Bau Mal Singh jee was one of Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh jee's closest companions and friends. When Bhai Sahib was in jail, Bau jee was serving abroad in the British army.
|Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh and Bau Mal Singh jee|
Taken from “Poorab Janam Ke Milay Sanjogi”
Bibek on Ship
When World War I began, Bau Mal Singh jee’s regiment was sent to France. The regiment went by train to Bombay where they boarded a ship. In the ship, there was only one kitchen. Bau jee’s friends suggested that he too eat from this langar and because of the war, he should for some time give up the idea of keeping Bibek. Bau jee replied with determination that if Kalgidhar jee gave him this Bibek then he too would help him keep it. Bau jee met the Major and the Commanding officer and they recognized Bau jee’s religious convictions. They ordered that after the common meal was prepared, Bau jee could prepare his own separately. During the entire trip, Bau jee prepared his own food. Finally, the ship docked at Marseilles France.
Daily Routine in France
After landing in France, Bau jee’s company was sent to the base-line at Ruen, which was north of Paris. The living arrangement was good but because of winter, it was dreadfully cold. Bau jee did not eat meat nor did he drink and he also refused to eat any food purchased from the markets. All Bau jee had was flour and daal (lentils) which were just not enough.
At amrit vela, Bau jee would rise and bathe in the cold water, no matter how hard it was. It was not an easy task to do daily keshi-ishnaan in such ice-cold water. He would do his ishnaan, simran and nitnem with total dedication and enthusiasm. The simran would last for hours until dawn. After some time, Bau jee and some senior Sikh officers asked the British army to bring a saroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib which Bau jee himself did seva of. Bau jee would do his nitnem and then go to the tent which served as Gurdwara. After cleaning up and fixing the floorings, he would do parkaash and take a hukumnama. Bau jee would then prepare his food and then go to work. After work, he would do Sodar and a short divaan would be held. Every Sunday a kirtan smagam would take place and the sangat would gather for Asa Di Vaar. Bau jee lived like a yogi. Immediately after his office duties were completed in the day, he would engage himself in naam and bani and detach himself from the outside world.
Meeting the Belgian Ladies
One day, Baujee was returning alone from a walk when two young Belgian women met him. They asked Bau jee in English to join them on a walk. Bau jee explained in English that he had just returned from a walk but they insisted he accompany them. After some time, they asked Bau jee to sit down on a bench and they sat on either side of him. They then said, “hey, Indian gentleman, do you like a Belgian lady?”
Bau jee replied calmly, “yes, I love all ladies as my mother, sister and daughter.”
Hearing Bau jee’s serious reply, the two women, who both had impure intentions, ran away in shock.
Bau jee used to say that in Kaljug, kaam is supreme and only by non-stop naam can one save oneself from it.
Bau jee used to recite
ਜਿਉਕੰਚਨਸੋਹਾਗਾਢਾਲੈ ॥ ”
Sri Maan Bau jee stayed in France for three years. He prepared his own bibeki food. Bau jee organized many kirtan satsangs and was respected by all the Sikh soldiers. When Bau jee would come out of his office at the end of the day, many Sikh soldiers from far and away would be waiting to meet him.
Guru Sahib's Seva as Supreme
Bau jee considered the seva of the Gurdwara and organizing samagams as even more important than his government job. Once, a Singh passed away and an akhand paath smagam was to be organized. Bau jee had to go to another unit to inform a paathi Singh. Bau jee was assigned to monitor the phones but he considered it his religious duty to go inform the paathi Singh about the smagam. He asked another clerk to monitor the phones in his absence but that clerk forgot. The Checking Officer noticed that Bau jee was absent and then informed the Commanding Officer. Bau jee was summoned and although the penalty was normally very high, all the Command Officer said was, “as a senior clerk, you shouldn’t have done that. You may go, but don’t repeat this in the future.”
It was in respect of Bau jee’s high jeevan that the officer gave him so much honour and respect. Even officers of other faiths respected him.
Return to India
Because Bau jee did not get proper rations to prepare his food, he began to fall ill. Tuberculosis was found in his lungs and it was ordered that he be sent back to India. An amritdhari Singh was sent with Bau jee to help him back on the journey.