My Mother An article by Bhagat Puran Singh
While studying in Khanna, Punjab, India once I went to meet my mother in Lahore (now in Pakistan). At this time she was working in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. When I reached there, my mother only thought was that she should take me to pay obeisance at the Shiv Mandir (Hindu temple) of the locality and Gurdwara Dera Sahib.
At this time I was a Hindu boy named Ramjidas. I was a follower of Shiv Mandir and was not a Sikh. In the Shiv Mandir I saw no personal service being done. There was no devotional singing in praise of deity, no place for the travellers to stay, no free kitchen, and hardly anyone came to pay obeisance. There was a priest sitting quietly in a small house. No religious book was being read.
Gurdwara Dera Sahib is one of the most important pilgrimage center of the Sikhs. When I reached Gurdwara Dera Sahib I was surprised to see the gaiety and environment of that place. In the early morning Asa di War was recited and in the evening Rehras. Every morning and evening many people would come to listen to the Words of the Gurus. This Gurdwara is situated on the G T Road running from Peshawar to Calcutta.
Devotees kept coming throughout the day. Many travellers would also come to take food from the common kitchen (Langar) or to pay obeisance at the Gurdwara. The common kitchen opened at about 10 or 11 o'clock and remained open at night also. Every night 25-30 travellers would come to the Gurdwara to stay; they were all served food from the common kitchen. This culture of the Gurdwaras deeply affected me.
My Mother's instructions
From my childhood, my mother had asked me to do personal service to all the creations of God. This tender and distinct feelings of virtuous tasks was ingrained in my mind. My mother had taught me to provide water for the animals, plant trees and water newly planted saplings, offer feed to the sparrows, crows and mynahs, pick up thorns from the paths, and remove the stones from cart tracks. This had embedded the Name of the Almighty in my heart. She had entrusted me to the custody of Gurdwara Dera Sahib and started me on a path of virtuous living; by following this path your mind can never waver.
For five years she did not spend anything on herself. She would send her entire monthly earning of Rs.10 (which converts to 25 cents or 12.5 pence) to me each month. The servants in the house sometimes have to eat stale or left-over chapattis; my mother used to eat whatever was given to her. She also used to get old and used clothes from the house where she was working, so she would save her entire income of ten rupees and send it all to me by money order.
Memory of my hard working Mother
While at home in the month of Kartrik, my mother used to get up early in the morning and go for a bath at the village pond. This pond was constructed by my father. Thereafter, she would recite Japji Sahib, churn the curds, then prepare the breakfast. Throughout the day she would sit at her spinning wheel or gin the cotton seeds.
A mother, who would draw water from the village well throughout the day during summer months for the travellers and the animals; never sit idle; always keep the Name of the Almighty in her heart; recite Japji Sahib in the morning; had to put in my heart fear and respect for God. God has really blessed me that till today I have been able to keep my vow taken before my mother of remaining a bachelor with full purity of heart. If I were not to fulfil my vow it would have been a matter of great dishonour for my life. Curse of God would have remained over me always. I am thankful to God that the vow taken before my mother is always in my mind and keeps me alert.
It keeps me engrossed in His name throughout the day. It keeps reminding me some of the most of the virtuous Sikhs like:- Akali Kaur Singh Nihang, Sant Kishan Singh, Sant Attar Singh Mastooana, Sant Harbhajan Singh Raj of Bani Amrit Parchar Sangat. It keeps me busy in various tasks of service and devotion and urges me to pray, "Oh God! Keep alive my Cripple" who has a mind like that of a child. His childlike antics keep me happy. His activities and my care for him keeps me in contact with God and makes me pray that I should continue to look after the Cripple, keep him healthy and happy. Watching his antics also helps me in leading a happy and contended life. To do all this I should keep my life pious and virtuous and should not allow even a single evil thought to enter my mind.