions were around Bhai Sahib and were singing the shabad

" ਮੋਹਿਗਇਆਬੈਰਾਗੀਜੋਗੀਘਟਿਘਟਿਕਿੰਗੁਰੀਵਾਈ ॥੯॥ " (907).

Bhai Sahib was enjoying the nectar and echoing, "ਮੋਹਿਗਇਆ.....ਮੋਹਿਗਇਆ..... ਮੋਹਿਗਇਆਬੈਰਾਗੀਜੋਗੀ "

In one instant, Bhai Sahib in a high pitch sang " ਮੋਹਿਗਇਆ " and then his consciousness was attuned. Other Singhs must have seen this before but this was my first time seeing such an amazing thing, that someone could be totally immersed and lost in keertan. Bhai Sahib stopped playing the vaja and the tabla also stopped. The bells also stopped. The Singhs began to quietly do naam abhyaas. For some time, everything was silent. Then Bhai Sahib came back and picked up the same line and began again "ਮੋਹਿਗਇਆਬੈਰਾਗੀਜੋਗੀ"

Once again the hall began to echo. These days, things like this no longer happen in keertans and rarely do we see the soul immersed into the shabad. Now, Keertanees finish their time and get up with their companions from the stage. But before, this never happened. All keertanees sat together and would never grow tired of enjoying keertan. They didn't even have the desire to go outside. It was because of this that the keertans were in such high spirits and immersed in naam. If only those experiences could be had again!

In 1953, I was completely ignorant, but the above incident made a deep impression on me. This incident inspired me to receive amrit at this Smaagam.

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