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Nothing Like Gurmat

When I hear this question 'How did you come into Sikhi?'I find it cannot so casually be answered. In retrospect, I know it was predestined in this life. Gurusahib put me on this path despite great obstacles I had to face. I did not know the Punjabee language or culture in the least and my family cherished conservative Catholic values. What were my chances of receiving Amrit?

My first darshan of a Singh occured when I was seven years old. He was climbing on a bus. I was transfixed by his radiant appearance even at a young age and prayed to God that I marry a handsome prince such as he. I had always been spiritually restless. I found no solace in the Bible and going to church every Sunday was just a ritual.

I saw God in the trees as the sunlight filtered through the leaves and felt His breath in the breeze on the riverbank. Oh how I spiritually thirsted to know Him better. I studied Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and VERY briefly Sikhism. As I brooded over religious texts a thought out of somewhere came in my mind."The day you are born you are that much closer to death". My melancholy and longing often overwhelmed me and I wept often.

I was spared bad sangat from the beginning.I was not popular and was a quiet studious student with above average grades...what you would call a nerd now. I missed the LSD drug hippie culture that was in full swing in the 70's. I never developed bad habits and spent my evenings in the library.While my classmates were getting drunk, stoned and pregnant I got beaten up by a boy simply for not being 'in' enough with this crowd. Those were painful times.

I had strange dreams of being chased on horseback through dark forests with only the moon as my guide the ennemy gaining on me. I would wake up in a sweat. I did not till much later have revealed to me what this meant. Singhs know exactly what I am talking about.

The years passed. I was still spiritually unsettled. I read voraciously usually about history and religion. I read the Bhagwad Gita and some of Kabir's works. My husband was a sincere devotee of Shivjee and Durga and had had darshan of both. He was more into bhagtee and less into the complicated rituals of Hinduism. He couldn't stand the trickery of Brahmins. He could see through them.He was very honest and honorable.

We went to India and went to a Radhasoami Dehra because his former professor who did seva there invited us there. I could not understand why people would prostate themselves as their 'Guru' drove by in a Mercedes Benz. God was the highest in my mind. We attended a few of his lectures and he quoted many lines from Guru Granth Sahib and I read some of the poignant writings of Meera. These stirred the longing within me to a fever pitch. We were granted an audience with the 'Guru'.His appearance was that of a Sikh, so beautiful. In pain, streaming tears, I begged Him to show me how I could walk the path to God. Instead he gave me a series of tasks to accomplish then we would need to see him again in a few months and he might grant me the Mantr. My world crashed. His words and composure told us he was not the real Guru. We left and never looked back.

Upon returning to L.A. my husband was looking for a job. On the way to a job interview, on Vermont Ave, he saw a Nishan Sahib. We started going there. The sangat was warm and my heart lept as I had darshan of several of those beautiful Singhs. I could not understand much but loved the keertan and the Karah Prassad.

We were in the sangat when a very old saint Baba Gyan Singh Johalwale and several Singhs came with him. He was very quiet. We were invited to a sangat member's house where he and his entourage were staying. My husband was curious to speak to him. I was shy and stayed back. Babajee granted him an audience. After hearing my husband speak a few minutes, he locked eyes with him for quite a while and told him point blank: "Jagdish you will have amrit tomorrow. Your name will be Jagdish Singh". My husband was stunned and spooked by what this old gentlemen was saying. He had no idea what that was at all. His concept of amrit was receiving 'Ganga Jal'. He pointed to me 'She will have to go with you'. My husband was translating this to me and for some unknown reason I smiled so broadly (the soul knows what the mind does not). Babajee immediately stifled an objection that I was unsuitable as I was a Westerner by turning and saying "She is his wife." We obeyed, quite unprepared for what was to come.

My husband had learned the Punjabi alphabet in grade school but never used it since. His language was Hindi. We presented ourselves for amrit. No one had told my husband not to shave and he did so just so he would be neat for taking amrit. He is probably the most clean-shaven candidate in history. I left all jewelry at the door. We entered and in our presence the amrit was prepared reading the Panj Banee. As I was receiving the amrit I saw a flash of light and something changed. Some inexplicable power had surged in my body. I was so charged and so filled with joy.Since I had such a hard time reciting Fateh after each chula, I received a lot of Amrit. So did my husband. We were given instructions which my husband translated. We were told to recite the gurmantr 'Waheguru' as much as possible and learn to recite Nitnem. Eating meat was out of the question. We were told the rehet was identical for both man and woman so when they told my husband to wear dastar and that for me it was not necessary I felt this letdown. I felt this was not quite right. But then I complied without question.

