Friday, 3 June 2011

Bibi Rena Kaur

Documentary on Jeevan of Bibi Jee, Part 1 and 2:
 

Rena Kaur was born on March 21, 1987 in Surrey, BC and as a child she attended Khalsa School, followed by Beaver Creek Elementary school and eventually Tamanawis Secondary School. She left this earth on May 8, 2004 at the physical age of 17, at which time she was a grade 11 student, a volunteer at the Guru Nanak Academy, a member of the Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Gatka Akhara, an amazing keertani, a friend, a sister, and a daughter. Most obviously, she was and still is, an inspiration to us all.





Gurbani & Keertan


In her younger years at Khalsa School, Rena Kaur learned keertan from Bhai Tejinderpal Singh “Dulla” jee and had been blessed by the Guru with a voice and a style of keertan that was unique and inspiring. Her fingers fluttered on the vaja like a butterfly – as if it was so easy to her; but when teaching keertan to others, she would do it with so much sehaj, love, humility, and understanding. What set her apart from other keertaniya is that not only did she have “skills” – but she also had genuine love and pure faith. When she did keertan, the message of the shabads also vibrated in her heart.


Rena Kaur had done Gurbani Santhiya while studying at Khalsa School. From her notes, we have been able to find out that she had done full santhiya of Guru Granth Sahib ji and learned many shabads in keertan extensively. Thus, her Gurbani vidya was also impressive for a person of that young an age.


When Rena Kaur passed away, one Singh commented that when he had previously heard Rena Kaur’s keertan, he felt as though her voice was coming from sach khand (the realm of truth). Another Singh who was trained at Dam Dami Taksal and does seva at a gurdwara sahib in BC, said that he had often heard many people do keertan, but Rena Kaur’s voice was unique in that she sounded so present and “in the moment,” as if she was absorbed in the shabad as she sang it. This was because Guru Sahib’s hand was constantly on her head, and when she sang, it was coming from the heart of her own soul.


It’s unfortunate for us, but also the Guru’s hukam, that the most amazing and intense times Rena Kaur did keertan were not recorded, because they took place during regular local Sangat programs where there is no recording done. I recall, however, several times, when she would be doing keertan in local Sangat, and nearly everybody in the darbar was still and silent, with their eyes closed, meditating as if they had somehow been overcome by the combination of the Bani, her voice, the sound-currents, and just the moment in itself. Some gurmukhs in Sangat have also recollected some experiences of divine visits, or darshan, of souls of Shaheeds (martyrs) from sach khand (realm of truth) that came into the darbar during Rena Kaur’s Kirtan or even sang through her. Only the Guru knows the limits of the Guru’s wonders.

Simran By Bibi Jee:




Chardee Kalaa Spirit


Rena Kaur’s chardi kala and love was most remarkable. She is remembered today by her radiant smile and the way she was never afraid to speak up against anything wrong, yet was also sweet and loving towards all people, regardless of their faith, background, or “level” in Sikhi. Whenever anyone had a problem, it was so easy to go to Rena Kaur, as she was always willing to lend a helping hand. Even if she was extremely busy in her own life, she would take you in with love and give advice and help, without judging you. Some of her friends have said that many people at Rena’s high school were racist towards people who wore the Bana of a Gursikh, and were not understanding of the Sikh religion. Regardless of this threat, Rena Kaur began tying a dastaar and held her head up high, proud of being Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s daughter, tyaar bar tyaar and always ready to defend Sikhi.


I remember when Rena Kaur first started to tie a dastaar, we would encourage her and congratulate her so much – and she took this encouragement with humility. In fact, you could see the excitement on her face as she felt she had reached her chance to blossom.


Shastar Vidya


Rena Kaur became a member of the Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Gatka Akhara (Surrey Branch – Guru Nanak Academy) during September of 2003, under the guidance of Ustaad Charnjit Singh (Dam Dami Taksal). She was strongly committed to the team and to shastar vidya in general. I remember whenever we gave excuses about missing gatka class, she would comment, “do you remember what Charnjit Singh said – shastar vidya is part of rehit by Guru Gobind Singh ji’s hukam and we can’t miss our rehit.” There were times when the classes would be held every day of the week and she would never miss a class, even if she knew she would be the only student attending. Her mother recalls a time when it was snowing outside, but Rena Kaur still walked to her gatka class, regardless of the weather.


Some people have commented on her being one of the most dedicated people on the whole team – because she would never miss a practice and would put everything into learning. She fought with full bir rus and would even fight Ustaad Charnjit Singh or any of the bigger Singhs fearlessly. At class, Rena Kaur would always run around with a big smile on her face, helping all the younger kids or newcomers, while also trying to learn herself. She would practice warrior songs about Sikhi and the kavitas for gatka shows. She would joke around with her teammates but was completely serious about martial arts and the power of self-discipline.


