GURU TEYREY JOGA Saakhi (True Account): Bhai Joga Singh (Rajinder Singh ‘Arshi’) On a homage trip to the Darbar of Guru Gobind Singh, Joga Singh, visiting with his parents, caught the eye of Guru Ji while serving in the langar (communal kitchen) compound. Guru Ji observed Joga Singh on several occasions and was impressed with the dedication with which Joga Singh, at a young tender age, served 1jal, daal and phulka during the langar and afterwards attended to the washing of utensils and general cleaning up. One day Guru Ji approached Joga Singh and asked him his name to which the latter replied “Ji Joga” (Joga literally translated means ‘able’ ‘of service’ or ‘dedicated to’).Guru Ji smiled and, in his unique sense of dramatic humour, asked ‘bai Kehde Joga' (to whom are you dedicated or to whom have you pledged loyalty?). To this he promptly replied ‘Ji Guru Joga’ (meaning dedicated to the service of the Guru). Guru Ji’s reply was equally spontaneous “lai phir, jay toon Guru joga tan ajj ton Guru bhee teyrey joga" (if you have dedicated yourself to me, then I too dedicate myself to you). Guru Ji was so touched by the innocence and resolve in which Joga replied that he embraced him and requested his parents to pledge Joga Singh to the service of the Guru Ghar. 2“Kei tusin Jogay noon sade paas nahin shad sakdey”? asked Guru Ji. The parents gladly agreed. Thus began one of the most unique relationship of Guru and his young disciple which has become an inspiration for many a young aspiring Gursikh. Joga Singh grew up in the Guru’s service and endeared himself further to the Guru and his prominent Sikhs. In time he came to be regarded as one of the most loyal and staunch followers of the House of Nanak. When he became of marriageable age Joga Singh’s parents arranged for a suitable life partner for him and wrote to the Guru seeking his permission to send Joga Singh back home for Anand Karaj (the marriage Ceremony of Bliss). A letter, to this effect, was also sent to Joga Singh who approached the Guru for his permission and blessings for the marriage. Guru Ji smiled and said “Joga Singh over the years we have become very attached to you. Your contribution to the Guru Ghar is exemplary and we are very fond of you. It is not easy for us to part with you but you may go on one condition”. “Maharaj what condition? Please just give your command” replied Joga Singh. “Joga Singh you are not only very near and dear to me but you also have many of the Guru ghar’s responsibilities on your shoulders. Therefore, if and when you receive a message from me you must return immediately without wasting a second. You must drop whatever you are doing and head straight for Anandpur Sahib”. “Satbachan Ji Maharaj” replied Joga Singh. In due course all the preliminaries having being concluded the big day arrived for Joga Singh. The story goes that when Joga Singh was about to start the fourth and final 3laav (circumambulation) a Singh sahib from the congregation got up announcing the Guru’s greetings and informing Joga Singh that Guru Ji has recalled him to his service. On hearing Joga Singh got up immediately without concluding the four laavs despite the pleas of his and the bride’s parents. He immediately left for Anandpur Sahib, Guru’s abode. The laavs had to be completed by using his palla (ceremonial scarf, being symbolic of the spiritual bondage of two souls) and photograph as per the Sikh scriptures. He set out on his long journey lost in thoughts and self-adulation. Ego soon took the better of him. He mused “what a great and dedicated Sikh I am. I am sure no other Sikh would have walked away from his marriage ceremony, so near completion. No one could have shown such sacrifice and loyalty to the Guru”. An English saying goes ‘pride comes before the fall’. Joga Singh soon reached the town of Hoshiarpur. It was late afternoon when his route took him through the busy town centre. The sound of sweet notes of lilting music fell upon his ears. A melodious female voice sent a sweet sensation through Joga Singh and he stopped under the window from which the voice came. He enquired from a passer by and learnt this was a lady of the night practicing for her late evening session of music and entertainment (mehfil). Joga Singh was so captivated by the music and the sensual voice that he plucked up enough courage to climb up the stairs for a live rendering of the song. He adjusted the style of his turban and altered mode of his clothing to avoid being recognized as a Sikh. On reaching the doorstep of the damsel, he was confronted by a doorman. Joga Singh expressed his wish. The guard said it was too early and that the mehfil (musical sitting) would not start until late evening. Joga Singh pleaded “look I have long journey ahead of me, all I want is to meet the lady and listen to the song after which I will be on my way”. The doorman remained steadfast. Joga Singh left rather disheartened and disappointed but he had made up his mind to return later. He walked around the town, aimlessly, to kill time. Well after the sunset he returned to the dancer cum singer’s place, again to be met by the same doorman. But again the doorman refused entry, saying the lady was entertaining a special guest and his instructions were to let in no one. Displeasure showed on Joga Singh’s face but he had to leave. However, Joga Singh had resolved, he would not leave Hoshiarpur without attending the lady’s court. He waited, killing his time somehow and returned a few hours later. This time he was met by a different doorman, dressed up in a traditional doorman’s clothes but looking rather distinguished and even more austere than the previous doorman. In different clothes he might even be a Sikh. He was again refused entry and told the lady was entertaining a special guest. Joga Singh left but still did not realise that as Guru’s