One fine morning Dr. Jatinder Pal Singh Jolly rang me up saying, “Ma Ji, I wish to introduce you to a great personality. He is no ordinary saint. He is a man of rare talent focused on many dimensions of Gurmat. Don’t ever think that he is not devoted to Naam Simran or Satisang; he is rather more devoted than anybody else towards this pursuit.” Dr. Jolly’s words aroused a curiosity in my mind to see the man as and when I found a chance.
I happened to meet Dr. Jolly in a seminar in Guru Nanak Dev University Amritsar. The Baba dominated our conversation. At last I said, “Now whenever Gurmat Sangeet Sammelan is held, you must inform me beforehand. I will definitely meet the Saint and enjoy kirtan. A few month later I came to know that Jawaddi Taksaal is organizing Adutti Gurmat Sangeet Sammelan in Gurdwara Gur Gian Parkash. I was all agog to visit the Sammelan. The way Pandal was aesthetically decorated astonished me. the decoration of the palanquin of Guru Granth Sahib was a rare specimen of artistry. On one side, there was an arrangement to seat the musician. A Board installed in front of the musicians’ platform indicated that such and such verse or shabad was not recited properly. The duty to mark such errors was assigned to an expert connoisseur of Gurmat.
The Baba himself was enjoying kirtan with rapt attention. The spectacle of kirtan at this place in the ambrosial house has a fascination beyond words to describe. Peace reigns supreme all around and the Sangat engrossed in the kirtan. The Ragis were performing kirtan in their mellifluous tone.
Meeting with the Baba could be possible at noon. He looked scholarly – not just like an armchair bookish scholar but like the one well experienced in the domain of his knowledge. He spoke so subtle on music that I was astonished when I was doing research on Guru Arjun Dev, a chapter of my thesis was regarding on regarding the editorial technique of Guru Granth Sahib. one of the chapter was on Gurmat music. But the Baba’s enthusiasm towards his pursuit was noticeable. That is why during the Sangeet Sammelan organized in 1991, he not only made the seasoned musicians render 31 Shudh Ragas of Gurbani but also got their recordings prepared into cassettes. His attention was focused on Raga Gaudi and its forms. Thus he made the Ragis sing 11 forms of Gaudi Rag and presented their recorded cassettes to the Sangat (religious congregations).
The Baba was a great knower of music, devoted heart and soul to the Guru’s abode. He had a deep love for the music lovers. He would pay them all respect and recorded them. Even today, the ‘Asa Di Waar’ kirtan by Bhai Balbir Singh and Bhai Dilbagh Singh is our valued treasure. Today when traditional kirtan style has received a set back, the kirtan-lovers derive a lot of pleasure from these cassettes in the wee hours. However, the cassettes of Asa Di Waar sung by Bhai Amrik Singh Zakhmi and Bhai Nirmal Singh too are worthy of praise.
The Baba also initiated a tradition of conferring Gurmat Sangeet Award for the promotion of Gurmat music. Under this provision, he honoured many renowned personalities of the Sikh Panth. Moreover, Gurmat Dhadi Award also deserves our admiration. Baba Sucha Singh had a unique insight. One day, I had a detailed discussion with him. According to the Baba, the Gurus recognized the Bani of 15 saints enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib, at par with the Guru but we have forgotten them altogether. He wanted to visit the Dera of every Saint and organize there the rendition of gurbani as also a Seminar on the topic of Saint: impelled by this desire, he got the biographies of many Saints authored by my father Gyani Jagir Singh. But unfortunately this book could not be published either during the life time of the Baba or that of my father I remember the Baba had gone to Gurdwara Nanak Jheera in Bidar. He wanted to honour the descendents of the Panj Piaras (the five beloved ones) at their own nature places, on the occasion of the tricentenary of Khalsa Panth. I was with him when searching the house of Bhai Sahib Singh, one of the Five beloved ones, we had entered a narrow lane but none of his descendent was found at home.
But the Baba had in him the zeal of a researcher. Then he assigned this duty to someone saying, Don’t worry for mony. Come what may we have to honour him, who laid down his life at the feet of the tenth Guru.
The Baba not only made efforts to revive the traditional style of Gurmat music, he also conducted conceptual studies of Guru Granth Sahib. He organized very high-level Seminars which were attended by the scholars of national and international repute. The Baba’s craze for researchers and intellectuals from all over the world by conferring fellowships on them. This has never fallen to the share of any saint so far. I said, “Baba Ji, giving fellowships is a task to be performed by the universities of academies. How come you have taken it up?” He smiled and said, “What is wrong if the religious organizations take upon themselves, the task of preserving knowledge or erudition? May be even today a scholar matching the caliber of Pandit Narottam Singh emerges on the scene or an annotator of Nirmala Sant Amir Singh comes forth to reveal the aesthetics of Gurbani through his unique skill of communication.”
Now who will not bow his head with reverence before the Baba’s love for knowledge? Deliberations of the seminar remained focused on the concept(s) of Punj Piaras, Gurmat Sangeet, Post modernism: Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the concept of Mann (Mind) etc. The beauty of this intellectual exercise unraveled itself in the form of a book including all the papers read out in the seminar. The Baba’s Shabad-Yatra programme included searching the birth-places of various Saints and Bhagats, starting Gurmat Music as a subject in the universities, commencement of courses like Diploma in Gurmat music, M.A. in Gurmat music and providing the copies of Guru Granth Sahib to the seekers at their doors. His enthusiasm was really laudable. The very mention of the word ‘Gurmat’ filled him with a sense of elation.¬ He held the scholars in high esteem. At times he would test an ignoramus like me by asking a question. A correct answer would get you a pat on the back. Sometime he would add something to your answer from his own side also. He was a lover of knowledge. He took delight in going to the knowledgeable himself.
En route to Delhi, the Baba would often oblige us by dropping for a while at our humble house in Mukherjee Nagar. Sometimes, my husband would discuss his inquisitions with him. Whenever we, my self alone or with my husband, made a visit towards Ludhiana, we would unfailingly go to enjoy a brief sojourn in the company of the holy man and he always saw me off as one sees off one’s daughter or sister. I was invariably honoured with one or the other gift-a set of cassettes, a suit or a Siropa (a robe of honour). More than that his affectionate words would send us back surfeited. When on the last day of his life I gave him a ring at Appolo Hospital, he forbade me to visit the hospital saying that he himself would come to see me while on his way to Ludhiana. His words were replate with the same zeal, same vigour. There was no trace of any ailment in his voice. It has genually been observed that such energetic people do not live long in this world. They spread their fragrance for a short span of life and then vanish, leaving their footprints on the sands of time for the underlings like us to follow.