Bhai Aakal Ji and Bibi Soorati Ji

(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)

We often spent lots of money on our children’s education. We spent huge money on their professional training. We do not hesitate to give them costly garments etc. However, most of us do not care to give our children the religious education. I do not hesitate to say that majority of our young generation does not know about our Guru-history and basic concepts of our religion.

Sometime, we hear people saying that our children are getting ‘moral’ education in their schools, so there is no need for separate religious education, but they forget that the morality in our society is based on our religion. For example, it is our religion, which tells us to always speak truth. It is our religion, which asks us not to make thefts etc.

Without getting the religious education, our children have forgotten their religious responsibilities. They are becoming selfish. They do not respect their teachers. They do not care about their parents. Many young people are involved in violence. Drugs have become a serious problem even in small towns. Even minors are involved in sexual activities. We can see many Sikh children and youth, who have cut their hair. Some of them have adopted smoking as a fashion trend.

Surprisingly, we have started to blame the media for all of these problems. Cable TV channels and movies are main target of our criticism. However, would we care to answer the question that who has provided cable TV and movies to our children and youth? Cable TV channels are being run in our own TVs. We pay for cable TV channels and then allow our children to watch them. Children are not able to understand that what is being shown on TV channels and movies is not a reality. They start to follow fallacy. Thus, we ourselves, in a way, are responsible for such problems.

If we give them proper religious education, they can be good persons, who have respect for their teachers, parents, elders and their religion as well. Giving them religious education will help them to lead a religious life. Especially girls should be given proper religious education at any price. The girl will, one day, be a mother. A religious mother can fill the minds of her children with religious thoughts.

We need to inspire our children and youth for religious activities. We should encourage them to know more and more about our religion. We should make them realize that we are Sikhs and we do not follow other’s religion at all. This was what Bhai Aakal Ji did. He gave proper knowledge of Sikhism to her beloved daughter. He inspired her not to follow other’s religion.

Bhai Aakal Ji is an ideal for all the Sikh parents. He was a perfect Sikh. He taught her daughter the basic principles of Sikhism. It was the religious education by Bhai Aakal Ji given to her daughter, which turned a ‘Sultani’ family into a devout Sikh family.

Bhai Aakal Ji was a Sikh of the fourth Guru, Sri Guru Ramdas Ji. He was a resident of village ‘Vadde Ghar’. He used to visit Guru Ramdas Ji once or twice a year. He would love to recite the Gurbani.

Bhai Aakal Ji was a carpenter by profession (which is also a caste in India). He was very hard working Gursikh. He was lucky that he could see the holy faces of three Gurus. First, he became the Sikh of fourth Guru, Sri Guru Ramdas Ji. When the fourth Guru Ji left for his heavenly abode and Guru Arjan Dev Ji was established on the holy throne, Bhai Aakal Ji started to visit Guru Arjan Dev Ji. When Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji became the sixth Guru, Bhai Aakal Ji got the opportunity to have his holy ‘Darshan’.

Bhai Aakal Ji had a daughter. Her name was Bibi Soorati Ji. Bhai Aakal Ji asked his ‘Purohit’ to find a suitable match for her. The Purohit tried to find an appropriate match for her in different places. When he went to village ‘Tuklaani’ in this regards, he felt that ‘Saada’, a carpenter, in that village was a respectable person in his locality. He had a son, who was unmarried yet. The Purohit went to Saada’s house. Saada welcomed him and requested him to stay with him for a night. This is what the Purohit wanted. It was necessary to find out required information before fixing the marriage. It was easy to see this family from close, if Purohit would stay in that family.

The Purohit felt that the family was good. He also liked Saada’s son, whose name was ‘Saadhu’. Purohit found him a suitable match for Bibi Soorati Ji. He, then, performed necessary rituals and their engagement was announced. It was the time, when Brahman Purohits were authorized for such engagements in some castes, like Brahmans, Khatris, Carpenters, and Vaishyas etc. Other castes used to appoint ‘Naayee’ (barber) for such duties.

