Tuesday, February 28, 2006

some photographs of Hazur Sahib

...some photographs of hazur sahib, at least to my eye some compositions have gone off a bit...no fault of mine though, the guy who scanned the images did not place them in the scanner properly so some cropping had to be done in the photo editor, which have made the compositions a bit off

gurdwara takhat sachkhand sri hazur sahib

gurdwara banda ghat sahib ji

another view...

and another...

gurdwara maal tekri

well, this is me as i looked then...

with my nieces at sachkhand...

Monday, February 27, 2006

my next visit to hazur sahib was in march 2003, during hola mohalla, i had gone as sewadar with a sewak jatha. our job was to prepare langar at gurdwara langar sahib. i thoroughly enjoyed myself at that time. at gurdwara langar sahib, langar is on 24 hrs and sangat congregates in thousands during hola mohalla. so cooking langar was a full time thing. we were divided into two groups, each for day and night sewa. i was in the day duty and it was so much fun. the sewadars would come in at about 4.30am to wake us up and i would have bath, then go to the langar hall to have tea and then get to work in the kitchen...the immensity and the scale at which langar is made during festivals has to be seen to be believed. it was hard work, but fun. every evening i would go to the sachkhand gurdwara for some time and send some time sitting on the steps leading to to godavri river. after a few days of returning home, i was blessed again with a vision on guru gobind singhji in a dream, which i still remember vividly...and some time later i had a vision of guru nanak devji...during that time i was very worried about my work. one afternoon i lay down in our living room, pleading in my mind to babaji for help, i drifted off to semi sleep, and i had a vision of guru nanak devji, holding me by my right wrist and walking, dragging me behind him, i was unconscious and not even on my feet and there was total darkness all around, except the radiance that was being emitted by guruji. i woke up so so happy, and a bit ashamed, for in that vision i was not even on my feet...

these experiences and visions have been of immense value, whenever i am down, unhappy, negetive etc i draw strength from them. one other thing i woulkd like to say here is that though i have seen many pictorial depictions of guru nanak devji, the only one i have come across which corresponds with my vision is the one by artist sobha singh.

in the next post i will try and put up some photographs.

Friday, February 24, 2006


started blogging yesterday and already i am facing some problems, like i made some spelling mistakes in myy profile and i have tried my best to make changes but to no avail, also i need to know how i can add my blog to the list of sikh bloggers, please help me out.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

my story...how my journey towards sikhi started

So there....after about five months of getting myself a blogger account and thinking of words and ways to start it with, I have to begin with the same two words with which i had started my diary, a long time ago, when an urge had arisen within to write about thoughts, feeling and stuff my universe consisted of......so there.....not very creative i know, but then....

what is this blog going to be all about?? i honestly don't know, but at the moment, it is a platform, a place from where i want to tell my story, about my experiences with sikhi, with sukhmani sahib.......my story which started with my first visit to Hazur Sahib. why do i want to tell my story? i don't know how best to answer this one, but apart from the reason that i want to tell it, i feel it is worth telling. will it be worth reading? i don't know, but i hope so.

and now that the "what" and "why" are out of the way, i'll get on with it. before i actually begin, i will just give a very brief background about myself. i was born in bombay (now called mumbai, i prefer bombay) in a middle class sikh family, my mom was a school teacher and my father was employed with a private limited company (both are now retired). i have lived all my life in a place called powai, and for this i consider myself fortunate, for our home is right opposite the i.i.t campus, which is one of the very few of the fast diminishing green zones of the city. yes, i consider myself very fortunate, its bliss having a forest, hills and two large lakes within walking distance of your home, where you can be alone. although i was born into a sikh family i never identified with myself as a sikh or with sikhi in any way. one reason might be that my parents were both working fulltime and though they were regular with their 'paath' and visits to the local gurdwara, they never really forced me or my two elder sisters to do the same. so there was never really any connection with sikhi, and by the time i entered college i wanted to get rid of my hair and i did, after two years of trying to obtain permission from my mom for it. i have used the word trying because i never really succeeded and my mom though she gave in to my demands was never really happy about it and i in my teenage brashness could just not understand why there was such a big fuss over such a small thing. anyway, i was happy. right from the first year of my college i almost everyday used to go to the i.i.t library, which is huge and very well stocked with thousands and thousands of books, mostly technical and engineering ones but it also had a well stocked section on philosophy....and it was there that my 'i don't know what to call it' began....the first book i had chanced upon was called 'the first and the last freedom' by j.krishnamurty, it took me ages to finish it but almost instantly it opened up a dimension i was completley unaware of. the second book i read was a small one but i still cherish it, 'the prophet' by kahlil gibran and i was like mad with joy after reading that......and then followed so many, western philosophers like descartes, jung, freud, so many books on zen....i was a voracious reader. and i prided myself that at an age when boys were busy chasing girls and stuff, i was into something so much higher and loftier, i don't know how much knowledge i gained but ego definitely got bloated. sikhi i started studying only after my visit to hazur sahib in 2001 and now i will get on with it, my story i mean.

