Satwant Kaur : An 18th Century Legend (Chapter 7)
Source: Bhai Veer Singh Ji, translated by Bimal Kaur
Satwant Kaur began to lead a life of confinement. Fatima took every opportunity to visit her and went out of her way to keep Satwant happy and comfortable. By a strange twist of fate the roles of mistress and maid were reversed.
Fatima was greatly puzzled to see how Satwant could remain in solitude for so many hours without feeling lonely, because she herself found it almost impossible to be by herself for even a short time. The next time she went to Satwant's room, she asked her, "Don't you get tired of being alone?"
Satwant Kaur: Bibi, I am never alone.
Fatima: (taken aback) But, I've never seen anyone else here.
Satwant Kaur: You are right, but the One who is with me cannot be seen with physical eyes.
Fatima: (scared and trembling) Do you mean a ghost?
Satwant Kaur: (smiling) No, my dear Bibi, not a ghost. My Guru lives with me.
Fatima: How is that possible?
Satwant Kaur: Bibi, I recite Guru's Bani and my father used to tell me that where Gurbani is recited with concentration and love, the Guru is present there. Gurbani thus becomes the visible presence of the Guru.
Fatima: How can Gurbani become the Guru?
Satwant Kaur: I don't know how, but we believe that Bani is Guru, and I too have felt that when I am reciting Gurbani, my spirit becomes lighter; I fell happier and all doubts and pains fade away. I no longer feel alone and thus realize the Guru's living presence everywhere, and that is why in our daily prayer we say: Sabh Thaain Hoye Sahaaye (in Ardas). (O Master, be Ye ever with us.) Our Guru is everywhere and ever ready to come to our help. I shall always be grateful to my father for taking pains to teach me Gurbani when I was still a young child. Without this gift I would have never been able to survive the dangers I have been through.
Fatima: When I was a child, a number of holy men used to come to our house because my father enjoyed meeting them. I used to hear them talk, but I couldn't understand what they said and never asked my father. Did you ask your father to tell you about the Guru and teach you Gurbani?
Satwant Kaur: Bibi, we believe that it is the sacred duty of Sikh parents to teach their children all about their religion. It is not enough to take care of only the physical well-being of the children, it is ordained to teach them to be good and honest Sikhs as well. Hence, whatever I know is because of my father's efforts.
Once, I remember, he was very pleased with me. I can still see the smile on his face. I had completed writing by hand, the full volume of Panj Granthi. It had taken me a year to do it. One of our neighbors was a widow; she was very keen to have it and I gave it to her gladly. My father said, 'Satwant, when I look at you I feel very happy, and give thanks to the Lord'. Later, I learnt that it is considered a very good deed to give a volume of Gurbani as a gift.
Fatima: Yes, I can now understand why you are never overwhelmed by the events and are able to revert to a cheerful mood again and again, and that is your faith which keeps you from feeling lonely. I, too, want to be able to share this joy with you. Is it possible that you can show me the way?
Satwant Kaur: Yes, there is no secret in it. But you must prepare yourself.
Fatima: I am ready.
Satwant Kaur: Then I suggest that you learn one line of Gurbani with its meaning every day. If you find that you enjoy doing this, then try and memorize it. Along with that, analyze yourself and whatever faults you find in yourself, try to get rid of them. In this way you will become more loving and caring, and not only feel happy yourself, but be able to spread joy to others as well.
Fatima responded very enthusiastically and began to learn the Japji Sahib. She had some difficulty in pronouncing the words correctly, but she persevered and, after some weeks, learnt the complete Japji and, with Satwant Kaur's help, also learnt the musical way to recite it.
As she became more fluent and regular, Fatima began to experience the same joy and feeling of well-being that Satwant Kaur had spoken about. She began to look upon Satwant Kaur as a holy being and her spiritual teacher.
Satwant Kaur was filled with shukar (gratitude) that, in spite of living in confinement far away from home, the Guru had granted her all comforts and the company of a good person, Fatima, who was now sharing satsang with her.
Chhootat Nahi Kote Lakh Bahi,
Naam Japat Teh Paar Paraahi;
Anik Bighan Jeh Aye Sangharaiy,
Har Ka Naam Tatkaal Udharaiy.
Anik Joni Janamaay Marijaam
Naam Japat Paaway Bisraam,
Hau Maila Mull Kabhu Na Dhowaiy
Har Ka Naam Kote Paap Khowaiy
Aisa Naam Japhu Man Rang
Nanak Paeeaiy Sadh Kaay Sung.
Dhan Guru, Dhan Naam, Dhan Gurubani!
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Ang 264)
(One is saved not by millions of (friendly) arms,
But, if one dwells on the Lord's Name, one is saved.
Where myriads of crosses assemble to destroy us,
There the Lord's Name saves us in an instant.
If one is circling the round of births and deaths,
By dwelling on the Lord's Name one finds eternal rest.
We are impure; impurity leaves us not;
But the Lord's Name destroys millions of sins.
Meditate thou with Love on such a Name,
Which one finds in the society of the saints.)