The Purohit went back to Bhai Aakal Ji and told him that Saadhu of village Tuklaani would be his son-in-law.

Bhai Aakal Ji asked the Brahman, “Is the boy a Sikh? Are other members of his family Sikhs?”

Brahman replied, “I did not try to know this. I do not know whether they are Sikhs. I know only one fact, and that is Saadhu is a suitable match for your daughter”.

This answer by the Purohit saddened Bhai Aakal Ji. He was a Sikh and wanted to marry his beloved daughter into a Sikh family. Brahman fixed the marriage and he was not sure if they were Sikhs or not.

Bhai Aakal Ji was worried, but nothing was possible now. After sometime, he started to make arrangements for Bibi Soorati Ji’s marriage. He sent a letter of marriage to Saada.

The ‘letter of marriage’ created the atmosphere of joy in Saada’s family. They too started to arrange for the marriage.

In fact, Saada and his other family members were followers of ‘Sakhi Sarwar’, a Muslim seer. The followers of Sakhi Sarwar are called ‘Sarwaris’ or ‘Sultanis’ in Punjab. Saada had constructed a special place for ‘Sakhi Sarwar’ in his house. All the members of his members used to worship this place. When they got the ‘letter of marriage’, they went to Sakhi Sarwar’s place in their house and bowed their heads there. They gathered the ‘Baraat’ and reached Bhai Aakal’s house in village ‘Vadde Ghar’ on the fixed date. Bhai Aakal Ji welcomed the Baraat and made suitable arrangements for them.

In those days, Baraats used to stay in bride’s village for two or three days. Saadhu’s Baraat was not an exception either. They stayed there for three days.

Meanwhile, Bhai Aakal Ji came to know that his daughter’s in-laws were not Sikhs, but ‘Sultanis’. It saddened him. However, Bhai Aakal Ji was regretful, but he could not say anything because of his relatives gathered there in his house.

Bhai Aakal Ji felt himself very helpless. He was not able to do anything. With heavy heart, he went to Bibi Soorati Ji and said, “Dear, I have come to know that your in-laws are Sultanis. We are Sikhs. After you go to your in-laws, they might ask you to worship Sakhi Sarwar. We are Sikhs and we have to follow only our Guru. If they ask you to worship Sakhi Sarwar, do not obey them”.

Bibi Soorati Ji too was sad to know that she was being married in a non-Sikh family, but it was now un-avoidable.

After the solemnization of the marriage, the ‘Baraat’ was departed and advanced towards its destination, village ‘Tuklaani’.

The marriage was performed in summer. To avoid severe hot weather, the ‘Baraat’ departed in evening. The village ‘Daroli’ was situated in the way of this ‘Baraat’. It was early morning, when the ‘Baraat’ reached in this village. Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji was in this village at that time.

The newly wed Bibi Soorati Ji heard the ‘Keertanis’ singing the ‘Aasa Kee Vaar’. She had visited this village for many times with her father to have the holy ‘Darshan’ of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji.

She said to the ‘Kahaars’ (palanquin bearers), “As you know already, I am a Sikh of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji. Guru Ji is here in this village. I want to have his ‘Darshan'”.

She gave some money to the ‘Kahaars’. The ‘Kahaars’ agreed to carry her ‘Doli’ near to the Gurdwara. Thus, she went to Guru Ji. Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji was Auspiciously seated on his throne. The ‘Keertanis’ were singing the ‘Aasa Kee Vaar’. People were sitting there listening the ‘Keertan’ devotionally.

Bibi Soorati Ji bowed her head to Guru Ji and then sat in the ‘Sangat’ (congregation). After the conclusion of the ‘Divaan’, Guru Ji saw her. She was in newly wed bride’s dress. Her husband was not with her. Therefore, Guru Ji asked her, “You have come here in the early morning. Where do you live? Where do you have to go?”

She told about her and said, “My parents are in village ‘Vadde Ghar’ and I am just married in a family, which worships ‘Sakhi Sarwar’. I am your Sikh. I am going to my in-laws. I will perhaps not be able to see your holy face again, because, I fear, they will not allow me to do so. I heard the ‘Keertan’, so I came here to have your ‘Darshan'”.