it was november 2001, and my life was plain miserable, though there was no reason on the surface for it. i was working as assistant to one of india's leading photographer, i was acquiring all the skillsets to make it in the higher echelons of the advertising and fashion industry, i was also working on a documentary film as assistant writer and director......in short future looked good. but i was depressed, very depressed, at both personal and proffessional levels, at a personal level my life seemed to be goiung nowhere, i was like forever at loggerheads with my family, proffessionally i was having a hard time coping with the cut throatedness of the fashion and advertising industry, all the beauty and glamor that one sees is only on the surface, and when one gets behind the scenes it doesn't take very long for all the glitter and dazzle to wear off.
my brother in law, who had been planning a trip to hazur sahib for quite some time had managed to get a few days leave from his work decided to go and for some reason was very insistant that i go along with them, with them i mean him, my sister and my twin neices. my natural reaction was to resist and i did, i had no idea what hazur sahib was and i was least interested in knowing. but i gave in after a few arguements thinking that all i had to do was sit in a car, go to this place and come back, only bad thing?? being that i might not be able to smoke for a few days. we started early in the morning and reached nanded at about 7.30pm. after depositing our luggage in our rooms at ranjit singh sarai, we went to gurdwara takhat sachkhand sri hazur sahib......memory of my initial reaction is still fresh within me, i actually stopped in my tracks, and stared, and stared...i really don't have appropriate words to describe it so i won't even try, in an instant i was humbled and as we climbed up the steps to the gurdwara i bowed down and touched my forehead on the first or the lowest step, with the thought that i am lowest of the low...no idea where this thought came from, all of this had happened in what seemed like seconds. after langar, as we were walking back to the sarai, i was busy trying to find some reason for what i had experienced, beautiful architecture i had seen before, beautiful places i had been to before....what was it? what had happened? i never found out. at this point i want to talk about something very important. importance of this will reveal itself as my story proceeds. as we were entering the gate of the sarai, i was overpowered by a very strong sweet fragrance, after a bit of sniffing and some deep breaths i asked my jijaji what it was, 'raatrani' or 'queen of the night' i was told. i loved its fragrance so much that every night for the remainder of our stay i would walk near about that tree for quite some time, deeply inhaling its fragrance. we stayed there for three days and visited the other gurdwaras in nanded. on the final day of our stay, which also happened to be diwali, we went to the sachkhand gurdwara in the evening, it was jijaji's wish that we all sit there and do a paath of sukhmani sahib. i couldn't read punjabi so i got myself a hindi gutka and it took me almost an hour and a half to complete it. when we came out we found that there was some kirtan about to happen right there, and again something happened for which i was totally unprepared. i don't remember any of the shabads that raagi bhais sang, but for almost three hours i sat entranced, experiencing a joy, a bliss that i had never felt before. i was all charged up, and i remember thinking that i had never felt this way even at the best rock concerts i had been to. for some reason i wanted to cry, and this was the difficult bit, trying to hold back the tears. it really would have looked very silly to my jijaji and my sister, like here was this jerk who had never been to a gurdwara, knew nothing of devotion and going wonky at the first kirtan he was hearing. anyway, we returned home the next day, and my life, about which i have said was quite miserable, got worse. i was losing interest in my work, and used to worry myself sick over what i would do if i lost all motivation to continue in my field of work. and there were other strange things happening also, like i found that i could not smoke or drink anymore, though i tried my best to sustain these habits. every drag of a cigarette would make me feel like my chest was on fire, every drink made me nauseous....and eventually i concluded that something had gone wonky with my heart, as i thought i had most of the symptoms. so off i went to see a cardiologist, got all kind of tests done and found out that there was nothing wrong with me, apart from slight high blood pressure which was the result of the depression i was in. and here i also must add that i was lucky to have the doctor that i did, a gentle gursikh lady. she handled me really well, on some occasions she would actually start laughing as i described my symptoms. anyway, i was still not convinced about my health and was not at all happy about being under medication, which consisted of one pill for high b.p and a certain dosage of alprazolams. and i just could not understand why i could not smoke or drink, things i used to enjoy so much. i actually felt sick every time i tried to smoke. by february 2002 i was sick of getting sick and i quit smoking and never ever felt the urge or need for it. at about the same time i connected with what i call my lifeline. one day i went to my mom's room just as she was completing a paath of sukhmani