In her ever-sweet voice, Rehmat Kaur asked her elder brother Asees Singh, “Veerji (an affectionate way of addressing your brother), there is one question that has been troubling me for a long time. I know I already disturb you a lot, but can I ask this one question?”
“No.”, came a single-word reply from smiling Asees.
“Please na.. only one question.”
“Ok. Go ahead. As if you are going to spare me without answering your question!”
“Thank you veerji…”
Rehmat took a pause and grew a bit serious before she asked the question.
“Veerji, my question is: if I stop doing paath or kirtan, would Guru Nanak still love me?”
“What if I am not able to follow his path? Would he leave me? In such a case, when I need him the most, would he judge me?”
As she spoke, a couple of tears welled up in her eyes and flowed down her cheeks.
“I don’t know veerji. I don’t know. What are the conditions under which Guru Nanak loves me and under which he does not? Tell me, veerji. Tell me.”
“Veerji, I have been carrying the weight of this question on my heart for so many days, and every time, this question touches my mind, my heart melts through my eyes.”
Sobbing heavily and covering her face with her hands, Rehmat continued:
“I have been thinking about asking this question from you, but I didn’t know how you would take it. I was trying to avoid this question. But this question isn’t going away. It is eating into my love and devotion and faith. It is eating into my soul, veerji. Veerji, tell me the conditions under which he loves me?”
Asees slumped into his chair and took a deep sigh. Wiping the tears off his eyes, he spoke:
“Rehmate, my dear bhaine (an affectionate way of addressing your sister) , today, I’ll share one of my own personal experiences with you that I haven’t shared before.
A few years ago, I was doing Japji Sahib Paath (Paath means Gurbani) in the morning and this feeling came over me that I was so bad and had to cover a lot of ground to deserve Guru Nanak’s love. From whatever I had heard till that point, I was under the understanding that one needs to be purified to an extent to deserve Guru Nanak’s love.
So, as I realized that it was still a long journey for me, I became very sad and sort of helpless. I thought that I would never be able to cover this journey. I foresaw a long struggle ahead of me. I broke down from inside and started crying to him “Everywhere there is a struggle. In society, if you want someone’s love, you have to work hard. And now to deserve your love also, I need to work so hard. You also put conditions to love. If your love is also like everyone else’s love, then I don’t need your love. If you will not love me when I am not able to do so and so things, I do not need your love. I have heard that if we don’t get your grace and love, we’ll go to hell. I am ready to go to hell. But I am just tired of meeting all these conditions. I am just tired of all these running to meet so and so conditions, always under the fear that I am not good enough and may not reach where I want to reach”.
I cried a lot at that time. As the time went by, I saw that it was now time for me to go to Gurudwara, as was routine for me. I left the Paath in between – actually, I wasn’t feeling like completing it – and went to Gurudwara. I carried a little hope in my heart that I might hear something to pacify myself. As I reached the Gurudwara, you know bhaine, what Shabad was being sung there. It was:”
“Augan ko na chitarda gal seti layak. He does not look at our demerits and just embraces us.”
“Look how Guru Nanak answered me. Even though I didn’t complete Japji Sahib, he still answered my query. His love is unconditional bhaine. On that day, I was truly relieved when I realized that there is at least one person in this world whose love won’t go away in the turbulent waves of this world.”
“So, bhaine”, Asees said, picking up the chin of Rehmat with his right hand and seeing into her eyes, “I just want to say that there are no conditions to be met to receive Guru Nanak’s love. He loves you unconditionally. No matter what you wear, what you have done in the past, what you are doing in the present, and what you are going to do in the future. If there is only one thing certain in the entire universe, then it is that Guru Nanak loves you unconditionally. He loves you just because you exist. He loves you as you are. Just as a father or a mother love their 6-month old child. Aren’t we like a 6-month old child in the eyes of Guru Nanak? Why would He judge us? Besides, if he judges us, where would we go? If the entire world judges a child, he can still go to his mother? But when his mother also judges him, where would he go? Wouldn’t he die when he would see his last thread of support breaking down?”
Both Rehmat and Asees went silent for a few minutes, after which Rehmat spoke:
“But then veerji, why don’t we experience his love a lot of times? Why do we feel lonely and sad at times?”
“Bhaine, that is where Kirtan (singing hymns), Naam (chanting) and Saadh Sangat (association of the holy) are needed. The thing is we cannot experience anyone’s love until we love him. And actually, we can experience the love of a person only to the extent we love him. I realised this when I was reading a play by Rabindranath Tagore. In that play, there is a situation like this:
A lady is waiting for his husband, with tremendous love in her heart and tears in her eyes. She is her husband’s second wife, but he spends most of his time with his first wife. She is looking at her door with so much longing in her eyes to meet her husband.
Her husband enters through the door. He is looking for something. He marches past the lady without even looking at her. He searches at a few places. Finding nothing, he walks towards the door to go. Seeing her husband go away without spending any time with her or even looking at her, she falls on the ground and tries to stop him by clutching onto his legs. He shakes his leg angrily, kicks her and walks out of the door.
As I read this, I realised that even though the lady carried so much love for him, his husband could not enjoy any of it, simply because he did not love her. In other conditions, a man would have considered himself very fortunate to have a wife who loves him this much. But, in this case, since the husband didn’t love her wife at all, the wife’s love could not give any peace or joy or warmth to him. Rather, he disrespected her and her love.
So, bhaine, Guru Nanak loves us tremendously and unconditionally, but since we are completely oblivious to his love and don’t carry any love for him in our hearts, we are unable to enjoy his love for us. Probably, the only thing we need to do is love him. All the rituals, customs, and everything else we do as part of our religion are just ways to increase our love for God or Guru Nanak. If these things are not helping us love our Guru more, we should stop doing them or do them in a way that they increase our love for Guru Nanak.”
“The purpose of Kirtan, Naam, and Saadh Sangat is to increase our love for Guru Nanak or Waheguru so that we can experience his love for us. The more we feel his love, the more freedom and joy we will have in our lives. God bless you, Rehmate! May you experience the oceans of Guru Nanak’s love in your life!”