Sikh he ought not to even entertain the thought of listening to such music let alone the desire of attending her court. The impact of kaam is suchthat even the ultra pious and devoted yogis could not escape its infliction and Joga Singh was no exception. The continual refusal only fired Joga Singh’s desire and strengthened his resolve. He would not go without attending the lady’s court, he resolved. He wanted to soak up the sweet melodies of the night which his heart so pined for. Joga had forgotten who he was; forgotten his mission. His faith had wavered. He was besotted by the lady of the night. It was well after midnight when he returned and was met by the same distinguished looking doorman. This time he was rather angered by Joga’s presence and reminded him who he was. How could a Sikh of Guru Gobind Singh visit a place of ill-repute? He asked. He said “you should be ashamed of yourself. Despite your clumsy adjustment of clothing I can make out you are devoted Sikh of Guru Gobind Singh. I have been trying to place you since your last visit and I think I might even have seen you at Guru Ji’s Darbar. Your face looks familiar. This is the time when Guru’s Sikhs are preparing to recite their early morning prayers. You have lost your way my son. You better get going or I’ll teach a lesson you will never forget”. This jolted Joga Singh’s soul. He suddenly woke up and realised how he had stumbled form – amend- the righteous path; how his ego had taken the better of him and that he was still far from conquering the five thieves. He had let himself down. He had let his Guru down. Without Guru’s Grace his soul would burn with worldly desires. Joga Singh wasted no further time and made his way to Anandpur Sahib and once again his soul pined for the touch of the lotus feet of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Joga Singh travelled through the night (or what was left of it). When he reached Anandpur Sahib Guru Ji was holding his daily darbar. His disciples sat at his lotus feet intently listening to Guru’s Bani, immersed in a spiritual trance. Joga Singh stood outside, hesitant, debating what might be the right time to enter and beg Guru’s forgiveness. He was apprehensive that the Guru, the master of three worlds, all knowing (janijaan), probably knew of his previous night’s exploits. Joga Singh was twitching nervously and sweating profusely. He finally caught the Guru’s eye. “Joga Singh why are you standing outside, we are longing to meet you, come in. You are one of my prominent Sikhs; you should not dither to seek my audience” beckoned Guru Sahib. Head down, palms joined Joga entered and threw himself at the lotus feet of the Guru. The conversation which ensued went along the following lines: Guru Ji: Joga Singh it appears you have been going through some emotional turmoil. Your haggard looks, the strain in your eyes cannot be entirely through traveling. Something is bothering you. Joga S: True Satguru, I have been traveling all night and am also a bit disturbed but Maharaj it appears you too did not sleep very well last night. Guru Ji: You are right Joga Singh I had to travel all night to rescue a beloved Sikh of mine. Joga Singh’s heart sank. ”Is the Guru by any chance referring to me?” He asked himself. “I think Guru Ji knows”. He said to himself. Joga S: Maharaj, which Sikh did you rescue? Guru Ji: The one who had lost his way and was circling a kotha (a house of ill repute). One whose heart was craving forsensual music and base desires; one who was heading for a pitfall leading to the world of sin and disgrace. I had to transform myself into a shield and stand between his spirituality and the abyss of sin. This settled it for Joga Singh. So it was Guru Ji himself who stood guard outside the lady’s house, he reminded himself. What have I done? He admonished himself. What have I put my Guru through? He started crying uncontrollably with his head on Guru’s lotus feet. Joga S: O Satguru (True Guru) what kind of a Sikh am I? I have disgraced you, my faith. My ego got the better of me. Hey Sache Patshah (True Emperor) have mercy upon my soul, keep my mind focused on your lotus feet. Bless me that I never again stray from the True Path again. The merciful Guru raised Joga Singh from the floor and embraced him. Guru Ji: Joga Singh you are one of my most dedicated Sikhs and you are still close to my heart. How could I let you fall into the abyss of sin and disgrace? You pledged your loyalty to me and it was my duty to safeguard your spiritual interests. Conclusion Joga Singh's Sakhi is a classic example of how ego can lead a person astray and drive him or her towards the abyss of base desires such as lust and greed. This account may vary, in minor detail, from other accounts, however, it is the moral of this true account which is paramount not every little detail. It demonstrates that ego is perhaps the hardest of the five evils to conquer. Ego gives birth to many other desires such as power and sensual pursuits. Joga Singh’s ego derailed him from his spiritual path. His negative emotions, which outwardly appeared to be under control, were still a latent force within him. His ego simply fired up these emotions. He had not quite conquered kaam, a desire which had loomed way above his station of spirituality. The real moral of the Joga Singh’s account is that if a Sikh devotes himself to the service of the Guru and his Sadh Sangat without reservation but at the same time with total humility and dedication Guru Nanak will personally watch over him just as the Tenth Nanak looked over Joga Singh. 1jal, daal and phulka – water, pulse soup and chapatti. 2 “Kei tusin Jogay noon sade paas nahin shad sakdey” meaning “ Could you not lat Joga Singh stay with us?”. 3laav – nuptial circumambulation. Author’s note: Any inaccuracy in narrating this account is deeply regretted.