Two years later, we met Babajee's nephew. He was a simple nice Singh. He told us that Babajee had told him our taking the Amrit was not a random event. Babajee knew Jagdish for the past three lives. Jagdish had done a lot of seva of saints and devotees in his past lives and that he had heard a call from Gurusahib to come here with Singhs to make sure these two souls received Amrit.These 2 would become very staunch Singhs. Then having delivered his message, he left. We were at a loss for words.

From the moment we were blessed with the Amrit, a breathtaking whirlwind of changes occured. A Singh named Bhai Manmohan Singh jee took us under his wing. He fed us Gurmat and Gurbanee. He did keertan with the depth of his soul. His son gave me a tape of blissfull keertan that sent me somewhere.

I did not understand Gurbanee by mind but it pierced me like an arrow when I walked in one day and could not stop crying having heard the Hukam read that day 'Mere man prem lago har teer...'. I lost it when I read the translation later and in the library. I realized that Gurbanee was alive and had the power to permeate even a dense mind such as mine with its inherent spiritual scent. Gurbanee I experienced first hand was truly the Guru. I stayed locked in the library for a very long time that day.

So much was happening so fast. One day we went to Yuba City with the sangat. When I walked in, a Bibi with an enormous dastar approached me and asked we 'Where is your dastar?'. I was shy and did not know what dastar meant.....'Your turban?'. I was filled with joy as this Bibi untied one of her layers of dastar and wrapped it on my head. It felt as if my Guru was wrapping it with His own hands by His own command. I was to be tested severely from all directions for keeping it. I dressed simply. Jewelry, fancy clothing and fashion had lost their taste and meaning. My husband was wondering what was happening to his wife. I left walking one night walking towards the Gurdwara crying after being in a hot arguement about dastar and started repeating by voice 'Waheguru' each step I took. Soon something wonderful happened and Waheguru started coming by breath and I don't remember much of the walk to the Gurdwara. When I got there I sat there just doing simran. Somehow though I instinctively knew this gift would be short-lived if I did not seek surrender and the blessings of the Panj Peeare in front of Gurusahibjee.

In those early days it was very confusing for us. One side said one thing the other said something else. We were stuck in a tug of war. We were doing something very wrong. Later after talking more, we begged Waheguru for forgiveness and vowed to go in front of Panj Peeyare.

My husband was very irritated at some point and decided to take the questions of contention to the Guru himself. We would settle certain points of contention once and for all. I was begging Gurusahib to show us the Truth with clasped hands and tears rolling down my face. I was at first afraid then decided to submit to the Guru's decision come what may. My husband did Ardaas to Gurusahib and placed folded pieces of paper in a bowl of water. Those that would still remain afloat the next day would be the Hukam. He asked Gurusahib for his help.

The next morning in Amritvela time my husband was awakened. He had had a vision of Sach Khand. There was an incredible sound of keertan filling the Universe and he heard the voice of a high-pitched voiced keertanee with small glasses and brownish complextion but very bright and red. All the Khalsa were wearing dastaar and bana (men and women) and sitting on a dais was Guru Nanak Devjee with a flowing white beard and even more glowing face. My husband fell weeping to the feet of the Guru and he said: "You don't need to cry anymore for you have come to your house." Having seen this vision he did Prakash of Gurujee and saw a globe of light eminating from there. A voice spoke to my husband and cleared all his doubts. He was overwhelmed and as I entered the room he fell to my feet and cried: "I am so sorry." I had him stand up and breathed a sigh of relief. This trial was over and I humbly thanked Gurujee for showing us the truth. This would galvanize our faith from that way forward. No one would tell us otherwise.

Shortly afterwards we did appear in front of Panj Peeyarey and detailed our transgressions. We were terrified as so many who interviewed to serve as one of the Panj came out weeping and wailing. About 65 people were rejected for one reason or another. Two elderly ladies found suitable were in the Panj peeare and one was Peredhaar. Our knees shook as we approached Gurusahib for what we had done. The atmosphere was electric. The walls were pulsating with Naam. And like a current it just kept going. This was very different and much more powerful then the first time. It was hard to speak for a few days.

One Singh who did not know my husband grabbed him in his arms and started crying as if meeting a loved one after many years. "We were separated at the Sarsa river. So much was lost as we crossed. The current was too strong. I tried to hang on to you but you were swept away by the current." This old Gursikh, normally a sober naam abhyassi type, wept like a child and both were locked in an embrace of Simran for a very long time. My husband has not been able to enter running water his whole life.

Everything I have written here is the Truth. The wonders never cease coming from the Guru. The Guru lends a hand to His bhagat along this spiritualm path. One receives amrit after living many lives. Khande ki Pahul Amrit has been depreciated by some. Pride of intellect and cleverness impede progress. One who goes with a clean heart and humility in front of the Guru to receives this wonderful gift is sure to grow and accomplish the spiritual tasks set forth by the Guru. Anyone out there who has love for the Guru will leave his or her 'mann' at the door and give it all to the Guru.