By Pr. Gurmukh Singh in Say Piaaray Mael
Bhai Giaan Singh jee was a naam-loving Gursikh and a very big lover of keertan. He was born in village Joieeaa(n) in Sargodha (now Pakistan). He was born in 1885. The area he was born in was on the banks of the Jehlum. He was the middle child of four boys and one girl. The children were quite young when his mother passed away.
Bhai Giaan Singh received bhagtee almost like an inheritance from his father Bhai Amar Singh. Bhai Giaan Singh used to take everything as God's will and remained satisfied in it. It was his nature not to slander anyone or speak badly about anyone nor have enmity. At the same time, he was also not close with any worldly friends. He would spend his time in satsangat with the other Gursikhs. If someone came to him and started to gossip he would simply say, "Everything is in his will. Whatever he does, he does it for our own good."
Once Bhai Sahib's son became ill with typhoid and his fever was over 105 degrees. The doctors said that the child could only survive if his kesh were cut. Bhai Giaan Singh answered that this could not be done. He said, "this is God's gift and he can take it back when he wishes. But will we be able to get the Guru's blessings by making him a patit?" It turned out that the child recovered by himself. Sachay Paatshah tests our faith and this was such an occasion. Many other tests came in his life and he passed them with steadfast courage.
Tests of Faith
Bhai Giaan Singh was an A-Class Guard on the NorthWestern Railway. He was posted on the Frontier Mail train. This train used to run from Peshawar to Bombay. Bhai Sahib stayed at Rawalpindi at this time. One day, a jealous co-worker betrayed him very badly. He gave a bribe to a railway worker and had him detach the last compartment from the rest of the train. The Guard waved his flag and the train set off. At the next station, Bhai Sahib was informed that one compartment had been left behind. For a normal, worldly person, such an incident would have been very worrisome but Bhai Sahib remained calm in the divine-will. This was a very serious incident and he could have been fired from his job, but he did not waver. He was suspended pending an inquiry but did not feel sad and said, "We'll work for the true "sarkaar" (Vahiguru) now" and spent his days in naam simran and keertan. When the inquiry was completed, the guilty parties were punished and Bhai Sahib was exonerated completely and even given a promotion.
" ਪੂਰਾਨਿਆਉਕਰੇਕਰਤਾਰੁ ॥ ਅਪੁਨੇਦਾਸਕਉਰਾਖਨਹਾਰੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ " (199).
Another time Bhai Sahib was in a difficult situation was when the topmost officer of the NorthWestern Railway came to Rawalpindi Station. When the train stopped at the station, Bhai Sahib was lost in simran. He exchanged some important papers with the Stationmaster and returned to his personal compartment for rest. When the whistle blew to move the train, he waved the flag and was again lost in simran. The British officer of the NorthWestern Railway was standing in the veranda watching Bhai Sahib and when Bhai Sahib walked by him, he did not salute. The Officer took this as an insult and asked his assistant to note down Bhai Sahib's name and information so that he could be reprimanded when they returned to headquarters.
When they returned to headquarters, the assistant gave Bhai Sahib's information to the Officer along with his personal file. The next day, the file was returned without any reprimand written on it. The file was sent a second time and it again returned unchanged. The third time, he personally brought the file to the Officer and reminded him that Giaan Singh did not salute and was to be reprimanded. The Officer laughed and said, "Whenever I try to write something on his file, I get dizzy and feel afraid. For God's sake, just close that file and find out who this person is."
The assistant collected full information about Bhai Sahib from Rawalpindi station and told his British Officer about him. The Officer was very surprised to hear about everything and was thankful that he had not done anything against him.
"ਜਹਜਹਕਾਜਕਿਰਤਿਸੇਵਕਕੀਤਹਾਤਹਾ ਉਠਿਧਾਵੈ ॥੧॥ ਸੇਵਕਕਉਨਿਕਟੀਹੋਇਦਿਖਾਵੈ ॥ ਜੋਜੋਕਹੈਠਾਕੁਰਪਹਿਸੇਵਕੁਤਤਕਾਲਹੋਇਆਵੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ " (403).
Bhai Atma Singh of Patiala and Dr. Harbans Singh tell us that Bhai Giaan Singh jee was a very big lover of naam and baaNee. His head would sway in ecstasy and his lips would always be moving with "Guru Guru". Those who heard him doing nitnem can attest that he would recite it very slowly and in bairaag, taking a full two hours to do so. When he would take a Vaak from Guru Maharaj, his eyes would be teary and he would read each line many many times like he was personally conversing with Guru Sahib.
A Gursikh is of course ordered to give dasvandh, but Bhai Giaan Singh was so generous that he would give half his income to the Guru's cause. Bhai Sahib loved listening to keertan and whenever a Singh or Singhnee did keertan, he would become very excited. Sometimes while listening to keertan, he would even become late for his train. Someone would remind him about the train and only then would he get ready and go to the station. Whenever this happened though, the train itself was late and so he was never in any trouble.
Meeting Bhai Sahib Randheer Singh jee
How could such a person like Bhai Giaan Singh not meet Bhai Sahib Randheer Singh then? Whenever the Jatha would have a smaagam at Rawalpindi at the home of Dr. Pargat Singh and Bibi Indar Kaur, Bhai Giaan Singh would certainly come and enjoy the keertan. He retired from his job in 1940 and after that he moved to Sree Amritsar Sahib. When Bhai Sahib Randheer Singh jee would come to Sree Amritsar Sahib and do smaagams, Bhai Giaan Singh would always attend.
Once it was at Gurdwara LohgaR Sahib that the Jatha was having a keertan. Bhai Sahib was doing keertan and Bhai Giaan Singh arrived in the divvan, matha tekked and then went to the back of the hall. Who knows when Bhai Sahib saw him, but while doing keertan, he sent a Singh to Bhai Giaan Singh and asked him to come sit at the front. At the conclusion of keertan, Bhai Sahib met Bhai Giaan Singh and said, "Piarayo, when you come, come sit in front of us. Seeing you brings us into chaRdee kalaa." A divinely inspired soul can always recognise another.
Keertan Today vs. Keertan Before
There is something that all of Bhai Sahib's companions know that is that at Jatha Smaagams, the front lines were always filled with Gursikhs. Many would be gathered around Bhai Sahib and lost in divine colours. It was a sight to be seen. They would be facing Guru Sahib and singing to them,
"ਤੂਸਤਿਗੁਰੁਚਹੁਜੁਗੀਆਪਿਆਪੇਪਰਮੇਸਰੁ ॥ " (1406).
Today, we are happy to do keertan in a big crowd but don't feel excited to do so in a small gathering. Those Sachkhandee Souls were singing keertan for Satguru jee. In those days, the way Singhs and Singhnees did keertan was totally different. Whoever sat and did keertan or listened, it was as if they were sitting before Satguru jee and addressing him face to face. Now we don’t do keertan for Satguru jee, we address the Sangat instead and give parmaaNs (examples) to explain to them. This custom was started by Bh. Mohinder Singh SDO in 1958-59 and has continued until today.
There are many examples from Bhai Giaan Singh jee's life that showed Guru Sahib was always with him. After retiring, he made a Gurdwara Sahib in his native village. He also brought many people to the path of Gursikhi. On May 22, 1951 the divine call came and he left for the Guru's feet. Bhai Sahib's son lives in Ranjit Nagar Amritsar.