My brother once told me of a sermon by Maskeen Ji wherein he tells of the passing of an anonymous Brahmgiani who once sat on the steps of a historic gurudwara.

 No one knew who he was. For us Brahmgiani is the immense spiritual force in the world who has become One with the Lord God Almighty. The Sukhmani Sahib brings its treasures to our heart. But I must admit I kept thinking of all the people who passed this person. 

I asked my brother, who had spent years meditating, what about all those people who for years passed this Brahmgiani? He said no one knew of this person. It is said that later when the Brahmgiani was to became apparent to many other wise and enlightened people. It did not appear in a newspaper. The chap probably did not get an obituary.

In Guruji's words, a Brahmgiani can see another Brahmgiani.

The Brahmgiani mata teked in front of the Guru Granth Sahib and then literally disappeared. It is said he performed his own cremation and there was perfume in the air. 

The relevance of this sermon is that there was a Brahmgiani. 

He was unknown.

Then I wondered how many Brahmgianis there are in the world right now? 

Anonymous Brahmgianis. 

Whose greatness will never be known, whose name will never be known, who will not even hit a deadline. Who would never think of even letting anyone know their name, their group, their jathebandi, not even their voice or image be known before they leave this earth. 

And then I wondered if we would ever recognise one. If we perhaps also passed also on the steps of a gurudwara as we busily make our way bustling towards the Guru to mata tek? Our world has become one to rush, to push, to get there first, when we should be humble enough to allow the sangat first. Even to wait, really, truly wait and know that this is our magnificent opportunity to humble ourselves before our Guru. Our world has become one to even dodge around people who bow before the Lord, as people nearly topple over each other, adjust their clothes wondering if they look good getting to the Guru Granth Sahib. And so many Guru Granth Sahibs that if we could even take it in for a second we would not even step forward but be in awe perhaps forever. 

A couple of years ago I once saw the most beautiful man sitting with his tall blue turban, cross legged outside patiently praying outside the Nishan Sahib. There was a ransbhai inside and people were meeting, greeting friends, often missing those who were not their so called acquaintances and therefore missing their chances of true Sangat. It was cold outside yet this beautiful man sat looking at the Nishan Sahib, closing his eyes praying. I had never seen a Sikh like this, waiting, meditating as the hubbub inside was on another level. We later got to speak and I told him of the near exhaustion of being alone in my sewa with so many survivors of genocide still un-helped and me in financial ruin and remaining ironically unknown. I told him of my utter guilt in doing so little. He reminded me that we do sewa to see our Guru and that I knew then I had to find another way to carry on, perhaps even smaller, even weaker, but to seek the vision of the Guru in my actions.

When the Brahmgiani passed away, the person who no one had ever taken notice of, who had sat in humility for all these years as the congregation washed past, as pilgrims rushed past, some saints across the world knew of his passing. I felt so sorry, not for the Brahmgiani who was going back home having done what he needed to in this life, but for the people who rushed past him never noticing him sitting lowly on the steps. 

Our worlds have become one of throwing our shoes to the sewadar without humbly and beautifully greeting them and are we not passing many Brahmgianis? 

Our humility is like a mellifluous melody, an earthquake, a bull in a china shop, and it needs to be nurtured even if it seems that even in our religious lives - machination, loudness, systems, deadlines, achievements, are taking over. Our humility is the ultimate. The ego will be the hardest thing to shatter in life and it is holding us back from our drowning in Waheguru. 

Someone I met years ago who I was encouraging to write told me that the biggest problem he had was that he didn't want to put his name on a book. Unfortunately the book by Anon will rarely be read. I did try to tell him that his voice must come out and if necessary to write the book anonymously. But I understood the struggle. It took me years and years to imagine if it was possible to put your name to something, such as writing about the widows of the Sikh genocide, knowing words will never be right, and the struggle between that and speaking on a subject to inspire people and to doing something practical for those people. The eternal battlefield of all Sikh activists continues.