There is one incident that shows Rena Kaur’s spirit of unwavering courage and confidence that came out as she became more dedicated to the gatka akhara. Rena Kaur was walking home from Gatka class (her house was 5 to 10 minutes walking distance from the place where we had Gatka classes) and it was late evening, practically nighttime. The sky and surroundings were really dark, and she was walking alone, but I remember her saying she didn’t feel afraid. As she told me afterwards, from the distance she had seen a man walking towards her, but couldn’t see his face. He walked closer, and she continued to walk, with her head held high, and she put her hand on her kirpaan. As he was coming closer to her, she knew he had bad intentions. He was some strange guy and she got really bad vibes from him. She had a feeling he was going to try do something to her.


Only a Guru’s Khalsa could do what she did in this situation…


The man came near her and as he was about to come up and grab her, she drew out her kirpaan, grabbed the man by his neck, put him in a head lock, made him fall to the ground, and had one arm around his neck, while her other hand held the kirpaan up to his head. I can imagine the amazing levels of bir-rus that must have been pouring out of her, and she yelled at him, saying that if he touched Guru Gobind Singh Jee’s daughter, he would get hurt. When looking at that situation, we need to realize that Rena Kaur’s height was only 5’3″, and this man was much taller by comparison. This is the power that Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s daughters have. The man got so scared he started panting and he said, “Whoa whoa! Okay take it easy,” and he ran away from her.


There were so many situations like this where Rena Kaur proved herself to be a real Khalsa. Before doing Gatka at performances, her and Navneet Kaur used to sing this kavita that Ustaad Charanjit Singh wrote for them. I remember the LOVE and PRIDE in Rena Kaur’s voice when she would recite the kavita, “dheea asee Dasmesh diya, Bhago diyaa bhaina!” (meaning “We are the daughters of Dasmesh (Guru Gobind Singh Ji), and the sisters of Mai Bhago.”) She loved the kavita so much that she would recite it to me over the phone.


Whenever I repeat that one line from the kavita to myself, I start thinking of how Rena Kaur always encouraged all the sangat around her to have pride and be strong, knowing that they belonged to the Amar Khalsa Panth, and knowing that they had to fear nobody.


Life & Death


At the funeral in May of 2005, there was an older woman who approached me and said, “it’s amazing, you know… Rena Kaur accomplished more in her short 17 years of life, than I could ever accomplish if I lived forever.” I realized, this may be true for many of us. Everywhere Rena Kaur went, she spread chardi kalaa (high spirits). The more she was introduced to different Panthic groups, the more she spread her light of love to this world. Rena Kaur slowly became more and more strict on her path with Sikhi, and she followed rehat with full pride, vigour, respect, courage, and humility.


Through growing up in saadh sangat and attending countless smagams throughout her life, she learned a lot about the importance of living in the moment, giving love to all of humankind, and putting Guru Sahib jee above everything. A concept she would always reiterate to me was that we only live for one breath; “ek dhum.” The breath you just breathed, she would say, is gone. You’re inhaling right now, but the NEXT breath is not promised, therefore you’re only truly living for one breath, as a guest in this temporary world. Rena Kaur truly lived her life in this way, knowing that nothing but death is certain, and that death is the constant companion of a Khalsa (“mardee ang ban ke jiondee sang ban ke”).


Rena Kaur would speak about leaving this world as if it was natural to her, and she had no fear about it. She actually spoke about her willingness to live in Guru Sahib jee’s hukam and the importance of accepting of the Will of God and keeping strong and happy throughout life’s difficulties, which she not only preached, but practiced as well. I wont forget how she once told me, with a huge smile on her face, “sometimes I feel like I won’t be staying in this world too long… but at my funeral, I want there to be keertan going on, I want everyone to be in total chardee kala!! Make sure everyone’s smiling, okay?”
The real lessons that Rena Kaur instilled in us were how to live in the spirit of humility, in high spirits, and with a positive outlook on life. She taught us to balance our lives by seeing our priorities on the weigh-scale of Gurmat, rather than worldly thoughts. She taught us to recognize the importance of innocent love or bhola bhaao, rather than using our worldly cleverness. Most of all, I think she lived up to her name and taught us its value as well. She was a Kaur, a child of the Guru, and she became the Rena (dust) of the sangat’s feet, and left us with lessons on how to do the same. I’m so happy that she’s gone back home, where Guru Jee is waiting for the rest of us, IF we follow and learn from the dreams and the legacies that Bibi Rena Kaur Ji, Bhai Charnjit Singh Ji, and Bhai Parminder Singh Ji left behind.


gurasikhaa kae muh oujalae karae har piaaraa


gur kaa jaikaar sa(n)saar sabhath karaaeae ||




The Beloved Lord makes the faces of His GurSikhs radiant;
He makes the whole world applaud and acclaim the Guru.


( 308, Guru Granth Sahib Ji )


Dhan Guru Nanak. Dhan Guru Nanak. Dhan Guru Nanak. Dhan Guru Nanak. Dhan Guru Nanak.


1 comment:

  1. Bibi Rena Kaurm, What an Inspiration with such a pure soul!

    ReplyDelete