December 6, 2020


(c) J. Singh, 2017

It was a point of consensus among the sangat — everyone agreed when it came to Satnam Singh. He was perhaps the most highly regarded member of the sangat. Everyone praised him for his piety, humility, and dedication to seva and simran. He would often be found in the Gurudwara, sweeping the kitchen floors, helping prepare langar, or performing some other voluntary service. When not engaged in seva, he would be in the main hall, sitting quietly, with legs crossed and eyes closed and hands resting loosely in his lap, his lips moving silently as he performed simran. It seemed that he never wasted a moment in idle chatter. His life was the epitome of humility, in word and deed.

He earned the praise of the sangat, and, over time, came to be trusted and relied upon by almost everyone. He never refused a request for help, no matter whether it took his time, energy, effort, or finances. He was always willing and ready to help. The sangat came to regard him as a vital and indispensable part of the community. He had become a model for others to follow. He gained respect and admiration.

People started coming to him with questions, which soon became requests for help. Eventually, people began sharing their personal problems with him and asking for his advice. He tried his best to answer their questions, and would always try to refer them to a shabad that was relevant to the issue they were facing. "Connect with the Shabad-Guru, and all your problems will be solved," was Satnam Singh's universal answer.

"I am not holy," Satnam Singh would tell them. "I am not religious. Please look to Guru Sahib only for guidance and support. Only He is without sin."

On one particular Thursday in the fall, the Gurudwara held an evening program. The weather was still warm, with a light breeze outside. The light was fading, the sun having set a little while ago, and the last wisps of daylight were slowly disappearing. Satnam Singh slipped his shoes off, washed his hands and feet, and entered the main hall of the Gurudwara with his hands folded in front of him.

Slowly, with small, soft steps, he made his way to the front, where he stood before the Guru Granth Sahib, hands together, eyes closed and head bowed in silent prayer. Around him, the musicians played music and sang the shabads, and the assembled sangat listened with reverence.

"Forgive me," Satnam Singh prayed in silence, his thoughts centered on the Guru, "I have failed. I have not maintained simran at every moment in the last twenty four hours. My thoughts have strayed. I have engaged in anxiety, worry, fearful thoughts. I have lied about how I felt when Kuljit asked me. I have fallen prey to thoughts of lust when the advertisements came on the television. I got angry, when there was too much traffic that was moving very slowly this morning. I lost my focus on You. My mind was immersed in worldly affairs, and I forgot to remember You. And I feel the disconnect, and it is the worst feeling. Please, forgive me. Please help me to think of You, and focus on You, and meditate on You, and remember You, always, in every moment, every breath, every thought."