Is our understanding, enlightenment and this sweet humility growing or do we rush past many Brahmgianis? We focus on the famous ones that have stood out in history even trying to talk of people's greatness, historians, writers, devotees, leaders -- talking of one group's greatness when there are so many in the sikh nation. We are quite blinded by the brightest stars in the galaxy. And can we even realise the moment when we ourselves are in the presence of a great Sikh, or a great spirit?  And isn't Waheguru knocking on our door so many, many times? And yet we remain, as Gurubani says, the graceless bride.

The Brahmgiani could be someone who is homeless sitting destitute in the street. A man, a woman who has lost everything, children, family, roof, home, but who can see right through life. A homeless man, a homeless woman, a refugee knows what it is to have a home and lose everything. Just as we of the Sikh nation sit homeless in the United Nations, we know what it is to be at the mercy of a country as we did in the Sikh genocide. A country that still gathers power on a global stage. We know what it is to be homeless, without country. Still we return to our true Home, the Guru.

We walked past the anonymous Brahmgiani but did we pick up their spirit? Did we see their light? Did we look into the mirror of ther eyes and fell moved? We do not need to tread on eggshells in case we ignore each and every being or person or event in life that is not the Sikh spirit but the Sikh Spirit is also hard to put words to. It is like walking on the edge of a steel sword.

There are thousands of faces, names, victims, survivors of the Sikh genocide, who will never be known. As we struggle to work in a world of genocide denial to document, create archives, create Institutes of the Sikh Genocide, Memorials of the Sikh Genocide, libraries of non fiction on Sikh human rights and fiction books; as we struggle to understand the unimaginable we have to remember there are thousands who will remain anonymous. 

We must pray for the anonymous sikhs the world over, who over centuries gave up everything for the Sikhs, who gave up everything in enlightenment, who were anonymous Brahmgianis that we too rushed past and rush past now even when reading of them and remembering them. 

I, like you, dwell in the amazing lives and spirits of the saints we know. I enjoy attending an anniversary. I enjoy the samagams, I love the kirtans to remember people, babas, ransabais. I remember the beautiful, magnificent Guru Gobind Singh Ji who shook oppression and gave us such power in identity but also when the Guru Granth Sahib was given to us as our Guru, did not put his own compositions into it. The humility of our Gurus is so immense. Guru Amardas Ji in his elderly years still lived as a disciple and worked with deep commitment through all difficulties. 

A small part of me also wonders about the anonymous Brahmgianis in the world, the anonymous sewadars, the anonymous sacrificers for our kaum. Can we, like the Brahmgiani, for a second be dust at the feet of the Lord, and pray I am not the person who rushes pass the Brahmgiani who sat on the steps of the gurudwara and did not realise their goodness.


In the spirit of the piece of the Anonymous Brahmgiani....I have left the names of the people out until the end...They would be pleased!

My cousin brother....the late Parminder Singh....(lovely, kind encouragement from him when I used to visit sikh prisoners of conscience, when no one knew who was in the jails in Punjab, and who, despite having a truck load of police at his doorstep- never stopped encouraging me to help the widows of extrajudicial killings in the Punjab from 2002 onwards....His encouragement was the beautiful, peaceful, simran...He battled with illness for over two decades but remained a beautiful soul to all who he came across with his humility....) The beautiful meditator opposite the Nishaan Sahib....the late Jodhbeer Singh. (spiritual activist, sewadar, who opened my eyes on the peace of knowing you are doing the right thing, at the right time, and not listen to the hearsayers. Despite a beautiful, young life...he was sadly murdered a year ago...Jodhbeer taught me that we do sewa for a vision of our Guru...and we must remember this....not the so called achievements/lack of/targets of the sewa and Jodhbeer in such a short, sweet life you were truly the Guru's disciple forevermore....) 

Photo credit: © Princeaya | - Old Sikh, Sitting Alone Photo

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