sahib, we got talking and from a small booklet she read out the importance benefits of sukhmani, and one which caught me the most was that by reciting, reading the sukhmnai, one gets freed from mental and physical ailments, for some reason i accepted this and resolved to do one paath of sukhmani sahib everyday. it used to take me forever to complete it and it got tedious at times but i stuck to the routine, though with my set of doubts....does it work?.......how does it work?......will it really bring any benefits? and most of all, how will i know if it is working? i wanted proof, something, anything that would remove my doubts and so my one way conversation with god (i call him babaji) began. i wanted proof, and i would beg, plead, implore demand proof of his existence. its human natue i guess, when one does something one wants to see the results...so i was doing the paath of sukhmani and i needed to see results, needed to see something happening. well, nothing happened, for quite some time, but my life sort of revolved around sukhmani......and then it happened. it was sometime april end or first week may 2002, i was in the kitchen in the evening when all of a sudden i was overcome by a strong fragrance....yes it was the same fragrance i had fallen in love with at nanded, the fragrance of 'raatrani'. puzzled, i came out of the kitchen to try and locate its source, and when i came out onto our small balcony where we have many potted plants, i saw that a slender stem with many offshoots had sprouted from the top of a plant and all the offshoots were filled with small white flowers which were emitting that fragrance. i was stunned and there was instant acceptence in my heart that babaji had provided the proof i had been seeking. the flowers lasted for about four days and every evening i would climb up the railing of our balcony just to inhale their fragrance as deeply as i could. and then it ended, the flowers withered and the stem became dry and brown, and i was sad when it happened, but i was so so happy. and some three days later i again felt this fragrance, i rushed to our balcony and i was delighted to see the flowers once again, but this time round they had sprouted out of a plant of a completely different variety. i stood there transfixed, looking in turns at the new flowers and at the dried out stem in the other vase. these flowers also lasted for about four days, and i was well and truly humbled, if there was still any lingering doubt in my mind that too was gone. i needed no further proof, babaji is there, very much there, everywhere and at all times...i was also ashamed at my behaviour...for asking for proof.
now i bring my story some months forward, though my life was improving at a decent pace, i still needed to have my medication and i needed an alprazolam to get myself to sleep at night. by this time i had become a regular visitor at our gurdwara and i especially enjoyed going there in the evenings, doing a paath of sukhmani sahib and then staying for rehras. every year, at our gurdwara there takes place a 'ladiwaar' or serial akhand paaths in memory of martyrdom of younger sahibzadas of guru gobind singhji. it was a nice time for me, i used to spend almost all my free time at the gurdwara, one akhand paath would end and another would begin. one day i was asked if i would stay the night for doing sewa, which just meant making tea for the paathi singhs and waking them up when it was time for them to sit for the paath. i said yes and came home for dinner. it was around 8.00pm, i decided to lie down for a while before going to the gurdwara, i closed my eyes and all of a suddenn i saw guru gobind singhji, the image was a bit wavy, and i actually asked what he was doing there. sometime later i went to the gurdwara and there i met a couple of guys who had also come for the sewa. they suggested that i go to sleep and they would take care of things. i said cool and was about to reach in my pocket for my alprazolam when something made me stop, i lay down, drifting in and out of sleep....and never did have to take it again. about three days later i was walking towards the gurdwara in the eveing when i remembered that i had not had my blood pressure pill that day, and along with this came the thought that what need do i have for medicine, the place where i am going will take care of me....and that was it, i never did have to take my medicine again ever. i visited my doctor again a couple of months later and even she was surprised that i was not in need of any medication...your grace again babaji...who else can remove afflictions in an instant.

so this is my story....actually just the first part of it...how it all began...i will forver be grateful to my brother in law for taking me to hazur sahib....and babaji, what can i say about you?....even a lowly underserving creature like me you touched with your grace......how long did it take, not even six months, in november2001 i visited hazur sahib for the first time, in feb2002 i was free from my vices and started doing the sukhmani sahib, and by the month of may you had removed all my doubts and made me your devotee for life.

much has happened in life since then, i won't say that life now is all hunky dory...i have my share of trials and tribulations, worries and insecurities, but its all right, i have with me sukhmani sahib, my lifeline, i am in good hands.
so this is it for now, i will post more of my experiences and things later, to anyone who has spent time reading this, thank you, all kinds of comments are welcome.