Guru Ji was pleased to hear that she was devoted to Guru’s house. Guru Ji blessed her, “I have written your new fate. You have come to the congregation. Your father is a Sikh. You too are a Sikh. Now, your husband will be my Sikh. Your son will be a devoted Sikh”.

What else did she want? The words by Guru Ji gave her a new life.

On the other hand, when her father-in-law did not find her, he asked his son Saadhu, “Where is your wife?”

Saadhu said, “She has gone to her Guru”.

Saada was angered to know that her daughter-in-law went to the Gurdwara. He shouted on his son, “Why have you allowed her to go there? Don’t you know that we worship only Sakhi Sarwar? The Sakhi Sarwar will be angry, because she went to the Gurdwara. We do not believe in Guru. Go there and bring her back here”.

Saadhu rushed to the Gurdwara. When he saw Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji’s holy face, Saadhu’s mind was changed. The Guru’s holy face filled his heart with holy feelings. Hypnotized by the Guru, he bowed his head to Guru Ji and touched his feet. Guru Ji asked him to sit near him.

Guru Ji talked to him for a while and in a result, Saadhu was ready to be changed forever.

He prayed to Guru Ji, “I want to be your Sikh. Please accept me your disciple”.

Guru Ji accepted him as his Sikh and gave him the ‘Name’. Guru Ji said, “Your son will be a great devotee”.

Saadhu was not mere ‘Saadhu’ now. He was, now, ‘Bhai Saadhu Ji’. His fate was re-written by the holy Guru. He was chosen by the Guru to be the immortal. He was to be included forever on the pages of Guru history.

Bhai Saadhu Ji went back to his ‘Baraat’ along with his wife Bibi Soorati Ji. The ‘Baraat’ reached in his village ‘Tuklaani’.

All the relatives were very happy. People were dancing. Women were singing. Because all of the family members were ‘Sultanis’, they took Bhai Saadhu Ji and his newly wed wife to Sakhi Sarwar’s place constructed in their house.

Bhai Saadhu’s father, Saada, asked them to bow their heads before Sakhi Sarwar’s place. Instead bowing his head, Bhai Saadhu kicked the Sakhi Sarwar’s place and said, “I am, now, a Sikh of my Guru. I will destroy this place”.

The relatives were stunned on this. They said to him, “Shut up. O fool, do not say Guru’s name. We are followers of Sakhi Sarwar”.

However, Bhai Saadhu Ji was not agreed. His relatives tried to threaten him, but in vain. In night, when all were sleeping, Bhai Saadhu Ji destroyed the Sakhi Sarwar’s place. Next morning, the relatives constructed in again. Again, Bhai Saadhu Ji removed it. It happened repeatedly. They used to construct it again in daytime and Bhai Saadhu Ji would destroy it in night.

As a final point, the Sakhi Sarwar’s place was removed from his house permanently. Bhai Saadhu Ji and Bibi Soorati Ji started to live life like true Sikhs.

After sometime, a lovely child was born to her. Bhai Saadhu JI and his wife went to Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji along with their newborn son.

Bhai Saadhu Ji said, “Guru Ji, by your Grace, a son is born my house. Please name the infant. Also, bless him, so that he could become your Sikh”.

Guru Ji looked at the infant. Our history books tell that the newborn was so cute and beautiful, like moon.

Guru Ji named him ‘Roop Chand’ (the moon of beauty) and said, “He will be famous by name of Bhai Roopa. He will be a true Gursikh”.

This Bhai Roop Chand Ji became very famous in Guru-history. A village was named after his name by Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji himself. Bhai Dharam Singh and Bhai Param Singh Ji, who did ‘Seva’ to Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Guru, were sons of Bhai Roop Chand Ji.

The ‘Royal priest’ for Royal family of Patiala State was/is appointed from this family.

Thus, the religious education given by Bhai Aakal Ji to her daughter, finally, laid foundation of a true Gursikh family.

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